Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving.

Georgia. Home.


I've always listened to the distant chatter of people looking forward to going home and spending the week with their family who were far away from home. I've always listened to the songs that dwindle in melancholy chords and ring homesickness during the holidays, but I've never understood the meaning of their tune.


I guess I've never understood what it meant to come home.


I left for Lexington late Thursday night to drive home with Cad on Friday after he got out of class. We had a blast driving down to Georgia, cutting up, drinking cheap pumpkin cappuccinos, listening to con law as I worked on a test as we laughed and talked all the way home. We stopped about 45 minutes away from home to eat a much needed Italian meal with my parents. I swear that Cad had not even fully parked until I dashed out of the car to see them! We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, much anticipated conversation with my parents, and of course, an amazing slice of cheesecake. When we got into the car to finish our journey, our anticipation to be home was building. I cannot even explain my feelings when we hit the Georgia line. I certainly felt a rush of home that I have not ever felt before.

We went straight to Cad's house to drop him off with his stuff, which was defiantly my first feeling of finally being home! I received much anticipated hugs and exclamations of excitement from his family, which was something that I was counting down to. The feeling of 'missing' is sometimes the most difficult feeling to endure, but when you are face to face with people you cherish, every feeling of 'missing' seems to melt away.


And then there was the moment that I walked through my front door, suitcase in one hand, jacket in the other.


Home.



So, my point of all of this? This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for being home with my family.


However, thankfulness does not stop there.


I'm thankful for my family and my family's health. My parents have been unbelievably supportive, loving, and have set amazing examples for me my entire life, and I could not be more thankful for the parents that I know as two of my best friends. I do not know what I would do without them. Also, the past few years my grandfather has been very ill, but this Thanksgiving, while he is missing half a foot and has cancer, he is back to work and as spry as a spring chicken.



I'm thankful for my Aunt who has taken me in while I finish my education at U of R. She is unbelievably loving, kind, and is a role model to me. Her generosity and humbleness (not to mention, her sense of humor) is constantly something that I seek for within myself. I am also thankful for her patience, especially following my sleepwalking incident where I apparently left the water running in the middle of the night!


I am thankful for Cadman. His love, companionship, listening ear, and ability be as goofy as I am are things that I cherish deeply. I am also thankful for his ability to teach, especially when I feel like I do not have a grasp on something that I am learning, or there is something that I am interested that he is more knowledgeable at than me. Oh, not to mention his patience with me when I go on a cleaning spree, eat all of the parmesan cheese, or am as cold as an igloo, which is 99.9% of the time.


I am thankful for the Cad's family and their continued love and support. His siblings and parents are some of the most wonderful, loving people that I know.


I am thankful for being employed at Murphy & McGonigle. I work with some of the most amazing, kind people and their knowledge of the legal profession provides me with a chance to learn something new everyday.


I am thankful for the professors that I have, Schola Cantorum, and the friends that I have made at the University of Richmond. Schola has given me the chance for an outlet, new friends, and music 3 days a week, which I seriously think that I would go crazy without. U of R is an amazing, challenging school with professors that push me further and further, and for that, I am grateful.



I am thankful for the friends that have stayed in touch from back home. I don't know what I would do without them! I am also thankful for the friends that I have made in Virginia in general and the ones that I've known before I moved up here. 


Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for my faith and the freedom to express it. I am generally a very private person about my relationship with God, but I could not imagine not having Him in my life.  Faith is a very cherished and deep thing for me, and I am thankful for a God who understands and forgives me where I falter.



 While we look forward to the stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, turkey (or tofurkey...just kidding), remember to be thankful for the people who surround your table, your faith, freedom, your friends, family that is not present, and blessings that you have received in your life. Make sure that the people who matter to you know it, that you never take anything for granted, and that humbleness and thankfulness is not a seasonal occurrence, but an everyday thing, even when times get hard.

Cherish the tunes of coming home for the holidays. I know that they mean more to me now than ever before. 



Happy Thanksgiving,
Sarah


Monday, October 1, 2012

DIY

Ok, so this is a break from my typical posts- Have fun & enjoy!

I had an idea to get a couple of large cardboard letters and try to make them look kinda old, so I went to Joanne's Craft Store and purchased the large cardboard letter for $8 and the small one for $4. In addition, I bought white and antique acrylic paint (the antique will have hues of yellow and a little bit of brown), a paddle sponge, various scrapbook supplies (bling, bling, and more bling), and plain ol' glue.

Step one: Grab glue and make designs all over the cardboard! Make sure that the glue is raised so it has texture when you paint the letters. I grabbed a pillow of mine that matches my bedding to try to replicate the pattern so that the letters would tie into my decor. In addition, make sure that you figure out a place that you want to cluster all of the scrapbook stuff. Do not put glue in this area- it will be insanely difficult to get anything to stick!




Another angle of the "S." Once again, make sure the glue is raised!

