Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Homeward Bound!

We are officially moving back to our homeland next week! 
It's a very strange feeling. 
Sometimes it seems as though we've been in the 'bean for sooo long,
but when I look back I can’t believe it’s been two years…
But I tend to feel that way about life all the time- it goes by too fast.
Living here has been such a roller coaster.
We’ve had highs and we’ve had lows.
We’ve had so many experiences that have permanently changed our

The initial move here was very difficult…
We were so far from everything we knew,
and starting the huge task of medical school on top of that was quite the 
I quickly realized how little I would see Michael...
An hour or two a day, and on the one day a week he'd take off from studying,
which we deemed ‘Sunday Funday’.
It was difficult for me not to be bored, lonely, and honestly, straight up sad.
But as tough as things here were at times,
they taught me so much and I'm so grateful for the time we spent here.

I’ve learned to treasure the moments I have with Michael and my family.
Not seeing them as often as I want, makes each moment I have with them so important.
I've learned to be present; to not be distracted by a phone, social media, 
or excessive picture taking.
I used to make sure I took pictures of everything on every occasion, 
so I wouldn't forget anything.
It's nice to have a picture or two to remember a moment, but I've found moments mean more to me when I've been present and completely soaked them in.
I haven't had a cellphone out here and although it was inconvenient at times,
it has been really nice to not be distracted by one.
When I'm with people, I'm with them. 
I'm not thinking about checking something on my phone that doesn’t matter much.
Honestly, technology is amazing
and I wouldn’t have made it out here without it,
but I’ve found myself happier and more present when I’m not on it everyday.
Having so much time to myself has really made me value the 
time I have with my loved ones.
I want to be present,
and in the words of Jack Dawson,
“Make each day count.”

I’ve learned that when we do our part, God takes care of the rest.
It may not seem like we have a lot.
We’ve got loads of debt, and will have it for many, many years.
I was unable to get a job here, so money has been very tight.
But we’ve always had enough.
I was able to sell food to the students, and even nannied for a little bit,
bringing in money that way.
Even when we’ve been able to get a little ahead and have a bit of savings,
something unexpected would happen or pop up, 
and down the savings would go.
But we’ve always had enough.
God has put people in our path to help us through our time here;
real true friends.
There was a stretch of time when there weren't many
other spouses here.
We had been here for about 10 months and I had gone out of my comfort zone
and tried to be friends with all of the spouses that were here.
I got to know a lot of great people, and they all left the island around the same time.
It was probably the hardest few months for me.
People say humans can't live without oxygen, water, food, and shelter..
I think a friend should be on that list as well.
But when I needed a friend most,
God sent me one.
The past year would have been so tough without her.
I came to appreciate real friendship.
I can get along with almost anyone,
but having a real friend in someone, is something I really cherish.
Moriah, you da best & saved me out here.

Being from the USA, I always heard how it’s the greatest country in the world.
And I knew why people would say that- it's a free country.
I never fully understood what that meant, until I lived in a different country.
The US has its problems,
but even with the conflict and differing opinions,
it is an incredible place it live.
‘Free’ is a loaded word.
Not only are we free to choose what we want to do, and be,
but we are allowed opportunities to do just that.
We are also free from corrupt government.
The US was established with the goal to make it impossible for the government to be corrupted,
to have unnecessary control, and to allow the people to flourish.
The people control the government, not the other way around.
It was one thing, 2 years ago, to know that corruption happened throughout the world,
but to see it for myself, to get to know the people who are affected by it,
it’s changed my perspective forever.
I love the USA.
I’m so grateful I was born there.
I’ve found myself feeling guilty for it.
Why of the billions of people on the planet, have I been given so much opportunity…
It's overwhelming.
I may never know why, but i want to be sure I honor it
by building a life for myself that will allow me to reach out and help improve the lives of others.

I'm a stress mess.
It seems I'm always stressed, nervous or anxious about something.
Even when everything is going smoothly,
my brain likes to pre-stress about things years down the road…
It's been a struggle to train myself not to do that.
But I’ve been able to get a decent grip on it (for the most part) being here.
I remember in January when Michael started his next term in school,
I was worrying so much, wanting him to pass his classes.
I worried so much I was making myself sick.
Not healthy, I know.
And there was no real reason to worry so much,
he was doing fine in his classes.
I just worried about all the silly ‘what ifs’ my brain has a knack for finding.
I stressed until he got his grades back in April and guess what?
He passed everything.
When his term started in May,
I made it a goal to not stress about it,
because I was sure Michael passing the term before had very little to do with my stressing about it.
So every morning I’d wake up committing myself not to worry about it,
to put my trust in God that whatever needed to happen would,
and we would be okay.
That term was much easier on me.
I was more relaxed and positive,
more joyful and grateful.
When he got his grades back in August, guess what?
He passed.
Worrying and not worrying let to the same result,
as it had no effect on the outcome of his grades.
It was a great experience for me.
I was able to put faith before fear and see how important it is to do so.
When fear rules my life, it’s exhausting.
When I allow faith to flourish, everything is better.

One thing I’ve been so touched by the past two years is people’s generosity and kindness.
So many people have helped us through, it’s overwhelming.
Our parents, family members, and friends old and new.
I’ve learned how important it is to look outside ourselves.
So many people saw our situation and put so much thought into helping us.
Not only did their kindness and generosity help us financially and emotionally,
but it was inspiring and a good reminder to always look outside ourselves
for those we can help out.

