Sunday, March 30, 2008

small town boys

Chilli is a town of no more than 6,000 peoples. It is not glamorous, but cute it its own way. This weekend I was able to go home for the first time in nearly 10 weeks. People from the suburbs thing of it as the "country" but for me it is home.

The best part of my trip was getting quality time with my boys. Both of my brothers are different but uniquely hilarious. It makes me wish I was home more often to hear there crazy stories. My dad is the main event when it comes to story telling. I love the way all of us kids crack up before he finishes his joke because of his laughter before even getting to the punchline.

Quick weekend at home but good weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

close: pieces. far: one.

Last summer I had the most eye and heart opening experience in Africa. This coming summer I am planning to return for the majority of my summer to volunteer.

It would be nice if I only had to sign my name some where in order to go but it is a little more complicated. I have a grant proposal to cover the cost of the trip in the works. This means I need a well organized, researched, and focused research topic to turn in the 5th week of school.

I feel as if there are alot of pieces that must fall in place for this to work out. Not every piece makes since by itself but it will all come together to be one. This is my hope; my prayer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

springy start

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don't spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.”

My whole life running was always the consequence for someone not being on time, not paying attention, not trying hard enough, etc. Grade school it was simple floor lengths sprints, high school it was the dreaded walls, & last and probably the worst 14’s that have come to make me hate running. Running takes physical and mental strength. The sports I’ve always enjoyed the most running was merely part of the game; not the entire game.

Today I bought the first real running shoes I’ve ever owned: a cute but quality pair of Asics. Tomorrow I will start my journey reversing the painful association of punishment and running. I hope to turn a negative into positive and quite possibly find a new passion.

Monday, March 24, 2008

was that my life?

7am that cant be my alarm clock
705am quick shower
720am dance off with myself and vh1 morning videos
730am breakfast club
8am social psych
920am science religion magic
11am TK lunch
12pm drugs and behavior
120pm global history
2pm work
4pm hot chocolate and conversation with a irish friend
5pm TK dinner
630pm jumbo protest and change
1015pm staff meeting
1140ish-pm blog
12am bed

lost but assured
scared but encouraged
confused but confident

over involved but more left to do

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Housing for Habitat

7 reasons one should participate in collegiate challenge
• Improve your leadership skills.
• Develop and strengthen friendships.
• See the impact your work is having on communities.
• Learn more about poverty housing issues and how you can help.
• Visit new areas of the country.
• Affect a global cause by advocating on behalf of poverty housing issues.
• Help provide a simple, decent, affordable place to live for people in need.

I spent my spring break in the Carolinas to participate in collegiate challenge. I have a huge complaint for the makers of their official website. One major reason was left off; southern hospitality.

One would think a group of women athletes would eat the healthiest compared to the average groups that go on spring break trips. That statement could not be more false. Our hosts’ southern hospitality killed any thought of that. We enjoyed huge lunches that would qualify as large dinners for most of us. Every lunch and dinner seemed to be served with dessert as well. Not only did we enjoy our desserts but the whole experience was great. The communities that were worked in were very appreciative and welcoming.

As an athlete at a small school, we know who other athletes are but beyond what sport they participate in we don’t know much more. The past two years I’ve done habitat trips of all women athletes. It has been an awesome opportunity to really get to know others and created friendships that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Overall, the trip was another one for the books.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Words on the Fridge

My brain feels like the cluster of words on the fridge. Cold and long was winter term. Today is just a preview of the warm weather to come. Spring break means a week and half of no forced thinking or reading for class which I welcome. I will be leaving soon with a group of women athletes to participate in collegiate challenge (an effort to have college students volunteer with Habitat for Human as part of an alternative spring break program). It will be nice to chill before a crazy spring term.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One Last Thing

Running on 4 and half hours of sleep, I just finished an end of the term project which is my last requirement for winter term. I'm done. I have a sense of relief and achievement. I've finished out the term and I feel as if I couldn't have given anything more to my studies, I'm spent.

