“I’d like each person to send me a one page explanation of your personal story. Is it an essay? Is it a mind map? Is it a narrative or 10 slides in power point? What can I read to know who you are, what you believe in, what you have experienced?”

Easy enough, right? Wrong! Consolidating 21 years of experiences, passions, thoughts, relationships, travels and beliefs into one single form of explanation – not so easy. However, after much deliberation, I have decided to tell my story through my blog. Here goes…

The older I get, the more I realize how much our daily experiences shape who we are as people. I am so lucky to have had so many “out of this world” or in Deb lingo “off the fucking globe” experiences which have had huge impacts on my life.

I suppose my life begins in southern California where I was born and spent a good portion of my childhood. Fast forward 7 years and I find myself in Salem, Oregon– probably one of the most conservative, religious, right-winged communities I have experienced – ironic how today I would not quite identify myself with any of these terms.

Throughout these years my wonderful parents and amazing sister have always taught me valuable life lessons – one which particularly stands out is from my Dad. He always told my sister and I – especially in times of frustration – that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Because of this, I (almost) always put in 110% and pushed myself to the limit because I knew my parents had worked hard to get what they have, and I wanted to do the same and prove that I could be successful too if I was willing to put in the work.

Enter high school:

In high school I was the busiest I think I ever had been. Between orchestra, private lessons, choir, Nordstrom fashion board, work, youth leg., DECA, volunteering,all city orchestra, choir council…among about a million other activities, I rarely had time for anything aside from my school, activities, and job. A typical day would include: 6:30 am – choir and/or orchestra sectionals, 8 -2:30 class, 2:30 – violin sectionals, and then at night either symphony rehearsal, work, fashion board meeting in Portland, Encore! Photography senior representative meeting, group meetings, private lessons for violin – etc. There was never a dull moment, but of course I would never change any of these experiences for anything. Of course this work paid off – all three of chamber orchestra, symphony, and choir won the state competition, Tommy and I won the state DECA competition and placed in the international competition in our marketing research event. Each of these activities taught me lessons such as teamwork, patience, success, frustration, passion, preparation, and confidence.

Senior year was a full of more of the same enriching experiences above; however, it was a rough time for my family. During my junior and senior years, both my grandparents on my Mom’s side began to go downhill quickly – naturally my mom was busy taking care of them; however, with my mother’s ridiculous full schedule and the fact that my grandparents lived on the East Coast meant that during my senior year, my mom couldn’t be around as much as we would have liked. Although I was disappointed that my mom couldn’t be present for my final orchestra/choir concert, prom, senior banquet, DECA competition, or my graduatation, I now see it as a blessing in disguise. All my life, my parents have put my sister and I as priorities , which is wonderful – who doesn’t like be doted on? However, at some point, one needs to separate and begin to take care of oneself and deal with everything life throws in your direction. Of course for me it wasn’t easy – but I grew so much as a person that year, and realized that life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies and I can take care of myself if need be and be completely ok with it.

However, the summer after senior year was the best. The Europe trip I took with my orchestra was nothing short of amazing. I had been planning on this trip since I began violin at age 8, and finally it was here. Our group rehearsed six hours a day until we left in July. We toured through Austria, Italy, and Germany. The best part of the trip was when we competed in (and won!) the Vienna International Youth and Music Festival.

Here is a photo of us playing in Hallstatt, Austria:

Freshman year at UO came and went – quite the year of transition for me. As stated before, growing up the majority of my life in conservative/ religion, right winged middle class South Salem definitely didn’t prepare me for what UO had to offer. The longer I was in Eugene, I realized how much different the rest of the world and it’s cultures are. At first I resisted and believed that everyone else was wrong and everything I had known to be “right” was the right AND only way. However, as time passed, I realized what a bubble I had lived in basically my whole life which definitely left me more open minded and I began reevaluating basically everything I had once known as the truth.

Monumental moment: My sister heard a man named Ed Gerety speak at a conference and always spoke so highly of him – staying how inspiring and motivational his talks were. Ed Gerety came to speak at WOU, so I was able to hear him speak. I suppose the two most striking points were his quote “If you had one hour left to live, who would you call, what would you say, and why haven’t you done it yet?” – Puts life into perspective and reminding us that we need to let everyone know we care and to not waste a second. The second was his idea of a dreamboad – in a nutshell – you are more likely to do something if you’ve put in down on paper -this idea is to somehow represent your dreams and aspirations in a phsyical form because if in a physical form, you are statistically more likely to do it. Here is the dreamboard I created:

Enter sophomore year – more of the same of freshman year except classes are a little tougher…maybe not so much tougher, but time consuming. I took grammar and the LSDT my fall term – it almost kills me, especially when my computer crashes a week before the LSDT and all of my other finals. I think I slept three hours max each night. Winter term I had absolutely no life courtesy of info hell – my days would consist of: waking up, working on info hell, going to class, more info hell, working until 11 – coming home and more info hell. It almost drove me mad; however, after finishing that paper – I knew I could do anything. By spring term, I was ready to be OUT of Eugene! I was so excited for my summer that I could hardly think of anything else…

Summer 2007 – December 2007.

Canada with my chamber orchestra – a dream trip because I was able to play under Mr. Nelson’s direction again. It’s so easy to take for granted and lose appreciation for what you have, when you have this this/person/group/etc. on a daily basis. I didn’t realize how much I valued Mr. Nelson, his orchestra, and my fellow musicians until I graduated from Sprague and no longer had all of these things and people as part of my daily life. I have learned so much from this group – discipline, hard work, determination, passion, teamwork –the list could go on and on.

A vacation in Europe with my family immediately followed the Canada orchestra trip. Finally, my family was able to spend quality time together – it’s sad but we are so busy with our own schedules, we seldom have time to do things as a family. Out of everything we did and saw in Greece, Italy, and England – hands down the best part of the trip was seeing my Greek family. I have not seen them since I was five years old; however, because I don’t have a large family I never quite valued family because it’s hard to value and miss something you never have had. However, after spending time with my Greek family, I have learned how important family is to me– more than I ever would have thought! I’ve always been quite the independent person; however, after this trip I continue to hope that one day I will be able to spend more time with my family because that is something I really am missing out on but wish I didn’t have to.

Enter August – a week after I return from Europe, I depart for my four month Mexican adventure. In short, the Mexican culture taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life – taking time to enjoy life. Here in the states, I am always busy, always planning things from sun up to down – never making time for my family or friends, or most importantly – for me! While living in Mexico, I learned the importance of family/friends/culture and most importantly – the benefits of a balanced lifestyle. Hands down, these past six months have opened my eyes and helped me realize that all too often, we get caught up in our day to day rituals and forget that there is so much more that the world has to offer. Of course, the moment I arrived back in Eugene, I whipped my calendar out and began planning my day, hour to hour; however, I have recognized the problem and am currently working to make changes (=

Here I am, back in Eugene, back to my “normal” life. It’s interesting to see how drastically my perspective, my view of life, cultures, friends, family, school, etc. has changed since I have been able to remove myself from my “normal” rituals. Although I enjoying being back to my family and friends, I have realized the world has so much to offer and it’s ridiculous to not take advantage of these offers. I am recognizing the passion I feel about other cultures and the need to experience them in order to completely understand my own (ironic how before these trips – even dating back to freshman year of high school, I thought I had it all figured out – boy was I wrong!

I have 1 ½ years left here at the UO and after that – who knows. Through all my life-altering, mind-blowing, eye-opening, perspective-changing, self-defining moments I have recently experienced – I must say that the one factor which remains the same is the advice my dad taught me – “Success is when hard work meets opportunity.” With this said – these next two years at UO are up to me – whether I want to cruise on through or have two amazing, life altering, memory making, life changing, mind boggling, stunning, fantastic years. After that…well we’ll just have to wait and see…

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