"In a world where celebrity equals talent, and where make-believe is called reality, it is most important to have real love, truth and stability in your life".
22 November 2009
If you're a Grey's Anatomy fan, you should be ashamed if you did not know that Sara Ramirez is an amazing singer. Here is her in her TONY AWARD WINNING role. Also, if you watched the last disaster, I mean episode (Season 6, Episode 10) then you should know it was her singing Silent Night while Bailey yelled at her dad at the dinner table.
Editor's Note: Spamalot is a spoof on musicals, thus the
I have amazingly talented friends. Seriously. Talented.
Profound and thought provoking writers.
Being surrounded by people who have these amazing gifts makes me want to be better. Not 'better' at anything specific, just better. Better at everything I do in life. By using the gifts that God has given them, they have unwittingly challenged me to be a better version of myself.
I've never been someone that has been really talented at any one thing (I'm a fabulous parallel parker and I have nice handwriting, that about sums it up) but I've always loved enjoying the talents of my friends. So thank you. Thank you to all of you who have the tenacity to nurture your talents and the courage to share them with others.
I want to start this post with the following statement: I love my job. Please remember this as you read through this post.
I love my job. That being said, working in a coffee shop has really made me miss one thing that I used to love: going to coffee with friends. I remember calling up a friend, suggesting a time and a place (usually a Starbucks) and then meeting said friend. And connecting. Catching up. Encouraging one another. Laughing. I can remember so many conversations I had over a cup of coffee that have enriched, encouraged and solidified so many of my friendships.
And now I work in a coffee shop, and as a result, I don't get together with my friends over coffee anymore. Or if I do, my stupid "coffee shop" manager goggles are on and I notice stupid things. Especially at other Starbucks. My thoughts are constantly "they need to do a lobby" or "eek, that RTD/E case needs some love" or "wow, someone needs to check in with that pastry case". I am a standards junkie, as well as a slave to Starbucks so it actually physically hurts my heart to go into random Starbucks and see them not doing things to standard.
And so I try to avoid going to coffee with friends at Starbucks because I am distracted like no other and that's just plain rude.
Today I went to the 'non-Starbucks Starbucks' here in Seattle. 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. Not only did I have the best vanilla latte this girl has every had, but I was able to chat with my friends about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It felt really nice, a throwback to the days of trips to The Service Station or Rockwood Bakery in Spokane.
I really miss that natural connection friends have over coffee. I have a lot going floating around in my head these days and sometimes I think what I need is a friend, a tall vanilla extra foamy latte and the rest will take care of itself.
Melissa is the best blogger ever. She did this on her blog and was nice enough to include me in the 'award', so here are my answers. I won't be nominating anyone on the grounds that I don't anyone that blogs.
Where is your cell phone: Sitting right next to me. I'm addicted to my Blackberry. It actually did my laundry last night. Your hair: Still stuck to my forehead from my basketball game earlier Your mother: is the most amazing woman Your father: is a gem of a man Your favorite food: sushi. love it. crave it. need it. Your dream from last night: I don't really dream that often. Last night was a dreamless night Your favorite drink: beer and coffee. or the best of both worlds: coffee flavored beer. Your dream/goal: to reach a point of self satisfying success at some point in my life. What room are you in: my roommate's room. She is being nice enough to let me use her computer since mine decided to crash last week. What is your hobby: anything outside. Or reading. I do love to read. What is your fear: tornadoes. Even a slight breeze makes me uneasy. Where do you want to be in 6 years: In Seattle, in my own house with a little bulldog running around in the background. Where were you last night: went for a run late and crashed on the couch for One Tree Hill Something you are not: a shopper. hate it. Muffins: remind me of the Setons. I spent alot of $1 on those Costco goods. Wish list items: my very own place. i've been watching WAY too much HGTV. Where did you grow up: Montana Last thing you did: play basketball What are you wearing: sweats Your TV: is on way too much Your pets: are not mine. I have 3 vicarious bulldogs who I walk 2x a week. Your friends: are more than I deserve Your life: an over-caffeinated, sleep deprived mess. And I love it. Your mood: generally pretty agreeable. Missing someone: always Vehicle: as of Sunday, 2010 Ford Escape. Love comes quickly. Something you're not wearing: my heart on my sleeve. At least I'm trying not to anymore. Your favorite store: REI or Whole Foods. Again, not a shopper. Your favorite color: purple or green. it's complicated. When's the last time you laughed: tonight with Averi and Lisa. As per usual. When's the last time you cried: Monday when I dropped my parents at the airport. Yep, 26 years old and still cry when I leave them. Your best friend: is one amazing, gracious, intelligent, patient woman. One place you go over and over: Green Lake. One person who emails me regularly: Gina G. My little Spanish Curly Haired Nugget. Favorite place to eat: Sam's Sushi here in Ballard rocks my face off every time I go there. And Ultimate Bagel. Duh.
