A time for gratitude…

 

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Since it is Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to talk about gratitude and some of the things I am thankful for this year. I know we usually hear the typical, “I’m thankful for my family, friends, a roof over my head, a good job…” but let’s go a little deeper. Those things are important of course, but what about the simple things? Like the first rain after weeks of bad air from fires or the wonderous beauty of a sunset to end a long day.

The other day someone put something into perspective. Things like pain and being thankful for it. For loss. Heartache. Because we wouldn’t become better people without those things. We have to go through them to understand joy and true happiness. I was single for 25 years until last year and now I’m single again. It has been hard, but this gives us both a chance to become better people. The people we have always wanted to be and I understand why it had to happen even if it is difficult sometimes. I know things happen for a reason and I also know they happen when they are supposed to. Bad days will pass. So will good days, that’s why we need to cherish every moment we have while we are in it because we never know when it will be our last.

So, yes, I am thankful for my friends and family, for love, life, food and all those things, but most importantly I am thankful for my strength and ability to learn from the pain and mistakes and come out better than before. I am thankful for the simple things. Love. Sunsets. Music. Laughter. Books. Tea and so many other things. Everything has a purpose and whether that is to help us get through a hard day or just rejoice in the fact that we are alive for another sunset, we need it at that particular moment. So am I grateful for those moments of clarity when the universe just somehow knows what we need right in that exact moment. Here’s to gratitude and here’s to thankfulness. I hope everyone had a great day!

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What it means to find purpose in all the chaos

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Hey everyone!

We are all searching for meaning and purpose in our lives and I thought I would address the recent inspiration I got on this very subject. Finding our purpose. Finding our why.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Oh no, here’s another person trying to tell me what I should be.” But that’s not what I am doing. Here me out. Finding our purpose is what makes us strive as human beings. It is what makes us successful and in my Senior Seminar class I am taking this semester, we have been focusing on this quite a bit. I mean class just started a few weeks ago, but the first reading we did was about being in our element. Finding that one thing that drives us. That puts a fire in us and that doesn’t feel like a job because we love it so much. It has gotten me thinking about my purpose and what inspires me and ignites that passion in my heart. Obviously, I love education and want to be a teacher,  but it’s more than that. I like that finding our why is part of this because from a young age, we have always been curious and asked “why” mulitple times which usually annoys the person we are asking and so we are taught to stifle that, to just do as we are told and we have lost what makes something special to us.

So much of education right now is focused on finding the why and many students and even teachers may not be used to that, but it allows us to think about it. To understand why we got the answer we did. Life is like that too. We usually think about something before we decide on it, so it only makes sense that it would start becoming a part of education.

In my Senior Seminar class last Friday, we were asked to write about what we think our purpose is and what I said was that when a student hugs me when they come for tutoring or when they leave, it brings me joy and when I get to talk about something that I am passionate about, whether that is a TV show, movie, place…it makes me happy and gets me excited. Especially if I can relate it to what is happening in a lesson or something. Another thing that ignites a spark or passion in me is the issue of civil rights and diversity. When I see them struggling or going through something, it makes me so angry I want to cry and I want equity and inclusion for everyone. I believe strongly in that.

I wish everyone was able to truly be in their element and be doing the work they are passionate about. It doesn’t always work that way and society and people don’t make it easy for us to achieve it, but the people that work hard are the ones who get there or sometimes it’s just natural ability, but we all strive to have and do the thing we are most passionate about. For me, that’s teaching, history, film and tv and helping others. Hopefully I can do something with all of those. What is your why? What are you searching for?

Always remember to keep that dream in your heart because if you are dedicated and have the passion, it will come true.

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

af81653e-dbae-4c67-91d3-b18efc774366“Turning oneself to the misfortunes of others is the best way to dispense with personal troubles. Hadn’t Lord Byron himself said, “The busy have no time for tears”? – Martha Hall Kelly, Lilac Girls

So, when I said I wanted to keep writing on this blog, I didn’t think that I would use it for writing about books that I am reading. Well, I think that is a good way for me to keep this blog going as well as getting to share reviews of books that I read. I will still use it for general musings about life and school, but I feel like integrating books into it is a great idea also, since reading is a part of education and reading and writing go together and this blog was created for that purpose…okay, now I am just rambling. I hope, if anyone is still reading these, that they learn a little something and perhaps decide to start reading some of the books that I post about. So, without furher ado, here is the review of the book I just finished reading.

