Check out stories from TCU students, faculty, and staff. Stories are added frequently, so be sure and visit again soon!
Elizabeth Leach, added 11/6/12
Britt Luby, added 11/6/12
Kaci Mayfield, added 11/6/12
Ian Hirtz, added 11/6/12
Kaitlin Turney, added 10/18/12
Charlotte Hogg, PhD, added 10/18/12
Jimena Reyes, added 10/18/12
Russell Hodges, added 9/27/12
Laurie Burton, added 9/27/12
Jenelle Salisbury, added 9/27/12
Steven Hofmanna, added 9/27/12
LaTonya Whitley, added 9/27/12
Corey Landers, added 7/30/12
Katie Rhatigan, added 7/30/12
Alex Lohse, added 7/30/12
Jenn Shinn, added 5/7/12
Sharon Kassler, added 5/7/12
Sarah Greufe, added 5/7/12
Paige Wells, added 5/7/12
Sarah Tatlock, added 5/7/12
Jonathan Davis, Added 5/4
Anonymous, Added 5/4
Jessica Polasek, Added 5/4
Jennifer Bouquet, Added 5/4
Lexy Cruz, added 5/2/12
Erin Taylor, added 5/2/12
Tony Stripling, added 5/2/12
Keely Teeters, added 4/18/12
Amanda Fedorko, added 4/18/12
Cortney Gumbleton, added 4/18/12
Ray J. Pfeiffer, PhD, added 4/18/12
Sydney Sanford, added 4/18/12
Christy Ingram, added 4/18/12
Katie Bowman, added 4/18/12
Deborah Daily, added 4/18/12
Jennifer McMahan Carr, added 4/18/12
I had known Bailey for three years, but we never really became close friends until this past summer. As my feelings for her began to grow, it became much harder for me to even contemplate saying goodbye. Nevertheless, I continued to spend as much time with her as possible until my doomsday finally arrived. Little did I know that day would become a memory that will forever be ingrained into the inner walls of my subconscious. I can still remember her lowering her head into my chest as she wrapped her arms tightly around my waist. I could also hear the sound of her sniffling over the passing cars that raced back and forth along the road behind us. Feelings of anger, sadness and frustration began to rush through my veins as I fought every urge in my mind and body to let go. As much as it killed me on the inside, I knew that in order to move along the path of my life and pursue my dreams, I simply had no choice.
Saying goodbye has never been easy for me, and like a chore I had waited until the last possible moment to gather the strength necessary to face my fear. Something wasn't right though. Throughout my life, I had always succumbed to sadness whenever I needed to bid farewell to somebody. But this farewell was different. The bitter feelings I had been so accustomed to were nowhere to be found. I was happy! Was I losing my mind? How could I feel this contempt about leaving somebody I had shared so many memories with? Suddenly, it hit me like a freight train. With each task completed comes a new task left unattended, just like each farewell brings with it more to come in the future. I knew I would see her again, and although I'm still not sure when that time will come, I learned that there is always good to find in a goodbye.
My belief system began as a child and was greatly influenced by my family. I don't remember attending church regularly until around the age of nine. My oldest brother started going to church regularly and I noticed a change in him. He was excited about an experience he had that he called salvation. He treated me differently, more loving and friendly. His change, from him being basically self-absorbed to this new personality, created a desire in me to change too. I started going to church with him and learned about the gospel.
I began reading the Bible and it came alive to me and made sense. I was convicted about my sin when I learned how Jesus, God's perfect son had given up his life and substituted himself to redeem mankind. It amazed me that God loved us so much he would sacrifice his own son for corrupt people. When I realized how much God loved me, and that I could never be good enough on my own, I understood that I needed Jesus as my savior. By faith, I accepted his gift and confessed and repented of my sin and was baptized.
This experience completely changed my life. My desires were to please God, know his will for my life and serve him. My belief simply stated is that Jesus is God's son, the Christ, Messiah, Savior and Lord of all creation. Sin separated people from God. God sent his son Jesus to be born of a virgin and was crucified on a cross as an atoning sacrifice. Jesus reconciled man to God through his death and resurrection. When we believe and put our faith in him, we are born again of the spirit. He rose from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for those who put their faith in him. One day he will return.
It gives me peace to know that no matter what happens; God will never leave or forsake me. My husband and children are all believers too, and I am so thankful for God's blessings. My parents and oldest brother have since died, but I know I will see them again. These were times of testing for me and put life into perspective. God didn't heal them physically, but gave them ultimate healing. I miss them, but I know where they are, and that one day I will join them. My mother used to tell me that death is graduation day. We have a God that understands our struggles because he came down to earth and lived as a man. Through the trials and storms of my life, God has always proven faithful. My heavenly father protects, provides, accepts and loves me. I look forward to graduating from TCU, but most of all, I look forward to the day when my heavenly father says "well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into your father's rest." Will you join me?
When I was stopped at the "This I Believe" tent at TCU, they said all I had to do to win a prize was to write down one thing that I believe on a note card. Sounds easy, right? Not for me. I wanted to write something that I truly, actually believed without a doubt. However, for me, doubt seems to be intrinsic. I considered just writing something cliché to get the prize, but decided against it. Another part of me wanted to just lay the card and the pen back down on the table and say, "I'm sorry. I just don't believe in anything." Why couldn't I think of just one thing that I believed? I believe in skepticism; I believe in questioning everything in one's external and internal realities on the quest for truth. But does the quest for truth really lead anywhere, or will I always be left not knowing? Epistemologically I have always felt that the one thing I can know for sure is the simple fact that I am conscious, so on my note card I simply wrote "thought."
This is not to say that I don't have beliefs in relation to my own life. I believe in love, I believe in family, I believe in honesty. I believe the things I do in this world matter and I love to help people. I have all of these beliefs in the moral and social realm. However, as a philosophical thinker, I am hesitant to say that I believe them 100%, i.e., that I know them. This is because I think that the only things that can truly be believed or known are things that are true in every possible world, not just the one we are in. Why? Because then the beliefs are fully general and thus relatable to every situation, even a situation that I cannot comprehend. Every belief I have is relative to the human brain, and who am I to say that this brain reflects reality? Some people think that skepticism is a sad and ignorant mindset to have, but to me, nothing else makes sense. Moreover, I am not a classic skeptic – I have one strong foundational, Cartesian belief that I feel is enough to live a bountiful life.
If one wanted to fully doubt, he/she could ask the question "How do you know that you are conscious?" and to me, this is a question that simply does not make sense. To illustrate, imagine a possible world in which we are not actually conscious. Instead, we just "invented" the idea of consciousness when in reality it doesn't exist. However, in order to "invent" or "imagine," one must in the first place have some form of consciousness. Whether all humans that have ever lived are one collective consciousness, or whether we are indeed in the matrix and this is all in our heads, consciousness in some form must exist because thoughts, although difficult to place one's finger on, are undeniably real.
Well, okay. So we know we are conscious. What then? Even if we are bacterium in jars cultivated by an alien species we could still possibly have consciousness, so how does the knowledge of this fact benefit us at all?
I also believe one more thing, from which I feel I can derive all the knowledge I will ever need. I believe consciousness is a physical entity or collection of entities in the human brain. This is why I chose to become a neuroscience major. I believe we can know nothing of the true nature of the self or of reality until we know everything about the mechanisms with which we perceive and process it. I believe the human brain is this mechanism and thus the study of which is our portal to truth.
I suppose to most people I sound like a person with no direction, no beliefs, no happiness – nihilistic perhaps. I cannot emphasize enough that this is not what I am or the point I am trying to make. I love the processes of life, and I believe what I do matters. I just think to say that I know anything in any sort of absolute sense is illogical given that I have only experienced the world I am in, and only experienced it through the senses I developed as a human. I love these senses and I love this world, I just hesitate to relate it to any sort of absolute truth. I find comfort in the absolute truth that is consciousness. I am passionate about defining the physical bases of this phenomenon and ready to dedicate my life to it. This is my quest for truth.
I am in America's fraternity.
It's not Greek. It was born right here on U.S. soil. It's the biggest, the toughest, most selfless, most accomplished, and most respected fraternity you can imagine. We've never lost anything we've been involved in. In my fraternity, uncommon valor is a common virtue. My letters don't resemble the ones you're familiar with. My letters read "U.S.M.C.," and they stand for the United States Marine Corps.
Being a part of this fraternity means more to me than proving I'm the coolest guy, than being the one that can drink the most, meeting a bunch of girls, or being the most connected person in my circle of friends. To me it's about going through both an internal and external transformation. During my "rushing" process, I not only earned the esteemed title of "Marine," but I also became a part of something much greater than myself. I became part of an elite history of discipline, loyalty, leadership, and gallantry. My "rush" week was 12 weeks long, 7 days a week, twenty-four hours a day, and even after all that I was STILL a peon! To me it means having a brother. Not a brother who gives me his notes to class, or lets me borrow his fake ID. I'm talking about a brother that gives you his last canteen of water when you've been on a patrol, in 117-degree heat, with no sign of your next re-supply opportunity.