So there you have it, completely pointless information about the ins and outs of my life. Yes, it's true: I really AM that boring.
Hello. I'd like you to meet Sheryl Swoopes. A little background on Miss Swoopes:
Swoopes won a NCAA Women's Basketball Championship with the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. She was also honored as the Naismith College Player of the Year. To this day, Swoopes is considered "one of the best collegiate players of all time". Swoopes was the first player to be signed in the WNBA. Swoopes is a 4-time WNBA champion with the Houston Comets.She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a 3 time Defensive Player of the Year. She is also the proud owner of 3 Oympic Gold Medals.
A pretty impressive resume for any athlete. Sheryl Swoopes has long been on my favorite basketball players. The very first number I ever picked for basketball was 21, because she was 22. I couldn't pick 22 because I would never be able to live up to the real 22, so one less was what I picked. And she was the first women's basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her: the "Air Swoopes". Those where the shoes I wore in high school.
Last Thursday, I had the honor of playing basketball with Sheryl Swoopes. She is living in Seattle and she started a 4 on 4 basketball league. A friend of mine asked me to play and I jumped at the chance to play basketball one more time during the week and obviously meet Sheryl Swoopes.
I walk into the gym and go over to her and say "Hi I'm Jen." She extends her hand and says "Hi, I'm Sheryl". She hands me a jersey and tells me that I'm going to play on her team tonight. By now, my heart is beating out of my chest and my hands are shaking I can barely lace up my basketball shoes.
So we play. And I'm focusing on my defense pretty good and Sheryl keeps telling me 'Great D, Jen!', and "Nice hands!" and a "great stop!". The 3 time Defensive Player of the Year is telling ME that I'm playing great defense? Wow. It's a tight game, way above any level of basketball I've ever played, but I'm trying to keep up. I hit the 3 pointer that gave us the go ahead lead with 1:07 left and then Miss Amazing does the rest. We end up winning by 6 points. After the game, I ask her where she wanted me to put the jersey. Her response? "Oh, I'm keeping you on my team. You'll need it next week. We play at 7."
Are you kidding me? She just told me that I, Jen Neill, am on her 4 on 4 team. I pick my jaw off the floor and say 'Oh okay. I'll see you next week then! Good game!'
So, if you call me on Thursday nights, I won't be able to answer because I'm playing basketball with my teammate, Sheryl Swoopes.
As I check out the status updates on my Facebook page, I've grown nostalgic from all the updates that have to do with the Zags and the WCC tournament going on in Vegas this weekend. One of my best college memories is from sophomore year when me and my 4 closest friends packed up the Impala and drove down to San Franciso to catch the WCC tournament at Santa Clara.
I can't believe it's been nearly 5 years since we rushed the court after the exciting win against Santa Clara--seems like just yesterday we were sportin' Kennel Club shirts and chanting Go Gonzaga G-O-N-Z-A-G-A at the tops of our lungs.
"...life is often heavy only because we attempt to carry it," said Jacob. "But, I do find strength in the ashes. [...] You see, Mr. Gold, each of us is alone. Each of us is in the great darkness of our ignorance. And, each of us is on a journey, we must bend to build a fire for light, and warmth and food. But when our fingers tear at the ground, hoping to find the coals of another's fire, what we often find are the ashes. And, in these ashes, which will not give us light or warmth, there may be sadness, but there is also testimony. Because these ashes tell us that somebody else has been in the night, somebody else has bent to build a fire, and somebody else carried on."
