2013 at a glance

Even though I write here every week, I feel like I’m only ever giving you the smallest bit of information about my life. I’ve been blogging since October. The year was winding down, but much more was still in store for me in the last three months. 2013 was most definitely not the best year of my life; in fact, I would go so far as saying it was a highly unfavorable one for me. Regardless, there was still a lot of good in the year. Here’s a look at my year……

The beginning of 2013 wasn’t particularly eventful. I trucked along in my sophomore year as a first time resident assistant, learning to be both a better student and resident assistant. I finished the semester with another notification that I had made the LAS Dean’s List, making me one happy kid! I also won two awards at the Campus Housing Banquet- NRHH’s Commitment to Recognition Award (an award given to the NRHH chapter member who is most dedicated to the recognition pillar of NRHH) and Rookie of the Year (an award given to a first-year RA who has excelled.) I finished up my first year as an RA with a pocket full of tricks and lessons learned, ready to take on the challenge the coming semester. During finals week, a lifelong best friend of mine passed away. This was the absolute hardest point of my life, and I had an impossible time imagining life going on without her. Since her passing I think of her constantly, and so much reminds me of her. Because of this, I have thought so much about life in general and the purpose and significance of those given to us. Her passing is a huge part of the reason why I don’t look back on 2013 very fondly.

Much of summer 2013 was spent reminiscing about days past and visualizing my friend everywhere I looked back home. It was a quiet, often solemn summer. Luckily, I landed an incredible internship that took my mind elsewhere during the week. The internship was so fulfilling, and I loved every minute of it. I was finally able to realize that my career path is the right choice for me-such a great feeling. We spent the day at a White Sox game- a passion we share.My boyfriend and I celebrated our 6 year anniversary in first few weeks of break. In the beginning of the summer, I discovered a baby turtle in my backyard. It was far too small to take care of itself, so I spent the summer raising the hatchling. This was something I’ll never forget. It reminded me of the small miracles all around me in life. When it was time to go back to school, I passed the rapidly growing turtle on to the Chicago Herpetological Society. They plan to find the turtle a good home. A huge part of summer was watching the Blackhawks on the road to the Stanley Cup. My house is certainly a Hawks household, so we had a great time watching the games and attending the parade together. I finally got around to entering the world of Stephen King novels (I don’t know what I’ve been doing with my life…) This gave me some amazing reading material for the summer. My reading has been nearly stalled due to school since…. The end of summer brought about another terrible death. My boyfriend lost his grandma just days before his birthday. Having dated him since 2007, I had grown to become another of her grandchildren. Her passing was so difficult for me. She was the absolute sweetest and happiest person I have ever met.She was an absolute inspiration, constantly serving as a reminder of how to live life, even at 89 years old.

This fall and winter didn’t get any easier. I started my junior year, ignorantly welcoming my hardest semester yet. It was a total struggle for me to keep up with academics, my extra-curriculars, and my job, but I knew if I could get through Fall 2013, I could do just about anything. During this time, I survived my first (and it better be my last!) 8am class at UIC. This never got any easier for me as the semester went on. I attended and presented at a leadership conference-the most stressful thing I have ever done. I have successfully figured out my minors and am excelling at them. I finally entered the 21st century with a smartphone and am even almost understanding how to use it! I turned 21 years old in October and have been enjoying the perks ever since. I began blogging for IAMUIC, something I’ve wanted to do since I discovered the site my freshman year. This has been so wonderful, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity. The following month, my boyfriend took me to see Paramore- one of the best experiences of my life. I got to see Wicked for a 3rd time. No words can accurately describe how happy this makes me. I cut 12 inches of hair off of my head over the course of the past 4 months and am never looking back. My whole world- my 11 year old dog- passed away over Thanksgiving break. I grew up with her and still feel lost without her by my side. Being at home for break has been so difficult, but I get signs that she is with us here all the time. I had the same surgery I have already had done again over winter break, and I am confident that this time will be different. My sister and mom took me along on their tradition of seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert- an amazing way to close out 2013. Such an incredible experience!