So many Vincentians have been so good to us the past two years.
I can recall a couple times I’ve been out by myself, using public transportation.
The public transportation here is 16 passenger vans, that drive down the main highway.
It’s a bit tricky to figure out at first, because vans drive different routes.
The vans aren’t marked, so the only way to know where they’re headed is to ask,
but often they’re in such hurries, it’s hard to communicate.
It’s a bit stressful, being out by myself.
I stick out way more than a sore thumb with my white skin and blonde hair.
But for that reason, Vincentians take care of me when I’m out alone.
One time I was out visiting a friend from church on a holiday
(vans are harder to catch on holidays).
I was headed home and caught a van with ease
and was so relieved!
We drove for a few minutes and the driver saw a large group of people waiting for a van to take them the opposite way we were headed.
So he stopped and had us get out so he could make more money by picking up the group
and went back they way we had just came from.
He stopped right in front of a festival where so many people were gathered for the holiday.
It was loud and crowded, and not many vans were driving past.
It was going to be dark soon and I was getting a bit nervous.
A van finally pulled over, and it was extremely full. 
The conductor asked where I was going.
His route was on the way to my apartment, and continued about an hour past it.
He could have made more money by picking up someone headed farther than I was,
but he told me to get in, and basically pulled me into the van.
There really wasn’t a place to sit, but he somehow managed to squish me in,
and I have never been more squished and grateful in my life.
There have been multiple times while we’ve been out and Vincentians stopped
to ask if we needed help with directions,
and we absolutely did.
One time we were in town and coming back from a funeral.
It was dark as we walked to the main bus stop.
A young man asked us if we were catching a van and where we were headed.
We told him and he walked with us, and stayed with us 
and made sure we got on the right van home.
I am so thankful for those people who saw us and thought we could use some help,
and jumped right in. 
It’s taught be to be aware of those around me, 
and keep my eyes open to those who need help in whatever
circumstance it may be.

I've always known since the day I met him,
that Michael and I were meant to be together.
Living far away from what we know has only solidified it even more.
I remember when Michael and I were in the Salt Lake City airport, two years ago,
waiting for our flight to board to start this journey…
I had been crying on and off all day.
I cried as we packed, and as my parents drove us the 30 minutes to the airport.
I was attempting to pull myself together as we waited for our flight to board.
Michael went to the ''bathroom''
and came back with the most thoughtful gift;
 a Utah magnet, with beehives and snowflakes on it.
It was the sweetest thing of my life.
We collect magnets.
It's something my family always did with vacations and trips.
Whenever we'd visit a new place, we'd get a magnet.
It's something I have continued to do with Michael.
We had magnets from Zion, Arches, Bryce, and now Utah as a whole.
It was such a thoughtful gesture,
that even though we were leaving my favorite place,
we'd always keep it with us.
I'm so thankful for him, and how thoughtful he's been in taking care of me since we've met,
and especially the two years we've spent here.
He's a dream.

Ultimately, I’ve learned to be grateful;
to always be grateful.
No matter how hard things can get,
there is always something to be grateful for.
A warm shower, a true friend, a full stomach.
It's so easy to take things for granted, especially in the United States,
where we're used to having so much and don't know differently.
I'm grateful for the experience I’ve had here.
It has opened my eyes to so much.
I'm so grateful for all of you who have helped us through our time here.
We have such incredible family and friends
and are so fortunate to have the love and support of so many.
I am thrilled to be going back to my homeland, 
but I will always be thankful for what we got to experience here
and what we've learned.
We'll take it with us into the next chapter.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Three Years.

Michael and I have hit our third year of marriage.
It sounds so weird to say we've been married for three years.
Yet, it feels like we've never been without each other.

I've thought a lot about what I wanted write about the past three years,
or if I wanted to write at all.
I can't tell if I'm over blogging or not.
I've started and finished a few different entries, 
but can't quite get what I'm wanting out of them.
So, I guess I'll give it one more go...

I remember watching Oprah (I miss her) as a youth,
and she was discussing how women, at the time, tended to get married 
without really knowing who they were or what they wanted.
They'd get married thinking it would give them a sense of feeling complete.
She talked about how a woman should feel complete on her own, and not base her identity on her relationship.
And I couldn't agree more.
I remember that concept stuck with me for quite a while,
as it took me years to understand and live it.

Before I met Michael, I felt solid.
I didn't want to rely on a relationship to give me an identity.
I had made that mistake enough, and wanted to be my own woman,
before I became a wife.
I felt whole on my own, but I knew I was meant for more.

Once Michael and I met, I felt whole in a new way.
Michael and I both knew ourselves before we met.
It gave us a base for what we wanted in a marriage.
The two of us together, are able to build from that, creating a life we love.

In the past three years,
Michael has helped me become even more of who I want to be.
He's helped me gain more courage.
He's helped me become braver than I've ever been.
He's helped me try new things and get out of my comfort zone,
even when I beg him to just let me stay in it.
He's helped me be more confident in myself and my abilities.
He helps me cope with my anxiety, and doesn't allow it to limit what I do.
He helps me experience life so fully.

Every day I feel so fortunate to have someone who always
encourages me to do what makes me feel strong and fulfilled;
someone who helps me live a life of fun and adventure.
I'm fortunate to have someone who wants the same things out of life,
and is an incredible teammate in making those things a reality.

