About Laura G.

Laura G, a Writing Seminars and German double major, shows her passion for living and learning through her different activities at Hopkins. From helping organize Dance Marathon to training cancer survivors to run 5Ks to running across America for Cancer, Laura pursues her passion for helping people. She hopes to use her love of language to continue kindling this passion.

4,000 Reasons to Keep Going

My dear invisible readers,

Summer always ends too fast, doesn’t it? Well, I guess that’s what I used to say, back in the day before Hopkins. Truth is, I am so excited to get to McCoy, unpack my very heavy bags, and run to see my friends. I’m excited for classes, too. I had to buy 22 books for my five classes, which is kind of scary. At the same time, though, I can’t wait to read them all…

Anyways, back to Summer. I can barely wrap my head around all the things that have happened since I packed up my beautiful room in Wolman and left Hopkins.  It was so long ago. First, I went home for a week, and I was my Tia Leo’s official tour guide in Miami. Tia Leo is my mom’s sister, and she lives in Colombia. She comes to visit every couple years, and my mom and her literally shop till they drop (on my living room couch).  I love seeing my mom when my aunt is visiting. It’s as if my mom is injected with a sudden happiness that nothing can compare to. As a daughter, there’s no greater gift than seeing my mom like that.

After spending some time at home, I packed up my backpacking gear and headed back to Baltimore. Though I already blogged about this trip, I really want to talk more about it, in the context of my summer as a whole. I like to believe that things truly do happen for a reason. Each struggle, somehow, makes us stronger. A hard class teaches us to be organized and to work hard. A fight with a friend teaches us to communicate. The loss of loved one teaches us to appreciate the time we have with the people in our lives. My backpacking trip. What purpose, in the grand scheme of things, did it serve? It prepared me. Big time.

It rained nearly every day. It was cold, and I was always wet. (At one point, I went to bed in dry clothes, and I changed into wet clothes so as to not waste my last dry pants…Low point. YES). I became someone I really did not want to be. Wake up. Pack up personal gear. Cook breakfast. Hike. Lightning drill. Hike. Lightning drill. Lunch. Hike. Lightning drill. Hike. Make camp. Cook dinner. Sleep. Repeat. Not having enough dry clothes, not having good rain gear, not having any comfort. It got to me, and I complained like crazy. I think that every other sentence that came out of my mouth was a complaint. It was hard, and I wasn’t used to it. My friends got me through it. They warmed me up after I fell in the bog in the middle of a hike in the dark. It was freezing, and I was SO cold. They warmed me up. Their warmth was the most important thing to me at the moment. How can you repay warmth, though? When the trip ended, I felt so strong. I had seen myself at my worst. Now, I could become my best. That’s what I told myself that first night after we got back when I slept on my friend’s couch. Now, I can become my best.

What did the trip prepare me for? Two weeks after getting back to “civilization” I embarked on a journey that tested every ounce of me. Now it is time for me to refer to the title of my blog.  4,000 Lessons Learned. My last blog was a series of pictures from my amazing journey across America. Last January, I stumbled upon the 4K for Cancer website. A run across America? Whoever does that must be CRAZY. That’s what I thought. I closed the window and continued searching for things to do. A week later, I was signed up and ready to train. 5:45 am was my wake-up time everyday during the semester, running anywhere from 3 to 10 miles a day.

The 4K was 4,000 mile run from San Francisco to Baltimore. The 4,000 lessons I learned: each step, each mile, each tear, each smile, each story, each survivor, each host. Every minute from when I first met my teammates to when I hugged them goodbye in Baltimore was so special.

We began by hijacking the SanFran marathon. Our first four miles were across the Golden Gate bridge. I was so excited. I could not believe it was real. I was actually starting a run across America. We ran in two-mile segments after that. My first segment was a steep uphill, the whole two miles. I was running with Amanda, and we were both struggling. I live in Florida, so hills have never really been my thing. I had Sandy’s name written on my leg, as I was running for her. Suddenly, Amanda said, “ Girl, I keep looking at your calves and I just can’t stop. Gotta keep going for Sandy.” I started crying, running up that hill. When we got to the top, I couldn’t believe it. Amanda and I hugged one another, crying. We made it. We’re brave. We made it. For Sandy. She pushed us.

The rest of the run was full of moment like that. One day, I ran almost 19 miles. That day I felt strong. One day, I was having horrible knee pain and I cried almost every mile I ran, even when I ran across the Nevada-Utah border. Another day, I ran a 9 minute mile, up hills, and I pushed myself so hard, I felt strong. Most of all, I felt strong every single time I stepped out of the van to run those two miles, simply because I knew my body was saying NO and I was SCREAMING “YES!!!” right back.