 

Overall, I am grateful for the blessings I have been given during 2013, and I am ever-mindful of the losses I and my loved ones have endured. 2014 is sure to bring about even more changes, and I am eager to share them with you along the way.

Let’s see how much I can cram before we start class

I never thought cramming was effective for me as it was for my brother, but looks like it genetics has funneled through and proved to be helpful in these environments of chaos that come at me out of nowhere…

Okay, so maybe I put myself in this position…or maybe I was peer-pressured by society to go to college and be insane like stereotypical Asians should be because that’s what I thought I had to do. HAH! I’m totally nothing like that (yet, still, why do I feel like it?).

Bernie Mac Sarcoidosis

The allergy clinic was moved from the first floor of 1801 Taylor Street to the third floor with pulmonology this past November. I am still adjusting to the new change since I only go once a month for my allergy shots now (only second visit so far). This is my first time seeing this part of the clinic and it gave me a bittersweet feeling. I remember when I was in elementary school, I saw The Bernie Mac Show on Fox television and really liking that show! I didn't know I was so ignorant in knowing that he is from the south side of Chicago. I knew he passed away young as well, but did not know it was from this disease (sarcoidosis). I thought it was really nice this memorandum was here in the clinic. RIP.

It’s weird when the message your parents gave you all the way from kindergarten to high school is WORK HARD and STRAIGHT A’S ONLY becomes “You don’t need to work that hard and long…just be a pharmacist! All you have to do is count to 100 and you make lots of money!” I’m pretty sure there is more to it than that, but I’m also just not interested. This parallel reminds me of what it’s actually like in Asia in regards to the educational system. I took AAST 270 (Love, Sex and Marriage of Asians…quite a crazy and interesting class) and discussed how all grades/years up until college are largely the most important academically because it places you in college and determines what you can do or can’t do in the future (not like America where if you can dream it, you can do it…for the most part). And, once you get to college, you get the enjoy! Apparently college is a lot easier because you already worked so hard to get there when you were a youngster living it up in the library and isolation at home. The problem is, once you’re set, you are set! No change in careers is possible (it’s shameful, so they say). You just deal with what you got and make it work. While it sucks, it serves the community well knowing that only a certain number of people can do X, Y, Z and these people can do A, B, C so we’ll never have a shortage of X, Y, Z, A, B and C.

Thai Bowl Jade Noodles

I got to catch up with my friend Alaina after work! We went to eat at Thai Bowl and both got Jade Noodles. I got mine with chicken and she got hers with beef. Thai Bowl is seriously the best Thai food on this planet (okay, well maybe if I went to Thailand I could actually confirm it). SO DANG GOOD. ALL THE TIME! Love.

I was excited about this whole Obamacare thing, but it sure is going to flop if people take on this insurance and then their PCP doesn’t accept it. And, lots of people in medical school don’t go into primary care. They want to be psychiatrists, neurologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists…so many specialties! To fill the gap, there are NP’s and PA’s…but you’re still going to need the MD around. Don’t know how the system became this way, but I also think it’s odd to go from this doctor to this other doctor and then back to my PCP here and there for things that the other doctors can’t treat. Realistically though, the PCP can’t do everything…and for everyone…that’s insane. They’d never sleep! Or eat!

Working in the ER, I have come to see the physicians as emergency PCP’s. There are many things that people come in for that could be healed in a matter of a few days if they just waited or took over the counter medication. And there are some that definitely need to be admitted or watched over, but the majority I’d say need a primary care provider and to make appointments with them! The cost to go to the emergency room each time is way too great. I’m so thankful that I can get appointments at the Family Medicine Center at UIC near my residence hall. It’s amazing! I call the day of sometimes and get an appointment on that day. They always try to do their best to see you, and I don’t even have to pay because of Campus Care insurance. Ah, thank goodness for insurance.

Snow Fall Blur

I was taking the Red Car after I got out at work around 3am and there was so much snow outside! It was really pretty, although deadly...can't believe we've had such strikingly low temperatures this week! I hope it gets better once everyone is back to school on Jan 13. I know it's blurry, but you can make out UH and the nearby trees. (:

Anyway, sorry for the confusion going from cramming to the education system in Asia to Obamacare. I’ll be honest…I have no idea how my brain works (hello neuroscientists…don’t steal my brain please), but however it does I am blessed and happy to have one! To put it to good use, I’ll be sure to exercise as many parts of it I can stimulate with learning a gazillion things at once. While on the way, I’ll probably learn 2x gazillion things about myself that I could not even imagine.

