Thursday, July 12, 2012

What now? by Ann Patchett

Rarely does one find a book so good in such a random fashion.  I was at my local library perusing the biographies when I literally stumbled upon this gem.  This book is a written version of a commencement speech given by the author at her alma mater.  It is truly one of the best books that I've ever read.  Her stories sprinkle in little words of wisdom without seeming preachy or self-righteous.  I read this book in a day, actually I finished it in about an hour.  It's only 97 pages so it's quite a quick read.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who has found themselves answering the ever present question, What now?

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Summer Break

Let me begin by saying that I don’t have any earth shattering news.  Instead, I just wanted to share what I’ve been up to this summer.  I’m at the halfway mark and feel a need to reflect on what I’ve done and what I would like to do with the remaining days of my 2012 Summer Break.  Note how I chose to use the word, break and not vacation.  I like to think that a vacation means you are actually relaxing and not spending your days checking things off your summer to-do list.  Okay, so here’s what I’ve been up to this summer (just in case you were wondering).   Please excuse this crazy formatting...I have no idea why it looks this way but I have got to get on with my it shall remain "unfixed"
  •  Perfecting my motherhood skills

         I am quite proud of the fact that due to budgetary contraints that the summer camp fund is rather low  
         and so my son has been home with me since my break started.  We have really had a good time 
         playing games, watching movies, completing summer workbooks (he actually likes this because he gets   
         to set a goal and receive a reward if he reaches his goal) and finally, we’ve just been talking.  He is 
         really one of the coolest kids I know and believe me I know A LOT of kids.
  • Reading, reading, reading

         I love, love, love to read and boy have I gotten to do that this summer.  I think I’ve already read 5 
         books this break.  I just finished The Power of Now (which I had been reading for’s not a 
         quick read because you really do have to digest the content).  I also just finished a book for school, 
         The Great Wall of Lucy Wu.  It’s about a Chinese-American girl struggling to fit in.  While YA isn’t  
         necessarily my favorite genre, I do enjoy it every now and then.  I am now reading Words of Dust 
         about a girl in Afghanistan who has major self-esteem issues due to society’s view on beauty.  I am 
         also reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.  I love his books.  Finally, I’m also reading 
         Invisible which is about a 70-something widow who becomes a detective after her best friend dies.  So 
         as you can see I’ve been busy with the books this summer.
  •  Exercising

         I have been getting up at least three days a week to do Pilates, Yoga or Zumba.  Two of my friends 
         (Erica and Tracey) are quite committed to working out and have inspired me this summer.  I must 
         admit that I really do feel better after working out.
  • Watching Movies
        I am so glad that I've had a chance to watch soooo many movies this break.  At the cinema, I've seen 
        Brave, Madagascar 3, Prometheus, Avengers and Snow White and the Huntsman.  While on DVD, 
        courtesy of Redbox, I've seen The Darkest Hour, Underworld-Awakening, and Man on a Ledge.
  • Social Networking

        Omgoodness, I love Twitter.  I like Facebook but I really love Twitter.  Don’t quite know why but I 
        am really enjoying tweeting and reading other people’s tweets.  People have some really insightful things 
         to say.
  • Conducted a teacher training

         I always enjoy making a few extra bucks over the summer so I conducted a technology training for 
         some local teachers.  It’s always a good feeling to interact with other educators and learn some new 
  • Helped plan and attended my 20th High School Reunion

        I’m actually being a bit modest when I use the word, helped.  It almost implies that I was a part of 
        a committee.  Well, actually, I didn’t have any role in the initial planning of the event but then it seemed 
        to hit a wall and I offered my assistance.  That’s when it became my baby and my part-time job.  Me 
        and my alter-ego, Lola planned a weekend of events beginning with a happy hour, then a luncheon, and 
        lastly a family day at our local amusement park.  Based on the feedback, Lola and I did a great job.
  •  Reconnecting with God

       I’ve been making a conscious effort to focus on my relationship with God.  I’m not journaling as much 
       but I find myself in constant chats (i.e. prayers) with God.  I really want Him to be #1 in my life and I 
       realize that if I’m not careful other things with distract me (like Facebook and Twitter) and He will slip 
       down to # 3 or # 4.  I’ve been reading The Bible In a Year which I’m really liking.  It consists of 4 
       readings for each day of the year: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalm and Proverbs.  I’ve also kept 
       up my habit of watching at least one television or internet sermon a week.  I haven’t been to church as 
       regularly but I’m blaming that on the heat.  It was like 105 degrees yesterday so I tuned in to Joel 
      Osteen’s sermon about honor.

