a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I’ve had several very surreal experiences in my life. Winning a national championship in Latin ballroom dancing when I was 11 was a big one. The day I actually left for college was another one. Receiving my mission call, going through the temple, and entering the MTC was a big one all tied together.

This week I had another very surreal experience.

I received a personalized letter in the mail signed by all three members of the DC temple presidency asking me to come in and have an interview. That was cool enough by itself.

As per their request I arrived at the temple on Tuesday evening, dressed in my white dress that I bought the day I received my endowment, and walked to the temple president’s office. He greeted me with a friendly smile and handshake, already knowing my name, and invited me to his office. After briefly getting to know me he then told me I had been called to be an ordinance worker within the temple and wanted to know when I would be available to attend.

It was one of those happy moments when I felt the Lord confirming to me that my life was in accordance with His will and He needed me to do more.

You see, when I went to Boston a couple months ago and heard Clayton Christensen speak that Saturday morning he said something really profound for me. He explained that the Church and its programs are requiring less and less of us. We’re asked to spend an hour or two a month visiting teaching, three hours at church on Sunday, several hours more magnifying our calling. We’re asked to study the scriptures, pray, and attend the temple. All those things are the things we should be doing, but all together they still don’t add up to a lot of time (unless of course one is serving as a bishop, stake president, or in another capacity that requires more time than usual). In essence, the Church is not asking us to sacrifice a lot.

On the other hand, the Lord expects us to sacrifice all that we have.

Part of the covenants we make with Him teach us that we are to give everything that we have to Him and His kingdom. There’s a gap then between what the Church is asking us to sacrifice and what we must sacrifice of our own will in order to sacrifice everything for Him in the end.

Are you following me here?

What I’m trying to say is that I realized how much more I needed to sacrifice for the Lord. A lot more. I made the decision right there that I was going to commit myself to sacrificing as much as I knew how for the benefit and happiness of others. I wanted to show the Lord that I was willing to sacrifice all that I had.

When I sat in President Swinton’s office on Tuesday I was grateful for another large opportunity to sacrifice. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, my life is a hectic happiness full social events, work, and dating. Not only are my weekends full of things to do but somehow I’ve managed to fill up my week days too.

Sacrificing my Thursday night every week to work in the temple is something I’ve looked forward to for a couple years now. It’s something I’ve wanted to do so badly but haven’t had the right circumstances.

The time is right now. I’ll be able to be in the temple of my Lord every week, be His representative within those walls, help others make their own covenants.

President Swinton laid his hands on my head. Using his holy priesthood he set me apart and gave me a blessing.

It was a surreal experience and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.

A Christmas Carol

Living in DC brings experiences I never imagined I would have. When I moved here eight months ago I made a DC bucket list and have been able to cross things off that list slowly but surely.

It seems like each day there’s something new to see, a new restaurant to try, a new museum to boast about. I love the never-ending sights and sounds that accompany this city of pride and honor.

For Christmas my roommate Katie Younger surprised us with tickets to A Christmas Carol at historic Ford’s Theater. What an experience I thought! Not only do I get to see a fabulous Christmas-time play but in the exact theater where President Lincoln attended and breathed and watched and was ultimately assassinated!

I adore my roommates with whom I can get dressed up on a weekday night, drive into the District with its lit up monuments, and attend the theater. I appreciate that they appreciate those kinds of things along with me.

We had fabulous tickets close up by the stage and when the performance started I was blown away from the start. Ford’s Theater is a smaller one, more intimate and personal. The actors were spot on, the costumes perfected, the music and theatrics the best I’ve seen. There wasn’t time to blink.

Two beautiful hours came and went and I promised myself that this would become a yearly tradition every year that I’m in DC for Christmas. It has to be a new tradition!

My life is good and fulfilling. I get to do things most people only dream about. I get to live a life other single and married people envy. I have adorable and intelligent friends, a job where I can progress and learn and shine. I actually have money to do fun things and create new experiences. I live in a city brimming with opportunity and life.

So often I feel myself caught up in the rush to get married. Everyone who truly knows me understands that that is my single greatest desire in life, but in the meantime I feel like I’m being allowed to live life to the very fullest.

My life is rich and vibrant. I couldn’t ask for a single thing more to make me happy right now. 

International Weekend

Sometimes I volunteer for some pretty random things. I don’t know what pulls me to volunteer for certain things over others but when I see an opportunity I like and an open night, sometimes I get involved in some pretty cool, random things.

Take Friday night for example. A couple weeks ago I saw on the listserve an opportunity to be a guest panelist at a conference for international students. I didn’t know much more than that but since my good friend Kathryn Moss had put it on the listserve in the first place and knew she’d be attending, I decided to sign up. Why not? I always enjoy a good cultural Friday night.

I really didn’t know what to expect.

I showed up and got to know the other panelists, all people about my age. Dinner started and we got to try dishes made by the students from all the around the world. I tried meatballs, and breads, and salads, and desserts from Europe and South America and every place in between. I even tried the Vegemite from Australia.

I will never try Vegemite again.

Once we divided up into groups the moderator asked us panelists different questions of what it was like growing up in the United States. We shared stories as part of our responses and described our different experiences.  We talked about stereotypes of American high schools (no, not every high school is like Mean Girls here in the US) and how we dealt with pressures to drink, use drugs, or have sex.

