Beyond Reading

Studies agree that reading is important. There’s a multitude that can be learned from books – a conglomeration of information, feelings, facts, and ideas that compass nearly every aspect of life.

I don’t think everyone needs to be a bookworm. In fact, I don’t think everyone should be a bookworm, cause, you know, balance. But, I do think that if you have the ability to read and you’re not reading, then you’re stunting your growth. (And, if you can’t read, then there’s a good chance you could still be learning via audiobooks, etc… which is pretty cool.)

But do you know what else I think? I think that it’s easy for me – someone who’s exceedingly passionate about books – to sit down at my computer with breakfast and coffee and write a blog post lauding the benefits of reading.

Yet, sometimes being passionate about something requires more than simply tapping a few keys on a computer and calling it good.

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When I was eighteen I went to South America and helped my oldest sister with her host of little ones for two months. At that time she was pregnant with her fifth child and pretty much on bedrest. That meant I got to help take care of her other four children and that included reading to them at nap time.

When nap time rolled around each day I would read to them for up to an hour. My free time for the day started right after I finished reading to them, and although I cringe to tell you this, I wasn’t always happy at the length of time I had to spend doing naptime reading. In fact, I sometimes tried to cut it short.

It wasn’t until a year or two later that I looked back at that time and realized how happy I was that my sister and her husband invested so much time and energy in reading to their children. (Add on to the fact that those books were some of the children’s only look at life in the USA – which is where they now live, and I see doubly much how needed those reading sessions are.) Now I consider it an honor that I got to read to them during naptime, and I wish I had done so with more grace.

Nowadays, when it comes to books and reading, I take the subject seriously. When I have new nieces and nephews born, I generally pass over the cute little clothing items and buy stacks of books instead. (Come to think of it, that’s normally what I give to grown-up friends for gifts, too…)

When I visit my friends with little children I make it a point to carve out time to read a book to the kids. When my best friend’s toddlers interrupt our talks with books I’m delighted that they find them so interesting.

I host giveaways for books, talk about them incessantly on social media, and review dozens of books each year. I contact authors to thank and encourage them, jump at the chance to beta read when time allows, and tell people all around me about my favorite authors.

See, studies agree that reading is important. And I know how much it’s helped me in my own life, so I kinda want other people to experience some of the same benefits. 😉

Two Homes?

It’s 8:09 Wednesday morning and I can hear a host of birds singing outside my open camper windows. The interstate traffic is a muffled hum behind them, but the birds are doing a brilliant job of vying for attention and have certainly won mine.

It’s a strange feeling because on Sunday I went “home” – but then yesterday I came back “home.” Because apparently I now have two homes. I’ve only lived in my little camper in Kentucky for a little over six weeks now, but it’s won me over and I miss it when I’m gone.

Sunday was only the second time I’ve gone back to the beautiful countryside in Ohio that I lived in for the last sixteen years since moving to Kentucky – and seriously, it was great. Like, driving down the road and yelling hello out the window to all the familiar landmarks as I passed them type of great. (Y’all, being able to actually yell out the windows and have no one around to see me was – in and of itself – rather magical.)

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I had a wonderful time driving down the country roads, swinging on my familiar swingset, sitting out on the porch in the early morning stillness, the calmness of my bedroom, having a pantry full of snacks I didn’t buy, and best of all being around my family. I have a lot of family in the area and receiving enthusiastic hugs from my little nieces, holding babies while chatting with my sisters, playing games with my brother, and chatting with my parents? It was all delightful and I’m so thankful I got to do it.

Yet, when it was time for me to head back to Kentucky, I was like “Oh, it’s time to go home.” And that was really weird because I was home, and yet I wasn’t.

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After the next month and a half, I’m not sure what my life is going to look like, but for now, I’m thankful for this little sphere that makes up my world. I’m thankful for a job that I genuinely enjoy and that makes a difference. I’m thankful to be close enough to my family that I can go visit them and help out when needed. I’m thankful that my driving abilities have grown to the point where I can take on a four-hour road trip without freaking out.

I’m exceedingly thankful for two homes. For two places where I can feel completely comfortable, at home, and miss when I’m gone. I’m thankful for all I’m learning, experiencing, and doing. I’m thankful for the delights of new adventures, old comforts, and all the thousands of little elements that make up this season of my life.

