Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Goals

This has been a wonderful year, full of learning new things, achieving huge bucket-list goals, and becoming a smarter, happier woman.

I am so excited for 2014. Nursing school graduation, becoming a 'legitimate adult', and taking on new adventures. I am also excited for my goals, and I have every intention of achieving each one of them!

1. Graduate Nursing School
Obvious, I know. I've wanted to be a nurse all my life. It's incredible to look back on my education even in high school, where I took every medical themed class available, because I knew I wanted that R.N after my name. I worked so hard to get accepted into a program. It caused so many heartbreaks, so many hopeless feelings. But I believe Heavenly Father was priming me for the sweet feeling of acceptance, because that Skype call with my mom while in Florida was the sweetest moment of my life. You can read that post here.

2. Study my Scriptures Every Day
I've been doing this goal since mid October, and so far I haven't missed a day. I plan to continue this streak, and maybe even attempt to knock out the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament in one year.

3. Loose 10 Pounds
That equates to less than a pound a month; doable, right? I've already started going to the gym regularly, so I'll weigh myself on the 1st, and use that as my starting weight. I'm hoping to slowly ease myself into the habit of running. Thus far, I've been using the stationary bike and the elliptical, but I'd love to get to the point where I can exercise outside with a good run. Maybe I'll even shoot for running in Disney's Princess Half Marathon in 2015?? That could be a cool goal…

4. Do Something Incredible
This one is a broad cop out… but it's still my most exciting goal. I want to do something incredible with my life in 2014. Current possibilities are: moving back to Florida, and working as a nurse and a Disney cast member, or landing my dream job at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake. Maybe  finding my Eternal companion and being married for Time and all Eternity. Perhaps taking another amazing trip to a foreign country. I dream of living life and finding adventure. Regardless of what I accomplish, I know I will be happy. This goal will most definitely be accomplished.

So there they are, four simple, worthwhile goals that mean a lot to me

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday Clinic = Fastpass Envy

On Saturdays, the clinic is open from 8-noon. We schedule patients beforehand, but also allow walk-in patients. These  walkies, as I will call them, are warned that patients with a scheduled appointment have priority, which means the walkies could end up waiting more than 30 minutes. I'm sure these naive little patients assume that won't happen to them, so they nod and continue signing the paperwork to be seen as a walk-in. 

Oh ho ho, how I chuckle at those poor souls. 
I liken it to Disney Fastpass Envy.

At almost every single Disney attraction, you're faced with the option to go ahead and wait in line for X amount of time, or take a Fastpass and return to the ride later, for a much shorter wait time. 
My scheduled patients are the Fastpasses, and my walkies are the people who choose to wait in line for X minutes. Then, these people who chose to wait, get jealous as the Fastpass users zip past them in their own shorter line.

Here's an example of today. Suzie walks in to the office at 10:40 for a sinus infection. She takes a seat in the comfy leather chairs, expecting a 10 minute wait. But it's busy, and we are 30 minutes behind. Bob had an appointment scheduled for 11:10, and he arrives 3 minutes early. He signs in, and is taken back when the next exam room opens up 5 minutes later. Then Xander shows up to his scheduled 11:20 appointment and goes back right after check in. By this point, Suzie has watched 2 people walk in and go back before her, and she is visibly ticked. Scheduled patient after patient continue to show up in 5 minute increments, and Suzie continues to wait. This happens for 40 minutes (no lie) and when she is finally allowed back to the exam rooms, she makes a biter remark about how so many people were seen before her.

Get a Fastpass, honey!
Schedule an appointment next time!
You chose to be a walkie so suck it up and take it!

