Blogging is not dead.

Tonight I was at a Relief Society luau. I helped out with the activity even though it's not my calling, yet. (Diane, who was in charge, instructed me that the drinks I was responsible for were to be cold, but "we don't do ice in this ward.") It was the perfect combination of a Mormon meal and Hawaiian kitsch.

They invited a group of young Polynesian girls to dance--hula, Tahitian, Samoan. I thought it was so neat how those girls get to grow up strong in their culture. I'm too self conscious to say anything more about it because of my journalistic ways. (I don't want to paint with a broad brush, say anything racist or potentially damaging to minority cultures, something stupid or inaccurate. These are the kinds of things you have to deal with when you're a writer—not to mention the obligation to write actual facts.)

But for whatever reason, the beautiful long hair and soft movements of the Polynesian girls dancing on the cultural hall stage, which has surely been done at some point in all North American Mormon cultural halls, it made me want to write.

I am as familiar with the urge to write as I am the nag to cut my toe nails or polish the wood floors. But no, it's more than that. And it's less than that. More because it's something I don't just have to do, it's something I want to do. Desperately. Less than that because I never actually do it. To count the times I felt a strong pull to the keyboard and didn't sickens me. What a waste.

So many times since I returned from my mission in 2012 (2012!) I have thought, "I should write that," or "I used to be a good writer," or "Take to writing," or simply, "Write."

Since then I have been consumed with dating, finishing a college degree, securing full-time employment and the casual event of getting married to Blake. I've also watched a lot of Netflix, scrolled through Instagram countless times a day, and read countless articles (news or otherwise) via Facebook. I don't really want to talk about why I don't write anymore (although the only other thing I will say is that I do this for a living, sort of), I just don't.

It seems like very few people do anymore. Why?

One thing is that it seems like everything these days is about body image or

 gender or race or how poorly people are treated: women, the poor, the working class, all racial minorities. And the thing is I AM ALL ABOUT THAT. But it definitely takes away my wonder and amazement at the world. Emphasize on wonder.

I used to be so filled with it. I still feel wonder at the occasional cool summer night's breeze, or catching a glimpse of how the beard of my sweet Blake contrasts the white of his shirt. But I used to just see it every day. I'm thinking of this post in particular.

Maybe I stopped seeing new things, or I started driving more. Maybe I grew up. And that's the depressing part! (Admittedly, adulthood has its perks: I have a crock pot and can make homemade Cafe Rio every night if I want; we have a nice couch that we cost more than everything else in our apartment combined; I can have sex and so on.)

The great thing about writing is it's just you and your thoughts. Nothing else. I have been toying with playing some background Joni Mitchell while I write, but it's just not the same.

It's like--I grew up. But I also didn't. Like, if I'm so grown up, why am I on Facebook and Instagram all the time? Why am I not exercising instead of finishing Gilmore Girls for the second time? These are questions I don't have answers to. I just figured I would barf it all out here. 


what's a blog.

this was a good day. 



    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story. 
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.


the annunciation.

henry ossawa tanner: the annunciation (Tanner was one of the first African American artists to gain recognition for his work.)

a really cool girl that i don't know that well but met once at her art exhibit open house gave the lesson in a relief society yesterday and shared these beautiful pieces of art. i love that they portray Mary as very prepared to receive the news.

in addition to reading the Biblical account of Christ's birth, i love to think about how others learned of his birth. 
And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me; Nephi, what beholdest thou?

And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fiar above all other virgins.

And he said unto me:  Knowest thou the condescension of God?

And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

And he said unto me: Behold the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. 

And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. 

And the angel said unto me: Behold, the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!

Yea...it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of men; wherefore it is the most desirable above all things. 


