Monday, June 23, 2014

What’s been going on in Spain…

Have I introduced you to my Spanish family? I sure love them! 

Marde, Padre, Silvia, Antonio, (me) Jesús

I have dedicated this first month of being in Spain to going to studying Spanish. I have been going to a Spanish school to begin to learn the grammar and basics of Spanish. I am enjoying it. It is a challenge, but my classes are good. My teachers are great! It is a really cute school in the heart of very heart of Granada! 

It takes me about 45 minutes to get to school from my house.  I take the bus into Granada and then I walk through the city center past some beautiful streets, and fountains and buildings to the small streets that are filled with bohemian and Arabic gift shops. The shops have lots of beautiful colorful fabric, pillows, clothing, wall hangings, leather bags, earrings, etc.

The first time I saw this area I was walking through the Carmen’s with Antonio. The Carmen’s what the white houses are called up in the hills of Granada. 

They are beautiful. The streets are paved with small stones and brick, a lot of areas in a mosaic style that is very common to Granada. there are also some really fantastic views! 

 As we walked down the narrow streets we turned and all of a sudden there were bursts of color.

The look, mood and energy of the street that we entered onto was quite the shift from the one that we had just come from. My eyes widened as I took in the sights of all the beautiful color and energy that was a blatantly different from where we had been – all changing in a single block.

School went really well last week. I switched classes- I like my new teachers and I feel like I  progressing in my learning at a better pace for me. Before I felt like I was barley scraping by in my understanding of what we were speeding though in class.

I am learning that it is not required that I run faster than I am able. And I have realized this past week that it is even ok to walk when needed.

This week it is the Corpus Christi festival in Granada. On Wednesday we went to a parade. My teachers hooked us up with a cool place to watch the parade from on a balcony above the street.

The parade was full of energy and it was short and sweet! (My kind of parade) There is a lot of history and tradition in this parade... Including:

A very large King and Queen of Spain and an Arabic King and Queen

People with large heads carrying balloons to hit the crowd with.

Bands playing, lots of confetti, (which would be my sister Andrea's favorite part...right An?) 
The crowning event of the parade is a woman on the back of a dragon...

Yeah... I don't get it either. And I asked my Spanish friends what the deal is with the woman on the dragon and all anyone knows about it is every year the woman's clothes changes and it is supposed to be an unveiling of what the fashion of the next year will be.

This year she looked kind of oriental. Huh.... I will have to turn to the all knowing source of Google and see what more the people of the world know about this tradition- cause I am curious.

ok: this is what I found on some random website about the procession:

La Tarasca
This curious tradition has French origins from back in the 16th century. The tarasque is a legendary dragon with the head of a lion. The story is similar to the Beauty and the Beast. The lady portrayed on these figures managed to tame the dragon and rides on its back. In Granada the Tarasca is a winged dragon with and a female figure on top. This figure is dressed each year by a different local clothes shop. 

Me and my classmates and teachers: 

Angela and Lucia (teachers) Sabine and Christoph (both from Germany) 

After the parade we walked around, got ice-cream and then sat on the from steps of a cathedral to finish up our conversation class. This was the view: 

Thursday as I walked to school I realized that Granada was very quite, and has a very different feel to it. There was a distinct shift in energy.

When I got to the Main Street they had blocked it off to traffic and set up folding chairs on either side of the street. They were spreading greenery on the street blanketing the blacktop.

(In the photo you may notice that during the summertime they put a sun cover above the streets to provide shade, its really nice to have because it gets hot!)

This was in perpetration for the religious procession that would take place in a couple of hours.

We had gone to the fun parade the day before... My teacher said that the religious procession was slow and boring so the school opted out of bringing the students. Religious processions are not included in the list of norms that we have in my Mormon upbringing. So I was interested in seeing it anyway. It's tradition here is Granada! I am here to experience the culture and customs of the Spanish and with Spain's religious influences being largely Catholic this is something that is embedded in the history and culture here.

