in which i learned to belong

Lately I’ve resorted to the use of writer’s prompts because I’m at a loss for things to write about. Creative juices are running slow this year. Today the word is, ‘belong’.

It conjures up so much emotion for me; especially when preceded by the word ‘I’.

I belong.

Growing up, I did not belong. I was the ugly duckling. Not that I was ugly, I don’t think… I just stood out. A lot. I wasn’t really like anyone else. When I was home in Latin America, I didn’t look like anyone else. When I would visit America, I could physically blend in easily enough, but I couldn’t change how I was made or how I thought about life. I never belonged completely to either group. Common TCK dilemma.

Where's the white girl?

See if you can spot the white girl…

Typically in life, you belong with the people you share common interests with. Ever since I can remember, my parents have said that I was born in the wrong era. I never liked the same things people my own age enjoyed. I had developed from a young age a deep-rooted love for: jazz, reading classic literature, classical music, baking, gardening, old movies, and ballroom dance… These loves continued to manifest in my life and you can just imagine how many kindred spirits I found through the years — very few.

I was the middle kid in a larger than average family of 9. I didn’t feel like I belonged with either the olders or the littles. I mostly just did my own thing and bounced back and forth between the siblings, whichever I could profit from in the moment. I was also the only white girl my age living in a town full of boys and was considered to be ‘one of the guys’. I’m taller than average for girls and I grew taller than many of the boys I was friends with too. The only thing that was ever average about me was my shoe size (US 7.5); and even in that, I am female bigfoot in Mexico. From a young age I was taller than and had bigger feet than most full-grown men.

It really does wonders for a girl’s self esteem…

These were my closest friends from age 13 until I graduated high school, plus 2 visitors from Canada.

My best friends from age 12 until I graduated high school (and 2 visitors).

To belong.

Although my college friends would never be down to fox trot with me to ‘A Foggy Day’, they do share my love for food; specifically, Korean BBQ. We’d frequently go into the heart of Koreatown to share a late second dinner. I’d look around the table at the people who had become my friends in a short amount of time and I began to view our group as an outsider would see us, realizing we were probably the most diverse group of people you could place together. If I were to give each friend a label identifying them based on the surface: race, sex, background, and genetics, there’s no way we’d be friends; let alone sharing a meal together; let alone be in the same room. Picture Jets vs. Sharks. I’d totally be with the Sharks. We Latinos gotta stick together, man.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized: ‘belonging’ has nothing to do with sharing physical characteristics, the same interests/dislikes, or having a history with a person. It doesn’t even have to do with race, background, or age. If you were to go around our table and label us based on our hearts, you would find a commonality. We are no longer defined by our pasts. Jesus Christ died for our sins. We are bought. We are chosen. We are redeemed. Because we first belong to Christ, we can then belong to and love each other; because we see one another as God sees us — a new creation. Belonging is rooted in the deepest fibers of us; the parts being made to look more like Christ. Because of that, I can look at the diversity of my friends and think…for now anyway, belong here.

I’m linking up with SheLoves Magazine‘s February writing prompt…in March.
Because I’m a rebel.
Just 
kidding…

28 days of music

I’m going to steer clear of my typical playlists this month so I can do something a little different.  Music challenges like the one I procured have been floating around for ages, but since they’re always set up as 28 day challenges, I figured why not make mine in February? That way every day gets a little love….

Day 1: Reminds you of summertime:

Day 2: Favorite to slow dance to in the kitchen:

Day 3: Favourite from an old movie:

Day 4: From a favourite movie:

Day 5: From a favourite musical:

Day 6: Would make the worst elevator music:

Day 7: One you enjoy, but can never listen to all the way through:

Day 8: A favourite instrumental:

Day 9: A favourite in another language:

Day 10: You recently heard again for the first time in a long time:

Day 11: #1 the year you were born:

Day 12: #1 the year you graduated:

Day 13: A favourite theme song from your childhood:

Day 14: You memorized with the wrong lyrics, but it’s too late to change:

Day 15: Few people know, but you love:

Day 16: Good cooking music:

Day 17: A cover you like better than the original:

Day 18: A favourite classical:

Day 19: A favourite jazz:

Day 20: Currently playing on your iPod:

Day 21: One you enjoy singing in the shower:

Day 22: From a singer that’s dead:

Day 23: From a singer who’s still alive:

Day 24: A favourite Coldplay song:

Day 25: A favourite Beatles song:

Day 26: From your last date:

Day 27: One someone else recommended to you:

Day 28: A favourite road trip song:

2013 in review | 13 memories

My main moments from the past year (at least ones with pictures) are from various trips I took. Pretty typical for a third culture kid. 2013 was a good year for me. I was able to see and experience so much life and growth: I graduated from college, visited a state I’d never been to before, went to Europe for the first time, and I moved to the Philippines! Here are 13 of my favorite moments:

The first few days of January were spent finishing off my sister’s and my UK trip! English tea & pudding, balderdash, falling down the stairs daily, intense jet lag, trying to stay awake (& warm), and laughing with these cool cats late into the night:

Trying to get tan at Formby Beach;)

Trying to get tan at Formby Beach;)

After returning from Liverpool, I spent one jet lagged day in California before flying home-home to Oaxaca to spend the rest of my holiday with the family. I was able to check this off my bucket list — well, I had to first add it to my bucket list, but then I checked it off…

While home and still recovering from jet lag, my youngest sister, Debbie, and I got to spend a couple days at our favourite beach in the entire world: Puerto Escondido. Do you see my jetlagged eyes?? I shouldn’t be allowed in public.

Ah, to be warm again!

In the midst of school (trying to graduate in May) & work, I got to be reunited with one of my favourite people ever – my partner from massage school! She came to LA, so I had an excuse to do the touristy things I hadn’t even done yet myself: the Griffith Observatory and the L.A. Zoo!

How I love her and her sweet son!

How I love her and her sweet son!

My friend Karina and I went on a spontaneous road trip to Seattle right before finals. It was one of the worst ideas I’ve had, but actually the best decision. I got to see my childhood bestie in Cannon Beach, which has been a lifelong dream to visit!

This girl and I have been friends for 20 years and counting!

This girl and I have been friends for 20 years and counting!

From Cannon Beach, we drove across the most epic state line ever, making Washington my 41st state visited. I didn’t want to leave!

Seattle in April was a brilliant idea. Those trees…swoon!

Seattle in April was a brilliant idea. Those trees…swoon!

Soon after the Northwest trip…Donna and I got our friend, Nicole, married off!

Nothin' like a Wednesday wedding to liven up the week!

Nothin’ like a Wednesday wedding to liven up the week!

Then I graduated from Eternity Bible College!

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After graduating, I flew home to Oaxaca to spend a week with my family before moving to the Philippines!

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These two deserve a gold medal in the friendship department! They put up with so much of me last year and they’re really the best of people. Have I mentioned I get to see them in a couple weeks?? I’m beyond excited!

And here are the people I spent the majority of the year with! We trekked all over Mindanao and even to Luzon together in 2013, we make good travel & living buddies;)

These were moments I knew would make the best Facebook statuses. Livin’ the life!

I ran my first 5k in November! I placed 8th for women and won an award for being the only white female racing. Check that off my bucket list — after adding it first;)

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Although it was hard to keep it at 13 memories, 2,013 seemed a little extravagant…

Until next time!

2013 Reading Challenge

Here is the list of all the books I finished in 2013! The ones with an asterisk are books I have read before and chose to re-read just because I like ’em or because I read them aloud to my students. The rest of the books I read were all new to my soul.