Made it to Utah

Made it to Utah

My backpacking trip from the beginning of the summer was nothing compared to the 4K, but I was better. Ask my teammates. They said the biggest complaint they could have about me was that I was always happy. Happy=strong. That’s what Sandy taught me.

There were so many amazing people I met along the way, starting with my teammates. Every morning, we made a circle before we started to run. The Dedication Circle was very special. The first circle, back in San Fran, was so powerful. I was standing next to Lauriann. Everyone began saying the names of the people they were running for. Saying Sandy’s name was so hard. I felt like she was there. She was right in the middle of that circle. Then, I heard Lauriann say that she was running for her dad. Lauriann’s dad passed away from cancer. When she said his name, I felt him there, too. Each day, I got to know all of my teammates, what made them tick. Every day, I felt stronger because my teammates were teaching me to be strong. My best friend died, and she came back in the form of 21 teammates that taught me to keep going no matter what.

:D The team.

:D The team.

I ran my last mile with very special people. Charlotte and her son, Jack, were there. Seeing Charlotte for the first time since I moved out was so special. Hugging her made it all worth it. Charlotte and I became such good friends in a short amount of time. Running with her is always special. She became such a great runner so quickly. She nothing less than a warrior, fighting for each breath, each step, each smile. And that’s why I love her. My brother was also there. He’s changed so much. I look at pictures when we were little, and I can’t help but smile. His beard. His smile. His entire body has changed. It can’t disguise, however, the little man I’ve always known that would do anything for me. That little man ran with me.

The Little Man

The Little Man

I guess it all goes to show that strength is something we all have, but we must dig deep within us to find it.

 

That’s what Sandy taught me.

That’s what this summer taught me.

 

I have 4,000 reasons to fight whatever comes my way. I can’t wait to start classes again, so I can fight for my grades. I can’t wait to be back in Baltimore, so I can keep running with Charlotte. I can’t wait to fight whatever my way. With my family. With my friends. With my team. I’m ready.

Forever,

Me.

 

This was probably one of the most humbling moments of my life. My teammates literally had to pull me up from the ground after we reached Baltimore. I had given it my all, and all I had left was the strength of my teammates.

This was probably one of the most humbling moments of my life. My teammates literally had to pull me up from the ground after we reached Baltimore. I had given it my all, and all I had left was the strength of my teammates.

That Awkward Moment When You Just Ran Across America

No, you do not need new glasses, my dear invisible reader. You did read the title correctly. I did, indeed, just run across America. What? YES!!!!!!!! I can’t really believe it either.
I first heard about the 4K for Cancer around January. I honestly thought, “You must be really crazy to do that.” A week later, I had applied, interviewed, been accepted, and registered. I might as well do it, right? It would be my way of telling Sandy that I was strong.
I am going to let the pictures tell you the story.
All I have to say, though, is that the 4K is the best thing I have ever done. Running 12-16 miles per day. Meeting amazing people along the way. Recognizing the great strength my teammates have. Realizing how amazing my friends truly are. Missing my family like crazy. Climbing the Rockies. Hiking up to the Delicate Arch. Hiking with my friends in Boulder. Being treated like family by our hosts along the way. Laughing and singing in the vans. Crying through different pains. Realizing how strong I really am.
Sandy, I made it. Sandy, I made it. Thank you, for pushing me on. My teammates keep seeing butterflies, and I know it’s you, pushing us forward. Thank you for pushing them. Thank you for pushing me. Thank you because I feel strong. I feel stronger than ever before. Thank you. I love you.
Getting ready to take off from the Golden Gate Bridge!

Getting ready to take off from the Golden Gate Bridge!

 

Running in Nevada... AKA... middle of nowhere.

Running in Nevada… AKA… middle of nowhere.

 

Utahhhh, baby

Utahhhh, baby

 

Getting ready to climb the Rockiesss

Getting ready to climb the Rockiesss

 

 

Boulder, Coloradoo!!

Boulder, Coloradoo!!

Kansas? Missouri? Um?

Kansas? Missouri? Um?

 

Baltimoreeee

Baltimoreeee

To spread love like violence

(If I had my own world)

(I’d build you an empire)

 If I had my own world

I’d fill it with wealth and desire

A glorious past to admire

And voices of kids out walking dogs

Birds, planes, cleanest cars

I’ve been sitting here, staring at this blank computer screen, thinking how silly it is that I have to condense all the things that have happened in my life in the past month into a single blog post. It’s funny, you know? It’s funny to compare the great changes you feel within yourself to the timeline of other people’s lives. A month has gone by in your life, dear invincible reader, yet I feel like years have gone by in mine.