Excuse me while I bang my forehead on the doorframe for a hot second.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Highlights of 2013

1. Taking the NCLEX-PN in the minimum 85 questions
2. Passing said NCLEX-PN
3. Seeing Cars Land at California Adventure
4. Being Maid of Honor for my best friend's wedding
5. My sister's mission call
6. My trip to Australia
7. Getting a 4.0 for Fall 2013
8. My first legitimate job as a nurse
9. Scholarships that completely covered tuition
10. Being called as Relief Society 1st Councilor

While every event is huge and exciting, my trip to Australia definitely takes the cake for this year!
I look back on this year, and I am so happy with what I accomplished!
While most days seemed ordinary, it's obvious that I have grown so much.
Becoming a registered nurse, traveling to another country, and strengthening family bonds…
it's been a wonderful year.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{Delayed Gratitude}

I've written before about my miraculous scholarships which completely paid for my third semester of school. I had to maintain a 3.7 GPA in order to receive the same scholarships next semester, so I was very on top of my grades this time around; no "B+ is totally acceptable" attitude for me! So I worked hard, and in 4 of my 5 classes, I had a nice, pretty A.

I had a high A- in the other class, and after some tweaking with my grades on Canvas (our online school website) I realized that if I had done only 5 points better on a very large exam, I would barely bump into the A category. So I swallowed my hesitation, and walked in to the nursing director's office (who's also my instructor for this class) and put my situation in front of her. I had very good reasons for this 5 point increment, as I had done the assignment before she had made changes to the way it was done. This exam was graded in 10 point increments, 70, 80, 90, 100. I had earned an 80 and I offered to her that a 5 point raise would bump me up to an A.

I emphasized that I was pleased as punch with an A-, it meant I could keep my scholarship, and I was happy enough with that. No lie, I was thrilled! I had all A's and an A-! Woot! I guess my argument for the 5 point increase was solid with my instructor, because when I opened my email at home, she had given me the points, and my grade was a beautiful, shiny A!

4.0 GPA baby!

I know in the past I have complained about life in Price, Utah. It's really not my cup of tea, and I'm certainly not sticking around after graduation, but I am 100% positive that this program was where I needed to be. I have teachers who genuinely care about me and my success.

I'm grateful that Heavenly Father has put me on the righ path towards my future.
I'm grateful for this nursing program.
And I'm grateful for a much needed month long break from school.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another One Bites The Dust

Another beautiful semester schedule filled with glorious blue X's.
I don't think it's possible for me to grow old of this tradition.
The first few weeks of this semester just dragged on.
They were some of the most difficult and heart wrenching weeks of my life.
But then things got better, my heart healed up enough to be functional,
and the semester just flew by.

So I did it! Took my final this morning, did pretty dang good.
We'll see what my final grades are tomorrow.
Things look up.

Three semesters down, one to go!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Oh my gosh, I really do not know why I haven't been posting much this semester.
I think it's because I keep thinking I need to write some fabulous, witty post about life's injustices.
But I can't. Life simply isn't being unjust. I have absolutely nothing making my life less than livable.

I made a horrible discovery recently.
Okay, it's not horrible. It was a big wake-up call though.
I have been cleaning out the nooks and crannies of my room, kinda like Spring Cleaning
… though it's Winter Cleaning instead.
But I found a whole ton of micro cassette tapes jumbled up in a drawer.
My missionary and I used them religiously as a means to communication while he was serving.
I would pop in a cassette and ramble to him about how my life was going, and he would do the same.
Unfortunately, I didn't label his tapes well, so I decided I would just go listen to each one to label properly or throw away. Then I came across one of my own tapes, with my voice coming out of the cassette player, reading aloud a letter I had written but never sent… It was a mushy letter that could have been taken word for word out of a chick flick. I chuckled and felt a little embarrassed, went to hit the stop button, but low and behold there was more.
This time, my ramblings were aimed towards a different beau, recorded almost a year after the mushy letter. So I sat and listened, and my embarrassment got even worse. While my ramblings didn't surpass the mushiness of the unsent letter, they were just as dopey. 
I realized something.
Love makes me an idiot.

