mindful monday: project read

I’ve known for a while what next year’s project is going to be.  This year was supposed to revamp my writing, which it kind of did.  Now I want to focus on reading, which hopefully will be easier for me to stay on track with.  I’ve gotten some really good suggestions from my friends and family and I look forward to diving in to my first read on the 1st.  I plan on writing a review here after I complete each book.  Not sure yet how I’ll format it, but I’ll figure it out.  Jason even found me a nice reading journal last time we went to the thrift store, I’ll probably use that for inspiration.  Anyway, looking forward to 2014 and “Project Read.”

mindful monday: Grandma

So now we’re in SoCal at my grandma’s house.  She’s 94 and still kicking; I admire her high energy and good health. She and my grandpa were married for over 50 years and even though he’s been gone for a long time, she so clearly loves him. Their love story is inspiring.

They met when they were young and started “going around together,” as Grandma likes to call it. But when she was told by her mother that she was to move to Japan, she didn’t question it because that’s the Japanese way. She lived there for several years, during which time she and Grandpa lost contact. She was tipped off that war was coming and had enough time to make it back to the States. The same night she got back she attended a party and Grandpa was there. They picked up their romance right where it had left off.

Because of the Japanese internment that happened during the war they wanted to get married so they wouldn’t be separated. They were married on April 1st, 1942. A month and a half later the internment process began.  My dad’s two oldest siblings were born in the camp.

I love my grandma very much and am so thankful I’m getting to know her in my adult life. Apparently her doctor tells her she’ll live to be 112 which means she’ll probably get to see her great grandchildren. Not necessarily by Jason and I since she does have two other married grandchildren.

mindful monday: restful

Given the busyness of the last few weeks, I opted to not go to group today.  Plus I wasn’t feeling too well.  With all the gifts finished a few weeks ago it was nice to sit around and veg for a while.  Also, I was able to catch up on some projects that I had been neglecting for a while.  I have an internal check list and feel a little anxious when I have pending items on it.  Sometimes one needs to simply rest.

mindful monday: party

Saturday started the party month off.  My work has a big party every year with lots of good food, music and dancing, and an open bar.  Unfortunately not a lot of people from my office/unit came but it was nice to sit at a table with mostly “new” people and chat with them.  Friday will be my unit’s Christmas dinner, Saturday will be our Life Group’s Christmas party with a white elephant gift exchange, and next week on Wednesday will be my work’s on site Christmas potluck/gift exchange.  It’s gonna be so fun!  And exhausting.  But mostly fun.

mindful monday: trip

I was supposed to go on a business trip from yesterday until tomorrow.  We came back to the area early so that I could catch my 6:30pm flight yesterday.  When we got the airport about an hour and a half early, it was pretty foggy.  I went up to the counter and they told me that my flight hadn’t officially been cancelled yet but it was “looking unfavorable.”  The plane we were going to take wasn’t even at the airport, it was going to be coming from another airport about half an hour away.  I sat with Theresa, another co-worker going on the trip.  About half an hour after I arrived, one of the two supervisors also arrived, and a few minutes after that, the other supervisor arrived.  Since Theresa and I are not supervisors we let them make the decision of whether or not we’d be going.  The soonest flight out would have been today at 11:20am and if we wanted to drive we would have needed to leave at 7am.  I think it’s pretty obvious that we didn’t end up going.  I was really looking forward to the conference (plus all the comp time I would have gotten).  But it’s nice to have two days in the office that I wouldn’t otherwise have, since I’ll be off during the week of Christmas.

mindful monday: salvation on the small screen?