6 months...

i have about 6 posts that i've started and never finished in the last six months--all lovely in my mind (personal essays about being a lone reed, etc.) but never made it to this virtual press. these six months have been hard. and the critical voice inside my head debates whether to spell out numbers or use the numerical symbols but i have to remind myself that it doesn't matter. what matters is that to be who i am, i have to write.

earlier today at Thanksgiving dinner, the conversation was getting a little dry until someone had the idea for everyone to go around and say something they were thankful for in the past year. genius, right? but i really liked the idea, however unoriginal it was. i thought about the past year and how grateful i am that i finished my mission, that i served a mission in the first place, that the Lord prompted me to and called me to serve one. i am grateful for my last area and for my beautiful and humble companions and grateful for the crowd waiting for me when I came home. grateful that after two family-less Thanksgivings, i was finally with every single person in my family (not to mention 3 miracle babies!).  i also felt, though, that i am not living up to my full potential. i am not being who i am--and who i am can in some ways be measured by all these wonderful things i have to be grateful for. so i should live up to them.

in Miss Candy's dance class as a little girl, Miss Candy would tell us to dance with our "magic eye." it means to lead with your heart. dance less by going through the choreographed patterns and motions and more with purpose and meaning and expression. i feel like that is how life should be lived--by feeling. so thinking about the last six months (since coming home from 18 months with beautiful Filipinos, wearing a name tag that gave me the gumption to talk to everyone and the mantle to be worthy to do so), i have found myself identifying with two people i'd rather not--two people who were "past feeling" (see 1 Nephi 17:45).  it is easy to just be accustomed to living by going through the choreographed motions, being numb to the still, small voice of the Spirit. but i know there is a happier way--that which Paul described: "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every on of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:27-28). that is sort of like dancing with your magic eye...right?

so i am going to try it. it is my Thanksgiving resolution to live up to the things that I am grateful for and be who i am by writing more, dancing, and seeking the Lord.


Adiranne's toffee cookies

a few weeks ago, one of my old friends Adrianne and I caught up and she has the wonderful baking blog. she is talented at everything--especially editing and baking. 

I made these toffee bars a few weeks ago and took them to work. they were super easy to make and they gone in like 5 minutes. can't wait to try these cookie-dough brownies, and this cilantro bisque


these rare photos look almost staged in the 21st century. women working in the 1940s



in the late 1960s, my dad was called to serve an lds mission to South Asia, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines. while there, then Elder Gordon B. Hinckley--the prophet of my youth--came to the Philippines and made the country its own mission.

when I was 8, just around the time I was getting baptized, my oldest sister Melissa was called to serve in the Philippines Cabanatuan mission.

and 2 months ago, I opened a letter from the prophet now, President Thomas S. Monson, calling me to serve for 18 months for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines Iloilo mission. I am to leave in 1 month today!


on monday...

some rad photos of my dad in the Philippines.



photo by Rick Egan| S alt Lake Tribune

wouldn't it be fun to go to Barnum and Bailey's circus this weekend? i've recently been wanting to be an acrobat.

thanks family.

thanks kate, mom + dad. not pictured: parker, jon + jenn, phoebe + megan, laura, lori. melissa, and emily. st. george lds temple.


"is mcdonald there?"

small beauty of living with mom and dad this fall:

about once a week i am sitting in my mother's kitchen when i hear a loud knocking on the front door--the kind of knocking that you expect the UPS man or the police to do. but it is no such company. it is, in fact, small neighborhood children. i open the door and find these depressingly beautiful children. they have big grins on their faces, but also look at me in fear because to them i am a stranger.

"we're here to see mcdonald," they say. now, mcdonald is my last name and i know that these cute kids are here to see my mom because she feeds them popsicles and lets them do whatever they want as long as they promise not to tell their moms, but why are they calling her mcdonald? not sister mcdonald or mrs. mcdonald--but literally: "is mcdonald here?"

"who's mcdonald?" i reply. to which they start giggling as if i was their grandfather just trying to get their goat. "you mean, carolyn?"

they are so adorable and tiptoe into our house as if it was a magical land that they can only muster up the courage to come into about once every two weeks. and my mom talks in a magical little whisper and takes them down to the garage where they smash all our diet coke cans (magical, right?).

and of course, 2 hershey kisses right before dinner...but don't tell your mommies.


nalgene and loss.

dad's old nalgene from our great hike today.

the transition phase we call puberty that tweens and teens go through is understood, even expected, and sympathized by society at large. the changes young adolescents experience are not just physical--and the world stands by as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, never expecting a 13-year-old to be polished or poised, confident or caring.

of course i experienced all these changes at the appropriate age and compliment my audiences on their patience and perseverance in seeing my potential. recently, however, i feel i am undergoing a similar transition of not a physical nature but personally and socially. i feel the same kind of added awareness of my own actions i felt when i was 13, but for completely different reasons. and people keep telling me, "you seem different." or "you've changed." well, what should a person say to that? why, yes. i have changed since i was 17 and have attended three years of college. and the spectators of my life don't wait patiently for me to fully acclimate because my awkward pause of transition is only taking place inside.