Next it was our turn to talk about our stereotypes of their countries. We played a game where the moderator would say one of the countries represented in the room and the panelists had to say the first word they associate with that country. You wouldn’t believe how ignorant I felt. Some of my responses were:

Germany- supermodels (I had just watched an episode of Project Runway and knew that Heidi Klum was from Germany.)

Poland- concentration camps (sad but true, the only thing I associate with Poland deals with WWII).

Bolivia- uhhhhh…..I have no association with Bolivia. The only thing I could think of is that it borders Ecuador which is where I lived. How pathetic is that??? There is nothing that comes to my mind when someone says Bolivia. I definitely need to work on that.

I won’t embarrass myself any more than that.

Needless to say that I realized I needed to learn more about different countries because I have just as many stereotypes for the rest of the world as the rest of the world has for Americans.

The last part of the night involved a US Jeopardy trivia game where once again the panelists (me included) practically embarrassed ourselves by our lack of simple facts about our country. Luckily the students knew even less than us so we didn’t feel that bad. It was really fun being on a team with students from Germany, Argentina, Poland, and Australia, and getting to know each of them individually.

I walked away from the night with a deep sense of wanting to know more about the world around me, of wanting to live in different countries so that I can really understand the people and culture, and have a better idea of how the world turns. This conference needs panelists every couple of months and you’d better believe I will be doing this again. Hopefully by next time I’ll be able to brush up on my facts and figures and have something intelligent to say when they ask me about Bolivia. Hopefully.

The simple pleasures

Written Dec. 11, 2011

Ten things about today I’m grateful for:

1) A good nights rest

2) Eating edamame for lunch- I recently discovered these little bean looking things and can’t get enough. Every day I look forward to steaming my little bag of deliciousness, sprinkling a little salt on my bowl of pods and feasting on my scrumptious soy beans. Weird I know. But they are SOOO good. I can’t believe I haven’t discovered edamame till now.  Where have you been all my life?

3) The cold crisp air that fills my lungs and helps me not feel nauseous- ever since moving here and being on a bus and metro several times a day I’ve developed an abnormal amount of queasiness and motion sickness. During the summer it was really hard getting on the metro after a long days work and being so hot in the humidity that I always felt like I was going to throw up. The cold air that fills my lungs and a piece of my Shaun White wintermint gum has made my queasiness non-existent. I’m so grateful for that.

4) Finding Carson’s perfect Christmas gift- I can’t say what it is on the blog yet since it’s not Christmas yet but with that said, I found the PERFECT gift. It involves tickets to a certain event in Salt Lake City and is something he would NEVER expect but will die to receive. I think of all the gifts I’ll be giving this Christmas I’m excited to see his reaction. It’s so much more fun this year to buy Christmas gifts since I actually have money to get cool things for the ones I love.

***Since it’s Christmas Day I guess I can say that I got him Harlem Globetrotters tickets. He was so surprised and so exited. (Enter comment about my rockin sister skills here.)***

5) Getting in the mail today a signed letter from all three members of the DC temple presidency. They want to meet with me on Tuesday. I felt really really special and excited.

6) Watching a movie with my roommates. It’s a rare event that the three of us have time to be together let alone enough time to sit down and watch a movie together. It was a special time.

7) The uncontrollable laughter that came after the movie. Those are the best of times, the moments when you can’t breath and you feel your face splitting apart because of the unbroken smile and the terrible muscle ache in your abs because they’ve been contracted so long in laughter. I live for those moments.

8) A workday that went by quickly. I love the days I have a lot to do and before I know it it’s time to go.

9) Going to bed earlier than normal. For me normal is about 11:30. Anything earlier that is a miracle. Today I’ll be in bed by 10:45.

10) Knowing I get to eat Café Rio tomorrow. This would be better if I had been able to eat Café Rio today but just knowing I will get it tomorrow is almost as good. I’m taking my coworkers Katie and Melissa and I hope they like it since I’ve hyped it up so much. A shredded chicken burrito, pinto beans, no enchilada style, tomatillo dressing, and a key lime pie could not make me a happier girl.

It’s the simple pleasures right? I have a blessed life. 

Beautiful nature

10 things about nature that I’m grateful for:

1) wind: one of the things you’ve gotta know about me is that my favorite weather condition is wind. Yep, you heard that right- wind. I think wind is so magical, whether it’s a soft breeze that slightly ruffles my hair or forceful gusts that make trees sway. I don’t know what it is. I could drive on the freeway with my window down at all times.

2) The Amazon River: at the end of my time of living in Ecuador I got to go on a side trip and live in the Amazon jungle for four days in a hut. To get to that rustic hut we had to take a motorized canoe three hours up the Amazon River. Over the next couple of days I got to live right on the river, float down it with only a lifejacket, and go river rafting down it. Let’s just say there was more than one National Geographic moment.

3) Absolutely perfect fall days: I thought I loved Utah falls (and when I say Utah falls I mean the three fall days we usually get in between the scorching summer heat and the cold snowy winters) and then I lived in Texas on my mission and I thought I loved Texas falls, but then I moved to DC and I fell in love with East Coast falls. There have been weeks and weeks of perfect fall days with colorful trees, leaves crunching, scarf wearing, boot walking days.

