1)"And I'll do it again" photo
In 2012, I took a picture wearing a dress I like in front of Notre Dame. The caption was this: "In front of Notre Dame. Oh yes, darlings. I made it. And I'll do it again." I was proud to have made it to Paris. I made a sort of promise to myself that I would go back again and make a better time of it than I'd had during Discover The World. And boy did I. Dean's Fellowship was the best time I've ever had in Paris. I did the things I wanted to do, I met the friends that I lacked during DTW and I connected spiritually in the churches we went to. It was some of the happiest time of my senior year! Though I came back exhausted, Paris part 2 definitely changed me for the better. I wouldn't change a second of it.
2) My dance block from Sinai
This semester I joined Sinai's Radiant Liturgical Dance Ministry and it was the best decision of my life. Using my entire body to praise God has been a total and complete blessing. I have never been happier than I am when I am ministering to an audience. I am a senior and I joined in my last semester, so I am graduating with one excellent semester under my belt. As a graduated senior I got a gift- it was a wood block that said "...dancing like no one is watching." This touched me because I couldn't always do that. I was self conscious and fearful. Now that I dance for God, there's nothing to fear! I'm more than a conquerer!
3) My appearance in STJ video
It was here that I realized that I will never escape from looking like a dork! I always expected to look at a picture I take one day and say to myself, hey, that actually looks like a happy, dignified young lady. I do look like that- but I also look like a huge dork no matter what I do because I am a dork and a goofball. It's just who I am. I learned and accepted that about myself this semester.
4) My 'IAmsterdam' skecthbook
I bought a sketchbook along with me to Paris. It has an I AMesterdam sticker on the front and I plan to cover it in stickers from my travels. I love to draw and paint. Being taken out of my home element really helped me to explore new boundries with my art. I used the watercolor pencils I nevered used. I turned a new page. I won't forget eating Halal at 12, 1am and sketching a mermaid in my sketchbook in Paris while Whitney listened to Gospel music under my bunk. It was an unforgettable moment to me despite its smallness.
5) Ticket stubs to The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and Yves St. Laurent biopic
Whitney and I went to see two movies while we were in France. One was an American movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The other was a french movie about the designer Yves St. Laurent. They were both great movies! They were extremely different but they both made me think of my time in Paris in a different way. Walter Mitty challenged me to live my dreams instead of just daydreaming them. St. Laurent challenged me to live my dreams, but to be careful of the dark side that my come with following that dream. Both movies were a great experience. They enhanced my time in France by showing me the movie messages and by showing me the culture of going to the movies in France. It is very, very dark and everyone in the theater is extremely quiet even before the movie begins! That was an experience in an of itself!
6) Hot Chocolate from Angelina's
I looked up a list of unconventional things to do in Paris and going to Angelina's for their hot chocolate was one of them. That was one of the best decisions we made that day. We were in Versallies, which I had already seen and which actually disgusted me because of its frivolous, grandiose structure. That money could have been used to feed the poor. Anyway, instead of touring Versaillies, Whitney and I cruised around a bit then went to Angelina's where we had hot chocolate and finger cakes and chatted. It was one of the best memories I have in Paris. We were both glowing with beauty that day. Our pictures turned out wonderful because we were so happy. That hot chocolate was truly an other worldly experience. As the list said "it's more of a dessert than a drink." I recommend anyone going to Paris or Versallies to go and have some. It's a real treat!
7) The Louvre
Have you ever had a feeling that a moment is fleeting but you don't think it's time for that moment to happen yet? That is how I felt at The Louvre. Everyone was taking pictures with their hands on top of the pyramid shaped building (you stand from a distance and hold your arm out to make it look like you're touching top of the building. During DTW, it was too crowded to take a picture so I decided that I'd take it on my next trip to Paris, praying that I'd be back soon. Lo and behold, God had plans for me!
Many people in Paris say voila! It is pronounced wahlah! (It is kind of like an ah ha! type word) I did not realize that a. the word was spelled like this and b. that many people use it in Paris! I've heard the expression in pop culture a lot like in movies and TV shows, but I never really thought too much of it (for example a character may say the word wrong and pronounce it VI-O-LA! I now think that is the funniest thing in the world. You think you're so French, America!). Now I here jokes with the word in it and I can really have a laugh!
9) Tomato Flower
We went to get crepes on during our farewell dinner. They were...interesting. I ordered one with egg thinking I'd get a scrambled egg with cheese. To my suprise the egg laid there sunny side up and runny. Ick! I still ate it, but I like my eggs cooked! I also ate salad. I hate tomatoes unless they are round cherry ones. I ate every bite of my salad, which was delicious, except for the tomatoes and some bites of corn. I absent-mindedly made them into a flower shape. Dr. Upton commented "Oh you really are an artist!" Our side of the table had a light laugh over that. My sugar crepe that I had was delicious! I'd go back just for that, but then again I'm looking for any excuse!
10) The Effiel Tower
I know this is cliche, but that tower is so representative of Paris culture. Though people who live there probably avoid it like the plague because of the tourism, we flocked right to it because we were tourist. Though for our lovely week in Paris, I didn't feel like one. I felt like I was home. Whitney and I took a picture in front of the Effiel Tower, which we saw light up the dark in late evenings. It was beautiful with just the sparkling white lights at 12am. That is a sight I'll never forget.