Before I met Michael, I thought I was complete on my own,
just like Oprah taught.
And for that time in my life, I was.
But I never knew how much more was in store for me, for us,
and how it would give me more completeness than I'd ever thought possible.

The thing is, we're never really 'complete'.
We're always growing, and changing.
There is always goodness ahead, and new people to take up the space in our hearts.
I've learned God sends people into our lives who will help us grow and teach us love.

The past three years have been extraordinary.
I love being married.
I love my marriage.
I love Michael.
I feel full. I feel whole.
I feel more complete than I ever have.

Hopefully, in the future, we'll be able to add a few babes to Team Dunn.
They'll give us an even bigger sense of fullness,
as each change together does.

I'm so thankful to be married to Michael, who gives my life so much wholeness,
 and makes me feel things just couldn't get any better.
Yet, they seem to do just that.

Cheers to three years and a life of fullness and joy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I recently visited my homeland Utah, USA. 
I spent two weeks with my family.
We hiked, we played, we ate.
It was jam packed full of fun with my favorite people.
Finally spending time with them after being away for six months
gave me all sorts feels and thoughts, realizations and lessons. 
It was rejuvenating and inspiring.

& those two things were what I needed. 
I haven't been able to write in such a long time. 
I mean, I can write, but usually when I write, the words come easily and smoothly. 
Lately, I've felt so uninspired. 
It's like someone juiced me, not leaving a single drop of creativity behind.
I've not only been lacking creativity, but desire to write as well.
I used to have so much inside me I wanted to say, but lately I've had nothing.
Maybe I wrote when I needed it, and now I have a lot more figured out,
And I just don't need it to be me anymore…

During my visit, I got to hang out with my favorite six-year-old. 
We've been close since his second day on earth.
He's one of my very best friends.
He had grown so much since the last time I had seen him, in every way.
And it broke my heart a bit, that I hadn't been there to see it, like I was his first 5 years of life.
It got me thinking about when I met him, when he first started saying 'clock' and would point to every clock he saw, the Sunday evenings he'd dance around the room after dinner, our trips to the aquarium.
And it got me thinking about why i love that kid so much.

So story time, guys...

Once I was a sad little teenager, a week shy of twenty.
I seemed to have next to nothing figured out.
I was more lost than I was anything else.
I had just finished the ASL interpreting program at the community college.
But truth was, I didn’t want it to end.
I had known for quite some time that I didn’t want to pursue it as a career,
but I was too embarrassed to quit, as I had no other career or schooling I wanted to pursue.
So, now would be the time I’d quit; the time people would be expecting me to really start…
Spiritually, I didn’t know what I believed and I wasn’t sure I really cared to figure it out.
I had always believed in God, but I didn’t understand what that meant;
that God is real and He created me.
I loathed my body and treated it terribly.
My morning routine wasn’t complete unless I had looked at myself in my full-length mirror and made a mental list of all the flaws I could see.
Rarely was the list short.
I had very few friends; acquaintances yes, but real true friends? not really.
But that was my doing.
I found my identity in my boyfriend at the time.
And basically, it wasn’t healthy.
We had dated for over a year, but the whole time I knew in my core that it wasn’t right.
Yet I didn’t care, because I had a boyfriend. 
I wasn’t alone.
Alone is a scary place to be when you don’t have a clue of who you are.
I guess he was my distraction;
my distraction from growing up, from making big decisions, from accepting that I was becoming someone I didn’t want to be.

At the time, my sweet sister was 9 months pregnant with her first baby, who would make me an aunt. 
She had called me as soon as she found out she was pregnant, and we danced squealed as we talked all about the angel to come. 
At 9 months, the baby hadn't come on its own, so she was set to be induced. 
My parents and I went to the hospital, hoping the labor would be short, and all would be healthy. 
We visited with her and her husband until it was time for her to push. 
Hours later, we saw loads of staff members running in and out of their room, so we inched closer towards the door, hoping to hear some sweet newborn baby cries. 
Finally, the door opened and two nurses walked out, wheeling a little babe in a cart next to them. 
My parents and I looked at each other... They didn't seem panicked... But why are they wheeling it away suddenly... Is everything okay... They weren't really rushing… Could you tell if it was a boy or girl? 
My sister's husband finally opened the door for us, and told us as my mom hugged him, "It's a boy". We entered the room, and saw my warrior of a sister.
 As I looked at her, exhausted and strong, tears filled my eyes. 
She did it. 
There was no denying that the feeling in that room, was love.

That sweet new little boy had a bit of lung trouble during his grand entrance and was kept an eye on in the Newborn ICU. 
I went the following day to f.i.n.a.l.l.y meet him. 
I remember washing my hands and arms, after entering the NICU, so excited my heart was going to burst. 
I walked down the hall until I got to his room, and there he was; Owen.
He was sleeping in his little bed, with little monitors on his sweet little cheeks. 
I just stared at his perfection, his unharmed heart, his dependent little soul. 
And I felt it; love. 
I loved that little boy. I loved that he was my nephew. I loved that I was his aunt. 
I loved that I would get to watch and help him grow. I loved that he was. 
I loved him just for existing. And nothing would ever change that.
In that moment I realized, if I had to define love, it was him. 
Swaddled up in a warm blanket; he was love.

