Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ride the Wave

This weekend provided me with a big metaphor, and I felt that I should share it with you.

I am a huge fan when it comes to beautiful motifs I find repeatedly within a brief moment in time.  To me it feels like a gentle whisper from the Spirit, reminding me that Heavenly Father is not only looking out for me by providing me this beautiful message through nature or life, but he is also speaking my language.  I am learning that the Spirit is this amazing tool that speaks in specific ways to specific people and will speak to us depending on how we are listening, what level where are at, and what environment we are in! 

  Late Friday night my friend Liz and I decided to go for a walk by the beach near where we were staying.  We discovered that the San Clemente Pier does not close until midnight, so we ventured out onto the long wooden platform that stretches out into the dark waters. Yes, it was creepy looking, but rest assured there was a surprising amount of young people and families walking around, fishing, and taking pictures considering the time of night.  When we reached the very end of the pier all we could see was pitch black.  On the edges of the coast, southward and northward, we could see the city lights stop abruptly at what seemed to be a black wall.  Below us we could barely make out the outlines of the breathing ocean; its swells moving up and down, the ripples of coming waves moving slowly toward us, under the pier, ultimately breaking onto the shore.  I had never seen the ocean in this way before!  Liz shared this amazing analogy with me. She said something along the lines of, {I wish I could remember word for word!} "I was near the ocean one time and I started thinking about my life and certain unexpected changes and challenges I have gone and am going through.  I looked out and thought of this.

The ocean at night is this amazing metaphor: You can only see so much ahead of you into that darkness, just like the future.  We just have to trust God because he can see everything, and even though we don't know what kind of wave is coming, we must remember it will be beautiful because it is comes from Him!"

Then today another metaphor hit me, and it made me even happier because I could tie it into the first! 

Sister Price, our bishop's wife, made a remark to all of us after Gospel Doctrine class.  She stood up and said, "Please know that Bishop and I love you very much.  How do I know that the Bishop loves you so much?  How can a 64 year-old man be able to stay in the water all day and keep pushing out girl after girl on their surf boards?  I don't know how except for he does it because he loves you." Bishop and ten other dads from the La Cañada ward put together the 2nd Annual Relief Society Surf Day at Dana Point yesterday.  It was my third time ever surfing, and Emie's second time {she did it back in eighth grade!} and we were lucky to have the Bishop help both of us.   Sister Price's words helped me realize that in life we have amazing leaders, fathers, mothers, older and wiser and more experienced people who are there right behind us, yelling "Keep paddling!!!" and don't ever leave us alone in the ocean, or in life for that matter!  My parents are right behind me with my choices in life.  They say, "Don't give up!" when I feel frustrated about jobs, social conflicts, and even dating.  Sometimes Bishop gave us girls a push on a board to catch the wave, but after we got the hang of it, we starting catching our own waves! Even still, our "Surfing Dads" were still there when we returned once more to give us tips if we asked for it.  The best part of the surfing day was seeing Bishop's thumbs up and big grin after I finally caught a bigger wave on the shorter board.  "You did it Hill!  You figured it out!" as well as hearing other girlfriends and leaders on the shore cheering.    Great metaphor, right?  

We are surfing through life.  We might have a different board than someone else because we are going through different experiences. We don't all catch the same waves, but oh, when we do it is one beautiful moment! To be able to share the same struggle or even a triumph with a friend is a blessing; a cherished and special moment because we know almost exactly what the other is going through.  Francesca Ricci and I caught one or two of the same waves, and we couldn't help but laugh and shout cries of excitement as we were riding the wave simultaneously.  

(I took this in 2007 at T Street!  That's San Clemente Pier in the background)

I must say that after surfing all day and watching amazing surfers along the pier Saturday evening really got me thinking about wanting to surf consistently when I get back from my mission.  There is so much more I can add to this metaphor, but I will let you experience it on your own the next time you are on the waves or by the beach.  

Here's a great quote from a surfer at the end of Jack Johnson's "Breakdown"on the September Sessions album:

"I think one of the big lessons you learn about surfing is how to operate in the present. That's really what the entire foundation of the surfing experience is."

Take a deep breath
keep paddling
and don't look back.
Remember: it's going to be one sweet ride. 