11) My first commissioned painting
I truly love art. I feel at peace when I'm doing it. I've decided to make my business to make my art a business. I've decided to open up commissions and I've already gotten my first one. I did a sketch of what she wanted it to look like and she loves it! This is very exciting for me because I didn't have much confidence in my art for the past few years. Now I'm back with a vengence and here to stay. It warms my heart that God lead me back here. I am beyond appreciative of my gift/talent and I won't bury it!
12) Shark Tooth
I have a shark tooth that I wear that is my boyfriend's. I'm very much in love with him (5/5/2014 for the record!!) and I am happy to have him in my life. I had stopped caring about finding love, but God bought me an unexpected gift. I wear the shark tooth to feel his presence when I want him to be with me and he's not. Feeling the tooth and the sharpness of it brings me back to reality and reminds me that even when I'm moping around missing him, he wants the best for me, so I should continue to work hard.
13) Esmerelda, Cantine California
Whitney and I went to some old favorites this past trip. We had been really craving a burger from Cantine California, one of our old food trucks we went to when we were craving burgers (which for me at least, was at least once a month).
Esmerelda is a crepe place right across from Notre Dame that Sister Bernie took us to during DTW. Whit and I went to both places and guess what? It wasn't as good as the other times! I felt sad because I wanted everything to be perfect when I bit into the 'Cali burger' and the chicken and cheese crepe. But it wasn't perfect. That's when I realized nothing in life is. I had to laugh at the one. Sometimes something you're really looking forward to may let you down a bit, but if you make the best of it, you can still come out with something really special!
14) Gouche Art Store
There is a lovely little art store down the street from the Paris campus. A sweet older woman works there that I absolutely adore! She doesn't speak a word of English, so I got to flex my French muscles!
15) "Parlez-vous français?"
I got that question a lot. I speak a tiny bit of French, but when people heard what I could say they were very surprised. For example, on the bus trip to the airport to go home. I told the man in French which bag was mine. He was plesantly surprised. He asked if I spoke French and I said no. I should've said a little! I'm proud of myself for immersing into French language and culture. It was a fun experience to not know the language completely and fumble through food orders, ticket lines, etc. It made me think about how immigrants may feel in America. It's good to broaden your horizons.
16) My trusty heels and my trusty snow boots
I've never realized the importance of shoes until I went without them. During Sinai's dances, we minister barefoot. I love doing that, but we have to be extra careful because we don't always know if what lies before us is safe or not. It makes me think of people around the world who go without shoes not by choice but because they have none. My black heels and my tan winter boots, which both came to Paris with me, have bought me years of comfort and hold a special place in my heart. I am grateful to have them. What may seem like something small is huge to others who may not have the same thing.
17) VITAL commitment plaque
I have been a part of VITAL for 3 years and we just had our commissioning a few weeks ago. A fellow Dean's Fellowship student- Malcolm, was there too. The mass was lovely and we received a plaque-like frame that holds our life commitment to service inside of it. I hold this dear. When I'm feeling a little down, I hope that reading it will restore my spirit for service and for God.
18) A Pencil
To create is a gift. You need the tools for the gift. I asked, God provided. My mechanical pencil is the tool to my creativity. I love using it! Lately, I've been getting visions about art invoving God. I'm nervous, but I truly think it could be my best work yet! My practice sketches will be made, like my sketches on the top bunk in Paris, with a simple pencil.
19) Friendly Faces
Sometimes the people in Paris could look pretty mean. Just because I'm a tourist doesn't mean I'm stereotype! Having a strong group of students during Dean's Fellowship meant a lot to me. The experience was so much better with people I like. I loved being with people who were enthusiastic about culture and fun in Paris. We went out to dinner one night and I knew that I liked these folks. That gave me a sense of home away from home. Thank you to the Dean's Fellowship students for being awesome! You guys really added a little love, fun and goofiness to my trip!
20) Newfound Stregnth in God
You may have noticed that I talk about God a lot in my papers. The truth is my semester was off to a bad start after Paris. I was exhausted after taking 7 classes, having an eboard and Girl Rising ambassador position and going to Paris and not taking the time to rest. I felt depressed and defeated when the work started rolling in. I didn't seek help at first. I turned away and I stopped doing God's work. This invited other forces to come and bother me. At my liturgical dance rehearsal, I broke down crying and asked God to drive the demon away from me. A few days later I had a monumental dream: It was my test to enter heaven. I was to slay the devil and cut off his head. As I was preparing for battle I had a vision- that I won. I had cut off his head and I was being transported upward. I prayed and prayed that I had passed my test and it was time to go be with God. And I had. I went into a blinding light and when I came out I saw a sight so beautiful it bought tears to my eyes. When the vision ended, my confidence was at an all time high and I continued to prepare for battle, sipping tea. Then I woke up. That vision was beautiful to me. If I can do that, I can do anything, I thought. I shared it with my Sinai sisters and it helped a lot of people. I'm proud to be a warrior of God! We must continue the faith and continue to pray, worship and do God's work or else we become vunerable, which is what happened to me. Dean's Fellowship/THE 3050 was a blessing because it helped me to really look further inside myself. I'm very grateful for the lessons I've learned. I'll take them with me after my journey at St. John's and onward! Praise be to God for granting me the gifts, the serenity and the peace that I now know that I deserve.