Upon completion of summer session two, I traveled to Chicago to visit relatives. I must say that I am in love with this city, as you can do absolutely everything and anything there! In just three short days, we went to the zoo, strolled on the beach, attended an outdoor concert in the gorgeous Millennium Park, bowled, saw a fabulous comedy show, and explored the city streets. My last night there, I had a bit of a breakdown while conversing with my Aunt and Uncle. The realizations that my quick vacation was coming to a close and I was about to immerse myself into another semester hit me hard. I became upset and anxious thinking about how sick I became last year at this time unable to cope with the various pressures. They asked to see my schedule and after viewing it, looked at me like I had five heads. They told me that I was setting myself up for failure, as it was just too much, especially after all I had been through. They made some very valid points. By taking 19 credits, whom was I trying to impress? What was my hurry to graduate in exactly one year? They, nor my exceptionally bright cousins, never exceeded 15 credits a semester. Instead of allowing Ms. Perfectionist/Overachiever to run my life, I had to exercise leadership and take control of my well being by lessening the load. Now with 16 credits, I am still extremely busy, but not nearly as overwhelmed as I would have been. Thank you Aunt Marlene and Uncle Barry for knocking some sense into me!
I was recently asked to think about the meaning of my name and discovered it is a perfect metaphor for where I am in my life presently. In Hebrew, Ilana Michele translates to "Chiya Malka," or "Tree of Life." Grounded by the roots of my past, I am looking upward towards the future. I may be surrounded by rocky, challenging terrain yet it is important to always recognize the beauty that still exists and the growth and evolution that are occurring. I like the quote by J. Willard Marriott, which says, "Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees." I have been presented with several obstacles in my life, especially in the past several years. Yet I have persevered and continually work to overcome them, becoming a more empowered individual in the process. I have a great deal of hope for the coming semester and look forward to sharing my journey with all of you.