Saying goodbye to a furry friend

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Martha

It’s always hard to say goodbye to someone you love. Even if that “someone” is a four-legged animal. But if you love with your whole heart it means that loss is felt with your whole being. And that’s where I’m at right now.

I got two guinea pigs in July 2010 (Martha and Lizzie) when I was living several states away from home. It was such a welcomed change to have something else in the apartment that I could talk to and pet. Those dust bunnies aren’t exactly friendly.

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How to be supportive

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Sometimes people need suggestions for how they can be supportive and help. I know from personal experience how easy it is to get hung up on the idea that you have to say something to show support. You don’t. Not at all. Often times just being fully present and listening is exactly what the other person needs.

 

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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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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Getting settled into the volunteer community

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View of MacArthur Park, with downtown Los Angeles in the background. This park was a few blocks from where I was living.

The adventures to California began with a cross-country road trip with Mom in my little Honda Civic. Not exactly the kind of transportation I would recommend on such a long drive, as it got cramped very fast, but we made it!

Mom drove with me and then flew back to South Carolina so that I would have a vehicle with me. She didn’t want me to have to make such a long trip by myself. I was strongly encouraged to arrive in Los Angeles with transportation.

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Life is more than drafting a hypothesis

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I love these images! They’re relevant for illustrating the idea of sitting with questions and letting them almost hold you hostage, rather than as a starting point for consideration and then action.

At the start of junior year, I continued going to daily Mass, even though I no longer had 8 a.m. classes. I had come to appreciate the benefits of beginning my day in this way.

On my birthday, I remember contemplating once again if I was being called to religious life. With a brother in seminary, that question popped up more frequently.

In the middle of this internal questioning, a religious sister walked in the chapel. I had never seen her before. What does this mean? And then another entered. And another. Maybe seven total. Ok, God, is this a coincidence or are you trying to give me an answer? I was always questioning. There was no sense of being at peace and allowing things to unfold. I obsessed about wanting clear answers.

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