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.

I believe there is magic in in creating things with your own two hands.

Many of my earliest memories are of fashioning together Popsicle sticks, construction paper, yarn and anything else I could get my hands on. I would sit at my family’s kitchen table, lost for hours in the planning, purpose and possibility of making. In those moments, amid the buttons, cardboard and Elmer’s Glue, I felt free, capable and full of potential. I learned that there is visceral satisfaction and joy in creating beautiful, useful objects.

This I Believe: I Believe In Perfect Moments

May 26, 2016
Essayist Vicka Pevzner
Vicka Pevzner

I believe in perfect moments.  They don’t have to be big, forever memories like kids’ graduation or seeing Paris for the first time.  They can occur on an otherwise regular day or a regular night when one might think that nothing had happened at all.

This I Believe: I Believe In Hard Work

Apr 28, 2016
Essayist Kayla Fish
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

What does five o’clock in the morning look like to you? Does it look like the back of your eyelids as you lie asleep, warm in your bed? For me, it looks like a dark and quiet walk to work.

I believe in the value of hard work.

I’ll always remember the days leading up to my 14th birthday, which, my parents constantly reminded me, was when I could work for the first time. I started a job the next week at the ski resort down the road from my house.

This I Believe: I Believe In The Companionship Of Dogs

Apr 14, 2016
Essayist Jessie Setlock
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

When I was 8 years old, I remember the day I met my best friend. He was an adorable, fluffy black and white puppy with tiny brown dots for eyebrows. He sprinted down the hallway to meet me for the first time, like he knew how close we would become. In just days, this Border Collie we named Reilly became my constant companion.

I spent much of my free time that summer teaching Reilly commands like “sit,” “paw,” “down,” “stay,” and “come!” He picked up on them in no time and was the most well behaved pup that we had ever seen.

I Believe in the Law of Attraction

Apr 7, 2016

  This essay originally aired on May 28, 2015.

I believe in The Law of Attraction. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically, “You are what you think and you attract what you think.”

I embraced this philosophy in the spring semester of 2013. At that time, I knew who I wanted to be, but I didn’t know how to become that person. I was stuck in a career rut. Yes, I was only 22. I had my whole life ahead of me to figure everything out. But it felt like time kept moving, but I wasn’t. I felt hopeless.

This I Believe: I Believe In Community

Apr 7, 2016
Essayist Ben Wideman
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

  This essay originally aired on February 4, 2016.

August 28th, 2012 was the most difficult day of my life. That morning at work, I received a call from my wife. She was nearing full term of her pregnancy with our second child. She had recently been to the doctor who gave her a clean bill of health, and we were excitedly preparing to welcome this new child into our home.

I picked up the phone and she wasted no time saying “Come home now. Something's wrong.”

This I Believe: I Believe In Stuffed Animals

Mar 31, 2016
Essayist Rebecca Hile
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

I believe in teddy bears. When I was little, I told my teddy bear everything. But as I got to the 6th grade, I stopped. I thought it was time I gave up on my teddy bear. I never should have.

This I Believe: I Believe in Dylan

Feb 18, 2016
Brooke Zlotshewer and her friend, Dylan.
Brooke Zlotshewer

I met Dylan in gym class during my senior year of high school. I should mention that Dylan is autistic, but his diagnosis truly has no effect on our friendship. The gym class was meant to provide an opportunity for autistic students to interact with their fellow classmates. Originally, I just thought this class would be a good experience and help me gain insight into my autistic classmates’ lives. I never expected I would meet one of my best friends in the class.

I Believe In Staying Active

Jan 14, 2016

Eat better, feel less stressed, become more productive at work, have more patience, and use your credit card less!? All these things and more (have) happened to me….are they the result of having a regular exercise routine as new research I've read claims? I can’t prove it, but I believe it!....and believing something will work is necessary to making a habit stick, this too according to research.

I Believe In The Ocean

Dec 10, 2015
Essayist Tia Pattillo
Tia Pattillo

I believe in the ocean. It has healing powers. The salt, sand, sea and sun all combine to take away every bit of worry in my being. When I look out over the waves and see a boat pass by, my heart smiles. When a seagull lurks behind my beach chair, or when a sand crab crawls up my towel, I know that I’m home.

For me, the ocean is so much more than where my family vacations every year. It’s more than the boardwalk and it’s more than just a place to get a tan. I stand on the water’s edge, close my eyes and picture one of the best days of my life with my dad.