And now I’ve got to shut the computer and scurry off so I’m not late for that job that I’m so thankful for. 😉

How I Really Feel About My Job

When I clicked on Facebook today this picture showed up as a Timehop, but then my internet froze up and when it came back on the Timehop was gone. Since I wanted to see what I’d said about the picture I spent several minutes scrolling down through my feed until I found it. (The short amount of time it took me shows how much I don’t post on Facebook.)

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Unsurprisingly to me, half of what I had on my feed involved me sharing about books, writing updates, or people tagging me with the same. The other half revolved around my traveling. For years those were the two things my world revolved around. And they were good years. And I’m very thankful for them.

In fact, when I got a “stationary” job at a coffee shop a couple years back, giving up traveling was something that I wasn’t looking forward to. I was used to being gone four or so months a year, jaunting off at the drop of a hat, and it was fun. I had lots of fantastic experiences, learned a ton, and built an amazing foundation on which to view the world.

It wasn’t long after I stopped traveling so much though, that I realized how much I liked routine. How much I enjoyed getting settled into everyday life and focusing more on what was close by instead of having a lot of experiences with the far away.

And now I’m sitting here writing paragraph after paragraph and then erasing them because I’m not really sure how to put my next thoughts into words. That could be because I just worked a ten-hour day after a hugely busy week, and so I’m tired.

But maybe that’s kinda my point – I’m having as much fun, making as many memories, and feeling just as fulfilled working full time in retail and not being able to travel much, as I did while working part-time and traversing literally all over the world.

Work isn’t always fun. But then, neither is traveling. Or anything for that matter.

I know I’m still basically a kid and I’m not here to hand out life advice because I know there are epically huge amounts of things I know nothing about… But one thing I have learned something about in my lifetime is the importance of mindset.

You don’t have to go somewhere to find adventure.

You don’t have to be better, smarter, or richer than everyone else in order to make a difference.

You don’t have to have everything perfect, hit 100% of your goals, or fit in to be content.

Sometimes making a difference consists more of smiling and calling out a cheery welcome then it does in saving a life, becoming famous, or writing a standing-ovation-worthy speech.

See, I do a lot of smiling right now. And to begin with, it didn’t feel like much.

To be totally real and vulnerable on here, when I moved to Kentucky to work I was excited because I knew I had a job where I could make a difference.

Then reality hit and as I stood in the bookstore and watched people buy more stuffed animals than books, I got a bit discouraged. (Which is kinda funny if you ask anyone who knows me because stuffed animals and I are basically besties.) But, as I scanned stuffed animals, trinkets, and t-shirts I let my mindset slip and I started thinking Wow, I gave up living near my family and friends for a whole summer for this

After a few days of that, I realized the error of my way, and I began asking God to help me see from His perspective. To help me see that what I was doing really did make a difference. That no matter where it is, as long as I’m where God wants me, then what I’m doing is important and worthwhile.

And folks I’m slightly amazed by how fast God helped me change my perspective. Now each day when I head into work I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I consider it a privilege to smile at hundreds of people each day. To point out the bathroom, the guest service desk, or hunt through the bookstore to find an item they’re inquiring about.

See, I’m not just working in retail. I’m smiling, talking, and interacting with people who have eternal souls. I’m a friendly face that will help make an over-all experience with sometimes-hard-hitting-truth more positive for those seeking.

Sometimes I’m helping rude or impatient people and I have to silently remind myself that they’re made in God’s image and I need to show love regardless. Sometimes I’m tired, not feeling well, or overwhelmed and I have to sing praises to God under my breath. Sometimes I’m having a hard day and I have to ask God to give me grace and He does so in extraordinary ways (including mangers being super sweet and easy to work with when I’m going through stuff totally unrelated to work).

And sometimes I just have to simply remind myself that not everyone is a bookworm like me.

Those people who buy t-shirts and stuffed animals instead of books? Well, they don’t bother me anymore. See, I used to equate books with people caring about learning, but it finally hit me how narrow and rather snobby that view was.

Now when I see people buying trinkets instead of literature, I’m reminded that not everyone thinks like I do. Maybe that mug will remind the person of the truth of God’s Word every time the buyer drinks from it. Maybe those teens are buying t-shirts because they know it will spark conversations where they can share the truth. Maybe those kids who are hugging their stuffed animals will one day see the little bunny after a hard day at school where evolution is being taught as fact, and they’ll remember what they learned at the museum.

