What I’m Reading

I’ve gotten to do quite a bit of reading this summer which is great! I absolutely love reading and I’m getting as much as I can in now because I never have much time to read during the school year. I’ve read some really great books lately so I thought I’d share!

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Stieg Larson. I thought they were pretty incredible! I had seen the movies before I read the books (something that I never ever do but I wasn’t planning on reading the books) but the movies really intrigued me so I decided to read them after all. I’d heard such mixed reviews about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Some people absolutely love it and others have a really hard time getting into it. The first half of the book is difficult to get through- there is a lot of political/economic/financial jargon that’s rather uninteresting. What Stieg Larson does really well is paint really vivid characters and as you read on in his first book, otolaryngologist you start meeting those characters and it becomes a lot more interesting. I think it actually helped me that I’d seen the movies first because I was able to get through the more tedious parts of the books without much trouble. Larson is definitely a good writer but he has a very meticulous style- he will often take up several pages explaining some complicated political something or other when really a paragraph would have sufficed. However, syringe the story line of these books is very captivating. The series is very dark, dealing with issues such as rape, sexual violence, murder, etc. It’s always hard to read books that deal with such difficult topics but I find that I never regret having read them. The books are very graphic, however, so if you are bothered by that I would be careful before reading them. There were parts that I could hardly read. So what is the story line? Well the first book is slightly different from the second and third. The main characters are journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who in the beginning of the book is charged with libel, and Lisbeth Salander, a troubled computer hacker. The two team up to solve the murder of Harriet Vanger, a murder which has gone unsolved for 40 years. The second and third books (The Girl who Played with Fire and then The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) focus almost completely on Lisbeth and her dark past. I enjoyed the last two books more than the first. I was reading them in Maine and after I finished the second book, I immediately bought the third on Amazon so I could read it on my Kindle- and then I didn’t put it down for the day and a half it took me to finish it. I got so sucked in to the story! So I would definitely recommend these books and the movies (don’t even get me started on the fact that Hollywood is re-making the Swedish movies…blah!). Get ready for a really interesting, dark, and exciting read.

  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors- she’s also written the Poisonwood Bible which is one of my all time favorite books. The Bean Trees was another great book. Here’s the description from Amazon: “This debut novel follows the gritty, outspoken Taylor Greer, who leaves her native Kentucky to head west. She becomes mother to an abandoned baby and, when her jalopy dies in Tucson, is forced to work in a tire garage and to room with a young, battered divorcee who also has a little girl. With sisterly counsel and personal honesty, the two face their painful lot. The blue-collar setting, described vibrantly, often turns violent, with baby beatings, street brawls, and drug busts. Despite the hurt and rage, themes of love and nurturing emerge.” It may not sound very interesting, I didn’t think it did, but it was a really sweet book. I really fell in love with the characters. I would definitely recommend it!

  • I’ve also read some chick flicks lately…hem hem. Sometimes you just need a break from serious books! I read Certain Girls and In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner. Certain Girls is told from two perspectives, a mother and her soon-to-be teenage daughter. While reading it I was yelling “Can a teenager really be so irritating!?” and “What kind of mother is this!? She’s crazy!!” haha so I guess it’s good that it illicits strong feelings! In Her Shoes was told from the point of views of Maggie and Rose, two sisters, and their grandma, Ella. Sometimes it was pretty slow going but overall I enjoyed it. After reading these two, I read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. This book was kinda irritating. It was about a lawyer (do all chick flicks star dissatisfied lawyers? It would appear so) and her love affair basically. The main guy in the book irritated me and it really just gets frustrating reading books where people are constantly cheating on each other. But I did finish the book! It’s not like it was awful or anything, I would recommend any of these 3 if you just want to read a mindless chick flick, but it certainly didn’t impress me.

So those are the books I’ve read lately!

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Things we forget or never really knew

Failure is an event, generic never a person.- William D. Brown

Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now, sick and do it– William Durant

Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality– Les Brown

Never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. People will take you very much at your own reckoning. — Anthony Trollope

Take control of your destiny. Believe in yourself. Ignore those who try to discourage you. Avoid negative sources, tuberculosis people, places, things and habits. Don’t give up and don’t give in. — Wanda Carter

There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less. — Kurt Hahn

“Each body has its art” – Gwendolyn Brooks

“I see my body as an instrument, rather than an ornament” – Alanis Morissett

Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.- Picasso

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being. ~Hafiz

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.?~Yogi Bhajan

Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves. ~Nathaniel Branden

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you will ever own. ~Mary Schmich

Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it. ~Thaddeus Golas

You are as amazing as you let yourself be. Let me repeat that. You are as amazing as you let yourself be. ~Elizabeth Alraune

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.  ~David Brinkley

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.  ~Author Unknown

Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.  ~Mary Kay Ash

People are crying up the rich and variegated plumage of the peacock, and he is himself blushing at the sight of his ugly feet.  ~Sa’Di

It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.  ~Sally Kempton

Never dull your shine for somebody else.  ~Tyra Banks

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.  ~Thomas Alva Edison

A gold medal is a nice thing – but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.  ~From Cool Runnings

Once you become self-conscious, there is no end to it; once you start to doubt, there is no room for anything else.  ~Mignon McLaughlin

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.  ~African Proverb

The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do.  ~Author Unknown

Be proud to wear you.  ~Dodinsky

The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.  ~Sonya Friedman

Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs.  Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.  ~E.F. Schumacher

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  ~Marianne Williamson

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Trust

I feel like God really uses the summers to teach me things. Well of course He uses every day throughout the year but summer is a time where I don’t have the distractions of school and God really speaks to me and works in that time.

