Am I a good person?

Today I walked to the quad on campus with my lunchbox and picked a lovely sunny spot in the grass to spend my hour-long break. A southern baptist group was out there, with one man was standing on some milk crates preaching. This particular group, unlike another baptist group who frequents campus yelling brimstone and hellfire, is actually quite nice. They simply try to tell students what the Bible says–not convert people or harass them.

The preacher man offered $20 to anyone willing to do what he called the Good Person Challenge. He asked “Who among you considers yourself a good person?” A young man named Lucas stepped up. The preacher proceeded to ask Lucas if he’d ever lied, disrespected his parents, taken God’s name in vain… By the time he went through the whole list of sins, he determined that Lucas was indeed not a good person (but for the record, Lucas seemed like a very nice boy).

Poor Lucas didn’t disagree with him, but pointed out that God is merciful and might send him to purgatory for these sins. The preacher shot down this idea, claiming that purgatory is nonexistent. The two never reached an agreement. Lucas, a Catholic, was convinced that his soul is alright; the preacher was convinced that Lucas needed to be saved, saying that Catholic doctrine is unbiblical.

As a Catholic, I’m no stranger to the fact that there are fundamental differences between these two religions. However, I didn’t disagree with the man’s message today, and I actually enjoyed his sermon.

I did, however, have a problem with a girl who interrupted the Good Person Challenge to ask Lucas if the guy was bothering him, implying that he forced Lucas to be up there. Lucas was the one who volunteered–Lucas was making $20! The man asked her to not interrupt, since he was having a conversation with Lucas. The girl responded very rudely.

Many students are rude to these evangelists on campus. Some students are downright hateful, cursing the people out and starting debates. These students claim that evangelists are intolerant, but in all truthfulness, the intolerance goes both ways.

Coincidentally, the concept of a “good person” is a theme that’s been running through my head a lot this week. What makes someone a good person? Am I a good person? Is anyone actually a bad person, or is there mostly good in everyone? Do other people care about being a good person as much as I do?

I like to think of myself as a good person, but I can recall times when I’ve been cold, jealous, distant, stand-offish, defensive, or selfish. The man’s message today was comforting to me–no one is perfect, and no amount of good deeds can make us perfect. But because of Jesus, we’re forgiven for all that. It’s up to us what we do with it. We can start by treating others how we’d want to be treated, which includes religious tolerance and respecting others’ beliefs.

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Dealing with criticism

It seems that there are two types of criticism: just criticism and unjust criticism. I’m not great at taking either, but I’ve had my fair share of both.

Just criticism is actually a good thing. We learn and grow through criticism. Each time a teacher takes off points for something, we make a little note to not do that again. Criticism at work helps us do our jobs better. It shouldn’t be mean, rude, or personal. It should add a tool to our life’s toolbox. Don’t sweat a little criticism–it’s part of any worthy endeavor.

To avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

-Aristotle

Unjust criticism is a whole different ballgame. It gets personal. Maybe you’re criticized for something that wasn’t your fault, or maybe for something you can’t change. Some people like finding petty things to criticize, nit-picking your every move. It’s mean, rude, and unnecessary.

Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.

-Dale Carnegie

In my adult life, I’ve received a lot of criticism for being too quiet. It’s come from professors, boyfriends, acquaintances–even total strangers. I’m learning to take it with a grain of salt because the criticism is unjust. It doesn’t alter my ability to get my job done. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

And since I can’t change my personality, how does this criticism benefit me? Unjust criticism hurts the person more than it helps them.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

-Ephesians 4:29

Oftentimes unjust criticism has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the other person. As Dale Carnegie put it:

Unjust criticism is usually a disguised compliment. It often means that you have aroused jealousy and envy. Remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog.

 

Unjust criticism gets me down. Like, really down. On the same token, praise and accolades have the opposite effect–it can cause me to think I’m somehow better than others. I’ve learned to avoid this by using the metaphor of an ice chest: be insulated against both criticism and praise. Take both into consideration, but don’t let it affect you personally.

Don’t let compliments go to your head and don’t let criticism get to your heart.

 

Green & Gold 5K

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My new racing shoes!

My most recent 5K turned out to be less than a 5K–and that’s okay. It was my first race with my fabulous new running shoes: the women’s Asics gel hyper speed 6. These shoes are more minimalistic than traditional running shoes, with a thin sole and very little support. They’re as light as a feather; one of the kinesiology professors in my department even compared them to ballet slippers.

 

The Green and Gold 5K was held at Southeastern University’s campus last Saturday to benefit our athletics program. It was neat in that the finish line was the end zone in Strawberry Stadium. Two of my fellow grad students came out for it, as did my friend Nick from Texas. We were surprised how small the group was on the morning of the race. Only about 50 people ran!

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My work friends are the best!

Despite the small size, I still didn’t place in the 20-30 age group. The ROTC runners and my friend Ben took the medals for that. According to our Apple watches and running apps, the course was about 2.9 miles. Me and Nick tied, crossing the finish line in 23 minutes flat.