OKAY, BRIEF UPDATE IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? Got it.

  • Research – I’ve been qPCR-ing like a madwoman. Call me qPCR Queen.
  • Scribing – Worked two holidays already. My eyes are frying up from staring at the screen for 9 hours straight. PHEW, THAT’S OKAY BECAUSE I LOVE THE EXPERIENCE.
  • Blogging – Dear readers, I cannot thank you enough for reading my posts. I can’t believe I have been doing this since the summer before my sophomore year! Please continue to follow me until I am deceased. Thank you.
  • Housing – Even though it was crazy expensive to continue living with housing, I am very happy that I did. I have also been working on the website and coming up with new ideas before I graduate and leave…so sad.
  • MCAT-ing – UGH why is it still not happening. Someone needs to kick this into gear for me because I am having so much trouble!
  • Club stuff – Go away. :( I’m tired. Okay okay fine I’ll get up…
  • Other things on my mind – just occupying space! -__-

Welcome to Spring 2014 UIC! Keep using your brain and listen to your intuition (because that’s actually your brain talking to you).

Rest In Peace, Uncle Larry

Last week, at the start of the new year, I lost my uncle to liver disease. He fought until the end as hard as he could.  His spirit was in it but his body just gave out.

He was an actor, director, musician, and a decorated war veteran.  But above all, he was an amazing father, husband, son, brother, uncle and cousin.  He was a huge influence on my life and encouraged me to explore my passions.

Sitting here, stricken with grief, I wonder what he’s doing right now in heaven.  He was an extremely talented human being, always entertaining, always making people laugh. I’d like to think he is up there cracking jokes.

After hearing the news, countless people began sharing their memories of him with us on Facebook.  It was amazing seeing how many people’s lives he touched.

Even though my heart is completely broken, I am trying to remember him when he was vibrant, healthy, and full of life.  I loved him so much and he was so incredibly important to me.

I will never forget him. Rest in peace Uncle Lar.

He is survived by my Aunt Maggie and my cousin Zoe.

Realistic Resolutions?

It’s officially 2014! What a journey 2013 has been.

At the start of 2013, I put on a program for residents called something along the lines of “How to Make (and keep) New Year’s Resolutions.” I had tips and tricks on something I myself had never actually done. Somehow, I still felt justified by my position as a resident assistant to provide suggestions for how to make sure resolutions were followed. I gave out a sheet that had a column for 20 things to do during 2013 and another column for 13 things not to do during 2013. At the time, I looked at this as a really unique way to plan for the upcoming year. Everyone filled their sheet out and took it, maybe to put it up in their room as a constant reminder, maybe to shove in a drawer never to be seen again. Either way, I felt like I helped people think about how they wanted the year to go.

Sitting here a year later, I see things so much differently. Although this list may have been a great idea, it wasn’t THE idea. The way I see it now, it isn’t so much about setting goals for yourself to work out more often or to study “x” amount of hours per week; instead, thinking about the new year requires thinking about how you plan to remember it. We learn from failures, successes, experiences, losses, etc., not from trying to force ourselves to act a certain way or avoid desserts. This learning comes from remembering days gone by and previous choices made.

With this in mind, I recommend considering this technique. I’m not saying that we should all stop setting goals for ourselves in regard to health or fitness or social lives. What I mean is that we need to focus more on the time at hand and how to make the most out of it by an understanding of the past. Get a memory jar- have small slips of paper on hand in your room near your bed. At the end of a particularly interesting day (or every day) write something about the day that will help you recall it and place this in the jar. Don’t let yourself open the jar until the very end of 2014, or even 2015. This is a great way to look back on the entirety of the year. Include everything- not just happy times or successful moments.

If the memory jar isn’t for you, sit down by yourself or with a close friend/family member in front of a camera and talk freely about the year. Store the video for a year and pull it back out at the end of the year and for years to come.

