30 December 2008
29 December 2008
This year the gift was equally as adorable.
A little background information. Micheal and I are 'roommates' whenever I go home for a visit. We sleep in my bedroom at my parent's house that has 2 twin beds, me in one and her in the other. Micheal absolutely loves being called my roommate and looks forward to having her roomie home. Truth be told, I don't mind it either! We always go to bed at the same time and because I read when I go to bed, she does the same. The nights leading up to Christmas I read my bible and then wrote in my journal. .Christmas rolls around and I saved her gift for last. This darling little 9 year old had tucked away in the gift box a new composition notebook and a new set of pens. She came over to me and said "This is for when your journal fills up. You're gonna need a new one" and then she politely added "these are my favorite pens. and I made sure there was a purple one".
27 December 2008
Here is my self-proclaimed blue ribbon winner:
23 December 2008
The fake tree and I. It's my only bone of contention with my mother's holiday decorating.
The long awaited Tom and Jerry. Some people have eggnog. Others hot buttered rum. We, at the Neill's, have Tom and Jerrys. Delicious.
Whitney heartily agrees with both Tom and Jerry.
Getting ready to greet our guests.
20 December 2008
10 December 2008
When my Ipod battery is low, I get a message window that informs me that I have 20% battery left. If I wait long enough, it will tell me I have 10% battery left.
When my computer battery is low, I get both a message and a beep to let me know I'm running on empty.
But what about me? When do I know that my battery is low? My tank is almost empty? That I'm running on fumes? I don't have a beep. I don't have a message box. I don't have a warning. And I can't just plug myself into the wall, wait an hour or so and be recharged.
I have 8 days before I can 'recharge'. I can't wait to get home to 2021 Wentworth Drive, collapse in my mom's reading chair, drink a Tom and Jerry and just enjoy being home. No 3:15a wake up calls, no action items, no unruly customers, no difficult conversations with partners. Just Mom. Just Dad. Fresh baked bread. Hugs. Lots of laughs. Hopefully some snow. Mass in the 4th row with the entire family. Eating spinach dip with Whitney. Having a roommate, even if it's my 9 year old niece!
The week I spend at home will be my recharge. And I am definitely in need of a recharge.
09 December 2008
Villanova Commencement Address
Class of 1999
…you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.
People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit.
…here’s what I wanted to tell you today: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house.
Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger.
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, still learning how to best treasure your connection to others.…
Get a life in which you are generous.…And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted.
Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around.…All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.
It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of the azaleas,…the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of live.
I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back because I believed in it completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned.
By telling them this:
Consider the lilies of the field.
Look at the fuzz on a baby’s ear.
Read in the backyard with the sun on your face.
Learn to be happy.
…you can learn all those things, out there, if you get a real life, a full life, a professional life, yes, but another life, too, a life of love and laughs and a connection to other human beings. Just keep your eyes and ears open.
Look at the view. You’ll never be disappointed.
02 December 2008
1. Sherry Neill.
Duh. She's my amazing mother.
2. A Community of Faith
Growing up, I had a very strong community of faith. I come from a large Catholic family--going to church involved a large van and people going early to save the whole pew for the family. Additionally, I was involved in the CCD at St. Bernard's and alot of my friends from school went as well. As I got older and began to get involved in clubs such as Young Life and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I felt I had a larger group outside of family to be a part of.
When I decided on a college, I knew that I wanted to go to a small, Catholic school and I found Gonzaga. And community and Gonzaga go hand in hand. Most of my friends were Catholic and we all attended mass together, in a large group. And the friends you didn't go with, were at mass anyway and you'd meet up with them at the post-mass cookies and juice session.
I had some amazing experiences at Gonzaga, which further deepened my knowledge of Catholicism and really made me understand my identity as a Catholic. And I feel as though I got to this point because of the community around me.
And now, in Seattle, I've found going to church is kind of difficult for me. I go to mass alone every Sunday and every Sunday I am reminded of how alone I am--my family is miles away and my Gonzaga community is dispersed across the United States. And while I do need and appreciate my time alone with God, it's still hard for me to go every week all by myself. Genesis 2 highlights my feeling: "In a perfect and sinless world, where man enjoyed perfect community with his Creator, God, looking at His creation, said, “It is not good for the man to be alone." Mass has always been a joyful thing for me--the tradition and ritualisticness of it is comforting and a giant part of who I am, but for the first time, I felt like a huge part is missing.
I wish there something like a Young Catholics club existed in Seattle. As I sit alone in my pew, I see tons of families, young couples, lots of elderly people but rarely do I see a young person around my age attending mass by themselves. And I'm thinking to myself, 'where are all the young Catholics?'. I have a few friends out here who are not Catholic but belong to other churches that are overflowing with community. They have retreats, weekend getaways, community projects, bible studies...etc...etc..etc!
I think that it's just really hard to be a young adult and Catholic--I really do! The Church is very good about catering to the young children, even the high schoolers and there are all types of programs for older people wanting to deepen their faith, but their is a lag in the middle. We get lost in the shuffle and it's then that many people my age turn to the churches that celebrate their youth and want them to be a part of their community.
