October 26, 2012

Political Unrest

This ad is quite possibly one of the most offensive things I've ever seen. I came away from it feeling disturbed, disrespected, and disgusted. A sexual innuendo has no place in a political campaign. Further, the ad oversimplifies women as voters. My skin was literally crawling for two hours. There is nothing acceptable about this ad, and someone with two young daughters should see that. I am baffled and appalled.

Of course this ad just resurrected all my negative feelings about this election. I hate that this is my first election and I am not happy with my options. I should be excited to vote, to throw my weight behind someone. But I am disappointed and that is a terrible feeling.

I wish there was a "I reject these candidates, give me new ones" option on my ballot.

And I still can't shake the lingering disgust and discomfort that the "My First Time" ad has left with me.

October 14, 2012

"...you are there."

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there.
If I make my bed in the depths, You are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:7-10

September 16, 2012


Jackie: You seem stressed.
Me: Do I? I feel terrible frazzled. I can't stop thinking.

This is not the only conversation like this I've had recently. This semester, so far, has been significantly different than my previous four, and for quite a few reasons ranging from Jackson being gone to the type of classes I'm taking to my priorities to my goals. Lots has changed.

I am enjoying college a lot this year, and I cannot even pinpoint a specific reason why. I've had a lot of chances to interact with my closest friends which is always recharging. I am an introvert through and through, but being with my very dearest friends is always a welcome pastime.

This biggest difference this year is the form that my stress takes. I am not stressed in the way of freshman year, being unable to wake up with being scared, or unable to keep my eyes open in class because of lack of sleep. It's not the same as last year, which brought a lot of academic stress as well as dissonance between my commitments, desires, and priorities. No, this year is different. I have managed to successfully start giving my worries to God which has been a huge help. It helps me have a better perspective on life: I am alive and I have a roof over my head.  Nothing else actually matters at all if you think about it. Graduating would be nice, having money to buy a new dress would be nice, taking on a leadership position in my various groups would be nice, finishing a problem set on time would be nice... But none of these things have a whole lot of life importance. I've mentioned "big time stuff" before, and being able to hand my worries over to God and focus on Him more has helped me with that. The problem, then, is my asking, "Well, then why am I here?"  I struggle a lot with this. I struggle with striving to be a good person while also balancing school work and my job, without which, I couldn't be here in the first place.

I figured out the best way to describe what I am wrestling with right now: paralysis. Even the smallest decisions - "Do I need an umbrella?" - result in an exorbitant amount of thought and consideration. Expand that to large decisions like "Should I run for president of KD?" or "How should I approach studying for this prelim?" and I sometimes can sit there and ponder without a foreseeable stopping point. Unfortunately, my coping mechanism is that I sometimes just don't acknowledge something that needs to be addressed, hoping that by not thinking about it, it will simply solve itself or go away. This isn't true. I may have learned to curb my fretting (to an extent), but now I spend way to much thinking and wondering. I have moved from worrying about the outcome of a decision or something I can't control, and now I constantly preseverate over decisions still unmade.  I am constantly struggling with: "Is this the decision I am supposed to make? Will this help me become a better person? Will this help others?" I am sure those are valid things to worry about... sometimes. The problem is that it has percolated throughout my life and leaves me paralyzed even in the simplest of situations.

I have a feeling that I would not be quite as bad with this if I had a better idea of what my goals are. I am working on that. God and I are trying to figure it out. I'm just so bad at being patient, and waiting for a decision to be made clear. We talked about patience and waiting this week at Navs and it struck a chord. For now, I need to calm my heart and await an anticipated answer. I need to be open and enjoy life. I need to simply let it happen.

Exodus 14:14 "The LORD will fight for you. You need only be still." 