I mean a brother who runs out of any cover or concealment, into the screaming of rounds whistling by his ear. With no concern for himself or his family, he comes and picks me up, both of us in 80lbs of gear, and puts me on his shoulder. One hand on me, one hand on his weapon and the rapping of death at our door, he carries me back to the cover of our vehicle. Without a doubt, he is the only reason I am here today. That's the type of brother my fraternity produces.
In my brotherhood, community service means service to my country. Service to my country means protecting my fellow Americans. Protecting my fellow Americans means being a part of America's Fraternity and being a part of my fraternity, means that you have the freedom to be a part of your fraternity too.
I believe in the value of human life because I am a survivor. I have survived many things, but the one story that I hold near and dear to my heart is being a survivor of rape. My mom would allow numerous men to sleep in the bed with us at an early age; I believe I was around five or six when I first discovered "being touched". I remember waking up to one of these men, a family friend, touching me. He had removed my panties and performed a sexual act on me. Confused I immediately got out of bed with my panties in my hand searching for my mother. My mother happened to be in the next room on the couch with a man, who was not my father. I stood at my bedroom door with my panties in my hand and when she saw me, naked with just a t-shirt on, she yelled at me to return to my room. I obeyed, went back in my room and slept next to the family friend who just molested me. From the age of five-six to age sixteen, I spent my life being a victim of molestation, numerous attempted rapes and one rape. The predators were family friends, adult cousins; ironically none of the perpetrators were strangers. I tried telling my mom on numerous occasions, but my pleas for help, fell on deaf ears. I remember trying to get help from my father but he just made excuses why he did not rescue me. About three years ago, I discovered why. He has been accused of molesting my cousin and having sexual relations with his biological daughter, my sister. I grew up angry, I was angry with my mother, my father and God. The sexual abuse I experienced, encouraged my promiscuous life style and it prevented me from having the knowledge to choose a decent man.
I spent the great part of my life in relationships that were toxic. I would go from one bad relationship to the next; always looking for one person to love me, and I thought I could find it by having sex. I would work, go to school, party, travel; I would do anything not to face reality. I was oblivious to the outside world, and the outside world was oblivious to me. Then one day, through no fault of mine, I lost my job and my world came crashing down. After I lost my job, I became extremely angry, I did not want to be around anyone; not even my children whom I love so much.
One day I read a book, called, Initiation by Elizabeth Haich and it changed my life. I began to work on me and what I needed to improve my life. Obtaining a job was a factor, but rebuilding a new me was more important. I realized that God has been with me all my life, even through the suffering I experienced. He only let me suffer long enough to teach me the value of human life, specially my life.
Though I experienced a lot of hardship throughout my lifetime, I have many things to be grateful about. First, I allowed God in my heart, mind, body and soul. I have four children and none of them suffered the way I suffered; as a matter of fact three are in college and one currently attends high school.
Someone once told me that bad things happen to good people, those people who have been hurt by life. I have learned that external forces do not have to devalue a human life; rather it can be used as a positive reinforcement to inspire change. This is why I believe!
This I Believe, by Corey Landers, TCU Student, Marketing Major
My life was changed the day I first moved. I had been living in Louisiana for practically my entire life when my father told the family that he was being transferred overseas to Great Britain. We moved to a small village called Lea that was just two hours away from London, and I went to school surrounded by people who had funny accents and strange habits. We also went to a different church, an Anglican one I suppose, but honestly I could barely tell the difference then from the Methodist church we had attended in Louisiana.
Church was never a big part of my family's life. We arbitrarily went from Methodism to Anglicanism simply because it was convenient (the Anglican Church was right down the street). And when we then moved to London itself, we stopped attending church for a year because we could barely find a school for my sister and I, let alone a place of worship. But none of this was a big deal because religion and spirituality never really entered my life in England.
It only became an issue when I moved to Texas. I started noticing how deeply people held their religious beliefs, and how open they were to talking about them. All through high school I was surrounded by people who would mention God or Jesus whenever they got the chance, and I always got offended by it. I just always believed that religion was a private matter, and definitely not something you just openly talked about in class. And when I got to college things just got worse. Now I was living with people of all different faiths and ideologies, and so naturally clashes occurred between the intolerant people.
I hate intolerance. Living in England taught me that people can be different from me, but still be great once you get to know them, and so when the intolerant people in my dorm would go about preaching their beliefs I just couldn't believe it. Did they not realize how rude they were being? Did they not understand how offensive they were? After a few heated arguments, I realized that the people who are the most intolerant happen to be the most ignorant of other people's beliefs. These people practically refuse to accept that their religion maybe isn't the only correct belief out there, so they attack anything they don't understand.
I believe in understanding. I believe in empathy. I believe in tolerance and freedom. But I also know that some do not. I know that some refuse to learn about "the heathens", that some hate those that are different simply because they are different. And I know I can't do anything to change that mindset. So instead I choose to take the higher path, to not hate them because of their hate, their ignorance. I believe in empathy, they believe in intolerance. But I hope that just as racism has slowly began to die away, so too will the last vestiges of all intolerance. I hope I am not wrong.
I believe in my Uncle Tommy. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer and currently he is in remission, still living his life to the absolute fullest.
My uncle is the wild child of his family. He had the long hair, tattoos, and earrings, is extremely tall, and has the sense of humor that would have you laughing within a minute of meeting him. He has the built of a lion and the heart of an angel. He is a carpenter and has a passion for building anything he can. This man is so much more than just my uncle and role model, he is also my godfather.
Growing up, I was not fortunate to see him often because he was engulfed with his work and lived a couple hours away. That never impacted our relationship though. I would talk to him on the phone and his positive attitude would always leave me feeling happy and optimistic. Whenever I did see him, I would receive the biggest hug of my life and I would never want to leave. His stories from his childhood were always the greatest, like when he would tell me about his car and how it was the coolest one on the block because it had a huge engine and the ladies loved his GTO. I used to listen to stories about him driving it and I could see him reliving his experiences. He is satisfied with life and lives each day to the fullest.
After he was diagnosed with cancer, it was like nothing had changed. Work was still part of his everyday life and he carried on as usual. He had the overwhelming love and moral support from his family to help him get through it all. I am not going to say that there were no hard or low points during his treatment process but I will say that he rarely showed them. Through this whole experience, he has been able to reconnect with the family more and even some friends from his past. My uncle can do whatever he sets his mind to do. When he first started Kung Fu, he did not stop until he got his black belt and when he decided he wanted to learn the guitar, he mastered it. This determination is what allowed him to beat the cancer. Ultimately, he stuck to his daily routine, kept a smile on his face, and kept doing the things that he loved.
Through my Uncle Tommy, I have learned to be unselfish and cherish each moment I have because at any time, my life can change. When I am having a bad day, I think about him and how even through it all, he still will walk around making other people happy. He inspires me to live each day like it's my last, to do what I want to do, to do what makes me happy.
There will be challenges in life but nothing that I cannot get through. I believe that through perseverance, love, and hope, I can do anything with a smile on my face.
I believe in getting yourself in over your head. I can say with all honesty that the best decisions in my life have been made during situations of extreme discomfort or duress. These have been times when I was confronted with new and sometimes frightening circumstances, often of my own making and sometimes quite intentional. Eleanor Roosevelt once quipped, "A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." Thanks to these trials, I have learned the true strength of my intelligence, patience, and perseverance.
The first time I was truly tested was at the age of 23 when I was married to an alcoholic and became pregnant. Up to that point, my life had been an aimless string of events and dead-end jobs, a period of time marked by a distinct lack of concern for my present and even less concern for my future. With the unexpected appearance of a "+" on the test strip, I instantly realized the gravity of my situation. Everything had changed. It was time for me to step up, whether I felt ready or not, because life was no longer just about me.
The subsequent 2 years of my life were an arduous metamorphosis. I managed a healthy pregnancy (without insurance), I gave birth to an 8 lb. baby (at home), I got a real grown-up job at an insurance company, and I divorced my husband. It was scary, it was difficult, and it was absolutely worth it.
More recently, I have intentionally created situations where I had to succeed under threat of fantastic failure. In the last 4 years, my life has undergone yet another total metamorphosis. After working in the marketing department of that same insurance company for over 5 years, I realized a change had to happen. I wanted more from life and it was time to challenge myself again. On a whim, I bought a house from my (new) in-laws and moved my family to Fort Worth. After trying for 10 months to find local employment, I eventually quit my steady job in Austin and went back to school at the age of 30.
The increased responsibility of a mortgage and the decreased security of a steady corporate job have made for some ulcer-inducing months, for sure. More than once I have wondered if I am being unreasonably selfish by pursuing my education at the expense of the financial security of my family. My parents never went to college, so I am striving to set a good example for my girls by getting my degree. I can only hope my daughters see how hard I am trying and are internalizing the same work ethic.