4) Delicious fruit from the earth: is there anything better than a perfectly ripe raspberry, pineapple, mango, or apple? I submit that there is not. Sometimes I’m amazed that we have such delicacies for our use and sustenance. I thank the moment that those uber delicious fruits were created.

5) Sand dunes: I seem to have a lot of family memories at sand dunes. It seems we always went out of our way on road trips to stop at some sand dunes so we could play and get our wiggles out. In April when we went to Mexico we spent a very windy day at some sand dunes by the beach. My dad got the idea to go to the bottom and videotape us kids as we ran down the dunes toward him. We trooped to the top and when he gave us the signal we sprinted down the dune straight toward him. It was hilarious and I was laughing at my brothers as they had their arms out pretending to fly. But then I tripped. The only thing you can see on the video are my brothers flapping their wings and me biffing it straight onto my face. They didn’t realize I was down until they got to the bottom, looked around for me and saw me laughing my guts out and spewing sand mid-way up the dune. It was a special moment for me.

6) Goblin Valley and Calf Creek Falls: they’re in Southern Utah. If you haven’t been than you need to. They will blow your minds.

7) Texas sunsets: now don’t get me wrong, I loved my mission, and I loved walking the streets of the Metroplex and the Texas country, but when it comes down to it Texas doesn’t hold a flame to Utah as far as natural beauty is concerned. There are no mountains, nor anything else really. But what Texas does have is sunsets. And believe me when I say that those sunsets make up for anything else it’s lacking.

8) Utah’s cool summer evenings: if you asked me to describe my perfect moment (as far as perfect moments I’ve had up until this point in my life go- I’m sure that getting married or holding my first baby will be different) I would say that my perfect moment is sitting on my porch in a chair under a table umbrella, eating a homemade cheeseburger hot off the grill, talking with my family, on a perfect summer evening in Utah. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.

9) Boogey boarding waves: to feel the crest of the wave, my arms paddling, my head raised….and then that sensation when I’ve caught a solid big wave that I can ride all the way to shore.

10) The first snow: the first snow means fires in chimneys, tubing at the dunes, plenty of snow in the mountains for skiing, the coming of Christmas and family time

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The people I love that are alive

I’m gonna be honest here, my gratitude list of living people is a little boring. Also, it’s more like my list of living groups of people since I didn’t want to spend my entire list on my parents and siblings. Either way, this is what I got:

1)      Parents: believe it or not I don’t think that’s cliché. When I lived in Ecuador I spent three months with 30 babies that had been abandoned by their parents just minutes after they were born. Some of these babies were found in trash cans, in bathrooms, or on streets. Some were given up by their mothers before they were even cleaned up after birth. Some were brought to the orphanage and left on the steps in the dead of night. So you’d better believe that I’m grateful for my parents, that they love me and care for me and sacrifice for me every single day. 

2)      Brothers: these guys are the best. They always have been. We really bonded when my parents were divorcing. During that time we’d jump in the car together and go house hunting (roaming the town finding our friends’ homes and neighborhoods just to see what they looked like). I would do anything for them and them for me. #siblingloyalty

3)      Daunetta and Cathy: these two women are my mom’s best friends. They’ve been there for my mom when I’ve been off conquering the world. Together they are the funniest bunch of women I have ever met. They describe themselves as a little irreverent, the type that has to be seated in a party room at such-and-such restaurant so they don’t bother the other guests with their contagious laughter, the type of women that go to NYC every year just to shop, see shows, and get into trouble. And you’d better believe they’ve gotten into trouble. From sleeping in dingy hotels to getting purses stolen to following the sketchy men on Canal Street all the way to their warehouses, that’s just their style.

4)      My girlfriends: my bosom friends. You can read about them here.

5)      My guy friends: Nate Mulliner, Scott Rowley, Britton Stanfill. The best guy friends a girl could ask for.

6)      Adele: her lyrics and sound speak to me more than anyone else recently. It’s like she knows my life. 

7)      The homeless black guy in the park who, when I walk past every morning, tells me I’m beautiful and that I’ve got killer hair and a killer smile. Thanks for that.

8)      Thomas S. Monson- recently read his biography. I wept every time I opened it. I know he leads the church I’m a part of. I know he’s God’s living prophet on the earth today. His stories and love get me every time. 

9)   Jasmine my boss: after struggling with the company I worked for in Rexburg and a boss that wasn’t open to creativity, change, or equality, I’ve grown to love Jasmine (my boss here at my job in DC) for all those things she does possess and so much more. I know there’s not a lot of people who don't like their bosses let alone admire them, but I do mine. Jasmine is fair, she respects me which then makes me respect her even more, she’s competent and intelligent, and she’s hilarious. I love her laugh and I love her style. Outside of work we have really similar tastes in movies and books. I couldn’t be more grateful for a boss that really rocks.