I’ve mentioned before that we’re reading this book.  I’m having a difficult time since she is so critical of the programs, though I also can’t argue with her criticisms.  Am I a bad person for agreeing with her?  Don’t answer that.  The discussions that have come from reading this book have been interesting, though sometimes aggravating since it seems like we just go in circles.  I remember the days where I didn’t really question things because I didn’t want to go to the trouble and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes or hurt anyone’s feelings.  I’m still sensitive to those things but I also recognize the importance of really understanding my beliefs and what they mean in the reality of my life.  Not that I’m any closer to knowing “truth,” but at least I don’t feel like such a sheep.

mindful monday: Micah

Today is my brother’s birthday.  Every year I’m so thankful for him and the joy he brings to everyone whose live he touches.  It’s been so fun to watch him grow from the sweet little boy to the wonderfully thoughtful man he is today.  I’m so proud of him and wish him the happiest of birthdays.

mindful monday: preggers

No, I am not pregnant.  But Ruthie is!!!  She’s a little over 12 weeks along and we couldn’t believe she waited so long to tell us.  She told us on Friday at our sleepover.  I totally cried.  It’s still sinking in, especially since she’s so far along.  For the longest time she’s joked with me that we should get pregnant together.  I would love to do that but we’re definitely not ready yet, our plan was to wait 5 years and then reassess at that time.  In the meantime, I’m so excited to watch my good friend go through this beautiful process and celebrate with her as she moves into the new role of Mother.  Congrats to Phil & Ruthie!

mindful monday: selflessness

I read an article yesterday about marriage and how it’s not about me.  Then today I was listening to music at work and Anberlin’s “Burn out Brighter (Northern Lights)” came on.  Here’s the chorus:

Live, I wanna live inspired

Die, I wanna die for something

Higher than myself

Live and die for anyone else

The more I live I see

This life’s not about me

In different seasons of my life God seems to speak particular themes to me.  Right now I’m reminded of my own selfishness and my need to be selfless.  I tend to be pretty controlling, feeling like my environment needs to be a certain way or else I get really stressed out.  Poor Jason, he’s the recipient of a lot of the controlling nature and my reactions when things don’t go my way.  I know that marriage is not about me and my needs, but about giving and serving Jason.  I love and understand the idea, but the execution is the difficult part.  These nudges are good reminders and keep this idea in the forefront of my mind.  My prayer is that God will continue to work in me and show me ways to serve and be selfless in my marriage, and in my life.

mindful monday: Ruthie

Her birthday is tomorrow and we’re going over to their house to eat dinner and hang out.  I’m bringing a wheat-free pumpkin cake (another couple is coming too and she’s wheat-intolerant) with cream cheese frosting, yum.  It seems like there have been a lot of birthdays lately, or a lot coming up.

We’ve known Ruthie and Phil for about two years now and it’s been a wonderful friendship.  We’ve decided that Phil and I are basically the same person and Ruthie and Jason are basically the same person.  Wherever I’m not like Phil I’m like Ruthie, and wherever Jason’s not like Ruthie he’s like Phil.  It’s great to have such friends.

In college I mostly kept to myself, going over to Jason’s after school to have dinner and hang out.  We went to church and started meeting new people there.  I’ve known a lot of people who go to college and make life-long friendships.  That’s not what happened with me, but I feel like Phil and Ruthie are my after-college life-long friends.

mindful monday: hills

Mom’s been exercising to keep her strength up and part of that includes walking up and down hills.  She’s always had more energy than me (at least that’s how I see it) and this weekend really showcased that.  We ended up walking down and then back up Lombard Street since the cars were backed up over a block.  I found myself out of breath and taking breaks but Mom just trekked up that hill like it was nothing.  My calves are sore today.  I think it’s time I start climbing some hills.

mindful monday: belief

We’re reading a new book in our Monday night group: “Salvation on the Small Screen?  24 Hours of Christian Television,” by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  In this book she is chronicling her experiences of watching 24 hours of TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) with friends and family.  She breaks it down by the program, starting at 5am.  So far we’ve only read the intro and the first two programs.

I’ve never watched TBN, only heard about televangelists and shied away from the perceptions I’ve had of them.  The first show she watched was a short drama of a modern-day Jesus visiting a diner and a modern-day Mary and Martha serving him.  The second show was Paula White.  I find that Nadia is intelligent but quite critical of these shows.  I don’t disagree with what she’s pointing out, but do think there’s some bias in what she’s saying.  That being said, I have heard stories about people losing money to these “campaigns” the televangelists put on, how they work people’s emotions and then ask for their money.  I think the especially shameful part is that they make it sound like you need to give money to please God or to really do His work.  That’s not to say that God does not use our money to His glory, but I think that trying to frame it so that people feel like they will be out of His favor if they don’t give money is deplorable.  I see that as highly manipulative and an abuse of their position.

