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“How to Be a Bawse” by Lilly Singh

I admire you, Lilly Singh. You walk your name, Superwoman, well. You truly know How to Be a Bawse. As a direct result of reading your book I know 100% my life will be, is, different going forward. You spoke to me in the form of a picture book for adults. (Not that kind of adult.) I didn’t even know that’s what I needed to light a fire under my butt. I am not aware of everything you do, but I do know you do a lot and you got there by doing a lot. And you are one of the few out there who knows every human being has the capability to be a bawse, but not every human being is willing to put in the work to be a bawse. To fix this problem, you wrote a book, knowing full well that to some, reading a book from start to finish can be intimidating.

I’m sorry it took depression to get you to eventually become the kickass woman you are today, but I’m glad it made you appreciate colors in a whole new light. Your book cover is eye-catching to say the least and every single picture in the book grabbed my attention as well. Your 50 short chapters about 2-3 pages each divided the book up in parts that made it a breeze to get through, absolutely perfect for the A.D.D. mind. It is a book that avid readers can most certainly enjoy, but also one where if someone was not into reading, they would find it easy to follow and get through and not feel like reading is a chore. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if your book turned non-readers into avid readers.

Your comedic personality shines through and I am so glad you can back up every single truth bomb with an example or story from one of your many life experiences. You are without a doubt a funny motivational speaker as well. Every single chapter is relatable in some way and there is a lesson to be learned within each chapter. You cover just about every aspect of life from how to think to how to feel to how to talk to your parents to how to set deadlines to how to learn and grow from a break-up to how to drink water to how to be a good friend to how to invest in yourself to how to hustle harder. I mean I could go on and on, but you leave no stone unturned. Best of all, you do all this efficiently.

To top it all off, you give God the glory for all your success. You remind everyone that no matter what they believe in, even if it wasn’t God, there is something out there bigger than them that can give and can taketh away. I admire you, Lilly Singh. Like a Shakespearean sonnet. You are not only a bawse and show exactly how you got there, but you GET IT. Zoop!

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“Circe” by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller is my new favorite author. She makes me want to take a Classics class. I don’t even know what that class is officially called, but anything that has to do with Greek gods and I am in. From Circe I have learned the Greek gods are more like humans than we can imagine, but things like kindness and friendship is not something they are familiar with. And I hate to say this, but I think I have more in common with Circe than I’d like to admit because of who she is and what happens to her.

Getting exiled to an island due to transforming your sister into a six-headed monster is not my idea of a good time, but as a crazy writer introvert, I can relate to her life on the island in a weird way. Ever since my pre-teens I have dreamed of being on an island with no rules and being able to bring anyone on it as I like and if I had a boyfriend, do anything with him that I wanted and anything he wanted. Circe may be considered a witch, but there must be something therapeutic in working on her potions and spells and using different herbs and such like I find in writing or reading. She fell in love with the wrong man at the beginning of her journey and that caused her to not desire a commitment. I can understand that.

When men came to her island to rape her, she started turning all of them into what they are: pigs. While I cannot relate to that, I can understand why she would want to do that. In a world where women were devalued and not in control of anything, Circe was able to take control of her own life on her island and even find peace in being alone. She knew in her exile that she must still find a way to make things right with Scylla, her sister she turned into a monster, which is why she went in the end to find her. Things did not turn out the way she wanted, but she found the understanding she craved in Telemachus, Penelope’s son with Odysseus.

I admire Circe for her strength and independence. She may not do everything right, but she knew how to make the best of every situation throughout all her wild adventures. She also didn’t get everything she wanted, but she did get the understanding she desperately needed in the end. Isn’t that all we are ever asking for?

