Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bringing Out the Mom in Me

Plants inspire me to be a responsible, motherly creature even though their inspiration is only short term. I walk into nurseries that are budding with pansies, snapdragons, and roses and end up buying out half the store because my heart yearns to tend theses little plants and a beautiful garden. Last year on Mother's Day, I bought myself a Gerber Daisy because I thought it would be cute to tend a plant. I picked up a chocolate brown pot and potting soil to get this littler Gerber on its way, planted it, watered it for a couple days, and then tried to forget about it. What started out as  tender love for a plant (I don't even like Gerber Daisies that much) turned into burning hate because of the extra responsibility it gave me. Instead of giving it tender words of love and showers of water, I gave my Gerber the stink eye, letting it dry up until it went to its final resting place. I learned my lesson: don't buy plants. 

That was until this Mother's day. 

Now I will give myself a couple pats on the back because this time I didn't just buy a plant because I wanted to play homemaker over summer break. This time I bought only what I like--lavender and snapdragons. In addition to helping these plants thrive, I am going to try and dry the lavender and make lavender-infused honey. I'm taking this whole mother's day vibe to the next level this year.

Hopefully this whole let's-grow-plants-and-be-cool endeavor goes much better than my experience with my poor Gerber. I don't need to be sitting out the middle of my backyard glaring at my snapdragons and lavender because I need to water and weed around them. 

I'll keep you posted on my "motherly" endeavors. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mockingjay Fever: Learning to Educate Ourselves

"This is going to be just like Twilight," was what one of my friends said the night before we went to go see The Hunger Games. Now, I am willing to admit that there is a lot of hype around the best-selling novel and the film adaption. However, comparing The Hunger Games to Twilight is a gross offense. Mainly because The Hunger Games is actually a decent book with substance to it. However, what The Hunger Games has done is brought into question the ethical nature of such a violent movie.

Some family and friends that I talked to expressed concerns about the desensitizing effects that such as movie can have on a person: most importantly, young adolescents. Understanding their concerns about the film, I was also quick to respond by asking them if they had read the book or looked up a film synopsis.

"No, I haven't."


 Many times, people make rash assumptions or are easily persuaded by false, sensationalized information because they are too willing to rely on word of mouth, instead of  grabbing a book or a computer to seek the truth themselves. Though I know that such censorship happens in both secular and religious groups, my personal experience is out of a Christian background, as I grew up in a Christian home. At my house, we weren't allowed to read books like Harry Potter and I could only read Twilight after I did some serious research on the novel (which, if you ask me, was a waste of my time in retrospect). Their reason for censoring my reading of books such as Harry Potter and Twilight was because of scripture condemning witchcraft (Galations 5: 19-21).

While some may believe that my parents censoring me was a terrible transgression, there were more books that they did allow me to read rather than did not. Their concern was well meant, and what I learned from them is that I need to inform myself about what I am reading; that I need to be ethically concise of what I feed my mind. That's why I carefully read abstracts or research books before I read them.

If you read The Hunger Games, you will find out that the novel is dystopian fiction that illustrates how a corrupt government enacts severe hegemony over the rest of the nation (the twelve districts). This government conducts the Hunger Games every year to keep the people of Panem from ever trying to revolt, again. The Hunger Games, in both the book and film, is not a good thing. No one rejoices over having to be a part of it, and the tragic deaths of the young tributes of Panem are not taking lightly. Their deaths are felt with deep sorrow.

If anything, The Hunger Games calls us to question the world we are living in right now and the direction that we could take. The book and the novel beg us to be more thoughtful and considerate about our own lives and the lives of those around us. They show us what life could be like, including an atrocity like the Hunger Games: a world we wouldn't want to live in.

For those who are wary of the series, I encourage you to take a minute and look up what The Hunger Games is all about. Make the decision for yourself after you have made an attempt to get a fuller understanding what this hype is all about.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Life Seems too Large

There are some days when waking up in the morning is a pleasure, when trying to find clothes didn't turn into a year-long search with the only outcome a mismatched ensemble that reads neo-hipster because you haven't been able to wash your clothes in days. There were days where you were able to read Jane Austen without falling into a deep sleep because your body was exhausted. It's when you fall asleep to Jane Austen that you know something is desperately wrong with your life.

Today has been one of those kinds of day where not much seems to go right, but a whole lot of wrong seems to seep its way into everything. Incomplete homework, a dozen major projects piling up before your eyes, part-time jobs, scholarship positions, maintaining relationships, and yearning to be helpful to your loved ones when they are going through so much. I just left my last class to pick up a paper from another professor only to discover that my paper wasn't waiting there for me because of a silly mistake I made. A mistake so small (I said I would email my teacher about my grade, not pick my paper up from her) rendered me completely useless in my eyes. How could I have been so stupid?

Walking back to my room I scolded myself for being so inadequate at, well, life. The more I thought about my troubles, I allowed myself to sink further. It wasn't just this day that was terrible, it was this week, this month, this semester. My life is so crammed with do's, I forgot to take a minute to congratulate myself on all the done's I had accomplished. My life is crazy: too crazy, if you ask me.

And then again, maybe the problem isn't the life I have created for myself; maybe my problem is that I am ruthlessly hard on myself. Perhaps my days aren't filled with joy because I look at my reflection and say, "Do better! Try harder!" Maybe I need to start looking at myself and see all I have done instead of all I haven't accomplished; maybe I need to start realizing my own potential instead of looking at my past short-comings.

