Warning super long post below… read at your own risk.

To preface this post I will say right now this is a rant (a rant made while I am very tired and slightly homesick). So to be fair to England and its people this is probably not completely accurate of my feelings of my visit here or what is actually occurring in England. This is also not to say that United States does not have many failings as well because it certainly does and I could easily bombast about those as well. This is simply to let me get it out… because I am tired, miss my home (and especially my silly little puppy) and I do not have any close friends in England yet to talk some of this stuff through… so don’t judge this post harshly even though what is said is harsh. That being said, proceed if you want to hear me take issue with a place that I really don’t have too much of an issue with….

Yesterday I walked through two metro stations and took a 30-45 min over-ground train with chocolate on my face- some days are just like that. Instead of people having courtesy and informing you that you have chocolate on your face they let you walk around like an idiot. This whole country in my opinion, right now, has chocolate on its face and as an international traveler I feel compelled to not be a prat and let them know.

Now a nice gentleman on the underground told me that I simply came at the wrong time in the wrong year (this is undoubtedly true). Due to the election being held soon strikes occur with common frequency right now, but when your national gallery is striking- it’s a problem. When public transportation strikes- it’s a problem, when ambulances strike- it’s seriously a major problem. Instead of using democratic methods and electing those that they hope will make a change they create mass chaos and risk lives trying to make a statement, irregardless, or perhaps because of, the trouble they cause those around them. Sure, they inform you ahead of time that they are going to strike but I’m not sure how much that matters to the person who goes into labor or has a heart attack. “Sorry you should have planned your demise better” just doesn’t seem like a solid answer. On a less dramatic note the people in London for only a short period of time miss most of the national gallery as huge chunks are closed but… too bad if you really wanted to see that particular Rembrandt or Monet you will just have to fly across the ocean at a better time.

Some British (not all) look across the ocean and demean our government, our way of life, and yes, even our intelligence, yet I am not worried that if an emergency happens that an ambulance will come. In the paper a few days ago an article mentioned a petition to ask for enough money to acquire a second medical helicopter, only one currently exists for all of London and its outskirts. One! They are not even sure if they will get the money for a second and yet people are striking to try to suck more money out of a system that claims they cannot afford more than one emergency helicopter for a city of more than 8 million!

Try as I might to love London… I simply cannot. I like the people. Most have been kind aside from the crazy few who pre-judge me for simply being American and stick those noses up a bit higher than normal. As for the actual city of London as a whole- well let’s just say that it’s ‘not my people’ as my friend Melissa told me.

In my musings I discovered I am not a city girl as I once was. I loved living in DC and suffered from Potomac fever ever since I left. As age continues to grow on me though, I am not longer the girl that thrives on people and energy that cities give. Instead nature speaks to me more and provides my soul with what it craves. Cities tend to be dirty, dilapidated in places, with lots of suffering. London is no different. Homeless live at Heathrow airport, litter lines the rails roads complete with a graffiti backdrop of gang signs and profanity, and the endless clouds and rain complete the picture of despair. Taking the train home during rush hour shows me people whose faces are lined with worries and aged from too much tobacco and alcohol. This is compounded with that fact that as a rule no one smiles at each other, and to communicate with a stranger is a social faux-pas of the highest order. I decided today to smile at an older gentleman and comment on his ingenuity to put his newspaper on the seat in front of him so he could put his feet up- he looked up at me and literally grumbled frowned and then ignored me completely.

What kind of society dictates that to be kind is unacceptable?

A funny note stemming from this thought, I think it is finally time I told you about my mini miracle of over a week ago. Last Monday I bumped into, I believe, eight sets of missionaries. I met two wonderful senior missionary couples who treated me to dinner. Their kindness was God sent. When meeting the last set of missionaries I realized maybe they were a sign that I needed to be a better missionary, and because I talked to them, I missed my train home and had to wait for another to come. Once on the train I noticed an old man who seemed upset. I can’t tell you how I could tell expect his motions seemed irritated. However, having adopting the London attitude of wearing headphones to signal the inability to chat, I ignored him. Still, I felt the need to ask him if he was ok. I ignored that prompting until I felt it again. So I took out my headphones, turned to him, and said, “How are you today?” He turned and looked with a fascinating mixture of stunned shock and a small part mischievous smile and replied, “How do people respond when you talk to them like that? People around here just don’t do that.” I laughed as I told him, “Well, the moment I open my mouth they know I’m American and so I get away with it… and I also get away with it as a cute blonde girl.” He grunted and told me that, “Indeed, you do not appear to be very threatening.” When I asked again how he was he replied that he was just surviving that day and had been only surviving for a while now. I told I was sorry for that and his response was, “well surviving is better than not surviving.” One cannot argue with that I suppose. We chatted a bit. He was curious what an American was doing in England and I mentioned that my mission helped with my being able to talk to anybody (even grumpy old men on trains- though I didn’t say that) still I wanted to do something more for him. I had bought chocolate on a whim earlier that day. I offered him a piece. His response was priceless as he told me, “I can’t because of diabetes.” I said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were a diabetic.” Him- “I’m not but that chocolate might make me one.” 🙂 (too funny) I told him I didn’t think that one chocolate would cause his demise and I really wanted him to have a piece so that it might help his day go a bit better and his tomorrow too. On his way off the train I again felt like I needed to tell him something more. At first I hesitated but thought… what the heck. I told him “God be with you. I pray He blesses your tomorrows.” He kind of waved that off as he exited but he stopped at my window…smiled… and waved goodbye. I knew in that moment that I did indeed bump into all those missionaries for a reason. That God needed me to let this man know that people saw him and cared. I knew that I am who I am for reasons like this- someone who can talk to grumpy old men on a train and laugh about diabetes with one piece of chocolate. I knew that I could be here in London and be a source of good because I am not scared to speak up. (More on this in tomorrow’s post)

