Monday, September 26, 2011

First Anniversary

It wasn't til I was halfway done watching the RS broadcast online yesterday that I remembered: it was September 25th! Exactly a year before, I took out my endowment at the Las Vegas temple when I was home for my brother Marcus' mission homecoming (he was more or less happy to share his glory with me that weekend, thanks boo).

I can't believe it's been a year, mostly because my feelings about the temple have changed so wildly in that short amount of time. It really is "The Lord's University," as some quaint General Authority quipped some unknown time ago. I've learned so much. I could literally sit down and write a 20-page paper on the various learning experiences I have had thus far in God's house (but I won't. Blog and journal instead).

Women who are neither missionaried nor engaged can just kind of go when they feel like it, anytime around or after they turn 25. It's a pretty personal decision. I don't know how many actually choose to go around that age or how many wait for a while. I only know three other girls out here that have voluntarily gone. I bet that number could be higher, though. All of us need to go through it at one point in our lives or another, the church teaches us that the endowment is an ordinance that is essential to eternal happiness, akin to baptism.

NYC Temple Celestial Room,
Courtesy of USA Today
OK, that's why the church encourages women like me to go. But why did I choose to go? Welp, I turned 25 last June. I'd been listening to the thoughtful stories of many returned-missionary girlfriends out here in DC. Sooooo many of them spoke of going to the temple in times of distress, or when big decisions needed to be made, or just because they loved it and they liked the shot of peace it injects into your week. These women spoke with so much contentedness, so much trust, of sitting and praying in the Celestial Room, the last room you move to in the course of the endowment. (It's a gorgeously decorated sitting room where you can hang out as long as you want and meditate or pray... or talk to the friends you came there with). We believe it is basically "God's living room," where he would be most comfortable visiting on his jaunts down to his little planet.

Last June, I had just finished my first year of grad school, and I knew I wanted a place like that in my life, a place filled with the Spirit where I could get a better, more holy perspective on things. It was important to me. Also, I wanted to feel like I had a home out here. It's been 2.5 years in DC and I still feel like I am just sort of wandering in the midst of it all. So I set about reading temple prep materials and getting the necessary interviews from priesthood holders that would make it possible.

An important sidenote: I come from a long line of faithful, sweet parents and grandparents who have made frequent mention of their temple service in their everyday conversation. I grew up with manifold mini-testimonies of how the temple has impacted my family members' lives, how their little prayers uttered here or their little frustrations encountered there were always answered or resolved with wonderful eclat as they did their thang in the temple. This was probably the great original spur for me to attend the temple to the fullest capacity, as soon as I was able. I've always held a special place in my heart for these wonderful buildings. Oh, and being the child of an architect who worked on and off for the church and who hung his model temple design in our hallway helped, too.

As some of you know, my first time through the temple, 366 days ago, was a less-than-enlightening experience. I would like to state that for the record, because I don't think I'm alone in having such an experience, and maybe some other people need to be validated. BUT, I was directed to some Old Testament scriptures afterwards that helped me put the endowment ceremony into context, and I can't state this enough: I had amazing, thoughtful, inspired friends who accompanied me the first time and many times afterwards that really helped guide my growing testimony of the temple ordinances. I am so happy to report that, as I have returned to the temple again and again this year, even with tears of fear in my eyes the first two subsequent times, I was able to make connections and find explanations that satisfied, soothed, and ultimately enlightened me and made me excited about this particular brand of service for mankind. It was certainly work, finding out what I liked about the temple and what I really believed. But it was incredibly rewarding work.

If anyone wants to talk more of these things, we can do so one-on-one. But this is for any and everyone. I hope I have shared an ok amount of my thoughts. I kept a record of my experiences throughout the year, of the impressions I got, of my every aha! moment. It is sweet to read back through it, last night and today, and see my growth, and understand and acknowledge that a real Deity accompanied me in my learning process and was anxious for my happiness, peace, and faith as I learned to love him and serve him to a greater degree in temple. I am so grateful for the opportunity to return there frequently in DC, and I hope these first 365 days are only the start of a long life of service in the House of the Lord.

I have a testimony that the church and gospel of God has been restored to the earth, that it can be found in the precepts and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Joseph Smith really had a vision (look it up, read it again, the feeling I get when I read that is EXACTLY the same feeling I get in the Celestial room). Such precepts and principles have been slowly revealed over the last 160ish years to make you happy, to make the world a better place. I'm so happy to be here. OK that's all for now.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I know this is starting to feel like a tumblr, but oh well.

Positive thinking!!! Always a great idea.

I think I found The One...

LEARN from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Why yes I'll marry you, handsome, happy hipster. Take me away!

In REAL news, Baby Olivia arrived safely, and I have an email in my inbox filled with probably beautiful, but currently inaccessible pictures of her and her proud parents at the hospital. $#@% you, Gmail! Gimme them pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy weekend, yo.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's time.

My best friend Jessica is in labor. Right NOW. I'm going to be an auntie today!!!!!!!!!!! Now I know how all you peeps with nieces and nephews felt. Oh, except Team Clayton has ipads to make sure I meet baby Olivia within 6 hours of her birth. I WIN!