See, my job matters because the people I interact with matter. What I do each day can make a difference, because – small though it may be – each little element someone experiences combine to create an overall impression.

Now? Well, I’m delighted to sell postcards. I miss work on my off days. I feel honored to interact with people no matter how short of a time it is. Now I know I’m making a difference. I’m doing something special, worth-while, and rewarding.

Do I miss traveling? Eh, no. I mean, I kinda hope that I have another season of traveling in my life. But, if you were to ask me if I’d rather tour Europe or stay here at my job? Well, right now I’m exactly where I want to be.

Yes, I Plan My Spontaneity, Thank You

This is the first time I’ve opened my computer this week.

Some weeks just don’t turn out the way I’d envisioned them. For little ol’ find-a-schedule-and-follow-it-to-a-T me that can be a bit hard to get used to, but I’m learning how to go with the flow and say last-minute-yesses.

Actually, that’s not exactly true.

See, I plan my “yesses” ahead of time. No kidding, folks. My natural inclination is to say no to anything besides the necessary – ya know, like going to work, eating veggies, and curling up at home with a good book.

That means way back when I first decided to move I began going through various scenarios in my mind and telling myself that I would say yes when/if those instances ever happened in real life.

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This is because even though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an introvert, I also see the benefits of stepping outside my comfort zone.
This is because even though I learn a lot from reading stacks of nonfiction, I learn in a different way when I hang out with new friends.
This is because balance is an exceedingly important part of life, and strange as it may seem, that doesn’t just mean splitting my free time equally between fiction and nonfiction.

So, this summer I’ve made the decision to work at including yes in my vocabulary far more often than I used to. Remember me saying I wanted to be spontaneous? Well, apparently for me spontaneous works so much better when it’s preplanned. This means that when I’m organizing the store I’ll be having a little conversation with myself, deciding what I’ll say yes to that night.

Silly as it may seem, my yesses might include saying yes to going to the laundromat if when I look up the location I’ll be able to get my laundry done and be back home before it gets dark. Or maybe my yes will be that I’ll hang out if anyone invites me to watch fireworks with them. Or perhaps my yes will be when someone invites me over, offers a suggestion, asks if I want to work late or cover someone else’s shift, or offers for me to beta read for their new writing project. In fact, all these are scenarios from the last month. I’ve said yes every time and every time I’ve been incredibly thankful I did.

And there we have it, folks. The best way for introverts to excel at spontaneity. You’re welcome for the tips. 😉

(A little clarification: My lack of posting this week was actually because I had a friend who was in a car wreck this week, so I spent four days in the hospital with her. But, even that was a totally unplanned event, so it works to call it spontaneous.)

The Perks of this Bookish Connoisseur

One of the really cool things about working here at the Creation Museum is the perks of buying books with my employee discount. One of the other really cool things is the perks of finding free books in the damaged bin. 😉

See, I’m a book connoisseur.

To use popular modern vernacular, books are basically my besties. To use actual lingo that makes sense, I really like books. I have hundreds of physical copies, hundreds more of e-copies, am a patron in good-standing (I hope?) at both the physical and electronic library, and can jabber about bookish things with the best of them.

Yet, despite all of this, it’s not been exceedingly common for me to go to a real, physical bookstore and buy a book. This is mainly because I’m a homebody who lives out in the country and the nearest bookstore is over an hour away. This is also because Amazon is good for narrowing down choices because when I’m inundated with a large selection of something wonderful, my brain feels like it flipped the off switch and ceases to function correctly.

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Now though! Well, when I’m around books for hours and hours each day, I’m able to see what other people are buying, then file the most interesting books away for future reference. Instead of having a few minutes or hours to make a decision on what I want to buy, I can do so at my leisure, any time I want.

Add to that the books I was given in training, the two I’ve snagged for free due to damage, and my little library in my camper is growing nicely. I’m nearly done with two of these books and have my eye on several more that will probably find their way home with me soon.

It’s delightful to have time to really learn about a book before I buy it, to see what books other people are choosing, and to get to be part of the process that gets new books into people’s hands.

My library is growing kinda slowly, but that’s okay, because I still have plenty of time left to fill my shelves (and brain) with delightful copies. See, that’s one of the perks of working at a bookstore – no rush, no panic, just happiness.