If I had my own world

I’d love it for all that’s inside it

There’d be no more wars, death or riots

There’d be no more police, packed parking lots

Guns, bombs sounding off

I shall try to take you through the past month…

 If I had my own world

I’d build you an empire

From here to the far lands

To spread love like violence

Right after finals, I came home for a week. My aunt and my cousin from Colombia came to visit, and I spent a wonderful week with my family. The hardest thing for me at Hopkins has been being away from my family. The week with my family was a blessing from life. It was wonderful.

 If I had my own world

I’d build you an empire

From here to the far lands

To spread love like violence

 Also, I died my hair pink.

Now, now. Don’t get too excited. Apparently my hair can’t retain color dyes because it’s too thin or baby-like… or something like that. Anyways, it was pink for a couple of days.

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 Let me feel you, carry you higher

Watch your words spread hope like fire

Secret crowds rise up and gather

Hear your voices sing back louder

I flew back to Baltimore after a wonderful week at home. Hopkins Outdoor Leadership Training (HOLT). I feel like the name doesn’t do it justice. It’s possibly one of the most mind-blowing experiences of my life. I am going to try to explain it to you, my dear invisible reader, but it’s hard. We spent 10 days in the woods. It was hard. I won’t tell you the details of what actually happened. I’m going to tell you about how I felt.

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 If I had my own world

I’d show you the life that’s inside it

The way that it glows when you find it

The way it survives with it’s families

Friends or it’s enemies

 The rain got to me, both physically and mentally. My rain gear was basically useless, except to spare my knees when I had to crawl under the fallen trees.  I knew from past Outdoor Pursuits trips that rain really gets to me. I told myself over and over before the trip that I could not let it get to me. The first couple of days, it didn’t. But when the temperature dropped and we had three lightning drills in one day… it got to me.

 Let’s make this a new world

I swear you can go if you want to

I know that you have that within you

Inventing the first clean and usable

God’s greatest miracle

 It was hard. To be wet and cold. But the people in my group were amazing. If it wasn’t for their amazing support and spirit, I would not have gotten through. Gwen and Jenna were amazing in our tarp. We had pretty amazing (&hilarious) conversations in there, especially when we had to wake up and put on wet clothes for the day. The guys were really nice as well. Bijan was my laughing buddy. We could look at each other and crack up. Michael kept me warm on the last two nights when it was less than 30 degrees. Jajaja we had a six person cuddle session! (The next morning, everyone’s boots were frozen solid.) Rene was the “Yes” Man. It amazed me how he never said no. He was the Jeep Wrangler (all terrain) of our trip.

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 If I had my own world

I’d build you an empire

From here to the far lands

To spread love like violence

 Anyways, at the end, I realized how much I had changed. I realized what I liked about myself, but mostly, I learned about the things that I didn’t like about myself. You see, as humans, we have this great capacity to change. And change I have. HOLT taught me how to deal with crazy situations (like being lost in the woods and having to walk South through bushes until we hit a road) but it also taught me what I can bring (and leave at home) mentally for a trip.

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 If I had my own world

I’d build you an empire

From here to the far lands

To spread love like violence

 I’d like to take this moment to thank my instructors, Tzvi, Lauren, and Max. They were amazing. Everything I learned and felt, I owe to them. I aspire to be as great of an outdoor leader as they are one day.

Let me feel you, carry you higher

Watch our words spread hope like fire

Secret crowds rise up and gather

Hear your voices sing back louder

After HOLT, I came home again. I’d love to tell you that I’ve done something mega-interesting. Truth is, I have been doing something I hadn’t done all year. I have been sleeping on the couch, watching NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order. I have gone out shopping with my mom. I have been running every day. I have been helping put some 4K things together. Mostly, I have been on the couch, and I love it. Sometimes, your body just needs a break, especially if you have a month of running ahead.

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 Let me feel you, carry you higher

Watch our words spread hope like fire

Secret crowds rise up and gather

Hear your voices sing back louder

 Today, I leave for Baltimore. I will be driving with four other girls from Baltimore to California, bringing the 4K van. I am so excited. Drive across America and run back… no big deal… JUST KIIDDING!! HUGE DEAL!!! The 4K is going to be such an amazing experience. We will be running a total of 4,000 miles as a team. It’s a relay, of course. Each person on the team will run 16 miles a day. Slowly, we will make it across the U.S. I honestly don’t even know how to think about it. I’m too excited.

Our driving route

Our driving route

 Let me feel you, carry you higher

Watch our words spread hope like fire

Secret crowds rise up and gather

Hear your voices sing back louder

Today, I feel strong. I feel ready. Why?

I have such great support.

Everyone has been so supportive. “You can do it, Lala.” “I believe in you.” “Now, you’re running for my family, too.”

Even Ryan Gosling is being supportive.

Even Ryan Gosling is being supportive.