September 4, 2012

Psalm 77:17

For some people it's in church, for others on a hike, others out on a sail boat. As for me, I feel closest to God when it rains. LIFE is falling from the sky. Everything is drenched and beautiful. It's a second chance - washing away grime and subduing heat. Maybe it's some subconscious connection to baptism? Maybe it's because it is life giving? Maybe the little girl in me just feels at home when it rains? Regardless, I'm sitting on my porch, grinning ear to ear, watching the rain and the lightening, and feeling so incredibly blessed, loved, and protected.

August 30, 2012

Dissonance & Relationships

Before living with someone, there are the universal basics to know. Are they messy? Do they have people over often? What is their sleep schedule like? All good questions. Something you may forget to ask, however, is your television taste.

It is probably exasperated by 1) the fact that I haven't had a TV to "myself" in two years, and 2) I am mildly obsessed with TV. Courtney - who is hysterical, brash, usually offensive, dependable, and constantly outspoken - and I have very different ideas of what is good television/film (this also extends to music but I'm not even gonna try to go there). 

To name a few of our current disagreements... 
-Family Guy
-Harry Potter 
-Big Bang Theory
-How I Met Your Mother
-Man vs. Food
-Ocean's Eleven
-Van Helsing

Even more baffling, however, is what we do agree on...
-The Soup
-Pride & Prejudice
-Mamma Mia (we both agree the movie was a disgrace)
-Finding Neverland

Don't get me wrong. I love living with Courtney. I also don't think I've yelled at a single person more than her. We are always disagree about superficial things like the channel or food tastes (similar to television, lots of agreements and disagreements). But we have some of the most awesome, intelligent, deep, boundary-less conversations. Who we think should be elected, who we think will be elected, the legitimacy of the space exploration program, the co-existence of God and science, the reasons she wants to serve our country as a United States Marine. 

In light of all the talk of diversity and tolerance that emanates from Cornell, I think relationships like ours are infinitely more powerful than any talk or policy about how to treat people. Courtney and I yell at each other when a show is coming on, but we respect each other greatly, trust each other deeply, are not offended by the other's thoughts, and learn from each other. Our relationship is far from an isolated case (it just sticks out because of the extremeness of our agreements and disagreements), and I find an incomparable value in our interactions. And, try as you might, that can't be forced by some policy or "cultural awareness" requirements. It comes from a much deeper place of mutual respect and desire to learn, without compromising yourself to be tolerant to the point of being a doormat. 

I'm so grateful for the people I know. I might graduate in May of 2014 not remembering all the steps for the iterative design process, how to get a matrix into reduced row echelon form, or how to code PHP, but I will remember the effect that my interactions have had on my world view. And I cannot imagine anything more important.

July 25, 2012

The Donkephant

In the last couple of weeks, between the shootings in Colorado with the ensuing gun debate and the fact that it is an election year, I've found myself becoming more and more political.

Ok I take that back. Not necessarily political, more like trying to hone in on my personal political identity. What I've found is that the two main parties can be boiled down and described like this:

Republicans hate the government.
Democrats hate rich people. 

Now I know that there are a bunch more nuances, but I think that sums it up on a high level. If I had to pick a side solely based on that characterization, I'd have to go with Republicans (though I'm not a fan of either party in its entirety). That conclusion is largely based on the fact that I don't hate rich people. Most of the time (with the exception of some select celebrities who I think should be required to pass grammar test or pay double the taxes), I believe that people have worked hard to earn their money, and no one deserves to be penalized for being successful. It's their money, and if they choose to spend it on twelve Porches instead of funding an underprivileged child's education, that's their own call. I don't even mean that sarcastically. I truly mean that is their possession to do with it what they will. To me, it's the same as knowledge and talent. No one should be required to use his or her talent in a specified or regulated manner. There are plenty of ways someone's talent could help people, but no one has the right to tell them that they are using it wrong. Talents, knowledge, money... They are all possessions, and the government really shouldn't be dictating how what's mine gets used.

