Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Standing In A Holy Place Has Nothing To Do With Geography

As a single Mormon living in New York City, I have had a few variations of this question/assumption: that it must be hard to be a Mormon in the Big Apple.  So many scary, uber-liberal people!  So many distractions!  Not enough Mormons! I have had people from a massage therapist (mid-massage, awkward) ask me this, to an out of town visitor in my ward in Harlem.  It is always a little bit surprising, and causes me to pause for a second. Because honestly,  I don't even think about it, and here's why.

Being a Mormon in New York City is similar to being a Mormon anywhere else.  The city is big, and there are a lot of people.  And being a conservative, practicing Mormon, I am probably a minority.  (Definitely in my neighborhood, but that has nothing to do with my religion.  That's because I'm white).  There is a vast amount to do here, and experiences to have, for good and evil.  All of this is true, and could be very distracting, if you want to look at it that way.  But why should that make a difference in how I am able to live my religion?  That would imply that I am a victim of my circumstances, and if there is one thing I refuse to be in my life, it is a victim.  I make my own choices in how I live, every day.  Some of them are second nature by now, and some of them take more thought.  But those bigger choices, like finding time to go to the temple, or serve someone in need, or whether to go get a second dessert after a ward activity, those I would have to grapple with no matter where I live.

Here's a fact: if you want to be distracted, you can find distraction anywhere.  If you want to struggle with not having enough friends who share similar values, you can do that anywhere.  If you want to feel sad that you are in your 30's and single and there is no one to date, guess what- you can do that anywhere, even in Utah.  (Shocker).  If you want to go inactive over any of the above, you can also do that anywhere.

Here's another fact: If you want to be active in the LDS Church, you can do that anywhere.  If you want to progress in the gospel, learn from your mistakes, mess up, repent and keep going, you can do that anywhere. If you want to endure to the end, you can!  Anywhere. There is a scripture about this...somewhere....oh, got it:

Doctrine and Covenants 87:8
Wherefore, astand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh bquickly, saith the Lord. Amen.

Anywhere I live can be a holy place, if I choose to make it so.  And there are so many holy places in New York City, among this crazy town I love.  The temple, for one.  Obviously.  But it really does provide an oasis in the middle of everything.  It is a huge blessing in my life and I am so glad to have one here.  But also, my bedroom can be a holy place.  My apartment can.  My ward building in Harlem, where we have a "come as you are" mentality, and people come from a million different backgrounds; that is a holy place to me.  All of these places are here in Manhattan.  Plus, there are myriads of churches and cathedrals and parks and quiet spaces in this city that all qualify as holy places to me. Places where I have felt in a very real way the closeness of my Higher Power.

I have felt His love and closeness on the subway as a homeless woman sang her heart and soul out for a little bit of food, and then witnessed a woman come to her aid, take her by the hand, and go with her to find more long term help.  I have felt His love for me as I walk through Central Park on a gorgeous day.  I have felt close to Him as I sit in Holy Trinity Church on Central Park West and 65th Street listening to Bach Vespers on a Sunday evening.  I have felt edified and centered when I read my scriptures online in an office that I am working at for the day.  You get the picture.

The part of not letting myself be moved is meaningful as well.  Anywhere I live, I have to make the choice to keep the covenants I have made, and not be moved from them.  Are there distractions?  Of course!  Do I get caught up in said distractions sometimes?  Absolutely!  More than I would like to admit. But it is a daily challenge, and not dictated or made harder by geography, for me.

I am not saying that there are not unique things about living in New York City as a Mormon.  I just don't feel like geography, in this case, adds an extra burden or challenges my ability to choose to live the gospel.

Now, being a Mormon actor, there a few more factors that can be called distractions. Or things to think about as I make career decisions, like what types of characters I want to play, what shows I want to be a part of, things like that.  But again, those are decisions that I get to make, and since I try and keep a solid foundation under me in general, I trust that when those decisions come, between the Lord and I, we'll be alright.

I am by no means saying that my life is always easy, or that I don't make dumb mistakes on a regular basis, or falter, or question, or struggle. I am a work in progress.  But I am a work in progress in New York, just like I was a work in progress when I lived in Utah.  I have created a holy place here, and it was not a surprise.  I am only surprised when others find it surprising.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm Terrible At Selfies. And That's Fine.

Apparently there is a technique to taking selfies.  I had heard the tip about taking them from above you, but that's it.  I was told the other night that holding your body at an angle and/or bending the front leg a little bit (who knows why) are also secrets to a better selfie.  So I decided to practice.