Most people would crawl in bed and finally enjoy sleep that I've been deprived of the last few days. But I have energy to do one last thing today... if possible I would go a couple of rounds with Colins in attempts to restore my pride with some Uno victories.

But he is a world away, guess I'll have to wait til summer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Social Theory Past Bedtime

beau-ti-ful adj. having beauty; very pleasing to the eye, ear, mind, etc.
Staying up late studying the great thinkers of social theory over the last few centuries as much fun as that is one of the girls and I have gotten way off topic. We’ve talked about everything from songs written with political agendas to what it means to come from a small town.

The conversation leads to discussing what it is to be beautiful and does one really feel beautiful. Along with that thought, who is defining beautiful? Is it the realistic view of the individual or the impossible yet influential view of the media? We come to the conclusion that most modest people look at themselves, aren’t thrilled and don’t proclaim to the world “Oh, I’m beautiful.”

While trying to better understand George H. Mead, I come across a quote under a section; “I am what I think you think I am.” This frustrates me yet at the same time for many of us this is true. Why is it that we let society conform our own views of ourselves? Is it possible to restate the quote to be “I am what I think I am”?

(image from a RA program, taken by my sister)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Waiting for the Real World

My winter term here at school is coming to a close which means the arrival of finals. Most students can be found in states of panic or frustration as many of us try to wrap up last minute term projects and papers. At this point many students begin to vent on the frustrations of college life: cramped dorm rooms, too much assigned reading for classes, and nasty cafeteria food. We talk about how much we look forward to graduation and entering the ‘real world’ one day.

If the REAL world was represented by 100 people, 80 people would live in substandard housing. 14 would be unable to read. 50 would suffer from malnutrition. You ask how many would be in our shoes and stressed out about finals; out of 100 only 1 person would achieve a college education. Yes, only one.

Life after college and entering the ‘real world,’ will I be able to see reality the way I want or will it be a shared reality with the rest of the world? It is more comfortable and easier to live life with blinders on. But to call yourself educated and not be able to recognize what the ‘real world’ actually is, seems quite silly to me.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Breezy Saturday

"I don't know if we each have a destiny or if we're all just floatin' accidental-like on a breeze."

Friday, March 7, 2008


Nutrition Facts. College. Jessie “03”.
Never leave a wingman behind.
STOP. Kate.
Cardinals 42.
Las Vegas. Pikes Peak. I heart JESUS.
Australia. Texas. Cubs. SIUe. Arizona.
Don’t give up the best is yet to come.
To look back and say, at least, I didn’t lead no humdrum life.
Rotate. Bearhug. Beautiful.
There is no cosmetic beauty like happiness & laughter.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Mischievous. Embrace life.
Adventures of Kate & Swimmer.
Trust. Dance. Choose.
Impossible is nothing.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More Than Just a Little White Bracelet

One day during my senior year of high school, two people were talking about the Iraq War. “Oh my god, my brother is there,” I thought to myself. It seemed as if I had forgot or after so many nights of worrying I had accomplished clearing the thought from my mind. In some far away country protecting my freedom my brother, the kid that had been there for everything: bubble baths, back yard fights, high school basketball games; I forgot about him.

The next day I started wearing a Nike wrist band with ‘battlegrounds’ pressed into it and every time I looked at my wrist I remembered my brother. My freshmen year of college, my brother safety returned from his second tour of Iraq. Finally, I could stop worrying. No more panicking about late night phone calls, avoiding news footage with reports of road side bombs, reading obituaries of young soldiers… I was ready to remove my wrist band.

But it occurred to me there were so many more people’s brothers fighting; their lives still at risk. It has been over three years since I first wore the wristband and I’m waiting for the day I take it off. The day were ‘battlegrounds’ are no more.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

48 and counting

Today, March 5th, 2008, the woman known as Patrice who I along with my two brothers call Mom is celebrating her 48th birthday. She also has raised/raising 4 stepchildren. “Trice” as my grandmother calls her was born and raised in my hometown of Chillicothe where she operates her own small business and is probably spending her day of celebration at.

