Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Brief Update

This is just a short post to say I hope to be writing more soon. As many of you know, we are going to be traveling in Europe this summer as we study abroad in Berlin, Germany for a Global Seminar through our college, UC San Diego. As infrequently as I've posted in the recent past (or not-so-recent, be as it may) I hope to use this blog as a journal of sorts to keep myself organized, and others updated in a more thorough way than Facebook, as we gather information for plans, handle our last few quarters at UCSD, study for the LSAT, and so much more.

I hope you'll stop by and encourage us every now and then! As excited as we are, the next few months entail a lot of preparation and work before the payoff in Europe. There is the matter of my needing to study and take the LSAT ... this is perhaps the biggest thing standing between me (not so much Paul as he's not taking the LSAT!) and Europe at this point. We also both have to successfully pass all of our last few classes here. We have commencement in June. We have to figure out our travel itinerary, save a ton of money, buy tickets, figure out safe hostels, narrow down our list of places we would love to go (the image in the header and in this post is a grand list of nearly everywhere we would like to see and visit... but we will clearly need to narrow it down) ... the list is somewhat exhausting when I write it all down at once.

I'm also hoping to keep myself updated in this blog as a way to organize my thoughts and remind myself of the all-encompassing goal of a successful future. For months now, perhaps a year, I've been worried sick for what will come after graduation. I've worried we won't find jobs, and how we will survive, and where will we live? But for some reason, I feel the pieces are all beginning to fall in to place ...

But all of that is reserved for another post. For now, I just invite you to check back often for updates and details in our plans and goals as we move forward to what will be our most exciting summer yet!


Monday, December 3, 2012

College is For Changing Your Mind

I want to preface this post by saying ... I know I've changed my mind quite a few times in my (so far) 4.5 years of college. This is not something I have been oblivious to :)

My first four months of college, I was a declared psychology major. I was sure I was going to be a counselor, with an office in my home just like a counselor I had gone to in junior high. I would take clients but still be a stay at home mom. It would be perfect. But psychology really wasn't for me. Only one psychology class proved to me that psychology wasn't just about the quirks of human beings and how to help them.

... But a class I was also taking my first semester of college got me interested in changing my major, though I never officially majored in... English. My first college English professor was so fantastic; I still consider her a wonderful mentor. She inspired me and immediately recognized that I had deep potential as a writer. However, a class I took my second semester of college proved to me that just because you can excel at writing does not mean you should be an English major. Writing is, surprisingly enough, actually used in more majors than just English ... and I hated creative writing more than I can possibly tell you (let's just say a good or bad professor makes all the difference ... this became abundantly clear to me that second semester in my creative writing course. That said, I still don't think creative writing is my forte.)

I left BYU-Idaho after that first year of college and took about a year off, besides two classes I took in the interim year in which I worked rather than went to school full-time. One of those classes was with a teacher I will forever remember and look up to ... Professor Miller and my American Politics class. This class I can quite honestly say changed my outlook on learning and my life. Though I never declared Political Science as a major, I have loved it and always enjoyed it since. This class, if nothing else, convinced me to go back to school full-time. This time, that fall, entering MJC, I went into my college experience a little more open minded, and a little less goal-oriented (besides the goal of knowing I needed to transfer somewhere.)

Then I took a class with Professor Vallance, with whom I am still in contact. Her history class was so enjoyable!! I have never taken another history class so fun and educating, nor as memorable. She said the first day of class something like, "History doesn't have to be boring! These people had crazy drama... love affairs, family drama, humor, tragedy ... these were real people with real stories and lives!" She made that so clear the entire semester... I have still yet to have taken a history class so enjoyable as hers... nor has there been another class like hers where I have retained so much information.

And so, though I promised I would be more open-minded this time around, I decided that I would become a history major. Since you can't really declare 'majors' at a junior college, I didn't officially declare there, but I knew that was where I was headed. I knew that I wanted to be the next "Professor Vallance" that inspired inquiring minds and lit a fire of the love of learning in her students.

