Sunday, May 27, 2012

There's something to say about connecting like they did in the "Olden" days

So, I take a break in my UTAH report for this insight. I've been thinking about it recently and just read a study about it in a magazine today.

Topic: How we connect and stay connected with friends

With modern technology, it's so easy to send an email, Facebook message, or text to say Hi to a friend or to ask them a question. But, how much can you really find out from one sentence or what someone said in a short message? And, if you want to ask them about it, or suggest something, you've got to then msg them back and they might not even get it for a few hours or days... and the process continues.

Before coming to UT I was able to go on a few evening walks with friends and left them feeling so happy! Why? Well, in each case it was because we got to talk and connect... share stories... laugh at the same time... and enjoy actually being together. I think of dates I have been on as well. Ha-  would we have had just as much fun sitting on our phones texting the conversation, OR was it more fun conversing while sitting at a table eating something yummy!

I was reminded of this again on my trip to UT. I have physically gone and visited with friends. We've sat on couches together, played with kids, or whatever, but the fact is that we were together. I wasn't at a computer screen or texting on my phone trying to update them on my life. It seriously gave me JOY to connect in this way. It energized me!

The study I read about today said that when we're busy one of the first things to go is spending time with pals or even chatting on the phone - and this is SO true in my life. But, the study found that maintaining close friendships can have a huge impact on your health. According to the study Americans have a 1/3 fewer confidants for important topics than they did 20 years ago and 25% have no one they can talk to! WHAT? I would go insane if that was the case for me, but at times I have felt really disconnected from friends because we haven't had the face to face contact.

"Technology makes connecting with friends more efficient, yet it diminishes the quality of the relationship." So True! So, my new goal is to set goals for actual face to face contact with friends and to treat it like an appt that can't be missed! And phone chats with long distance friends!

I love how I feel after a good conversation with a friend... and so why is that the first thing to go when life gets busy?!! I think this also applies to family and dating relationships as well. It's so easy to just send a text... or an email... but the benefits far outweigh whatever time we gain in just sending a text.

Now, if you're trying to AVOID the person - thank goodness for texting and emails!

UTAH - Part 1

My trip to UT has been absolutely A-mazing so far. I didn't realize how much I needed a break and time away from D.C. I do love it there, and feel very much at home with such great friends... but coming to UT has been comparable to a ten year college reunion for me (explained below) and it has been so much better than expected!

I arrived late on Tuesday night and went straight to my hotel... with only one stop for dinner at Beto's! When I saw it, I just had to stop. It wasn't the same one we would always go to for late night dinner's in Provo, but that didn't matter. I was overwhelmed by the menu choices... and I was so hungry... so that didn't help. I have a special place in my heart for Mexican food... and you just can't get it on the east coast like you can on the west coast!

So, after much deliberation I ordered and made my way to my hotel. I was very pleasantly surprised with my hotel as well! My dad let me use some of his hotel points, so I went online and chose a hotel that was centrally located to everywhere I wanted to go. BUT, the hotel has a free full breakfast and dinner every day! It also has cookies and fruit available all day long. My room had a full kitchen (large fridge/stove, etc), and an outer "living room" with a big screen TV and then a separate bedroom with another TV. It has been heavenly! And, the staff is SO nice! OH - and we get to use a local gym for free as well. All of this combine to make me very happy :)

Wednesday I decided to head to Provo. The weather was going to be a bit iffy some of the other days and I didn't want to be walking around BYU in the rain. Just driving down I-15 brought back so many memories. I kind of went down memory lane as I arrived in Provo. I first stopped at the Provo River trail where Maylene, Nancy and I would go roller -blading and have some of our famous "boy" talks. It is so pretty back there. Maylene and Nancy were so much better at roller-blading than I was. I am surprised I never hurt myself, but I was also pretty slow. They were so nice to slow down for me!
The trail starts off right by this farm with horses... and ducks to the right in the pond. So pretty!
 From there I drove through downtown Provo where we would always go to Los Hermanos and some of the other restaurants. I had heard about the Covey Center for the Arts and decided to stop in as well. They had a beautiful exhibit of scenes from all over UT. I had to take a picture of a few of them because they were breathtaking. 

