Bear in Yellowstone

My family and I were driving on a dirt road in Yellowstone, searching for a picnic spot. We were starving, but more adamant about finding a shady place to sit. A second before, we said how much we’d love to see a bear on our trip. Then we looked out the window.

There he was. Walking on a fallen tree. Hopping off. Sniffing the sagebrush. For three minutes we had him all to ourselves. He walked up the hill, then down the other side, and vanished.

 

Hike in the Uintahs

Hello, hello, hello! *Hugs, kisses, tear drops*

This may be the longest time I’ve abandoned my blog. What do you think?

I woke up wanting to tell virtual world how I’m feeling. One, I don’t think I’ve written because I’m not terrible. My innards aren’t burning, my head isn’t throbbing of anxiety–I’m fine. But every year seems to be this new, big thing in our lives. We’re over that. We don’t want new and crazy. We want consistency.

We’re back to the what-the-crap-are-we-doing phase. Spencer finished his bachelors in mining engineering (YAY!!!), which means we’re gonna get kicked out of our cinderblock home. People, I know we’ve been living in dark and dreary for four years, but the rent?! We’re looking at new places and we’re gonna have to pay at least $200 more dollars. Oh, and we’ve decided we need a two-bedroom. For our sanity.

I’m applying to business school. I’m taking the GMAT instead of the GRE because BYU only accepts the GMAT. I want to go to BYU because it’s like in the top 15 or something in the U.S. and it’s cheap and I think I’d like it. So I’m taking this GMAT prep course at the U right now. Maxwell has been helping me with the math. It is so freaking hard. I remember learning it, but I haven’t used this crap since sophomore year.

Spencer’s looking for a job. I know he’ll get something soon. He’s reliable and hardworking and his professors and co-workers and previous managers love him. I know it will work out, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a little nervous.

I’m still at the Global Service Center at the Church speaking to German leaders all day. I’m writing e-mails in Spanish too, along with Danish and Norwegian and Swedish. We have a new manager, who is really awesome, and I’m starting to do North America calls. I’ve never been more afraid to speak with Americans than with Germans. I know the European laws and the tax certificate issues and the money transfer issues and the data privacy issues, but the U.S.? No.

Anyway, I’m struggling with consistency. Why can’t I go to sleep at the same time and wake up and leave work at the same time and study my scriptures at the same time and wash the dishes and the laundry and dinner and breakfast and Church at the same time? Why is that so hard? I know I’m a really hard worker at my job. From the start to the end I’m working and fighting to learn more even when I’m hesitant. But once I’m home I don’t want to do anything. Anything.

Who is really good at this? I honestly can’t think of one person. Do you know someone? What do they do?

Anyway. I gotta go eat and drive to Murray to study for the GMAT. I’m not sure if this study group will as beneficial as sitting with Maxwell, but we’ll see. After studying, Spencer and I are going to look at an apartment, which we’ve pretty much decided we won’t take. But it has a poooooooooool.

Wishing you all the best.

Four phases of culture shock that ever traveler needs to know!

Young travel friends, I’m so excited to write another post and hope we can get to know each other more. I’ve loved the conversations in my post about 10 Tips for Exchange Students and hope I can help you understand the four main phases of culture shock while traveling abroad. I hope this will help you prepare. I would love to hear your experiences with culture shock in the comments! ^

Phase #1: Everything is new and exciting.

Exciting Culture Shock

Continue reading 4 Phases of Culture Shock

Celestial BuildingIn my religion, we believe all human beings must become like God. We believe that we will become our own gods and goddesses one day and will create our own worlds. Although it’s a given that none of us can be perfect on this life, the goal is to understand joy in this world and to gain as much knowledge as possible. If we need to become like God, I assume we need to, like, know everything.

I spent most of my time in college reading obscure German novels and then making paninis at Zupas in the evenings. When I’m feeling existential, I’m not really sure how my knowledge of German literature and making sandwiches really contributes to, you know, building worlds or whatever. “Your celestial avocado, coming right up!”

