January 22

Four years ago I was a senior.  In high school.  It’s hard to believe time could go by so fast as I now am approaching another graduation, a much scarier graduation.  In the past four years I have learned a lot about myself, about society, about friends, and about the strength of a family.  I have learned a great deal about money and how it sucks, about hard work, and how sometimes cereal is the best dinner.  I have learned a thing or two about child development and broadcast journalism.  I’ve learned how to make ends meet and that the beginning and end of month are the worst because every payment is due.

The second semester of my senior year I began a blog for my English literature class.  I suppose it foreshadowed what would become of my writing as I enjoyed the posts every week and worked hard to perfect them.  I was most proud of the first one I ever wrote, one I wrote exactly four years ago today!  I would like to share it with you all as it still rings true.  There are many things different today than four years ago.  Looking back life seemed simpler only juggling school and tennis most of the time.  However the story and feelings that I felt then remain real today and stronger now more than ever.  Thanks for reading!

January 22

“On January 22, 2004, I lost a little piece of my innocence; my youth and carefree attitude would never again be the same as it had been before that fateful day.  I lost my grandfather that day in only a matter of minutes.  One second I had been ready with my piano book in hand to go to my lesson and the next I was listening on the phone as my father told me my grandfather had had a heart attack.  From the moment I heard the idea that he could be dying it felt unreal, I felt I knew for sure nothing could ever happen.  Minutes later my mom came rushing in the door, telling me that we had to go to the hospital.  From there my world came crashing down as I witnessed my mom, my strong and fun mom, answer the phone and fall to her knees balling as she told my dad she was so sorry.  My grandfather had died.

On January 22, 2010, the opposite happened.  My cousin, Even Felipe Enriquez was born around 11:30 in the morning.  Six years to the day after my first experience with death, happiness was all that came from a day that had brought so much pain and sorrow.  I walked into the hospital to visit with family just as before but this time there was only joy in my heart.  I was not numb and there was no puffiness around my eyes.  I held my cousin in my arms and saw the goodness of life, the purity that it held, and its beautiful existence.

Looking back on the 22nd of January six years ago still makes me cry and as I write tears fall from my eyes, but instead of being numb I have a smile on my face.  A new life was born on the very same day.  A little boy that I will babysit, play with and who will make me laugh, that I will hold and celebrate with and watch grow into a man.  Life begins and ends in a matter of seconds, gives you hope and sadness, but also brings you love and joy.  God created mankind and gave else all life; He brought us companionship and gave us each other to laugh and cry together, to enjoy life with.  I experienced the grief that life can bring, but also felt the overpowering fullness that comes as well, that gives you strength and hope and happiness.

I felt like the monster in Frankenstein on that Thursday in 2004.  I felt pain and didn’t quite understand why things had to work out as they did.  I was let down.  But now today in 2010, I am able to feel something beautiful, as opposed to an end, a beginning has occurred.  Unlike the monster I was given life through a greater being than a human, I was given life by God.  The creature was created by Frankenstein, an imperfect human, and thus the creature could not overcome this.  I think about the life I had the privilege of knowing and of the life I now have the privilege of getting to know.  They were brought here by God and through this I can know their perfect and powerful creator.

I no longer feel the hurt I felt, but instead have cherished memories.  I feel joy for having known my grandpa for 12 years and now little Evan has a lifetime to fill with memories that I will be able to be a part of.  January 22 will forever hold a special place in my heart.”

I can’t help but think about my Aunt Cheryl after rereading this.  My family and I felt an enormous amount of pain following the days and months after her death.  Today it sometimes still feels fresh, I find myself crying in the car, thinking becomes too hard. And then I think about her son that she blessed us with.  A little boy only a year younger than Evan.  And all to brilliant to not make my heart happy.  God gives us life to leave a legacy.   This will never change.GrandpaIn loving memory of my Grandpa.
Cheryl and meAuntie Cheryl and I during my senior year of high school. EvanHappy 4th Birthday, sweet Evan.  I love you! JakeJake, you will forever have my heart.