This should be an interesting book.

mindful monday: rummage

So it’s kinda funny that I wrote about stuff last week and then on Saturday Jason and I went to a huge annual rummage sale.  I’m pretty proud of us, though, because we walked away from it only about $30 poorer.  We only bought things we felt really strongly about (though I almost convinced myself to get a $25 China set that was gorgeous and in great condition) and didn’t get overloaded with a bunch of crap.  It was so interesting to see all the things that were sold there.  We went into one building that just had women’s clothing and I was going to look around until I realized that the line was pretty much wrapped around the entire room.  Yeah, I was not going to spend time shifting through all those clothes to only buy one item (though I ran into a co-worker who stood in line for over an hour for like, two items).  I think we’ll go next year because it’s a great place to find cheap craft supplies and gifts for birthdays or Christmas.  I actually found the perfect gift for my brother, whose birthday is next month.

Anyway, it was pretty fun and I think we did it perfectly.  We didn’t arrive until about 10am though it opened at 8am.  Another co-worker told me that people line up an hour or two before they open the gates and once they’re opened, there’s a mad rush and people will start shoving things into bags and then sorting through them later.  That sounds insane and crazy-making.  We pretty leisurely walked through the buildings and didn’t have to fight people off for the things we wanted.  It was pretty nice, if you ask me.

mindful monday: stuff

After helping our friends move, I can’t help but think what that would be like for us.  How many boxes would we need?  Could we fit it all in a U-Haul and our vehicles?  Sometimes I think it would be easy, other times I start cataloging our stuff and get overwhelmed.  It is silly how much stuff we have, so much of it not necessary, things we hide away and never think about, except in that moment when we first got it.  Why do we do this?

Our place is very tiny and so it really accentuates how much stuff we have.  We have to get creative if we get anything large and then I wonder why we even bothered.  I don’t have any answers to this, just questions.

mindful monday: failure and forgetting

I’ve been thinking about my two greatest fears: failure and forgetting.  While Dad and I were chatting this weekend we started talking about documenting our lives.  That’s part of why I love photography so much, it’s a great way to capture moments, and to help jog memories.  I’m also a fan of videos or even just an audio recording.  I think this need to document, journal, take pictures, and videos is driven by a fear of forgetting.  I never want to forget certain parts of my life and the way certain things make me feel.

I also don’t want to fail.  I have a very high standard for myself and failure is really not an option in my book.  I’ve talked a lot about how charmed my life feels, and part of that is the expectation that I will do well and things will “go the way they’re supposed to,” whatever that means.  I hate feeling like I’ve done something wrong, that I failed to do the “right” thing.  While I don’t always like this quality about myself, it has served me well in many ways.  I do pray for a balanced life so that I don’t get so caught up in succeeding that I lose sight of the important things in my life and neglect my loved ones.

Anyway, just some stuff on my mind.

mindful mondays: birthdays

Yesterday was Dad’s birthday and today is Kelly’s birthday.  It was so nice to be together.  Grandma, Auntie Mieko, and Aunt Sharon were there too.  I love our family time so much.  I love being able to celebrate someone’s life and getting to share life with them.

I’ve had some great birthday parties.  For my 6th birthday we had a makeup and fashion show.  One of my friends had an older sister who taught her how to properly apply makeup and so looked like a doll, while the rest of us looked like we’d lost a boxing tournament.  Mom had gotten some really fancy dresses together and we all chose one to wear and model as we walked the “runway.”

Another year Dad put together a scavenger hunt of sorts.  We split up into two teams and had a list of hints, and the answers were the name of a store.  We had to go around and get signatures from employees within a certain amount of time.  My team lost but we had a blast.

I love birthdays.

mindful monday: d.c.

