30 December 2008

Amazing Cover!

I really like youtube. Like alot. And this video is a perfect example of why I love it so much. It's a cover of The Fray's "How to Save A Life". It's fantastic.

29 December 2008


My 9-year old niece, Micheal, has started a delightful tradition of her own every Christmas. Starting last year, she spends one day of shopping at the $1 Store to get a gift for all guests that will be joining us for the holidays. Last year, I received a stuffed animal with the following explanation: "Auntie you live alone and I worry about you. This stuffed animal will keep you company".

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

My First Apple Pie!

Whenever I'm at home I spend alot of time helping my mom in the kitchen because there is always tons to do. I do it to help her, obviously, but I also do it selfishly. I say selfishly because I get to help and see how things are done, get to get my hands dirty and see firsthand how Sherry makes the magic happen! Well, this Christmas vacation was extra special because I made my first apple pie! I've enjoyed the wonder that is apple pie for years now, but never ever have I made one. Sherry let me take the ropes this year and I have to admit, I was quite proud of my debut apple pie.

Here is my self-proclaimed blue ribbon winner:

23 December 2008

The Neill Christmas Party

The Holiday Season doesn't feel like it's in full swing until we have the Neill Christmas party. After all the baking, shopping and wrapping are done, it's time to unwind and meet up with old friends. This year's Christmas party, as per usual, did not disappoint! Unfortunately, I kind of forgot that i had my camera, so I took only a few pictures. But here they are:

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

Welcome Home!

Billings greeted me with below zero temperatures. This was taken at 10:30a in the morning. I hope my body can remember how to handle frigid cold!

More pictures to come as my Christmas break unfolds.....

10 December 2008


When my phone battery is low, it beeps at me.

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

As of late, I've been kind of in a funk. I'm not quite sure what has put me here and why I've allowed myself to stay here. But I've gotten to a point where I've kind of forgotten what is important. I've been going through the motions lately and not stopping to appreciate all the things that make up the landscape of life. I've definitely become a human being, not a human doing. I stumbled across this graduation address from Anna Quindlen (one of my favorite authors) this morning and it really spoke to me. She is very insightful.

Villanova Commencement Address

Class of 1999

Anna Quindlen

…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

Unity in the Community

I've lived in Seattle for nearly 2 years and I have to admit, I feel as if I almost have everything a girl could want to be happy in the big city. But there are 2 things that I miss.

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.