I lived with my parents at the time, and my sister with her newly expanded family, lived just a few minutes from them. 
I made sure to visit every chance I could. 
I remember watching Owen for the first time as my sister rested. 
I held little O until my arm went numb, and even then I couldn’t put him down. 
I loved just staring at his dark head of hair, or feeling his tiny body expand as he inhaled. 
I was in awe of his every movement; his eyes looking about the room, his arms stretching above his head, or his little mouth opening wide for a yawn.

After understanding what I felt for Owen was love, I quickly realized 
what my boyfriend and I had wasn’t. 
Most importantly, what I felt for myself, definitely wasn’t love either. 
So I made some serious changes. 
I broke up with my boyfriend, for good. 
And I started a long process of learning to love myself.

It took about three and a half years of serious trying to figure out what it meant to love myself, until one day everything finally clicked.
 A lot of that process was documented on this little blog of mine, so I won’t go into too much detail...
But I learned to forgive; others, and myself- which is the hardest kind. 
I learned to let go of things that I had done, that I wished I hadn’t. 
I learned my body is an incredible gift. I learned to never talk crap on it, and treat with respect.
I learned to be brave and leave my comfort zone.
I learned that it’s okay to not like school, but to always be learning.
I learned that the way people talk about others is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.
 I learned what a true friend was, and how to be one myself. 
I learned that the only opinions of me that truly matter, are that of my own and God’s. Which brings me to my next point; I learned that God is real. 
I learned that He created everything and everything is valuable to Him, including me.

Throughout that process, I had plenty of setbacks; I’d care too much about what people thought of me. 
I’d stay in my comfort zone when I should have left it. 
I’d date the wrong type of guys, knowing full well they didn’t bring out the best in me.
I’d talk negatively about myself, to myself. 
I wouldn’t let God in.
And the list goes on...
But whenever I stumbled, there was always that little boy Owen to remind me what I was striving for.
I saw him often, almost every day.
 I’d be in awe of his accomplishments; rolling a ball, standing for a few seconds, or clapping his hands.
He learned to say "clock", "ball", and "hoop" while I learned how to use the word "no". 
He learned to walk, while I learned to stand up for myself. 
He learned how to eat solid food, while I learned how to eat the best kinds of foods for my body.
He was a constant reminder of what life was all about; love. 
I saw how many people truly loved him, and rooted for him. I realized that many people love me, and root for me too. 
I realized the way my sister cared for him, is the way my mom cared for me. 
I realized I mattered too, simply because I was born. 
And I should live knowing that I matter; with purpose and intent.

As time went on, he grew and so did I.
When he was about 3 and a half years old, I felt like I had made it; I had finally arrived in myself.
 I knew who I was and what I wanted.
Most importantly, I loved myself.
I felt solid & free.
Shortly after this, I met Michael. 
Soon enough, we were making wedding plans…
I loved him and he loved me. And I knew exactly what that meant.
Marriage marked an end of an era for me, 
but it meant the start of something extraordinary.
It was all wonderful & exciting, but bittersweet as well.
Marriage meant moving an hour away from the sweetest little being.
It meant going from seeing him nearly every day,
to a few times a month.
But it was fitting, in a way…
Owen was born with purpose, as we all are, 
and I believe one reason was to teach me, and help me become who I was meant to be.
As soon as I became that person, it was time for me to move to the next stage of life;
the next process of growth and progress. 
Moving from him was one of the hardest things I've done,
And it's still hard, but how can I complain...
I got to spend 4 years with that kid, how fortunate am I.

I was Skyping Owen when I told him I was coming back to Utah for a visit. 
He instantly started screaming and it seemed his body was frozen and dancing all at once. 
That’s about how I felt about knowing I was going to get to see him, too.
When I arrived at the airport, I walked out of the terminal to find a blonde haired boy, all dressed up, holding flowers and a Kit Kat bar for his aunt, up way past his bedtime.
After not seeing him for six months, I couldn’t get to him fast enough.
He had made a ‘trail’ in my parents house, marked with his handmade cards for me,
leading to my bedroom, where I found glow sticks taped to the walls that spelled out “Welcome to the USA”.
It was the cutest thing.

As my time in Utah went on, I was so impressed by him. 
We went on a five mile hike, climbing over rocks and boulders, and he did it, 
without complaining one time.
 He was such a champ. 
I was impressed with how protective he is of his little brother. 
Nobody will mess with him under Owen’s watch. 
He’s so smart and so inquisitive. 
He told me about different kind of sharks and what they look like and if they’d attack me while I was at the beach. 
He told me a certain kind of shark (whose name I can’t remember) comes very close to shore, 
so I need to be careful at my island.

Since i’ve left Utah, he started first grade. My sister posted a picture of him on his first day, with his big tooth-missing grin. 
I felt so proud of him, staring at that picture.
I realized no matter where we are in the world, no matter how old we get, no matter how things change, we’ll always love each other.
We’ll always be best friends.
And when we do get to see each other, it makes every moment that much sweeter. 
I’m so grateful he’s my nephew. 
I’m so grateful I got to learn from that boy nearly every day for the first four years of his life.
He taught me who I needed to be.
He unknowingly is a reminder of where I've been, and keeps me focused on what matters;
He’s done more for me than he’ll probably ever know.
What a gift I have been given, to even know him.

