What do I enjoy?

Recently, I have found myself wondering what I really enjoy doing.  I have so many expectations for myself, activities I should try, places I should go, foods I should cook with, etc.  And while I do enjoy trying new things and pushing myself outside of my comfort zones, I think it is also important for me to simply enjoy life sometimes, which raises one question.

What do I enjoy?

For a while, I think that I lost sight of the little things in life I do enjoy because I was so focused on trying new things or working or just getting through and surviving.  So I’ve both spent time thinking about what I enjoy and asked a dear friend who has known me for years to remind me what activities bring me delight and joy.  To be honest, once I thought about it, the following list was not surprising since these are activities that I have enjoyed for a good long time.

  1. Exploring and traveling – I genuinely love to wander around and discover new places, which is probably why I love to travel.  I have yet to travel the world, but I hope to one day.
  2. Playing the piano – I began playing the piano when I was six and was even a piano performance major prior to injuring my wrist in college.  Playing the piano is one way that I express myself, a comfort that I can always turn to.
  3. Listening to music – Along with playing music, I love listening to music, analyzing it, or just enjoying the moods it evokes.  I love my tried and true favorite artists, but I also love learning about new artists and expanding my musical horizons.
  4. Writing – Though I am afraid of failing and therefore don’t write or blog as often as I should, I find writing to be very therapeutic and simply delightful.  Once I injured my wrist, I began to use writing as an outlet to express myself and my thoughts, even if it is simply in my journal.
  5. Reading – My punishment as a child used to be that I was forbidden from reading.  From an early age, my mother instilled a love of reading that I still maintain.  I was an English Literature major post wrist injury solely because I love to read.  I now try to read at least one new book a week.
  6. Taking pictures – Though I’m definitely the most amateur photographer ever, I find great delight in taking pictures of random objects in my life.  My most favorite way to take pictures is to just take my camera with me on a walk or exploration and photograph what I find to be interesting.
  7. Planning and organizing – I’m an organizational freak.  Organizing and planning soothes my soul.  When I’m upset, I’ll often organize; my thoughts sort themselves out as I physically sort through and organize whatever happens to be lying around.  The ability to organize and carry out a plan is so refreshing.  I love to plan, even though I know my plans will always change.  At least I figured out the puzzle of the plan and understand its components first.
  8. Cooking – This hobby is more recent than most, but I have really enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes.  I like to play with flavors and think of new recipes, as well as being able to cook a delicious meal when I’m just craving homecooked goodness.
  9. Baking – Though I don’t typically have a major sweet tooth (pregnancy has changed that a little), I enjoy baking.  Being able to create a good scone to go with my morning coffee or pie or cake for a friends’ birthday is just amazing.
  10. Conversing with friends – What can I say?  I love a good conversation with people I love.

While I will definitely continue to push myself to try new things, I think I am going to try to make time to devote to the hobbies and activities I know I love.  So far, I have greatly enjoyed playing music while I’m home cooking or cleaning or reading.  I’ve spent more time in coffee shops talking with friends, reading, and writing.  It’s been good.

What do you enjoy?

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Resolved

Though I am a day late, I thought I would share my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 with you all.  Without further ado…

I am resolved…

… to get into better shape by maintaining a daily pilates or yoga practice five days a week and by walking at least four days a week.

… to read the Word of God daily.  My friend Megan and I are following a combination Old Testament and New Testament plan together.  I think (rather, I know) that the accountability will be motivating and humbling.

… to read two books a week.  Since graduating, I have sadly neglected to read as much as I should, though I do still love to read.  Any suggestions are welcome. 🙂

… to post at least weekly.  This resolution is a bit undefined at the moment since I am still attempting to realize which of the many blogs I have I should focus on and how many I can reasonably maintain.  I love this blog too much to give it up entirely, so I will probably use it to post random, personal thoughts rather than have a specific purpose… at least for now.  I’ll update you on my other blog projects as they develop.

… to listen to music daily.  Somehow, I have fallen out of my old habit of listening to music all the time.  I blame a previous addiction to TV.  However, since I am no longer watching TV and rarely watching movies (combined with the fact that I love music and hate silence), I have determined to listen to music daily while I walk, work around my house, or sit in a coffee shop writing.

