Monday, May 25, 2009

Blue Hill Mountain

One of my bestest (!) BYU friends (Nancy) started a list one summer of “things to do”. This list was made up of things that we always talked about doing, but when the free time came around, we could never remember what we had wanted to do! The list allowed for some pretty fun and crazy trips, weekend night adventures and just a lot of fun memories!

Well, I copied her idea and last year created my own list of things I wanted to do before moving from Boston. At that time I had no idea when it would be, but I knew I needed to get started on my list. It’s been awesome. I’ve sailed on the Charles River, ran the Big Lake ½ marathon, watched an outdoor movie on the Esplanade, rode a bike through the streets of Lexington and stopped for ice cream at Kimball Farms, and have seen many sights, hiked a few places, visited many places in the area, etc. etc. My list is dwinding very nicely.

I know my days in Boston are numbered and so I wanted to cross one more thing off the list this weekend. That was to hike Blue Hill mtn. Blue Hill is located just south of Boston (who knew a mtn would be within 15 min of the city??) and I had always heard of the great view when you got to the top! I had to do it.

The weather was rainy and chilly in the morning, but my roommate Xin had agreed to come with me and we met up with one of my friends from BYU (Emmy) who’s doing an internship in Boston this summer! When we got there, I discovered that there is a very pretty pond, kids playground and a beach area associated with it! If I had known that the past two summers I would have brought the kids here!

The weather at this point was just cloudy and perfect temp for hiking. The hike is just over 3 miles roundtrip, but it’s a lot of ups and downs. I forget, until times like this, how much I love being in nature… but not camping. I LOVE being outdoors all day and then going to the comforts of a warm meal, shower, and my bed ☺

Here are some pics from the hike:

It was great to catch up with Emmy
and hear how her first few weeks in Boston have been!
She’s such an amazing person!!

There was a cute bridge at the top that my roommate Xin and I took pictures around.

At the top, after just finishing a pretty steep climb, you then have to climb the observatory tower which is about another 50 steps to see over the tree line! It’s worth it, but man, my quads were crying for a rest! But, we got some great pics!

Here’s Xin at the bottom of the tower.
She has a knack for taking great pictures and
should be a photographer if she wasn’t a doctor!

Here's a pic of the city. Pretty awesome that we're
on a mountainand yet only a 15 min drive from the city!

This is a view south of the observatory… looking towards Providence, RI
And, finally, the pond. It was very, very pretty.

I was exhausted at the end, but very excited to have crossed yet another thing off my list!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Longfellow Park, 2 Longfellow Place. In memory...

For the past 5.5 years I have worshiped at one of the prettiest LDS chapel's I have ever seen. It sits right outside Harvard Square. It's surrounded by beautiful homes and is across the street from the historic Longfellow home. This chapel has been a place of refuge for me from a crazy city (at times!) and has been a home away from home as I have attended Institute, FHE, many activities and church services here. I have a special place in my heart for this chapel.

There is a pretty grassy lawn that sits in front of it.

Well, today was Stake Conference, but it was a broadcast from Salt Lake City. 3 wards were combined in this Chapel and spread out in many room to watch conference. I was sitting in the Chapel because I had been asked to give the closing prayer. About 30 minutes into the conference the fire alarm goes off. Somebody probably flicked the wrong switch... or it was a false alarm everyone thought... so no one moved except for two guys who went to see if they could turn it off. Well, two minutes later we were told to get out.

Still, not thinking anything of it, I walked out feeling sad that we were going to miss the talks all because of some false alarm. When I walked out, I noticed that the fire alarm box had the "Attic" button lit up and that was the
first indication to me that this might be for real. Fortunately, I had thought to grab the seminary diplomas before conference started because I knew if I didn't do it then while I was thinking about it, I would forget them afterwards! So, I leave carrying a large heavy box.

We all walk out normally... no one rushes because no one really thinks there is a fire. The weather conditions were not ideal, but at least it wasn't freezing and the rain had stopped. Well, when we got outside, we could see smoke coming from one portion of the ceiling. Wow, I thought... not good. Well, slowly but surely, the smoke that came out of the roof kept getting bigger and bigger.

You can see it start out pretty small on the top.