(More rant…) It is frustrating that I missed sacrament this week because they closed the whole train station and an underground station which meant over an hour delay in my getting to London. And tomorrow is yet another strike. It’s the buses turn to strike and so if a little old lady needs to go somewhere she will have to brave ice and snow. I miss home. I miss my dog so much that I have dreamed about him multiple times and I miss the United States where we have issues- but they are issues I know how to deal with. I read in the paper about the 15th knife fight death that has occurred at parties this year in London and thought- yes we may have gun control problems but if you outlaw guns then people will simply find something else to use. There are problems everywhere. Perhaps the thing for me to get from this is to not idolize any country or region. Europe seemed so amazing (though I am and will always be a die-hard US citizen and staunch believer in the constitution) Europe seemed to have something we lacked. Now though I see it for what it is… a place that also houses the imperfect human race and is therefore- imperfect. Perhaps I can learn from the good but also see the bad and know more fully what it is that I truly appreciate and love about my country and what things we can change and improve. This will be my goal while I am here. To see the good and the bad so that when I come home I can more clearly see what it is that is in front of me.

Yes almost all of this whole post has been a rant. But as I finally took my laptop with me into the city today with the intent to find a painting that I love to inspire my writing, only to find out that the gallery is closed- well a rant is what you get…. Until next time. 🙂 Night everyone. May God bless you and may your tomorrow’s be better than your today’s.

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Pics

Rosetta stone

Rosetta stone

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Parthenon pieces

Parthenon pieces

For your info

For your info

Nereid Monument

Nereid Monument

Yep- Tea from East Indian Tea Company- had to. (and it's really yummy)

Yep- Tea from East Indian Tea Company- had to. (and it’s really yummy)

Magna Carta 1297

Magna Carta 1297

Traditional Brit food from a pub

Traditional Brit food from a pub

Churchill memorial

Churchill memorial

How they put the largest boat in the world (at the time) into the water. Designed by Brummel.

How they put the largest boat in the world (at the time) into the water. Designed by Brummel.

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I love random photos like this. This dog was so so content to sleep on this ledge with his owner outside Westminster.

I love random photos like this. This dog was so so content to sleep on this ledge with his owner outside Westminster.

They had beautiful deep stained glass in St. Margaret's Cathedral.

They had beautiful deep stained glass in St. Margaret’s Cathedral.

Some of the glass was blown on in St. Margaret's cathedral during WWII this is what they replaced it with.

Some of the glass was blown on in St. Margaret’s cathedral during WWII this is what they replaced it with.

Me and my new friend Caitlin (from Montreal) We had a great day seeing Westminster abbey and just hanging out today.

Me and my new friend Caitlin (from Montreal) We had a great day seeing Westminster abbey and just hanging out today.

Cool view from St. Paul's.

Cool view from St. Paul’s.

On the  bridge.

On the bridge.

The queen is in residence.

The queen is in residence.

Queen's flag.

Queen’s flag.

Harrods.

Harrods.

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The first round of Pics

Cool Photo

FYI- pretty cool to remember the Americans.

FYI- pretty cool to remember the Americans.

Westminster Abbey- I can't wait to go in- I will eventually spend the money.

Westminster Abbey- I can’t wait to go in- I will eventually spend the money.

St. Paul's at night. Walking around trying to find the Thames and some guy told me to go the roof of this mall for the view. It was worth it!

St. Paul’s at night. Walking around trying to find the Thames and some guy told me to go the roof of this mall for the view. It was worth it!

For my mom! Thought my mom would like this- every where Police have dogs- this is so you don't freak out!

