Beliefs

In my 1st bell, AP Lang class, on Monday, Nov. 25, Mr. Becksfort asked a simple question: “what do you believe”.  This relatively uncomplicated question felt daunting and confusing. My first instinct was to wonder the question: “what is a belief”. For I believe Popeye’s chicken sandwich is better than Chick-Fil-A’s and that smaller dogs are cuter than bigger ones. But I was pretty sure he didn’t want me to talk about my food and animal choices.

He went on and showed us an audio recording of a 6 year olds top 100 beliefs, all of which didn’t involve food or animals, but ideas. The child had listed big ideas, for example: we can create world peace, everyone is equal, the importance of nature, and we should help others.

This gave me a better understanding of these “beliefs” he was referring to. Below our some of mine.

I believe in…

  • Humanity: With a couple exceptions, I believe that everyone, at their core, is good. I know this idea isn’t adamant all the time, and actions are made quit regularly that would prove otherwise. But I believe that through all the evil in this world, people are just confused and their actions are based on their confused nature. So in the end, we are all just people, who are trying to do their best’s to survive.
  • Karma: I let people in when I drive and I allow way too many people to cut in front of me when I exit paring lots. And although most of the time I do it to be kind (and because some people are more aggressive drivers than me), I do it in hopes karma will work out in my favor and someone will let me in later. And with this belief, I am aware that karma isn’t always working, and that bad things happen to good people. But I believe that there is good behind the idea, and that amazing things will happen if we all put good into the world.
  • Power of music: I’m almost always listening to music, and although that might sound like a stretch, I am. I listen to music when I’m asleep, when I’m at work, when I workout, when I do homework. And I have a couple different playlists that each serve a different purpose. I like my music. It can motivate me to finish my run or my homework. I can foster my deep thoughts when I’m in the car. And it creates dance parties, rap battles, and awful lip synching with friends. So I believe that music, or at least my music, is powerful.
  • Equality: I’ve grown up with 3 younger brothers, and with that I’ve done everything that they have done. If it was playing in the woods with mud or playing football or wrestling, I did it with them. I never wondered if I shouldn’t do it because I was girl and no one said otherwise. Also I grew up with 3 younger brothers, so the fight over the tv was strong, and whose turn and how fair everything was, was always a discussion. The idea of fairness was prominent. So although growing up with brothers was a struggle, it did teach me the importance of fairness.
  • Anything is possible: I know this phrase is very cheesy and overused, but I find it to be true. Ignoring the few things that are truly and humanly impossible, I find everything is within reach, for others have done them. Swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running a marathon, at the same time, seems impossible, but someone has done it all under 8 hours (7:44:29). So whatever it is that seems “impossible” to do, usually isn’t. And through my own experience, the things that I used to find impossible were the things that felt the best when I finally did them.

New York (told through pictures)

Day 1: plane, random cafe, tea at the Plaza hotel, biking Central Park, time square

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Day 2: random cafe pt. 2, the vessel, the High Line, Chelsea Market, random shops, “Come from Away”

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Day 3: brunch, New York Marathon, the Met, “Moulin Rouge”

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Day 4: NYU tour, random Indian street food, plane home

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My Relationship with Running

I love to run. But I also hate it. I love the runners high during or after. I hate the first mile. I love the finish line. I hate the chafing, blisters, and soreness after. I love the feeling that I accomplished something. I hate having to get out of my house. I love getting to clear my head. I hate being by self for too long. I love the morning before the race jitters. I hate waking up early. I love the training process. I hate the training process. I love running and I hate it.

I used to only hate running. I would try to make myself go on runs and I would end up walking most of it.

For my freshmen year of lacrosse, I remember being told that I needed to be able to run 2 miles no problem. So I tried to train, and one time I stopped half way through and called my mom crying telling her I couldn’t do it.

When the season began, I would run with the slow group and we would walk when our coaches weren’t looking. But weirdly, I got better at running. I had to run everyday so I built up my endurance. And then I started to actually enjoy it, I wasn’t running at a crazy pace for a long time, but I was running 2 miles no problem.

