Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed...

...when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings every doubt will fly and you will be singing as the days go by"

Life is full of trials, and none of us, even those consumed by the bliss of young love, are exempt. That being said the last month has been extremely stressful for both me and Matt. We have had to tackle some not fun stuff including financial mayhem, speeding tickets, job stress, lack of sleep, and family drama just to name a few. As we have been planning our life together and making decisions for the wedding the To Do list just seems to grow and the worries mount. I would be lying if I didn't confess that i have been on the verge of tears several times the past few weeks because of feeling so overwhelmed by it all.

But alas, just as sure as there are trials, the Lord's promises are sure and there is rest and relief for the weary, and we have been awed by the blessings that the Lord has been pouring out upon us. So here is a partial list of the blessings we have been the recipients of:

~ I was able to pay my tithing and all my bills (including the unexpected speeding ticket)
~ Both Matt and I can continue to receive benefits from our parent's insurance
~ A friend is designing our wedding invitations
~ We were able to leave ahead of the storm on our drive to California for the holidays
~Our trip was funded by an amazing, loving family friend
~ We were able to book the photographer and DJ for our wedding that we wanted without breaking the bank
~ My mom was able to gift us awesome cookware at no cost to either of us
~ Generous ward members have agreed to help with all my reception details
~We were able to do sealings in the LA temple and visit the new visitors center
~I was able to find the pattern and material for my wedding dress, and it is being made as a gift to me
~We got to spend 4 wonderful days with my family in sunny warm California which included In N Out, the beach, the park, puzzles, family photos, and sing alongs
~ I was able to find someone to cover my on call shift over the holiday
~ We are being gifted furniture for our apartment
~ We got to see an amazingly funny comedy sportz LA show at discounted price
~ We made it safely back from California despite traffic, near miss car accidents, and bad roads
~Things are coming together to eliminate our married housing issue
~ Matt has been able to find and apply for numerous scholarships (fingers crossed that he gets one)

When all is said and done we are blessed far more than we deserve, and on top of our deep abiding love for one another there is much to be happy about.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

I've been meaning to wrap up my three part Love, Laughter, Forgiveness series for sometime now, but as any good writer knows at times it is harder to articulate the things that you want to share. Today, however, I woke up, got our of the shower and heard this song on Pandora and the random thoughts in my mind just started falling into place. So this final chapter in the trilogy, about forgiveness, is dedicated to two special friends whom I know will be able to empathize with some of the emotions so poignantly put forth in this song, but also to everyone who is searching in their lives for something more.

I got the call today, I didn't wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin' on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And all the struggles we went through
How I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love's open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?

I've been learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning them again
I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
And people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They're the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work they put between us,
You know it doesn't keep us warm

All the people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; cause life goes on
You keep carrin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside

I wanna be happily everafter
And my heart is so shattered
But I know it's about forgiveness

It doesn't matter what the question is, the answer, in my mind any way, is forgiveness. First we need to forgive ourselves for not yet being perfect- not yet having perfect bodies, not yet being the perfect friend, daughter or student, not yet knowing perfectly how to treat ourselves or one another. If we cannot accept ourselves for what we are and where we are along our journey of life we cannot hope to be able to accept others or for others to accept us. If I cannot accept that I am imperfect, if I cannot acknowledge both the good and the bad about myself, I cannot be ME. I must always be part. I will forever be putting on a facade, pretending that I am something that I'm not. Love is born of acceptance. This makes it impossible for others to love me, since I am forever keeping them at arms length. By not showing them the good and the bad they cannot love me for me. This also makes it impossible for me to love them, because I will always be thinking that they, like me, are only giving part of themselves. There is no opportunity for trust and growth and love because we have not been honest with what our starting point is.

When we have forgiven ourselves, accepted the reality of who and what we are, we can then more easily love and accept others. We don't expect them to be perfect. We know they will not be. Thus their imperfections endear them to us, because we can look at them and not be blinded by what they are not, but be inspired by what they are becoming. We can see daily the challenges they face and celebrate with them their victories as they learn again the things they thought they knew, and they likewise can rejoice with us as we learn and grow and are changed. There is something to be said about struggling together, I'm sure there are many married couples that could tell you that. But the same principle applies to all our relationships. In the Bible we are told that "a friend loveth at all times and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17) We can love our friends and neighbors and eventually our experiences with them will turn them into family, our brothers and sisters. Imagine what a different type of world we could live in if we could just forgive; replace the pride and bitterness in our hearts and homes with love.