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“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

I know why Madeline Miller won the Orange Prize for Fiction for her debut novel, The Song of Achilles. She took a ten-year risk to write about characters from an ancient Greek epic poem from the point of view of the underdog. She put together sentences like these ones: “His fingers touched the strings, and all my thoughts were displaced. The sound was pure and sweet as water, bright as lemons. It was like no music I had ever heard before. It had warmth as a fire does, a texture and weight like polished ivory. It buoyed and soothed at once. A few hairs slipped forward to hang over his eyes as he played. They were fine as lyre strings themselves, and shone.” (p. 34, The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller) She paints a picture of the perfect man who does not exist in real life, but makes every girl (and man) drool over him to be real anyway. She describes a world where gods and humans coexist, fighting over land and honor, the stuff of Kings working toward expanding their Kingdoms. She is a woman, yet is able to describe the admiration and appreciation of beauty in a man from the point of view of a man so realistically there is beauty in that that comes to life, jumping off the page into the life of the reader. Before this book I had no idea there were so many ways to describe a beautiful man or the intensity of the wrath of a goddess, feeling the doom as if Thetis were there in the room with me.

Yet despite all the love and beauty between one man and another, as well as eventually between a man and his best woman friend, Briseis, Miller manages to portray the barbarity of the war. Women are taken as prizes and bed-slaves. Virgin daughters are sacrificed to appease the anger of the gods. Skulls crack open when one man kills another. Here is where hubris is introduced for the first time and henceforth all tragedies moving forward includes an element of excessive pride, or “arrogance that scrapes the stars, for violence and towering rage as ugly as the gods.” (p.295, The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller) I could not have defined that word any better. Nobody could appreciate Achilles better than Patroclus could and for this Patroclus deserved his own admirer in the form of Briseis. This is the beginning of good triumphing over evil and love conquering all. This is also where dying in a war is more honorable for a prince than dying for any other reason. This is where gender roles are explored for the first time and experiencing ramifications of disobeying the Greek gods. The whole novel is a song in itself, singing of the depth of true love and the amount of blood a man will shed to protect those who he truly cares about, men and women alike. Not too shabby for an underdog like Patroclus.

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Mark

The hardest part is knowing you will never walk through the Orchestra doors again to come give me a hug and ask how I’m doing, even more than it was for me to visit you in your home for the first and last time and see you in your skeletal state. I wanted to be positive or say something uplifting, but I lost it as soon as I saw you that night looking like my dad did right before he went. You comforted me when he went. You comforted me when I was having a hard time at work. You did stuff like that for anyone you got to know and helped any Orchestra member work on their craft with you if needed. You were that kind of music teacher, one who was not just a music teacher. And that was just with the musicians you knew. The next day I heard someone sobbing in my car on the way home after work. Your record was on. I wanted to comfort her, the one that was sobbing. But my ugly cry was clouding the road and I couldn’t stop the sobbing because life’s not fair when it comes to cancer. I laughed at no jokes at work. I spoke to no one unless I had to. Nothing was worse than realizing the sobbing was coming from me, the girl who hates to be sad, who hates it so much she has to listen to Britney Spears to get back in a better mood. In less than two weeks later you went. My sobbing had become uncontrollable at this point. Then those of us who could make it said good-bye to you on a Monday night. But it’s not really good-bye. It was a celebration of your life, the way you left your mark on this world. It’s not about the numbers, but when I looked around and saw so many people there, it was a testimony to the way you spread joy to everyone you came across and made friends wherever you went. You were that kind of follower of Jesus. I didn’t lose it until one of your best friends in the Orchestra went up to the podium to share your funnies. There were so many, laughter came shooting out of my belly like a dragon and that was the beginning of the end of my sobbing. It was like a switch turned it off because I finally got it. It’s not about being sad because you’re gone. We will see you again one day. It’s not even about the way you played your sax so beautifully and humbly. It’s about the fact you lived a full life with the time that you had. You prioritized your family and friends because life is meaningless if you don’t appreciate those around you. But it all comes down to your love of the Lord, which is what motivated everything you did on this Earth. Now if I have a bad habit I want to break I’m going to think of what you said at the music convention to the trombonist before I start something I will regret: “Don’t do it, man!”