I Believe I Am Responsible For My Own Happiness

Nov 12, 2015
Essayist Lisa Sarick
Lisa Sarick

This is a tough story to tell. My “wasband” (that’s husband, past tense) is an alcoholic. There came a point during our 18 years together when I was sure that he was making me miserable.

Luckily, it was during that time that I found Al-Anon, a group for loved-ones of alcoholics. Then, at a meeting, I heard someone say, “I am responsible for my own happiness.”


I Believe In Grieving

Oct 1, 2015

This essay is apart of a yearlong project on grieving called "Learning to Live: What's Your Story?" 

We all believe many different things over the course of our lives and our beliefs shift; much as the relentless waves alter the contours of the shore, new experiences cause us to grow and adapt.

I Believe in Swimming

Sep 4, 2015
Essayist Bethany Gruskin.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

How did you learn to swim?  Were you like a fish taking to water or, like me, dramatic?  Was it easy or did it take a lot of practice? For me, it did. As you can probably guess, learning to swim was quite a trial.

I Believe in Difficulties

May 14, 2015
Essayist Campbell Meyers
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

"Beep...Beep…Beep”…the rhythmic oscillations of the heart monitor delineate the steady, monotonous cycle of life. The computer screen displays a fragile, red line creating a seismic reading of the surges of life under the skin. This simple line registers the separation of life from death. When I was born, the line crashed from its rhythmic motion to a relentless flat line accompanied by an equally relentless, mechanical squeal.

Moments after I was given life, it was almost stolen away. But I fought. I kept fighting for days and months. I have continued to fight my entire life.

I Believe in not Making Snap Judgments

Apr 30, 2015
Essayist Meredith Manning
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

As I ran to catch the bus one morning, I knew I was in for a weird day. ‘My life cannot get any worse than this right now,’ I thought to myself as I trudged up Fraser St. in my heavy Dr. Marten boots. A normal morning for me usually means waking up at 11, not sprinting to catch the Red Link at 8.

I Believe in Pajamas

Apr 17, 2015
Joshua Riley
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Anywhere I go on Penn State’s campus, I get second glances and sometimes even a few comments from strangers. They say things like:

“Nice pants.”

“Did you just get out of bed?”

“Cool pajamas, dude.”

If you pass by me, I’m the one wearing pajama pants in fuzzy flannel, checkered and plaid or covered with Smurfs. My pajamas might create an odd first impression, but why is being comfortable considered “odd?”

I Believe in Memories

Mar 5, 2015
Samantha Calabrese
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

Memories are powerful. It’s memories that make someone long dead, immortal. It’s memories that make us laugh at our mistakes. And it’s memories that make a house, a home.

In September of 2006, I woke up to a screaming fire alarm. I rushed down the hall, joining the rest of my family in the stampede to get outside. Luckily, everyone made it out safely. But we watched our home of over 10 years burn to the ground. It was hard not to cry.

I Believe in Ellen

Feb 19, 2015
Author Bridget LaVelle
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

I believe in Ellen. Ellen Smith is a THON child who has been battling cancer since 2011. Through her entire four-year journey, she has never given up her fight.

They found her cancer in May. Ellen was experiencing unexplained headaches. Later that month, a CT scan showed a mass in her brain. Her doctor immediately sent Ellen and her family to the hospital for an MRI. In the scans, Ellen’s doctors found a brain tumor half the size of her surgeon’s fist.

I Believe in Unlikely Role Models

Jan 22, 2015
Essayist Gwen Oliver
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

I believe that anyone, or anything, can be an inspiration to others.

Back at a time when I had just started to use the big-kid swings, my family adopted a dog that we named Simon.  He was a short and lumpy black Labrador mix who toddled around awkwardly. He ran slightly to the right, and would lay down by throwing himself to the floor. Despite his gracelessness, Simon quickly became one of my favorite “people” in the world. His ungainliness masked a compassion and selflessness beyond that of any human being I’ve ever met.

I Believe You Don't Need a Voice to Speak to Others

Dec 15, 2014

Growing up, I had a very normal relationship with my grandfather or as I called him, Papa. I would see him and my grandma every few weeks and of course at all of the holiday family gatherings.

But in 2005, the Christmas Eve celebration was far from normal. The warmth and hustle to prepare for that night’s festivities froze solid within seconds. My mom’s face was anguished and my dad’s streaked with tears as they spoke to me softly. Papa was in the hospital.