I know this is not the last time I will challenge myself. Even at my advanced age (31!), I will have many more opportunities to get myself out of (self-inflicted) hot water. I may not always succeed, but I am certain I will be better for having tried.
I now believe in friendship at first sight, by Jenn Shinn, TCU Student, Ballet Major
I now believe in friendship at first sight.
“Here, you can have mine…my dad gave me like twelve.”
Those were the first words Abby ever spoke to me. I was lost and confused, and she gave me direction in the form of a cartoonesque TCU campus map. She smiled, I smiled…and the rest is history. Yes, it was friendship at first sight.
Growing up surrounded by unstable relationships and insecurity defined by divorce and broken vows, I grew to believe that finding refuge in human relationships was a myth. My experiences formed my personal adage “Do not rely on human relationships for fulfillment.” I grew to solely depend on my own independence and self sufficiency. But it is amazing how one person can enter your life, and suddenly your self-proclaimed autonomy is shattered!
Abby and I have been roommates for two and a half years and have consistently been there for one another. We have grown closer through many life changing experiences, including an emergency room visit that resulted in a 10 day hospital slumber party, painful rejection from those boys who loved us, life changing decisions in a shark shaped swimming pool filled with holy water, and spiritual renewal found on Jordan’s stormy banks.
I was once asked to define my friendship with Abby. I couldn’t think of how to express our quirky connection accept by saying “Let’s just say, if Abby wore diapers I would be there to change them.” Weird but true. The boundaries of our friendship have yet to reach its limit. They expand as our friendship grows. Our connection is guided by honesty…brutal honesty sometimes…encouragement, acceptance, and most undeniably, laughter. True friendship is an interesting thing. Suddenly having someone in your life that knows all your imperfections and can see right through any mask you don yet is always ready to catch you right before you hit the ground is life changing and eye opening.
I have always believed that God is a sneaky one. He puts people in your path at the right moment, and can remove them just as swiftly. I believe more than anything that Abby was strategically placed in my life at exactly the right time (the first day of college), and most definitely the right place (the dance studio). Although my relationship with God will always be the only sure thing in my life, I am no longer afraid to allow myself to become vulnerable in my connection to others and I will never close myself off to a possible relationship because of fear. I believe in the power of vulnerability. I believe in fate. I now believe in friendship at first sight.
I believe I have died and gone to heaven.
I began working at TCU in September. My previous job was very stressful. I knew if I stayed there much longer my health would soon be compromised. Yet, even when change is called for; even when it is necessary, it can still be hard.
In the beginning, coming to TCU was hard because I missed my previous co-workers who over the years had grown to become my good, good friends. The wild-eyed pace I had kept at my last job had slowed to a calm walk here at TCU. The large numbers of people that made up the office staff at my last job pared down to me being the fourth in a four-person here. The loud noise and raised voices from my previous workplace has softened to the point that a volume of “1” on my iPod is too loud for my TCU office. At first, I felt just like that crash dummy car manufacturers use to simulate what it is like to be in a head-on collision. Now, I am floating on a cloud of contentment.
Since September, I have ventured out of my office and have met some really nice people at TCU. I am beginning to feel that TCU is my home-away-from-home. I work at Sadler and pass by the flag poles in the front of the building on my way in and out of work each day. Sadly, since September, I have seen the TCU flag lowered to half-staff four times due to the passing of current or previous TCU employees. Today, the flag was again lowered and a spray of flowers was placed at the base of the flag pole in memory of a lady that used to work in TCU’s cafeteria. The respect given to these previous employees be they professors or be they cafeteria workers is so refreshing.
Walking around the immaculately kept grounds of the campus, seeing the uniformity of the buildings, hearing the church bells fill the air on the hour every hour adds to the feeling that I have died and gone to heaven. Each day, I pinch myself just to make sure this is not all just a great big beautiful dream.
Thank you TCU for saving my life.
I believe in freedom. Growing up as an “all American girl” in the landlocked plains of Iowa and Oklahoma, I knew I was privileged with the freedom of expression. Through dancing, writing, and being involved with any activity that distracted me from the restlessness I felt, I idolized freedom as an escape from my current small state.
Coming to TCU, I started to see myself more and more as a cliche. Small town girl dreams of changing the world by coming to the big (or bigger) city. My story seemed to be already written in the characters of books and movies of aspiring dancers and journalist. I took an interest in anthropology and decided I would travel. My life couldn’t be caught in between the lines of hashed out phrases, I would discover something more. Freedom.
When I saw an ad for a school trip through interfaith, the words “San Francisco” popped out at me. After I graduated high school, I had tried to plan a senior trip there that ended up falling through. This was my chance, I thought, destiny coming to greet me. What I found was a place that truly embraced my core value: freedom.
Now I’m not talking about the freedom of hippies down at Haight-Ashbury or the amount of socially liberal stands the city has taken. What I felt through the meeting at United Religions Initiative, which strives to bring different religions together to make good, and close encounters with the practices and philosophies of those religions was space to explore. Eliminating the distance between those deeply felt differences eased my ability to ask questions.
The whole experience was a breath of fresh air and a great reminder that I believe in a God that loved me so much that he not only gave me free-will, but when that gets me into trouble, sent me his free grace. As I sang in Hebrew, bowed my covered head to the floor, and listened to monks and priests speak about their understanding of the world; I got a tiny peek into the vast amount that I don’t know about my God and his creation.
Going back to my ideas of freedom from before, I learned it’s not so much an escape from my circumstance, but an ability to see beyond myself. Robert Benchley once said, “There are two kinds of people in the world; those who divide the world into two different kinds of people, and those who don’t.” I hope to one day become the latter.
I Believe in Spirituality, by Paige Wells, TCU Student, English Major
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved the water. My parents could hardly keep me out of it as a child. Whether it was the pool, the rain, or even the kitchen sink, I loved immersing myself in it, cupping it in my hands, and letting it run through my fingers. As I grew older and my parents took my brothers and I on periodic sailing trips, I fell in love with the ocean. It became a special place for me, where I felt strong, but peaceful and connected to something divine.
About a year ago, I decided to renounce the religion I was raised as. I had a lot of questions about life, meaning, and the universe that I felt I needed to look elsewhere to answer and I have been searching for these answers ever since. For spring break this year, I had the opportunity to go on the TCU San Francisco Interfaith Trip. It was an absolutely incredible experience: exploring the city, experiencing religious traditions different from my own, and participating in service projects. On Wednesday morning of our weeklong trip, our group headed to Baker Beach to participate in a habitat restoration project. I was excited to be working on the beach. It had been a number of years since I’d been near the ocean and I couldn’t wait to smell the salty air and, hopefully, have the opportunity to put my toes in the water.
After a long morning of weeding out invasive plant species, my wish came true. We had twenty-five minutes to spare before we needed to head back to the hostel we were staying at. After quickly removing my shoes, I clasped hands with a friend of mine and we sprinted towards the water, laughing and squealing with joy when the cold water bit our ankles and then our kneecaps. Before I knew it, I was swimming in the ocean, fully clothed, but not caring one bit. I was in pure bliss. The water’s vitality made me feel so alive and I felt connected to something bigger, something I didn’t understand. But I was okay with not understanding. I felt peaceful. With its mysterious depths, beauty, strength, and timelessness, the ocean seems to have a spirit all its own. And in its spirit, I feel mine.
It was there in the ocean that day that I learned how important spirituality is to me. I’m inspired to continue my new spiritual journey and to make my spiritual well being a priority. After that experience at the beach, I believe in joyful indulgences of the spirit. Of celebrating life, looking within, and connecting to something greater.
This I believe.
This I Believe, by Sarah Tatlock, TCU Student, Psychology Major
I believe in taking every moment, embracing and soaking it in for all it’s worth, because you aren’t ever going to get that exact moment again. And with as many countries I have traveled to and experienced, even some that I have lived in, I wasn’t able to really truly see and appreciate the true meaning of this belief until my best friend passed away from cancer at the age of twenty-one. At that point, what you’ve lost is gone, and all you have is the memories and pictures to fill the empty spaces.
It’s hard to look back and think about all the things you could and should have done and why you didn’t do them. We think about the weight of the choices we make and the opportunities that life presents us with. We struggle and fight ourselves only to find that we may never actually know the answer. What’s most important now is looking at the people and opportunities that are present in our life and learning to take advantage of what life gives us. There’s a phrase that goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Yeah, we should listen to that, even if that means taking risks. For someone who has always lived on the side of caution, I have had to struggle to go outside my comfort bubble. The bubble is what confines you to what is safe and is seen as the barrier that leads to the outside; the outside, which is meant to be lived. Go outside the bubble.
I have come to realize that it is the laughter, the memories, the inside jokes, the nights you can’t remember but your friends do, the smiles, the tears, and even some regrets that remind you that life is worth living to the fullest and it’s worth keeping those moment locked in a safe place forever – a place where even in the darkest of days can still shed a light of hope.
