Friday First: April Shower

It's Friday again and time to do something that I've never done before.

This week's is good.

This week's First is...

I'm having my FIRST bridal shower. We're still 6 months out (to the day) but my wonderful sister/Matron of Honor, Laura, is coming down this afternoon from Richmond and she is throwing me my first shower tomorrow. The attendees: many of my NC family and friends! Plus a bonus treat of my cousin Cae (aka Mazy) who lives in VA and is driving down with Laura.

Laura has been planning and preparing for this for so long. She has gone so far beyond the normal sister/MOH duties and has gone into crazy party planning mode. She has been making dessert after dessert for weeks trying to practice and decide which taste the best. She has taken on the challenge of finding a delicious flour-free, corn-free, wheat-free, everything-free sweet. She even has a team of friends in Richmond who have been helping her plan and prepare. People, she is not taking this shower lightly.

Yes, my sister is amazing indeed. And I am so excited to celebrate with family and friends.

What a fun first!


Things that Stick

As I was brushing my teeth this morning I used a pea size amount of toothpaste. A small pea at that. I always use a small pea size amount of toothpaste, even though I feel like most people use much more. But the reason I do this is because back in high school one of my dearest friends told me that, contrary to what most people think, you only need to use a small pea size amount of toothpaste to get the job done. And that anymore is a waste.

(Isn't this post fascinating already??)

As I recalled my reasoning behind this aspect of an otherwise uninteresting routine, I realized that there are a lot of things I do or think because someone told me them at some point and, for whatever reason, they stuck. For example:

-You only need to use half of a laundry dryer sheet. (UVA housemate and friend, second year)

-Always have good posture--shoulders back, back straight. Man or woman, this will make you look more confident and less lazy. (Mom)

-Never open the oven while something is baking. If you need to look at it, use the light. (Mom?)

-Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or you may as well not wash them. It takes that long to kill the bacteria. (Lots of people. I'm in the field of public health...)

-Wear your retainer every night, even until you are an adult. Or else your teeth will go crooked again. (My orthodontist. And I still do. And when I'm with my friend Emily, we have retainer parties, because she still does too.)

-When you see shoes on a telephone wire it means someone is selling drugs. (Probably my brother...)

-Don't wear shorts unless it is at least 65 degrees out. (My nanny Lynne. I hated this rule. But now I still use it.)

-If you crack your knuckles, your wedding ring won't fit. (GrandBetty, when I was about 6. And I've never cracked them.)

-The camera always adds ten pounds. (?)

-I know you said you didn't mean to. Next time, MEAN not to. (Dad)

-If you act shy people might think you are stuck up. So even if you feel shy, try to act confident and friendly. (Mom, when I was young and so misunderstood. I still catch myself on this one.)

-Always have a chocolate in your pocket, or purse. Or both. (Gail)

-Don't waste calories on beverages. They aren't even filling. Use them on something really delicious. (Like ice cream?) (Mom)

-When you shave your legs be especially careful on your knees and ankles. (Sister)

-Weddings don't impress me. Anniversaries impress me. (Pastor Mike)

-If you keep a spoon in the freezer you can put it on your eyes in the morning to make them less puffy. (Coco)

-Never clinch your fists when you are running. (Dad)

-Things in life aren't perfect, because the point of it is for God to make us Holier. (Sister)

-Always make sure you take a snack on an airplane. (Laura Lee)

-Fries go straight to your thighs. As does cheese. (My old gymnastics coach. But let's be real, I don't care.)

-Don't even let it bother you when people dislike you or are unkind to you. Because if they think mean things about you, they clearly don't know you. And if they don't know you, then who cares what they think? And anyways, I love you. So care about that instead. (Mom, last week)

What facts/advice from people in your life has stuck with you over the years? Share it! Because you know i'll probably start doing it too.


Top 100

I noticed this morning that I have written 99 posts since the inaugural Among the Hills post.

And I wondered something that you might also be wondering:

What on earth have I even SAID in the past 99 posts?

So I did a little investigative work, and I made a word cloud of the top 100 words that I have used on my blog.

(The size of the word corresponds with the number of times I've used it.)

After seeing this, I went back to my first post, the place where I shared what the purpose of this blog was going to be: Somewhere to share things that I am passionate about and things that I am forced to Reason with. This was based on a poem by Kahlil Gibran where he talks about "Resting in reason and moving in you sit Among the Hills."