Ideas like these give you a fun an sentimental way to look back on the year as well as to help you to welcome in the new year. Having these things to look back at will remind you of things in life that you may have forgotten. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t always need to make actual resolutions to prepare yourself for success during the upcoming year.

So no, I am not trying to steer you away from the traditional resolution. I think it is great to enter the calendar year with a goal in mind and your heart set on success. At the same time, I strongly advocate remembering the previous year in one way or another to make sure that you don’t let the years pass you by too quickly…whether or not this is possible, I still haven’t determined. I’ll get back to you on that one…

Next week we’ll take a look back at my 2013. Until then…

Cheers to a happy New Year

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions (or maybe I have and just can’t remember them because I never follow through), but for some reason this year seems like a good one to finally execute some plans! I will be graduating this spring, assuming none of my professors fail me (well, I guess they could as long as I passed the one class that I’ve been pushing off forever ago….BIOS 221!).

Mushroom, ATTACK!!!

I don't know why, but jellyfish remind me of mushrooms. Hehe. Anyway, I went to the Shedd the day before Christmas with my boyfriend and we got to see the Jellies exhibit! I saw it two years ago and really enjoyed seeing them. It's not a large exhibit, but worth going at least once.

So, what are some goals I have this year…well I guess the main one that’s blocking my way from being confident in my application for medical school is my MCAT score! I will be taking my MCAT March 22, assuming all goes well in terms of studying, and hopefully not need to take it a third time. I have been using Berkeley Review books in addition to going over Kaplan books (perhaps I will grab some Princeton Review materials from the library for more practice…and maybe ExamKrackers) and so far it’s been all right. Trying to study during the holidays is kind of difficult, especially since I am working two jobs simultaneously (and a third here and there). I’ve got a pile of stuff to do and little motivation to do it until after New Years…

Puffers are my favorite

If I could be any fish in the sea, I'd probably be a puffer. There are so many different variations of puffers, and they are all dangerously CUTE! :D

I’m pretty happy with how I did this past semester. I got all A’s except for one class (88%…Nutrition During the Life Cycle). I can’t believe I had my first B in nutrition! It’s a bummer, but at least my GPA stayed the same (was hoping for a small increase if I got all As, but hey you can’t win at everything). I had my friends tell me to go and argue and hope maybe they’ll bump it up, but I felt like I deserved that since most of the time I was sleep-ish or unable to go due to my overnight shifts the night before (5pm-2am…then wake up at 7:30am…way too much to handle). I’m going to have to be a lot more reasonable when I schedule my work stuff this coming semester so I don’t get killed from lack of sleep.

Christmas Birds

Right after my 9am-6pm shift at Rush, I headed straight to my cousin's house for our Christmas get-together! We always feel bad that they have to host both our side of the family and their other side of the family, but then again no other house is as nice! xD They always have the cutest decorations.

Anyway, looking forward to taking Polish, Genetics Lab and the second part of Anatomy and Physiology! :D Anatomy and Physiology has been the most helpful at my scribe job at Rush and I’m certainly glad I am taking it before entering medical school! I was planning on taking biochemistry 2, but I’m sure even after I take in medical school I’ll be like “meh!” (or so they say will happen, as with anything related to chemistry). I think it will be a good choice…and I’ll be working on my Honors Capstone project (and hopefully beyond graduation!) that will take up most of my time…as most things do…

Tuna and Guacamole

The most wonderful thing happened two days before New Years! My cousin's boyfriend proposed to her! I was present along with everyone else who was secretly invited. It all happened at Shaw's Crab House and we got to order from the Tokio Pub menu. The ring was so beautiful, and when she walked in and we yelled "Surprise!", her face was priceless! I definitely cried because it was TOO beautiful. And man he got her a beautiful ring! Can't wait for that Chinese-Jewish wedding. Hehe!

So, in summary…

  1. Get a way better MCAT score
  2. Speak Mandarin and Polish more often (perhaps throw in some of my remedial Spanish)
  3. Complete Honors Capstone project with flying colors (I guess graduate too)
  4. Be awesome (and I guess sleep well, eat well, exercise at some point, hahahahaha…)

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays! It’s time to get back into shape with school and have an amazing 2014 year!