I believe in the humanity of strangers by Jonathan Davis, TCU Student, Political Science Major
I have for the longest time asked, “What is it that connects us?” And in so, I have been forced to question the belief that “blood is thicker than water.” It has been strangers who have shaped my life and have done so exponentially more than that of those who the state determines to be my “family.” It has been the acts of kindness, through seemingly selfless and perhaps irrational efforts by those of whom who had no relational ties and little to gain from helping me become who I am today.
I was born in Canada in 1991 to an absent father and mother who quickly dropped out of my life, leaving me, stranded and orphaned at the age of two months. It was then that I was coddled by strangers, acting as near permanent baby sitters replacing the role of “family” as it “should be.” Blood, I realized early on, meant very little, if anything alone and as my biological mother remained in prison, each and every one of my blood relatives were contacted with the hopes of reuniting me with my relatives but one by one I was rejected by each capable member of my “family.”
Danielle Marie Reid was different, she found it within herself, without any actual responsibility to do so, no blood ties and without the financial support as is necessary, to take me in as her own. I quickly resorted to calling this stranger, mom, since I knew of no other. Early on she treated me with the greatest respect, love and above all humanity.
I gained a father. 2,000 miles he traveled to have me as his son even though he had no intrinsic responsibility to do so but he quickly became a central figure in my life and thus I had no choice but to call Howard Davis, dad.
I became the member of a family; who knew that these French-Canadians and Texans had such loving and caring relatives? And thus, I furthermore became a part of a community where strangers from all over, friends of friends, of all colors, and of all backgrounds surrounded me with structure and embrace.
I wonder today why exactly, against the wishes, desires and orders of others they continued to fight for me. These people, for whom I had no direct connection to begin with, even fought the governments of the United States and Florida to legally adopt me as their own. My biological family believed first and foremost that blood belongs with blood but that is where they lost the battle. They simply could not comprehend that a strangers love can not only outlast but furthermore circumvent the mere presence of blood ties.
It was not blood that drove my parents today, nor was it pressure to do so. It was the common love and humanity of strangers that drew them to me and each other and for that I believe that the humanity of strangers conquers all.
I believe in God, by TCU student who prefers to remain anonymous
Two weeks before school started in January, I tried to end my life because of a bad breakup. I thought there was no other way out and I couldn’t deal with the pain any longer. I overdosed on some pills plus alcohol and I ended up at JPS emergency room in a semi-coma. My alcohol level was twice the amount a person would need to be considered legally intoxicated. IV’s were started on me and all sorts of fluids started running through my body to try and reverse the effects of the overdose. Nothing seemed to work, as my parents had no idea what I had ingested or how much of it and in turn could not communicate this information to the doctors. I was really in trouble at this point and I was getting closer and closer to the point of no return. At some point, I received CPR because when I finally awoke I had a palm size bruise on my chest.
The above story is a recollection of what my family members tell me happened that night. I do not remember a single thing that went on as I was unconscious. All I know is that I am somehow writing this essay exactly four months after the event that changed my life forever took place. I believe in God because he saved me that night and showed me that I am here for a reason. I am here to become a nurse and help others who might be feeling the same way as I did before. God gives us life, and only he can decide when and how you will go to heaven to meet him. It was not my time to die, and God knew it. If there was any doubt before in my mind about the existence of God, it has vanished completely. After I was discharged from the hospital, I made a pledge to make God a part of my everyday life and I have been doing it by praying and attending church on Sundays. I feel his presence everyday and I don’t feel alone anymore. I now value life and thank the man up-above for allowing me to open my eyes every morning and be around the ones I love. People with terminal illness or other conditions beg for more time to live….who am I to just throw mine away?
This I believe…
This I Believe by Jessica Polasek, TCU Student Neuroscience major
A few months ago, I had the sudden realization that I do not understand life.
I have spent the last four years diving into everything about my life that I ignored for the first eighteen. I’ve been studying neuroscience—what it means to think, how we think, why we think. I’ve sat through biochemistry lectures showing the pathways that keep us alive all day every day. I have contemplated faith, trying to understand God.
Science became my path to God; with every complexity of the world revealed to me, I saw God’s presence.
Evidence of human suffering threatened to destroy my faith, but God is not the source of pain. Humans are.
In college, faith has been the most important thing for me to find, and through a long journey of sorting through knowledge, I found it.
I entered my senior year knowing beyond anything else that God was up in the sky watching me and holding my hand as I began the end of college and the beginning of something else.
As my college days began to dwindle, uncertainty clouded everything around me. I woke up in a cave, traveled through fog to classes, saw my friends through a thick wall of glass. I couldn’t breathe. Everything that I had expected to happen at this point in my life had not, and I felt that God had dropped my hand and walked away. I wondered if he had ever been there in the first place.
Does a bird gain consciousness for long before it pecks itself out of its egg? If it does, I know how it feels. Solitude. Division. Ache.
I am hatching as I reach graduation. I am aching for the finish line. I pray that God is there waiting for me.
How much can we really assume about God? What if God cannot do everything? What if he can only do what he can do?
Right now, I just have faith that he can get me through. This I believe.
This I Believe by Jennifer Bouquet, TCU Student, Movement Science Major
Smile – such a simple action can speak volumes. It can even express more than words. Smiles give off a pleasant appearance to all the observers of the world. After all, a smile is the universal sign for happiness, and this, I believe.
I am a single human being, in a world of more than 6.8 billion people. Finding my voice, finding my place, in this sea of a crowd can be challenging. But in all honesty, words are not essential. Words cannot be used to accurately describe emotions and feelings, such as pure joy or satisfaction. But a smile, yes a simple act such as a smile, with the joy illuminating the face and eyes glistening with pride, now that, that can express what words cannot.
As an intern working with autistic children, a smile is often connected to accomplishment. Some days are filled with crying and screaming; others, only the sound of the air circulating can be heard. In both instances, however, actual verbal communication is rare to hear. As I worked with a young boy, his initial appearance was timid, and he expressed no emotion. No words were spoken either. While putting a puzzle together, he finally conveyed an emotion of happiness through a smile. After continually trying to fit the piece into the puzzle, he eventually found the correct place for it. His face literally lit up with joy and showed a smile. No words were needed, as his emotion expressed through the smile showed me how happy and proud he was to accomplish the task. Smiling is an easy way to communicate, and honestly, it articulates more than words ever could for these children.
Children are not the only ones who communicate through smiles. Everyone, from babies to elders, understands the implication of a smile. After all, smiling is universal in all languages. And so, I believe in the need to smile, the need to see smiles, to know there is happiness in this world where sometimes it is hard to formulate thoughts into words. These autistic kids have proven just that to me; that showing emotion through smiling, not words, is essential in expressing how I truly feel.
This I Believe by Lexy Cruz, TCU Student, Journalism Major
My family dynamic is a strange, always adventurous, loving one.
Since I can remember, I would wake up to my father bribing me with my favorite- biscuits and gravy. My father made me and my brother’s lunch, took us to school and always picked us up twenty minutes late. My mother attended every PTA meeting, every game I cheered, and every theatre production I took part in.
At home, my parents found their own weaknesses in each other’s strength. My mother hated dishes, my father did them. My father loved cooking; my mother cleaned up behind us. Their rules were omnipresent but relaxed to give our creativity room to explode.
The eleven years between my oldest brother and I gave my parents time to find a seemingly perfect parenting balance. In the beginning, my dad, 37, and my mom, 17, juggled a brand new baby, a quick marriage and another little one a few years later. I can’t attest to their life back then but I can’t imagine it was easy.
My parents’ every move made me and my siblings the people we are today. My brother recently brought his children back to Texas to live near us and keep our family bond strong. My siblings and I share common views of family because of solid parenting at home. As I become an adult, I reflect on my parents’ decisions to try to fully understand who I am today.
In my family we don’t hold grudges. We’re always laughing. We know everything about each other’s lives. We’re all resilient in ways but are emotional in others. The bond between my family and us kids is so strong. We dance on couches and keep the house a comfortable mess. As a child, I couldn’t imagine the constant fighting I would hear in movies come out of my parents’ mouths.
Don’t get me wrong, there were fights and nothing is perfect. All of the stereotypes of angry Puerto Ricans/Mexicans come to life when my mom or dad had a tough day or if one of the kids was being unreasonable, but these moments never last long. My parents definitely live by the saying: never go to bed angry.
My parent’s hit-the-ground-running-parenting and marriage was somehow just right. Their love and support help me in my daily independent decisions.
My mother’s balance between volunteer work, part time jobs and child rearing gave me an in-depth look into the life of a working, middle class woman. This lifelong lesson helps me throughout my college career as I know nothing will ever be handed to me. Every time I do something I know will make my dad proud, before I even look at him, I can just imagine the happiness in his eyes. I then realize I’m doing something right without holding his hand. I reflect on their parenting when staying on top of my work in college and testing the waters reminds me I am a product of my family’s upbringing.
