Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Looking Back, Thinking Ahead

Done with my thesis 

Hello lovely readers,

It is Christmas time and I feel this a curious time of year, at least for me. It is a time of reflecting about the year that shortly ending and it is a time that we are preparing for the year to come. 

Looking back at this year I feel this year has been filled a lot with my thesis...and maybe thats how it should have been but lately I have felt I spent so much energy, so much time, and devotion to it that I kind of lost focus on what the most important things are in my life. On mentally preparing this post I began to look through my photos (on Facebook) to remember all that has happened over this year. Some of the highlights have been getting to spend so much time with my family; I spent some time with my family in May, August, October and just recently when my parents came up here to see me present my thesis. If you don't know I live in Boston and my family lives all over so I usually see them only twice a year (minus skype dates) so I feel that has been really neat this year. Another highlight this year has been moving in with my current roommate and friend. Last year (until end of August) it was a struggle with my apartment. I never felt like my last place was home. Moving into my new place has felt like home the moment I started unpacking my boxes.
with niece and nephew in May

So as I began to think about 2014 and everything that happened, there have some parts of it I wish I could put behind me and never think about them again, but I know those moments have shaped me. And instead of looking at them with regret I am going to try to give them over to God and let him use them as moments of development. While 2014 has been a mix of both of ups and downs (as years are) it is what 2015 brings that I am most interested in.

Lately, I have been praying a lot to hear God's voice to feel his guidance but in reality I have felt distant from God. I know He is with me and He is the hope I have anchored my life to. Hebrews 10:23- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful- has been a verse I have had to repeat to myself a lot through the year. I think it is more true lately as I am coming to terms with the fact I am done with school.

Birthday celebrations 

For 23 some odd years, I have been a student and I have almost placed my identity in the fact I am a student. Especially in undergrad and grad school my life has been about the next homework assignment, the next chapter to read, and the next paper to write. In grad school I felt life was on hold until I finished school and sometimes I felt angry I couldn't do things because I was in school.

I have been praying for God to use me in such a way that I would make an impact in this world for Him.  I have also been praying to hear God's voice and feel His guidance.  But I have felt stuck and sometimes useless. I am not blaming Him for this... actually I am holding myself responsible. Because I know I have filled my life with clutter, I sought fulfillment from temporary things. So one thing I really hope for 2015 that He prune and cut things out of my life that are not from Him. This is going to take work on my end, because it is easy for me to turn on the TV, go on Facebook or Pinterest, listen to Spotify and block Him out. But I don't want to do that anymore.
Being a bride's maid in my friends wedding, in July.
On Monday I prayed:
Lord I pray you lead me. Lord there are so many big questions on my mind now. What do I do for a job? Where do I go from here? Lord I need your guidance with these questions. Lord, you are the only one that makes my life make sense and I pray oh Lord I pray you lead me on. 

Then on Tuesday morning I read the passage: 

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2. 

Visiting my sister's family in August...
Sadly my nephew was in the hospital.
With nephew in hospital I got to spend a lot
of time with niece... blessing in disguise 
These things may not seem immediately linked but they are in my mind. I think one thing I really need in upcoming year is to renew my mind and heart in God. In that I believe I will be able to truly know what God wants from me. However, I have no idea what that looks like. 

Over the fall my church went through a series called "Resistance" and it was about remembering why we have the Sabbath, a time of rest, a time of remembering what is important to us, and a time to remember what God has done for us, I think over the last year and especially this last fall I have kind of forgotten that.  I say my faith, my friends and family are the most important things in my life... but I felt distant from those things. I have felt very much like I have been drifting through life, not really making connections. So, another thing I would like in 2015 is to really invest or reinvest in things that are important to me. 

Here I want to say I am sorry to anyone that I was not there for over the last year...even if you understood why I am sorry I got so blocked by other things I could not see what was important. 

Fancy night with roommate. 
On the job front I will take my time to figure things out. Fortunately this year I have been blessed with two part time jobs that have really been relief when I have been stressed about money. I think it is important right now to get things worked out in my relationship with God... so I am not going to dwell on that.

I am thankful for this year I have had the support system (friends and family) that I have had. I don't know how I would have been able to get through the struggles I have gone through... and I promise I will not forget it.