We’re going back tomorrow specifically to see the Capitol.  Taylor’s dad works on Capitol Hill and is going to take us on a private tour of the building!  Today we went and saw the monuments and it was fantastic.  We also saw the Smithsonian, beautiful and full of really cool exhibits.  All the brick and marble is so beautiful, something that we on the West Coast don’t really have since it’s not exactly earthquake safe.  We saw the Washington monument, the WWII memorial,  the Vietnam memorial, and the Lincoln memorial.  I definitely got choked up during the Vietnam and Lincoln memorials.  To see all those names inscribed on the walls, and then to read the powerful words of Lincoln. . .it was heartbreaking and awe inspiring by turns.  There’s so much rich history here, not to mention lots of states squished together (full album here).

the beautiful Smithsonian

the beautiful Smithsonian

Washington Monument, unfortunately under construction and covered in scaffolding

Washington Monument, unfortunately under construction and covered in scaffolding

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

representation of those who died or went missing in WWII

a representation of those who died or went missing in WWII

the heartbreaking Vietnam Memorial

the heartbreaking Vietnam Memorial

the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial

the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial

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Before returning to the house we made a stop at Safeway (well, me, really) and the ABC store (alcoholic beverage control, everybody else).  In Virginia hard liquor can only be bought at these stores, unlike California where we have them anywhere from Safeway to the little corner market.  I got supplies to make vegetarian chili, twice baked cauliflower, and a vegan chocolate mousse pie.  When we got home and after we had eaten the other food in the house and played some games (and everyone else proceeded to get drunk), Taylor and I started making the chili and cauliflower dish.  We ended up finishing around 2am, but I was happy to have the food completed so we could come back to the house the next night and not have to spend so much time cooking.

mindful monday: visitation

one of the places we visited

I love the weekends where I get to see my parents.  It was so nice to have them come up and see our home again, since it had been almost exactly two years.  We go down there so often that they don’t really have a reason to come up to us.  But it was so nice to be able to take them around our area and enjoy the beauty that we’re surrounded by.  They also finally got to meet Phil and Ruthie, our best friends here.  My parents even stayed at their house since they have a guest bedroom and then Mom wouldn’t have to sleep on the couch and Dad wouldn’t be relegated to the floor.  It was a wonderful time and I’m also really thankful that the weather cooperated so we could enjoy being outside.

mindful monday: visit

I’ve been getting really excited about my parents’ visit this weekend.  It’s been two years since they came up here because we go down there about once a month.  They will stay with Phil & Ruthie since they actually have a guest bedroom.  I’m trying to think of things to do while they’re here and I think I’ve got a solid plan.  Now we just have to make it to the end of the week!

mindful monday: parks

Today for our group we went to a nearby park.  Only a few of us showed up but it was really fun to swing, something that I don’t get to do enough.  I’ve always wanted to build an adult sized swing set whenever we buy a house.  It’s still on my internal checklist.  It’s crazy to think that as a kid I would do flips and jump from high distances.  Also, I really loved the monkey bars and was pretty good at them.  Most of the time I don’t miss being a kid, but when I think of those days, I do.

mindful monday: numbers

It’s my birthday this week.  It’s funny though, because I don’t really think about my birthday very much.  I tend to dwell on anniversary’s and ignore the birthday (yes, birthdays are anniversaries of one’s birth, but it’s different, trust me).  Sometimes I’ve even forgotten what age I am for a moment and think I’m a few years younger.  It’s weird.  That being said, I do like getting together with friends to celebrate so I am looking forward to that.

mindful monday: marriage

Our anniversary, my aunt and uncle’s anniversary, and my brother’s wedding is this week.  I’m excited to celebrate so much love and am so so excited to have another awesome sister-in-law.  We’ll be driving down to SoCal for the wedding (we’re both in it) and will be carpooling with a friend from the Bay Area.  It’s going to be a long drive, but I’m excited about this trip and all that it represents.  Here’s to Love.

mindful mondays: cooking therapy

This weekend I made a few desserts to test the recipes.  I tested a key lime pie for a co-worker’s birthday, and made red velvet cupcakes for an event we’re doing next month at work.  Both turned out pretty good and I think I’ve found winning recipes.  I sometimes have a difficult time motivating myself to make things when I feel like I have a million other things to do.  But once I get into the rhythm of cooking or baking, I find I really enjoy it.  It also helps when Jason’s in the kitchen too and we can listen to an audio book or just talk.