We all need love. It is that universal desire that sends us from the arms of our mothers when we are little, to the arms of the savior when we are young and foolish, and eventually to the arms of a lover when we have learned enough about being loved to freely give our love to another. Someone who will give us plenty of opportunities to laugh and love and forgive.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My boyfriend sold his soul to the BYU accounting program

It is 10pm and I am sitting in study room on the fifth floor of the Harold B Lee Library. You may be asking yourself "why would a BYU graduate, of all people be at the library this late, on the third day of classes?" The short answer is that I have spent the last two days masquerading as a BYU student. It is easy to do since there are so many new students and people adding and dropping classes. I just pack up my pink Jansport backpack and blend right in! Okay so maybe having half the school (yes, I realize I'm being very liberal with that number) recognize you doesn't qualify as blending, but when you have a student ID that doesn't expire till 2012 and your route Y login still works for the free internet, there is a lot to be said about kicking it on campus. I even attended a class with Jen Kironde the other day. I don't think I will be returning, due in large part to the fact that the boy I sat with was all to eager to get to know me and suggest we form a study group. I mean come on, it's only the second day of class and this is a religion class! Oh and I told him first thing that I was already graduated and just visiting. The nerve of some people's children. Better luck next time Tye from Idaho.

But all joking aside, the real reason that I am spending my days, and nights on campus is because my boyfriend has sold his soul to the BYU accounting program. This semester marks the start of his junior core of classes, and I can already tell you, that Junior core is short for "university-approved-ritual-hazing". On the second day of class poor Matthew had already been assigned two projects and about 10 hours of homework, and it hasn’t gotten any better. Since they have a rotating class schedule, he has assignments due every day which means no rest for the weary. He has already, half joking-half serious, told me that I am going to hate him after this semester because he is going to be so busy and so stressed that we are never going to see one another and he is going to be no fun to hang around with. I disagree whole heartedly.

Unlike Matt I have been mentally preparing for this transition all summer long. As one who has spent time working and living in the “real world” I know it can’t always be fun and games. Still to make things easier on him I broke up with him at dinner last night. Now he doesn’t have to worry and stress about our relationship. I have also spent the last two nights in the library with him. I’m hoping in time he will come to understand that just spending time with him, even if I have to share him with his Auditing and Assurance Services book, is all I require, and that making dashes off to Wendy’s and sneaking food back to him in our little study room isn’t a big deal to me. I like it. It makes me feel important and involved. I can’t do his work for him but I am more than willing to try and relieve some of the stress. It’s a whole lot better than being an accounting program widow....I wonder if they have a facebook group for that. I’ll have to look into it. =)

Monday, August 30, 2010

We Are Family

So I had the opportunity to meet most of Matt's immediate family (minus his brother Tim) back in July on a trip to Carson city, where his sister and her husband and their adorable little boy Luke live. It was tons of fun, and amazingly enough they liked me. I admitt I was a little nervous about the nine hour car drive with his parents, but that is nothing compared to the anxiety I felt when Matt accompanied me 660 plus miles to California to meet my family last week. I'm not sure what about the trip scared me the most- the concern that my brother Todd beating the crap out of my boyfriend, the embarassing stories my Mom was sure to tell, the jokes and drama of younger siblings (since Matt is the youngest in his family) or the stone face treatment I knew my father was capable of. I think the biggest part of my fear came from the fact that, having experienced Matt's family, I was well aware that my family was, to put it mildly crazy in comparason, and I was afraid that all our craziness might overwhelm him.

My mom was the first to grill Matt the morning of our arrival, in the car on the way to the zoo. Since our group was so large, she managed to seperate us by making me drive my siblings in the second car. To my families credit, they waited until our third day visiting to unload the big guns. We were at dinner at Hometown Buffet, eleven of us in total. We ended up needing three tables to accomidate our party! Dinner passed rather quietly, but just as we began to start on dessert, it happened. Todd and Sean started telling jokes. The jokes progressed into random stories and before long, the whole table, my Mom, Dad and Grandma included were in fits of riotous laughter. Now something you must understand about my family is that try as we might, we can never just have one person speaking at a time, Everyone speaks at the same time, mostly adding details that the main storyteller has left out, but other times carrying on a different conversation with some other party at the table. Thus the volume level at the table climbs steadily as everyone competes to be heard above the others. By the fourth or fifth angry scowl from other patrons in the resturant, I thought for sure we were going to be kicked out, but their displeasure could do nothing to hamper our happy mood.