Wait for the glue to dry...fun, I know.
Continue to wait for the glue to dry.
And continue waiting for the glue to dry.


Once the glue has dried (snore),  place your white paint and antique paint side by side. take the sponge paddle paint thingy, and dab right in between the two. Make sure that you do not dab the paint on thick.

After you have used the two paints combined, take the white paint and dab over the first layer. After that, take the antique paint and just accent the areas of glue. After the paint has mostly dried, take a sheet of newspaper and rub it all over the letters. You will have some areas of grayish shading, which gives it that antique-y look! :)





 When the paint has dried (snore again), get ready to add the fun stuff! I took 3 flowers ($2), a pack of gold scroll-y things ($3), button pearls ($2), and bling ($3) to design the bottom of my N! Make sure you design before you stick.






Below is the finished product! They look super cute on a dresser, shelf, or wall (make sure you use command strips)!

Have fun!!

Happy Creating!

Sarah

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Right & Wrong Threads

Things shake us. Things change. And it's beautiful either way. 

I started to think about  this as I drove to Lexington for an emergency visit last week with the windows rolled down, the mountains greeting me as I left the city, and the sight of dense fog over the river with the sun filtering through. The red tail lights intruded on this beautiful scene.

Life isn't always the script we had written out as children, as high schoolers, as college kids, or even as it was written in our minds the day before. Everything hangs like a tiny thread balancing inside hole of a needle; it could stitch everything together, or it can slip away, unable to be rethreaded again. 

I'm a full believer that everything happens for a significant reason, and when everything falls into place the way it should, you are able to look back at everything that went right, everything that went wrong, even the wise words that you ignored from your parents when you were younger suddenly ring true, and everything that is right, wrong, and suddenly true make everything around you beautiful. 

How beautifully we are flawed.

How beautiful are the moments that went right.

How beautiful are the things that went wrong.

                      How beautiful are the moments when we are so thankful that things went wrong.

And how glorious the moment that we realize that life continues, either way. 

I remember the feeling of receiving good news during said emergency and being thankful that everything that could have gone wrong, didn't. I thought of every single aspect of my life for the past four years that stitched me up to this day. 

Specifically, this very moment of relief.

In a brief recap, I looked back at everything that went wrong, everything that went right, every decision that I made, every decision that was made for me, moving to Tallulah, going to PC, traveling to the place that changed view of my life and what I wanted to do with it, falling in love with Virginia, moving to Richmond, choosing the legal field over counseling, and choosing to go to U of R put me exactly where I needed to be in this very single second of this very single day of September. These few moments of reflection showed the interweaving of all of the threads that God placed in my life and how they came together so perfectly. 

I know there is more to experience, more to learn, more to see, but it is amazing to me how one moment can show you just how beautiful everything that was right and wrong can suddenly be shown in a somewhat flawed, yet beautiful tapestry.

While things are painful that are wrong, and the moment of things that are right can diminish quickly, take a minute to reflect on the threads in your life. Some are wrong, some are going to be right, but all have a purpose. All have a reason.

And when you realize the reasons why, be thankful that whatever was right and wrong stitched you to this moment. Caution: Reality might slap you in the face.

Happy Weaving,
Sarah 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Virginia thus far...

I apologize for not keeping up in the last couple of weeks! It has been a little hectic with moving, working for a week, figuring out Virginia, and getting used to a new school, all within the last three weeks! I'm currently in the middle of writing my first inner office memorandum for my litigation class (certainly one of my favorites)!  I have reached the point of a deep batter, extra crispy, brain fried state, but I still have to pack to skedaddle to Lexington for the weekend. :D Therefore, I will enlighten you on a few things that I've learned about Virginia in the past couple of weeks.

A. Two words: Road Reflectors.

I have learned just how difficult Virginia roads are to drive on during the rain, early morning fog, and at night. Combine all of the mentioned conditions, and what do you get without road reflectors? A blind bat navigating a 3,000 lb vehicle from Georgia. I'm not even slightly kidding.

Most of us from Georgia make fun of drivers from Florida (anyone reading this that is from Florida, I sincerely apologize, but unfortunately, it is true), and now I know why we make fun of people from different states on the road. I've already been yelled at by a man in an old, beat up Cadillac in Lexington from turning on an unmarked one way street. Awesome. I've spun around Richmond trying to find the right road and how to properly get on I-95. Merging on and getting off of the loops on the  interstate has already caused nightmares, which yes, this includes when I have to merge onto I-95 in downtown Richmond.  At night, I have to put on my eyeballs, get behind a car with bright red lights, and follow them as much as I can.  I'm getting used to it, but I promise that reflectors would make life so much easier.

Richmond Traffic > Atlanta Traffic
I think I could drive in a Grand Prix after driving through there a couple of times.
Also I've learned to NOT program my GPS to avoid toll roads. It is worth the $0.70 that they charge you to travel on a safe road. I promise.