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My friend, Claire Soller, my mom, and I post-triatholon

The summer after the season ended I did a triathlon, partially because my mom didn’t think I could do it and also because I felt I could do it. So I swam a 1/2 a mile, biked 12, and ran 3, and I didn’t die.

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My mom and I before the Turkey Trot

My next race became the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, it was only 6 miles so I just had to double my previous milage. I did it, I felt accomplished, but I wanted more.

I then began to set my eyes on my next race, the Flying Pig’s half marathon (13.1 miles). That winter I ran on and off, mostly due to my hate of treadmill running. At most I was running 5 which wasn’t really where I wanted to be.

Then one Sunday in March, I decided that I needed to get it done, so I went out and ran 7. It hurt a little but boy did it feel good to be on track and running distances I previously didn’t think I could do.

The next week I ran 8, then 9, then 10, and so on. And I was doing the thing that a year ago had made me cry.

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Me at packet pick-up (photo by my overly-excited mom) 

Then it was the day before the race, and I was able to comfortably run 11 miles. My mom and I went to the packet pick up and I remember feeling the reality of it all sink it, that I had made it. My mom paraded me around, informing everyone that had a heartbeat that I was only 15 and making me take all the free stuff.

After the parading was over, we went home, carbo-loaded, set out our clothes for tomorrow, and went to bed nervous and excited.

The morning of the race I had peanut-butter toast with a banana. My mom had a freakout trying to find parking. It was kind of cold. I remember shaking while I was waiting for it to start, or I could have just been nervous. There was too many people, all of which looked out of my league.

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Me, tired and nervous, pre-race around really good runners  

The race began and I waited for my turn to approach the starting line. Groups of people would go at a time but I was towards the back so it took a little while. But then there I was staring at the starting line, not quite sure how I got there, watching as the group before me ran off into the distance.

Before I began, I was worried. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get my body to do it. That I was going to need to stop. That I was going to slip up. And then everyone around me began to run and suddenly I did to.

I ran the whole race, I got a runner’s high around mile 7, I got ankle pains around 10, and I sprinted the last block. But all of it felt amazing.

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Me approaching the finish line

 

I ran on and off throughout the summer. Somehow I got myself to run another half earlier this month (that one included some walking). But the half didn’t completely satisfy my thirst for running. And I’ve set my eyes on another race, the full marathon (with the flying pig). Who knows if I will be able to get myself to do it but I would like to try.

 

 

Warrior Spirit

Today, October 7th, 2019, marks the first day of Mariemont’s homecoming week. A week in which everyday students and staff strut the halls dressed in a particular theme, where everyday after the bell rings students scurry to meet in a secret location to work on their float, and where at the end of the week everyone who has ever considered themselves a warrior will meet at the football game. It’s a week where it’s easy for people to find pride in being a Mariemont warrior. The ironic thing is starting this prideful week, my warrior pride was pretty low.

During dinner on Sunday night, my brother mentioned how one of his classmates was switching to Walnut Hills for his 7th grade year for math purposes. So I did the Gen Z thing, and looked up Walnut Hills High School. To my surprise, Walnut is 45% more diverse than Mariemont, ranked nationally, with the most A.P. classes in the country, and with every club one could ask for. After sharing this information with my family, my parents proceeded to be a little “I told you so”, mentioning how they had tried to make me go there (something I don’t particularly recall). But all of this made me wonder what me life could have looked like if I had gone to Walnut Hills High School.

To be honest, my first thought was “better”. I felt like a pretty normal reaction to assume that being at a more competitive and diverse school would be beneficial. My mind began to wonder about all the clubs I could have been apart of and all the things I could have done, only if I had gone to Walnut.

But now, as I begin to grapple with my Junior year, the idea of “only if I had gone to Walnut”, seems unproductive. Because the idea – “only if I had…” and “what if …” could be used for almost everything. What if my parents had decided to stay in North Carolina, what if they had stopped having children after my first brother was born, what if I wasn’t in Mrs.Short’s class in kindergarten, what if my mom hadn’t made me move up in math, what if I hadn’t decided to take journalism. Because in the end wondering what would have happened does nothing for the present.

