Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Big Changes

Big changes have consumed my life lately and it has proved that my life is anything but normal. It has been an exhaustingly exhilerating time and I have discovered strength I never thought possible through an incredibly loving Father in Heaven.

Change #1- My job was taking a toll on my mental, physical and spiritual state. It was somehow not the right fit for the moment, therefore I found the need at the end of October to resign.

Change #2- Flew to Utah for some much needed rest and mental stability for a week over the Halloween weekend.

Change #3- Upon returning to DC I found a new job working at a Spa- I absolutely love it and the people I work with. Meanwhile, I am keeping my eyes open for more career building opportunities.

Change #4- Most excitingly (drum roll please) I am flying down to Florida in two days to take a chance at becoming one of these lovely ladies...

I'm not betting too much money on this superficial lottery, but I thought it was at least worth a try:) Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Extraordinary Machine

I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes
I certainly haven't been spreading myself around
I still only travel by foot and by foot, it's a slow climb,
But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so
I can't stop changing all the time

I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day
You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay
I mean to prove I mean to move in my own way, and say,
I've been getting along for long before you came into the play

If there was a better way to go then it would find me
I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me
Be kind to me, or treat me mean
I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine

-Fiona Apple

I love this song... if you haven't heard it, check it out - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsMZkCLxfkM&feature=related

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a wonderfully festive and spooky Halloween!

Check out how Lisa and I decorated our apartment for this fantastic holiday...

My favorite time of the year

Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon? -Borland


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Monday, September 28, 2009

Time Travelin'


Yesterday I found an absolute treasure while exploring. Upon entering Kensington Maryland, it seems much like a suburban neighborhood with adorable houses, but not much else. Somewhere in the midst of this neighborhood I fell through a tiny crack in time and was transported back to the 1940's. I found myself in the middle of a picturesque, town-square; complete with a small train station and tea room. Antique shops filled the old victorian mansions and red-brick buildings while children skipped around old men playing chess. The gas station hadn't changed either with pumps that were far from being self-serve; had it not been for the 2009 Honda Accord getting gas I truly would have thought I was in some sort of time-warp.
While exploring I also found the Noyes Children Library, established in this incredibly restored school house. Does this not just take your breath away and make you long to be 5 years old again?

Another stop on yesterday's treasure hunt and gem of Kensington Maryland is the temple.... could this town be any more perfect?

National Book Festival

On Saturday I woke to clouds that looked like this...

So I packed my umbrella and grabbed the list my mom sent me and made the trek downtown for this...

There I was greeted by thousands upon thousands of people waiting in lines the length of football fields. I hurried to the purchasing tent and tried to find the books my mom wanted autographed, and waited in line for 40 minutes just to buy them.

Then I rushed back out to take a chance at waiting in line only to find that once I got within sight distance of the author, his signing time was up.

So I moved onto the next- having no idea what chaos I was getting into. Who knew Rick Riodian was so popular? Especially since I hadn't even heard his name before that day. The line eventually turned into a mob of angry parents and I was out of there faster then you could say Percy Jackson. Therefore, I just decided to skip all of the other authors I was going to try for and stalwartly stood in line to see this woman...

Who wrote this book...

While waiting, the rain decided to join in the fun. I was thinking that I had outsmarted everyone with my umbrella and coat so that in no time I would be the first in line cause everyone else was not as prepared.

I was wrong...

Good thing Lois Lowry was such a nice person and decided to stay for an extra hour to sign since the line was so long, and the rain was so intense or else I wouldn't have had the chance to meet her. That's right, I met Lois Lowry, which made that entire fiasco worth every minute.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A new favorite...

"Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen."
- John le Carre

Today I stumbled upon this beautiful quote- an inspiration. Thank you, Shannon, for sharing it with me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

One year wiser...