B. The University of Richmond is probably the most beautiful campus I've ever seen in my life. I love running there, strolling around campus, etc. Everywhere I turn, there is something different, including nutella gelato at the Passport Cafe. Any school that includes nutella on the menu has my full support!

C. My classes are fascinating, challenging, and are fueling my passion for law even further. There are so many aspects to law that I didn't even know that I would begin to find interesting! For example, even though my brain is fried and extra crispy, this mock memo has been a blast to write. I had my first Judicial System class tonight, and not only was my professor dynamic, but she also included the history of law into her lecture. I was hooked all the way through! My litigation class covers the psychology of clients and witnesses, how to prepare a conference room for interviews including where to sit, what color the room should be, and how to draft memos, pleadings, interrogatories, etc. Legal research will most likely be my most challenging class because of the various case numbers, but all the reason to work harder at it. Intro to paralegal law gives me the chance to argue, which I forgot that I knew how to do pretty well.  Also, I decided to audition for Schola Cantorum, which is already providing me with an outlet. I absolutely love it!

D. Virginia is gorgeous. Everywhere I have been thus far (Richmond, Lexington, and Williamsburg) has its own element of beauty that is captivating. Richmond has beautiful rivers, Lexington really does remind me of home with the mountains and valleys, and Williamsburg has an old beauty that I love, such as cobblestone walkways and streets, original structures, etc.


So, did I make the right decision to move to Virginia? Yes. Yes I did. I absolutely love living here, being in the company of my aunt, having the boyfriend in Lexington, making new friends, having friends already here, and yes, even exploring the roads of Virginia in the daylight hours without rain or fog.

Take a leap of faith- a net will catch you no matter what you decide!

Until next time (hopefully sooner than 3 weeks),
Sarah






Monday, August 13, 2012

2 Weeks of Settling.

Well, everyone, I'm finally in Richmond! The chaos started Friday night when my wonderful Dad and I started to pack the Mountain Shark (his Tacoma) and when the most bravest man of them all came to my house to tackle my closet- Cadman. We huffed, puffed, and color coordinated everything into black plastic trash bags only to stack them up in the Black Pearl (my RAV4). I had to say goodbye to his family and the office on Friday, which was nothing short of heart wrenching, but thankfully, I get to see everyone over Labor Day weekend.

Moving is stressful, scary, terrifying, horrible, and absolutely annoying as all get out. I'm not one to moan and groan, but between dumping my stuff in Richmond to running down to Williamsburg to work for a week has been slightly stressful and really scary. While stressful, scary, terrifying, horrible, and as absolutely annoying moving is, it certainly has its perks. I get to become closer to my aunt, which I've always wanted, I have wonderful friends in this area (not to mention the brave man who tackled my closet),  a campus that is so beautiful that it is jaw dropping, a choice of churches around to look at attending, two wonderful, supporting families even at a distance, art museums to get lost in, a ton of libraries, music events, and just a lot of potential to explore in general. While I am slightly frazzled, stressed, and extremely tired, I am looking forward to the opportunities that I will chase. But for this week, I am going to teach, try to relax some at the best coffee shop in Williamsburg, spend my time with two great friends of mine, and get used to living in Virginia.

Did I mention trying to drive with all of these different traffic laws? Sheesh.

Anyways, I apologize for such a short, slightly uneventful post, but I have a long day ahead that includes saying goodbye to my two best friends (yes, my parents) as they head back to Georgia.

As I've said, never forget those who help you get to and reach your goals. God, your family, and true friends will always hold you and push you far above your goals and potential.

Until later this week,
Sarah


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moving Forward & to Virginia.

I was going to write this tomorrow, but my never ending list of last minute things is interrupting my writing flow. I apologize for the short, bittersweet post!



Well, about a year ago today, I thought I had said goodbye to 

the possibility of moving to Virginia. Now I am leaving early


Saturday morning for a new adventure in Richmond, Virginia, 


and I couldn't be more excited and nervous at the same time! I 


will be stopping in Richmond for the weekend, booking it to 


Williamsburg for a week, and then making a trip to Lexington 


to spend a week with Cad. I will also, hopefully, be making a 


short flight back down to Atlanta to meet Governor Deal who 


will have my photography, as well as my Father's amazing 


photography, hanging in his office area! I'm so excited and


nervous for the weeks to come!



The following is from my Dad with regards to moving. He always 


sneaks a post on my wall when a major life event is about to take 

place. I, of course, was sitting at my boyfriend's house, on the 

couch, minding my own business, and started tearing up when I 

saw this! Ah!



And yes....this is me at about 10 months comparing my tummy to 

the size of the pumpkins. 





Even before we moved here in August 2003, Sarah was never too far from Rabun County. Somewhere in a photo album we have a picture of Carol during a picnic at Black Rock Mountain State Park -- two days before we discovered she was pregnant with Sarah. This picture was taken at a roadside stand between Clayton and Tallulah Falls (does "Fiddle Creek" sound familiar to our Rabun friends?) on our way back to Buford.

