Friday, December 10, 2010

Two finals left!

Tis' the season for studying and not enjoying the Christmas spirit until all tests are done and over with! :) In light of finishing my English class, I've decided to share some of my portfolio here.

This was the first paper I wrote this semester. The goal was to take a social myth and discuss if it was really true. I chose to use the myth "Love is enough, and there is nothing to learn from it." Sorry if the format makes it a little difficult to read. 

 “Love is enough, and there is nothing to learn in a relationship.”
Some people think that love is all it takes to make a relationship work. Those same people might also think that there really isn’t anything new to learn from a relationship. These people are na├»ve. Love, simplified, is easy, fun and movie-like. People in general like to make things easy instead of hard, fun instead of boring, and fantasy-like instead of realistic, so people view love as something wonderful that is effortless and purely happiness. But the truth is that if love was all it took to make a relationship successful and easy, people like John and Yoko, Tiger and Elin, and Jon and Kate might still be together. But this discrepancy brings up an entire new discussion of what love really means.
Love to an eighteen year old that has had a boyfriend for a year is completely different to an eighty year old who has been married for fifty years. Every person has their own set of diverse standards, and as people, we learn new things everyday just by living. As humans, we pick up on habits, mannerisms, the best route to work, what night TV is worth watching, and what vegetables taste the least like feet. It’s completely possible to learn something every day about someone or something that you didn’t know before. Life is just one big classroom that we learn things in, so why would love be any different? Every person is different, making every relationship different. So for every new relationship you are in, you are learning something new about that person, and about yourself. You learn what not to do as much as you learn what to do. Still, love isn’t necessarily meant for relationships with people only, but also for activities, hobbies, and things. It takes more than just love for a sport to be good at it; it takes hard work, practice, dedication, training, and coaching. Just like learning new things about relationships and love, you can learn new things about the things you love, like new strategies or exercises to make you better at the sport you love. Nevertheless, if love was all it took to fix problems in a relationship, there would be no need for any type of marriage or relationship counselors. If love was the only ingredient needed to make a relationship between two people, ideally everyone could have it. But the fact that not everyone has love must mean that there is more to it than just love itself.
This myth was created to make people think that love is a simple luxury that a person can find simply with attraction and feeling towards another person, when in actuality, it takes much more work and perseverance to make a relationship really work. But the former outlook makes love seem more glamorous than what it really is. Not to say that love cannot be glamorous, because it can, but it takes effort to get there. As humans, we tend to mask things that don’t match up exactly to our expectations. When something that we want to be easy requires a larger amount of ourselves than what we planned on giving, we deny it, so in this case, we go on pretending that love is easy to keep after you acquire it.
Many people are misguided by the way the media portrays love as something that is easy to obtain, as well as maintain. Romantic comedies make the idea of love look so effortless and easy to recreate in real life along with the simple thought of letting fate handle things, and that if it’s meant to be it will work itself out. What movies and even some romantic novels don’t convey is the work that is put into love, into a relationship leading towards love. Those don’t show the time that people take to get to know one another and one another’s differences, opinions, likes and dislikes. Little quirks and bad habits that may take a while to get used to and accept as part of a person are more or less brushed under the rug because it’s not the exciting part of a love story. Along with masking the fact that love comes with compromise, work, and difficulties, we camouflage the fact that love is also a learning process. It’s nice to think that we know everything about everything and are the smartest at everything we do, no matter how false that statement really is. But every type of relationship, loving or not, teaches us something new. I will always love my parents and I will probably continue to learn from them for the rest of my life. My parents and I recently discovered together that communication can play a big role in smooth relationship between people. The better we communicate, the better our relationship is and the happier we are. Having an open mind and accepting new thoughts and ideas is part of learning, and is part of a successful relationship of any kind.   
