Dance Marathon Helped Me Understand What I Stand For

Dance Marathon Helped Me Understand What It Is That I Stand For

What do you stand for?

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The weekend of March 1, 2019, I stood for over 20 hours for the kids. Yep, I am not lying.

Dance Marathon at FSU is a 40-hour event split into two shifts of 20 hours. My freshman year, I earned sit times throughout the marathon, which I was incredibly thankful for, but this year was something totally different. I was on the internal team this year, which means, I worked behind the scenes of Dance Marathon since September. Since I was on the internal team, I did not get the opportunity to get the set times that I did the year prior. I was worried about this because I was not sure if I would be able to do it.

Spoiler Alert! I did it.

There were many times during the marathon where I thought that I could not stand much longer, but then some thoughts came into my mind. Who was I standing for? I was standing for the kids who had to get their leg amputated because they had osteosarcoma and could no longer stand on both legs. I was standing for the kids who are bound to their hospital beds right at this very moment because they are not strong enough to walk on their own. I was standing for the children who needed me to help them win their fight.

This is what kept me standing. This motivated me so much that I did not complain once because I knew who I was doing it for, and I was not going to let them down.

There were multiple people who kept complaining. Every word out of their mouth was about how their feet hurt, or how they were so tired. A large part of me wanted to turn to them and tell them, "Do you know how tired Grayson was when he had to have his many rounds of chemotherapy when he was just one-year-old?" I did not say that to them because I realized something. I knew what and who I was standing for, but maybe they didn't. My goal this year is to help all of those people understand WHY they are doing it.

20 hours on your feet may seem like a long time, but to watch $2,210,165.21 go up at the end, nothing compares.

Like the musical group Fun. once sang, "What do I stand? What do I stand for?" To that, I say, "I stand for the kids."


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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject. It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease. The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own. We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time. Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death. However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me. In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident. A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life. I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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4 Things I Wish High School Me Knew

Every day has a purpose.

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People don't give high school enough credit for having the ability to shape your life. It can build you or it can break you and often times there is no in between. As I enter into my senior year of college I have reflected a lot on my college career and how it really has been the best years of my life up to this point, but I know that without a doubt my life would have been so different in I would have known these things as a high schooler.

1. Your life is valuable

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7

2. You aren't defined by your singleness. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Solomon 2:7

4. You aren't going to fit in

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

4. Your clothes aren't going to fit forever, don't spend all of your money on them 

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15

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