Thursday, November 26, 2015

Changing Seasons

There is a tree outside my window at work. (Okay, technically it's not my window because there are two other cubicles between me and the window but my desk faces the window.) As the weather has gotten cooler, I've watched the leaves change and fall from this tree. Up until last week, there have been leaves clinging tenaciously to the branches of this little tree outside my window. Then one day, I came to work and all the leaves had fallen, leaving the tree naked and cold.

Reflecting upon this tree, I see parallels between me and the last few leaves on the tree. Every fall, these leaves know that their time is up. Their time clinging to the branches during a warm summer breeze have faded to the cold winter snow that falls from the sky. How often do I wish to bask in the warm summer breeze in order to avoid the discomfort and unknown of the cold winter snow that must come to everyone.

Every life has its seasons. Some seasons are longer than others. For example, my season of being a single young adult is already stretching longer than I had anticipated. For some it's school. For others it's being unemployed or childless or stuck in a job they didn't want. There are many seasons. Sometimes we want the seasons to be over as quickly as possible. (How I feel about the cold winter season.) Other times, we don't want the season to ever end. (My feelings for summer.)

However, just like the leaves on the tree, every season must end so that another may begin. Change is not a bad thing although it can be scary. Eventually, we must give in and let go of our branch and fall into the unknown, having faith that everything will be okay.

And you know what? Everything will be okay. Because change and growth are a necessary part of our mortal journey. I don't know what my mortal journey entails exactly, but I know that I as have faith and allow myself to be open to new opportunities, I'll find my way.

There is a tree outside my window at work. Soon it's naked branches will be covered with snow. Soon, however, the breeze will blow a little warmer. The sun will shine a little brighter, and the snow will melt making way for the bright green leaves that will wave happily on a warm summer day.

Because life is about changing seasons.

Smile Always,


Monday, September 21, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: Beowulf

2015 Reading Challenge: A book that was originally written in a different language.

Translated by Seamus Heaney
213 pages (with original Old English on facing pages)

Grende's Mom
Many others...

At the beginning of the poem, we learn of the Danes and their Grendel problem. Grendel is some kind of Big foot monster who is considered spawn of Cain. He likes to come to King Hrothgar's golden town hall in the middle of the night to kill people and eat them. It's a big problem for the Danes. One that plagues them for many years.

Beowulf shows up out of the blue and helps the Danes and Hrothgar by tearing Grendel's arm off so he bleeds to death (or so I understand). But then, Mama Grendel shows up and takes the king's favorite advisor out of revenge for her son's death. Beowulf steps up once again to save the Danes. He jumps into a big lake to fight Grendel's mom. Then he steals dead Grendel's head for the king. The king is so happy he sends Beowulf home with all sorts of gold and treasure.

Then Beowulf grows old and kills a dragon and then dies. Now you don't have to read the poem!

I was surprised at how easy it was to read Beowulf. I always thought it was going to be so hard for me to read and comprehend. I really enjoyed it, to my surprise. I was given the book by my younger brother, who had a lovable quirk of giving gifts so that he could borrow them later for himself. I couldn't help but think of him as I read it. I wouldn't recommend this poem to just anyone... or really anyone. It's kind of weird and surprisingly gory.I'm not sure I really understand or love classic literature but I'm glad I finally read it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: Persuasion

2015 Reading Challenge: A book with a one word title

Jane Austen
243 pages

Anne Elliot
Captain Frederick Wentworth
Sir Walter Elliot
Elizabeth Elliot
Mr. William Elliot
Lady Russell
Charles & Mary Musgrove
Louisa Musgrove
Henrietta Musgrove
Mr. & Mrs. Musgrove
Mrs. Smith
Admiral & Mrs. Croft

Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth met and fell in love when she was a young woman. When Anne announced the engagement, Lady Russell, practically Anne's surrogate mother/her actual neighbor, convinced her to call it off because he had no job (at the time), or money, and was below her (Anne's) station in life. Frederick was angry and left the area to find his fortune without Anne.

Eight and a half years later, Anne's family is struggling financially. They end up renting their estate out to Admiral Croft, who happens to be Frederick Wentworth's brother-in-law. So Sir Walter and Anne's older sister, Elizabeth, head off to Bath in an "effort" to help with their financial situation. Anne goes to stay with her younger sister Mary and her husband Charles. It turns out that Captain Wentworth, yep he's a captain now, is looking to get married and soon. So he starts hanging around with the Musgrove sisters, Louisa and Henrietta, who live next to Mary and Charles. So suddenly Anne has to see her former fiance flirt with other girls. Young girls while she is getting on in age at the ripe old age of 28.

Anne still has feelings for Captain Wentworth but he seems pretty upset with her. Will they end up together? Or does he end up with one of the Musgrove sisters?

I really liked this book. This is only my second Jane Austen book (my reading goal for next year is her books), but I truly enjoyed reading about it. I felt like she capture a girl's feeling when a guy she has liked or currently likes, comes around and acts indifferent to her. The anxiety and the excitement. I felt like I could relate to Anne a lot. It had a different feel than Pride and Prejudice, which is the other Jane Austen book I've read, but it was refreshing. I love a good story about unrequited love that is really requited and the agony that comes with it. It's about a girl who learns about regret but also learns to grow up. You aren't always ready for marriage until a little later in life.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: Lord of the Rings- Return of the King

2015 Reading Challenge: A Trilogy.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
340 pages (not including the appendices at the end)

... And many, many others

The final chapter of the trilogy brought part of the fellowship (everyone but Frodo and Sam) fighting against the armies of Sauron. They fight a good fight against the forces of evil at the cost of many good men. Aragorn is finally ready to step forward and fulfill his duty/right as King of Gondor. It's finally time.

Sam and Frodo travel the barren waste that is Mordor. It is only because of Sam that Frodo even makes it to the mountain to destroy the ring. They are nearly out of food and have to scavenge for drinkable water. It is now that Sam realizes that he probably will not be making a return trip to the Shire. He becomes grim but determined to help Frodo on his journey.

The ring ends up in Mount Doom with Gollum in the lava. The Sauron's tower collapses and his forces are left leaderless, thus making it possible for the army of men (and hobbits, elves, and dwarves) to push back the evil army. Soon there is peace in all the land of middle earth. Aragorn married Eowan and takes the throne. Frodo and his companions make their way back to the Shire, first stopping in Rivendell to visit old Bilbo.

The Shire is not how the hobbits left it a year earlier. They still have to fight a few more battles before they will finally find some peace and rest after their adventure. Soon, all the evil is flushed out of the Shire and the hobbits can finally settle in peace. [This isn't ever mentioned in the movies- although it does allude to the fact that Saurmon/Sauron have some sort of power even in the Shire.]

I really enjoyed this book even though it took me longer than it should have for me to read it. I have to say that my favorite part was Sam. He is the true hero of the story. No offense meant toward Frodo, who is still pretty awesome. Also, seeing how strong and wise Merry and Pippin become was very rewarding for me. I enjoyed reading and finding differences from the books and the movies. I enjoyed both and I don't think I can formulate a true argument as to which is better. I feel like both have their own strengths and weaknesses.

I'm glad I chose to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I feel like I can finally say that I belong to the club. I'm official!

... And they lived happily ever after until the end of their days.

Also, watch this awesome song that sums up how I feel now that I've finished reading the trilogy...