In a few days, Sarah will move to Virginia to continue her education at the University of Richmond. We were more fortunate than many parents since Sarah completed her undergrad at Piedmont College just 20 miles away from home. Sure, she was in the dorm and had her own apartment, but she wandered in and out of the house at random over those four years. We will miss that terribly, but are thankful for iPhones, webcams, Skype and FaceTime.

Sarah will probably never again live in Rabun County. We hope for long visits as she completes her education and begins her career, but days under our roof will henceforth always be numbered. This is difficult to grasp and accept, but we are proud of Sarah's accomplishment and her direction.

Thank-you to all our friends in Rabun County who accepted and embraced Sarah (and us) when we move here 9 years ago. Rabun is home and I'm sure Sarah will never be too far away, in spirit if not in presence.




Moving on and forward is scary, invigorating, and exciting all at the same time. For those of you making a large, mediocre, or very tiny move in your life, always remember the people who helped you get there, whether it be a positive or negative influence! :)


Until Williamsburg, Virginia,
Sarah

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Norway.




A couple of weeks ago, I sat up late one night with my boyfriend telling him about my adventures in Norway. It was really late, so I had my eyes closed, but my mind was wandering back to the images that I had stored away, so I ended up describing everything I could to him. I felt like, in a sense, I had returned, and the comfort of the place was still there for me.  Here are a few of my favorite memories.

I remember the sound of the Boeing 747 as it prepared for landing. Jen, Rachael, and I woke from our slight slumber to see rolling green hills, red roof tops of homes, and each other's wonderful expressions of early morning and excitement. Little did we know how much our lives would change over the next 6 weeks.




                                       Rachael and I at the airport before heading to Oslo!


Beauty surrounded me in this place, almost as if I were living in a dream. The buildings, places, city, and country inspired me with the beauty that surrounded me, and I often would return to my dorm room to write out all of my "sketched"ideas from my iPhone notes to paper. To understand the breath of life that was instilled into me, I have to return to the entrance to my door, room 402, building I, on the fourth floor of Blindern Dormitory at the University of Oslo.

Blindern Dormitory consists of 5 yellow buildings with a beautiful courtyard with a fountain in the center. Trellises of red roses and ivy climb the buildings, but only up to the second story. I'll never forget the moment when I climbed up the four flights of stairs with my skeleton key balanced in my hand, my mammoth suitcase, and my purse carefully clenched between my teeth. The green doors welcomed me with my name and where I was from carefully written on a simple piece of paper. I carefully slid the skeleton key into the tiny key hole, heard the latch click, and walked into a room that will forever be an escape for me. The walls were a crisp white with hardwood floors, my bed was white with crisp white sheets, and there was a window- an amazing, beautiful window with hunter green curtains that overlooked the back of Blindern. The ceilings had deep, romantic angles that framed the walls for conversations that took place between my roommate and I until all hours of the night. Upon entering the room, I saw the most beautiful postcards written in a language that I could not read. Those post cards served as opportunities to imagine stories, so I never asked Salo what they actually meant until a couple of nights before I left.


                                                             
                                                               Blindern Dormitory



Blindern




                                                                       Metro


The first night that I stayed there was the most calming evening. Considering I am a quiet person with a teaspoon of anti-social and a dash of hermit, I decided to stay in for the evening for some peace, quiet, and rest. The sun, of course, refused to go down, so the evening left me curled up on the desk, looking out the window with yarn, crochet needles, hot tea, and Ray LaMontagne playing softly in the background. I watched it rain. I watched the sun flirt with the horizon. I watched people stumble by late  in the night, never knowing that someone was watching them. I watched the metro train go by, filling the room with a perfect arpeggiated triad with a diminished seventh that always found tonic as it accelerated.  I remember the smell of my hot tea, the joy of finishing a scarf, climbing into bed the first night, and the comfort of my roommate quietly coming in the door. That night was perfect, quiet, and time for me to reflect and prepare for the adventures ahead.

Lets be honest- I love to run. After being cooped up on the plane for hours and hours, I decided to grab my new found friend, Johnnie the Brit, and go for a run at 11pm a couple of days later. Johnnie and I ran about 2 miles in the city when the sun was just giving us enough light. This run would be a great warm up for our next adventure, which turned out to take a heck of a lot longer than the 2 mile run. The next night, Rach and Jen decided that they wanted to go down to the opera house, so I decided to tag along with them and Johnnie the Brit. Rachael told us that it would only take about 15-20 minutes, so I naturally grabbed my hermit objects, which were my journal and book, The Lovely Bones.

It took 2.5 freaking hours.

Granted, it was beautiful once we got there. We ended up sitting on the top of the opera for about an hour, turned to go back, got on the metro, but the metro shut down at 12 am. So, another 2.5 hours later (2-3 am) we arrived back at Blindern. Worth it? Yes, without a doubt.


