It’s Just Too Hot (July Lessons)

July went by quickly. I felt like I was in a whirlwind of fundraising, wedding attending, and trying to stay out of the heat. I think it’s too hot for any kind of reflection so this month will be short. I’m sure there are deep lessons from what happened in the month and maybe they’ll come out in August but here are the things I’m thinking about this month:

  • Three weddings in a month sounds fun but is exhausting.
  • The best adventures are often the last minute ones
  • Getting tweeted at by anyone from the High School Musical franchise is actually totally awesome.
  • Summer heat = little sleep
  • Seriously, it’s too hot.
  • How much can I run the AC in a day?
  • It’s worth it to pay for the extra leg room on an airplane
  • Bagel sandwiches are the best breakfast food
  • Game of Thrones is really good.
  • WTF is happening on Game of Thrones?
  • DRAGONS!!!! Gurrrl… you be a dragon!
  • How can I get myself a dragon?

Wonder Woman (June Lessons)

Every month I’ve reflect on the things I learned. As June flew by there seemed to be a recurring theme – Wonder Woman. Not only did I see the movie multiple times but the movie itself stuck with me. Here are the things I learned from Wonder Woman, Amazon, and badass – Diana Prince.

(obviously there will be spoilers, but just go see the movie already). 

1. Ignore those who tell you “it” is impossible.
WONDER WOMANSteve Trevor: This is no man’s land, Diana! It means no man can cross it, alright? This battalion has been here for nearly a year and they’ve barely gained an inch. All right? Because on the other side there are a bunch of Germans pointing machine guns at every square inch of this place. This is not something you can cross. It’s not possible.
Diana Prince: So… what? So we do nothing?
Steve Trevor: No, we are doing something! We are! We just… we can’t save everyone in this war. This is not what we came here to do.
Diana Prince: No. But it’s what I’m going to do.

Whatever “it” may be – someone is going to try to tell you that you can’t do it. Graduate from college, raise a family, get a promotion, write a novel, run a marathon, be healthy, or get through trench of Germans shooting machine guns at you.

From the moment Diana steps into the world outside Themyscira, she has person after person telling her she can’t. She can’t dress like that, she can’t carry a sword in public, she can’t save the world. But when Diana enters “No Man’s Land” she proves that she is no man and she is done with the bull crap of people telling her she can’t. She know she can and so she pulls herself out of the trench and goes straight into the heart of the impossible.

There will always be someone who tells you that “it” is impossible. They may have good motives, wanting to protect your life or your emotions or your heart – they want you to set realistic expectations for yourself. But sometimes you gotta ignore them, steps out that of that trench and kick some ass.

2. Fight for those who cannot defend for themselves.
3099272-screen+shot+2016-07-23+at+2.27.01+pm.png
Diana Prince: I can not stand by while innocent lives are lost!

Our world is exceptionally broken. Just turn on the news and you’ll see images of violence, war, police brutality, racism, injustice, and more. There are so many people who are unable to defend themselves because they are deemed too young, because people refuse to listen to them, because they’ve been pushed to the margins of society. They are the people that we – especially as Christians – have been called to defend. We’ve been called to call out oppression, to fight against injustice, to be advocates for the refugee, the homeless, the helpless, the broken and beaten, the orphan and widow, and those who are  the least. We cannot stand by while innocent lives are taken.

This is difficult because in our world too many innocent lives are being taken daily. From refugees, to police brutality, to the fact that Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water – there are innocent people who need someone that the powers at be will listen to to help defend them. Not that we should embrace white savior mentality (actually far from it). We should use any power and privilege given to us for good, to be advocates, to listen, and to call out instead of using power and privilege for self promotion, success, and to get a leg up.

3. Silence is just a powerful weapon as hatred: 
wwmovie_25.jpgQueen Hippolyta: You know that if you choose to leave, you may never return.
Diana Prince: Who will I be if I stay?

Steve Trevor: My father told me once, he said, “If you see something wrong happening in the world, you can either do nothing, or you can do something”. And I already tried nothing.

We often mistake tweets, sharing articles on Facebook, thinking good thoughts, and even prayer for action. (side note: Prayer is powerful – and it makes a huge difference. I’m not talking about the the constant, crying out to the Lord, passionate prayer. I’m talking about the half-hearted I’ll give you five minutes of my time prayer). We learn and learn but never act.

We sometimes mistake listening and silence. We need to listen to the experiences of the marginalized. Those of us in positions of power and privilege must be quiet and listen to the stories of our brothers and sisters who are in the margins and in the minority. But we are in our places of power and privilege – we must speak out and act against oppression. We must call out the things that wrong and seek to make them right. If we stay silent in the midst of oppression then we can do just as much as if we were the oppressors because we let oppression continue.

4. We chose to be light or darkness 
WONDER WOMANDiana Prince: I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat.

The world isn’t always so black and white. Each of us has light and dark in us. We can be totally selfless, caring, and loving moment but then be selfish, ignorant, and hatful the next. We each chose to listen to the light and dark in ourselves. Some times its clear cut, some times its not. With Wonder Woman set in the midst of World War I – we see that that some things are not clear cut good vs. evil. Some things really are.

At the end of the movie Diana is given a choice to kill Dr. Poison, who planned to release the newly developed mustard gas straight into England. But Diana, knowing this woman probably deserves to die, spares her life. Was it just to let her go? Would it be just to kill someone who was so evil? When we acknowledge the fact we have both light and dark, we may just learn how to steer more towards the light. I think our danger is never acknowleding the darkness in us, because one day it may creep in without us knowing (and haven’t most superhero movies taught us that at someone point? – see Captain America Civil War).

5. Lastly, glasses do not erase you who you are and we can all still tell.
WonderWomanMovieGlasses4Etta Candy: Really, specs? Suddenly she’s not the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?

Thank you Etta for pointing out that putting glasses on Wonder Woman  is still just as beautiful and amazing with the glasses. Superman/Clark Kent I’m looking at you. How people don’t recognize you is crazy.

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 (and note all except the first were from April on).

Pages I’ve read in 2017 so far: 7,924
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)
  18. Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles (208 pages)
  19. Girl Walks Into a Bar… Comedy, Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch (248 pages)
  20. Accidental Saints: Finding God in All The Wrong People by Nadia Bolz Webber (224 pages)
  21. The Goldfinch by Donna Tart (771 pages)
  22. Champion by Marie Lu (369 pages)
  23. Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Andersen (109 pages)
  24. A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth (240 pages)
  25. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coats (152 pages)
  26. Heart and Brain: An Awkward Yeti Collection by Nick Seluk (144 pages)
  27. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae (224 pages)
  28. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (304 pages)
  29. The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman (151 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.