Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Caring For Others

Along your pathway of life you will observe that you are not the only traveler. There are others who need your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.

President Thomas S. Monson, “How Firm a Foundation,” Liahona andEnsign, Nov. 2006, 68.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Squasher Got His Mission Call

Richmond, Virginia. Leaves June 8th, 2011.

Congrats little bro! Yes, this is a little strange that the Kid is old enough to go on a mission.

I would like to just state I clearly called state-side months ago...even Bishop Berry didn't believe my power of discernment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Buddy, Justin "Beaver"'ll see below that my blog is not a social network.

me: Is my blog considered a social network?
HN: pah!
i just laughed out loud
no, it's a journal
me: Haha...that is what I thought
Jonathan should choose his words more wisely next time
HN: well maybe he needs to learn that lessonme: Hehe...yes he does

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just An "Everyday" View In The Valley

(photo courtesy of Dadio)

It's The Middle That Counts The Most...

Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That's what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too...

(From the movie Hope Floats)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

JP and L. Smithie Go To The Ball

JP was nice enough to let us (mostly CW let's be honest) doll her up for the Ball. Yes, at Stanford they have Balls. The ladies looked gorgeous! (I hope I used enough hairspray for those curls to last at least 90 minutes. Their dates were pretty handsome as well (but the one photo I snapped with them was blurry). Thanks for letting CW and I play...I'll let you girls be my proxy for such evenings anytime. :)
The dresses were beautiful! L. Smithie rocks maroon and black is killer on JP.
A shot of the back of JP's hair.
I couldn't quite talk JP into wearing the pink heels all evening (apparently comfort over style is preferred while dancing the night away at a Ball), however she did sport them long enough for me to snap this picture. JP, this is proof that your calves need to be in your Top 5 physical features!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Blogger: Insights From My Asian Bro

Agency and Opportunity

Three days out of the week last spring, I spent almost two hours on commuter trains travelling to and from an internship. Each trip brought me face to face with people that I had never met and would likely never see again. It was, however, the two or three faces that I saw on a daily basis that taught me two important lessons about agency and opportunity that I hope never to forget.

Nearly every walk that I made through my trip’s terminal train station took me past several people asking for spare change. Previously, when I had seen impoverished individuals up close, I felt like I was looking at them through a telescope; though they appeared physically near, I still perceived that a vast distance between our worlds remained. My personal circumstances last spring, however, changed my perspective.

Within just a few months, I would be graduating from law school. It would be the culminating academic achievement of a lifetime of dedicated study. And though I was proud of my pending accomplishment, it was to come without any employment opportunities. Seeing these panhandlers with that reality in mind helped me realize just how little separated me from a cardboard-softened concrete seat next to them. For the first time in my life, I started to understand what an ancient prophet meant when he asked his people: “For behold, are we not all beggars?” (The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 4:19). I hope to never forget what it felt like to look into the eyes of poverty and see not just the suffering of another but also a reflection of my own despair.

This, of course, is not to make the seriousness of their situation analogous to my own. My earning potential remains high, and thanks to the generous assistance of family and friends, I have not had to beg any strangers for help. Nevertheless, I do believe the proximity that I felt to those individuals taught me an important lesson. Agency (or the power to choose) is an eternal principle, and we construct much of our circumstance one choice at a time. But just as material science limits the design options of an architect, opportunity constricts the exercise of agency. Within a man’s heart and mind may be the blueprint of a mansion, but without the right tools and materials, he may struggle to even construct a shack.

Malcom Gladwell recognized this in his book Outliers. In attempting to unravel the stories behind abnormally successful people (i.e., outliers), Gladwell observed that “[t]heir success is . . . grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky—but all critical to making them who they are.” According to Gladwell, “[p]eople don’t rise from nothing. . . . It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.” It is easy to think that we are where we are because of who we are. But that is really only part of the story.

This leads me to the two lessons that I learned by walking through the train station last spring. First, I could not have accomplished what I have without the unique, and often undeserved, opportunities and advantages that I have had throughout my life. Second, failure is not always the result of poor choices; sometimes it results from a lack of opportunity. Indeed, we never really know what someone could accomplish with the right opportunities. As Anton Ego in Pixar’s film Ratatouille, put it: even though not everyone can become a great artist, a great artist can come from anywhere.

Learning to see success and failure as an often unquantifiable mixture of agency and opportunity helped me realize how much more I could do to help others succeed. As Gladwell put it, our tendency to “personalize success” can cause us to “overlook just how large a role we all play—and by ‘we’ I mean society—in determining who makes it and who doesn’t.” As a result, we often “miss opportunities to lift others onto the top rung.” (Gladwell, Outliers). Therefore, “let us not be weary in well doing” and as we have “opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” (Galatians 6:9-10). Let us “[p]ause to help and lift another. . . . To the wounded and the weary,” may we “show a gentle heart.” (Lord, I Would Follow Thee, Hymn #220).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Mower

The Mower, by Philip Larkin:

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

(courtesy of RMR)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Most Adorable Coach-pitch Player

Show me a more adorable little player...this is possibly my favorite photo of all time!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lessons From The Pink Huffy

When I was a little (yes much smaller than your average little girl) riding my pink huffy bike kept me occupied. I remember breaking my thumb from crashes on that bike on numerous occasions, only I rarely could tell right away because of poor sensation on that right hand of mine yet sure enough when that thumb would swell like a sausage we knew I had broke it again. There were times I never thought I’d learn to balance on that bike but then one day the training wheels came off and after a lot of falling I learned to balance, not perfectly but enough to keep riding. Little did I realize that conquering that little huffy would only be one of the first of many obstacles that I’d be fighting with the heart of a giant while at times my strength was only that of a mouse. I also learned that like riding a bike I didn’t have to learn to balance perfectly everything in life, but just enough to keep riding. A stationary bike can’t stay upright; we must always be pedaling or rather progressing to balance the bike.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why Weekends Are Needed

1. Beautiful AM round of golf with TH, can I just say that 70 degrees in February is why I heart CA. Next round we better play best ball to improve our scores though.
2. Relaxing with the PA family! MPR set up the hammock, so comfy. AR is healing from his poor Achilles heel rupture, learning all sorts of ways to be unproductive while resting. Oh and we watched BYU beat UNLV.
3. Friday evening soccer game with the Bransons. I am learning to appreciate this sport...even if I still clearly know none of the rules.
4. Gorgeous Sunset
5. 10 hours of sleep Saturday night!
6. Meditation in the silver bullet
7. CT making dinner for DB and I, followed by a great review on excellent writing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Country Music On The Rise

I've missed country music...that's right I'm getting back on the wagon after a four year break. The twang, the deep husky bass voices, singing about love, tractors, staying strong, and your dead dog. The Weepies, Ingrid Michaelson, and A Fine Frenzy hopefully will not mind the rest while my Pandora station has country sounds pouring out it for at least a week...maybe more. The reunion is as sweet as a ripe grapefruit in the spring, you completely forget how enjoyable it tastes until you take that first bite from the first grapefruit of the season. Now some may be turning their noses up at the idea of me comparing the goodness of country music to the sweetness of grapefruit, thinking that one or the other is the complete opposite from those folks, that's fine you feel that way. Country music and grapefruit are both acquired tastes. Maybe one day you'll get lucky and your taste-buds might mature enough to enjoy both.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jess Berry Quote Of The Day!

Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.

Helen Keller

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meet California's Loyal Berry Oil Fans

Literally outside of Sundays I've not seen Hammer without his Berry Oil hat.