Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's Tough Getting Older

Seems that nothing is black and white anymore
Shades of gray and I feel the weight over my shoulder
It's tough getting older
I always thought that I knew where I'd wanna go
But now I'm here and I find that I'm still getting colder
It's kinda tough getting older
- from Older by Colbie Caillat

It's tough getting older. I know as a young twenty-something, I shouldn't be saying this. I thought college was difficult at times - oh, delusional past self, how much I could teach you. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Post For Bookworms Everywhere

At least I've read Fahrenheit 451
I am a bookworm, in case you hadn't figured it out yet. I do have a deep, dark confession to make though: I am also a book hoarder.

Okay, probably not so deep and dark, but hey, I had to get your attention, right?

I purchase books with the intent to read them cover-to-cover right away. New books are enticing and I prefer to own books rather than check them out in the library. I need to be able to make pencil marks in the margins of my favorite passages!

I think I need to spend more time at the library instead of bookstores. Now my problem is that I don't have enough bookshelves.

My books are stacked on the floor around my room. My poor books, without a proper home on a shelf. But hey! The floor is better than a box, right? Some people I know (names will not be revealed to protect individuals from bookworm wrath everywhere) tried to convince me to put some of them in a box. IN A BOX. Not happening. Ever.

Let's face it: I collect books. I basically own my own library filled with books I have and have not read. I stopped counting how many books I have after I reached the 100 mark. Many books have stayed with me throughout the years.

How often does it actually happen when I do finish books cover-to-cover immediately? Not as often as I'd like. Here are several examples of books yet to be finished:

1. A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin
I purchased this series in December of 2013. The boxed set was on sale at Barnes & Noble for members and I had a store gift card, so they practically paid for themselves. I just started reading book one, A Game of Thrones, last week. In July. Seven months after acquiring them. Since then, they have sat on the floor in my room gathering dust. In my defense, each of the 5 novels in this series is roughly 800 pages (or more). What was a girl to do? I needed long chunks of time to make any progress in reading them!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stitch Fix

Yes, I know today's post is a little out of the norm of what I usually write. I'm classifying fashion as a cultural post, okay?

For those of you unfamiliar with Stitch Fix, it is an online styling service that sends you clothing and accessory items at times you schedule. Here's how it works:
  1. You sign up and fill out their style profile. This includes everything from your sizing, to what you can afford to spend, to personal preferences regarding your fashion taste.
  2. Based on your preferences, a stylist at Stitch Fix assembles a kit of five items that are sent to you. It's a surprise, so that's what makes it fun.
  3. Once you receive your Fix, you try everything on, keep what you like, and send back anything you don't like. You confirm payment online and send a note to your stylist about the quality of your Fix and what you'd like to see change for future Fixes.
Easy. You don't pay for anything upfront - yes, you enter payment information upon signing up, but you don't actually pay until you decide what (if anything) to keep.

So, without further ado, I present my Stitch Fix items.

1. 41Hawthorn | Bryan Short-Sleeve Open-Front Cardigan

This is a basic layering piece. While I have similar items, I don't have anything like it in white. White is a good neutral, so I'm looking forward to wearing this over many different casual tops.

Monday, July 21, 2014

If not now, then when?

When I started this blog in April of 2013, I had big plans for it. I saw it as an opportunity to take a baby step back into something I love: writing. Eventually, however, my timeline and goals pertaining to this blog fell through with my justification that I would do it "someday." 

We always say that "someday" we're going to get something done or accomplish that dream. I am no exception to this. Someday, I am going to write a novel. Someday, I am going to get my graduate degree. Someday, I am going to take a road trip on Route 66.

You get the idea. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cowboy Boots vs. Vans Sneakers

It is a life post again, fellow bloggers! Today's post has an education focus, because I'm a teacher who is currently having teaching withdrawals. I hope you aren't getting too bored of my ramblings about nerds and Zumba class. Never fear though, for today is about neither! Today I am going to write about [wait for it]...


Now just hear me out. I swear this is not some materialistic post about shoe shopping. If I'm being completely honest, I dislike shopping for shoes. I have difficulty finding anything comfy, or cute, or that actually fits my feet without giving me blisters.

Monday, July 14, 2014

One Zumba dance step at a time...

Since I am still working on my culture posts, I am once again going to write about my life. Today's post will focus on what it means to accept help and how it affects our (perceived) independence.

Since setting up a story-telling format is the easiest way to present personal anecdotes without confusing the content of the blog, I once again present a case study:

A Case Study, or Why I'm Taking Zumba Classes
I like to think that I'm a helpful person. If someone I know is going through a rough patch, I will take them out for coffee and listen to what is going on in their life. If a friend of mine is moving to a new housing residence, I will clear my weekend to help them move boxes. If a colleague is struggling with how to use the copier at the office, I'll take the time to help fix the paper jam.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nerdhood? Nerdom? What DO you call it?

Normally I use this blog to write about culture, books, and general insights. I'm going to switch gears a bit. Today I'm going to write about... [insert dramatic theme music of your choice here]

...my life.