Grace is God's unmerited favor. That is, grace is God doing good for us that we do not deserve.
I've always believed that to be the definition of grace. And I am fully aware of God's grace in every aspect of my life.
It just wasn't until this week that I experienced that level of grace exchanged between myself and another human being.
So I messed up pretty bad this week. I admitted my guilt to the offended party, amid tears and sheer embarrassment. It was hard, but it was definitely the right thing to do. And you know what they did? They forgave me. Said it was okay. They didn't even hesitate. Seconds after the truth spilled from my mouth, they forgave me. Not even a minute, hour or day to let it sink it. Forgiveness--just like that.
Talk about being in awe of grace.
But I'm having one small problem. I can be pardoned from my sins by the people I committed them against. Because of God's mercy, I do not receive the judgment of God against my sins.
Today, from 5286 miles away, Gina Gailis made my day. By simply posting a well-timed quote on my facebook profile. I really miss my Gina G. She has been over in Spain for quite some time now. The other day I was trying to remember the last time I actually got to hug Gina. But instead of figuring out the last time we saw each other, I remembered all the other good times we had. April's Angels, SEARCH, Mission:Possible (oh geez--the memories there. That would need an entire post just to do it justice), Ultimate Bagel/Starbucks dates, Bloomsday......and on. And on. And on again.
This past weekend, I was able to head to the right side of the state to revisit my old stomping grounds. Jen Bachand and I hopped (but nearly missed) a plane to hang out with Melissa in Spokane for the weekend. It was 'Young Alumni Weekend' and we are proud to be alumni, and quite frankly, happy to be considered 'young'. Here are the pictures from the weekend. I am choosing not to discuss the game because it was horrible. Enjoy the pictures.
Jen and Melissa hanging out on 3rd floor of the Ad Building. We stopped in Crosby and had to stop by good ol' Crosby cafe. Not for coffee. For steamed milks of course! Jen and Jen having a good time like old times in Crosby. The Gonzaga Class of 2006 gift to the school: a bronze bulldog!
Tonight I tagged along with a friend to Mars Hill to hear the dynamic Mark Driscoll speak. That man is an amazing speaker-truly is captivating.
So tonight, we were going over 1 Peter 1:13-21 and Pastor Mark was unpacking Peter's words. While many things really struck me, there is one thing that I wanted to blog about specifically:
God drops grace into our life as a sign of hope
And to be transparent, I must admit he changed what I thought my definition of hope was tonight. He defined hope as "a confident certainty". We must place our faith and hope in God (1 Peter 1:21) because if we put it elsewhere we will be disappointed.
Mark then asked the million dollar question: Where is God's grace in your life? The simple answer is everywhere. The harder part is thoughtfully examining and seeing where in my life God's good grace has truly touched me.
I don't have an answer tonight. Well, I could have some sort of thrown together answer. But this week, I am going to be a grace seeker. I am going to go through this week with 'grace goggles' on and truly see the grace in my life.
Day Two began the way most good days begin: sleeping in! Now, as a person who usually wakes up quite early, every hour past 6 am is considered sleeping in, so today, when I opened my tired little eyes to see 9:48 on the clock, I was immediately in love with Wednesday, January 28th.
Our start slow start to the day began with a trip to Top Pot Doughnuts. As a 2-year veteran of this city I can say that I've certainly enjoyed the wonder that is a Top Pot Doughnut, but I had never been to one of their neighborhood stores. We each picked a doughnut of our choosing (a blueberry cake donut for Whitney and a cinnamon sugar old fashion for this girl) and then we split one recommended to us by the man behind the counter. Whitney's blueberry doughnut was fantastic--literally like a blueberry exploding in your mouth. And mine was delicious as well--afterall, I am the girl who has 2 shakers, like most people, on her stove. Unlike most people, one is filled with salt. The other is a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Classy, I know. And then our third 'staff selected' doughnut was scrumptious as well. Their coffee was very enjoyable as well. Overall, I was definitely impressed with Top Pot!