My dad voiced his concern that "we're gonna scare this poor boy away". On the contray Matt seemed to enjoy himself immensly and his easy going attitude helped him blend very nicely with the Curtis crew. He rolled up his sleves and got right to work unloading groceries and fixing lunches for our Zoo trip. He made friends with Caitlin and carted her around the Zoo, chased her at the beach, and even took her out in the waves. He joked around with Sean- they both have a quick witty sense of humor, and got along swimmingly with Todd due in large part I'm sure to the fact that they share a love of Latin culture and music, and motorcycles. The highlight of the trip for Matt and my father was the time that they got to spend together playing guitar and talking about music. I came home from an outing with the girls to find them sitting in the living room of my grandmother's house having a Beatles sing-a-long.
My dad is a man of few words but when he told me " this boy can play" I just smiled and nodded, and thought about the song that Matt had written me back in June and I had written a continuation of in July, and was sure that if part three included the mayhem of our California adventures, it was going to be just as awesome.

For your reading enjoyment Summer part I and part II, written by Matthew Metcalf and Noel Curtis, respectively:

Trips back and forth to and from Salt Lake, It's four in the morning and I'm still awake
In the summer time, in the summer time
Who needs a bed when you've got the floor,and when you fall asleep I'm left wanting more.
In the summer time, in the summer time.

You're a California girl, with a California mind, you sure seem like a one of a kind.
Came to Utah to get away, and when you smile you brighten up my day
In the summer time.

Losing sleeps all part of the game, to miss a night with you would be a shame
In the summer time, in the summer time.
Playing hookie's nver been so sweet, when I ditch work so we can meet.

It's a near death experience when I take you for a ride, you seem to enjoy it so you let it slide.
In the summer time, in the summer time.
May and June are over, the summer's half done,but that doesn't mean we can't keep having fun.
In the summertime, in the summer time

You're a California girl with a California mind, you sure seem like a one of a kind.
You came to Utah to get away, and when you smile you brighten up my day.
In the Summer time.

Seven Peaks with their waterslides, I ride the big one though I'm terrified
Oh it's summer time, oh it's summer time.
Tickle fights and FHE fun, wearing SPF 70 because you crisp in the sun
Oh it's summer time, oh it's summer time.

I'm a California girl one boy on my mind, we're smiling and laughing almost all of the time.
He plays guitar and rocks surfer boy hair. He makes me so happy that it's just not fair.
In the summer time.

Walking in the rain, and laying by the lake, telling your family all about our first date.
Lovin summer time, lovin summer time.
Ditching your crew to kick it with mine, though a nine mile hike's not what you had in mind.
Lovin summer time, lovin summer time.

Mix in some weddings, drunks at Modest Mouse, cooking dinners when you come to my house.
Sweetest summer time, sweetest summer time.
Summer's winding down but the sun's still heating up, a weekend with you is never enough.
Sweetest summer time, Sweetest summer time.

I'm a California girl one boy on my mind, we're smiling and laughing almost all of the time.
He plays guitar and rocks surfer boy hair. He makes me so happy that it's just not fair.
In the summer time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Matthew- the- man- Metcalf

Last night, I ended an hour long phone conversation with Matthew Kevin Metcalf by saying "I love you". Before I continue I should probably tell you how I got to this point. Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. I met Matthew by chance when I was visiting Markus Cueva and some other friends in Provo back in January or February. I had gone over to Markus' with Suzanne and Jennifer Kironde in tow to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The movie had already started when two boys, who I would later find out were named Matt and George (Matt's friend and old mission companion), walked in and sat down on the floor close to where Suzanne and I were seated. Seeing Matt and instantly thinking he was kind of cute, I jokingly leaned over to her and whispered "You see that guy in the hat (Matt)? I'm going to make out with him." It would be many nights later that Matt and I would actually enjoy our first kiss, but to my surprise when Suzanne left the apartment to take a phone call, Matt wasted no time in getting up from his seat on the floor and positioning himself at my side. We ended up talking through the entire movie. Jen says we were quite, but I recall out buddy Christopher Robinson giving me a hard time about ruining the movie for everyone else once it had ended and we all got up to leave.

