Thanksgiving

This being the season of thankfulness, I have compiled a list of thing that I am extremely grateful for: (Note that these are not in any particular order).

  1. God. Life gets crazy, and it is absolutely wonderful to have God to rely on and know that I never have to worry about who I am putting my faith and trust in.
  2. Family. I think we can all say that family has drove us crazy at one point or another and mine is no exception, but where my family is has truly become where my home is.
  3. Technology and internet. Honestly, I have no idea how papers, especially research papers were written before modern technology and the internet.
  4. Seasons. Although I live in a country that does not have the traditional four seasons, I have learned to love the sound of rain pounding the dry ground after a time of drought.
  5. Friends. It’s crazy how people come in and out of our lives and can cause huge changes and become like family.
  6. Chocolate. I felt like chocolate deserved it’s own number and do not feel that I need to explain why.
  7. Social media. After having moved around enough times, I have begun to appreciate social media and being able to connect with people who are sometimes thousands of miles away.
  8. Education. As much as I may gripe and complain, I am very appreciative of the opportunities I have been given in life to learn and be instructed.
  9. Music. There is such a huge chunk of my life that is centered around music and I am confident I would go crazy without it.
  10. The ability to travel. Had travel been what it used to be hundreds of years ago, most of my life would have turned out very different and I literally would not be where I am today.
  11. All you can eat buffets. Enough said.
  12. Running water and electricity. Often these two things are luxuries that I expect rather than am grateful for. I realize that many of the people on this earth go without water completely and that some items that I view as basic necessities and not that to others.
  13. Books. One of the best feelings in the world is curling up in bed with a cup of coffee and your favorite book. Actually it doesn’t really matter where you are, the book is the important part.
  14. Christmas music. In my family November 1st marks the day that Christmas music can be played openly and freely throughout the house, and it’s wonderful.
  15. Clothes. I often complain that my closet is not big enough for all my clothes rather than being thankful for the clothes I have, or maybe realizing I have too many clothes.
  16. Thanksgiving. Nothing beats turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and of course family. 🙂
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The Scarlet Letter

I think I can safely say that I have never read a book quite like The Scarlet Letter. Reading the book has been a new and exciting experience for me. Before I started it I received a variety of other people’s opinions and thoughts on the book that lead me to believe that the book would be difficult to understand and even boring. Thankfully I did not find this to be the case and actually quite enjoyed the book.

The introduction of the book, or The Custom House, often falls under the descriptions of difficult to understand and boring.  Truth be told I found it challenging to get through this part and was tempted to skip it all together. I think as a reader I have this mentality that if something doesn’t automatically draw my attention and keep me entertained, then it’s not worth reading. Sadly this causes me to miss out on different genres of literature that I would not normally read, because they do not automatically appeal to me. The Scarlet letter challenged me to open up and learn to appreciate a style of writing that was not something I would usually choose.

I find that I can often times be a lazy reader. I enjoy sitting back relaxing while reading a book that says exactly what it means and I don’t have to put much thought into. This was most certainly not the case for The Scarlet Letter. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to read and then re-read a passage, because of the complexity of meaning that was being displayed there. Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet letter, rarely stuck to the same comparisons and descriptions for his characters. Pearl for example, is sometimes described as this beautiful little girl, and other times is this elf/witch/creepy child who seems to know the other character’s innermost secrets. It is difficult to take anything in the story at face value, because opposing descriptions of things and people are woven all throughout the book. Reading this book has taught me that I need to put more thought into different books I read or I could miss all that the writer intended to be taken out of their book.

Where Group Projects Have Gone all Wrong

Group Project. From these two words comes a flood of emotions. On one hand, in a group, you have the opportunity to do less work for a more elaborate presentation that one might be able on their own. Sadly, most of the time this just does not happen. 

