Saturday, September 22, 2012

Books 2012: Leaving the Comfort Cafe

Leaving the Comfort CafeLeaving the Comfort Cafe by Dawn DeAnna Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was beautifully written and often surprised with vivid imagery and great wisdom spoken from the lips or minds of the characters. In general, it was a lovely story with a relatively unique and interesting plot-line. It is an interesting mix of quirky, small-town relationships and deeper family ties, the process of forgiveness, growing and falling in love.

"In the South, Tradition never dies, You can choke it and poison it and cuss at it all you like - but it never really dies." (location 158)

"You said even rejection was a celebration because it was just the universe's way of telling me it was one place where I didn't belong, a way of honing me in on the right path, even though I may know nothing about it at the time." (location 526)

"Don't think you're better than anyone else, ever, just because of what you do. What we do is just seconds to pass the time and buy the bread. Nothing more." (location 1735)

"Well you need to use the fancy soaps, wear fancy underwear, dance naked in your living room when no one's looking - ah hell, dance naked in your living room when people are looking. We wonder why God doesn't make our dreams come true, and God wonders why we never use the fancy soaps. You think He's going to give us something special when we don't know how to use what we've got?" (location 2052)

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A few other notes:

This was my 'transition' book. Transition from reading about RVing and how to live life. Transition from living in South Korea to the USA. Transition from airport-to-airport. Transition from job-to-job. It was meant to be simply, simple and easy and not too thought-provoking. I'm thankful it occasionally provoked thoughts, but mostly it let me escape and transition, exactly what I was looking for.  

Books 2012 and Home Organization

I get a daily email filled with a large handful of free Kindle books - generally they're just free for the day. I'm a sucker for these free books and therefore have a ton of books on my Kindle, which honestly, I love.

I'm not a horribly unorganized person, however I generally think I could do a little more to get things in order. So, whenever 'Pixel of Ink' sends me an email offering free books on home organization, I go ahead and click, add to my Kindle.

Fast-forward months and months. We are moving back into an old space but with some new things (including the kitchen counter) and hoping to do so in an organized, minimalist fashion. My books on home organization seem to be simply perfect considering everything is in boxes and I have extra time to think about and prepare spaces to be organized in the most efficient manner possible.

So, I've read two home organization books and here is what I've come to conclude:

How to Declutter Your Home and Your Life; Minimalist Concepts to Help You Start Organizing TodayHow to Declutter Your Home and Your Life; Minimalist Concepts to Help You Start Organizing Today by Martha Sinclair
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Although the book's focus is home de-cluttering, I felt that the majority of advice was rather common sense. I recognize that everyone is in a different stage of how to organize their home, regardless, I was hoping there would be some tips and pointers that would really stand out as innovative and creative ways to make the best of my space.

I did find some of the passages about minimalist living quite poignant, but didn't so much need the persuasion or beginning steps of living an organized life.

"Minimalism is the pragmatic belief in valuing a few chosen items in your life, and choosing to prioritize these ahead of unnecessary things. In essence, minimalism is the opposite of greedy materialism, and focuses on need and read value in order to lead a happy life instead of filling your time with things and false importance." (pg. 22/Location 138)

"Being a minimalist does not mean that your home has to be a place of deprivation." (pg. 25/Location 159).

"Always keep in mind the core of minimalism - function, need and passion. If your home reflects what you are passionate about, you will be able to better explore these passions and yourself." (pg. 25/Location 160)

View all my reviews Kitchen Organization Made Easy: Creative Kitchen Storage and Pantry Storage SolutionsKitchen Organization Made Easy: Creative Kitchen Storage and Pantry Storage Solutions by Sherrie Le Masurier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Similar to other home organization book I read recently, there just wasn't enough new and insightful ways to organize a kitchen presented in this book, I blame it on Pinterest. Regardless, the tips presented are generally simple and have all the aspects of being entirely beneficial to kitchen organization, especially for folks who may just be starting out on the organization path.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Books 2012 and Full Time RVing Considerations

In 25 days we will land on American soil and pick life up where we left it two years ago.

Occasionally, it seems as though we will pick up life, exactly where we left it.

Same employer. Same job title. Same town. Same community.