10)   Jesus Christ: He is reserved for last place because He is everything to me. More than anything or anyone else in this world I’m grateful for my Savior and Redeemer.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Grateful Dead

Thinking of 10 dead people I'm grateful for has definitely been the hardest gratitude challenge yet. But luckily I came up with some good ones:
1) my grandpa Hewitt: grew up dirt poor and searched for truth for decades until missionaries knocked on his door and he was perfectly prepared to accept gospel. He spent his entire retirement driving to the temple every single day spending several hours therein. I know there were thousands upon thousands waiting to receive him on the other side.
2) William Tindale: because of him I can read about the life of my Savior in the Bible and carry my own scriptures around with me. Watch this to be inspired even more. 

4) Dr. Burill Crohn and colleagues: he discovered why my body is so messed up sometimes and gave a name to my disease. Since being diagnosed at age eight I have come to identify myself deeply as a Crohn's patient. It is a bigger part of my life than I wish but has also taught me invaluable lessons that I wouldn't trade. Thank you Dr. Burill.

5) "The mothers who knew" in the Book of Mormon: We don't know a whole lot about them but we know they were good. The taught their sons to be strong and courageous and valiant. I want to do the same.
6) Steve Jobs: although I'm not the biggest Apple nerd out there, I respect how he revolutionized computers and marketing. He changed my generation more than we'll ever really know. He gained my respect after I watched this video.
7) Joseph Smith and President Hinckley: both are my prophets...and will be forever.
8) Jane Austin: a singular and elect lady who has been able to capture my heart and let me love classic literature. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, two of my favorites.
9) Seth: my cousin born a week earlier than me who passed away in 2004 in a car accident. I will always Choose To Remember.
3) Albus Dumbledore and Fred Weasley: they win my lifetime achievement award for being heroes. Can't wait to meet them someday as well :)
10) Dave Thomas and Donald and Doris Fisher: because of Dave I can always enjoy a grilled chicken sandwich, chocolate Frosty and the best fries out there and...well, the Fishers started GAP which along with Banana Republic is my absolute favorite clothing store and the only one at which I have a credit card. Thank you 50% off coupons.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Material possessions

10 material possessions I'm grateful for:

1. my sewing machine: I had it shipped cross country and I've never been happier to have it back in my possession.

2. a comfortable and cute and warm bed: I know there are millions of people out there who don't have one of their own and never will. I count myself lucky that I do and that it has the cutest eclectic quilt on it in the world.

3. my Banana Republic jeans that fit perfectly: every girl needs a pair. Nuff said.

4. my collection of scarves: always the perfect touch.

5. my Droid smart phone: what I would do without it? I don't even want to imagine. My favorite app you might ask? the Spanish Mormon Channel or the one that shows me the constellations in the night sky. Pretty. dang. cool.

6. my collection of perfumes: I can blame my mom for this fetish but I love smelling good all the time. Nanette Lepore, Juicy Couture Couture, Versace Crystal Noir, and hopefully soon Armani Code and Dior Miss Cherie. All divine.

7. the wall hangings that adorn my bedroom: my hand carved board of the Mt. Timpanogos temple from a member of the church in Ecuador, a large framed H, and a picture of Christ.

8. my scriptures: these babies have been worn and read and handled and written in a lot, and I love that about them. On the leather cover you'll find my name embossed in gold and my missionary tag that reads Hermana Redford - La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias.

9. my makeup: only a makeup girl would understand. The thought of losing that precious stuff is frightening. I love it because I love putting it on and I love how I feel with it on. That's that.

10. my special chapstick: I have to trust you to show this stuff. It's the best in the world and will cure any chapstick addiction there is. One application after teeth-brushing and that's it. It's gold. You know you're really my friend when I've confided to you what it's really supposed to be used for. 

I'm grateful I'm physical

Now people, I'm not usually the kind to jump on the bandwagon with trends. It takes me some good old time to figure out what I like and don't like and what's really my style. So when Thanksgiving came along and everyone was blogging it up about all that they're grateful for......well, I didn't post anything. I just didn't want to make a big list of all my Thanksgiving gratefuls. But then last night happened and I was browsing the latest Ensign when at the end of President Eyring's talk on gratitude I found some ideas on what to write, some maybe more unusual things that we don't give credit to.

So this is me finally jumping on the bandwagon and committing myself to blogging about gratitude for my next TEN blog posts. Ready?


10 physical abilities I'm grateful for: 

1. the ability to walk: have you ever thought about how hard not walking would be? Although I'm pretty sure I would love the awesome muscle-ness of arms I would get wheeling myself around in a wheelchair, I'm glad I have two working legs that can walk and dance and bowl and twirl and skip.

2. the ability to use my hands properly: sometimes when I'm bored in a meeting I try writing with my left hand. I doodle a lot with my left hand. It's supposed to make your brain smarter. I've actually gotten really good at it. I'm grateful for two working hands that can touch, write, cook, feel, and hold.

3. my fully functioning healthy active digestive system: if any of you know my past then you'll understand. Let's just leave it at that.

4. the ability to play dodgeball, volleyball and football: my three favorite sports. I'm grateful I can do all three and do them pretty well. I don't like sitting on the sidelines.

5. tasting delicious food: I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful to be able to savor.every.drop of something I love, something so delicious.

6. the ability to feel other touch: I love that spark that runs through my body when someone I like hugs me or touches my arm, or even better kisses me. I love the bond that touching brings.

7.  the ability to carry and give birth and feed children of my own: now this hasn't happened yet but I can't wait for it. It's a miracle that my body will be able to do all those things. Geesh, that's awesome.

