19 Reasons Why: Why I Run, Why I Run for, and Why I Run for Taller de Jose

Saturday, I ran my 19-miler in training for the Chicago marathon. I took the bus up to the start of the Chicago Lakefront Trail, an 18-mile trail that runs 5800 N Sheridan to 7100 S. South Shore (Edgewater to South Shore!!). I added on a mile at the start of the run so it would total 19 miles, which was what my training plan calls for this week. Running Buddy parked at the end of the path and ran 5 miles north to meet me for the last 5 miles of my run, which was a lifesaver to have a buddy for those final miles, but also to have a CAR at the end so I didn’t stink up the bus for an hour bus ride home (THANK YOU, RUNNING BUDDY!). To occupy myself on the run before I had Running Buddy the last 5 miles, I decided to work on this list of why I run, why I run for, and why I run for Taller de José. 

19 mile sunrise
The view on the bus ride north to the start of my 19-miler

Why I run:

  1. I run because it’s a healthy habit to have. Yes, it could potentially be bad for my knees, but so is not exercising. I’ll risk the knee problems for now.  Running is something I can do without a gym membership, it is an “easy” way to exercise anywhere, and it’s a generally accessible way to create an active lifestyle.
  2. I run because running taught/is teaching me discipline. It’s hard to fashion a life that includes all the areas you want it to–relationships, fun, exercise, learning, working, spirituality, etc. The practice of running, and especially of training for races, continues to teach me how to work toward a goal and how to be intentional about how I spend my time, and also to have fun while doing it!
  3. I run because running is a metaphor for life! I learn so much from running, and I find these learnings to be applicable lessons not just to the details of running, but to the larger themes of life, often most applicable to my spiritual life, that is, my relationships with God and neighbor.
  4. I run because running is actually communal. A lot of the time, I run with Running Buddy, so it is a time for us to catch up and connect. But being a runner also connects me to the larger community of people with this same weird habit/passion. It’s a conversation topic and a bridge when meeting new people. It’s one way of being part of something bigger than myself.
  5. I run because running is meditative or at least, good thinking time. Occasionally, when I run by myself, it can almost be meditative, calming, and good for the soul. The other times when I run by myself, it is at least good time to sort through my thoughts. I’m on the introvert side of things, so having time to sort through my thoughts in my head before speaking them aloud is particularly helpful.
  6. I run because I get to. Running is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to run for health reasons or otherwise.
  7. I run because it’s fun! Okay, I admit, not always. But between the occasional runner’s high, the time with friends, the joy of a PR, the satisfaction of improvement, the feeling of accomplishment after a long run, the thrill of running in all sorts of weather, the gift of running on beautiful days in this beautiful city, running is not just pain/drudgery/discipline, but actually joy and gift!

Why I run for:

  1. Full stop, this reason is “this category does not have to exist” because the first seven reasons for running would be enough. “Helpers” like myself need to remember that self-care is not selfish and that something that is good exercise and fun and a challenge is enough of a reason to do something. Occasionally spending time and energy on good things for myself helps me be more available to love others well. Remember, we are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. That being said…
  2. I run for because I am grateful. Running for something else is a way of stewarding this gift I have been given of a two legs that can run (See #6 above). To whom much is given, much is expected (See Luke 12:48)
  3. I run for because it’s a good way to raise funds/awareness on a macro level. Marathons are huge logistical endeavors that require a lot of resources. On a macro level, running for causes takes an event requiring a lot of resources (money, water, volunteers), and makes it dual purpose: a fun/challenging race AND an awareness/fundraiser for many causes. Win-win!
  4. I run for because it’s a good way to raise funds/awareness on a micro level.  I figure I may as well use that huge amount of input on an individual level (money, time, sweat) to further a cause bigger than myself. It’s not that much additional blood/sweat/tears to run for something else too.
  5. I run for because it connects me to non-runners and helps me share this love with people in another avenue that they can appreciate, even if they don’t love running. People (like you, my readers and supporters!) can relate to helping people even if they can’t relate to the crazy world of long-distance running;)
18 mile rainy
A few weeks ago post 18-miler, repping my Taller de Jose shirt and looking like a drowned rat (running in the rain sounds hardcore but it’s pretty darn fun)

Why I run for Taller de José:

