Saturday, September 29, 2012

general relief society meeting - september 2012

Whew! I haven't blogged since school started, and boy do I have a lot to share!

For now, I am going to type my notes from the Relief Society General Meeting tonight. Since I use this as a journal, this is probably the best place to document the talks and my thoughts/feelings. I also went to a YSA fireside with Sherri Dew the other day, and General Conference is coming up, so I guess I'll have lots more of notes to come :)

This was the first meeting with the General RS Presidency, and I have to say that I love them! They all seemed like such sweet sisters, and I definitely felt the Spirit as they spoke and testified of Christ.

Sister Burton - President
-If we focus on the most important and eternal things, the things that don't matter will fall away
-When covenants are kept, families are strengthened
-3 principles of the Atonement:
     1. Everything that is unfair in life can be made right through the Atonement
     2. The Atonement can help us with power over the natural man
     3. The Atonement is the greatest evidence we have of God's love for His children
-Making and keeping our covenants will show that God is written in our hearts

Sister Stephens - 1st Counselor
-None of us will ever make a serious mistake without receiving a prompting from the Spirit first
-What state is my heart in? Can I feel the Spirit? What can I do to make my heart softer?
-We have the agency to choose what we will learn from our trial and adversity
-Be spiritually "awake"!

Sister Reeves - 2nd Counselor
-The Savior feels the complete depth of our suffering
-The Lord knows every detail of our lives
-Don't pull away from the Lord when things get hard - you can't do it all alone!
-Search the scripture daily
-Tell the Father everything
-Help all of God's children to feel, see, and know Him

President Eyring
-Care for each other, teach each other, and sit down together as sisters
-Each of you are on your own unique journey in this life - He knows and watches over each of you
-Act on all of the promptings you receive from the Spirit
-It is often inconvenient to serve - but remember how much I have been blessed/served
-Don't run faster than you have strength - ask for help!
-Most people who carry heavy loads start to doubt their strength and their worth

It was a beautiful meeting, with many wonderful speakers and music. I definitely felt uplifted and ready to take on the load I have been given. I am looking forward to General Conference next weekend - I can't wait to spend a relaxing weekend listening to the leaders of my church.

xoxo, Neelam

Saturday, August 4, 2012

california - july 2012

The day after getting back from Idaho, my mom and I went to California for 5 days - boy, was it amazing!!!!

I'm definitely an East-Coaster, but if I had to live on the West Coast, it would be in Orange County, California. I am in love with it. Every time I go I say I'm going to stay forever - maybe someday I'll actually do it. I seriously cannot get enough of it - Newport Beach, Balboa, Fashion Island mall, Pinkberry, Los Angeles, Panera Bread, the piers, the ocean, the sand, the food...I feel so relaxed when I'm there (except when I'm driving in LA traffic - that is the complete opposite of relaxing).

We had an AWESOME time - I could've stayed for another week and been really happy, but I had to start work (I'm turning into such an adult!).

We left pretty early Thursday morning, and my mom drove most of the way to California (it's about a 6 hour drive). This is pretty unusual - I'm allllways the one to drive, but I had flown in late Wednesday night and was exhausted. She made it all the way to Palm Springs - I'm so proud of her!

The closer we go to the coast, we started to roll the windows down and the air felt amazing! Growing up 1 mile from the ocean in Maine, I used to be able to smell the ocean every morning, which is something I miss terribly about my hometown. California gives me a little of that, and I love waking up super early to get the best scent of the ocean :)

We immediately stopped for froyo and went to a Trader Joe's that's way nicer than ours in Mesa (California: 1, Arizona: 0).

I look really tired, but I really love my froyo!

The next day, we headed out early to the beach (with a stop at Bruegger's Bagels, of course!). We spent the entire day there, soaking up the sun, playing in the ocean, and eating at the yummiest restaurant on the pier. Also, we both got completely sunburnt - I'm STILL peeling, even though we went 2 weeks ago!!!!

We went to Fashion Island mall that night, where we browsed through the stores, ate dinner, and stopped at the cutest little cupcake place! It was completely pink and girly. Seriously, it was adorable!!!

