07 January, 2016

A Few Modest Modifications

I fell in love with this dress, but the sleeves were just the lace overlay and the neckline was a bit too low to cover Latter-day Saint garments.

So I hat the local Joann Fabric store and found nothing even close to match the rosy color underneath. It looked like the dress might go back, but then I found the exact same rosy color in my closet; a Banana Republic top I got on clearance months ago.

I didn't want to destroy that top though, so I went to the mall and low and behold they had a shirt, still on clearance, of different fabric (an even better match actually) in the exact color I needed.
And thanks to a coupon I had I ended up walking out of the store paying nothing for it.

Now you can't even tell the difference. I'm excited. Can't wait to wear it!

14 December, 2015

An Awesome Weekend

I usually work Saturdays, but I had this last Saturday off so when a friend asked if I wanted to go caroling, I jumped at the chance. The fact it was in the afternoon should have seemed a little strange... if I had thought about it. I mean, couples and groups go caroling at night… don't they? But it's been so long since I've sung for anyone, something I love to do, that I was too excited to notice. 

Then we got to one of the nursing homes. Yep, I spent the entire afternoon and part of the evening singing door to door and up front in a dining all at cozy nursing homes. It was wonderful!

It reminded me of the important things, especially this time of year. I could have been doing a bunch of other things, mostly focused on my own entertainment, but this was so more fulfilling than anything else I could have been doing. 

Music is so powerful. The residents just gravitated to it. Some of the people there couldn't remember their own names, but then they would start singing along to these traditional songs, recalling every familiar word. It amazed me. 

We walked past this one room and the woman inside yelled out, "Someone help me. I need help." and as my friend turned back I heard one of the attendants at the desk say to another, "I just looked in on her, she's fine." My friend asked how we could help, while I walked the few steps back to the room with everyone else, and she said to him, "Just don't leave me alone. I want help just having some company."

My heart broke. We went in and sang a couple songs, ending with Jingle Bells, and the little kids that came with us were shaking these little bell bracelets to the beat.  It was so cute. She thanked us for coming. She didn't want anything else. That was enough. And for us it was such a small, easy thing to do.

04 August, 2015

The Brokenness is Beautiful

So if you know me at all, you know I'm obsessed with music and have been since I was a little girl. Today I discovered my latest personal anthem. In other words, a song I can't get enough of and will probably play constantly over a few weeks at least.

It's called "Broken (Beautiful)" and as far as I can tell from looking into it, it was released in 2012 with the movie October Baby, and it's soundtrack.

Music just amazes me; how one song can somehow put everything I feel but can't seem to say into three to five minutes. The last four months have been a huge growing experience. I had to stop long enough to see my own "brokenness."  And realized the harmful impact of certain relationships in my life, which I had to finally let go of, and the incredible strength and learning experiences I have found in other relationships, which I noticed needed more effort and care to either continue forward or reconnect.

I think sometimes we stick around after a relationship has completely drained us because we can't imagine putting all that time into something and then in the end have it turn out to be, well, nothing. We stay because we hope that if we can stick it out just a little bit longer we can make a difference to that person, whether it be with family, friends, or romantic relationships. But I realized, there comes a point where you can't do that anymore.

I finally had the courage to let go of just such a relationship. At first I felt like a weight had been lifted away. A few close friends even commented on occasion how different I was and how different it felt around me; That I wasn't scared anymore. But I also felt a huge loss, like part of me had been broken away. I wondered if I could ever feel whole enough, with all of that being part of my story, to accept the love everyone searches and hopes for.

Part of the lyrics of the song asked basically the same question:

"Oh can we move on, can we move on from the love we've left behind? Oh can we move on, can we move on from the love we'll never find?"

And in another part of the song the answer,

"The world is broken into many pieces, but the brokenness is beautiful, it's beautiful. My heart is broken by beauty's mysteries, but the brokenness is beautiful, it's beautiful."

Each of us has been broken, but it's those experiences that make us who we are, that make us beautiful. It's my experiences that make me beautiful, in the deepest way, to those who know all of me.

05 June, 2015

To Know HIM Better

The last week or so I've been well, I guess you could call it meditating, and now today my thoughts have suddenly accumulated and I feel like I know my Savior so much more intimately than I did before.
The Joy of The Lord by Greg Olsen
I have been very blessed in my life. I have seen many miracles, things that nobody thought could happen, that really shouldn't have happened, but were able to. 

