Sew?

Hello again, WordPress. Long time no write. I have to make this quick, however, because it is late and there is much to do in the day to come. But oh well, this will be something!

I realized today that I like to sew. Like, a lot. I kinda forgot how cool it feels to make something with your own hands.

When I was younger (read: from ages eight to fourteen or so) I loved anything that could be classified as “womanly” and did everything I could to learn such activities. I became obsessed with knitting, crocheting, and needlepoint and would sit alone at recess making washcloths and scarves for everyone I knew. I took quilting classes and spent most summers making friendship bracelets. I learned to embroider, stamp, and write calligraphy. At thirteen I could have been classified as the stereotypical 1950s American woman. (minus the cooking, that is – I’m working on that now…)

But then somewhere in between then and now I stopped all of my arts and crafts completely. I started studying harder, playing sports, and spending time with people, and my balls of yarn and bags of fabric began gathering dust in my closet. That aspect of my life faded away and was often forgotten until someone brought up magic words like “knit” or “calligraphy,” which would lead me to boast that once, long ago, I knew how to do such things.

So tonight, after all these years, I braved the sewing machine again to make myself a hat for my Advisor Training Graduation costume. Our theme this year is Superheroes, and our entire staff is supposed to dress as a group on different days. Our graduation theme is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself, though I shan’t mention what it is until after the fact because I want it to be a surprise just in case an advisor that isn’t part of our staff comes across this. But anyways, yes, this awesome costume, some of which needed to be sewn. And while at first I was nervous to put my rusty knowledge to the test, I quickly remembered how to do everything and really started enjoying myself. I whipped up my hat in no time and then went to work on my shirt, which also turned out rather well. I was kind of sad when I was done with it all, when everything had been sewn and I had to put it all away.

I want to exercise this knowledge more. I want to revive my nine-year-old self and start knitting again, or on a whim decide to make a quilt and actually do it. I know I have a busy year ahead of me, and I know I probably won’t get around to doing any of these things (even if I decide to bring the supplies to school with me), but I do want to remember that they are options when it comes to finding things to do.

Advertisements

(Elected) Summer Reading!

Besides watching way too much How I Met Your Mother this summer, I’ve been reading some really interesting books on God while trying to find integrate Him into my life. While I haven’t been in love with all of the books I’ve read, I’ve still learned from each of them. And it’s pretty cool too: the more I read, the more I want to read. The more I want to learn about God and open my mind to new and different things. My books-to-read list has lengthened substantially, and just the thought of that makes me happy and excited.

Because I’ve learned so much from these books, I thought I’d share pieces of my newfound knowledge with you.

The first book I read was Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I have to say this was the best one of the summer (so far) and probably what really got me interested in learning more about myself and God. It follows the journey that the author took to discover, well, everything that is important in life: who she is, what she wants, what she believes, etc.

I loved everything about this book. Liz (the author) was just so funny and interesting, and it was really hard to put the book down. Not to mention that she leads the life I dream of, one in which I could spend my days reflecting and writing and be able to make a living out of it.

The one argument that comes up the most frequently about this book is that she’s very self-centered. The way I feel about it is this: the book is a memoir about a journey she alone took, and she used writing to discover who she really was during this time – of course it’s going to be about her! I thought it was very interesting and made me think. It was down-to-earth, and most of what she offered was really simple yet sometimes easily overlooked. The following are some of the lessons I learned from reading it:

  • It’s okay to be selfish sometimes. I mean, this is your life, after all – make sure you do have some say in it.
  • Embrace your feelings and emotions – they’re real and a part of life. And also, it’s okay to cry. As she says (and as Davis reminded me a few days ago), without crying, we are robots.
  • “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of someone else’s life with perfection.” – from the Bhagavad Gita
  • “You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”

I think the most important lesson that this book taught me was how God appears in many different ways and in many different places. Liz decided to go to an Indian ashram to look for God and would spend hours of her day meditating. I think this is just as valid as, say, going to church would be. Finding God is a very personal thing, and I’m starting to think there isn’t a set, methodical way to do it. We can still learn from each other, but we have to find our own path.