... And I have stayed a history major since... But as many of you know, it has been a tumultuous 2.5 years at UC San Diego. After only one quarter (which was quite disappointing in the history department, except for one professor who has since moved back to his home country of Germany), I decided I would stay a history major but pursue a biology minor to hopefully become a nurse or a doctor. My reasons behind wanting to become a doctor were personal, but ... the short version is that I felt a deep sense of moral obligation to this path. I dreaded, though tried to be optimistic and view the future as a challenge, the idea of a ton of math classes, sciences I'd never tried before, and so much extra effort.

I pursued that course, pre-med officially, for the last year and a half. I called myself what inspired the name of this blog ... 'The Renaissance Girl'. I actually took the idea for this name from Professor Vallance's history class; the idea of a Renaissance Man is someone who excels at many areas of art, sciences, and sports. I jokingly would tell people I was a 'Renaissance Girl' when they would give me a puzzled look when I said I was a 'history major pursuing pre-med.'

This past year, not only did I help found an ancient history club at UCSD with one of the only professors who has inspired me here (Professor Miano, who unfortunately has not been given more teaching posts at UCSD or I would be taking his classes every quarter), but, as I am sure almost none of you have been able to ignore, even if you didn't know me at the time, I helped run the Ron Paul campaign on my campus, culminating in my meeting him and introducing him with a speech in front of 6000 people. Politics aside, people were impressed with my speaking skills and many encouraged me to get into public policy or politics... and so law school, which had somehow always been in the back of my mind since being in love with 'lawyer shows' since I was 10, came to the forefront.

When I was honest with myself, my science classes weren't going that well. I had done okay, certainly not badly. But A-'s and mostly B's aren't what your average, and definitely not good, medical schools are looking for. And the more I took science classes, the more I realized that I was a 'learn and dump' kind of learner in those classes, which, for the MCAT, will absolutely not work. Alongside that, I realized I was just really not that excited about going to medical school. Another huge influence in my life is my sister, Rebecca, and seeing her at home with her 4 kids made me realize that there is absolutely no way I will have that in at least the next 11-15 years if I go to medical school ... 1 year off after graduation, 4 years of medical school, 7 years of internship and residency, and a life full of being called into deliver babies at 3am on a Sunday morning do not a good opportunity for a family make.

(Let me interject that I know Law isn't exactly the most conducive to a family life either... but in most cases, a lawyer does not work 20 hour shifts from 6am on Saturday until 2 am Sunday morning.)

This quarter, Fall 2012, I decided I would try both things and decide what my future would look like. I continued on my pre-med path, starting organic chemistry and taking more biology, while also taking a political science class... and yet, perhaps though only in the back of my mind, or perhaps just because it was never for me all along, things didn't go well in the sciences. I decided I absolutely hate biology, and organic chemistry, though a fun challenge, was more difficult than I had imagined. I had excelled at general chemistry ... the mathematical chemistry (surprisingly, I am decently good at math and thank, in part, Professor Meyer, at MJC, for my confidence and ability to look at math like a challenge), but organic chemistry didn't sit well with me. Though I got a B on my first midterm, I ended up having to drop the class anyway due to a bad bout of bronchitis.

But it didn't really matter ... my mind was made up by then, however subconsciously. I had attended a Law School Fair on campus one day, and I immediately fell in love with the idea of going to Duke Law, though I also talked to a few other law schools, including UCLA and New England Law. I got home that day with all my different pamphlets and Law Magazines and was... so excited. I called several family members and told them all about everything I had learned from speaking to the schools, and I took this picture, and wrote ...

"Getting excited even though my application process is another year away! Gathering the info is fun! :D I think I'm making the right decision to go law instead of medicine. #lawschool"
My decision was made.

I'm realizing now... that it's okay that I've changed my mind a few times. I've explored, I've learned, I've thought about what I want, and what's right for me, and what's not. What I can honestly say now is that I am so very glad that I pursued the pre-med idea for a while... but, though a worthy, lofty goal, it is not the right path for me. I felt a sense of moral obligation... but never excitement. Many times, I got down on myself for not being the best, and for sometimes, not even being average. But law school... law school excites and enflames my soul with motivation and joy for school and learning again. A goal of law school allows me to continue excelling in my undergraduate studies at what I am good at and enjoy... while also pursuing what I know I will enjoy as a career. I will have to take a year off, but I am planning on taking the LSAT in June and applying next fall... and already I am wishing I was enrolling at Duke (yes, that is my current obsession just now!) next fall instead of two years from now.