But in a non-fiscal sense (aka socially), I sort of side with the Democratic party. Not 100% by any means, nor do I always agree with their solutions, but I can usually empathize or understand what gets named as issues. Some people need help. Some things need reform. But there are ways to go about it that don't involve striping people of the rights they were given when this country was founded. Above any sort of political divide, I am American through and through. I think a lot of times our identity as a nation gets forgotten. People forget why we were founded. And by who. And the immense amount of thought that went into the Constitution. Sometimes I think we'd be better off doing a legislation renovation. Strip back to the 2x4s (the Constitution...) and start again without all the nonsense associated with the political process like tacking on unrelated amendments to bills to either delay its passing or push it through unnoticed. Most of the time, I am disheartened by Washington (Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers... Whoever) and the fact that they rarely seem driven by public opinion, desires, or wellbeing.

Anyway, I never considered myself political, and I still don't. I'll probably follow a bit more closely now, though. I hope to never lose the feeling that I might be able to change the world somehow, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it won't be possible through policy and legislation. I really have no desire to be part of that process, or be tainted by it.

For now, I suppose I'll continue calling myself independent. I think party lines are silly and a whole lot more good people would be in government if we stopped voting along them.

July 20, 2012

Prayers for Aurora

I’m at work and I cannot focus. On top of it being a Friday afternoon after a long lunch with some of my team, there was the Colorado Aurora shooting this morning. I’ve always been a deeply sensitive person, so it comes as no surprise that I feel so affected by this happening. It is so sad. Rachel Flatt, Olympic figure skater, posted on her Facebook in a way that rang true to me. Movies are supposed to be a getaway from real life - a safe haven, if you will. The shooting in the “Dark Knight Rises” shattered that illusion and left 12 dead and 71 injured. It’s tragic and it’s scary. There has been an outpouring of support on Facebook for the victims and their families and friends. That in itself is heartwarming, amidst a bunch of chaos. Poor Colorado has been sent through the ringer this summer between the wildfires and this massacre. There have been other major shootings in the state as well over the years, which is discouraging and upsetting. This one was only 13 miles away from Littleton - where Columbine took place.

What irks me about the situation is that the dust hasn’t even settled and it is being flung into the political arena. I know it’s an election year which just exacerbates the problem, but it feels disrespectful to hold up this tragedy for public scrutiny while there are still people in the hospitals fighting for their lives and families struggling to accept that their loved ones are gone. No one expects to say “Have fun at the movies!” as their last words to a friend. These people need privacy and peace and space to cope with the situation before it is jumped all over by political “activists” and news networks. This revives in my my old hatred for the news, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

My stance on guns is summed up well in the way my dad always says it: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Guns are a method for violence, but so is a sharpened pencil or a cup of bleach. You cannot stop evil from happening and you cannot stop people from hurting each other. Taking away guns takes away a weapon, but it also strips away a defense. Handled with care and respect, guns can bring peace of mind to families who would never use it unless absolutely necessary to protect each other. Sure, maybe semi-automatic weapons should not be available, but guns in general shouldn’t be banned. It is part of the constitution and should remain there.

That’s my view, but I don’t believe that both political parties should be jumping into the boxing ring to explain this topic right now. Some people have said “It’s not the time.” Others have said “It’s too late for that conversation.” It sickens me that everything becomes a political statement. I hate that everything can be offensive to someone. I can’t fathom the pain some families and friends are facing right now - the last thing they need is their privacy invaded for a partisan dispute asking for their opinions and statements.

My love and prayers go out to all affected by the shooting. What a tragic event.

July 12, 2012

Finding Balance

I always seem to have epiphanies while driving. I wrote my college essay that way, and tend to think of my blog posts either in the car or on a long way. Probably because it gives me time on my own to think, but who knows, really.

