Sunday reading reflection #4

So we haven’t done one of these in ages. The readings for this Sunday (read them here) were especially poignant considering all the terrible things going on here in the United States concerning race, racial ideologies, and hatred. The pastor of my parish preached a fantastic homily about how hatred and pre-judgement of any kind alienates us from God’s kingdom because anything that comes from God does not divide, but unites.

One line that particularly struck me from the second reading is “For the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.” There’s just something that’s so beautiful and yet terrifying about the gifts and call of God being irrevocable. Terrifying in that at times it feels like we can’t live out God’s call or are afraid to use the gifts he’s given us. But so beautiful in that despite all our fears, reluctance, and stubbornness, he isn’t going to take them back. And he isn’t going to leave us when we don’t follow his call how he might want us to, or if we stray a little too far, “…for he has said ‘I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

His call and his gifts are for all. No qualifications or even willingness needed. His arms and his heart are always open, we need only reach out. And that is so important to remember, especially in such troubled times.

I hope the skies are sunny where ever you are today. God bless.

Check in #1

“Life piles up so fast that I have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections.”–Virginia Woolf. 

This quote has described many phases in my life, particularly in college, but seems especially salient right now. There’s been so much going on that I’ve barely been able to talk to my parents or think, let alone blog about things. I’ve also realized that I don’t do short posts about what’s going on with me. I do posts about bigger things such as questions or struggles that I’m having, but I don’t write about the day to day stuff. So here’s a little bit about the day to day stuff. A few of the things on this list aren’t small, but it’s been usually busy lately. Hopefully things will slow down now.

  • I got promoted at work! I’m going to be a full time reference clerk! It’s going to be incredibly different from my work in the children’s department. I was really unsure about it at first but as I’ve been trained, I’ve become less and less scared and more and more excited. I’ll get to build different skills and work with different people. I start the new job at the end of this month and we’ll see how this goes.
  • Two of my best friends got married to each other! Remember the wedding I told you I was going to be in? If you don’t, I don’t blame you, since I told you about it back in November. That was this past weekend! I’ve been so blessed to watch these two go from friends to good friends to being a couple to now being married. It’s been such a joy, so much so that I don’t think I’ll be able to process all my thoughts and feelings about it for quite some time. I’ve already warned the bride that I’ll probably call her up in October and be like “YOU GOT MARRIED???? WHAT THE HECK???” Congratulations, Miles and Abigail!
  • I got my first smart phone recently. I got my first cell phone in 2012 and I got a different phone last year and I’ve hated it ever since. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a smart phone and this seemed like a good time to do it. It’s been an interesting experience so far. While it’s been an incredibly helpful communication tool, I can already tell that it can quickly become an obsession and a necessity, as so many people view their phones these days. I’m trying hard not to let that happen, but at the same time I’m curious as to what this technology has to offer.
  • I’ve been listening to musicals more recently and I forgot how much I love musical theater. Ever since the Tonys I’ve been on a musical kick. I’ve been listening to Hamilton more and I’ve lately gotten into Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Dear Evan Hansen is next, but I’m waiting until things have settled down with me before jumping into a soundtrack that has already made me cry and I’ve only listened to three songs. Definitely give all these shows a listen if you haven’t.
  • George Bernard Shaw is a fantastic playwright. I’ve been doing a lot of rereading lately and toward the middle/end of June, I really wanted to re-experience a play that I saw in college, called Arms and the Man.  Though I hadn’t read it, it was amazing to read the script for it and to remember how wonderful that production was. I was struck again just how witty and how precise he is in his use of language and development of character. I’m reading Saint Joan now and I love it.

So that’s a little about some of the many things going on in my life. I’m going to try to blog more often and to be a little more open and honest about what’s going on in my life on this blog. I hope you all are doing well. Bye for now.

The inevitable anniversary blog

It’s been a year. Since I graduated from college, that is. That fact is so hard to believe.

marci, catherine and me

From the right, my friend Marci, my roommate, Catherine, and me. We met at our pre-orientation and ended up being in a lot of classes together since we were all English students. This was taken before the big ceremony. No one looks good in academic livery, but we didn’t do too bad. 

In many ways, it still feels like I’ve been on an extended break, that I’m still waiting for the call from my university, wondering why I haven’t come back to finish up my studies. But I did finish and I do have the diploma, and now I have a year’s worth of work, interview, and writing experience I couldn’t have seen coming. And through all of that, I’ve learned a lot. The following list is not a list of things I’ve learned and then moved on, it’s more of a summing up of bits and pieces that have been reinforced to me over and over during this first year in the “real world”.