Today is my Daddyo's birthday! Since I can't be there to take a trip with him to Richfield and watch elk all day like I did last year, this post will have to suffice.I have a made a list of ten of my favorite random memories of my dad: ( in no particular order)

-His contagious laugh and the way he makes me feel like I'm actually really funny. He will laugh at every dry, ridiculous and drama-filled joke or story I have up my sleeve.

-Watching him read or examine anything with his glasses pushed all the way to the end of his nose.

-Going "backpacking" through Europe together therefore buying enough chocolate to fill a suitcase and now having dad plan "chocolate parties" every time I am in town so that we can finish it... two years later.

-The way he packs. If he is going to stay in a hotel he hardly brings anything, but if he is camping- you can plan on him packing everything anyone might need complete with extra sleeping bags,tents, fishing poles (even in places with no lakes), binoculars, oh and did I mention the kitchen sink?

- Our mutual love of the sunset. Some of my favorite childhood memories were during nights when we used to sit on the front porch, read stories and watch the sunset.

-How he lights up when anything involves nature and/or animals. Whether is being able to spot an eagle overhead during morning commutes, or a family reunion to Zion's, or scouting trips to Topaz... you can count on him being excited.

- Taking a trip with him to watch the Elk in Richfield. I must admit, I had my doubts about it being supremely boring, but that was soon short-lived after seeing how much fun dad was having(and seeing him decked out in head-to-toe camo). It was truly one of the funnest and memorable trips I have had. I think he was supposed to be born a mountain man...

-Commuting to Salt Lake together. Most of the time I was asleep, grumpy or frantically studying but he never got upset about having to drive all the time. Plus, he taught me the "Rules of Commuting"...very valuable knowledge.

-I have never heard him in my entire life complain about having to work or drive so far to get there.

-His support for all my dreams, ambitions and goals in life. He has taught me that everything is possible and has made it possible for them to become realities.

So Happy Birthday Daddy-o! Thank you for all the laughs, tears, words of advice, support and memories. I look up to you in every way. I hope this year is the best yet! I love you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Globalization

Greatest line about Mormonism was spoken from the mouth of my co-worker who happens to be from a village in Namibia… how she knows about Utah/Mormon culture, I will never know. The world is truly getting smaller.

“Christyn, if you’re Mormon, why don’t you wear all those funny clothes like everyone else in Utah? I guess maybe you only wear those when you are in Utah. But you just look so normal being here in DC. ”

“ What funny clothes are you talking about?”

“ You know, the ones like the Amish people wear…”

She clearly was thinking I was part of the Fundamentalist LDS church which was understandable, yet hilarious and made for great conversation

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cookies

Life is tough some days, especially when some days feel like everyday. Though it has not been stressful or overwhelming, it has taken a beating on my self-esteem and confidence. All I long for right now is to pack my bags, fly home and sit around the kitchen table with my family, while my mom’s famous cookies bake in the oven.

There is nothing better for the soul then a worn, wooden table, warm cookies and a listening ear.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back From the Dead



While many of you are starting your fall with new seasons of your favorite TV shows such as Lost, House, 24 and Gossip Girl (just admit it, you love Gossip Girl) I have been sucked back in time. There are two reasons for this... 1. The TV we have is so old that we couldn't even hook up a DVD player without a converter box, therefore cable was out of the question and 2. My roommate got hooked on Dawson's Creek while stuck babysitting at her sister's house for a weekend, so somehow I got roped into it as well-even against my own will I might add.

While you all are wondering if Jack Bauer will ever die or how Dr. House knew about a disease that only exists in one other person in the world, I am nostaligcally living my life in the 90's... complete with belly shirts, "golden arches" hair styles and chunky heels. My friends and I have become so obsessed with Dawson's mainly because we don't have cable so we can't kill time with any other show and also, because we have become so wrapped up in all the drama. It has started to consume much of our free time because we are dying to know who Joey ends up with(Don't give it away if you know) and it's getting way more intense! Who knew? Good thing we only have two more seasons to go... pathetic, I know.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Here are the long awaited pictures of my cute little apartment. I had to wait until many of our decorating projects are complete... there are still plenty more to go, but I thought I would share what I have now. Enjoy!
The view during sunset is by far my most favorite part of this apartment.

