i know i am loved wherever i am -- laurel mahnke

Many famous bloggers probably have experienced this, but over a year ago, I had someone come up to me at Stake Conference on a rainy November evening and say, "I've read your blog and I feel like we could be friends." This someone was Laurel. I remember being taken aback by it, but also being so grateful she would have the guts to say that to me. Because she's become such a close friend, a very needed friend during that last eight or nine months of my time in Seattle. Everything from making fancy nachos and watching CES devotionals to seeing Fast & Furious 7 and a road trip to Seabrook for conference weekend to being there when she received her endowment in the Seattle Temple. I have so many cherished times with her. Whether it was going on a walk or out to dinner or after the temple, she has always offered up her witty words, wisdom, and mature perspective to bless my life. Or just singing lines from this:

"So let the light guide your way hold every memory
As you go and every road you take will always lead you home
It's been a long day without you my friend
And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
We've come a long way from where we began
Oh I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again"

(hesper, sara, hilary, laurel, me || seabrook, wa april 2015)

Sorry, I had to. :)  Seriously love you long time, Laurel. 

P.S. : Laurel moved from Seattle to Houston about two months after I left; this is an excerpt from a message she sent me the other night in regards to my prompt for this year's series... just so you know a little more of the context of the post. 

And now as I stretch and grow in this new place, I know you are a friend who I can think of when I need to figure out how to love a place that I am not quite comfortable calling my own. This whole idea of loving a place is interesting to me. Growing up I remember thinking I didn't have a place I could truly call home -- A physical place where I was truly and happily myself. I have lived this life where I have felt like a square peg in a round hole. I muted parts of myself in situations because I thought that is what people wanted. I felt a constant conflict. 

Over years of growing up I feel like I made choices to help the conflict melt away. I think those are the choices that brought me closer to Heavenly Father and definitely the choices that brought me closer to myself. I found myself in this physical place -- probably around the time you graduated (June), and I think I had figured out happiness. I knew I loved a place. A place where I could be myself and feel a certain set of comforts. Seattle is more a home than anywhere else, and just as I started to figure that out, I knew it was time for me to leave and feel a dissonance somewhere else. 

Last week, I read 2 Nephi 1:7, and it was talking right to me. Even though I don't love this physical place, there is a reason I am here. I had to leave home because I am being prepared for something. I need to learn to love myself and feel joy regardless of place or of people, and recognize blessings. I don't want to focus on those blessings. I want to focus on those things that make this place, a place that isn't mine. When I look up and I look around, I know I am loved wherever I am. By the people I left behind, by the people I joined here, and mostly strongly by a loving Heavenly Father who knows me perfectly. The timing of life is strange and I would really like to control. I would love for John Krasinski to walk into my life tomorrow (not really because I think his family is quite cute and happy), but I know that different kinds of love come when we need them in our lives.

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