Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Minor announcements...

You know that feeling you get right before you get a really bad cold? I've had that feeling for about a week. Today it's gotten pretty bad. I feel it in my throat, head, aches, etc. I've been drinking orange juice and hot tea all day to eliminate as much as possible, but I still feel it. If any of you have any desire at all to send me a care package, now would be the time. Soup, tea packets, and LOVE please. I'll need it all to get through this.

Seriously though, a few of you have asked about that. Contact me and I'll message you the address of the high school, you can send stuff to me there.

A few very good things have happened the past few last night at parent teacher night when a parent pulled me aside to tell me that her daughter's life and attitude have been changed by the words I've said to her...or when one of my students saw that I was exhausted and drained, so she spent her last few quarters and bought my favorite candy bar from the vending machine. Then she told me to go home and sleep...or today, when apparently a student was offended that when I was announced at parent/teacher conferences, it wasn't mentioned that I teach creative writing. I didn't even think of it, but this student expressed her concern to Dave about it. How sweet?

During extracurricular time I gave a talk to a group of girls about how pointless it is to waste your time and energy being mean and nasty to someone. Why not use that on doing nice things or putting it into your schoolwork? I am praying that the message got through to them. The disrespect the students have for each other has got to stop.

Also, just have to throw out there that the 70th Anniversary of Wizard of Oz came out on DVD yesterday. Favorite movie ever. I know what I'm spending my stipend on, haha.

\Alright, this was quick, but I must go to sleep. Love ya'll.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Picture this: Seven 20-something kids, living in Detroit to do a year of service, huddled under a homemade fort in the dark, watching Saturday Night Live. Here's a few pictures to help you out:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

That's Jason, Nate, Hannah, Me, Katie, and Meghan. Dave took the picture.

What a lovely evening we had. More nights should be spent like that.

Today we continued our Church hopping and found ourselves at Christ the King Church in Northwest Detroit. What's funny is that back in high school I had quite a few friends who belonged to that parish and always spoke so highly of it. I never visited, although I constantly heard great things. We were there this past Wednesday for a Mercy Day event and decided to attend their weekend Mass. Two Sister's of Mercy whom we know fairly well belong there. I loved the church, it was probably my favorite that we've visited. The atmosphere was great and there are many opportunities to get involved, which is what I am looking for. The only downside is that it's about a 15-20 minute drive (yet still in the city of Detroit). We'll see if I end up settling there, but I really enjoyed it.

So, I think I'll start doing appreciation posts for my community members and those who are supporting me. I'm going to start with Dave, because last night he gave us a very special gift. When someone gives you a gift, you should thank them.

Let me preface by saying that Dave is a musical, artistic genius. Perhaps a bold statement but I believe it to be true. I was amazed by him at orientation when he would just sit at the piano and play goregous music off the top of his head. Since then, I've learned that he is extremly talented and creative. He records music and other sounds to put them together into songs. He's been working on a song that puts together recordings from January-July 2009, it's supposed to potray his feelings during those times. It's a 1/2 hour long song with no words but beautiful music- and it is fantastic.

I am honored and blessed that Dave shared this with us, I know it probably took guts because it is something that means so much to him. He's been working so hard on this song and it truly paid off. I'm very proud of him not only for his creativity but for being the energetic, compassionate, caring, sweet soul that he is. I am so glad that we've grown closer. It's comforting to have him both at Cristo Rey and in our community. He's the defination of a wonderful friend. I am thankful to have him as one of mine! Dave, keep on bieng you. Thanks for everything :-)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"If I wasn't meant to be this way, God wouldn't have made me this way. If I wasn't meant to be on this journey, God wouldn't have put me here."

"I think if you believe in God, put your faith and trust in Him, you can do anything"

"I love myself and I wouldn't change it for the world".

Those three quotes were taken from seperate papers students wrote in my creative writing class with the prompt "Are you accepting of the person you are, or do you wish you could be different? Why or why not?". Their answers touched me...I don't know if I would have written those words at the age of 15. They made me sit back and realize that each of us were made special and unique, as a result of God's infinate friendship. Thanks, students. You amaze me more and more every day.