I am excited to see what 2015 has in store for me and I am already starting to shape my New Year's resolutions.

1. Invest or re-invest in the relationships I have
2. Work on transforming my mind in order to understand God's purpose for my life.

Those are 2 pretty big things so I will leave it at that for now... if I fail I will (with God) pick back up and try again.

There are other things I am looking forward to as well in 2015.

1. My sister and brother-in-law are expecting their third baby... from the pics above you can see they make cuties so I am excited for this new little one. 
their birth announcement.
2. My mom and I have been dreaming about and plotting a trip to Paris and now done with school, we have been planning one for May. 
Mom and I from recent trip to Boston 
3. Also I have been thinking about going on another short-term missions trip. I remember how impacting my trip to Honduras was and my church does a trip to the Dominican Republic every year and watching the videos of the trips have made me want to go.
4. I am also looking forward to getting back into doing some of my own fun writing. Though I might be writing more with pen and paper than typing... my eyes are getting tired looking at word document. 

"Mary did you know"-Pentatonix
This has been my favorite song this year. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Little update


I am taking a break from my thesis (just a few minutes)... I can't really take a break my rough draft is due before I go to bed on Nov. 9th. Sadly besides the progress of my thesis I don't have much to update with, but I have this week off from work to get the remaining three sections of my thesis done. Then my thesis advisor has told me once I have submitted it not to think about it until she hands it back to me. As much as I am looking forward to that time I wonder if I can really do that.

Outside of my thesis I am still reading through the Harry Potter series. I am on the fourth book. The first one was hard for me only because I couldn't really visualize anything. However, this book really feels more like escapism than the books. While the first two really introduced me to the characters and the world of Hogwarts I feel Prisoner of Azkaban  and this book have really developed the characters. Also this one feels much more like literature than a kid book (no offense). But sometimes I will admit I get a bit lost in all the characters. I think I have asked my roommate a few times if Peeves is a ghost.

Also, over the weekend I got a real itch to do more creative writing. I found this great pin and I could totally see Shane saying that to Daphne.
"Do you like the person you've become"
Then I saw this writing prompt pin...

and I thought I could do a quick free write with it. But I just stared blankly at the computer, not able to think how I would fill in the blanks and not sure what I would write. Though I wanted to write I couldn't. My mind feels like such a haze. To remedy my desire to write I did take some time typing up part of my story I had already hand written (that felt like such a release). Now I want share part of it with you....

For this part of the story Mattie is upset at her mother and runs to the back woods where she finds Kelby.
"Lady Mathilda, I like the sound of that." He made her giggle. "I am glad to see you smile again."
"Thank you Kelby."
Example of a temple
At that moment they heard the over cast sky give a little grumble and the pale gray sky was now presenting them a summer shower. Kelby without thinking took Mattie's hand and lead them to the Temple of Diana. It wasn't really temple just a folly, much in the style of other Grecian temples that had been popular throughout the eighteenth century. It was the best place to wait out the summer storm. Even though it was the closest structure to the backwoods they were still soaked causing a shiver over her whole body. Kelby saw her shiver and pulled her close into his arms and held her there. Mattie couldn't remember any man outside of Marcus who had ever hugged her.

           "Come let's get you warm," he said once the rain stopped.
            "Oh Kelby I do not want to go home. I cannot face her, not yet."

            "Miss Mathilda, one must never be afraid to face your fears." With that he took his thumb and brushed the hair that fallen in front of her face. "But, perhaps you need some tea to strengthen you up." And he gave her a little smile.

            She could not say what she was feeling, she was only thirteen and all she felt this way before. She had trembled when he touched her cheek but it didn't scare her it felt comforting.

            Mattie was so happy when he took her back in the way through Cranston Court.

I will admit that I was inspired by two scenes from Jane Austen films for this scene...The first one being the first proposal from Pride and Prejudice (2005). 
And the second one being from Northanger Abbey after Mr. Tilney and Catherine have been out riding and caught in the rain and he wipes a bit of mud off Catherine's face. It is such a simple action but it makes a big spark.
Okay back to the grind.