Last summer He taught me how without Him, prescription I am nothing. I was so broken and He spent all this past year building me back up. This whole past year the verse I have remembered and repeated to myself countless times is 1 Peter 3:4 from the Message: Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.

This summer I feel like God’s message to me has been a little different. He used Haiti to teach me that I am a lot stronger than I thought. This coming year I am facing a lot of uncertainty with high school, college, and life in general. He has given me confidence that I have the strength to get through this year. But He’s really asking me to trust Him. I don’t like not having a plan, feeling uncertain about what’s coming next. It’s hard for me to surrender all of this worry and just trust that He will take care of everything and that I will get through this year just fine, I will end up at the college that I need to, that I won’t have to stress about whether or not to get a job and finances for college. He’s telling me that I need to just pray and trust. This is the verse that I have in my heart right now…and that I anticipate will be on my mind for most of this coming year: Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

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Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

The title of this post is a quote by Albus Dumbledore. I believe he is a very wise man. (Even if he’s not real..pish posh details.)

I feel like while I was in Haiti I really learned the truth of this quote. There was darkness there, prescription yes: extreme poverty, price desperate situations, more about starvation. When you’re there you are overwhelmed with so many feelings…sadness, pain, anger, hopefulness, joy, faith, love.

I think one of the reasons that the Haitian people are able to live in such horrible conditions is that they don’t drown themselves in self pity. They don’t sit in dark rooms, crying about their broken lives, country, world. They live every day with amazing strength.

They know the truth of this quote. Happiness is accessible but we’re the ones who have to flip that light switch. Otherwise we’re just left stumbling around in the dark.

And that’s not the life God has in mind for us.

 


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Reflection

A British survey found that women look in the mirror and average of 34 times a day. Men look in the mirror an average of 27 times. That’s a whole lot of mirror checks. You may not think you look in the mirror a lot but, angina if you’re honest with yourself, you probably do.

There are 6 mirrors in my house. One in every bathroom (3), one above the mantle in the living room, and a full length one in my room and my sister’s. That means that every time I go to the bathroom, I see myself in the mirror. That means that when I’m in my room, I can look in the mirror. That means that when I go in to my sister’s room to find a ponytail holder, I see myself in the mirror. That means that whenever I stand on the coffee table in the living room, I see myself in the mirror.

You may not have that many mirrors in your house. Or maybe you have more. But it’s not just in mirrors that we check out our reflections. How many windows do you have in your house? How many other reflective surfaces? You can’t go out in public without having your reflection shine back at you from store windows, glass surfaces, car windows. I think most people automatically turn to look at themselves when they pass these surfaces.

Why do we feel this need to look at ourselves so often? Even if we’ve just been in the bathroom and seen our reflection, we’ll still check what we look like when we pass a store window. What could have possibly changed about your appearance in just a few minutes? What are we so afraid of?

Our society is so visual. We are obsessed with looks. We have unreachable standards of perfection. These are not earth-shattering things that I’m sharing. Everyone knows it. And everyone suffers because of it. The media exploits women’s (and men’s) bodies and views them as objects that they can judge however they want.


(Really, how many times does Star magazine have to write about this? It’s so degrading.)

All my life, and the past year in particular, I have struggled with low self esteem. I have always felt like I was too fat, my hair was too frizzy, and my face was just all wrong for me to be considered pretty. And I know that I am certainly not the only girl who struggles with this. How are we supposed to stop focusing on our looks when that seems to be the only thing our society focuses on?

In Haiti, there were very few mirrors. At the mission, there were some mirrors in the bathroom (but we certainly weren’t spending hours checking out our looks). But if you weren’t in the bathroom, you had no way to see yourself. There were no reflective surfaces. The buildings aren’t made of glass or anything else that would show your reflection as you walk by. My group spent a couple days in a small village called Beau Champ. There were no mirrors anywhere. I went two full days without seeing myself. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before. And most likely, you probably haven’t either. It was actually an amazing experience to just not know what I looked like. I didn’t have to worry about my hair or clothes; we all looked pretty disheveled anyway.

I had a lot of Haitian women (and teen boys which was rather awkward) tell me how beautiful I am. We were at English class and at the end a woman walked up to me and told me how beautiful I was. Another time I was in the bathroom at the mission, braiding my hair, and a girl name Eveline who works at the mission told me that I was so beautiful. They thought I was beautiful without makeup, dressed in dirty clothes, with crazy frizzy hair. Maybe people in Haiti are just nicer. Or maybe they have a healthier view of beauty.

We are so messed up with our perception of food. So many people have addictions and self medicate with food. Some have a void they desperately want to fill and so they try to do that with food. Others are scared of food and pride themselves when they don’t eat. I think most people in this society are trying to eat less and lose weight.

In Haiti, there are starving children everywhere. You don’t stop eating to lose weight. You eat what you can because that’s how you survive.

The mission has a nutrition center where kids come and get food. Most of them are severely malnourished. All the kids there run up to you and want you to pick them up. One girl that I picked up was so skinny…her arms were like tiny toothpicks and her stomach was hard and bloated. I was scared I would break her.

Being in Haiti gives you a whole new perspective on food and body image. Since I’ve gotten back I’ve had a much more positive self image and have had a better attitude about food. I’ve still looked in the mirror, I’ve still judged my body. But I also have a sense of peace about it. I know there are much more important things. I know that God has made me this way. And most of all, I know that every time I have food I should be incredibly thankful. Every time I look in the mirror, I should praise God because I have a healthy, well-fed body.

“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle gracious kind that God delights in” -1 Peter 3:4

Me and Eveline:

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