Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Purposely Passionate

             Never in a million years would I have pictured myself in the medical field. I hate science. The sophomore Biology class I took had me bored out of my mind. Then I’d get mad at the assignments and want to tear the whole book to shreds. So why am I choosing to major in Biology for the next four years? To help the little children with disabilities I have such a passion for. There is no doubt in my mind that that is what I am supposed to do with my life. Why else would God give me such a heart and patience for those types of people? God gives different people different passions so everything he wants done in the world will get done. People just need to discover that passion and run with it. My job is helping people with mental disabilities achieve their potential – and feel completely comfortable in the process. Through my research for my symposium, I’ve discovered the immense importance of that part about being comfortable in the process. How can someone be the best they can when they live in fear? My heart aches for those people and their families.

I cannot even describe how much I dislike the word that starts with an “r” that can sometimes be used to describe people with disabilities. I can’t even get myself to type it. Whenever someone throws that word around like it’s just another adjective, I cringe. My friends have learned just how sensitive I am about that. It’s important to be sensitive about that though, because you never know who exactly is around you and what kind of situation they are in. A random passer-by could hear you spite that word out when talking about something you thought was dumb. What if their sister is handicapped? You’d be completely oblivious to the extent of your offense to them. Maybe part of my purpose is to make people more aware of the sensitivities people around them have.
The first time I was exposed to working with disabilities was the summer before my sophomore year. I was in desperate need of a job – or so I thought – so my friend’s mom offered to let me help her at her at-home daycare a couple of hours a day. My main responsibility was to monitor a little girl with Down syndrome that seemed to always be getting herself in trouble. Everyone had warned me about this little girl, but I kept my mind open. She couldn’t be that bad could she? Come to find out, she could be. She had the habit of pulling hair, chucking rocks at the other little girls, and throwing punches harder than most boys. But I realized that summer, that as bad as she could be, the times when she would want to crawl into my lap as we watched a movie outweighed her acting up. I learned that she really just needed some attention of her own. God gave me the patience to give her my undivided attention however long she needed it. I’m not saying it was easy from the start, but it was a skill to be mastered. The best times were when we’d have a successful day of sharing or listening. That feeling was amazing when we had worked together to reach even a small benchmark for the day. That little girl touched my heart in an amazing way.
More recently, I watched another girl with a mental disability. I wasn’t sure if I had the right to ask her mother what exactly her diagnosis was, so I still don’t know. She’s about my same age and we’d spend a couple days a week together. The highlight of the whole day was when we’d take a trip to McDonald’s. We’d sit in the same booth, order the same thing, and quietly eat our lunch. Every day, she’d take her fries from the red, paper container and dump them onto her tray and proceed to do the same to mine. There was only one problem with that: I didn’t have a tray to save my fries from contamination of the McDonald’s table. And what else was there to scatter my French fries onto? Not much. I had to build up the confidence to eat my fries after they’d hit the unsanitary table, despite the germaphobe values my mother had engrained in my mind. That’s part of it though – sacrificing your own needs in order to satisfy those around you. One thing that helped me with that girl in particular was when I’d feel myself getting frustrated, I’d take a deep breath and talk to God. Because in all reality, he has the power to get her calmed down way faster than I ever would be able to. People talk about how patient I am, but I’m really just heavily reliant on God.
Proverbs 31: 8-9 says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” That verse has so much meaning to me. Someday if I have my own office, that is going right over my door frame. Better yet, I’m going to make myself business cards just so I can print that on them. I don’t think I could find something that better speaks to me about what I am supposed to do with my life. I know that the Bible also talks about our purpose being to glorify God and I completely believe that. Glorifying God can be done in all aspects of our lives. One main way I’m going to do that is by displaying my gentleness, utilizing my patience, and tapping into the passion He has given me. I only hope that my actions will be seen as an example to those around me to see and know that those talents are given to me by God for his purpose. They just need to find their passion and use it for God’s Will for their lives too.