In conclusion, being Catholic is a huge part of my identity and I love being Catholic. But I just miss the 10pm masses, the social justice projects on the weekends, having someone to discuss the homily with, cookies and juice after mass. But most of the time, I just miss having someone to hug during the sign of the peace after the Our Father.
27 November 2008
On Monday, Dec. 1st when you buy ANY handcrafted beverage, we will donated 5 cents to (RED). Yep, even drip coffee is considered 'handcrafted'.
26 November 2008
Even if this is my first Turkey Day away from my family, it still makes me realize how much I love my big family. It will definitely not be the same without Sherry, Greg and the rest of the clan. My family has always been supportive of my goals, my dreams, my hopes. Without them supporting me, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had the courage to live my life as my own life. And while it is hard for me to be nearly 1000 miles away from them on a daily basis, I do cherish them and miss them on a daily basis.
24 November 2008
From Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
It has definitely made me think more about the words I use.
21 November 2008
Yell Fire at The Gorge:
Time To Go Home:
08 November 2008
About 3 weeks ago a woman came through our drive thru with 3 bulldogs in tow. Duncan, Chloe and Annie each had their own seat in this woman's sedan. I immediately fell in love and jokingly told her that any time she needed a bullie sitter to stop by. One week later, she came through again and asked me if I was serious about watching the little nuggets. I told her absolutely!
Now I get to walk Duncan and Chloe three times a week--Annie is far too old to go on walks. She does lap swim at the beach--not even kidding. Being around all 3 of them have solidified my decision to one day own one of these jovial creatures. It's still a long time down the road, but until then I am the vicarious bulldog owner of Chloe, Duncan and Annie.
The photo is of Chloe and her tire. She will play with that tire for hours if I'd let her!
07 November 2008
for all this change, i do hope there have been a few things that i've carried with me. and by carried i mean that the years and experiences have allowed them to mature and come to fruition--things like loyalty, integrity, compassion, conviction and the capacity to love. and i hope that i continue to carry them with me throughout the years that are yet to come so they can continue to develop. i need to understand that without change there is no growth and without growth there is no change.
05 November 2008
I took this picture on my Mission:Possible Spring Break trip my junior year of college. It is located at the Civil Rights Museum in Nashville, TN. Across the street from this sign is the Lorraine Motel--the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. MLK Jr spoke these words on April 3rd, 1968. The next day, April 4, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was struck down by an assassin's bullet.
02 November 2008
30 October 2008
I'd like you all to meet Stanley. Stanley is my 'dog'. He came to me in an interesting fashion. Let me explain...
My dear grandmother has a knack for picking up cute little knick-knacks to decorate her house. Seriously, if there is some sort of decoration that can sit on the floor, the edge of the coffee table, or the entertainment stand, Darlene Henderson has it. This is where Stanley originated. On one of my visits home from school I was over at my grandparents house and while sitting on the floor (I haven't graduated to furniture or moved up from the kid's table yet) I noticed this little be-spectacled dog peaking out from behind the davenport (old people term for sofa). I had to get in for a closer look. By the time that I had completely taken in this little nugget I was, not even kidding, rolling on the floor laughing. At the time, he was adorned in a santa hat and santa coat. My grandmother heard the ruckus and went on to explain that dear ol' Stanley actually has 13 rotating outfits that he dawns depending on the time of year.
From that moment on, each time that I went to my grandparents house, little Stanley would be there to greet me with a season appropriate outfit. And I would erupt into a fit of laughter. Every time. I'm not even exaggerating.
So, when my parents came for their annual August visit this past summer my grandma had sent a little package with Sherry and Greg. And what was in the little box? My little nugget Stanly and his entire wardrobe! God bless Darlene.
Stanley has found his place quite nicely in apartment 209. Currently he wearing his rainslicker--I do live in Seattle! I pledge that I will always keep you updated on the current fashion trend of my little Stanley.
With the holidays around the corner, I have a feeling there will be quite a few changes......
27 October 2008
24 October 2008
15 October 2008
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
I want to know if you can
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.
Check our her website here: http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com/home.html
12 October 2008
Mt. Rainier decided to hide behind a cloud all day:
Check out those colors:
Our final destination, Lake Margaret:
Laurel and Lake Margaret:
Snow littered a few parts of the trail:
The cool ice crystal things that actually grow up from the ground:
Laurel and Jen:
Mt. Stuart in the distance:
I heart fall!
This was definitely a good hike--9 miles to be exact. We got to eat some amazing wild blueberries, had the first snowball fight of the season and just generally enjoyed Mother Nature's unmatched pristine beauty.
I've often said that I see God the most in the time I spent outdoors witnessing his magnificence and with that in mind, I found myself perfectly satisfied with how I spent my Sunday....
05 October 2008
If Sarah Palin plans on 'spoofing' the incomparable Tina Fey it would actually be better. Tina Fey is an intelligent woman who speaks in coherent sentences that don't dodge the issues or sling mud at Barack Obama. Tina Fey uses the 'g' on the end of words that end in 'ing'. Tina Fey is amazing. Sarah Palin would be wise to spoof Tina Fey. And stay that way.
