Monday, July 15, 2013

Change Ahead!

Anyone who has known me for long probably knows change is not my favorite thing. Once change is here, I try to welcome it. But the anticipation of things changing - particularly with large, life changes - just about kills me. Until now. Yesterday I made a solid decision to change my life - and I am more excited than scared or sad. Progress!

For months now I've been trying to figure out what to do and where to go next. I have known my time in Provo was coming to an end, but didn't know what to do next. And as much as I dislike change, I know it's good for me, and I know I need it.

While staying where I'm at is comfortable, it isn't always best. And to be honest, it isn't even fun anymore. Provo isn't teaching me anything anymore. I'm just ready to be done with this place and out of here. I've loved my 4 years here, but it's time to move somewhere new.

I've been waiting for my life to get better, and I've been doing all I can to make it better. But the truth is while Provo has given me some amazing and unforgettable memories and friends, it's also been the setting for the hardest, darkest and saddest times of my entire life. And I'm ready to be done with that.

Here's to change! And to knowing everything will be okay.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Have a Great Week with Cultural Events

Do you ever just have a great week? The past two weeks have been great for me!

I've had tons of energy at work. I sit at a desk in an office eight hours a day, and I've been dancing in my chair for days. I've been in a great mood and I've become better friends with my co-workers. There are a few reasons I think I'm feeling so good.

1. I've actually had some semblance of a social life the past couple weeks. I've pulled myself out of my shell and done some new things and met some new people. Even a campfire in the canyon!

2. I've actually slept this week! Despite waking up at 5:15 a.m. to go to the gym 4 days.

3. Nothing but my Zumba and MC Yogi Pandora stations have graced my ears at work this week. This means plenty of dancing in my chair. A plus - MC Yogi played LIVE at the Holi Festival of Colors this weekend!

4. I realized last week that I've somehow taken on the role of a shy, introverted girl who has a hard time making friends. When I realized this I decided to snap out of it. And then I proved to myself that I can be outgoing and can make friends and be fun. I don't know why that shy girl stuck around so long, but I think she's gone for good. This is much more fun.

5. The FHE group I'm in charge of is super fun. Even if I'm not in the mood to host FHE, when they show up at my house I'm instantly happier. It's always a night of laughing.

7. Comcast screwed us over and every channel I did watch (ahem...HGTV) is now gone, so there's absolutely nothing to watch on TV. This means much less wasted time sitting on the couch and more time being productive.

6. I've discovered culture in Provo!

I went to the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble with my cousin Ivy a couple weeks ago, which was a traditional Indian dance performance. Considering I'm obsessed with all things India, it was a mesmerizing, enlightening night.

Then Chani and I went to a Peter Pan ballet performed by the Utah Regional Ballet last weekend. Peter Pan is my favorite story of all time, and needless to say, we both cried our eyes out. It was magical. I ran into the cast of the ballet at lunch this weekend too!

My friend Alena, who is gorgeous and from the Navajo tribe, invited me to the Living Legends performance, which was a Native and Latin American and Polynesian dance performance. Again, incredible.

On Friday I attended a Pow Wow at BYU, where the Native American dancers faced off in a dance competition. I ate an authentic Navajo taco and bought some handmade gifts for myself. I talked to the vendors and got to know their stories, where they were from, and a little about their culture and the art of their handmade crafts. Handmade jewelry, a beaded headband, a pillow case, and a purse were among my purchases.

Saturday morning, I went to the gym and then surprised my grandpa on his class field trip up Rock Canyon. He's a professor of Geology at BYU. We showed up to hike and learn about the canyon with his classes.

Then I went on a short walk on the Provo River Trail, which is the most beautiful scenery in Provo. And I learned on Saturday that it's also where all the shady people in Provo hang out.

The Hindu Holi Festival of Colors was this weekend too. Chani and I went on Saturday evening and it was amazing. Thousands of people show up to dance, party, and throw colorful powdered chalk in celebration of the coming of Spring.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Are We If We're Not Growing?

Lately I've found several travel writers and other inspirational bloggers. I've been following their stories and feeling a connection to people I don't even know. The internet can be a pretty amazing thing, can't it?

One of my new blogger friends posed this question on a mutual friend's travelogue of her solo journey through Southeast Asia - and it stuck with me.

What are we if we're not growing?
Last week, I decided that sunflowers are my favorite flowers. They're bright and colorful, they provide nutritious seeds, and they are always striving to reach higher and higher, toward the sun. I've never considered what my favorite flower is before, but when I figured it out, it made perfect sense.

Make a Life You Don't Need to Escape From

I started this blog with every intention of it turning into a travelogue for last year's adventures. I left for London almost a year ago, and it was the adventure of a lifetime. It was the exciting, harrowing, terrifying, fantastic trip that would change me forever. Even a year later, I'm not sure if everything I learned and became on that trip has sunken in completely.

