Archive for the ‘Hobbies’ Category
When I started the 2016 Reading Challenge, there were some categories I was very excited to choose a title for. For others, I didn’t have a clue where to start looking. And for a few, I groaned inwardly at the thought of having to delve into that genre at all. As a 47 year old woman, I am FAR from being a Young Adult so choosing a YA Bestseller just didn’t sound like fun. But I dove in and figured that if I got it read early in the challenge, I could move on to other categories I like more!
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman. True, the “teen angst” was there with lots of tortured teen romance thrown in for good measure. But I believed the story. I won’t spoil it for you but suffice it to say that the main character, Mia, is in a horrid car accident along with the rest of her family. Her parents are killed instantly and her 7 year old little brother is taken to the hospital. She is also taken to the hospital then taken by medical chopper to a hospital better equipped to deal with the severity of her injuries. This happens fairly early in the book and most of Mia’s life, friendships, and love story are told in flashback. Mia spend most of the story having an “out-of-body” type experience where she grapples with whether she should fight to stay without her family (**spoiler – little brother Teddy succumbs to his injuries) or if she should just let go and slip peacefully into . . . well, she doesn’t really know what she’ll find on the other side of death. So which will she choose?
The writer did a beautiful job creating the inner conflict for Mia as well as making us care for those that care about Mia. Empathy, compassion, hope . . . Forman evokes them all in the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.
I started my 2016 Reading Challenge last night.
I know, I know it isn’t 2016 yet so this may look like cheating. But I intend to be done by Christmas 2016 so I’m not really giving myself any extra time by starting now. And with the weirdness of my schedule, I need to take advantage of the stretches of time that aren’t crazy busy.
I have crossed two off my list –
A graphic novel – for this one I read Part I of “Maus – A Survivor Tale” by Art Spiegelman. It’s the real life story of Art’s conversations with his father, Vladek who survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Spiegelman depicts all the characters as animals – the Nazis are cats, the Jews living in Poland (Vladek’s native country) are mice, and those who are neither Jews nor Nazis are portrayed as pigs. When the mice try to disguise their ethnicity, they even put on pig masks. The story is personable and powerful. The author includes the conversations between him and his father and discusses, with an understandably tentative touch, his mother’s suicide. The author doesn’t hide the challenges in his relationship with his father nor the friction between Vladek and his second wife, Mala. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read many books about Nazi Germany and World War II but personal stories like this always captivate me. If there is any criticism to be had, it’s that this book is catalogued as Juvenile Non-Fiction. Not Young Adult, Juvenile. It was in the “kid’s” section of the library. There is some language and while the depictions of violence are not extremely graphic, the book seems better suited to a young middle schooler – maybe as young as 5th grade. As for me, I’m glad I included it in my reading list!
“A book you can finish in a day” – Went to a favorite author for this one. Mostly because I have read some of her stuff in a day and was fairly certain I could do it again! “Sizzlin’ Sixteen” by Janet Evanovich. Truth be told, I need to get caught up on this series anyway and this challenge helped me move one step closer! I’ve been a fan of Evanovich’s writing and unforgettable characters for quite some time and this book did not disappoint.
I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. I find it a touch difficult to promise that I will consistently do something every single day, 365 times in a row. Wait . . . 2016 is a leap year so make that 366 times in a row. But I do set goals for myself for the year. Sometimes I reach them, sometimes I get close and have to keep working and sometimes I fail completely. No big surprises there.
This year, among some other personal goals that will remain my private info for now, my middle daughter, Margaret, and I have decided to capitalize on our shared love of all things “book” and take on a unique reading challenge – the 2016 Reading Challenge can be found by clicking on the link (see how “2016 Reading Challenge” is underlined? Click on that!). I’ve seen many reading challenges – from the generic “pick the number of books you will read this year” to the slightly insane “read a different book every week in the new year” (who has time for that?!) – but this one is by far the most unique and therefore very appealing! The list includes everything from “A book that was written at least 100 years before you were born” to “A book from Oprah’s Book Club” and even includes “A book you know will bring you joy.” There is no stipulation about not reading books you’ve read before – as a matter of fact, you are SUPPOSED to read “A book you haven’t read since high school” – so you are free to revisit old favorites. But I promise you, it will stretch you into new genres. It includes poetry, political memoirs, an autobiography, a book by a celebrity, a book by a comedian, sci-fi, romance, classics, bestsellers, books others recommend, a book from the library, a book less than 150 pages, a book at least 600 pages long . . . even a book with a blue cover! There are 40 books on this list so it’s still a pretty daunting task. But I’ve started my list and have some fairly short ones on there so I should be okay. I’m excited to get started. Won’t you come be a part of the fun? Click on the link above and print off your list (comes out ready to be cut down into a bookmark!) and see what new favorites you can find!