  1. There will be twists and turns you won’t expect. And things will not go your way.  Learn to be okay with that.
    I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that the dreams I had of getting the perfect job and moving away from home right after I returned from school did not happen. There have been so many days that I’ve beaten myself up because I feel like it’s my fault that I am not where I want to be in life right now. While I know that sounds stupid (and it kinda is), it’s also an understandable reaction. People’s dreams sometimes take a long time to come true, if they ever come true at all. And while that’s discouraging, being upset about it doesn’t help anything. So if you ever feel sad because you don’t feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be in life, it’s okay to be sad, but don’t let that sadness weigh you down. Use that sadness as fuel to keep going. You can do it, even if you don’t think you can.
  2. Celebrate your successes, even the little ones.
    It can be easy, especially when you’re just starting out, to ignore the successes you do have because they are not the kinds of successes you’re aiming for. Success involves a lot of plodding along on a path that will eventually take you where you want to go. It’s so dumb and demoralizing that (at least in the U.S.) we have this idea that success occurs in a shoot-to-the-moon kind of fashion and that once you are deemed “a success”, you better do all you can to hold on to that title and that validation. While those stories make for interesting fodder for Hollywood, I’d safely wager that if you ask any successful person, they’d tell you just how long and how difficult a journey it was. So celebrate your little successes, because that means you’re one step closer.
  3. The key to being thankful is being observant.
    Noticing the little things and taking the time to be thankful for them is almost, maybe even more important thank being grateful for the big things.
  4. Getting an interview doesn’t mean you have to take the job, if they even offer it to you.
    Since I started my job search late last May, I’ve had several in-person and phone interviews for different jobs. The one thing that has been consistent with all of those interviews was the fact that I got incredibly anxious about moving and how I would handle the job before the interview even happened. While it’s important to be well-informed about the job, what you’ll be doing, and where you will potentially be living, it’s also important to keep yourself calm and not to get ahead of yourself. While getting an interview is a good sign, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the job or that you’re going to have to figure everything out at the drop of a hat. Take everything as it comes and don’t try to climb the mountain before you’ve even arrived at its base.
  5. There are some things school hasn’t and couldn’t prepare you for.
    School, like everything in life, is a mix of the mundane and the magnanimous. It’s only now that I’ve been out of school that I realize just how much of school I found boring, even though I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to attend school at all. I’ve also realized that, though school feels like it finishes your education, it really is only the beginning. I remember my Victorian lit professor telling us that when we were discussing the influence of England’s universities on the writers of that period. He said something like, “The end of our formal education is only the beginning, which is why they call graduation commencement.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little reflection of my time out of the education system. If you have any school/life stories you’d like to share, please do! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, stepmothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be!

 

Something I saved and forgot about but needed

Hi, everyone. I was randomly looking through my bookmarks on my computer and I found something I stashed away and forgot about. But sometimes the things we find randomly are the things we need the most and that is definitely the case with this article. It’s called “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind in Life.” You can read it here.

This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with, especially lately. I hope it helps you, along with this song from a new musical entitled “Dear Evan Hansen.” It’s about an anxious teen trying to deal with the social pressures of high school and the lyrics are tremendously and scary accurately written. Check out the other songs from this musical, they’re great.

 

We’ll be alright, guys. We can do it.

7 things I’ve learned so far in 2017

Hello and an incredibly belated Happy New Year to everyone. I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but if you’ve been following this blog for more than a little while, you’ve probably noticed that blogging is the first thing that gets thrown to the wayside when life gets crazy. I’m going to work on that, I promise. To bring everyone up to speed with what’s been going on in my life, here’s a list of 17 things I’ve learned so far in 2017.