(I don't think I took this picture, I just found it in one of my photo albums. Credit to, Em or Cara?)

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I think I became a bigger fan of this wonderful Pixar Production after I discovered I will be making adventures of my own in South America. 

It's been ages since I've been able to cross any films off ofmy list! 

I finally saw Evita all the way through. The history is really quite interesting, though I wish there was more dialogue to explain more specifically what is all going on.  Musicals can only be so historically rich because they want to still entertain you!  I wish all movies about Argentina could be this beautifully shot.

I've only seen bits and pieces of this from film classes, and I caught the first hour last night while Dad was watching it. 

The young Christian Bale is pretty talented.   

And I'm watching this right now.  What is it about cunning sneaky criminal films that gets me going?! 
The music, the main titles!  I should watch Ocean's again, now that I think about it.... it's been too long. 

heather's engagement photos

Skip over to  to see some photos I took in May of Heather & Austin for their engagement. 

Ok, okok, one sneak peek: 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

mission prep 101.6 - how to get a Visa

Here involves one of the craziest conglomerate of steps I will probably ever execute in my life.
I have never re-read directions so many times or triple-checked, no, quadruple-checked my work as I did for obtaining my Visa for Argentina.  
I will say that this could have been worse - I am grateful for how short the lines were and for every employee who helped me with a smile! That was the most surprising because I was preparing for a DMV/Jury Duty-esque  environment. 

Take a big breath. Brace yourselves.  Ready?  

1.  Obtain a Passport (done and done back in 2009!)

Scan in every single page of your passport and e-mail to the Church.
Make two black and white copies of your photo/signature page of your passport

2. Obtain a Police Letter of Good Conduct 
A notary must be present. There is no notary on site at my city's PD, so I had to have a notary meet me, which costs extra. 
Location:  my police department 
I have a clean report!  Who would've thought?

3.  Obtain 2 copies of Certified Birth Certificates
Location:  East Los Angeles 
(In order to request a birth certificate, I read online that I needed to get a notarized certificate of identity.  Turns out I only needed that if I was doing this by mail! Oh well, better to have done more than necessary, right?) 

4.  Send the Police Letter and Birth Certificates to the Secretary of State to request apostilles for each document. Write a cover letter explaining your need for these documents for a Visa for Argentina.

What is an apostille?  It is an authentication of a document that another country approves. Basically I have to prove to Argentina that I am a real citizen of the US/California and that I am not a criminal.  Who knew it would take 100 miles of driving and over $100 to get signatures and papers with seals to prove it?! 

I discovered I needed an extra step.  Instead of mailing my documents to Sacramento's Secretary of State office, I wanted to do everything in person in the DTLA office so I could get everything done in the same day and decrease any chance of anyone misplacing these valuable papers.  In order to do this, my notarized Police Letter needed to be authenticated by the county clerk!  I was worried I needed to go back to the LA County Registrar in East LA where I obtained my birth certificates (which were printed with the county clerk's signature), but after more research online and calling the DTLA office I discovered I needed to go to an office in Norwalk.  ? 

New step:  Take the Police Letter of Good Conduct to have the notarized signature authenticated by the county clerk. 
Location: Norwalk
(Isn't a notary already authenticated?? Oh geez...)

5.  Take 4 color professional photos, cut 1.5 x 1.5 inches 
You must wear missionary attire.
Do not smile, do not wear glasses.  Right ear must be showing {awkward chuckle}.  Move hair if necessary.
paperclip photos to passport 
Location:  First the Post Office.  They were too expensive and could not zoom out to compensate for the smaller size. They suggested AAA.  They were extremely helpful and gave me 6 photos for half the price! (They let me keep the test run)
And no I am not posting them here. 
Oh - almost forgot - because AAA also could only make 2 x 2 inches, I had to go home and cut them myself. I discovered that there was not enough head room, so I scanned, uploaded, and slightly shrunk my photo to fit the dimensions.  I wonder how someone would be able to complete these steps if they didn't have photoshop?  