mindful monday: vacation days

We came back home today since I was able to take today off too.  I love paid vacation days and I love that my supervisor is so understanding when time needs to be taken off.  I love having an “adult” job where I have that flexibility.  Not having to rush home after a short weekend trip was really nice.

mindful monday: party animal

A friend of Mom’s wanted to have a get together with some other women.  It was held at one of my childhood friend’s house.  It was so great to see all those ladies, some of whom I hadn’t seen in many years.  And of course it was nice to have them share stories and laughter with Mom.  It was a beautiful time that was another testament to how important community is.  I’m so thankful my parents have a wonderfully supportive and loving group surrounding them.

mindful monday: karaoke

Today was another group member’s birthday.  Afterwards we went to a nice restaurant and then to karaoke.  Because it was so late Jason and I left after he finished his song (“Hanging by a Moment” by Lifehouse).  There weren’t a lot of people aside from our group but it was really fun to sing with everyone, noting the parts that everyone knew as those were the loudest sung.  In Japan karaoke is very popular, but it is done very differently.  Each group has their own room with a booth and a table.  Rather than having it at a bar where everyone and their mom can hear you sing, this allows only the people who are with you to endure (or enjoy, as the case may be) your singing.  I went a few times and it was really fun.  They have menus so you can have an actual meal if you want.  Both places I went to had blacklighting to add to the party atmosphere.  It’s funny to reflect on how different cultures interpret the same thing.

mindful monday: scripture

Tonight in group we discussed our favorite scriptures.  I brought along 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I have loved this verse for many years.  I love this idea that, even though I do not possess the power on my own, God can and does work through that weakness.  It’s kind of mind-blowing to me.  I feel like this time of my life is a time of growing in faith and closeness with God.  My life is so full of blessing and I think that can be the most dangerous time in the life of faith; I don’t have a dependency on Him when everything is going well.  I don’t want to be that way, but it’s so easy to slip into that.  So even though the situation is not all sunshine and rainbows, I’m thankful for the ability to draw near and hope this will be the start of a new era for me.

mindful monday: celebrate

We celebrated three birthdays at group tonight.  I love getting excited for the birth-anniversary of my friends.  We had cheesecake, Pizookie, raspberries, blueberries, henna, and lots of fun.  I love hanging out with our group, whether we’re just catching up with each other, discussing deep philosophical and theological topics, or goofing off and playing games.  We’ve had a lot of good times with each other and I love looking back on all the birthdays and other celebrations we have over the years.  May we have many more together.

mindful monday: grief

As I said before, I got some pretty shocking news this weekend.  Because I don’t need to share my personal life with the whole wide internet, I will not go into the specifics of what this news was.  But it was pretty devastating to my family, which is why I’m so thankful we were able to be together for the weekend.  Over and over again I’ve been so thankful for the family I was born into, now more than ever.  We held each other, cried, prayed, and laughed.  It was a roller coaster of emotion, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go through it without them.  I’m so thankful that it wasn’t a tragedy that made us a close family, that we’ve always been this way and will continue to grow closer as we journey together.  During this time of mourning and grief, we will lean in to each other and to God.

I’m familiar with the five stages of grief, something I studied in school.  But I don’t want to get so caught up in “What stage am I in?” that I lose sight of what’s important.  I felt absolutely devastated when I first heard the news, but I’m feeling the beginnings of an amazing peace, which I’m so thankful for.  I don’t know what the road ahead holds or how I’ll react to it, but I do know that I have an awesome community surrounding me, and I won’t have to go through this alone.  I’m praying for peace that passes understanding, and will lean into God when it feels too heavy to bear.

mindful monday: missing jason

Last week Jason agreed to help a friend out with a project and only found out last night that it was going to be an overnight thing.  I’m really missing him since we were gone for the weekend and I like having our “us” time at home.  I’m really thankful that he’s able to help this friend out, though.  It always feels a little off when he’s not with me.  I really value being with him, even if we’re not really doing something together.  I can’t wait for him to come home.