For my mom!
Thought my mom would like this- every where Police have dogs- this is so you don’t freak out!

The palace. The palace was not as amazing as you would hope it would be. The white house is somehow more grand the palace. No wonder the British hate this building.

The palace. The palace was not as amazing as you would hope it would be. The white house is somehow more grand the palace. No wonder the British hate this building.

Love it! Hyde Park crossing. One of the crossings from Hyde park showed horse and bike- on the other side was a little man for walking.

Love it! Hyde Park crossing. One of the crossings from Hyde park showed horse and bike- on the other side was a little man for walking.

Flag- Half staff. There was an uproar about the flag at half staff over the Saudi king dying.

Flag- Half staff. There was an uproar about the flag at half staff over the Saudi king dying.

Me and Big Ben Me- yep in London- My first real London site

Me and Big Ben
Me- yep in London- My first real London site

Hyde park domesticated squirrels.  They walk right up to you. One girl had one on her shoulder and another on her lap. They are awfully cute. The birds- the birds I could do without.

Hyde park domesticated squirrels.
They walk right up to you. One girl had one on her shoulder and another on her lap. They are awfully cute. The birds- the birds I could do without.

Albert memorial. It amazes me how much is dedicated to Victoria and Albert in London- way more than any other king or queen. And the love she had for Albert was incredible. This is in his memory of her Prince- consort.

Albert memorial.
It amazes me how much is dedicated to Victoria and Albert in London- way more than any other king or queen. And the love she had for Albert was incredible. This is in his memory of her Prince- consort.

London Bridge at night. I walked both ways of this bridge, then lost my necklace, so I walked it four more times! But lit up at night- Simply gorgeous. The detail is stunning- even the windows are beautiful.

London Bridge at night.
I walked both ways of this bridge, then lost my necklace, so I walked it four more times! But lit up at night- Simply gorgeous. The detail is stunning- even the windows are beautiful.

A half bridge forgotten. Walking by the Thames and saw this 'bridge'?  It looks like they forgot about it.

A half bridge forgotten.
Walking by the Thames and saw this ‘bridge’? It looks like they forgot about it.

Big Ben, police, parliament. To bad parliament was in session- I would have loved to tour it.

Big Ben, police, parliament.
To bad parliament was in session- I would have loved to tour it.

Good picture of the eye.  Big Ben was directly to my left.

Good picture of the eye.
Big Ben was directly to my left.

Flowers in bloom- January? I saw these flowers in Hyde Park on the Diana memorial walk. The smell was so strong it wiped out all the smells of the city- though honestly London doesn't smell that badly. But it's January and they were in bloom- they plant them frequently to make sure there are some in bloom. Wow!

Flowers in bloom- January?
I saw these flowers in Hyde Park on the Diana memorial walk. The smell was so strong it wiped out all the smells of the city- though honestly London doesn’t smell that badly. But it’s January and they were in bloom- they plant them frequently to make sure there are some in bloom. Wow!

Hyde Park church/visitor center. I thought this was a very interesting looking church building and thought you should see it. Love where and how they stuck the steeple.

Hyde Park church/visitor center.
I thought this was a very interesting looking church building and thought you should see it. Love where and how they stuck the steeple.

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Meeting people is a lonely business… time to get personal.

Warning: This may be more than you want to know.

Every Sunday I write in my journal during sacrament meeting at church (if you aren’t Mormon sacrament meeting is basically mass, or your normal Sunday meeting- we just go for three hours on Sunday, sacrament meeting is one hour of the three). So every Sunday I take the time to reflect on my week while I listen the talks (a short sermon given by a member of the congregation) and I write about what I am listening to but I also write about whatever comes to mind. When you write about your week or religious topics, without censoring your feelings, some deep reflection occurs. Therefore I believe that on Sunday’s I will blog about things that may indeed relate to my trip or to travels, but they will be deeper, emotional and personal insights. So if you don’t care about that – feel free to tune out on Sundays.

So let’s be honest today. Not something I really feel like doing…. but I believe that it is important.

Today was hard.

And tonight was even harder.

