New Beginnings…

Tags

, , ,

“Each one of us has been given the power to change his or her life.”

E. FAUST (1920–2007)

“Each new day that dawns can be a new day for us to begin to change.”

Advertisements

Philly Filching…

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I never thought that today would turn out to be anything but ordinary. It just goes to show that no one really knows when the unordinary will shatter the routine of the usual. I woke up early this morning as usual. I listened to a General Conference talk on my commute as usual. Everything about today seemed usual. Rushing to finish my PowerPoint in time for class as usual. Last minute copies as usual. Kids being kids… as usual. Even the Friday excitement of the forthcoming weekend has become somewhat… well… usual.

The day continued fairly uneventful until just 1 hour before the usual 4 PM end-of-a-work-day sigh. Tired of battling my students, I was relieved to receive a phone call from the head of operations telling me that he was sending a substitute to my room. I was needed in the front office. It wasn’t until the click of the receiver that I realized how unusual his request. Was I in trouble? Had I said something to merit an angry parent to visit the school? Well, no time to think about that now because Nadjah and Stephan are starting to create quite a stir bickering back and forth in the front of the class. The next five minutes was quite a blur as another teacher and dean removed the students from class, I documented the incident and gave the remaining students an impromptu assignment. The head of ops showed up just in time to witness the tail end of the slight chaos. In a flash my class was transferred into the substitutes hands and I was walking to the main office. “Am I in trouble?” I asked. “Your car was broken into and the police are waiting for you downstairs to file the report.”

The usual smashed by the unexpected. Isn’t life exciting?

2013-01-04 15.17.24

2013-01-04 15.17.02

2013-01-04 15.17.42

2013-01-04 15.17.38

Now to answer your questions… the culprit was caught and all of my items returned. A real lose-lose situation if you think about it. He will go to jail and I will most likely lose my insurance deductible. Although, there is some good news to this situation. My colleague now has a wicked cool story to tell about how he chased down the guy breaking into my car. He cornered the thief, forcing him to jump in a dumpster before the cops arrived. Also, I will most likely get a couple of days off from teaching because I will be summoned to court to testify. This sounds crazy but I’m kind of excited for the experience. I’ve never really been involved with our legal system before and I’m curious to know more about how it works. I also have another great story to tell about my time spent in the police station this afternoon. Too bad that will have to wait for another day… Philly cops at their finest.

I’m okay… life is good. Welcome to North Philly.

“Happiness is not by chance but by choice”.
-Jom Rohn

Teaching moment #1

Tags

, , , , , ,

One of my more talkative and energetic students was hanging out in my room for lunch today. This particular student is probably no taller than 5 foot 5, but I’m sure that in his mind he sees himself as 6 foot 5. Out of the blue he says to me, “Mr. Merrill, I’m going to go to BYU and become the next black Jimmer!” Classic…. We all need dreams right?

Go Jimmer! Go BYU!

110826639_display_image

“Always… Unconditionally… Follow your heart. Understand that persistence, hard work, and determination are the keys to success.”

– Barbara Cage

2012…

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So it’s been a while since my last post… just over a year to be exact. It’s amazing to me how much life can happen in just one year. I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging for quite some time, but it always seems to get put on the back burner. I guess I didn’t want to start any new posts because I felt like I had missed so many previous. It just didn’t feel right to start telling new stories when there were stories from the past still screaming to be shared. I’ve had some time over the Christmas break to do some life sorting and I’ve put together a “life since the last post” presentation. This is my tiny attempt to give peace to the tales I missed. So without further adieu, here is what Thoughts of Shawn missed in 2012…

image

Lion king at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with the Madre

image

A wicked awesome dance party

image

Some bad hair days

image

I almost bought a dog! Someday… Finnish Spitz

image

Time spent with the Padres

image

Class projects

image

Greg Laswell in concert

image

Twice!

image

Mountain biking with the cousin-in-law

image

I graduated from college!

image
Play time

image

Some fun dates

image

Random memories

image

I flew to Europe with Hayden… for 5 1/2 weeks!

image

Germany

image

Family visit with the nieces and nephews. Aren’t they cute? (Katelyn, Tanner, Trevor, and Brianna) Thanks for everything Paul and Janae!

image

A day on the Rhein River

image

Castles!

image

image

image

Paris

image

Sneaking into an abandoned castle in southern France

image

image

Rome

image

Florence/Pisa

image

Venice

image

image

Vienna

image

image

image

Prague

image

Poland/Auschwitz

image

Ukraine

image

Back to the mission Sashleek! (Russian bbq)

image

I’m on a boat!

