Friday, June 29, 2012

All Dogs go to Heaven

Soon after Amelia O'Neill moved in across the street in the fourth grade she introduced me to the Humane Society's website.  We would spend hours looking at dogs who needed to be adopted.  She would browse the German Shepherds and I the Beagles.  This lasted for quite some time, and I would subtly hint to my parents how much I thought we needed a dog.  Naturally, they answered as the majority of our parents have, with a continual "no."  Previously, we had had three dogs and mom and dad were not ready to embark down that road again.  Or so I thought until the day after Thanksgiving day of 2003.  

Enter Samuel Ryan Curtis Burr Landeen, at least that was the name on his adoption certificate.  My hours of browsing had paid off and my parents were persuaded.  He was a four year old Beagle that my parents had adopted from the animal shelter, and we instantly loved each other.  I was in the seventh grade at the time, and on top of the world.  

It was only a matter of time before we diagnosed him with separation anxiety.  We would put him in the back yard for the afternoon, and return to a sad lonely dog with a raspy bark.  He would send us off whining and howling and welcome us home with barks of the the most relieved sort, and this was just one way we knew he loved us back.  In the living room we could never have company without Sam pawing and nudging for attention, and I needn't mention no one could make it out without some of his souvenir hair.  

Even after I moved away to college, if my sisters weren't excited to see me, I could always count on my loyal pooch for a welcome home.  He was just an affectionate and sensitive kind of guy.  While most other hound dogs live for the hunt, Sam would shudder at gunshots and hide in the basement on the fourth of July.  And, while he never learned to fetch or dance on his hind legs, he would go berserk if he heard the word "walk" or an invitation to "go for a ride."  But, over the years our walks got shorter, and our adventures less rigorous.  His short little legs just couldn't hack it.  He became even more mild, lazy and by association, chubby.  

Together we hunted for Christmas trees, fought off stray dogs in the street, snuggled during movies, and ate more than our fair share of leftovers.  He, like I, was spoiled rotten.

Sam spent nearly ten years with our family, and we often referred to him as our brother.  "Jaclyn, did you feed your brother this morning?" or "Syd, will you let your brother out?"  We had more nick names for him than we have for each other.  Samwise, Sam-bo, Sampson, Sam Boy, Sammykins, and anything else that suited the situation.  While there were some days he was stinky and needy, we continued to love him anyway.  91 dog years, the equivalent of 13 human years will take their toll on a dog.  For the last few months we knew it would only be a matter of time before Sam went the way of all the earth.

On Tuesday evening Sam started acting strangely, almost as if he had heat stroke.  He was panting heavily but wouldn't drink any water, and every move I made he followed me.  It wasn't uncommon for him to tag along, but I still knew something was wrong.  My sense was confirmed just about an hour and a half later.

After doing our research, we discovered online that epilepsy tends to be very common in Beagles.  Sam began having seizures.  They became less and less mild as the evening turned into night.  The Veterinary office was closed and he wasn't answering his phone.  All we could do was pray.  He held on through the night despite my tearful pleas for Heavenly Father to just take him.

Bravely, my dad waited with him in the backyard until he had to leave for work around three am.  He had to go down to the Wood Hollow fire in Fairview, which left the bravery up to my mom.  When six am rolled around, my mom woke me up and asked that I help move Sam into the car.  The veterinary office that supposedly opened at seven am actually didn't until eight.  So, knowing that Dr. Barry's office, where we've taken him for years also opened at eight, we returned home for another hour. 

At a quarter to eight we drove to pleasant grove and waited in the parking lot.  When the office opened, my mom went inside and filled out some paper work.  I waited with Sam in the car.   Two vet techs returned with my mom, and they kindly explained what was going to happen.  With one hand holding Sam's paw and the other wrapped around my mother, we said our tearful goodbyes.  His convulsions stopped, but my tears did not.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. 

We returned home and laid him to rest under the apple tree in the back yard.  He was a loyal friend, a smiling face, and a furry rascal.  Of one thing I'm certain, there was a young man happy to be reunited with his dog on Wednesday.  Because, after all, all dogs go to heaven. 


~Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same~

I love you Sam Boy.