Friday, October 24, 2014

moving on, holding on

I can easily do this
I saw this pin today and I found it just found it reassuring. I don't want to go into too much detail because it is personal and as much as I don't mind sharing personal things about my life, I don't like intruding on someone else's privacy. Anyway during the month of July I was a dating a guy, and in my naive way I could almost picture him being "the one." But we ended things because we saw our lives going different ways.

Anyway, when I am alone thinking did I make a mistake walking away to soon? And just feeling super alone and sometimes I hold my phone with his number up and I just want to text him to say "hello" and that I miss him. But I don't, I never do. I have told this to my friend and my mom and they say that is strong or "emotionally sturdy". However, I don't feel strong or sturdy... I feel weak and still a little heartbroken.

I never text him 1) because I honestly don't know what I would say 2) I know I need to move on 3) I don't believe we have changed and we would be in the situation we were in when things ended... so what's the point. So I push the "hangup" button and take a deep breath. 

But going back to the top picture, I found this pin and it reminded me to be true to myself... I know I shouldn't need a pin to remind myself of that. However, sometimes a little reminder is good.  

I know this post might sound a bit pathetic and I am sorry for that. I hope that in writing this pathetic post someone who is going through the same feelings as me will know they are not going through it alone. 

To end this post on slightly positive note... here are some good quotes about love and relationships (thanks Hello Giggles

“Once you’re back on your feet – if you ever make it back on your feet – that’s the ultimate achievement. I remember I was in New York at the Trump Hotel and I woke up and I just knew I was over it. It was a different day. I felt different. I didn’t feel lonely. I felt like I wanted to get up and be in the world. That was a great, great feeling.”- Rihanna

Anyway this hopeful romantic keeps hoping and keeps believing in love. Typing that I feel a lot like Gennifer Goodwin in He's Just not That into You. 
Pardon the language

Monday, October 13, 2014

FINALLY reading Harry Potter

I am a little late to the party... Actually with all the books published and all the movies out I am probably not just a little late to the party, my invitation probably got lost in the mail.

You might be wondering what took me so long to get to reading these book...

1) when the books came out I was in 8th grade and was escaping to Jane Austen and honestly couldn't imagine that books about wizards would be interesting... maybe a bit book snobbish.

2) Harry Potter was actually preached from the pulpit that it is of the devil and I know certain people would look down on me for reading them.

3) I originally thought that I wouldn't give them a chance until after grad-school.

What has changed?

People might still look down on me for reading them... but that shouldn't stop me from trying something. Also so many of my Christian friends have read them and rave about them and one of my strongest friends they have a strong Christian message. So I took this under consideration, but it was still on my to read after grad-school list... well as much as I love my historical novels I just felt I needed a little escape from history. Plus my roommate has all the novels, so nice easy access.

I will say as a wanna-be-writer, I like seeing how other writers write... and while some of my more literary friends might critique this book as being a bit juvenille in writing I actually liked it because it sounded like a 12 year old, which Harry is. And I am quite impressed with J.K. Rowling for imagining the world of Hogwarts.

However, saying that I have one critique one it was hard for me to imagine the world (but is probably my own problem because I have never read anything like Harry Potter) and because of this I face two problems: one it took me more effort to understand truly what was going on; also I didn't get attached to the characters. There was one part of the book that made my roommate's heart break and I was more like "eh"... or maybe I just have a heart of stone.

Even with this critique I am intrigued enough to read the second book... but first I am going to watch the first movie, so I can visualize it better.

Also because the books and movies have already been out and because there has been so much posting about on social media (mostly for me Pinterest) have been ruined. Supposedly it was a surprise that Harry, Ron and Heromine all become friends.

My sister saw that I was reading this and asked me if it was the best thing ever, because that is how everyone talks about it. To that I just shrugged my shoulders. (Sorry Potter heads.)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

From My Thesis Cave... Part 2

I am not sure how many parts of "from my thesis cave" there will be... I like to keep you guys (who ever is reading this) up to date on my life but right now my life feels like my thesis.

Right now I am feeling a little overwhelmed, I felt I was doing on my progress about thesis almost to the point of being cocky (sorry if I came off that way). Well I had a thesis advising meeting and she kind of told me I had done my historiography all wrong... BIG GULP! Well so let me get back to the drafting board. It is a set back but I am not going to let it get to me. I have changed into my yoga pants and flannel shirt (a frequent writing outfit), sipping on some tea, and taking a breath as I begin again. 

