Monthly Archives: January 2012

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. with a single quote

Last week I took the plunge and answered the “50 questions that will free your mind”. Question #13 was:
Would you break the law to save a loved one?
My answer, as short as it could be, was “Absolutely.”

Today I read a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that made me think about this very question, and now I know how King would have answered it himself.

“Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
― Martin Luther King Jr

Such timeless advice, still relevant today.

The movie The HelpMy husband and I happened to watch the movie The Help this weekend. We didn’t time it to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day. It just happened to show up at the library late last week and it gave us the opportunity to watch a movie together this weekend. I read the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett several months ago and I loved it. I thought it was especially good as a first time novel, with an interesting way to tell a fascinating story. As always, I found the book  much better than the movie since many parts had to be cut, but the scenes still flowed well.

I just can’t imagine these events happened barely 60 years ago. Of course, we’ve come a long way since then (at least compared to how things used to be) but it’s still hard for me to remember how bad things were not so long ago.  And so, if I could change my answer to the question Would you break the law to save a loved one?, I’d refine it with this answer. “To do what’s right, absolutely.”

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WordPress weekly photo challenge: peaceful

For 2012 I’ve decided to join WordPress weekly photo challenge. If you participate in this challenge, feel free to include a link to your weekly photo in the comments below.

This week’s theme is “peaceful”. The first thought that came to my mind is when I go tuck in my kids at night while they’re sleeping. They look so peaceful and carefree (and quiet!) – what a wonderful sight.

The second thought that occurred to me is when my kids are at school in the morning and I sit at my desk to work in front of my computer with a hot cup of tea. I get to enjoy the very quiet house and when I need a mental break, all I have to do is look out the window of my office and enjoy the scenery.

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: peaceful

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: peaceful

Right now the trees look bare because it’s winter but most of the year I see a lot of green. It may not seem like a big deal to you but when you live in reclaimed-desert San Diego County like me, most people see rocks, cactus, dirt and dry brush when they look at their windows. I live right by the San Diego River, which lets me enjoy plenty of greenery and birds year round. And beautiful sunrises like this one, which are oh so peaceful (and with lots of green in this shot).

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: peaceful sunrise
WordPress weekly photo challenge: peaceful sunrise

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WWW Wednesdays – January 11, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

– What I’m currently reading
Deck the halls by Mary Higgins ClarkDeck the Halls by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark. It’s the prequel to The Christmas Thief, which I read a couple of months ago. I’m enjoying this guilty pleasure of light reading in between some heavier reading.

– What I recently finished reading
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson. This was quite an interesting book to read, with lots of materials and research data in less than 300 pages. But I think rather than using the subtitle “How finding your passion changes everything”, it should have been ” how some people found them passion and changed their lives.” This book is full of examples of famous (and less famous) people who found their passion early on or later in life, and what factors can affect someone finding their passion, or not. As a parent, I find it helpful as an observer to identify areas of interest in my children I may want to encourage rather than smother. But for myself, it doesn’t really tell me how to discover my own passions and find “my element.” I still recommend this book for the information it contains overall but the quest shouldn’t stop at the end of it.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. A little long but I didn’t guess who the real murderer was, so I liked the surprise ending.

– What I think I’ll read next
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I just picked it up at the library today and should be able to start it in a couple of days.

My kids’ bookshelfI want my hat back by Jon Klassen

What they’re currently reading
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. A bear searches for his missing hat until he remembers where he last saw it. The large font size makes it easy for young readers to read on their own and the story is very funny. I just can’t believe my kids haven’t figured out what happened to the lying rabbit at the end…
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. This is a Caldecott Medal Book winner and it really deserves the award, both for the story and the beautiful illustrations. On a very cold winter’s night under a full moon, a father and daughter trek into the woods to see the Great Horned Owl. My kids couldn’t wait to see if the owl would show, and the wait was worth it.
The Berenstain Bears Say Please and Thank You by Jan & Mike Berenstain. Sister, Brother, and Honey Bear practice using their very best manners in many different situations. A great book to teach or remind kids about good manners (saying please, thank you, you’re welcome, sorry, etc).

What they recently finished reading
Hippo and Rabbit in three short tales by Jeff MackHippo and Rabbit in Three Short Tales by Jeff Mack. Jeff Mack is a genius and really knows what makes little kids laugh. These three very short, super easy to read stories are just hilarious and my kids loved this book. Can you imagine what happens when a rabbit pushes a hippo on a swing? Not much, right? Now, just imagine what happens when a hippo pushes a rabbit on a swing. Wheeeeeeeeeee!
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship : a Russian Tale retold by Arthur Ransome. Another Caldecott Medal Book winner, this is the story of the Fool of the World who, when the Czar announces he’ll marry his daughter to the man who brings him a flying ship, sets out to try his luck. On the way hemeets some unusual but also very useful companions. This book is pretty long so I recommend for kids over four years, but it’s very interesting.

– What I think they’ll read next
We just picked up a whole bunch of books at the library today, including some Richard Scarry’s and the brand new Mr Putter & Tabby Ring the Bell by Cynthia Rylant!

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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My answers to “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind”

Free your mindI’ve been wanting to answer this list of questions for a while and the start of a new year feels like the right time to do so. If you’ve answered these 50 questions on your blog in the past, please feel free to post a link in the comments section below. And if you’d like to answer the questions yourself, you can find the complete list at http://www.marcandangel.com/2009/07/13/50-questions-that-will-free-your-mind/.

