Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A glimpse into the life of . . .


I grew up with this special lady, and she was practically the fourth sister in my family. We all went to church together, and there weren't very many people our age there. She is creative, quirky and adventurous but also spiritual, philosophical and giant-hearted. I'm very excited to share her thoughts with you today because I relate very much to a lot of the things she's going through - even though she's across the world and doing very different things! Enjoy!
A four-year-old high quality picture of me with Emma and my
sisters during one of my visits to Utah to see them!

Current profession: I'm almost halfway through a year being a jeune fille au pair (nanny) in France. Before I arrived in France I thought I was going to be an au pair, but when I'd tell people here I was an au pair they'd get very confused; then after a second, "Oh! A jeune fille au pair!" which means I'm a young lady and a nanny. France is REALLY into gender.

First job ever: Entrepreneur - I used to sell my stuffed animals to my dad for a quarter.

Dream job: Wouldn't we all like to know! I'm very certain I'd like to have a life where I can have a very large garden and time to can and preserve the food I've grown, and I'd like to share and talk about movies with people. And I'd like to draw on fabric and sell said fabric.

Three words to describe where you're at in life right now: Searching, stretching, learning

What has been your biggest challenge since graduating college, and how did you overcome it (or how are you overcoming it)? The challenge is that I feel I'm searching for something, a way to use my talents that will better the world and give me a sense of fulfillment, but the something is still vague and nebulous. I can't grasp onto it. I was sure I was supposed to have it figured out upon graduating from
college and felt keenly disappointed with myself that I didn't. I've been coming to terms that it will take time to sort through the vague clouds of ideas. Perhaps I don't know myself or the world well enough yet to find what will be good for us. I've been learning (and forgetting and learning again) that I don't need to have the answers now; I should throw myself into the opportunities I am blessed with and just be alive, fully alive. And really, I've had to let go and put all my trust in God. That's how I ended up in France.

What would you say to someone else (like me) trying to figure out his/her life? Be patient with yourself. Don't be hard on yourself. Just focus on passions you can pursue now and don't let the questions of the future limit your ability to fully participate in and enjoy the present. And don't question yourself too much. I have an immense love for questions, but at times they're destructive. Eventually this will add up into a life you are gloriously happy to have lived. This is what I hope, anyway!

Has living in France changed your perspective on anything?
On a million different little and big things. One of the biggest realizations has been about being courteous. I'm not a particularly discourteous person. I've always tried to be respectful of people and have tried to follow the Golden Rule: love thy neighbor as thyself. And even the bit about love thine enemy. Courtesy seemed like a set of rules superimposed upon the process. I'm finding, though, that the rules of being courteous are providing me ways to react when I'm confused (which is A LOT of the time while living in a foreign country where I'm barely at an intermediate level in the language) or when I'm stressed or sad––all of those times when a fight or flight instinct might kick in, shoving aside ideals of respect and love. Really, I'm learning a lot about love. About showing love and enthusiasm without waiting for someone to love me first.

What is the hardest part about living in France, and what is your favorite part? Aside from the difficulty of satisfying my super specific peanut butter needs? The hard parts are also part of what I love. Submersing myself in a country and culture that are shaped by a foreign language is an exciting and interesting challenge, but at times I miss being able to have really great conversations full of banter and/or philosophical ideas. The differences in the culture at times leave me feeling lost and alone but at others totally invigorated and delighted. I started off in the south of France at the family's summer home, and at the end of August we drove nine hours north to the home in Paris. We drove past a medieval village! I knew they existed, I've seen them in movies and in TV, but it is still mind-blowing to DRIVE PAST A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE! And it's so blasé to them! Those buildings are older than my country!

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned throughout your 20s so far? To keep a strict bedtime. I'm still fairly terrible at it, but EVERYTHING goes better when I stick to it.

When you are 50 what do you want to be able to look back and say about your life right now?
That I cared for the earth and for people, that I traveled and learned and changed and that I ate well.

Emma eating well
How do you define success?
Being at peace with myself.

Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally?
My sister. If I have to pick one person, it will always be my sister. She's wise, kind, gentle, full of love, watches BBC comedies with me, has answers to many of my questions, listens, chastises, encourages and is so patient. I'm always in awe of her and am always encouraged by
her profound love for me.

Two books that have inspired you:
The Oxford History of World Cinema by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. It was through this textbook and my film history classes that I learned how ridiculously excited I am about this subject. The first day in class I sat on the edge of my seat barely able to breathe for joy. Maybe someday I'll get my masters in film history but though I've researched schools and programs for this and other related fields I just keep getting the feeling that this just isn't the right time for it, if ever. But if life feels bleak, I think on this book and the delight I find in film history, and I'm ready to jump back in.

Please allow me to cheat and reference a book series, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. My dad read them to me when I was younger and I've reread them a few times since. It's along the same lines as other fantastical adventure children's series like Chronicles of Narnia, but Prydain has a few things that have always stood out to me. There's an entire book, Taran Wanderer, that digresses from the main story arch of the series.
The main character travels around the kingdom hoping to find out who is parents are and what he's worth (he's a commoner in love with a princess). He meets and lives with several different people learning about the way they live their lives and grows to have such profound respect for each person despite how different they may be. SPOILER ALERT: Towards the end of the series there's a great war and Taran's mentor Col dies. Though Col had been a great warrior in his youth and died as a warrior, Taran had learned from him what Col had felt was the most honorable endeavor of his life: the portion he spent on a farm raising Taran. So he made him a makeshift headstone and on it inscribed, "Grower of Turnips." That always strikes me as such a beautiful, tender thing and a true thing to honor in a person. Not that we shouldn't honor soldiers and all those who sacrifice their lives for us in combat, but that Col wished that the world had never needed warriors.

What hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your spare time?
Reading, drawing, cooking, riding bike, imagining whales in unlikely places, asking questions, watching films and doing research on them, people watching, camping, kayaking.
(She also blogs! Check it out here.)

What is number one on your bucket list?
It's a tie between hiking in the Alps and seeing some Norwegian fjords. I hope to be able to do both in the next year, but we'll see how it works out!

Favorite ice cream flavor:
My favorite is to have vanilla and mix in chunky peanut butter. I never knew how obsessed I was with pb until I moved to France!

Thank you, Emma!

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