Monday, December 17, 2018

So I Have This Tattoo (a post about regrets)

I would like to blame my sisters-in-law for the weird, lopsided, kind of scary sun that permanently resides on my very-low back.  I would like to say that it's because they all got tattoos that year, and said, "You should get one too, Joy!"  I would also like to say that is my husband's fault because he said, "You should get a sun!"  I’d had an idea for what I wanted, but it involved Bengali writing, and everyone made me think the tattoo artist would get it wrong and I’d have some Sanskrit obscenity permanently imprinted on my skin.


But the truth is, I can't blame anyone but myself.  I was the one who drove downtown with my sister-in-law, the one who picked out the design and signed the waiver, who paid (ugh) the money and sat through the completely voluntary pain of it.  At any of those junctures, I could have put a stop to it, but I didn't.  Not even when I saw the artist who would be putting that ink under my skin, and I was pretty sure he was stoned.  He wore his sunglasses almost the entire time, but during the brief period he removed them, his eyes were completely bloodshot.  And anyway, how else do I explain how the sun isn't exactly a circle but kind of a sideways oval?


I had picked its location because I wanted a place that wouldn't stretch out if I had another baby (my wisest decision in regards to my tattoo because I've had three babies since then), or sag, and would typically be covered by my clothing in case I was in the company of people who might frown on such things (yet here I am now, talking about it in the internet. Oh, the irony.).  But then a friend called it a tramp stamp, a term I hadn't even thought of, but it makes me blush furiously every time I think about it because that wasn’t what I’d intended, and my kids like to tell random people that Mommy has a tattoo on her butt.  It’s my very-low back, guys!!!


Apparently you have to think of everything when you're going to do something permanent like a tattoo.  Who’d of thunk.


There are definitely worse things I could have done.  It's not that big .  And I have scars on my body — chicken pox scars everywhere, acne scars on my face, a giant scar that curves up the side of my leg from falling on a hike — that I didn't choose and yet will be with me forever.  On the one hand, I can laugh (a lot, honestly) about my tattoo.  But do I regret it?  Kind of.  Okay, yes, for sure.


I try to make decisions that will lead to a life that is free of regrets.  Sometimes I spend so much time considering decisions, I live my life with such intention, you'd think it would be impossible to make a poor decision.


And yet I do. Again and again and again...


I've found myself regretting many things.  A few years ago, when we still lived in Hawaii and Annalee was a new baby, we made a trip to California, and I honestly regretted most of it.  We saw our family (good), and made it a point to view some colleges (necessary, especially since Jayna ended up at one of them).  But we had Disneyland passes that were about to expire, and we built the entire trip around that — which backfired because those two days were unseasonably hot and unexpectedly crowded.  We had fun, but there were so many friends I didn't get to see, including an older friend who was battling cancer, and I wondered if I would ever get to see her again, this side of heaven.  I stewed about it for months, honestly, wrestling with my regret, and I still kick myself about it every now and then. 


Of course, there’s a lot more than that.  I regret silly things like poor fashion choices I made (so many of them).  I wish I hadn't cut my hair super short when I was nine years old because people thought I was a boy.  I wish I could take back a million things I've said, and countless times when I lost my temper.  I wish I'd known sooner what makes my face break out because that would have been a whole lot less painful, not to mention what it looked like and that it left those unsightly scars, and everyone was always offering advice, most of which only made me feel worse about it.  I regret the ways I've let my focus be shifted from God, my husband and children, sometimes, because I will never get back that wasted, narcissistic time.  


I'm not done yet... But I think you get the idea.  It seems that there are times in my life when I can admit my regrets and move on, but there are other times when these regrets clump together into an awful, ugly monster and shadow my life, making me feel incapable of making good decisions as I dwell in the past with wishes of how to go back and make it all better. I mean, basically just picture Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.  


As we come to the end of another year, all the things I did wrong this year are coming to keep me awake at 3 am.  As I've been thinking about this, some thoughts have occurred to me.  I'm writing them down as reference to myself for future battles with the Regret Monster, but I’m sharing them with you as well, just in case you can relate.


1.  Regrets aren't all bad.  We say, "No regrets!"  We pin inspiring quotes about living a life free of regret — but to never regret anything, at least the way I see it, means to shut down our conscience, to disavow our mistakes.  That's not necessarily a good thing.  If we don't dare label things as "mistakes", we are more apt to repeat them.  Acknowledging them is key to growing.