  1. I really need to fix my sleep schedule.
    It’s kinda ridiculous how much this needs to happen and how long I’ve been putting it off.
  2. Being immersed in a writing project is one of the most amazing, forgiving things.
    I’m heading toward the finish line with my current manuscript. It’s been an exciting, difficult, but totally rewarding process and I’m eager to keep working on it and make it better.
  3. While I consider myself a good writer, I know I’ll never write anything as remotely cool as Hamilton.
    I finally finished listening to the whole soundtrack on Monday. I cried three times. Favorite songs right now are “Wait for it”, “Dear Theodosia”, and “History has its eyes on you.”
  4. In a time of quick action and loud protests, contemplative silence and calm listening can be subversive but necessary acts.
    I’m not going to say too much about this, but let’s just say I’m an American who doesn’t like joining in on flame wars on social media. That should tell you all you need to know. More importantly, listening and observing what’s going on can be just as crucial as reacting to current events, when direct action is not mandatory, of course.
  5.  Watching a dog learn to play with toys is fun.
    We bought Pongo a tug of war toy when we first got him. He’s shown no interest in it until now since I took it into my head to try to channel his biting habit into something that doesn’t end up with me covered in dog slime. It’s worked really well and he’s becoming really protective of it. It’s adorable.

6.Manga is amazing both as an art form and a method of storytelling.
I started reading Library Wars when I saw it on the “To be shelved” cart at work and I picked up the first three volumes and immediately loved them. It’s a story set in an alternate future in which censorship has become the norm under law except for libraries and the librarians who staff them. The fight for censorship has become so vehement that a library defense force was created, an organization that Iku Kasahara has wanted to join since she encountered one of the defense agents in high school. Though she’s much too opinionated and clumsy to be totally suited to military life,  her passion and verve see her through. It’s a funny, upbeat, and surprisingly deep series that makes me smile no matter what. Definitely check it out!

Image result for library wars

Photo credited to amazon.com.

7.Time doesn’t owe us anything.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Toward the new year, it seemed like everyone was so ready for 2016 to end. And I can understand why. It was a tough year on a number of levels. But for all the bad that happened, there was good that happened, as well. Despite all the bad things, now more than ever, we need to recognize good things when we see them because they are the things worth fighting for. Also, time doesn’t owe us anything, as I said earlier. The only thing time owes to humanity is to keep going. It’s the ultimate soldier, it just keeps marching on. And if it stops, that’s it, for Time and for us.

What have you learned this year so far? Feel free to let me know in the comments. As previously mentioned, I’m really into my current project right now (for more details, read this). I will try to maintain a somewhat normal cycle of blogging, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sticking with me, lovely people.

Thoughts on my first attempt at NaNoWriMo

Hello,everyone! As I mentioned in my last post, I participated in NaNoWriMo and I thought I’d share some of my  experience and thoughts about that process.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, an annual contest in which people try to write a 50,000 word story in the month of November. This was my first attempt at NaNo and I failed. I knew I wasn’t going to reach the goal of 50,000 words for two reasons. One was that my schedule was very up and down during that month, so I figured it would be better to have a more manageable goal. The second reason was that I hate word counts. I hated them in college and I will hate them forever. I’m not even sure why I don’t like word counts. I think it’s because they cause me to focus more on the word count rather than the quality of the words and sentences and paragraphs I’m putting on the page. So I set myself the seemingly more reachable goal of 2 pages a day, 60 pages for the whole month.

While I had every intention of writing every day, I quickly fell into a pattern. I would write my 2 pages, maybe a little more, for a few days of the week, then wouldn’t write anything for the rest of the week. I was initially angry with myself for developing this kind of pattern, but then I shook it off and tried to make the most of it. I draft long-handed and was pleased to fill up a notebook I had been using since the spring of 2015 and to start using one that I had started drafting a story in, but decided to put it on the back burner (where it simmers still). I did NaNo with some a few friends, which was great. We were able to report and talk about our progress and different problems and victories we encountered. It’s always nice to have friends along when you try to take on a challenge and I definitely encourage anyone who wants to try NaNo in the future or who maybe hasn’t been successful with it in the past, to try to get some friends involved. It can be a little distracting, but it will definitely help.

Not only did I fail my first attempt at NaNo, but I also kind of cheated. The idea of the contest is to work on a new idea and I worked on a manuscript that I have been formulating for the past two years but only began working on in earnest in June. I went from page 71 to page 109 in my manuscript. It wasn’t what I hoped would happen, but it was pretty great all the same.

The thing that really stood out to me about NaNo was how normal and right it felt. Other than the fact that I had my friends checking up on me every now and then and I beat myself up more severely than usual for not writing, NaNo was incredibly similar to what my creative life normally is. And I take that as a very good sign. Now that it’s all over, I’m still trying to work on my novel every day. It’s a struggle, but one that I’m learning to wrestle with. I bet you’re wondering what I’ve been working on, but I’m afraid that will have to remain a secret until the manuscript is in much better shape than it is. This is my first draft of the story and though I’ve been building it in my head for nearly two years, it still has a long way to go before I’ll be comfortable sharing it. But this is where the magic happens, where the story and the people become real. In the years that I was slaving away on my degree, I had forgotten the sheer bliss of worlds flowering under my pencil, of people becoming real through my words. I’m so lucky to be able to experience that and it’s something I thank God for regularly.