Lisa and I made these during a late-night craft craze. They are made from vintage wallpaper and we love them.








This is yet another craft project... a collage wall of our world travels. I love it and find myself staring at it all the time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Birthday Mama!



It's my mama's birthday on this very special 09/09/09! Woohoo!

10 of my favorite random memories with my mom: (in no particular order)
- Coming home to my mom blasting the recording of a live Earth Wind and Fire concert throughout the entire house while she is cleaning, therefore she never hears it when I sneak up behind her to say hello which inevitably freaks her out.

-Taking a mother/daughter trip to Disneyland in September 05' and having an absolute blast

-Countless craving excursions to Taggarts Grill

-The way my mom always loves to party. Seriously, I have never known a time where my mom has turned down throwing a party

-How everyone in the family gives her a hard time about her height and her classic response is always " Be grateful. I sacrificed for you!"

-3 generational shopping trips with Grandma Lofgreen, Mom and I

-When my leg was in a cast up to my thigh and my mom had to help me with even the simplest things. I will never forget how I never once heard her complain about having to take so much time off of work to take me to all of my classes, give up all of her lunch breaks to get me glasses of water or have to help me every night to take a bath.

- Her passion and dedication in helping her students succeed. I know I always give her a hard time about being a mean teacher but all of her students know, just as I do, that it's all out of love.

-Childhood summer day trips, vacations and activities. My friends would always wanted to come to my house because my mom always had fun things to do and see during the summer months.

-Her holiday spirit. She celebrates every holiday to it's fullest extent complete with decorations, themed meals and color coordinated attire.

Happy Birthday Mom. Thanks is far from enough for everything you have done for me, but it's the best I can do being here in DC. I hope this one is the best yet(especially because of the date)! I love you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Importance of Education

President Obama gave a speech this morning that was broadcast to all schools in America. Of course, many educators, community members and parents have put up a fight saying it was "brainwashing", "socialism"," promoting a political agenda" etc. With every story I heard of people putting up a fight against the President's address, it would frustrate me to no end. It's not about being a Democrat or Republican, it's not about politics, it's about teaching our children to support our government and our President even if we don't necessarily agree with everything they promote. We, as Americans, have placed him a position to lead our country and with that we have agreed to listen. Through education, our children will be able to learn how to make those decisions, how to deduct who should lead this country and how to support that vote. Shouldn't we set an example? As I watched the address this morning, I was moved in every way at the simple message our President gave to the students of America. Stay in school, work hard and believe in yourself. Isn't that something we all can agree on?

Here are a few excerpts from his speech:

"And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future."

"Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future."

"Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it."

"So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/MediaResources/PreparedSchoolRemarks/

Eat, Sleep, Wakeboard, Repeat

This Labor Day weekend was spent celebrating Shannon’s 23rd birthday at her magnificent lake house. On Friday; Julie, Lisa and I made our way to the lake after a few detours ( aka getting lost) and a pit-stop at the Denny’s that was attached to a 7-11 (classy). We finally made it and surprised Shan with fun-fetti cupcakes, topped with blue frosting and complete with ridiculous pictures of Shannon glued to popsicle sticks. She was a little embarrassed about the pictures, but overall they were a hit.

We quickly fell asleep in our feather beds and woke up early to an epic sunrise over the lake. Nothing can capture how incredibly beautiful the sunrises are over Lake Anna. We threw our suits on and ran to the boat and were the first people on the water that morning. It was the most incredible glass I have ever encountered. Cutting out so hard you can see your face in the reflection and watch as the spray falls to the opposite side brought an irreversible smile to my face, and believe me, I am not the happiest morning person. You jealous yet?

