5 Books that changed my life (and you should read them)

We all have those special books that really made an impact on our lives, and we can never forget the stories. They go through our heads again and again. Here are five books that personally affected me:

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. This series is what basically what birthed and defined my interest in writing, and what landed C.S. Lewis as my absolute favorite author. I almost feel as if these books were written just for me. Their beautifully pure aura of magic and childlike adventure whisks even the oldest among us away, and makes us all dream of going to Narnia.

The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. Everything about this book was mind-blowing and stirring-deep-in-the-soul. By page three, I was sold. The kind of depth of emotion this novel stirs up, mostly through Zusak’s exquisite writing, is one that sticks with you forever. It’s one of those novels I tell everyone, everyone, to read. You must!

The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book amazed me more so for it’s author. This man created not only a fictional world but languages, races, a history, and more. The Silmarillion is literally a history book of a nonexistent world. And this was all in this one man’s mind! That right there is an inspiration to writers.

Surprised by Joy, By C.S. Lewis. This story is amazing and so inspiring, and it’s an autobiography! Whether one shares the faith of Lewis or not, it’s such a beautiful story to learn about. His faith transformation and journey of becoming the writer of The Chronicles of Narnia and other beloved novels are just a few factors that make him my absolute favorite author.

The War of Art, By Steven Pressfield. Playing off the infamous title The Art of War, this book addresses our inner enemies of creativity and discipline. It expresses how to overcome our ambition inhibitions and continually, and successfully, produce and create. Already on board with the philosophy, this book helped me apply the principles and actions that made me a better person.

 

Bonus: The Screwtape Letters, By C.S. Lewis. Yes, another Lewis book, but I did already mention he’s my favorite author. This book, comprised of letters written from a senior demon to his nephew, a demon-in-training charged with the task of the damnation of a particular young man on earth, was eerily and bone-tingling mesmerizing. Not because it was spooky, which it really wasn’t, but because it felt markedly real. It made me think that this really can be the way that demons go about trying to sabotage our eternity.

5 Ways I cope with stress

We all have stress, and many different degrees of it. For me, it seems that lately I have been experiencing the most stressful kind of stress thus far in my life. Therefore I’ve been getting by each day with methods of coping. Here are five ways I do so:

  1. Journal. Typical, probably. Although sometimes this can backfire. If I end up just rambling in my journal it will instead heighten my nerves rather than calm them.
  2. Drink tea. Tea is from heaven. It must be.
  3. Watch movies. Particularly films by Hayao Miyazaki. They always relax me.
  4. Make crafts. Some of the most peaceful moments I experience are when I’m crafting something.
  5. Play dress-up. Yes, I go to my closet and see what new outfits I can create from my wardrobe. It always works.

What sort of things do you do to cope with stress?

5 things that God has been working on with me

This has been a very trying time for me. So…so much has been happening, every one of them equally stressful and needing my mental and emotional attention, and I am tired. Eventually things will calm down. But I’m reminded of the verse Romans 5:3-5…

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

During all these trials, I’ve been experiencing some heady character building. It’s nowhere near over, but I’ve been developing a lot in the past few months. Here are five of those things:

  1. Building my assertiveness. I’ve come to discover that it is my nature to be passive and avoid confronting wrongful behavior that genuinely hurts me. Each time the moment is right, I always think, “Nah, I’m just being sensitive. I’m at fault for letting it bother me.” Though that is often a good way to go, it’s not always the right way. I did it so much that it turned me a little bitter, and now God is helping me build the courage to confront and the wisdom to know when it is right to confront.
  2. Learning to say no. My family is a yes family. It’s a family trait to say yes to every favor asked of us. Therefore each and every one of us has had to struggle with the burn out that it causes. Right now I have to consciously say no, because saying yes is still so habitual to me. I’ve learned that at some point I have to put my own interests into thought.
  3. Letting go of a label. I am naturally a sensitive person, and there’s something I’ve had to come to terms with: Being a sensitive person is not a bad thing! That’s been difficult, because whenever I was called sensitive it had a negative connotation to it. Most of the people around me don’t really view sensitivity in a good light, but that doesn’t have to define me. That plays in with my passive nature. Whenever I had a problem with something someone did, I always put the blame on myself and claimed I was just being sensitive. I’ve been learning that, first of all, it’s not a bad thing, and second of all, I have a right to stick up for myself when I am hurt.
  4. Believing that no job is too small. Because of certain not-so-good seeds planted in me, I’ve struggled with believing that I ever did enough, no matter where I was. That has caused me to take on more than I should and devalue myself because I never felt like I was doing enough, or at least doing an adequate job. That is a deep-seated falsehood that God has really been working on uprooting inside me.
  5. Believing I am worth it. Recently, in a deep conversation with a pastor, when they said something along the lines of “you’re worth it,” I burst into tears. I couldn’t seem to believe it. I realized that I never saw myself as worth “it,” whatever it was. God has been working on getting me to see that I am worth it, worth anything, worth most of all his unwavering love.

With God, anything can be uprooted, no matter how deep it goes. What sort of things has been getting uprooted in you?