On Saturday, we headed up to Los Angeles. I've wanted to go to the Getty Center for a long time, so that was our first stop. I had NO idea we'd be there for 5 hours, but we had a great time! The museum is separated into several buildings, with gorgeous architecture, beautiful gardens, and a pretty stellar collection of artwork. We spent hours wandering through the whole place - it is massive! And on top of the amazing artwork, there were pretty spectacular views of the city.

Degas - I've loved this painting since taking AP Art History in high school

Van Gogh's "Irises" - absolutely amazing! The colors were so rich in this one.

I can't remember the name of this one, but it was HUGE and completely gilded.

After the Getty, we drove to the LA Farmer's Market & The Grove for some eating & shopping, and we were NOT disappointed!!! I'd never been over there, and I fell in love with it! The LA Farmer's Market had amazing food carts all inside this area that's almost invisible from the outside. My mom got some Italian food, while I went for the best crepes I have EVER had! Seriously, I still dream about them :) We also stopped for some yummy fudge, but were stuffed after dinner. I could go back there about 20 more times and still not eat everything I wanted to!

We drove by the LA Temple (by accident) on the way to the Farmer's Market (please excuse the glare from the car window :)

Crepes with strawberries, bananas, nutella, and whipped cream. O.M.G.

We loved this outdoor mall - great shopping, tons of people, and a really fun atmosphere - we'll definitely be going back.

 The little girl in me (and let's be honest, my 26-year old self, as well!) was giddy over this HUGE store! My mom practically had to drag me out, and I wasn't even embarrassed about taking this picture in front of the store. It was filled with dolls, accessories, outfits, and furniture - I could not believe my eyes! My doll, Samantha, has been "archived" but they had all my favorites, plus a bazillion dolls that you can get to look just like you! (Okay, I know that's enough about the dolls - I was just SO EXCITED! I need to have a baby girl!!!!)

 We spent Sunday at the beach, and then drove to Palm Springs to go shopping at those fabulous outlet stores. Neither one of us found a ton of things - I got a new top at Banana Republic & a wallet at Nine West, while my mom got two pairs of shoes at Nine West (we really miss that outlet store here in AZ!).

 That's me - the red dot in the ocean. Luckily it was cloudy that day - my sunburn was killing me!!!! I love splashing in the waves - I'm just meant to live by the ocean,

 Thanks, Mom, for a fabulous trip! I fell even more in love with southern California, and had a great time! I'm already planning a trip back during Fall break :)

xoxo, Neelam

Sunday, July 29, 2012

idaho - summer 2012

There is almost nothing I enjoy more than getting together with my best friends from college - Summer and Monica. They are my favorite people, and I always have the best time when I'm with them.

They are the kind of girls that I won't see for a year and then we get together and it's like we're all back at BYU again (plus the husbands & babies!!!). They have seen me at my best and worst and still love me - which is pretty rare to find in friends. It was so nice to be myself, relax, and catch up, and the days went way too fast! But we got to spend some quality time together, and I was SO sad to leave. I loved just chatting for hours - we can do that forever and never run out of things to say.

Also, I've already decided that I'm going to live near them when I grow up - it's happening. This means I will probably have to move to Boise :) but I am definitely okay with that!

We spent our time in Eagle, Idaho, at the Price's house, and had an awesome time! I love being in their home & seeing their family! I got there on Sunday, and left Wednesday night, so it was a good 4 days spent with great friends.

Sunday afternoon was spent at their house, catching up with the Price family (it was so great to see all of them!!!!), and when Monica got there Sunday night, I was even more excited!

We got pedicures and spent time at home on Monday, and then drove all the way out to Emmett to eat dinner with David who is doing an internship out there.

This was my first time seeing little baby Bennett (Summer & David's baby), and I think he liked spending time with his favorite adopted aunt Neelam :) I fell completely in love with him!

Tuesday we laid out by the pool, did a little shopping, and stopped at The Golden Wheel (I constantly dream about their "root beer spins" - they are SOOOO good!!!!).