My Holiday Bucket List Update

In one of my previous blogs, I made a bucket list of things I wanted and needed to do this break.  Now that I am half-way through my break (which I CANNOT believe), I thought I would check in with an update.

1) Go to the dentist.  Yeah…I haven’t done that yet. In fact, I haven’t even called. EEK!

Bucket List-1, Lauren-0

2) Read “I am Malala.”  This one I’ve actually done.  Well, I am half-way through the book because I only got it two weeks ago and haven’t had a ton of time to read it. The thing is, I may have to buy it to be able to finish it because it’s due soon and I can’t renew it. So, I’m almost there.

Bucket List-1, Lauren-.5

3) Read “The Reason I Jump.” Now, this one isn’t even my fault.  I haven’t gotten it from the library yet. Still on request.

4) Be as organized as possible with Christmas shopping.  Oh! I was so organized it was scary.  I had a master list of every one I was giving to, exactly what I was giving them, where I needed to get it or what I needed to do, and how much. See? Scary.

Bucket List-1, Lauren- 1.5

5) Be a couch potato.  Eh. I KIND of have been.  I need to work on that.

6) Make a list of possible schools to student teach. Nope. Haven’t done that yet.

Bucket List- 2, Lauren-1.5

7) Meet up with old friends.  Now, I feel like this list is taunting me.  I haven’t had time!!

Bucket List-3, Lauren 1.5

8) Get back in shape. OK so I actually HAVE been working out. So HA!

Bucket List-3, Lauren 2.5

9) Plan something awesome for NYE.  Woohoo! I actually just rented a condo for me, my boyfriend, my cousin and her niece and nephew for the night in the city.  We’re going to my brother’s restaurant for pizza and champagne (the kids will get Welch’s Sparking Grape Juice, of course).  I am so happy we won’t be spending much money and we still get to go out and be with my family.

Bucket List- 3, Lauren 3.5

10) Get another tattoo. Yeah…I don’t have money for that.

Bucket List-4, Lauren 3.5

11) Spend more time with family.  THAT I have done! Woohoo!

Final score: Bucket List-4, Lauren 4.5.

So, I have about 2 1/2 weeks left of break and still some things to get done.  I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

Hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!!! See you next year!!!

 

Fall 2013 Semester in Review

We’ve almost made it through 2013! We’ve sold our books, headed home for break, (hopefully) passed our classes with flying colors, and made plans for break. Now is definitely the time to look back on our stresses and successes in a positive way. Not to turn into a Lifetime movie or anything, but everything we’ve gone through in this past year has shaped us into the student, friend, family member, and individual we are today. What better way to think about how far we’ve come this semester than through the ever-relevant gif?

Every time the bus tracker said the 8 bus was due.

fun fact: about 2 out of 3 gifs in the “running gif” tag are this one

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When your professor told the class there wouldn’t be a final.

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Every time the cafeteria put out chocolate chip cookies.

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Every time you had to hear a student ask the professor something they already answered.

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Every time you walked into class to see someone sitting in “your” seat.

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When you studied for 16 hours straight and forget everything during the exam.

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Every time you did that awkward dance with someone on the sidewalk to get out of each other’s way.

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Every time you tried to cross Harrison Street…

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Every time you checked your grade on Blackboard.

Sweet mother of god!__________________________________________________

When you saw the remodeled Courtyard and were totally blown away.

I love everything about this gif

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When you started getting along with people in your classes.

I’ve never had any real friends.

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Every time you tried to navigate BSB.

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After you finished rocking your presentation.

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Every time you walked to class only to find out it was cancelled. 

This is just not acceptable.

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That time the teacher called on you and you blanked in front of the whole class.

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When your professor couldn’t get the projector to work.

I ain’t even mad.

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That time you found out you had to work the entire weekend.

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Every time you couldn’t keep up with your professor as they changed slides.

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When people stared at you because you were well-dressed in your 8am class.

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That moment you realized you got an A in your hardest class.