  1. I run for Taller de José because I love their model of ministry. They embody the ministry of accompaniment, which is to walk with people in their time of need. Their compañeras “help” connect people to social services through the relational model of being with people in their time of need, not extending a lifeline from on high, not walking ahead as someone “in charge,” but walking with as fellow companions on the shared journey of life.
  2. I run for Taller de José because they are unique. They connect people to services and services to people, trying not to replicate other social services that already exist, but filling the gap between those who need help with the help that is available.
  3. I run for Taller de José  because I personally know many of the people who work or have worked at Taller. They get it. See Megan’s reflection. Or Hillary’s.  They embody mutuality, hospitality, and accompaniment. They don’t just talk the talk!
  4. I run for Taller de José  because I personally know the (newly minted) Executive Director (eek!!!). She is Running Buddy. I hear the stories. I saw her go to school for her Masters in Non-profit Management while working full time so she could put that learning at the service of Taller de José. Basically, I have a front row seat to the behind-the-scenes of Taller, and I still trust Taller. I don’t think everyone could claim that after seeing the behind-the-scenes of a lot of places.
  5. I run for Taller de José  because of the clients they accompany. Two years ago, when Running  Buddy was also running for Taller, she shared many of their stories here.
  6. I run for Taller de José because they are located in Little Village, where I lived during my Amate House year. I love the community and they will always have a place in my heart. The neighborhood is listed 3rd highest on the hardship index for the city, so they face many struggles of course, but it is also a vibrant community full of generous, hard-working people.  (And while Taller serves many people from the neighborhood, they also will accompany anyone from anywhere in the area, at no cost to the client. In-cre-ible!!)
  7. I run for  Taller de José because countless dear people have accompanied me during hard times in my life. I love that Taller de José ensures other people don’t have to go through hard times alone.

7 reason why I run 

+ 5 reason why I run for 

+ 7 reasons why I run for Taller de José

 = 19 reasons why

19 18 mile start
For Saturday’s 19-miler, I ran one mile to the start of the 18-mile trail. So this sign may read “0” but please read, “1” 😉
19 mile endish
18 miles later and… I haven’t moved?
19 mile end
Phew! The other side of the sign shows I did actually run 18 miles since the “0”/”1″ sign 😉

Do you like the sound of Taller de José too? Do you have people who have accompanied you in hard times? Or maybe you just want to wish this crazy runner a happy birthday? 😉 You can support Taller de José through my running efforts here! Thank you SO MUCH, dear friends!

 

“I’m so thankful for my injury”

Yes, it is another ‘Running is a metaphor for life’ post. 🙂 

“I’m so  thankful for my injury.”

That’s not exactly something you hear everyday, but Running Buddy definitely said it around mile 22 of our marathon together. But I didn’t flinch, because I knew exactly what she meant.

She’s been battling some IT-band issues for a good chunk of training but after the 20-miler, it was so bad, she wasn’t sure she’d even be able to run the marathon. We were pretty worried. And I’d been there too. Two years ago, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to run our first marathon because of a dropped metatarsal. I actually have a draft saved on this blog of a post I wrote updating and processing the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to run the marathon. (I got the okay to run it but turns out I probably shouldn’t have—I was still injured and got more injured in the process). I was thankful to have finished that one, and after each setback since then, coming back to running is all that much sweeter.

In my 2.5 years of running so far, I was sidelined with that injury, then with undiagnosed anemia, and then with mono, in addition to some busy seasons of school when running got sidelined, each time, coming back to running felt more and more like a gift. So when Running Buddy said, “I’m so thankful for my injury” in the midst of the best run we’d ever had (I think collectively for us both and individually for sure for me), on the most beautiful Fall day, with our family and friends and one million other fans cheering us on, I knew exactly what she meant.

The setbacks make the successes all that much sweeter.

I may have wept tears of pain and frustration during my first marathon but I smiled for 26.2 miles in my second.

I may been diagnosed with mono the day after winning the lottery to sign up for the Chicago marathon, but I rocked training as soon as I was fully recovered six weeks later.

I may have been frustrated by being in shape yet out-of-breath, but with iron supplements in hand, I came back stronger than ever.

I may have had seasons where my 5 hours of sleep was more important than running, but guarding those 8 hours of nightly sleep this time around felt right.

I may have struggled in the 20-miler with cramps, dehydration and nausea, but 26.2 went uncharacteristically smooth.

I may have crossed the finish line alone two years ago, but I crossed it with Running Buddy this time around.

I may have not written my goal for this marathon too boldly because of fear of not succeeding—I wrote, “Finish strong, preferably under 5:00”—but I crushed my goal—finishing strong at 4:45.