The next book I read was Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss, a prominent North American psychiatrist. It was centered around a patient he had who had revealed messages from the Masters from beyond to him through hypnosis. The book also covered the possibility of reincarnation. Now, I know it sounds a little… well, different, and it’s certainly something I’m not used to being raised Catholic, but I did feel that he made some very interesting points and that a lot of what he was saying were things that made sense. I also liked how he took a scientific approach to researching and presenting the information. I definitely need to go back and read this book again, or at least parts of it, because I feel like there was so much in it that I know I missed a whole bunch of stuff.

The major point of the book is that each life we have is meant to teach us something. We elect to become human and we learn one vital lesson in the period of our lifetime. This explains why some people are naturally better at things than others, like trusting. As humans we don’t really know what this lesson is, but our soul does (and can tell you if put in the right circumstances). Weiss also claims that some of our fears can be rooted in our past lives. The main patient, Catherine, was almost irrationally afraid of water. Upon examining her past lives, he discovered that in one life a deadly disease was being spread through the water and that the villagers were afraid to drink it. In another life, a flood tormented her town and she almost drowned. Once they discovered this together, Catherine’s fears disappeared.

My favorite part about this book was how Weiss learned and explained that souls generally travel together. This means that the same people are generally with you throughout your entire existence. I really like this idea – it means that there are such things as soul mates (and you don’t have just one – you get many!) and that your friends and loved ones get to stay together. It also means that you’ve known some of the people you know now in previous lifetimes. I think it’s pretty cool.

Much of what Weiss said made sense to me. I’m not sure if I believe it all, but I feel like it offers a different perspective and some valuable lessons, and I’d like to look into learning more about it.

The third and final book I’ve read this summer was The Shack by William Paul Young. This was a (fictional) story of a man who meets God in an abandoned shack and spends a weekend with Him (or well, with God’s three parts). I mostly enjoyed the book, but I did get bored with it on occasion – it was a little wordy and kind of dense for my liking, but I did find it interesting. I thought it had a lot of good quotes, all of which I copied down and put below!

  • “You were created to be loved. So for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation, not the other way around… Living unloved is like clipping a bird’s wings and removing its ability to fly.”
  • “Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved.”
  • “I want you to be with me and discover that our relationship is not about performance or you having to please me. I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation or coercion, only through a relationship of love. And I do love you.” – God
  • “You must give up your right to decide what is good and evil on your own terms. That is a hard pill to swallow, choosing only to live in me.” – The Holy Spirit
  • “Rules cannot bring freedom; they only have the power to accuse.”

My favorite part about this book was the segment on judgement. The book talks about how we judge everyone for everything, but don’t really know their stories. It isn’t our place to judge at all, so why do we? This really got me thinking, and I’m going to work on trying to not judge people as often as I tend to.

I enjoyed this book but thought the ending was a little weak. There’s a lot in it, so I may go back and read parts again, but it wasn’t something I could sit down and read all the way through once more. I am glad I read it though.

So there you have it: the three books I’ve read this summer. I would definitely recommend them all. I just started How to Know God by Deepak Chopra, which I really like so far. I’m also going to read 1984 by George Orwell soon, which I’ve heard good things about. My sister has to read it for school (which is my primary motive to read it right now) and I think it’ll be fun to discuss it as we go along.

Yay books! And yay summer! And yay no required summer reading! I’m so glad I get the opportunity to choose what I want to read.

One Thing I Learned Today:

Relationships get messed up when one person puts him- or herself before the other.

And this isn’t just romantic relationships – any relationship between two people can be hurt by this and will be severely damaged if this keeps happening.

At first I really doubted that this was true. I mean, isn’t everyone entitled to be selfish on occasion? Sometimes the right thing to do is to look out for yourself, isn’t it? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that philosophy is wrong and that the message above is absolutely right.

It’s unreasonable to think that we can (and will) follow this rule without fail once we realize it’s true, since none of us are perfect. We’re only human, and we’re all going to mess up with this on occasion. But what’s important is that we each strive to be this way, to think of others before ourselves and to put the other or the happiness of the unit first in our relationships.