8. the ability to see colors and use eyes to behold beautiful things: there was a time when my family and I hiked Calf Creek Falls in Utah and when it started to rain on the way back, there were new waterfalls coming off the cliffs. It was something to behold. I love that I get to look at pretty things like temples and newborn babies and stores like Anthropologie and scrumptious hair-dos and rainbows of course.

9. the talent I have for sleeping well: I've always been a good sleeper. When the lights go out and my head touches the pillow I never have a hard time sleeping. And I never wake up during the night. It is a gift I'm grateful for.

10. hearing music that seems to transcend this earth: a while back I wrote this post about a song that makes my heart sing. I'm not a hard core music listener (also a really important fact about me, I love my silence) but there are still a lot of songs that really speak to me and touch me in a way I can't express in words. I'm grateful for those moments of bliss. I'm grateful that when I go home I can sit on my couch and listen to my brothers play the violin and the piano together. I would call that perfect.

And there you have it folks, my first blog on gratitude. Stay tuned.


sometimes I leave work, take the metro and then the temple shuttle all the way up to Maryland to attend a temple session

sometimes by the end of the session I'm really really tired, having worked an entire day and attending the temple right after

sometimes I get really nauseous riding on the metro especially when I'm hot

sometimes the metro breaks down or a door won't close and we have to sit on the tracks while I freak out knowing I'm going to miss my bus by seconds, the bus that only comes twice an hour this time of night

sometimes it's freezing outside and windy and the last thing I want to do is stand at my bus stop for 29 minutes and 30 seconds and wait for the next one, especially when I don't have a good book in my purse at the time

sometimes I get off one stop later at Pentagon City and splurge

yes sometimes I splurge and take a taxi about two miles to my apartment and pay $8 to do it

and sometimes that $8 is the best money I've ever spent

Friday, November 18, 2011

Coming full circle

(This post goes in conjunction with the one previous.)

So Mr. Miner and his group came on Wednesday. After months of waiting for this day it finally came and went and was something to be remembered.

We met up at the American History Museum. I heard him coming before I ever saw him. Mr. Miner's voice is distinctive and not something you argue against. He gave me a hug which made some of his students standing near us do a double-take. Then he introduced me as one of his former students. "Wait, you live here now?" was someone's reply. "Why yes, yes I actually do."

We walked around and I met some of his students. Nice kids. Good kids. Kids that didn't look all that younger than me. They would ask history questions and Mr. Miner would take a few minutes and answer all of them, he would continue to teach them, and they would listen. Just like it used to be with me.

He hasn't changed at all.

A student came up and asked if she could leave the building and walk to the Lincoln since she was leaving a day early and would miss seeing all the monuments. Mr. Miner and I decided to take a cab with her the short distance and show her the Lincoln, the Vietnam, and the Korean memorials. The day was overcast and misty. It was also a Wednesday and in the middle of the afternoon. I have never been to those memorials with so few people it was amazing. There were only a small handful walking around. They were almost empty.

We got to talk a little more, about my job and his, and our families. Even after all the hundreds of students he's had he remembered details about my life that I appreciated.

After re-joining the group we headed to the National Portrait Gallery. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I walked the long halls with Mr. Miner and we chatted some more. I told him what ultimately drove me to moving to DC, how I needed to get away from memories in Utah and Idaho and start a new life after a hard breakup, and how the thought I'd had six years previous had stuck with me, the thought that it'd be cool to move to DC one day. It was then that it hit me, I'd come full circle.

After an awesome Chinese dinner at Tony Cheng's in Chinatown I walked with the 40-student group back to their hotel in Rosslyn and got to talk to the students for a couple minutes. I told them my story, my ambitions, the reasons I'm here, how I got here, and how much I love it. I gave them pieces of advice that I wish I'd understood better at their age. I told them to work hard and be a leader. I told them to do everything in their power to live abroad and see different cultures and peoples. I don't them to set their sights high and never think they can't make it.

I hope I was a role model.

The night was over. I said goodbye to Mr. Miner again, shook his hand, told him that if I'm around next year I want to meet with his group again, told him I'd stay in touch, and then headed back to the metro and ultimately to my apartment. I'm grateful for days like this. Days when I can see my past and where I came from. Mr. Miner is someone that I will always respect and admire. I hope I can reach the potential he's always seen in me.

Why yes, yes I actually live here....and I love it.

Mr. Miner and I on the day of my high school graduation

Reunited after six years 

Just one of those teachers

There are some people in life that have influenced me more then they probably know or understand. These people are the ones I look up to, respect, admire, want to emulate, and want to make proud.

Friends, of course, fit in to this category. Certain people I met in my mission like Bro. Bassie or Alma Gamboa. There have been several teachers throughout the years that have had a lasting impact on my life and have shaped much of who I am today. 

Mr. Miner is one of those teachers. 

I walked in to his classroom my first day of high school. He didn't smile a whole ton but I didn't think he was mean. He had this sort of presence, the kind of presence that commands respect and doesn't take crap. 

I knew I was going to like him because those are the kind of teachers I've always responded to, the ones who have this air of obedience to them, the ones who expect a lot out of you but give you respect in return, the ones who make you work hard but let you see how working hard brings immense success and satisfaction, the ones who ultimately love you as a person and see your potential even before you do. 

