Monday, 29 August 2011

Don't Make Me Sick

I mentioned in my last post that I was reading Words by Ginny L. Yttrup.  Don't ask me how to pronounce it.  I don't know.  But I have finished the book.  I didn't want to write about this book.  I wanted to read a book for enjoyment and not have to think and take notes. You'll wonder at my choice in a moment.  I knew I wanted to read this book before it came out.  It sounded so intriguing.  But I must admit though I had my doubts about the painful storyline.

Words is mainly told from two perspectives.  It starts with Kaylee, a ten-year old girl, abandoned by her mother and sexually abused by the boyfriend she left behind with her child.  Yeah, tough stuff.  To escape her horrible reality, she reads and collects words.  Due to the trauma she has endured, though, she stops speaking, so those words remain confined to her mind and paper.

The second perspective is Sierra's, a woman who is holding onto the pain of being responsible for the death of her baby daughter 12 years earlier.  As predicted, their lives connect and they eventually both find freedom in Christ and healing from their past.

Although the plot seemed a little far-fetched at times, I really enjoyed this book because of how the author dealt with such a painful subject.  Many books that deal with similar topics often contain graphic detail and cause your stomach to churn.  I like detail, and sometimes it's necessary, but not too much in these cases.  The most graphic details in the book were related to drug abuse.

How does an author write a book about abuse and effectively connect with the reader without being graphic?  Easy.  Tell the story from the abused child's perspective.  A child who is alone, scared, embarrassed, ashamed, and thinks it's her fault.  A child who refuses to tell anyone, or should I say, write it for anyone.  A child who wonders if she's a whore.  A child who will only elude to what's happening to her and shares with the reader how it affects her.  That tugs at the reader enough without graphic details.

In the back of the book, we also learn that the author wrote this book out of personal experience and now helps women suffering trauma from sexual abuse.  She knows.  She understand what victims suffer and makes her the perfect candidate to write such a story.

I've read some great books and I enjoy detail, but when dealing with such difficult issues, you can do without and still write a great story.  In some cases, details become necessary, but not always.  Writers can connect with me without having to make me sick.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Books and Random Conversations

I had an appointment to go to yesterday morning before heading to work, and as usual, I brought a book along to pass the waiting time.  This time it was a novel called Words by Ginny L. Yttrup, which I will likely write about in the near future.  I was sitting in a large waiting room, all alone, when a man walks in, pauses in front of me, as I'm focused on my book and strikes up a conversation.  "That's something you never see anymore!"

I look up and he explains how long it had been since he had seen a person, especially a young one reading a physical book in a waiting room.  Apparently tablets are becoming a lot more popular than paper.  In the 20 minutes or so that followed, I had discussions with three complete strangers about the direction of the book and music industries, e-readers, cell phones, other technology, teenagers and social etiquette.  I left feeling inspired and filled with joy that carried me through the rest of the day.

I'm amazed at the discovery I just made.  I never would have thought that something so small and seemingly insignificant could lead to something so meaningful.  The book I was reading was of no significance.  It was simply the fact that I was reading a paper book.  Maybe the fact that I was young, dressed for work and looking preppy had more to do with it.  I really don't know.  But a book for me produced an opportunity.

In 20 minutes, I had a chance to share my perspective with individuals much older than myself.  I had a chance to show them that there are teens out there who think differently than the rest of the world.  I had a chance to put a smile on their faces.  I had a chance to share what I've been learning and why I have made some of the decisions I have.  I left feeling not only inspired, but also that what I have to say really does matter.

Here's what I have to tell my readers.  The small, seemingly insignificant things you do matter, even if you'd rather use a Kindle over paper.  Your choices in all areas of life hold the power to impact.  Don't be afraid to be counter cultural. When opportunities present themselves, don't be afraid to share your perspective.  Even if you don't have a chance to share the Gospel, if they can see that your life is different, that you're not following the norm, you never know what kind of seeds you may plant and what fruit they may later produce.

Why do I read physical books?  Because I simply love a physical book.  I prefer to read off of paper than a glaring screen.  Don't get me wrong. I use my computer a lot and make use of the countless online resources available to me.  Although some people have encouraged me to purchase a Kindle, I'm not quite ready for that. Yes, the idea of being able to carry my whole library around in my purse is enticing, but I still love seeing books on a shelf.  Books are meant to be shared.  Technology has provided alternatives for so many things, and I love it, but I'm not quite ready to let go of my books.

Here are a couple of articles I wrote that I used in my conversations yesterday.  Who would have thought the ideas I ponder on my blog could prove to be so useful in everyday life?
Why I Don't Have a Cell Phone
New Trends in Education

Monday, 22 August 2011

Thinking is Hard

"Your exposure to greatness changes you: your ideas are bigger, your dreams wilder, your plans more challenging, your faith more powerful.