(School schedule is a little different this week because of the festival - we don't have classes on Friday this week for the holiday, so to make up for Friday this week classes are a little bit longer:
Grammar class: 9:30-11:30
Break: 11:30-12:00
Conversation class: 12:00-1:45)

So after my grammar class I went out to see if I could catch part of the procession. I heard a band playing down the street so I ran toward the noise. A man saw me and called out, "you're late!" At least I am pretty sure that is what he said to me - "something something tarde"
He means late... I learned THAT in Junior High school! Ha!

I nodded and smiled and continued towards the music. I missed most of the procession but caught the tail end of the band and saw many people walking dressed in what I would call their "Sunday best" and there were a number of religious fancy looking poles and banners.

There were beautiful little girls dressed in white dresses. And many of the women were wearing heals. They walked along the greenery that was laid out along eh street earlier. It was nice to catch what I did.

The school I am attending has a lot of activities and excursions that are available to the students... I haven't been to any yet but decided to join in after classes. We hopped on a bus and went up to the fair grounds. It was really hot out! Our teacher lead us to a big tent where everyone ordered drinks and food. 

I enjoyed people watching and had some fun conversation with fellow schoolmates.

At the fair grounds many of the girls were wearing their fancy flamenco dresses and traditional clothing. There were a lot of people on horses, dresses up, even little ponies pulling small carriages. So Cute!

I thought that the horses and their rides must be in a competition at the fair... Antonio told me that night that there is no competition- people just dress up and ride their horses to go and show off and have fun.

I hope that we can go back this weekend later in the day when it is cooler and all the lights are on. (Sadly I didn't make it back... but I am glad I got to go for the short time I did and get a few photos)

Friday I was able to get laundry done, clean my room, and so some work... Progress on working was thwarted when my bestie in Illinois was looking for a distraction from his own work, but it was a welcome interruption to work! It was nice to FaceTime with him for a while.

Later Antonio informed me that his cousins had a performance at the elementary school. So we headed over there.

Walking through the gates into a big courtyard in front of the school there was a large crowd gathered in front stage. We found Antonio's family who had save a couple of seats.

The principle was yelling (the Spanish speak loudly) into the microphone. People around were complaining that he had been speaking for too long and were eager to get on with the show! Everyone was here to see the children - so patience to hear the schools principle carry on and on were low.

Then THIS happened!

And THIS!!
(we were a little worried about the placement of one young mans sword in this number) 

And THIS!!!

It was a glorified primary program! I was eating it up! The weather was perfect, the children were absolutely adorable! It was a really good time! Antonios little cousins are SO CUTE!

We went back to Anto's parents and got Chinese food -
Yeah it was an 11:30pm dinner... But that is not really out of the norm here.

Have we talked about the eating Schedule that the Spanish have?

Morning breakfast
2 or 3 o'clock is their big meal for the day
Merindar is around 6
Dinner some time between 9-12 pm

Also everything closes from 2-5 in the afternoon. Cause people go home to eat and siesta (take a nap) and then they re-open their shops at 5.

I am learning to really appreciate naps here! It is too hot to really want to do much in he middle of the day so people take a nap. Some days I nap- other days I read. Then when it gets cool enough later at night I go out for a run.

Earlier this week Antonio and I took the doggies out for a walk. The weather was BEAUTIFUL! We ended up walking for about 2 hours and Antonio realized that we had ended up in a pueblo that his friend lived in. He called them and they invited us over.  They have a new little puppy… he is SO CUTE! I didn’t have my camera on me at the time… but they came over to visit us yesterday and I got a couple of pictures… SO CUTE!

Sunday I went to church... as I do. We took this photograph after Relief Society: 

Spain is beautiful! 
Just look at this!...

Today, after school I decided to take a different bus home cause the 155 said it would not be there for another 24 minutes. I was going to wait and read my book but then I remember Antonio telling me that I could take the 156 if I wanted to. Apparently remembered wrong cause the other option was the 159. the 156 just skirted around the edge of Armilla (which is where I live) and goes to Las Gabis (the next town over) There was a beautiful church there that I wish I could have gotten a photograph of! Maybe I will go back there, but on purpose. haha

I ended up paying to ride the bus again (lame) for a return trip back to Armilla. I got off the bus at a location that I recognized. Good thing I have a really good visual memory. (Antonio and I had taken the puppies for a walk around this location once.) So I knew the general direction to go and I was able to find my way back. It wasn't bad, I got to see another town and wander a bit. Plus the weather was beautiful. 