That day will come, however. And this time, I feel like I've finally settled into knowing what I really, really want and can see myself doing... and excelling at. And in my mind and opinion, that is a cause for excitement... and joy. I'm excited about the idea of moving to the east coast, getting out of California, and exploring somewhere new; I'm excited about the idea of learning about law and justice, and what makes social order and much of the world tick; I'm excited about making a difference, about being able to be both passionate and effective in my pursuits... and really, I just can't wait for that next chapter of my life to begin.

Taken today ... "I want to go here so bad. I want to explore other options [for schools] too but I'm kind of focused on this now..."


p.s. If you're interested in continuing to read my long life story regarding my college experience ... here is a previous post I wrote several years ago before really knowing what life would be like at UCSD. You can find that here. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


It was a long time coming, but as I was walking to class this morning, with the sun shining down, the breeze in my hair, and the Beatles singing in my ear, I realized something rather important.

I love living in San Diego.

I immediately sent Paul a text saying that I wish I would have appreciated living here sooner. He quickly replied that he had just recently thought the same thing.

We have another year ahead of us in school, and possibly more time here in San Diego if we can find a way to live here after we graduate (which we hope to do.) And with the sun shining down on me this morning, I felt anything was possible. I felt optimistic.

This next year is going to be a good one. I can feel it.


Thursday, August 11, 2011


I don't mean to be morbid, but if you ever forget how fragile and short life really is, read the obituaries in your local online news. Most likely, 85% of the people will have been in their 80's or 90's, dying simply from old age. But every now and then, you run across that 60 year old, that 50 year old, that 40 year old -- getting too close for comfort?

I read a few of those obituaries tonight. I read about a man who had served in WWII even though, as a man of Japanese heritage though fully American, he'd been persecuted in Japanese internment camps. He went on to win a purple heart and a bronze star, volunteered throughout his life, and gave of his own food and work to less fortunate people.

I also read about a woman who was only 60. After getting pregnant in high school but keeping the baby, she went on to become an attorney to help abused women and children.

I stumbled upon these obituaries because I had been reading about the death of a three year old who had been playing at preschool one morning when he happened to swallow a push pin.

All these things sobered me. Life is so short. At any moment, my heart could give out, I could be diagnosed with cancer, I could get into a car accident. I'm not saying I should live my life in fear, but these things are a reality. What am I doing with my time now? As I think back on this summer, I can only remember a few of the stupid tv episodes I watched, scrapbooking, and the handful of times I went to the gym. Not enough of it was spent laughing over a game with Paul, or at my sister's house making lunch with her and playing with her kids. Not enough of it was spent enjoying the day at the beach, or volunteering at the hospital like I've been planning to do. Not enough of it was spent praying or even thinking about Christ and what He's done for me.

What about you? If you were to die tomorrow, what would your obituary say? Would it say that you were a wonderful friend, someone who'd given your all for everyone, who'd worked hard to overcome your past and be all that you could be? Or would it be a short paragraph about how no one really knew you, and no one really knew what you were doing?


Carpe Diem.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Different Kind of Family History

Some of my friends and family are really into family history and lineage. My cousin's wife in Minnesota has been working hard with ancestry lately, and has gotten back a couple hundred years. Another friend of mine knows someone who has their family history traced back to the 800's (if you can believe it.)

I have to be honest that family lineage doesn't interest me much. While of course I'd love to know whether or not I was related to Marie Antoinette, I'm just not interested in doing the time and research required to find out these stories. I am however, interested in preserving a piece of my and Paul's life for my children, grandchildren, and so on.