At first 3 or 4 trucks came but they all seemed to be moving pretty slowly. Like they didn't think it was that big a deal either. Well, within ten minutes it had spread to 3 alarms. Meanwhile, we all just stand there mostly in silence. I was in disbelief. This was MY church. This COULD NOT be happening. Surely I am dreaming and will wake up soon. It was almost as if I had no feeling at that point. It was that... or I would have been in tears. I just stood there-- shocked as I watched everything unfold before my eyes.

The 2nd floor of the building went first. It started in the attic, so this makes sense.
By the middle of it we had 22 engines, seven ladder companies, and about 80 firefighters (according to Fire departments from the surrounding communities of Belmont, Somerville, Waltham, and Watertown provided assistance.
Everyone was afraid the steeple would fall. Fortunately, it never did.

Here's a youtube video of the chapel caving in:

It was amazing. I left around noon. I just got tired of standing there watching. The end result was obvious. And, I was emotionally drained from this on top of the events at school last week. I still had the big box in my hands and my car was unmoveable because it was blocked. I slowly walked toward Harvard Square to take the bus home. Of course, when I got there I realized I only had enough change to pay for the bus... but most of it was in pennies. The bus driver told me she didn't accept pennies. I literally almost broke down in tears in front of her. I think she saw my face and had pitty for me and said it was OK.

After spending the afternoon in reflection, as well as talking with friends and family, I went back with a friend to see if I could pick up my car. The missionaries and many of the guys from my church were there carrying things out from the Institute that were
salvageable and cleaning up in general. We surely are a church of helpers when there's a need!! It was so great to see.

But, here's some pics of the building...
What used to be the Relief Society room
The gym
The Rose Window and Chapel

The 2nd floor is totally gone. Everything fell in the middle as the ceiling caved in.
Glass, dirt and water were everywhere.
But, the steeple is still there!
The Institute portion. Looks worse than it was. At least no fire damage on the first floor and many things were saved, but water damaged.
The Longfellow Park Building. Hopefully, it will be rebuilt

When I went back at 6, the fireman said the fire had started hours before we saw the smoke during conference. They don't know exactly what started it yet but they're pretty sure it's not foul play. Of course, rumors are flying.

I've never seen a fire start and totally devour a building. That was very, very scary to watch and think about my own home. However, it was comforting to be there with 300 other people who I know will come together and will move forward together.

There are many things I'll never forget about today. I am still in shock. But, as I think about it, I will especially remember the following:

1. seeing the Fireman ask for help with moving the hoses and 25 Elders in their suits jump to the task and run into a burning building :) ... only to be immediately yelled at by the Firechief to get OUT!

2. seeing 50 people line up to pass hand by hand stuff from the Institute to the Friends church across the way

3. the fact that I have already rec'd an email that
FHE WILL STILL be held tomorrow evening at the Binney Street Chapel. The LORD'S work will go on!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's in a name?

I am not sure this post will make sense, but I had to write my thoughts down.

This week at school, a student (who is emotionally challenged) accused me of doing something that is considered a felony and her mom believes her. While, the accusations are completely false, other adults were there to witness this, my school district is supporting me 100%, and I don't feel the least bit guilty, the accusations have really made me reflect on my job and the risks you take... as well as "what's in a name".

As a school guidance counselor, part of my job is to support students who are emotionally challenged and help them succeed at school.... but that also puts me as a target. I do believe that inclusion for students that are capable of it, is a good thing. However, I also take risks. I often meet with students one on one or in small groups behind a closed door where with only limited visual access into my room. Of course, I know I would never do anything to harm or jeopardize a child, but what if something went wrong, they didn't like what I said etc., and they accused me of it? Fortunately, the incident this week occurred in a classroom with another teacher and 15 other students so I am not at all worried about it, but it did make me think. It's truly heartbreaking to think that after putting so much time and effort into helping one student, they can turn on you in such a hurtful and harmful way, just to be vindictive. ... and therefore, ruin your job, career and your "good name".

This is what this mother is now doing. She has been calling parents in the school telling them what I supposedly did to her daughter.

Out of everything that has happened, that is what hurts me the most.

I have worked very hard to establish a good relationship with the students and teachers at my school, but also with the parents. I want them to trust me so they feel that they have someone to talk to when their child is struggling at school or at home. I want to be a valuable resource for them.