My mother means many different things to many different people. When I worked at the local grocery store everyone would ask me “you’re Patrice’s daughter, right? She is such a great lady.” My mother is completely a people’s person and has compassion for everyone that walks through the door.

My mom is working hard at her business while I’m in the closing week of my term at school. I’m not really able to come home today. So she will have to wait to receive her birthday present until this weekend. But I didn’t want this day to past with out doing something. Inspired by the top ten list’s on ESPN classic, I thought I would do the top ten memories of you.

10.facial expression after seeing my knocked out front tooth
9.ten minute indian costume from Kroger bags
8.speaking at Schmidt’s anniversary party
7.your gifts to my refugee family
6.pumpkin seed fight
5.kindergarten homemade lint monster
4.fake sick day to miss tumbling in PE class
3.yellow 80’s polka dot dress and black bead necklace
2.the sound of your “wooowooo” from the crowd at State Tournament
1.laughing on the road trip with Grandma Nita

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Unlikely Life Lesson

“Inappropriate, so inappropriate..” words of my mother in the checkout line with a face of disgust expressing her opinion of Cosmopolitan magazine. As young teenager, I was warned of such filth that exists in the world and how it could corrupt my impressionable young mind.

Most Cosmopolitan cover stories are “The Best of the Karma Sutra” or equally outrageous but enticing headlines. After mopping the weight room, I sat down to an issue that I found from 2005; more interesting than the readings of Marx and Weber for social theory class so I cracked it open. This morning, which would surprise my mother, I came upon a very inspiring story.

The one page article tells a story of a 30 year old woman who lost her life on September 11th. Eventually after months passed, Ann’s mother came upon this document called “Top 100” on her daughter’s laptop. The document revealed an incomplete list of goals her daughter had hoped to accomplish. Ann’s list only reached 36: learn about wine, Kilimanjaro, get a graduate degree, volunteer for a charity and so on.

The rest of my shift, I just stared at the article. I’m 21 years old…what do I want to accomplish. My thoughts followed me all the way to the other end of campus to my 10 o’clock class. Along with my notes about Marcuse and Habermas, I started scratching down my own list.

Go to all continents
Be a foster parent
Laugh everyday
Serve in the Peace Corps
Love my body
Be a strong mother
Walk barefoot in puddles w/ my grandkids
Run a marathon
Enjoy summer time walks
Learn proper use of commas
Send cards for no reason
Be a good friend
Start my own business
Visit all 50 states
Attend a Cubs World Series game
Coach my children
Learn to paint
Showcase my photos in an exhibit
Adopt a dog from the pound
Have some secrets
Be a better listener
Learn a choreographed dance
Remember people’s names
Do a standup show
Camp on the beach
Read the bible from cover to cover
Remember not to take myself too seriously
Befriend a complete stranger
Meet a president
Live a life I’m proud of

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”
What do you want to get started on?

Monday, March 3, 2008

How Long...

(excerpts from my journal while in Africa this past summer)
July 10th: I believe that this trip is going to change me. I just pray that my fire isn’t dimmed, that when I get home I’ll be able to fuel it and spread it to others.

July11th: In Kibera, thousands of people get up every morning and don’t know how they are going to get food or money. Yet, they are God loving people who offered us the chance to come in their homes and lives.

July 14th: Seeing a lot of this isn’t the easiest thing in the world but it is meaningful and true.

July 20th: When we prayed for Jackie tears streamed down my face. I believe it is because I don’t see a stranger; I don’t see an African. Just as she finds herself in this situation one of my friends could be in the same position.

July 26th: Today, we went to Nyumbani…I first met a little boy named Nicholas. He was very energetic and lots of smiles. Next, I played with Anne, an adorable little girl; for the most part she just liked being held.

July 30th: We said our tearful goodbyes. How are we just supposed to get back on the plane and go back to our normal lives? Jesus, may you allow me to represent the stories and lives that I got to know, so that people in the states may have a better idea of what our brothers and sisters are going through. Action must be taken NOW…

How long… How long after September 11th do people forget to post their American flags outside their homes? How long before people forget our soldiers are still fighting in Iraq and support your troops signs disappear? How long will the NIU red and black ribbons remain? How long before we go back to our normal lives?