This word illustration identified my passions fairly accurately:
-People, Family, Adam, Laura, Friends
-Places, Duke, Church
-Beautiful things

And it also portrays the things that I most commonly find myself reasoning through:

Who knows what many directions this blog will take in the future, but I'm thankful to have it.

I'm grateful that people read it and share things with me too.
I'm grateful for how it has taught me to be open, and honest.
I'm grateful for the freedom to talk about people and things I love without hesitation, especially my faith.

So, thanks for doing this with me and joining me on my blogging journey. Whoever you might be.

Here is to 100 blogs behind me, and hopefully 100 more to come.


Friday First: Finishing

This week's First has been a 9 month work in progress. This week I finished my First Year of graduate school at Duke. Last year I was still holding on to the last few chances to make memories at UVA before graduating. Now I'm saying goodbye to friends that I have spent countless hours, day in and day out with for a year. (See above).

This year at Duke has stretched me. Frustrated me. Challenged me. Intrigued me. And confirmed in my heart the passion that God has given me for Global Health issues.

I can't wait to get started on my thesis research next month in Nepal. But for now, I'm glad to be done.

I'm glad for rest.

I'm glad for a weekend with family. Remembering and celebrating what Christ did for us.

Happy Good Friday friends.


Secret Tunnels

I'm sitting outside on campus with two of my friends, Amy and Lauren, waiting for my second class of the day. Which also happens to be my last class of the year. I usually use this period between classes to lock-in, be productive, and try to check things off the never ending checklist of schoolwork.

But this is strange, because I don't have anymore school work. So I'm just sitting here. Wondering what to do during this time. There is a wasp trying to attack me.

I just spent approximately 15 minutes reading an email that one of my best friends Coco sent me updating me on her life in the Airforce. This email has been sitting in my inbox for several days begging me to finish classes so I could take the time to read it and respond.

So I read it.

And now all I can think about is how:

I found this quote the other day and can't stop thinking how true it is. My best friends live all over the place:

And so many other places that aren't Durham, NC.

Sometimes this grieves me. Actually, most times this grieves me.

I NEED these girls in my life. And I miss them terribly.

And I think I've found the solution. So I'm going to start digging. Who wants to help and meet me in the middle?


As it Turns Out

It's Holy Week.

These are the invite cards that my church gave us to give out for Easter.

So, consider yourselves invited. Whether it be to The Summit, or any other church, there is no celebration like that of Easter Sunday. And, as it turns out...chocolate rabbits aren't the point.

In fact, chocolate rabbits aren't even very good chocolate. So they kind of just fail at everything they try to do...

But I digress.

I could sit here all day explaining the sweetness and joy that Easter is about. It's the most important weekend that ever happened in the Christian faith. But we all know that I'm not particularly articulate. (And that sometimes I write muscles when I mean to say mussels and then I have to go back and correct it after many people have already read it...) So I think I'll leave this one up to a very talented artist from Summit Church named Matt Papa. He wrote this song and wants everyone to hear it this Easter Season. The words, they tell the story. And they're perfect:

"Once and for all, Once and for all
You offered up your life
For one and all, For one and all
The perfect sacrifice.
Atoning blood was shed
Love conquered when you said..

It is finished, It is done
To the world salvation comes
Hallalujah, We're alive!
Hell was silenced when you cried..
It is finished, It is finished

Who is this king, Who is this king
So mighty and so mighty and so strong
He is the one, He is the one
The earth has waited for
God's remedy for sin, With mercy for all men


The earth shook and trembeled
The sun bowed it's head
The veil of the temple was open for men
As Jesus went down in the cold of the grave
Defeated the darkness when He overcame
The keys of the kingdom were placed in the hands
Of children and priests and of fishers of men
Through all generations his voice will be heard
Creation resounds the victorious words!!!


It is done
Now completed the work of love.
Hallalujah, He's alive!
Join the song of the ransomed bride!
It is finished, It is finished

It is finished!"
If you want to listen to it you can click here to listen/watch the video. He put it to clips from the Passion movie. Watch, or just listen. But this song is my song this Easter. Because I know that what Jesus did was sufficient. And that when He said "It is finished," it was for me. The work was done. Salvation was secured.

"When He had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." John 19:30


Friday First: Half off a Double

This week's First is slightly less difficult than last week's. Just an update from that one though: Today was Napali lessons round two, and I managed not to embarrass myself or offend anyone. That's all I ask for in this life.

My second First (if you will) is something that I've been wanting to do for about 6 months--since I first signed up for a crazy little, happy little, wonderful little thing called Living Social. For those of you who haven't heard: You give Living Social your email address and they email you coupons for everything you like to do, places you like to go, food you like to eat, etc. Each day you get one in your inbox. It's for real.