We milked the entire day boating, swimming, laying in the sun, taking naps and eating enough food to double our weight.

Sunday morning we attended church at the Louisa Virginia Branch. It is held in the local high school auditorium and the locals have the quite the tales to tell during testimony meeting. Chickens, daughters sneaking in at 4 AM, dramatic 10 year-olds that run out in tears from the podium, requests for help moving again and mischievous boys being provoked by an irreverent father were all on the docket for an entirely entertaining sacrament meeting.

Sunday afternoon and night was spent sleeping, eating, watching movies, talking around the campfire and full-moon, late-night swims.

Monday we woke early to find the sky over-cast and wind that provided no sign of good water. We gave it a try anyway and found some great water on another part of the lake, after all of us took our turn wakeboarding and waved hello the cows taking a dip in the lake, we found that we couldn’t start the boat again. Uh oh. Turns out the gas gauge is broken in the boat and when it says half-full it really means empty. An extremely nice family helped us out, brought us gas and we were on our way 2 hours later than expected.

While the girls took one last run in the boat, I took a nap and enjoyed the solitude of nature and then we were on our way back to reality. We studied every possible option to make the weekend last longer and not leave that night, but were not able come up with one that paid us.

Thank you Crowley family for letting us use your incredible lake house again. It was a memorable and entirely relaxing weekend. Happy Birthday Shannon! I hope it was the best yet!






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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School



Happy Back to School time everyone! As much as I hated paying tuition,buying books, sitting through boring lectures,taking exams, writing papers on topics I didn't even care about and spending endless hours at the library; I find myself begging for the chance to be back there instead of here...



Monday, August 24, 2009

They're comin' to America!



Great news!My wonderful friends Frederick (above) and Zach are coming to America next month! They are the directors of the Umbumwe Community Center in Rwanda where I spent much of my time volunteering. Everyone there treated me like family and gave me the warmest welcome every time I visited and I have missed them dearly. I have been keeping in touch with them and found out that two of them are coming to Ohio and California for a whole month! Since Ohio is only a few hours away, I plan on visiting them, as well as one my best friends Mallory whom I have not seen in FAR too long! I can't wait!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Boom-de-a-da

Today I looked up pictures of good ol' Ogden Utah and I realized how much I took those beautiful mountains for granted and how much I miss them. I wish so badly that I could take only a 10 minute drive and be completely surrounded by the sweet smell of pine, feel the rough, rocky cliffs on my hands and lay amongst the wildflowers. Instead, I am in a busy city, with everything else to offer except nature. For now,a few walks in the park will do, but I can't wait to be greeted by these when I visit in November...





I miss the mountains
I miss the rolling hills,
I miss the fountains,
I miss the daffodils,
I miss the fireside,
When all the lights are low.
Boom-de-a-da
Boom-de-a-da :)

For those of you who are in Utah, give the mountains a kiss for me and be sure to take advantage of the incredible land mother nature created that's only minutes away.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Perspective

“I would like to make something that is real in itself,that does not remind anyone of any other thing, and that does not have to be explained like the letter A, for instance."

“I no longer observed in the old way, and not only began to think subjectively but also to remember certain sensations purely through their form and color..." -Dove






This weekend I visited the Hirshhorn Gallery of Art for the first time and found myself connecting a painting called "City Moon" By Arthur Dove. It showed the the intense, hard lines of the city being overtaken by the light, soft colors and crooked half-smile of a full moon. So many times in my life have I seen that similar image in cities across the globe and every time it stops me in my tracks.

I researched Arthur Dove's other works and I love many of them. They give such a beautiful and intense perspective of the sun, water, moon and earth. No matter which angle you look at them, the subject of the painting overtakes you. I need to take that into my own life where no matter what angle I happen to be standing in, I can see the beauty of that moment.