Anyway, yesterday morning was day 13 of my devotional "New Day, New You" that I'm reading on my Bible app. It's been a fabulous devotional - I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, simple blurb to set your day off right. The title of day 13 is "Our Standard is Jesus". It talked about how compared to others we might not be too bad, but compared to Jesus, we pretty much suck. It talks about humbling ourselves and striving to be as Jesus-like as we possible can.

I find it difficult to strike a balance between self-deprecation and self-improvement. It is also hard to find a balance between striving to be like Jesus, and loving yourself because He loves you and you are His creation. It's a fine line, isn't it?

Upon musing, the solution that came to mind is respect. If you think of people you respect, how would you describe them? Would you call them complacent? Probably not, so they are definitely striving to be better. However, you probably wouldn't call them negative or self-conscious either. People you respect tend to be confident yet humble. I'd call that a good place to aim for. You can't love yourself if you don't respect yourself, and you can't reach for Jesus if you are beating yourself up. But you also can't look around you and say "I'm good enough, look at how bad they are!" Your "good-ness" isn't graded on a curve. You'll never be good enough, and yet, you are already good enough. You can never be Jesus, but that shouldn't keep you from trying. But he'll love you no matter what, and realizing that is half the battle. Finding the balance between your worth and your faults is nearly impossible but is so important.

"God doesn't love you because you're valuable. You're valuable because God loves you."

June 27, 2012


Hear that? That's the sound of the heart beat returning to my poor, partially abandoned blog. I do feel guilty for how badly I've kept up with this over the past few months, but then again it was a terribly hard semester and time just never seemed to be plentiful enough to sit down and muse. However, I had an interesting day at work yesterday, and it became clear to me that had I kept up with blogging, my semester may have felt more manageable. Let me explain...

I started a new internship the first week of June as a Product Management Intern at Perceptive Software. I'm loving it so far. It is nothing like I expected it would be, but then again, I am not totally sure what I expected. I've helped out here and there, but mostly am soaking in all kinds of information, ranging from product related, to people skills, to corporate structure.Part of why I like Perceptive is the culture. Everyone is friendly, and no one is breathing down your neck. I've always been a hard worker, so I don't need someone stressing me out, watching over my shoulder at all times. It's been pleasantly independent.

Yesterday, I took the StrengthFinder 2.0 test (this is where I'm going to hook back to my semester, just stick with me!). The premise is very interesting: our culture is obsessed with improving our weaknesses rather than tapping into our strengths. The idea of the book and test is to help you identify what you are good at, and use that to your advantage rather than trying to improve a part of you that may never be up to par with people who come by that skill or talent naturally.

The test is similar to most personality tests - pick the statement that is most like you on a scale.
e.g. Happy -- 4 -- Neutral -- 2 -- Sad
When my results came up, I was somewhat surprised by a few. They all fit me, but had you laid out the list of 34 possible strengths and asked me to identify mine, I bet only two would have actually overlapped. Here is what my test said:

1. Intellection: introspective, intellectual
"Driven by your talents, you might spend time pondering your future. Sometimes you experience anxiety about your prospects... You might prefer to be alone with your thoughts rather than engage people in small talk at a social event."

2. Responsibility: ownership, stable, values-based
"You have a strong sense of commitment... Instinctively, you may be a person whose work ethic is as much a matter of conscience as it is a matter of completing tasks. You want to be regarded as reliable or dependable."

3. Relator: intimate, friendly
"You enjoy helping people by performing tasks they dislike or do not have time to
complete. This is one way you keep yourself busy and make their lives less burdensome. It’s
very likely that you occasionally make the complex easy to understand... You have close companions who frequently seek your guidance."

4. Discipline: routine, structured, committed
"You prefer working in an environment where things are outlined or structured. By nature, you may feel impelled to straighten up a cluttered or messy environment... You might derive pleasure from planning for and executing certain kinds of repetitious assignments."

5. Belief: values, purpose
"Because of your strengths, you may point out issues, problems, or obstacles before others see them. Some people label you a pessimist... Few human beings lack depth in your opinion. By nature, you are determined to push for changes that will benefit humankind or Earth itself. Your desire to have an impact motivates you to enter into conversations with intelligent people."

