Sunday, August 11, 2019

3 Things I've Learned From Two Years of College




     Two years ago, I embarked on a new, intimidating adventure: online college. It's hard to believe that I'm already half way through. Like any other adventure, this one has had its ups and downs, trials and triumphs. While I still have two more years to go and plenty more lessons to learn, there are three things I've realized.


     1. School does not come before God.
     Upon waking up in the morning, it can be very tempting to skip personal devotions in order to get a head start on school. While doing so may indeed give me more time for school, ultimately, it isn't worth it. Starving oneself of spiritual feeding, even if just for a day, will have consequences. Don't sacrifice your spiritual health for school.


     2. School does not come before family.
     Finding the right balance between school and family is tricky, and I tend to shirk family responsibilities in favor of school. But regardless of how important school may seem, it should never take priority over helping my mother when she's tired, or listening to my siblings when they need to talk. Investing time in your family should not be sacrificed for doing extra homework.


     3. School does not come before your health.
     It might sound cliche, but eating real food, getting good sleep, and doing a little exercise all go a long way. I've also found that setting aside at least one day of the week to rest, read, and dabble in a few hobbies is very important for my mental health. Your brain needs a break as much as your body does.


     I wish I could say that I successfully apply these lessons every day, but unfortunately, I do not. It's quite easy to become hyper focused on school and neglect everything else. But with every new day comes a new opportunity to try again, and for that, I'm very grateful.


If you're in college, what are some things you've learned? If you're not in college, what are some tips you've heard about balancing life and school?






Friday, December 28, 2018

Updates, Life, and A New Year




   With the flick of a calendar page, another year passes and I am left wondering where the time has gone. Is it just me, or do the years seem to be flying by faster and faster? Several major milestones were passed this year: my sister graduated high school, I turned twenty, and Dad retired. Significant work was done on my writing projects as well.


Diary of a New Driver:

   About half of this book is written. I'll continue to post the chapters on this blog, though I won't do so for long, as I hope to traditionally publish the entire book once it's complete.


Jonathan and The Royal Conspiracy:

   I decided to temporarily put this book on hold, due to major plotting issues. However, once I finish Diary of a New Driver (and work up the nerve), I'll tackle the massive job of replotting.


Yet-To-Be-Named Short Story:

   My latest project, and the main reason for my absence on the blog, is a historical fiction short story set during the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940. The story is complete and editing is currently underway. I'm still deliberating over whether I should add artwork and publish it independently, or skip the artwork and share it here. Your thoughts would be appreciated!


     Reflecting on 2018 has caused me to realize how little time we truly have. The clock ticks ever so rapidly, yet I find myself more often squandering the time rather than utilizing it. While I won't be making a lengthy list of resolutions for 2019, there is one objective I aim to pursue: treasuring the time. Our lives are too short to be wasted in frivolous pursuits.



What's your biggest goal for the new year?






Sunday, October 21, 2018

Diary of a New Driver - Chapter Five




To read the previous chapters, click below:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


~

Chapter 5: A Drive in the Park


“So where do you want to drive today?” Dad asked as I once again settled into the now familiar driver’s seat.

“Uhmmm…”

Let’s see… where’s a place with few cars and low speeds? Oh, I’ve got it!

“How about the park?”

“Good idea. Do you know the way?”

“Not really.”

“That’s ok, I’ll direct you. Turn left out of the driveway. Don’t forget the blinker.”

I happily proceeded down the road.

This will be nice. A scenic road. Hardly any cars. Low speeds. Why didn’t I suggest this sooner?

I turned into the entrance and ambled along on the winding road.

“Be on the lookout for small critters like squirrels or chipmunks that might run out into the road. You don’t want to hit one of them.”

Concern grew on my face.

“Would a small creature like that really damage the car if I accidentally hit one?”

“No, but you would be the one scraping his guts off my tires.”

“Oh.”

Note to self: avoid, at all possible costs, hitting a squirrel, chipmunk, or other small woodland creature. I repeat: AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!

I drove on, warily scanning the road for anything with a tail, fur, and the propensity to jump out heedlessly into the road. Up ahead, I noticed several large speed bumps spaced only a few yards apart.

Oh boy, not again.

“Why are there speed bumps here?” I wondered aloud, quickly decelerating to about 5 mph.

“Probably has something to do with all this rigging up in the trees,” Dad responded, leaning forward to get a better view out the windshield. I chanced a glance as well.

Woah… hold on, is that a person dangling from a rope? Why on earth is he swinging from the trees??? What, does he think he’s an ape? These liberals, trying to be one with nature. If he’s not careful, he’s going to become one with the pavement!

“Oh, I think I know what this is,” Dad said, settling back in his seat.

“Let me guess. How-to-become-a-monkey boot camp?”

