Saturday, December 31, 2011

Never Have I Ever...

Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of my all time favorite movies. Love it. Love it. Love. It. In it, Holly tends to try something solely because she's never tried it before. She moved to New York on a whim because she'd never been before. She almost moved to Brazil because she'd never been there (and the case she caught might've helped, but that's neither here nor there...)

Anywho: the point is why not spend life experiencing new things instead of staying in the same rut. This year, I've focused my mind on that and I managed to try something new every month.

Take back. It started in December 2010 because I had never been to Lubbock, but the trend continued nicely. So, a look back of sorts. I don't have pictures for everything...sorry about that. I got better with carrying my camera with me (yep, I'm the one person who doesn't have a camera phone)

January:
thrown a dinner party. Technically, it was a lunch party because it started at 3, but it was one of the first time I cooked for non-relatives.

been to Seguin.

February (warning you now, this month was real sparse like):  
taught a full day in both subjects. As an intern, I got to teach English, but I student taught in both English and History.

March:
been to the Ransom Center.

April (real sparse like as well. Was beyond tired and on schedule by then):
taken 183 to Austin instead of 35

May:

been to Luling


been to Little Rock


been to Memphis

June:

been to a concert in Austin (and I hit pay dirt when I finally did. EWF=awesome!)


been to an ACL taping

July:

tried an Manske roll. It was soooooo good.


toured the Riverwalk via a boat tour (walked around to get to Alamo last time I was in San Antonio)

August:

seen DCI's championship prelims at the movie theater

September:

eaten at Fuzzy's Taco Shop.
eaten at Collin Street Bakery
visited Fellowship at the Woodlands

October:

eaten at Smashburger. The veggie burger was delish, but a little spicy (I'm a wimp when it comes to adding spices to my food.)

November:
shopped during Black Friday. (Of course, I messed it up by getting some Double A batteries, cheese and photo albums instead of whatever everyone else gets, but I got to go through the express lane :D )

December:

been to Holiday in the Park


There was my year and it was the best year of my life so far mentally, emotionally and otherwise. I don't think adapting to this new outlook on life and having my best year yet is a coincidence. I just hope 2012 rocks just as much (if not more) as 2011 did because I had a blast.

Happy New Year's everyone! I hope your 2012 turns out to be amazing.

Kuumba

Happy New Year's Eve everyone! 2011's been an unexpectedly good year and I'm very happy for that. I hope yours was as well. Whether it was or wasn't, may your 2012 be better.

Kuumba (Creativity):
"To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than it was when we inherited it." -A Kwanzaa Celebration: Festive Recipes and Homemade Gifts from an African-American Kitchen

Application: Once again, my past in the Girl Scouts is coming back to me: leave things better than the way you found it. You may not be able to change the entire world, but you can change the world for one person and if enough of us change enough worlds and voila! Something good can happen. If we let it happen.

Tomorrow's the last day of Kwanzaa. Technically, the Karamu feast is supposed to be tonight, but I make a messasomethin' on New Year's Day. Between the feast and Emancipation Day, I kind of combine the two and just cook one meal. Anyways, I like starting the year out right, surrounded by the people I care about most.

Nia

Habari Gani, you ask?

Today...well, yesterday if you're chillin' in the CST like I am...

Nia: Purpose
"To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness."

Application: Instead of tearing each other down, we need to start building each other up. Stop worrying about our differences (there really aren't that many at the end of the day) and connect to each other with our similarities. Chill it with the name calling and other nonsense and figure out how to be tolerate with one another and coexist. If nothing else, agree to disagree because all the drama that's around isn't worth it in the end.

Tomorrow (or later on today...): Kuumba. Stay tuned beautiful people.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Habari Gani

The last couple of days have been a little abnormal. Reason?

Yes. That's a huge hole in my mom's bathroom ceiling. Cause? Pipe burst. This happened on Monday, but it's all good and fixed now. Remaining grateful that we have two bathrooms otherwise we would've had a really bad situation on our hands :~/

I've also been cleaning a lot lately. There's been a lot to clean, but I hope to be done within the next few days (maybe by New Years??? That would rock)

But enough about that. Kwanzaa started on the 26th and I'm remiss that it's taken me until now to write about it. I've celebrated it on and off for a few years now. I can't really say that it keeps me connected to anything because I've never really felt a connection to anyone race wise, but I think this is one of the holidays that everyone can celebrate because it's all about connectivity and community, two things we could all use a little more of.

