Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Love Does Time

As you read this post, I encourage you to listen to my favorite song of the moment, “Day that I Die” by Zac Brown Band.  It also happens to align pretty well with the topic of my post today.


Since I was little, my mom has taught me “time is the best gift you can give someone.”  I don’t think I fully understood what she meant until time suddenly started moving faster.  I finished my senior year of college, spent my last summer in Blacksburg, and moved to South Carolina to start my graduate school adventure.  Through these milestones, I have focused much of my energy on time and how I spend mine.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always efficient with the use of my time.  I could always make more time to exercise or call my grandparents or cook a real, fresh dinner.  But I’ve started to do new things with my time that enrich my life and make me really happy.  I Skype once a week with one of mentors and dearest friends, Meg.  I write at least one hand-written note each week and send it in the mail.  I make time to read something I enjoy every night.  Taking the time to invest in things that enhance your thoughts and feelings is a great gift you can give yourself.

But then there’s giving the gift of time to others as well, and today, one of my favorite authors gifted this to me.

A little backstory on this particular author:  I randomly stumbled upon the book Love Does by Bob Goff when I was browsing amazon.com for books by one of my long-time favorite authors, Donald Miller.  Bob and Don are friends and write very similarly, so I decided to order Love Does.  I just finished it last week and can say that this book changed my attitude towards life. I don’t want this post to be a book review, so just know that this book illustrates the occurrences of everyday life with a religious context.  The title summarizes the mentality that love is a verb, it’s something you do, something you engage in and exemplify through intentional action.  At the end of the book, Bob writes a brief note about the essence of time.  He says:

“One of the things I’ve learned following Jesus is how much He enjoyed being with people...He didn’t just love the idea of being with people either, He actually loved being with them.  A lot of people in the world stop being available at some point.  It’s subtle, because it happens a little at a time and it’s not malicious or anything—it happens though.  But Jesus wasn’t that way.  He seemed to have more time for people as time went on, not less.  That’s one of the things which makes love so powerful; it leaves us a way to find it (p. 224).”

And then he lists his phone number at the end incase he can be of any help. 

Now, to give a little bit of context to my life lately, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming.  The professor for my favorite class had us complete a dream exercise about a month ago.  We listed out all of our biggest, limitless dreams and selected which one was our top dream.  We vowed to take calculated steps towards achieving these dreams.  What was my dream?  To write a book.  About what?  I have no idea, and I think that is why it has remained just a distant dream to me. I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in what I have to say, and I didn’t think that I could say anything worth reading.  As a grad student, I’ve learned to question almost everything, and my dreams were no exception.  Why shouldn’t I write a book?  Why shouldn’t people want to read what I have to say?  Why not me?

After reading Bob’s book and seeing his phone number at the end, I decided to give him a call to see what words of wisdom he would offer.  Yesterday afternoon, I called and left Bob a rambling voicemail.  I posted a tweet to him saying how cool it was to leave a voicemail for such an awesome author.  He sent a tweet back saying that he was on his way to Uganda (btw you should check out all the time that this man dedicates to the people of Uganda here).  I thought it was awesome that I heard back from him so quickly, but I figured I wouldn’t get to talk to him for another month or so. 

Today, I was in the office when I received a phone call from a random number.  It was Bob Goff.  Yes, he was on his way to Uganda, but he wanted to make sure he returned my call.  His contagious energy overflowed through the phone and filled me with such joy.  I told him all about my dream and my ideas about traveling abroad, particularly to Uganda.  He was so welcoming and told me I should go to Uganda with him and his team.  “Bring your Moleskin and you can get some writing done here,” he told me.  He even suggested that he would like to read over some of my writing.  I could tell that he was in an airport, so I made plans to email him and call him back in a few weeks.  I would really like to take him up on that offer to visit Uganda.

This is one of the coolest lessons of the value of time that I have ever experienced.  We all have friends that will say they’ll call and never do.  That stings because it often feels like those people aren’t just busy, but that they don’t have time for us in their lives.  Sometimes we don’t make the conscious effort to fully engage in relationships and friendships because we think that the momentary things that are going on in our lives right now are urgent—and the friends and family will still be there next week, next month, next semester, next year…but we all know that postponing relationships in exchange for meeting deadlines is not a fulfilling way to live.  Taking time to talk with someone is a basic way to tell them “what you have to say is important,” or “your question is valid,” or “I value the opportunity to talk with you.”  It’s the best way to say “I care.” 

