Sunday, December 14, 2008

For the love of . . . Edward?

I have long loved the name Edward. Before I ever fell in love with the written word and consequently, the literary world, I liked the name Edward. Ask my husband; traditional English names are my cup of tea.

I was slow to take to the works of Jane Austen. Growing up in a house of all brothers, movies like Pride & Prejudice were barely tolerated. Even though I tried to teach my brothers “the flick is worth it if it’s with a chick,” they decided it didn’t count if that chick was your sister.

So, with my first real exposure to the wit and incisiveness of Jane Austen, I found a fast favorite in Sense & Sensibility. I will readily admit, it was the charming, shy character of Edward Ferrars, the elusive Mr. F, that I owe my initial infatuation with the works of Jane Austen, and in turn with the name Edward. The book and film of 1995 are still favorites. (“She's heading an expedition to China shortly. I'm to go as her servant. But only on the understanding that I am to be very badly treated.”)

With the Twilight following, I am happy to say I read and liked the book before it became the latest buzzward. I must admit, that Edward Cullen is a fascinating character. I was an Edward fan from the beginning. How could you not like

 him? (I know I have cousins that disagree with me on this point, but their arguments just don’t hold any water). I didn’t love the movie, but it was decent. Nothing is ever as good as you imagine it, right?

My dear husband has patiently been subjected to my love of another Edward lately. I discovered the 2006 BBC rendition of Jane Eyre, and I’ve fallen in love with the brooding, Byronic Edward Rochester. Toby Stephens is masterful in this role. It’s simply breathtaking. So, pardon the Jane Eyre kick, but I’ve been listening to the music from the musical (thank you, James Barbour, I could listen to the rich tones of your baritone all day). I think I need to read the book again. In the meantime, I will be content with the masterful film rendition of BBC. I owe them big time. I owe Toby Stephens big time. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .

A lot like Fall is shy in my neck of California. This week, the leaves have just barely started to turn and fall. It's like the trees are shy - they can't bear the thought of letting go of something so comfortable. It's like they're afraid they'll be good at it. So, while it's not:


Or even:
It's getting better. I'm retaining hope. I mean, in the trees' defense, the temperature hasn't really been cooperating. Temperatures in the 70s are not conducive to colorful leaves. Of course, there are perks to this warm spell . . . I still turn on the fan to sleep. I don't ever have to scrape ice from my car. I can still get some milage out of my sandals. 

However, deep in my soul, I really long for this:

When I say long for, I mean I ache for, crave, even give my eyeteeth for. Yup, I want it that bad. 

I guess what you really want to hear, rather than my ravings about the weather, is an update from the Hills. We're still here. Brent is working hard to finish out his quarter. Today was the last day of classes, so it's just finals from here. I must say, I am quite impressed of his hard work and dedication. I know he feels like school isn't his forte, but he's worked hard and that effort is paying off. Of course, I'd like to think that his success is partly due to his devoted and supportive wife, but I know I can't take any of the credit. 

I'm taking an unexpected hiatus from work for the next few weeks. It's a long story. I'm optimistic though - I mean, I have time (finally) to finish my thank you notes from the wedding (I know, for shame, they aren't done yet). I can get my house spotless before the holidays. Maybe I'll even decorate some. I can read a book. Or two. This may be a good break for me. Brent and I are still trying to work out a way to take another trip to Arizona. Things are looking good. 

In other news, I've been going to the chiropractor this last month or so to fix a few things. The first benefit of this decision is that, for the first time in the last 10 years, my jaw opens evenly. That's right, my chiropractor has been adjusting my jaw, which is resolving some of that TMJ I've suffered. (Yes, Stacey, that's TMJ, not TBI). The second wonderful benefit of this is that, in conjunction with fixing my vertebral and mandibular subluxation (also known as being adjusted), I've been seeing a personal trainer and I get a weekly massage. It's been wonderful! I really hadn't been a very good steward of this mortal frame I call my body. Yes, the road to physically fit has never looked so long or steep or riddled with potholes, but that may have been because I wasn't looking very closely at the road. It was enough for me before to walk to class and all over campus, play tennis on the weekend, and take an occasional dance or volleyball class in my college days. Not so these days. That's why I'm changing my tune. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Live in Thanksgiving Daily

It's November! This means the air really starts to become crisp (in my desert home, that is), and my thoughts start turning to hearth and home. I long to be with my family and I feel the pull to be a domestic queen to get my home in order for the winter. I've yet to learn that balance: full-time employee and homemaker. I must say though, I'm making progress. 