So Habari Gani means What's the news in Swahili. It's asked as a greeting and the response is one of the nguzo sabas, or the seven principles of Kwanzaa. So here are the ones I missed as well as today's. This information came from A Kwanzaa Celebration: Festive Recipes and Homemade Gifts from an African-American Kitchen by Angela Shelf Medearis. It's a really great book full of information and recipes about Kwanzaa's history. More important than just knowing the principles is knowing how they can be applied to real life situations.

Day one: Umoja (Unity)
"To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and the world African community."

Application: Seek connections with the people around me. I tend to stay guarded and to myself mostly, so I should try to find community. For me, it doesn't have to just be one race, but the entire world around me.

Day two: Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
"To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for, and spoken for by others."

Application: Figure out who I want to be and what I want to do instead of trying to please others. There's so many things I let other people talk me out of because I didn't want to disappoint them. I need to stop doing that. I'm the only one who can live my life, so I need to start doing that before it's too late.

Day three: Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
"To build and maintain our community together and to make our sisters' and brothers' problems our problems and to solve them together."

Application: Think local. "Politics is local." The whole shebang. For the helping part, volunteer close to home. I'm dreaming Peace Corps and Habitat for Humanity in places like Haiti. Maybe one day, I'll have the chance, but until then, people here need help too.

Day four (today's principle): Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
"To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses, and to profit from them together."

Application: Once again. Buy local. Think local. "Politics is local." I'm a Walmart shopping gal. Every single thing I could ever think to want or need is there, but how many Mom and Pop shops have had to close with Walmart's existence. Maybe by shopping at more of those quite, eccentric, eclectic shops, more people's dreams of being a small business owner can come to fruition.

All for now. Tomorrow is Nia, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Words of Wisdom

"The harsh truth is that the cause of death is birth, so enjoy life." -David Hockney

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Enjoying my holidays...

Psst. It's Christmas tomorrow :) *excited*

I cooked Brownies for the first time. This is the second batch...the first one...well, anywho. In my defense, I'm allergic to chocolate, so it's never been a priority to cook items with chocolate in it. Smart for me and my sweet tooth, however, because it kept any temptation of eating the treats at bay and therefore my waist at a respectable number :D

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge. Tip: refrigerate overnight for a fudge-like (?) consistency and use a pizza cutter to cut them out.

I gave a few of these out and am planning to bake up a few more as I see more people. Some brownies, some fudge and snickerdoodles. Were going to add some sugar cookies, but that story doesn't end well. Well, unless you want to play hockey...


Presents are bagged and ready to go for tomorrow!




Friday, December 23, 2011

Airing of the Gratitudes

I grew up watching and loving Seinfeld. It's still one of my default shows when there's nothing else on TV (except for the series finale...unfortunate indeed) and it's because of Seinfeld that I have fallen in love with the holiday that is Festivus (Youtube it if you don't know what's up)

One of the main components of Festivus is the Airing of the Grievances. I found a couple of funnies today to give grief about in a funny way, but let's face it. We don't need Festivus to air our grievances. Just flip onto AM radio or a news talk show. Everyday is Festivus if we pay attention to that.

So in the spirit of Festivus and the fact that I don't need a holiday to air my grievances out, I decided that this year, I'm going to make up a component inspired by the airing: Airing of the Gratittudes.

1. My friends.
They're beyond awesome and I'm glad that they're in my life.

2. Shelter.
I have a room over my head, the heat's on and there's food in the fridge. I'm beyond lucky for this considering so many people in the world don't even have this.

3. My abilities.
I can see. I can hear. I have talents (that I'm still trying to figure out how to use to the fullest) and I'm glad to have them.

4. Family.
I feel like the black sheep (or as a friend reminded me, the white sheep) a lot of the time, but they're still there and once again, that's more than I can say for a lot of people around.

5. The times I'm in.
Yeah, the economy blows and Congress has become a soap opera. As far as equality goes, we still have a long way to go, but we're a long way from where we used to. A few months ago, I got to see The Help and thinking about it, 1963 isn't that long ago. We've come a long way since then educationally and vocationally wise and I'm happy for that because I have no idea what I could've done with my life a couple of generations ago.

6. I have my health.
Not sure what else to say about this one, but I'm healthy and without major illnesses or diseases.

7. I'm still on this side of the grass.
Once again, not much to add. Every day I'm still up here is a gift.

I think I like this better. It helps me to remain positive when my mind can easily veer into Pessimism Lane.

So for all you Seinfeld fans out there: Happy Festivus to all and to all a good night! :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Words of Wisdom

I found this quote yesterday while searching through recipes I could cook for my New Year's Day food and football shindig (otherwise known as the findig):

"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive." -Audre Lorde

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12/21

12/21/2012.