Both of these recordings placed me as the stereotypical lovesick school girl.  They were full of "I love you with every part of me" and "you are the best thing to ever happen to me" nonsense. Now, yes, I did feel those things, and in the case of my missionary, we had been dating for nearly 3 years at that point. But the other guy? I think we were around the 2 month mark when that was recorded.  So I sat at my desk, dumbfounded by my own… I don't know… clingyness. I'm not the girl to text my guy asking where they are and who they are with, and I'm the girl who enjoys nights with my girls instead of my guy, but apparently I'm also the girl who super glues her heart to the guy. 
I finally figured out my problem.
My problem is not that I am desperate to be in a relationship. My problem is once I'm in that relationship, I'm desperate to keep the "love alive".

I've discovered my issue, and while it was an embarrassing/terrible process of discovery, it was something I really needed to find. So what now? I don't know how I will go about my next relationship, whenever it happens. I certainly don't think I'll act any less caring. How does a girl keep a guy close without becoming a Love Leech? I suppose I'll have to take it day by day, and keep a close eye on my emotions to keep them in check. Become less of a stupid school girl and more of a mature independent woman. That sounds pretty dang good to me. One thing I know for sure: no more recording my personal ramblings on a micro cassette tape. None of that nonsense anymore.

So it's officially added to the goals of 2014/15/16/wheneverigetmynextboyfriend.
Oh gosh. This post makes me sound like a nutcase.
Or a cheese ball covered in nuts.
I'm a holiday side dish.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Momma

Today is my mom's birthday!

I have always had a really difficult time 
expressing my love for my mom.
I frequently feel like any words I might try to use to describe my feelings
completely miss the mark.
I don't feel comfortable when my easy ability at writing gets cramped.
So I have had a tendency of avoiding
"I love my mom" posts.

But today, I'm going to try my hardest.

My mom, Holly, is the woman who gave my my sense of adventure.

She has always been finding adventure, for as long as I can remember.
Every family vacation she talked about adventures, and sight-seeing,
and experiencing the world.

She was the first one I told about my desire to move across the country
to do the Disney College Program,
because I knew she would immediately support that adventure.

Taken just before my flight to Orlando

Big smile + squinty eyes = lots of excitement

I am so lucky to have a mom who gets so excited about things.
I'm also lucky to have a mom who is so sentimental.
She jokes that she can cry on demand
(and she really can)
but it has been so wonderful to be raised around a woman who so deeply cares for people.
She has always been, and will always be, my biggest supporter.

I don't look anything like my mom when it comes to the outsides

My nose is my dad's, my forehead is my dad's, even my earlobes are my dad's.
But the stuff on the inside?
The sentimentality, the desire to care for people, the 'soft heart'
I'm exactly like her. 

I wanted to be a nurse as a kid, 
because I loved hearing her stories about caring for patients 
as a radiation therapist. 

And now here I am,
almost done with nursing school!

LPN graduation

My mom gave me my love for all things Disney.
Growing up with season passes to Disneyland definitely set the foundation
for my lifetime fixation.
I remember how excited I was for my 20th birthday present…
3 day park tickets to Disneyland with my mom.

We had such a blast together!
It's one of my favorite trips to Disneyland I've ever had.

She has always been so good at finding awesome things to do.
Life is never dull with my mom around!

Another awesome perk of having my mom as my mom?
Her best friend Alisa, 
who happens to be my middle name's namesake.

But I digress.

I have some pretty awesome parents,
if you ask me.
They have given me such a wonderful life.
Mom, I can not tell you how grateful I am that you are my mom!

My mom is such a goofball,

Though she usually tries to hide it.

I still feel like I've completely missed the mark 
on explaining just how awesome my mom is.
I hope I've at least hit the target.
Not a bullseye,
but at least made contact with the board.

Above all else,
She is certainly the heart of our family!

I love you so much mom,


Monday, November 18, 2013


I realize I haven't posted about this semester at all. I guess Eric's death the first day of classes really threw me off the blogging groove. I know he checked this blog out a lot, just to keep in contact with me, so it's been hard to get back into writing when I know he's not there to read it.

So I suppose I'll play catch-up now. Heavens, so much has happened in the past 4 months. In August, I got a surprising text from my roommate saying she had decided to move back to California and drop out of the nursing program here. So all of the sudden, I had the entire apartment to myself. I lived alone until the middle of October, when an LPN student moved into Stephanie's old room. It was crazy chaos as Stephanie's stuff was moved out of the apartment, and Chelcea's stuff was moved in, all on the same day. But now things are almost entirely settled, and it's working out well.