looking back on my years of consciousness, i feel my present mind is a bit stifled, and perhaps swallowed. the archives of this cyber journal are the perfect display of my loss of thoughtfulness, reflection, and writing habits over time.

case in point:

i wrote this at the beginning of july and never finished.
i can hardly believe it's july. i feel comfortable with the idea, although it seems impossible that i've lived in washington, d.c. for over 2 months. as far as cities go, i love it here. i think in my mind i have this idea that i've lived in cities all over the country

and i wrote this at the beginning of august. and never finished.
goodbye d.c., hello august. i feel a loss of openness in my life over the past three years. when i started this blog, almost three years ago exactly, i felt i had nothing to hide and nothing to prove. when i began experiencing things--moving away from home, going to college, making new friends, parting with old ones--floods of words would come to my mind and expressing myself via keyboard felt easy, gratifying. those moments of true expression when i had put into words my abstract emotions and impressions

ending my third year of college didn't even phase me. not one heartfelt goodbye, not a single blog entry about the passing of time or the way my life is always changing, like a baby gap.

i remember
my journalism professor told me once that we generally want to do what people tell us we're good at. i think for me, this was definitely the case. when people ask me why i went into journalism, i tell them i went into it because i wanted to write. that was it for me--whatever it was, travel writing, blogging, the atlantic, whatever--that was it.

i don't really know what my point is. but i know that my brain isn't empty. it just doesn't think the way it used to--in constant blogging narrative. i wish it did.


deep beauty.

my mind and heart are so full these days, that i can hardly think of anything at all.

i have been thinking about deep beauty, however, thanks to sister Dalton. she told this story:

When I was attending Brigham Young University, I learned what it truly means to be a queen. I was given a unique opportunity, along with a small group of other students, to meet the prophet, President David O. McKay. I was told to wear my best dress and to be ready to travel early the next morning to Huntsville, Utah, to the home of the prophet. I will never forget the experience I had. As soon as we entered the home, I felt the spirit which filled that home. We were seated in the prophet’s living room, surrounding him. President McKay had on a white suit, and seated next to him was his wife. He asked for each of us to come forward and tell him about ourselves. As I went forward, he held out his hand and held mine, and as I told him about my life and my family, he looked deeply into my eyes.

After we had finished, he leaned back in his chair and reached for his wife’s hand and said, “Now, young women, I would like you to meet my queen.” There seated next to him was his wife, Emma Ray McKay. Although she did not wear a crown of sparkling diamonds, nor was she seated on a throne, I knew she was a true queen. Her white hair was her crown, and her pure eyes sparkled like jewels. As President and Sister McKay spoke of their family and their life together, their intertwined hands spoke volumes about their love. Joy radiated from their faces. Hers was a beauty that cannot be purchased. It came from years of seeking the best gifts, becoming well educated, seeking knowledge by study and also by faith. It came from years of hard work, of faithfully enduring trials with optimism, trust, strength, and courage. It came from her unwavering devotion and fidelity to her husband, her family, and the Lord.

On that fall day in Huntsville, Utah, I was reminded of my divine identity, and I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants.

Elaine S. Dalton, "Remember Who You Are!", April 2010 General Young Women Meeting


backyard gathering.

megan threw me the cutest little gathering as a homecoming/farewell/birthday party. she is the best friend i could ask for. thanks so much to megan. for all the times i wished she was with me at byu/india/d.c., i'm so grateful she's here now. i couldn't survive the next 2 months without her.

many of these boys i hadn't seen for 2 years! i was so glad to see them, hug them, and talk to them like adults. i was so impressed with them.

this bag was the token souvenir from Obamatown. i knew no one would love it like meg did.


faithfully a hidden life.

"for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life."
- George Eliot, Middlemarch, pg. 799

good morning.

