Growing up I didn't get to travel much.
I chose not to travel much. My life revolved around dancing and I was always too terrified to take any time off. Anytime I went anywhere outside of Utah, it was almost always for a dance competition or convention. Traveling for fun was not an option in my mind.
And then I got sick.
And when you are sick your finances go toward a cure.
And then you are so scared that if you did go away, something could go wrong without a doctor nearby. And you are scared that the stress of it all could throw away all of the progress you had made in your healing.
And then you stay exactly where you are.
For nearly four years.
Aside from a couple of doctors appointments and family visits that cause great physical pain, you stay.
When my cousin Lizzie brought the option of a trip to Europe to my attention I thought it wouldn't be possible. I had too much going on here and it would be too difficult to get all of my doctors on board.
Thankfully with my Heavenly Father's help I was cleared. And by a few miracles I was able to make it on the trip of my dreams. Like so many other moments during these past few years, God sustained me. I was stronger than I should have been. Sure it was hard, and sure I have been essentially sleeping ever since. But oh was it worth it. He helped my bear it.
Now for many of you that get to travel all the time, this post may seem silly. But for me it is one of those gratifying moments that I get to stand and once again say, "I lived." In spite of it all, I am doing something. And I will make the most of it all!
Here are my highlights from each City I got to see.
My goodness I loved it there. The history, the culture, ALL of it had me drooling. I ate gluten while I was there and though it wasn't "lyme disease approved," it was probably the greatest thing I've ever tasted!! While I loved it all, there was one particularly magical moment that I wan't to remember forever!
We went to Versailles on a Friday night and attended the garden show that they hold in the summertime. There were fountains and fire and classical music playing all around us. It felt like being in a movie. To wrap up the evening they had a firework show above the gardens that was sensational. In an effort to beat the crowd we decided to leave just before the fireworks ended. As we headed back toward the stunning palace, we got to see the fireworks reflect off of the windows in the back of the palace. I swear it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I want to hold that image in my mind forever and ever and ever and ever. My word I love France. I can't wait to go back!
My favorite part of brussels was spending my birthday evening in The Grand Place. These four gorgeous buildings make up this darling square in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the surrounding shops. We rested on the old cobblestone ground in the middle of everything and looked up at the gold trimmed buildings on my golden birthday. Turning 22 was hard for me. Like every other birthday, it marked another year being sick and it was something very difficult for me to face. But I couldn't help feeling grateful to have gotten to make it to this day. Because this day I got to be in Europe checking off something on my bucket list. There is always good that can come, even if it isn't the good you thought it was going to be.
MY favorite part of Amsterdam was the Anne Frank house. It was humbling to walk through the building and hear her story once again. There is so much we can learn from this inspiring little girl. In our civic lives as well as our personal lives. Civic because we need to do our part in never letting something like this happen in the world again. Personal because like her, we can find hope amidst some of life's most brutal blows.
I also loved riding bikes through the windmills in Holland and experiencing the wonderful culture found in the Netherlands. This is a place I want to visit again and again and again and again.
The highlight of London was definitely seeing Les Miserables. I love the play and was so excited that we got the chance to go see it at such a phenomenal theatre. The story always touches my heart and reminds me of the Saviors atonement. I cried and laughed and was just out of this world happy! What a dream it was to spend a few days in this lovely city.
Of course the most wonderful part of it all was to get to spend two weeks with some of my favorite people. Thank you Aunt Jana, Lizzie and Amanda for letting me join in on your girls trip. I will always remember the way my heart was filled the first time I got to see some of this gorgeous world.
What a gift this place is. If I have learned anything, it is how similar we all are wherever we live. Humans are humans no matter the location. We should love everyone the way our Father in Heaven loves us. Our relationships within and without our country should be built on a fully inclusive and inviting foundation. It is one of the wonderful ways we get to emulate our Savior.