“No,” Dad chuckled. “It’s the treetop obstacle course thing the park was advertising. Looks like they’ve finally got it set up.”

I blinked.

“Doesn’t look like much of a set up. Just some ropes, ladders, platforms, and not-so-safe-looking safety harnesses. I can see the rust from here!”

“Yeah well, I suppose it all adds to the adventure of the experience.”

I shook my head in disbelief and continued to drive slowly, eying both the tops and bases of the overhanging trees.

Humph. I have to look out for squirrels on the ground and humans in the trees. What a backwards world!


As we continued, more and more cars appeared parked alongside the road, indicating we were approaching the main park area.

“Even though the speed limit is 20, I would do about half that because there may be people in these parked cars, and if one of them decides to step out of their car without looking, you need to be prepared to stop.”

I nodded and adjusted my speed accordingly. Just as Dad had warned, a couple stepped out of their vehicle a few yards ahead, without bothering to check the road behind them. They proceeded down the middle of the lane hand-in-hand. I slammed on the brakes fuming.

Oh how sweet YOU TWO PEA-BRAINED LOVE BIRDS! Y’all are so love-blind and love-deaf you don’t even notice a giant hunk of metal on wheels right behind you!! WHAT IN THE NAME OF CITY TAXES DO YOU THINK THE SIDEWALK IS FOR???

Dad noticed the frustration on my face.

“Just wait, they’ll move.”

I harrumphed, but managed to restrain myself from pounding on the horn. The two eventually discerned that they were in danger of being run over by a large vehicle with a gas-happy teen behind the wheel, and wisely moved to the sidewalk. I scowled at them as we passed. Fortunately they didn’t notice.

After circling around in the parking lot, Dad directed me out the park exit.

“Let’s go back the way we came and then I’ll show you a different entrance into the park.”

We drove around the park in what felt to be a circle until Dad pointed out a partly hidden entrance several yards ahead.

“Turn left into there.”

Ok, slow down, left blinker, gently turn… and here we are! Hmm, this looks similar to the other entrance, just a little narrower and without those crazy people hanging from the … WAIT... WHY IS THERE A VAN COMING STRAIGHT TOWARD ME??? There isn’t enough room for the both of us!!! WHY ISN’T HE SLOWING DOWN? WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW???

“D… Dad…. what do I do??”

The car came closer and I panicked further.

HE'S HEADED STRAIGHT FOR US! I’M FOR SURE GONNA DIE THIS TIME!!!

“What is this idiot doing?” my dad practically shouted. “This is an entrance not an exit!”

Dad reached over and blasted the horn, startling both me and the opposing driver, who quickly slowed to a near standstill. Grabbing the wheel from my hand, Dad carefully maneuvered the car around the clearly confused driver. It seemed to take an eternity for the two vehicles to pass each other on the narrow lane. Finally, we were clear and I cautiously proceeded forward. Dad noticed my trembling hands.

“Would you like me to drive home?”

I nodded mutely. Pulling over, I fumbled with the seatbelt and stumbled out of the car, my knees nearly giving way as I attempted to walk to the passenger’s side. Gratefully, I collapsed in the seat, my thoughts tumbling over each other.

That car… it was coming at me… the lane was so narrow… I NEARLY DIED…. AGAIN!! And it wasn’t even my fault this time! Why do these things happen to me??? Ok Gloria, deep breaths… it’s ok, we’re still alive… I think. Quick, commence systems check: legs? Yes, they move. Toes? Yep, still got ‘em. Arms? Still attached. Fingers? Cold, but responsive. Ok, I think we’re good. We survive to fight another day.


I’m definitely gonna need some chocolate when we get home.



~


What has your experience been when driving in parks? Have you ever hit a squirrel or chipmunk?




Monday, October 15, 2018

Summer 2018 - Photo Recap




     Summer is over and fall is officially upon us! This was the summer after my freshman year of college and it was a much needed break. The biggest thing that happened this summer was my baby sister's graduation from high school!!! I feel so old...




     For the 4th of July, we went to a local freshwater stream with some friends and spent the day there. I put together a vlog-style recap video. Check it out!




     We also visited the International Spy Museum with our grandmother.








     We were delighted to see a section of the museum devoted to Biblical spies!








     What I found most fascinating were these copies of letters between Albert Einstein and President Theodore Roosevelt.




     If you are ever in D.C., make a stop at the Spy Museum, as it is definitely one of the more fascinating museums in the area!

     Our church also hosted a campout, which was a lot of fun.... even though I didn't get much sleep.




     Dad planted a new tree last year and it bloomed this year!





Our indoor plants put on some blooms as well.



Love the color pattern on this plant!


Peaches!




Looking into the garden.



Little toes.



Upside-down.



What were some of the highlights from your summer? 






Monday, August 20, 2018

Diary of a New Driver - Chapter Four




To read the previous chapters, click below:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3



~


Chapter 4: Maniac Driver



   “Since you did so well last time,” my father began as we climbed into the car, “I thought we’d take things to the next level.”

Oh no. Not the road, please not the road, please, please, please…

“Let’s test your skills on an actual road.”

NOOOOO!!!!

I desperately tried to come up with an excuse for why that was a terrible idea.

“But it’s Saturday Dad, there will be more cars on the road.”

“You gotta learn somehow. I’ll grab the wheel if I have to, but I know you can manage just fine.”

Great. As if I haven’t had enough chances to die. I think we’re really pushing the Lord’s protection here.

“Now I know you don’t like the gas pedal, but once you get on the road, you’ll have to quickly come to speed. This is Maryland and the people here don’t tolerate slow drivers, especially not on this road. The speed limit is 40, but most people do close to 50. Now remember…”

Of all the states Dad and Mom had to pick to live in, it would have to be Maryland. Where, not only do people drive like stressed-out maniacs, but everyone has a high-paying job. Which means, if I get in a wreck, they could quite literally sue my pants off! And I somehow have to learn how to drive on these roads? This can’t end well.

“Sound good?”

“Uh… sure.”

“Alright, proceed forward and turn left, making sure to wait for a gap in the traffic before turning onto the road.”

I executed a jerky turn out of our driveway and advanced cautiously, convinced that death awaited me around every bend and after every stop light.

Why are these lanes so narrow? And why is the oncoming lane so close? It’s like the roads haven’t changed since the 1800s when buggies were still popular!

In my effort to avoid, what I was certain would result in a head-on collision with the opposite lane, I was unknowingly straying too close to the curb. Dad was quick to notice.

“You’ve got to steer in the center of the lane,” he said, grabbing the wheel and forcibly directing the car away from the curb. I panicked.

“But… but the oncoming lane! We’re too close, we’re gonna crash!!”

I desperately tried to turn the wheel against my father’s direction, but he held it fast.

“No, we’re not too close. There’s more room than you think. Just keep in the center of your lane and we’ll be fine.”

Dad released the wheel and I reluctantly maintained the, in my opinion, much-too-close proximity to the center line. Cars whizzed past me in rapid succession. My knuckles whitened as I gripped the wheel. It’s a wonder there aren’t ten fingertip-shaped dents in the rubber of the steering wheel.

This must be how soldiers feel in the middle of a battlefield.

Another stream of cars zipped past me.

Bullets pepper the mud all around us. Hold your ground men!

The road gently sloped upward and I accelerated.

There’s a break in the fire. Onward! We’ve got to take this hill!

Suddenly a huge tractor trailer came barreling down the hill.

Oh no, they’re firing the heavy missiles! Hit the dirt!!

The tractor trailer passed me with a whoosh and I thought I felt the car sway.

Whew, that was close! Everyone up, we’re almost reached the top.

As the car crested the hill, the scenic view of a winding road bordered by fertile trees greeted my eyes.

We’ve made it! Such sweet victory! Such glorious accomplishment! Indeed, the road may be difficult, the path may be rough, but oh, the feeling of a conqueror. Oh the taste of freedom! Oh the sense of liberty! For in this modern buggy, I can go anywhere, do anything… I can be free. The noble patriot truly asks, ‘Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or GIVE. ME. DEA…

“At this next light you’ll want to make a right turn,” Dad instructed, interrupting my lofty ruminations.

Slightly disgruntled, I merely nodded in reply.

Humph. My train of thought hath been derailed! What was I thinking about? It was so interesting… oh well, it’s gone. Probably should focus on the road anyways… hmm, wonder what those little bumps are up ahead?

“... take it too fast and you’ll rip the axle off your car. So just obey the speed signs and you’ll be fine.”

Rip the… oh boy. What was the speed limit on this road? I think he said forty… should probably slow it down to around thirty just to be safe.

So focused was I on the road, that I failed to notice the 20 mph sign next to the speed bump. As the car jolted over the bump, Dad winced, and I felt myself come up off the seat.

Woah! Hey, this fun! Kinda like when you’re on your bike and ride really fast up a hill and then catch some air when you go over the top. Let’s do that again!

Dad relaxed his grip on the seat and cleared his throat.

“You took that bump like a native.”

I glanced over at him.

“That’s a good thing right?”

Dad suppressed a smile.

“Well it’s good you’re getting comfortable with the car, but let’s take this next speed bump a little slower. Remember, the speed limit for the bumps is twenty.”

Twenty?! Oh wow, I did take that kinda fast. Well, at least I know how to drive like a native. 

I grinned.

But the smile faded and my brow furrowed as I thought about the “stressed-out maniacs” who ruled the roads of Maryland.

Then again, maybe that isn’t such a good thing.



~



What was your first experience driving on a real road? Are there speed bumps in your area?