This time of year always makes me think about being more grateful. I don't know what it is, maybe that holiday that comes at the end of the month. Whatever the case, I've decided this year to make my November theme: "Live in thanksgiving daily."

See, I was remembering a strengthening marriage class that my parents took once in which they had the assignment to think no negative thoughts for a whole day. Harder than it sounds. I thought to myself, "Self, I would love to be able to do that. I would love to be one of those people of whom it is said, 'She never said an unkind thing about another person'." It's right up there with, "She never uttered a word of complaint." Now, I know I'm human and as such, I am prone to the weaknesses of the flesh. That's why this effort for effectual change will start with practicing living in thanksgiving daily. I'm focusing on more fully developing graciousness. Wish me luck! 

To help me out, I will be studying much from the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. In the meantime, I think I'll share a thought or two about gratitude and my experiment here for you all to be uplifted by as well. 

Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. The Lord has promised, "He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious" (D&C 78:19). Gratitude is an uplifting, exalting attitude. People are generally happier when they have gratitude in their hearts. We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful. 

Live with a spirit of thanksgiving and you will have greater happiness and satisfaction in life. Even in your most difficult times, you can find much to be grateful for. Doing so will strengthen and bless you.

We should be thankful for the wonderful blessings that are ours and for the tremendous opportunities we have. We can be thankful to our parents, family, friends, and teachers (and co-workers). We should express appreciation to everyone who has assisted us in any way.

We should thank our Heavenly Father for His goodness to us by acknowledging His hand in all things, thanking Him for all that He gives us, keeping His commandments, and serving others. We should especially thank Him for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, for the Savior's great example, for His teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help, for His Infinite Atonement."
—See True to the Faith (2004), 78–79.

Alma 34:37-38

37 And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ;
  38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.

Halloween with the Hills

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be home with my sweet husband on Halloween this year. I went to Utah to help my sister-in-law get her wedding dress. It was a fast but wonderful trip. I'm glad I got to see my brother and his wife, as well as some dear friends. I don't think Brent minded my absence too much as he had mountains of homework to finish. 

Lest you think we're complete holiday duds, here are a few pictures from the month - house decorations, fun munchies, and costume parties. Enjoy!

In Utah: this is my brother decorating cookies! He came dressed up as Mr. Rogers, but apparently lost his cardigan sometime before this. 

Can you guess who he is? Let me sing a song to help you out: "Johnny Lingo had a cow, trade it for an ugly wife . . . " Let's just say, once again, Brent was pretty pleased with himself. :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why I Support Prop 8

In California, up for election is the issue of a Constitutional Amendment on Marriage, defining it as being between one man and one woman. Some may ask, "why the need for such an amendment?" The need is to prevent Activist Judges will not overturn the current law on homosexual marriage, and thus take from us our basic right of religious freedom. I have heard that this stance is a scare tactic, however, this has already happened, such as when adoption agencies are required, against religious principles, to allow gay parents to adopt a baby, homosexual curriculums are required to be taught in schools, and religious leaders are forced to perform such marriages regardless of their convictions, or lose tax exempt status.

Democracy means that the majority rules, not that the minority overturns the basic rights of everyone. Yes, the minority must be protected, but nobody's beliefs must be forced on the public, as in this case. 

I also feel that it is a moral issue more than a civil rights issue. God, who has commanded, "Thou shalt not steal" wants us to be compassionate of the one who chooses to steal, but by rehabilitation, not by aiding the person to steal more. Likewise, He who has commanded similarly against homosexuality, wants us to have compassion on the one who chooses that lifestyle, with help to overcome, not aid to increase such. Same gender attraction must be a great challenge to live with, deserving counseling and much prayer. 