Good luck guys! I love you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In Search Of: Healthy Snacks

So, I told yall a few weeks ago about this summer's re-evaluation of my fitness goals, and I am proud to say I have had a fantastic fall thus far- I'm one month into the most epic (and so do-able) half-marathon training program, and I have really made an effort eat good things- like, I keep trying to eat so many carrots that I don't have room for the bad tasty stuff like sodium-encrusted wheat thins and ice cream. Feeling pretty good- no, scratch that,


So good, I might have bought myself a little red dress from Calvin Klein (via Marshall's- $50 for a $230 dress, yeehaw!) to reward myself. I've always wanted a va-va-voom red dress. :) It's now hanging in my closet where I can see it. It keeps me motivated to keep running (Gotta EARN it!)

My biggest set back, that keeps threatening all my progress, is snacking. Dang it, I get HUNGRY at 10:30 am and 3 pm... and 4 pm and 8 pm! So I've been looking for healthy snack ideas.

This one's pretty good. -> (4 hard boiled egg whites plus 1/4th an avocado plus pepper on toast)

So's this one. ->
(1/2 a sweet potato, baked, mixed with a lil non-sweetened applesauce and walnuts)

And I've eaten this super fast Pesto chicken salad 3 times this week. ->

But I need more! Any suggestions?? These need to be FILLING snacks. I can eat like a man.

In other news, our ward went on a camping retreat all weekend and it was AMAZING! So many fun things to do, and I feel like we all really got a chance to meet new people and strengthen friendships with... well, not OLD people, but you know what I mean. I finally went to Gettysburg and toured the museum there, which all the nerds in my museum circles keep rhapsodizing about. My verdict: it was SO worth the money! The exhibit and the cyclorama were FANTASTIC!!!! So well done. I was geeking out to my friends the whole time, and they were nice enough to feign interest in 19th century theories of optics and visual culture for my sake.

At the end of the movie they show that teaches you all about the battle, the narrator (Morgan Freeman, aka The Voice of God in my imagination), gives the most poignant thought: "And now we too are met on this battlefield." or something like that... basically the thought was, the racism and division that were the root cause of the horrific bloodshed over a hundred years ago continues today in its own way. How will you fight for the cause? Will you?

Pretty touching.

PS-- GIRLS ONLY--Read this on one of my fitness blogs and pretty much felt an AMEN:

During a Period

  • Uterus: I hope you didn't like your underwear.
  • Stomach: EAT ALL THE THINGS!
  • Emotions: I don't care that you were crying your eyes out ten minutes ago, that was freaking funny! Now go act like you're high until I see something that pisses me off.
  • Uterus: Also I've decided to act like something's constantly punching me. I hope you don't mind.
  • Thighs: I'm just gonna go ahead and feel like I'm made of lead, cool?
  • Body: Oh all your clothes are going to look like crap and probably not fit.
  • Me: Why??????

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Funnier than adding "In the Bathtub" to the title

So I'm preparing a lesson for my singles ward Relief Society right now on... Eternal Marriage (sigh). Aka the same thing we've been talking about for 6 years (but I'm not complaining! Got plenty to learn!). I am, however, throwing in a twist today for my own sanity. I'm making it a rule that no one can say the words "single" or "dating" in their comments. We're just talking the bare-bones principles of the essential ordinance of marriage today here, ladies.

Also, I found out that the teacher gets to pick which hymns are sung at the beginning and end of her lesson. My roommate and I got a great kick out of debating which hymns would have the most thematically inappropriate undertones at the end of a marriage lesson amongst older single girls. My favorite rejects:

Does the Journey Seem Long?
I Need Thee Every Hour
The Happy Day At Last Has Come
Did You Think to Pray?
Praise to the Man
Silent Night
I Have Work Enough To Do
Father, Cheer Our Souls Tonight
The Time is Far Spent

And, the ultimate winner:
Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love

This is the place.

This is the stuff.

This is the end goal.

This is precious.

This is just because.

Back to the Future... for Parkinson's Disease!

This week shoe fans everywhere have been buzzing as the following clip was released (directed by Robert Zemekis himself and starring Christopher Lloyd and Kevin Durant!). The rumors have been circulating about the futuristic Nike shoes once worn by Marty McFly in Back to the Future II, known til now as "The Greatest Shoes Never Made," and they have all proven to be true! The shoes are real! The future is now! Named the Nike MAGs, only 1500 have been created, and they are going up for auction over the next ten days, 150 pairs per day, to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

Here's the auction, live from eBay. If I were $3,000 richer... I'd own those babies. Best of luck and thank you to everyone of those blessed shoeholics who bids for them.

My mom was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease in 2005. It's hard to believe it's been six years. Six years of holding mom's hand and teasing her when her "momometer" goes off. She's doing great, in case you're all wondering. She even picked up a design commission this week (she's a painter)! I love you, mom. I'm proud of everything you do, for yourself, for your students, and for your family.