So when Bob Goff, someone who I know is very busy and knows way more people than I do, took the time during his day of travel to call me back, I was so touched.  Many of us underestimate the power and gift of time, and like Bob wrote in the back of his book, Jesus did not allow time to come between Him and His people.  It is my hope to live like Jesus, like time is not of the essence.  I hope I may give time abundantly to people, especially those I love. 

As I write this post, I am reminded of a quote that I read a few months ago in a newsletter:

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” -Robert Brault

It’s nice when busy people fit time in their schedules to spend with us, but I really value those who don’t need to “pencil me in.”  It’s ironic because I used to measure the value of my time by the color-coded meetings and events in my planner. Schedules shouldn’t regulate your relationships with the people that matter most, and staying in touch shouldn’t be such a hassle because it should be natural for you to make time for people.  Now, I measure my time not by my calendar, but by my conversations.  Not text messages or emails.  Real, face-to-face, or at least phone call, conversations.  Though I know I haven’t mastered this, I strive for it continually.  I challenge you to give the gift of time too. 

Love Does Time.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

living for thirty two

Five years after the unimaginable tragedy of April 16th, 2007, I stand a senior in college, awaiting my graduation from the university that I call home.  While I think of the thirty two lost each of the 365 days of the year, the anniversary inevitably approaches each year with the visible reminders of the lives taken from us too soon.  The Day of Remembrance on campus provides an outlet for members of the community to remember and mourn the losses from this day.

"To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live.  To feel the joy of life...To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day.  To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am.  I am.  That is something to aspire to."  -The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I came across this quote from a book I read a few years ago, and I think that it summarizes my feelings of remembrance very well.  I carry the heaviness in my heart for the thirty two, and at the same time, I want to carry light into the world to honor them.  I want to be a reminder to others that these Hokies will not be forgotten, and I want to serve others with kindness, acceptance, and understanding.

The reflection that ensues the anniversary of April 16th ignites a passion for life across our campus.  Let us all be reminded that there are no guarantees in life, and we must embrace the people in our lives today.

In quoting a mantra embedded in Virginia Tech tradition,
"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

 My thoughts and prayers remain with the families whose lives will be forever changed by the senseless events of this day.  There are countless hearts that reach out to you in the wake of your loss.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

mounting the trail

To start off, play this YouTube video to listen to the soundtrack of our hike yesterday as you read.  We decided to make this our theme song for the day, as the chorus says "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and K92 kept playing this...literally, we heard it 3 times in our brief trip.

 Yesterday I had the chance to do one of my most favorite things ever--hiking-- with some of my most favorite people ever--OL12 (Orientation Leaders 2012).  We decided to hike McAfee's Knob on a beautiful Friday morning.  Only three people in our group of 7 had hiked this mountain before, so we were excited to show everyone what it's all about.

I couldn't have asked for better hiking companions.  The hike up, while tiring, was extremely entertaining.  We debated making a commercial promoting Diet Coke- "What you drink on your way to the top"- and compared hiking sticks.  My favorite part was when Meg decided to carry a legitimate log as her stick with the simple exclamation "I need to find things to whack!"

almost there....
with Meg enjoying the view

the whole group at the top
OLs & OAs
the fabulous orientation leaders
stole this from Kyle because I thought it was so cool
 “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote is such a wonderful explanation for what I have learned from my experiences with New Student Programs at Tech.  I have met some of the most incredible people who encourage me to try new things, even if it makes me a little uncomfortable.  In the end, I know that I am always growing and learning, and I am so excited to see where the rest of the semester and summer takes this new OL12 group.  And I'm already looking forward to our next hiking trip... :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

something real

 "Travel compels you to discover your spiritual side by simple elimination: Without all the rituals, routines, and possessions that give your life meaning at home, you're forced to look for meaning within yourself...this spiritual process is not always free of care.  Indeed, if travel is a process that helps you "find yourself," it's because it leaves you with nothing to hide behind--it yanks you our from the realm of rehearsed responses and dull comforts, and forces you into the present.  Here, in the fleeting moment, you are left to improvise, to come to terms with your raw, true self." -Rolf Potts