How am I doing?

This is my friend Melanie, providing a stunning example of one of the worst selfie crimes ever.  Kissy Face Selfies.  I can say this because I know she did this in jest.  Not OK.

And my friend Jon, who is actually the Selfie King, showing us that it is permissable, and preferred, in my opinion, to occasionally let yourself NOT look good on camera.  He sent me this to prove he could do it. :-)

And yes, this all happened outside the temple.  Why do you ask?

The Self-Soother On The Train.

Last week I got on the train to go home after a pretty long day.  As I settled in to my book, I looked up and saw this.

That woman proceeded to suck her finger ALL THE WAY to my stop.  Sha alternated between sitting there with her finger in her mouth, and then dozing off and actively sucking, exactly like a baby would on a pacifier or its own thumb.  I was dying.  She would go rummage in her bag with her other hand, or scratch her face, fall asleep, wake up, look around, all with that finger in her mouth.  It was the best. Whew.  She must be tired.  I just wondered if she had buck teeth. 

As I got off the train at my stop, I accidentally bumped her foot.  As I looked at her in apology, she just waved me off with that hand, finger still in her mouth.  Like it ain't no thing.

I am getting very good at taking pictures of people on the sly.  Is that a talent? 

And, I couldn't leave you without my latest running picture.  LOVE. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Friends, Food, Counter-Productive Announcements and a Big-A Tree

Last week, instead of working my life away, I actually played a little bit, and worked of course.  But here is what I did:

I went to Ender's Game with some friends (so fun and stressful, even though I have read the book) and after a stop at Shake Shack (of course) we were out on the street talking before heading home.  All of a sudden this police escort starts rolling by, really slow.  We were bugged, because we wanted to cross the street, and couldn't see any apparent reason why there were four police cars blaring their sirens.  Then we saw this:

The Rockefeller Tree!  On its' way to the Rockefeller Center!  Our outbursts of "come on!" quickly turned into delighted squeals and the grabbing of phones to take pictures as fast as we could.  And just like that, we were giddy like kids.

Then this happened in the train station:

I have no answers for you, but that must be important information.

Cue cute roommate pic with Abby.  Nailed it.
On Saturday I played again with my friends, and went to Brooklyn for the Smorgasbord.  It is basically a huge food flea market with tons of booths.  We did good: we all bought different things and shared.  So I did NOT leave thinking I was going to die, like I thought I would.  But I mean, come on.  The view of the City!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


You go get cheap Chinese take-out with your girlfriends, and there is a diet menu.  Sometimes that diet menu has inspiring pictures of ladies doing Jazzercise next to it.

Ask me if I ordered off of the diet menu.


And then sometimes you host a Halloween party with your friend Jeff, and your friend Seth shows up dressed up like your old Young Ambassadors director, Randy Boothe.  And it is creepy and amazing at the same time.

It's the little things that make me happy.

Some Of My Favorite (Fall) Things

Besides leaves, of course.

I always have to have a fall seasonal candle.  Always. 

This was a new discovery for me this year, and I am totally feeling it.  I love herbal tea, especially in winter, and this Harvest Blend from Trader Joe's it definitely making me happy.  (Do you think I could get some money for my awesome endorsement?  No?  Darn.)

And of course, a pumpkin spice cookie from my fave treat place, Schmakery's.  This place has made multiple appearances on my blog, and I am sure will make many more. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Customary Blog Post About How Much I Love Fall Leaves...

Morningside Park
 The last couple of weeks I have really tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the changing leaves before they are all gone, and it is cold enough that I just want to hibernate with all the animals.  Well, not with the animals, that would be weird.  But at the same time as the animals. Anyway... here are my pictures that I have to show for it.  I love this time of year so much, and am so lucky to live in New York City where it is so beautiful!

Just on my way to the subway, you know.

Bow Bridge in Central Park

Central Park (with filter)

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park
Central Park.  I do love old fashioned lamp posts.

Central Park with my dear friend Jeff!

A little tree hugging on a fall afternoon never hurt anyone.

So...I started running.  Weird.  And this was what I found one morning.  Central Park
Central Park

Central Park

Lastly, the ones below all happened at Morningside Park.  Again, a running morning.  And by run, I mean a slow pace, with walking interspersed (for the back, you know) and periodic picture breaks.  Don't count on my busting out any marathons any time soon.