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“Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis

Dear Rachel Hollis,

Thank you. You don’t know me, but thank you for reminding me that sometimes watching TV is bailing on myself. Thank you for sharing your love story; I have learned how to identify toxic people in my life and successfully walk away from them. I have never felt so empowered in all my life. Thank you for that strength I didn’t even know I had in me. Thank you for sharing your pregnant story; I have learned that all you need to do during that time is make sure you take care of the baby and then yourself. If I ever get pregnant, I will keep that in mind. Thank you for teaching me that my goals don’t have expiration dates. I love that even though it took you years to buy your very first Louis Vuitton bag, you were able to imagine your dream in such intricate detail so early on that it became a reality one day. I’m sorry you went through so much trauma losing your brother to suicide, but thank you for sharing the story to remind me that trauma does not define my life. Thank you for talking to me like I’m one of your girl friends and believing in me even though you don’t know me. Thank you for not being afraid to talk about God, yet being considerate of those who are a different faith than you. I admire you for that. Thank you for not sugar-coating any of your stories and literally letting me see the good, the bad, and the ugly of what happened to you as a mom, as a marathon-runner, as a teen, as an entrepreneur, and as a writer. I know you wear even more hats than that, but truly, you are amazing just the way you are and I hope you stay that way. Thank you for sharing that part of eating every Oreo in sight and the other part of drinking all the wine. You are so honest, raw, and real. My favorite type of book to read is the novel and while your book was not a novel, I read it like it was the kind of novel I can’t put down. You don’t know me, but I love you as my sister in Christ. You don’t know me, but I think you do.

Love,

Me

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Deep Thoughts #5 at Pilgrim Coffee

Saturday, June 2, 2018 – This was not the fifth one I had been to. I think this was my second one. I liked the name of the coffee shop, Pilgrim Coffee, and it was surprisingly easy for me to find, but I didn’t like the design of the name of the coffee shop. It looked too generic. I’m bothered by the little things as well as the big things. I remember liking my pastry and latte, but I couldn’t tell you what specifically I liked about it. I would say it tasted too generic as well, but I feel like most coffee places are like that. Our host provided a sheet with three topic points to cover. One was on FOMO vs. JOMO, another one on if discomfort has to come with personal growth, and a third one on how to describe home. I liked all of them because I can relate to all of them one way or another. But the thing is, what I remember the most from this get-together was not our answers to these questions. It was when we talked about our lives. It’s not that these topics weren’t interesting to talk about. They were, but they were even more interesting to discuss once we made our answers personal and then some. I think that’s with a lot of things in life. It’s just hard to be interested in something that we have no personal perspective on. Time moves so much slower when you’re trying to pay attention to someone speaking about something in a monotone or in such a way that expresses they are not passionate about the topic they are talking about. That’s why when you’re watching your favorite TV show or movie, you get to the end and you’re always like “that’s it?” 2.5 hours may have passed, but it feels like it was only 0.0167 hour. Guys, I’ve just explained the existence of movie marathons and binge watching. On that note, I’d like to say this: I enjoy these kinds of Nerdy 30s Ladies get-togethers because I get to learn more about other people’s perspectives on life as well as learn more about my likes and dislikes with regards to my environment. El fin.

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What I Learned From Chadwick Boseman

https://www.thefashionisto.com/photo-shoot/chadwick-boseman-2018-rolling-stone-essence/

Black Panther is what got me to notice Chadwick Boseman, but it was not until after he passed did I learn of two essential characteristics of who this man was. After I saw the movie, I Googled him and his co-stars like I’m in the habit of doing after every good movie I see. The first thing that caught my eye was that he was a Christian and prayed for the role of T’Challa before getting it. I got goosebumps just reading about that. Then after he passed, I saw numerous articles about what he did in his life come up on my social media feeds. One thing that stuck out was an article on him surprise-visiting sick children battling debilitating illnesses at a hospital all while he secretly was battling colon cancer himself. I was shocked and overwhelmed by emotion to say the least because as some of you may know, this hit home for me as colon cancer is exactly what my father passed away battling. On top of that I saw more recent pictures of him at an awards ceremony, when stage three had progressed to stage four, and he looked way skinny, like the way my father did at stage four. I’ve never met him or spoken to him, but I felt myself getting watery eyes reading about his life. Boseman was diagnosed with stage three back in 2016, which means he had it even while filming the action-packed movie, doing most of his own stunts, and I have no words except for:

Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

The first quote is a Bible verse and I have no idea if it was his favorite one or anything, but it was the first one that popped into my head and I think it describes him well. Again, obviously I never knew him personally and can only make these observations from afar, but it seems to me that he tried to live his life in such a self-sacrificing way in order to do what God called him to do he would rather do it to lose his life on Earth if that meant dying to himself over and over again to live for Jesus. What I mean by that is I’ve seen firsthand the toll colon cancer can take on a person’s physical health and yet Boseman put others’ needs before that of maintaining his health. He still went in for treatments, but he did it in private, not wanting anyone to worry over him and insist he not work too hard or overexert himself or anything like that I’m sure. When he accepted a movie role, he gave it his all despite his condition because the Father’s will was that important to him.

The second quote is by someone I’m assuming well-known, but I’m sorry to say I don’t know who exactly. I just know I’ve heard it many times and it’s not that I never knew what it meant, but I feel like I really know what it means now through Boseman’s example. I had no idea he was battling colon cancer as I’m sure many of you who liked him didn’t either. The fact that he was able to hide something that big in his life so he could be an encourager for others is a true testament to his character. Imagine all the people he came into contact with having no idea what he was going through. How do they feel now, knowing the truth? What a humble man. Gosh, Chadwick Boseman really lived up to his movie role, but more than that, he knew how to be a superhero on the inside, too.

Someone may not be polite back to you. Someone may take their frustrations out on you. Someone may just not understand you. It’s okay. Don’t be so quick to judge, but please be kind back. You never know…

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Crazy Writer Time #6: Hemingway was onto something

You too, are a crazy writer. Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He is correct. There’s culture, there’s race, there’s gender, there’s sports fan, there’s music fan, there’s age, and then there’s writer. We belong in a category all our own. I mean, if you really think about it, I think writer might be a category for everybody. I used to think all my overanalyzing everything, all my replaying every embarrassing moment in my head, all my word hustling, all my perfectionism, all my redundancy, all my thoroughness, all my curiosity…was just a girl thing. Now that I really think about, it’s a crazy writer thing. And honestly it probably stems even further than that. It’s a human thing. Whether you actually enjoy writing or not, as long as you learned how, you’ve probably done some sort of writing in your life for any number of reasons, from making a grocery list to writing a dissertation. Every piece of writing comes as a result of thinking. You wouldn’t even be able to do any physical writing without thinking. So in a way everyone who is able to think is a writer. Every thought that is not voiced aloud can be written down and in a way appears in invisible ink on invisible paper that is stored somewhere underneath an invisibility cloak. But when we need something to be written down for real, we can always pull off the invisibility cloak. (If only crafting a novel was that easy, am I right?) When Hemingway said we bleed, he meant we share the raw unadulterated thoughts that most people would be too afraid to share. We do this because we are crazy writers and that is part of who we are. Each one of these thoughts we share opens us up for ridicule and shame and ultimately, judgment. But we do it anyway because it is who we are.