After cleaning the house and going through all of the junk mail, I’m turning through the Salt Lake Community College class list. Here are the ones I want to take:

  • Print making
  • Bollywood dance – For kids, but I’m totally there
  • Hip hop
  • Blogging and podcasting for beginners
  • Bookbinding: The Art of the Hand-Bound Book
  • Cake decorating basics
  • Intro to screenwriting
  • Quilting for the very beginner
  • Travel almost for free
  • Beginner’s Guide to getting published
  • Start your own gift basket making business. Ello chap! Would you like a gift basket?
  • Voice-Overs… Now is your time!
  • Guitar
  • Hiking the waterfalls
  • Scuba experience

Maybe I’ll just stick with paninis. My brother Maxwell said he owned a pretty high-end coffee shop in the pre-mortal world. Maybe we’ll see if it’s still around once we’re dead so he can start it up again. Maybe he’ll let me make celestial paninis there.

We’ll see.

Cinque Terre

I’m turning 23 this month. I’m glad I lived to reach my 22nd birthday. It was the most fabulous year of my life.

Many unknown factors coming our way this year. Where will we be in the fall? Will we still live in our cinderblock home? Spencer is graduating this spring. He’s applied to graduate school for this fall and we’ll see where that takes us.

I’m letting Spencer take the lead this year. You know how freaked out that makes me. it’s the first time Spencer knows where he is going and I don’t.

I worry I won’t be extraordinary. That if I don’t decide right now what I’m doing, I will be common folk. I think this is a young person issue. We all want to succeed–and fast. We all want to be those single CEOs in their mid-30s, like on TV.

This isn’t fair, though. By saying this, I’m also saying that there is such thing as common folk. And that I, ANNE LOUISE, believe that some people live boring, common lives. Am I just as bad as the media? Am I involuntarily putting these thoughts on the people I meet? Do people talk to me and walk away feeling less extraordinary because my expectations of myself and of them are too high?

The more I’ve tried to understand, the more I see that parenthood is a secret joy club. It’s the dessert. And us  single people and married non-children people are not understanding that joy. And that doesn’t mean that we need to rush things, or that we can’t be happy without children in our lives right now, but it means we should be aware of our blind spots. And be careful of how we speak of parenthood with our neighbors and co-workers and friends and family. In short, let’s not be idiots. Haha.

Now back to my birthday (the REAL thing at hand here, right?).

Is there a song about being 23? Taylor Swift got me through 22. Every singer got me through 15 and 16 and 17. Now people, what’s the reason to live for 23?

Here are some of my ideas. What do you think?

  1. My knees are strong.
  2. I am working full time and have the evenings to be with my hubby.
  3. I have time to think about the things I love and then do them.
  4. The doctor says I’m perfectly healthy.
  5. I am most calm and carefree than I’ve ever been in my life. Thank you, 22, for kicking yourself in the patootie about your anxiety.
  6. God and I are pretty close right now, because all of year 22 I worked on faith.
  7. I’m still pretty, so that’s nice.
  8. We have no credit card debt.
  9. Spence and I get to figure out a chunk of the next few years together.
  10. I have close friends who aren’t going anywhere. At least not too far (cough, Ana).
  11. I’ll live to see Spencer and my 4th anniversary.
  12. I’ll live to see Maxwell get his driver’s license (gasp).
  13. I will probably have the opportunity to drink hot chocolate with marshmallows or whipped cream in a bright-colored mug.
  14. I will have thousands of chances to walk into Anthropologie.
  15. I get to be 23 on the 23rd of February!
  16. I still get to go to speak German at work everyday.
  17. I will probably get to swim in the Great Salt Lake with Mom again.
  18. Spencer and I will have many summer weekends for adventures.
  19. I still have a good pair of lips to kiss Spencer with.
  20. I own a fab camera.
  21. Nailpolish will still exist.
  22. I can eat microwaved grape nuts and milk with bananas and honey as much as I want.
  23. I’m extraordinary.

graduation

german-speaking customer service job at the church

moving to richfield

capitol reef

Bryce Canyon

balloon festival in salina

4th of July fireworks sitting on a curb

a three bedroom apartment with a dishwasher, laundry machine, and dryer

waimea

waikiki

kailua

laie

maggie, jane, jack, cora

max and mira

food trucks

moving the king size mattress to the living room on weekends

fringe

friends

parenthood

anxiety meds

insomnia

spencer in the mine

weekly dates at the Chinese restaurant

a ticket to Europe

megan and me

the colosseum

the vatican

st. peters basilica

michelangelo

florence and all its glory

cinque terre

edwin

venice

pizza at luca’s

mask shops

loira and dave

big ben

wicked

the m&m factory

trafalgar square

kensington

little Venice

biking in hyde park

sitting in “a green”

the globe theater

crepes in paris

disneyland paris

the eiffel tower

notre dame

full-time job, German-speaking customer satisfaction subject matter expert

—–

my favorite year.