Not for any stupendous or even obvious reason but I struggled. Here is my theory on my emotional wackiness and it’s a multi-pronged theory. First and foremost- meeting new people is a lonely business. It seems counter intuitive but meeting people, all new people, and lots of them, really makes you realize that you are alone. There is no one around you who knows you. Every time you introduce yourself you have to repeat the same old things. ‘Why are you here? How long are you here for? What brings you here? What’s your name? What do you do for a living? Where are you from?’ Pretty much that is the list. And after repeating it for the 10th or 20th time you realize that no one has any clue what makes you tick or who you are and though they are being kind trying to get to know you, that takes work, effort, and a mutual goal of learning about each other. Normally I enjoy this. I tend to think of myself as an outgoing extrovert who feeds off other people’s energy (though like most people I need down time).  I am not shy. I don’t lack confidence in most social situations. But no matter who you are extending yourself can be draining. I love my church, I have faith in the doctrine taught and I love when the people try to embrace me and help me feel comfortable; however, all those good intentions meant that every time I turned around today I had to answer the aforementioned questions and every time I felt energy seeping out of me. It’s one thing to meet one or two people and then to turn to the friends that you know and trust but to meet lots of people, and to try to put yourself out there in the hopes of making friends, then realizing you aren’t there for long enough to really form a strong bond…. well I am tired. Everyone exuded kindness as it tends to be the Christian way, and I am sure that helped, but you have to wonder how many people truly care or are just expressing polite curiosity? So I drained myself for a lot of polite curiosity mixed I’m sure with some genuine feelings.

I felt the spirit of the Lord today through a beautiful rendition of How Great Thou Art. I listened to a very good, and very funny talk and the lessons came right from the manual. But once again I sat in church meetings where the teachers sugar coat the lessons, avoiding some of the harder truths, and as always, I spoke up. Let me explain. In the lesson about continuing revelation the lesson headed towards the idea that all you have to do is ask and the Lord will direct you and everything you do should involve revelation from the Lord before you go about your life. This is a good theory, but it fails to address what you do when the Lord answers you with, “You decide, I gave you a brain and knowledge so make the best choice you can.” Or “Not yet.” Or when you have to struggle for years before the Lord sees that you are ready for what you asking for, or the Lord expecting you to act… then He will help. The Lord will answer, I’m not denying that, but it helps me to remember that it is not always a smooth process. These are the types of things I want people to talk about because they are the things I need to remember. I had many people today thank me for my comments, because I believe, like me, these thoughts help them. However, to not go with the flow of the lesson also takes energy.

I slept badly last night. I woke up early and couldn’t fall back asleep. I really hoped to find someone to hang out with this week, and indeed I did, but being tired to start does not help when you are in new territory, meeting new people, with new everything. I also was tired at the start of this trip. I came with a cold. It has not fully left me yet and I am fighting to try to make the best of this while battling illness.

These are all reasons for why I struggled and why on the way home I felt wiped out (it takes about an hour or more depending on train and bus schedules to get to church) So when I was walking from the train station to the bus stop and started running while looking behind me at the approaching bus I was going to miss, and rammed right into a metal pole, head first, hard, well… yep I cried. I gave myself a goose egg, a broken lip and a tooth hurt in case you were wondering how hard I hit…. yep! Well I missed the bus and walked myself home instead of waiting for the next bus. I proceeded to indulge in a good cry and talked to the Lord (which I did out loud… this resulted in some very curious expressions from the passing Brits).

So before you going planning a six month trip- remember as awesome as it is- or the idea is- it’s not all St. Paul’s cathedral and lights on the Thames… and today was not all bad or even bad at all, simply exhausting. The sun will shine tomorrow. I promised pictures and tomorrow I shall provide and I’m sure it will be a light happy post, as there are juicy fun details from today as well, but for tonight I end my reflections with- Thank God. I thank God that I know He is there. I thank Him for listening to me. I thank Him for helping me calm down and letting me know that tomorrow is another day and I can take it at my own pace, and I thank Him for the growth that I know will occur on this trip.

Love ya,

N

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I know where the British GDP comes from.

£ 18 to enter St. Paul’s cathedral

£18 to enter Westminster Abbey

Basically to see or do anything in London you had better have money and money to burn. To give you an idea right now 18 GBP is $26.98 USD. Yep, that’s right, just to enter two churches would cost me over $50. With hundreds of people going to many more sites than just two churches it’s no wonder the government and people are very friendly when tourists come. This is one way they boost their GDP. Now this is really an unfair evaluation, coming from someone who is just a teeny tiny little bit annoyed that everywhere I want to go costs money, and fairly said the people here, average people not worried about the GDP, have been absolutely fantastic. I cannot tell you how many people I have stopped to ask for help or directions and they stop their busy lives to make sure that I get where I need to go or stop to take a picture of me when I needed one. An adorable older couple walked me over the bridge, away from the train station they need to be at, to make sure they point in the right direction of tower bridge. Everyone has been so nice. If there is one thing that I can say about London – the people are kind and helpful (though I am still a bit bitter about the price of everything here).

Onto other news I finally feel like I am in London. Seeing Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, and other major sites does help one to finally accept the truth that, indeed, you are actually there. Tower Bridge (more on that below) stunned me. The detail and the lights reflecting on the Thames were wondrous. Hearing Big Ben chiming in the background made it all seem real, a fantasy brought to life. I am very grateful I am here and I am doing this.