School has been really, really good this semester.

Like, I'm completely serious.

At the end of the school year, the nursing director, Donna, retired. One of the instructors, Nikkie became the new director, and she has completely revamped the entire program. It has been a wonderful, much needed change.

The semester ends the second week of December, which means I have about 3 weeks to go. I am currently in the middle of my Medical/Surgical clinical rotations, so I get up super early (if you consider 5 AM early) and I drive to the hospital near the highway to start my day at 5:30. I love being in the hospital, caring for my patients. I feel accomplished and it's a wonderful way to prepare for being a graduated nurse. Living in Price isn't the most fun thing i've ever done, but I have come to realize how lucky I am to have a fully functional (though small) hospital just 10 minutes from my house.

Half way through last month, I discovered that the scholarships I received are given out both semesters. I had assumed that the refund check I got in August was the money intended for Spring 2014. I stowed it away in my bank account, ready to pull it back out to pay for my last semester of school. A friend told me that the check I received was the leftover money for this semester, and if I kept my grades where they needed to be, I would get the same scholarship money for next semester's tuition. So if I maintain a 3.7 GPA (currently it's a 4.0, so fingers crossed!) I will get roughly $2,000 next semester in leftover money.

With this in mind, I decided to quit my awful telecommunication job at Sorenson's. I had weird hours and I hated the work, so I looked at my expenses and figured I could make due for 6 more months off the scholarship refunds. I'm not out buying stuff as freely as I used to, which is fine and good. I'm living within my means, and I'm benefitting from the free time I have now. I still work at the doctor's office Tuesday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, so that is my wiggle money.

While life has tried to pull me down with a breakup, roommate troubles and the death of a best friend, I have found that relying on my Heavenly Father and enduring to the end has benefitted my life in ways I couldn't have imagined. I am so grateful and lucky to lead the life that I have!

Keep your chin up, friends, life gets better.

Monday, October 28, 2013

{The Ah-ha Moment}

While doing my homework today, I took a quick break to check out Facebook, and I found a link to an article that I really, really appreciated. It was called 8 Messages to Teach Young Women and Girls about Happiness and I think every young adult woman needs to read it. I agreed to every bullet point, but number 8 really hit me hard.

It was like a wake up call to my own personal happiness.

I didn't realize how much I needed that call!

Avoid happiness traps. Many women (myself included) have bought into one or more of these happiness myths at some point in their lives -- I call them the "I'll be happy when's:"
** I'll be happy when I get married or find that great relationship
** I'll be happy when I make more money
** I'll be happy when I have kids
** I'll be happy when I lose weight
** I'll be happy when I change jobs/get a new job/get promoted
Our culture spins a very seductive story for young women, making it seem as though they're not worthy or can't be happy unless and until they've achieved these milestones.

While I don't like admitting most of those "I'll be happy when's" apply to me, I will be honest and say they do. So many times I find myself saying I'll be happy when I turn in this assignment, I'll be happy when I graduate, I'll be happy when I'm back in Florida… and the biggest one… I'll be happy when I find my husband.

So here I am, sitting in my kitchen, realizing that I am missing out on day to day happiness, because of my tendency to look into the future. While having fantastic butterfly-and-rainbow happy days every day isn't realistic, I should start letting the every day, run of the mill days have some sort of happy glow. I am happy. My days aren't wildly exciting, but I am happy.

I need to learn to focus on the positive.

I need to avoid the I'll be happy when's, because in reality… I'm already happy.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

All You Need Is Less

I grew up in a house full of things. I never wanted for anything. I had cases of Barbie dolls, and plenty of clothes for my American Girl Doll. I had, and still have, a very comfortable life. At some point in my childhood, I started recognizing that perhaps the things I had... were a bit too many.