Is it possible for me to heal and move on with a normal life while still keeping this events in my thoughts and prayers?

My soul is the same as my brothers and sisters
We all travel many miles on our journeys
One experiences the struggles and joys of life regardless of wealth or poverty
Looking closely, I see the same red African soil covering our souls
Yet when I return home mine will be washed off and their's will remain
But in the moment this does not matter
We walk hand in hand, black and white, poor and rich
Because loves sees no differences, only the Lord in one another.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ordinary "Expectations"

‘what separates an ordinary woman from an extraordinary one?
the belief she is ordinary.’

Last week a group of res-lifers (RAs and hall directors), put on a program for first year women. There was an educational aspect but mostly it was a lot of fun activities to enjoy a night of hanging out with friends. One of the stations, a friend of mine took head shots and group photos of the girls. Everyone got a chance to participate in and had a lot of fun.

This year I’ve had the great opportunity to serve 26 first year women as a resident assistant. The job has its ups and downs mostly ups. I knew I would be pushed to grow as a person but I’ve been surprised by just how much. Growing up as a young woman in our society, I don’t go without hearing about women and their struggles with their self image.

This year many new, strong, influential women have come into my life and made a positive counter punch towards all the negative influences out there. At first I thought to myself “oh how do they have everything... they are so perfect…how are they so content and happy” I’ve realized my perceptions of them were wrong. After really getting to know these women I realized no one has it completely together and there is no such thing as perfect. Yet, there is a choice to be happy and appreciate one’s self.

This past winter I came to a turning point and realized that basketball was no longer for me. Quitting in the midst of the season was not easy and made for an emotional transition. A couple days after quitting another student in the dinning hall came over to my table. “So I heard about basketball…so like what do you do now?” That was a question I did not have an answer for.

For the majority of my life, I have strived for Kate Schmidt the 6’2 basketball player who attempted to live up to “expectations” that I believed people held for me. Falling short of those “expectations”, I would allow my self-esteem to fall as well. In a conversation with a friend trying to figure this question out they completely caught me off guard. Most people allowed me to pity myself and were understanding toward my state of uncertainty. However she did not. She challenged me to see it as choice. Either I allow myself to be ruled by expectations or I realize that I am in control. And it was my decision.

As of right now, I still have no definitive answer for the question. But when I come upon it, it will be mine. I will no longer be defined by my belief of ordinary “expectations.”

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Do you choose to focus on the flower or the stone?

written 12.10.07

"I can't seem to settle in again to my regular American life. I feel a little bit broken. I feel home sick. Home sick for Africa. And home sick for Jesus. I felt him there in Kibera in a way I haven't before. And something about coming back to my comfortable life makes me feel like I am betraying all the friends I met there..." (from my friend Desiree's blog)

4 months have passed since I've returned from Nairobi. The entire time I was there I found it impossible to remember not to use the water when I was brushing my teeth (even with the threat of irregular bowl movements). Here at home every morning and night, I stop myself. I stare and I'm sickened by the unlimited supply of fresh water at my disposal.

I try to make sense of how God gave me so much...

Judith, Peter, Nicholas, Anne, Martha, Jamie, Kevin, Paul and so many others faces appear in my mind. I witnessed their hardships, their pain. Yet at the same time, I fell in love with their faith, their beauty, their laughter, their simple way of life.
But my most disturbing emotion was... jealousy. How in all of their difficulties, do they have the ability to find joy? And yet that contentment seems to escape me.

They do not curse God because they didn't find a parking space. They do not curse God because of the "taste less" food being served at the dinning hall. They do not curse God because they did not get playing time in a game.

My brothers and sisters are joyful, thankful, grateful people...when I am not. They choose to embrace the beauty and joy of the flower. They overcome the coldness, the hardness of the massive stone. How can that be? Why do I not focus on the beauty?

God will you please allow me to love you like they do. Help me to be more like them. Help the world to be more like them.