I Believe in Living Moment to Moment

Author: Danielle Howard, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I did not have a typical High School experience. After dropping out of school and returning a year later, my only goal was to graduate as fast as possible. Senior year, I spent all of my time going to school and work, and going home to study. I wasn’t concerned with building relationships or having the social life that most teenagers have, and I didn’t realize that I was missing out on so many memories. Many people have stories of near death experiences and life-changing moments that led to clarification and inspiration, but my experience was much more than that. One single moment caused me to completely change the way I live.

Early one December morning during my Senior year, I woke up in excruciating pain. I could hear the steady beep of a heart monitor, and the muffled whispers of people nearby. When I opened my eyes, the fluorescent hospital lights made my headache spike to an unbearable level of pain. My mind was racing as I tried to summon up any memory from the previous night, but I came up blank. When I tried to turn my head, I realized that I had a neck brace on, and I was strapped to the bed, restricting my movement. This was the scariest moment of my life. My body was numb, and I was terrified and alone. I could hear the beep of the heart monitor picking up speed with my panic. When I opened my mouth I couldn’t form words, I could only cry.

Late the night before, I was in an accident that resulted in a Grade 3 Concussion. The impact paralyzed my diaphragm, leaving me unable to breathe. When I ran out of oxygen, my heart stopped. I didn’t regain a heartbeat for the eight minutes that it took the paramedics to arrive and begin defibrillation. When they shocked me for the fourth time, my heart miraculously restarted.

I don’t remember most of that night or the following weeks of recovery, but I do vividly remember the overwhelming regret that filled me when I realized that had the paramedics arrived just a few minutes later, that would have been the end of my life and up to that point, I hadn’t accomplished anything significant. I was stuck dwelling on the past and worrying about the future, and I was so busy trying to grow up that I forgot to live.

Because of that moment of impact, I am a living, breathing cliché. I believe in putting my all into everything I do, and never turning down an opportunity to make memories. I believe in living moment to moment and making peace with the past. I believe in acting now and thinking later, but never looking back with regret. I believe that sorrow is just as significant as joy because every experience we have shapes who we are. I believe in taking advantage of every moment we are blessed with, because one instant of impact can end everything.

I believe in getting yourself in over your head

Author: Alexis Lohse, TCU Student, Political Science Major, Published Fall 2012

I believe in getting yourself in over your head. I can say with all honesty that the best decisions in my life have been made during situations of extreme discomfort or duress. These have been times when I was confronted with new and sometimes frightening circumstances, often of my own making and sometimes quite intentional. Eleanor Roosevelt once quipped, “A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” Thanks to these trials, I have learned the true strength of my intelligence, patience, and perseverance.

The first time I was truly tested was at the age of 23 when I was married to an alcoholic and became pregnant. Up to that point, my life had been an aimless string of events and dead-end jobs, a period of time marked by a distinct lack of concern for my present and even less concern for my future. With the unexpected appearance of a “+” on the test strip, I instantly realized the gravity of my situation. Everything had changed. It was time for me to step up, whether I felt ready or not, because life was no longer just about me.

The subsequent 2 years of my life were an arduous metamorphosis. I managed a healthy pregnancy (without insurance), I gave birth to an 8 lb. baby (at home), I got a real grown-up job at an insurance company, and I divorced my husband. It was scary, it was difficult, and it was absolutely worth it.

More recently, I have intentionally created situations where I had to succeed under threat of fantastic failure. In the last 4 years, my life has undergone yet another total metamorphosis. After working in the marketing department of that same insurance company for over 5 years, I realized a change had to happen. I wanted more from life and it was time to challenge myself again. On a whim, I bought a house from my (new) in-laws and moved my family to Fort Worth. After trying for 10 months to find local employment, I eventually quit my steady job in Austin and went back to school at the age of 30.

The increased responsibility of a mortgage and the decreased security of a steady corporate job have made for some ulcer-inducing months, for sure. More than once I have wondered if I am being unreasonably selfish by pursuing my education at the expense of the financial security of my family. My parents never went to college, so I am striving to set a good example for my girls by getting my degree. I can only hope my daughters see how hard I am trying and are internalizing the same work ethic.

I know this is not the last time I will challenge myself. Even at my advanced age (31!), I will have many more opportunities to get myself out of (self-inflicted) hot water. I may not always succeed, but I am certain I will be better for having tried.

I believe in my Uncle Tommy

Author: Katie Rhatigan, TCU Student, Nursing major, Published fall 2012

I believe in my Uncle Tommy. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer and currently he is in remission, still living his life to the absolute fullest.