As my siblings and I help rear my brother’s children, we share snippets of our childhood with them. I know I’m lucky to have parents that adore each other and their children enough to give us space to grow to live as happy as them.
I believe in the power of parenting.
I believe in the power of music by Erin Taylor, Brite Divinity School graduate student
I believe in the power of music and its ability to bring life, even when it has been silenced. I have been in several choirs throughout my life, but none have had an impact on me quiet like that of the TCU Choir. As a freshman, I decided to join, completely oblivious to the fact that our choir director was one of the most talented and well respected directors in the music world. As I went through my first few years of college, many things changed yet one was guaranteed to remain constant.
I would always begin and end my week in Walsh 200, the room where mediocrity was not welcome and where the laws of Ron Shirey prevailed. For two and a half years, I spent the noon hour of Monday and Friday being barked at for the sopranos sounding like “dying farm animals” or being praised for “having the sound Carl Orff himself would have chosen.”
I grew from being utterly terrified of Shirey to being humbled just to sing under his direction. I knew I could sing decently, but he knew I could sing superbly. Shirey pushed all of us to perform at a level we never knew existed. I grew to love music—not just country music and the Beatles that constantly shuffled around on my iPod, but real music like “Carmina Burana” and “Te Deum.” My favorite was Christmas music. We would begin practicing much earlier than the traditional Christmas season began and the joy of Christmas music would cause all of us to be in our own Winter Wonderland opposed to the Texas heat our peers experienced.
On November 1st, 2009, I woke up and my voice was gone. It may have been due to cheering too much at our homecoming game the day before, or enjoying the festivities that Halloween had brought. As I checked my voicemail that morning, I heard the message that would steal my voice forever. Shirey has died of a massive heart attack that morning. I felt as though my voice had been permanently lost.
We performed our Christmas Concert under the direction of several other conductors. While they may have been conducting, it was Shirey’s music that rang for all to hear. I can still hear Shirey’s voice. I hear the opening to “Carmina Burana” and my heart skips a beat as I remember the feeling of standing on stage of Bass Hall, the lights hitting us, as we belted the words over the orchestra. I hear the last song Shirey taught us, and I have flashbacks to all the many wonderful Christmas concerts, especially my favorite song, “What Sweeter Music Can We Bring.” I have to pause and ask myself what sweeter music exists beyond the love of a choir director and his choir? I believe while the voice may be gone, the power of Shirey’s music still brings life when there is silence and even in our sorrow, the joy of music continues.
When I came to college, I didn’t know what to expect; I was 500 miles away from home, knew a very limited number of people, and had nobody to tell me what to do and when to do it. Needless to say, I went a little wild—not in the traditional college-sense of partying all the time, but spending way too much time socializing and not enough studying. This trend persisted throughout the first semester and when I received my grades, it really showed where I had focused my time.
I resolved to make the next semester different, so before classes began I sat down and planned out my entire semester. What I ended up with was a rigid schedule that forced me away from enjoying the spontaneous college fun and towards nothing but class, studying, work, and meetings. Basically, my version of hell! I was not looking forward to living out the monstrosity I created, but I knew that if I wanted to do better academically then I needed to force myself down this sad path which usually ended in the library.
The semester began and all of the glories of college life I cherished from my first semester were successfully replaced with long, quiet hours in the library with a book under my nose and a coffee in my hand. It took every ounce of willpower I had to maintain this gloomy lifestyle, but I managed. Nearing the end of the semester my friends asked if I was doing alright, mostly due to the lackluster way in which I was treating life. Once I finished the spring term I was completely drained mentally, but I achieved the high marks which had inspired such a dreadful semester. I looked forward to summer and all of the exciting adventures that would ensue, which is exactly what I needed and fortunately is what happened.
I dreaded the fall semester with all of my being since I was determined to make up for my poor performance in my first semester. Again, I found myself sitting down and writing a schedule of class, studying, work, and meetings—again I followed the dreadful beast diligently until the middle of the term. Around October, I had a minor meltdown because of all of the monotonous and tedious tasks that made up my life. After I recovered my rightful state of mind, I set about thinking of ways in which I could maintain an above average GPA while not losing my mind. What I came up with was eliminating some of my study time, but not writing down when I wasn’t going to study; the schedule looked just as dreary, but I would skip planned late night study sessions in favor of a movie or concert or hangout. This spontaneity saved me from losing my mind the rest of third semester and still let me keep my grades at a manageable level; spontaneity literally saved my college career.
I believe in the moments of unforeseen adventure and laughter
As a college student I tend to get wrapped up in what will happen two weeks from now, what assignment I have due next week and how will I know what my future holds a year from now. It is the moments when I let all of these worries take a back seat that I find that I enjoy myself the most.
By allowing myself to step out of reality for a moment of time I find that I come back to my busy life feeling refreshed and more ready to tackle my future. My moments of unforeseen adventure have presented themselves in times of intense studying and stress. Whether it be taking a break with my closest friend from study hours to make a music video to “Baby” by Justin Beiber or driving to WinStar at midnight during finals because we could not handle studying any longer. These moments have become some of my most cherished memories as they have brought me much laughter and adventure that I never saw coming.
As a stressor I have found how important these moments are to my mental and physical health. Society has taught me how important it is to get things done promptly and to the best of my ability no matter what it takes. While I do not believe in only making half an effort I have been made aware that even if it takes me a little longer to finish the task at hand I should be willing to stop, take a deep breath, do something unexpected, and laugh a little. Though it may keep me from finishing the project a couple minutes or hours earlier I always walk away feeling ten times better and my work seems to be better after I take time for myself.
As a member of a sorority I have found that living in my sorority house has enabled me to have these moments often. With thirty of my closest friends and sisters living under the same roof there is always someone who is up for some adventure for a study break. These moments have come in the simplest forms such a taking a drive with no end location in mind to mattress surfing down the stairwell. As I look back on my past four years in college I can see how valuable the moments of unforeseen adventure and laughter have been and the astounding impact they have made on what I am able to do. It is these moments that keep me healthy, stress free and always ready to take on the next task I face.
This I Believe: The Power of Creating, by Amanda Fedorko, TCU Student, Biology Major
I believe in the power of creating. It can be frightening or disturbing to search inside oneself and isolate something original, previously ineffable or concealed within. When we try to make something real, something magical happens.
During my first semester at TCU, I enrolled in a drawing course. Art has always been appealing, mainly because it creates something that didn’t exist before. I was surprised by my final project, however. Our assignment was to create a collage of sorts, with a drawing incorporated, the subject being something important to us. I chose to cut up Grey’s Anatomy, and wasn’t sure where to go from there.
The process of trying to fulfill an art assignment can be daunting, and so I think my subconscious was sneakily suggesting ideas it wanted to have explored with more awareness. I ended up drawing a woman representing my mother, with a gaunt face and unequal pupils. When I was 12, I found her on the bathroom floor, unconscious after a vessel in her brain burst. She was blocking the door, and her airway was obstructed, causing a loud snoring sound. I remembered thinking how odd that she would fall asleep in the bathroom, the 12-year-old me not yet aware of the reality of the situation. The image of her eyes as the 911 dispatch operator instructed my father to check her pupils will forever be with me. One pupil was completely dilated, the other completely constricted. The moment I saw her eyes, I knew the world wouldn’t be the same anymore. After days of unresponsiveness and months in rehabilitation, she came home. But she was different.
Looking back, I don’t think I ever really allowed myself to ‘deal’ with the trauma of watching my mother go through so much, not knowing whether she would live or die. It was a bit much to process. She got much better, but she was never quite the same person. Her memories weren’t all there. Her mannerisms changed, her personality and attitude. Everyone changes, but she changed a lot. I never realized, until creating that art project, how much I needed to mourn the mother that I lost. Perhaps it was shame at feeling that way. After all, she was alive, how dare I feel anything but grateful that she was still in my life? I was and still am so thankful for that, especially when I see her interacting with my niece, her first and only granddaughter. My gratitude for her life and health isn’t diminished by acknowledging how it affected me, however. It took 11 years and an art project to finally realize that.
By giving form to something that had only existed in some foggy part of my mind, I know myself better. I strive to use everyday happenings to create something new, to both explore who I am as well as leave some tangible reminder or roadmap for how I’ve gotten to where I am, because I believe in the power of creating.
I Believe in Service by Cortney Gumbleton, TCU student, Social Work Major
As a social work student in my senior year, I constantly think about the social work core values that I’ll be representing once I graduate. One that is especially close to my heart is the value of service. Prior to starting college, I joined the military. Following September 11th I knew that I wanted to support my country in any way that I could, so for six years I dedicated my service to the United States Navy. After the military, I knew that I still wanted to support my country, and becoming a social worker was the best way that I felt that I could accomplish that goal.