Love you, O.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Priority of Marriage.

I was watching a clip of the Oprah show.
& the topic of discussion was why men cheat.
Obviously the topic of sex came up.
Married women in the audience said that sex with their husband is just 
another thing on their to do list,
and they just didn't have time for it, with everything else they "needed to do". 
My jaw dropped when I heard it.
It was saddening to me that their marriage wasn't first on their to do list.
I know children change the dynamic of marriage, 
and clearly keeping kids safe & well are a priority over anything,
but shouldn't marriage be right there with it?

Before we came to medical school,
Michael and I were your typical busy, newly wed couple;
I worked full time, 9-5.
He worked part time, night shifts, and went to school full time.
We had church responsibilities, and family events & friends to keep up with. 
We had work parties to attend, the gym to go to, not to mention grocery shopping, doctor's appointments, car maintenance, and the list goes on.
Let me tell you, I lived for the time we had together, just the two of us, doing whatever we wanted; 
hiking, going to dinner, walking in the evening around our neighborhood, watching a movie and popping popcorn, or just being home together, enjoying the fact that we weren't anywhere else, but together.
I know when we have children, our life will be different, 
but isn't that the point?
Isn't that why we got married?
To have babies & build a life together?
The reason all the 'busy' happens, is because we are together,
because we want to be.
As our life together grows, so do the responsibilities.

When we do have a few babes in the future, 
if shopping at Costco is the only date night we can get, then we'll stock up on diapers 
and goldfish crackers, then stop for pizza and ice cream on our way out.
& we'll go home, put the kids to bed, 
and make the most of our hour or two alone; 
whether that's folding laundry together, watching funny YouTube videos, helping each other with projects, or doing whatever our marriage needs.

One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is:
"If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. 
Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and 
start grinning 'Good morning' at total strangers".

I think that applies to so much more than just smiles; 
it's all about the effort & who we are giving our best to.

Why do we put more effort into being friendly to strangers, or even friends, 
than we do to those we promised to love forever?
For one, I think we let things get monotonous.
Perhaps we get into a routine, and life gets a bit dull.
I've learned to never underestimate the power of being spontaneous. 
If you're going on a date night, to the same old restaurant, stop.
Start driving the opposite direction, see where you end up.
Try something new. Look up events in the area.
Life requires spice. So does marriage.

Two, we get used to having our loved one around.
We know they aren't going anywhere and subconsciously forget that 
of all the people in the world, they deserve our best.
We must be present.
We need to recognize how we treat our spouse.
Have they become routine to us, or do we get excited when they walk through the door?
Do we kiss them hello and goodbye?
Do we tell them why we are grateful for them, or do their efforts go unnoticed to us?

And third, I think we forget that we have the power to say no.
When a couple is married, marriage should be the priority; 
not work that doesn't need to be done, or errands that don't need to be run.
We tend to get mixed up on what things actually NEED to happen.
We need to learn to say no;
it's something that we should do, even to good things.
We can say no to another PTA meeting.
We can say no to taking an extra shift at work for a co-worker.
We can say no to dinner with friends.
We can say no to whatever is taking more time away from our marriage than necessary.
We can say no, in order to give our energy to those we love at home.

When you wake up every morning, before you think of your to do list, 
think about why you have the list.
Think about the life you and your spouse envisioned having together.
Think about the marriage you envisioned.
If you don't have it, cross a couple things off the list to make time for building the marriage
and life you want, together as a team.

Marriage is the greatest thing I've been fortunate enough to experience.
& the neat thing is, I get to experience it every day, for forever.
I know it's only so great because we make it a priority, together.
We choose that every single day.

I believe in marriage.
I believe in order for it to thrive, it must be a priority.

Happy Thursday, friends.


Monday, February 29, 2016


I think a lot about the kind of mother and parent I'll be.
I think about singing and rocking my babes to sleep.
I think about how much harder cooking dinner will be
with toddlers playing at my feet.
I worry about how I'll function on lack of sleep.
I think about how everything I do,
and everything I am
will impact who they become.

I have roughly 530 days left of living on this island in the middle of the sea.
I previously wrote about having this overwhelming feeling of needing to accomplish
something great while I was here,
otherwise it'd seem like a waste of time.
I realized, this is the perfect time for me practice
and become just who I want to be,
not only for myself, but for Michael and our future babes.
A few improvements came to mind instantly...