image

Reuniting with my Russian family

image

Love in Petersburg

image

Rooftop sunset at 12 am

image

Sites of Petersburg

image

Russia… country of opportunity

image

And all the friends that we met along the way…

image

A week after returning from Europe, I packed up my car and drove from Utah to Philly

image

Stopped by my mom’s hometown in Colorado

image

Reunited with friends and family on the way

image

image

Gettysburg

image

Church history sites

image

Relived the birth of our nation at Independence Hall in the room where the constitution was signed.

image

George Washington’s house

image

Moved to Philly at last and found it to have everything I need. Still waiting on the girl, love, and dog BUT…

image

I got the bike!

image
image

I started a new job with Teach For America (TFA) and survived summer institute. My first teaching experience.

image

And I made lots of friends along the way

image

I started a graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania in urban education. Never thought I’d end up at an ivy league school.

image

Went to my first Real Salt Lake soccer game (in Philly)

image

I survived a hurricane and helped clean up afterwards

image

In 2012, I completed a journey from sea to shining sea. I started in San Diego in January and ended on Staten island in November. My lovely red Nissan was there with me for every second of the trip.

image

Mit Romney’s election night party

image

I made it home to Utah for thanksgiving to play canasta with my grandma

image

I made a lot of new friends and had a lot of fun.

image

To wrap it all up, I got to spend the holidays with the parentals and my brother’s cute little family in North Carolina. Thanks Keith and Katie!

image

Christmas hiking and bird watching with the fam

image

What a great little nephew… Charlie!

Wow, what a year! This was definitely a year for the memories… but next year will be too! Thanks to my wonderful family and to all of the amazing people in my life! I’ve met some incredible people over the last year and built some lasting friendships. None of my adventures would have meant anything if it were not for the people creating the memories with me.

I believe that every day there is something that happens that is worth telling a story about. My new year’s resolution… tell the stories more often. Blog!

My motto: Life is meant to be lived… so live it!

Wicked useless…

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The other day I was skimming through some old cds and I came across this little diddy. I’ve never had the chance to see In the Heights on Broadway but based on the soundtrack I would love to go if I have that chance. The following song has always reached deep within me and struck a heart string. Maybe it’s the intimidating responsibility to provide for a family in the future or maybe it relates to my own desires to change the world someday. I’m grateful that my parents have always been my greatest support and have never tried to hold me back from doing crazy things and living my dreams. I hope that I never become a stumbling block for my children either. The picture on the following clip is a bit weird at times but the audio was the best out of the Youtube clips that I found. Check it out…

Lyrics Here

Continuing on the Broadway theme. Here is a clip from the first show that I ever saw on Times Square, Wicked. I had never heard the soundtrack before winning the lottery tickets and getting front row seats. I have since listened to this beautiful arrangement over and over again. Absolutely stunning! The following is probably the most popular of the Wicked soundtrack… it’s sooooo GOOD! I feel like I’m ready for this in my life… Time to start defying gravity!

I think I’m going to buy myself a Christmas present this year. For Christmas break I am going to buy myself tickets to see Lion King in Vegas. Who wants to come? I mean really, Doesn’t it look fun?

Blasted headphones…

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So my story starts at approximately 2:30 this afternoon during my 4th year Russian class. For some odd reason the speakers connected to the main multi-media computer at the front of the classroom were not working. It was just an overall bad day for the professor because his funny clip that he wanted to use as a discussion starter wasn’t going to work and the kid who was supposed to give a presentation in class didn’t show up. What to do with all that extra time? Well, we are all college students, which definitely makes us qualified to figure out sticky situations like this one. I happened to have my laptop with speakers on it. So we connected my computer to the projector, plugged in his USB drive and cranked the volume as loud as it could so that most in the room could hear.

Part two, I’m sitting in the periodicals section of the library getting ready to study. Well, if you know anything about the BYU periodicals section it’s the quiet area or the area that I sometimes refer to as the “shhhh” zone. Tonight it was especially quiet and people were actually studying. I pulled up a comfortable chair to my table, plugged in my computer, got out my books, had the pre-study whisper catch-up with my roommate and then I was prepared to get to work. Got out my headphones, plugged them in, and put them in my ears. See where I’m going with this? I pressed play and got a BLAST of sound to blow out my eardrums. Yep, I hadn’t used my computer since the Russian class where my computer was top volume. I quickly jerked them out of my ears and realized that people from clear across the room were all looking in my direction and chuckling. Glad I could lighten the mood for someone tonight…

General conference recap…

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, it’s been just over a month now since we had general conference. The great thing about general conference is that it lives on as we continue to study the talks that were given. Why don’t you take a few fifteen minutes to remind yourself about what we learned by watching the video below?