 

I forget about the little things that make me happy. If I could just remember to do some of these little things each day, I can get through winter and stressful work days and awkward moments and anything else that makes me cringe.

  1. Light a candle. If you don’t own a candle, Anne, buy one.
  2. Write or call a friend once a week.
  3. Make your bed. It makes everything better.
  4. Always take your colored pencils to church. Draw in your bible. Who cares if you can’t read the verse below your scribbles? They’re your scriptures.
  5. Look at kayak.com/explore. Just for fun.
  6. Hold Spencer’s hand for 5 minutes.
  7. Scroll through your doggie board on Pinterest.
  8. Wear fuzzy socks.
  9. Take a picture outside.
  10. Drive to work in silence and list 5 things you love about your life.

Time to prepare for the post-Christmas winter!

For a year now, I’ve met with an 8-year-old boy every week for English lessons. He was shy during the first 10 minutes we met. Now we’re best friends.

The only thing is, he and his mom, Xiaoyan, moved back to China in the beginning of the summer. So we only see each other through the fuzzy screen on Skype.

I tell him the meaning of words like “soggy” and phrases like “a nagging feeling.”

We think of ways to ship his mom’s dumplings to me.

Sometimes Xiaoyan enjoys the conversation and pops on the screen to talk to me herself. She tells me about the Chinese class called Morality and what they learn in the class. Yongzhen tells me about his favorite food.

We talk a lot about food.

We read stories from a textbook called “Story Town” and study vocabulary words. We talk about Harry Potter. He shows me his legos. Spencer sometimes gets on the computer to show him his legos.

When Yongzhen turned 9, he invited Spencer and me to his birthday party. Xiaoyan never let us leave without a jar of spices or a bag of dumplings.

We changed the schedule to two times a week now. Every Friday and Saturday I get to see my friends.

We miss them.

I’m worried I’m never going to find a movie I like just as much as You’ve Got Mail.

You’ve Got Mail warms my soul. It makes me lovely this life. It makes me love Nora Ephron a whole lot too. I love Meg Ryan and I love Tom Hanks. I love the comedy in that show. The wit.I love that I’ve been to Cafe Lalo in New York, where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan sat.

Dan in Real Life makes me feel that way, but not quite to the extent of You’ve Got Mail. I love Steve Carrell as Dan. I love the family’s cabin near the forest, the lighthouse. It makes me want to live in Rhode Island.

I can’t tell you how many times my prayers have been answered this week. Again and again. It’s also been a hard week on so many levels, and even though I feel so blessed, I’m exhausted.

Spencer has fallen asleep next to me. Sleeping sounds nice, but I have to stay awake until 7, so I can get a full eight hours in before I go to work. I’d like to watch You’ve Got Mail, I guess, but I watched it on Friday. Can I really watch You’ve Got Mail twice in a weekend?

I don’t want to watch a movie that’ll make me cry, nor one that’ll make my heart rate go up. I don’t want to laugh either. Or watch one that’s too romantic. I just want to watch and feel warm inside.

For having a husband that wants to cuddle with me in the mornings.

For friends that call me.

For loving parents.

For the power of scriptures and general conference talks that gave me confidence in a meeting this week.

For my husband holding my face and kissing my forehead.

For the German leader who called me this week and was so happy we could fix a computer error he said, “I’m going to mail you an ice cream cone right now! What flavor would you like?”

For receiving the full-time position as the Customer Satisfaction Subject Matter Expert at work.

For benefits.

For my husband’s patience.

For my husband’s testimony of God’s glorious, eternal plan for us.

For twinkle lights.

For donuts.

For the strength that comes after pain and sadness.

For Megan calling me this week, confirming that we are soul sisters.

For God helping me notice what my spirit craves.

For heaters, fleece blankets, and pillows.

For good doctors.

For fuzzy socks.

For chapstick.

For the hour I get to spend each Friday speaking with 9-year-old Yongzhen on Skype.

For Jesus Christ’s mercy.

For the powerful women in my ward–Karina and Haley.

For gold leaves in the fall.

For Pinterest.

For my good bishop.

For my good boss.

For kind words.

For Spencer. Spencer. Spencer.