2.  That being said, dwelling on regrets won't make them better.  Living in Regretville doesn't fix anything.  Instead of replaying the scene ad nauseum where I said the totally wrong thing or lost my temper, I need to say, "Here's what I did wrong, so next time I will..."  I do plan to get my tattoo fixed someday (because it's fixable).  And most of my other mistakes also give me a chance to repeat them and this time, hopefully, do better. 


3.  Sometimes, regrets point is to apologies we need to make.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the only thing that hurts worse than some of the bad things that have happened to me is that those who did them never apologized. I don’t want to be like that. When I’m regretting a choice I made or or words I said and I feel like I was wrong, I take the time and energy to apologize — if it’s at all possible.   


4.  It's important to distinguish between a true, regrettable mistake and a lack of perspective.  Tell me I'm not the only one who gets crazy hard on myself?  I want to be perfect and beautiful, and hilarious and kind and likable 110% of the time... And if I'm not?  If I realize I'm just a goofy dork with crazy hair and imperfect skin, and a smile that shows too many teeth (a dentist once actually told me that)?  ...I start to regret things.  Almost everything.  And that just gets exhausting.  Seriously, try regretting your smile and trying to change it.  It's almost impossible.  Just because my home doesn't look like a Pinterest-worthy mini-palace, I shouldn't beat myself up about having friends over.  I should still be able love and accept myself the way I am. Because ultimately, I should be grateful.  I have a wonderful home with plenty of clothes and good nutritious food on hand, as well as friends who love me generously in spite of my flawed skin, smile, hair and personality, and the best family in the world.


5.  Along these lines, when facing regrets, I need to believe truth, not lies.  I need to believe I'm not defined by my mistakes, that I can change things, and that I'm not doomed to repeat failure again and again.  Ann Voskamp writes in The Broken Way, “You are the most loved not when you’re pretending to have it all together; you are actually the most loved when you feel broken and are falling apart... when we’re rejected and abandoned and feel beyond wanting, Jesus cups our face: ‘Come close, beloved.’”  I am still loved in spite of what I’ve done wrong.  And if something really needs to not happen again, then with the help of God’s amazing grace, I can do that.  I have done that.  And the broken, imperfect things about me are places for His strength to be shown and His light to shine through.


__________________________________


I’d love to hear your thoughts about regrets.  What are some things you regret?  What have you learned?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

WRWE: Coziness edition!

Wow, once again it’s been way too long since I posted, but so much has been happening.  Fall has moved out and winter is earnestly here.  We got our third snowfall so far yesterday, and it was the most we’ve had.  The ground is icy and cold, but our home is cozy.  


There are some posts I really want to get done by the end of the year, and to my amazement that’s under three weeks away! So I’d better get a move on it.  And of course, because it’s been so long since I did one, it seems like a good time to do a Watching, Reading, Wearing, Eating post! So here goes:


Watching:  I’ve watched a few things since my last edition of WRWE.  Our family tradition (at least for those of us old enough for it) is to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on Thanksgiving.  It’s so good and hilarious!  This past weekend we watched Adrift.  It fell a little flat for me, honestly.  The scenery was beautiful and that it was a true story is amazing, but there was nothing really surprising or new about it.  


What I did love was that in October, we did a little Alfred Hitchcock movie fest.  Some of his films are definitely better than others (hello, The Birds, I’m talking to you — did you forget an ending? Hmmm?), but my favorite by far was Rear Window.  I keep thinking didn’t I watch this before?  I remember scenes from it, but oh my goodness, the movie is about as close to perfection as one can be.  The dialogue was entertaining, the imagery excellent and Grace Kelly + James Stewart were amazing. 


This month my family has our Christmas movie fest, which is one of my favorite things about the season!  We watch classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone (which is actually probably my least favorite), and Buddy the Elf (of course!), plus A Christmas Story and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  An aside: Skyler told me yesterday that almost no one in her English class had seen Christmas Vacation, and I was shocked!  Please tell me you’ve seen it?!  We also include Die Hard for Matt, and About a Boy — which is totally a Christmas movie.  Obviously, not all members of the family watch all of these, but it’s so much fun.  We end with The Polar Express on Christmas Eve and usually watch or re-watch A Christmas Story on Christmas Day.


Reading: I didn’t read as much as I did earlier in the year, at least for myself, but I did read a couple good books.  One I read aloud to the kids was Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat.  It was funny and interesting, and they loved it. I read Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss.  I’d seen this on a few bloggers’ lists, and then my neighbor told me she had it.  It definitely gave me a lot to think about in regards to things like purpose, pride, and my faith.  Have you read it?  