  1. Stuff Christians Like – Jon Acuff
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe – Douglas Adams
  3. Life, the Universe, and Everything – Douglas Adams
  4. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
  5. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
  6. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
  7. Young Zaphod Plays it Safe – Douglas Adams
  8. *Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard Atwater
  9. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles – Julie Andrews Edwards
  10. *Emma – Jane Austen
  11. *Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt
  12. The Theology of the Book of Revelation – Richard Bauckham
  13. The Rules of the Road – Joan Bauer
  14. Peter and the Shadow Thieves – Dave Barry
  15. Peter and the Star Catchers – Dave Barry
  16. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  17. To Sir, With Love – E.R. Braithwaite
  18. The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
  19. Little Lord Fauntelroy – Francis Hodgson Burnett
  20. The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgson Burnett
  21. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  22. Frindle – Andrew Clements
  23. The School Story – Andrew Clements
  24. The Adventures of Pinnochio – Carlo Collodi
  25. Boy – Tales of Childhood – Roald Dahl
  26. George’s Marvelous Medicine – Roald Dahl
  27. Going Solo – Roald Dahl
  28. *James & the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
  29. Matilda – Roald Dahl
  30. The Minpins – Roald Dahl
  31. The Twits – Roald Dahl
  32. The Book of Revelation – Matt Dorff
  33. Crime & Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  34. A Room With a View – E.M. Forster
  35. Who Calls Me Beautiful? – Regina Franklin
  36. An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
  37. Paper Towns – John Green
  38. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
  39. *Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
  40. The Fun of Being a Fat Man – William Johnston
  41. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
  42. *The Gammage Cup – Carol Kendall
  43. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  44. If I Perish – Esther Kim
  45. One False Note (The 39 Clues #2) – Gordon Korman
  46. Into Thin Air – John Krakauer
  47. *To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  48. The Wind in the Door – Madeleine L’Engle
  49. The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues #3) – Peter Lerangis
  50. A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis
  51. *The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis
  52. Out of the Silent Planet – C.S. Lewis
  53. *The Last Battle – C.S. Lewis
  54. *The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  55. *The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis
  56. *Prince Caspian – C.S. Lewis
  57. The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis
  58. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
  59. Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis
  60. *The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S. Lewis
  61. This is a Book – Demetri Martin
  62. The Toothpaste Millionaire – Jean Merrill
  63. *Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
  64. Anne #2 – L.M. Montgomery
  65. Anne #3 – L.M. Montgomery
  66. Anne #4 – L.M. Montgomery
  67. Anne #5 – L.M. Montgomery
  68. Anne #6 – L.M. Montgomery
  69. A Woman and Her God – Beth Moore
  70. Look! The Finished Work of Jesus – Mick Mooney
  71. Home – Toni Morrison
  72. Absolute Surrender – Andrew Murray
  73. Humility – Andrew Murray
  74. Animal Farm – George Orwell
  75. *Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton
  76. Third Culture Kids – David C. Pollock
  77. *The Chosen – Chaim Potok
  78. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
  79. The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues #1)- Rick Riordan
  80. Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach
  81. *The Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
  82. *The Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
  83. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  84. Affliction – Edith Schaeffer
  85. Pygmalion – George Bernard Shaw
  86. Fight – Preston Sprinkle
  87. *Of Mice & Men – John Steinbeck
  88. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  89. The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Boom
  90. The Pilgrim’s Progress (Retold in Today’s English) – James H. Thomas
  91. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
  92. Banner in the Sky – James Ramsey Ullman
  93. *Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
  94. The Sound of Music – Maria von Trapp
  95. Every Drunken Cheerleader, Why Not Me? – Kristine Waits
  96. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  97. The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
  98. *The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
  99. In God’s Underground – Richard Wurmbrand
  100. Where is God When it Hurts – Philip Yancey

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” -Confucius 

Music To Travel Asia By

Every few months I like to make a playlist of whatever tunes I’m currently listening to at the time. It’s a good way to document my life through the years and see how my collection has expanded and become more eclectic over time. Each playlist is like a time capsule into my younger self. The mystery still remains as to why I chose to put an embarrassing amount of Jesse McCartney, Ozzy Osbourne, and Queen in my junior high mixes. {not actually embarrassing}

I am enclosing my Asia playlist in case you get the urge to do a little spontaneous traveling; or if you would just like some recommendations to listen to from home. I know there’s some way to add a playlist to your blog so you can listen to it from here, but I’m not a smart enough cat for that. Do with them what you may. In random order, here are some of my present favourites: