Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let my love open the door

Big things are happening in this little Pierce household.

But let's be honest here for a second, none of these big things are the things we expected. Shocker right? Isn't that just how life works?

My life goal has been to work my hardest to keep all of my doors open, then let the divine force take me from there. I have come to learn that if I do my part, the rest will fall into place. No matter if that place is where I expected it to be or not.

So that is just what Jonathan and I did. We kept all of our doors of possibilities open, and we now find ourselves about to walk through one we never could have expected.

I applied to two PhD schools as simply a way to keep that door open, even just slightly open. I aimed high to schools I was too fearful to apply to, but applied anyway,  not expecting to get in at all. Jonathan and I waited for months as many other doors we worked to keep open seemed to be slamming shut in front of us.

It left us frustrated
and sad
and discouraged.

Why were these doors we've worked so hard for, shutting before we even got a chance to peek through?

But, as life seems to do, the one door we forgot about, the one that was barely held open by what seemed to be sheer luck, is the one that remains open.

And in a few short months we may be committing ourselves to 5 years of a PhD school.

I applied to UC Berkeley because I felt like I owed it to everyone who has helped me in my education thus far.
But now I guess I applied because I owed it to myself, our little family, and hopefully those that I will encounter along the way.

I would be honored to go there,
scared out of my mind as well,

but doors stay open for a reason.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Travelin' Man

Some people walk into your life and the second they step in you are changed.

Some times this change is a slower process, one you don't even know is happening. You exist in each others presence until all of a sudden you realize you are a new person.

But some times it is sudden. And you can feel it. And you know you are instantly new.

I've been privileged to encounter a few of these people in my college career.

One of them instantly changed my life when the first thing he said to me was, "the Thailand internship application is due this weekend. I expect to see yours there."

Next thing I knew...there I was. Experiencing the world for the first time.


While in Thailand this same man told me of an opportunity in Uganda. And just as before, before I even knew it...there I was.


This is a good man who has done for many other students what he has done for me. He taught us to love the world, to literally urge to see it all, and to stop at nothing to do it.




This same professor has traveled the world time and time again and told me to make it a goal to get somewhere new every year. For the last three years I have succeeded and will again next year. I hope to make him proud.

Like in life...
Bad things often happen to bad people.
But also in life...
Bad things often happen to very, very good people.

This man who changed my life and opened my world the literal second he stepped into it was forced to give his "Last Lecture" last week. He has too many stories to share to have this be his last lecture, I hope for all of our sake that he is blessed with time to deliver more.

But until then, here are the 13 points he presented in his lecture titled, "Crossing A Frontier By Exposing Yourself to New Ideas: Why the Search for Truth is the Hallmark of an Academic's Life."

I have not stopped thinking about this lecture and I hope to share it with others. These are just from the notes I took that do NOT do it justice. But here it goes anyway.

1) The search for truth vs. simply its defense
               He explains that the moment we think we have the truth we are damned, or we stop growing. To think we know the truth means that we have reached our final destination, we have reached our peak. But it is the duty of all intelligent beings to search for truth and never become complacent if we think we have found it.

2) Scholarship- the language of the search for truth (aka books)
             READ! Read a lot and read a variety. To know what one book says we must read others.

3) Be an intellectual migrant- question reality and cross new frontiers
            TRAVEL! Root yourself in ideas opposed to places, it will make you venture more. Travel provides perspective and broadens your context and perception. It shows us where our perspective comes from, it explains which lenses we wear (for example I see the world from a white, female, Mormon, educated perspective) and how that changes how we see the world

4) Step out of your box
             Learn new languages and cultures. Change your context and perspective because truth ultimately comes from the diversity of perspectives.

5) Embrace the contradictions- they provide opportunities to cross new frontiers
           Social life is full of contradictions, we just decide which ones to focus on.

6) Be yourself, but if yourself is a jerk than be someone else
          Be nice. Leave people inspired

7) Dare to be different- but know why you are- different with a purpose
           We all have something to contribute. Find your contribution

8) Live life fearlessly
           Get your own information opposed to relying on the news or experiences of others. Be brave enough to question and search and wonder.

9) Speak truth to power
           Know what you believe, and why, and act accordingly. But BE NICE doing it!

10) Look for ways to affirm opposed to destroy without lowering the bar
           See the good in people first. Be a self proclaimed ambassador to the world. The world is a cool place, we are lucky to be a part of it. It is easy to get wrapped up in the bad- but that only happens if you have not sought out and experienced the good.

11) Allow yourself to be topped by others
           Do not stereotype people. We are prone to seek efficiency before we seek human relationships. Slow down and make relationships. Prioritize and always pick people. And put trust in people versus arbitrary rules.

12) Joy in the interaction- the relationship
           The truths we are looking for are ultimately found in our relationships.

13) Life is in the journey not in the arrival
           This is the lesson I learned most from this professor. While I was interning in Thailand I struggled because I was there to help them, and yet I felt that my help was futile in regards to all the problems that needed fixing. He told us that this is true, we aren't there to change their worlds because that task is far too much for us. But what we are there to learn is this: appreciate what you do have but realize what you don't and bring it home. That is beautiful. He says, when you experience other cultures and people and perspectives you learn to appreciate what you have in your own life. In addition, you learn what your life is lacking. When you realize this you determine to bring it home with you. And that is the ultimate journey towards truth.

We are on this planet to dream and to explore and to seek for truth. Truth cannot be found in one place, it comes through understanding, relationships, diversity, and culture. Do not be content letting our dreams remain dreams, because we never know when our time dreaming on this earth will be cut short.




The morning before this lecture Jonathan and I used most of our savings to purchase plane tickets to travel back to his LDS mission in Guatemala. I was so excited to experience such a big part of him, but of course I was scared because money has not come that easy.

After hearing this lecture from a man who has lived a full life and is leaving this life far too early, when I heard his most important memories have come from the experiences he has had opposed to the money in his pocket- I knew we made the right decision.





**I understand everyone does not have a desire or means to travel. And that is more than okay! But there is still so much to learn from these 13 points from a man who has so much to give. We are all taking this journey towards truth somewhere and here is some help to do it. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

wave goodbye

Something has been on my mind lately.

And I use "lately" in a loose sense, because it has actually been on my mind since I embarked on my, "try to be a runner" journey a few years ago.

And it is not always on my mind by any means. But when it is on my mind I get a little bit wrapped up in it.

And what is on my mind is this...

My life constantly flashing before my eyes.

When you decide to become a "runner" you are making a silent contract with every form of transportation: every car, bike, bus etc.

This silent contract is something along the lines of:

I (insert name) agree to risk my life in order to help my life. I agree to run on roads of distracted drivers and risk my life in the name of health and happiness. And if you (insert name of distracted driver) choose to put my life on the line, I will forgive you with your weak and oh so impersonal wave of the hand, signaling that you are just a little bit sorry that you almost hit me.

Signed (already inserted name)

I am a cautious runner, like probably most runners out there. I try to keep my music relatively low and keep my eyes relatively open in order to compensate for the drivers who couldn't seem to care less about my safety and only care about their destination which must be on fire because of the pace they are choosing to get to that destination.

Then, in the instance they almost hit me, which is seriously way too frequent, they give this almost guilty, but mostly pity wave saying, "sorry I am in too much of a hurry to open my eyes and see other people around me."

Then I usually proceed to glare at them to subtly tell them... "YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!"

Well, glad that can get off my mind for the next few months. I rarely run into life threatening situations on the dear treadmill...

But really, that pity wave is the WORST!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Long Live

Here are some quotes from a man who really knew how to live. I've been thinking a lot about myself lately. Why am I sick? I want to do this with my future. I want this, I want that. Me, me me. 
I obviously needed a dose of humble pie and was sent a nice slice of pink eye. I obviously needed a reminder that I am not the center of the universe. In fact, I should not even be the center of my own universe. And obviously there is so, so, so much I need to learn from dear Nelson Mandela. 
1) "Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."
2) "It always seems impossible until it's done."
3) "If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man."
4) "I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."
5) "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."
6) "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."
7) "Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."
8) "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
9) "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
10) "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
11) "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."
12) "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."
13) "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."
14) "I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days."
15) "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

                                                    -Nelson Mandela (compiled by USA Today)

I feel as though I have fallen these last few weeks. Fallen into a pit of self-centerdness and self pity. But today I choose to build my ladder and climb out. 
Time to say hello to the others I have neglected.
I will never be privileged to leave a legacy like Nelson Mandela has left with us. But holy cow I will try my hardest to follow even just these 15 pieces of wisdom he has blessed us with. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm so sick and tired, of being sick and tired!

Well here I sit...in my bed
extending my Thanksgiving break one more day.

When I should actually be sitting on campus
finishing the literally million things that have to get done the next 10 days.

One would think this would be a good thing.
Who wouldn't choose a nice day in bed over a stressful day on campus?

Well...when you are on day seven of a sore throat (that forces you to cringe to swallow)
and day 5 of severe pink eye....
NO ONE would choose staying home, i'm sure of it!

I should be on week two of marathon training.
But breathing, swallowing, and seeing are pretty vital things when it comes to running.
So ...one ten mile run is all I have to show for it.

I should have had a perfect thanksgiving break full of fun and family.
Instead I got puffy eyes, dry hands from excessive hand sanitizer, and a big belly from eating and never moving.

I have successfully achieved one thing though...
I have extreme empathy for the vampires i've grown to love so much.



It is a HARD life to have really red eyes.
I empathize completely.

Well, now I leave, back to my attempted sleep.
Which is halted by the child banging on the piano downstairs
and the roofers banging on the ceiling above.

Woe is me.
I'm SO sick and tired of being sick, red eyed, sore throat-ed, and tired!

In case you think I am only cranky and whiney,
I should maybe remind you I am also very thankful, Thanksgiving will do that to ya...
i'll spare you that list though ;) ;)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sweet Child of Mine

I've heard it said that having a baby is completely worth all the pain of labor. I've seen quite a few baby deliveries in my time (thank you Uganda) and you know that something has to keep bringing women back for more, because it sure isn't the labor part!

But once they see their babies and their hard work, they seem to forget the pain and continue to fall in love with their new baby.

Or at least, they come to realize that the outcome far outweighs the pain.

Well my friends...if we continue on with this train of thought, i'm heading for baby number 2.

Baby one was named Big Cottonwood
And number two is a smooth sounding Sand Hollow

That is right, time to begin the training for my second marathon.
Just in time to start training because all my training for the last one is officially gone... :(
and the memories of the pain and frustration have faded.

Although looking at this picture brings it back a little bit...



Oh well, because here I go again.

Baby #2 coming March 29, 2014

Sunday, November 24, 2013

tell you the story of who i am

When I recently did my grad school applications, some of the schools required a "personal history statement." Here is the description of the essay they wished to receive.

In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

Although some of the sections mention furthering your education, it can all be applied to any career you choose to pursue. It was an interesting process to dig deep and figure out what got me to where I am. This essay was both challenging and fulfilling to write. As a Mormon white girl I feel as though I don't have much cultural diversity to add...but, like all people, I have a past and experiences and my own story. And it was a fun process to think of that past, experiences, and story and put it into words.

I suggest all people do it. Or at least think about it. If you had two pages to convince someone that you were worth something to them and that you have experienced life, what would you say? 

I learned a lot about myself in the process.