One of my favorite book genres (and the majority of the books that I read) is Historical Fiction. I love the stories and how the authors are able to insert many factual events into them. Some are entirely fiction story and plot wise, but the time periods and locations are not. So, it is always interesting to have the mix of both fact and fiction. In the case of Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, we see just that. She spent years researching about these women who were used as human rabbits to be experimented on during the Holocaust and the woman who helped them get the treatment they needed, Caroline Ferriday. This story had not been told before and I am so happy that it has been now and in such a beatuiful way.

I love the romance we see between Caroline and Paul and how, while in the end it does not work out, they remain friends. Also the love between Kasia and Pietrik. And sisterly love. It’s all made so realisitic and relatable. Even though there were horrible circumstances involved, Kasia goes through all the emotions that any person would going through a trauma like that. Herta Oberhouser, I do not understand how she could participate in those sulfanamide experiments. Maybe because she agreed with it. Maybe she did want Germany to be the way Hitler envisioned, but the fact that she could even bring herself to be a part of any of it, is hard to fathom. I also love the symbolism of the lilacs and I wasn’t sure when I was reading why that was title, but once I found out, I thought it was so beautiful and fitting to the story.

While two of the characters were real people (Caroline and Herta) Kasia was based on a real polish person who was a prisoner in the Ravensbruck camp. So, the way she was able to bring them to life based off the research she found was great storytelling on her part and it’s her debut novel! I wanted to read this book as soon as a found it, but since it takes me a while to get through books I had to finish some others first. I am sad to be finished, but happy to be able to share it with everyone. So, for people who are fans of history, World War II, strong female characters, and causes that matter, this book is for you. I literally just recommend it anyway because you won’t be disappointed.

(I tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum since people might not want to know everything that happens and wants to read for themselves).

Vintage Girl to the Max

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How I see myself as a writer? Hmmm, that is a lot like how I see myself as a person; I am still figuring that out, but putting together this collage helped me show who I think I see myself as. I included things I think describe me as a person, but also what I want to bring out as a writer. The CNF essay helped me learn who I am as a writer more than any other writing I have done. I wrote about what I know, media. Media and pop culture are such a big part of my identity that I couldn’t think of anything else that would be as personal to write about. So, in this collage I tried to display things that are important to me or that I love. First of all, I included a quote by Jennifer Lopez and one of the things she says in it s that she is a “work in progress” which I feel like I am all the time. I am learning how to be a better person and a better writer and so that stood out to me tremendously. Then I included my zodiac sign, Aries because I feel like that is a big part of a person’s identity and while I don’t always feel like I represent all the qualities of an Aries, I do have my moments where I know I can be more confident and bold, I just have to work on it. There is a cat on there because I love them and I have one of my own. He makes me feel better when I am stressed. Another set of words “A fresh start” because I feel like I have a renewed outlook with writing. It’s a new start for me to improve and continue to grow in my writing. Then I had to include fashion from the 1950s and the 1980s because they have always been my two favorite decades and I wrote a lot about them in my CNF essay. Classic things are what I love and what I hope to showcase through my writing, but also keep people interested and entertained. When I write or just in general, I love to drink tea and I could not make a collage without including that. It helps me focus better and calms and relaxes me after a long day. We all have things that make our writing unqiue and my love for vintage and classic things is mine. I hope to keep them alive through my knowledge and love for them.

Blog #8: All Things Must Come to an End…

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So, I was trying to think about what to write for this last blog post and I am sad that these are coming to an end because I have really enjoyed writing these posts and expressing myself this way. It motivates me to write my thoughts down more often. That being said, I will also miss this class, this small group of people in Room 203. I love that we can be that class now because we were the first class that Rachel showed Freedom Writers to. We became friends and talked about our lives and fears about new ways to write. We got personal and vulnerable and I learned so much about myself as a writer.

What I think is awesome is that we are creating a class anthology and that’s something that I have never done in a class before. I am part of the Preface team and it has been a lot of fun figuring out what we want to include and how to describe the class as a whole and the quirky, unique things that make our class special. We included a quote in the Preface and since I love quotes, that is one of the things I was in charge of. It was fun to search for a quote that describes our class. I can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like.

What I have enjoyed most about this class is learning more about writing and that we are all capable to be good writers. I loved reading all the stories and how they were different genres, but still got their message across. It inspired me in my writing and I hope that I can take what I have learned and continue to be vulnerable in my writing. I feel like I can express myself better through writing than I can with words. Writing the creative non-fiction was, in my opinion one of my best pieces of writing I have done so far and that is an accomplishment cause I have never felt like I was a good writer until I took this class. I seriously wish this class would last longer than a semester cause there is so much more we could learn or just because it would be fun and I don’t want to end. However, all things must end eventually and like with this class, the blog must end too. I will probably add more posts to this even if they aren’t graded cause I created it, so I want to keep it going. It will continue to help my writing to improve by doing  weekly post. I have enjoyed my time immensely in this class and I will always be grateful for what I learned and will miss it.