If this day means nothing to you, then you've been able to miss all of the talk about the world coming to an end. On that date. According to the Mayans, the Earth is donzo in exactly 366 days from now. Don't worry, I'm not one of the ones going around saying when the world's going to end. I wasn't even one of the ones freaking out over Y2K. I was cool as a cucumber as I slept right through the changing to a new millennium (even back then, I wasn't much of a night person)

But what if they were right? What if this time next year, it's a wrap for us? What would you do with your last year on earth? Would you do something that matters? Would you travel? Spend more time with loved ones? Spend less time with loved ones?

If we were lucky enough to know when we were going to die, would that make us live differently? If we knew when we'd be punching out, would that get us off of the monotony of our current life and do something with the time we have left.

Let's face it. The world probably won't end next year, but it will for some. Death happens. Every day. This time next year, some of the seven billion people in the world won't be here. Maybe someone I know won't be here. Maybe I won't be here. Waking up every day is a privilege. Getting somewhere and back home alive and in one piece is a privilege. A thunderstorm remaining just that and becoming a "weather phenomenon" is a privilege that could turn on me one day. And then what?

What I have done so far that matters? The answer is nothing. But every day I'm still on this side of the grass gives me a chance to change that. I just hope I do before I run out of time.

If I wake up 366 days from now, I will have hoped to do something that matters by that time. If I continue with the mindset that time will one day run out for me, maybe that will be the fire that keeps my drive going.

I only have one life to live. I hope not to leave this life with fuel left in the tank. 

Thanks for the reminder, Mayans.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Fun

For several years now, I haven't been big on the holidays. One of the bad things (one of the only bad things) about my parents' divorce was that holidays became war zones because they never made provisions in their divorce decree that settled the issue. Thanksgiving, Christmas and my birthday are the worse and I think that's a primary reason why I haven't been keen on these three holidays for awhile. Between that and being exhausted from school made it really easy to just let these days go with little fanfare but major Lifetime and Hallmark movie watching.

I decided that this year would be different. No more parent drama and not having any classes to recover from in addition to getting to spend some time helping to make others' holidays better has put me into a pro-holiday spirit.

Just finished with the tree and decorations (there's not a lot of them being in the apartment) but I'm happy. It's the first time in a few years decorating has happened, so small is good for now. I just hope we're actually to take them down in a decent time period this time around (last time, the tree stayed up until my mom moved from the old place into the apartment we're in now...we're talking over a year and a half here :~/)

Trying something new here: my first pics on MTFA!

The tree pre-decorations. It's the perfect size for the apartment because we have a lot of stuff here and not enough room for a large tree. 

 Tree post-decorations. Was able to find the stockings and everything in the storage closet! I forgot that they don't have a loop on them or anything, but a pants hanger does the job like a champ ;)

A few years back, my friends and I tried to see how many December holidays we could combine. I've got three represented here for a nice Chrismakahanakwanzikah display (there's a Kwanzaa ornament on the tree and a Kinara on the bar.) :D

Resting up for tomorrow: Operation Gift Buying/Making!!! This year's goal: buying on a budget. A very lean budget. Hope everyone likes what I get them in spite of not having a whole lot to spend monetarily. I know that's not the point of the holidays, but I'm a relapsed people pleaser, so I do want them to like what they get from me. Wish me luck!

Laterz!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Since I've Been Gone...

November...not a good month. I was sick or otherwise drained of energy the whole month so it was kind of blah. Feeling well now and my energy's back (as the now-cleaner than it was apartment and clean laundry can attest to)

In spite of this, it's been a great last couple of weeks.

What have I done, you ask? Okay, you didn't ask, but I'm telling you anyways.

Volunteering
It's the former Girl Scout in me, but I love to volunteer when I have the time/energy/ability. Last week, I was able to spend a couple of days helping with giving Christmas to people who may not have been able to have celebrate like they're used to otherwise. It was a blast. Got to meet some really cool people, learn how to wrap a gift (I'm a stick everything in a gift bag kind of girl) and just experience how doing something little can be such a big deal in someone else's life.

Finished reading the Bible
I finished reading Malachi yesterday and since I finished the New Testament last month, I've officially read through the entire Bible. It was actually really interesting reading what I hear people throwing around all of the time and seeing what it actually means instead of being told what it means. It can be a very dangerous thing to just take someone else's word about something without taking the time to find out more about it. I'm finishing out the year by reading the 60 Days of Paul...in 20 days so I can make it to the New Year. After that, I'm going to see what other holy books I can get my hands on. I'd love the opportunity to read and learn about other major religions of the world and see what they really believe instead of what's been taken out of context or overgeneralized. I think I'll try to find a Catholic Bible first because I'd like to know what happened between the Old and New Testaments. For instance, in the Old Testament, it's okay to have multiple wives, but it's not in the New Testament. When did that law change? Who changed it? When did Israel and Judah become Judea? Information like that I don't know might be found there. After that, I'd like to read The Book of Mormon because I find myself fascinated with that religion (or is it a denomination within Christianity? Something I can possibly find out) and then after that, The Quran. Yes, The Quran. I'll have to say that watching All-American Muslim has really led me to want to learn more about the religion of Islam and it's really hard to find out what information is true because the religion has been vilified because of the actions of a minority of people.