Adam gets home tomorrow and Antonio has his final exams this week... next week we get to go to the beach and begin really start sight seeing and doing some more fun stuff. I am excited! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

On The Contrary My Dear Watson!

Contrary: In opposition to what has been assumed, stated or expected.

That definition may come useful later in this post… but we will work up to that.
First a story:

I have transformed my life in many ways over the past year. One of the biggest changes I have made is improving my health. I lost 70 lbs over about 7 months. I have better energy, I feel good, I look good. It has made an incredible difference.

I have a friend who is a bikram yoga teacher. She has invited me and told me about bikram yoga for over 2 years and I always thought it sounded like a tradegy. I HATE BEING HOT! WHY?! WHY in the world would I want to go into a heated room to exercise?!

Then December she posted about an awesome deal that Bikram Yoga Harlem was having – so I said, “I can’t pass THAT up!” So I decided that as part of this lifechange that I have made in continuing on the journey of being healthy I would try out yoga.

“try out” haha… I just said that… But here is the thing: I am an “all in” kind of person. I don’t toe dip much. I would rather cannon ball into the pool! I am either COMITTED or probably just not going to do it at all- this applies to many different parts of my life… so of course it applied to me “trying out” yoga!
I was in! ALL IN! I went every day! For 60 plus days! And I feel in love!

I love bikram yoga for MANY reasons!  Through this practice I am becoming physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually stronger! Every day I learn new life lessons from my practice.

I decided that I wanted to share some of those life lessons – so on my health coaching website I started posting short videos titled “Life Lessons From Yoga.” In these short videos I share the lessons I learn in my practice and how they can apply to our everyday lives!

I post a new video every Friday if you would like to check it out!

So I posted a video this past week and I like to share it on my facebook and a couple groups that I am in so that the masses can check it out if they so please. On one of my groups tonight a woman commented on my Life Lesson From Yoga post:


“Sorry, Kristy but I'd rather get my life lessons from God not yoga. Glad it worked for you and you are willing to help others though.”

My response:

“I believe that God teaches us in many ways! Through the Scriptures, through prayer, though prophets and revelation. Another way that God teaches and helps us is He uses the gift of people to act as angles in our lives! Though them we may know His will and His ways! Yoga (for me) is not in replacement of God... it is yet another way that I can have greater access to Him!”

I truly believe that 100%. I believe that we can find God in many places and in many ways. What works for some people may not work for others. There have been days where I have been able to access God and feel very strongly the influence of His spirit as I have been practicing yoga. There are other days where I feel him strongly in my room, other days I feel of His love when I am at church.

My question I think that I want to ask back now is “How do you personally access God to be able to get your life lessons from Him?”

There is no right/wrong answer to this question! Personal revelation is PERSONAL! (hence the title).  That means that God can access His children in many ways – and it can be individually suited for what is best for the specific person.

From this woman’s response I got the feeling that she was assuming that Yoga was “my god” and that that is what I turn to for my answers. On the contrary my dear Watson…Like I said before: just as the scriptures, prayer, prophets, going to church, etc. are ways that we can access God and grow closer to Him. Yoga is such for me.

And I am grateful for the things that God is teaching me through Yoga! Through running, through taking better care of my body, through my church service, through traveling, through learning a foreign language, through my friend and family…etc!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Confessions of a Spanish Learning Extroverted Reader

I have never been a “big reader.”
What do I mean by that?
Well…I have always been a very good reader. I constantly tested “above” my grade level in reading comprehension exams.

I enjoy reading when I have a good book (haha… who likes to read bad books?) What I mean is I like easy reads that suck you me and I don’t want to put down. And I am kind of picky about which books suck me in.

