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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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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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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College poetry readings

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So the coffee shop location where the readings happened was small like this. Not as tight quarters with the tables crammed together, but there is a similar vibe.

My second semester writing course focused more on persuasive writing. There was a structured formula to follow that included making an assertion, backing it up with examples and research, providing a rebuttal, refuting that, and then offering conclusions.

The structured part was intimidating, but I remember that it helped me see how it was possible to write a 5-10 page paper on the same topic.

I liked my professor. Something about her made me trust her judgement, not just in class but in general. Perhaps she mentioned her personal writing, offering a sense of more happening besides teaching classes. I forget how it happened, but her opinion was one I trusted and I shared one of my poems with her. She referred me to a friend of hers who hosted monthly poetry open mic nights in nearby Charlotte and edited a literary magazine.

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Applying for Governor’s School

As I’ve mentioned before, I often shared my poetry writing with the school guidance counselor. She was the one who encouraged me to another step in developing my skills.

She was the one who would hang posters on the wall of the cafeteria of scholarship contests and other scholarly opportunities. I first heard about the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities by spotting a poster in the cafeteria. The Governor’s School was offering a 5-week program in the summer for various visual and performance arts, music and creative writing. The poster included details about a one-day workshop at a local community college to offer a chance to work on poetry and learn more about the summer program. Even though I was attending a high school in Georgia, I remained eligible to apply because I still lived in South Carolina.

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