So I guess I’m a Mariemont Warrior, and maybe my school isn’t nationally ranked, but its mine and I get decide what I make of it.

An Ode to this Year

My name is Olivia Lane Simpson. I am 5’4″, 15 years old, and I have red hair and blue eyes. I have 3 bothers and a dog named Minnie. I enjoy running and math, hitting tennis balls and saving lacrosse balls, traveling and meandering, and laughing and dancing. And according to a personality test, I’m an inquisitive person and I will be best served in a job that allows me to ask questions. Although according to another one, I would have lived through Thanos’s snap. I am vegetarian, who loves adventure, and whose life, for the moment, is filled with endless possibility. And what will fill that possibility remains unknown.

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Me after running the flying pig; it was one of my goals this year to run it (PHOTO BY SIMPSON).

At the beginning of this year, I believed my possibility would be filled through a career in journalism. I wanted to be international correspondent to some big-wig newspaper. But slowly, due to no one’s fault besides my own, my interest in journalism started to wane. I felt I didn’t enjoy writing as much as I needed to.

I continued participating in class, but my main motivator of why I was there was gone. So I tried to occupy myself with stories and ideas that interested me, the first being the dress code. I chose the story because I was aware of a few people that had been dress coded under some what confusing circumstances, and I, myself, wanted to understand why. I slowly learned, that it was the dress code, itself, that was confusing, in that the teachers/staff had had a different version than the students. Through this story, I was able to discover something that had been previously unaware to basically everyone, and it made me feel like a real journalist, which felt good.

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Dr. Renner’s handbook; after reading through it I discovered that his was different than the one the students had been provided (PHOTO BY SIMPSON)

From then on, I chose stories that I was genuinely passionate about which enabled me to enjoy it more. I wrote about the diversity of the staff and recycling at Mariemont. Even in my blog posts, I was writing about things that I wanted to talk about, like my family and my childhood. During this time, I still didn’t want the rest of my life to be journalism but I enjoyed that it was now. I enjoyed getting to open the school’s eyes to problems that were occurring and to thinking and writing through my feelings in my blog posts.

I guess my timeline of this year’s journalism class leaves me with now, the end. What the future holds for me and my relationship with journalism and writing remains unknown. But I enjoyed this year and all that it has brought me and I am excited for what will come next.

Shots, Goals, and Saves: Lacrosse

Running, stretching, 75 percent, 50 percent, ladders, cleats, equipment, shots, high, hip, low, bruises, flenches, random shots, “ow! That missed my pads”, conversations, laughs, collecting balls, and more balls, saves, pretty saves, saves that remind me why I do it, drills, drills I find annoying, the phrase “do some goalie things”, long passes, eye-hand coordination drills, juggling, shots, direct shots, more bruises, seven v. seven, shots, goals, and saves.

This is my 5th year of playing lacrosse and my 4th year of playing goalie. A fact that makes me seem less experienced compared to others who’ve played since they could basically walk.

I started playing goalie 7th grade, partially because I thought I could get out of running and mostly because I wasn’t good. My coach, who was also the soccer coach, knew I had played goalie in soccer and believed that I had some potential. But more importantly he knew that he needed another goalie. He had me train with a past goalie’s dad, who, in the realm of things, wasn’t the most knowledgable when it came to being a goalie.

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7th grade team

Which might explain my first game. It was against the best team in the league, the royals (I did play the B game though). I remember an intense nauseous feeling backed up by the pressure to preform well. I don’t remember most of the game, just that I was making very little saves if not none. But I remember this moment about half way through the 2nd half, in which the score of the game was 3-12 with the other team winning. For some reason, in that moment, the flood gates just opened up and I couldn’t stop crying, and I don’t think I did until I got home. I felt this tremendous pressure to do well, not only, from myself but for my team, as well as an utter confusion in how to stop the balls from going in. But in that moment, I learned the two thing that lacrosse goalies must remember: it’s almost never our faults and you can’t stop every shot.