Another great memory was the afternoon at Sognsvann Lake. I ended up walking around the edge of the lake with my camera in tow. I ended up standing waist deep, in the lake, with 2000 dollars worth of camera equipment just to take pictures of lily pads. This is a short snippet of that day, but it was a beautiful day full of pictures, friends, and lots of food.

One weekend, I booked a train ticket to Gothenburg, Sweden. Mike, Phil, Rach, and I stayed at a youth hostel outside of the city, which was an experience within itself.  Here are a couple of pictures-


Moose and I at the hostel. 




                                                  One of my favorite pictures from Sweden



                                                           Published 2010 in Trillium

Lollipops!


One afternoon, Rachael and I decided that we would grab some friends and go to the island of Langoyene off the coast of Oslo. We reached the ferry around 12 pm and arrived at the island around 12:30 with afternoon clouds, drizzles of rain, and the sun breaking through the clouds at random intervals during the day. Of course, I brought my camera and journal on our mini day trip. This led to me being social for a bit and then venturing off to take pictures, write, and rock climb the sides of the island.



                                                                     Langoyene





                                                                     Langoyene


Purple shells on the island


My trip to Bergen happened about 3 weeks into the program. On the day that we left, I remember walking out of my dorm to see a huge red double decker bus. I immediately ran to the top of the bus to snatch a window seat so I could take pictures. I ended up taking pictures for the entire first day of the bus ride with my headphones on, curled under a blanked, only to see the most beautiful scenery possible. That night, we landed in a beautiful hotel in a small little town. Jen and I decided to room together for that trip, so we ran up to our room, threw open the door, dropped our stuff, and pulled back the curtains only to find a mountain with a waterfall extending all of the way down the mountain. Needless to say, Jen and I stayed up writing most of the night talking and writing.



                                              This was one of my 'drive by shooting' shots

The next morning, I was the definition of a hot mess. I woke up late  and went to breakfast, sporting my purple P.J. shorts, moose shirt, hair twirled on top of my head, my glasses, and......my retainer. We are not talking about a normal metal retainer...oh no. We are talking about a TMJ, hunk of plastic, discusting retainer. I grabbed my breakfast, sat down, snarfed, and ran upstairs to try to redeem myself. Because of my tardy awakening, my window seat from the day before was already taken, so I took the only one that was left in order to take pictures. After we took off for a while, we stopped to take a tour through the Sognefjord, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I ended up taking a few pictures and sleeping after we boarded the bus to finish our journey to Bergen.


Sognefjord
Published in Trillium 2011. All rights reserved. 


A small town in the Sognefjord
                                                                               Sognefjord

Bergen consisted of beautiful old buildings, fish markets, a fortress/castle, unusual sculptures, and interesting museums. We also ventured to Edvard Grieg's house (AND I TOUCHED HIS STEINWAY....sorry) and Oleg Bull's house. I played some of Grieg's music during high school band, so I was beyond excited. Anyway, here are a few pictures from that weekend.




                                                       The row of buildings in Bergen



The view out of my hotel room window


The fortress/castle 


A sculpture and I in Bergen


The next adventure took place in Hallingdal, Norway. Rach, Jen, and I decided to go on this trip together. We stayed at a beautiful lodge in the middle of nowhere with a small animal farm in the back.

This is where it gets funny.

Sometimes being antisocial comes with consequences. On such occasion, I decided to go outside the fence into wild brush on the mountain and take my camera along with me. Once I got a little further up the mountain of brush, I heard a very distant ringing sound. My curiosity was sparked, so I decided to follow the sound. The noise kept getting louder and louder and louder. Finally, I saw the origin of said ringing- sheep. Yes, sheep. I got a little close to them, took a couple of pictures, and then noticed that the largest sheep did not look happy with me at all. So me, my camera, and the sheep with the cow bell took off down the mountain. Now, I will admit, I have two left feet, so the image of me with my camera being chased down a mountain by a sheep with a cowbell is quite a comical image. I remember looking up at a brief moment to see Jen and Rach with very puzzled faces. Thank goodness that I got up enough speed to jump the fence just in time.
Blueberries in Hallingdal!



Rachael and I- This was the best picture of the brush that I had to run through.

Bunnies!



The sheep that chased me down the mountain...


A favorite memory from traveling to Hallingdal was the old train ride for 20 miles of our journey. I got to see some beautiful country side and I got to hang off the side in order to take pictures. It was a beautiful, peaceful few moments in between the cars of the train.


Published in Trillium 2011. All rights reserved.
I was hanging off of the side of the train.

Leaving a station




The rest of my 6 weeks consisted of nightly tea tunneling through the dorms, adventures around the city, locking myself in the piano room just to play for an hour,  and camping at Langoyene for the last weekend.