I’m only eighteen, so my wisdom in the area of love is just beginning to grow into a worthy reference, but for where I am in life I feel like I have a pretty good handle on things, but only because my situation slightly differs than most people my age. I know what it feels like to have someone I can always count on. I know what it’s like to feel wanted, needed even. I know what it’s like to consider someone else’s opinion as much as my own on all things between what I should be when I grow up and what sounds good for dinner. I know what it feels like to be an eighteen year old who thinks she’s in love. Sure, all of these things don’t necessarily add up to love, but they are a part of what I consider love to be. However, I don’t know what it means to be a wife or a mother. I don’t know what it’s like to share financial obligations with someone else’s income and my own. I don’t know what it means to be married to someone or to promise to care for them in sickness and health all the days of my life. But even adults who are married with children don’t always know what that means either. With love there is no guarantee. It’s a matter of trust, faith, effort, care, and open-mindedness. Love isn’t just something that I think about day to day, but something that people all over the world think about, no matter what country they live in, no matter what social status they carry, no matter what language they speak. This feeling, this thought process isn’t just running through my mind and my heart, but thousands, even millions of other teen hearts in this world. But even then, love isn’t just aimed towards young adults who are beginning to figure out their lives, but towards everyone; love is a universal topic of interest. People every day celebrate twenty-fifth wedding anniversaries, four-year anniversaries, two-month anniversaries, sharing their trials and tribulations throughout their time together. People every day are publishing books, magazine articles, and blogs about tips and tools to make a relationship better. These people are proof that even at fifty years, there is still more to learn and work to be shoveled out towards each and every relationship. Even though love is hard, the best things in life are worth working for, and love is worth it. What you put into love you get back out of it. Nothing in life is free, except love maybe. But even love costs you time and energy. Instead of looking at those costs as a toll on yourself, look at it as an investment into something that makes life worth living. As you put more of that cost into love, it will get easier with time. Love is that one intangible necessity in life that humans need to survive. Without love, the world would be a much colder, poorer place. It seems that love is not enough for an entire relationship to float on; it’s a big part of it, but it isn’t everything. Love is a learning process at the least, and takes time, trust, communication, compromise, and a lot of effort. But love is often the completing factor to a very happy life, and while I suppose some people will live their entire existence never experiencing the hardships and hoops that love makes us jump through, I would never trade knowing love, because those people have no idea what they are missing.
 My second paper required us to take a cultural text and analyze it. I chose to study the benefits of using music therapy and what it can actually do. I actually liked researching for this paper because it was really interesting to see what music could do besides entertain. Again, my apologies for the weird format.
“A Painter Paints Pictures on a Canvas. But Musicians Paint Their Picture on Silence.”
“Music is the chalk to the blackboard of life. Without it, everything is a blank slate.” Words spoken by Lexi Carter make it safe to say that no one is a stranger to music. Music has a part in everyone’s life in this world, regardless of the size of the part or the size of the life. Music doesn’t care what the age, the race, the preference, or the gender is; music touches each of us individually in many more ways than just through entertainment. Although rooted in entertainment, music also branches out into the roots of cultures involving technology and health with the many improvements and expansions that each of those have. Through advancing technologies, researched health regimes, and pure entertainment, music used as a therapy is a valuable tool in any and all cultures of the world.
In this day and age, technology is booming. Technology is easily a contender for what will define this generation to the rest of the world, and it has brought about an entirely new way of life to people of all ages. From the iPad to the iPod to the iTouch, the world is well on its way to being a completely digital place. But back in the present stone-age, in comparison, technology is being introduced in new ways targeted very heavily towards schools and enhancing the education experience. Students at earlier ages are becoming more familiar with music and the ways that music can actually be used as a tool for learning in addition to the simple listening pleasure purpose it has served for so long. If you were to go through your library of songs on your computer, you would be amazed to realize how many songs you could spit back every lyric to. What’s even more astounding is the fact that a song we haven’t heard in years can still be recited word for word while it’s sometimes difficult to recall a simple fact we learned just earlier in the day. With this in mind, using familiar melodies to memorize facts is an extremely helpful tool to students of any age, whether it be kindergarteners memorizing the letters of the alphabet with the conversant tune “ABC’s,” or college students replacing the words to the song “I Am a C, I Am a C-H, I Am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N” with important facts about cnidarians (“I am a C, I am a C-N, I am a c-n-i-d-a-r-i-a-n…). Using music to memorize or remember facts can improve communication along with memory association to specific events, feelings, and scenarios. Not only does the use of music therapy as a learning device allow a person to relate certain information with their studies but it also allows people to associate certain memories or certain feelings with ways to respond positively in their actions.
In the same way of using music to enhance a person’s capability and capacity of memorization, music can also be used therapeutically for both physical and mental health benefits. Patients going through physical therapy and rehabilitation often use music as a motivator while going through their activities and exercises. In the physical point of view, listening to music while exercising or doing small tasks can often make it more bearable and seemingly less time consuming; instead of looking at the task of running five miles or picking up your room, look at it as listening to one playlist of music. According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S. regarding stress management, “music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state.”