The classics can be hard work, and that is exactly what is needed to learn to think.  Thinking is hard; deep thinking is not entertaining or easy.  Thinking is like exercise, it requires consistency and rigor.  Like barbells in a weightlifting room, the classics force us to think.  Not just in a rote memory way, either.  The classics make us struggle, search, ponder, seek, analyze, discover, decide, and reconsider.  As with physical exercise, the exertion leads to pleasing results as we metamorphose and experience the pleasure of doing something wholesome and difficult that changes us for the better."  --Oliver De Mille, A Thomas Jefferson Education

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Boston Trip

Last week, I had the great privilege of visiting Boston and surrounding area.  It was a trip full of a lot of first experiences and jumping out of my comfort zone.  I flew, saw the ocean, and rode subways for the first time and did a host of other things.  I know that's all a little shocking, but it's true.

When I first flew in and went into the city, it was a bit of a culture shock.  Where I live, I'm very unaccustomed to city life, and here I was in a different country, a big city and trying to take in all the things around me.  It was a little overwhelming.  There's vendors on many streets selling food, drinks, produce, pastries, souvenirs and it's almost like walking through a fair or farmer's market in some areas.

The first day I was able to make a far too short visit to the Museum of Fine Arts.  Beautiful!  You don't need a lot of knowledge or interest in art to enjoy a place like that.  A little appreciation for beauty and talent will do.  I came the day after the Chihuly exhibit ended, which was unfortunate, but they still had a few of his pieces on display.  That evening I went to a singles event at a Boston church and heard a professor from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary speak.  I wish I could have wrapped that whole talk up and taken it home with me.  I got to end the night by walking a long way through the city after dark in a torrential downpour.

I saw a lot of things in Boston, but the problem was there was so much to take in, I don't remember it all.  I did see a number of historical sites, the Freedom Trail, the City Hall, the Boston Library, a Steinway store and expensive fashion taste on Newbury Street.  I also climbed Beacon Hill and enjoyed stepping out of the busy city scene and relaxing in the Boston Common and Public Garden.  I feel like I saw a lot, but it was only a tiny portion of the city

For the remaining days of my stay I visited smaller towns in the area, which have some of the coolest shops, art galleries, taffy factories, restaurants, bakeries and more.  These are the kinds of towns I often saw in pictures, but rarely saw for myself.  I was going to bring back postcards, but couldn't find any that did the places justice. 

Last but not least, I got to spend a couple afternoons at the ocean.  The cold, clear water, sun and sand were so refreshing.  I enjoyed boogie boarding, as long as my head stayed above the water.  Salt water tastes nasty. I don't know how anybody could find that taste pleasant.  I saw a lot of jellyfish eggs on one beach, which was pretty neat. 

I even enjoyed the simple pleasure of sitting at the airport with coffee, a giant cookie and a book waiting for my flight home.  Home to heat and humidity I didn't miss at all.  But I loved coming home as well.

There's a random, brief snapshot of my vacation.  Envy me yet?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Careers and Personal Life

I don't know a whole lot about politics or American history, but you don't have to in order to know there's always rivalries.  I usually don't pay much attention to it.  I have no interest in listening to politicians bicker and insult each other.  But 10 Best Political Rivalries in American History did catch my attention.

In several cases, the individuals who were at odds with each other in the political arena had personal problems with each other first.  Burr and Hamilton hated each other and it ended violently.  Such was also the case with Brooks and Sumner.

The problems between VP Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy were also personal, but on a different level.  Nixon's sense of insecurity and inferiority caused him problems in the political arena.  Sure, he had all the credentials, but he came from a poor family whereas he viewed Kennedy as a privileged rich boy.  He didn't think he measured up. Later as president, he had to work to expose the grime in possible opponent Senator Ted Kennedy's life in the 1972 election.  His negative self image affected his political career, causing conflict that may not have been necessary.

What I mostly see in this article is that your personal life and career will always affect each other to some degree.  Politicians who couldn't get along with one another personally couldn't work well together and even caused them to turn to violence.  The way you grow up, view yourself and view others will affect your confidence in your work.  If you don't think you can make yourself look good to the public, you have to try to make someone else look bad to give yourself chance.

As much as some people would like to make a clear distinction between work and personal life, you just can't.  They'll always be at least somewhat connected.  If you lack honesty and integrity at home or in your social life, chances are you may at work as well.  If you have problems at work, you'll bring them home with you. They can never be entirely separated.  And don't think you leave your problems behind when you walk out the door.  They will follow you.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Mikeschair - Someone Worth Dying For

I leave for a vacation next week, but this is what I leave you with in the meantime.