Last semester my class did a service learning project in which we volunteered with older adults to record their life stories, so that they could give them to their families as something to always remember them by. I valued my time with the older adults that I helped, and couldn’t believe how much gratitude they showed me because I was willingly helping them without asking for anything in return. In all honesty, they were the ones who were helping me with my assignment, but they refused to look at it that way. After listening to their stories, I gained a new-found appreciation for the sacrifices that they have made throughout their lives. It’s difficult to imagine life without cars, toys, and computers. Their experiences of going without have shaped their lives.
Once the project was completed I continued to volunteer at the senior center and over the summer I taught an eight-week long class assisting the older adults in tracing their roots through genealogy. Each week the older adults would bring in pictures to show me and the glow of excitement on their faces justified the ethical core value of service for me once more. There were even a few times where family members of the older adults would come visit during class just to meet me and thank for me assisting their loved ones. I want to say that I volunteer because it is selfless, but the truth is that I do get something out of it, so service must unintentionally not be completely selfless. Feeling good from doing someone nice for someone else is gift, and this I believe.
Kindness is such a simple choice. It doesn’t require significant effort. One need not know much at all about another person to be kind toward them. In fact, in some circumstances a conscious election not to do something can be kindness.
However, kindness does require courage sometimes. Popular culture and much of our everyday human interactions in recent years seem to have taken a turn away from kindness. We are encouraged by our environment these days to be competitive, judgmental, disrespectful, and intolerant. Think, for example, of the many television shows that include a performance and judging component. Everyday people put forth their best efforts under extreme circumstances — singing on live television in front of a large studio audience and in front of celebrity judges. And yet, what seems to draw large viewing audiences are those judges who provide the harshest, least compassionate evaluations of the performances. We as viewers are drawn in…encouraged to be critical, often to excess. In other spheres, social media and television news seem to encourage unfiltered, reflex reactions to ideas and to people that are often hurtful, uninformed, and insensitive. Given these norms, it does require courage sometimes to resist the temptation to conform to the ugliness and negativity that often prevail and choose instead to be thoughtful, caring, and sensitive to the way in which our words and actions affect others.
And kindness can be so powerful. The smallest act can mean so much to the recipient. Whether it be helping a stranger find their way, offering food to someone who is hungry, an umbrella shared with a passerby on a rainy day, a smile or a hug to someone having a bad day, helping a lost pet find its family, or simply the patience and compassion to be silent — to refrain from offering a negative word or thought — each of these gestures has power to inspire, heal, and ultimately, to change our society.
Anne Herbert is often credited with coining the phrase, “practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.” I believe that if we were all to embrace this notion, our world would be so much the better.
This I Believe, by Sydney Sanford, Student, Pre-Major
As I trek through life, I carry a jumble of wires, lightbulbs, and switches that leave me in the dark. I carry a heap of muddy and overgrown weeds. I carry a cracked and leaky ceiling, and a gate that will not open. Quite simply one could say that I carry the enormous weight of a house; a crumbling, yet still standing, house. I am surprised by my ability to carry this house, but even more surprised at my strength that carries its members. I carry the belief that what does not completely crush and kill me, makes me stronger.
Recently my parents decided to separate, and when my mother’s love left my house, the lights went out. I believe it to be no simple coincidence. One by one, the lights went out, and left my sister and I in the dark. We tried, to no avail, to change the lightbulbs and my father even tried calling an electrician, but I insisted that there was still enough light for us. It took some time to adjust, but we were able to help each other use the light that was left to stumble down the dark halls. I have come to discover that the world in the dark is still the same world when it is lit, it is just a world that requires patience and courage.
Soon weeds filled the cracks of the cement in my driveway and made their way into the petunias beds around my house. It was also then that my father found out that the cancer was growing inside him again in the same way--its poisonous roots strangling the beautiful strength that he possesses. The disease spread through his body as the weeds spread through the cracks of my house. I struggle with these weeds alongside my father and I know that suffering does not last forever. The house I carry is not as well-kept as it used to be, but it still stands.
Sometimes more weight is added to my house, causing the ceiling to crack in weak spots and cause leaks. I am learning that even though water can leak through the cracks of my ceiling, not every day is a rainy day.
I am the house I carry. I am the walls that keep it from completely collapsing to the ground in a heap of splinters and nails. I carry the sorrow, the fear, the joy, and the exhaustion that my world endures, thereby keeping it glued together. I believe that what I carry enables me to never abandon the hope that one day the wires will be replaced, the weeds pulled up, and the ceiling repaired. Because I have suffered, I have the power to endure the tornados and thunderstorms that beat against me and my house, and the might to keep it standing tall.
This I believe: to carry means to carry on. Some of us carry houses, some carry pain, some carry secrets, some carry consequences for actions which they are not responsible, but everyone endures suffering. The rain pours, the sun beats down, and the wind whips, yet we have hope for the beauty of tomorrow. I believe that this hope is only attainable through suffering and that the heavier our load, the stronger we are when we set it down.
The Importance and Value of Creativity in Fostering a Holistic Life, by Christy Ingram, Graduate Student
I grew up in a family where being involved in sports was required and praiseworthy. Most of my life, I played soccer. If we weren’t at one of my games, we could be found at one of my brothers’ games. And when I quit soccer in high school, I started kickboxing and ballroom dancing because my parents said I had to pick another sport. Although they were required, I now appreciate growing up with an emphasis placed on sports. I stayed active, was healthy, learned teamwork, made friends, discovered determination, developed grit, and fostered healthy competition. I am grateful for my sports experiences, because I know I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without them.
However, growing up I missed out on the importance of creativity. I truly discovered the power of creativity after a bad breakup during my undergraduate years in college. I had all of these emotions and nothing to do with them. So I started writing poems. I have come to realize that I can figure out my emotions by writing poems while feeling better through the process. But, writing poems is just the start of my exploration of creativity. I have started photography, through which I see beauty and God in another way than I previously had. I see beauty in the way the light shines on a tree or the positioning of a curvy road through a field of yellow flowers.
Even though I am a terrible artist, I have started drawing and using oil pastels. I have a great idea of what something should look like in my head and then I attempt to draw it on a piece of paper. Although, it never seems to match what I thought, I am getting better and better. The use of colors in my art is another way I can express my emotions or concerns. I have also started decorating my home and have found a deep satisfaction in “do-it-yourself” projects, especially those projects that reflect who I am. The more I foster my creativity, the more I see its importance for other areas in my life. For example, I am a counseling intern and my creativity helps me to come up with fun and influential activities. It also helps with the general flow of my sessions and the questions I ask. I like to think that my creativity fosters an environment through which my clients can heal.
I have grown to develop a deep appreciation for creativity and the new way in which it colors my perspective. I believe that creativity is an important yet less emphasized ability to have. It can change someone’s entire life and way of seeing. I know it has changed mine.
This I Believe, by Katie Bowman, Graduate Student
In order for what I believe to be presented in a fashion that I can fully communicate well, I feel the need to speak from experience and from deep conversations I have shared with others. I have been blessed to live in community for the past seven years. During my time of sharing life with others living in close proximity, in depth conversations are just one aspect of the closeness we all share.
Our past shapes us. Every time someone would enter into our community, the first question on everyone’s mind and the first desire of the new member is to share his or her life experiences up to this point. Weather good or bad, it’s his or hers testimony. Openly sharing the messiness of life allows walls to be brought down, trust to be built and commonalities to be found. This is a far cry from dwelling on the past but sharing life leading up to the present gives credit to the person’s qualities, characteristics and resiliency. Once this process of looking back has been completed, the present and my attitudes towards each day is what I finally have control over. Recognizing I am unable to change the past while in the present, the people and their actions and attitudes towards me, all I have the ability to control is my attitude and my ability to respond out of love. In all of this, goals and desires for something great in my future is still on my mind and creates drive, however it is the present days that will lead up to a day when my goals and aspirations are reached.
I have been blessed to travel all over the United States and to many other countries. I am a girl that has self-assessed. Through knowing my spiritual gifts, pathways and understanding what makes me tick and I am a full believer in feeling change. There have been days and even weeks I spent hiking through both the Rockies and Adirondacks. There are no words to express the pay off at the top of those peaks. These experiences, to me, illustrate life and how it can be a hard climb but working towards something and really focusing on the beauty and excitement along the way allows me to feel ”a rightness”. For me it started out with a process of thinking, “what do I love?”, “what experiences make me feel so alive?”. Through my understanding of those questions I stared to seek out opportunities in which I could take part in those events, all the while journaling. I understand that people are created differently and have different styles of coming to their own change but for me during and after those experiences my life naturally and organically conducted itself in a healthier and richer fashion.
For me, having insight from myself has allowed for change to happen. I love people and surrounding myself with wonderful people, with whom I can have deep conversations with, has made a positive impact on my life. I love nature and being out in it, exploring, camping, hiking and visiting beautiful places has been some of the highlights of my life. Knowing my past, acknowledging how it has shaped me and affected my views while also having dreams and aspirations for the future has allowed me to recognize the weight of the present and the control I have over myself at this very moment. All of these variables have allowed me to live a life that I feel has cleansed me of the prior toxins. Certain practices and behavioral modifications have come organically from my change of life style in the past seven years. Each person has his or her own way of going about change and I feel self discover or insight is heavily weighted in that.