You can watch, read, and listen to all of these messages in full HERE.

My dear friends, general conference is a source of God’s word here on earth. The words written can lead us and direct us to make the most critical of decisions in our lives. As you read, not only will the things said touch your heart but the action of reading alone will allow God to whisper to you personal messages. God wants to speak to us. He wants to speak to YOU. He loves us. He loves YOU. He wants us to know His will for us. He wants YOU to know His will for YOU. Allow Him to talk to you by turning towards Him and listening. Please read and study the words of His servants, His apostles and prophets, as given in this last General Conference. If you do, you will know…

Justin shout out…

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Doesn’t he look happy? Everyone, I’d like you to meet my roommate Justin. Not too long ago Justin wrote a very insightful blog post that I would like to re-post here to my blog. But before posting his thoughts I would just like to say that Justin has become one of my best friends. Although he is still a young buck, behind that huge smile lies some wisdom. I’m always impressed with his ability to listen and to ask the right questions to create understanding. Although he has been going through a rough time, he has handled his situation extremely well. Although what he writes is just words, they really reflect the type of person he really is. Love ya brother! Read directly from his blog here or just keep reading below:

“What I thought I knew and what I’ve learned”

“It is hard to believe it, but one month ago I was engaged to be married to the girl of my dreams. I’ve decided I can’t dwell on what might have been, that would make this an exceptionally boring blog post! Rather I’d like to share what I feel like I have learned through all of this craziness and I hope that some of it will help the nine people who will actually read this. Ready? ok let’s go….”

“First of all, I have learned that I cannot always control whether or not the situation I am in is what will bring me the greatest measure of peace, but that it is not the situation I am in that will ultimately bring peace, but the way I choose to react to it. This is the first of many things I have always intellectually known, but that I have never had to apply in my life until very recently. It is amazing to me the power the Lord gives each of us to decide to have a positive attitude and to learn in every situation in which we are placed; it is not always easy, but it is always the path that will lead to the greatest good. I keep remembering what a Sister in my mission once said, she encouraged a congregation of people to “follow the peace.” I have come to learn that that does not mean I can always be in a peaceful situation, but that in every situation I have the opportunity to follow the Prince of Peace who I worship with all my heart.”

“The next important thing I thought I always knew and now have discovered I really do is that I have amazing friends. God has put some the best people in the world into my life and they will never understand the incredible, salvific influence they have had on my life. In this category I include my current roommates, my dear friends from the mission who have always inspired me to be the very best, my dear pre-mission friends from high school who have allowed me to grow with them, and of course the best family a person could ever have. In particular in this crazy circumstance I have gained an appreciation for my dear parents who have supported me in all of my dreams and pursuits and who continue to trust me to learn from all that I have been given. Chances are if you took the time to read this you are one of those people, so thank you!”

“The final and most important lesson I have learned from all of this is the incredible power forgiveness has to heal and lift. I have been painted as vile and evil (I also have fallen in love with palindromes) by people who meant a lot to me and it has been difficult for me to let that go, but as I have, I have found such a tremendous feeling of comfort and empowerment to move forward with faith in the love of Christ. I have preached the doctrine of forgiveness on countless occasion, and I’ve always wondered why I have been so drawn to that principle until this month when I have finally had a need to really apply it in my everyday living. I’m so glad that I have spent time studying opposition and forgiveness, without it I don’t know where I would be. The freedom and release that comes is real, I have experienced it and for that I will always be grateful!”

“Sorry this wasn’t very funny and I don’t blame anyone for not reading the whole thing, but it feels so good to write it all down.”

-Faithfully-

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Great quotes from Norman Vincent Peale to start the day:

“Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.”

“Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.”

“Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”

Mustache, sesame street style…

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Education at it’s finest! Every child needs to know these things. I’m sure this was part of the No Child Left Behind Act. They just forgot one thing, I love to shampoo and condition my mustache… makes it soft and kissable.

HACHUU!

“Guys are lucky because they get to grow mustaches. I wish I could. Its like having a little pet for your face.”
-Anita Wise (She was wise)