Future Plans

 Next year, I plan on attending the University of South Dakota to obtain my Occupational Therapy degree. I plan on specializing in the Down syndrome area if at all possible.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stuck Between Here and There

When I found myself on the Google Latitude page, it blatantly informed me that “the location of Dani Titus is not shared.” And why is that? Besides my Google account settings, I think my physiological location isn’t quite being advertised completely either. As much as I want to convince people – along with myself – that I’m all gung-ho about packing up my life and trucking towards college, secretly I’ve got that bit of dread. It’s not that I’m scared about living on my own and having my life figured out because I’ve pretty much got that under control. It’s just that I’m worried I’ll lose all that I have here – especially how close I am to my best friend. I’ve never had a friendship as close as ours and I honestly don’t think too many people do in their lifetime. That’s probably the biggest reason I go back and forth about college.
My mental conversation can’t seem to stay on one side of the argument. Randomly throughout the day, I’ll say to myself, “Man, I can’t wait until next year when I can get to USD and get my life going already.” But then it changes to “I’ll miss my friends, family, and everything familiar. And my puppy, Millie! How am I going to be able to study without her curled up next to me on my bed?” The little voice inside my head is on track to becoming bipolar. Pick a side already!
Almost every day, I find myself anticipating the moment when the days will start flying by like all of last year’s seniors told me they would. I’m already bored with the monotony of senior year:  I press my snooze button one too many times in the morning, throw myself together, and truck out the door with my backpack, purse, gym bag, and softball equipment weighing me down. Once at school, each ring of the bell feels like another lap down on the race towards the end of the day. Practice drags on and I speed to my next obligation as soon as it’s over. After that is homework followed by a little bit of Twitter and then I’m off to sleep. Repeat that five times and you’ve got my weeks nailed. Hard to believe it, but that’s not exactly my ideal schedule. I find myself wishing this year would hurry up and end so I could get my life started.  Maybe other seniors don’t exactly get that feeling, but I think a lot of the reason I do is because I know exactly what I want to do with my life. I’m ready to get to the University of South Dakota and get my Occupational Therapy degree. I’m excited to start helping children with disabilities and utilize the passion I have for those people. Starting last January, I shadowed the Occupational Therapists in the hospital every day until May. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve gotten a good look at what that profession holds for me. I just want to jump in already!
Then I’m back to the friendship dilemma. I’ve come to the realization this year that having one really close friend is better than having multiple “half-best friends.” Don’t get me wrong, I think I have a good range of friends but I’m definitely not as close to a lot of them as I have been in previous years. Contrary to that though, I’ve gotten extremely close to that one. It’s like that saying, “I’d rather have one dollar bill than four quarters.” That girl and I do basically everything together. Have a free hour or two? Call her. Don’t want to sit there alone while doing your homework? Call her. Need to drive around and cry your heart out to someone? Call her. She’s that person I can turn to no matter what. The problem isn’t that I don’t think I’ll make friends in college – I’m sure I will. It’s just that losing that closeness because of the distance of college would kill me. How weird it would feel if I came home from college and I couldn’t just say whatever I wanted in front of her! We talk about anything and everything. If there ever came a time when we didn’t, who would I tell anything to?
On every single softball bus ride, I can be found in the very back seat jamming with Meg. The other night, one of the first songs that came up on my iPod was “American Honey” by Lady Antebellum. Have you ever listened to a song a million times and the 1,000,001st time you listen to it, a line hits you like a ton of bricks? That was me last night: “Couldn’t wait to get going, but wasn’t quite ready to leave.” My heart sank. There I was singing my heart out with my best friend, which is something we do a lot, and my whole mental state for the last month was verbalized out of nowhere. I’d never thought about it like that but, honestly, I never couldn’t phrased it better myself. Where am I mentally? Stuck in the middle of wishing for a fast forward button and wanting to hold on to every single moment.  

A Glimpse Inside My Home

To the left, the main design components of my house are displayed. Throughout my home, there is a combination of carpet and wood flooring. Every wall is a light tan color with beige doors and panels. To the right, the main components of my room can be seen. Throughout my room, the prominent colors are brown and light blue. I have an obsession with owls and I have an abundance of pictures around.

Too School for Cool


Here's the school and our logo. Currently, the school is more visually pleasing with green grass and sunshine.

Community Central

Here's our courthouse and a common town logo.

Here's My State!

We Nebraskans like our Arbor Days and our Husker games.