The past few days have been awesome. Lauren was in town for a concert on Thursday night, so she stopped by, saw my house, and took me out to dinner. It was so great to see her, I miss her!!!! Lauren is such a great friend, and was a wonderful roomate last year. She dealt with all my emotional breakdowns, was there during the ups and downs of senior year. Now she's a senior, and I just hope she finds the support in the same way she supported me.

Yesterday is kind of a blur, actually. I remember it as many cups of coffee, being called a "road dog" (yes, it's a good thing), giving homecoming advice to a sophomore, giving the student workers a pep talk about graduating with Dave, and drama in the gymnasium after school. Let's just say it was almost a re-make of Mean Girls. I was very close to yelling "Oh hell no, I did NOT leave the suburbs for THIS!" and smashing a fire alarm with a baseball bat. Okay, not quite THAT intense, but it was drama. I just wish girls would relax and know that tearing someone else down will not make them feel any better about themselves in the end.

Last night the four of us headed over to Dean's house (quick reminder: Dean is the IT guy at the school. He's a sweetheart, so is his lovely wife. They are around our age and live down the street from us. Awesome people). Hannah and Jason from the Jesuit Volunteer's (quick reminder 2: Jesuit Volunteers are another Catholic Volunteer Organization. Not connected to Mercy Volunteer Corps but we are very close to them. Hannah works at Cristo Rey as well). It's so nice making friends here, we're forming a very strong support system with one another.

This morning Hannah, Dave, and I had to drive out to Troy to go to a required workshop for those working in schools and/or churches. It was interesting...what was more fun was that we were very close to my parents house, so we swung by! I got to see my Seamy-poo, the love of my life. We also picked up my sister on the way, so I got to see her as well! So exciting. My parents gave us fresh tomatoes, a new toaster (ours doesn't fit ANYTHING. It was getting frustrating), and gave me a starbucks card. I love them, and I am so glad that they are supportive of this journey. My mommy wasn't home, but I got to see my daddy. We chatted for a while and then headed back to the D.

Tonight our Jesuit Volunteer buddies are coming over to hang out and watch SNL. Love those kiddo's.

Thanks for being with me. :-)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Cirlce of Mercy is Timeless

Mercy Day.

Around 800 girls are sitting in their goregous auditorium in Farmington Hills right around now, holding a special Mass in honor of Mercy Day. It's also their Spirit Week, so most of them are probably pre-occupied with Homecoming excitement to really understand Mercy Day.

Only a few years ago, I was one of those girls. I knew the story of Catherine McAuley and had the sucipe memorized, but really didn't understand how amazing it is that 182 years ago, a woman lived her dream and opened a home in Ireland to help the poor women and children. The brave and inspiring act opened doors for so many amazing opportunities that still exist today. She is a true hero in my mind.

As I sat in that auditorum a few years ago, I was in love with Mercy and the atmosphere. You can ask any one of my classmates, they would have told you that I'd be re-connected with Mercy somehow later in life. I always imagined being the pastoral minister or counselor there. Maybe someday I will, but right now, I am giving back to Mercy in a way I never imagined.

Being a member of the Mercy Volunteer Corps has deepened my love and appreciation for Mercy- not just the single high school I attended, but for Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy, the four tenants, etc. I am happy to be committing myself to a year of service with them, to be able to give back what they have given me. While I am not in the halls of Mercy High just yet, I am constantly reminded of their support. I am using the tools that they gave me to live out some of my dreams.

Last night we celebrated Mercy Day with some of the Sister's at Christ the King Church. Those women are amazing, not only are they so compassionate toward us but to all they come in contact with. They live each day devoted to God, their ministry, and each other. Each of them greeted us with a smile and a hug, squeezed our hands as they chatted with us about how our service sites were doing. I met Sr. Marie Henderson, who graduated from Mercy with my mom, and another Mercy associate who is best friends with a St. Hugo family. Small world!

To sum it all up, the circle of Mercy really is timeless, and I am just blessed to be one person in the circle. Thanks Catherine McAuley, I owe it all to you.

Enjoy a comfy cup of tea.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If you’re not a fan of American Idol, you probably won’t care about this blog…unless you want to hear me get snarky. If that’s the case, grab a snack.