 

 Let me feel you, carry you higher

Watch our words spread hope like fire

Secret crowds rise up and gather

Hear your voices sing back louder

I am ready for this. I am ready to run across America.

Because if someone can be strong enough to get through chemo, I am strong enough to run.

I will tell you, my dear invisible reader, about my run once it starts.

For now, I can tell you that the lyrics in this blog are from a song called Secret Crowds. A good friend of mine and I were driving in his car, about a year and a half ago. He was trying to console me. Sandy was getting too sick. There was nothing more the doctors could do. There was nothing more I could do. He said this song was perfect for her, for me. So I sang it to her. Let me heal you, carry you higher…Watch our words spread hope like fire. That’s why I tell people about Sandy. I promised her I would. I promised her that her words, her story would help people. When I write, its as if Sandy was talking through me. It’s her story. Her story makes me strong. That’s why I am running across America. That’s why I write about her. That’s why.

to spread love like violence.

 

I see you. I see me.

I see you. I see me.

 

I make people happy for a living.

Dear invisible readers,

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So Freshman year is nearly over. I know, it’s crazy right? Just a few months ago, I was moving in, meeting people, and trying to figure out my life. Now, I am here, nearly a sophomore, ready to take on the world. Or, to be more precise, Hopkins. But wait, I’m still trying to figure out my life.

 

A lot of things have happened in the past few weeks. I don’t know whether warm weather is conducive to happiness, but I do know that sunshine is conducive to my happiness. And, boy, the sun is shining in my life.

 

Springgg. Sunshineee. Happpinesss

Springgg. Sunshineee. Happpinesss

So you’ve heard a lot about my friends here at Hopkins. I have dedicated many words to them in my past blogs, but I feel like this semester has made our friendship so different. On one hand, we are no longer under the covered-grades bubble. We have traded that “Whatever, it’s covered grades! Let’s party!” attitude, to “I’m gonna go nurture my relationship to my chemistry textbook.” So with a lot less time to party and a lot more time spent in the search of the perfect study spot, we don’t have too much time for one another. On the other hand, our time together has become a lot more valuable. I don’t know how they feel about this, and one of them for sure will tell me to stop speaking in Hallmark-card (Alejito says I don’t speak English… He says I speak Hallmark-card) but I feel as though my friends have become my refuge. They’re the sunshine.

 

Yeah, he's kind of great.

Yeah, he’s kind of great.

So now, I want to tell you about my favorite weekend at Hopkins thus far. Welcome to Spring Fair. Turkey legs. Deep-fried twix. Piña coladas (virgin, of course). Picnic blankets. Tummy pillows. I will let the pictures tell you why it’s my favorite.

the greatest friendsss eve err

the greatest friendsss eveerr

Turkey Legs

Turkey Legs

if you like piña coladaaas

if you like piña coladaaas

The tattoo on my neck is not real. I wore it to support Human Trafficking Awareness

The tattoo on my neck is not real. I wore it to support Human Trafficking Awareness

 

dancingggg

dancingggg

 

I’ve also been going through a semi-existential crisis, and the fact that I am writing this on my blog for everyone to see shows how much time I’ve dedicated to thinking about these decisions. As you may know, I am a Neuroscience & Writing Seminars double major, Pre-Med. Now, I want to explain what led to the whole Neuroscience/Pre-Med thing. Please, if you get a chance, read my first blog. It’s about Sandy.

 

Sandy is my best friend. I met her when I was 15. She was 8. I happened to be a high school freshman. She happened to be a full-time cancer patient. I happened to have long, blonde hair to below my waist. She happened to wear a hand-knitted purple hat to hide her bald-head. I happened to care about me, myself, and I. She happened to care about everyone else. Then, she changed my life. I always say Sandy is my soul mate. She changed me from a superficial, materialistic teenage girl (which is what I perceived myself to be), to a compassionate woman (which is how I see myself now). Sandy had a form of cancer with a 20% survival rate. She fought it for 6 years. She fought it so hard she went into remission 5 times. Tell me what kind of WARRIOR beats cancer five times. I saw Sandy go through many stages, each stage either filling me with inspiration and happiness or draining me, making me question everything. We started 2011 by dancing Danza Kuduro in the back of a movie theater after having watched Fast Five. We ended 2011 by laughing at Santa’s Enchanted Forest, as I pushed her wheelchair through the crowd and stopped one in a while to rub her legs.380887_289697924409149_1160514506_n You see, in June, I went to Germany to study. You see, when I came back in August, Sandy was sick, for the sixth time. It was during this time that I decided to be a doctor. I wanted to be a doctor because Sandy is a warrior, and I want to save children like her. I wanted to be a doctor because cancer fears me. I wanted to be a doctor to show kids that cancer fears them, too. And when Sandy died in January 27, 2012, I wanted to be a doctor so that my best friend would live on through the lives that I saved. This thought came to me when I sat in the parking lot of the funeral home, wearing a white dress for my angel, and crying because I could barely breathe. I could not breathe. I could not wrap my head around the fact that I would no longer have to leave school early so I could take Sandy to radiation and chemo. Or that I would now actually have no excuse to ditch my friends on a Friday night because Sandy would not be waiting for me for movie night at the hospital. Or that I would no longer be able to make Sandy laugh as I jumped down each step in the stair case when I was carrying her piggy-back.300199_262937283751880_51786151_n Or that Sandy would not be there to bake my wedding cake when I get married. I simply could not wrap my head around it. The only comfort I had was the thought that I would go to medical school to become the best pediatric oncologist this world has ever seen, and Sandy would live on through my patients. My soul mate would live on through the kids that I saved.

