Thursday, January 29, 2015

First semester at NYU, The kind soul that holds my hair back, Hunting for the first time

Oh my sakes.  It's 2015.  I haven't written since October.  And naturally, much has occurred since then.  So let me tell you where things are at:

I've successfully completely my first semester of grad school at NYU.  And it is still crazy to me writing sentences indicating that I am receiving academic instruction from NYU.  It feels like a dream and also completely preposterous at the same time.  But somehow it's real.  I really love my program.  My favorite class last semester was my "Human Behavior" course.  My professor was outstanding (and therefore I'm taking Human Behavior 2 from him this semester). haha We focused a lot on looking at how our experiences from childhood manifest themselves in behavior as we grow up.  My mind was constantly reeling in class as I looked at my upbringing and how so many facets of my life have formed me into this person that interacts and reacts to people and life in the way that I do.  It's fascinating.  
(This photo was from when I went to Hip Hop Nutcracker at Christmas time.  Aaaannnddd yeah, it was as fun as it sounds.)

One of my favorite examples that he gave is one from his personal practice.  He has a client he is working with that's 7 years old.  This little boy does have some severe behavioral issues, enough that at the age of 7, he's been kicked out of several schools.  Kicking, biting, throwing things, yelling, tantrums, etc.  Let's call this little boy Johnny.  So Johnny goes to see my professor for therapy and they work together to find out where some of these behavioral issues are coming from.  It turns out Johnny's mom and dad fight a lot.  Johnny has seen his mom physically abuse his father as well.  Sometimes Johnny's dad doesn't come home. 

My professor explained when a child sees this type of dysfunction in his parents, it's too horrifying of a thought to think that these stabilizing forces in his life are a mess.  It's easier to think something is wrong with you, the child.  That's much easier to digest than the thought that the people responsible for raising you, teaching you and keeping you safe aren't highly functioning.  The part I loved about this is my professor invited Johnny, his little sister, and their parents to a session.  Each member of the family was asked to make a lego tower, with each lego representing one year of their life.  So Johnny's tower was 7 legos tall, his little sisters tower was 5 legos tall, and his parents had multiple towers of legos.  My professor explained that Johnny is only 7 legos.  He's little.  He's a kid.  He shouldn't be responsible for the problems and issues of his parents that have multiple towers of legos.  He's a kid.  His job is to be a kid and play.  The people with the big towers have a lot of years and therefore need to handle their bigger issues.  

This example really resonated with me.  I loved the imagery.  I think in our own ways we can take on stress from people that have more "legos" than we do.  And that's not our job.  Our job is to deal with our own issues and carry the responsibility of the number of "legos" that we have, no more and no less.  Anyway, perhaps this is a random thing to share but it really helped me.
I was fortunate enough to travel home for Christmas this year.   Unfortunately, the trip was very short.  I didn't get to see all of the people that I wanted to meet up with, but thankfully I got to squeeze in a few quick visits.  It's such a mix of emotions traveling home.  For many years I felt frustrated in Utah and like I didn't belong.  I so looked forward to traveling abroad or getting out.  One of the elders in my mission once told me that I didn't seem like I was from Utah...and I took it as a compliment.  haha But I do love Utah and there are a lot of wonderful people there.  And it's a strange experience for me to come back to Utah and somehow feel right at home.  A place where I used to feel so out of place now brings such a feeling of peace.  I love being surrounded by the mountains.  I love how when they're dusted with snow, I could be outside for hours and never grow tired of looking over at them.  I love that I have memories in the strangest of places back in Utah.  The movie theater where my group of girlfriends and I finally got up the courage to ask a group of boys to hang out with us--and they later became our dear friends.  The spot behind Albertsons, that normally doesn't hold any significance, except it's where Ashlee parked her car for the parade one year and we watched the whole thing with snacks and AC.  It was brilliant.  And Kneaders, just because their french toast is the best thing that ever happened to human taste buds. haha

Something remarkable happens when I meet up with each of my friends.  They are from all different parts of my life.  High school, my Paris Study abroad, my mission to Italy, my time spent in Uganda, or even just from being assigned as a visiting teacher back in the AF singles ward.  Regardless of how I know them, this lovely rush of emotion fills me when I hug my friends after a long time.  Man, how I love them.  I love being on adventures and living in New York City.  But my heart is so happy to be home and in the company of people that know me, understand me and love me.  We've been friends for years and have seen each other through a lot of situations.  I so admire the people I've seen them become and my heart is so happy for the joy they have found as they've become wives, mothers, finished school, advanced in their careers, and grown as remarkable women.  I'm really the luckiest.  My friends mean the world to me. I feel like the most fortunate person on the planet whenever I'm back in their company.  