I remember one night, my mom boxed away about half of my Barbies, saying that I could play with one box for a few weeks, then play with the other box after that. I'm sure it was an effort to contain the mess of Barbies, and extend my interest and appreciation for each doll. I drew out my 4 favorite dolls and made sure they were put in the box that wasn't going into temporary storage, and that was the last I remember of the other box. It went into storage in the basement, and I don't recall it ever resurfacing.

This happened a lot for me. Small toys that I didn't cherish as much got put in new storage places, and started collecting dust from there. I was happy with my small box of Barbies, and my other favorite things close by.

My first real 'Spring Cleaning' was after high school graduation. I was completely emptying my room in preparation to move to Logan for school. The important things came with me to my tiny 8 X 15 foot room. The things that meant a lot to me, but wouldn't fit at school got boxed in large Rubbermaid containers and now occupy a corner of my parent's basement. The other things that didn't make the cut went to the secondhand store, or the garbage bin. The garbage bin was difficult for my mom. She saw me tossing old school assignments and tiny odds and ends and she would cry out "Not this! Don't throw this away!" and I would shrug and continue throwing things away. I'm pretty certain there's a black hole of things in the basement that my mom has secretly pulled back out of the recycle bin. I hope not, but I'm realistic.

I lived out of two large suitcases for 6 months in 2012 during the Disney College Program. I loved it. Everything I had brought with me served a purpose, and though there's lots of pictures with me wearing the same 8 shirts, I enjoyed the simplicity of life. I laughed at all the things my roommates who had driven to Florida brought with them. Stuffed animals, 30 different shirts, 10 pairs of shoes, and large cases of makeup. While there were days I was jealous of their DVD collections and cuddly blankets, I would remind myself that my bags had to be under 50 LBS to get home, and the longing would quickly go away.

I got home and readjusted to having an excess of things. It's what I do I suppose; I accumulate things out of habit, and eventually the desire to simplify and unload will come and make me eager to minimize my belongings.

I don't know what exactly has triggered my 'Spring Cleaning' this time around. It may be because I've been packing up my old roommate's things to make way for the new roommate. I alway thought Steph didn't have a lot of things compared to me, and I have been quite surprised to watch the boxes of her things pile up, and I've only really tackled the kitchen. This makes me worry how much stuff I've got crammed into this place. The largest culprit is very likely the fact that my apartment contract has been updated to expire April 30, 2014. In 6 months, I will have to pack up every single one of my belongings and drive them home to my parent's house. And then, who knows where I will put them after that.

I'm finding myself feeling unusual amounts of joy when my empty shampoo bottle makes a hollow banging noise as it hit my trash can, or when I throw away the empty box of Kleenex, or when I deem my eyeliner pencil too small to use, and it, too, drops into the trash can. I'm slowly working my way through all the stuff surrounding me, and let me tell you, minimizing my things is like my own version of therapy. Nothing is more healing than knowing the money you spend is actually being used.

Hopefully when May rolls around, the things I have in boxes will be important things that serve a purpose or make me smile at fond memories. This is my end goal. A place, and a purpose for everything.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sister Missionary

So my little sister decided to serve an LDS mission.
She told me about it one night in the kitchen after she surprised us all and drove home from St. George without telling any of us.
She submitted her papers in just over a month,
and before we knew it, this pretty white envelope was in her hands.

It was a little miracle that her call came the week that it did,
because getting two busy daughters to have the same weekend free is really tough in this family.
It came the week after conference, and I excitedly headed home after my shift Saturday morning.
The second I got home it was prep for the mission-call-opeining party,
people started showing up around 7,
and Dana opened the envelope at 8:30.

Yup! My beautiful little sister is going to serve her mission in PERÚ!
Best part? She's reporting to the Peru MTC!

So on February 26, 2014, 
Dana Emily Brown
will board a plane at the Salt Lake International Airport
and she will go serve the Lord for 18 months.
(Though she's already talking about extending)

I'm so proud of my little sister!


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Eric Anderson

It's obvious I fell off the bandwagon on my New Years Resolution of writing monthly gratitude letters.