The first, my body.
I love my body.
I struggled to love it for so long, 
but it's hard to even remember those days,
because of how much love I feel for it now.
That being said,
I want to improve it.
Over two years ago I got a personal trainer.
I was working out almost every day.
My body was becoming strong and it really was
such a cool thing.
And then I had my cancer scare.
And surgery on my leg.
And then I got engaged.
And married.
And moved.
And got a full-time job that drained me...
And then I moved to an island, and the list goes on...
My body hasn't made it back to where it was.
It's been a struggle to find motivation to get back to the gym.
I think because I know the hard work that is required for a strong body,
and it's daunting and exhausting just to think about.
But! I want it more than I want to be lazy.
I follow this new mom on Instagram.
& let me tell you, she is a beast.
And it's so inspiring.
I don't even know her, so I feel kind of weird following her,
but she makes me want to get to the gym,
so I follow- no creepin'.
She was super fit. 
And not the kind that seems unattainable;
the kind that you look at and think,
I can get there. It'll take a lot of work, but I can get there too.
Then she got pregnant, and worked out her entire pregnancy.
After she gave birth, she looked incredible,
as all moms do, because what's cooler than giving life?
I couldn't stop thinking about how much easier 
her pregnancy, delivery, and recovery must have been,
because she was physically strong before she got pregnant.
I want to give myself every advantage I can when it comes to having a child.
I have the time to improve and strengthen my body now,
and make those habits the norm for the rest of my life.
It's the perfect time to do it.
I not only want the strength, but I know how much exercising will improve
all aspects of my life- it's the secret to a lot of things.
And, I want to show my future kids how amazing- and I mean amazing-
our bodies are and how we need to take care of them.
So I'm in the process of making myself a workout plan.
I asked Michael to, but he said workout plans are better made by the person who wants it...
he's probably right, and he's helping me stop with the laziness, ha.
The plan is still being perfected, but workouts started today- no excuses.
I'm really excited and relieved in a way, 
to get my strong body back once, and for all.
Don't wish me luck, wish me self-motivation, ha.

Another improvement I want to make is on useless screen time..
Sometimes I find myself on my tablet,
then Michael says he's done studying because we need to get to sleep.
And I realize I've been doing absolutely nothing for hours...
And I realize I literally came away from that time with nothing;
I didn't learn anything.
I didn't improve any skill.
I didn't reach out to anyone.
I did nothing.
I don't want to be that person.
I don't want to pull up social media sites when it seems 'there's nothing to do'.
I don't want to be in a waiting room and tell my kids to watch the
provided television, while I scroll Instagram.
I want to be present & conscious.
I want to teach my kids to be the same.
I want to open the Instagram app because I'm choosing to, 
to see my friends & family,
not because it's a mindless habit.

I also don't want to be so focused on documenting everything,
that I don't quite absorb all the goodness of it.
I don't want to feel like everything needs to be remembered in photos
or that everything needs to be shared.

I used to feel the need to photograph every outing.
My anxiety made me feel that if I didn't take a picture of every event,
and share it, then it didn't happen.
I made sure to take loads of pictures in order to remind myself later
that I, in fact, had lived.
Now, I've learned how to manage my anxiety better.
I don't have to take my camera on every walk I go on.
I don't have to make sure Michael and I pose for a picture at every event.
And I don't need to document to make sure people see that I am 'living',
to get validation from them.
I'm sure when I do have babes,
I'll want to take pictures of everything.
I'll want to remember every single thing about them,
as they grow so fast.
That's okay and a normal reaction to loving such a being,
but I don't want it to overtake moments with them.
Some moments can be kept just between us and our memories.

I've been trying to look outside myself more.
I want to be the person others know they can count on.
Sometimes my need for organization and 'sticking to the plan' 
makes me think twice before helping when people ask for it.
I don't want to think twice.
I don't want to resist reaching out because it's out of my comfort zone 
or because I was planning on doing something else that could definitely be 
done another time.
I've been looking outside myself more the past couple months, 
and I've noticed changes within me that I couldn't have had otherwise.
I want to keep that up, 
until it's a permanent part of my soul.
I've got some plans for how to do that while I'm here, 
and it excites and scares me all at once.

I was listening to a TED talk recently.
The speaker said he went to his 20 year college reunion.
He had attended a very prestigious school.
At the reunion, he spoke with his former classmates 
and came to find that most of them were unhappy- like 75%.
They were all financially very successful.
They all had nice careers.
He dug to find the cause of unhappiness.
He came to find that the 25% of former classmates who considered themselves 
content had done one thing the other 75% didn't.
They had looked outside themselves.
They had served and done things for other people, 
with intent.
The 75% had not.

I want my future babes to understand the importance of looking outwards.
I want them to see me do that every day, without hesitation.
I want them to know that life is not about money and things, 
but of love.

So here comes much needed change and improvement, 
for myself,
my Michael
and our future little Dunns.

I'm gonna make a change...
(Read in Michael Jackson's voice)
I just love him.
Okay I'm done.

Friday, January 22, 2016


I went home for Christmas.
I never knew that feeling of knowing what it's like to go home for Christmas, until a month ago.
Flying into Salt Lake was one of the best feelings I've had.
It was the kind of feeling where my heart couldn't sleep for days before- it just had to get home.
Seeing all the city lights from the airplane window, and knowing my mountains were close by,
calmed and excited my heart all at once.

On the surface, I wanted to be home for obvious reasons 
a) I hadn't seen my family in 5 months, which is a very big record for myself 
b) There's no place like home for the holidays. I know now, that song wasn't written because it sounds fun & cozy, it is actually true. 
However, I think my soul was aware of other reasons I needed to be home at that time; reasons my mind didn't grasp until I returned to the 'bean.

1) I needed closure... let me explain. 
My family is close. Literally. 
We all [used to] live within a half hour drive of each other. My sister even lives down the street from my parents with her fam.
 My parents own a pizza store where all of us worked through high school, out of high school, and some still. 
We are close.

Moving to the 'bean has been the most drastic change of my life. I had a really hard time last term. I especially had a hard time being away from my family. I've watched my nephew Owen grow since his second day on earth. I saw him close to every day from his birth until I got married. It was wonderful, fun & life-changing. When we got here, I couldn't help but think that I won't have that
with little Liam. & my heart broke a little bit, because I love that kid.