But, while I have a good relationship with these parents, I can only imagine that many of them will question "my name" after speaking with this mom. Do they believe her, who is a good friend of theirs, or do they put their trust in me and in the school leaders who hired me?

What would I do as a parent?? Who would I trust more?

I don't know, to be honest. In a perfect world, we wouldn't judge anyone without knowing ALL the facts, but often, we have to make decisions without knowing all the facts. And, sometimes I know I jump to conclusions just to be on the safe side.... which is what I would probably do as a parent in order to protect my child. Err on the side of caution.

But, now I am on the other side of that. I am the one being unjustly accused and talked about. It is deeply hurtful and

I feel that "my name" and whatever values are associated with it are being slain.

What has taken me almost two years to build can be slain in a two minute phone call. That hurts.

"What's in a name?"

A lot. It's WHO you are. Your values. Your character traits.

It makes me wonder how many people have been unjustly accused. Suffered loss of job, prestige, and dignity just because they were trying to help someone else. How about the people who are on trial and are found guilty even though they're not. Why? I guess there is no good answer to these questions besides the fact that this life is only temporary and that life after death will be so much better than we can even imagine. It's hard to picture that at times. I'm stuck in the "here and now" and can't even comprehend eternity... but it leaves me with HOPE. And, that's what I need right now. HOPE

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Birthday!

May is one of my favorite months. Spring is finally here and flowers are in full bloom after the March/April rains. Everything is green and beautiful. Warmer temps are on the way and that means I can bring out the cute capri's and flip-flops!

Well, May has also always been a fun month because many members of my family and friends have birthdays in May. Some of them I won't be able to take pictures of... like my dad, my brother, Justin, and Maylene...

BUT, I had to post a picture of one very SPECIAL person in my life who celebrated his 94th BIRTHDAY on Monday, May 11th.


Last weekend, I also had the chance to celebrate my friend, Katy's, birthday. I didn't really understand her passion for HELLO KITTY until I arrived :)
Friends (all wearing our HELLO KITTY party hats!)
I can't remember the last time I wore a party hat!
Katy - The HELLO KITTY queen...
In all her glory :)
Oh yes, the dress went down to the floor.

Side note: Just so Katy doesn't get mad at me :) The HELLO KITTY thing is a family joke that has followed her through the years... and we won't let it die now!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More pics of the FUN RACE!!

Here are some more pics I got from a friend today:
The post explaining the pictures is below it...

Katie & Shelly at pre-race pasta party

Jessica - The Organizer of "Team Sweetfeet!"
She could have run the race faster than all of us but she was injured. Nothing was going to stop her from waking up at 4 AM to come cheer us all on! Without her, I would never have run the race! Thanks Jessica... and Janae too!
Me!! Approaching the last .1 mile marker
ME AGAIN!! I can SEE the finish line! Happy, happy day!
Team Sweetfeet... minus a few people
(like Me who's probably off eating ice cream! YUM!)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I DID IT! 13.1

When I first started running in college (due to the inspiration of my fabulous friend, Maylene), I set a goal to run the Provo River Trail Half marathon before I moved from UT. It was good for me to set a goal that previously would have not even been dreamed of. It required me to be diligent about training and to actually follow through on something I had committed to. The race went well, for the most part. I just remember tears welling up in my eyes as I approached the finish line and crossed it because I was overwhelmed and proud of the fact that I had accomplished something that for so long had seemed so unattainable. Setting this goal and running the race gave me new confidence in my dreams and goals. I REALLY could accomplish things that seemed impossible to me... if I dedicated myself to it. I know this new confidence helped me the months following the race as I moved to Boston and had a VERY rough couple of months getting settled in this new city.

(side note: After I ran the Provo half, I swore I would never do another. I was committed to running, but not that far. The problem was... the Provo half is mostly downhill and I had not trained running mostly downhill. My shin splints afterward were KILLERS.)

For the past four years, members of my church congregating have gotten a group (large group!!) together to run the BIG LAKE Half-marathon. Preparation starts in January and it's a big deal! (Kick-off parties, t-shirt creations (for TEAM Sweet-Feet), Pre-race Pasta party, etc). For the past four years I've always said "YES - I'll run" but when it comes to April, I've always backed out with some fabulous excuse I've come up with each time.