Tonight, I'm picking that resolution back up, to honor the most amazing man I have ever had the pleasure to call a friend.

Eric Anderson and I met my second year at USU. He lived next door to me, and we became inseparable friends from the very beginning.

Eric died on the first day of classes this semester, while riding his bike on campus.

I had no idea this had happened. When I got to class Tuesday morning, we briefly talked about the accident up at USU, where a guy ran into a rope while riding his bike down a hill and it killed him. Being nursing students, we talked about the physiological means to dying on impact, and we emptily voiced our hopes that the family was alright.

I can still remember the absolute anguish I felt when my old roommate, Brianna, called me and told me that the nameless boy who died the day before was Eric. The first second I was frozen in shock. I had just seen him post a witty quote on Facebook just a few days before. He had just liked my new profile picture on Sunday. Then, it sunk in, and I fell to the floor. In reality, I slid down the side of a row of lockers and crammed myself into a small space between the lockers and the wall. All I remember was the loud sob that escaped my lungs, while Brianna sat on the phone saying nothing. I hung up with her in-between sobs, and I tucked my head to my knees and cried.

Of course, practically everyone in the nursing program saw this happen in the hallway, because we were all on a quick break to stretch our legs. Immediately my professor was crouched on the ground next to me, asking what had happened. I managed to croak out that the boy we had been talking about just hours ago was my dearest, closest friend. I was ushered to my feet, my bags magically appeared in my hands, and my program director escorted me to the grief councilor on campus. I'm sure he meant well, but he did nothing to calm the pain inside my heart. I eventually got myself home to my empty apartment, and I cried harder and harder as memory after memory of Eric floated through my mind.

His funeral was today. It was beautiful and peaceful and healing. The Eric that I knew and loved looked nothing like the Eric lying in the casket, but his old dingy trumpet lay across his lap and I completely lost my composure when I saw it. Eric and his marching band trumpet. He had so many adventures with that old thing; it felt so right to see him lying there with it in his hands. I have never been to a funeral that had as much laughter as Eric's did. He was such a wonderful, funny guy. It was impossible to see him and not smile. He was my daily dose of laughter. His family was wonderful, and they immediately recognized me from a picture Eric and I had just taken in July, before my trip to Australia. They lovingly called me Eric's Ice Cream Friend, and it made my heart soar.

I tell this next part of the story with solemnity and seriousness. This part is sacred and special to me, and it has been integral to my healing process. Eric's father spoke during the funeral, and he said that Eric was likely going around to each person in the room and giving them a hug from Heaven. I thought it was an accurate and beautiful idea which fit Eric perfectly. He continued speaking, and a few minutes later, I closed my eyes and lowered my head. Upon closing my eyes, I saw Eric crouched in front of me, wearing all white, with a beautiful, kind and reassuring smile on his face. He looked me in the eyes, and placed a hand on my knee. I opened my eyes to stare into the space where I had just seen him, and an overwhelming peace settled on my heart. It was his way of telling me he was safe and happy in Heaven.

So, Eric, here is my gratitude letter to you, because I want you to know how much you meant to me.

Dear Eric,

My life has been made infinitely better by having you in it. I am truly lucky to have known you, and to have had a special place in your heart. How can I express all the love I have for you? I truly don't think it is possible, but I take comfort in knowing that with your new vantage point in Heaven, you can clearly see for yourself how much I cared for you. All my memories of you are incredibly important to me, now that you have moved on to the next part of your life. I will miss your humor, and all your witty posts on Facebook. I will miss you 'liking' my pictures, and calling me your wife. My heart aches when I think of the rest of my life without you in it, but I am comforted by the knowledge that you are watching out for me and rooting for me to succeed.

You always cared so deeply about the people in your life. I always felt important around you, and I was always so excited to tell people I knew you personally. The world has lost one of it's most selfless members, and there is such a big part of me that wishes everyone could have known you. I know that their lives would have been made better by it. I know you are now busy making Heaven a happier and brighter place, and I am sure there's a trumpet and marching band that have been waiting for you to show up since the day you left Heaven the first time.