After the overconsumption of sugar at Top Pot, we headed down to Pike Place Market to wander around. I've never been there during any other season than summer, so to be there when there wasn't a gazillion people walking the halls was quite enjoyable. Whitney had gotten a new camera, a Diana, and was using that to take some pictures of the flowers, veggies, fruits and whatnot that are all on display at the Market. We then hopped over for some gelato (yum!) and then walked on down to Fran's Chocolates to buy some salted caramels. Afterall, they are our new President's favorite candy! It's just being patriotic, people.
After that, we headed out to dinner at a restaurant called The Jones. It is owned by one of my regulars at Starbucks, Scott. He is a great guy and is restaurant is just as awesome as him! Whitney was able to meet my friends--it was pretty great to have 4 of my favorite people at the same table. It was great fun.
Tomorrow, Whitney is forcing me to the spa for a massage. I know..I know...what a terrible friend, eh? :)
One of my very oldest and dearest friends in the entire world is here in Seattle for the week! Whitney flew in from Boston on Monday night and we are hanging out all week before she heads down to San Francisco to visit another friend.
Today I had to work the early shift and then we took the bullies for a walk. Whitney had fun getting to know both Chloe and Duncan, as well as seeing the beautiful part of Lake Washington I walk near. We also had some fun taking some action shots.
More pictures to come as Whitney Week continues.......
Adele is the new artist that is monopolizing my itunes, my ipod and my cd player. Her freshman cd, "19", is amazing. I haven't like an entire cd this much since Norah Jones' first cd. And even more amazing, is that the title of the album reflects her age when she recorded it. Yep, 19 years old.
Earlier this month, I was cleaning out my closet and I found a picture of me. It was taken right before graduation. But most importantly, it was a time when I was the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. And as I sat on the floor of my closet amid hangers, old shoes, pictures and boxes I promised myself I would get back to that point: happy and healthy.
I know it's early into 2009, but so far I'm a big fan of this year. Since early December, I've been very consciously working on the trifecta of life: mind, body and spirit
MIND I've been reading a ridiculous amount lately--even more so than usual. I'm averaging about a book a week! I've finally picked up a book I've been intimidated to read for quite awhile, C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. I am taking my time and trying to soak it all in. I don't think I've focused this much on a book since Philosophy 467! And I will learn Italian this year. Yes, I will.
BODY I'm running regularly again, which makes my heart soar and my lungs burn. Basketball is still the highlight of my week. And I've been trying to eat healthy--that's been the real challenge!
SPIRIT And while I can't say that I'm totally settled with my crisis of conscious I've been having with religion, I'm making progress and generally feel okay about where I am at, but very good about where I'm going. I've been regularly reading my bible, started a study group with some friends and going to mass regularly. I'm sort of a freelance Catholic, I guess. This is definitely the biggest work in process, but I'm feeling more settled.
I haven't felt this balanced since I've moved out to Seattle, so to be at this point is somewhat of a relief--a regrouping of my former self.
While it is no secret I loved many, many things about Gonzaga, one of my favorite things about ol' GU was/is Father Spitzer. He didn't preside over mass that often, but when he did, it was well worth the 45 minute homily in the wooden pews.
I loved how he would get so engrossed in his homily that he would feel the need to apologize and end his sermon with, 'I got a little carried away'. And he need not apologize--his best stuff came when he 'got carried away'.
I feel like a have a rolodex of the all priceless nuggets of wisdom that Father Spitzer bestowed upon us during our time at Gonzaga. But there is one little phrase that has always stood out and has helped me when I wasn't sure what to say. Father Spitzer told us that when we weren't sure what to pray for, what to ask God for, what to say to Him to say 4 simple words: Thy Will Be Done.
I was reminded of this tonight while attending a friend's baptism at Mars Hill Church. We sang a song that had the phrase repeated over and over. I couldn't help but smile, thinking of Father Spitzer. And realizing how powerful those 4 words truly are.