All in all my ultimate belief is that God is creator of all, He made me, He loves me and He has seen me through the thick and thin. I have struggled with faith and belief, but thanks to moments that I declare as “ours”, along with necessary and healthy change coupled with quality relationships. I can say in all positivity that I am His and He is mine.
Seasonal Changes, by Deborah Daily, Graduate Student
Just as I mature physically as the years progress, I find that the seasons or cycles of my emotional, cognitive, and spiritual maturation change. Particularly, I have discovered that without spiritual growth my adult life would evolve one-dimensionally. Encounters and experiences have taught me to accept each life phase - the lessons and opportunities presented to me. Resisting change, living in the past, or forecasting the future have proven to be a waste of time. Attempting to exist in the present has enabled me to enjoy each season of life and to exercise better timing in the ending and beginning of new endeavors and relationships.
Pursuing this philosophy has conferred a sense of renewal in my midlife years, providing me with the energy to receive the necessary training for a new career after being laid off from the housing industry three years ago. But this was not always the case. For a short time I accepted the westernized emphasis on youth and specialization in one profession to blind me to the remaining possibilities for my later years. Now my focus is less on the amount of income I have or the titles I hold and more about combining my desire to serve individuals and community as well as provide sustenance for myself.
By honoring my personal evolution, I have circumvented the "shoulds and ought tos" commonly found in each life cycle as well as the boredom and inactivity one may encounter in middle life. Listening to my inner voice, I am less reactive and more responsive to life's hurdles. Embracing the challenges of seasonal life cycles, I have revitalized my life and hopefully avoided stagnation or filling my life with synthetic distractions. Increased faith in life's process and in myself has rekindled my awareness beyond my own boundaries and propelled me forward with a new impression of purpose.
This I Believe... by Jennifer McMahan Carr, Instructor, School of Music
As a girl, my father, a former football player, would tell stories of the glory days of Southwest Conference football from the early 1950’s in Texas. Dad would get a far away look in his eye and speak of an era that is gone by. It has taken me the past 40 years to understand why he was so nostalgic.
There was one tale that made an indelible impression on me about his world of sports. To me it seemed to celebrate honor and integrity, and was proof that the Team, the Coach, and the University held those same ideals. It was about TCU.
In October of 1954, TCU played the University of Oklahoma Sugar Bowl team in a game that the Horned Frogs were not supposed to have any chance of winning. A Brite Divinity student named Johnny Crouch was a Captain of the TCU team, and had been selected the 1952 - 54 All-Time Letterman.
The TCU boys took an overnight train to Norman, Oklahoma sleeping on the train so the Athletic Department would not have to pay for a hotel. Arriving the next morning at a railroad track siding across from the field house, they had to haul their gear to the stadium.
According to the Quarterback of that TCU team, Chuck Curtis recalled~
“We held the lead until the end of the game, and then late in the 4th quarter I threw a pass to Johnny Crouch in the end zone that would have given the Frogs a victory.” A touchdown was signaled and the points were put onto the scoreboard, however Johnny went to the referee and said “Sir, I did not catch that ball, it hit the ground first.”
Astonished at the young players’ honesty, the official went to the sidelines and approached Coach Abe Martin. “Coach Martin, your team captain says he didn’t catch it. I’ve already signaled, what should we do?”
Without hesitation, Martin was said to have replied –“If Johnny Crouch says he didn’t catch it, then he didn’t catch it.”
The points were removed from the scoreboard, and Oklahoma went on to win the game 21-16.
The following week Sports Illustrated wrote, “The most genuinely amazing development in college sports this week prevented rather than instituted an upset.”
With football championships worth their weight in gold, it would be difficult to turn away from a big victory for any collegiate team. It might even mean a dismissal for any coach who allowed that to occur. Abe Martin wasn’t just any coach. Martin was known to be a fatherly figure whose players adored him, they lived and died to win for him, knowing that he stood for doing the right thing, no matter the cost.
It says something about the climate at TCU that Johnny Crouch wasn’t ostracized or criticized for his simple act of honesty; instead he was awarded a great honor as the Most Valuable Player of the Year, given the 1954 Rogers Trophy for his outstanding leadership and athleticism.
I believe that we at TCU continue to honor those who stand for the right, the good, and the best in humanity. It is a legacy that lives throughout this campus and this University, and it is what makes me proud to be a small part of what happens here.
This I believe...
Beauty through Pain, by Kaitlyn Turney, TCU Student, Speech Pathology Major
My name is Kaitlyn Turney, and I listened to “The Hardest Work You Will Ever Do” and “The Give-and-Take of Grief.”
I believe that grief can be crushing yet healing, bounding yet freeing. Through grief you become utterly lost but through the journey find yourself. The hardest times of life can be oddly beneficial and mold you into your future self, for better or worse.
October 12, 2010 was a day like any other: beautiful, peaceful, normal. Then I got a phone call that would change my life forever. “Your brother is no longer with us,” my dad says. My mind cannot comprehend this because he was only 17. How is it fair for his short life to be over? To make the situation worse, he took his own life. Questions upon questions will remain unanswered. “How can you do this to your family? Your friends? What right do you have?” Anger, sadness, bitterness washed over me and seeped into every pore.
No mother should have to bury her child. No father should see his son’s life cut short, especially by the son’s own hands. There’s no manual on how to process these types of conflicting emotions. Every person close to my brother put some blame on themselves. “Did I miss a sign? Could I have prevented this? Did I push him over the edge?” But in time, one has to try to realize that there’s nothing anyone can do now. What’s done is done and playing the blame game will eat you alive.
Months of depression, sleeping days away, being haunted by constant memories and grief, struggling to function followed and still hit at times. Experiences like this push you to your limits and reveal how resilient you are and helps you realize how strong people can truly be. Did I bounce back instantly? Of course not. My ideology, faith, and essence of my very being were challenged. While everything in life was being torn apart, I slowly figured out how to put it back together and form myself into a person of greater empathy and love.
The journey through this pain and turmoil is one I am still on. Life as I know it and figuring out what I believe is still a work in progress, but there is satisfaction in being stretched to every extreme and learning the depths of my soul and mind. Am I glad this tragedy occurred? Frankly, no, but I know I would not be who I am today and have as much compassion if it did not happen. I am still not sure how I feel about that but growth still occurs.
Through this journey, I have come to realize that even through all the pain and suffering in the world, life is still inherently beautiful. This faith and outlook makes life worth living and brings joy on the most sorrowful of days.
I Believe in Dive Restaurants, by Charlotte Hogg, PhD, Professor, TCU English Department
In a culture where being a food lover means being able to separate the quinoa from the spelt, I find myself gravitating to places tucked away or popular with the locals but eschewed by foodies. This might be because I'm an academic where potlucks don't mean casseroles but endive or soft cheeses I can't name. But when I got my first job as an assistant professor, I was thrilled when two of the snobbiest in my department invited me to dinner, then took me not to a ritzy place but a cheap pizza buffet--that served tater tots as a side!--on the west edge of town. "We come here when we want to gossip and want to make sure we won't see anyone we know," they confided before biting into their greasy pizza slices. I liked them right away.
I once took my now-husband to that same pizza buffet, a small space brimming with decorations for an upcoming holiday, and he loved it. As he went to order his specialty toppings and load his cheap, metal plate with more tots and ketchup, I thought: he's a keeper. The pizza buffet is filled with regulars and waiters who are quick on the draw with refills and smiles. Some of our best conversations have happened there after a long work day as we hunker over our thin crusts and settle in, TVs, chatter, and dingy holiday décor as the backdrop. Other patrons say hello as we graciously step aside to share the pizza line for plate number two.
A year or so ago, we befriended a new couple, and I realized that I had made a litmus test of our compatibility by where we decided to eat dinner. Rather than suggesting restaurants in the burgeoning hip part of town, I sheepishly suggested we head to the Mexican restaurant in the suburb not far in miles but far in lifestyle from the private university where I work. They instantly agreed, and it became a regular place for us to talk about our toddlers' milestones as we shared chips and salsa and our boys smashed and chewed their cheese quesadillas.
Dive restaurants are almost always local and almost always familiar, where one can feel like they are Norm on the sitcom Cheers when walking through the door. When I first moved to Fort Worth, feeling unmoored by its huge population and ropes of interstates, these restaurants warmly took in a stranger and a new friend, inviting us to get past the small talk and get to the nitty gritty. While sitting at a wobbly table, shaking malt vinegar on fish and chips as a chatty waitress refilled our drinks, creating companionship suddenly seemed not only possible but easy, and this is why I believe in dive restaurants.
I believe in Smiling, by Jimena Reyes, TCU Student, Strategic Communication Major
I believe in smiling.