I posted a few months ago on Facebook about my Recipe Scrapbook I've been working on. My mother-in-law gave me a scrapbooking kit she'd found on Amazon, and I've LOVED working on it. The biggest challenge has been finding stickers and decals that go along with recipe/kitchen scrapbooking, since it isn't, surprisingly, a very popular topic. After months of searching (even online and at a scrapbooking store in MN), I finally found some cute recipe stickers at Michaels! Yay! Back on track!

I've already done 28 recipes in the book and have come across a new challenge -- what to scrapbook next? I'm running out of ideas because I don't want to scrapbook something unless I know it's something we like well enough to make again; I'm not scrapbooking things I've never tried. I am, however, putting in simple meal ideas as well as tips for quicker healthy eating (such as my fruity tip article posted on A Healthy Wait) because I know even those things will be (and already are!) valuable to me later on when I can't think of what to cook in a pinch.

I think what I love most about scrapbooking these recipes is it's such a window into our life. As the years go by, it's a journal of our favorite foods and tastes. I'm able to add little tidbits and tips from me, but also from my sister, my grandma, my mom, and many of my friends, that my children can someday pass on to their own children, hopefully after having added their own input and recipes.

One tip I'd like to share with scrapbooking is that you MUST have cute fonts (unless you're planning on handwriting everything, but if you're like me, you probably don't like your own handwriting enough to look at it for years to come!) I get free, adorable fonts here, and they are easy to download and install. Just find your favorite one, click download, then unzip the file and drag it into your font book. (Of course, these are instructions for a Mac, so it might be slightly different on a PC, although I'm sure it is explained at the site.) The cute fonts are a must because... well, Times New Roman just gets boring sometimes, and I am sick of the common fonts on Microsoft Word! Also, you can make your own cute decals and sayings by looking up the quote and printing them out in cute colors!

I thought I would share a few of my favorite pages and the basic look of it (The non-recipe pages that denote the following type of recipe came with the scrapbooking kit, as did the blank page in the front: about 15 kitchen/recipe pages as well as 2-3 pages of stickers/decals come with the kit. Please note I only posted one picture of the separator pages and no pictures of any of the stickers that came with the kit) as well as post the link to where you can get your own recipe scrapbook kit. Enjoy!

(**Note: Please click on pictures to view full-size)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Hard Part

Blogging is fun; it's easy. I like designing the templates and figuring out the fonts. I like picking new colors, I like picking new gadgets. I like the writing part too, as an outlet, if I can think of a topic.

The hard part is picking a name. I easily spent fifteen minutes thinking of cheesy things I could call the blog.

Just a Few Thoughts From Me

Thoughts of a Lonely Girl

My New Adventure

Alternatives to Facebook

Random Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

I could go on. But let's be honest. Some of these sound like they're thought up by a fourteen year old!

I decided on Thought Renaissance for a few reasons. First of all, as I explained in my original post, Unfriending Facebook, I'm taking some time to reevaluate the time and energy I spend on social networks. (As a sidenote, I actually don't consider this a 'social network' because, though the same people can read what I'm writing, I happen to know from experience that people generally don't care what you have to say if it's more than a few sentences long.) In that reevaluation, I'm doing a Renaissance of sorts to help me a) remember what it was like to write non-school essays with capital letters and full sentences, b) to help me be interested in other outlets, creative and otherwise, that are not necessarily self-esteem driven (I rarely if ever, get comments on my blogs), and c) writing in short random thoughts have not helped me really define, interpret, and enumerate my goals as well as I have done in the past. 

The second reason has to do with the fact that I am a history major and the definition of Renaissance is

A revival or renewed interest in something. 
Rebirth, reawakening, renewal, resurrection.

Renaissance has long meant a time of creativity and intelligence that surged in the people to allow new interest in arts, education, politics, and religion. All of these things are things we all could use more of in our lives. Besides that, I like the idea of starting over, of fresh beginnings.

Anyway, though this certainly may have been another pointless post, at least I took the time to write creatively with a little more thought than a one line status on Facebook:

I need to spend more time figuring out my goals.
Like         Comment

What can you do to be creative today?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Unfriending Facebook

Do you remember those days of MySpace when you'd unknowingly be friends with some guy named 'Tom'? You know, that guy that supposedly owned the company but that you had to be friends with? I unfriended that guy. Or unliked ... or whatever it was called on MySpace.