It is obvious that you were a prized son of God. So much so, that He couldn't stand to be in Heaven one more day without you. I take comfort in the knowledge that when Heavenly Father decides to bring me back home, you will be waiting with Him to give me a huge hug. I look forward to that hug so much.

I will always dwell on our last text message conversation. We were trying to make plans to meet up again before winter, but our busy schedules weren't matching up well at all. You said we absolutely had to meet up at least once before I moved to Florida, or to another country, or whatever it took to fulfill my dreams. I laughed and replied that you were acting like I was dying and that you would never see me again. You laughed too and said that you would always find ways to see me, regardless of where life took me.

Oh, Eric, if I had only known. I think back to that hug you gave me before we left Brianna's wedding reception. It was so warm and loving, and we just stood in the parking lot, locked in a hug for minutes. I've never hugged a person for so long before in my life. Did you know? Did you know Heavenly Father was going to be calling you back home just a few months later?

The last time I saw you in person was our low key miniature golf date in July. You were so determined to give me my birthday present, so I made sure to find an open weekend to drive home to see you. We golfed for hours and made fun of each other, and eventually found our way back to your car out front. With excitement in your eyes, you pulled out a cooler from your trunk and handed me my own container of Aggie Blue Mint ice cream which you had driven down all the way from Logan (a two hour drive). We sat on the grass and ate our ice cream, and excitedly shouted "Airplane!" every time we spotted one on it's way to the Salt Lake International Airport. I was so excited for my trip to Australia that most of the conversation focused on me. But he sat there smiling, and we laughed and talked in the parking lot for at least two more hours.

Eventually you took me home, and I wish I could go back in time to hug you tighter and longer. It was a quick hug goodbye, because if someone would have told me then that you would pass away almost exactly a month later, well, I would have laughed in their face.

Eric, I am honored to have been your "wife" on Earth. Even though the nicknames of husband and wife started as jokes, I was so lucky that they took on a life of their own, leading us to care for each other more deeply than we likely would have if the nicknames hadn't existed. I thank my roommates for bestowing the titles of mom and dad on us that year at USU, because it lead to a close and lasting friendship between the two of us. I am so happy that I was able to fill that role of wife for you, even though it held no legal standing. I am thrilled yet slightly jealous to hand that title over to the woman in Heaven who has no doubt captured your heart. I am sure she's been waiting for you to show up for quite some time now, and I hope she loves you even more than I loved you.

You were always so supportive of my nursing education. You never missed an opportunity to encourage me in my tests, or reassure me that the hard parts would eventually pass. You knew I would be an amazing nurse on the days that I sincerely doubted myself. Thank you for your support, Eric. It meant the world to me.

I have decided to dedicate this last year of nursing school in honor of you. I know that even though you can't physically reassure me of my abilities, I have no doubt that you will find ways to reassure me spiritually to get me through this year.

So here's to you Eric. This last year of school is 100% in your honor. I hope I'll do you proud.

All my love

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sydney, Australia

After a completely awesome day at the Australia Zoo, I boarded my flight to Sydney, a little worried about the hostel I had chosen to spend my next two nights in. This leg of the trip was going to be me completely on my own, and I won't lie... I was excited, but way more nervous than anything else. The flight was good and I sat on my own little isle, and I spent my time reviewing the directions to my hostel and praying that I would have just as much as an amazing time in Sydney as I had in Brisbane and Melbourne.

We landed right as the sun went down, so I was a little concerned about finding my place. I took the subway under the airport to the Queens Cross terminal and walked up to the street, completely unsure which direction I needed to go.

double decker subway train!

Thankfully a kind Aussie saw my confusion and lead me in the right direction. He was pretty impressed that I was in Australia alone, all the way from the States. I checked into my hostel, Chiliblue Backpackers and lugged my bags up three flights of stairs to my room. There, waiting for me was a huge German guy lounging on his bunk, and a shirtless Austrian dude lying on his. So I turned a little red and introduced myself, trying to look as unembarrassed as possible. There was one bed left, and it happened to be a queen size, so I was super worried some person would check in during the middle of the night and get in bed with me.