Mr. Miner is one of those teachers. 

I took every one of the classes he offered during my three years in high school. I loved his AP US history class my junior year. I studied so hard for that AP exam and I was confident I was going to get a good grade. The week of the test I got really sick with Crohn's and was in the hospital the day of the exam. Mr. Miner personally called the hospital to reassure me it was all right. He arranged for me to take the make-up exam. I passed with flying colors thanks to him. 

My senior year he asked me to be his TA during his free period. When I was supposed to be grading papers, instead I would sit in a chair across from his desk and he's continue to teach me. We talked about wars and about government. He taught me things we didn't have time for in class. That's when my love for all things history and government started to bud.

Mr. Miner is one of those teachers. 

That year is when I came to DC for the first time with a group of students and Mr. Miner as our guide. In five days we jam packed everything we could possible do and see in DC. I was enchanted by the city and everything it had to offer. During that trip we met up with one of his former students, a cute girl then studying at George Washington. I thought it was so cool talking to her and hearing her road from Utah Valley to DC. It was then that the idea that I wanted to do the same got into my head and never really left. 

See me with the white hat on?

Purple coat right in the middle and my dad just behind me in the green

There I am with the purple coat on again and the nice shades. 

When I made the decision to go to BYU-I, I got the class catalog in the mail and as I was browsing through it I found the Political Science courses. They sounded really similar to what Mr. Miner had been teaching me for three years. These courses caught my interest when nothing else in the entire catalog did. I made the decision to study Political Science that very day, before I had ever stepped on the university's campus. I never looked back. Never once did I question if I should study something else. There was nothing else that even held a flame to what I loved learning in my PoliSci classes. 

Two years after high school I was preparing to go on my mission. I hadn't talked to Mr. Miner since then. One day I was in the Provo temple waiting for the session to begin when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked back to see Mr. Miner, dressed in white like me. We exchanged a quiet hello and he asked me where I was going and offered a congratulations and good luck. He still didn't know the impact he was still having on my life. 

Then last April, as I sat in the library one day thinking of all that I'd been through and what I'd accomplished in college, I thought about Mr. Miner once again. I knew I needed to tell him how much I appreciated what he'd done for me in high school. I knew I needed to tell him how his teaching had put me on the course I'm on today. So my mom found his number in the phonebook and I called him up. My heart was racing a little bit. "What am I doing? I haven't talked to this man in six years."

He sounded the same and we chatted for a few minutes. I explained how grateful I was for his early direction and for the person he's made me to be. I explained that I was moving to DC in a few weeks. I was surprised to hear that he was still making his trips to DC with students every year. Then he said, "You know, Hannah, now you can be the person we meet up with when we're there. You can be the role model for the students who don't think it's possible to ever move to a place like DC." 

Shivers went through my body. I thought of the girl I'd met on my inaugural trip to DC six years previous. Now I was going to be that girl. 

Mr. Miner is just one of those teachers. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Metal mouth and platform flip-flops

I was fortunate to never really experience bullying when I was in middle school. Yes there was immense pressure to be “popular” and have new clothes and wear make-up and platform flip-flops but I don’t remember ever really caring about that kind of stuff too early. I guess I was a late bloomer in some senses and I’m really grateful for that. However, that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it when Bradley Greenwell called me four-eyes one day when I wore my glasses or that I didn’t feel self-conscious when my mom wouldn’t let me wear eye shadow or much mascara.

Overall though I had a pretty normal middle school experience. I experienced it, got through it, and moved on. I remember vaguely starting to have serious crushes on boys, of starting to round brush my hair more often, and being more aware of people’s feelings and circumstances.

Of course there was a lot of awkwardness that accompanied my three years at Lakeridge Junior High. I was slightly embarrassed that I had to get special permission from my geometry teacher to use the hall pass every day to go to the bathroom since my problems with Crohn’s were still being worked out. I remember arguing with my mom over the length of my shorts and the sleeves on my shirts. I also clearly remember all the school dances with the slightly dark gym floor, the 7th graders playing tag, and the 9th graders pretending to be cool and dance in the middle.

School dances in middle school and the word anxiety are synonymous.

I would get ready for every dance in the hope that sometime before nine when the dance ended I would hear the music of Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero” and Josh Bishop would stroll over to me, tap me on the shoulder, and ask me to slow dance with him.

(BTW, he always did and I thought I was on cloud 9)

But now those three years are very much a blur. It’s been almost ten years since I conquered junior high and boy, I’m glad to be done with those years. They were years of inner turmoil, years of figuring out the beginnings of adulthood, years of realizing who I was becoming and who I wanted to become, years of stylish ignorance and exploration, and years of come-and-go crushes and heartbreaks.

But I wouldn’t take back those years for anything. They were priceless years of learning and growth and although they were hard and difficult, they were character building.

So listen to this podcast from the NPR program This American Life. Listen and reminisce about your years in middle school and the awkwardness that it was. I couldn’t stop laughing as I listened to the stories of current middle-schoolers and their woes and travails. I promise that the hour you listen will not disappoint. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

A little Adele

Katie Younger and I share a passion for Adele.

We can't get enough of this song lately.