 I could seriously stare at this little face all day!!!! And his little footie jammies were soooo cute :)

Monica & I found these super high wedges, and so of course we tried them on. Monica is already 5' 10" and the 5-inch heels made her an even bigger giant!!! Summer is 5' 4" and she and Monica make a really awkward-looking pair :)

Wednesday we laid by the pool again (I love Idaho summers!), and then went to visit another college friend, Laura. Laura has 10-month old twins who are just the cutest little kiddos ever, and it was awesome to see her! She has the most positive attitude about life, marriage, motherhood, and pregnancy, and I loved talking to her about all the exciting things going on in our lives. She really is just the nicest girl!

We enjoyed the last couple of hours together before we had to say goodbye. I cried at the airport like I always do :) but I had such a great time! I left feeling very happy and peaceful, and enjoyed every second of it!

 Spending time with Bennett before leaving

Love these girls!!!!! I miss the BYU days, but I'm so excited about each of our lives and all of the fun things we each have going on! Someday we'll live near each other - I promise!

xoxo, Neelam

e&d wedding

I have a billion things to catch up on...

I'm going to start with Liza & Dallyn's beautiful wedding!

Eliza and I have been friends over the past year, and it's been fun to watch her and Dallyn fall in love, get engaged, and plan their wedding. She did pink & gold for the colors, and everything turned out so beautifully! I sent her more than a few pictures whenever I saw something pink or gold - I need to get married so I can plan my own wedding :)

Also, I got to be in the temple for their sealing - it was my first time! It was really amazing to witness such a special event, and I felt very blessed to be a part of it.

It was pretty much an entire "wedding week," with a bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, sealing, and reception - and everything was fabulous!!!!

Bachelorette Party at Culinary Dropout in Scottsdale. We tried to get Arie from The Bachelorette to come, but even though he didn't make it, we still had a great time!

 At the rehearsal dinner the night before - the bride-to-be is in the white dress :)

 I LOVED Sarah's shirt!!!!

The happy couple, just out of the temple! Her dress was g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s!!!! (there's a bow on the back that was amazing!)

 Love these girls! (plus D & E!)

This picture kills me! Liza & Dallyn painted this beautiful antique tub for iced drinks, and once the reception was over, people started putting their sore, tired, swollen feet in. The faces reacting to the cold are priceless!

I <3 weddings!!!!!

Congratulations, you two!!!! All the best wishes for an amazing eternity together! And thanks for letting me be a little part of it!

xoxo, Neelam

Friday, July 13, 2012

tender mercies

Back at the April 2005 General Conference, Elder Bednar gave a talk entitled:

"The Tender Mercies of the Lord." 

Here is the link to the entire talk:

And this is a "Mormon Messages" video with clips from the talk:

I remember his talk making me think about the blessings I've been given even back then (7 years ago - holy cow!), but I've been thinking even more about it recently.

I wanted to share a couple of quotes from that talk:

"The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

"The Lord’s tender mercies do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Faithfulness and obedience enable us to receive these important gifts and, frequently, the Lord’s timing helps us to recognize them."

What an amazing blessing?! He testified that God knows us, loves us, and is willing to bless us as we remain faithful and obedient to His commandments. He has the perfect timing, and knows what we need at exactly the right time. There have been times in my life where I wasn't sure if that was true or not, but lately I have felt like He is so aware of me and my individual needs, and I can't deny that these tender mercies are real, and very powerful.

For example, we all know that teachers don't go into the profession for the money (obviously), and receiving such a small paycheck can be a little bit stressful at times, especially over the summer while we're not "working" (let's be honest - teachers are always working!). I was overwhelmed at the thought of having to buy all the things for my new classroom on a shoe-string budget, AND pay for everything else. I am not given any money for school supplies nor provided any, so this was going to be especially difficult. The Lord obviously knew that this was important to me, and He made a way for me to meet all of my financial responsibilities. Things just went my way on several occasions, and I couldn't help but think that a greater power or influence was guiding my life.