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I was meant to be an Ice Skater

John Steinbeck wrote, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

As a first-born, naturally I am a perfectionist, and naturally being human and all has always failed me with this personality trait. Thus is exactly why I love the statement above.

I have a tendency to suggest nearly every new thing I try might be my calling. Contrary to what I had imagined, I am the worst skier … ever! Ice skating, on the other hand, is a bit more my style. I enjoyed a fun-filled night of ice skating with my sister and cousin last week that reminded me why I have always loved the sport. The grace it requires comes a bit more easily … none the less I will never be any more than “good” at the sport.

Today I begin a new semester of school. As a hopeful teacher, the student in me has always been excited for another year, new materials, new teachers, new classes. Today feels different however. With college graduation in the foreseeable near future and figuring out my next step in life is coming all too quickly, I cannot help but be anxious and nervous and wish for another few weeks days of winter vacation. With this in mind (I realize that I use this statement in most every post), being “good” at all I face in the upcoming busy semester is my goal. Because maybe after all, being perfect isn’t what makes life enjoyable. Because then ice skating would never be that much fun anyway.

Wishing you all a lovely Tuesday and happy first day of spring semester Titans and to everyone else who starts today! xxo.

Happy New Year

And with few hours left of January 1st left, 2014 has officially begun.  Happy New Year and cheers to another year!

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Come this time next year, I will be a college graduate (if all goes as planned)!  It is my resolution this year to write the best of stories, to fill the next 365 days with joy and excitement, and to gain a little bit more understanding about what the next chapter (post-grad) in my life may be.  I pray you all have had a brilliant new year’s and that 2014 will be just as bright. xxo!

#feelin22

22 used to be an unexciting age.  Then Taylor Swift decided to write a song about it.  Since then the hashtag above has defined a new landmark age amongst the sweet 16-teen queens, legal 18-year-old’s, tipsy 21’s, and over the hill 50-year-old’s.

Well today I am feelin’ 22.

A couple years ago I came across this quote below right before New Year’s.  It may not be a new year quite yet but today I have hit a new age, and I have decided to share it as it represents a few of my wishes for the coming year.

“This coming year, I hope to create a story that I love.  I hope to make something beautiful and take great risks.  I hope to dare myself to do brave things.  I hope to have a conviction and see it through.  I hope life breaks me and from disaster, I hope to come back brand new and beautiful.  I hope to have the courage to take the weak things and amplify them until my life overflows with only the good stuff.  I hope to see the world and meet interesting people but above all, I hope to have an absolutely passionate love affair with life.”

Today I am half the age my aunt was when she went to be with the Lord last year.  She lived a life full of love, of hard work, of humor, and of true worth.  In honor of her life my wish is to live the next 22 years as she did … with joy, conviction, faith, integrity, and thrill.  I will continue to honor her legacy.

Here’s to another blessed year.  Hope you all enjoy the new design! xxo

First Day of Fall and All

I have had my fair share of breakdowns this past month.  School has started and with it numerous new obstacles.  Double major, student athlete, employed intern, hospital volunteer, … chaotic mess.

Emily Bronte wrote,

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”

I have only ever read one novel by Emily Bronte.  I was 14 at the time, and it was the summer before my freshman year of high school.  The overachiever in me decided to take Honors English that fall and thus “Wuthering Heights” was mandatory reading before my first day.

An individual attempt at reading the book was rather short lived and ended with me crying (yet another breakdown) on our family vacation in Vermont.  I was lost with the story.  I was sure I wouldn’t finish the book in time.  I was going to fall behind in class, fail the ninth grade, and end up a dropout (I can tend to be a bit over-dramatic).  And thus I spent the remainder of the summer rereading “Wuthering Heights” with my ever patient mother, sure to understand better simply because she was there.  When I showed up for English a few weeks later, my teacher ended up hating the book as well, never understood why it was the required reading, and moved on to a new novel after only a few chapters in … which brings me to today.  With few days away until my 22nd birthday, I cannot adequately describe a logical theme to Bronte’s work.