I guess I felt a sense of guilt, like I shouldn't leave my family like I did; I should be there to help my parents at their store if they need it. I should be there to help my sister with her babes if she needs it. I've had close relationships with all of my siblings. I wanted to keep that, even being 3,500 miles apart. Last term, I felt that it was fading a bit. I missed hanging out with Dal, and talking with Brys and being with my sisters.

I know, it's super normal to move away from family, 
but it's not exactly normal to my family.
It's been a new experience for all of us.

Going back home for a few weeks, I realized my relationships with my sibs aren't fading; we aren't able to talk as much as we used to, but when we're together, it's just like its always been. I also saw that everyone was alright. Life has its bumps, but overall, my family was doing okay. I needed to see that. 

I needed to see all of us, in the same room together, enjoying ourselves. I needed that love. I needed to have a moment to breathe in the fact that we are grown; & that's normal and wonderful.

 I needed closure in the sense that a) my family doing just fine, and b) that my stage of adolescence is over; I'm an adult now. I've legally been an adult for nearly 8 years, but I haven't completely felt it until recently; I think part of me wanted to and part of me didn't- paying bills, and doing taxes, and having debt is no fun, but being married to Michael totally is.
Growing up, I felt like when I was an adult there would be a big change and I would know everything I needed to, because that's what adults looked like to me. 
Come to find out it's nothing like that.
Adults wing it, and learn as they go.
It hit me that I'm almost 26, and I should see myself as a capable adult.
I relied on my parents a lot, until I met Michael.
Once we were married I relied on him.
There's nothing wrong with that, but I never took a minute to look at myself 
and see what I could do, on my own.
There's a large part of that which has to do with my anxiety; 
feeling incapable of doing new things.
 My trip home made me realize I am in control of my own life. 
I can deal with what life throws at my adult-self and be okay.
 My parents and family will always be there to help no matter what. 
Heaven knows Michael and I would have had a much harder time getting here without them.

2) I needed a break from the 'bean. I needed rejuvenation. 
I needed to see the world how my eyes had seen it for 25 years. 
Like I said, I had a tough time last term. We didn't know what to expect, coming here, which made preparing for it rather difficult. I had a hard time filling my time. It got to the point where I didn't really care if it was filled. I felt like a mess, and numb all at the same time. All I thought about and wanted was home. Once we got there, I felt alive. I was in my element. I saw things were continuing without me; life was progressing at home, and I realized I needed to progress too. I brought back things that would help me do just that; including, most importantly, a change of perspective.
 I felt like I could do it this time, I could come back to the 'bean, and really live. After a couple days of being back from our trip, Michael said, "Doesn't it feel more at home here this term?" I totally agreed with him. There's a different energy about us this time. There's a different feeling in our apartment & it's true- we are home here. And in a year and a half we'll be home in DC or Baltimore, and two years after that we'll be home wherever Michael gets residency, and after that we'll be home wherever we decide to stay for good. 
That's the life we chose, and that's okay. 

A few other things have been reiterated to me since I've been back:
A) God's got me. I have never felt him as much as I have, living here in the 'bean. John 14:27 has been floating around my mind the past few weeks. "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". I have a few specific fears living out here that tend to pop in my head at random, and when they do, this verse is quick to follow. 
I know we'll be just fine out here in the 'bean. 
We'll be just fine. 

B) I married the right man. I can't really put into words at the moment why this is- or I could, it just may require hours of writing it out- it's just known in every part of my being.

C) I need to be a mother. I've mentioned before, but lately I've had this yearning to be one, like I've never had before. Perhaps it has to do with my fully embracing the adult life. 
Whatever the reason, I just really want to be a mom. 
But the time isn't right for that yet. 
We were originally planning on having a babe as soon as we got to medical school... until Michael got accepted here. We quickly realized we couldn't have a baby on this little island. And I was bitter for a while; if he had got into any other school located in the US, we could be expecting now. 
But maybe that's one reason we're here; maybe we aren't meant to have a little Dunn yet.
 Maybe Michael needs my full attention while he gets through the first 2 years of med school. Or maybe I need to learn patience. 
Or maybe that's just the way it is, 
and that's okay too.

To put it simply:
My family is okay without me there.
Life goes on no matter where I am, so I must go on in every way, too.
I'm okay to live and grow up; it's the circle of life.

Sometimes life tries to stretch us in ways we think we aren't ready for,
but then takes us back to places to help us see, that in fact, we are.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Where I've Been

I spend a lot of time at our apartment's pool.
Some days I'll swim laps,
& some days I'll go out to relax, meditate, and reflect.
Today was spent doing the latter.

The pool is in the back of the complex,
far off the main road.
The pool borders the complex;
one side is close to units,
the other is close to, what I like to call, the jungle.
The jungle is full of tall trees, leaf covered vines, 
and big leafed plants.
Sometimes I just sit and watch branches move with the wind.
Often, lizards climb from the jungle,
onto the tiled floor,
changing from a dark forest green,
to that classic lizard green color.
Birds will fly overhead,
as clouds move above them at, what always seems to be, a rapid rate.
The sun is always hot on my skin,
perfectly contrasted by the cool water.