My brother Cody and Sister-in-law Aubry were very gracious to host us in their home.  It must be awfully chaotic having extra bodies in your home but as Raf said, "Aubry is like Mary Poppins." and she really is.  The woman can work a 12 hour night shift Christmas Eve, still manage to photograph the excitement of Christmas morning, make a trifle for my dad, bake dinner, look fabulous and go to family parties without sleep.  She's quite remarkable.  I love being around her.

My brother Cody is also fun to be around.  He has one of my favorite laughs in the world.  He's a lot of fun.  Cody and Aub also introduced us to a new version of the card game "Golf".  Let's just say we played a pretty good amount of Golf while we were there.  Thanks Code and Aub for letting us all shack up with you for Christmas. You were too good to us and it was so fun being with your family.

Now their three children are three of the sweetest, most adorable tiny people I've ever known.  Sadie has a cute little scratchy voice that told me she was going to be watching out the window on Christmas Eve. "I'm going to look for a wed light."  How come?  "To see if Wudolph is real!"  Mya's response was, "If you see it, wake me up."  haha I love them.  I loved playing with them and watching their eyes light up on Christmas morning.  Little Hayze has the cutest little run and melts your heart if he even glances your way.  They're such good kids.  I can only hope that my children one day will be as sweet.

 This trip was quite epic because it was the first time I agreed to go to hunting.  My dad and brothers are hard core hunters.  Growing up, we had an entire freezer that was pretty much dedicated to the meat from their kills.  And there was an extra garage nearby containing a shrine of their heads and antlers.  This year, I got to go along for the ride.  I'll be honest, part of the reason I was turned off to it all these years was because I pictured them wandering around all day, trudging in waist-deep snow looking for animals.  But nay, that is not how it worked.  We were all layered up, chewing on jerky (how appropriate), and looking out the windows of Cody's truck with binoculars for elk.  I didn't realize that it wasn't as freezing or unplanned as I had originally imagined.  We drove around, stopping to look through the scope for several hours.  Of course because my brother had a cow elk tag, we saw lots of bull elk instead.  Isn't that how it goes?!  They are such cool creatures.  It was pretty amazing to be in the mountains.  Cody shot an elk at 540 yards.  It was really impressive.  The hike over to it was a bit hard in the deep snow but it was good cardio.  :)

As we got closer to the elk, it was incredible to see what an incredible animal she was.  It was pretty cool to see almost a reverence that we all had for this animal.  She was beautiful.  Even as they were skinning it, I was in awe at how strong she was and how incredible it is how all of our bodies are put together.  I'm grateful my brother let me tag along for the experience.  I'm sure it's more fun with only guys, but it was really fun to see him in his element and how talented he is.  Later when we came back to New York, Raf and I were watching "The Walking Dead" and the characters in an episode wouldn't shoot a zombie that was 100 yards away.  Raf laughed and said, "Man, Cody makes these guys look like chumps.  He shot an elk that was 560 yards away."  haha And it's true.  My brother does make those characters look silly.  He's got hunting skills.  He really does.

It was a really fun break.  My parents and kid sister were also in Utah for the break.  I love them very much.  They do an awful lot for me.  It's always fun to get the family together as it seems sparse these days.  I adored the family time, catching up with friends, seeing their newborn babies, and not having any homework to do.  :)  Now it's back into the grind.  Classes have started and I'm back at my internship.  It's going to be another great semester.  I can already tell that these classes are going to push me but I'm really excited about it.  I think it will be good for me to continue to learn about myself as I delve more into this program.  As always, I will try to be good at keeping you up to date with the happenings here in NYC.  But, if I'm not on top of my posts, just know I love you and you'll hear from me soon.  Love from New York,