Food for thought on being an American Tourist in England.

The London Bridge, as we Americans think of it, is not in fact the London Bridge. The London Bridge is quite simply just a bridge; it is Tower Bridge that is in all the photos. Walking over an hour in the wrong direction to go to the “London Bridge” will teach you that. Everyone did send me in the right direction when I asked to go to the London Bridge. I now know why they asked me, “What’s at London Bridge?” I would reply “I just want to see it at night.” Oh dear. Oh well, now I know.

One of my favorite things so far has been the London Museum which is one of the only free things in London and gives amazing free tours. Of that I will always remember a quote from one of the tour guides. In referencing when Rome came into Britain and how the Britain recognized their power and tried to make allies he said “It’s like the American’s coming in with all their tanks and arms and knocking on the door.” -this is coming from someone who lives in the most imperialist driven nation in world history. I can’t help it, I know America, or the US, has a bad rep and all but honestly- coming from a Brit- the idea is laughable to me and I almost spoke up and said something but it would have been rude to interrupt the tour.

More food for thought because well all like more food… There must be a million posts on Pinterest on ‘How to pack for Europe’ or ‘How to dress like a European’ let me make one thing clear. You are American. The moment you open your mouth that is obvious. Furthermore, if you are at the tourist sites no matter how you are dressed, you are a target for pick-pocketing as only tourists go there. So who the heck cares if you look like an American? Don’t go buy anything new because you want to ‘fit in’ simply dress comfortably. This is especially true in England because, honestly, the style here does not constitute style at all. I have never seen so many people I would nominate for what not to wear. Their style is not one I would try to emulate if one wants to look classy. I am not trying to mean or rude here. Honest. It is simply a different culture and they think they look hot so they do. But even watching their version of “what not to wear” on TV, I would never have dressed them in that ‘Transformation outfit.’ My only thought was, “Ahhh!!! Put them back on!” Too tight, boots that cut off their leg length, every age woman in tight thin black leggings, fake fur, tassels, biker leather jackets (that look like a biker had actually worn them), this is my impression of British fashion. At least for the women. The men on the other hand all look like they stepped right off the cover of GQ (and yep they are amazingly good looking- A real blow for my push to shove men out of my thoughts and life) Fitted pants, vests, pinstripes, even blue shoe laces on the perfect tan shoes just to give them a ‘pop’, and the boys are groomed to match -some overly for my taste and my hormones send thanks for the break, and my head also gets a break swiveling to catch a second glimpse. I will say they take it to extremes sometimes as well- I even saw a guy with curled toes on his shoes and all I thought was – court jester. Either way my point is love yourself how you are and don’t over pack or change your wardrobe (unless you need a wardrobe change anyway because some of the above mentioned clothing articles are sitting in your closet right now) and you will be fine. I cannot tell you how many people have assumed that I am from here, my favorite was when a clearly British (accent) woman asked me which underground line to take. That was joke. When I explained that it didn’t matter as both tracks were going the same way as it was the end of the line i.e.: there was no track going the opposite direction, she had to ask another person to make sure -because – well what does the American know. 😉

Adventures everyday guys… and it’s only day four. Can’t wait to see what church brings for me tomorrow.

Love you all!

N

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A wicked cold = not too many experiences, and yet….

There is much to tell despite only having been here two days and having slept most of those two days. I can only imagine what I would have to tell if I had energy to really be up and about. So here is my list and today I think that a list is appropriate of interesting things in the last two days.

1. People here are very friendly. Pretty much every British person I have met has been incredibly kind, helpful and friendly. I think that might be all that needs to be said though for interest I sat next to a wonderful girl on the plane, who oddly enough, has Mormon relatives and has therefore been to Utah and knows about my beliefs (small world). The people I am renting from are really nice and very hospitable. One even worked from home for the day to make sure they were here when I arrived from my flight and to make sure I was comfortable. Really nice people = a easy transition.

2. We do not speak the same language despite calling it the same thing and using the same dictionary. In my ignorance I thought I had planned for it all. I even bought travel adapters or power converters to make sure I could charge my plethora of electronic devices. Sadly, despite the fact I knew the that UK is very different from the rest of Europe I forgot they would have different power plug. In my attempt to purchase an adapter, as my battery power sunk lower and lower, I discovered we do not speak the same language all the time. Apparently it is not called a power adapter or a converter but a tourist plug. Well… okay then it only took me maybe two hours to find the place that sold one as I had to explain it 10 ways till I was understood. Thankfully as the mentioned I have very nice people I am renting from, and they had some adapters that they provided until the one I ordered can come in. On the bright side at least they understand the words I use to describe the adapters- I doubt Portugal will be as easy but main point : British English does not =  US English