For a long time I didn’t have time to read. Yes I realize and I believe that we make time for the things that are the most important to us. There were just a lot more things that are more important to me… like going outside, playing sports, hanging out with friends. Mostly things that had to do with being around people!

I am an extrovert… I like to be around people! That is how I get my energy. That’s how I have fun. (Lately I wonder if I have been feeling so tired is cause I am low on energy… cause I need to be around more people?)

Right now “people” is a big challenge for me.
Cause I can’t talk – at least not easily to a lot of people. I struggle to find the simplest words to express the bare bone basics of what I want to say.

I am a storyteller. I like to relate and recount and share experiences. Now that I have the vocabulary of a 3 year old it is really hard for me to tell stories, participate in conversations, and even ask for something that I want/need.

So maybe this is why I am totally sucked into books right now. I can’t easily tell my great stories… but I can read some new ones!

I also think that reading is a GREAT procrastination tool!
Oh I would MUCH rather read than work… or do many things on my “to do” list, such as write those emails, or make those phone calls, etc.  But because I am reading I feel like I am being productive! “Wow! Look at how much I have accomplished! I just read 5 chapters!... Go me!”

I also realize that the hours that I am reading I could be out exploring and I also could be studying Spanish, so that I could improve my 3 year old vocabulary to hopefully a 5 year olds soon and start to form more intelligible sentences.

I am trying to figure out this balance of continuing to work, taking Spanish classes and trying to get myself out of the house to go running.

I also want to make friends. My social life is… well we can say lacking at the present moment. I have met some nice people at school – but I am not one to hang out at the bars and go drinking, so hanging out with them is less than appealing.

On Saturday I went to a Young Single Adult fiesta (party) at the church. We made Mexican Tacos and I helped by cutting onions and cried a lot (onions really hurt my eyes!) and we played some fun games and then had a spiritual lesson given by the sister missionaries. It was a really nice afternoon! I am really glad that I went and hung out with the Young Single Adults!

Sunday I went to Church. Church is challenging in a way – cause I only understand a couple of words here and there. So I can catch onto the gist of what is being said, and I love singing the hymns! There is an amazing power to music! And I know the hymns well – so they are a good way for me to be able to be fully engaged in the services!

I do a LOT of listening here in Spain.
Never in my life have I been at such a loss for words. Not for lack of wanting to talk, or participate, I just don't have the words. (again… 3 year old vocabulary!) It is SO hard and pretty frustrating when you want to talk and you CAN’T... I have always been on the other side of this fence.  I have a lot of friends who I helped and tutored and talked to them, and corrected their English (at their request) as they were learning. Now I really know how so many people in this position feel/have felt. I am building empathy! Huge great big skyscrapers that reach up to the clouds type of building!

Today in Spanish class we were asked what we detest. The first thought that came to my head was learning Spanish. But that wasn’t really true. The truth is, “Me detesto sentimiontos estupido.”  That was me in broken Spanish saying that I detest feeling stupid! And in a lot of ways Spanish makes me feel stupid. I know that it shouldn’t. my sweet friend keeps saying to me, “Kristy, its okay, you aren’t going to learn Spanish over night.” He reminds me not to be so hard on myself. I was speaking with him on facebook yesterday and he said something to me in Spanish and my response was, “I totally understood that an I didn't even have to use Google translate!!!!!” It was such a small thing. But it made me happy. 

Antonio is also a gem and puts up with me and my homework and my frustrations and hugs and kisses me when I start crying and tells me that I can do it! He is also good at the tough love thing. He teaches me something and makes me say it again… and Again… and AGAIN!  And he covers up my notes and asks me questions and my first impulse is to doubt myself and say I don’t know and I can’t remember – because the words don’t come easily. But he makes me think, and sometimes after I concentrate my mind pulls out a word! And every so often… the word is correct. And when its not he helps me find the right one.

And we LAUGH! Antonio and I LAUGH till I am crying and we can’t breathe. Our late night study sessions are hilarious as we argue about language and words and draw pictures of ugly hearts turned to butterflies and how “la luna y la noche” are not actually in a homosexual relationship.  (Yes I understand that Anto and I are the ONLY 2 people on earth who will actually understand this- but suffice it to say that is was hilarious! If you want the story let me know… I will share.)