In today’s society, the desire to achieve peace with one’s body drives more and more people to turn to “cultural” means of exercising and healthy eating through things like as yoga, Pilates, and eating organic food. In the U.S. people are spending more money by the minute on healthier choices, better workout plans, and the best doctors and care for well-being, making therapy of any kind be of a higher demand. Focusing more on the mental benefits of music therapy, music can be used to help people alleviate pain, express emotions, and promote wellness for themselves (“Music” 1). Depending on the music preference, when a person is upset they can use hard rock or metal music to get rid of negative energy that they have, or they can use calming instrumental music to slowly release the same energy. Of course, with the same preference theory in mind, it’s easy to relate certain moods with certain music. A really upbeat and fast-paced song might be related with a great summer night while a slower but still happy and melodic song might be related with a special moment from the past. This is why music therapy is as helpful as it is to older people and patients with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease because when they hear certain music types combined with specific songs that created a lasting impression on them back when their minds were fresh and absorbent, it takes them back to that happy state of mind and makes it easier for them to recall those details and memories that are difficult to grasp because of their condition or age. “When we look at the body of evidence that the arts contribute to our society, it’s absolutely astounding. Music Therapists are breaking down the walls of silence and affliction of autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.” Michael Greene, the President and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences says exactly how powerful music used as a therapy can be for health reasons and to our society’s cultural values.
Music says so much about our culture and our world’s personality because it’s not about what kind of music you listen to but the bottom line that music represents us all the same way and for the same reasons. We all use music for the same purposes and we all gain the same wanted results. What music does for our culture is more powerful than most cultural texts because music is such a unique way of expression. Music is a unifying concept, and it’s an understood entity that everyone can relate to and appreciate. The value of being able to accept, to understand, and to appreciate all different genres, styles, and artists is greater than many are willing to give credit. Music is just one thing; a great compilation of many small parts, but still one whole, and seeing that just this one whole can unify all of those parts is all the proof you need. In America, music is a defining characteristic to the very one-of-a-kind culture it holds. Culture and history is also a big part of what the U.S. makes up, so it’s only logical that music is incorporated with culture too. Entertainment is something that everyone seeks, and shows like American Idol, Glee, America’s Got Talent, and a plethora of others attempt to fill that music/entertainment void. Music can be heard through much more than just listening, but it can also be used simply for that. Its usage is as complex or as simple as the user makes it, and as easy as it sounds, music can simply be the way that many of us use it every day, such as background noise, social ice breakers, or purely something to do.
Chalking up the scores for music and therapy, they both come out equal showing that they go hand in hand. Music can be used therapeutically and technologically, making it easier to learn and remember and making stress relief and physical therapy a breeze. And of course, music can be the sounds that we hear throughout the day, on the radio, through our iPods, and in the frozen food section. Music therapy is a growing resource and creates so much value as a cultural text in society through its social impact and its impact on the health and well-being of those that it surrounds. If music really is the chalk to the blackboard of life, then everything here about music is true: it does teach, it does heal, and it does grow, just like in school, in health values, and in society. Although it’s hard to imagine, there is one thing in the world that everyone knows of, that everyone shares, and that everyone shares happily, through song. “Imagine all the people sharing all the world. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one” (Lennon 1).
My last paper that I want to share has to do with graduation and the beginnings of college life. This paper was actually the hardest to write because it was really emotional. At first it was pretty much a brain dump, but then I got some structure to it.
            The Beginning Knights of Our Lives
Graduation is one of the most anticipated events in a young person’s life. It’s right up there with Prom, getting your license, going to college, and moving out. It’s all about fighting your way through high school, finally getting to senior year and being the top of the school again. I was somewhere in the crowd of students at Richwoods who had countdowns in their planners and big plans for after graduation, and it was no secret that we were all filled with too much excitement to contain while we all discussed our college plans. Even our teachers caved in and celebrated with us. I couldn’t wait to walk up on that stage and have my diploma handed to me and hear my entire family cheering for me somewhere in that sweaty gym. I couldn’t wait to lovingly tease the juniors and rub it in their faces how much earlier we got out of school. I was so excited to go to the senior lock-in and to have a long summer ahead with nothing but my friends and the hot sun waiting for me. I was so ready to jump into this new stage of life and just never hit the ground. There was so much positive attention and proud-parent moments that made me feel like I had just accomplished something equal to ending world hunger. On the outside, I was all for that big jump. On the inside, I wanted to jump and take everything in the plane with me to the next destination: adulthood. Everyone always talked about graduation like it was the end of our days as a kid, the end of suffering in stupid drama and school work. That was just a hidden way of saying we were about to begin a new stage of life where even though all of it still existed, we could find our way in life if we tried.