While I had enjoyed my talk with Matt immensely, having found him a witty, engaging, intelligent partner, I was currently living in California with no intention of relocating so I didn't dwell too much on what had transpired or the fact that I may have a future with the man that had caught my attention in a darkened BYU apartment. I was therefore surprised to receive a friend request from Matt a week or so later on facebook. I didn't add him right away (waiting i believe two days or so) during which time I investigated his profile, looking through his pictures (none of which were really all that impressive) and reading old wall posts between friends to better ascertain his character. Finally convinced that even if he really was a Shiite Muslim as his profile professed, there would be no harm in continuing the association. I was also a little curious to see what he would do once I accepted his friend request. And so I waited. And waited, And waited. Nothing. He didn't send me a message or write on my wall or anything. It wasn't until I was back up in Utah the next month that we talked again. The conversation was equally as enjoyable as the first probably because he ended up holding my hand, however we did end up conversing through another movie (the Dark Knight). I was sad when the evening ended. At this point I was already beginning to contemplate the idea of moving back to Utah to live with Suzanne and get away from my mother and get a life that didn't revolve around working fulltime and taking care of my sick grandma and sacrificing sleep to steal away and hang out with friends sporadically. Towards the end of the month I told Markus that I had decided to make the move some time in the next few months to see what my trusted friend and advisor thought about my decision to leave my good job with Zurich/ Farmers just so I could be near my friends and try my hand at a job that actually made me feel fulfilled at the end of the day. He validated my feelings that being happy was more important than making money.

The very next day I signed into facebook to find a message from the random boy whose profile picture showed him sporting a mohawk and what Suzanne calls the gangsta face. It read "Word on the street says you're moving back to Utah. Care to comment on the situation?" I hadn't realized that Markus and Matt were such good friends, but apparently Markus had confided in Matt that I was planning to relocate and Matt was interested enough in my plans to make contact via the internet. I, of course sent and ambiguous reply, something to the affect of the rumor's source-Markus- being rather reliable and therefore the rumor most likely being true. I was vague on purpose hoping that this response would open up a dialogue so I could ascertain why this information so interested Matt, but he never responded.

Fast forward another few weeks. It is now April and time for General Conference. President Peterson has once again provided tickets and parking passes for two session of the proceedings in the Conference Center in Salt Lake. Thinking it would be nice for Sean and Jessica, both of whom have never been to get to go to the conference center we set out on a road trip. Suzanne and I have already picked out an apartment so I load the car up with my belongings. I will be coming to stay at the end of the month. While in Utah, I once again see Matt. Still unclear of how he feels about me, or what he is hoping from an association with me, I give Markus permission to give him my phone number and he texts me on my drive home. Wasting no time beating around the bush I tell him we should go on a date May 4th, which is my first full free day once I get into town. He agrees and there begins our courtship. Over the following days and weeks our random text messages turned into actually phone conversations (After texting for almost the whole day I told Matt that he could call me if he wanted, so he did). Pretty soon those conversations turned into a nightly occurrence and I found myself looking forward to the time I would get to spend swapping stories and learning about this fascinating individual. I was amazed at how open and honest we were with each other and how even when our visits lasted long into the night with calls going on for 3 to 4 hours, we never ran out of things to talk about- science, sports, music, literature, religion, relationships, food, family-we covered a myriad of topics and in each he was my intellectual equal. He matched my enthusiasm and wit. It was great fun. I couldn't wait to get to Utah so we could actually hang out. Though our date wasn't scheduled for almost a week after I arrived in Utah, I saw Matt the first night I got in, and every night leading up to the date with the exception of Sunday.