Tea spot :)




Camping on the island

I remember the night before I left Norway like it was yesterday. I packed and packed, cried and cried, smiled, and played piano with Matt at the closing of ISS 2010. The morning of my flight, I hugged Salo goodbye, grabbed my bags, got on the metro, switched to the train, checked in at the airport, got on my plane, and cried as I watched the terminal numbers decrease- 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41....

And then we were off.


Tears came and went throughout the rest of the flight, which are permenatnly stained in my Norway journal due to my pickiness of Pilot V7 pens (they bleed like crazy, but flow beautifully...you must try them).

My life has changed drastically and in wonderful ways since I went to Norway, but if I had to pick a time when my life changed and influenced who I am now, Norway would be it. I am much more aware  of cultures, who I am, and how different cultures influence others. I want to go back by myself once i have traveled around to the other countries on my "to see" list. Speaking of which, I just sent in my application to study abroad in County Cork, Ireland in the spring, and I am planning to tour England/Scotland after I finish at U of R!  Fingers crossed!!




Sarah

Friday, June 29, 2012

Home.


I went to lunch the other day at a Chinese joint with some of my colleagues. Of course, as tradition calls, I had to get a fortune cookie on my way out the door. I opened it up and read "Everything will fall into place." On my way back to court, I thought and thought about the last few months of my life. Things have gotten better- my grandfather is healing beautifully and sounds better than he did when I was child, I've been accepted to the University of Richmond, my family as a whole is doing well, I have had my surgery and I am walking perfectly on my knee (I've been able to wear heels for the past two days...score!), I have fallen in love with law, my plans for Richmond seem to be flowing effortlessly together, and I even have a job in Williamsburg for most of August! My future seems to be coming together and falling into place.

But of course, with all major moves, comes sadness, a feeling of emptiness, and nostalgia. The past couple of days, I've been reflecting on Barry Lopez's, "A Literature of Place" as well as the image of home.  Let me recommend that you read this before you continue to delve into this post. 


http://arts.envirolink.org/literary_arts/BarryLopez_LitofPlace.html/


Trust me, it is worth the read. 

My father and I decided to get up for breakfast after I spent all night dreaming about egg & cheese biscuits from Chickfila (major, major weakness). On the way to town, we discussed the feelings of home, and what we actually consider to be home. Since most of you probably know me from my later years (wow, that makes me sound old...), let me start from the beginning. 

When I close my eyes and think of the word home, I see myself at a kitchen table with three other chairs, one filled with my sister. There are two windows in front of me looking out to the woods with a certain tree buried behind the trees lit effortlessly by the sun. The leaves glimmer in all shades of green and every noise that surrounds this image disappears. My father is in the kitchen making my favorite meal as a child- alfredo macaroni and cheese. In this moment, I look around trying to place every single object that was so carefully placed in that room of the house. 

This memory stems from my home in the suburbs of Atlanta, where I lived for the first 13 years of my life. So for your entertainment and a deeper look into home, I will provide you with a few other favorite memories. 

During the first week of kindergarten, I walked into the gym where my school's afternoon program took place for kids who's parents worked late. The first person I saw was a little girl wearing a beautiful dress with black hair, bright red lips, and translucent skin crawling on the floor. I decided that she looked a lot like Snow White, so I plopped to the ground and started crawling around with her. Honestly, we've been inseparable since. Victoria and I grew up together in an art colony, where both of our mothers had art studios. One of my favorite memories with V-tor was the day we snuck out of the house when we were about 8. Victoria and I were the outdoorsy kids- we were always outside building forts, rolling in the mud, swimming in the creek, and trying to figure out which leaves tasted better as frosting on mud pies. This particular day was a cold, December afternoon with snow clouds threatening to blanket the ground. I had the idea to go out in the woods to go 'splorin, so we bundled up, made two thermoses of hot chocolate, and set out. 

       I clearly remember the cold air stinging my face as we ran down our typical pathway into the woods. We passed our forts, the ravine, and the babbling creek that always greeted us on our way to our woods. We kept trekking on and on to the point where we couldn't see the house anymore.  I had only been back that far once or twice, but always with an adult. We found old river beds, tree roots, trees with twisted limbs that looked like a sculpture, but what we really found will forever stay ingrained as a picture in my mind. I remember my sister's gasp and how silent the world sounded as she took in that breath and the snow began to fall. In front of us were three white horses grazing in an old pasture, one that I didn't even know existed. Since they were a couple yards away, we quietly climbed into one of the sculpture trees with our hot chocolate as we watched the fairy tale unfold in front of us. Eventually, we heard my mother's worried voice carry through the woods and eventually dragged our feet back home. Victoria and I still talk about that day, since we have never been able to see it again. We've even wondered wondered if it was real because it seemed so much like a dream. 

Victoria mostly lived with us all through our childhood, so many days were spent with the pitter patter of our feet running to the other's room to share our dreams from the night before, toaster strudels in the morning, classes together all day, and days spent roaming around the colony. We were the odd kids that never were able to fit in, but we always had each other. We still do. 


