My break into journalism took me to San Francisco

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This is the detailed version of one of the most incredible, pivotal moments of my life. An experience where I can truly see God working through me rather than it being on my own accord. I’ve shared pieces of it to people in talks and different ways, but this includes everything. It’s a long write-up, so I’ve broken it up into three parts. I’ll share part two tomorrow and part three on Friday.

By January 2007, I had been volunteering with The Tidings for about 3 full months. I learned about the third annual Walk for Life, a similar event to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., but this would be in San Francisco. I asked the publisher of the paper if the San Francisco event is something they planned to cover. I told him I was interested in being part of the experience. Maybe to help out in some way.

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Choosing a year in Los Angeles

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Journal I received as a college graduation gift. What a perfect quote for inspiration.

Yes, I applied to two volunteer programs that would have taken me far away from the comforts of my familiar South Carolina home where I was used to being a few hours away from family, but neither seemed very scary. It also didn’t seem like I was taking much of a risk. But I think mostly that was because I didn’t really feel like there was an option. Since I didn’t want to teach, what choice did I really have? Well, I guess I overlooked the real possibility of simply staying home with my parents and finding some retail job as a short term fix. But that didn’t seem like an option either. It was time to get out in the world.

But another reason moving far away didn’t seem like too big of a deal was because it wouldn’t be a permanent move. These would be a one-year commitment. Plus, there was the promise of living with a community of people who had the same goals and shared the same faith. I found comfort in that.

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College graduation: Now what?

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I finished college in four years. That wasn’t necessarily viewed as a major accomplishment. It was an expectation. You go to college and get a degree. There’s nothing extraordinary in that. And at this point in my life accomplishments required doing extraordinary things. Talk about setting the bar result high for yourself!

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Finally embracing my giraffe status

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Giraffes are beautiful, too.

For a long time, I have related to giraffes. I towered over my classmates at an early age and felt like my awkwardness made me stand out. Just like the giraffe, it was hard to blend in. There’s no place for a giraffe to hide, and I felt like all of my insecurities were equally on full display for everyone to see.

Experiences over the past two weekends have left me with an overwhelming sense of peace in the realization of how far I’ve come on this journey of self-acceptance in just a short time frame. And I credit it with being honest and open in writing while working hard to internalize these new ways of seeing others and myself.

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“And I’m supposed to teach them?”

'I think I'm going to throw up.'

Senior year of college meant getting into the classroom and actually teaching. This meant two student teaching opportunities. I had signed up as being interested in secondary education, so my field placement would be at the high school level.

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Talking back to the doubts and the inner critic

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I recently addressed the topic of self-worth here  and It got me thinking of other doubts I allow to roam freely in my mind. I decided to lasso up as many as I could and confront them directly.

In no particular order, these relate to personal matters as well as with my writing.

Accusation: You’re not good enough.

TRUTH: This pops up under a variety of circumstances. Every time it’s clearly untrue: I’m competent at my job. I have friends and family who love and care about me. And the only real way people have asked me to change is to embrace and love myself more.

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View from behind the microphone

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Along with participating in the high ropes course, a major aspect of my experience with LifeTeen and the youth group was pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. This happened on a regular basis during 11th and 12th grades through lectoring at Mass.

One of the adult leaders made the rounds among the teens one night seeking recruits to be readers. I got guilted into signing up. Not because my friends jumped up to agree and I risked being left out. That wasn’t it at all. Hardly anyone stepped forward, and for some reason I felt responsible to fill in since no one else did. The people pleaser in me couldn’t resist the request from an adult. Or maybe it actually indicates some degree of leadership skills, taking on an undesirable task instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

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Poem: April 20, 1999

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In honor of today being the 18th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, I thought I would share the poem I wrote about the event.

I was on the bus on the way to a basketball game during my junior year of high school, two years after the shooting. For once I wasn’t doing homework on the bus; instead I finished reading “She Said Yes,” Cassie Bernall’s witness and felt inspired to write about it from her perspective.

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