I just registered for the Girls on the Run 5K, which raises money for young girls and helps them to get healthier. My little cousin is doing their training program, and this will be her first 5K. As her running buddy, I will make sure she successfully finishes. She’s extremely fast, so I’m hoping she doesn’t beat me.

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Me & Nick in Strawberry Stadium!

My friends from work also want me to do the Huey P. Long Bridge Run 5K. This race goes across the bridge and back, so it will be a challenge. If I stay on top of my schoolwork, I’ll be able to do this one (even though it’s right before finals).

So many races, so little time!

Spring break

This week was spring break, and since I work at and attend a university, that means a whole week off for me. I headed straight home after work last Thursday night, making it to my parents’ place by 11 pm. They live out in the middle of the woods of central Louisiana, with several acres on a beautiful lake. Home is like a vacation destination, complete with fine dining, a pool, hiking, and the luxury of cable television (something I don’t pay for at my own home).

IMG_20160326_182037On Easter, we were joined by my dad’s side of the family, as well as my mom’s sister’s family. This included my two youngest cousins (who are like little sisters to me) and my cousin Ira’s three adorable children. We dyed eggs and explored the property. I baked a delicious chocolate cake that was such a hit, my aunt asked me to make another for an upcoming family reunion (recipe here)!

One of my little cousins stayed for the week after Easter. Tuesday she, my mom, and I drove up to the Kisatchie Backbone Trail, part of the Kisatchie National Forest near Natchitoches, Louisiana. This is the only trail in Louisiana where you see a lot of rock outcroppings. It was a neat trail, complete with sandy streams, beds of ferns, some steep inclines, and great overlooks. We hiked a total of seven miles.

We also saw the movie Miracles from Heaven this week. This is an excellent movie, and I highly recommend seeing it. Not many movies these days are worth paying $10 to see, but I’ll gladly splurge to see the few Christian movies that make it to theaters.

I hope you all had an enjoyable Easter as well. 🙂

Rain & the Rotary Shamrock Run

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Me & my fellow grad student Ben.

 

As many of you may have seen in the news, Louisiana got some major flooding last week. The Hammond Rotary Shamrock 5K and 10K were supposed to take place last Saturday at Southeastern University’s campus (where I work and attend grad school!), but the run was cancelled. Some places on campus had water knee-deep–it would have been a swim/run duathlon!

The good news is, the race was rescheduled for today. The bad news is, the 10K was cancelled. So I ended up running the 5K, which I finished in 25:40. I was 4th in my age group, which was a little disappointing. I think I could have done better in the 10K because I’m better at endurance than speed.

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A pre-race pic with my friends!

I like this race because all the proceeds support local charities. The St. Patrick’s Day theme is fun and festive, and it gave me an excuse to make a new tutu. And of course, I love Southeastern’s campus, and I saw a couple of friends there.

I convinced a fellow health and kinesiology grad student, Ben, to run with me. He started out so fast that I didn’t bother keeping up with him, but in the end he only finished 2 minutes ahead of me. He’s actually writing his thesis on the Apple watch as a fitness technology. So of course he was sporting one of those (I think it helped!).

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Crossing the finish!

It began misting as I crossed the finish line, and the rain only picked up after that point. I brought my chihuahua, Stu, to the post-race party, and we were both wet and cold! We stuck around for a while, but within an hour, everyone was packing up. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the Louisiana Marathon and their huge finish festival with lots of food and live music, but I usually make a whole afternoon out of my races.

Oh well. I’m home with Stu now, staying dry and cozy, wondering what my next race should be…? 🙂

 

 

Recipe: Thai beef curry

Today I created my own version of this dish that is simpler than the recipes I found online, many of which have lists of 15 ingredients. Although the coconut milk this recipe calls for is high in saturated fat, this meal is nutritious and healthy in moderation.

So here’s my beef curry recipe; it has less than 10 ingredients and takes about an hour to make:

What you’ll need…

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 small piece of ginger root
  • 3 Tsp. curry powder
  • Sirloin, cut into chunks (I used about 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 Can coconut milk
  • 2 Sweet potatoes
  • 1 Tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • Jasmine rice

Follow five easy steps…

  1. Cut onion into chunks. Peel and finely chop ginger root. Cook both in a large skillet over medium heat until the onion is opaque.
  2. Add  curry powder and stir for 3 minutes. Then add beef and continue to stir until meat is browned.
  3. Add coconut milk, chopped sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and peanuts.
  4. Simmer for 30-45 minutes over medium heat, or until potatoes are tender.
  5. Serve over rice.

There you have it! Makes enough to have leftovers throughout the week. You can add peas, carrots, chickpeas, chicken…anything really! Enjoy 🙂

Prom dresses and self-esteem

I recently pulled out my old prom dresses to donate them. Just for kicks, I tried them on one last time. Fortunately, they still fit (albeit, it was a struggle to zip them up), and when I looked in the mirror, I felt like a princess.

