Expectations

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Expectations— we all have them. We all envision our lives to proceed in a certain way. Sometimes those expectations align themselves with what society and culture have defined as normal or necessary. Once upon a time society decreed that a woman’s place was solely in the home. We also once believed we were not created equal, that some races were inferior to our own. Sadly, there are people that continue to believe in this ridiculous misconception. However, that is not what I want us to consider at the moment. I would like for us to each take a moment to reflect on who we were and where we were a year ago. What were your expectations?

I’ll go first. A year and a day ago, I had just had one of the most exciting days of my life. I was surrounded by magic and beauty; I was in Harry Potter World! I had seen Hogsmeade before, but it was my first time experiencing Diagon Alley. I had such an amazing time with my two girlfriends! (Nikki was studying in the hotel room like a good graduate student). I still remember my birthday wish; I wished that I would get accepted into NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute and Master’s program. That’s when God intervened on my behalf because, after all, He knows best! I did not get accepted into NYU’s summer program and I am so thankful that I didn’t. God decided it was time He answered my December prayer— the one I made in Costa Rica about being ready to fall in love. Turns out the man I had come to care for deeply also got the memo and that is when Andrew and I began our summer romance. Like I said, God knows best and His plans greatly surpassed my expectations. You see, God had something bigger planned for us; something we could never have predicted or imagined. The most important thing to remember is that He has different plans for all of us because we all are unique.

The other half of my wish did come; I was accepted into NYU’s Master’s program. I was accepted the day Andrew and I became a couple. Yes, God is ironic and loves a good laugh! Also, it was on Friday the 13th, which makes it even funnier, for me at least! I had also applied to Pace University as my backup school. Well, my backup became my school of choice and I turned NYU down. I did this not only because of how much more expensive NYU was, but I also wasn’t ready to leave loved ones yet. Additionally, I felt I owed it to myself and Andrew to see where our relationship would lead. Again, God is good! I want to build a life with this incredibly sweet and noble man and grow old together. Cliche, I know, but God knows what He is doing and what my heart truly desires.

What is the takeaway from my story? The point of it all is for all of you to learn to accept that your expectations may not be met. God may have something even greater or more simple planned for you! Do not get upset when things don’t go as expected. Remember what the bible says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Yield your way and your will to His. Trust me, you will not regret it!

“And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

—Romans 8:28

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Letting Go of the Past

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“Great blessings await us. We simply have to pray and wait.”

-Annie Writes

I have been mulling over what topic to discuss next for quite some time now and came to a realization. I have begun a new chapter in my life —one that includes a significant other. It’s exciting and somewhat overwhelming (graduate school only), but I find that I am fearless.

There was a time in my past where I feared the thought of being with someone because I did not want feelings to cloud my judgement or to hold me back from achieving my true potential. I was so driven then and consumed with becoming successful, regardless of the toll it took on me. The toll it took was costly; it led to severe depression, self-loathing, and disappointment. Fortunately, I was able to recover mentally and realize that being driven in that aspect was not for me. Do not misinterpret; I am a very passionate and driven person. I simply was chasing after the wrong dreams.

Age and experience have taught me many things, but the greatest lesson I learned was who I truly am. I am a woman who thrives in a healthy community of loved ones and who loves to unite others and see relationships blossom. I am a woman who cares deeply about my family and who wants to create one of her own some day. That was not always the case. Once upon a time I was disillusioned by the idea of marriage. I saw it as an unrealistic fairy tale that Disney spun to create a false sense of hope in young girls. I had heard so many horror stories about ill-doings husbands had committed. I wanted no part of it. I preferred being a lone wolf and being happy to sharing a life with someone and being miserable.

Children were also a big no-no for me in the past. While I liked the infants, I wasn’t much of a fan, otherwise. I also did not think I could be completely selfless like all good mothers are. So one might ask what changed it all; did you fall in love? Yes, but not with who you think. I fell in love with the Lord. My relationship with God has blossomed so much over this past year. He has taught me so much and blessed me with even more.

