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Coming in Third

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

The hardest part of writing a blog, or starting to write a blog, is deciding on the name. It's the hardest, in my opinion, because you want the name to be unique, interesting, and give a little something about yourself without giving too much away. It's also a bit of a focusing point as well. Putting my name in the title seemed too personal and besides, Jill is a little hard to use good alliteration. "Jolly Jill"? Meh. "Jill's Joyful Journeys"? Way too upbeat. And rhyming? I'd rather not think about it. There are too many ways that could go wrong. And many of the -ill words are names or don't work for my purposes. Bill. Will. Kill. Till. Mill. Just naming a few. Without a name, I couldn't start the blog at all! Where's the focus? What's the design? There are too many times I went in to start basic designing like font and colors and got hung up on the name that I just started everything over. Wix, the site I'm using, asks all these questions to help set you up and I could maybe answer one. It asks about format and logos and font and colors and the NAME and what kind of blog it is (and there are apparently a lot of different kinds) and what features you would like to include like hooking it up to your Instagram or video presentation or a little chat bar... I digress. Let's just say, when the idea for a blog was first brought up over a year ago now, I didn't (and still don't) have any clue what it will turn into. And until I came up with a name, I couldn't do anything. Tip for future bloggers: Have a solid idea of what you want to do with your blog and the name before you do anything else. At least, if you're an amateur like me. Perhaps someone else will have better advice.

Before I actually talk about why I named this blog "Coming in Third", I'm going to say something about its origins. Back in May 2016, I was at home with my family in Ohio. It was after my college final exams and I was preparing to go to Ireland for a month-long study abroad program. My brother walked in and said something along the lines of "Jill, let's get you a Facebook account. Mom wants you to." Mom wants me on social media??? Facebook, unlike many people of my generation, didn't appeal to me and my mom was wary of it at the time so I never really jumped on the bandwagon. In this case though, she wanted to be able to remain in touch with me while I was out of the country so I obliged. Every day of my ~28-day absence, I posted all the pictures I took of the day and wrote a loooooooong post of everything we did that day, always beginning with "Post # :". My brother complained to my mom, "Make her stop!!!". It was probably a little overkill, but looking back, had I not written everything like I did, I wouldn't be able to take nice trips down memory lane and read them anytime I want. A lot of my family said they enjoyed my writing but didn't read all of them because they were so long. They thought the posts themselves were funny because when you read them, it sounded like you were talking with me.

Since Ireland, my social media presence has dwindled like a kid with a not so new toy. The next summer, I went to Malawi, Africa for two months and wrote a grand total of TWO posts and did not share a lot of pictures. Now, Malawi was a fantastic experience and I regret not noting something down to be remembered for later. It's not that there wasn't any time to write since Africa time is magical and you always have time for something, but two months was a long time to write every day and, as strange as it might sound, my schedule was usually very structured and predictable. In the morning I went out for research, talked to people, was back for lunch, and then organized my notes for the day and planned the next. Then I would do it again the next day with some variations. You could predict what the food was going to be every day, who you were going to see, what I was going to do, etc. Now, there was something new and special I learned each day but for some reason, I just never translated them onto a page. The culture was so different than any I had experienced before. It was interesting and new and beautiful and I loved it. I still think of Malawi and the people there every day.

When I graduated from the University of Dayton in May 2018, I was sent a letter from some family friends asking me to start a blog (they know who they are, hi!). They had read my posts when I was in Ireland and Malawi and wanted to stay caught up with my life. At the time, I was going to do a domestic year-of-service and then hopefully do some service abroad. Unsure of my commitment to writing, my storytelling skills, and not wanting to breach anyone's privacy, I did not start the blog during my year-of-service in Syracuse, NY with an organization called FrancisCorps (pronounced Francis-Core, not Francis-Corpse). My service site was L'Arche, an international organization for adults with disabilities, a wonderful non-profit and a beautiful community. In July 2019, I finished my year and had already applied and been accepted into my "next big thing".

Being accepted into the Maryknoll Lay Missioners is pretty darn close to a dream come true, but I'll talk about that sometime else. MKLM is a Catholic mission-sending organization that is sending me to Haiti in January 2020. Finally, I have something to write about. I am very excited to be able to share my experiences, insights, and reflections here with my family and friends and whoever else decides to peruse this site.

The name "Coming in Third" was a collaborative effort from my family. Before I went looking for help, I was trying to think of something spiritual but not sappy. I thought of my favorite flower, the crocus and was thinking of doing something with that or something along the lines of "The Kindness of Strangers", by which I mean all the people in my life who have helped me to where I am now (you know, heading to another country that is apparently very hot and humid... who would do that to someone? Oh, that's right, I did that to me... I am very excited. Did I mention that?). Finally, I asked for aid while talking to my brother on the phone. He said it might be fun to have a name that told people a little about me. "The Youngest of Three" was tossed about since I am the youngest of three. My sister put a vote in for "Last Pancake" to which I responded, "You mean that third pancake you ordered but realized you shouldn't have because you're full and it's unhealthy?" Being the sweet big sister she is she said, "No, You're that last pancake someone makes that is perfect since the first two don't usually turn out great." It's sweet and it's a good one... except it might sound like I'm tooting my own horn a bit...?

All good ideas, but my dad gave me what I was looking for. He said, "I am Third". I knew immediately what it meant as it was something I often have to remind myself of. Not only am I a third child, but the one who comes in first is God, then others, then myself. I come in third. Especially with these next years of my life, it's not about me. In January I will be going to Haiti and although this is really cool thing that not everyone does, I am hardly the first or the last to do it. It's not about me but the people I am going to serve. It's about following a call in my heart. The people who are receiving me are so much stronger than I am and I am going to learn so much from them. I only hope that I can share a little something of myself in return.

Before I sign off, there is a quote I wish to share from Rachel Naomi Remen, an author and professor. I read this quote while in college during my senior year and loved it. I only hope I can live it:

"Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul."

May God grant me the grace, humility, and courage to be a servant to others.

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