The Savior loved all people, but He did not condone sin. "Go thy way and sin no more" he told the woman taken in adultery, not "Oh well, it's okay." Anyone who believes the bible to be the word of God should know of His abhorrence of that great sin of immorality, lust, and homosexuality: "In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves..without natural affection, ...despisers of those that are good" (2 Tim. 3:2). "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature; And likewise the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,.. men with men working that which is unseemly," going on to say the judgments of God against such (Romans 1:26-32).

Tolerance for homosexuals is not the same as tolerance for those of another race. Our society wants us the think of Gay Rights as being just like Civil Rights. Our kids are being taught to not be prejudiced, however, it is not the same. While those of a particular race did not choose the color of their skin or their race, gays and lesbians choose whether or not to act out on temptations and tendencies that they feel. We look with compassion upon them, yes, just as we do someone who has acted out a drive for crime, but we do not condone, nor do we force it upon society.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Come to 'Zona, Come to 'Zona!

This dear, sweet, wonderful, thoughtful, charming man is my husband. He surprised me with a long-stemmed red rose tonight. For no reason at all. I love that man!

This same wonderful man took me to Arizona for the weekend last weekend to visit my family (and his brother). I know it was a sacrifice of his time, but I was ever so grateful!

(Arizona or bust!)

This is my brother, Devon. Devon just returned home from serving a mission for our Church in Boise, Idaho. He hadn't met my husband yet, and we figured it was time they became acquainted. 

While we were home, we enjoyed many various pursuits. Just to name a few. . . 
  • Visited John (Brent's older brother) and his friend Chantelle (sorry, friends, I don't have a good picture of you, thus, your smiling faces are not featured here)
  • Brent and I doubled with the newly-returned missionary. Cafe Rio and goofy golf - it doesn't get much better than that. Jill discovered that Devon wasn't the only funny member of the Johnson clan.
  • Visited the Mesa temple with Brent, John, and Chantelle (I love that place! I love those people!)
  • Much singing and laughing (here's just an taste)
  • Combat Yahtzee (a Hill tradition to which I say: SEVEN!! SEVEN!! SEVEN!!)
  • Bahama Bucks 
We had a wonderful time!!

Here's a story I just have to share. My charming husband gave my mom quite a start. She came out Sunday morning to this:
See, when Brent woke up, the showers were all occupied as everyone was getting ready for Church. So, he decided to go eat breakfast in all his towel-ed glory in order to not waste any time . . . Unfortunately for Mom, she didn't see the towel and jumped to awkward conclusions about her son-in-law. 

I wish I could have been in the room to witness the scene. My brothers say they've never seen Mom blush like that. 

In other news . . . 
This lovely couple just announced their engagement. I couldn't be happier for them!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Slower than a box of Grapenuts

Interestingly, this phrase describes a situation not singular to my family. I have a dear friend and former roommate who had a similar childhood tradition. 

Let me explain: when we were younger, my mom invariably kept a box of Grapenuts with all the other cereals. I recognized a trend over the years. Honey Bunches of Oats would come and go, but Grapenuts were eternal. The same box lasted forever! In my friend’s family, they had to finish the box of Grapenuts before their mom would by a new tasty cereal. Thus, waiting for an anticipated event seemed like eternal torment because time would pass slower than that box could be consumed. Like I said, eternal torment. 

Well, my dear brother, Devon came home from his mission last Thursday. We opted to journey to the land of infernal heat (a.k.a. Arizona) the weekend he was speaking in Church rather than the day he got home. It just worked out better that way. But, I tell you what, this week has passed slower than a box of Grapenuts! 

Welcome home, Devon!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Excellent Examples of Service

This is a little shout-out to my brother, Marc. I know that this article is from last month's New Era, but I wanted to post a link to this article here. I love my brothers and the friends from my ward at home. Marc is the guy on the first page on the far right. Way to be, Marc!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who doesn't love a handbag?