It's Septemeber 11th, I'm well aware of that. I don't feel like recounting where I was when I heard or what my day was like ten years ago. That seems too self-oriented. It was a national event, an international tragedy. Yes, it changed my life too. But today, I chose to render my moment of silence next to the Pentagon, and to listen to words of remembrance, mourning, and fortitude from the mouths of our leaders and our plain and simple countrymen at Ground Zero early this morning. I choose to remember those whose lives were monumentally, tragically changed by the 9/11 attacks, and then I chose in the next moment, this moment, to celebrate the loved ones in my great life, and by so doing, express my thanks for the freedom, love, and blessings I have been given. I love my country, and I love the people in it. Here's praying for a renewed outpouring of unity, courage, faith, and love amongst my countrymen on this historic day.

And happy birthday, beautiful Maggie Leak! If you know Maggie or if you appreciate inspiring, intelligent, empathetic and funny people, hop on over to her blog and wish her a happy birthday, too!!!!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Saw this guy and this girl play at a house concert last night. PERFECTION!

... Does he put anyone else in mind of a cartoon when he plays? He's so animated, I love it!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sports proposals: yea or nay? YAY!

I don't care how much Richard Gere derides them in Runaway Bride (Julia Roberts had to propose to HIM at the end of that movie!)- proposals at sports venues have always made me smile. This one's EPIC. I love how much he makes her laugh. Best of luck to them both!

Proposal: Matt and Jennie (part 2--full version) from Emma Patti on Vimeo.

PS If I were him I'd want to beat the crap out of Teddy first, too. I always cheer for Lincoln when I'm at Nats Park. Teddy's so smug.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lake Days... the most wonderful time of the year!

Three day weekends mean one thing to us East Coasters: LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!

And this Labor Day weekend was no exception. This year's festivities took place at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland, where they filmed What Lies Beneath. In my younger, scared-ier days, this random piece of trivia would have defeated me. I would have stayed in rainy DC with my homework and my netflix rather than risk showering in a haunted bathtub.

But that was old me. New me is braver. And new me knew Deep Creek Lake comes with access to a ski boat. Again, let the good times roll!!!!!!

Welcome to Rivendell! 14 friends and I rented it for the weekend. It had doorknobs in the middle of its doors, hence the name. On the left is the home of our passive aggressive neighbors who I'm pretty sure woke their rambunctious kids up at 6:30 am just to annoy us.

The View From Rivendell. Bottom Left corner is our dock and friends taking it all in.

Saturday morning we awoke to a beautiful but freaky golden mist that covered the whole lake AND the sun! No one got a pic of it, but it reminded me of this J. M. W. Turner nautical painting so I'm putting it up. You get the idea!

10:30 am Saturday: Mist gone, people anxiously wait as Ryan and I fetch the rented ski boat. Ps all my pics have been stolen from Spencer's camera. Many thanks for documenting the trip, boo!

Turns out, only Ryan, our house "dad," and myself know how to drive boats. This is the start of my very long but very rewarding stint channeling Uncle Gene, Lake Mead Ski Captain extraordinaire! :)

So, East Coast lakes are SKETCHY! They don't enforce flag laws. With the heavy lake traffic roughing up the waters and being the safety Nazi that I am, I enlisted Nick to alert other boaters when we had a downed skiier. No injuries were sustained. Way to be, Team-Nick-and-life-vest!

I think I might be whistling in this pic.

At one point it was me and 7 first-time wakeboarders aboard. Everybody got up, though- I'm so proud of my crew!!!
Steph was a trooper- popped up smiling even after a faceplant!

Eric got up on his first try. It's cuz it was his birthday.
Cheesy lake grin. I wub boating sooooooo much! And it was SUCH a beautiful day to be out there!

Oh, except at one point the engine wasn't turning over and we had to get towed back to the marina and swap out boats. I learned I have a lot to learn when it comes to negotiating a discount with boat rental coordinators (aka pirates!)

And after a sweet sweet 8 hours on the sunny, perfect lake,  we retired to Rivendell for an epic massage train and watched BYU clinch its season opener v. Ole Miss!!! 

After that we celebrated Eric's bday at the Santa Fe Grill, where we met Elder Gerard, an area authority who saw our BYU shirts and wanted to celebrate with us. He sprang for all 15 of our meals!!! I love kind people! What a treat!

Eric and his ladies

Birthday boy eats REALLY slow.

Hoover and I ride the bear. <3

Awwwwww yea. How every singles weekend should end. There may have also been a midnight skinny dip off the dock...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Visual "-ism" Reader and a Challenge

LOVE this- how many of these "-ism" illustrations can you explain to yourself?

No worries. I'm a lil rusty, too. :) Solipsism??

Good thing grad school started back up again this week!!!! My last year! The end is in sight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! T-minus twelve months and counting! MORE exclamations!!!!!!!!!!!

If there were a "mormonism." illustration included up there, what do you think it'd be? How about this:

I will send 8 fresh fluffernutter cookie bars to whoever can tell me where this emblem is located! :) Hint: there are literally thousands of them just north of me.