I may have not felt like a strong, real runner for 2+ years because of all the various setbacks, and because my dear Running Buddy often was able to run with a tad more oomph than me, but on marathon day this year, I knew I was a real runner.

I may not have blogged about running after my first marathon because I had so many unresolved feelings I didn’t know how to express, but today, I can blog about the journey, the setbacks and the successes.

In running and in life, we of course learn the most from our setbacks and failures. But in running and in life, those fleeting moments of success are great motivation to keep going because the journey includes ups AND downs, not just downs. And they feel pretty damn great. (Or maybe those are some lingering endorphins). 😉

Peace,
Melissa

FF DID

And just to clarify, because sometimes I can’t resist qualifications, none of this is meant to toot my own horn. It’s all to say that basically I’m grateful for a good running day, made all that more poignant by Running Buddy’s sort-of injury. It could very easily have gone the other way, as it often has. A good or bad running day is rather arbitrary at times. I’m just saying “thank you” for the gift of a good race, just as I try to say thank you for the not-so-good runs that teach me a lot too. 

Life’s Better When We’re Connected

Another “running is a metaphor for life” post 🙂 

Life’s better when we’re connected.

Darn Corporate America tugging at my heart in their advertising. They got me. “Life’s better when we’re connected” was the theme of this year’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon. And it couldn’t me more true.

This is going to sound ridiculous but I have to say it because it’s true: the marathon passed quickly for me this year because we spent almost every few miles looking for fans. At 20 points along the way, we saw someone or a group of people that Running Buddy or I knew! We were at Mile 17 when I was like, “How are we already here? I’m not getting ahead of myself or anything, but…. This is going by so fast!” Two years ago, I was all like, “Baahhh… if we don’t see our fans like we’re supposed to at mile 16, I don’t think I’m going to make it.” (Needless to say, Running Buddy was getting worried about me at that point two years ago).

But what I notice about both of my experiences is how important our spectators were to me. Seriously, they kept me going! With our names plastered on our shirts, even strangers were cheering for us, the whole way!! And then we saw our families at SEVEN spots along the way. They win at “Competitive Spectating” for sure. And despite a bunch of friends not being able to make it who were originally planning to (I was getting worried the week of), a bunch of other friends came out of the woodwork and told me where they were going to be along the route. Amazing!

I am bursting with gratitude for all those who cheered us on on marathon day, for all those who supported me with encouraging words before and after the race, and for all who donated to our Taller de Jose running team.  I’m one lucky marathon runner.

Life sure is better when we’re connected… as runners, as spectators, as friends and family, as strangers, as a human family. Who would have thought that would be one of the life/running lessons of 26.2 miles?? But my tired legs can testify, they didn’t run it alone. They ran supported by you. Just as I live my life thanks to the beautiful known and unknown people with whom I am connected.

Thank you.

Some of our fans (Sans PaPa Mayer taking the picture)
Some of our fans (Sans PaPa Mayer taking the picture)

 

 

20 Reasons for 20 Miles

Pre- 20 mile run!
Pre- 20 mile run!

In honor of running 20 miles today, I decided to name 20 reasons for why I run! Actually, my Running Buddy is the one who actually wrote them down, so you’ll have to go on over to her blog to hear why we run FOR TEAM TALLER DE JOSE!  Yes, I am “borrowing” her reasons 😉

If you’d like to support our training and Taller de Jose, you can click on over to my fundraising page! I can hardly tell you how much it means to me and to Taller if you’d consider supporting us in this way!

With gratitude and sore legs and three weeks until the marathon,

Melissa

Post 20-mile run!
Post 20-mile run! (This happiness belies the post 20-mile scene where I’m bent over heaving). 

Who is Taller de Jose?

As I shared in my last post, I’m running the Half Marathon in Champaign-Urbana on April 26th for Team Taller de José. Instead of a monetary goal,  I have the goal of finding 13 people to contribute to my fundraising efforts for Team Taller.  So far, I have 4 of my 13! THANK YOU to my first four contributors- Jessie, John, Beth aka MaMa Ash, and Nicole!!!! Would you consider being number 5 or 6? 

But who and what is Taller de José, aside from where Running Buddy works?

Well, I went to their 5th annual Builder’s Day celebration on Sunday, so I’ve been especially reminded of all the needed and beautiful work that they do.

Joaquin receiving the Companion Award at the 5th Annual Builder's Day Celebration
Joaquin receiving the Companion Award at the 5th Annual Builder’s Day Celebration

Who is Taller?