Sometimes, life seems to large; sometimes, crawling under your covers seems better than facing the day ahead of you. But we have nothing to fear. Nothing is impossible for us because we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139). The only thing stopping us from living out our lives to the fullest is ourselves. Don't be your own limitation, and don't be your harshest critic. There are already enough people in the world who have plenty to say about the steps we take in this world. It's time we let our own words hold us up, rather than push us down.

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Getting Engaged: My love story

I probably should have posted this almost three months ago when one of the biggest parts of my life changed forever, but I didn't. Go me. Sometimes, I fail.

But, seeing as there are definitely going to be posts about the wedding bells that will be chiming in the near future for me, I believe I should share this. 

I'm engaged. And it's awesome. 

It happened on December 20th, the perfect time of year for me because I am a Christmas fanatic. I love Christmas. And when I mean love, I mean the antithesis of Christmas with the Kranks.  

My beautiful ring 
After a day full of worry, anticipation, nervousness, and a scene where I tried to pick the lock of Ben's (my fiance) glove-box for ten minutes, something incredible happened. He lead outside on his porch in his back yard, and when I got out there, written in Christmas lights, a sign read: "Will you marry me?" 

I said yes. But that wasn't the best part. 

When I walked into his house, greeted by the smiling faces of my fiance's parents, I saw my family come out from hiding after they had watched the whole episode unfold. I will never forget jumping for joy with my mom as she wrapped her arms around me, sharing in my excitement. I won't forget my sister's kisses on my cheeks as she poured out her congratulations. I won't forget my dad pulling me into his side and kissing my forehead like he has since I was a little girl, and I won't forget the squeeze of my grandmother's hand as she reaffirmed her pleasure in the whole event. And I'll never forget the happiness I saw in my and Ben's eyes that night. 

There were a lot of years when I believed that I needed to focus truly on myself because I didn't think I was going to meet someone. There were many times where I laid at night asking my God why I felt like I would never be good enough in someone else's eyes. But now, looking back on it all, God was waiting for me to find the right man. And I couldn't be happier that my first love was meant for forever. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

And the Winner Is...

Tomorrow night. Full of fashion. Full of laughter. Full of heartfelt moments that make you blubber. I am sucker for the Acadmey Awards.

My pick to take all the awards? The Help.

I have read the novel. I fell in love with the novel, and then, when movie came out this past summer, I fell in love with it even more. This is probably one of the best movies of the year. But hey, that's just my opinion. 

I hope you are planning on bunker down with some popcorn--I'll probably be there with the homework that I was suppose to do on my winter break--and watch the magic happen. It's going to be a good night. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Power of Narrative: A Final look at the Sisterhood Series

Walter Fisher once said that, "humans are essentially storytellers." We have the ability to share our lives with others, whether it is words written on a page or us vocally sharing them. Our lives are full of narratives strung together like a pearl necklace. We alter and change our lives with narratives. We find our beliefs and values in narratives.

"Humans are essentially storytellers."

Oh, how absolutely right he is.

Now before people think that I am writing about a  huge, philosophical moment in life, I will reveal that this is not what is happening. Rather, I just finally completed reading the final book in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and therefore, must write my thoughts on my last experience with series I have cherished.

Warning: As a veracious reader and often self-ruiner of finding out what happened in books, I want to warn you that a vague spoiler is in here. So, if you have any intention of reading this book and spoilers bother you, I wouldn't continue. If that doesn't matter, keep on reading. 

I must speak unashamed and with a full awareness that some may find me crazy at how seriously I take my love of books . Therefore, before I speak of this momentous occasion in my reading career, I should probably explain to you just why I love books so much, why I hold them in my heart with a deep, enduring love.

It was long ago, yet not so long ago that my eight grade teacher stood over me and handed me a Nicholas Sparks book. It had been a couple months after I had transfer schools, a couple months after I had given up making friends and probably a couple months after I had given up trying to fit in.

"Read this," she said.

And I did.

It wasn't the first time I read a book, but it was a moment of awakening for me. A moment where I realized that they was a place that wasn't scary and unfamiliar, that bestowed upon me the best friends I could ever meet and that welcomed me in with love. I found that love between a hardcover, between a paperback, over a million pages of words. I found a home for myself. Years later, I found the most incredible part on my life in a book. My faith.

That is why I love books. And that is why when I began the last Sisterhood book, I believed that it was one of the saddest days of my life because just like Carmen, Lena, and Bridget, I felt as though I was suffering the loss of my life-long September friend.  But by the end of the novel I was so incredibly uplifted by the fullness and beauty that Ann Brashares brought to her series. As I sit and mull over the final novel in retrospect, I believe that she did the most brave act in her work: she made her story real. So real, my family caught me several times, sobbing like my life was over.

But, its just a story.

That's where I believe that Walter Fisher and the fictional writer meet. Here, at the crossroads of the innate need to share stories and our ability to recreate reality on the pages of a book magic happens. And its when stories that move us so much, to the point of tears or utter joy, that we know that something special has been caught. It's the beautiful transformations of  human experience becoming inspired words, and they have  the power to connect us in ways we never knew possible.

This story of four girls and a pair of pants is important to me because these girls were my friends in high school. I hung out with them at lunch, in the hallways at break, during my study halls, and let them hunker down with me in the armchair in my room. They were always by my side. They kept me company for so many years, and I loved them dearly for that.

So all of this culminates in me telling you to read the Sisterhood series. Let these girls sweep you up into their lives. They are ready to tell you the biggest of stories and you share their hearts with you. You won't regret it.

I certainly didn't.