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 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.

I Live More on My Bicycle

May 15, 2014
Daisy Philtron
Emily Reddy

I believe that I live more when I ride my bicycle.  My bicycle opens doors that don't exist from the wheel of a car, or in the belly of a bus.  A trip to the grocery store becomes an adventure of balanced bags, shortcuts on bicycle paths, and smiles from drivers shaking their heads at the six bags of groceries strapped to the side of my bicycle.  A late night ride home from a friend's house showcases the stars.  Even better, a ride across the country, or across a continent, turns a mere month of living into a lifetime worth of adventures.

I Believe in Candy Crush Saga

May 1, 2014
Molly Munnell
Molly Munnell

As an active college student, I’m constantly bouncing like a ping pong ball from my dorm to class to the library and back again. I make lists of the multitude of things I need to do: take care of laundry, write a paper, go to a study group, grab dinner with friends. Sometimes my day doesn’t end until I crawl into bed at 3 AM. Stress can build up after weeks of this hectic lifestyle, and sometimes I feel like the running around will never end. But no matter how busy my day is, I always take a few minutes to relax before I go to sleep. Almost every night without fail, I curl up in bed, pull out my cell phone and continue my battle against brightly colored pieces of candy for the extent of five short lives. Yes, for those who might have guessed, I am indeed a proud player of the popular smartphone game Candy Crush Saga.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle game that involves swapping and matching multicolored candy. It’s mostly mindless and yes, some would even say it’s a waste of time, but for me, it’s a lifesaver.

I Believe in Gratitude

Apr 18, 2014
Wagner This I Believe
Johanna Wagner

In the summer of 2012, I had a lot for which to be grateful. My husband and I were expecting our first child in early September. As an anxious mother-to-be I spent those early summer months devouring books, movies, articles and just about anything I could find about babies and those first crucial weeks. I was thrilled and terrified imagining what it would be like in a few short months. Never once did I think that I might not be there to experience it myself. 

I Believe in Cars

Apr 3, 2014
Kate Lao Shaffner

“Mitch, why are you such a knucklehead?” my dad says as he follows me out of our house and into the front yard. “Only a complete idiot would do something this stupid. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in that head of yours…” SLAM! My dad’s voice is suddenly cut off by the reassuring thunk of my car door. I jam the key into the ignition and start the engine. Before my dad even has a chance to finish his sentence, I’m turning out of the driveway, leaving him behind. I lift the clutch and hit the gas; first gear, I can feel the stress starting to melt away as the RPMs increase.

I was born weighing 2 pounds and 4 ounces. I was small, even for a newborn in a big world. While in the womb, the doctor gave my brother and me a low chance of survival because the umbilical cord was struggling to support us both. Despite this, we were born with no severe handicaps. By the time I was nine, however, I realized I was different from other kids my age.

At school, while other kids talked and played, I stayed at my desk. I struggled to understand what was being taught, and I was too afraid to ask for help. My mom wondered if something was wrong with me.

This I Believe: I Believe In Vinyl Records

Jun 28, 2012

I place the wide, flat disc on the turntable, close the dusty lid and press “start.” The guitar slowly fades in, followed by a loud bell. Finally, the drums break into a groove. Then, as Brad Delp of the band Boston starts to sing, I close my eyes and slip away.

I believe in vinyl records.

I believe in the soft, warm crackles and pops before every song. I believe in paging through the album artwork while the music plays. But, most of all, I believe in the happiness those spinning discs bring to my family.

This I Believe: I Believe In Bananagrams

Sep 8, 2011

“Take a letter. Okay, take another. Ha! Take a letter!” We all groan, looking at our Z’s ,K’s and Q’s seriously piling up. We exchange looks with each other that say, “Now how is this fair?” while my mom happily continues to build her ultimate crossword. When the tiles are finally gone, my mom throws her hands in the air and yells “WOOO HOOOO!” That was one of the many times that my mom had beaten our butts at Bananagrams, and the feeling of relief that the round of humiliation was over wasn’t unfamiliar. But then, of course, someone says, “Who's in for another round?

This I Believe: I Believe In Second Impressions

Apr 14, 2011

I was just shy of 17 the first time my brother Daniel introduced me to his girlfriend. Her name was Kristen, and I hated her immediately. But my brother loved her. Granted, I may not have known what love was, but in my teenage years, love meant a brother who would rather be with his girlfriend than with his siblings. Call it what you want *cough* jealously *cough*, but I wasn’t happy.

This I Believe: I Believe In Eating My Convictions

Mar 10, 2011
Essayist Lyndsie Wszola.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

I believe in eating my convictions. When I was twelve, I stopped eating meat because I liked animals and didn't want to hurt them. My grandmother saw this decision as a personal betrayal.  

This I Believe: I Believe In Remembering

Aug 12, 2010

I sometimes forget I have an older sister. She passed away before I was born, but that doesn't mean I don't have a sister. I didn't know about her until I was 12 years old. But now I think of her often.

Shortly before we moved to the United States from Kirgizstan, on New Year’s Day, my dad pulled me aside and told me we had to go visit a “special little person.” My dad took a deep breath and told me about the short life of my older sister.

This I Believe: I Believe In Heavy Metal

Mar 11, 2010

I believe heavy metal.
When I was 12 years old I saw Metallica’s music video for the song, “One.” The video mixes gritty black and white band footage with excerpts from the film Johnny Got His Gun about a hospitalized soldier who lost his arms, legs, sight, hearing, and speech to a landmine. Over this footage, “One” goes from lament to unstoppable barrage.
I believed this song.

This I Believe: I Believe In Making The Bed

Dec 24, 2009

When I was growing up, I fought constantly with my parents over making my bed in the morning. An after-breakfast check-in was routine at my house. My mom or dad would walk down the hall, check each room, and call from upstairs, "Stop whatever it is you're doing and come make your bed." It was a chore that I simply did NOT like, and so I avoided it. I thought it was absurd to make my bed every morning. It was counterproductive. What could be the benefit of straightening a bed in the morning that would inevitably be undone that evening? This puzzled me for a long time.

This I Believe: I Believe In Caring

Dec 10, 2009

Just a few years ago I was a stereotypical teenager. Everything was about "me." I wasn't interested in anyone else or their needs. I often neglected my family because time with my friends seemed more important. Family dinners were a burden and vacations a punishment.

This I Believe: I Believe In Eating Local

May 25, 2009

This I Believe: I Believe In Public Radio

Apr 2, 2009

For many people, April 15 is TAX DAY! April 15 for me, however, has a different significance…

In 1982, I moved to a small mountain town in Colorado. I thought I’d found the perfect place to live. But there was one thing missing. No public radio. I used to spin the FM dial searching for the voice of the community.  All I would hear was canned music or talk programs packaged somewhere far away and made local only by the commercials injected.

This I Believe: I Believe In Slowing Down

Feb 5, 2009

On a rainy morning when I was ten, my neighbor Mr. Lovett invited me into his home for a woodworking project. Above his fireplace sat an ornate eagle carved by Mr. Lovett himself. Its wingspan was wider than I was tall. I remember wondering how long it took him to make that eagle.

Mr. Lovett guided my block of wood under the scroll saw until it morphed into the rough outline of a duck.