Congratulations on making it through 2013! Keep enjoying winter break and the holidays!

Gif source: http://thegiflibrary.tumblr.com/

Spending Christmas Week at Rush

I’m scheduled to work the whole week of Christmas, this includes December 22, 23, 25, 26, 27 9am-6pm (oh and I’m working New Year’s Eve from 5pm-2am…I hope there aren’t too many drunk people -_-). I took December 24 off because every year our family usually celebrates it this day…but turns out my cousin’s family, who hosts it every year (and the other side of their family too on Christmas Day), is having their other family celebration on Christmas Eve (making my family’s Christmas Day…)…so I’m missing out. :( Bad planning on my part I guess (should have just asked them instead of my grandma/brother), but then again I had to submit my holiday requests in October! Crazy we have to work three out of five major holidays, but at the same time that’s what ER doctors/nurses/health workers have to do all the time!

Walking on Maxwell Street

I had to pick up medication from the UIC Pharmacy near my residence hall (MRH). I'm so happy it's so convenient! It's amazing so much happened on this street in the past.

I’m trying to think if this is the first Christmas/New Year’s without my family, and in a way it is…I used to have a best friend in high school and I spent Christmas with her family (but to me, she was family…but not anymore, lol!). Friendships slip, but new ones form. That’s what’s great about the future. There’s a lot of opportunity to meet a lot of great, honest people out there. I’m glad we don’t limit ourselves to our small group of friends and move beyond our comfort zones to reach out with others.

Speaking of which, I attended the second official meeting of the Mental Health and Disability Alliance (MHDA) group on campus! I was unable to make the first meeting in November because I had my molecular biology lab class). I sometimes regret going to new organization meetings because I feel forced to commit more time than I should, but the issues they and other organizations’ bring up are really underrepresented in terms of support, research and interdisciplinary collaboration. I just want to be a part of it! Even if it’s just a small role…every hand can help.

MDHA Meeting Notes and Food

The meeting was a potluck! I haven't had Kimbap in awhile so I was pretty excited to get some there. Lots of ethnic variety! I made my little setup to take notes and search up stuff for the meeting. Super excited to help make things happen!

The week before Christmas, I was cranking out experiments and data like no other. Right after this “Rush” week, I’ll be back to cranking out data. I am going to give a presentation at our lab meeting January 6, and I don’t think I have enough time to do so since I’m going to give a background of the whole study that I’m doing for my Honors Capstone research project (to be written at least by the end of the semester, but starting that sooner is always better). Can’t wait to cram-read those scholarly articles/journals! XD I’ll probably spend a nice long weekend doing so…

Housing Graphics Door Decorations

Emily, who's leaving us to study abroad in London next semester, made these cute decorations on our door! Every month someone changes the graphics to something. Last month was a bunch of mustaches (for No Shave November, I guess). I'm a penguin, although the bears are so much cuter.

My MCAT restudying is totally suffering right now. I get back to my room about 5-6pm. I eat dinner and watch TV (the devil) and that can go from 6-7 or 6-9!!! T___T I’m always super exhausted from my day doing whatever it is (research, work, scribing, attending meetings) and can’t find the motivation to work. I should probably dedicate my daytime to studying, but then I can’t do the other stuff. I could try and do the 5pm-2am shifts more often, but then I can’t wake up until like 10-11am (that’s if I’m diligent)! I need someone to slap me because otherwise things won’t be looking so good for me. Any suggestions dear friends?

Snowman of MRH

Would you look at that! A snowman in the courtyard of MRH. So cute.

Enjoy your Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate! Enjoy the pretty snow! :D

Christmas

Christmas is a time when family and friends gather together and share gifts and food.  Some people dread it, while others love it.  I have always loved Christmas because I have a very special tradition with my immediate family.

When my brothers and I were little, I remember waking my parents up at 5 AM so that I could go downstairs to see what Santa brought me.  They weren’t thrilled but I believe they did get up.  That year I got a HUGE dollhouse.  It was the best.

Now, we’re grown up and our tradition has moved to Christmas Eve, for obvious reasons.  We (and by we, I mean my dad and brothers) prepare a huge steak and lobster dinner while we all drink champagne.