My uncle is the wild child of his family. He had the long hair, tattoos, and earrings, is extremely tall, and has the sense of humor that would have you laughing within a minute of meeting him. He has the built of a lion and the heart of an angel. He is a carpenter and has a passion for building anything he can. This man is so much more than just my uncle and role model, he is also my godfather.

Growing up, I was not fortunate to see him often because he was engulfed with his work and lived a couple hours away. That never impacted our relationship though. I would talk to him on the phone and his positive attitude would always leave me feeling happy and optimistic. Whenever I did see him, I would receive the biggest hug of my life and I would never want to leave. His stories from his childhood were always the greatest, like when he would tell me about his car and how it was the coolest one on the block because it had a huge engine and the ladies loved his GTO. I used to listen to stories about him driving it and I could see him reliving his experiences. He is satisfied with life and lives each day to the fullest.

After he was diagnosed with cancer, it was like nothing had changed. Work was still part of his everyday life and he carried on as usual. He had the overwhelming love and moral support from his family to help him get through it all. I am not going to say that there were no hard or low points during his treatment process but I will say that he rarely showed them. Through this whole experience, he has been able to reconnect with the family more and even some friends from his past. My uncle can do whatever he sets his mind to do. When he first started Kung Fu, he did not stop until he got his black belt and when he decided he wanted to learn the guitar, he mastered it. This determination is what allowed him to beat the cancer. Ultimately, he stuck to his daily routine, kept a smile on his face, and kept doing the things that he loved.

Through my Uncle Tommy, I have learned to be unselfish and cherish each moment I have because at any time, my life can change. When I am having a bad day, I think about him and how even through it all, he still will walk around making other people happy. He inspires me to live each day like it’s my last, to do what I want to do, to do what makes me happy.
There will be challenges in life but nothing that I cannot get through. I believe that through perseverance, love, and hope, I can do anything with a smile on my face.

I believe in the value of human life

Author: LaTonya Whitley, TCU Student, Criminal Justice Major, Published Fall 2012

I believe in the value of human life because I am a survivor. I have survived many things, but the one story that I hold near and dear to my heart is being a survivor of rape. My mom would allow numerous men to sleep in the bed with us at an early age; I believe I was around five or six when I first discovered “being touched”. I remember waking up to one of these men, a family friend, touching me. He had removed my panties and performed a sexual act on me. Confused I immediately got out of bed with my panties in my hand searching for my mother. My mother happened to be in the next room on the couch with a man, who was not my father. I stood at my bedroom door with my panties in my hand and when she saw me, naked with just a t-shirt on, she yelled at me to return to my room. I obeyed, went back in my room and slept next to the family friend who just molested me. From the age of five-six to age sixteen, I spent my life being a victim of molestation, numerous attempted rapes and one rape. The predators were family friends, adult cousins; ironically none of the perpetrators were strangers. I tried telling my mom on numerous occasions, but my pleas for help, fell on deaf ears. I remember trying to get help from my father but he just made excuses why he did not rescue me. About three years ago, I discovered why. He has been accused of molesting my cousin and having sexual relations with his biological daughter, my sister. I grew up angry, I was angry with my mother, my father and God. The sexual abuse I experienced, encouraged my promiscuous life style and it prevented me from having the knowledge to choose a decent man.

I spent the great part of my life in relationships that were toxic. I would go from one bad relationship to the next; always looking for one person to love me, and I thought I could find it by having sex. I would work, go to school, party, travel; I would do anything not to face reality. I was oblivious to the outside world, and the outside world was oblivious to me. Then one day, through no fault of mine, I lost my job and my world came crashing down. After I lost my job, I became extremely angry, I did not want to be around anyone; not even my children whom I love so much.

One day I read a book, called, Initiation by Elizabeth Haich and it changed my life. I began to work on me and what I needed to improve my life. Obtaining a job was a factor, but rebuilding a new me was more important. I realized that God has been with me all my life, even through the suffering I experienced. He only let me suffer long enough to teach me the value of human life, specially my life.
Though I experienced a lot of hardship throughout my lifetime, I have many things to be grateful about. First, I allowed God in my heart, mind, body and soul. I have four children and none of them suffered the way I suffered; as a matter of fact three are in college and one currently attends high school.

Someone once told me that bad things happen to good people, those people who have been hurt by life. I have learned that external forces do not have to devalue a human life; rather it can be used as a positive reinforcement to inspire change. This is why I believe!