                                                        Victoria & I on her 5th Birthday.





In August 2011,  I rerouted my Labor Day plane ticket from VA to Memphis, TN to get away and get my mind off of things. I got a taste of home that I hadn't felt in a long time when I got to see her. We stayed up each night until 3 talking about life and old memories, including the ones that I've written down. Here are a few pictures from Labor Day weekend. 





               We decided to climb on the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe and have our own jam session. 


  
                                                        On the way to the airport



                                                   My brother Drew, V-tor, & I reunited. 
                                            Can you guess who the redheaded stepchild is?


When I moved to the mountains in the eighth grade, I never expected the experiences that were in store for me. I left behind my sister, my hometown, and everything I knew for the first 13 years of my life. While we only moved an hour away, it certainly was a little bit of a culture shock and a major change in my life. For example, the nearest grocery store was 15-20 minutes away. I remember the first night that I slept at our rental house (we lived in a rental while our house was being built) with the windows open, a cool mountain breeze tracing the walls of my room, and the sound of absolutely nothing. Nothing littered the sound of peace in that room. When the sun rose the next morning, I was greeted by the smell of breakfast and the most beautiful view of Wolffork Valley and the surrounding mountains (if you have never seen pictures of Wolffork Valley, I suggest you take a gander on Google). I knew that the mountains and valleys of this place would cradle me through the rest of middle/high school, and in that, I found an unrelenting rush of peace.
        
Here are a few picts of Wolffork Valley-



 When I think of home during high school, I think of the smell of boiled peanuts, the sound of cleats hitting the pavement, late nights at WaHo, rock climbing, and the adrenaline of marching onto the field. I've played flute for the past 10 years, so most of my middle and high school career revolved around band camps, festivals, marching season, symphonic season, and band trips. Every Friday night in fall consisted of football, warm-ups, and marching on the field during halftime with our reputation playing into the cold mountain air. I remember the nerve wracking feeling of a 30 measure solo that I played in Washington, D.C. (no pressure), the pressure of conducting my senior night, and the joy of playing that same solo at my graduation with the band. I wouldn't change that experience for anything, considering it was the experience that helped to define home during that time of my life. Here are a few favorite pictures-


                                             Typical Friday Night Home Football Game



                                                       Senior Night (Yes, near Halloween)



                                                 My final salute before conducting half time. 



                        Nathan (Drum Major) and I (Assistant Drum Major) conducting stands music. 


And now, as life is moving forward and my days in Georgia are limited, home will always be with my family, perched on top of a mountain in a small town with the opry house. Big cities, my career, and my future will never, ever change that. When I close my eyes and say the word "home," it will forever be that house where I grew up in, but in conversation, it will be with my family, no matter where they are. 

                                               And right now, I am thankful it is here....




                                         Because I want to eventually return to this...




                                     And spend winters curled up at the fireplace with a book


                                  And always wake up to the beauty that God gives us each day.

*Courtesy to Keith Nelms for the photos of home! :)




I challenge you to read Barry Lopez, close your eyes, and write down your first image of home. You might be surprised at what you see.

And now I'm off to work out, cook dinner, and pick out an outfit for a date to the Symphony! So excited!


Stay tuned for a post about Norway!



Blessings,

Sarah

Monday, June 4, 2012

Richmond.


In case any of you are curious as to why I'm going to The University of Richmond, here ya go...

               As I've mentioned before, I am quite the free spirit. This past year, I discovered my interest in both counseling and law. Not knowing which path to take, I prayed and prayed for a sign to be given to me. I knew that law school right off the bat would probably not be a great idea for me, so I started researching paralegal studies after I applied to graduate school for counseling. The number one school that stuck out to me was the University of Richmond because of its reputation, great location, beautiful campus, and law programs in general. After I was accepted into counseling, I knew that this would be a difficult decision to make, so I prayed for God to literally hit me on the head with signs for which path he wanted me to take. The night after I discussed this option with my parents, I came into work to see a beautiful coffee table book titled, "A Portrait of the University of Richmond," sitting on my desk. I thought that this was a complete coincidence and that there was no way in heck that this was a sign, but the Lord probably laughed at my lack of faith in the moment.
               When I went to Nashville, TN less than a week later, I confided in two of my professors for advice. After walking and talking with them for a bit about the paralegal option, I prayed again for a sign. Suddenly, something caught my eye in the grass, so I went over to the shimmery object and looked down to see a guitar pick with a verse from Romans 10:14 (NIV) which states, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
So, while this verse isn't exactly point blank, "Here, Sarah, this is the path that I want for you to take..." I figured that not many people would see a shimmery guitar pick with a verse from Romans while saying a silent prayer, so I took it as a potential sign. Also, while in Nashville, I attended a publishing workshop in a room with a quote in huge letters on the door by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., which read, "A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience." For those of you who are close to me, you know my connection to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and why I completely froze in the hallway with my mouth gaping wide open.