I hope you enjoyed this little writing ramble and I hope all is well with you, dear readers. God bless you!

 

Thanksgiving (thanks for giving)

Hello, everyone. Once again, I must apologize for the lack of posts. If I thought October was a crazy month, November has snatched that award away and set it on its shelf.

A bunch of things have happened that I’m still sorting through. I’ve been really stressed about many things, to the point that sometimes the best I can do is just not think and just try to be as calm as possible (which is much more difficult than it sounds.) I had two job interviews and received my first job offer (which I ended up turning down for financial reasons.) The election happened and if we all thought it was interesting and anxiety-inducing before, it’s only gotten worse (at least for me, but I’m trying to stay as positive as I can.)

While that might not seem like much, it’s been difficult to deal with. But in all this darkness, there have been many patches of light to keep me moving forward. Like getting to cook all day and spend time with family yesterday (a belated Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.) My best friend asked me to be her bridesmaid (she’s getting married next summer.) I received a surprise visit from another best friend and we got to talk about a lot of things (love you, Jasmine.) I got to take a road trip with my Dad, got to see some new places, and got to admire God’s beautiful creation from the view of a car window (I have a habit of staring out windows whenever I travel.) I got to eat grapes with my brother at one in the morning (because when you don’t have to go to work the next morning and you and your sibling want fruit, why not?) I’ve made significant progress on my first draft thanks to NaNoWriMo (but not as much progress as I thought I would.) I’ve gotten to grow closer to my characters through working on their story and building their world (I love them so much, though I don’t think they’d love me if they met me because of what I’m putting them through.) I’ve received quite a bit of writing encouragement from people who have known me and who have supported me and it’s been humbling and beautiful (hello, lovely people. You know who you are.)

So yes, there have been many ups and downs of late. Forgive the rambling nature of this post. I felt so awful that I haven’t been writing here lately that I was desperate to post something. More is on the way, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for giving me your attention. The fact that people are reading my words baffles and humbles me and I hope you know that I am so thankful for you. You’re amazing. Bye for now.

The weekend: A cycle of three haikus

Expectation

building for the past few months.

Going home at last.

 

Bridal effigy,

my friends are more than they were

the two became one.

 

Surrounded by friends

sunshine on our backs and hair

and far before us.

 

Sorry this took so long! It was quite the weekend and I’m still catching up on sleep. I hope you’ve enjoyed these poems. I’ll catch up for the rest of the week and hopefully I’ll get back on schedule soon.

 

Hands, fires, and hearts

Hands couldn’t be kept to ourselves

together or apart, reaching out through keyboards

and twining through years,

always finding home

in one another’s warmth.

The fighting to journey back

back to our heartspace,

chambers joined and arteries unlocked

grew too much

after struggling for such a weary while.

Our hearts attacked

and now we are left with the wreckage.

You are partially paralyzed

and I am mute.

You once said to me

that you weren’t sure we would

survive our love.

I hadn’t known it then,

how the light-giving, nurturing fire

can turn into devastating, decimating blaze

with just a change of the wind.

Thank God I know now.

October Poetry Project/Le Petite Fleur

Hi there. A few days ago, I was flipping through the notebook I used for my poetry writing class back in my junior year of college. We were required to write for half an hour every day and while that was incredibly difficult while balancing four other classes and two jobs, it was wonderful. I was able to get out the feelings that were overwhelming me and I had a legitimate excuse to ignore homework and just create things for a while. So I decided to try this again only posting my poems where someone can read them this time around. I’m also doing this as an alternative to the upcoming National Novel Writing Month, which occurs in November. October is one of my favorite months of the year and I think it’ll be really cool to wrap myself up in poetry as the leaves turn colors and the nights grow darker. Feel free to take part and I hope you like what I post. Today’s poem is more of a prayer to one of my favorite saints, Saint Therese, who was known as the Little Flower. It’s her feast day today. Let the poetry begin!

Le petite fleur

You showed me the

secret garden door

and taught me that

the smallest thing means so much more.

Little Flower, take my hand.

Teach this rose to bloom

help me to see and reach the Son’s light

in the midst of this earthly gloom.