After Los Angeles: Transitioning back to SC


By early September 2007, I had finished my year of volunteering in Los Angeles. I still wasn’t sure what to pursue as my next step. I applied to various jobs but nothing panned out.

Part of my growth while in California was being exposed to the world of journalism. I realized I enjoyed that kind of writing, but it was challenging to approach strangers and ask for their feedback. I was a small fish in a big pond; I felt like I was thrashing around trying to make things work. But there was some excitement nonetheless, a bit of a thrill with figuring out how to piece many little parts together into a finished story, even if the interviewing aspect was nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. (If you missed them, you can read the pieces I wrote for my San Francisco assignment and the personal article on my brother becoming a priest.)

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When ‘introvert’ isn’t a complete description


During the summer of 2007, as I was wrapping up my year in Los Angeles, our little volunteer community took some personality inventories.

I don’t know why we took these assessments at the end of our volunteer experience. Perhaps it was meant to serve as confirmation of behavior and preferences rather than uncover new insight. I walked away with some enlightening information and yet there were still plenty of questions.

I learned I was considered very introverted. Scoring 9 or possibly 10 out of 10.

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“What’s on your plate?” – A weekend camping retreat

Not my group, but someone else’s camping experience at the same park.

I’ve shared about how I found a group of young adults in the Southern California area, a group I spent a fair amount of time with. There was one memorable weekend of traveling to Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park for a two-night camping retreat. About fifteen people participated on the weekend, but I only knew one person before going.

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San Francisco part 3: Help me


Note: This is part three of a three-part description of my first journalism assignment. You can read part one here, where I show how God answered my prayer to guide me in the right direction. You can read part two here, describing how God lead me to the people I needed to speak with.

Help me know what to do

There was a Mass bright and early Saturday morning. I was running on fumes at that point, just a few hours of sleep, but I was excited about what the day would bring. I still felt convinced I needed to speak to more people, so as people were leaving I tried to pick out approachable people and ask why they were involved in advocating for life.

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San Francisco part 2: Lead me

Paperblanks Notebooks Mini Reporter in Grolier

Note: This is part two of a three-part description of my first journalism assignment, covering the Walk for Life in San Francisco. You can read part one here, where I show how God answered my prayer to guide me in the right direction.

Lead me to the people I need to speak with

Instead of staying at a hotel, I was able to lodge with other members of Sister Paula’s religious community. Sister Anne showed me to my room for the night where I unloaded my stuff. Friday night’s agenda meant attending an interfaith prayer service followed by a trip to a different church offering all-night adoration. My goal was to talk to a few participants. Since the rally and Walk for Life weren’t until Saturday morning, I left behind my interview notes and questions for those speakers. No sense in bringing everything with me.

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My break into journalism took me to San Francisco


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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Discovering self by journaling


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 peace in prayer

Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

There was a 24-hour period while I was in Los Angeles when I got some distressing news from three different people that just weighed on my heart. I didn’t know how to react, what to do, what to say in response. My words seemed so inadequate.

I learned someone I worked with at the paper had lost her sister. A friend I met in college shared that her cousin had committed suicide. And I received an email from another friend who shared about how he was going through a very difficult time.

It was a lot to take in and process. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t know what to do.

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Extrovert versus introvert: The roommate struggle


Among the biggest challenges in this volunteer experience was figuring out a way to adjust to living with a roommate. The final two years of college, I didn’t have a roommate. As a junior, my roommate transferred to a different room the first week of the semester and I never got a replacement. During my senior year, I was able to live with a family I met through church. I lived with other people, but it wasn’t the same thing as having a roommate.

But the focal part of this new experience was living with someone much older than me. The best way to explain why this relationship was so challenging is that we were polar opposites. This was truly my introduction to the differences between extroverts and introverts. She was a solid extrovert, and I was a bottled up introvert.

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Finding value in mundane jobs


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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