I also read Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins.  This offered fascinating insights to several famous artists and creators from Michelangelo to Jim Henson.  It gave me lots to think about, and I highly recommend it to everyone, whether or not your consider yourself an artist.


Wearing: I’m participating in Dressember this year!  

For the entire month of December, I’m wearing a dress and posting on my social media accounts to raise awareness about human trafficking.  Every day I’ve been sharing facts and figures about modern slavery, and I have a fundraising page for Dressember, which does grants to organizations such as International Justice Mission and A21, plus many others.  I’ve wanted to do this for a few years, but honestly (ridiculously) thought it was too hard for me to do.  It really isn’t!  And even if it was, what is my discomfort in comparison to an atrocity such as human trafficking?  I have my cozy layers that I talked about in this post, and I’ve been learning lots that I plan to share in a post in January.  In the meantime, I’d love if you’d pop over to my campaign page on Dressember and consider giving a small donation to this cause!


Eating:  Every Thanksgiving, we have certain standard desserts, like Dutch Apple Pie — my husband’s favorite — and also from his side of the family, banana pudding.  Plus we have pumpkin and pecan pies for sure.  But ever since my two oldest got to where they like baking, we’ve had a “wild card” pie.  This year, Skyler found buttermilk pie on Pinterest, and the comment about it said something like, “You haven’t lived until you’ve tried this pie.”  Well!  How could she not make a pie with a promise like that?

We had friends over for our feast, and they included a nine-year-old boy.  After trying it, we asked what he thought, and he said, “Well, it’s not my favorite, but at least I’ve lived now!”  That cracked us all up!  The rest of us, however, really enjoyed it.  The boy’s dad then told us about something he used to have growing up called chess pie, which he described as being similar to pecan pie, except without the pecans.  It sounds intriguing, for sure.  We’ve decided that our Christmas feasting absolutely needs to have a reappearance of the buttermilk pie, and maybe the chess pie too.  A penny for your thoughts?


Okay, this edition of Watching, Reading, Wearing, Eating has a bonus section because music is one of my favorite aspects of this season....


Listening! Music is such a huge part of my life, so I especially love listening to Christmas music.  Skyler likes the vintage sounds of Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Michael Bublé.  I love my Jars of Clay, Sufjan Stevens, Leigh Nash/ Sixpence None the Richer.  The littlest ones like TobyMac and Owl City.  There are some songs I didn’t know I loved until I heard certain artists do them, like Brandon Heath singing “In the Bleak Midwinter” — I actually can’t stand the Sarah Maclachlan version.  I know, I shouldn’t say that out loud because here come the trolls, but it depressed me! And it shouldn’t be depressing at all! Heath’s is so good, with the music actually doing the lyrics their justice.  But before you think I just hate Sarah Maclachlan, that’s completely not true.  Her rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is my favorite, and there are many who have covered it! But 


Anyway, here’s a very short list of songs we love.


Christmas This Year — TobyMac and Leigh Nash


Light of Christmas — Owl City and TobyMac


Mary’s Boy Child — Jamie Grace and TobyMac


Here With Us — Joy Williams (one of my absolutely favorite Christmas songs!)


Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — Sarah Maclachlan


Sleep, Jesus, Sleep — Sovereign Grace


In the Bleak Midwinter — Brandon Heath (and only him!)


Feliz Navidad — Michael Bublé


Love Came Down at Christmas 

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Peace is Here — Jars of Clay


Riu Riu Chiu

Angels We Have Heard on High

Some Children See Him — Sixpence None the Richer


Joy to the World

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Sister Winter

Only at Christmas — Sufjan Stevens 


Okay, I’m going to leave it there because I could spend the rest of the day just talking about Christmas music!  Every year I find new favorites, so I’d love to hear from you, as always but especially this month!  What are you watching, reading, wearing, eating and listening to?  

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Our New Home

So here’s something funny.  Whenever I meet someone here (and since I’m relatively new still, this is usually at least once a week) and I tell them I moved from Busan, they almost inevitably reply, “Oh, I’m sorry.”  


I mean, I kind of get it.  It’s a big change.  Gone are the towering apartment buildings of my old neighborhood.  The area we live in is pretty rural, with lots of rice paddies and old villages.  My bedroom view isn’t exactly the “million dollar view” I used to have of Dongbaek Island, Haeundae Beach, Dalmaji, and so much water.  Instead, I look out at a private, quiet forested hill, surrounded by pine trees, feeling like I live in a treehouse.  While tourists used to pose for pictures in front of my apartment building, the only people in front of my house are the 10-and-under set, screaming and laughing and playing games.


