Books of 2017

Each year since 2012 I’ve kept tracked of the books I’ve read. You can see the past five years of books I’ve read starting with 2012, 201320142015, and 2016.

2017 has been the year for audiobooks and biographies. After a slightly disappointing start (where I only read one book from January to April) I decided to borrow audio books from the Los Angeles Public Library. Since then I’ve been on a reading spree. So here are the book I’ve read or listened to this year:

Pages I’ve read in 2017 so far: 4,780
Pages I’ve read since 2012: 29,163 (as of Dec. 2016)

  1. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate by Justin Lee (272 pages)
  2. Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling (240 pages)
  3. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (280 pages)
  4. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg (288 pages)
  5. Soar by Joan Bauer (304 pages)
  6. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fischer (163 pages)
  7. Goodnight Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown (64 pages)
  8. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (32 pages)
  9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (329 pages)
  10. William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher (172 pages)
  11. Legend by Marie Lu (305 pages)
  12. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (731 pages)
  13. Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (336 pages)
  14. Prodigy by Marie Lu (371 pages)
  15. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (275 pages)
  16. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris (291 pages)
  17. I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (327 pages)

Stories: May Lessons

1) Our individual understanding of the world is limited. So we must widen it at every opportunity.  
This month I read I Am Malala. It’s a story of a young girl in Pakistan who spoke out against the Taliban for her right to go to school. As I read her account of how the Taliban treated women in her country (and when I read Persepolis graphic novel) I realized how much we in the US don’t understand things that happen in other countries. We need to be immersing ourselves in the stories of others unlike us (whether that be a young girl from Swat Valley in Pakistan or an black man in the US) – the stories of people frequently silenced – so we have a greater understanding of people, their cultures, their experiences.

2) My experience isn’t the only true experience  
I think this relates to the above lesson. It’s easy for each person to think only their experience is true but that is a very limited view of reality. What I experience is different than women of color, than white men, than men of color. Just because I can’t understand someone else’s experience, doesn’t give me any right to say their story is invalid. Listening is so important because it teaches us to hear the stories of others.

3) I’m very proud to have an education and every girl deserves to have one. 
Living in America, being white, coming from a middle class family – I’ve had a lot of privilege in education. But I believe it is the right of every child to receive an education. The more we are education in math and science the more we can think rationally, solve problems, and invent new things. The more we are educated in history and literature the more we can understand other people’s stories, we listen to others, we think critically, we asks questions. The more we are educated in arts the more we learn to express ourselves, to be creative, to think outside the box, to form friendships, to take risks, to be brave and put yourself out there. I am a better human because of my education and I know now how many girls who are denied them because of their country’s laws, how many young people in poverty are denied them because of a system they didn’t get in, how many immigrants are denied them because of in ability to do well by those who don’t speak our language. This month I’ve felt reaffirmed in my desire and hope to see all those who want to get an education, receive one.

So what can we do? Educate yourself. Here are 3 great books to read about women, poverty, and education. I’ve got a whole blog post I’m working on with more resources that expand a wider area of social justice.

Other ways you can get involved: check out Let Girls Learn, an organization that promote’s education for girls.

Never Say Never

When I ran my first half marathon about two years ago I was pretty sure the last time I would ever do a distance that long. It was hard, it was challenging. Here I am at mile 13 and I may be smiling but I really want to die.

Half Marathon 19

After that I stuck to 5k and 10k distance. A 5k had become easy (ish) – which honestly i thought I would never say in my lifetime and 10k was challenging but I could still walk the next day. I do like the medals that come with a race.

But for my 30th birthday I’ve decided to run another half marathon. At Disney World in Florida! I felt it was time for another challenge in my life and apparently I’m just a bit crazy to still think this is a good idea.

Running Disney races is always fun for me because you get to run through Disneyland (well this one will be at Disney World). My ultimate hope is to run the Disneyland Half Marathon in Fall of 2018 too because then I’d get a fancy “coast to coast” medal where you run a Disney race on each coast. As you can tell – I’ll run for a shinny object.

Here’s to a year of “badassary” and running – having something new and exciting to look forward to for my 30th birthday instead of dreading getting older. Instead of focusing of where my life isn’t or where it should be – I’m taking risks and doing challenges, stepping further into who I am and seeing what comes along the way.

Never say never – you may think you can run a half marathon or write a book or climb a mountain or get that master’s degree or do something equally awesome but you probably can with a ton of work, a good friends to keep you from quitting, a good therapist where you complain about why you started this crazy thing, and something shinny to look forward to at the end.

 

 

Now I just need an awesome hashtag for the Instagram posts.

Writing Project

I’m working on a writing project right now. It’s slow. It may take forever but here is a possible start. I want to begin to share pieces of this project as it progresses. This piece is partly based on truth and real experiences I have but also may be the introduction to a character, perhaps one rather like myself. 

Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. You can do this. It’s not that scary. Deep breath. You’re brave. You’re capable. You. Can. Do. This. I can feel the panic rising but I take deep breaths to calm it down. Inhale. Exhale. I see the other persons around me feeling calm as my palms grow sweaty and I try not to take short breaths. I close my eyes hoping to wake up from this nightmare.

Nope. I’m still in the airport security line.

No matter how many times I’ve flown I will never not be anxious getting on an airplane. I think of every possible horrible scenario we could go through – we could get hijacked by terrorists! We could have engine failure and crash in the middle of the ocean! We could be go through a time warp and find ourselves in the middle of an air fight from World War II! Or worst of all the person sitting next to me could want to make casual conversation! The horror! I cannot bear to think about it.