Taller was founded by Sr. Kathy Brazda, a Sister of St. Joseph who is still the Executive Director, along with Fr. Bob Casey, the Board President, and another sister, Sr. Carol Crepeau.  Since the founding, the full-time staff has been very small, including Sr. Kathy, one Amate volunteer a year, and the Amate House volunteers that then got hired as staff in addition to a office manager. The way they are able to do so much work is that they have several committed volunteers that in “retirement” serve as compañeras for several days a week, in addition to social work and seminary interns that also are compañeras.

What does Taller do?

The founders wished to establish a ministry which would meet the most pressing needs of the residents of the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago,  (that’s where Fr. Bob was serving at the time). So they actually asked the community what those needs were. They embodied the Buechner definition of vocation:

Vocation is where your deep gladness meets the world deep need.

They melded the deep gladness of the sisters, that is, their congregation’s charism of witnessing to the unifying love of God, and the community’s deep need of connecting to the available services. Their mission was formed: to connect services to people and people to services in a ministry of  accompaniment.

Taller’s compañeras accompany clients to court, to the doctor’s office, to government agencies. They help with paperwork and with translation, both oral and written.

Where does Taller serve?

Taller is in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. It is a predominantly Mexican(-American) neighborhood with a large Spanish-speaking population.  Thus, a large part of Taller’s client base is grateful for not only the accompaniment of the compañeras, but also the interpretation they can provide when a fluent grasp of the language is often a barrier to appropriate access not only to resources, but to justice in court or medical advice from a doctor.

But Taller’s impact extends beyond Little Village as well. Clients come from over 41 different zip codes in Chicago and over 36 suburbs, and Taller de José partners with over 140 partner agencies to provide resources for its clients.

When…?

Ok, this question is kind of unnecessary. But, in fitting with the theme…. NOW? of course! They opened their doors in 2008 after 2-3 years of dreaming and planning. This year has included a series of events to celebrate their 5 years of service to the city of Chicago.

Why does Taller do what they do?

Because they heard of a need and have sought to fill it. Because we all need someone to accompany us through our challenges, through our fear, through our barriers to health and success. Because language should not be a reason to be denied services and justice. Because the love of God compels them. Because they work so that all may be one.

Fun Fact

Taller de José (Pronounced, “Thai- yair,” remember, no gringo “Tall-er”) is Spanish for Joseph’s Workshop. Their annual dinner and fundraiser is called Builder’s Day. It took me three years to figure out it’s called Builder’s Day in honor of the Joseph theme (St. Joseph, Jesus’ earthly adopted dad so to speak, was a carpenter). I’m a little slow on the uptake!

Thank you

Thanks for reading about this great organization that I’m running for! I’m looking for 13 people to financially support them through my running of this Half Marathon, one donation in honor of each mile.  I’ve had four people join me on this journey already. Will you be the next one?

Why a marathon?

Trust me. I keep asking myself that too.  Yet I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon on October 7th.

Why put myself through that?!?!

Good question. I’ve had qualms about marathons for a long time. Besides that there is no logical reason to run 26 miles at one time and I always thought people were weird and/or crazy for doing it (wait, actually I still do), I had some serious reservations about whether it was actually a good idea to run one-spiritually, physically, logistically, you name it. And as I say that, I mean no judgment for those who do run them. I’m just being honest as an outsider-looking-in… who now seeks to be an insider.  [I actually started this post a long time ago. On Feb 7th actually, the day after I signed up for the marathon. I’m glad I had this paragraph still here, because as someone who is more of an ‘insider’ now, it’s cool to see where I was].

Anyway, back to my qualms.

The main one: TIME. I wondered whether I could justify the time commitment. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time-intentional time, effort, and energy, among other things. How could i justify that time when it could also be spent in service? In prayer? Reading ? With friends? I felt flat out guilty for how much time it would consume. (I had yet to really consider the money it would eventually consume…. and that I would feel guilty about).

BUT! That’s not the end. Guilt didn’t win. Praise the Lord!

I decided that while yes, training for a marathon does take intentional time, that could be a good thing! I desire to be intentional with my time in all areas of my life, but intentionality takes  practice and discipline. And discipline is not one of my strong suits. I decided that learning to be more disciplined with exercise and sports–which is always the first thing to go when I get busy–could be a good transferable skill to have, so that I could actually have more time to spend on things that matter, because I would be wasting less time. I am specifically seeking for my discipline with running to inform and encourage my spiritual life.

So far, I’m amazed at how much I’m learning about discipline. About setting a goal and working towards it. About intentional time for the important things in life. About time management.  About living all of life with purpose. And I’m constantly attempting to apply those lessons I’m learning to other areas of my life. I also love to find ways in which running is analogous to life. It’s a new, favorite past time you could say;)

So, I’m sure that you’ll hear more about my running in the weeks and months to come. Probably more than you want to :/  But I do want to mention that most importantly, I’m running for a cause bigger than myself. I’m running for Catholic Charities of Chicago, an organization that serves over 1 million people per year. More on this to come soon, but for now, check out my fundraising page to see what they’re all about!

http://www.active.com/donate/ccofchicago12/melissamarathon

And oh yeah! About the actual running part, I’m loving it 🙂

Where I work

Sorry for the hiatus!! You may remember my last post was about where I live.  So this one, is about where I work. I guess a hiatus was fitting though, in that I have one month of work under my belt to reflect on now!

First, the WHERE in “where I work.”

I work here:

You can see me lookin super tiny at the bottom to the center-right. The proportions look a bit off but this is the outside of the Quigley Center, the main office of the Archdiocese of Chicago

It’s a gorgeous old building, that used to be a seminary/high school but is now the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It has the most gorgeous chapel inside where I can attend Daily Mass during my lunch break. Serious, check out this stained glass!

This pic does little justice to the stained glass window in the back of the chapel (the reverse side of the circular patterned windows in the above pic)

Breathtaking.

And this isn’t located just anywhere. It’s located one block from Michigan Avenue, the central point in Chicago for all the upscale shopping you could ever want. I consider it the millionaire’s outlet mall. Also, right across from the Quigley Center… An indoor car dealership that sells, get this, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini, and some other 6-figure brand of car. My jaw dropped the first time I realized that. Night and day from where I live. (More on this to come).

Which leads to the WORK part of Where I work.

I guess it’s not surprising that I wear business attire every day considering I work in downtown Chicago in this upscale district. That’s right, this Melissa, in heels (usually) and business attire (everyday). Kinda surprising, huh?!

I  bet you can see that my “service site” or job, is not what you’d consider your normal, “I’m- doing-a-volunteer-year”  placement. It’s much more administrative/analytical than direct-service. But I knew that going in. AND it’s still volunteer, still needed service, and still a mutually beneficial placement. All good things.

I work as a “Parish Tranformation Analyst” (yes, my housemates love to make me share my hoity-toity (sp?) sounding job title when we introduce ourselves to ppl) for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Here’s a quick peek at what my site is/what my position is:

Description of Site: The Archdiocese of Chicago serves Chicagoland’s 2.3 million Catholics through 370+ parishes and 200+ schools.  The Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese serves these parishes and schools through a range of services and support (e.g., liturgical support; ministerial support; HR, real estate, & finance support).  The Parish Transformation group at the Pastoral Center is focused on working with parishes to help them renew their mission / vision and to achieve financial stability.

Description of Position: The experience of this position would provide the volunteer with a rich understanding of parish life and how to help parishes improve in the living out of their mission.  The volunteer would gain valuable experience in influencing skills—i.e., encouraging people of all backgrounds to make what may sometimes be difficult decisions.

This experience would also provide strong development opportunities for the volunteer in financial analysis, process management and implementation.  It would be a great opportunity for someone considering a future career in business or not-for-profit management.

It sounded like a great opportunity to combine my religion and econ majors (it has been!) and a great way to support parish life (also true!).  I believe that having a strong church community is so crucial to a healthy individual faith life, that I felt called to help in this way.  There were some other attractions to the job that will eventually be apparent as well 😉

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. I’ve spent most of this first month, spending a lot of time either 1. unsure of what to do next or 2. confused about how to do my task when I had one. I’ve learned soooo much about Excel that I never knew. The Vlookup function and Pivot Tables are my new specialties 😉

It’s also been incredibly humbling, being a new ’employee,’ with soo much to learn-about the diocese, about my department, about Excel, about what my job actually entails, about how to love well the people around me when my job is very computer- and business-oriented.

I’ve also been continually reminded, I don’t have the bigger picture. God has me here (in this particular job) for a reason, probably many, even when it’s not as apparent as I’d like. Even when the most interaction I’ve had all day with real live people is during a brief reprieve when I hear people pouring coffee and I go to join. I’m learning to be patient while finding myself working in a setting I never quite imagined for myself.  I’m trusting in His call to be in this place, at this time.  

Thanks for reading!