And we're okay with that.

But, occasionally, it also seems as though those 'same' things, might not give of themselves in the same way. Maybe part-time job rather than full-time. Maybe no job. Maybe less than ideal job opportunities. Maybe imperfectly located housing. Maybe no housing.

So everything is up in the air. As it has been.

And in the midst of these uncertainties I came upon the idea, the thought, the premonition, that the man and I and the little Lady could live a less 'same' life if we took the road in an RV.

So we've contemplated that option.

And it's a small possibility. It grew. It shrank. It's still there, in the back of our mind, or in the middle. As something we would and we could do. Something that could serve as an alternative.

And, in the midst of that thought, while it was at it's largest and I had hour after hour at a computer, at a desk, with nothing to do - I read and I researched and I remembered that we have no desire to live big and that whether in an RV or a Tiny House or an apartment, we should be intentional about how we use our space, what we put there, how we put it there and how we value and depend on it to define us.

The most inspiring thing I watched in this course of research was the following documentary:

And the books I read:

The Tiniest Mansion - How To Live In Luxury on the Side of the Road in an RVThe Tiniest Mansion - How To Live In Luxury on the Side of the Road in an RV by Tynan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nothing but straight forward advice for how to live in an RV full-time - goes over modifications for electric including solar panels. Would be a major bonus for folks with or considering a 95-96 Winnebago Rialta such as this man has and recommends for convenient parking and minimalist living.

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How NOT to RVHow NOT to RV by Jennifer Flower
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another, different type of look at life in an RV. Less about modifications and logistics and more about mistakes made, the price paid and joy found regardless.

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Wherever we may find ourselves in 25 days, I'm confident we can do so with gratitude, joy, intentionality and a spirit of adventure.

(Typed while sipping instant coffee mix from a black paper cup -- not many more of those in my future!)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Books 2012: The Man Who Quit Money

The Man Who Quit MoneyThe Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will continue to think about this book for a few more weeks, months, years, etc.

The concept is fascinating. The spirituality behind it is fascinating. The lifestyle is fascinating.

And all additionally insightful.

Perhaps there is no better time to read such a tale of human life than when one is at their own crossroads, a point of making decisions which will either reflect perfectly or imperfectly on the truths one claims to hold.

A few passages:

"The people who had the least were the most willing to share. He outlined a dictum that he would believe the rest of his life: the more people have, the less they give. Similarly, generous cultures produce less waste because excess is shared, whereas stingy nations fill their landfills with leftovers." (pg. 44)

"All this work, work, work and obligation we think is so righteous is really evil, destructive," Suelo concludes. "The more I read the Sermon on the Mount, the more I see it is instructions for releasing ourselves from the Money System - the System of Debt and Obligation." (pg. 198)

"Maybe the process of trying to change the world is as valuable as actually attaining that change. Because what's gained is a renewed sense of community, of knowing your neighbor. And ultimately, building community may solve problems like excessive consumption that results from America's extreme version of individuality." (pg. 240).

"When I was a kid I thought I'd be a missionary to the heathens, but now I think maybe it's okay to be a missionary, but to the Christians, because they're the ones who need it, because they don't believe their own religion." (pg. 253)

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A few other things:

First of all, I can't wait to dumpster dive again. And I want to grow food and I'm dreaming about our sustainable little plot of Wyoming that, god-willing, will some day be. And this book couldn't have come at a better or worse time. Because I don't know how to live out everything I believe and money is something that holds a lot of emotions for me, I have a lot of convictions in the realm of finances and this is a book that helps me understand them at a different depth...

But it also makes me reconsider how we're going to go about re-entering 'the American life'.

And I'm all for unconventional and reconsidering, etc. I'm just not sure where this is going - so many ideas floating around this brain box of mine.

(Typed while snacking on Strawberry Mentos although I know I should be drinking water)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Between Plans and Faith

Landing in South Korea, we carried upon our backs clothes more appropriate to travel than teaching and an odd assortment of toiletries and travel souvenirs.  Upon our hearts and minds we carried 
our plans. our desires. our dreams.