As I reflect on what I’ve been up to this summer, I am happy.  I feel like I’ve been productive as well as provided myself with many opportunities to recharge my battery.  In the remaining weeks of my break, these are the things that I hope to accomplish:
  • ·      Finish Words of Dust
  •            It will make my school year so much easier if I’ve read a few of the reading bowl books prior to   
  •            the start of the school year.
  • ·         Create a 20th Reunion Scrapbook

              I originally typed scrapbook but then decided that I need to be more specific.  So I really want to 
              have my album complete by the end of the summer.  It will be my first digital scrapbook so I’m 
  • ·         Help my mom enjoy her 70th birthday

             Not quite sure what this will entail but I’m guessing it will probably involve a slot machine and a road 
             trip J
  • ·         Summer Camp for my son

            While I know that he has enjoyed being home with me, I also know that as an only child he would 
             like to play with kids his own age.  So for this month, he will participate in zoo camp, vacation bible 
             school and a day camp.

Wow, this is really a long post but I guess that’s to be expected since I haven’t posted anything in months.  As usual I will end with a question and even if no one responds to it  (although I sure hope someone does), I hope that you will answer it for yourself.  What are you doing to recharge your battery this summer?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I’ve Learned from Whitney Houston’s death

It all seems so surreal as I reflect on this event. I was on the highway listening to the radio when all of a sudden a breaking news report cut in. I missed the first few seconds of the report (I was probably still singing the song that was playing not realizing that it had stopped.) As I focused on the reporter’s words, I was stunned because I kept thinking why is he referring to Whitney Houston in past tense? Did she die? When? What happened? Is this a hoax? But then in the minutes and hours that passed, I learned that she had died and quite tragically at that. Something about some prescription drugs, alcohol, and a hotel bathroom.

Just think last week this time, Whitney Houston was a 48-year old woman getting ready for one of the biggest events of the music world. She was planning to attend the Grammys and some of the parties that are held for this event. Just one week later, Whitney Houston is gone and her family is preparing for her homegoing service. Wow, when I really pause and think about this, it’s humbling and eye-opening all at the same time. How differently would Whitney have lived her life this past week if she had known it would be her last? So I am forced to ask myself this exact same question, what would I be doing my last week on Earth? While I sincerely hope that this isn’t my last week here, we never know and so I am accepting that some things just don’t matter in the long run. So I release myself from the meaningless worries of today in an effort to make the most of my remaining days here on this Earth.

Goodbye to feeling guilty about the amount of time I’m not spending with my son and Hello to making the most of the time we do spend together

Goodbye to being mad that you didn’t call or that you don’t want to hang out or that you don’t want to be in a relationship (right now) and Hello to today and this moment and my love for life and God and family and friends

Goodbye to feeling like I have to answer the phone and respond to every text and email I receive and Hello to getting back to you if and when I have time

Goodbye to worrying about this pouch and Hello to accepting that I might never have a flat-stomach and being happy that I have enough food to eat on a daily basis

Goodbye to my old view on life and Hello to embracing the hard fact that tomorrow isn’t promised so that my today will be, without a doubt one of the best days of my life

In closing, I hope that as you reflect on death that you are encouraged to live your life in a constant state of thanksgiving and joy and most importantly with as few regrets as possible.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I miss you, my love