We eat WAY too much, open presents from each other, and we play games.  That’s why it’s my favorite time of the year.

But as I am preparing for the giving of those gifts, I have gone out daily looking for the right gifts and gift bags.  And I can’t help but notice that people out there driving and in stores can be so rude.  I don’t know.  I guess I just thought that given the message that this holiday is supposed to be about, that people would be kinder to each other.  I know that I look at myself during this season and how I can change to be a better person.  I always give a lot of thought about what I give.  I try to let people in my lane while driving, I always smile and say “Thank you” to the person behind the register checking me out, not just because that’s what you should do but because you have no idea how many rude customers they’ve probably dealt with all day.  A simple smile and “Thank you” could mean the world.

Do you remember the days and weeks and even months after September 11, 2001? Yes.  I remember that horrible events that happened that day.  But I also remember how kind perfect strangers were to each other.  People behind the wheel were considerate of their fellow drivers.  We were united, and we treated each other with love.  My question is, why didn’t that last long?  Why did we revert back to being rude and inconsiderate?

I guess this time of year I expect people to be nicer to each other because it’s the holidays.  So, next time you see someone trying to turn or get in your lane while driving, take the 10 second delay and let them in.  When you’re in line waiting to check out at a store, don’t forget to say “Hi, how are you?” and “Thank you” to the person behind the register. Hold doors open, help people carry bags to their car, and tell your family and friends that you love them. Because THAT is what Christmas is about.

One of my favorite Christmas books is The Grinch by Dr. Suess because it is about a nasty creature who hates the Who’s, who rejected him when he was young sending him into a life of seclusion.  The Who’s love Christmas and the Grinch wants to take that away.  When he waits for the cries from the Who’s that their presents, food and Christmas trees are all gone, he hears something else: singing.  “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.  What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” If the Grinch can change, so can we.

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.  Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.”

Have a safe holiday and Merry Christmas!

Brace yourselves…winter (break) is coming!

♪♫♪ Dancing bears, painted wings, things I almost remember…

I numbly left SES after my organic chemistry 1 final on Thursday morning. It was absolutely frigid outside, but it didn’t stop many of my classmates to linger outside the building doors to commiserate over the terribly treacherous exam through murmurs of disdain, worry, and even indignation. Despite my own concerns over the final exam, I defaulted to my typical coping mechanism, which is generally a mindset of optimism.There’s nothing I can do to change anything about it now, so being negative about the situation would only depress me further. I try to combat my worries with some blind hope instead. Maybe it’s a bit foolish sometimes not to worry more, but I did the best I could and in my heart I believe that everything will be okay in the end. As one of my best friends often asks me when I’m anxious about something, “What’s the worse that can happen?”

That being said, I am so thankful for my wonderful friends who listened to me worry my mind out over organic chemistry this past week! They were my lifeline when I felt like the brain matter was seeping from my ears, so I am forever grateful that I have them in my life! So with that final hill climbed and (maybe) conquered, I can finally relax for winter break! Because my finals didn’t end until Friday, I’ve been a little frazzled trying to completely prepare and pack for going to Taiwan and Japan for 3 weeks! It’s incredible to think that I’ll be in Tokyo in less than a week…but I’m so excited! My mom, brother, and I will be staying a week with my aunt in Japan and then 2.5 weeks more in Taiwan with my grandma. Everything has been really busy around the house with everyone packing, but I’m just getting more and more excited. I have never been to Asia in the wintertime before- whenever I traveled to Japan or Taiwan in the past, there was always sweltering heat in the spring or summer. But I’m excited to finally be there in the winter for once! It can’t be as cold as it is in Chicago, right?

Stay warm, friends – the cold and the snow don’t seem to be letting up, so remember to stay safe this winter break! I’ve never been too fond of the cold, but with things like Christmas lights, holiday songs, and hot cocoa, I guess I don’t really mind!

Far away, long ago, glowing dim as an ember / Things my heart used to know,, things it yearns to remember / And a song someone sings once upon a December… ♪♫♪

(Once Upon A December - Liz Callaway)

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