I share this story for two reasons.

First, Emily Bronte was … deep.  No easy-read, mind you.  Or maybe she wasn’t all that deep but my experience with her work was not exceptionally easy.  I say this to warn you.  My deciphering of the quote I have shared above may be far from what she ever thought or felt when she wrote the poem, “Fall, leaves, fall.”   And thus a new attempt at figuring out what all she was talking about has begun.

There’s a saying, “Turn over a new leaf.”  It means to begin again, to create a fresh start.  Bronte was on to the same thing.  Every new beginning and challenge should be met with the same focus … excitement, an excitement for something new, for something better, something almost blissful, for a future with clarity and certainty.  She understood the problems life caused, for if there is anything I do remember from “Wuthering Heights” is that insanity prevailed throughout.  Yet still she wrote to treat each “leaf” with encouragement and hope.  Perhaps with this in mind, I then too can see my latest obstacles as opportunities rather, causing the breakdowns to end.

The second reason I share my flashback is to show the end result.  My frustrations never resulted in anything significant.  I finished the book.  I never truly understood it, but never needed too either.  I passed my English class.  I graduated.  My crazy antics turned out to be just that … crazy.

Today is the first day of the fall season.  It is no coincidence that “autumn” is in the quote.  I encourage you to treat life as the quote says above, or at least my interpretation of it that is.  With the start of this new season allow each new obstacle that “falls” on you to be an opportunity for a something better.  Make a choice.

And as a lover of this season or maybe not so much the season but the idea (living in Southern California has presented a few challenges when it comes to trying to experience any sort of cooler weather change) I am working towards appreciating my changing circumstances and putting forth the best effort in exchange for the usual tears and common breakdowns.  Maybe then autumn can be blissful and brilliant.

Happy Autumn Equinox everyone!  Go enjoy something pumpkin-flavored.

Happy Sunday || Happy September 1st

Isn’t it interesting how when you seem to have more time, less gets done?  That seems to be the theme of my summer.  Sadly brilliance and bliss suffered due to this occurrence as it has been almost two months since I posted last.  Although it is still the season of summer (and our hot, humid Southern California weather would reinforce this technicality), my summer has since passed and with it the joys of having little to worry about.  I worked, I vacationed, I relaxed, I enjoyed.  Now I am a week back in school in the midst of juggling a couple jobs, tennis, a cold, and trying to get another internship where I have to fulfill volunteer hours for one of my six classes.  Whoever said college was the best time of your life?

None the less I thoroughly enjoyed my lazy summer and now am excited to begin my senior year of college!  Thus I share a quote I found on Pinterest not too long ago that will definitely be relevant throughout this busy semester.

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I have always had a thing for the 1st day of the month.  It’s another start, a fresh beginning, and … coincidentally my birthday (not too long away now!) falls on a first!  So here is to a new start on this first of the month, to living a life with reliance on Christ through my hectic schedule … and blogging just a bit more!

Happy Sunday.  Happy September 1st! xxo

Happy Independence Day

Roadtrippin’ // Day 1

“It is good to have an end journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ernest Hemingway

Well, we were supposed to leave at 4 AM, but instead in ever pleasing Penner fashion, a good five hours and seven minutes later, my family and I began the family vacation we have been planning for some time!  And so I say Happy 4th of July from somewhere in central California where it is currently 112 degrees outside as I write in the car at 3:45 PM (we have yet to reach our final destination for the day, thank goodness)!

Our trip could not have started off less picaresque.  Imagine an In-N-Out so crowded … you leave.  A Baja Fresh and similarly the Quiznos next store with odors less than appetizing.  Thus on to Plan D!  Before this afternoon I couldn’t remember the last time I ate McDonald’s, well … that is no longer the case.  To say the least, we will not be stopping in the town of Kettleman on our way back home.  It can only get better from here!

That’s the thing about vacations though.  Things don’t always happen as planned and yet you still manage to make the best memories.  The moments you live and work to repeat.  I hope you are celebrating our nation’s Independence with the people who matter most to you just as I am.  I wouldn’t have wanted to spend lunch any other way.  God Bless America!