We all know those one or two kids who contribute absolutely nothing in the group project. Yeah the ones that do nothing, and yet somehow manage to walk away with and equal grade to those in the group who did their parts and then some. Then on top of that they have the audacity to say, when the presentation over and the grade comes back, “Great job guys! We did great!” We? Who’s we?? I know I’m guilty of thinking this at once or twice in a group project. The real question is though, was there an effort made to include them and let them contribute? These people act as a kind of scapegoat. If the whole project fails, then the person that contributed nothing is to blame. This idea actually makes no sense. Everyone’s mad at them, because they contributed nothing to the project, but then they’re to blame for a project failing…that they contributed nothing to.

From the moment that the list of people in each group are read, each person in split up into separate lists; someone who will work and someone who won’t. They didn’t even have a chance. Everyone has a gift, and the beauty of a group project is that each member of the group can bring their gift and bring them together to achieve the assignment. Where the idea of group projects have gone all wrong is when it becomes about the grade rather than finding each person’s gift. The truly sad thing is that those people who were not given the chance to contribute, may also not have been given the chance to find what they’re good at. These groups projects need to be approached by having each person say where they are skilled and for the project to shaped around that. When one person starts by giving the plan without consulting everyone, then there is no place for those people who did not get to contribute to the plan and their gifts are not being used. I know I’ve been guilty of this one more than one occasion. It’s a big problem, but this new perspective could change the that initial reaction to group projects.

My Canvas

I have spent a number of years, half my life actually, immersed in cultures that are very different from the one I grew up in. In fact I would say that I have walked through life rather like a blank canvas, and everywhere that I visit or live, leaves a new color splattered across its surface. The blank canvas now is a mess of colors and I hope to add many more in my lifetime.

These different colors have shaped me and changed who I am. I have been blessed to live in a community full of people with colorful canvases and have not had to worry about finding a way to fit in. I have never had to hide the things that make me different, because the in community I am a party of, the difference we have only serve to make our stories unique.

The only place I have truly felt the weight of my difference is when I return home, to the place I was born. Now don’t get me wrong, that place holds its own special piece of my heart and has its own color on my canvas, but it is not a place that I truly belong. The truth is that I no longer belong anywhere. Multiple countries have a hold of my heart, so it does not belong to one single place.

All of the vibrant colors of these places have changed the way I see life and people as well. Every time I meet someone from somewhere new, my world grows even larger. Countries then become more than just a place on a map. they become real and precious to me. The flavors, sights, and sounds around me hold remarkable secrets of the cultures to which they belong. I hope that one day I will be able to taste, see, and hear them all.

Reading

I have loved to read for just about as long as I can remember. Nothing beats the satisfaction of turning each page in a book, and moving further along in the story set before me. 

I have always enjoyed old books. The ones that most people cringe at the titles of, because they remember being assigned them in their high school English class. Jane Austen and Shakespeare are two of my favorites. Their works are challenging reads, because of the beautifully complex language that they use in them. I find the challenge is what makes them enjoyable. Having to stop and look up a word, or ponder a line is often what I find myself doing when I read some of their books. Sadly, these are not things that I find myself having to do when I read more modern pieces of literature. Several of the books that are being written now, have become simplified and dulled down. This is why I often find myself turning to the classics.

Reading should never be a brain numbing experience. It should be enjoyable of course, but it should also inspire and challenge the mind. Reading something that makes you pause, because you don’t understand a part of it does not make you a poorer reader. There have been several times when I’ve been reading a book, come to a section, and not understood a single thing the author was trying to say. Rather than taking the time to comprehend what the author was trying to say, I blew right past it. A couple pages later I would be completely lost, because I failed to take the time to understand that part.

I find I struggle to take the time to fully grasp confusing parts of books when I  read. I am so eager to get to the end to see how the story unravels that I end up paying little attention to the intricate details the author placed in the story. I am a rather impatient reader. I have been working on not flying through the books I read, and have discovered that this is no small task. Years of bad habits are against me, but I am determined to win and enjoy reading again.