Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall Festivities, Blank Cancer and It's The Worst When Friends Move.

End of September= one of the last weekends where I got to wear shorts.  It also meant that I and a few friends went to Governors Island to a hammock grove and spent a lazy Saturday afternoon, laying on hammocks.  It was exactly what it sounds like, and it was heaven. 

With October, my yearly/seasonal obsession with pumpkin commenced in earnest!  Can you tell? 
Add some pumpkin chocolate ship muffins to a Halloween movie night with one of my favorite people, and you have a definitive festive fall evening!  For those dying to know, the movies was the classic Hocus Pocus.  Brilliance all over the place.

I made a little time for some volunteer work with a foundation called Blank Cancer.  It was raising awareness for colorectal cancer, specifically, and since that is Layne's cancer of (not his) choice, I couldn't resist getting involved. It was a full day of free fitness classes; I helped for a few hours with getting people registered for those classes, and inviting people on the street outside to take pictures with these signs for social networking purposes. 
They would fill in the blank with whatever they wanted to "do" to cancer.  Destroy it, demolish it, cure it, evade it, whatever.  There were some colorful verbs, I tell you.  :-)

Last week my friend Carolyn moved.  And I'm sad about it.  I caught her at work at Trader Joes a few days before she left, and the day of our last girls' night.  We will miss her!

These girls.  I heart them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Conference Food....I Mean, Spritually Speaking....

This is how we do General Conference. 

I love Conference weekend, as I have expounded on before.  I love to watch it in real time, when I can, enjoy my friends and some good food, and also to watch and process some of it on my own.   Some of my favorite talks this time were from President UchtdorfElder Klebingat, and Elder Bednar

Some favorite quotes in general:


"The Church is not just for perfect people, but it is for all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.”15 The Church is for people like you and me. The Church is a place of welcoming and nurturing, not of separating or criticizing. It is a place where we reach out to encourage, uplift, and sustain one another as we pursue our individual search for divine truth.

In the end, we are all pilgrims seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship. We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true.

Let us acknowledge that most often gaining a testimony is not a task of a minute, an hour, or a day. It is not once and done. The process of gathering spiritual light is the quest of a lifetime."

I love that.  We are all on this path together, though our individual journeys are unique.  And no one is perfect, so let's just encourage one another on their journeys instead of judging, shall we?  Great.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

"So God does not save us “just as we are,” first, because “just as we are” we are unclean, and “no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man [of Holiness].”4 And second, God will not act to make us something we do not choose by our actions to become. Truly He loves us, and because He loves us, He neither compels nor abandons us. Rather He helps and guides us. Indeed, the real manifestation of God’s love is His commandments."

First thought: God loves us just as we are, but He cannot save us just as we are.
Second thought: God is the perfect balance of a loving parent.  He cannot take our agency, nor would He.  But He also never leaves us alone.  "He neither compels nor abandons us." The structure of His commandments are a real evidence of His love.  God wants us to thrive and grow, and we can't do that without structure.  So He gave us commandments as that structure.  If we don't want to follow any sort of structure, how do we grow?


"Absolute truth exists in a world that increasingly disdains and dismisses absolutes. In a future day, “every knee [shall] bow” and “every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11). Jesus the Christ absolutely is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father. As members of His Church, we witness He lives and His Church has been restored in its fulness in these latter days."

I remember the moment very clearly when Bednar said this.  I swear his countenance shifted, and the energy in the room I was sitting in shifted with it.  In NYC.  The Spirit was very strong in that moment; he looked directly into the camera (and into my soul) and the power with which he said these words was palpable to me.  There is no denying the absolute truth of this statement. 

Dallin H. Oaks:

"We are to live in the world but not be of the world. We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is “like leaven,” whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence (see Luke 13:21; Matthew 13:33; see also 1 Corinthians 5:6–8). His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices. But the Savior also taught that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (see John 14:15)."