God has shown me his power and given me the strength to overcome my fears. He has changed my life and it has improved drastically since I accepted him as my savior. God has shown me what true strength is and helped guide me in the path he wants me to transverse. I know God wants me to use my talents as a writer and communicator in the publishing industry. I also know God desires me to experience a type of love I’ve not yet encountered.

My point is simple—do not allow fears, disillusionments, qualms, and reason to hold you back. You cannot grow if you’re constantly looking to the past. Let it all go! Release those fears and regrets and embrace the blessings God had placed before you. All you have to do is ask. There is great power in prayer!

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

-Matthew 7:7-8

Clarity- Waking Up from Depression Pt. 2

Glasses and Clear Vision of Mountains

“Clarity takes place in our lives when we make a conscious advanced commitment concerning what we are living for and what we are moving toward.”

—Pastor Dale Locke

Being Baker Acted in 2013 was an eye opening experience to say the least. My 2 days in the facility scared me into moments of clarity and sanity. It was a place I knew I didn’t belong in. I was not alone in that thought. Both a nurse and a medical student recognized that the facility was not the place for me. The medical student is someone I will never forget. After being forced to share the personal details of my life with the lead psychologist and his 3 medical students I returned to my room to get some rest. A short while later one of the female residents came into my room quietly. She disclosed to me that she had suffered with depression most of her life. She said she didn’t agree with the approach  my psychiatrist and therapist’s took over the past few months and suggested I try CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).

It was the best advice I received during that period. CBT helped teach me to change my thoughts of self-loathing to thoughts of self-respect and appreciation. It helped me cope and, most importantly, it helped me grow. I developed an inner strength and confidence that I never had before. Many people commended me on my newfound strength. It is something I am very proud of. Sometimes I think back to that time and how different I was. I was consumed by stress, worry, anxiousness, and feelings of worthlessness. I didn’t acknowledge God’s presence or recognize him as my savior then as I was an atheist. It was a hard journey and one I wish I had done with God and a practicing faith. It didn’t strike me until weeks ago that God was there— I just didn’t know it. His Spirit within me gave me the strength I needed. I didn’t have the power to control my thoughts, but God had the power to control my actions.

Easter is a day celebrating Jesus’s resurrection. It is a special day that holds so much meaning and hope. He who defeated death helped me conquer those evil thoughts that sounded so tempting. Jesus has the power to overcome anything and help those who need it most even when they do not ask for it. His love, strength, kindness, and glory are so incredible and overwhelming.

I wanted to share my story to spread awareness about mental illness and give those who are curious about it insight into the disease. Some people are confused by the disease and how it can be debilitating. The “chin up or it will be better soon enough attitude” are not appropriate. Professional help is required and some individuals may require drugs because there may be a chemical imbalance occurring. Although our physical bodies may be overall healthy, our greatest asset is being attacked. Our mind is like a generator. It fuels us and helps us live. Depression fogs our mind and diminishes our rational mentality. Without clarity, we lose perspective about life. Life is seen as overwhelming hard, uninteresting, morbid, unsatisfying, cruel, etc. This shift in mindset can lead to harmful thoughts and/or actions. If you know anyone suffering from depression, please be supportive, thoughtful, a good soundboard, and help distract them. Pray for them regardless if they are believers or not. I was an atheist too then and God did not withhold his aid or strength.

“It is often in our darkest hour that the light of God’s presence shines the brightest.”

-Stacy Sanchez

Waking Up from Depression – Part 1

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“Monsters don’t sleep under your bed, they sleep inside your head.”

-Unknown

Let us depart from societal taboos and embrace a new era. Let it be an era where we listen to one another’s experiences, gain insight, and provide each other with the respect and compassion we all deserve.

I’d like to shatter the bonds that once held me to secrecy about my past. There is no shame about my mental condition. I will not let my past define me, nor will I let it consume my thoughts. No, I believe it is our reactions and the changes we implement after powerful events that mold us into who we are. Do you go right or left at the forked path ahead? Or, rather, as my pastor would ask us ‘do you go horizontal or vertical?’

My walk with Christ is recent and I thank God daily for the events he set in motion to lead me to him. There was a time in my past where I renounced his existence and left his loving embrace. During that time, life was normal; it was ordinary. I studied and got great grades leading to my acceptance into my dream school. I contributed that accomplishment to me, not God. It is that same school that led me to my downfall.

I have always been very studious and diligent when it comes to my education. That is how I was raised and it is something I firmly believe in. Yet, the process our higher education demands from its students is incredulous. For example, medical schools want a “well-rounded applicant,” which sums up to the human-form of a superhero. Stellar grades, standardized tests, countless hours of health care and volunteering as well as extracurricular involvement is your ticket into medical school. Not many can meet all those demands. It was those demands, my poor coping mechanisms, and ongoing struggle with depression that led me to be Baker Acted on February 17th, 2013. It is a night that I will never forget.

I was in my apartment studying for my Ethics exam. It was so difficult to concentrate with the incessant thoughts of self-hate consuming my attention. The thoughts of not being good enough to accomplish my goals, to being disgusted with myself, and the thoughts that constantly tore me down. Thoughts that I now know are not valid. I tried self-harm and while it offered me a short reprieve, I was in no way cured.

I was seriously contemplating “disappearing” that night. I wanted to drive off and be done with the world.  I wanted the pain to end. Most importantly, I wanted the self-torture to end. I was sobbing uncontrollably and considering ending my life. I had even convinced myself that my family would get past this with the aid of my sister —a daughter who wasn’t damaged. I had talked myself into accepting this idea as a reality. My mind made it seem so reasonable and so tempting.

My roommate Benita then rushed into my room to use my bathroom since hers wasn’t working. When she came out she saw my tears and asked me what was wrong. She knew everything that was happening with my depression. I looked at her face and knew that I could no longer burden her. It just had to end — I had to set her free. She needed a stable friend. Someone without pain whose company she could enjoy. I told her to leave that I was fine and was just having some trouble. She refused and said she would stay until I felt better. I told her no and that she needed to stop being my friend. I told her that she needed to be with her other friends and forget about me.

She became really scared at that point and I had a mixture of emotions. I tried kicking her out of my room because I needed to study. She refused and then I told her I would leave and go far away so no one would be hurt. She threatened to Baker Act me. I said no and handed her my car keys to pacify her.

It was less than an hour later that four cops came and took me. I was in my bathroom talking to another roommate when they came into my room. I managed to close the door with both of us inside. I was so scared and did not want them to take me. It wasn’t until the cops said they would break down the door that I opened it. I refused to go with them and said I was seeking mental help and had a therapist and psychiatrist. The female cops bashed my providers and said they weren’t doing a good job. They also accused me of trying to hurt other people because they had distorted what Benita had disclosed to them. I said that wasn’t true. The female cops then went through my room and said I had to come with them. I refused and said no. I told them to call my therapist. They threatened to remove me with force. I finally consented and went to put on clothes since I was in my pajamas. They refused to let me dress in the bathroom and only consented when the door was completely ajar.

They asked if I had insurance because if I did I would go to a better facility. I refused to admit I did because I didn’t want my parents getting a bill or any notice. I eventually complied and grabbed my wallet and that is when they saw my diary. The women snatched it and told the male cop to read it. He then read my diary in front of me and disregarded my pleas to stop and that it was private. The police then decided to confiscate my diary as evidence. It took me almost a month to get it back because they considered it evidence in a crime.

We were leaving the apartment when the two women officers told the young male officer to cuff me. I was really scared then and pleaded with them not to. I told them I had consented to everything and was no longer resisting them. I also explained that the staircase was wide enough to allow two people and they could hold my arm if they wanted. The woman police officer scoffed at my suggestion and said, “No one will hold you hand for this. You’re not a child.”

The young male police officer tried to change her mind and reason with her, but she did not consent. He apologized as he cuffed me and led me down the stairs. When we reached the bottom of the staircase I saw Benita and our mutual friend waiting. I glared at both of them. I was so hurt and upset by what they did. When we were arriving to the mental health facility the young police officer asked me why I wanted to hurt myself and I simply replied, “I’m just tired. Tired of everything.”

P.S. Part 2 will be out next week. Who doesn’t like a mid-story cliff hanger?!

Redefining Success

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“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

How do you define success? This thought struck me after having a conversation with a friend about possible career options. In today’s society, I find it troubling that many of us define success by our career achievements and other material possessions. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fantasize about owning a beautiful ranch in the mountains equipped with a luxurious barn and arena. (Sorry not really into those snazzy and expensive cars). However, is my life still successful even if I do not acquire these dream items? Well, the answer depends on how I choose to define success and my life as a whole. Success isn’t the “attainment of popularity or profit” like Google dictionary would have us believe. Rather, success, in my opinion, is doing your part, taking your God-given place in the universe, and giving with all of your heart.

What I mean by doing your part in this world is simply giving back to the world and trying to leave it a little better than it was before. While not all of us have the means to travel to places in dire need, there are other things we can do to help those less fortunate than us. We can volunteer in other settings in our local community; nothing we do is insignificant! Yet, I truly believe the most important ingredient in doing your part is shining with grace. Simply put, we must allow others to see our inner peace and holiness. Patience, kindness, love, warmth, etc. all make a tremendous impact in this life. Unsurprisingly, it these characteristics we typically only extend to loved ones and friends. It is so much harder to display these forms of grace with a stranger or with someone who irritates us and whose presence negatively alters our mood. It is no easy feat to shine with grace, but it is those rare individuals who do so that forever impact us and whom we find ourselves being drawn to. I struggle every day at work in the retail world with customers who are less than kind and while I restrain my tongue, I do not radiate warmth and kindness, as God would like me to. Jesus was the friend of sinners; people whose society misunderstood them. We should try to extend grace to all people even those we believe to be undeserving of it.

Furthermore, it is my firm belief that God has gifted us with certain talents that each of us excels in. Some people are blessed in the arts with natural creativity while others have a mind for science and numbers. Additionally, there are individuals who are skilled in multiple areas. It is these people who find themselves challenged when they are at a crossroads in career choices. Which passion or talent do they follow? I, too, found myself in this conundrum. It isn’t easy and I did originally choose the more stable and secure career choice (medicine). However, in my career love triangle, with God’s help, I realized I was more passionate and in love with writing and the creative arts. That’s where my God-given place is in this world. There is no doubt in my mind; it just took me longer to see it.

There are many uncertainties in this life and, while I find that frustrating at times, there is beauty in it. Beauty in not knowing where you will be in 10 years or what the face of your beloved will look like. However, the greatest beauty this life holds are those persons who give with all their hearts. Those people who expose themselves to heartache because they know how great the rewards can be if they take a risk. Our journey is “not a path of continual success but of multiple failures (Sarah Young).” Trust in the Lord and lean on him as you journey uphill. He will help relinquish your fears. The theme of many of my blogs this coming year will be about taking risks because so many of us shy away from the unknown. So many of us fear making the wrong choices; so many of us fear living outside of the box. All of those fears are meaningless and take away from the life God has gifted us. Remember, He is our strength and shield; we have only to put our trust in Him. After all, Jesus conquered the world.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

-Jeremiah 29:11

Choices, Chances, Changes

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“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

-Maya Angelou

Across the globe, people are reflecting about the past year and pensive about the changes they want to implement for this year. The 2016 year holds infinite possibilities and renewed hope for a better year. We have been provided with a clean slate. Let us make use of it! It is a time for us to take that leap into the unknown, to make ourselves vulnerable in hopes that we achieve happiness.

Exposing ourselves and doing something that utterly terrifies us is no easy feat. Taking that figurative leap or, in my case, a literal leap is intimidating. However, it can open so many new avenues that have yet to be explored.

Although I consider myself to be a wild spirit who loves to explore the unknown, there are still many things that terrify me. Zip-lining in Costa Rica was one of those fears. My sister had chosen this specific excursion to be part of her 30th birthday adventures. I was utterly mortified of putting my faith and my life in a steel cable in some obscure rainforest. While we had zip-lining guides to aid us, these men were strangers whom I knew nothing about. I have no qualms about putting my life in the hands of loved ones, but entrusting it to strangers in a foreign country was difficult. Yet, it was the steel cable that frightened me the most. What if it snapped? As my turn approached, my heart began to race and my ears felt muffled. Soon enough I was hyperventilating and not willing to take the risk. It was the encouraging words from my sister and her friends that helped me overcome my fear. After the first two lines, I felt more at ease and exhilarated by it. It was then I was able to truly appreciate God’s creation and marvel at the beauty of La Fortuna’s rainforest.

It was glorious and thrilling! “In spite of all my fears, I [was able to] see it all so clear.” (Of Monsters and Men lyrics). As I slide across the final seventh cable, I prayed to God. I thanked Him for all of His blessings in my life and on this trip. As I was giving thanks, I realized I had a request for Him, one I myself hadn’t realized. I told Him I was ready to fall in love, to find that person who knocked me off my feet and left me wondering. Never before had I realized I had been holding myself back. Overcoming my fear of zip-lining had provided clarity to what my greatest fear was—falling in love.

My adventures and experiences in Costa Rica are memories that I will cherish forever. Ironically, I wasn’t all that excited to go in the first place. I was hesitant about the country and not quite sure what to expect. It was surely a lesson to remember that extraordinary things can occur in the places you least expect them to.

On a final note, when I helped lead green sea turtle hatchlings to the ocean in Tortuguero, I was struck by their sheer determination and eagerness. I marveled at how such tiny little creatures were ready to take on the vast ocean, a place filled with endless dangers. I thought of what our tour guide said about only 1 in 100 making it to adulthood. It saddened me and I prayed that they would survive the perils they encountered. The hatchlings were taking such a risk and they did not even know it. It also made me wonder about what risks we would take if we were unaware of the potential adverse effects that might arise. We might be able to live truly uninhibited. The cuts, bruises, and burns could help us become resilient individuals with a story we are proud to share. Let us all take risks this year; let us dash to shoreline and see where the current carries us.

 

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We Are Noise: Catholicism to Atheism

“The world can lead you astray from the path of Jesus.”

-Pastor Trevor Johnston

As a child, I was raised as a Catholic. I went to Sunday school, completed my First Holy Communion, and prayed regularly. I remained a believer of Christ until circumstances tested my faith. Those circumstances were a series of unfortunate events that affected not only me, but someone very important to me —my mother. She was my idol as a child. I saw the goodness and kindness in her and could not understand why God had targeted her. Her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, then her mother became ill and passed away. My grandfather came to live with us shortly after the funeral. Being a mother, a caretaker, and working full-time took a toll on my mother and our entire family. As a 12-year-old girl, I could not comprehend why God had let this happen to us. I constantly questioned how God, who I was taught to be so loving, could be so cruel. I prayed to him for relief and assistance, but when none was given I began arguing with him. Then one day the arguments ceased; I had stopped believing in God and refused to acknowledge his presence.

My family still attended church and I was obligated to continue attending even though I did not believe. Soon enough I began to voice my discontent and lock myself in my room so I would not have to go to church, to a place I no longer revered or respected. Looking back now, I can see how much pain and anguish I felt during that time. I disconnected from God not only because I blamed him for everything, but also because it was the only thing I had control over in my life. I also believe I was not taught properly about God from my church, nor did I have a true relationship with him. Back then, when I said, “I’m Catholic,” it was the equivalent of saying, “I’m a girl.” Neither of those phrases held substance to me because I didn’t understand the deeper meaning behind them.

I remained an atheist for 11 years. I did not speak about God, nor I did not want to debate his existence with others. I simply remained impassive and unaffected. While my mother and sister respected my need for space on the subject, others were not as welcoming or kind with my choice. A close friend of mine told me that if I did not start believing in God then I would go to hell. My father called me the “devil’s child” and we would frequently get into heated debates regarding God and Catholicism. I would counter back, asking for proof of his existence and list all the transgressions that the Catholic Church had committed. I wanted not part of it; I did not want to be associated with them or God.

Although I was atheist for 11 years, I did not disregard all morals and values, nor did I commit any unfathomable sins ignorantly associated with atheists. I was not, nor have I ever been, promiscuous. I remained pure and continue to be celibate to this day. I am stating this because I whole-heartedly disagree with the stereotypes some Christians associate with atheists as living abominable lives of sin. We all are sinners; no human is perfect. That is why Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for us. He is our only salvation.

The reason I am sharing this with you all is because I would like to provide some insight of what events might lead someone to choose atheism over God. Please be patient with atheists and refrain from being judgmental. Let us practice what God commanded us to do—love your neighbor as yourself.

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.”

-1 John 2:9

Fixing Our Foundation

“Broken things can be mended, but there is always a scar.”

-Rebecca Forster, Hostile Witness

I am covered with scars; some are visible, while the rest are hidden deep within. We all have scars; we all have been broken. It is, in my opinion, what makes us relatable to one another. Like the foundation in a home, we all harbor an infrastructure within us that helps us stand.  According to Max Alexander, a foundation should not only hold the house above the ground, but also protect it from extreme conditions. A proper foundation should resist the movement of the earth. It should insulate us from the cold and prevent moisture from seeping through. Our foundation helps us weather the storm and remain intact.

Yet, what about homes with faulty foundations? A major concern many homebuyers have is a home with a damaged foundation. It scares them. However, we all have cracked foundations. Our experiences, reactions, and choices all meld together to form our foundation. We can choose to rise above what has transpired or become crippled by it; we can choose to repair that crack or ignore it and let it spread.

Speaking from personal experience, allowing something to fester leads to your own destruction. We all have hurts and bad habits that slowly chip away at our foundation. The key ingredient to preserving our foundation is God and love. God is our Savior; he is our salvation. But not everyone has experienced God. I, myself, was an atheist for 11 years. It was a rough 11 years and I only endured because of the love my family and friends showered me with.

Sadly, not everyone can be so fortunate. Love is a beautiful thing. It has the power to heal us. Let us share our love with one another and help to repair our foundations. United as one, we can pour concrete over those fractures and become strong once more. We are not perfect, nor will we ever be. Expecting perfection from each other is unrealistic. We are all fixer uppers, so let us embrace one another for who we are. As my pastor said today, “Let us build ourselves on the truth of His words.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

-Mark 12:31

P.S. Over the next two weeks, I plan to write a two part blog series on God, atheism, and depression.

Modern Day Relationships

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”

-Proverbs 13:20


A relationship is not simply a romantic involvement between two individuals. Rather, according to Merriam-Webster, a relationship is “the way in which two or more people… talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other.” While having a significant other may prove to be meaningful, it is not the only relationship we should invest our efforts in. Friendships, relationships between parents, siblings, and other family members are extremely important. Lately, I have been pensive about my mortality and the funeral that will eventually take place sometime in the future. I have been thinking about who I would like to be there and who I want to remember me. Morbid, I know, yet it has made me more thoughtful about the relationships I have in my life.

Although I am still quite young, I believe I have acquired some wisdom about relationships between individuals, especially friendships. My experiences have taught me that the greatest downfall in relationships is communication or lack of it. Unlike our ancestors, we have an abundance of sources to use in order to communicate with others. Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, e-mails, etc. all provide us with a method of communication. Did you notice my examples are lacking one pivotal source? I purposefully excluded talking to emphasize how easy it is to overlook that form of human interaction between people. Talking requires communication over the phone or face-to-face interaction. It is, in my opinion, a dying skill.

Competent communicators make a relationship much more meaningful. Talking and hearing the other person’s voice can deliver us from our darkest hour. Consider suicide hotlines, for example. Those hotlines provide support and empowerment to individuals contemplating ending their life or those people dealing with a severe calamity. Simply put, relationships are our lifelines during a crisis. Family, friends, and loved ones should provide us with sound advice, inspiration to achieve the impossible, and more importantly, emotional support. We all need a friend that we can laugh with, lean on, and cry with; we need a friend who will extend grace to us, but also challenge us. Everyone needs a soundboard; someone who will tell us what we need to hear so that we may grow and better ourselves.

Let us evaluate our current relationships and see if we can find those elements listed above. It would be a lie to tell you that all of my friendships have been perfect. I have been in my share of toxic friendships and I feel it is my duty to impart you with some final thoughts regarding this subject. Good friends are respectful and kind. They do not slander you or take advantage of you. Having a big heart is a wonderful thing, but it can harm you if it is shared with the wrong person. While we perform acts of genuine thoughtfulness, never expecting to receive anything in return, we must also remember those acts must be appreciated by others. Appreciation goes a long way. It allows us to recognize each other as great source of support as well as demonstrate our love for one another.

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Childhood Dreams

“It’s not how hard you hit. It’s how hard you get hit… and keep moving forward.”

– Randy Pausch


Earlier this week I finished reading Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture.” I read it in hopes that I would gain some insight about my own life. I was searching for advice from a man with limited time; a man whose wisdom unveiled how to live a more fruitful life. Not only did this memoir help me self-reflect on who I am as a person, but it also helped me make an important decision. It was a truly inspiring read and I highly recommend it.

I would like to share some of Pausch’s wisdom and illustrate how it impacted me. But first, I feel that a little background on me and my life is necessary.

At a young age my mother instilled me with a passion for reading and a thirst for knowledge that has never left me. My bedtime used to consist of being read a book of my choosing followed by my own storytelling. Ma would cuddle next to me in bed while I told her the elaborate fables that I had fabricated. Oftentimes, my storytelling would lull her to sleep, but leave me wired with excitement.  I have never lost that passion for storytelling or my creative imagination. Yet, despite the happiness it brought me, I chose a different career path— a field in medicine.

Medicine seemed like a practical career choice for me. I was fascinated by the body and its mechanisms and managed to do well in most of my courses. Furthermore, shadowing a physician for nearly 3 years left no doubt in my mind that this was the career for me. However, God had different plans for me. My MCAT score was not high enough, regardless of the endless hours I devoted to studying and the countless practice exams I took. When I finally discovered that medical school wasn’t going to happen a part of me sighed with relief. The stress, time, and energy were taxing on me and I knew that was only a fraction of what medical school would require.

Immediately, my mind drifted back to my childhood dream of being a writer and an editor in a publishing company. Unfortunately, I convinced myself that I could not let all of my medical knowledge go to waste so I decided to further pursue a career in the health industry with medical records. It was absolute misery! I hated how mundane and impersonal it felt. The social butterfly in me was trapped within a globe, fluttering around aimlessly searching for an escape.

Pausch helped with that escape. He helped me realize that happiness is more important that security. Allow me to elaborate, medical school and becoming a doctor was a secure career choice with a good job outlook and salary. It was a safe bet. However, nothing in this life is guaranteed, nor is anything secure! It took me a while to learn that message. I also discovered how fearful I was of not having the grander material things in life. I never considered myself to be materialistic, but Pausch made me realize that everyone has that vice with one thing or another. He helped instill me with the message that my happiness outweighs materialistic things. In his book, he wrote, “I want you to become what you want to become.” Well, I want to become an author and an editor in a publishing firm, damn it! Thus, I have decided to explore the unknown. I am excited about the possibilities and look forward to the adventures that await me.

My take-home message is this: dreams and talents exist for a reason. God gifted them to us for a purpose! We have but one life to live, so let us make sure it is filled with joy and laughter.

Remember, “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less time than you think.” -Randy Pausch