From there it was a drive down 500 East so I could go see Liberty Square. I wish Nancy or Maylene, or one of the girls from "32", had been there because I just wanted to spout out all these crazy memories I had from the time we lived there. I walked through "Jamestown" to see the pool and looked up at the window where we spent so much time sitting on the couch, talking, and looking out at everyone at the pool. I also walked over to the famous "Wash Hut" for old times sake. Still there :)
 Then it was off to campus. I went around basically the entire outside of it. There has been a lot of construction and improvements made, but it still is the same beautiful BYU campus that I remember. I was hoping to see a specific art exhibit at the BYU Museum of art, but sadly the one I wanted to see had left a few days before I arrived. They had two other cool ones though, which I also enjoyed. I walked through the Wilk and visited the food court where I used to work... and then F.A.R.M.S. Oh - and I stopped by the Tanner Bldg where I used to work at the Market Place cafe, but it looks like it's no longer there anymore. It was a beautiful day outside and a very fun visit.
 A view of the "Y" from BYU campus

I had a little extra time so I drove up by the "Y" and decided to go for a quick hike! It's pretty steep! Steeper than I remembered it being, but the view is incredible as you look down on BYU and the valley.

Looking a little red in that picture!
I then went to the BYU creamery for a famous mint brownie and to Helaman Halls for another trip down memory lane. I will forever be a "Hinckley Honey!"

From there I drove out to I-15 through Orem and headed to Nancy's! I haven't seen her in probably 4 years, but it was like I saw her yesterday! I was there for about two hours and got to meet her beautiful little girls, while she and I caught up on just about everything! Wednesday was SUCH a fabulous day!

Even though the weather called for rain, Thursday was beautiful. I had planned to meet a friend at Thanksgiving Point and walk around, but she was running late so I took the opportunity to just stroll a bit and read out on the beautiful lawn. I had been to some of the buildings at Thanksgiving Point a few times while I attended BYU, but I had never walked through their gardens. They have some 55 acres of land and 15 different "scenes" in them. But, before even walking outside, they currently have this beautiful art display of pictures of the Savior, his disciples and other gospel-related art work. They were beautiful and I could have stayed in there for a long time if the sun and fresh air weren't calling my name. I walked for a bit, read for a bit, and just soaked in the Vitamin D from the sun. The "scenes" in their gardens are beautiful, but I think my favorite one was the one with ten or so smaller statues or depictions of scenes from the Savior's life. They each had a quote or saying from the scriptures below them and they really touched me. I envisioned myself living in the time of the Savior and tried to think of how I would act or what I would have done. I hoped that I would have listened to him and spent time with him. 
 This was a carousel scene they had. I thought it was so pretty and unique!

After my visit I headed to Erica's! She moved from Boston to American Fork last summer and I hadn't seen her new baby yet! It was so much fun to visit with her and to see how BIG Nora and Wells are well as to meet her new little one. So precious! Her kids were in and out the door playing with all their friends on their street and so Erica and I had a good chance to catch up!

From there is was a quick trip back to my hotel to get ready for dinner with Bree and Emmy!

The three of us had agreed we would meet for dinner around 7:30 after Bree got off work. By 7:10 I was texting Emmy to see if she knew where we were meeting and she said Bree was the one who was deciding... so finally I got a text from Bree around 7:15 saying she just got back to the club and would call me in a minute. Well, a minute turned in to 10.

I happened to be on my computer and got an email through Facebook from Bree saying she locked her keys, purse and phone in a room and there was no way to get it out! So, long story short, I left to go pick her up and we were off to meet Emmy! I am so glad I was here and able to do that for Bree. I don't know what she would have done. I don't have anyone's phone numbers memorized so I wouldn't know who to call if I was her!

We met and again it was like time had never passed. Emmy told us all about her recent dating/engagement and Bree an I shared our "fabulous" boy stories as well :) Ha ha ha... we had a good time! Yet again, I left feeling so grateful for such A-mazing friends I have. Even though the miles separate us, we have a friendship that will last the test of time (and distance!) and that really means a lot to me!

Friday was another day of more friends! I drove up to the Foothills to see Brooke and meet her adorable son, Clayton. I knew Brooke from Boston. We had worked together in our callings in our ward and I admire her in so many, many ways! And, yet again, as soon as we start talking, it's like we time and distance hadn't separated us at all! We walked Clayton to the park as we chatted and caught up on each other's stories.  It made me so happy to be able to talk to Brooke again and to hear that she's expecting another little one in October! 