The italicized descriptions are only portions of two page descriptions and ideas for channeling your strengths and working with people of certain skill sets. Beyond learning a lot about myself, I can really see the value in a team doing this together to see where other people can excel and where you can supplement their strengths. How does this all tie into my revelation about the semester? #1 Intellection. One of the suggested techniques for strengthening that strength is writing. And allowing yourself time to think - neither of which happened Spring 2012. It was a nice reminder, and some positive tips about using your best self to make the best impact you can, rather than constantly fixating on negatives.

Something that made me laugh a bit. In the Relator description it said that I would "do poorly in overly formal environments" because I "like to be peoples' friend." Take that LCDR Kato. I'm not "mouse-ish". Needless to say, I doubt any of the NROTC cadre took the StrengthFinder's test or subscribe to that mindset. Oh well, to each their own. But I sure like this idea - building people up.

Anyway, morale of the story is, I'm resurrecting my blog. I'm going to put my thoughts to paper, and I am going to embrace my strengths and stop worrying about the fact that I'm bad at small talk.

March 30, 2012

Witty Professor for the Win

This is a precursor to a long-winded, philosophical post to happen in the next few days. But this email was too funny to not post. It is from my professor, Carl Lagoze, who teaching Intermediate Web Programming and Design. Some context for those who don't know. Slope Day = excuse to wake up drinking and listen to music in the sunshine instead of going to the last day of class.

"In class on Wednesday I mentioned that part of the final project deliverables was a presentation by each group and their section on May 4, the last section of the semester. This presentation is also mentioned in the project assignment document. I knew that this date collided with slope day, but somehow I managed to forget that attendance at slope day is "mandatory". Needless to say, a number of students have reminded me of that! Therefore, I have canceled this aspect of the final project and, instead, we will have very fun and entertaining "minute madness" presentations of the final projects in the last lecture section of the semester on May 2. Of course, following university regulations, sections will not be canceled on May 4, but will be optional, and guaranteed to be as much fun as what is happening on Libe Slope. Many thanks to the students who convinced me of the wisdom of this decision."

February 7, 2012

Some Days Are Like That

That title is actually the understatement of the year. The past 48 hours or so have been some of the roughest, most rollercoastery I've had in a very, very long time. Let me give you the play-by-play.

Sunday night: I'd had a long, busy weekend on top of getting sick. Before bed, I tweeted: "Dear World, I could really use about two hours to myself sometime this week to regroup and reset. Is that at all possible? Love, Holly." If only I knew the irony about to ensue. My supervisor graciously dropped my shift so I could make it to a doctor's appointment, so I was feeling optimistic.

Monday morning: I get a call from the doctor's office saying that my doctor is out sick. I thought, "Sweet, I get that two hours I was asking for", and then I proceeded to organize a bit and try to re-center. I met up with a friend for lunch (on a BEAUTIFUL blue sky day), and that's where the respite ended.

Monday afternoon: I went to the library to do some homework, and what to I find? An email saying I have until the end of the week to pay off my bursar bill or I will be withdrawn from the university. Cue panic.

Monday night: After 6+ hours, I still wasn't done with my project. I was up til 4 only to have to get up at 6:30 for work....

This is a good point to recap. It has been 24ish hours. I am stressed about work, feeling jostled, panicked about my bursar bill, and running on 2.5 hours of sleep.

Tuesday morning: I woke up late and didn't get to eat breakfast. Good plan since I have a packed-full day, including the career fair and dance class. The career fair was intimidating but generally positive and I left to go to class in good spirits and in love with my major all over again.

Tuesday afternoon: Everything comes crashing down. I don't want to go into details since this is relatively public (anyone can see it, and the link is on my FB), but I had an extremely uncomforatble confrontation with someone that resulted in a mild panic attack and me walking around with a shell-shocked look on my face and heaviness in my heart for most of the afternoon. I realize that is vague, but take it from me that it shook me up so much more than I can ever properly explain. So at this point, I'm tired, hungry, stressed, and extremely emotional. And I had a doctor's appointment I'd been nervous about which resulted in me having to make two more appointments as follow-ups and referrals. Encouraging... not.

Tuesday evening: More emotions, more conversation (luckily not confrontations), and lots of comforting. I also had dance class which always clears my head. The comforting brought me back, somewhat, to the respite feeling; it reminded me of the wonderful friends I am grateful to have in my life. I was (actually, still am) completely emotional, but even more conflicted inside. I then got to Skype with my family (which can do nothing but cheer me up - I am so very very blessed), got to chat with one of my long-time close friends, Ellicott, and got a package from my other long-time close friend, Lauren, with a belated Christmas present from Peru.

Needless to say, it's Tuesday night after what has been one of the most draining 48-hour time periods I've ever experienced. I am all over the place emotionally. I still have so much to do. I figured out the finances but that is still a stressor. I am frustrated with my health. I miss my family. I am excited about internship opportunities. I am grateful for my boyfriend and friends. I love dance. I am weighed down with the constant, unwelcome replaying confrontation, set on repeat in my head.

At one point, I closed my eyes in class and recited:"The LORD is my Shepard, I shall not want... He places a table before me in the presence of my enemies..."

Life is so very messy. So very confusing. But I must trust in His Plan. And if I learned anything from this, it's that I have some amazing people in my life who will take care of me and remind me of the joys of this life and the pleasure of friendship. I'm pretty darn sure they were put there on purpose. And I sure am thankful.

January 28, 2012

Dance Lessons

This semester I enrolled in Ballet III. I've miss dance terribly, and quitting is one of my few regrets up to this point in life. Granted, I never really found a studio I connected with in Colorado - making quitting that much easier - but I miss being toned and incredibly attuned to my body. There is also something incredibly reassuring and relaxing about the respectful discipline of ballet class. When I found out two of my KD sisters have been taking ballet every semester, I decided I would give it a go. It had been about three full years since I had last danced, so needless to say I was really nervous. I've been to three classes now, and I'm so glad to be back. I'm definitely behind, but not nearly as far as I expected to be.

Being back in the studio, I have begun to (re)realize how much Ballet has taught me about life.

1. Carry yourself with poise.
In ballet, you always should keep your head up and shoulders back. It gives off an air of confidence that allows some leeway for mistakes. Enchanting the audience extends beyond the stage. If you carry yourself well, people are more likely to listen to and respect you. Presence sets the tone, before you make a single move or say a single word.

2. Listen to every correction as if it was your own.
My ballet teacher growing up, Candalee, always told her students to listen when she corrected other dancers to make sure you aren't making the same mistake. If you take tips and critiques as your own, there is no where to go but up. It encourages awareness and staves off complacancy.

3. Always assume someone is watching you.
Whenever we practiced for shows, Candalee would remind us that even if you aren't center stage dancing the lead role, someone in the audience is looking at you. If you dance like you are the star, you can honestly say you performed your best. Looking back, that outlook taught me not to free-ride, and to always give my best effort.

4. Lead by example.
This one is simple: You will get much better results if you can demonstrate what it is you are asking for.

5. Slacking hurts no one as much as it hurts you.
Slacking is tempting. It lightens the load at that precise moment, but makes eventual improvement that much slower. This is something I struggle with.

6. Discipline and respect are important for improvement and efficiency.
If you fight criticism or discount the wisdom of those trying to instruct you, improvement will be much slower and much less rewarding. Even if you disagree with a suggestion, sometimes it is better to let it go and cooperate, rather than be difficult.

7. If you make a mistake, keep going.
The mistake is done. It's made. Be graceful, and keep going.