29 September 2008
20 September 2008
Wednesday night I had the pleasure of taking in one my favorite stage performances at The Paramount: The Phantom of the Opera. I went with my co-worker Christa and we had great time.
I have a storied history with the Phantom. I was originally introduced to it when I was a 4th grader--my music teacher at the time was in love with it as well and shared that with our music class. So my appreciation for Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic started early. And continued until the accumulation of seeing it in London while studying abroad in the summer of 2005. I was fortunate enough to see it at Her Majesty's Royal Theatre right in London--the very theatre the original the play debut at. It was a pretty great experience.
Here is Brandi and I in London before the 2005 show:
The Seattle performance was quite good! As with the London performance, I did not particularly care for the gentlemen playing the Phantom. But I think I have pretty expectations seeing that I've been listening to the soundtrack since elementary school! But the man who played Raoul was fantastic! He had a great voice and really good staged presence. The woman who played Christine was pretty good! Overall, I really enjoyed this cast. The Paramount is such a great venue to begin with, adding my favorite performances only makes life better.
My next show at The Paramount will be Spring Awakening--critically acclaimed and winner of 8 Tony Awards.
16 September 2008
Today is September 16, 2008 and as of last Friday I have obtained that goal. I am now the assistant store manager at Starbucks Store 3402--Lake City Way and 120th. And quite honestly, I could not be more happy.
While it is still very fresh and I'm not sure it's really hit me yet, I am so excited for this next step. By staying at the store I started at I am able to stay with my store manager, Erin, who has the capacity to teach me so many things. And I will be a sponge for her knowledge and experience. She has been instrumental in getting me to the place I am today and I'm so honored that she wanted to hold on to me as her ASM.
I took a big risk by quiting that other job, but my risk has paid off with huge rewards. I am working a job that I enjoy, for a company I love and with people I admire.
Simple as that.
Assistant Store Manager
Starbucks Coffee Company
14 September 2008
Take a look here.
09 September 2008
Basically, you upload a picture of yourself (or your friends) and then they put your face on an actual yearbook picture of someone from a various time period. You can select any year from 1950 through 2000.
As you can see from below, I had WAY too much fun with this:
Here's me in 1962:
Lovely Kristina in 1978:
Stephanie in 1958:
And Annie in 1960:
And Whitney looking fantastic in 94:
My friends were lookers even back then!
08 September 2008
I'm sorry if you are a member of the group of people who I've been a jerk to lately.
And by jerk I mean either:
a) not returning your calls
b) not returning your emails
c) not responding to text messages
d) all of the above
I must insist that you believe me when I say it is not a conscious decision. I don't do it on purpose. I don't not want to talk/communicate/catch up with you. I have no excuse(s). I'm just a thoughtless, inconsiderate jerk. It's definitely a horrid habit that I have unconsciously developed over the past couple of months.
It has been brought to my attention and I assure you that I am trying very hard to abolish the habit via post it notes and reminders on both my cell phone and computer.
So, if you have been personally affected by Hurricane Jen the Inconsiderate, I do apologize! Please find it in your heart to forgive me.
03 September 2008
I definitely went to Denver like 3 full months ago, but I just recently got the pictures from the my disposable camera back today. And please do not judge the fact that I bought a disposable camera--I still use my digital (even if it's the Zach Morris cell phone of digital cameras) but we ran the Bolder Boulder and I thought it would be fun to have a camera during the run.
So, here are my pictures from Memorial Day Weekend with Steph and Brian in Denver:
And then I must share that I got a 'professional' photo taken of me during the race. Check it out here.
01 September 2008
There are a few weekends I look forward to every year in Washington.
Dave at the Gorge. CHECK!
I just got back from beautiful George, Washington where I was fortunate enough to take in the final day of Dave Matthew's Band weekend at The Gorge. This was my 4th year seeing DMB and I have to admit, this was far and away my favorite one I've been to.
On the drive over, I always ask the people I am with what song they absolutely want to hear. And then, should that song be played during the concert, we all go crazy because that lucky individual got to hear 'their' song. Mine has been and always will be 'Seek Up'. It's an old song many have never heard. I've never heard it live and every year I cross my fingers they will play it.
This was my year.
Dave opened the show with this musical nugget! I almost fell down the hill I was so excited. I've sang that song at the top of my lungs in the shower, in my car, in my apartment, on the treadmill a million times, but NOTHING is better than singing it at the top of my lungs with Dave. At the Gorge. With a few of my favorites.
His set list also included a few other favorites. He played Warehouse AND All Along the Watchtower--back to back. He also played Rhyme and Reason #41 and Where Are You Going. It was amazing. And Tim Reynolds was there too, so the jam sessions were crazy good.
I will continue to be on my DMB High for the next month or so. Currently, the play count on 'Seek Up' on my itunes is 17. We'll see what it is in a month or so. Plan on triple digits.