3. There are some very different ways of life. Eggs are found in the baking isle, in the non-refrigerated section = my mind bubble reads ‘oh dear’. In fact the whole layout of the grocery store is very odd for me. Not bad- just different. Not to mention the first time (only time so far) that I have ridden on the wrong side of the road- golly wolly! I am so glad I didn’t rent a car right out of the airport. I had mini heart attacks just riding in the the back of the taxi watching cars come at us thinking ‘we are going to crash!’ All of the stores here seem to close by 5 or 6 with nothing open for shopping. Fashion, units of measure, smiling at people while passing, all very different from what I am used to. Which is the point of traveling the world. If everything were the same- I should have just stayed in the US, so I am glad that it is odd, but it has taken me a lot longer to buy some simple groceries than it would have and I am unsure, but there seems to be a unwritten rule of intense silence on the tube. So intense the I could hear the person next to me swallow and my head turned every time someone turned the morning paper all this while being crammed full- so despite the fact that they show US shows on TV does not = being in the US. (Oh as a side note for my mom- Murder she Wrote is on TV right now- some things never change 🙂 )

4. I slept 14 hours straight- not something my pup would have allowed. I slept better than I have in a long time. So new adventures await as I get healthy and adapt to being in Europe. Cold, jet lag, stress and no pup to wake me up (despite missing him already) = lots of sleep!

So this is what I have learned so far, can’t wait to see what I learn next.

Till next time!

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Finally here!!!

Today I leave and I don’t just mean ‘leave’ as in get on a plane and travel though I am certainly doing that. Today I leave. I leave my parents, I leave my dog and hopefully, I leave me too. I leave the me that I have become in the last year. A me that I don’t necessarily enjoy being. Much has happened this year. I have gone from living on my own to living with my parents. I have gone through heartache, body ache, spiritual ache, and a whole bunch more aches. It has also been a good year. I swam with dolphins, met new people, and most importantly I decided to take control over my life and to forge the future that I desire. I found out this year that my mom has cancer. My father also struggled with health issues and recently my sister has also been through some life changing experiences. Hopefully for all of us the trials encourage growth, change and development, but I have also found myself on the brink of over-stress. I find myself being incredibly giving, loving and tender followed by small bouts of intense selfishness, jealousy and need.  A need that I seek fulfillment for from people who are probably unable to give my remedy. I blame them for not helping me and yet, they cannot, then I blame myself from blaming them, then I hate the fact that I have become this evil selfish person. These are my feelings and they have been on the same roller coaster that my life has been on, up down twists turns- constantly moving and yet not going anywhere. I cannot always tell what I am feeling until it all lets loose and some poor unsuspecting person gets caught in the whirlwind of emotion. For all of these reason I leave, and I hope I leave that stress and yuck behind. I hope that six months is long enough to re-find my path and to remember who and what it is that I seek to become and accomplish. So that when I return I have filled my stores and can be once again unselfish and loving. I hope that I seek to fill my need through God and through myself and not through people who cannot always provide. I hope I learn independence in seeking to fulfill my needs and that others do not always have a role in that. I hope that I find self discovery. I hope I get rid of all that clouds my mind and judgement when I make decisions concerning my future. Basically I leave for a new hope.

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Opinions- so what to do?

For years I prided myself on the ability to express an opinion on any topic presented to me. After all, one can always change their opinion if the opposing argument becomes more persuasive. So pick a side and debate it- don’t argue, but debate, discuss and decide. Determine the strength and validity of your side and what side you should be on. Whatever you do at least pick a side. As years pass I find myself much less likely to debate realizing that most people don’t understand what constitutes a debate and they only know how to argue and fight about a topic, making personal attacks instead of attacking the point. Conversations morph from discussions into battles and I find myself shrinking from the fight where I once threw myself in with abandon not caring about casualties. Furthermore, age forces me to understand how complicated topics can be and all of this ends with my being reluctant to form, more or less express, an opinion. As a former political science major this is most distressing.

The reason that I bring this up tonight: the Immigration debate and President Obama’s announcement. Don’t get started about the legality or right or wrong of his decision to act as he has, I do actually have an opinion about that, but that is not the topic I want discussed or debated. I want to discuss Immigration for I find I cannot create an opinion on my own.

Let me start with one side.

I am going to Europe. There are places in Europe that I would love to stay for an extended period. However European law, as discussed in a previous post, only allows me to stay for three months before becomes illegal and they kick me out. As that is the case I plan on leaving. However, let us say, that instead I decide that Switzerland is for me. After all, they have great medical coverage, they tend to be a peaceful nation, and they have the highest personal income rate of any other nation. Well my goodness- that is better than it is here in the States isn’t it?So I think that I will take myself into that country, hide away and stay put. After a few years of living there, or even after many many years,  let’s say they find me. Do I now have the right to stay? To insist that this is my nation and it is not fair to kick me out? They must grant me citizenship because I decided to make this my home? I knew better. I knew that it was illegal. I knew the rules and I ignored them. I may even have had a kid there. But I still knew better. Is this right because of the argument that it is better place to live?  Or that I already made my way there?

