Getting a hug from my sister

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I was thinking of sharing this post before, and then decided against it. But since April 6 is the day my sister was stillborn and it holds great significance, I thought I’d share. She’s still offering me hugs; they just don’t always happen like this.

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A year of blogging, a year of growth

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April marks a year of blogging. A year of directed, focused reflection and self-analysis.

The pieces are falling into place. I have a much better sense of who I am, what I have to offer others, my strengths, my abilities, my temperament and all the ways I have reason to be proud of how I’ve grown up, the person I’ve become.

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Peace starts with interior change, not external Band-aids

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More school shootings. More bomb threats. More mass killings. More lives lost. More fear and confusion. An ever increasing sense of wondering “How did we get here?” and “Why is our world so crazy these days?”

There is so much pain, addiction, brokenness, fear, doubt, anger, loneliness, depression, confusion, instability, mental health concerns, anxiety, and countless other problems plaguing our country and the world right now.

We need to see people as people. Treat them as people. As fellow human beings. Welcome them. Embrace them. Love them. Open up communication and dialogue rather than increasing the isolation, rather than pointing fingers and ignoring.

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The anxiety-ridden grad school experience

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My excitement for resuming my role as student was so strong, that I felt sure my good study habits from my undergrad years would automatically bounce back, even if there had been a two year gap. Boy was I wrong.

There was so much reading.

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Beaches, hiking and skiing: The active part of California

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A shop near our apartments

When I got to California, I knew I was deep in the land of Hollywood celebrities. An environment focused on outer beauty, fashion, success and other superficial things. But I was surprised to learn that, like every other state, one highlight or landmark does not define the entire place. All of California or even Southern California is not Hollywood. It’s filled with hardworking people, too. People who are living in multi-million dollar mansions and, not far away, people barely getting by on the streets.

I was surprised to find a strong, thriving group of young adults living out their Catholic faith. Growing up in South Carolina, Catholics are a minority, making up barely 5 percent of the population. But here, at least a third of the population identifies as Catholic. Mass was celebrated in more than 30 languages.

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Discovering self by journaling

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At the beginning of the notebook where I found the details of the sensory walk, I saw that I purposefully sought out to renew my journaling efforts as a way of learning more about myself. It was an effort for record, accountability and self-discovery. I had gotten away from this practice and my creative writing especially during my senior year of college because of my student teaching responsibilities.

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Finding value in mundane jobs

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One of the first big lessons I learned during my time in Los Angeles was the purpose and value of work. All work matters. Some positions may be more glamorous than others, but when it joins together it all has a purpose. Some roles are more public while others happen behind the scenes where fewer see the details. Every position is needed.

What’s more, this revelation came while I was earning $100 a month. It wasn’t about how much I made. It was about doing my best, being challenged. It meant doing some tasks that felt small at the time but would eventually serve as a powerful foundation for bigger jobs. If you feel like a particular task is menial and not worth doing, take a step back and see how your contribution fits in with the bigger picture.

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Making accommodations in the classroom

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I came across this quote at some point during my college experience. I instantly fell in love with it. I very much liked the idea of continuing through life without letting something outside your control get in the way. I just didn’t know how relevant this quote was, how much it actually described me.

Like the bumble bee, I didn’t know about the external obstacles that were always before me. I just kept going. Pushing through the awkwardness and the insecurities. Doing the best I could to work with the irritations and annoyances that cropped up.

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Walking 900 words an hour: The importance of writing things out

1I take hour-long walks around my neighborhood at least 4 times a week. This time is used more for brainstorming and reflection than a focus on speed and exercise. The physical activity is secondary, honestly. I feel better after the fact, but the real accomplishment is happening on my phone.

Instead of simply thinking about topics and hoping I remember the wording once I’ve returned to my apartment, I have taken to typing these thoughts into the notepad app on my phone.

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Learning through example of family life

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As junior year began, I no longer had 8 am classes yet I wanted to continue going to daily mass. There was some relief. The time was changed to 7, so I could sleep in some!

The later time brought in a new demographic of the parish. No longer solely retirees and individuals rushing off to work, now there were also mothers with children. The home schooling crowd.

There was a wide range in ages. I was impressed by their reverence, how serious they were about being there. The younger ones weren’t always cooperative; they are human of course. Generally speaking, though, they seemed to have a greater sense of awareness of what was going on than I did at that age.

Introductions were made. Though life was busy and chaotic for them, I was fortunate to meet women who had found a sense of calm within their routines so they could be open to welcoming a stranger.

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