NOTE: I was in the process of copying/pasting this when I checked the comments on his blog. He commented in response to several angry comments saying that the response were from typical dumb Idol fans, sticking up for their favorite. Serioulsy? SERIOUSLY. Okay. Moving on.

I recently read a blog by a former American Idol contestant in which he made risky claims that he is among the most successful of all the contestants over the past few seasons, which he attributes to the fact that he works harder.

I’m sorry…what?

First of all, it’s completely unfair to claim that he is working hardest. You can’t tell me that the rest of these people aren’t working their butts off. It doesn’t really matter album sales and numbers, heck it doesn’t even matter if they have an album out yet, each and every single one of the former Idol contestants work hard to get where THEY want to be. It’s not everyone’s dream to sell millions of records and sell out shows. Not everyone can be a Kelly or a Carrie. They are unique in their own way and have people supporting them.

Second, if you measure success by the number of people whom you inspire, touch, change….then every one of these people is successful. I know I may be biased…but in this blog I read the sentence “Melinda doesn’t do much” and literally almost threw up. Are you kidding me? Melinda doesn’t do much? I was unaware that traveling to Africa with the First Lady, that being a spokesperson for Malaria No More, that having two-three events every week, that having jaws drop when you sing qualified as “not doing much”. I personally know that Melinda Marie Doolittle works extremely hard in her profession. Her goal is to get out there, meet people, and sing for them. She does just that but it doesn’t stop there…she is involved in a numerous amount of charity work and inspires people with her sweet, selfless personality. I’ve never met anyone who cares so much about people the way Melinda does. So yes, sir, she DOES DO MUCH. Much more than she will ever get the credit for in the media. Maybe you should ask her about it, I’m sure she’ll tell you many stories.

Also? I’m going to stick up for Gina Glocksen. First of all, this person is supposed to be one of her best friends, so the fact that he said that she is two years late getting on the music train makes me want to slap him. Secondly, Gina was a little busy…you know…settling into a MARRIAGE. For crying out loud the girl is only twenty five years old…let her live a little. She still made a variety of appearances during this time.

I guess my point to this person is…why does your opinion of success have to put down your fellow contestants? What makes you a harder worker than them? You got what you wanted, congratulations. You SHOULD be proud…but not too proud that you have to drag everyone else down around you. You should be encouraging the support of these amazing people.

PS: I’m watching the Vh1 Diva’s special again right now…I love that three of them were on American Idol. Just saying.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today was just one of those perfect days, you know? Nothing went wrong, nothing annoyed me. I felt completely at peace all day.

I woke up early on a Saturday to head out to Bishop Foley for my girls’ volleyball game. They’ve been asking me all week if I could come to another game soon, so I promised I’d go on Saturday. As soon as I walked in I hear “HI MISS CAROLIN”. Their faces lit up. I was so glad to go out and support them. It was a mini tournament; I stayed for two games and then left. Dropped off a box of leftover loaves of bread at a soup kitchen and grabbed some Starbucks (care of April…MDL). On the way, I heard Melinda’s remix. Luckily I was stopped at a light…heard the music and started singing along before I really realized what was happening. Oh my goodness, I got SO excited. I’ve never heard Melinda on the radio before. So proud of that lil gal.

Afterwards I came home, showered, and then headed out with Katie and Dave to the Mercy Campus for an open house with the Sisters of Mercy. We arrived and were greeted by many familiar faces…including Sr. Margaret, our liaisons to the Sisters of Mercy, Sr. Mary Jo, our regional coordinator, Sr. Catherine, our link to University of Detroit Mercy College, and Sr. Regina, president of Mercy High School. They were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the center, so we watched a slideshow and enjoyed refreshments. I chatted with Sr. Regina for a tiny bit and we’re going to set up a day for me to come back, visit Mercy, and talk to classes about the Mercy Volunteer Corps. I can’t wait; you all know how much that place means to me! We were also able to talk to Sr. Mary Jo quite a bit. Her job is to take care of us, so we checked in and let her know how things were going.