I really like this small drawing series I saw on ny times Abstract City blog this morning. reminds me of my flight to Bangalore. wish I could draw.


new york 10: staten island ferry.

after visiting the park, I got off of cloud 9 and onto the subway, off of the subway and onto Staten Island Ferry. I did very little planning for this trip and ended up not having enough time to do the entire Ellis Island thing. so when I learned that Becky Hayes and crew had left me on my own because I was a minute too late, the perfect combination of giddy and calm leftover from my You've Got Mail morning was gone.

luckily, I ran right into Papa Barfield. (it really was crazy that all of us Barlowers were seeing each other all over the city) and shortly after we ran into Peter. it was nice, just the three of us. I loved that ferry. what a blessing.

bless the Barlow.

only four days left. farewell D.C

going to miss this. going to miss AA Jesse--lax and responsible at the same time. Brother Rowberry--bless his heart and his inevitable awkward conversations about interdigitation, . Jay. oh Jay. Ellsworths--excited they can watch the Simpsons again. Becky Hayes. that Becky Hayes. just adore her. will miss her borrowing my clothes, me borrowing hers. will miss visiting the gift shop before the rest of the museum, lying in her bed, smelling her feet, and chatting about Jonas Brothers with her. definitely miss Brooke's bubbly laugh at 7 a.m. and her lovely singing in church. will miss confiding in Allie when I need someone to talk to, and her liberal Boston banter. will miss Hannah's sweet disposition and willingness. Dane's pleadings for Haiti money and Amanda cooking with us in the kitchen, even though she's married! Chris's Toms. will miss Mandy playing with my hair and teaching us Lady Gaga dance moves. will miss Natalie's absurd statements every night, sarcastically asking me to write her paper for her, or to keep the door unlocked while she films a soap opera with the mafia gang outside our window (we actually had this conversation last night). and I'll miss her dvds/books/earrings/wedding invites pile up on her desk. I'll desperately miss Mira. my meerkat. her angrily speaking in Arabic, bringing home McDonald's every day, but still having the hottest bod in the Barlow. Randall's soft heart and delicious sandwiches. Dave + Jessica--so fit. never forget playing Apples to Apples with Dave before Jessica came out to D.C.--so funny. Annique, I love love that girl. will miss her excitedness and openness to me. will miss venting in her room after a long Sunday. will miss Andrea's flip-flops flip-flopping down the hall. and Adam's spicy dance moves. will miss Ryan + Emily more than anyone probably. (these two put up "wanted" posters all around our floor for the culprit who stole their Costco-sized box of taquitos from the freezer. end of story). David's playfulness, and Sweeney. Sweeney deserves a post of her own. will miss her, her lap, and her lap dances so much. Julie + Oliver are so fun, will miss their laughing and stories with belly dancers. Seth--an anomaly. don't know if I'll miss his offensive e-mails and sarcastic jokes--even though they're pretty hilarious. will miss Talyn's cleanliness and articulation. will miss Trevor's teasing and listening and storytelling. will miss the times when Jeff comes to dinner stinky and sweaty, but excited (or hiding disgust) to eat. that boy drives me bonkers. it will be a miracle if I ever understand one thing about him. Russell Frand. guess I'll miss him. perhaps. will miss Josh's tender administration at institute, not to mention him singing Keith Urban at keraoke! won't ever forget Grady's quiet voice and conservative opinions--but mostly him knowing random facts about Pittsburgh and singing--to a T--"won't you be, won't you be, won't you be my neighbor?" Papa Barfield's iPhone and everything that comes with it--like his brain! will miss asking a question and not having Russell there to know the answer. will miss riding to work every day with John Lenahan. will miss Peter's obtuse and oblivious mannerisms, his initiative to hang out with Bob Boilen. I'll miss skyping with him to Lucy and I'll miss his camera. will especially miss Andrew and his appreciation for me. if I spent every day with him, I'd feel like $1 million every day.

missing: my main girl Kailey. she deserves a post of her own that girl. never have I met anyone with more love in their hearts and on their sleeve. this girl knows how to care, knows how to love.

bless the Barlow.

phillips collection.

peter. the closest he's come to a bicycle all summer. (peter has a camera and I love stealing it to take pictures. oh how I wish I had my own! someday.)

kid-zone in the basement of the gallery. most fun we had all day. if anyone can find these soft, colorful, sculpting wires I will give them $1 million. they were so fun to play with!


the Phillips Collection was one of my favorite galleries I've been to all summer. my favorite was the Pousette-Dart Predominantly White exhibit.