Got my Wojo (Writing Mojo) back!! :D
I've been going through an insane length of writer's block. The ideas are there, but when it came time to type or write them out, it was just not happening. Any of the stories I already wrote but was trying to edit, I just ended up making it worse. It's been going on for a couple of months now and I've been able to start stories, but unable to complete them. For me, it's a big deal because writing is my primary outlet these days and it's one of the few activities that I love to do. Writing is coming back slowly but surely storywise and I was able to write a couple of songs Friday night going into Saturday morning. Songwriting and poetry writing is something that's really fallen by the waist side as I've been focusing on short story and full lengths, so it's been cool that I've been able to write songs again.

I'm settling back in to my "routine" (don't really have one at the moment, just taking it day by day) now but with the holidays coming up soon, I'm sure to be thrown off soon. I like routine. And lists. And plans. I'm not good with spontaneity anymore, so it's helpful and it puts my mind at ease when my day's activities at least written in the proverbial pencil (giving myself the leniency of erasing and changing things if necessary).

On tap for the upcoming week: making/procuring Holidays gifts (there's more than one holiday coming up and I'm an equal opportunity gift giver/celebrator as well as a couple of birthdays) more apartment cleaning (yay...) menu planning for New Year's Day (my second annual NYD lunch party!) and *crossing my fingers* more writing.

Oh, and enjoying all the football forthcoming!!! Tis the season my lovelies ;)

Until next time.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

To be or to do: that's my question

Over the past few months, I've been trying to figure some things out. Well, I'm always trying to do this. So, nothing new really I suppose. My problem is that I keep my eyes straight ahead. I try my best not to look around and see what all I'm missing by trying to stay focused on my objective. With my blinders on, I tend to finish what I start, but now I wonder about everything I passed by and beginning to yearn for it. I want to experience new things and it's already hard for me to do that because I have a fear of dealing with things I'm not used to (a very handy fear to have btw...not)

I try not to be a greener grass on the other side girl and I wouldn't go back and change much. With that said, I have a chance to go back and finish what I started or try what I walked away from last time. Why not try it out? If I don't like it, then I can stop, but to never do it will just lead to regret right?

Of course, there'll be people around me commenting. They always have a comment and they're always around when I'm wanting to try something new or walk on a different path. I wish I hadn't based so much of my life worrying about someone else's reaction, but I'm hardcore guilty of that count. It seems like so many of my 23 years have been spent trying to pacify someone else, even if it means traveling down a road I don't want to be on to keep them happy (or at least quiet if nothing else).

I need to find where I belong and do what I'm supposed to be. When the next person asks me what I want to do, why can't "I don't know" be an answer. This is next several decades of my life here. I don't want to flip around from place to place never fitting in anywhere and I don't want to be so miserable I loathe waking up in the morning. I've spent so many years hating the fact that I made it through another year and even more pissed when I woke up the next morning knowing I'd have to do it all again. That's not a good life to live.

But yeah. I don't know what I want to do long term. I have one more class before I'm done with my teaching certification, but I don't know where I want to teach long term. Public school? Private? Charter? Be a homeschooling tutor? Honestly. None of the above. I want to help people get their GEDs. Not sure which population I'd like to focus on specifically, but generally, I'd like to help those going back to school to finish what they started. How many people know this (well, knew this before now) hardly anyone. Why? Because I know the second I say something like this, the response will be a disapproving look and most likely a comment consisting of "are you sure you can handle that?" I'm not sure. Not sure at all. But why should that stop me from trying?

I want to do something that matters. More importantly, I want to be someone that leaves the world better after I leave than it was before I got here. Does it really matter what I do in the end or who I was while doing it? What's more important? If I continue to be paralyzed by fear, will I ever do anything at all? If I keep my blinders on focusing on doing, do I become anyone of substance?

So many questions, I know. My bad, but that's where I'm currently at mind-wise. I hope I can answer some of them. If nothing else, I'd really love to answer this question: do I need to focus on what I'm going to do with the next several years of my life or on who I'm trying to become?