Those miracles started even before our mom died, because no matter how sick she would get she would never gave up. She gave absolutely everything to make sure my sisters and I first, had faith in our Heavenly Father's love and second, had every opportunity she could possibly provide to not only succeed, but to never give up no matter the obstacle and to be grateful to the Lord for every success we experienced. It's why when she was gone, and then soon after when we even lost our dad, we miraculously were able to continue forward, no matter how tough it was… together.  

I became over time, ten times the person I was, but I think maybe exactly the person my mom knew I could be, with all my many imperfections… which I still have. haha. Over the years I've been able to multi-task and juggle all of our lives simultaneously, leading my sisters, while depending on their own strengths to make it through. I've seen them graduate from high school, college, when no one thought that they would, or I would for that matter without our mom there, and see them both marry two truly dedicated and faithful men in the temple of God. And together we had the strength to rise above it all. After such experiences, you feel like you can conquer anything.

Then came the last month or so after my littlest sister's wedding. I no longer felt the weight and responsibility of their lives along with mine anymore. I suddenly felt excited and geared up to make some major changes in my own life. All with that feeling of empowerment like I could do anything and do it as fast and efficiently as I have been able to in the past. Well, guess what. I can't.

And it's been confusing and frustrating. 

I realized reflecting on it today, and I hope by the end of this post this will make sense, that this must have been similar to how the Savior felt in those last moments on the cross as he called out to The Lord The Father, "My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?"  He had accomplished so many miracles, He had done so many great things, overcome so many incredible challenges, including the atoning experience of Gethsemane, with the help of The Father and suddenly this moment he had to face on His own… as a human being… normal. 

Personally, I have had nothing but support from the Lord since I was 17, being strengthened with His presence in my life, but at this moment I feel… normal. 

Absolutely normal… with no grand task to accomplish and no need for angelic support to help me through it. Because right now, I don't need it. Right now here is no great insurmountable challenge for me to face. 

What amazes me is how this realization of what the Savior felt at that moment, completely human… normal,  makes me feel like I know a part of His life so much more personally than I before. And I'm grateful. So grateful to have been supported and strengthened to do my part of what had to be done for my sisters and I to make it BUT ALSO to have this opportunity now to, to feel this normal, and to see how much of all that we were able to do wasn't me; how much of that strength wasn't mine at all. 

I'm sure the Savior never had to be reminded as I have today, because He constantly testified that He was about His Father's work. Unlike me, He was and is perfect. But what a great experience to personally see the insight of that moment when "None Were with Him" and He felt, well, alone. What an incredible experience to personally feel that contrast in my own life and know without a doubt the true Power of God, which the Savior got to see every day of His great call, is just well, awesome. 

I know that sometimes we feel alone, but I know that the Lord never forsakes us, just as He never forsook our Savior, even in that moment on the cross. We feel normal, weak, alone, or lost because in these life moments we are strong enough to face them alone and keep finding our way.  

10 April, 2015

Wedding Planning Gratitude Post

I was so grateful when my sister just younger than me got married in January that I didn't have to do a thing. For years I worried about how I would be able to step up and fill in during both my sister's weddings with our mom gone. But thanks to her incredible now mother-in-law, a.ka. the fairy godmother, all I had to do was buy the bridesmaid dress and show up. It was wonderful!

Now with my youngest sister getting married, in about a week and a half actually, I'm grateful for the talents I've been prepared with to help make this one happen just as beautiful. Side note, if you're reading this and your mom helped make your wedding dreams come true… the woman deserves a medal, or at least a long really sweet hug.

So anyway, my youngest sister wanted to do this whole wedding planning thing on her own and I was totally okay with that, but I knew she was going to get to a point where she would need and ask for help. She, and her LDS wedding planning app, got all the way to the ordering of the announcements before I got called in. I was super impressed and very proud of her. She had the temple booked, the reception center scheduled, the decorations all planned and reserved, and the whole concept (or feel she was going) for in mind, but at the announcements she was stuck.