I’m convinced we were not meant to do this. If humans were meant to fly we would have been given wings. There is nothing worse than being stuck in an extremely small space, sitting much too close to people, flying thousands of miles above ground and hundreds of miles per hour and I’m still not sure of what keeps us up there.

Even with flying 2-3 times a year one might one might assume I’d be used to the small spaces, being herded like cattle through security and lines, as well as flying on a giant machine of death but no – I’m still constantly afraid of terrorists and suddenly crashing on an airplane. Yes I do realize that I have a higher chance of being killed on a Los Angeles freeway than in airplane but I’m not afraid of any LA freeway – I’ve mastered those. I have yet to master the art of air travel. So it’s decided – I need to marry rich and buy my own private jet.

Yes and No (and something about books): April Lessons

April Lessons

1) It’s ok to say yes! 
I’m trying to do more exciting and fun and spontaneous things in my life. Being an INFJ often means I’m stuck into plans and structures. Sometimes it’s important to say yes to new adventures, new dreams, and new plans. This lead me to a very spontaneous and sort of last minute vacation back to my college town with my good friend (and former staff worker). It didn’t take much to rearrange my schedule and I’m glad I did.

2) It’s ok to say no. 
After having just had a great last minute vacation, I had the opportunity to go to Vegas with a good friend. I really wanted to go – because I would hang out with my awesome friend and I’ve never been to Vegas. But I looked at the week ahead and knew I needed time and space to get a few important things done. I had to turn down the trip (I hope we get to go at some point) and I felt at peace knowing that some adventures can wait and not every great adventure needs to be had immediately. Sometimes you have to say no just to give yourself breathing room.

3) The Los Angeles Public Library has AUDIOBOOKS!!! 
This has nothing to do with the other to lessons except for the fact that I’ve read/listened to 9 books this month alone. It’s awesome and amazing and everyone should read the Alexander Hamilton biography. It’s so great to be able to listen to books while on my commutes or walks to campus.

Here and Now

Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The times has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the good news!”  – Mark 1:14-15

Last Sunday was Easter. It’s one of the main church going celebrations (Christmas being the other). We don’t just talk about the importance of the resurrection at Easter – it’s a common theme of those under the Christian faith since it is a cornerstone of our faith. Christ died as a sacrifice for the rebellion of the world against God and rose again to conquer death. If you were like me and raised in a Christian environment then you heard about this a lot, said some version of the sinner’s prayer (where you say “God forgive me of my sins and I believe in you, etc. etc. etc.), and looked toward heaven as your salvation. Our eyes are suddenly turned towards heaven and eternity.

But what about the here and now?

What I’ve been reflecting on during this Lent and Easter season is what does it mean that Jesus ushered his kingdom into the here and now. The beginning of the gospel of Mark illustrates this with the repeated phrase of the “Kingdom of God is at hand” or the “Kingdom of God has come.” What does that mean for us in the day to day living?

During Easter we proclaim the power Christ has over death. But I feel the tension of proclaiming that truth when I still death all around me. People dying, fighting in wars, losing loved ones to violence, fear, brutality, and abuse. When we see injustice still happening in our world, when we see neighbors hating neighbors, when we see fighting and terror and fear running rampant in our world – we wonder what good God wants to bring for us in the here and now.

What does it mean that the time has come and the Kingdom of God is at hand? What does it mean for us in the here and now?

I hope it means that Jesus wants to usher in hope, reconciliation, and restoration in our lives at this very moment – not just give us eternal life in heaven. If our salvation is only focused on getting into heaven then we feed into the highly individualized American version of Christianity where it’s all about me. But a faith that wants to love a community is more than just saving souls for the heaven, it’s bring hope to people here on earth.

I think of this on Easter – the resurrection is God’s power over death. That means it’s just as hope in heaven is just as important as bringing hope in on earth. It’s just hope for a better life once we die, but that God ushers in hope into our lives at this very moment. If God is powerful enough to overcome death then he can overcome anything. He can bring things that are dead back to life – he can bring freedom from bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners.

When we live in Christ’s resurrection – we live in a hope that Christ wants to give us hope in the lives we live. We would proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. We would see comfort to the morning, praise in place of despair – and beauty instead of ashes.

Giving: March Lessons

1. Some days you just need to play hooky and go to Disneyland.
It’s important to work hard at what you do but too often we get lost in the business of life and the day to day of work that sometimes you just need to go somewhere fun with people you love. It’s not about skipping out or avoiding challenging things but rather knowing that life is made up of hard work and meaningful relationships and often we focus on the former rather than the latter. Sometimes your best times to invest in relationships is simply by spending time together. Especially if it’s at a place like Disneyland.

2. Jesus will do a miracle just for you and you alone.
One of the things I saw most profoundly this month how Jesus will work out the craziest weird situations just for your benefit. I saw how Jesus had worked through my Spring Con Mark study to bring healing into my life, I saw how our study didn’t go through the normal emotional moments, just to have them the next day where another person could experience them. I heard how Jesus brought miracles into a friend of a friend’s life just so my friend could see that Jesus does bring miracles. Sometimes timing sucks but sometimes Jesus brings the craziest weird timing that only could be done by God himself to give you a miracle.

3. What you give is what you’ll get
I’m thinking a lot about how this plays and could do a whole blog post about this, but I won’t right now. I’ll keep it short with this passage from the gospel of Mark: “the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.” (Mark 4:24). When you invest in relationships, in learning, in personal growth – you’ll get more in return.