This is all the driving I did in one day with my Mom.   I had already received my birth certificates a few days prior with my Dad in East LA. 
 1.  Norwalk for county clerk signature. 2. Downtown to the Ronald Regan building to request apostilles. 3. The temple's distribution services to get what I needed before going through the temple {and that my friends, is a post for another day. In short, we are going to be ordering online from now on, or trekking out to Upland if necessary.} 

I sent the following items in a big envelope to Salt Lake:

My actual passport (I was nervous about that)
My awkward photographs
2 black and white copies of my passport
2 Birth certificates with attached apostilles 
1 Police Letter of Good Conduct - notarized and county clerked and apostilled

I must admit, as educational as this was, I never want to be this stressed about paperwork again. 
If anything is wrong or lost, I will be. . . more than a little peeved. 

Update:  ahaha.  I just called Salt Lake and my photos did not pass the test because they were not clear enough!  The lady in the office also told me that the requirements changed - my photos can be a traditional passport photo, meaning I can face forward and it can remain 2x2 inches!  Oh goodness!

I just have to laugh at all of this : )  I am glad that I have the resources and time to do everything. 
Argentina, I hope you're happy with this wild goose chase I am running for you! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

heather's wedding

Today was a beautiful day for a wedding! 

My cousin Heather was sealed to her sweetheart Austin for time and all eternity in the Newport Beach Temple. 

Here are some of my photographs I took today.  She was so beautiful, had the greatest smile on her face, and had the perfect dress!  I loved every minute of it and was so happy to be able to witness the event : )

Friday, July 8, 2011

the magic never dies

Next week is when "it all ends,"  but I don't believe it.

Even though I have pretty spectacular plans the eve of the midnight showing next week, I am a little sad that I won't be able to dress up with my friends and watch it on the first night with them.  
Hopefully I can find someone who wants to see it again so they can accompany me on my first viewing! 

When I get back from my mission and I have some down time from work, I will re-read the books through a whole new perspective.  I was barely out of high school when I finished the 7th book, so it's about time I experience Harry's adventures in a new light.  There's something great about experiencing a favorite story multiple times at different stages in life.  I can recall feeling differently after viewing Little Women from when I was very little to just a few weeks ago.  You can see yourself in a character different from the last, and you have more experiences yourself that you can bring to the table.
I love stories. 

As for the great HP, this is nowhere near the end!  There may not be additional films or books, but I will definitely read Harry Potter to my future children!   How lucky are we to have had this unique opportunity to watch an incredible and enchanting world form before our very eyes.  Well, it doesn't stop here.  The magic will never die. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I love fireworks

And I love them even more so now that I know how to take proper photographs of them! 

(thanks to marcello, who is very talented.)

My friends and I watched the Rose Bowl fireworks on the Fourth of July on a hillside adjacent to Chandler School.   I was so worried that my friends wouldn't get to the spot in time because parking was insane - but they did! I wish I could properly tell their story of how insane it really was.  
It involved Liz driving down a street that became narrower and narrower, lots of honking yelling and cursing (not from them, claro), some attitude from some sassy female who poked out through her sun roof, and clever Lars asking a neighbor if the group could pay them ten bucks to park in their driveway. They were happy to report that no windows were broken or tires slashed upon their return to their vehicle.  

I think I found a great spot for future Fourth's. 
(My next one here will be in 2013!  How insane is that?)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day!

Emily played me this song a few years ago, and I absolutely love it! 


What are you doing to be patriotic? 

I am wearing the denim shirt I found in my Mom's closet of old clothes. 

I am going to the BEACH to play with the little and big cousins! 

I am going to watch HUGE fireworks with friends!! 

I may light a sparkler or two. 

Have a wonderful Independence Day today! 

How blessed we are to live in such a wonderful country. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

sparklers in the backyard

The other night my two friends, Ash Mills and Jake, and I were having a hard time figuring out what we should do with our evening. We had eaten dinner at Cafe Río and had no other plans. You should have seen us sitting in Jake's driveway.  We didn't drive out for a good five minutes as we tossed ideas around. Bowling?  Karaoke? Movie theatre? Other parties we heard about were too far away... 
Finally we decided to buy sparklers at the fireworks booth and do Night Graffiti! 

We had Chase Cole come over too!  The above photo is our sad attempt to spell "MOO"

A Duel.  

I've saved the best for last: 

Tripod + DSLR + 4-8 seconds with the shutter open + rogue explosions from ghetto fireworks that don't last more than two minutes = lots of laughter +  cool memory made