If you have a job, does it come with any cool perks?

Can a Girl Have Too Many Spices?

When it comes to cooking for myself, I’d decided a long time ago that I would work on being healthy, but still allow a little bit of fun food into my life.

Plus, I’m one of those people, you know, the kind who thoroughly enjoys cooking. If I can muster enough energy at the end of a long shift, then it seems perfectly reasonable to go all out and make a big meal. Not because I’m hungry necessarily – most of the time I don’t eat the food then, but rather for lunches during the rest of the week – but because cooking while listening to an audiobook is downright delightful.

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This means my eating currently has three very different modes:
1. I treat myself and splurge to eat pizza pockets or a frozen pot pie, etc… (this doesn’t happen often, but is a lot of fun when I decide to do it)
2. I eat a meal consisting of mostly one thing – think sautéed asparagus, stir-fried Brussels sprouts, or a baggie of various fresh veggies
3. And, last but not least of all, I make a meal that – in a tiny kitchen – takes an hour or two of work. This is a lot more common than I had anticipated and has filled my fridge with delights such as Tikka Masala, Stuffed Grape Leaves, and other such delicious foods

This delight of cooking without the benefit of having multiple family members around to partake of the outcome has made me realize I really need to find someone with which to share my food. So, Project Share The Food has been my launched by yours truly and some of my co-workers are getting to try dishes they’ve never had before. 😉

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On the plus side, having so much fun cooking means that I really don’t have a desire to eat out. I mean, why pay someone to make the food when that’s the best part of the process?

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I like to buy spices like some girls like to buy shoes. But, on the plus side, you can use a multitude of spices at the same time when you can really only wear one pair of shoes at once. And spices are a lot less expensive than shoes. Plus, if we want the winning argument, then I think we can all agree that spices taste far better than shoes ever could. 😉

As I’ve been writing this post I’ve been enjoying a delightful breakfast of stuffed grape leaves dipped in plain yogurt – so delicious. I’m about ready to pack my lunch which will probably consist of a stirfry, and then I’m off to work. I hope y’all are having a delightful day!

Would you rather eat a meal, or prepare it? 

 

The Spontaneity of…Clean Clothes?

It’s 8:04 and I’ve commanded myself that I have to put my computer up much earlier in the mornings than I’ve done some days this week. For instance, I was blogging right up until the last minute on Wednesday, hurried out the door in a rush, and totally forgot my name badge (which you have to use to sign in at work). That meant I literally had to run to get to work on time. Yeah, not exactly the most fun.

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One thing I’ve found to be most interesting, strange, hard-to-get-used-to, and probably the most fun, about living on my own is controlling my own schedule. Of course, I have my managers at work telling me the hours to work, but other than that… well, it’s up to me.

Back when I lived at home in Ohio I controlled my schedule to a large degree, but I never got in my car and went somewhere without informing someone what I was doing, or asking them if they needed something from the store, etc… That didn’t bother me, but I’m so used to checking in with those I live with, that not checking in is something that I’m still getting used to.

For instance, yesterday while at work I suddenly had an urge to get all my laundry washed. I knew I could eke out a few more days with clean clothes, but my laundry hamper was overflowing and I decided that finding a laundromat sooner rather than later would make my clean-everything-in-order little heart happy.

So, I did the math and figured out that if I hurried home from work and gathered up all the laundry, I could get the laundry done and be back home while it was still light. (Which is something I always try and achieve.)

And I accomplished it! Which means I now have a pile of clean clothes sitting next to the table, waiting to be put away, nice, clean, and smelling delightful. The hurrying also meant I forgot my laundry detergent at home and had to use the vending machine to get new – more expensive little boxes of detergent – but hey! It was worth it.

That, my friends, is the type of thing I find exciting while living in a camper – being able to go to a laundromat and come home with clean clothes. I obviously have an exceedingly interesting life. But hey, I’ve always found joy in the little things, so…

Also, shoutout to my previous job where we had a tip jar and I collected a pile of quarters. Who would have guessed I would one day use them to keep my clothes clean. 😉

Have you ever used a laundromat? If so, did the prices shock you? 

And now I’m off to work, folks (and I’m already wearing my name tag to make sure I don’t forget it this time). Have a great day!