But I don’t hate it! Not at all!  Now that it’s November and gratitude is on our minds especially as Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been reflecting on the changes of this year and feel compelled to write about our new home and how we came to it.  


This past summer, as we anticipated our move north, closer to Seoul, I was feeling quite a bit a of dread and anxiety (referenced somewhat in this and this post).  I was moving by myself because Matt was extended at his job in Busan.  It was hard to get any information, though a couple people on Facebook helped tremendously.  I had hoped we would get to live on base after all the shenanigans with our property manager in Busan, but we were told that would be very unlikely as the base didn’t have enough housing yet.  I got sort of used to that reality and said, “Fine, as long as I don’t have to live in an apartment again.”  Because honestly, last winter in our apartment took so much out of me.  Then I was told that it was likely we would have to live in an apartment.  


I reached out to a couple realtors (property managers but they’re called realtors) in the area, and they made me think all the good places were being snatched up as I was stateside, but I wasn’t about to sign a lease sight unseen.  The soonest we could get away to go house hunting was about a week after our return to Korea, which was just a few weeks before school was supposed to start.  The day before I was supposed to leave to come north, I’d gotten more bad news, and I couldn’t get a room in base lodging or for that matter even near the base for our house hunting.  I was kind of at my wits’ end — or near it, anyway — and I sent a series of discouraged texts to my parents, big sister, and best friend stateside.  They all wrote back that they were praying, and goodness knows I was praying too, but it felt pretty futile.


I went for a run in the gym, going as hard and fast as I could until there was just no energy left to be anxious and worried.  Then I returned to the apart-hotel room we’d moved into, prayed for the umpteenth time, took a deep breath, and typed up a message on a Facebook page, introducing myself and asking if anyone knew of a particularly good realtor and good places to look for housing.  I got several really helpful answers, and one woman in particular sent me a direct message that ended up being a total game changer.


“There’s a five-bedroom house next door to mine that’s open right now,” she said.  “It’s quiet, there are hiking trails nearby, and there’s a creek and playground and tons of kids.”  She also told me about a realtor several of the neighbors used and loved.  I had an appointment arranged within minutes.  


This realtor could not have been more different from the one we’d used in Busan.  She spoke excellent English and greeted us so kindly, offering ice-cold bottles of water as we drove from house to house.  We’d talked about what we were looking for beforehand, and she seemed to “get it” exactly.  In all, we only looked at three houses — very “House Hunters International”-esque — but she said she had a longer list that were “villas”  (townhouses with no yards or outdoor areas) and apartments, and she didn’t think we’d like them as much as the houses she’d shown us.  We felt we’d seen enough, too, and really it was down to two houses.  One was the house my new friend had messaged me about.


And that’s the one we ended up with.  As the realtor put it, the other house was bigger, but this one had the best neighbors, and after having a downstairs neighbor that would growl at us in the elevator and complain to management often, it feels like the nicest gift.  They showed up with hugs and food and gifts as we moved in.  There’s lots of space for running around and playing. The kids are outside when the weather is good until the sun has set — and sometimes later! — and they’re dirty from head to toe when they finally come inside from playing in the woods or down at the playground or creek.  It feels like they’re doing the kinds of things kids are supposed to get to do again.


Another big change is that I also started homeschooling the youngest three again about a month into the school year (if you remember, I homeschooled when we lived in Hawaii, and I’d actually missed it these past two years!).  I had wanted to make a decision when school started, but since that was less than a week after we moved in, I just could hardly think straight.  But I found that this was one case where I don’t think it hurt anything to decide to homeschool when I did.  The dust had settled, and I could reason more clearly.


Then there are other changes, like how I have a dryer again.  Living close to a commissary — rather than a couple hours away — means I have pizza and frozen yogurt in my freezer again, which is both convenient and delicious.  Some of the changes are both good and a little sad.  I miss the conversations I had with the owner of the pizza place I went to on Friday nights... but I know I won’t miss the walk through the frigid wind to get there in a couple months!  My friends here mostly Americans, which is wonderful, but I remember fondly the birthday parties I attended in Busan where “Happy Birthday” was sung in English, Korean, and Norwegian.  I miss the international community I was part of there, and the diverse stories and perspectives I got to hear.  

But there’s so much more open space, and the beauty, patterns, and rhythms of the countryside are a welcome change.