 

I saw an angel. Of that I'm sure.

I saw an angel. Of that I’m sure.

Now, a year and a half later, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe because I’ve realized that when Sandy’s mom hugged me at the funeral and whispered in my ear “Ay, Laura, tu le diste vida,” she wasn’t referring to me saving her life. She was referring to me giving her a life. She was talking about the movie nights, the baking days, the pool days, the singing-at-the-top-of-our-lungs-while-wearing-cool-shades-in-my-mini-cooper-while-driving days, the Sandy-Lala Days. Those days gave her life. I am starting to realize that I helped her by making her happy. And I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I cannot breathe. Except, I know that she will live on through the lives that I save. I know she will… But this time, I am referring to the happiness days.

 

I want to find a way to make kids happy. That is what I am good at. I want to make people happy.

 

“What do you do for a living?”

 

“I have the best job in the world.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“I make people happy for a living.”

 

That’s the conversation I want to have with a stranger in 10 years. I want my kids, when I have them, to see me as the mom that makes people happy. I want them to know that money isn’t everything. Happiness is everything. It makes people live just a little bit longer.

So what do I major in at Hopkins so that I can one day have that conversation?  I have no idea. And it drives me crazy. I will let you know, dear invisible readers, as soon as I figure it out. I just know that I want to make people happy.

I would love to write more, but I have to go smile at strangers, now.

I hope you’re smiling.

If you’re not, why?

If you are, go share it.

 

I love you all,

 

Lala

PS:

Did I mention I went to DC?

Did I mention I went to DC?

 

My Favorite Person at Hopkins

I could sit here and tell you about my professors, but they have all been inspirational. I could sit here and tell you about my friends, but they you’ve already read about them. I could tell you about my classmates, but they’re all intelligent.Thus, I will tell you about someone I see everyday. Someone whose hugs cheer me up. Someone who gave me a teddy bear when I was sad. Someone who celebrates holidays with me. Someone who I love with all my heart. Someone I look forward to seeing every morning.

So, my dearest invisible readers, let me introduce you to my favorite person at Hopkins:

Gladys

Gladys works at the Fresh Food Cafe. She greets everyone with a big smile. A “Good Morning” that is full of love. She greets me with a hug that reminds me of family. She gave me a teddy bear when I was sad. We named him Brownie. Brownie sits on my desk every day, as I do homework, pushing me on. Gladys and I celebrated Christmas and Easter together. It’s safe to say our holidays are wonderful. Gladys is my family here. I say she’s my Hopkins Grandma.

The Sun Always Shines in Paradise.

Disclaimer: at the end of this blog, there is a picture that many may find disgusting, distasteful, or just…gross… If you get grossed out easily, please do not scroll all the way to the bottom.

 

You did it, didn’t you. Your curiosity demanded that you scroll allll the way to the bottom. You couldn’t resist. I’m sorry. It’s a picture of me with cow poop in my hand. In order for you to understand why, I must first tell you about the greatest spring break of my life.

I guess that right now I am caught in that post-greatness melancholy that most people feel at the end of a wonderful experience. For me, it’s the constant thought that I had a birthday in Colombia for the first time in 12 years. For me, it’s the idea that I spent such an amazing time with my family and friends. For me, it’s the desire to just stay in that paradise forever.

You see… There are two forms of paradise in my life: Intellectual paradise and plain old sunshine paradise.

Hopkins is my intellectual paradise. Here, I always feel driven. I feel as though there are so many things I could be doing, so when I have a bit free time, I freak out because I feel as though I am missing out on something great. You can call it perseverance. You can call it hope. You can call it whatever you want. I call it paradise.

Colombia is my sunshine paradise. It’s where the rain brings life. It’s where the sunrise signifies the beginning of a new, crazy day. It’s where I am never alone, even if there are no people around me. It’s where my family is. It’s where my home is. It’s where the sun always shines.