P.S. The daughter that is participating in the challenge with me is keeping her own blog about her New Year’s “resolutions” – she’s a pretty fantastic writer so you should check her blog out HERE
From The Power of Uniqueness by Arthur F. Miller – “. . . gifted goes beyond a mere inventory of talents. It’s the lifeblood of a person , the song that his heart longs to sing, the race his legs long to run. It’s the fire in his belly. It’s his reason for being. So any time you tap into giftedness, you hit a nerve that runs right to the core of the individual.”
When you grow up loving the performing arts, it is mistakenly communicated to you that what you love is nice for a hobby, but is only a true calling for a select few. Everyone loves to tell you how many wannabe pop stars or actresses there are that never make it as a big star. And they would be right. As the old saying goes, “there is a broken heart for every bright light on Broadway.” Somewhere along the line, I got the distinct, unspoken message from many well-meaning adults that I should find something “real” to do with my life. Loving the performing arts is still allowed as you get older, but you become a spectator. Or someone who plays piano or provides special music at church. And going into a classroom and teaching what you love to others is okay too. Just as long as you . . . “grow up”.
So what does an impressionable teenager prone to people pleasing do? She starts lying. First to herself about what she wants to be when she grows up. About her purpose. About what really digs down deep and connects with the core of who she is. Then she lies to others about what she LOVES. When people ask her why she entered the career field she did, she makes up stories about loving some part of the job. Something to prove that she has done what she was supposed to and has made a responsible, safe choice.
Let me stop right here and say that no one – not one single soul I ever encountered – set out with the express purpose of squashing my dreams, my drive, or my passions. None of them wanted to dissuade me from being me. They wanted me to have a plan and goals and work hard. The interpretation of “grow up and be sensible” was more of a miscommunication or a misunderstanding than a sinister plot.
Fast forward to today – in my mid-40’s, I work multiple part-time/seasonal jobs. It can be exhausting and I’ve gotten really good at “schedule juggling.” Seriously, you would be impressed. I teach part-time at the local community college, serve as the accompanist for the choirs at the local high school, work as the pit pianist and rehearsal accompanist (and sometimes vocal coach) for the Spring musical at the college, handle the theatrical directing and most of the choreography for the spring musical at the local high school, oversee two productions every summer as a part of a youth theater program (directing, producing, music directing, whatever!), help out on marching band staff at the local high school, and serve as the artistic director for Stage Door Productions which manages the aforementioned youth theater program and also stages small cast musicals. You may have noticed that, with the exception of the college teaching gig, most of my work life revolves around the performing arts. And nearly all of it involves working with young people from Kindergarten (summer youth theater kiddos) through college (theatrically, in the classroom, and with the theater company). There are times my schedule is insane – trust me, people point it out to me repeatedly! – and I have, for the past few years, gone from January to August without a break between shows. I love it. I cannot imagine having any more fun doing anything else.
The other day, a friend asked if I’d be willing to help her with a dance team she coaches. They have a big competition to get ready for (it’s in early December) and she’d like an extra pair of eyes, and extra adult to help supervise . . . maybe even someone to help her maintain her sanity, I don’t know! But she asked me. I was thrilled! Details haven’t all been worked out yet, but I’m a little excited. That’s not true. I’m REALLY excited. I was telling hubby about it and my excitement started to show. As I gave him the information I DID know, I knew he would start asking questions I didn’t yet have the answer to so I tried to head a few of those off before he asked them. As I wound up the conversation, I heard myself say “I don’t care if I get paid or not because the simple fact is that working with young people in the performing arts – believing in them, pushing them to be amazing – is my purpose on this planet so I’m going to take the opportunities available as often as I can to do just that.” In the seconds after I blurted out that “my purpose on this planet” thing, I realized that I had never, not in my 46+ years of existence, uttered a more accurate statement. In my heart, I knew my purpose; I’ve known it for awhile now. In my work life, I am living it out. But I finally allowed myself to say it. Out loud. Without apologizing or feeling like I had let anyone down.
And you know what? It felt WONDERFUL.