So thank you Arthur Dove for creating such thought provoking and beautiful works of art.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

Today I received some positive feedback on a project I have been working on and I can’t describe to you how good it feels. Finally I feel like I am starting to understand what in the world is going on and I feel comfortable enough to “talk shop” with a few of my co-workers. ( Though I must admit that I’m not ready to talk to some people cause I know I would not be able to keep up with them) It’s amazing what a few words can do to boost your confidence.

Also, yesterday I was given a HUGE project that will take me until January to complete and the first deadline is in two weeks. I’m a bit nervous because basically I am going to be the go-to girl for the entire legislative campaign for 2010... well, as far as data is concerned. So lets hear it for my right-brained mind which is programmed for Humanities, English and Art type stuff to be crunchin’ numbers for the next 6 months. I really am excited for the finished product. I know it will be TONS of work but I know it will be fulfilling and very much a learning experience. If nothing else, it will look good on my resume. :)

So with as much as my dark little cubicle drives me crazy, as hard as it is for my brain to function after 8 hours on a computer and how ridiculously short my attention span is, I am starting to realize that what I am doing will have great rewards someday and pay off in the end.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Displacement

Internal displacement is a topic that has moved me in many ways. Stories of pain, frustration and being caged like a wild animal echo around the world. There a few short films that have come to my attention recently and I would love for you to watch them to learn more about the reality and faces behind such a tragedy.

IRIN Film & TV | Asia West Africa | Cambodia Liberia Nigeria Nepal | GLOBAL: Forced to Flee - New series of short films on displacement | Human Rights Refugees/IDPs Urban Risk | Film

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Family Night

Last night Lisa and I decided to ditch the ward family home evening and have our own. Lisa gained inspiration for the bright idea from the fact that our apartment is still not “home” to us. We have some mis-matched furniture, in all random colors, a few decorations I brought home from Africa and way too many blank, bland walls.

Lisa ventured to the craft store and bought 12 frames in all shapes and sizes, then we both picked out our favorite pictures from our travels went down to the CVS and had them printed. At 10:00 PM is when we finally started putting the pictures in frames, organizing a cool pattern and then pounding nails into the walls. (I’m sure our neighbors loved that)

The final product is spectacular. It brings personality and class to our plain apartment. The big problem came after we were finished and were sitting, staring at the pictures. We couldn’t figure why it just didn’t fit exactly and we came to the conclusion that instead of the pictures not fitting with the d├ęcor of the apartment, it’s the apartment that doesn’t fit with the pictures. Our apartment was not classy enough for such a wall of grandeur. So then we started chatting about, painting the table black, buying a different couch, putting the futon in the sun-room, creating paintings to hang above the TV and couch, painting walls, getting new bedspreads…. The list goes on. As my mind was reeling with ideas that were much too big for my wallet, the words “If you give a mouse a cookie…” came to mind; I wonder why?

Friday, July 24, 2009

O' Pioneers!

Happy 24th of JULY! Oh Pioneer Day; what a marvelous summer celebration! Parades, fireworks, dutch-oven cooking, car shows, demo derby, rodeos, getting to see Ms. Rodeo Utah all dolled up in sequins and huge hair and the only time of the year I can whip out my belt buckle without feeling stupid. I am sad to not be in Utah for such an event, but considering I have not been in Utah to celebrate for the past 3 years, I will just have to carry as usual with my own secret celebration wherever I am. I wanted to reflect on some of my past “Not-in-Utah-and-am surrounded-by-people-who-don’t-care” celebrations!

Catalina Boy Scout Camp: We celebrated by feeding the boys and extra special breakfast of pancakes instead of the usual Hash and told every one who came through line Happy 24th of July! Many of them were from California and thought we were crazy. Later that night we did a full-on reenactment of a rodeo, complete with barrel races with no horses and the crowning of a Ms. Rodeo Catalina.