Walking through the farmer's market

Spring Break was sunshine paradise. I spent the first few days of it in my grandfather’s ranch. I rode my horse in the mornings, gave vaccines to the cattle at noon, and explored the area with my friends in the afternoon. There was where the picture at the bottom of this blog was taken. You see, the easiest way to tell if a cow is pregnant is by palpating the uterus. That’s exactly what I did. The poop is just the aftermath… I’ve been doing things like that since I could walk. It’s the llanero culture with which I have always identified myself.

 

The day I drove back to Bogotá, I stayed at my best friend Macris’ house. We went out to a club called Andres Carne de Res. It’s the biggest club in Bogotá. It also was a night just to celebrate my birthday, our friendship, and the greatness of being young:). We had sooo much fun.

The following day, my parents, cousins, and I drove to my father’s farm. It’s beautiful. I had such a great time, especially because Macris’ family came to visit for my birthday. They threw confetti on me at midnight and made me feel like the luckiest 20 year old in the world.

Confettiiiii

So here are a few random pictures of the best week of my life:

 

Now, I am back at Hopkins. I am really happy because it’s Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. I am up to $1,300 in my fundraising for the run this summer. That’s $1,300 that help young adults with cancer! http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/laura-grau/

 

Oh and by the way: Don’t scroll past this point.

 

 

Have a wonderful week!

Greetings From Colombia!

Hello World,

My Nephew

 

I am writing this on Sunday, even though you will read it on Tuesday. Why? Because tomorrow at 7 am, I will be driving through the great Andes mountains to the plains of Colombia, where my ranch is. You will be seeing many pictures of me on horses very soon.

my beautiful cousin

After flying for what felt like a million hours yesterday, I finally made it here. I was greeted by unprocessed food, a lot of traffic, but most of all, the warmth of the hugs of my family. :) So this blog is for them.

Please note my mom's finger in the upper left hand corner.

Spring Break.

What is spring break to you?

Party&Craziness?

couuuusin

Yeah, for me… this spring break.. is about my 20th birthday and the fact that I haven’t had a birthday in Colombia since I was 8!! So seeing my cousins, my aunts, my nephew, my best friends, that is the greatest spring break I can imagine. It’s also the greatest birthday present.

So Happy Birthday to Me.

 

10,000 Women in One.

My dearest invisible readers,

In 19 days, I am turning twenty. That’s right. I’ve been on this planet for two decades. 240 months. 1043 weeks. 7304 days.175316 hours. So many numbers, I know. It’s the mere quantity of time that has caused me to wonder: who am I? I have been on this earth for 1.052e+7 minutes. Have I used each of them to the fullest potential? Truly, have I? Then, the past two weeks have happened, and I’ve realized that two weeks show just how I have lived the past twenty years. I’d like to take this moment to comment on the picture to the left. That is my brother holding my hand. We were visiting the US on a family vacation. We spend a day taking family pictures, and even though the photographer totally told us to stand there, he managed to capture something much more than a simple posed portrait. My brother is the one who has held my hand for the past twenty years. When I look at the videos of the day my parents brought me home from the hospital, my brother could not get his hands off of me. He kept wanting to touch this tiny baby that his parents had brought home. He kissed me and held me. He took care of me. He still does. It’s because of him that I am who I am today.

Who am I? Let’s define my twenty years of life with the past two weeks, starting with the craziness of the Harlem Shake. Truly.Do I look like the kind of person to fall into trends such as the Harlem Shake? I don’t believe so. [Except for the fact that Alejito says that I talk in Hallmark.. Yes, it's the Lala-language...] Anyways, I decided to rid myself of this anti-trend attitude, and join the JHU harlem shake. I am so glad I participated. It’s amazing how so many people can come together for such a simple goal. When we finished filming, everyone started cheering “JHU!JHU!” and it made my love Hopkins so much more.  [If you look at the JHU Harlem Shake video on YouTube.. You'll see me..Right in the front]

Let me continue to parties. I went to the Barstool Blackout concert in the inner harbor. I don’t really have pictures of that night because it was a foam party…so phones/cameras and foam don’t mix. Take my word for it, though: it was awesome:) I’ve also gone out with my friends/future roommates! They make me so happy. Literally, we all have different personalities, so when we are together, we just enjoy each other’s company. Even if the night ends up to be a total failure, we laugh and have fun. Or we end up at Subway’s.

Unfortunately, I had to go home one weekend because a great friend of mine passed away. This weekend taught me a lot of things. I’ve realized that one of the greatest things you can do is just be there. Words don’t fix things a lot of the time, but being that shoulder that someone cries on or holding someone’s hand can. I’ve also realized how important it is to appreciate your friends. In the end, all you have is your memories, your family, and your friends. Never wait to tell your friends you love them. Thank them for the little things.