Give this a try, it is REALLY easy to enter, and you have nothing to lose.....
This new website is celebrating it's launch by giving away an awesome handbag every hour for the first 24 hours!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vignettes from Work

From the 85 year-old stroke patient, "Do you see this wrinkle-free 40 year-old face? It's because I never worry. I find someone else to worry for me."


This next is an exchange between one of the occupational therapists and a 77 year-old stroke patient. Often, after a stroke, patients become incontinent, thus, frequently patients need adult-sized 'diapers' (for lack of a better word). 
      OT: Mrs. L., I thought you might want to try these new briefs. They're more comfortable."
      Mrs. L.: "Oh. You wear them too?"


I think I may need to get my ears checked. Mrs. M. was telling me about her daughter.
     What I heard: "Actually, she's a man."
     What she said: "Actually, she's in Japan."


Nothing is quite as awkward as walking in a patient when they're confused. Especially when they're confused and they've taken off all their clothing. Thank heaven for CNAs. I don't envy them their jobs.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Best Meeting Ever!

I just got home from the General Relief Society Broadcast tonight, and let me tell you, I'm on top of the world! It was an incredibly powerful meeting and I feel like, yes, there's a lot to be done - a lot that I need to change, but I can do it, with some divine help. I can be a force for good in this world. 

Highlights (I know they won't even do justice to the whole meeting):

From Julie B. Beck (General Relief Society President):
  • The Relief Society is a formal part of the Restoration, and as such it has been divinely made and instituted.
  • The purpose of the Relief Society is to organize, teach, and inspire God's daughters to prepare them for the blessings of eternal life.
  • It is the responsibility of all women to: 1) Increase in faith and personal righteousness, 2) Strengthen families and homes, and 3) Serve the Lord and His children. That's what it's all about.
  • Remember that the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon us as we seek Him and to do His will. Revelation is the key to accomplishing our above-mentioned responsibilities.
  • There is power in the organization of the Relief Society and we are engaged in preparing for the Lord's coming. He expects us to increase our offering.
From Silvia H. Allred
  • The Lord has always asked His people to build temples that He may be among them. 
  • We build temples so ordinances may be performed for the living and for the dead.
  • Those ordinances are our credentials for admission into God's presence. We are to become a covenant people.
  • Temples are a source of spiritual strength and a place to receive revelation. 
  • We must be found in the Lord's temples.
From Barbara Thompson
  • The Relief Society is evidence of God's love for His daughters.
  • We are to love each other and love the Lord. Be committed to service.
  • Service magnifies and sanctifies us - most often the help needed is in our own homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
  • We are to lift and bless others
  • We are to teach one another the gospel of Jesus Christ - declare the truth with boldness.
  • Live so our lives witness our love for God and Christ.
From President Deiter F. Uchtdorf (Second Counselor of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints):
  • Women have the incredible capacity to teach, inspire, and encourage.
  • Do not undervalue your capabilities and contributions
  • We live in a world of change, challenges, and checklists, but do not be discouraged by the negativity and sorrow that occur in life. These are not insignificant concerns, however, neither should they be all-consuming.
  • In order to find joy in this life we need two things:
  • We need to be creative - to effect change and make this world beautiful. (He used the word "cultivate" which inspires all kinds of wonderful imagery)
  • We need to be compassionate - to succor the weak and lift those who may be weary. (The Lord's disciples have always been identified by their compassion and service)
  • "Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves"
  • Happiness is our heritage as daughters of God - we can be a great power for good.
Like I said, amazing meeting. The words here don't even capture the feelings that penetrated my heart. I know some specific areas where I can improve. On the whole though, I know I'm on the right track. I love General Conference! I can't wait for next weekend! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just some of the things I love about Fall

As Monday marked the Autumnal Equinox, I took a moment to reflect on why I love Fall and the month of October in general. It's just a happy time for me. Always. So, gentle reader, please humor me as I share my musings here.