Or how about past history. As President Obama said, and many have said, this is a nation of immigrants and will always be. How awesome! My grandparents were immigrants on both sides throughout the span of America becoming colonized. I am so grateful, incredibly grateful, that they came here. I love the United States and it is an incredible opportunity. But they came here legally (well maybe not the first ones who came here and took land from the Native American’s- but that too is another topic). And when they came to Ellis Island they could have been shipped home without any lawyers or protests or any arguments from anyone in the states. In fact sending someone back to their country was completely acceptable. Not pleasant but that is what happened and only certain people  were accepted as citizens of this country. What happened to the idea of coming in legally? What happened to the idea that it is okay to send someone back or to not accept them in? What happened to the people in this country understanding that or taking responsibility for their actions? Do we not care about the law at all in this country any more?

What happened to the distinction between immigration and illegal aliens? And are we a country that wants people who break the law from the start to be here? 

Off of that last point and on to the other side.

On a horrible day in my life, the day that my aunt died, an aunt that I was very close to, I took myself into Provo Canyon with my version of comfort food to sit by the water and try to deal with the affects. There I sat, by myself, crying when I felt a tap on my shoulder. A young woman stood there and invited me to share a meal with her family. We had never met, and she was as unfamiliar to me as I was to her, but seeing my distress she reached out to me. Most of her family could not talk to me as they did not speak the language. Instead she translated key things, or left her family out, as she, her husband and I discussed our lives, future plans, as well as many other topics. They came here illegally trying to create a future for their family. Her act kindness changed me. Her story changed me. She demonstrated, in a small deed, the type of person I want to be. I remember her son needed swim lessons, and at the time I was a swim coach and I wanted to teach him. To give him that opportunity. He did deserve it. Her whole family worked very hard. Lots of hours and in difficult positions so that he would have a great life and I wanted that for them. True Americans who understood the value of living here.

So what to do? Do we kick out grandmothers? The elderly? Do we just drop them off and say fend for yourself- you came here illegally so tough? It doesn’t matter that you have given your life up to live here, and have done so without crime, because you wanted the best for your kids. Is that right? Is it acceptable to tear lives and families apart for the sake the law? Because of what is written on a piece of paper? To ruin hopes,futures, and the very american dream that created this country?  These are people’s lives and they are not going from the US to Switzerland, they are going from deep despair to great hope. They are going from lives that I have only read or heard about, never truly experienced, to something that should be available to all the world if the world was fair. And that is the problem- the world is not fair. So what to do? How to be compassionate but still follow the law. Law and order are key to any society maintaining a level of safety and prosperity. So we cannot reasonably compromise the law too much or we risk our own country falling into chaos.  Laws can change but how would you change this? And we cannot flood the country with people where we cannot keep up with the people coming in. So what to do? Honor the law and all it represents, or to honor peoples who have fought for something better? Do we or do we not force them to leave?

No. And Yes. And forming an opinion on this is tearing me apart and this is only one topic.

Please answer. Answer with thoughts, opinions, facts, stories. Help me decide. Help me as at least pick a side.

One last thought of my own. Is there a side or is this just one of the many horrible gray areas of life.

(As always, please excuse any typos or grammar errors. I am writing this in passion not for grade in school and have not edited it.)

Love you all- remember to debate and not to fight – peace wins the day 🙂

Noelle

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Missing you already- and I haven’t even left

A few months ago I read a scalding blog post from a Mormon man  and other men criticizing women who have small dogs in lieu of children. Even the Pope spoke out against it. This all stemmed from a study. Here is a link to an article about it. http://nypost.com/2014/04/10/more-young-women-choosing-dogs-over-motherhood/

Let’s be clear right here and now. A small dog owns me and I somewhat own him. He blesses my life and I love him completely and stupidly. So my thoughts are some what biased. And as you can tell from the post title I already feel the pain of separation from him and I haven’t even left, so sad. That being said. I want to criticize right on back to every man who blames me for my choices in this.