From Brooke's I headed south to Draper... and up the mountain to Julie's! She was NOT kidding when she said she lived at the top of a mountain! Oh my goodness. If it hadn't been so cloudy, I would have wanted to stop along the way and take pictures as I climbed and climbed! 

It was another cherished opportunity to spend time with Julie and her three children as well! They are so cute and very well behaved! Luke is full of smiles and such a calm baby. I got to watch him for a bit while Julie ran to get Cambree. We read a couple of stories and had a good time. I even got took the chance to get a picture of him and his cute little BYU outfit!
Julie, Luke and Cambree (who is adorable as well!)
Haylee was still at school for most of the time I was there, but she came home in time for me to see her as well. She brought home all these things from first grade since school is ending next week and she was such a delight to get to meet!
Then, we asked Haylee to take a picture of Julie, Luke and I. She's quite knowledgeable with how to use the IPhone at such a young age :)

Again, I left Julie's feeling even more grateful for such amazing friends. All of my visits to these amazing women made me so happy! I felt like I was at my ten year college reunion and I got to see how the things we talked about till 4 AM when we were in high school and college (such as what our future husbands/families/and lives would be like)... have come true for all of them! They are amazing moms, doing their best to raise children in the gospel, and they have fabulous husbands to face the trials, challenges and joys of life with. I am SO happy for them... and for others who aren't in UT but are doing the same things in AZ, CA, GA, ID, MD and many other locations across the country!

PART 2... to come soon

Saturday, May 12, 2012

An insiders view by a true "What"!

 This morning I had the amazing opportunity to get an "insiders" tour of Georgetown University from a true Hoya! (Which we learned means "What" in Greek, so they added the Latin word "Saxa" meaning "Rocks" - So they're technically the "Hoya Saxas" meaning "What Rocks"... but if you just call someone a Hoya, you're really just saying they're a "What". Ha ha ha :)

My dad did his undergraduate work here, so he brought us to visit one time when I was about ten or eleven, but I don't really remember much of our visit... and since its almost been 20 years since then... a LOT has changed!

Anyway, before starting out on our tour, we also learned they have "Jack" the bulldog and another littler bulldog called "Little Jack." Very fitting.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day. 

It was nice to just be outside walking around, but it was fun to walk in and out of such modern/beautiful buildings, and buildings that were some of the originals (I assume). I quickly realized that Georgetown has made very good use of its space and have built most of their buildings going up. Yes, this sounds silly, because most buildings usually are built up, but Georgetown sits on a hill so it's hard to tell from the outside that this is what is happening. However, when you walk in the buildings and then back out on another side, it's easier to see. 

I was just really impressed with the campus overall. Some of the buildings had beautiful views where you could see across the river to Rosslyn, and they are building a new grassy knoll that looks like it will have a nice decline to it so you can roll down it or go sledding! But, overall, just a beautiful campus. They have a very old cemetery and a cool bell/clock tower that seemed to be constantly ringing. During the tour I learned that the hands on one side of the clock were taken in a prank a few weeks ago. It supposedly took the students 15 hours to accomplish it, and from the looks of it, probably took their life in their hands getting the hands off of the clock. 

I love that Georgetown has kept it's strong Jesuit traditions/beliefs and that they still offer their students mass everyday. I also loved how beautiful their grounds were kept and how clean the campus was!

Anyway, here are some pictures.... This is the Bell/Clock Tower

 Then, one of the rooms we went in was Gaston Hall. It's inside the main building, Healy Hall. It seats over 700 people and it's where national and international dignitaries have spoken since the turn of the last century. Luckily for us the room was open because I imagine it's closed and locked to visitors most of the time.  The picture below is the front of the room where the speaker would stand. I took this picture from the 2nd floor. 
 We had to get a picture of our official "Hoya" tour guide... as proof he actually attends the school! Doesn't the setting just look so prestigious!
 And, to the left of the above picture there was a Steinway piano (which is a pretty notable piano in the music world)... so Braden took the opportunity to play a little something for us on it!
 Mer... just chill in in one of the seats!
 Mer was determined to find the one fountain on campus. It's well hidden if you don't know the school, but we happened upon it and she was very excited! I am glad we found this little quad as well. It was very peaceful and quiet. One of the smaller chapels on campus was on the other side of it and it was just a beautiful area. We stopped and took pictures :)

Then, we took pennies and threw them in to the fountain to make a wish! I think we were the only ones to have thought to do that... so maybe that means our wishes will definitely come true! 


