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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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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Working in the advertising department

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Part of my experience working at the newspaper in Los Angeles was helping with the sales department. I was drafted to assist in building up the classified section of the Spanish language monthly they published, trying to establish quality job offerings rather than the usual bar tending or janitorial positions.

I was excited to be part of a paper that wanted to improve the quality of life of readers and members of the community. But I didn’t speak much Spanish and I wasn’t a sales person. So, that was tricky.

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A sensory walk in Los Angeles

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My favorite sign that I spotted at the end of our block. The broken English was endearing to me for some reason. But seriously, how bad do things have to be that you create a sign like this for the side of your building? And this is much bigger than a sheet of paper. It was a huge sign.

Over the course of my time in Los Angeles, I made an effort to re-engage my creative side. I had a few books with writing prompts to help me focus on something. One of those prompts meant going on a detail hunt. Take a walk and jot down all the interesting details you observe. Focus on sensory impressions. And while looking for the extraordinary, don’t ignore the ordinary.

I wish I had pictures of many of these items, especially the trees. I found their formation fascinating. Sadly, I didn’t take pictures. While I doubt many of these items will be as intriguing to someone who hasn’t walked this neighborhood, I figured I’d go ahead and share anyway.

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When you’re NOT interested in a guy’s attention

hires-copyHe was a non-traditional student, about 10 years older and I think pursuing an undergraduate degree. I had met him through PACT, but I believe the first real opportunity to talk happened on the statewide retreat. He wasn’t Catholic, but he was interested in learning about the faith.

I remember being with a small group of people at the retreat, and then slowly others broke off for other things. And it was just the two of us. I wasn’t super comfortable around him, but I couldn’t just leave him. He seemed so alone, and I felt bad for him.

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Poetic jewels of Write Moves program

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Terrell Hall at Georgia College & State University

At some point during the one week program, I had a chance to sit down with one of the two instructors and talk about my writing. A one-on-one discussion. I walked away from that meeting with encouragement from him that I had real potential in pursuing poetry. Certainly some areas could use improvement, but he reinforced that my gut instincts were good.

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Write Moves: Dabbling in fiction

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During the second half of senior year, I learned of a one week summer program for creative writing for high school students called Write Moves. I wasn’t sure if I would be allowed to apply since I was graduating, but even as a rising college freshman I was eligible to attend. I was one of 8 students accepted into the program.

This was my first big road trip by myself. I drove independently from South Carolina to Georgia College and State University, about 2.5 hours away using written directions. This was before having a GPS system in the car.

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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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Senior hoops

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Ellen may have been bold with her verbal communication and more direct than me, but it was the kind of push I needed. You can’t always wait for things to happen; often times you have to take matters into your own hands and act to bring the results you want.

The dawn of senior year meant Ellen became our basketball team captain. She earned that title for sure. Like many others, she could see my potential on the court, and so she pushed me to be better. She pushed me to be more of a presence in the paint, more aggressive, instead of being intimidated. She pushed me to take ownership of my ability. We were the “twin towers” under the basket, and we learned a lot about teamwork. You can’t be a successful team with a “one-man show,” and senior year certainly brought out more opportunities for working together.

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Introverts, birthdays and “ohhhhhh!”

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When high school began, I definitely was not ready for the high energy of Ellen. She was all about introducing herself to everyone and asking questions. There didn’t seem to be an off switch. For a major introvert like myself, it was off-putting in the beginning.

People who tend to be very loud and vocal end up getting on my nerves. It’s far too easy to write off their energy as annoying, though, so I have to be careful about that. It just takes time to understand where they’re coming from. (I’m sure many people initially think I’m not interested in what’s happening around me simply because I don’t say much at first.)

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