Have you ever had a stranger smile at you when your day was not going well? And without realizing it, you smiled back? It has happened to me, which is why I smile as often as I can, even to strangers.
Smiles help us communicate non-verbally; for example, we usually smile when we like something, or when we are happy, or when we are excited, or when we see a familiar face. We sometimes don't even notice we are doing it. It's an unconscious reflex.
Smiles are contagious – and this is why I love smiling at people, even if I'm sad or mad. I do it hoping I will get a smile back. I have experienced how powerful smiling can be from both perspectives.
When I was in middle school, my parents decided to change my school. In this new place, I had no friends and I was to shy to talk to strangers. It was easier for me to stay in my "safe bubble".
On my third day I was eating on a bench when a girl who was two years older smiled at me for no reason. I just couldn't understand; people from higher grades just don't go around smiling at the young ones.
Her smile made that day better than the rest. If it weren't for her, I would have never gotten the courage to go talk to the girl on the bench next to mine, who would become my best friend.
Smiles are powerful, and I believe in them. Give others your best smile. You never know whose life you might change.
This I Believe, by Elizabeth Leach, TCU Student, Environmental Science Major
When you experience the death of a close family member at a young age like I did, you don't realize the impact it has on your life until much later. My father died from a heart attack when I was eight years old. I saw him on his death bed and I said goodbye to him when he was no longer with us. His funeral was quite possibly the most impersonal thing I had ever been to. I was surrounded by all these "family members" who I had never met before, and who never spoke to me after that day. I just said "thank you" when they expressed their condolences. Being a military dependent, it was recommended that I see a psychologist until they believed I was "emotionally stable." The doctor turned out to be just another stranger that didn't trigger my need to grieve. The unsuccessful sessions lasted for three years.
I was just starting high school when I grieved for the first time. My mom was on deployment for seven months, and though I had someone to stay with me, I was alone. All the feelings I had been burying for years erupted and I caused myself and those around me a lot of pain. I misbehaved, I started failing on purpose, and I refused to talk to anyone about my dad. I was envious of all the kids who had two parents because I felt like I had none.
Finally, when my mom took notice of my behavior, she tried to understand why I was being so strange. I was always a good kid, and everything I had been doing was so unlike me. When I spoke to her, I got angry and I yelled and I blamed her. She was never there. Even before my dad died, she was always working. "I've never even seen you cry for him," I said. I wanted her to hurt like I was hurting. That was, until I realized that all this time she had been. I had no idea that she was hiding so much pain. I found out that she had been diagnosed with depression and a range of several other medical problems since my dad's death. We both learned a lot about each other and ourselves that day. I realized that my mom and I had both been trying to protect each other. My mom hid her grieving from me in the hope that I would be oblivious to such pain. I never allowed feelings of grief to enter my mind because I didn't want my mom to worry. Little did we know, we were building up more pain for each other because it all exploded later. What we both needed was genuine communication. Our feelings needed to be discussed, not tucked away neatly in our minds somewhere.
Since that first instance of grief, I have cried for my dad several times. He did not see me graduate from high school, and he won't be there when I get my bachelor's degree or when I get married. I will never hear him call me "sugar" or "pumpkin" again and he will never take me out to buy new books to read. And, I'll never get to ask him about his life and what it was like before I came along, but I will be able to ask my mom what her life was like. She was there when I graduated from high school and she will see my bachelor's degree and meet my husband. She still calls me her princess and buys me new Star Wars books every time they come out. Most importantly, every year on March 1, we grieve for my father who we both miss and who we both reminisce about together.
I believe that true grieving is only possible when you are honest with yourself and your loved ones. The people who know you better than anyone are the only ones who have the ability to support your pain. I believe that ignoring feelings can lead to suffering and that you should express them in some way before they cause pain. I also believe that there is no right time to grieve. When you try to force someone to realize a loss, it only shuts them down further. Everyone has a different way and pace of mourning, but eventually their feelings do come to the surface and once they do, all you can do as a loved one is be with them physically and emotionally.
I Believe in Taking Risks, by Britt Luby, TCU Staff Member, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life
Street food. One-way plane tickets. Rope swings. If you don't do it now you'll regret it for the rest of your life on repeat in my mind as I untie my shoes, roll up my jeans, and run to dip my toes in frigid ocean water. Mountain climbing, thesis-writing, cross-country moving, things that seem too big to undertake that somehow become smaller and smaller in size with every step. Slacklining, skinny dipping, snowshoeing, trying new things to make sure that I'm not missing out on the most important thing, that one experience that will bring more joy and pride and excitement than I could ever imagine.
I believe in taking risks. I believe that it's okay to study abroad in Spain even if you've never taken a Spanish class because by the end of your journey you might just leave pieces of your heart swirling in cups of ruby-red sangria. I believe that it's possible to convert an electric clothes dryer cord from four prongs to three with just a few words of encouragement from the man at the hardware store (and a quick phone call to dad) and that converting that power cord might just make you more proud of yourself than the day you graduated from college. I believe that when you drive down the coast of California, you should observe one rule: stop whenever and wherever you want. That way, you can stick your finger in hundreds of slippery sea anemones while starfish in every color watch. And even if you are late to your final destination, it's good, it's really good, because that sun setting over the Pacific is spectacular. I believe in staying up too late the night before a big exam because having a conversation with that boy, that sweet boy, seems more important that bivariate data analysis and maybe, just maybe, you're going to marry that boy someday.
In a few short months, that sweet boy and I will join the Peace Corps, pack up our entire lives into four suitcases, and move to Morocco. This seems like one of my biggest risks yet, but it certainly won't be the last. Not if I'm lucky. Because I believe that there are too many beautiful, wonderful things on this ever-spinning planet and that the only way to soak it all up, to feel the heartbeat of the earth pulsing in your veins, is to try as many of those things as you can every chance you get.
This I believe, by Kaci Mayfield, TCU Student, Business Major
I believe in progress and timing. I believe if you have air in your lungs and two working legs you should continually be moving forward in the direction your head and your heart guide you. And if your head and your heart can't seem to reach an agreement, go with your gut. And if that doesn't work, call mom; she always knows what to do. I believe that there will be days where the only thing you accomplish is converting oxygen to carbon dioxide and that's okay too. I believe each day you are given is a second chance to make up for what you couldn't do the day before; each day also holds a new opportunity of its own. I believe in finding solace in missing your flight or bus or train, because you just may cross paths with a person who will impact your life or take you on an unexpected adventure.
I also believe in pain. I believe that unless you know gut-wrenching, heart stopping, I-can't-breathe-because-it-hurts agony you will never truly understand moments of overwhelmingly boundless joy and love. I believe in heartbreak. I believe in struggles. I believe there is beauty in even the darkest of moments. I believe that if you can't let go of it all, it will weigh you down. Most of all, I believe in pain because if you can feel it, you are still alive.
Lastly, I believe in the power of words. I believe that language can lift the spirit to new heights, and that it can also break it. I believe in songs that have lyrics that can disrupt your very soul, give you the chills, make you cry and laugh and change your outlook on life. I believe we should choose our words wisely because once they've been released to the universe; there is no taking them back. I believe the written word has the ability to transport the mind somewhere over the rainbow and down the road less taken, past Elysian Fields, Parnassus and the Hundred Acre Wood to Shangri La and back again. I believe that words can change people. I believe if people said what they meant and meant what they said the world would be a much better place. And I believe that if you are able to read these words, you are blessed beyond measure and should be grateful. I believe I am.
Persistence, by Ian Hirtz, TCU Student, Strategic Communication Major
I believe in myself. I was diagnosed with the learning disabilities of ADHD and Dyslexia at a young age. It started in third grade when my parents began receiving calls from my teachers about my progress in the classroom.
I fell behind as a result. I had trouble reading and paying attention. I was too young to understand what was happening to me, and I felt stupid compared to the other kids in my class. I was pulled out of school and placed in another school for kids with learning disabilities, "The Joy School." My new school's goal was getting me caught up with my peers so that I could attend a normal school again.
I never gave up hope and still believed I could persist through this challenge bestowed upon me. My mother was there to show me ways to deal with my disability -- she believed and it helped me believe in myself.
I began developing a daily routine that I followed every day. I would wake up, brush my teeth, have all my daily belongings on my shelf so I wouldn't forget anything, eat breakfast, grab my backpack next to the front door and off I would go to school. I repeated this every day of my life and still do.
I then started seeing a psychiatrist, who gave me medication to help me focus. I told myself I would never let this stop me from doing anything I want to do in life.
Being diagnosed at a young age has given me a different perspective on life. I never take anything for granted and never will. I have worked hard for all that I have accomplished to this point in my life.
Do not ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something. Life is full of obstacles and with the right drive, you can overcome anything you want.
You have to believe. I started in a normal school in third grade, transferred to The Joy School for five years, gained acceptance into a Catholic High School and now attend a prestigious university.