1.How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
As I answer this question, I’m 41 but I think most people who don’t know me would think I’m in my upper 30s. I like to be 40 something actually so I don’t feel I have to lie about my age.

2.Which is worse, failing or never trying?
Never trying. Well, unless failing involves death. That would be a lot worse.

3.If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
Because of fear, laziness, and procrastination. Mostly fear.

4.When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
Probably not. When I say something, I usually do it. I’m more of a doer than a talker.

5.What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
I wish everyone in this world would actually give a crap about our planet and take better care of it. Hopefully this would lead to more respect for other people’s lives too. What can I say, I’m an idealist.

6.If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
Anything creative. Writing, taking photos, drawing, painting, …

7.Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
At this stage of my life, I’m mostly doing what I believe in. I’ve never had a settling personality and try to do what I really want to do.

8.If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
Well, since I’m 41, I’d be dead by now and wouldn’t be able to answer this question. I can’t change the past and I hate looking back.

9.To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
I believe I’ve made most of the course of my life happen because of my actions. I believe I’m 90% in control of what happens to me. As for the remaining 10%, I’m still in control of how I react to it.

10.Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
Doing the right things. Perfection is great, but opting for good enough assures that more things will get done.

11.You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
Quickly switch the subject. Gossip bugs me.

12.If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
What Sting sang so simply in An Englishman in New York, “be yourself, no matter what they say.”

13.Would you break the law to save a loved one?
Absolutely.

14.Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
I have a very narrow definition of “insanity” so I don’t think it would be associated with creativity. But I see how some people can view some forms of art as so different from the norm, they just can’t understand it.

15.What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I eat ketchup with many foods, including all sorts of vegetables, pasta, rice, etc. I also eat Nutella by the spoonful. And I never put ice in my drinks. If you’re European, you understand me but this is a rarity in the US.

16.How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
What a boring world we’d live in if the same things made everyone happy.

17.What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
Write a few books I already have subjects picked out for. Making time for it is my biggest struggle. There are so many things on my wish-to-do list, I just can’t get to them all.

18.Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
Probably not, since I’m the opposite of a hoarder. I get rid of stuff all the time, mentally and physically.

19.If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
The U.S. North East, close to Boston, or closeto Washington D.C. because I just love these two areas. But I hate the snow and the mosquitoes, so I would need a lot of convincing to move back East.

20.Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
Of course!!! Doesn’t it?

21.Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
I’m a worry worm. Does that make me a genius?

22.Why are you, you?
Because there’s only one me (I don’t think I have a twin). I’ve gone through my own life experiences, and it makes me who I am (good, bad and ugly).

23.Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
I try. Most of the time.

24.Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
Losing touch with a friend who lives close by. It can make for awkward moments during unexpected encounters.

25.What are you most grateful for?
My beautiful boys.

26.Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
Lose the old ones since I don’t look back and live in the past. I have very few old memories anyway, so it wouldn’t be a great loss.

27.Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
No. I always challenge everything I see and hear. Well, almost everything. But know it can drive other people nuts.

28.Has your greatest fear ever come true?
Since my greatest fear is dying, I’ll answer no.

29.Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
Actually it does. Every action has a reaction and its consequences and can affect relationships positively or negatively.

30.What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
This has to be the toughest question for me to answer on this list. I actually have very few childhood memories and I can’t think of any I would qualify as the “happiest.” Even though I’ve been thinking about my answer for a week now. Sad but true.

31.At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
When I gave birth to each of my boys, and then breastfed them for the first year of their lives. My body gave life to two human beings. How cool is that?

32.If not now, then when?
I’ll let Mark Twain answer this one: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow just as well.” Funny guy.

33.If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
I have nothing to lose, except sleep to do everything I want to accomplish every day. Did I say I was tired?

34.Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
Yes, but it’s been very rare.

35.Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
Because religions are used to exerce power and control over people. We don’t want to learn from history, especially when power is involved.

36.Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
No. It’s all relative, and there’s a lot of grey in between.

37.If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
Come on, not for a million dollars, especially when half of it goes to taxes! $10 million, maybe. $100 million, absolutely! Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets to find out.

38.Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
I really enjoy my work so I can’t complain. But I could use more free time.

39.Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
Every day is different and I never know how things will go. Quoting Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” It’s OK, I like chocolate and I do eat some every day.

40.When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
Often, actually. I like trying out my ideas, even if they fail. How else would I be able to find out for sure?

41.If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
My boys.

42.Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
Now, this question implies I’m not extremely attractive or famous, how rude. OK, let me think this through. If I’m going to live a long time, I probably won’t be very attractive by the end, so I’m not sure how much attractiveness I’d really be buying myself. As for fame, it’s never been a turn-on. So I choose to live long, live well.

43.What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Two words: carpe diem.

44.When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
Every time. Just do it.

45.If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
Because schools, our parents and society in general has made us doubtful and fearful.

46.What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
I’d take more photos, draw and paint more and would actually put the results for sale. And hope some people would buy them.

47.When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
Every day, at least for a few seconds. But I wish it was for a few minutes.

48.What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
I love my creative side but it’s been choking inside me for too long. I need to make the time in my everyday life to let it out.

49.In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
If it’s something worth remembering, I’ll remember it. Otherwise I don’t have room for it in my memory. If it involves something fun with my kids, I’ll have plenty of room for that.

50.Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
It’s been a very long time since I’ve let someone make a decision for me, at least for something important. I don’t expect other people to decide my fate and I don’t let them.

Feel free to answer some of the questions for yourself below or link to your blog post if you already have answered them.

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