Thursday, May 26, 2011

Small Town Lovin'

For as long as I can remember, I have had this internal conflict as to whether or not I was really a small-town, country lover or a city girl. I grew up with a family that hated country music and found most of Sevier County to be quite ridiculous, despite our love for small towns and being outdoors. I found myself convinced that I would love to live in the city, considering how much I adored visiting. Once I moved to college, I was surrounded by folks from the city; some who loved living in the small town of Ephraim, others who despised it. It took me a little time being around both to come to my conclusion. Although I still hate country music and going to the rodeo isn't on my list of top 10 favorite things to do (or 50, or possibly even 100), I can't deny who I truly am. Yup, I'm a country girl!

As I've lived at home for the past several weeks and prepared myself to move to the city for the summer and school next year, I couldn't help but realize all the reasons why I ADORE the Sevier Valley. And so, I'm here to share those reasons with you! I can't venture from my ridiculous list obsession, so here is a list of reasons why I LOVE my home town.
  • Being surrounded by open fields
  • The smell of alfalfa, wet dirt, freshly cut grass, and sagebrush
  • Listening to tractors cutting the hay on a summer night
  • Going down the canal
  • Watching thunderstorms from the front porch
  • Being able to see the entire night sky from your back step
  • Living on a dirt road
  • Waving to everyone, even when you don't know them
  • Seeing cars left running in the Wal Mart parking lot
  • Cow parades :)
  • Going running next to the canal
  • Late night walks by yourself without worrying about anything
  • ALWAYS seeing someone you know at the grocery store
  • The cute old ladies at church who tell you how beautiful and grown up you are
  • Seeing yards that look like a constant yard sale and mechanic service station
  • Cows. Period. (They smell MUCH better than turkeys...)
  • Waking up to birds churping outside your window
  • Not having to drive anywhere to go star gazing
  • Fires and picnics up the canyon
  • Four-wheeling :) 
  • Riding in the back of the truck
  • Knowing everyone at your high school (and their parents, siblings, and where they live)
  • Constantly being surrounded by people who truly know you and who will ALWAYS care about you
  • Getting stuck behind the two old men who are stopped in the middle of the road, yelling into the other's window
  • Bike rides around town
  • Seeing all the baby animals in the spring-time!
  • Being able to wear a t-shirt and jeans every day and not caring about wearing the latest fashions
  • The view of the valley from Jo-Town hill
  • Holiday celebrations (especially the 4th and 24th of July)
  • Parades filled with trucks, four wheelers, llamas, and old cars
  • Having tractors, 4 wheelers, and rhinos be acceptable modes of transportation
  • Not having sidewalks or street lights
  • The sights and sounds of sprinklers in the fields
  • Having deer in your back yard
  • The county fair
  • The fact that bunny-bashing is an acceptable activity for a date
  • Having the rodeo and demolition derby be the biggest events of the year
  • Riding in the truck with the windows down and baseball cap on
  • The old men who ride around on their four wheelers doing everything they can for the town, because they just can't stand to sit around
  • Having Wal Mart be the ultimate hang out location (and BEST white-trash spotting location)
  • Yummy water!
  • Always feeling safe
  • Going to the carnival and seeing everyone you know there
  • The most entertaining single's ward!
  • Being able to walk outside in ridiculous clothes, because you know no one will see you
  • You know where all the cops hang out and which places you can/cannot speed
  • How everything is desolate on Sundays
  • Getting stuck behind sheep, tractors, or old folks out for their Sunday drive
  • Knowing which town someone is from by their last name
  • Hearing cars referred to as "outfits" and other hick phrases

Sure, there are some things about small towns that I'm not so fond of. I still love to visit the city and look forward to living there very soon! But I have a love for this place deep in my heart that has remained despite my years of denial. Small towns certainly aren't for everyone, but they're definitely for me! Sevier County, this one's for you :) 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Shout Out to Snow College

Saturday I graduated Snow with my Associates of Science degree. Do I feel old? Yes! Although academic learning was a huge part of my two years at Snow College (I LOVE to learn), the most important things that came from those two years had nothing to do with school. There were so many wonderful things that came from Snow and I can't even begin to express them. But I'm going to give it a try!
-Snow helped me accept the small-town girl inside me that I always rejected. I learned to love mountains, sheep, fields, farmers, stars, fires, quiet, dirt roads, and creative entertainment because I was surrounded by people who a) grew up in small towns and appreciated that or b) grew up in the city and loved the things Sanpete brought into their lives.
-You DON'T have to go to a university to get a good education. I feel very well prepared to attend BYU. I had professors who I knew I could talk to about anything and they would genuinely care and listen. Not only that, but they provided opportunities I couldn't have experienced in a larger class. I loved that they got to know me personally and did everything they could to ensure my success.
-I learned to love people I never expected to. The boys downstairs helped me realize how judgemental I have been my entire life, and uptight. I have learned to accept differences in others, and then learn to love them for those differences. Friendships come where you least expect them, you just have to be open to them.
-Snow provided an environment where I was CONSTANTLY surrounded by incredible people. Everyone is so friendly and loving, even though they have no idea who you are. As Tucker said in his graduation speech, we're all here doing the same thing and therefore we do our best to lift each other up. Snow isn't a place to step on others to push yourself up, its a place where everyone is constantly trying to help each other. I feel like everyone there was constantly trying to better themselves, and bettered other people in the process. I felt the Spirit so strongly every day.
-I learned to listen to the promptings of the Spirit. I felt there were many times that I was guided to help someone or be in a certain place at a specific time in order to be an instrument in the Lord's hand. Not only that, but I learned to rely on the comfort of the  Holy Ghost more than the comfort of man. When I had a hard time, I knew that praying was what I needed to do first.
-I learned that although it is hard to be away from home and your family, there is such thing as having a second family. My roommates were the most wonderful girls in the whole world and I wouldn't trade any one of them for the world. They loved me wholly and completely, ALWAYS listened, greeted me with a smile and a hug, and were constantly doing everything they could to be a better person. I learned that you can never fully understand someone until you love them, and then you start realize who they really are. They helped me accept myself and realize my potential. I will never forget the lessons they taught me in every day life.

There are SO many more things that I could list, but those are the main points. Saying goodbye to Snow College and my friends was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But as I sat in graduation next to Sarah, I realized that Heavenly Father brought me to Snow for a very divine and inspired reason. We were able to learn and grow together and learn the lessons that were in store for us. Yes, I did cry the whole week and the entire way home. I still feel a huge emptiness inside me, like part of my heart is still in Ephraim. Nothing will ever be able to replace the things Snow brought into my life. But in the mean time, I plan to take those lessons and help others learn them as well. I'm sad to leave my very best friends behind, they mean the whole world to me. But I wouldn't be as sad if they hadn't meant so much to me.

It's a hard chapter to close, and right now I don't even know what to do with myself or how to feel. But I'm ready to start the next chapter. BYU will be a huge difference but I can't wait for the adventures ahead of me. Oakcrest this summer is going to be INCREDIBLE and I'm excited to see the plans Heavenly Father has in store for me. Thanks to all who made Snow College the best two years I could ever ask for. You have left hand prints on my heart that will never be replaced by anyone or anything.