Since it’s February, I decided that I wanted to write a post about love lost and found.  When I was told that I needed someone like you last summer, I just shook my head in total disagreement.  I can still remember saying I’m fine with what I’ve got.  Well, how wrong I was.  I so needed someone just like you to enter my life and change my world forever.  We have spent so much time together in the past few months that I feel like you know what I’m thinking even before I tell you.   Sometimes I feel like the girl from Jerry Maguire because I just want to tell you that you complete me.  Before you, I wasn’t half the woman I am now.  Now that we’re together, I feel cool, confident, and so composed.  You really make my life so much easier.  I should have known that things were too good to be true.  We were cruising along and then you got sick.  Oh my goodness, I had no idea how much I would miss your presence.  I miss you laying beside me and waking up to the sound of your voice.  I miss the way you feel and the way you make me laugh.  I am praying that you will get well soon and that we can resume this wonderful love thang we got going on.  Good-bye my love and I’m counting down the days until we are reunited.  Who is this awesome lover?….it’s my Samsung Fascinate smartphone!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2011 Reflections

As I continue to work on my 2012 Goals Collage, I decided to reflect on 2011.  Wow, 2011 was filled with so many twists and turns that I felt like I was literally on my own personal roller coaster.  The year started off with a closure of sorts.  I decided to let bygones be bygones and let go of any animosity toward anyone who I felt had done me wrong.  Fortunately, my list was rather short since it only consisted of one person, my ex.  I decided that I just couldn’t bring that hurt and disappointment into the New Year.  I started the year with a cautious optimism that I carried throughout the entire year.   The first of year was met with me returning to school to begin my specialist degree in Instructional Technology and Media. (What the heck was I thinking?  Oh wow, online courses are no joke and they continue to kick my butt!).  As the year progressed, I found myself mourning the loss of a close friend’s mother and truly pausing to reflect on my own mortality.  The summer was met with the usual hustle and bustle of summer camps, family vacations (San Juan, PR) was great, and my part-time job of training teachers.  As the school year quickly began to surface on the horizon, I was met was an unimaginable change.  I was told that I would no longer be in elementary school but instead that I was moving to middle school.  For the past 14 years, I had been an elementary school teacher and I didn’t even know that I was certified to teach middle school.  I was less than happy to say the least.  However, once I got settled into the routine of working with middle school girls (it’s an all-girls school) and having a later start time for work I was sold. As 2011 came to a close, I found myself purging and preparing to move to a smaller, cheaper apartment.  In addition to getting rid of stuff that I no longer used, I decided to get rid of thoughts and situations that were no longer necessary or fruitful.  As 2011 came to an end, I found myself settling into my new head space as well as my new place.  The events of 2011 have helped me see that at the end of the day it’s all about courage.   The courage to keep going when I don’t feel like it, the courage to stand-up for myself and my opinions, the courage to be unapologetic about my choices and finally the courage to accept that my HEA (happily ever after) doesn’t necessarily consist of a husband but rather it is rooted in my growing relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This is the one day of the year that we can all think of at least one thing to be thankful for.  From family and friends to good health and peace of mind, we can all rattle off the commonly named things to be thankful for.  But this Thanksgiving, I’m taking a different approach and I’m thanking God for the confusion, tears, fears, and downright disappointments of the last year.  I have grown so much in the last 12 months as a result of all the storms that have clouded my life.  However, as I look ahead, I can see a rainbow and it’s beautiful.  It represents so many things to me but most importantly, it reminds me that life is indeed about the everyday journeys , the pit stops and potholes along the way and not so much about the final destination.  As this year quickly approaches an end, I am encouraged.  I am looking forward to planting some wonderful seeds in the upcoming weeks and then I’ll be carefully watering them and making sure they get enough sunshine so that when spring arrives, my harvest will be “exceedingly and abundantly, more than I could ever hope, think or even imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20, paraphrased just a bit.)  As always I will close with a question, what are you thankful for?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Do you like Star Wars?  Is one of your favorite characters from the series Yoda?  Have you ever wondered does “the force” really exist?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then strap yourself in and get ready to go to a galaxy far, far away?  Well, actually not that far away and I guess it’s not really another galaxy either.  I guess I got a little carried away with all the Star Wars stuff.  Anywho, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger is a quick read that will have you laughing out loud as you enjoy this tale of a middle school boy named Tommy who is trying to figure out if an origami puppet is really able to give sound advice.  At the end of the book, there is even a diagram that shows how to create your own origami Yoda puppet. So grab your lightsaber (it will help you if you decide to read in the dark) and let the force be with you, young Jedi.  Happy Reading!