My fear is that I'll buy the coupon ONLY because it is such a good deal. When ordinarily, I just wouldn't spend the money. And this is how I talk myself out of buying some of the best deals that have ever passed through my fingers.


This story really happened: Two weeks ago my friend Andria and I concluded that we needed to go on a double date with our fiances before she and hers move to Houston, which is very soon. We decided on a certain restaurant, because allegedly they have the best mussels that Andria has ever tasted. We decided this at about 11:00 PM one night. The NEXT morning we both checked our emails and, you'll never believe this, the Living Social that day was for the exact restaurant that we had decided the night before that we wanted to go. And it was for 50% off. So, needless to say, I bought my first Living Social, and tomorrow night we have a lovely double date planned.

Well, it's kind of a half double date. It's a half off double date.

200% of fun dateness and 50% of the price. Now THAT's a deal.

So, my friends, I am officially using my First Living Social ever. Here's to another 6 months of waiting for another perfect coincidence.


18 years later...

My mom CC'd me on an email today to one of her dear friends Kris, whose daughter was one of my childhood friends, Brittany.

"Kris, please forward this to Brittany. I found this the other day in a box of old photos. I researched it in my photo albums, and determined that is is October of 1993. Elise and Brittany are 5 and 6 years old. 18 years later they are both getting married within weeks of each other. (In October). Isn't this so precious? BETH"

The picture that was attached:

This makes me smile because:

1.) It reminds me that all my friends who were younger than I was, were always taller than I was too. I remember being very insecure about this. Maybe that's why I liked gymnastics. It's where the short kids played.

2.) It begs the question, where on earth did we find those amazing dresses? Steals. And how will be possibly outdo ourselves on the real days?

3.) It amazes me that somehow we sensed that we'd be October brides...even at 5 and 6. Astute, we were.

4.) It serves as another reminder of how ironically terrifical life can be.

Congrats Brittany! Apparently our destinies have been fulfilled!


Smiling's my Favorite

There are exactly 200 days between now and October 29.

(That doesn't actually have anything to do with anything, I just wanted to say it)

And this morning I got a voicemail from the fiance that simply said, (and I quote): "This message will be left in Louis Armstrong style..."

He went on to make up a song, sing it in a very raspy hard-to-understand-the-words voice, and then hang up. I think it was something about having a beautiful day. And loving me. :)

I laughed so hard because I am marrying a big HAM. Who I love very much.

Then I smiled, because I also just love Louis Armstrong. In fact, my dad and I have been practicing our "first dance" to this song of his since I was little.

One of my favorite songs he sings says "When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you."

I hope we never get too busy, too overwhelmed, too sad, too distracted, too tired, too stubborn, too grumpy, or too just smile. Even a little one.

And, I hope that something made you smile today, too.

(What was it?)

If not, call Adam. And ask for the Louis Armstrong voice. You'll smile. Promise. :)


"Spot" Criteria

This has got to be short. I'm in the middle of a research paper that MUST get written by the end of this day.

But I need a break and I thought I'd share a tid bit of library insight with you. This is good.

All the students--past and present--who read this will know what I'm saying, but isn't there an ART to finding a perfect library spot? Especially during finals.

A premium spot will encompass all of the following characteristics:

-Quiet, but not silent. It does not require you to be self conscious about how loud you are typing, texting, or drinking water, yet still makes anyone who is talking worthy of receiving stink eye. Eating apples or other crunchy objects is questionable.

-Comfortable chairs that don't lean or roll. But are spacious enough to sit criss-cross applesauce in.

-Large tables where you can spread out your work. Alllll of your work.

-Tables with plugs in the center so you don't have to worry about reaching an outlet in the wall.

-Nearby water fountain.

-Nearby bathroom.

-Nearby stacks so that you can go for little break-walks. Or use them as aisles to cartwheel down to get your blood flowing a bit, and keep from getting stiff.

-Big windows, preferably with lovely trees and flowers outside of them. This way you don't feel completely lame for spending an entire day inside.

-And last, but certainly not least:
Other students,
Fellow survivors, if you will...

All around you at their own respective "spots," to remind you that you aren't alone in your frustration toward long papers and work filled weekends.

I'm loving my spot today. Seeing as how I was the first Duke student in the library this morning, I basically had my pick. And, while I'd rather be running, sleeping, playing, etc., if I have to be working, I might as well be right here!