It was still a challenge to move here without Matt.  We had two months of a “commuter marriage”, though thankfully that’s over now!  It could definitely have been worse.  When we were doing our safety inspection with the realtor, the superintendent of our neighborhood and his wife came to meet us.  They are the sweetest couple.  “Don’t worry,” they told my husband, “we will take good care of your family while you’re in Busan.” And they did!


Anyway, as I sit here, reflecting on gratitude this Thanksgiving week, I’m humbled and awed once again at the goodness of God.  And I want to point out that it isn’t because this move turned out exactly the way I wanted it to six months ago.  I still had to move before Matt, we didn’t get base housing, no lightning bolt and voice from Heaven told me to definitely homeschool.  There were many moments of anxiety and tension and worry.  I’m not saying all this to point out my holiness or goodness — since I’m so, so grateful anyway — because actually the opposite is true.  I fought, I stressed, I complained to God (and people) pretty much every step of the way.  But now, when I look around and feel the peace, contentment, and gratitude for how He has worked things out, I feel pretty silly for all the grumbling.


During the summer, I actually said the words, “[With this move] I keep saying, ‘Okay, it will be fine as long as this or that happens.’  And God keeps saying, ‘Lower your expectations. Nope, lower still.  Lower.... L o w e r....’”  Now, on the other side of the move, my change-resistant soul bows humbly at the words, “‘If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?’”  Emphasis mine, because hi, that would be me. (Matthew 6:30 NIV). 


I’ve received so much more already than I ever thought I would — sweet neighbors and new friends, a lovely house surrounded by natural beauty we wouldn’t have had on base (sorry, but it’s true), a sense of quiet peace and assurance that I’m doing the right thing homeschooling my younger kids at this point in time.  Once again, I see how God provides not exactly according to our plans or what we tell the world we want but according to exactly what our hearts need.  


And I am so very thankful.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Mr. Toilet/ Haewoojae: You’ve Gotta Go!

“But... but... where did they go to the bathroom?”  I was that girl, reading books like Swiss Family Robinson, Little House in the Big Woods, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and so on with this one pressing question.  It was in the dark ages, of course, before internet searches were available, and the couple times I came right out and asked the teacher in front of the class, everyone laughed and I was told not to create such disruption.


So for a long time, I had to sit quietly, lost in my wondering.  I don’t think I was that weird.  I grew up in a country where a very common friendly question translates literally to, “How are your bowels?”  There were also times when I desperately needed a bathroom and couldn’t find a suitable one anywhere.  Moreover, I was well-acquainted with horrific news stories of cholera epidemics that wiped out thousands of lives, with a lack of good toilets largely to blame.  


The bottom line is (yes, potty pun intended), toilets are really very important.  And apparently, someone in Korea agreed with me.  When I was still living in Busan, I heard about the Mr. Toilet museum in Suwon (near Seoul), and thought, Now this is a place I need to see!  After our move this summer, I realized I was only twenty-something miles from it.  I couldn’t wait.  I had to go.


Finally, last week when my parents were visiting, we made the long-anticipated expedition.  Upon our arrival, we saw the giant toilet I’d seen in pictures, surrounded by statues in a park-like setting, but since it was pouring down rain, we first went to the “cultural center” with a children’s poo activity room.


Yes, you read that right.  

Anything and everything you could want to know about fecal matter seemed to be in this room.  The only problem was that while many of the questions were in English, the answers were in Hangul.

Some information was there, including this sign that affirmed my vegetarianism.  

And other information was more pictorial and therefore easy to comprehend.  

There were lots of interactive exhibits and a giant slide that went down a toilet. 
 The kids — okay, fine, and the adults — thought it was pretty funny,
 though after a while my mom and I were feeling a bit queasy.


By then the rain had let up, so we crossed the road to the giant toilet, passing on our way a display of artistically decorated urinals.  I learned that the Hangul name for the museum was Haewoojae, which means “a house to relieve one’s concerns.”  It was built by a former mayor of Suwon, Sim Jaedok, who demolished his house of 30 years to create the giant toilet as a celebration of the World Toilet Association.  I tried to picture myself doing the same thing, and I was fairly certain my family would think I was even crazier than I’ve seemed at times.  So I was impressed that upon his death, Jaedok’s family turned it into a public museum.  

There were all sorts of chamber pots and commodes from different times in history, 

plus informative exhibits detailing everything from what people around the world use to wipe themselves 

to how toilets work and how much water they use when flushing.  There were puzzles the kids could put together depicting scenes of toilets through the ages 

and an interactive screen wall where the kids could hit floating pieces of “poo” and turn them into butterflies, birds, and flowers.

