Summer Series: Do What You Love

It’s been a crazy summer. Politics, vacations, new apartments, and just the Louisiana heat make this summer a bit overwhelming. While in the midst of all of these cultural and personal changes, there is one thing I have been trying to remember this summer… and that is to do what I enjoy.

I enjoy many things, but this summer I have really enjoyed reading. I used to read constantly when I was younger, and I was a binge reader so I could read through books pretty quickly. Once I started college I became a bit burnt out from all the scholarly, mandatory reading I had to do for classes, so reading for fun fell to the side in the off months.

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However, since graduating I have enjoyed picking up any book I find interesting and reading as many as I can. The summer provides the perfect time for this since the summers in the South are pretty brutal, so I spend most of my time inside enjoying all the AC (Thank you, Willis Carrier!) that I can. I know, I know… I should be outside… but it is too muggy and too HOT, so I will take my books and my fan, thankyouverymuch.

All this to say, this summer hasn’t really been what I planned. I expected to be at the pool a lot, writing nonstop for the blog, and hammocking. Instead, I have had more free-time than I expected and really found a joy reading and rereading some great books.

Basically, just do what you want this summer.

Do you want to go to the pool everyday? Do it. Do you want to picnic and go camping? Go for it. Do you want to be huddled in your home with a good book and cool air? YES, DO IT.

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This summer is still your summer, and you should do what you love. If you have the time, do it. If you don’t… make a little time to chill and find a hobby. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This summer (which is almost over… NOOOO!) use your spare time to accomplish your goals, even if it is last minute. Do what you love. 

much love. much grace.

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PS. If you want to know what I’m reading this summer, or ever, I am on GoodReads and I love it! I update whenever I can and would love some book suggestions. 

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What is the War You Want to Fight?

The recent events, in our country and around the globe, have caused me to want to know more about people’s lives.

It is always easy to make rash judgements about a person based on his or her religion, clothes, culture, or needs without actually seeing that person for who he or she actually is. While no one can truly know a person, we can come pretty close by readingย about how that person feels, thinks, and makes decisions. Reading autobiographies can give us a glimpse into that person’s world and emotions.

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With the events of terror, death, and refugees needing homes; I find it has become a needed practice in my life to put faces and personal lives with the events and struggles. I refuse to take third person’s word about how another group of people is feeling without first seeking out the view of people from that people group.

If you seek to understand others in this way, have a desire for girls to be educated, or are curious about the Middle East as a region,ย I Am Malala is a great place to start.

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Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala, tells her story of strength and determination to not only be educated as a girl in Swat, but also speaking out against those taking away education from girls. She tells of her life as a Muslim and how radicalism changed her beloved homelandย and her life.

Reading this perspectiveย of the change in the Middle East and the dangers of her choices really spoke to me. I struggle often with allowing myself to be carried away with apathy rather than compassion. Her story not only reminded me of the plights of others but also that I need to take these stories and issues to heart. There is so much danger, hate, and fear throughout her story and it is so heartbreaking to know people are forced to live in this everyday. We, as American’s, complain about our individual freedoms being compromised, when in realityย we have so much freedom and so many rights.

“I know the importance of education because my pens and books were taken from me by force, but the girls of Swat are not afraid of anyone.”

Malala’s story is not just important because of her plights, but because she chose to fight this war. Her family, peers, and community showed her that there are certain things that are worth the fight.

Reading this book is not just an eye opening experience about what goes on in other culture’s eyes, but also calls readers to answer many questions. The most urgent question being, What is somethingย worth fighting for? What is something that no matter what people say or do, you refuse to back down?

“I would do everything in my power to help educate girls… This was the war I was going to fight.”

These are questions that may seem easy to answer at first, but after reading this book the answers now seem petty. ย Looking at the media today with elections and American beliefs in question, what are the things that you feel are worth not just a Tweet or a Facebook rant, but your potential death and wrath of your own country?