So here's to any of you who have loved...

...and then had to let go. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

I think I'll go to Boston

Growing up in Orem, UT, meant that I attended an almost all-white high school where the overwhelming majority of students were LDS and came from middle-income families. I liked it that way. At least in the area where I lived there wasn’t a lot of competition or pressure to become a millionaire or CEO of a Fortune 500. Don’t get me wrong, my parents expected the best out of me and I always knew they would push me to get the best grades possible, but the idea of every applying, let alone attending an ivy league university never even crossed my mind. I was content attending a smaller, less prestigious university where I could go about my business getting a good education without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get it.

I guess you could say that Harvard and MIT and Columbia and all those places really felt unattainable to me, untouchable in a sort of way. What I knew of those universities was all from the movies.

It wasn’t until I went to Ohio a couple months ago with a group of friends, one of which happened to attend Harvard Law School, that I got my first glimpse of what attending Harvard was like. The whole weekend I couldn’t resist asking Chris B. question after question of what his experience was like there. Luckily for me he wasn’t the type to put his nose in the air and snoot at all of us who didn’t go to a school like that. Instead he answered my questions and was really nice about all my inquiring. I found it fascinating to hear his stories and experiences, and even more found a new friend who I loved talking to.

My brother Spence also helped me understand what the culture of Boston is like since he served his mission there. His stories of the people, the general feeling toward organized religion, and the kind of life Bostonians live was so different than my stories and experience in the middle of Texas where I served and worked in the ghetto.

Finally, after years of being fascinated with these schools and the idea of going to Boston myself one day I got to go last weekend and made the 10 hours trek up to New England.

Almost immediately I was impressed with the scenery and skyline in general. The beautiful Charles River that runs through the middle of the city, almost constantly dotted with crew boats. What’s more, my roommates and I splurged and got a four-star hotel suite that had amazing beds and lots of space and mirrors (clearly exactly what three girls need for a weekend in Boston when we want to look cute the entire time).

The purpose of our trip was to attend the famous Boston Education Conference for YSA’s on the East Coast which, although we skipped out on some of the activities so we could explore Boston, was awesome and very well put together. I was extremely touched by the things the speakers shared and overwhelmed with the feeling that I need to sacrifice more for my Savior and tie up some of the loose ends in my spiritual life. Once again I was extremely grateful for opportunities such as these where the church uses its resources to get such amazing speakers for us like Clayton Christensen, Kristen Oaks, and Matt Holland.

Clayton Christensen- If you don't know who this guy is and what he's done not only for the church but in his profession you need to look him up. He's an incredible person!

Some of the highlights of the weekend were these:

1) The FOOD- either we lucked out on finding all the best restaurants in Boston or Boston just has the best food in the country. We ate incredible pizza topped with roasted potatoes, cranberries, and spinach. Café Luna treated us right for brunch on Saturday where we ate pumpkin pie stuffed french toast, homemade mint hot chocolate, and Belgian waffles topped with blackberries the size of quarters, and later we had authentic French cuisine where I ate a croissant made with so much butter it just fell apart in my mouth. Can I say delish???

2) Walking around MIT and Harvard campuses. Finally I found myself walking the streets of the universities I once thought were untouchable. MIT was surprisingly quiet and we enjoyed some of the incredible Danish architecture and marveled at the science buildings where cures for cancer are being found. Harvard was bustling with people, students, and tourists. Walking through the gates onto the quads with the gorgeous Harvard school building surrounding me was breathtaking. There I was, standing in front of the Harvard library, I couldn’t believe I was there. I imagined what it would have been like to walk the halls of that great campus an attend classes with world-renowned professors.


Amazing architecture

Rubbing the foot of John Harvard for good luck, a Harvard tradtion

The Harvard library

3) Walking along the Charles River and watching the Crew teams. We were also lucky because there was a huge crew competition the weekend we were there. I decided that if I had grown up on the East Coast Crew would have definitely been my thing. Everything about it was entrancing to me and I wish I could turn back time and sign up. Who knows, I’m not too old, maybe the next time you hear from me I will have joined a team!

4) Our Boston Harbor Cruise on Saturday night. I mean, who doesn’t love dressing up all formal, getting on a nice yacht with 300 other single Mormons, and dancing and eating the night away? Although the air was chilly I absolutely loved going to the top deck and watching Boston at night. We danced, we sang, we laughed, we ate, we danced some more, and a cute guy got my number (and although he lives in Delaware he’s coming down next weekend so we can go out). And finally, way too late we finally made it back to out hotel and almost died from exhaustion.

The only disappointment of the weekend was having to leave. It was way too short of a trip and I’m desperate to go back as soon as I can. I fell in love with this city.

I think I’ll go to Boston………again!

FDR Memorial

Adventure: FDR Memorial

Back in high school going to the FDR memorial was one of the most impressive sights we saw. We went after dark and I remember the backlit waterfalls and great stonewalls inscribed with the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

On a perfect summer day a couple weeks ago I decided to venture once more so I could refresh my memory and enjoy the FDR memorial one more time.

It did not disappoint.

This time the sun was on its way to setting. I had taken the day to walk around the tidal basin, thinking, pondering, and just loving life.