My junior prom dress is especially elegant. It’s long, black, and strapless with white beading. I’m sure I looked gorgeous in it ten years ago (wow, that makes me feel old…). But the weird thing is, the guy friend I brought to that dance hardly even noticed me. I remember he ended up dancing more with our friend Julie than me, and by the end of the night he had his arm around her. Meanwhile, I hung out with Julie’s abandoned date; he’s a dear friend, but he never seemed to notice me either. Even still, my mom will ask me if he ever calls, and my answer is always “Nope, haven’t heard from him.”

Looking back through my high school pictures, I realize I was very pretty (at least, after I took Accutane and got my braces removed…). There was certainly nothing wrong with me. And yet, I always felt invisible.

Fast forward to senior year of college. I have a blog site entitled “Not-Quite-Princess,” on which I wrote a post where I stated “with mediocre grades, looks, and talent, there’s nothing about me that stands out above the average.” I can’t believe that’s how I viewed myself at age 21; in reality, I was very pretty, young, smart, ambitious, and an excellent swimmer and writer.

I’m not sure why I’ve always been ignored by guys, or why the ones who did pay attention to me turned out to be total jerks. I’m also not sure why I never thought I had much potential and that I was ugly. I still feel this way about myself to a degree, but when I’m 30 I will probably look back and wonder why.

Every girl should know that she’s beautiful. This is my hope for the two young women who receive my prom dresses, whoever they may be.

Greener pastures

Sometimes you think the grass is greener on the other side, so you venture on over there, but only to find that the grass was pretty darn green where you were. You find yourself wanting to return to that first pasture, but your pride gets in the way.

In life, change can be good or bad; that’s what makes it scary. You never know if the best decision is to stay where you are, or leave your comfort zone for something that could possibly be better. It’s always a risk.

My personality type is INFP–the idealist. For me, the grass is always greener on the other side. I’m always looking for the most ideal situation, for my happy ever after. The thing is, this makes it hard to be content with what I have at the moment.

“Ideal” may never happen, because life isn’t a fairy tale. The key is to recognize a good thing when you have it, and let it bring you happiness. If you leave it behind for something better, but then realize that you truly loved that pasture, then admit you were wrong before it’s too late. Happiness is more important than pride.

 

An open letter to my future spouse

Dear future husband,

I know I haven’t met you yet, but I hope you are learning all the lessons you need to shape you into the perfect match for me. It takes enduring many heartaches, successes, and failures for a person to mature and become wise. I always wanted to be at least 27 before I got married; I knew it would take that long for me grow wise enough to make that decision, and mature enough to understand that level of commitment. I still have quite a way to go, but that’s okay. Although I wish I would find you tomorrow, I will patiently wait until our timing is perfect.

I’m learning to be happy on my own, but it’s often lonely without you. It will be so nice to someday have you there all the time, to share a home, enjoy meals, go for walks, watch TV, go to church together. I’m tired of doing everything solo, but I refuse to settle for anyone who’s not…well, you. (By the way, I hope you love running as much as I do, because I need someone by my side at all my races.)

Please don’t worry about whether you’re tall, handsome, athletic, rich, or successful enough; I don’t care about those things. Instead, focus on your character and integrity. I care about how you treat me and how you treat others (particularly those less fortunate than you). It also matters that you can take care of yourself and can take care of me. I hope you make the effort to eat right, exercise, enjoy nature, and see to any of your medical needs. How can you take care of me if you can’t take care of yourself? I also don’t care what you do for a living, as long as you can provide for me in hard times. And I will try to do the same for you.

I hope you’re not out there breaking too many hearts. I also hope you’re not getting your heart broken. You must be Catholic, because that’s my number one dating requirement; I hope you’re staying true to your faith and keeping your relationships pure. Don’t fall into the hookup culture of our generation. Keep your standards high, and don’t settle.

Hopefully by the time we finally encounter, I will meet your standards. Everyday is a step toward self-improvement. Just please know that I’m not perfect–in fact, I’m far from it. There are some days when I can be jealous, cold, and distant. But what makes you special is that you love me in these times, just as much as when I am happy and cheerful. Because that’s what unconditional love is, and I can’t wait to find that in you.

Love,

Cori

#Tbt: My high school playlist

Anyone else still love these songs?! Some nights I get in a weird mood and just have a throwback to the early 2000’s. I was in high school from ’04-’08, and I must confess, I was a little bit emo in my music tastes. My old playlists are pretty great. It’s fun to go back and listen to them.

When your brain is developing as a teenager, the neural connections you make between music and emotions is very strong. That’s why songs from our high school and college days often evoke powerful emotions and feelings of nostalgia. Here are some of mine:

  1. The Mixed Tape – by Jack’s Mannequin
  2. Lips Like Morphine – by Kill Hannah
  3. The Suffering – by Coheed and Cambria
  4. Niki FM – by Hawthorne Heights
  5. Lazy Eye – by The Silversun Pickups
  6. Almost Easy – by Avenged Sevenfold
  7. Smile in Your Sleep – by Silverstein
  8. MakeDamnSure – by Taking Back Sunday
  9. Swing Swing – by All-American Rejects
  10. The Kill – by 30 Seconds to Mars

You’re welcome 🙂