Blog #7: Spring Break Fun

springbreak3It’s always fascinated me how excited we get over a TV show or movie or celebrity and how that becomes what we live our lives by. Maybe it is because of how those things make us feel and how an actor can portray a character that is so relatable for someone else and they feel like a close friend. For some it’s books, for others it’s movies and shows. I’m taken to other places through movies and through TV shows like others are through reading books. We are influenced by what is around us and for some that is learning quotes from a character we like and feel like we relate to, or having infinite knowledge of whatever we are passionate about. For me, it’s about fully immersing myself in whatever it is that I am into at the moment. Throughout the years it’s been Back to the Future (still into that by the way), Friends (also still into that) and Glee, which will always have a special place in my heart. Well, my point with all of this is to show that we all have things that keep us sane, help us get through life, teach us lessons and those can be different for each person, but for many it’s TV and movies.

Over spring break, I went to one of those events for nerds and that is the Fan Expo in Dallas, TX. It’s pretty much like comic-con, but a little smaller. I got to meet and interact with people that were the ultimate nerds and fans of sci-fi, superheroes, and comics. I thought I was a nerd and I mean, I am, but I wasn’t dressed up in cosplay or asking questions in the celebrity panels, I was taking it all in and remembering because it’s an experience that doesn’t happen all the time. I enjoy it, but going to things like that make me realize that while I am a nerd and super into a lot of things that are usually at those events, I am not into them in the capacity that many others are. I would geek out if it was Back to the Future or Star Trek, but other stuff, I just enjoy it and have fun. I actually got to have fun on my spring break for once and it’s interesting how the fun stuff always goes by the fastest. The best moments are always the most fleeting and I thought this week was going to go by slowly, but it actually whizzed by. I can’t believe it’s already almost the middle of April. Anyway, I guess where i’m going with all of this is that I wanted to explain my last week and say that things have been a little less stressful this week and I’m figuring out how to get by without stressing out as much and that I had a fun time at a Fan Expo and got to be a nerd and feel included in my love for TV shows and movies. What did everyone else do over their spring break?

Blog #6: Stress and Procrastination

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Well, this week has been a long one in terms of how busy I have been. I’ve been so stressed and worn out and I am thankful for a break. I feel like I always get so overwhelmed and I never figure out how to just manage everything a little better. School and tutoring is really kicking my butt and I’m left with less time when I get home to do homework done and then I start all over again the next day. I like working with the kids, but I think it’s too much for me to do school and a job. Figuring out how to balance everything is one of my goals and something that I am working on, but I have other responsibilities at home as well that make it more difficult. There is always some sort of interruption or distraction that keeps me from getting something done when I want to. I get it done, it just takes longer. I need to give myself more time and space to get what I need to accomplished. Whether it is self-care or some down time where I am just relaxing and taking a walk, whatever I need to do that helps clear my mind, cause I can’t keep going on like this where I am so stressed and worn out, it’s negatively affecting me. I am usually an organized person. I make lists and try to stick to them, but I need to do it for school and tutoring also because I have so much to get done that I forget things if I don’t write it all down. Which is also something I am trying to do more often too. Write. Write my thoughts and feelings down cause I didn’t do that as much last year and I dealt with a lot of self-esteem issues that I am still dealing with, but getting better at. Writing things in a journal or down on paper in general just helps me to understand them better, to figure out why i’m feeling the way I do. Maybe I should do that with not just my sad moments, but moments when I am stressed too. I just need the motivation. Or someone reminding me. Exercise and activity are also some things I should do again, but with school and tutoring, I don’t have the time for it. I’m lucky if I can fit in an evening walk, but keeping these things in mind, I should be able to do it if I work on not getting too overwhelmed and stressed and letting things that aren’t important go. Putting my priorities in order. Then everything else should fall into place. Procrastination is a a major component of this stress too and something that I bring upon myself. We all struggle with it, but it’s learning how to manage and balance time in a way that allows for me to get whatever it is done within the timeframe that I have. Hopefully I can take some of these tips during the break and implement some of these tips so when the break is over, I won’t be feeling the same way I have been feeling.