5 Things that awaken my creativity

We all have specific things that uniquely perk our inner creativity. We’re all inspired by different things. I quite enjoy the journey of discovering just what those things are. Here are five of my own:

  1. Bookstores. Yeah, no surprise there. But I at least know where to go when I’m feeling creatively stunted. It really is a wake up call. Surround me with books and BAM.
  2. Watching from a window. It’s partly distracting and partly invigorating. I haven’t decided yet if it’s more productive for me to work by or a window or not. But it certainly stirs up ideas.
  3. Watching my favorite movies. And re-watching them. I suppose seeing great stories that I love inspires me to make great stories that others will love.
  4. Being busy. Vague, yes. Being busy with what? Anything, really. When I’m busy I feel productive, which then motivates me to be more productive. And yes, even creatively. Perhaps it’s the sense of accomplishment.
  5. Walking. If I can walk somewhere, I will. I love to walk. It’s not only healthy, but my mind just loves to wander.

What sort of things or activities awaken your creative mind?

5 ways to recognize your passion

Something about finding one’s dream and passion seems to just radiate within me. I get passionate about helping others find their passion. I believe in my heart that God must have put that in me for a reason. Perhaps that’s my passion.

Overtime I’ve learned that finding one’s passion is not an easy task, and even after you find it, it can change, or new ones can arise. Discovering one’s passion leads to one understanding their purpose and claiming a dream. It’s such an important and necessary thing to have in your life, because it reveals what God meant for you to do. From my personal experience, here are five ways that can help you discover and recognize what your passion is:

  1. Pay close attention to your emotions. Though we are not to live by them, our emotions are still vital hints to what is and what isn’t our passion. Even some positive emotions can be misleading, so take time to analyze what you feel and why.
  2. Notice if the world disappeared. By this I mean, when you were doing whatever you were doing, did it feel like the world had melted away for a time? Did you completely forget about everything and everyone else? Did you feel like it was just you and that activity? It’s not the same as being distracted by some form of entertainment. That just means you’re being entertained. But you’ll know when it seems like the world around you has suddenly blown away and been forgotten.
  3. Listen to what people say. Observant friends will notice when something’s different about you. They may just simply say, “you’re so happy when you….” If they’re telling you that you seem to be on top of the world when you’re skating or teaching or designing graphics or cooking, then perhaps you’re passionate.
  4. Gage your level of “aliveness.” Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman. If you feel more alive than you ever feel when doing anything else, then you’re definitely passionate.
  5. You can’t stop talking about it. Just like when you have a crush on someone, you find yourself talking about the person all the time. If you find yourself talking about a certain activity or endeavor, then it’s definitely on your mind, and you’re probably passionate.

Finding passion can be a process because we can always get it wrong many times first, but that just only gets you closer to discovering what your passion really is. Now go out there and find it, and go for it!

5 Ways I organize myself at Holiday season

Organization, especially at this time, after getting back to Austin and trying to get back into the flow of normal life, has been particularly important to me. At this time of year for everyone, though, keeping yourself organized can suddenly become a vain pursuit. Here are five ways that have helped me organize myself, particularly at this time:

  1. Wunderlist. If you have not discovered this helpful gem yet, you should check it out. I use it all the time, for everything. I love that I can categorize things and assign them to dates. All I have to do is open it up and see what’s to do that day. That little *ding* when I check off a task is satisfying…
  2. Guide for the Year. Since 2012 I started a habit of making a “Guide for the Year” in December. It’s more than a New Year’s Resolution. I create a packet detailing the top 7-10 things I want to focus on for the coming year. For example, my Subject 3 for 2014 was focusing on this blog. Even if I’m not 100% successful at following it, it’s just a helpful guide to show me what to expect and prepare myself for in the next year.
  3. Journaling. Organizing my random thoughts is just as important. This is just another thing that journaling provides for me.
  4. Plan gifts ahead of time. I established what I would do gift-wise a few months ago so that at this time I just had to focus on shopping and making. And I make Christmas shopping a special ordeal. It needs its own set aside time.
  5. Music. Ok, this probably doesn’t make sense with organization, but it just helps me when I have to work on anything. Music really does make anything more enjoyable.

5 Things I learned while in Arlington

I fly home to Austin tomorrow, and I am torn. I feel both relieved to go home and sad to leave here. I will miss a lot of things, my sister and niece the most. I have learned a lot, and here are just a few things that I have learned that kind of stick out the most:

  1. How to care for a baby. And I am not half bad at it. I could pretty much do everything as long as there’s another presence there. Also as long as the kid can go down for naps, because with my back I can’t go long with holding them.
  2. I’m not AS clean and organized as I thought, or at least there are people who are actually more cleaner than me. I still feel pretty clean and organized for myself, and I’m okay with that.
  3. That being a burden to people really is my worst and biggest fear. It really kills me a little inside when I get any sense whatsoever that I made someone’s day a little worse.
  4. I am not meant to be far from home. Or alone. At one point I began to feel like I was coming across needy because I was calling and texting people so much. Though it had dulled a little after the first couple weeks, the homesickness never left. It had nothing to do with anything here. I am just too much attached to home. I personally don’t think that’s such a bad thing.
  5. I am miserable without physical touch. Considering it’s my love language, this makes complete sense. I have never craved a hug or a hand to hold or a good cuddle so much before in my life. I have a feeling I’m going to be milking that a lot my first few days home.