When I came across this quote last week, it instantly reminded me of a road trip I took in 2007 called Teens' Camping Tour of the West, Inc. (TCTW).  To give a little bit of background on this experience, it was a traveling experience for about a month of my summer when I was 17.  We departed from Davidson College in North Carolina in three vans, and all I took with me was a sleeping bag, a duffle bag, and a back pack.  (For those who know me, this is a BIG deal for this girly-girl).  Among my possessions were NOT a cell-phone, iPod, or any other type of electronic device besides a camera.  My way of communicating with my family involved pay phones at gas stations, post cards, and a display iPhone in the Apple store in Chicago.  For a girl who talks to her mom 13 times a day, this was a real leap of faith.

We saw 23 states and did amazing feats like go to the top of the St. Louis Arch, hike the great sand dunes in Colorado AND the Grand Canyon, raft ride at the Grand Tetons, play in Disneyland, and went to a rodeo in Cody, Wyoming.  This was such an eye-opening experience for me to see more of our incredible country in one summer than most people see in their lifetime.  I have been forever changed from this experience, and I credit TCTW for instilling a hunger in me to learn more about the world and how I fit into it.

Group at the top of the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
We arrived at the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night and slept at this tourist overlook.  Our first view of the canyon was from our sleeping bags at sunrise right on the brim of the canyon.  I can't even explain the sense of wonder I felt.
The view of the canyon in the morning before we started the hike.
The group together before we started the hike.  We all finished at different times.  I took a particularly long time for me considering my feet were bleeding from blisters 3 miles in to the 12 mile hike.  I also have problems fainting in extreme heat, and it was over 125 degrees F...Needless to say this was an accomplishment of a lifetime that I intend on doing again someday.  I was sobbing when I came out of the canyon from happiness and pride.
This is a stop at Indian Gardens inside the canyon.  We stopped here to rest in the shade before heading out to Plateau Point (quite literally a desert tundra).
Genny and I pretended to fall into the canyon..
A picture with one of my favorite people in the world in my favorite city in the world.  We did not spend nearly enough time in San Francisco, so another visit is on my to-do list.
Before the "Honey I Shrunk The Audience" 4-D show in Disneyland
The Director of the trip, Doug Gill, with me at a waterfall in Yellowstone.  I remember just before this picture he asked, "What is it about waterfalls that makes people love them so much?"  I still wonder..
The group singing a "campfire song" once we returned to Davidson after our month of adventures.
The last time all of us were ever together in front of one of our beloved vans.
This is just a brief glimpse of my month out west.  The TCTW program plans various surprises throughout the trip to teach something new.  From letters in Shoshone to a sip of wine on the Pacific coast, to sitting in the chapel of transformation to staying in Disneyland until closing..this trip created such incredible life moments for me.  I'm sure I'll be doing more posts in detail in the future.  TCTW is a huge part of my life still, even if I'm not physically out frolicking across the country.

"I'm lookin' for something I can really sink my teeth into
Something that shakes my soul and makes me really feel
Yeah what I'm lookin' for
All I want anymore
Is something deep, something ancient, something righteous
Something real"
-Steve Seskin, Something Real

Thursday, January 5, 2012

sweet like sugar

The past four days have been a wonderful whirlwind of a trip to New Orleans to see the Hokies take on Michigan in the Sugar Bowl.  Before I share my thoughts about the game (and we all know that there is plenty to say there..) let me recap my time in this fabulous city:

first night on bourbon street with the boys

lunch at riverfront restaurant on decatur street

with the family in jackson square

fan fest with my roomie 

with the joan of arc statue

loved all the little details of the city..like this quote painted in a store window

hand grenades on bourbon street before the game

mom and me with our game faces on...hokie colored masks
We really could not have asked for a more fun destination for a bowl game.  All of the locals were super welcoming, and the Michigan fans were also very friendly.  As it was my first visit to N'awlins, I was sure to embrace the excess of mardi gras beads and masquerade masks, toasts with tangy cocktails in souvenir glasses, being covered in powdered sugar from Cafe Du Monde's beignets, and a horse and buggy tour around the French quarter.  I simply did not want to leave. 