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birthday melancholy

 

It’s my birthday month. No, it doesn’t mean I celebrate myself for a whole 31 days. It just means my birthday lands on a day this month that is between 1 and 31 and can be equal to or greater than 1 or equal to or less than 31. 😉

As you can see from my photographic evidence, on my birthday this year my mom made me a birthday non-alcoholic beverage that was kind of like a virgin mojito. There is honey, mint and lemon in it and it is delicious. She also bought me a tiramisu cake. I got some ‘happy birthday’ texts/e-mails/birthday cards from a couple of friends/co-workers. Then I went out and redeemed my birthday freebies from Panera, B&B Theatres, and Sephora. Finally, I branded myself with a temporary tat just because. The free pastry I tried this year from Panera was the Bear Claw and I paired it with a caffè mocha. Both were fantastically yummy and bitter and sweet in all the right places at all the right times of consumption. No joke. I am looking forward to the day I get this combo again on a non-birthday day. I got to share my free large popcorn from B&B Theatres with my mom and she didn’t want any of the free soda, so I had a free large Dr. Pepper to myself. (In case you were wondering, I was not able to finish all of that soda.) At some point I will try my free birthday cream I got from Sephora. All in all, it was an enjoyable pandemic birthday.

BUT it also lead to my birthday melancholy. And I’m not talking about the virus. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m not the kind of person who absolutely has to have a birthday party with all that jazz. I’m simply making some observations about birthdays. Just want to make that clear. I do have a lot to be grateful for, but I went through my annual birthday melancholy because the last couple of years it has become a barometer for who are the friends in my life who truly care about me. The measurement was who would remember my birthday on their own and simply wish me a ‘happy birthday.’ It sounds stupid, but that was the only measurement, despite the fact that I know I have friends who are just bad at remembering birthdays, but have been there for me throughout the other days of the year.

What brought this melancholy on was Facebook. There’s an option on Facebook to put your birthdate and then on your birthday you would at least get a ton of messages pouring in from your Facebook friends due to the Facebook reminder. But I’m stubborn and chose not to follow the trend and so decided not to post my birthdate on my Facebook. My thought process is I don’t want to get ‘happy birthday’ messages on Facebook as a way for people to have a cheap reminder for when it is my birthday, therefore not “counting.” So when I get a text or e-mail instead, I’ll know this friend took the time to remember my birthday on their own or maybe they wrote it down somewhere on their personal calendar or something. The point is it’s more personal this way than Facebook. I know I’ll get a lot more birthday wishes if I put it on Facebook, but when I don’t without the Facebook reminder, that’s when the sadness sets in and turns into melancholy. I know it’s silly to feel this way, but that’s how I’ve been feeling every year on my birthday now.

It’s so weird because I look back on my past birthdays and I know I’m feeling this because I used to get several texts and even birthday hangouts where a group of us girls who all had birthdays in July would go out and do something fun together to celebrate. That was in my 20s. Before that I had birthday parties and birthday dinners with my closest friends. I guess in my head I start wondering what happened to those friends and those days. So this year I wanted to take a picture of everything I got to treat myself on my birthday and I got to thinking if I lose every single friend I ever have one day, at the very least I have a way I can celebrate on my own. Because no matter what, I will always support myself to live, to keep going, to keep trying to make sense of this crazy thing we call life, whether there’s a Facebook reminder for that or not.

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Deep Thoughts #2 at Opera House Coffee & Food Emporium

 

Saturday, March 3, 2018 – This was not the first Deep Thoughts event of the Nerdy 30s Ladies, but it was the first one I went to. I had been looking forward to an event where all us girls can talk about anything that is not guys, love life, relationships, and hair and makeup or whatever. Anything else at all. As usual, whenever an event was located downtown, I’d stress about parking. Luckily, I think on that day I was able to find a parking spot on the street somewhere a couple of blocks away. When I got to Opera House, I noticed right away this was not your regular coffee house. There was a coffee station, couches, and tables where you could enjoy your coffee selection, and around the corner another station where breakfast and lunch was served. It’s like a place where you can shift from breakfast to lunch with a simple set change. It’s like a sit-com! The girls I met that day were from all over the country and it was really nice to talk to each of them. One was from Germany and shared the same interests in writing as me. It was refreshing to talk to her. I can’t remember all our topics, but I remember talking about our jobs and spaces we live in. But most of all, I remember the feeling of walking away knowing I had made some new girl friends who had other interests besides typical girly stuff and I fit right in. There’s no better feeling in the world.