Stubborn ol' me started listening at this point. 

       Something has occurred pretty much every single day from that point on. In fact, there are really too many occurrences to mention in this blog post! Almost every time I've been behind a really slow car, it's either from Virginia or from Richmond Co, GA, which always made me giggle in the midst of mild road rage (not that I get frustrated when people drive WAY below the speed limit or anything...). 

         My wonderful parents took me to the beach right after graduation, which was much needed. We decided to go out to a Greek restaurant for Mother's Day dinner on the island. When we walked out, the only GA tag in the parking lot was my father's truck. Every other tag had a Virginia license (and we are talking about maybe 10+ other vehicles). My parents and I were in hysterics. Once I got home from the beach, I started unpacking my suitcase when suddenly, a bright orange hand towel fell out between a rolled up shirt. I picked it up, unfolded it, and it read in bright blue letters, "GO VIRGINIA!" Well, I thought that this was a prank from my parents, so I immediately went upstairs with said orange hand towel. Neither one of them had ever seen it before in their life, so the mystery of the Virginia towel continues.

       I met a lawyer who works for the government in D.C. this weekend.  He was so very kind to talk to me quite a bit about becoming a paralegal in D.C., what I needed to know, and that the post-undergrad certification at U of R is a very good idea to become a paralegal in D.C. I was very encouraged, considering that this is where I eventually plan to end up. And believe it or not, after a strict, business like conversation (with absolutely no mention of what I'm about to say), he really pressed and encouraged me to sit for the FSOT. 

      In case you are wondering, that had to be the most unflattering, mouth gaping expression that anyone has ever seen on me. I'm sure it was grotesque and probably the polar opposite of classy, but I recovered. 

I looked at him and replied,
"Sir, with all due respect, why do you think I should sit for the FSOT?"
"From what I can tell just by talking with you, you've got what it takes to at least study, sit for it, and possibly make it in."

       And yes, at this point I REALLY almost dropped my cake, camera, and drink. Irony has a great way at getting to me in the most unlikely places possible. It's ironic enough that my path has led me to VA and D.C. anyway. Thankfully, I do know what this test is, how extremely difficult it is, and how much I would need to study and consider an IR degree of some sort before even taking the test. I don't know if this is my path or not, because right now I'm dreaming of something more than a master’s, but nonetheless, I was very flattered. It's always up to God, not me. 

       Another odd occurrence happened to me today while I was in the E.R. this morning at St. Simons. Thankfully, it had a lovely outcome, and the situation could have been a lot worse! For those of you who do not know me well, I am deathly allergic to the smell, steam, or tiny bit of cross contamination with shrimp. My father and I went to get breakfast this morning and, of course, my scrambled eggs were somehow cross-contaminated with shrimp, so I landed myself in the E.R. for most of the morning with my throat mostly shut.

Great.

          While my nurse was giving me a 4 inch long needle of epinephrine straight into my abdomen, she told me about moving around with her husband, and she, of course, mentioned Richmond (And yes, I was deeply concerned and horrified about this going into my abdomen, but I was later told that I’m too thin to receive a shot of epinephrine anywhere else. While I am thankful that I am a whole lot thinner that I was this time last year, I would have really preferred it in the previous locations, thank you very much. OUCH!). My father asked her if she meant Richmond, Virginia, and she said yes! So after my initial clenching and suppressed scream from the shot (I have a high pain tolerance if that tells you anything), I spoke up about U of R. She couldn’t stop talking about how much she loved Richmond, so that certainly brightened my morning!

          Everything has fallen into place for this path, and I have no other person to give credit to except for God. I have an internship that, so far, has shown me that I really do have a passion for law, which certainly does run in my family. I feel that this career will tie my love and compassion for people, my work ethic, and my love for research together beautifully. The last time everything fell into place like this was when I switched my major to English from Music. 

And you know what?
I've never regretted it. Not once. 

I fell in love with every English class and also regained my passion music all over again. I feel the same way about this major decision in my life!

So, my first stop is the University of Richmond to attain my paralegal certification.

And my second stop?

Hopefully International, National Security, or Cyber Law at a law school in Virginia (yes, I will be declaring residency while I'm at U of R, which anther reason why I'm doing the paralegal side first). 

Richmond, here I come.
LSAT, here I come.
A new path that the Lord has so clearly paved for me, here I come.
I can't wait. 


        I truly believe that God has plans that are beyond the imagination. All you have to do is listen, even when it takes a little bit for you to understand that this is the right path. When you know that you are where you are supposed to be or go, it will be so clear to you that it might actually be comical, like in my case. The Lord always has a trick or two up his sleeve that are always in your best interest.

And, of course, as always, believe in yourself. Don't ever sell yourself short or settle for less than your best in all aspects of your life. 

Psalm 23.

Blessings Always,
Sarah