Any way, in this overwhelmed moment I thought it would be good to list things I am looking forward to once this thesis is over... 

1.Just being done will be so great- This thesis has kind of been a dark cloud hanging over me and once it is done I think I will just feel more free.
When this is true... it will feel so good
2. Watching mindless television. Is it sad that I am looking forward to this? I mean I do treat myself to episodes of Chuck and I watch some TV with my roommate but sometimes I feel guilty for not working on my thesis even when I am brain dead. 

3. Reading fun books. Another thing I do treat myself to... but mostly to keep my sanity in this time. But  I am looking forward to reading more book and at my own pace and not having to put down fun books because I have work to do.

4. Writing my story... As much as I would love work more on my story "The Grand Days" (working title) I feel I really have no energy for it. 

5. On a more serious note...I look forward to finding my passion. While I have been in school, especially more as I have been facing the end of school, I have felt a stirring that I am not living out on my faith. Looking back on the past few years the last time I felt truly passionate about something was when I was preparing to go to Honduras and doing Living Water work. I keep praying God to guide my steps and help me follow my faith (though I am not sure what that looks like). I would like the freedom to explore this idea more...Probably not full time ministries, but being open to trips and opportunities.  

In Honduras at the well sight

From outside thesis cave: When I was meeting with my advisor she said for my historiography (as analogy) "I need to stop eating the cookies and think about how they were made." I started laughing because it reminded me of the FRIENDS episode where Monica is trying to discover Phoebe's Grandmother's secret recipe of chocolate chip cookies. That is what a Historiography is... it breaks down past research, the way research was done, and how research on my topic has changed or progressed. 
That's all for now... back to thesis cave.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Escapism in writing

I wish looked this poised when I wrote
As promised in my post "Writer's confession... I am a bad writer" I was going to post more about my story. Lately I have had some feelings of wanting to be "anywhere but here"... I don't know why because my life feels like it is going well. I have moved into my new apartment and it already feels more like home than my last place. But I think spending some time with my story will help not only stay sane during this crazy time of working on my thesis and will allow me enough escapism it will fulfill my want to runaway. Don't worry Boston friends I have no thoughts to actually runaway... but a little escapism is good for the soul. 

So I am escaping into my creative writing...

How I picture Lady Adelaide
Lady Adelaide was beyond kind to the girls, she had brought down all the dolls from the nursery for Gloria to play with, and she searched the library for books she thought would interest Mattie. They ranged from in poetry of Keats to Shakespeare, and my favorite of Jane Austen. She also brought down some Dickens and an author Mattie had yet heard of Henry James. Lady Adelaide explained he was an American who had come over to England at the turn of the century and wrote novels commenting on society.

            "I read them when I first came here and found them very useful to help me navigate the ropes of London society."

Mattie enjoyed taking in the knowledge of America, she couldn't really even imagine what it must be like. Even though Mattie knew it was a completely different country she did wonder how the customs could be so different, but the way Lady Adelaide spoke it seemed completely foreign to her. Mattie also simply couldn't picture how Lady Adelaide, with her sweet demeanor and genteel spirit, would have any society. But Mattie did enjoy hearing the stories of Lady Adelaide's first season in London.

            "Mother always talks about the season as if it is the most glorious time in the whole year, but I can hardly imagine it. I doubt I will have such a grand time."

            "Of course you will. I will make sure of it. You are too good to be a wall flower for your own presentation."

            "But to be surrounded by strangers all the time, I do not think I could handle it."

            "I will be there," Lady Adelaide patted Mattie's hand. "I will hold your hand the whole time and introduce you the finest people. Make sure you have only the best partners. It will be perfect."

            "It is still years away."

A presentation
            "Well then all the more to prepare you. I remember my own presentation. My mother had quickly made friends with Lady Cumnor and she was my escort to many events. My mother had custom order my dress from Charles Worth and with more silk than I had ever worn and such delicate beading, I felt like a princess. In fact I met then King that night, well he was the Prince of Wales then, but his grandeur was awestriking."

            "You met the King?" Mattie was in wonder.

