Wow! Starting a blog series right before midterms week was poor timing on my apart. I apologize for taking so long to start writing again! I am not going to publicly admit how many days last week I napped in the Student Center rather than getting a proper night’s sleep. This was one of my most overwhelming midterm weeks ever, especially considering that I had no midterms in St Andrews…
Speaking of St Andrews: I was in Paris, France, a year ago today! My, how the time has flown. I miss so much about Europe and am looking forward to visiting again some day.
But on to my post for today. A week ago I turned 22 (which feels sort of old when you live in a dorm full of 18- and 19-year-olds…) and despite my hectic and stressful week, so many little things along the way reminded me just how blessed I am. Lent is a time of reflection, preparation, and gratitude, so today’s post is 22 things for which I am grateful.
I am grateful for my Faith in God, in His love and mercy. I have faith and hope for forgiveness and salvation. My faith has strengthened me and saved me in my darkest moments. I have faith in people, in love, in goodness, in the future. Faith is all-encompassing in life and the anchor for my soul.
We are by no means perfect, but my parents and siblings are my biggest support and encouragement. I am so blessed to call my mom one of my best friends. I appreciate [though I do not say it nearly enough] that I can sit and talk to my parents for hours about literally anything. I am so grateful to have a little brother with Down syndrome. Growing up with a special needs sibling has taught me countless valuable life lessons and given me a completely different outlook on life. I know no one who embodies unconditional love the way that Luke does.
Though originally I had no intention of going to Erskine (who wants to attend college where her sister goes?!), I am so glad that God led me here. I have learned so much, been challenged in ways I never expected. made amazing friends, travelled so many fun places, gained valuable life lessons and mentors, and become more certain of the path which God desires me to follow.
4. St Andrews
Just as Erskine has shaped me and changed me for the better, my study abroad experience is probably the single experience of my life that has most helped me to realize who I am and gain confidence in myself. I left last January knowing not a single person, and left 1 June with scores of great friends and countless life-changing experiences. I have a stronger faith and a different perspective of the world from studying in Scotland and travelling around Europe. Of course, I now have what feels like an insatiable desire for travel and adventure…I am so excited to see what my next opportunity will be!
I by no means have the best voice in the world, but I truly love singing and that voice that God DID give me has allowed me the opportunity to be involved in so many different choral ensembles, from my church choir to high school chorus and show choir to several groups at Erskine. I am a veteran member of the Erskine Choraleers and have also sang with Bella Voce and the Chamber Singers. I am grateful for the ministry that music provides in my personal life as well as the opportunity to use music as my ministry in church.
From the time I knew what one was, I wanted to be a ballerina. When we played dress up as kids, 9 times out of 10 I wore the tutu. When I was 6 or so years old, we hosted a French exchange student who taught me how to do a pirouette and I practiced until I was too dizzy to walk. My family moved to SC when I was 8 years old, and within a year I started taking ballet lessons. I continued for 6 or 7 years, even progressing to learning pointe (yes, dancing on your toes. yes, OUCH). High school afforded me the opportunity to branch out and learn some different dance forms, as well as the art of singing AND dancing–a.k.a. show choir. Since I’ve been in college, and especially since studying abroad, I have fallen in love with all things swing dance related: traditional, Charleston, lindy hop, blues…[Speaking of which, if you have never seen the I Charleston St Andrews that we in the St Andrews Swing Dance Society made last year, you should definitely watch it!]
Dance is a part of my heart, a part of who I am and how I relate to the world. I am grateful for any and every opportunity to practice and share my love.
No, I am not going to list every art form that I can possibly think of (though I am definitely grateful for all of them!). Singing, dancing, and acting, though, are all art forms which I especially love. I truly enjoy acting on stage, doing tech work or working back stage, and watching performances. I love the challenge of learning a new character and bringing her/him/it to life, the challenge of improvisation, the chaos of tech week and opening night, the feeling of pride earned by a successful performance. Long rehearsals test patience, energy, and relationships but ultimately strengthen all of these. I know that my participation in theatre will only help me in my life.
Sounds cheesy, or cliché, I know. But how many countries actively persecute Christians? How many countries severely limit the rights of women? Yes, we can sit here and debate the meaning and context of the word “freedom,” but I am grateful for the opportunities that growing up in the United States has afforded me.
If college has taught me anything, it is the value of sleep. I think back now to when I hated going to bed as a child, or when I used to wake up at 4AM and go to the basement to read or play by myself while everyone else slept. The 22-year-old me wants to ask the 6-year-old me, “WHY?!” It is so easy to make other things a higher priority than sleep, but it really is essential to proper functioning and good moods. I truly am grateful for the times that I get a good/full night’s sleep. Nap time, anyone…?
Along the same lines, who doesn’t like food? It’s delicious. It’s satisfying. It’s strengthening. It makes you feel happy, body and soul. Nothing says home and love like Mom’s home-cooked dinner. Food is a common denominator of our social gatherings. Food encompasses culture, tradition, seasons, memories, creativity (yeah, that art thing again…), nature, and love. Though I cannot say that I love every food I have ever tried, food is definitely one of the ways I know for a fact that God loves us.
11. Social Media
“Aha! Another Facebook addict!” I know you’re thinking it. Yes, you. And perhaps I am slightly guilty as charged, though I’m working on it. While realizing the importance of maintaining a healthy balance, I do believe that most of these platforms can be very useful. My primary use for Facebook is staying in contact with all of my friends from abroad and all over the United States. We are using Pinterest as a common space to plan my sister’s bridal shower, and I use it to collect articles and information relevant to psychology and therapy. I get the majority of my world news from Twitter. Everything in moderation, but I really am grateful for these connections.
Odd place to stop for the day, but I’m halfway and this is quite a long post. So…stay tuned tomorrow for part II! [I seem to like multi-part posts.] Until then, I’d love some feedback! Do you agree with some of the points that I made? Do you disagree with any? What are you most grateful for today? What am I forgetting? How cute is my little brother? [Correct answer: the cutest!]