Before we left, I took Katie and Dave on a walk around the Mercy grounds- a beautiful campus. There’s the high school (which I attended), the McCauley Center (Chapel and living quarters for many of the sisters), and the Mercy Center (where many older sisters who need care stay). The outside is absolutely beautiful. We walked to the labyrinth and then to a bench facing the pond, where we sat for quite a while…and fell asleep. Looking out at the campus, being in the presence of Mercy and the sisters just made me feel so much at peace and proud of what I am doing and where I am now. I think it’s especially neat that just a few years ago, that was the place that was molding me into who I am, influencing me and showing me the way.
Now we’re all sitting in our house and I’m starting to feel the beginning of fall. Fall is my favorite season, there’s nothing I love more than sitting in a hoodie and flannel pants, drinking hot cider. Can you guys believe it’s this close to October? How crazy is that? It’s going to be Christmas before we know it.

Oh, about the Starbucks thing. Yesterday April twittered me and said she sent me something and it should be getting there. She sent it to my home address, so I called up my momma and asked if it was there. My parents took turns reading me the card and then said that April had sent a Starbucks gift card for my early mornings. How thoughtful is that? April, thank you so much. I received your sweet gift on a day I really needed it.

As always, please continue to pray for Laurence. He’s been on my heart and mind very much today, more than usual. Not sure what that means but it’s telling me to pray.
Love yourself. Be yourself. Show yourself.
Song- Colbie Cailliat, Fearless

Friday, September 18, 2009

First of all...I'm sitting here drinking my coffee and watching video's of the Vh1 Diva's special last night. How amazing is Miss Kelly Clarkson? She looked beautiful and her stripped down version of "Already Gone" is outstanding. I get so angry when people try to categorize Kelly as an "Idol Popstar" this girl has got PIPES. I want to be her. Seriously. If I could be anyone in this world, I'd say Kelly Clarkson. I don't care if that's sad. I feel like we're already pretty much the same person. Every story she's told about her personal struggles are an echo of mine. Her songs match the poems/lyrics I've written. We need to best friends. I entered to win a meet and greet for her concert in I do for EVERY TOUR she does. I need to win, it's long overdue.

The rest of the performers were also amazing. Adele blows me away every time, as does Jennifer Hudson. Jordin and Martina made me cry, mainly because it reminded me so much of my friends. Jordin's solo performance...well...she's really grown up. That's all I'll say about that.

I know I talked some yesterday about my mommy and her birthday but I was half asleep and totally forgot to mention that she got the sweetest gift from my daddy.

A little background: The music teacher , Kelly, at St. Hugo (same school my mom works) also sang at my parents wedding when she was only 17 years old. She has an absolutley GOREGOUS voice, and when she was hired at St. Hugo my mom made the connection. They've become pretty good friends since then, and my mom has already booked her for all our weddings AND for her own funeral (as morbid as that sounds, all my mom wants is for this woman to sing at her funeral). My dad knows all of this, and he too loves Kelly's voice. So, a few weeks ago he called her up and asked for her to sing "Perhaps Love" by John Denver, a favorite song of my parents. On Wednesday, my dad came to St. Hugo and Kelly sang the song for my mom and her entire classroom. HOW SWEET IS THAT? Seriously. My parents are the greatest.

Also, I was reading my mom's facebook page of birthday wishes and found one that really touched my heart:

"Happy Birthday to the greatest 2nd mommy in the world"- Christine

Christine has been one of my best friends since we were five years old. She is a part of our family and everyone loves her, she's such a sweetheart. It just meant a lot to me that she said that and could recognize how amazing my mom is. I miss Christine, too.

Hope everyone has a FABULOUS weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I am so beyond the point of tired right now. My 2nd hour group of sophomores are in here for study hall and I'm just sitting at my desk half asleep.

Yesterday was one of the busiest days I've had. Got to school at my normal time of 6:50 to set out breakfast for the kiddo's. I have first period free so I usuaully go to the computer lab and get stuff accomplished for the day, and catch up on facebook/twitter (shut up, it's productive). I monitored two classes 2nd and 3rd period, did peer mediation 4th period, and set out lunch 5th period. Then I picked up Dave from Matrix, came back to Cristo Rey, and monitored my 8th period study hall. Then creative writing extracurricular, which I loved. I have some really amazing writers and am looking forward to having them share their work with me.

After school myself, Jon, Dave, and Hannah jetted off to St. Hugo. They were the host site of a fundraiser dinner for Cristo Rey. As the ONLY Catholic, co-ed high school in the city of Detroit, we need lots of funding. Especially because we are so new, as we continue to grow we need more funding for activities and facilities. The event invited our board members, faculty, and 14 students to mingle with potential donor's. What was awesome for me was that St. Hugo is my parish. I've been going to that Church since I was born, I went to elementry school there (k-8). My mom teaches 2nd grade at St. Hugo and has for many years. It was awesome to bring those two world's together. It was a very fancy (and delicious) dinner. Part of the evening included two students giving speeches on their perspective of Cristo Rey. Both are in one of my study hall's, so I've gotten to know them. I teared up a little when they were talking, because I know the amount of hard work these kids put into their school. I really can't quite describe the pride and love I have for the students, even if they misbehave. I am becoming more and more passionate about this school every day.

After the event, Rob (our director of development) told us (the four volunteers at the school) we could take home all the extra food. We're splitting it up so each community will have an equal amount (Jon and Hannah are volunteers through a different organization, Dave and I are both Mercy Volunteers). I then noticed my mommy's car was still in the school parking lot from Parent Teacher conferences, so we stood outside the door and waited for her. She came out and we sang to her. I only saw her for a few short minutes, but it was so good to be able to hug her and wish her a happy birthday. I love my mommy. What a wonderful woman.

If you haven't seen my facebook pictures, Laurence got to meet Bono. I am so incredibly happy for him. Apparently Bono was QUITE impressed by him, even taking him into their super secret prayer circle. I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet but I bet it was so surreal and amazing. Love that kid. He deserves all the happiness that he recieved this past weekend.

I'm too tired for more right now, but I will add that Gem has found a solution to my writers block. She suggested that I journal privatley (not blog) about specific conversations and situations with students. That way I can write deeply about emotions without worrying about hurting them or having them see it publicly. Thanks Gem!

Love love!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Before I allowed my students to work on homework and testing skills, I asked them if we could take a moment of silence for the victims and families of September 11th. A few students rolled their eyes and one girl very loudly sighed and said "why do we have to do this EVERY year?"

At first I was angry. I felt disrespected, I felt hurt for our country and all of our soldiers who give up their freedom for us. Then I realized that these kids were only between the ages of 6-8 when the terroist attacks occured. Of course they don't care, they don't even know the extent of the pain, shock, and fear that ran through every American that day.

The strange thing is, I was their age. I was a freshmen in high school, had just turned 14 years old. I was sitting in my health class when the announcement was made. I was confused, hurt, scared. I didn't know anyone personally that was in the area, but the fact that so many innocent people lost their lives hurt me deeply. Then there was the VERY quick onset of conversation that Detroit was going to be the next victim, because of the Ren Cen and the automobile industry. I don't know who started that, but it got around FAST. We were all terrified. I remmeber all of us just walking around in a zone for the rest of the day...many classes were cancelled to allow us to watch the news reports. I was just so CONFUSED, I didn't understand how people could be so disgustingly heartless.

In the years following, I've made it a personal effort to learn more about our government, soldiers, and country. I take pride in being an American and hope the same for others.

These kids will never know what happened that day, the same way I will never know the wars, shooting of Presidents, etc. It's just the way history is. For them, 9/11 is just another multiple choice question on their history test.

I read a quote today for the first time that really describes how I personallly feel about September 11th.

"If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate,'' wife of Flight 93 pilot Dahl.

I could not agree more, I wish so much that hate did not exist, there simply is no time or reason for it. I know we will never reach a state of complete peace but I wish that some of us would try a little harder.

On a happier note, today is Mr. Chikezie's birthday. I love that guy (duh). He deserves so much happiness and success and I will do everything I can to help him get there. Happy Birthday, Chikezie.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I have exciting news!

Since the end of June, I’ve lost almost twenty lbs! I really owe it to the weekend I spent in Cleveland with Women of Faith. Hearing their testimonies, advice, personal stories, and songs made me realize so much about myself and give me the ability and will to control my own life. Another big help is the fact that I’m not able to spend much money, so that cuts down and buying junk food. I’m also exercising more, although I’m not doing my scheduled walks I am walking much more and using steps several times a day. I’m feeling much better about myself and noticed a significant change in my energy level (other than the days I’m beat from long work days). You can’t really tell (except in my face) but it was wonderful to hear from quite a few people this past weekend who haven’t seen me in a while that I look great…my parents noticed right away and made several comments throughout the weekend. I’m definitely going to keep this up and continue on the healthy journey.