Matt gave me some options of things to do on our date- dinner, hiking, motorcycle ride- I of course said "sure" and we did all three. He drove to fast, there was no actually hiking trail and so I almost got bit by a large rattle snake, and the Mexican dish he cooked, chilaquiles, was so spicy it made me cry. In other words it was the perfect first date. Matt considers us dating from that point on, though it wasn't until sometime later that I had to check with Markus to make sure, since we never had a talk to define our relationship. Simply put I liked him, he liked me and neither one of us wanted to see other people. It took me a while to wrap my head around the title of boyfriend and it wasn't until well into June that I let Holly and Kendal and Jen refer to Matt as such though I'm sure they had been doing it behind my back for some time. When we took our girls camping trip to Moab at the end of May they made me call him to say good night (which I wanted to do anyway) and made repeated references to the words love and marriage. It freaked me out a little, especially because I still wasn't sure how much I like Matt. He never put any pressure on me though and seemed content to just take it one day at a time. If either of us wanted to see or spend time with the other we would just text or call and say so. No games, no gimmicks. It was so refreshing.

We spent a lot of time watching Lakers NBA finals games that first month. When they came to Utah to play the Jazz for game four Morgan and her now husband Chris, Markus, George, Suzanne, and Matt and I all got tickets and went. I was excited and nervous because Matt and I had been hanging out a bunch but since the one time in March he had not yet attempted to hold my hand again, or tried to kiss me, and I really kind of wanted him to. So the night of the Lakers game I made sure to give hints that if he wanted to kiss me I would be okay with that. I was more flirtatious than usual, and even put my arm around him while riding the trax on the way home. We decided that to celebrate the Lakers win and round out our California themed night we should indulge in some In N Out. Most of the group declined since it was already so late, but Matt and George agreed to go with me and I would drive them back to Provo when we were done. I made sure to drop off George first and then park my car and walk with Matt to the door of his apartment. We said good night and went in for the customary hug. I lingered hoping he would take the hint. The moment of truth and...NOTHING. He pulled back and went inside.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. With each step towards my parked car I got more and more upset. This was not the way my perfect Lakesr night date was supposed to end! Unacceptable. I got out my phone and did the unthinkable. I sent Matt a text that simply said "Come back down stairs". The time between when my phone screen indicated that my message had been "sent successfully" and the time I actually heard Matt's footsteps, while probably no more than a few minutes at most, stretched on like an eternity. In the wake of my frustration I had time to think about what I, in my haste, had actually done. "Crap!" I thought. "What am I going to do when he actually get here? What am I going to say?" I hadn't actually had a plan past getting him back into my proximity. I contemplated getting in my car and just driving away, but before I knew it he was walking towards me expectantly. I opened my mouth and said "Really though? You're not even going to try and kiss me?" Matt immediately threw back his head and chucked, in a way that I've come to love, amused at my bluntness. I don't remember his explanation word for word, something about his wanting to but being hesitant because he had In N Out onion breath, but I do remember that when I asked him if he would "care to rectify the situation", he did so immediately. It was a good kiss. The first of many.

Since that time Matt has blended almost seamlessly in with the Provo crew. I never had to babysit him or hold his hand when we hung out with new people and they have all come to love him, adding him as a facebook friend (now that they know I plan on keeping him around for a while) and developing their own individual relationships with him. Tyson and Joe like hanging out with him (I think it has something to do with the fact that he also served a spanish speaking missions and loves hiking and camping like they do) and the girls love talking about the sweet things he says and does (like bringing me flowers and buying me little gifts like my favorite juice and a new puzzle book). I got a text from Kendal the other day inviting me and or Matt to an activity. I think she meant I was invited and I could bring matt too, but I am also pretty sure that if Matt had wanted to go alone she wouldn't have minded that either. When Matt unveiled a song he wrote for me, Kendal and Jen were the first to ask when his album would be released and wanted him to play more of his own songs even if "they're all about Noel." They also voted his creation the song of the summer and Holly told me she would make Matt play it everyday if it was her song. Not to be out done I of course penned lyrics for a song about him which was a little more cheesy than his, but still good. He likes the chorus the best. I know because it makes him smile really big every time I get to it. We have watched movies and youtube videos, gone swimming, played games, gone dancing, been to FHE and ward activities, gone hiking, rearranged furniture, run a 5k (Matt's first ever), had BBQs, played at the water park, gone on group dates and more with both my group of friends and his. We took a road trip with his parents to Nevada and are planning a camping adventure and a trip to California in the next few weeks. On our own we go for motorcycle rides, and have motorcycle lessons (although I recently crashed his bike into a tree and some shrubs ), cook dinners, bring treats to Suzanne at work, solve puzzles, read books, go for walks, write songs, go to wedding receptions,star gaze, run errands, cuddle and talk. Mostly we smile and laugh and make more plans to just spend time together, which is probably the best part.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mr. Roboto

Secret, secret, I've got a secret... now there are two kinds of secrets. The first are the deep dark secrets that we wish never get told or brought to light. I will focus the rest of the blog on the second and more enjoyable type of secrets, the secrets of joyous news that we can't wait to tell those around us.