Needless to say, I did not sleep too well that night. Not to mention my sunburn from the beach was killing me at the same time.

I woke up in time for the free breakfast provided by the hostel, and quickly snarfed down the eggs and toast they were serving. I attempted a shower, but the water never got warm so I vetoed that idea. The shower was just this little room with a door that locked. Same with the toilet.

So I finished getting ready and I headed out to join up with a free tour of Sydney, so I could see all the sights with a native, like i was used to.

A shot of my room door, just for remembering sake
It took me forever to figure out my map, so I was really glad I left at 9:20 to meet up with the tour at 10:30. The girl running the tour was very nice and chatty, and she knew where Utah was right away! We started on the tour and she pointed out all the awesome buildings because she's an architecture major and loves the little details, which made me very happy.

Old churches are wedged between modern buildings.
It's pretty awesome looking.

A really cool architechural part of Sydney's history is the word Eternity written all over the city. A drunk guy heard his first sermon a few years after Sydney was settled, and the word Eternity really stuck out to him, so he learned to spell it, and wrote it everywhere he could. Bell towers have Eternity engraved on them, sidewalks, chairs and even a church bell got their tags. This cement square was at the base of a very pretty waterfall, and it was the best picture of all the Eternities I could get.

The largest shopping area in Sydney is the Queen Victoria Mall, and outside the building is this statue of Queen Victoria's favorite dog. Get this. It talks if you wave at it.

With all the expanding of Sydney, a lot of bird species died out and moved away once their trees were cut down. This alleyway has dozens of bird cages hanging from wires, and there is audio of birds chirping playing quietly. In the sidewalk. there are bricks with each species carved into them. It's like the "sorry we killed your habitat" exposition.

Sydney has a lot of statues througout the city that are replicas and 'sister statues' of others in other countries. The man reading the paper can also be found somewhere in England, and somewhere in the States. The doughnut ring things can also be found in Scotland.

She took us into the immigration building to show us the coolest map of Sydney. it's a scale replica of the city, set under the plexiglass floor. Unfortunately lighting was too sucky to take a picture of the entire thing, but I found the Opera House and took a picture of it.

We had been on the tour for about 2.5 hours by this point, and I was ready to finally see the Opera House. We stopped for a tidbit session with this bridge in the distance, and she started talking about how you could pay hundreds of dollars to hike that thing and get beautiful views of the Opera House. So I got excited, looking around for the majestic white building that I had first laid eyes on in Finding Nemo.

I'm serious. Finding Nemo is what put Australia on my list of places to go as a kid.  I wanted to see the shiny white building for myself.

So we continued on, and walked up a crapload of steps to a viewing platform. And there it was.

I just stood there for minutes that seemed like hours, just in awe that I was finally gazing at the Sydney Opera House with my very own eyes.

It is absolutely beautiful, with the sun shining off the peaks and glittering into the water.

The tour ended there, so I tipped her my last 4 dollars in coins and sat and stared at the building for a little longer. Finally I felt a little creepy and got up to wander around the city myself.

I spent about 3 hours in the coolest art museum I've ever toured, and it was free! Yes!

After spending the day looking at sights, I got myself some sushi rolls at the Queen Victoria mall and once it was dark I headed back to my hostel.

Will I ever stay in a hostel again? Not if I'm alone I won't! I luckily got moved to a different bed that night, so I wasn't worried some stranger would get in bed with me, so I slept a lot better night two.

I woke up on the 22nd and ate my last breakfast in Australia. I attempted a shower again, and gave up when the water was still ice cold. I got dressed, packed up my bags, locked everything shut and checked out of my room. I took the subway back to the airport and before I knew it, I was boarding my flight back home.

So I'm home, and I am so grateful to my friends for hosting me for such a long time! I had the absolute time of my life, and I can not express how thankful I am for my friends Naomi, Connor, Jordan, Melissa and Sharleen. I miss you guys already!

I am so incredibly lucky to have such adventure in my life!