How do you answer these questions?

I am still working out many of these for myself as I process this book. Honestly, this will take me time to work through, although I hope to write about this in the future. The one thing I know as of now is that my faith in God is what is unwavering, no matter the circumstances.

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The way Malala writes is very smooth and clear, making herย writing very easy to understand. She also does a great job of explaining how her country changed over timeย into theย society it is today. Malala talks about her family, how she was raised a bit differently, and loved her life in her beautiful home ofย Swat.

I Am Malala is such a wonderful story. It is so full of information, sadness, but also a great hope for the future; as well as important questions for people to answer.

What is the war you are going to fight?

Much love. Much grace.

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Are you interested in helping Malala?

The Malala Fundย helps make education a reality for girls in the Middle East. Malala is fighting for education rights of women and supporting her fund is the easiest way to join the fight.

Schoola is supporting the Malala Foundation with certain pieces that are sold from their website.

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Book Love: Things Fall Apart

Compassion. Sadness. Open-Mindedness.

Those are the three things I got from finishingย Chinua Acheb’s Things Fall Apart.

As a reader, I felt such compassion for people who seem a bit different from myself. The people in this book are different from me culturally, religiously, and linguistically. They live in tribes, have houses of mud, and beat their (multiple) wives. These people worship spirits of the Earth, fear evil spirits of the unborn, and believe that woman are worthless. The people in this book, and the man who writes it, use a language of which I cannot understand, and will probably never learn.

And yet.

We are so similar. We have loved ones who we try to protect or help. We have communities and rules that we each live by. We are all searching for the thing that will make our lives complete. Forย Okonkwo, he chases fame, titles, and respect. He follows his culture and is deeply rooted in their traditions, unwilling to change.

That is where ย sadness overwhelmed me.

Are we not all like that at times? So comfortable in the ways things have been for decades, weeks, days? ย Then, when a part changes, some of us lose ourselves, our faith, or our minds.

Time changes things. People change things.

That is the way life is; we know these changes are bound to happen.

This book is such a great example of what happens when a person is unyielding to change or unwilling to accept others. It helps bring a new opinion and point of view to those in the Western world. The book asks you to be more open-minded.

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This book is a quick read at a 9th grade reading level, but the wording is a bit hard to work through due to the author not having English as a first language. ย With that being said, some parts of the book may be a bit dry and hard to get through, but the overall book is worth the read. If you have the time and want to see how other cultures view the Western world, be sure to check out Things Fall Apart.

Much love. Much grace.

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Book Love: Quiet

This past month* I have been reading a fantastic book that I have been wanting to read for about 2 years now.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

When I first heard of this book I had just arrived back to the States after being in Eastern Europe for two months. The culture there was much ย more quiet, intentional, and soft-spoken than my American culture, but it was an environment I enjoyed, and even thrived in. The quiet culture of thinking before speaking, not feeling the need to speak to random strangers, and even enjoying a pause during a conversation was a culture I loved.

So after enjoying my summer of gentle culture, coming back to the United States was a loud, brash, abrupt awakening. And honestly, I was struggling to adjust back to the loud colors, language, and voices of my home culture.

That was when someone referred me to the book Quiet. She said that this book would not only help me adjust, but possibly help me understand my louder, more extroverted counterparts.

I could not find this book anywhere. I searched for about six months before giving up and just decided that I couldn’t read a book that was nonexistent. Then (a year and a half later!!) in October, I was walking past the Psychology section in Books-A-Million when the red words caught my eye. To say I was excited is an understatement (ask Mr. Yell… haha!) so I grabbed the book checked it out and began to read one of the most well-constructed, non-fiction research based books I have ever read.

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The author, Susan Cain, does a brilliant job of researching and presenting her topic of Introversion in an Extroverted society. She brings up issues in our culture, how she believes they can be solved, and speaks with truth and authority. Her research is quite extensive, which sounds boring, but she presents her research with stories, examples, and interviews which makes the book much more of a fun read.