I honestly wouldn’t be able to do this without the constant support I receive from so many people. My parents are obviously my number one support, but also all those who encourage me. Of course I am most thankful to God, for allowing me to see in myself my struggles with food and for setting me free, for giving me the strength to go through all of this. I am also thankful to God for sending Mandisa to me. I know I probably talk about this too much but I honestly couldn’t be where I am today without her. She is not only a role model and an inspiration but also a constant source of support and wisdom. I wish she knew just how much of a blessing she has been to me- I would be completely lost and alone without the advice and guidance she gave me. She truly leads by example- as I was reading her book a year and a half ago, I was amazed by how closely her story related to mine. I finally felt like there was someone in the world who understood me. Never did I imagine that she would turn out to be someone so vital to my life. I am very grateful for her and for God for placing her in my life- at the most perfect time. I will continue to fight this journey with her, we’re in it together!

Random side note, but I have one complaint about the past couple weeks. Everything has been so perfect, except that I have not been able to TRULY write. I’ve been writing blogs and journals about my daily life and experience as a Mercy Volunteer, but I haven’t really written and poured out my heart in way too long. I can’t force it otherwise it won’t be from the heart. It’s slightly frustrating because music and writing are my two outlets, and when I just sit there wanting so desperately to write I can’t. Other than that frustration, life is wonderful- I spent my weekend away from my community and with close family and friends- it was great and so so SO much fun, but I did miss my roomies! We’re all sitting together right now just chatting. Love these kiddos. They are my new family. Each of them inspire me.
Tomorrow is back to the real world-school officially starts so we’ll see how hectic the week is. I’m going to go to the first volleyball game tomorrow night to support some of my girls.

Coming up in the next couple weekends we have Dave’s birthday, new show at Matrix, Cedar Point, and our open house party where we are having sisters, neighbors, co-workers, and friends over. We’re pretty much booked with stuff until the end of October, depending on the person and what they have going on.

Hope everyone has a great, short week! I want everyone who reads this to let me know what’s going on in their life!

Song of the Day- Kate Voegle- Lift Me Up

Friday, September 4, 2009

The opening Mass at Detroit Cristo Rey High School took place today at Holy Redeemer. The Mass was beautiful, we had several students participate and many of our community supporters came to welcome the students and wish them luck. After Mass ended, our students lined up in the parking lot and shook hands with all the guests.

Of all the guests that came to celebrate the new school year with us, there were two who were VERY important to me- my parents. Earlier in the day, I pulled aside one of the sophomores and asked her if she would be willing to give a tour of the school to two very important guests- she agreed and was very excited to do this favor for me. After Mass, my parents shook hands with the students and met some of the staff. Then they headed over to the school. The student (Jasmine) had to call her ride, so I started the tour and she took over when she was finished. She did an excellent job, explaining the work scedule, introducing my parents to staff, and dicussing their classes. One staff member specifically thanked my parents for helping me get to where I am. That really touched me, because I'm always thankful for the hard work my parents have put into shaping me and guiding me, so to have others recognize that and also be appreciative was very touching. It was very exciting for my parents to meet my kiddies and see where I will be working every day, especially because they have been so supportive of the Mercy Volunteer Corps process. I am very lucky to have such amazing parents.

I have three study hall's during the day so I will get a chance to know three different groups of students very well. I also have had an AMAZING response of students who want to be peer mediators. So much, in fact, that I will have to switch second semester to give other kids a chance. I'm very pleased with this and excited that the students are willing to help their peers.

On a random sidenote, yesterday marked one year since one of the most amazing days- the Idol show in Grand Rapids. So many wonderful things happened that day. We met Brenna, who we are still good friends with, Chikezie was given his scrapbook, we ended up being given four after party passes, and all the idols were so sweet to us. I miss those kiddies and that tour. Such good times. It's crazy thinking how much has happened since then.

Love everyone. So much!