Now, for the outcome of the actual game... As one of my friends said, "the best team can't always win."  While there were a number of plays that led to our fight for the win in overtime, I truly believe in my heart that Danny Coale's catch was a touchdown.  In spite of whatever  ruling the refs called, Danny deserves credit for his incredible athleticism and natural presence on the field.  I mean, how many other players could have made a catch like that??  He has carried himself with class and grace while showing everyone he is a damn good ball player too.  I am proud to call him a Hokie and a member of the Class of 2012.

I don't know what exactly it is that strikes a chord with me when it comes to Virginia Tech, especially Tech football.  I attribute part of my heart-wrenching dedication to my being raised coming to games and standing by the team, win or lose.  It could also be that my time as a Tech student has connected me to something much bigger than myself.  I love college football, as opposed to the professional league, because it isn't so much about the money as it is about the sheer talent, athleticism, and spirit of universities.  It brings colleges together on a national platform and allows us to share different experiences against similar rivals or conferences or bowl games.  Having mutual respect and sportsmanship towards the opposing team often overshadows competitiveness, which was definitely the case with the Michigan fans; they were so easy to get along with!

I think this loss is more heartbreaking than our loss to Clemson or our loss to Stanford in the Orange Bowl last year.  We weren't outplayed this game.  We earned the title.  A quote from an article on The Key Play blog sums up my feelings pretty well:

"This team won 11 games. The seniors have never lost to Virginia. They've won 3 ACC Championships. We'll be pleasantly reminded of that in Lane until we're too old, too fat, too dead to go to games... I love this team. I love that they finished strong. I love that they contended. I loved that they did more than was expected. I love that the core will be back next year. I love that they broke my heart.  I do. Really. The day I don't care, is the day I'm not a Hokie. That day was not today."
For more insight on the outcome of The Sugar Bowl, check out football player Collin Carroll's article

V. P., old V. P., You know our hearts are with you,

In our luck which never seems to die;
Win or lose we'll greet you with a glad returning,
You're the pride of V. P. I. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

how do you measure a year?

2011 was a year of lots of big moments.  I pushed myself and stuck to my instincts when things became trying.  I served on my sorority's executive council as the Vice President of New Member Education (aka: Pledge Mom) and worked with two fabulous pledge classes.  I spent spring break on a cruise with my family and closest friends.  I saw the Hokies beat Duke in basketball and lose to Clemson in football...twice.  I spent the summer working with incoming Hokies and learned to love my school more than I thought possible.  I turned 21, received my class ring, watched my brother graduate high school and then welcomed him to Blacksburg.  I decided to change my career path from business marketing to apply to grad schools for higher education & student affairs.  At the end of the day, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is my year at a glimpse with lyrics from "Seasons of Love" from RENT.  Happy New Years' to you & yours.  Time to ring in my graduation year...
525,600 minutes--how do you measure a year in the life?
New Years' 2011 in Baltimore

Party in the City Where the Heat is On: Orange Bowl

Spring Break Hokie Cruise with Sigma Kappa
Pledge Mom with my new pledge class
in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee?
in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
Gatlinburg, TN Sisterhood Retreat
how do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
Front row at College Gameday with Dad..WE BEAT DUKE

Spent the best summer of my life with these beautiful people

The best addition to 2011 for me?  This lady right here.
it's time now to sing out, though the story never ends
The New River

I have the BEST coworkers/bosses a girl could ask for

Like mother, like daughter
Turning 21 was never this good

The Big Event: Tech's largest community service event
My Junior Ring Dance.  Since my date wasn't a gentleman, the Hokie Bird filled in!
Ring Banquet
let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends
Tyler graduated!
Catching up with old friends
remember the love
Visiting my other half in Radford

Fathers' Day with Dad
Last Year as a Hokie Camp Counselor
you know that life is a gift from up above
With Frank Beamer at the Hokie Hi Picnic

Took the family hiking at the Cascades
share love, give love, spread love
SK raised nearly $8000 for Alzheimers Disease Research

Blacksburg sky after beating Miami

My dates to Senior Crush Party
Hiking McAffee's Knob
measure your life in love
Sigma Kappa Semis

Thanksgiving in Northern VA

Celebrating beating UVA..again

Winter's Eve on South Main with the best friends in the world
seasons of love
In Charlotte for the ACC Championship game

Despite the loss, still smiling
Ending the semester as Pledge Mom with the wonderful Fall '11 Pledge Class
Merry Christmas!
measure your life in love