She brings to light the plight of introverts, not because they are introverted, but because American culture seems to have no room for those who are introverted.

Being an introvert, I felt so understood by reading this book. Introversion is an issue I see in our culture today, and introverts do have a tendency to try to hide introversion characteristics. This book made me understand myself, and extroverts much better than I had in the past.

Cain’s explanations and solutions are intriguing ideas to introduce to our loud society. Even if you believe that a society cannot have a preferred personality, reading this book will make you look a bit closer to friends, family, coworkers, and the media.

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I would rate her book highly on my personal reading list, and hope you enjoy it as well!

Be sure to check it out, take a read, and tell me what you think of the book!

Susan Cain’s TEDTalk is just a small portion of her book but is still worth the time to listen to, especially if you are unsure about buying her book. Listening to her speech will give an insight to her research and the book, Quiet.

Much love. Much grace.

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Interested to see your personality type? Take this fun quiz to find out!

*It took me a month to read this book due to school work and other life factors. Not because the book was disinteresting, hard to read, or ย lengthy.

Little Things

Life is hard.

There is no doubt about it. Sometimes it feels like life is not just handing you lemons, but continually slapping you with those lemons… in the face… for no reason.

At least that is how it has been feeling for me for about a month now. I have had so many issues with my schooling, emotions, and just finding joy in general. I have just been feeling like I was being continually washed in sadness, despair, and hopelessness. There was no end in sight, no reason to be positive or optimistic. Basically, I was “Sadness” from the new movie Inside Out… (like, you-will-have-to-drag-me-everywhere sadness.)ย 

Not a pretty mental picture.

But you know what… there are so many other things to be than sad. So many more places to be, people to greet, and things to be thankful for.

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In honor of life’s disappointments (not just mine, but maybe your’s too?) I’ve made a list of all the great things in life. Maybe not all, but four sounds like a great place to start. So be sure to enjoy:

Life’s Little Goodies

1.) I am alive.
ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  Honestly, you and I are both breathing and our hearts are beating right now. This moment you are having thoughts and living a life (even if you don’t think your life is great.. it’s yours.) We are in this together. I want love and acceptance, and I am betting that you do to. These are facts that we are alive and conscious of our desires and that we have a life to live at this moment. Take a minute and just breathe. Feel your heartbeat and feel thankful for this life.

2.) I can read.
ย ย ย ย ย ย  And yay! So can you! We are the select few in the world who can read about people, events, and emotions. We can interpret squiggles that create stories of adventure or information about the world we live in. Reading helps us to be informed, empathetic, and help those in need. Without the basis of reading, we would be so limited in what we can do to encourage, love, or help others.

3.) I have necessities.
ย ย ย ย  I not only have water, but food and shelter. No, it’s not a pinterest house and I am not the best at creating art from the food I make, but I am well cared for in all of these physical needs. Not everyone has these things, even in the United States. In fact, about 633,782 people in 2012 were found to be homeless (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) and 17.5 million households are food insecure (Coleman-Jensen 2014b, p1.). This isn’t even the poverty number. Poverty in the United States as of 2013 went up to 45.3 million people…. So to be thankful for the necessities is a big deal.
If you find yourself in need please let me know.

4.) I am so very loved.
ย ย ย  Friends. Please know that you are very deeply loved. I haven’t met you, but know that I love you and want to encourage you to keep going! This life is so hard, but it feels infinitely harder when you feel alone. Know that you are not alone, we are all in this together. While some may want you to fail, or if it just seems that way, others are rooting for you. We want you to do your best and live your best life. You are so loved!

While that may not seem like much… at this moment I know that I am going to make it. I have these four things to get me through.

One more thing, even if you don’t believe in God, I just find these words to be so encouraging:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will praise Him, my Savior, my God”
Psalm 42:5

I love you all so much. Be encouraged.

Much love. Much grace.

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