From there my lacrosse career as a goalie only really went up (because that was the only way it could go). I slowly started to figure out the game which made me enjoy it more. And I got better at the whole stopping lacrosse balls from going in thing. To the point, that within my 7th grade year, I began to play the A games surpassing the goalie who had played long before me.

I hit kind of a stagnancy around 8th grade (or at least the persona of one), in which I didn’t feel I was getting that much better.

Then freshmen year, the graph of my skill went back to its incline, due to the increased presence of knowledge in the sport and experienced goalies. And with this my knowledge of the position increased along with my love for it.

Now, as I’m participating in my 4th year, I am trying to soak in my last year of little to no pressure on JV. Next year I will be the oldest goalie, a fact that will put me on starting varsity, something that’s intimidating to me. But looking back now on how far I’ve come in just the past few years, it is comforting. For I have come a long way in my knowledge, skill, and most importantly love of the sport and position.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Smiling faces, wrapped in plaid, standing by the fire place: the perfect family portrait. But as we’ve been taught, a picture tells a thousand words. And in this one its the untold story of my family in which the cracks are slightly visible.

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A practically un-seamless picture, with some of the boys protesting and looking away even though they were bribed with cake. The array of plaid pajamas, which have become a Christmas tradition, and which this year didn’t fit. And on the left is my grandpa who made the outgoing fashion choice of also wearing his pajamas for the shoot. Although it was preferred by the parents that he did it.

I guess for most this picture might not be as shocking and crack-filled as I’m making it out to be. But for me, when this picture reappeared in front of me on Monday morning, I could see it all.

As my teacher, Mr.Weiss, has said, the real story is the one not being portrayed in the picture. What lies behind the walls of this picture, in part, is jumping parents trying to get the attention of their kids and my pajama pants that couldn’t quite make it all the way up my legs. But the true story lies in why my grandpa made the choice to wear pajamas and why his right leg is position differently than the other.

He had a knee surgery 3 months prior, and that was his 3rd one of the year. But through it all, the amount of energy he put in to getting better remained limited. He would do what his physical therapist told him to do, but he didn’t work on his other leg or arms as all the parents had recommended. He continued his unhealthy eating habits. And he made my grandma help him with everything.

I think through it all he didn’t want to get better. Even though everyone was pushing him in every direction to do something about the situation he was in.

So when I look at this picture and I see him wearing his pajamas, I think about how little he wanted to get better. And when I think about it, its really hard for me to distinguish how it all makes me feel.

My connection between my grandpa and I, is mostly nonexistent. For all my life, he has been the grumpy old man, stuck in his chair, yelling at the kids to not be so loud. He has been my grandpa, but nothing else. So when I look at this picture and I see what I think is a broken man, I mourn but I mourn for the connection that I might never get to have.

When people say a picture is worth a thousand words, I think they are meaning to say ever picture has a story. But the story depends on the teller. For me, as the teller, this picture is the story of my crazy family, but it’s mostly the story of my grandpa and his stupid pajama pants.

Letters to My Past Selves

About a month ago, my dad began the process of digitizing all our old photos. This past week he finished it, and then began the process of organizing them for storage. My OCD brain jumped on the chance to get to organize something, and then marveled in the nostalgia of it all. Seeing pictures of my parents in college, myself as a baby, and my brothers when I enjoyed their company, was so magical. It also made me think of who I was so many years ago and how I have changed. I then thought of what I would say to myself and what advice I would give. Here it is:

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3-year old me

Dear 3-year old self,

So times have changed. I get a lot less attention than I did when I was younger, which is credited to the influx of brothers into our hallowed home. Its been good for us though, we’ve received more time to just be by ourselves instead of being bombarded by adults with cameras, hungry for the picture with the perfect smile. We’ve grown, we got taller, are hair got a little less red.