Your sister Syd

Monday, June 25, 2012

Clearing Cobwebs

I once mentioned a conversation I had in Nice with my French class about happiness, but I left out the context.  The conversation went as follows:  Laurence, my professor, asked, "Sydnie, are you happy?" I responded, "I am always happy."  The class looked at me both quizzically and doubtfully, as if I had committed some fallacy.  Laurence then said something along the lines of that being impossible.  She went on to explain that there were just some things in life that she couldn't control that made her sad, and she imagined it to be the same for everyone.  If my French had been better, and I felt more confident getting myself in deeper water I would have explained to her my reasoning. 

Happiness (according to me) is more than just a state of emotion.  It's a lifestyle, a belief, and a choice.  Each of us has the capacity to be happy all of the time.  Happiness can continually exist in our lives if we work for it.  It may seem evasive at times because of it's abstractness, but just like material and concrete items in our life- sometimes emotions, like things get buried and covered up or may even seem lost.  But, does that mean that we don't posses those items anymore?  Of course not.  So times come in our lives when our happiness is overrun by other sentiments, but after the emotional cobwebs are cleared and all the dust is blown off, we can always rediscover our happiness. 

Have you ever, in retrospect, thought, "why did I even open my mouth?"  I have.  Aside from avoiding the quizzical and and doubtful scoffs from Laurence and my classmates, I wonder if I could have avoided some of the trials sent my way this month.  It almost seems like these last few weeks in particular have been Heavenly Fathers way of testing whether or not I really believe my own philosophy on happiness.  And I will admit, I have come close to second guessing myself.  

I pride myself on being resilient, being able to bounce back after what might appear to be the tragic downfall of the moment.  And, I have always thought that if I were a shoe I would be a rain-boot, because I am able to let things roll off of me, I am a believer that "nothing is a crisis," and I am often found thinking, "just roll with the punches."  However, somewhere between getting my lowest GPA ever, a breakup, my car's transmission going out, living out of boxes, and today being the five year anniversary of my brother's passing, the emotional cobwebs seem to be coming faster than I can clear them. 

Don't get me wrong, I have every confidence that I will make it through alive.  I have done hard things before, and I am ever so aware that there are people who are fighting even harder battles than myself.   So while the cobwebs and dust accumulate, I will be shopping for a super utility leaf blower to help me clear the sentimental gunk that is working on burying my happiness.  Life is hard, and occasionally all we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, making that effort to rediscover our happiness.  

I derive my happiness primarily from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and my interactions with other people.  I have been so blessed in both regards and know that no matter what, these two things will always be a constant in my life.  I have a testimony of the Gospel.   It is my rock and foundation and I cannot deny it.  And secondly, the people in my life, whether or not I interact with them from day to day, they have shaped who I am and continue to do so daily.  Between Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, church leaders, my family and my friends I am and will always be happy. 

D&C 90:24 
"Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good."

Sydnie Juniper 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

the summer bucket list



hike mount timpanogos

make a quilt 

learn to play tennis

float the provo river

learn to make jam/jelly

ride the ferris wheel

read books

drink a glass of skim milk

go to sliding rock

have a picnic on a round-about

make an epic music video

have a movie marathon

 watch fireworks from a rooftop

run a 5k

play a board game in ikea

share a box of otterpops with friends

feed the ducks at adventure learning land

take a picture with bailey at the "festival city usa" sign

sew something i can wear

*follow what gets crossed off and added by clicking the link on the right of the page*

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Unfortunately, Fortunately

Salutations from Nice! (ok, really it's the JFK International Airport, but when I started this post I was in Nice).  When Hannah, my little sister, was in first or second grade she wrote a book about me, complete with illustrations.  It was called "Unfortunately, Fortunately."  The whole plot line was about unfortunate events that came up, and then fortunate events that cancelled them out.  Look for it in book stores near you in 2013, it's a must read.  This story has a similar plot line. 

It was a bit of a hairy process getting here, but we combed our way through it.  Due to circumstances I couldn't even begin to justify, Shannon and I missed our train on Saturday morning.  No big deal, right?  Just persuade them to exchange our tickets, right?  Wrong.  Because we purchased our tickets online, SNCF, which is what I have taken to be France's department of transportation, couldn't do one smidge of anything to help us out.  So, a couple hundred dollars later we each had tickets for the next Nice bound train, which was not scheduled to depart for another 2 hours.  Feeling a little bitter, I sat and watched an escalator and lectured myself about anticipating the unexpected. 