It also comforts me to think that I am given yet another key to my own happiness by trying to live this way. Many things in relationships can be conditional, but so many more aspects are dependent on how you choose to act. If I can work with this and do my best every day to put others first, I can build and keep strong relationships.

(Thanks to Davis and his dad’s wisdom for this lesson!)

The Amazingness of How I Met Your Mother

My conscience tells me to go to sleep now (seeing that it’s one in the morning and I have to be up around 6:30). I hit its snooze button and tell it ten more minutes, stop bothering me, I’m too busy writing.

I know I’ve talked a lot about how much I like How I Met Your Mother, but I feel the need to dedicate an entire post to this amazing show. I think the easiest way to do this would be to make a list of why I think it’s just so incredible:

– First and foremost, the characters. There are five main characters in the show – Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney, and Robin. And while you can’t really identify with them all (nor would you really want to – I can’t say I’ve ever felt like Barney Stinson before in my life) you still become so connected to them all. You can see where they come from, and you really get a sense of who they are. All of them are likable and are just fun to watch. That, and you can relate to most of them every once in a while.

– Marshall and Lily. Now, I would put this as the main reason I like the show, because well, it almost is, except this wouldn’t be anything without the character development mentioned above. So first, a little more on them: Marshall is a pacifist. He’s usually calm and collected, and he’s really smart, dedicated, and funny too. He’s a lawyer whose dream is to help save the environment. Lily is full of life – spritely, if you will. She’s a bouncy, colorful kindergarten teacher who has a great deal of patience with her students and situations her friends get in. Together they make the perfect couple. They dated for nine years (starting at the beginning of college) before they got engaged and along the way never seemed to lose their love for one another. They compliment each other so incredibly well and just work well together. Everything about them is amazing: their ability to communicate, their openness, their trust, their honesty, their faith in and love for each other. They fit together like two puzzle pieces, and it makes me giddy every time they’re together. They also have the perfect balance of cutesy romance and friend-ness.

Now, I realize they’re fictional – trust me, I get it – but they give me hope for what I can have in my life. To me, they are everything a couple should be. They are each other’s best friends, and they love each other so deeply and are so close that nothing can break them apart. What I also like about them is that they seem to go through real-life issues. In season one, Lily struggles with her individuality and tries to figure out who she is. Later in the show, the couple goes through financial difficulties and their love pulls them through it. I have yet to find something wrong with this couple. They are my OTP (or, for non-shippers, my one true pairing).

– The real-life situations the characters go through. I started talking about this above with Marshall and Lily, but it isn’t just them who have this. Each character has problems, and while they’re often humorous, I find that I can relate to a lot of them. The issues usually have realistic resolutions too, and I feel like I can take note of how they handle each situation. Also, the problems that the characters face are things that I struggle with, and it’s nice to think that I’m not the only one with these issues. For example, in a recently watched episode, one of Barney’s friendships falls apart, which is something that happened to me in the last year. Because of this, I can relate to him better (which is usually difficult to do with Barney) and I can also see how he deals with it. (not that it’s always smart to take advice from a fictional character – obviously I use caution while doing this.)

– The fact that it’s guaranteed to make me laugh. The reason I started watching it tonight was because I had been reading The Shack by William Paul Young beforehand, which is (at least in the beginning) a rather depressing book. I wanted something to pick up my spirits before going to bed and I knew that this show was just the thing to do it.

– The cast. Neil Patrick Harris + Jason Segel + Alyson Hannigan = epic win. I love Ted and Robin too so so much – they’re just not as well-known as the other three.

I could go on and on about this show – trust me, I could, and I probably will in the near future – but sleep is calling and my conscience is nudging me once again. If you have the time to devote to five seasons of awesome (or even if you don’t) try watching How I Met Your Mother. You won’t regret it. (picture from http://www.dvdprostore.com/goods/22/How-I-Met-Your-Mother-Season-5-DVD-Box-Set-dvdprostore-2217.html)