            "Yes he was quite regal, everything a prince should be. He had such a way about hi that made you feel as if you are the only person in the room though he is always surrounded by a rather large entourage."

            "I cannot imagine what I would say to him. I would probably so tongue tied I would not be able to say a word."

            "You would thing that but oddly when you are with him while you are in his presence of such greatness you also feel completely at home. At least I did, when we danced."

            "I hardly think he would notice me. I am a little nothing."

 It had been a week a since Lady Adelaide told Mattie that she was beautiful, but Mattie treasured these words. She was probably the only person to call Mattie beautiful and how Mattie had felt a blush when Lady Adelaide had said it. It wasn't that Mattie was not good-looking, but for most of her life she was never told those words. Her mother had always doted on Daphne's loveliness and Gloria's darling looks. Mattie just skipped in the background and for the most part she wanted it that way. She had gotten used to the notion that her looks were plain and that nothing really distinguished her. Though no one had come right out and told her she was plain, she had hard time believing she had any true beauty.

The next day Mattie was on her way to Lady Adelaide but Mrs. Gardner stopped her. Usually Lady Adelaide sent her motor for Mattie but today Mattie wanted to walk and pick wildflowers for Lady Adelaide. She had told Mattie on a visit that wildflowers were her favorite and with the weather being so fair this summer the country provided many options. Mrs. Gardner would not let Mattie leave as word had Ripon that Mr. and Mrs. Harrington would be home within the hour. Mrs. Gardner was certain that they would be disappointed if Mattie was not home. Mattie doubted her mother and father would even notice her presence.

Father had his eyes on Marcus. He was the heir and father had great plans to set him up in the family business of the mill. It did not matter to father that Marcus had no intention of following his footsteps. Marcus was the heir and that was that.
How I imagine Mattie
Mother had eyes for Daphne as she was the charmer of the family and they all knew for the family to rise any sort of way she would have to make a superb match. Even though Daphne was only fifteen these plans were set in stone. Mattie ever wondered if it ever broke Daphne's heart knowing whatever Shane did he would never be considered to be a suitor for Daphne. Daphne's dreams of being Mrs. Shane Gray would never come true that was just a simple reality. Mother also gave some attention to Gloria as she was the baby of the family and the miracle child. Even with her baby fat it was obvious she would be a beauty as well. Though mother doted on her at seven years old mother still saw her as a bit of nuisance as she could not carry on a conversation of great importance and she was just beginning her lessons in music and French. Nevertheless, whenever mother had friends over they always found Gloria quite enjoyable and that kept Gloria in mother's good graces. It is a woman's duty to be a mother rather they had the loving hand to do it was not always certain.
Mattie was neither the heir, the beauty, or the baby and often thought she had no place at Southerton Greens except to be pleasant when noticed, invisible when not, and agreeable in both situations. Mother did give Mattie a kiss on the cheek when she said hello and father patted her on the head as if Mattie was a good puppy. Then they disappeared until before dinner. Mattie doubted they would have noticed her absence and she longed to be at Cranston Court where Lady Adelaide would be sitting alone. 

Stay tuned for further developments by following the Grand Days tags

Friday, September 26, 2014

A sister is a wonderful thing

Our first pic together... already being the protective sister

I have posted shout outs to my friends and various family members on their birthday's or special occasions... So today I am giving a shout out to my sister on her birthday. She probably doesn't know what an inspiration she is for me. She inspires me in her faith, her marriage and what kind of mom she is... if there was one person I would change life with it would be her. We didn't always get along but I know she will always have my back and protect me.

There are not many "sister" songs out there but here is a song from our past
"Sisters" from White Christmas. 

We had dance skills

Oh the back rubs

Over the years we had such style...

and poise.
I remember loved being tossed up and down.
and our snuggle times

Time with the grandparents was awesome

but nothing as awesome as sister time..
Visiting Harvard

Celebrating her little one to be..

Visiting D.C. with future niece in tow.

My first ski trip... she was so patient with me

My first trip to Denver at the Molly Brown house

Sister love is the best
Celebrating her big day

We let some others into our sister time... but they have only been great additions
At the zoo with niece

In Florida

With her then husband-to-be

Mom (Nana) and the lovely kids

These pictures are not all in order... 
it was great going through them and going through all the memories.
Love you, H.