 

Talking about my friends: We had a great time at the High Table Dinner. Some of us have look for occasions to dress up. Others, not so much. I love seeing how everyone transforms from the average college student to a mature adult, just by changing from a T-Shirt to a tie, from flats to heels. Seeing everyone made me think about the future. What will I be doing in 10 years? Will the girl sitting across from me be a best-selling author, disease-curing doctor, or family-loving mother? Will we be married?

We met only a few months ago, and we are all starting this life. I hope that they always stay a part of my life. I want to be there for each and every book signing that Ruthie has. I want Emilie to be my children’s doctor. If I ever need brain surgery, I want Julied to save my life. I want to be there when Alejito makes some great biological discovery. I want to buy a million copies of Mati’s first published research article. I want to see an element on the periodic table with Brandon’s name on it. I want Sato to be my nurse, should I ever need one. The best thing is: I know they will all achieve their dreams. I know that in 10 years I will look back at this blog and laugh at how right I was. That’s the wonder of Hopkins. This school is full of driven people. If there is a common denominator here, it’s drive. If there’s a common denominator in my group of friends, it’s that we are going to be there for each other every step of the way.

Finally, I want to tell you about Dance Marathon. The DM Executive Board (myself included) had been organizing this event the whole year, yet I never could have imagined it being so amazing. I was completely taken back by the great amount of support that we received. We danced for 8 hours, non-stop! Not only did we have a photo-booth, free t-shirts, virgin margaritas, raffles, give-aways, and more…We also had 8 hours of great music and a room full of amazing people. We raised over $12,000 for the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. It’s truly amazing. My friends stayed the whole night!! I was so happy to see them there. It only gave me more proof that I have the greatest friends in the entire universe.

I have so many pictures from that night, so here are a few:

 

 

So Harlem Shakes, crazy parties, finding strength when angels pass away, dressing up, and dancing for the kids. How does this all relate to the twenty years I’ve been on earth? It shows that I’ve gotten up after falling down. It shows that I’ve changed. It shows that there is more to my life than just me. It shows that I am 10,000 women in one. It shows that life is a carnival.

 

My dear invisible readers,

Life is really a carnival.

Love,

Lala

&These are the people cheering along with me

 

 

 

Warrior for Warriors

Good Morning my dear invisible readers,

I was considering whether or not to write this blog. I wasn’t sure if I could ever find the right words to say about yesterday, but a warrior should never stop fighting. So here I am, fighting in the form of words.

Last night, I was told that a close friend of mine passed away. I won’t tell you her name, but I will tell you a bit about her.

What is a warrior? A warrior is HER. She is the type of person that you feel drawn to. It’s like the world pushes you toward her because the world knows she will change your life. The world knows she will teach you how to smile. Her smile. wow. I don’t think there are enough adjectives in English, Spanish, or German to describe how her smile made me feel. She just took everything that wasn’t happy and discarded it. Few people I know can do that by just smiling. I remember making a watercolor poster anti-CF. CF is Cystic Fibrosis. That’s what my warrior had. She is in heaven now, laughing with Sandy. :) Everyone always laughs when they’re with Sandy.

I want to do so much right now. I will be dancing at Dance Marathon in two weeks, for her and for Sandy. I will be running the 4KforCancer, for her and for Sandy. I will live my life, for her and for Sandy.

You see.. The 4K for me isn’t just about cancer. I want to run across the US because I want people to know that these diseases are not stronger. We are stronger. We are stronger because we know how to love. We are stronger because we know how to hold hands. We are strong because there are billions of people in this world, and together, anything is possible. We are stronger because we are warriors for warriors. 

That’s what she taught me.

http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/laura-grau/

So join my fight.

be a warrior for warriors.

<3

Rest in Peace, my beautiful warrior.

I Dare YOU to Move.

Good morning, my dear invisible readers. Well, by the time I am finished with this blog, it will probably be the afternoon, but I might as well share with you how happy I am this morning.

It is flu season. When I lived at home, I would never get sick. In high school, when you’re sick, you stay home, get better, and return to school revitalized. College is different though. College is home. Thus, when your friends are sick, you get sick, too. It’s almost guaranteed. Most of my friends were sick last week, and now, I am sick. It’s so sad. I hate being sick because I feel like I want to do so many things, yet I don’t have the energy to do anything.

I do end up doing a lot, though.

I have suuuuchh goood news for you, my invisible readers. Well, first, I have to give you the background story. I had been feeling slightly underutilized. I’m not sure if that is the proper word. Anyways, I felt like I had so much energy to do so many things, yet I wasn’t sure what to do. So much to do, so little time to do it all in!!! It’s hard. Getting to college and seeing that everyone around you has done so many things. Every single person I know is very talented. They have that one thing that they are great at. It’s quite intimidating. However, it has also inspired me greatly. My friends have taught me how to dream. And with these dreams comes the realization that achieving my goals will not be an easy battle.