We can't be effective disciples of Christ if we only associate with people of our faith.  This seems like such a no-brainer to me, but apparently there are plenty of people who need to hear that. (Which is sad, and so world-shrinking). This is one of the reasons why I am in NYC and not just doing theater in Utah, and/or working for the media department of the Church, though I love Utah theater, and I would love to work for the Church someday.  But not only does my ambition go further than Utah theater and religious productions,  I also really want to be an instrument for good; an instrument for God.  I believe very strongly that I can do that more effectively outside of Utah, where I am working with people from all different belief systems, or lack thereof.  I LOVE the diversity I associate with on a daily basis here.  Love it.  And I pray all the time for God to use me, and/or to be led in my career in the directions He would have me go. 

"Less grievous behaviors, even though unacceptable to some believers, may simply need to be endured if legalized by what a Book of Mormon prophet called “the voice of the people” (Mosiah 29:26).
On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence. In doing so, we ask that others not be offended by our sincere religious beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
When our positions do not prevail, we should accept unfavorable results graciously and practice civility with our adversaries. In any event, we should be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation."

To me, this is Elder Oaks graciously conceding to the ever increasing tide of civil law changing in relation to same sex marriage.  I love the way he put it.  We have the right to live our religion according to our own conscience, and to teach our children the same.  We may or may not agree with certain things, but we can live our lives the best way we know how, and treat others with respect and kindness, especially when we don't get what we want.  There is never an excuse for uncivil discourse, bigotry, bullying, disrespect when it comes to civil law, etc.  It's unbecoming, immature and damaging.  I'm so glad he addressed this.

Like I said, I love General Conference.

Happy New Yorkiversery To Me!

As of September 10th, I have lived in New York City for 2 years.  And in this crazy place, your New Yorkiversary is something to celebrate!  My friend Amy moved here a year later about the same time, so we decided to celebrate together, and it was the best choice we could have made.  Really though, we were congratulating ourselves on making up such a great plan for the night, and choosing such fantastic friends here. :-)
Most of the crew.  The rest met up later.

Here's what we did: First, we met up at famous Grimaldi's Pizza in Brooklyn.  The original location.  I had never actually had Grimaldi's, but it's a NYC thing.  And is was a little bit divine as far as pizza goes. 
Amy and I
Then, we walked over to the waterfront under the Brooklyn Bridge for some ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.  I was literally thinking about it for days afterward, it was so good.  And I still can't get over the fact that I live here!  Aren't I lucky?? 
Yep.  I am.

Dallin and Ty.  Singing something awesome.
After taking the actual iconic walk across the Bridge, toward the city (gorgeous, see pic above), we went to Korea Town area for some rousing Karaoke.  Four hours of it.  YES.  Four hours.  I don't understand how I got through that long and still loved it, but it was a total party.   And sometimes, dancing was involved.

So, late at night, we were done.  And the night was a huge success for all involved, and the weather was awesome to boot. 

The last two years have been fun, crazy, hard, discouraging, overwhelming, heartbreaking,  enlightening, productive, educational, ridiculous, fun, and just life.  I would not trade my time here, or what I am doing.  I know I have chosen a really hard career path, but it is mine.  And I am so lucky that I get to live in this crazy city and call it home. 

Here's to another year.  Time to saddle up.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chocolate Loves Unconditionally, And Other Deep Thoughts

Not many deep thoughts, really.  But chocolate does love unconditionally. 

Pictures from Central Park on a couple of different runs.  I mean, really.  This is one of the best parts of New York. #nycloveaffair 

I took this picture late at night on 8th Avenue on the actual day of my New Yorkiversary, September 10th. (Post about official party to come later).  It's been a crazy, wonderful, hard two years.  And I wouldn't trade it.  And I'm ready for more....???

Sometimes you go to a huge street festival in Little Italy downtown and drink an overpriced lemonade that doesn't taste good without the alcohol, presumably.  But you are drinking it out of a pineapple, so you do it anyway.


And then you dance by yourself in front of a radio station's booth. 

You're welcome for that.