Yesterday I unfriended Facebook.

It's a lot less dramatic than it sounds. Or maybe it's more dramatic. I could say that (temporarily) deleting my Facebook account is so I can learn to be more productive or be on the computer less frequently -- but that's hardly it. I wish it was. Those are admirable reasons ... and they are partly true. I really should be spending less time online and a little more time with my friends and frenemies, Treadmill, Homework, Beach, and Sun. But the truth is, I've been online just about as much, just not on Facebook.

The real reason is, I've just become a little too sensitive. I've always been oversensitive. I have always had a hard time controlling my negative thoughts towards others, and I constantly overanalyze what others probably aren't thinking about or saying to me. This was exponentially increased on Facebook. (I've actually noticed I am less stressed in the 30 hours or so since I unfriended Facebook.) I've noticed more and more that snarky comments and miscommunication is an epidemic on Facebook, and something in which I get far too involved, enough to let it ruin my day sometimes.

The other half of the reason is my over-transparency. While I think it's fun to share random things like, "Ugh I hate doing the dishes," too many of my more personal thoughts have been shared in a flippant, hit-and-run kind of way (part of which can be solved with a blog). I also, since coming off from Facebook, have thought of random things and start to reach for my phone to post a new status... and when that obviously doesn't happen, I realize how mundane and silly my new 'status' would have been anyway.

I thought I'd try a thought experiment. I haven't really decided how long it will last, but here's my general idea. I'm starting to keep a journal of things I would have posted on Facebook. Then, I'll let the thoughts marinate in the pages of rationality for a while and decide if it really was something worthy of letting over 300 people in on (let's be honest - most of us probably consistently talk to 10% or fewer of those on our friends list).

I'm also going to, in the meantime, spend a little bit of time in the real world remembering what it was like when communication was easier to decipher -- you know, when people used facial expressions, real smiles, and sarcasm and jokes were heard and not read with black text on white background in already hostile territory.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm the only one who has this oversensitivity, over-sharing, overanalyzing, obsessive problem. I doubt it. I'm not asking you to delete your Facebook too... but, if you are willing to admit you're even a bit like me, maybe you can try the journal/thought experiment too. I'm actually excited about it. It will be interesting to reexamine my thoughts before posting them permanently on the internet. You may also try writing your about-to-be snarky comments down too before posting them ;)

Now you may be wondering, "Why is blogging any different? It's just as public." Yes. It is. But I've blogged before, and while I could get 10 comments in ten minutes on a status on Facebook that said, "I got my hair trimmed today," my blogs were commented on only by those who actually cared to brave their way through several paragraphs. I also like that blogging takes time. There's no such thing as a quick 8 paragraph essay, but there sure are a lot of quickly posted big-time-mistake 8 word statuses ("I think people who like [politician] are stupid.") It also gives the writer an opportunity to explain what they mean, and the reader a little more time to think about what they're commenting, since you generally have to go to another page, type out the comment, sign into google or some other various network, type out the word in the captcha, then actually click 'POST'... as opposed to typing, 'I think you're an idiot' then accidentally pressing the enter on our keyboard before we have deleted what we never meant to actually post! Ok, perhaps that was a little bit of an exaggeration, but I digress :)

Anyway, please know that I don't feel superior to anyone for having taken myself off of Facebook. I actually do see the merit in using Facebook, as it allowed me to be connected with my grandma, aunts, cousins, and random friends from my old hometown that I may otherwise have not been connected with. It also helped keep me up-to-date on campaigns and news. But I know that for me, at this time, Facebook isn't for me. And I'll stress that this is temporary, but I just don't know how temporary. It may be a week, or it might be much, much longer. Given the relief from stress I've felt shows just how unhealthily emotionally invested I was ... and I may require a longer break than some of you (I know a day or two is good enough for most people!)

All right, I apologize for the long post. If anyone reads this, let me know if you've accepted the journal challenge, and your progress. Good luck!

Just as a point of interest, here's an essay I found with a few other, supporting reasons not to be on Facebook ...
"If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold."