Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Canon Imagination

Canon Imagination, a group on Flickr.

So I ran across this randomly while playing around online and got pretty excited. I love my Canon! And what greater way to see all I can do with it by checking out other people's photos!

Also, I saw something about inspiring a Ron Howard production with photographs. Which got me really excited. I thought, 'Hey, maybe I could enter..." But after reading a bit more, it turns out I've missed the deadline. And there's already some semi-finalists and stuff. Winners will be announced in July.

So while my briefly lifted hopes were quickly deflated, it still got me thinking about how I should get out there and take more pictures. And suddenly... I'm feeling a bit more inspired.

We'll see what comes out of me over the next few weeks or so!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sunshine After The Rain

Yesterday was a rough day. And I won't lie and pretend that things are alright now. I'm still a little down, but regardless of all the jerks out there, I have to admit that I have some really awesome friends. And they are constantly my sunshine after the any thunderstorm that comes blowing through  my life.

And it's kind of like they all knew I had such a crappy day yesterday, because I was showered with love today. I got a text from one of my girls in Dallas proclaiming how much she missed me. And then one of my other besties gave me a call and we chatted for like an hour, which was nice.

I needed those bits of love. Reminders that somewhere out there, people think of me. And care about me.

Definitely brightened my mood.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweet Love

Goodness, I love weddings!

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I went to my fourth (or is it fifth) this year. It was a sweet, little event in San Antonio. Goregous weather, even with the blazing heat. The breeze was just enough to keep you cool.

My favorite part was when the bride began walking down the aisle. The groom instantly got teary-eyed. The bride keep craning her neck over the guest to catch a glimpse of her love. You knew the moment their eyes met--her face broke out into a bright smile. And as they drew closer together, she mouths, "I love you."

The whole ceremony was like a glimpse into their intimate world. As they held hands, shared secret smiles, whispered sweet nothings to each other, said their vows. If there were pictures in the dictonary, all this would have been captured by the word "love."

I know the groom better than the bride, and I know how long he prayed and waited on God to bring him his Eve. And from the short time I've been blessed to know the bride, I know how patiently she waited for her Adam.

This was one of those weddings when you know that God immensely blesses those who choose to wait on His plan.

It was that perfect.

And it made me not mind waiting so much :)

(Check out my Flickr page to see pictures of the couple and their lovely day!)
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Saturday, June 11, 2011


"Hope Floats"

So, I was on Twitter the other day and noticed that #alicebucketlist was trending. I was curious, so I clicked on it, and found this blog.

Alice is a 15-year-old cancer patient. She recently learned it was terminal and began her blog to track what's left of her life. Do as much as she can on her bucket list (and dream about the ones she can no longer achieve), and let the world share each step of the journey with her. One of the items on Alice's bucket list is to get everyone to be a bone marrow donor (I became one last year; wrote a blog about it for CURE). Another was to be trend on twitter (hence the #alicebucketlist).

The concept is kind of sad. But it's also inspiring. And... kind of hopeful.

Reading through Alice's blog reminded me of Alicia Parlette (who I also wrote a blog about for CURE). A lot of the same thoughts and emotions swirled through me, so I thought I'd share a little bit of it here (to read the whole thing, click on the link above):

I've spent the last couple of days reading "Alicia's Story" online, subtitled "Cancer. Despair. Hope. Faith," and through her honest vulnerability, I found myself feeling like I was in her shoes and oscillating between despair, hope, and faith. ...  
... throughout the series, Parlette often made references to God and her faith. Faith in the belief, which she and her friends and family held on to, that she was a miracle--even if she didn't live. Faith that provided a constant uplifting through the prayers being said for her. Faith to lean on God, and somehow understand why this was happening to her; how it didn't feel right for her to pray that she would be healed--even though that was what she really wanted. Faith that broke through as Parlette, emerging from a dark tunnel on a BART ride, thought about how trials are "uncomfortable and scary and dark and overwhelming--but then they're through and things go back to (almost) normal, and God's showing himself on the other side." 
And these are just a smattering of examples of Parlette's despair, hope, and faith expressed in her story.  
If I'm going to be honest, reading "Alicia's Story" mostly struck a lot of fear in me. I'm 24, and while I don't have cancer, it was really hard for me to think about Parlette being diagnosed at 23 and dying at 28. It was also scary to think about her misdiagnosis at 16,and how, at 17, I had a procedure to rule out the possibility of cancer ... and what if that was wrong, too? 
At one point, Parlette's therapist told her something that really stood out to me: While most people focus on the outcome, it's more important to focus on the process. None of us know where our lives will lead us, or what will happen in them. But it's in noticing the moments in between that help hope and faith keep from being overrun by despair.

Even though their stories make me sad and a little bit scared, Alice and Alicia both remind me of one thing:

We really do only have one life... so why not live it the best we can?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Car Woes

One of the few things I didn't like about Nigeria was not being able to drive. 

Besides not holding a driver's license (although my dad was all for my brother and I getting one), the roads are also way too narrow for my liking, and finally, drivers in Nigeria are a bit crazy. Their hands seem to be permanently glued to their horns, and there's a lot of speeding, abrupt stopping, and driving on whatever side of the road suits you at the moment (after all, you gotta avoid those pot holes!). 

While I am known to be a bit of a fast driver, I am NOT an aggressive one. And aggression is one trait you need to survive the roads back home. Thank God for drivers! 

But while I was absolutely grateful to have Mr. Tunde and Mr. Remi at my disposal, I kind of missed getting in my car and going wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And since they were really my parents' drivers, it's not like they were honestly at my disposal. And then there is the guilt factor. Once, Mr. Tunde took me to Lagos and I felt so bad leaving him in the car while I went about with my friends. 

Anyway, I was pretty excited to come home and get into my sweet old Honda Accord. Although, it was a bit weird at first. Even though I had only been gone for about three weeks, driving felt very weird at first. It's almost like I had forgotten what to do on these clean, wide, pothole-less roads! 

But even with the first few days of oddness, I LOVED having my car back. I loved driving myself places. I loved being ... free.

Well... guess what? I'm car-less again.

My transmission is failing... yet again. Not sure what to do about it. It'll cost about half of my summer salary to fix. But also, I bought the car in January '09, fixed the transmission once already in November '09, and now it's failing again?!?! Not cool! I'd rather buy a new one than throw money into this car if it's just going to try dying on me in another year and a half.

But... without a full-time job, a new car is kind of not in financial reaches for me. 

Story of my life. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spring Ends, Summer Begins

For the summer, I'm working for Teach for America at it's Houston Institute.

For those of you who don't know, Teach for America is a non-profit that recruits recent college grads to teach in urban and rural school districts. Their goal is to decrease the achievement gap of low-income kids. Kind of ironic that I just got my teaching certification, I'm working for a teaching organization, but as of right now I will not be teaching in a school in the Fall, huh? Well... I mean, it could still happen. But I'm still on the job hunt.

So far, it's been a pretty interesting experience. It's awesome to see so many people passionate about ensuring that every child in the U.S. has the opportunity to a great education. Yesterday was the Welcoming Ceremonies, and it was pretty much a bunch of speeches from Teach for America leaders, alum, and corps members about why they joined the corps, how they were inspired by their students, and just a general challenge to the 2011 corps members.

Being here makes me kind of regret never applying for Teach for America. But, while I believe whole-heartedly in their mission, and I loved teaching my kids this past Spring... sometimes I still doubt if the classroom is the right place for me. As much as everyone says I'm "such a natural," and as much as I enjoy empowering kids, and arming them with the knowledge they need to pursue their dreams, sometimes the thought of being a teacher is terrifying to me.

But on the flip side... I really do want to teach in the Fall. I'm kind of keeping my fingers crossed for a position at the school I student taught at. It'd be awesome to move up with my kids and get to work with them and impact them for one more year.

My last day was a few days before I went to Nigeria, and they were soo sweet and I got a huge bucket of cards.  Most of them simply said stuff like, "We'll miss you!" and "We hope you'll be our teacher in 5th grade" and stuff like that. Two of the biggest troublemakers of the three classes made me these paper hearts. And one of them gave me this bracelet made out of heart-shaped beads. And they kept hugging me and just wanting to be close to me the whole day. There was just so much love, and I couldn't help but promise that I'd be back after I came back from Nigeria (a promise I fulfilled by showing up TWICE even though I was still ridiculously jet-lagged and had to drive down to Houston one of those days).

I felt like a major celebrity when I walked back into that school. I was walking down the hallway, and one of the girls spots me and screams, "Miss Ishola!!!"  And before you know it, I was bombarded by a stampede of 4th graders.

I miss them so much. And it's in these moments that I think, "Yes, I really want to be a teacher." And moments when I go back through all their little notes to me. My favorite letter was from a girl named Bianey. If she was seeking to make tears fall from my eyes, she succeeded!

And here are a few other notes from some of my kids!

If those aren't enough to tempt me to stick with teaching, I don't know what will be.... 
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