This year was different for a number of reasons. I have a little bit more time on my hands. My body has felt pretty strong... but I think the thing that really got me was that this was something I'd really like to do before I left Boston... and maybe it would be a good omen to jump-start my departure from this city for good. (Ran the Provo half a few weeks before I left there...). Also, because it was something I feared committing to because I knew it would not be pleasant to train the last few weeks and even to run the race! A goal I had been avoiding simply because I knew it would not be easy for me! Better to avoid than commit (hmmm... maybe that happens in other areas of my life as well :)
So, I committed. And it was FABULOUS!

(Didn't see these guys... missed out on that one!)

The weather was PERFECT. I had been a little worried because it rained at times as we drove there this morning. We were in the mountains of NH, so it was cool with a nice breeze and mostly overcast so it never got sunny & hot. The scenery was pretty (but to be honest, I kind of zoned out).

A view of Big Lake.

Lauren and I at the finish line. We LOOK good!! And, loved the medals!

MY TIME - 1:47.37 (but really, I think it's a minute less than that because I got totally STUCK in the pack at the beginning of the race!) I was proud that I was able to keep pretty consistent mileage at just over 8 minutes a mile!
Shelly, Michelle and I
Lauren - All smiles as she runs the last .1. I am sure I looked just as good as her! (wishful thinking, I know!)
A view of the lake from the finish line.

Here's my TOP ten list of what I learned from the race:

1. I am not allowed to THINK anything for the first 30 minutes I'm awake if I get up before 6 AM. Getting up at 4:30 AM for this race seemed absolutely crazy this morning.

2. Don't eat or drink anything for 45 min before running... not me, but others along the way were feeling the pain of this mistake.

3. Never pass up a water station. You don't know when the next one will be!

4. Even though the rules say you can't listen to an I POD when you run... IT IS VERY important for me to BREAK this rule

5. I am a firm believer in CARB LOADING the night before a long run. I always thought this was a little bizarre. But, I can't tell you how much pasta I've eaten over the past few weeks and I know it's helped!

6. Running races with 50 other people you know... is a lot of fun!

7. Hot Tub's were CREATED for runners to use after a race :) (in my opinion)

8. I have a special place in my heart for all the people who come to cheer during races. They put a smile on my face even if I didn't know them!

9. New Hampshire's mountains are truly beautiful :) That is one thing I will miss when I move...

10. THERE IS POWER IN POSITIVE THINKING and SETTING GOALS that are HARD to ACCOMPLISH. It's funny because I try and teach my kids this every week. I can't explain it, but if you think you can, you can. I want my students to know that they can do anything they set their minds to, yet I seem to doubt this when it comes to me :) However, I have renewed faith in that today as I used positive thinking on miles 4-5, 9, and 10-12... when things got harder for me. How proud of myself I would be to cross the finish line and accomplish this goal again and KNOW I did my best. Again, tears welled up in my eyes as I crossed the race knowing I what I had personally accomplished. Now only had my body been able to run such a distance, but what crossing that line did for my confidence, inner-drive, and self-esteem!

HOWEVER, I know without a doubt that I could NOT have accomplished this goal, or ANYTHING else in my life without the help of my Father in Heaven. And, for that I am eternally grateful. The medal I received is as much HIS as it is mine.

When's my next half? I think I'm OK for a while... But, I do want to be one of those moms who runs the last .1 of the race with her kids at the side... and then that 80 year old woman who finished today as well.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The most beautiful bouquet of flowers I have ever seen!

I am pretty sure that statement is accurate. This bouquet is incredible and the picture does not do justice.

My roommate got these from her boyfriend. Not only do they smell fabulous, but the colors are stunning and it's HUGE. I gave him bonus points :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Another graduation for me :)

I never thought I would graduate from something ever again. But, yes, I have been in Boston long enough to have earned 14 credits from our Institute and am GRADUATING on SUNDAY! I had no idea until they asked me to say a prayer at the graduation and then I saw the invitation! VERY cool!

P.S. - Don't know why this got cut off... but my name's on the left side anyway... that's all that matters!