But wait, there was more.  


In the surrounding park outside, there was a large sculpture of the Golden poo (see in the picture at the top of the post), which we had learned was “hashtag poo goals,” or the quintessential healthy number two.  This golden specimen of unicorn excrement could be found in latrines all around the park, of which there were many.  There were also sculptures of people using the bathroom, 

though in all but one statue of a baby, you could only see the bottom (thank goodness!).  I also learned surprising tidbits of Korean history and culture (read the signs).


I wish the museum had more English in the children’s area, and that they provided information about just how important good sanitation services are, possibly citing specific statistics on how many people die each year from diseases caused by a lack therof.  There were a couple exhibits that touched on this, but more information would give the otherwise very interesting but lightweight locale a bit more substance, or raison d’être.  


I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Pyramids at Giza, and now I’ve been to the giant toilet in Suwon.  As I left, I felt like I could write a new Visa advertisement, “Road toll: 2,600 won each way.  Admission to Mr. Toilet/ Haewoojae: free.  The feeling that you’ve seen it all: priceless.”




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WRWE: Beginning of Fall

“My favorite poem is the one that starts ‘Thirty days hath September’ because it actually tells you something.” ~Groucho Marx


Well, thirty days for September plus seventeen for October were not enough for me to get the Watching, Reading, Wearing, Eating post that I was planning done. In my defense, the first half of October was a little crazy.  We made another trip to Busan for my husband’s Change of Command ceremony, for one thing, though we didn’t have time to check anything else off the bucket list. I have also started homeschooling Lilly and Wyatt (again — I used to homeschool when we lived in the States), and that required a whole lot of my time to get the ball rolling.  


I thought about just skipping it for September except there are two particularly important items I wanted to mention, plus the fun stuff for wearing and eating.  Also, we are doing a film fest in October that I can’t wait to tell you about — next month! 😉


So here it is. I can’t really call it the September edition, so the WRWE “Beginning of Fall” edition.


Watching:  the hands-down best thing we watched in September was the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about Fred Rogers.  I’m usually the last one to see stuff, but if you haven’t watched this yet, why not?! It’s so good. I cried all the way through it — but also laughed more than I expected to.  It is the most inspiring thing I’ve watched in a while, making me so badly want to a better neighbor — not just to those living literally next door but in the broader sense of the word— and also a better friend, better wife, better mother.


Reading: I read a couple fun light and fun fiction books in September at the recommendation of Janssen Bradshaw at Everyday Reading. One was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and the other The Summer I Turned Pretty, both by Jenny Han, which took me back to my high school days.  (Check out Janssen’s reviews for them here and here.) 


I’m glad I read two more or less lighthearted books before taking on Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal Al-Sharif.  This is a very important and bravely written book, but gosh, it was hard to get through.  I feel physically ill when I read or hear about children being hurt, and this book addresses many things including child abuse and female circumcision. So you can imagine the state I was in reading it. I’ve read and learned quite a bit about Islam in college and since, besides being born and spending my childhood in a predominantly Muslim country.  But this was still eye-opening and informative to me, so I can imagine most everyone would learn something. The overall message is so inspiring and hopeful. I highly recommend it. 


Wearing: September had the most wonderful weather. Seriously, if you’re thinking of a trip to South Korea, September might just be the perfect month for it! I started reaching for jackets in the mornings and evenings, though — just lightweight ones like this sueded-knit moto jacket from Old Navy. 


 I love these moto jackets so much, I actually have two — this and a fleece one I traveled with this summer that was just perfect for places like San Francisco 

and the California coast, 
which can still be very cool in the summer.  Both of mine were purchased last year, but you can find similar ones here and here.


Eating: Sometimes I just want a quick lunch. But I’m vegetarian.  I don’t always want PB&J, and I’m trying not to eat much cheese for several reasons, including that dairy, it seems, is not a friend to my complexion.  I came across this recipe for a sort of tuna salad redux, and then I simplified it even more.  I take a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drain and and mash them up coarsely using a potato masher.  Then I add two tablespoons of vegan mayo, one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, one tablespoon of minced onion, and a tablespoon or two of minced dill pickles and stir it all up. It’s delicious, and easy- chickpeasy. (Too corny? Sorry.)


Anyway, I have some fun posts planned, and hopefully now that we are finding our groove, I’ll have them up soon! In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! What have you been watching, reading, wearing, and eating?