Exciting, I know! You can hear about all my crazy adventures and daring escapes from death! I'm like a regular Sherlock Holmes, out saving the world and all that jazz!

Just kidding. And yes, I really did just use the phrase "all that jazz." What of it?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Come As You Are

"You've got nothing to prove."

"Be yourself."

"It's your personality that really matters."

Sound familiar? We all know that these things are easier said that done. It's as though someone has flipped a switch in our brain to tell us, "Well, you can be yourself, BUT..." or "You've got nothing to prove, BUT...".

When it comes to who we are as individual people, it's easy to want to be 2.0 versions of ourselves. The simple truth of the matter is we are human. We are not made to be perfect, so why do we strive to be? That ingrained "but" clause negates anything that comes before it; i.e. we have difficulty simply "being ourselves" without adding anything on the end. For example:

Monday, July 7, 2014

twinkling lights hanging from backyard trees

Today is a different kind of post. We all have things we love. Simply put: our favorite things. Without further ado, here are some of mine:

twinkling lights hanging from backyard trees
candlelight in power outages
multi-colored polka dots
"good morning" greetings on your way to work
monogrammed stationary
mangos & creme scented lotion
peppermint mochas
falling rain outside
music that feels as though it is part of your soul
bubbles in the air
laughter echoing in the house
finding a quotation that describes you
letters arriving in the mail
new books
rainy days with a cup of tea in hand
warm clothes out of the dryer
the smell of cinnamon
friends who love you unconditionally
family shenanigans
crunchy autumn leaves
sunny blue skies
lazy days watching movies in your pjs
the sound of the wind in the trees
wearing new clothes the day you buy them
friendly conversations with passerby
red rainboots
finding your purpose in life
having faith that all works out
fluffy pillows
seeing your favorite band play live
new paintbrushes
christmas carols overheard on snowy streets
overcoming long-time fears
Cassiopeia and Orion
old photography
peanut butter m & m's
conversations with people in coffee shops
countryside that goes on for miles and miles
bustling cityscapes
long lost (and found) family heirlooms
playing board games
having the confidence to do something unknown
coming home
used bookstores
waves crashing against the shoreline
puddle jumping
the sound your phone makes when you get a new text
finding pennies on the ground
seeking out a new adventure
the colors of a stormy sky
vintage cars driving on gravel roads

What are some of yours?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Red, White, and Blue


. . . We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

What are you doing today on Independence Day? Going to the lake? Having a barbeque? Watching the local fireworks show?

All are excellent ideas, but while you are enjoying your relaxing day, I hope you take a moment to reflect on what this day means for us Americans: we are free. 

We are free because . . .

. . . it took many dedicated individuals to begin the United States of America, many of whom lost their lives for a cause that they could not enjoy themselves.

. . . of the brave men and women who have fought for our country. Since the creation of our nation, we have fought for freedom, for equality, and for so much more. Honor our veterans. We could not have done it without you.

. . . of our current and past leaders who have worked to maintain our freedom. Recognize that despite our differences, we are stronger together. Let Independence Day bring us together to be proud of our heritage.

If you have not read the full transcription of The Declaration of Independence, I recommend you do as a gentle reminder of the importance of this historic day.

I will leave you will one final thought:

Liberty is the breath of life to nations. - George Bernard Shaw

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Warrior's Heart

Hello bloggers! Today's post is also going to be a book review, as I am currently working on other posts under the "insights" and "culture" labels. Check back for this reading material shortly!

The Warrior's Heart by Eric Greitens is an adapted memoir based on the author's initial publication of The Heart and the Fist. The Warrior's Heart is a book targeted towards the young adult genre, but it is also a good read for any age. Eric Greitens is a humanitarian and scholar, and also served as an officer for the Navy SEALs. I recommend you read his bio on his website, which you can find here.

A poignant nonfiction novel, The Warrior's Heart is an eye-opening adventure into Greitens' experiences in war-torn countries. He begins the novel describing his desire to do humanitarian work, with reference to his time spend in Rwanda and Bosnia after genocide ripped their countries apart. His experiences in a Rwanda refugee camp are raw and real, showing his many interactions with families whose lives had been affected by the discord in their countries.

Greitens continues his novel with the discussion of his time training for the Navy SEALs. One of the most prestigious and coveted branches of United States military, it is a difficult program with rigorous training. As Greitens becomes a SEAL, he writes about his active duty experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Upon returning to the States, Greitens donated his combat pay to found The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that helps rehabilitate soldiers and provide them with roles in the community. The Warrior's Heart is a reflection of Greitens' personality. It is a story of courage, of redemption, and of righting the wrongs in our world. I do not want to go into excessive detail, as I want you to discover the gem of this story on your own.

I will leave you with this quotation from the novel:

“Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and the author of Man's Search for Meaning, wrote that human beings create meaning in three ways: through their work, through their relationships, and by how they choose to meet unavoidable suffering. Every life brings hardship and trial, and every life also offers deep possibilities for meaningful work and love ... I've learned that courage and compassion are two sides of the same coin.” (Greitens)

Happy reading, my friends.
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