Another is example is with getting a teaching job. After having such a poor experience with my first teaching job this past semester, I was concerned that first, I shouldn't even be a teacher anymore, and second, would anyone even hire me?!?! This was overwhelming and exhausting to worry about all day, every day. Things aligned once again for me to teach at my top choice school, and even though I had to "sweat it out" for about 6 weeks, I found that I'm exactly where I need to be at this moment in time. I don't think that it was only me that helped me get the job - I think Heavenly Father was instrumental in making that happen.

These are just two of the many examples I could talk about that have happened recently - I could probably go on for a while more :)

Elder Bednar mentioned in his talk that sometimes we feel like we don't deserve to receive Heavenly Father's blessings, for whatever reason. I've definitely been there too, but it was reassuring to know that Elder Bednar testifies that "the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence." We receive these tender mercies for a reason, even if we don't know why.

I just felt like I needed to get these thoughts down. Sometimes it's helpful to look back at a time when the Lord lifted me up, especially during tough times.

I know Heavenly Father loves me. I hope that everyone else can come to know that for themselves.

xoxo, Neelam 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

oh beautiful for spacious skies

I <3 the 4th of July!!!!! 

I love celebrating America's founding with family, friends, fireworks, and food!

I did a study abroad in Israel a few years ago, and spent a 4th of July en route to Egypt. It was funny to me that I still felt pride and patriotism for my country, even though I was so far away. It made me even more grateful for this beautiful country, where I enjoy freedoms that are not found in many places. I love America, and I love celebrating all things American.

This 4th of July was a cloudy, overcast, humid day (super unusual for Arizona), but my mom and I spent the day preparing for our move and cleaning/organizing.

Later that evening, I went with friends to the AZ Diamondbacks baseball game, and enjoyed an All-American baseball game, fireworks, hot dogs, and red white and blue outfits.

Chase Field

Three Cheers for America!!! (and red, white & blue outfits!)

Luckily we took this one before the humidity got to my hair...blergh!!!

Some highlights I do not want to forget:

*ALWAYS use the bathroom at the stadium - don't attempt to find a bathroom once you leave...there are NONE! I was fortunate enough to find a kind police officer and some trusting doormen who let me into a swanky hotel to use the restroom, but I may not always be as lucky!

*Check beforehand where they will be projecting the fireworks from. It would be awful to be stuck on the side where the fireworks are hidden from the retractable roof. Cough, cough.

*Always be a lady when in crowded situations. Everyone else might be acting like crazy fools, but it never helps to join them (although sometimes it's easier!).

*Bring your own water bottle! $4 for a small water bottle is completely ridiculous. Enough said.

Until next Independence Day!

xoxo, Neelam

Monday, June 25, 2012

currently loving

Pretty obsessed with this's even my ringtone, so I get to hear it every time someone calls (feel free to call me more, now that you know this little tidbit). 

John Mayer's new album - Born and Raised. Favorite tracks: Queen of California; Speak for Me; and Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey.

Arizona sunsets. I took this one at the intersection by where I live, and I think it's gorgeous. Arizona really does have the best sunsets, and with all the heat, it's been nice to have the sun go down and the temperature get a little cooler (as in, only 100 degrees, rather than 110...oi vey). surprise there.

Gathering things for my new classroom! I'll be teaching freshmen and juniors, and I think I need this poster. Not pictured: me scouring aisles for deals on school supplies. I think I know the price of just about everything a teacher or student could need, and where to find it for the least amount of money. I even have a spreadsheet. This is my life.

Planning some fun summer trips! I'll be going to Idaho to see my BFFs Summer & Monica (and I finally get to meet Summer's baby boy, Bennett!), and going to California with my mom. In addition, the 4th of July is coming up, along with a dear friend's wedding and bachelorette party, and maybe even a trip to Sedona (it's my favorite place in AZ!).

I'm trying to enjoy my summer as much as possible, since I start my new job on July 26th...yikes!!!! Only about a month to go! Until then, I plan to fully enjoy sleeping in, spending time outdoors, and doing everything I wish I was doing during the school year.

xoxo, Neelam