But my advice for you, 3-year old Olivia, is that in roughly a year a little boy named Jack will join your precious family, and you must love and take care of him. I know it sounds strange to give up mom and dad time, but you will need Jack in your life and you will need him to love you. There will be times when mom and dad are getting on your nerves, or the grandparents won’t leave you alone, or you just need someone to play with, and you are going to need Jack. There will 2 more brothers later on, but they won’t understand you, mostly because of their age, like Jack does. So take care of our little brother.

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Me holding Jack a couple days after he was born

Love,

Olivia

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7-year old me

Dear 7-year old self,

So by now we are in 2nd grade, and I think I can remember that we’re loving it. School was our thing. And I am happy to tell you that our love for school doesn’t really fade. It decreases a little bit; a lot of energy is required to get us out of bed on school days. And we don’t always love all our classes. But we never hate school.

So my advice for you is to show it. Sooner or later, people will make it seem like its “uncool” to like school, and that doing homework and reading for fun is stupid. But don’t let people take away what makes you happy. And on that topic, do whatever makes you happy. Wear the sparkly, pink, fringe boots, dress yourself, play in the dirt in your princess dress, color until your hands cramps, laugh until it hurts. Soon you will start to care what others think of you, and until then do whatever brings a smile to your face.

Love,

Olivia

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11-year old me

Dear 11-year old self,

So we made it to 6 grade and if we’re feeling cool we will call ourself a “tween”. We pretty much love life. We have good friends, family and we do good in school and sports. But if I remember right, we have one problem: we think boys don’t like us because we are too tall. And it doesn’t really help that some of our friends have boyfriends and that the boy in english class doesn’t get the hint that we like him (even though we haven’t given him any hints). So we blame it on ourself that no likes us, we tell ourselves lies like we’re too fat or too tall, caught in the overwhelming web of what society wants us to be.

But my advice for you, is to not be beautiful. Beauty is such a simple thing; it’s entrenched with only your outward appearance. So if you can be anything in this world, why would you be something that you can’t change, something that is only seen be the beholder, something you are born into. For if you can be anything in this world, why wouldn’t you choose strong, or fearless, or smart. As Nikita Gill said, “and what is beautiful anyway but a set of letters strung together to make a word? Be your own definition of amazing, always. This is so much more important than anything beautiful, ever.”

Love,

Olivia.

 

Peace and Quiet

1/31: I sit at my recently stained desk, painting. As the song Water Fountain by Alec Benjamin plays, I dive deeper into my strokes. It wasn’t anything important, just a playful green background for which I would write a quote on top. But here as the music soaks in my ears and my brain is distracted by the simple movement of the brush strokes, I find peace.

1/30: Sitting in the living room with my back placed against a chair, I continue on the journey of the The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (which according to my New Years Resolution is the book I am supposed to read in January). The fireplace crackles while warming my body. I am fully occupied by learning what happens next to Daisy and Gatsby. Here through the pages and the crackling of the fire, I find quiet.

Throughout these past days off school, I have been conflicted between staying home and relaxing or hanging out with my friends. In the end I persuaded myself that I need some time to myself. And slowly the pestering voice in my head, telling me to be social, quieted down.

Although these 2 days off school have mostly been filled with me watching “The Great British Baking Show” and attempting to make food inspired by the show. There has also been times of peace and quiet, which I am grateful for and I think my mental health is too.

For the love of quotes

“[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” – A.A. Milne, If I May

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” – Oscar Wilde 

I am a lover of quotes. I find comfort in the words of other, for they explain the emotions I can’t put into words. Anytime I am upset, confused, or just plain out bored, I will look through my quote board on Pinterest or my quote book, so I can understand how I am feeling and how to deal with it. 

They calm me to some extent. They reassure me that what I am feeling is not unusual. They encourage me to continue on and push for what I want harder. 

These are some of my favorites: 

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway” – Eleanor Roosevelt 

“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace” – Randy Armstrong 

“We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.” – Kavita Ramdas 

“These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian 

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist” – Oscar Wilde 

“Show respect even to those who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours” – Dave Willis 

“Happiness is not a checklist. A dream job, a fast car, a good home, even love, mean nothing at all if you have not yet found a way to feel full and content in your own mind and heart” – Beau Taplin