Ecuador: The morning started out with good ol’ American breakfast of pancakes and syrup. I secretly listened to twangy, cheesy country music. After working, we went out to eat as American of a meal as we could find and topped it off with ice cream. (Though it was no where near as good as Farrs)Not much, but it's the best we could do with the limited resources we had.

TODAY: I am celebrating by going to Lake Anna and relaxing in Shannon’s lake house, wakeboarding all day tomorrow in perfect weather and roasting marshmallows over the fire... can't wait!

Have a wonderful 24th of July to all who are in or from Utah and have any clue about what I am talking about! Yeeeha!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Plans

Growing up is tough. Especially when I become overwhelmed and nervous around words like contract, insurance, taxes, but the one that is hardest for me is commitment. I am committed to a job, apartment and city for an entire year, with only a regulated amount of vacation and sick days allowed. I have never felt so tied down, so stable. I don’t like this feeling of having my wings clipped, my freedom taken from me. I am a 9 to 5 robot.

Ok Ok I know this may seem a little over-dramatic and I need to be grateful for the opportunity at hand rather then the having a perspective of what feels like a lifetime. You also have to understand, that I have not been in the same place for longer then 4 months since the day I graduated high school, so this has been a completely life-changing experience.

In order to keep my sanity intact and to keep me from just up and running away from this new lifestyle, I need to make some exciting plans; both short and long term. I need to look forward to something. As one of my friends put it, this is will be my “base camp” year, where I will plan, save and prepare for an epic year to come.

Plan #1: Money- Find a part-time job that will allow me to actually save money instead of just barely scrape by on my fellowship stipend.

Plan #2: Brain-teaser- Get a hobby. Something that will allow me to escape for a little while so I don’t get bored and start looking up cheap flights to all of the places I wish I could be but can’t go because I don’t have enough vacation days.

Plan #3: Review- I found a ceramics class being offered at an art gallery near-by and once I save enough, I think I will sign up for a few of the classes. I have always loved ceramics and can’t wait to try my hand at it again.

Plan #4: Work on documenting and scrap-booking all of my previous trips and years of my life since I graduated high school.

Plan #5: Research-Start researching places I have always wanted to explore with fascinating culture and sights to behold. Try to find a job, internship or cheap way to travel those places during the summer once my “commitment” is over.

Places I will be considering:
South-East Asia
India
Indonesia
Australia/New Zealand
South Africa

Plan #6: Fly away- Explore and immerse myself into a new culture until my heart is content :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reality

It has been 3 weeks since I have been home from Africa which have been filled with non-stop adventures and new, exciting journeys…

-Flew straight to D.C
-Started my new job the next day
-Moved into my wonderful new apartment
-Went shopping almost every night with Lisa (my roommate) for apartment supplies
-Bought a pet fish and named him Pez
-Went to conferences, seminars, webinars, lobby visits, hill drops….etc. for work
-Flew to Utah for the 4th of July weekend
- Flew in just in time to be a bridesmaid at my friends wedding reception
-Cleaned out all of my closets and drawers
- Packed my bags for a year of living in D.C.
-Visited wonderful friends that I have not seen in far too long
-Went to Huntsville, Liberty and Cherry Days for the 4th of July
-Took a 3-hour nap
-Went on a 3-generational shopping spree
- Showed off my Africa pics to my very kind family who tried to act excited after the 1,000th picture
-Watched the Ogden fireworks from the cemetery… best seat in the house. Kinda creepy though.
-Took a drive down memory lane
- Flew back to D.C.
- Was given my first real assignments and projects at work
- Finally finished my internship paper that was due 3-weeks ago
- Enjoyed a weekend filled with relaxation, friendship and memories
-Went on a tour of the Capitol building…. This was my 4th time in 6 months, I think I could give the tour now
-Have officially decided that growing up is expensive, stressful, at-times boring, but over all it’s an adventure
-Realized that having the attention span of a three year old is not good for a 9-5 job being stuck in a cubicle

Friday, July 3, 2009