WPSU's This I Believe

Biweekly at 5:45 p.m. on Thursdays and at 9:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Tell us the personal philosophy and core values that guide your daily life, and hear stories from others.

This I Believe is based on the 1950s radio program of the same name and the media project (launched in 2005) from This I Believe, Inc. and Atlantic Public Media. WPSU-FM invites you, as a central Pennsylvania resident, whatever your background, to speak out.

Submit your essay.

Subscribe to WPSU's This I Believe podcast.

When I was little, my mom warned me time and again that if I became nearsighted, I’d only have my bad habit of reading under my comforter with a tiny flashlight to blame. I didn’t listen because in “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” there was no worrying about eye care. There was just traveling across the ocean through the eyes of an explorer and feeling page-long names of sea creatures swim past my fingertips. A whole bunch of things in that book were made up, but I loved it.

I believe in science fiction.

This I Believe: I Believe In Mindful Attentiveness

Feb 1, 2018

I believe in the small joy of washing with carrot-ginger soap.

I believe in baking five-grain rye bread with cracked rye berries, naturally leavened with sourdough and baked on a hot stone. Taking baths in the dark with candlelight. Canning dill green beans and pickling beets.

I believe in picnicking by wooded streams while waiting for my wife and friends to finish hiking, which I don’t believe in.

Essayist Taylor Mason-Little.
Min Xian / WPSU

My mom recently visited me for the Penn State vs. Michigan game. Since we live in California, she only gets the opportunity to visit once a semester, so we always try to make the most of our time together.

Here, I live in a house with eleven of my close friends. When my mom came to visit, she treated us all to dinner. My friends went out of their way to thank her more than once. At the end of the night, my mom pulled me aside to comment on how polite my friends were and how nice they seemed.

While my mom was taken aback, I wasn’t surprised at all.

This I Believe: I Believe In Teaching

Jan 4, 2018
Nabil K. Mark/SCASD

  

I believe teaching is the best profession in the whole world. I am myself a high school German teacher and have been so for more than twenty years. 

My paternal grandmother, Helen, was a frugal and reserved woman with dyed-red curly hair. She always wore a 1960s-style house coat, even into the 1990s. We visited occasionally and I played with a few antique toys in the sunroom while the grown-ups talked in the den.

Helen enjoyed drinking tea and, I’m told, favored a weak brew. When I began drinking tea in the fourth grade, my parents compared the sweet, weak liquid I sipped to Helen’s. She passed away that spring, almost a year after her husband.

This I Believe: I Believe In Talking To Strangers

Dec 7, 2017

On a crisp day in October, I was on my daily walk through the Arboretum at Penn State. I had discovered my passion for photography there, and I was on a mission to photograph the roving gangs of chipmunks devouring the decorative pumpkins and gourds the Arboretum puts out at this time of year.

Suddenly, a stranger approached me. And immediately I thought, “Ugh. Go away. What do you want?” I thought about pulling out my cell phone to act busy. A gut, automatic reaction. 

This I Believe: I Believe In Harry Potter

Nov 23, 2017
Helen Dempsey in red and yellow scarf
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in Harry Potter.

This I Believe: I Believe In Lists

Nov 9, 2017

Every Saturday morning, my mom makes her grocery list. As the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and chocolate chip muffins envelops us, my mom neatly pens what we need for the week. She spreads out flyers from ACME and Giant on our kitchen table. Bold words of “sale” and “buy one get one half off” are intermingled with vibrant pictures of ripe oranges and delicious processed sugars. Next to all of this chaos is my mom’s simple handwritten list: strawberries, sliced ham, bread, milk, and butter.

My mom is a list-maker. And I am too.

This I Believe: I Believe In Watches

Oct 26, 2017

In the introduction of the book “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams writes that the earth is “an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” By making this jibe at the human race, he pokes fun at our exceeding fascination with simple things, and how we over complicate what was perfectly good in the first place by redundantly reinventing it. He has a point.

This I Believe: We Believe In Getting Dirty

Oct 12, 2017
Joan Vohl Hamilton and Abbe Hamilton.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

JOAN VOHL HAMILTON:  When I was a child in the early 1960’s, my clothing fell into three categories: school clothes, church clothes, and the best clothes of all: play clothes. My play clothes were worn out get-ups that didn’t earn me a scolding if they got dirty or ripped. I didn’t generally wear shoes with my play clothes: in the spring, summer and fall, my bare feet got me where I wanted to go.

This I Believe: I Believe In My Religion

Sep 28, 2017

I believe in my religion. More specifically, I believe in having the option to choose whether or not I believe in my religion.

When I first left home for college, I was away from my family and had the freedom to discover my own beliefs. I was quickly bombarded with questions about beliefs that had always felt so normal to me.

“Why are you following those rules?”

“Your mom isn’t even here.”

“Do you actually believe in God and all that stuff?”

This I Believe: I Believe In Fat

Sep 14, 2017
Natalie Sullivan
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in fat. Not too long ago, I would have said, “I believe I’m fat.” But my mindset has shifted, because I’m in the midst of recovery. This is me speaking, not my eating disorder convincing me that my body is a worthless, loathsome shell.

I believe in stepping outside of your comfort zone.

When I arrived at Penn State in 2012 as a freshman, I couldn’t even begin to imagine the opportunities I would seize over the next few years.

I studied abroad for one month in Seville, Spain, taking a course on podcast reporting.

I spent five weeks in Cuenca, Ecuador, participating in a teaching practicum to earn my ESL Program Specialist Certificate.

This I Believe: I Believe In Sharing Food

Aug 3, 2017
Samantha Bastress
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in sharing food.

