Friday, June 29, 2012


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.

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!



Monday, June 4, 2012


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.


          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,