After being sufficiently chastised by Jiminy Cricket, I remembered that bad things happened to good people all the time.  I also realized that more often than not, I can't just shoot a prayer heavenward and expect to pull a miracle out of the microwave two minutes later with my hotpocket.  So I whipped out the fruitsnacks and decided to consider it a learning experience and something worth moving past.  After all, I couldn't let that little tussle ruin this:

Nice is breathtaking!  Mountains, great plant-life,and clear ocean for as far as the eye can see, what more could a person ask for?  Awesome pizza?  Check, they've got that too!  I think my heart belongs here. 

We were picked up by our newly adopted host-mom, Colette, at the train station where she was holding a sign with our names on it, just like in the movies.  We weaved our way through town in her tiny car to our new home for the week. We each have our own rooms, and mine has a small balcony Check this place out; not too shabby, eh?

After the long day stemming from our unfortunate event, we didn't feel adventurous enough to go out, and instead saved our first Nicois adventure for church on Sunday.  We encountered a missionary who was from, are you ready for this?  AMERICAN FORK!  Ok, well actually he only grew up in American Fork and moved in the seventh grade, but still way cool!  

Post church we met up with the group and got a little more oriented.  After going non-stop for three weeks in Paris I was up for a week of low key beach life.  We climbed up to the outlook, down by the harbor, and through old Nice.  Overall it was a great Sunday. 

Nice, so very quaint and charming is a must visit for anyone searching for a French Vacation.  Anne-Charlotte warned us before we left that the Nicois spoke differently and were harder to understand.  I didn't find that hard to believe, as there are times that I have no idea what language people from the South in the U.S. are speaking, when in all actuality it is English.  I was delighted to find that I didn't have any more trouble communicating with them than the Parisians. 

Our second full day, Monday May 28th we stepped out of France over into Italy!  I just have one word to describe it: 


Tuesday we had our first day of class, and shockingly enough it was not a chore to go.  Our class was composed of an even more diverse group.  We had one girl from Botswana, two boys from Brazil, two Saudi Arabians, two Swedes, one boy from the Netherlands, one Italian man, one German woman and myself.  My teacher, a sunbathing addict, had the appearance of being dipped in nutella. That afternoon, Shanny-Pack (Shannon), Ariel and I made our way to the beach to take a dip in the Mediterranean. 

Our next excursion was the following day.  We took the bus and then the train to Eze, France and toured the medieval city, exotic gardens and a perfume factory.    Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the scents of sprays, soaps, and salves, we decided it was time for dinner.  Unbeknownst to us, we would have to hike for an hour and twenty minutes straight downhill before we could find a restaurant (by train the next town over).  Did I mention that Ariel, Shannon and I were all wearing skirts?  All is well though because along with a worked up appetite, we worked up a great conversation.  A discussion of happiness, and what it meant to us.  The perspective and interpretation of it was so intriguing to me and I rather enjoyed it.

It came as a surprise to me that happiness was also be the topic of the second half of school the next day.  On Thursday we talked about "les petits bonheurs" or simple joys.  Class flew by, because if you know me, you know that I love to talk about how to be happy!  As soon as we were excused we could hear roller blades calling our names.  We made our way down to the beach, rented them and skated for an hour before working on some souvenir shopping.  But by some mystery neither Shannon nor I had our cameras, which is a bummer because we had a great time.  

The theme for Friday was "Carpe Diem," which is Latin and not French, but it still worked.  For our last day in France we went to school (just long enough to get our certificates), then to the market for a last shopping spree.  After our lists were all crossed off it was time to hit the beach one last time.  As I was floating about in the sea a wave washed not only over me, but into me.  My nose was full of salt water and I couldn't breathe for hours afterward.   But it's all good, because I look like a healthy human being now rather than the transparent sun-deprived human I was before. 

We ended our trip with a night at the opera.  Sound glamorous, right?  Well it was, up until five minutes in when we realized we must have bought the spa package.  We were sitting in a sauna.  We were miserable.  These ancient opera houses have the most uncomfortable seats (and I even have short legs)!  So, we conceded to leave after the first act, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.  That was sufficient for me.  To commemorate the end Shannon and I bought one last crepe and walked along the beach then spent the rest of the night packing our bags.  

We made sure to be at the train station early this morning, and by this morning I, of course, mean yesterday morning.  We rode the train back to Paris, were we took the hot and crowded RER to the airport.  After lugging our bags up and down broken escalators a number times I was exhausted, but somehow I survived. 

Security was painless, lines were short and I quickly found myself on Flight 121, New York bound.  We landed about seven hours later and the rest is history.  

Unfortunately we've been sitting here for nine hours, fortunately that means only two more to go!

Sydnie Juniper