Today my thoughts traveled a long way back...
I arrived at the pool, 
greeted by an assortment of butterflies.
They flew around as I swam.
I'd never seen them there before.
They took me back to those years I loved
butterflies; they were my thing.
Every Christmas and birthday my gifts included
butterfly shirts, butterfly hair clips, 
butterfly picture frames, butterfly bookmarks,
and anything else butterfly related, a fourth grader would want.

All those memories brought in a flood of goodness
from my twenty five years...

I remember Ashlee waking me up at 5 AM
to braid her hair for high school. 
I can't remember why she left that early...
maybe she had track practice?
But I remember her cracking the door to my dark room,
and saying, "Rin... Rin, could you braid my hair?"
Some mornings she'd sit on the side of my bed
while I braided, so I didn't have to get up.
I remember drowsily making one long braid down
the middle of her back,
then curling up, and looking forward to two more
hours of sleep.

I remember Dallan chasing me and Hollie
around with a rotten potato he randomly found in the storage room.
The potato was growing... whatever those stick-like things
are called. 
Hollie and I didn't know it was a rotten potato,
as he chased us all around the house.
I remember actually being terrified of that thing,
as I booked it up the stairs.
Good times.

I remember sharing a room with Hollie.
Our opinions conflicted when it came to what was
a comfortable living condition.
She likes organized chaos,
I like clear surfaces and everything in its place.
When our room became just too cluttered for me to stand,
I'd end up taking all of her things that were out of place,
and putting them on her bed.
That would almost always start an argument between us.

I remember when Brys was little,
he was thee cutest, blondest boy.
I loved helping him get dressed when he was too little
to do it himself.
I'd look through his drawers and closest
to find the perfect outfit.
Most of the time he'd give a 'no' to what I picked.
& he'd end up choosing.
I remember his little laugh as I did silly things
he thought were hilarious.

I remember my Mom making me wear a swim cap
during my swim lessons.
Before the cap, my hair would turn a nice green from the chlorine.
I hated that thing.
I was the only kid in the pool with latex covering their head.
begged her to not make me wear it.
Yet, every swim lesson session,
the cream cap with the U.S. flag on the sides
made its way onto my blonde head.

I remember seeing A Walk to Remember with my dad.
He worked a lot and was bishop of our ward.
He didn't have much free time.
When he did, he'd rotate taking each of us kids out.
We saw the movie on one of our daddy daughter dates.
After the scene where Jamie tells Landon she has leukemia,
he leaned over to me and said, 'Did you know she had cancer?'
I think he was worried my twelve year old heart would
have a hard time with where the story was going.

More and more memories flooded my mind.
I think my mind knew I needed to go back to them.
I've felt a bit lost,
and unsure of who I am lately.
But I think my subconscious knew that I needed to go
back to where I've been,
and what brought me to where I am.

Living in a different,
poorer country has really opened my eyes
to how incredible my life has been.
I knew that I was fortunate to live in the United States.
I knew that people around the world struggle to find work,
food, safety, or healthcare.
But I didn't really understand it,
until I saw glimpses of it with my own eyes.

I think it's easy for people to look back at their lives
and pinpoint everything that they didn't have.
Living here,
it's easy to see only what I did.

I had a mother & father that worked at their marriage.
My father worked hard to keep food on the table,
a nice roof over our heads,
and enough fun as he could provide.
A Walk to Remember became mine and my sisters'
favorite movie.
We probably still have it memorized.

My mother took care of us kids.
She packed lunches all through elementary school
(like, legit 7 layer dip in our own little containers kind of lunch).
She did her best to help her 5 children,
all under the age of 11,
grow, learn, & love.
Even if it meant forcing a swim cap on their
grouchy little heads.

My older sister Ashlee broke her back her senior year.
She laid in a hospital bed in our basement for months.
I'd comb her hair as she laid there and said
"Rin, make me feel pretty."
I think at that age we probably didn't relate too much,
she was nearly out of teen years,
while I was just entering them.
But our long blonde hair bonded us during that time.
I always wanted my hair to look just right,
and understood she did too,
what teenage girl doesn't understand that.
Now, we have much more to bond us,
including her 2 sweet boys.
Hopefully, one day, her and my future babes will play together.

My older brother Dallan, the potato chaser,
was too obnoxious at times,
but he was what a big brother should be.
When it came down to it,
he always had my back.
That made up for the potato chasing.

My little sister Hollie still lives in organized chaos.
I still like things in their allotted space.
She knows where everything is in her apartment,
yet I might look at it and wonder how.
That's how she likes it.
That's how she is comfortable.
Like the mom in Yours Mine & Ours.
I've learned you can't make someone into something they aren't.
You love them for who they are.
Eventually we switched rooms,
and got a bigger one.
We literally put a piece of tape down the middle of it.
I could cross the tape to get to and from the closet,
and she could cross the tape to get in and out of the room.
Those were the rules.
And we quarreled much less after that.

My little brother Brys, dresses like a boss now.
He takes his style very seriously,
and likes to show me deals he finds at Nike.
He doesn't need me to help him with simple things anymore.
I think he helps me, more than I help him now.
I think I cried the hardest saying goodbye to him this summer.
There's something about that sweet blonde-haired boy
that just gets me.
He's the kindest guy you'll ever meet.
He makes me want to be the same.

Wherever I'm at in the world,
they'll always been there for me,
cheering & rooting.

Whenever I am,
I always have them to come back to.