  • It's the sunset of the year, when the air turns to gold and the leaves turn to flame. I love the symbolism of death that commences with Fall. 
  • I love crunching said, flame-colored leaves. And pressing them in books. But mostly crunching them.
  • Gingerbread
  • Any kind of homemade bread
  • The way I crave books like The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
  • New pencils
  • BYU Football
  • Pumpkins
  • Sweaters and jackets
  • Mittens
  • Boots
  • The smell of woodsmoke on crisp air
  • Crisp air in general
  • I love the way the vibrant colors contrast with the ever-darkening sky. I love the heavy clouds that usually start to come this time of year. Not so much in my current locale, but definitely in my previous Utah home.
  • The smell of fallen leaves
  • General Conference
  • By that same token, I love how this time of year always seems to be a time of reflection for me. Reflection on the last year of my life, on my current situation, my weaknesses and my strengths that used to be weaknesses. On the friends that I've gained. On my standing with God. Lots to reflect on. Maybe it's that preparation for renewal - the death of the old self. I tend to make more resolutions at this time of year than I ever do in January. 
  • The smell of baked goods. They just smell better in the Fall. You can't argue that.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Surprising Insight

As a speech pathologist, I work with many individuals who have suffered some kind of trauma to the brain, be it a stroke, a head injury, anoxia, encephalitis, or anything else that might injure the brain. I see people who struggle with cognitive deficits daily. 

It's often heart-wrenching to watch them struggle to make sense of their new existence. Many are aware of the changes that have happened to them, but there are those who are unaware. For those, I see the grief that can consume their family. Granted, it's not always bleak. They are in therapy to learn compensatory strategies to help them function independently again. I see many progress and return home with some support from their loving families. 

That said, the other day I was working with a gentleman who was very confused and seemed, to me, unaware of his deficits. He had a difficult time even paying attention to a simple task for more than a few moments at time. Toward the end of our session, when I could tell he was tired from all the mental exercise, he turned to me and with surprising perception said, "My brain feels clunky today."

"What do you mean?," I ask. I want to see where he's going with this. 

"Well," he said, "it's like waking up in the morning and somebody's set all the clocks wrong, and you can't get them back. You're not sure if you even want to because you're tired. And trying to set them back makes you more tired. It's all very confusing."

He then assured me that he wanted to keep trying. I was amazed that he had such insight into his condition. Having never had a brain injury, but seeing it often, I'd say his description is spot-on. I'm glad I get to help set some clocks back. We're making more progress every day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Evening in Pictures

Summer's End

One thing that completes a summer for me is watching some kind of show from the lawn of some spacious amphitheater. I don't know why, but that just seems quintessentially summer-y to me. It's right up there with chlorine, barbeques, fireworks, rainstorms, late nights, and crickets. Yeah, I love a good amphitheater. 

This weekend, I had the privilege of traveling to San Diego with my husband and sister-in-law. It was one last hurrah before Brent had to start back to school. We stayed with my wonderful cousins and, though it was a short trip, it served it's purpose: primarily, to get us out of Bakersfield and into some fresher air. 

So, we drove down Friday and stayed up way too late talking and laughing with my cousins. Oh, and there was some singing. Yea, we had a karaoke moment. There usually is with Daniel.

Saturday morning we slept in way too late, ate delicious bagels for breakfast/brunch, and then Scott was good enough to take us to the beach for a much needed splash. I know that there is a deep-rooted place in my heart for the beach that I'm sure I inherited from my mother. 
My mother would have loved to join us on that trip to the beach. Unfortunately, there weren't many waves that day. Sure, there were little breakers, but they were puny. Scott would have taken us surfing if they had been bigger. It was an uneventful jaunt to the beach, but I think I speak for all there when I attest that it was much-needed.

That night we went to the Maroon 5/Counting Crows concert. The only problem was that someone in the Counting Crows was ill . . . so it turned out to be just a Maroon 5 concert. They put on an incredible show. It was a fun, relaxing evening. Good music, good company. I just wish the cousins could have come - too bad they all had prior engagements.

Since it ended so early, we decided to head back to Bakersfield that night right after the concert. That way we'd be sure to make it back to Bakersfield before Church. Brent and I are both teachers now and we didn't want to risk not making it in time. I think we'll definitely schedule more time in for our next trip to San Diego.