Graduation was pretty textbook; there were perfect sarcastic remarks about the flaws at Richwoods during the speeches, plenty of memories revisited, lots of smiles and tears, lots of sweat, and cheers of happiness, relief, and fear all at once. The lock-in was the stranger part of the day when it came down to it. It was like the entire class walked into one giant bubble of friendliness when we were all together that night. It made me wish we had done something like it sooner than the last night we would all be in the same place again. Everyone was mingling with everyone, having a good time and playing games, and everyone was happy. It almost seemed like we were making footage for a perfect high school film that took place in a perfect little town. I enjoyed the company of peers outside my normal circle, and still had an amazing time with my closest friends. I remember leaving the lock-in exhausted and nostalgically happy, and not ten seconds after walking out of those front doors for what felt like the last time, I took one look at my best friend and knew that it wasn’t over just yet. We weren’t done. We got into my car and drove around the building once for good measures, but parked near the entrance of the football field, making sure not to be seen. It wasn’t five in the morning yet, but the open gate to the football stadium was fate’s open arms to let us have one last chance to make a good memory there. We walked into the stands and down the stairs onto the track and we took off our shoes. We walked barefoot across the wet grass of an empty field, and we saw the sun rise. It was the most peaceful experience I had ever had at Richwoods High School, and just for the few short moments that the sun barely lit the sky, Richwoods didn’t seem so bad after all. For just a moment, everything was ok and I felt like I belonged in that stadium. I laughed at the thought that I felt more in place in the middle of nothing at five in the morning with my best friend than I did standing just a few meters away on the track as a cheerleader all season long. Maybe I should have been a football player instead of a football cheerleader. That morning was the beginning of our new lives, and as I hugged my best friend, we walked off the field, satisfied that we had left a good mark on Richwood High School, even if that mark was our footprints covering the entire field on our last day there.
After graduation I knew a lot of things would change. The obvious changes, being a new school, new peers, new teachers and classes, new rules, and the not so obvious changes being the relationships I had with friends, the new activities I would participate in, the way I would act and the choices I would make, and how they would all take some getting used to. Initially, I remember being thrilled for high school to be over. Or at least that was what I would constantly remind myself. I knew that in all reality I was pretty scared of  all the changes I knew I would soon face, but on the other hand I was really excited for the chance to start over and give myself a new name. I was ready to start over with my grade point average and study habits. I really wanted to start off on the right foot and succeed in college. The pressure was so much different in the way that everything was going to matter more. My grades, my job, my effort; and what was weird is that it seemed like my parents gave up on being parents. They made it pretty clear that my schoolwork and my studying would be my own responsibility and that they weren’t going to question me about it on a daily basis like they sometimes did when I was in high school. That in itself made such a liberating feeling, and yet it also made me sad at the same time. Why any eighteen year old would be sad to hear that their parents wouldn’t be checking up on them like good old times beats me. Maybe because in that safe little world where parents did things like bug you about your homework and cleaning your room, it was comfortable; it was routine. Humans like routine, even if they don’t even know it, and I guess it just was one of the proving facts that said I had to grow up. It’s funny that all we ever want to do when we are little is grow up, and once we finally do, all we want to do is go back. When we are little, people make being grown up seem so cool and so free, and sure, it is pretty cool to take your life by the handles and turn it whichever way you want to go, whenever you want to go, but what they shield us from is the tiny fact that lots of turns can cost money, and that means having a job and responsibilities that come with a job and with being in charge.