After graduation I moved in with my parents for a few months. Their dog ended up biting me and putting me in the hospital from it. Sadly, but necessarily, we put him down that day. I still feel scarred from those events but afterwards I knew that I needed a dog in my life again so that I could fully heal. I wanted a dog that would be hypo-allergenic, friendly, and would be content in an apartment. Which ruled out a large dog immediately. I don’t believe that it is fair to have a large dog in an apartment. All of those elements in play I choose a Bichon Frise and yes I got a pure bread- to scared to try and roll the dice like we had with my parents dog. Pip Squeak (aka Pip) has been a wonderful healing process. I also moved out and moved into an apartment by myself. Pip has been a great companion to ease the emptiness of living alone as well as a good little noise maker if someone comes into the apartment.

He makes me laugh and is always so so excited to see me- ridiculously at moments but honestly when your day hits rock bottom it is wonderful to have someone love you so much and express it. Pip has been with me through multiple moves, hospital stays, finding out about some serious tragedy’s including the news that my already sick, type one diabetic mother,  has cancer too. Thankfully it is a non-aggressive form of cancer- for the moment. Yes it will progress but we are managing it better. Needless to say Pip was there for me for that as well. He sleeps on my bed at night and when ever I let him on my lap during the day.

However, I would always choose to have children. I would love to be married to the right guy and to start a family- the key part- to the right guy. The reason that Pip receives so much of my love is that I have not met the right guy yet. I do not need perfect but someone who meshes with me. For most women dogs are not a substitute or replacement but a segue or waiting period for the rest to come. I am supposed to wait to love until that special someone comes into my life? Am I supposed to not have companionship until I find a man who is really the man I need? Heck NO! Hence Pip. I do not think that a man who truly loves me would want me to be lonely while we try to find each other. I believe that in loving Pip I am increasing my capacity to love and to have patience- do men not want that because I sure do and  Pip is like my child right now- I am after all in child bearing years without a kid, but at least I am not married to a child who could not even see all the evidence around him of what is going on.

All of this being said. Do not judge. Do not jump to conclusions that women have a small dog because they do not want kids. For I want a small dog and kids! And do not judge me for leaving him behind for 6 months. I will miss him more that he will miss me. When I got Pip I promised myself and him and I would do everything I could for him to have a happy life (a responsibility for all dog owners) Which is why I am slightly sick inside for leaving him yet I know that he will be super spoiled with “grandma and grandpa” (who will kill me for calling them that in regards to a dog- oh well 🙂 )

Finally I will also really miss spending time with my parents. Especially my mother who is sick but is also my best friend. We have spent a lot of time together and I will miss her- but with skype everyday I will be fine and I started this blog (with a .com site) so that she could follow my adventures,  Leaving her will be hard but especially because she is sick. However as she wants me to do this, perhaps even more than I want it for myself I love her for it, I will go! With all of this change there are many things that I will miss and am missing and I haven’t even left yet.

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On realizing that I am crazy

There comes a point in everyone’s life that they must admit that they are a bit nuts. I don’t believe that I am all that different, in fact I think everyone has a bit of the crazy in them, but I exceed even my expectations. Let’s start with a funny story that happened a few days ago. This is a completely true and honest account of the events in my life. To get to the juice of the story, following a church meeting I attended with my parents, and where I silenced my phone, my mother convinced us all that we needed to pick up ice cream on the way home (I’m sure it took a lot of effort on her part ;). I went down the chocolate isle while my mother fished for frozen desserts (in 30 degree weather ?!?- chocolate is a much better idea) Having picked our goodies we checked out and drove home. Once home I made a horrifying discovery that I was sans phone and could not find it anywhere. My parents helped look for almost an hour when I decided I would go back to the store. I must have left it in the chocolate isle while grabbing more chocolate than I should eat (blerk). I noticed while pulling out of the driveway that my phone was connecting to my car’s bluetooth and realized that I must have it on my person. I padded down my pockets for probably the 10th time and…no phone. I finally patted my whole body down and discovered it – lo and behold- in my bra! Yes people, yours truly is so well endowed that I completely forgot about a huge cell phone stuffed into my bra- which I had stuffed there so I could hold more chocolate without dropping my phone. It was quite the moment when I had to tell my father where I had finally found it. Haha! Oh dear…and even more oh dears.

In further crazy news, I finally pre-packed my bag for Europe to make sure it would all fit into my carry on – and it does indeed. However, I realize how nuts I am for trying go on just a carry on- I cannot believe how packed it is (not insanely heavy but filed to the brim and back) I will not be able to buy anything without immediately shipping it home. How do people go on a smaller bag?!? Granted I am going for six months with lots of different weather, not two weeks, and I am taking my work with me. But still….how…? Whatever, I am determined to do it and so do it I will! But I believe I finally realize how crazy I am. That’s ok too. God loves me. I love me. And I hope other people do too. Even if I am the type of person to stuff a phone down her bra and lose it, or travel for six months with a bag that fits on her back.

Love ya all- crazy or not-

Noelle

(Oh p.s. Photos to come tomorrow)

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