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.
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
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.
my mind and heart are so full these days, that i can hardly think of anything at all.
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.
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.
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.
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.
the lovely array of pom-poms called for fanning +flaring + girl talk between the bride, Lene, and me. treasured time before her big day.
wedding quilt was amazing. if I want one thing at my wedding, it's a wedding quilt.
day two: waiting outside the temple. all of us roommates!
took pictures with Ariel's camera...which is why I have hardly any pictures myself.
was so good to see brooke + gordy. family to me.
between the temple and the pictures and reception, a lot of driving was in order to retrieve sign-in book pens, garter, ring pillow, getaway car supplies, and gifts.
Parker! Parker is one of our oldest friends from freshman year who just got home from his mission. it was so fun to see him and have him be a groomsman. Lene and I dragged him around in the backseat all day. he didn't seem to mind?
jess, me, lene, rylee.
getting ready in the bathroom. had a little struggle getting the shoes on but we made it. again, treasured minutes that we'll never have back again.
I've lived and slept and ate and breathed with this girl for the past two years. and I don't know that I've ever seen her more calm than she was on her wedding day. is she not the most beautiful bride? can't wait to see Keira's photos.