As I walked through the stonewalls and admired the waterfalls I enjoyed thinking about life during FDR’s administration. Those were hard times, time beset by poverty and unemployment where people struggled just to survive. The great American spirit barely endured in the hearts of the people.

But it did endure.

As a people we’ve been able to pick up over and over again. Wars have taken loved ones, poverty has plagued our people, terrorism has beset us, but we’ve been able to find the hope and faith inside us….and move on.

Over the years we’ve become the most powerful nation on earth. We enjoy civil liberties and freedoms many countries don’t have. I live a luxurious life full of comforts and extras.

Strolling through these monuments makes me realize how blessed I really am. Thank you FDR for helping the American people through a hard time and believing that we could come out on top.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Forever Proud

This article was published yesterday in the Deseret News and spoke deeply to my heart. As you all know, I had planned on going to BYU for almost my entire adolescence but when the time came the Spirit told me that BYU was not the right university for me. Never in my life have I been more grateful for the decision I made, the leap of faith I took, to move away, face my fears, and attend BYU-Idaho.

BYU will always hold prestige but eventually, someday, BYU-Idaho will be known around the world as well. It is already becoming that way. Folded quietly in the middle of Eastern Idaho with the foreboding winters and bone-chilling winds. Amidst all that there is a power and a spirit, a humility and a strength, that I will never forget. It is the Spirit of Ricks.

I'm proud to say that I'm a BYU-Idaho Alumni and attended under the direction of President Kim B. Clark.

BYU-Idaho is my school. It will always be my school. It will always be in my heart.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Ten years later....my September 11th

I was at my house getting ready for school. The TV was always on in the mornings although I rarely paid attention to it. I walked into my parents’ bathroom to grab something when the news caught my eye. One of the Twin Towers had been hit by a flying plane. Slowly I approached the TV to watch and hear more. It was then that I watched as another plane hit the second tower. I yelled for my parents to come and watch. We didn’t know what was happening. We were glued to the TV screen. Then bright red words came across the screen…

“America is under attack.”

My dad took me to school late because we didn’t want to leave the TV screen. I walked into my first period and the TV was on. All day long the TVs were on. The Pentagon was hit by another plane. The fourth plane landed in a field, obviously not reaching its destination. We didn’t know how many planes there were or when the attacks would be finished.

The day of September 11, 2001 was burned in my memory. I was 14 years old.

It would take weeks and weeks to sort everything out. Everyday the news reported something new, people that were missing, firefighters that had sacrificed themselves, the hijackers and their sinister plot, the terror they had created, and the American unity that ultimately prevailed.

I remember the day when they reported that ground zero had finally stopped smoldering. I remember watching over and over the video of the planes hitting the towers and the people in the streets trying to escape the dust and debris that clogged the streets and filled the air. The stories emerged, the dead were mourned, the survivors honored.

Weeks turned into months and months into years.

Slowly we picked ourselves up. Americans came together and we took revenge. We realized the value of our freedom. The masterminds behind the attacks were found and ultimately put to death.

Every year on the anniversary of 9/11 I would watch on the news as a bell was chimed for each of the people killed on that day. Every day for nine years the same act was repeated. Ground zero was cleaned up and the Freedom Tower was cleared for construction, a symbol that Americans will not back down, we will not forgot, and we will not be the same.

I didn’t know that on this day, September 11, 2011, exactly ten years later that I would be living in the nation’s capital. It is a privilege and an honor to be here. It is a privilege and an honor to be an American and to call this nation mine.

So today we will ring the bells again. We will continue to honor those who have fallen and those who were sacrificed. We will yell from the housetops and sing in our hearts. We will fly our flags high in the red, white, and blue

We will be proud to call ourselves Americans, for this country is ours, and no one can take that away from us.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unity and Love

One year ago my brother married his sweetheart in the Los Angeles temple. They were sealed for time and all eternity through a man holding the priesthood of God.

Four years ago I went through the Timpanogos temple and received my endowment. I made sacred covenants with God that I would be obedient. I came one step closer to making all the required covenants needed to receive exaltation in the world to come.

In one year's time my youngest brother will go through the temple and receive his endowment in preparation to serve a mission for the Lord. It will be the first time we will be able to gather in the temple as a family all together. I can't wait for that day.

Today I visited one of my dearest friends, Amanda Harrison, in the hospital and saw for the first time her newest child, a little girl named Avery, the newest spirit brought to this earth. I held her other daughter McKayla in my arms and talked to her husband Kyle. Because Amanda and Kyle were sealed together in the temple of the Lord their beautiful and precious daughters will be theirs for time and all eternity no matter what happens on this earth.

The temple has been on my mind lately. Priesthood ordinances that bind families for eternity, covenants that require sacrifice and remind me of Jesus Christ, gathering as families in the temple of the Lord, unity and love which brings ultimate happiness and joy.

My heart has been full, almost to bursting. My appreciation has grown for the fortune of being born a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm so glad my family is mine.

I await the day when I have the privilege of entering the temple hand in hand with my own sweetheart to be sealed to him forever. I await the day when I can create my own family unit, bound and sealed together for this life and the next. I await the day when I become a mother.

So I'll wait. I'll save myself for that special day knowing that it'll be all worth it, because it will be.

Click here to hear more of what I'm talking about.