All for the glory of God,

Melissa

Where I Live

Well, we know I live in Chicago, but within that, I live in a neighborhood called Little Village or La Villita. And don’t think of neighborhood like a subdivision. Think neighborhood as in 3 mile by 2 mile area (totally approximate).  Chicago is on a grid and all parts of the city divided into neighborhoods. It’s much easier to navigate that way. I LOVE learning my way around. I love beginning to learn to navigate a new city. Just ask my housemates, I’m sure they’ll tell you that I spent an inordinate amount of time asking and re-asking for the explanation of how the streets work in Chicago.

Little Village is a mostly Mexican-American neighborhood. During my first few days here, I had a moment, about 10-seconds long, where I forgot I wasn’t in Mexico. I hear Spanish outside from my window at night. There is a taco stand across the street from us that sets up every day in an abandoned lot. Most of the store signs are in Spanish. As a tall white girl (guera or gringa, whichever you prefer), I stand out like a sore thumb. Because it is a largely Latino  immigrant neighborhood, it is definitely on the impoverished side. One of my housemates works for an organization that provided her with all the statistics about our area. I can’t remember the numbers but the Little Village-Pilsen area has much higher unemployment, poverty, crime, etc. than the average for Illinois, probably unsurprisingly.

But I LOVE IT! For one, I had always considered spending more time in Latin America post graduation, but this seems like another way of fulfilling that desire 😉 Also, it’s immersion into a new way of life, to living in solidarity with others. When you live in an area different from the one you grew up in (aka not the burbs, complete with gang activity- don’t worry, we take lots of precautions!), your perspective on life and circumstance changes immensely.  It’s walking in the shoes of another, not just for the sake of it, but for the sake of the gospel.

Shane Claiborne, in his book, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers,  reminds us that we are not taught to pray that we are to be kept from pain; suffering is the inevitable plight of Christians who are disturbed by the comfort of their neighbors. He comments,

Most of us live in such fear of death that it’s no small wonder few people believe in resurrection anymore. Sometimes people ask us if we are scared , living in the inner city. We usually reply with something like, “We’re more afraid of shopping malls.” (p53)

It may not be what we’re used to, but it’s many people’s reality, and now it’s ours too. We’re getting to know more of the human family this way and we’ll be changed from the inside out. And hopefully, it will makes us more powerful instruments of change too.

[Side note: My madre and others, don’t stress too much. This probably makes it sound more threatening than it is. It’s just different. And we don’t do anything stupid to put ourselves in harm’s way. Most people in the neighborhood are nice and friendly. It’s not like a war zone or anything. It’s city-ish. Just want to make that clear 😉 ]

But I don’t work in this neighborhood. Where I live and where I work are night and day from each other. But that’s for next post 😉

For now, some pics!

Bienvenidos a Little Village
Our current house, a former convent. We love it but it's falling apart on the inside a bit so we're moving a few blocks down in Oct/Nov
The main street in Little Village... lots of little shops and bodegas and moving cart stands
More Little Village! Including the sign for the Walgreens that sells Cacahuates Japones (Japanese Peanuts lol)... one of my fave snack foods in Mexico!

Compliments to my housemates for taking the pics! I hardly took any so far.

Reflection

 

I was thinking about the concept of reflection a lot especially at the beginning of the summer. Kind of odd, huh? Reflecting about reflecting?! But it’s true. I was. I was thinking about where an un-reflected life leads.  And how important reflecting is to becoming who we are. Who we should be. A better version of ourselves. Who God made us to be.

Last semester I didn’t have much time for reflection. Or better yet, I didn’t make time. But so much happened-as always! I was very thankful to have a summer, especially a May that allowed me to think. About what I experienced. About what kind of person I was becoming. What I liked and what I didn’t. And that made me realize…

An unreflected life does not lead to good things. To who I want to be.

Life happens. Things get thrown at us. People change. We move (on).

Without reflecting, we just react. We don’t ACT purposefully. We also miss out on life. On the little things. Or the big things. We miss out on the gifts that God lavishes us with at every moment. We miss God’s presence in our lives. We don’t see the good.

We become a product of our circumstances instead of letting ourselves be molded by our Creator, the master Molder.

Reflecting isn’t about living in the past. It’s about living in the moment and finding God there. It’s about seeing His hand at work– in the past and present. And making ourselves open to His hand in the future.

May this blog help me remember to reflect. Apparently someone else thought reflecting was important too…

An unreflected life is not worth living.

Says Socrates.

i leave for chicago in two weeks. Better get preparing for and reflecting on that!!