Korea was meant to be a destination that would leave us with countless tales of international travel and exploration. a sizable sum of cash to put into a Wyoming home. Korean language skills. new and numerous friendships with the locals and a few expats. 

And while it can easily be argued that these dreams and plans have been fulfilled, it seems as though there's more to be gained or as if we're leaving before fully completing all we set out to accomplish in living on the opposite end of the earth.

Yet, so clearly and so confidently, I hear the call of 
my heart. my Lord. my community. 
That now is the time to return.

Although, as of this very moment we return to nothing except 
our community. our family. our friends.

No job. No income. Insufficient savings. No house or land to call our own.

So, here we are. Having already sacrificed our plans and having decided to move forward in faith. Not regretting. Yet completely 
unsure. uncertain. unprepared. unwavering.

And the words which are on repeat, at the tip of my tongue, in this place between plans and faith:

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)


"Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

Our desires are firm and steady. This I know.
Our Lord is firm and steady. Faithful. Loving.
Our future is unclear, yet we will rest on these promises.

(Typed while replaying recent conversations and drinking a Mocha of sorts from a green paper cup)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Books 2012: Against All Odds: My Story

Against All Odds: My StoryAgainst All Odds: My Story by Chuck Norris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes I'm just thrilled to read a book that I feel my grandma would appreciate. Chuck Norris has a story I'm quite confident my grandma as well as the majority of my family can appreciate: from hardship to success with a faithful mother who instills in her own son the belief that he can do anything and the belief that there is a God who loves him and has plans for him.

Aside from feeling like I was making my family proud - I really enjoyed learning about Chuck Norris as he desires to be portrayed vs. the numerous Chuck Norris jokes which were, for a time, quite commonplace. Having practiced the martial arts myself - I was a lot more interested in that aspect of his life than I had initially anticipated.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and think I'd quite enjoy getting to know Chuck Norris and his family in real life...perhaps I'll pretend to be a long lost cousin ;)

"Every technique I had learned was sharpened by constant, loudly shouted remarks. The Korean teaching method tends to focus on what a student is doing wrong rather than on what he or she is doing well." (location 727)

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A few other notes:

Chuck Norris and I have a few things in common, such as the martial arts, having experienced life in South Korea, and being introduced at some point during our childhoods to an outstanding step-father/father role-model, among other things ^^

(Typed while enjoying the 'high' of a recently sipped Caffe TiAmo Capucino)

How I will Remember

My recent post isn't that typical of how I choose to present myself in this place.

It is a reminder to me, that journaling privately may be a worthwhile pursuit.

It is additionally a reminder that speaking honestly, being honest with yourself about emotions and feelings whether beautiful or ugly is a sweet, nourishing treat for the soul.

I'm not sure how the memories of my Korean teaching experience are going to be carried forth. I know, that within time, I will know that it was difficult and challenging, but what I will relive with the most frequency is...

how I've had students work so hard to use a second language which they have a minimal understand of, to know me and introduce their lives and their nation to me.

how some of my students have out traveled me.

how some of my students can relate to being a foreigner, in a strange land.

how through the difficulty of the past year, I have met my Korean soul sister and I daily recognized that that friendship is, without a doubt, worth every unpleasant memory and moment.

how my students have faithfully given me notes, sent me emails, offered me food and shouted warm hellos as I walk throughout the hallways and anywhere within a 1km radius of the school.

how my co-workers have consistently provided snacks, often at times when I was quite legitimately in need of food and how often times those snacks were delicious and fully enjoyable.

how I've had ridiculous amounts of time to blog and facebook and pinterest and read while at work.

how I've gained incredible skills in using PowerPoint and a few other technologies to create learning materials that are engaging.

how I've gained incredible skills in using non-technology based learning games because I think Korean students may spend too much time staring at 'screens'.

how within this position, I was able to complete a Master's degree without the addition of too much stress.

how we were able to afford an online Master's degree because of this work and still go home with savings.

how the co-worker who caused me the most difficulties gave me a hug which conveyed her regret and will undoubtedly assist me in my own process of forgiveness.

how these two years have provided me more than I can fathom, both good and bad, but ultimately formative and life-changing.

(typed while drinking water and eating cookies brought to me by a co-worker ^^)
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