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P.S. As we have now arrived at 5:30 PM to our hotel, I have internet to post!

Blessings from a Blissful Boy

Whoever tailored the quote “ignorance is bliss” was on to something. Spot on rather.

This past week I babysat one of my most favorite people in the entire world. Jake is 25 months old and the brightest of toddlers. He is cheerful almost all the time, especially if cake or ice cream is involved, and his favorite companion is a stuffed bunny named EB. Jacob loves anything Disney especially visiting Mickey’s House (Disneyland). He finds joy in the simplest activities be it brushing his teeth or running in circles around the house. Simply stated, he is our continuous sunshine.

Now I consider the world around me. The hours spent studying to finish both my bachelors in a timely matter or working to please people at a minimum wage job. The frustrations over constant family issues or roommate conflicts. And thus a 19-year age gap becomes the difference between living in pure bliss and pure insanity causing the self-described “big boy” to teach me far greater lessons in life than those I try to teach him with learning his ABC’s.

Jake shows me what it means to love in all conditions. He speaks everything he knows. He explores and challenges himself daily by trying new things. Jacob makes me feel special. He wakes up overjoyed to just be able to play with toys and interact with people. Jake makes me forget about the various tasks to be accomplished and instead realize the beautiful blessing of life itself for Jake will one day understand this as well, as my first post titled Legacy was written about his mother. And so I continue to rely on Jake for the most brilliant life lessons.

Mark Twain wrote,

“The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.”

Love. Simplicity. Adventure. Happiness. Curiosity. This brilliant boy teaches me about all things blissful and blessed.

Perhaps “ignorance is bliss,” but Mark Twain was correct. Children show the beneficence of life. Jake does more than give me joy, he shows me how to experience such in all I do. And so maybe I have discovered why I want to be a part of a child’s life through teaching. Children cause me to see the good and true power of life. I hope to foster this beauty someday.

Consider the children in your life. Choose today to learn from them.

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To the boy who has taught me more in his short two years than thought possible, I will forever be thankful!

Have a beautiful weekend, xxo!

Dreamers & Doers

If you haven’t been able to tell already, I’m fairly family oriented.  Always have been.  This of course made moving out (a whole 45 minutes away from where I grew up) all the more difficult; a problem I have found most people my age don’t deal with to such an extent.  Even now I am still adjusting and find myself driving back home on random days just because.  And thus I would like to share a little about the two people in my life who have made my new surroundings my home away from home.

Jenna and Haley are my twin pillars (I am a good three or four inches shorter than both) for whom I am extremely grateful every day.  They have a genuine character and distinct class that radiates and betters all they interact with.  They are stronger than I will ever be and truly “dance” to their own beat.  They brighten a home filled with dirty dishes, blank walls, and mismatched furniture.  They love powerfully.  Jenna and Haley live with purpose so pure and true, a purpose that makes you know they will make it.

Grownups never tell you how hard being on your own will be.  As a kid it seems almost blissful.  Easy.  Fun.  And then you start making payments, start spending more time at jobs you wish didn’t consume your life, start spending money you don’t have, start seeing what it’s like to really be an adult.

Jenna and Haley make all this madness seem not so much easy but … definitely achievable.  They are hardworking and naturally driven, they make me want to accomplish far more than my spoiled self used to think about.  And so I share a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

The future surely belongs to these babes.  But not only because they are dreamers, but because they are doers.  The future belongs to my roommates and all you others who share this devotion and determination towards what you believe in.

To Jenna and Haley I say, thank you for showing me what it means to have perseverance.  God has a deeply beautiful purpose for your lives that far surpasses even your best dreams.  We will make it together!

And congratulations to all the graduates of 2013!  I wish you only the best.

Do more than dream.  Believe in its beauty.  Put forth the effort.  Don’t just be a dreamer, be a doer!

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Thank you for bringing me home.   I am so proud of you both.  I love you, beauties, xxo!