I’m going to go ahead and take a slight pause in my blog to tell you about my friends. First, you must know that I have never really been the kind of person to be in a big group of friends. I enjoy quality friendship. I am one to share my heart and soul with a small group of friends, just as they share their hearts and souls with me. However, the group of friends that I have here at Hopkins is so much more than I have encountered before. They have grown to be my family. When I am sick, they are my parents. When I am stressed, they are my siblings. When I am happy, they are my crazy-let’s-go-party-uncle. They are my family. &This family has taught me how to dream.

Let me start with Julied and Emilie.

Us three. We could not be any more different. Emilie: the intellectual, cultured lady who lives by greeting the world with a smile. She’s a princess, and the world is in her hands. Julied: the shy, yet beautiful girl who takes care of everyone before even thinking of herself. She’s the mother, even though she says she will never have kids.  Me: the crazy one (I don’t think there’s another way to describe me). Together, we form this crazy group that is filled with happiness. That’s what we are: Happy. Always.

Then, there’s Brandon.

I know its upsidedown. That's the point. We live our lives upside-down.

Brandon is the kind of friend who is always there. We laugh, sing, and develop secret weapons together. He is wonderful. There’s just no other way to put it.

Then, there’s Mati and Alejito. No. Those aren’t their real names. Mati is Morgan (Julied says his name is Mateo, and I say his name is Matias… We all know it is Matias..) Alejito is Alessandro…otherwise known as Alex. These two boys are wonderful. They are the big brothers. They take care of us. Laugh with us. Dance with us. They are the greatest. Emilie and I always say that alejito is the most wonderful human being on this planet. 

I can’t find any pictures of Alejito, Mati, and me together… New goal!

Now back to life:

I got a new jobb!!! I am officially a research assistant at the Med Campus, doing Kidney Transplant Research!! Isn’t that awesome? I had been looking for different research opportunities, and I finally found one that fit my personality. YES! The research you do must match your personality. My job involves talking to patients and going to surgeries. I think that’s pretty much my personality summed up into two things. Thus, here is a picture of where I work!

The Medical campus is so beautiful. It is hard to believe that it’s a hospital!! I would think it’s a great concert hall or a famous museum. Well, it is a museum: a museum of medical history!

I alsooo figured out what I will be doing this summer!! :D Believe it or not, a few years ago, Hopkins students set out from Baltimore in Bikes, and they crossed the US in the name of cancer. This event, 4K for Cancer, takes place every summer. THIS summer, however, is the first time that they will have a team RUNNINGG!! Thus, I will be running from San Francisco to Baltimore in the name of Sandy and all the warriors out there!! I’m too excited. I’ve been training, like crazy. I have been waking up at 6 am, and running. Look at the URL for my fundraising page: http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/laura-grau

Painless:)

 

So what is the theme of this blog? As a writer, I have learned that it is better to show readers, rather than tell them, what it is that I am trying to depict. Now, what have I shown you so far in this blog?

1) My beautiful friends

2) My new job

3) My goal of running across the US.

How do these relate?

I have heard so many times that college is a time to grow and learn about who you are. For the past few months, I have been going back and forth with goals, dreams, and ideas. It’s hard to decide what it is that I want to do. All my life, I had been set on being a veterinary doctor. Then, Sandy taught me about my great desire to help people, save them from this pain. Now, I have learned that my job isn’t to cure all maladies. My job is to inspire people…to make them happy… because happiness is the cure.

So what do those three things have in common?

Happiness.

I know I look ridiculous in this picture, but I thought it was appropriate. This is me. 

This is me, daring you to move.

I dare you to think about what you want in life. Do you want to run a marathon? Go buy some running shoes. Do you want to find the cure for cancer? Learn how to use a microscope. Do you want to be a pilot? Learn how to fly solo. Do you want to share your happiness? Allow yourself to fall in love, even if it doesn’t work out. Do you want to make new friends? Introduce yourself.

But most of all, SMILE. Smile because your smile can make someone else happy. And that someone else could be your future best friend, your future boss, or maybe your future significant other. SMILE because there are SO many things to do in life. There’s no excuse for being unhappy. There really isn’t. Look around. Where are you? Do you like where you are? If yes, appreciate it, love it. If no, are you doing absolutely everything in your power to get yourself someplace else? I dare YOU to move. To take that risk. To give that chance. To make that change. To shake that hand. I dare YOU to move. Because dreams, my friends, really do come true.

 

Love is this. This is Love.