I traveled for a good part of nine months last year. My European adventure was only six weeks long, which was about half as long as we planned. Finances and a torn hamstring brought us home early, but the traveling wasn't over. The adventure had just begun.

Coming Off the Vacation High
Anyone who has traveled for long periods of time will tell you that adjusting back to "real life" is difficult. Quitting my job to travel was an adjustment. Working exclusively as a freelance writer was more of an adjustment. And then, returning back to "normal life" with a 8-4 office job was the hardest adjustment of all.

Fitting in Where You Don't Fit In
I've been struck with wanderlust, and no matter how hard I push for "normal life" to be normal for me, it just isn't anymore. This city isn't my home. This monotonous schedule isn't what I want.

More than ever, I feel like the hermit crab that's overgrown its shell; I feel like an over-sized trapezoid trying to fit into a very small, round hole. It doesn't fit anymore. I don't fit into this life anymore.

Accepting the Changes
At first, it was a relief to be back from travels. To walk around town without consciously gripping onto my purse at all times. To sleep in a comfortable bed that is my own. To see my family and hear my native language. To have some familiarity and stability back again. Those are, after all, things I missed most.

But when I returned, nothing was the same. From the outside, my life here looked the same. It had all the right colors, the right people, the right elements. But it didn't take me long to realize it was a facade - and once I removed the sheet that was hiding the truth, I saw chaos and disarray.

When you are in shock or panic, you do everything you can to make things feel normal and stable. You try to get things back to where they were before, even if it means jabbing together pieces of a puzzle that were never meant to fit together.

For a few months, that was my method. Everything was moving in fast forward and I was pretending that my life would go back to normal, all the while denying all the things that changed me while I was gone. It wasn't just the friends I lost, the employer that didn't hire me back, or the long-term-boyfriend-turned-ex. I changed. I was different, and I knew it.

Everyone says this is normal. After you do something adventurous and crazy for a long period of time, getting back to mundane life is a struggle. Then I found this.

What a simple concept. Yet most people, myself included, trick themselves into thinking it's unattainable. I will set out to prove this is possible...that I can create a life for myself that isn't just tolerable, but enjoyable. One I don't want to escape from.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 Reflections

I am aware that January is almost over, but since I spent 3 full weeks on narcotics and prescription drugs recovering from a hellish tonsillectomy, I'm finally getting the chance to sit down and think about this new year. Back to Utah, back to my bed for the first time in a month, and without the medications, I finally have a clear mind.

As I reflect on 2012, I can't believe what an insane year it was. It was by far the most adventurous year of my life thus far. I traveled to five different countries -England, France, Spain (2nd time!), Canada, and Mexico.

I also visited 6 National Parks: Waterton Lakes (Alberta), Glacier (Montana), Yellowstone (Wyoming/Idaho), Grand Teton (Wyoming), Canyonlands (Utah), and Arches (Utah).

In 2012 I also visited 5 states - Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Utah.

I spent a weekend at Lake Powell with my family, went whitewater rafting in Moab, camped in a secret underground hobbit house, hiked everywhere, and spent some time at my cabin, which is my favorite place on earth.

I saw 5 bears in the wild, caught a snake, tasted a fruit when I didn't know whether or not it was edible, played in a fountain, kissed under the stars, hiked to beautiful mountain peaks, saw Shakespeare's Globe Theater with my own eyes, and skinny dipped in the Mediterranean sea.

But 2012 was also the most soul-wrenching, comfort zone-shattering, heartbreaking year of my life. I lost the only job I'd ever loved, along with 20 or so friends. I lost my very best friend in Utah and don't know why. The man I spent 4 1/2 years planning my life with disappeared. I tore my hamstring and still can't sit in a chair comfortably.

I underwent the most major identity crisis I ever have. There were three aspects that made up me and my life in Utah: Matt, 24 hour fitness, and my editing job. In just a few months, life changed all of that for me. When I tore my hamstring, I couldn't workout or attend fitness events, which, prior to that point, had made up about 90% of my social life. I planned to become a certified Zumba instructor, but my leg had different plans. Then I wasn't hired back at the job I loved and nobody ever explained why. Then Matt decided to up and leave with no word. With the three main parts of my identity shattered, I had to pick myself up and turn into something and someone else.

At the beginning of 2012, and especially before my trip to Europe, I asked God for refinement. I wanted to be tested and stretched past my limits because I wanted to come out a stronger person. And let me tell you - He didn't take that request lightly; I asked for refinement, and that's exactly what I got.

2012 was full of adventures and heartache, cultural exploration, laughing until I cried, and crying until I laughed. I can't wait to see what 2013 brings!