When I turned eighteen over the summer and my parents gave me a new curfew, it was just another turn that I could be in charge of. It wasn’t even just the way they let me come home whenever, as long as I checked in throughout the evening, but it was the way they acted towards me. They were treating me like an adult. My dad was more straight-forward with me, and there wasn’t any bull to beat around. My mom treated me more like a friend, and although it’s generally kind of weird for moms to play the friend card more than the mom card, it really wasn’t all that weird to me, and I think we owe that to the seven seasons of Gilmore Girls that we watched over and over again. It really opened a door for me and my mom, and as much as I wish that sometimes she would just be mad at me for coming home late and shake her head at me, I really do like this new relationship we have. 
College always means change no matter how you look at it, but I think change also means how you face the things that haven’t changed too. Even though I have graduated and go to a new school, there are still quite a few things that haven’t changed. I still live at home, so I still am around my parents and my sister, which is actually kind of nice. At the beginning of my senior year, before I knew that my future included ICC, I was actually kind of bummed out when I thought about being away from my sister. I know I should document that last sentence forever and pull it out every time she takes my brush or spits in my sink and doesn’t rinse it out, but it was true. I would be leaving right at the time where we could actually get a long and help each other out. But, lucky for her, and for me, I’m stuck here for a little while longer. I still have many of the same friends, luckiest of all I have one of my best friends here and I have my significant other here. I still have my car, and crazy enough, I still have my alma mater.
I still go back to Richwoods for football games, something I enjoy a lot because for once I get to see it from the stands instead of the track. I went back for a dance even, and I had a fantastic time not caring who saw me there, not caring what I looked like dancing and not caring about anyone but my old friends that were surrounding me. At the dance, I remember walking up to my principal where he stood off to the side and I told him that he was right. Throughout my senior year he was constantly reminding my class to hang on to this year because even though we won’t admit it right now, we will miss this place. I never doubted him, but I sure wasn’t going to be that senior to go up to him and tell him I agreed with him. I knew I would miss Richwoods to some extent, I guess I just didn’t give it enough credit to amount to the actual size of missing I would be doing. I stood in front of him and I told him he was right, and that I did miss it. I told him that I never doubted him but that now I could admit it. All he did was smile and nod a bit, because he knew he was witnessing me growing up just a little bit more.
Things have changed, but I still have my routine every day. I still get up and go to school and go to work and come home and hang out with my friends. I still want to play Frisbee all the time and I still want to watch One Tree Hill for three days straight. But now I have new goals that underlie my routine. I run all the time, literally to make my goal of running a marathon in ten months possible and figuratively to make ends meet. I have dedicated times during the week that I know I’m not going to be doing anything else until my math homework is done. I meet up with my friends in a different school in a different place, but it’s just like I used to, only with a few different faces and a freezing cold air vent that is always on. It’s hard to live in the present. We always take what we know, our past experiences, and chalk it up to mark out where our future will go. It’s hard to put a stamp on today and remember it, because as soon as tomorrow comes, today will be yesterday. We are always striving to make tomorrow the greatest day ever, but I’m so afraid of not enjoying today. The things that happen to us in life change and shape every decision that we make, and everyone who lives the same life sees it differently. Our likes and dislikes throw us into categories that make and break us and high school is just another way to make us see that and determine which categories to place ourselves in. It’s a growing experience, and what we take from it really can affect how we live the rest of our lives. It’s all about seeing that there is more to life than high school. Right now it’s still a big part of our lives because our life has only just started, but as we get older, high school will get farther and farther away, and while it’s mostly a good thing that it does, the challenge is to keep the good parts and the good things that we learn close to us. That applies towards every part of life. We have to learn to take the important things with us and leave the rest behind. We have to learn not to start every beginning sentence with the word “I,” and we have to learn to recognize smaller things that have great value. We only get this one life to live, so wasting time with stupid drama and people who will make you less than you are is not worth it. The old saying that good friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget couldn’t be truer and I know I haven’t been out of high school for very long, but just in the time that I have, I can show how much I’ve learned about school, about myself, and about life. It’s a constant challenge to see how far you’ve come while trying to be yourself and stay true to who you want to be. It’s the fight song that you make for your life that will keep you going and give you all that you need to get where you want to be. “Fight on for Richwoods, fight on to glorify her name. Honor in battle, fight on for her fame. Rah rah rah! Sing out for Richwoods, ring out that royal battle cry. Go! Fight! Win! Knights! Richwoods High. Eat ‘em up, eat ‘em up...Knights!”
Thanks for reading! And happy holidays! :)
"Open your heart, and sing. "    :)

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