Secrets seem to be something that can spice up the very thing we call the human experience. Have you ever done something nice for someone you care about (be it a friend, family member or significant other) and simply could not wait for them to realize what you have done for them? I believe that is one of the most fulfilling feelings in life. We are all in the game of life together and we all can benefit from the simple acts of service or thoughtful gestures given by others.

Another part of the human experience is being a part of something. Being "in" on a secret makes us part of the exclusive circle of people who are co-owners of a hott piece of information. Knowing a part of this gossip allows us to have control and feel important. However, when the secret is divulged, no power is lost or usurped. The opposite is true. It allows us to deal with what has been done... and if a kind or thoughtful act has been committed then even more people are allowed to take part in the celebration.

As we speak, I have a few secrets up my sleeve... they will be revealed in due time. However, in the mean-time I will be enjoying a few delicious secrets all to myself mwahahahahaha

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tribal Ties

Someone once told me that the guitar was the white man's intrument and that drums belonged to the black man. I'm not sure if they were stating their opinion or elaborating on some learned musical fact, but this much I do know, drums remind me of Africa, and I am in love with Africa. Anytime I hear a song with a good beat I can't help but want to sway and move and dance along. Often times it feels like the beat is coming from somewhere deep inside me, coursing through my blood, rather than originating from my ipod or radio speakers. It's not hard for me to imagine that a love of the instrument is part of my genetic make up, I am African American afterall. Freshman year they called me gazelle. I have to admit I would probably feel right at home loping along in the tall grasses of the savannna. The rythm of the drums counjures up images of my ancestors dancing around the villiage fire in preperation for war, rain or celebration. It makes me both happy and yet simultaneously sad as I begin to miss so poniently a place that I have never been.

It is hard for those who don't feel the African pull to understand my fierce desire to go to Africa. "It's dangerous!" they tell me. "Aren't you scared?", they ask. "It's dangerous here.", I want to tell them, or "How can you be afraid to go home?". Am I foolish? Naieve? Perhaps. It's much different than the United States I know, but for me Africa is synonomous with words like mystery, exotic, vibrant, excitement. My study of the people and cultures that fill the vast continent have only reinforced my desire to visit a place thats very name seems to pulse with life, richness and energy. I've dreamed many times about my journey "home" and what it will be like. In my mind I see myself getting off the airplane and seeing Africa with my own eyes for the first time; breathing the air for the first time. It will powerful and amazing, like being reborn. Like I never lived or loved or existed before. I don't know how I know it will be like that, I just do.

The coolest thing about my love for the continent and people that I do not know, is the fact that this love is shared with many of my close friends. Suzanne, Zarah, Jen, and Kendal all share my passion for the country and the people. We are currently in the beginning planning stages of our adventure, picking our travel dates and our destinations. We are also making contact with various development projects in the countries we plan to travel in so we can do some volunteer work with them in addition to meeting Jen's family and spending time with them. I can barely contain my joy at the prospect of spending two months there next summer. I have begun telling everyone and anyone that will listen my exciting news even though so many of the details still need to be finalized. We have opted to spend some quality time in just a few countries (two or three at the most) rather than try to do it all this first time. Kendal promises that we will come back. I laugh because I can't garuntee that I will want to leave once I get there.

I recently finished reading The Blue Sweater and Under The Tuscan Sun. Both books cronicle the adventures of their american authors while living abroad (Africa and Italy respectively). It is interesting to how these accomplished women, dared to follow their hearts and their dreams, even though it ment spending months and years away from their families and even risking their life savings on the purchase of a residence in a foregin country when they didn't even speak the language fluently. I secretly wonder if I have the courage and tenacity to do something like that. I'm glad that I will have friends with me when I go. It is always easier to do hard things when you have a support team. Kacie Gene calls it my committee. They are the sounding board for all my crazy ideas. Luckily they have passed off on my Africa plan and are sending me on my way with their blessing.