Growing up in Penns Valley, I became accustomed to a community that shared the fruits of its labor. Fresh produce was abundant due to the many farmers in the area, and neighbors shared recipes and baked dishes for friends in need.

This I Believe: I Believe In Connections

Jul 20, 2017

I believe in connections.

I see them everywhere, every day. Whether it be between a comment a housemate made and a thought I had a couple months ago, or between an article I read online and the rules of a card game I used to play when I was younger.  But the best kinds of connections are the ones between people.

Greg Petersen in a radio studio
Bill Wallace / WPSU

This is my second This I Believe essay. The first was in 2008 when I extolled the virtues of the Chicago Cubs as a metaphor for the game of life. You may have setbacks, but like the Cubs you have to persevere. Now that my Cubbies have reached the pinnacle of baseball, it’s time to set new sights.

I’ve just retired from a 45-year career in public broadcasting and to say I believe in pubic media, would be an understatement. Besides having a mission to inform, educate and even entertain, public media’s role in today’s society is more essential than ever. 

I believe my dad watches over me.

This I Believe: I Believe In Being An Advocate

Jun 8, 2017

I believe in being an advocate.

When I was younger, I wanted another sibling. As much as I loved my two little brothers, I always wished for a sister. Thankfully at the age of 10, I was finally granted my wish. My parents told me I had a new baby sister on the way. I was also told something else. My sister was going to have something a little extra special about her.  She was going to have Down syndrome. As a 4th grader, I didn’t really know much about this. I was mostly just worried, unsure of what Down syndrome would mean for me and what it would mean for my baby sister.

This I Believe: I Believe In Working With My Hands

May 11, 2017

Like many children, I had a set of blocks and a tree house to play with when I was little. Mine were special, though - my grandfather built them. Dazzled by his ability to work with his hands and obsessed with firefighters, I asked him to build me a working fire truck. Although the finished product did not quite match my dream, it was a mechanical marvel and a testament to my grandfather’s skill. It was made almost entirely of wood, including the steering wheel, axles, and ladder.

This I Believe: I Believe In Asking For Help

Apr 27, 2017
Lauren DeLancey
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in asking for help. 

When I was younger, silence and solitude were my two favorite things, but they were also my worst enemies.

This I Believe: I Believe In Birding

Apr 13, 2017
Susan Smith with binoculars
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in birding.

I am a fledgling birder. I joined an early morning group that meets on the boardwalk at Millbrook Marsh. Those undulating flashes of light are goldfinches. The barn swallow likes to perch on the wire, showing off his orange and blue colors. Look, there, along the creek bank, is a pair of wood ducks: see the drooping green crest of the male. The two are glorious in their bright geometric plumage.

This I Believe: I Believe In Happy Goodbyes

Mar 30, 2017
Kay Allan
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Can you remember the last conversation you had with your mom, your sibling, or your best friend? Did you say goodbye? Did you say “I love you”?

This I Believe: I Believe In Welcoming Spring

Mar 16, 2017
Sue Shaffner in a white dress holding a globe and daffodils.
Sue Shaffner

I believe in welcoming spring.
I start early.
Hey, I know the calendar says that spring begins March 21st,
but at our house,
returning bluebirds are often the first sign of spring,
and they usually arrive the last week of February.
I greet them:
“I’m glad you’re back!
But WHAT are you THINKing?
Don’t you see all the SNOW?”

This I Believe: I Believe In Oversized Jackets

Mar 2, 2017
Essayist Vera Mendum-Purdy
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in oversized jackets. Not the kind that you get for your birthday from the distant aunt you met once. But the jackets you steal from your dad, brother, maybe even your best friend. The feeling of wearing something a person you care about wore is comforting. It’s like a shield you carry everywhere you go.

 Biyun Song and her grandma on a snowy mountain
Biyun Song

My grandma is 60 years older than me. But that doesn’t stop us from traveling together.

Our footprints cover many regions of the world -- from Sichuan, China to Taiwan, from Thailand to South Korea, from France to Italy. We have been traveling together for more than 15 years.

This I Believe: I Believe In Coffee

Dec 8, 2016
Essayist Becca DeGregorio
Min Xian / WPSU

This essay originally aired on September 7, 2016.

I Believe in Redwoods

Nov 24, 2016
Essayist Mark Ballora
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

This essay originally aired on October 15, 2015. 

I grew up in Mill Valley, California which is a funky town surrounded by beautiful redwood trees. Now, I live in State College with my wife and son. The two towns are separated by almost an entire country, and have different histories. What could they possibly have in common? There’s one thing in particular that makes them both dear to me.

I Believe In Sports

Nov 11, 2016

I believe in sports. I’ve been playing sports as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of my two older brothers and I going outside to shoot hoops or to throw a football around. It wasn’t just for fun – we were also desperately trying to escape the screech of my parents’ bickering. For hours, we would play and laugh.

I Believe In Keeping The Past Alive

Oct 27, 2016
Essayist Elizabeth Bare.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

I believe in keeping the past alive. Just take a step into my 1880’s house and you will find yourself surrounded by an array of mid-20th century furniture, paired with eclectic decor from a variety of centuries. Many of them are from my grandmothers, who sadly passed away recently. When these articles first arrived at my house, it was very disorienting. These things did not belong here-- they belonged in my grandmothers’ homes. But as time passed, these objects became a part of our daily routine.

I Believe In Saying No

Sep 29, 2016

  This essay originally aired on October 29, 2015.

I believe in saying no.

But I am mulishly stubborn. I never back down. When you pair that with my Type A personality and overachieving nature, I am downright terrifying when I put my mind to something.

I was raised to believe that quitting is never an option. Saying no to an opportunity or a challenge was never an option. So what changed?

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