Thursday, October 23, 2014

NOT Worrying.

Amanda had this print in her apartment the last time I visited. I pointed at it and said "I like that. A lot." Later in the week, she sent me the print. I have since printed it off and placed it on my bookshelf so I see it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. (I plan to put it in a frame, but that's not a 5-minute kind of errand to Wal-Mart here in Beijing). 

Life can be stressful. Life can throw all kinds of curveballs. I can freely admit (and people who know me well will agree) that I am a controlling person. I have a hard time letting go. I have always had a hard time giving up control and delegating. I know how I want things to be done, and I can see the finished product ahead, and I feel more comfortable completing it myself then letting others do it because I don't want them to let me down and I don't want to make them feel stressed by my looming over them. How controlling of me was it to say that? And reading it back it sounds so harsh! But I think that (maybe?) other people who have these controlling characteristics like I do can relate and agree. 

Let me rephrase what I mean. I have a tendency to delegate and let others help, and then in the end I tweak and redo things. In return, that probably makes them feel bad, frustrated, angry, and annoyed. And on my end I feel anxious, sad, frustrated, and annoyed. 

So, since seeing this print in Amanda's apartment, I'm trying harder to remind myself to not worry about things so much. To not be so controlling. If you can't fix it or do anything to make it better, stop worrying about it. If you can fix it and make things better, then don't worry about it. Everything gets done in time. Stop stressing so much. 

In fact, I've started showing other people this print in my room when I hear them getting stressy. I don't know if it is impacting them the same way it is impacting me, but I think it's starting to make a difference in my life. 

Print by 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Club: "The Giver"

I've always wanted to join a book club. It's probably that "literature major going to a liberal arts school" bone in my body that causes part of the urge to want to join one. So, in my latest blogpost about how I want to be living my life lately, one of those things was being more involved in the city I'm living in. Feeling more settled and that I live here, not just that I'm visiting for a prolonged amount of time. I decided before coming back to Beijing at the end of the summer, that I'd finally join a book club, something that I've been talking about doing for a few years now. A great way to motivate myself to read for pleasure, to meet new people, and to talk about and discuss good books (#nerdalert). 

Luckily for m, my friend Amanda, who also works in Beijing at another school, was also looking to join a book club and invited me to join some of her work friends at a monthly book club meeting at her school. There's the comfort of already knowing one person, but also the opportunity to meet many others. And we are all teachers, so we have that in common too which makes for great after book talk discussions with a glass of wine. 

This week we had our first meeting. Well actually the second meeting after reading our first book. I didn't attend the first meeting which is when they chose the first book we'd read: "The Giver." I was excited that they had chosen that book. Since the movie was released, it had been on "to read" book list. And now I had the push to do it. 

I first read this book when I was in the 8th grade. I remember when I read it then that I didn't understand it and therefore didn't really like it. Honestly, though I can't ACTUALLY remember, I probably didn't even finish the book because 13 year old me was so bored with it. Now, 25 year old me is laughing at the 13 year old me. But I totally get why I didn't understand nor like it at that age. It was too complex with too many underlying themes and meanings for me to really appreciate this award winning book.

So, point blank: I love this book. It's a short book. Only 180 pages. And while it deals with this "perfect" world with "perfect" people and the "perfect" solution to everything and anything, I found myself having so many different emotions in this little book. Happiness at the thought that the characters in this book don't have to experience pain and anguish and heartache. (Sidenote: I'm a big fan of a good feelings circle. Talking about your feelings, listening to others talk about their feelings, and then discussing what those feelings mean. I'm fluffy and sentimental like that). So, I loved the idea of how it is mandatory for the citizens of this "perfect" world to share their dreams that they had, to talk about how they were feeling at the dinner table, and they never questioned why they had to do so. It is just how their world is, so they do it.

But Jonas (the main character) is different then his family, friends, and neighbours. He questions why things are this way. He knows that the world must have been different at another time. And when he is appointed as the new Receiver, his questions start to be answered and he starts to learn that there is a whole lot more to life then the mundane and routine of his. And so begins his journey, where he receives memories of a time before, where he experiences love, pain, heartache, sadness, overwhelming joy and happiness. He knows things that others don't. And it's pleasure to read how he grows and how he deals with these new memories.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a short read, but it is filled with so much depth and feeling. It was awesome discussing this book with others who love reading as well. We discussed the use of colour in the book, the idea of being released and what it meant, the way the book ended and how it made us feel, and our favourite memories that were described in the book.


Have you ever read "The Giver"? What did you think? What were some of the themes that resonated with you?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Life I Want to Live. Question Mark.

This week is National Holiday in Beijing. We have the week off and so does the rest of China it seems. While I would like to go away for the week somewhere beachy, sunny, and peaceful, I need to save my money for the month I have off in February. So I stayed in Beijing, have been spending time with friends, and focusing on me. The latter activity was not planned in any way, but it has been very refreshing and much needed. 

Amanda and I have spent a lot of time together this week. Talking, laughing, playing games, eating good food, and watching good television shows and movies. In one of our talks, Amanda said something to me along the lines of living the life she wants to live. I often find myself saying in my head or out loud "I wish my life were like that" when I browse the internet, see other peoples pictures, or watch movies and TV. It comes in all variations. Big things like living in New York, taking a vacation to somewhere extravagant, or falling in love with your soulmate. Little things like having matching dinnerware, buying decorations for your home that suit your style, and having Sunday brunch with friends. I find as I'm getting older and sailing through my mid-twenties (ugh, saying that I am in my mid-twenties makes my head dizzy and I become short of breath) that I want different things in life, things that say to me that I'm ready to settle. Which surprises me, because I spend so much of time preaching that I'm not ready to settle at all. 

I love routine. I love doing things that make me feel immersed in the place I'm living in. I love doing things that make me feel like an adult (and saying THAT makes me feel SOOO immature and the opposite of adult). I want my life to be a certain way. I want to get up in the morning and stop hitting snooze 3 or 4 times. I want to come home from work at night, pour myself a glass of wine and read. I want to go out with my friends for happy hour and laugh at the ridiculous things that are said and memories that are shared around the table (I'm writing this while watching "Friends" and maybe that's a bad influence as those people never work as much as the play). I want to stop feeling anxious, stop feeling unsettled, and start feeling like me. Whatever that's supposed to feel like. 

So, I've been reflecting. Looking back on the last couple of years and thinking about what I want this later part of my twenties to be like. I'm going to start being the person I envision. The person I keep pointing at and saying "I want my life to be like that." I'm going to stop worrying about the "what if's" and start treating myself like the 25 year old that I am. Start doing the things that make me happy without feeling guilty or saying to myself "Is this normal? Am I missing out? What would others think?" Because as easy as it is to say "I'm going to stop over thinking so much!" It's definitely easier said that done.