I Believe in Fishing

Oct 30, 2014
Author Brandon Walker
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

“When you cast out don’t flick the rod,” my dad said on my first fishing trip, “Make it a complete motion-- like throwing a ball.” That first day fishing was one of the best days of my life. But fishing is more than just a pastime. It’s a hobby that has now grown into a passion. But most importantly, fishing helped my Dad and me build and sustain a stronger relationship with each other. 

I Believe in Reading

Oct 2, 2014
Erin Cassidy Hendrick / WPSU

I was a shy boy. If I said that to my friends now, it would seem like a complete lie. However, when I was a child, my shyness was obvious. But now as a young man, I enjoy public speaking, talking to people and generally being social. 

This is all because I started to love reading.

Erin Cassidy Hendrick
Emily Reddy / WPSU

 I’ve always been surrounded by dogs. As a child, our family included a Saint Bernard, a collie and a golden retriever. But I didn’t realize the full extent of my bond with animals until I adopted two dogs of my own.

I believe in rescue dogs.

In 2010, I adopted a shelter dog with my then-boyfriend, now husband Evan. First, the puppy was shy and unsure, but he grew into a slightly neurotic but blissfully happy dog named Mickey. After teaching him the necessary commands and housebreaking him, our new townhouse in State College was calm and peaceful.

I Believe my Mom is Still Alive

Sep 4, 2014
Kristen Connolly and her mom
Kristen Connolly

It was the Monday before Thanksgiving when I got the call. I was on a walk on an unusually warm night for November. It was my mom. That she was calling at 5 p.m. wasn’t unusual - she called me every night on her way home from work. But this call was different.

She joked that my dad was driving her to handbells practice because her doctor had just informed her she had multiple tumors in her brain.  The doctor said she probably shouldn’t drive anymore. She had just received the most terrifying news of her life and she was laughing.

I Believe in Puzzles

Aug 21, 2014
Ben Brauser
Erin Cassidy

My grandfather loves puzzles. He has thousands of them and he never leaves home without one. He dumps them out on the nearest kitchen table, which annoys everyone who wants to use the space.

When he sits down and begins, he always starts on the edges and works his way in. I used to think his puzzles were a waste of time, but when I thought about it, I realized I work on puzzles every single day.

I Believe in My Camera

Aug 7, 2014
Kelly Tunney
Kelly Tunney / WPSU

I believe in my camera.

I’m a homebody.  Left to my own devices, I’d stay in my room most of the time, sitting on my bed, surfing the Internet, wasting time.

My first couple of years of college, I didn’t really do anything outside of classes. I would watch people experiencing life—going to football games, being in clubs—and I’d think, “That would be rewarding to do… if I were an extrovert.” 

I Believe in the Power of Silence

Jul 10, 2014
Sam Janesch
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Quiet. Shy. Introverted. That’s how people described me growing up. I still hear these descriptors sometimes today.

As a kid, my mom dragged my brother and me around as she shopped every week. I would sit in department stores and hear the usual compliments about how well-mannered I was, how obedient. Yes, I was shy. And yes, my perpetual silence may have originated from some level of social fear.

But it was more than a shyness that kept me quiet. It was the practice of active listening. I believe in the power of listening.

I Believe in Ice Cream Floats

Jun 26, 2014
Crystal Jones
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in ice cream floats.

My best memory of my dad is making Coke floats with him in our kitchen in Bossier City, Louisiana. Two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream in the blender. Enough Coke to make the scoops separate and form tiny islands. (Pepsi was inferior) (Diet Coke was worse) Blend. Three pulses for good luck. Plastic tumblers. Straw.


Go Ahead, Talk to Strangers

Jun 12, 2014
Kristin Fenchak

Sometimes I think we’re too closed off. We’re too afraid to smile at the mailman passing us on the sidewalk or to strike up a friendly conversation with the person next to us in the elevator. We opt instead to look down at our phones or up at the ceiling. I’ll admit it’s easy for me to get wrapped up in myself. But a chance encounter challenged me to take an interest in the lives of others.

I believe in talking to strangers.

I Believe in Retracing My Steps

May 29, 2014
Lucy Green
Lucy Bryan Green

I believe in retracing my steps—in ambling over the same gnarled roots, passing beneath the same thick tree limbs, hopping from boulder to boulder in the same spring-fed creek, over and over again. Since I moved to this Pennsylvania Valley nearly six years ago, I have crisscrossed the wild acres on the north side of Tussey Mountain too many times to count. I begin at the Shingletown Gap parking lot. From there, my feet carry me past a reservoir, into a grove of evergreens and rhododendrons, then west, over a log bridge.