My youngest sister wanted a Beauty and the Beast feel to her wedding. She didn't want it exactly like it or to come off cheesy, but she did want it to feel inspired by Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Now is where my task began. She wanted a wedding announcement that captured that feeling by utilizing the enchanted rose. Not to mention, she wanted her colors blue and silver to be a part of it too. I have never designed a wedding announcement in my life. But I wasn't going to let her down if I could help it.

When I showed her the finished product, to the left, she actually started crying and I knew it was what she had wanted. Not only did we make her deadline on her LDS wedding planning app, but with the help of BYU Print Services we were able to print the announcements, insert cards, and envelopes with the to and return addresses printed on each one for under $300.

After her future in laws saw it, her soon to be father-in-law gave me the task to color edit their engagement photos he took as well. And then I used that same photo as the cover of the guest book they will have at the reception. It continues with the Beauty and the Beast idea by incorporating the rose into their own kind of logo I also designed and then each page has a line to the first verse of "Tale As Old As Time"as part of it. It's all come together so perfectly.

But even I can't do everything and I am even more grateful for my sister just younger than me, several aunts and cousins, and friends who have rallied to help where their gifts and talents excel… and mine do not. Like the bridal showers. I don't do bridal showers. I don't even like to attend them honestly. So I was beyond thrilled when two of our cousins and aunt volunteered to host and plan it. Not to mention all the amazing food they and my sister just younger than me made for both the showers. It was like they were heaven sent.

For my youngest sister's bridals I did her makeup, nails and even her hair in a Belle-esque fashion, but it was my friend Courtney Ball whose magic photography skills captured her vision during her bridals. As Courtney snapped photo after photo I just looked at my sister in awe really. Was this really the little girl who followed me around school, copying my every move… all grown up now?! It is, but I still kinda can't believe it.

I'm so excited for both my sisters, starting these new chapters in life with honest, hardworking, faithful, diligent men to journey with, hand in hand.  

And there's one more major surprise in store for my youngest sister during her wedding celebration, again with the help of many family and friends, It's so perfect, and ties everything in, not to mention is totally something our mom would have done for her if she could be here. I'm so excited for her to see it I can hardly hold it in. But that will have to wait for a later post.

Never give up on your dreams. And do everything you can to help those you love achieve theirs.

11 March, 2015

Learning How To Slow Down and Listen

I've realized recently what it actually means to "slow down." This concept has completely escaped my understanding throughout my life, as many of my close friends and family can fervently attest to I'm sure. But the last few months I've come to experience just how much there is to learn from your own "intuition" as some would say, or as I would call it... The Spirit, when you let go of the distractions that hold you and begin to really listen.

In the process, things that have frustrated my understanding for ages have become clear, like road blocks suddenly cleared away. What is so ironic I guess, is that I haven't actually "slowed down" at all in the sense of having fewer things to do. In fact, I may be busier than I ever have been, but it's the direction of my focus that is different. As I have let go of the things I don't understand and weaknesses I felt I couldn't overcome no matter how hard I tried, I found a new sense of trust and peace and my focus naturally turned towards truly important things I couldn't have seen otherwise.

I also found I had more energy to draw upon to accomplish what I could clearly see I needed to do. Most often it had to do with either helping someone else dear to me or helping myself so that I could better help someone else in due course. And many times, I found that also my approach to how I would handle the challenges I was facing completely changed for the better.  It's been the most fascinating growing experience.  

09 February, 2015

You Can Learn Something New Everyday

I believe life lessons, new perspectives and self growth can be found everyday and today I learned something from a job interview that will continue forward with me. Here I am, sitting in the "hot seat" in this beautiful conference room across from some of the four most accomplished individuals I have probably ever met. To say I was nervous would be a bit of an understatement. I'm sure the applicant pool for any position at BYU is vast and greatly experienced, but this one to facilitate networking and community building opportunities for students and alumni around the country has to have a huge draw. I feel honored to even be considered.

One of them asked if I would be happy and fulfilled outside the music scene where I have so much experience. Of course I answered with the best of my abilities during the interview. I thought as I left that I have never really asked myself that question. I realized walking out of the beautiful Hinckley Center that out of all the areas I have worked, education and service is truly the only area that could really compete. That's the only other field where I would feel more fulfilled. 

I'm not sure what that means in regards to my future, but no matter the outcome and employment decision, that experience has given me a lot to think about this evening.