I am grateful for laughter!

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Foreign Language Section:
I made it through my first week of Spanish Classes… and without crying! Well I need to make an amendment to that statement – I never cried at the school! Haha- I did cry at later during the day at home, when I was studying… a couple of times.  I can’t help it, the frustration would come on slowly like a dam backing up and then all of a sudden the water would start leaking through and I can’t make it stop.

Last week I was reminded of my best friend- she got her dream job and was so happy – throughout her orientation she started to dread going to work, it was hard, it was a challenge, she was learning a lot of new things but it was not easy. Then she had a realization that she shared. She told me, “This is what I wanted! I wanted this job! I prayed for it! This was my choice! And now I am letting it become something that I am dreading.”

I am relating that to my current experience here in Spain! This is something that I wanted! I chose to be here! And I want to learn Spanish!

The first day of class the teacher asked us why we want to learn Spanish. For me it is for the experience, for the challenge and for the growing opportunity!

I am now going back to my “whys” and working to focus on my goals! Overall: I want to have fun!

I have been allowing feelings of inadequacy and fear get in the way of me having fun! SO I decided that when those feelings try to creep in and when self-doubt starts to fester – I am going to kick it to the curb! I don’t need that nor do I want it!

SO I am starting to have more fun – especially in my Spanish classes!

Weather Section:
It is summer!!!
Finally – which means it’s COLOR (Hot!) It also means that I am once again seeing efy posts, and efy pictures, and efy counselor polo’s all over my facebook!

I “graduated” from being an efy counselor 4 summers ago. But I still miss it! I knew that is was time for me to move on and do other things with my summers. And look at me! I am in SPAIN!! Huzahhhh! But I have to say that there are little twinges of jealousy and sweet SWEET memories that come with big smiles and a heart full of gratitude for have had the opportunity to be part of such an amazing program for so many years!

Media Section:
I have been reading… a LOT lately! Have you noticed that post- apocalyptic theme is really popular now-a-days?!
First I read Hunger Games, then Divergent and now I am reading Delirium. OR… um.. read… I just finished today. All three of these titles are trilogies. I guess I need to find a new one now. These books are really my guilty pleasures! It is so nice to be able to read for fun! I love to get sucked into a book and not want to put it down! Yes I realize that they are probably meant for teenagers. But I really don’t care. They are fun to read and I am enjoying them.
So if you have any suggestions of good books – I am ready!

I realized something this past week. It is hard to be an extrovert personality and really love the books that you are reading. I find myself wanting to talk about and share what is happening, or have someone to freak out with when my favorite character dies, etc.  I remember when I was reading the second book of the Hunger Games I texted my best friend, who had already read the series, and exclaimed, “If Peta dies I am going to be SO MAD!”

I realize that this is why so many people love T.V. and “their shows. They get together with friends and are itching to see what happens from week to week, and then they go on facebook and “Ooooh! and Awwww!” Celebrate, Complain and FREAK OUT about what is happening to their favorite characters. And here I am reading a book – experiencing the same emotions and freaking out and I have no one to share it with! GAH!

Fitness Section:
I am working on getting into running shape again. Ugh! Last year I was able to run 5 or 6 miles no a big deal. Then I went for months and months without running.
I feel in love with Bikram Yoga and that was my activity of choice.

Which reminds me… if you have not seen my video posts I have been putting on my health coaching website ( you should check them out! They are titled Life Lessons From Yoga! Every week I am sharing short videos about life lessons that I learn from yoga.

Anyway back to running!

So my first week here in Spain I ran 3 miles 5 days that week
Second week I ran 4 miles 4 days
Third week I ran 5 miles …uhhh… Once. Oopsie. It got hot… it is so much harder to run when it is so hot outside!
I am going to try and wake up in the morning and go running cause the weather is much nicer in the early mornings. Hopefully that will work out better for me.

I would like to work my way up to a half marathon. Maybe I will find one to run later this year in the city? We shall see.