Mer and I walked a little around Georgetown before heading home. It was such a fun morning! I LOVE living in DC! I have quite a few things on my "DC Bucket list"... this was one of them and another is actually walking across the Key Bridge! Yet to do that... but I don't think I am leaving this area anytime soon... so I'll get it done! And actually... that will be a very momentous occasion for me... so I have to do it with just the right person! Ha :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Goodbye Whidbey!

This past weekend I was able to travel back to Whidbey Island (just north of Seattle, WA) to be with my family for my grandfather's memorial service. (Side note: He passed away three days after my grandmother's funeral in March. He was determined to live as long as she did so he could take care of her to the very end)

I met up with Evan in Chicago and we flew together to Seattle (lucky him - he was in first class!). It had been an eventful morning for me as the taxi I had called for a ride to the airport NEVER showed up! It was more stress than I needed that morning. But, I got to Reagan in time. 

When we arrived it was typical Seattle - rainy and overcast. But, we hopped in the rental car (van, actually!) and started up I-5. Luckily, we only had to wait through one ferry before we got on. It was fun to travel this portion with him and it made the travel much more enjoyable!

As always, we got out of the car and went upstairs during the ferry ride. This is a picture of us approaching Whidbey Island. And, as always - it wouldn't be Whidbey Island if it didn't greet me with rain and clouds!
 We drove to my grandfather's house and met my dad and step-mom. I was STARVING at this point, so we decided to go to the little town of "Langley" for dinner. It was only 6:30 at night, but it was deserted! Most of the shops and restaurants were closed already. We found an open pizza place, but they only had four tables for people to sit down, so we had to wait about 20 minutes. I went out to take some pictures.
 They have this little seating area to overlook the 
water right on main street. Very pretty.
 This was Main Street. Really, the only street!
And, Dad & Evan below

The next day, the sun came and went, but it was clear enough at times to take pictures. The following are from the porch off the side of my grandfather's kitchen. His house is very cool in that their living room is all window on one side so that it looks out over the cliff/hill and down to the water. On clear days you can see all the way to Mt. Everest!
 Another view from his house
 This is the road that leads right to my grandfather's house just around that bend. It peaks at hit point and I just love the view!

The trip was wonderful. It was nice to be back on the island again and take in its beauty! There are benefits to rain - nature becomes very green and beautiful! I had fun with catching up with my brothers. We got to look through some things my grandparents had kept for many years and their photos/journals, etc. We also got to spend some time with my 2nd cousins who live on the island and celebrate my dad's birthday with him on Friday! 

The memorial service for my grandfather on Saturday was lovely. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The funeral home had created a video with pictures of all of us, as well as a large painting of my grandfather. Roger, my "uncle" (dad of my 2nd cousins) gave the Eulogy and did a wonderful job. Since my grandfather was also in the army for a while in WWII, three National Guard members came over from Seattle. Two of them did the whole flag ceremony thing, while someone else played TAPS. The whole thing brought tears to my eyes... thinking of the service my grandfather did... as well as all of those who serve our country and most of their work goes unnoticed. It was just wonderful.

Evan, Justin and I had to scoot out just after the service ended to get the ferry and get to the airport. This is probably the last time I will be on the island... maybe ever... and it was neat to think of all the fond memories I have had during my visits there. 

One last picture of the ferry

 And one last goodbye to the island as we pulled away.
Very fitting that it was sunny when we left!
That is how I would like to remember Whidbey. It was a place my grandparents adored and I know it made them smile that those they loved most were able to return to be together one last time in the home they also loved. Their house sits right on the top of that hill by the ferry. I waved goodbye to the island as we pulled away. I'll hold its memories in my heart and cherish it for its beauty and time I was able to spend with my grandparents there.

Goodbye Whidbey!