Signing off now and getting back to it. But I'm curious, what makes a library spot perfect for you?


First "Friday First": Nepali. The saga.

Try to think of a concept that is really foreign to you...

Stopping at green lights and driving through red.
Sleeping on top of the covers rather than under.
Walking backward...or on your hands instead of feet.
Getting to sleep in, ever.
People who don't like ice cream...

These are a few of mine. What are some of yours?

The point of this exercise is to illustrate how completely and utterly foreign the Nepali language is to me. I started learning today. And don't worry, I told the man who was teaching us that I was coming to bed. Because why wouldn't I mess up something so embarrassing on the first day?
(Note 1: My face may or may not have turned the color of Dorothy's slippers.)

But, all in all, it felt adventurous and brave, and even though I was pointed out as the one in the group who was having a little trouble when everyone else was doing great...I consider it a success. That said, I plan to practice a lot more before I use any Nepali in country...and invite too many people to bed.

Anyone interested in learning any? I bet it would be a first for you too. If so, read on. If not, stop here. Boo.

To greet you say "Namaste." Easy enough. I say this all the time during yoga.

To say my name is you say "Ma Elise hun." Now try it. "Ma____hun."

To say tomorrow I will eat ice cream you say "Bholi ma ice cream khanchhu."
To say the day after tomorrow I will eat ice cream you say "Parsi ma ice cream khanchhu."

To say I come to bed, you say "Ma bed ma aaunchhu."

If what you MEAN to say is I go to had best say, "Ma bed ma janchhu."
(Note 2: There is a difference between these last two. Especially when you are speaking to an older Nepali man. Who then looks very offended.)

To say thank you say "Dhanyabad."

Dhanyabad. For reading this that is. And for experiencing a first with me.

Happy Weekend All. (In English.)


The Latest Decision

I've made a decision. I'm going to try to stick with it. It will require creativity, and occasionally a bit of fearlessness...



(Wow, that sounded like I'm starting a cheer. I am not.)

Several of my favorite bloggies have a weekly post series that they do on the same day each week. I like this. It's consistent. It gives me something to look forward to. It's comfortable to someone who is OCD and likes a plan and a method. Steph does her Must Have Mondays. My friend Linnea does Fifty-two on Friday on her photography website. And Marcy May does Fill in the Blank Friday

So, I've decided that I don't try enough new things. Not because I don't want to. Or because I don't love the rush of doing something I've never done before...or something that no one's ever done before for that matter. Basically it's because the things I always do do take over my life and my time and my brain and...well you get the picture. So, I want to intentionally try doing something each week that is a "First." Well since First starts with "F" and there is only one day of the week that starts with "F" I guess my day of fearless firsts is going to land on Friday. This is good. Occasionally I have free time on Fridays.

Sooo...since Friday is the day and tomorrow is Friday I am going to tell you right now that I am trying something VERY new tomorrow: I am having my first Nepali lesson. Yep, Nepali. As in the language they speak in Nepal. I bet you can guess why....

I am terrible at languages. The only reason Italian worked out for me was because I'm so obsessed with it and desperately love being able to speak to Italians, in Italian, in Italy. 

But Nepali? 
It's frightening. 
Yet, intriguing. 

And it may just come in real useful the first time I find myself in some kind of crazy predicament. This is inevitable when you are the clueless American in a brand new country.

So here is to my first "First Friday" and here is to my "First Nepali lesson."

Maybe y'all can try some Firsts with me and we can all expand our repertoire of "Things we've done so far in life." 




Dinosaurs and Grad Students

One of my best friends, Jen, sent me this in an email the other day. The subject line simply read "grad school."

I laughed so hard.

Because it is so true.

Especially this time of year.

I am done with the semester exactly two weeks from today. And yesterday I had that crisis moment when I realized that I simply do not have enough time between now and then to finish everything that I must get done. (Particularly if I spend time blogging, which will inevitably happen.)

My face got warm, my shoulders all tight, tears even tried to well up in my eyes, and I started to shake. Unfortunately there were people witnessing this. So I ran home, opened up my computer and just started hammering out words, sentences, paragraphs, like a mad woman just trying to check SOMETHING off her list.

And then I saw this email again, and I just chuckled. Because this happens EVERY semester. Without fail. And somehow, everything always gets done. And summer arrives.

Like my mother always tells me, time will rescue you.

This is true. And God commands time. And God is in control.

So i'll make it.

And all of you other students--you will too. Be encouraged. Finish strong!

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