… to try one new recipe or cooking idea each week.  These attempts will be blogged about over at cupcakescoffeeandcoconut.wordpress.com.  I’m excited to see what I discover!

In contrast with previous years, I have not resolved to embark on major changes, rather just to be dedicated to what I am already working on.  If I happen to learn Italian or take more pictures, then so be it.  But for now, I’m just going to live my life with more focus and intention.

Post #63 – What my magic tree grows

Image taken from http://www.amazon.com

Having a magic tree is not something I have ever seriously thought about.  I’ve joked about having a money tree, but that’s about it.  However, if I was to possess a magic tree, I think it would grow in the center of a secret, walled garden, much like the garden in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  It would be beautiful and bring the garden to life.

There would be a bench under my magic tree where I could sit and read in its shade.  I would spend a lot of time around my magic tree, after all, it’s magic.  Spending time near my magic tree would be, in a word, magical.  Being in its presence would be enchanting and refreshing.  All the cares of the world would pass me (and anyone who was with me) by when I was in my secret garden with the magic tree.

My magic tree would grow beautiful, big blossoms like a tulip tree, only bigger and more breathtakingly beautiful.  These blossoms would be full of love so everyone who was given one would feel very loved and special.  Love is what my magic tree would grow.  Love that people could receive by touching the blossoms.  I would share the love and beautiful blossoms by the bouquet to everyone who was willing to receive them.

Post #14 – Why I started to blog

I have been blogging on and off since high school, back when Xanga was all the rage.  I’m not sure exactly why I started to blog then, other than I’ve always used writing as a way to express myself.  As an introverted thinker, I find writing to be very relaxing.  It helps me process and sort my thoughts and relieve stress.  I love having the time to choose the perfectly nuanced word to express what I’m thinking or how I am feeling.

I do know that I started this particular blog shortly after I permanently injured my wrist and could no longer play the piano for hours a day.  Playing the piano and music in general was my preferred way of expressing myself prior to my injury.  Since my injury, I have become an avid writer.  In addition to journaling, I blog here, at www.rachelbuckingham.wordpress.com, and several other blogs.  I am also a freelance writer, currently writing several articles and my first novel.

In addition to using blogging to express myself, I started this blog as an effort to write more and hone my skills.  That is also the reason I have chosen to participate in the postaday2011 challenge.  A writer cannot improve without writing (and reading in my opinion).  So I blog because I love writing; it is an extension of myself.

Post #11

I have many passions and dreams in my life.  I love writing (and blogging) and hope to be a published author some day.  I love reading and hope to be an excellent reviewer of books.  I love music and want to create songs that reflect who I am and why I am that way or what I’m going through.  I love teaching and hope to touch many, many lives and encourage my students to dream big and achieve their goals.  But when I die, I don’t want to be remembered for any of these things.  That is, unless they bring glory to God.

When I die, I want to be remembered for following God with my entire life.  I want to seek Him with all of my life and sacrifice myself and my desires for His glory.  I want to proclaim His glory and His saving grace!  That is what I want to be remembered for!  God is so powerful!  He created everything.  He sustains everything! Only He can save us from our sin.  We are depraved, sinful, selfish people.  We need God.  In his infinite love and grace, He can choose to save us.  God is so awesome!  If I am remembered at all, I want to be remembered for Him!

Post #10

Just so you know, the titles of my posts are numbers simply so that I can count down how many I have written!  It is so invigorating to see that number climb!

When I’m snowed in, I entertain myself in a number of ways.  I catch up on some of my favorite TV shows on Hulu.  I love watching House, Castle, Chuck, Lie to Me, Bones, Criminal Minds,White Collar, Burn Notice, and Psych. Yes, I know that is a lot of TV, but I have a lot of free time since I only work a few hours a week at my current job (and still get paid well!  It is such a blessing!  Back to reality in February though.)  I love House, Bones, Lie to Me, Bones, Criminal Minds, and Psych because they each star a character who is extremely gifted and a little neurotic or quirky.  Sometimes I identify with them as they are misunderstood or excel at something completely random.  I also wish that I could be that intelligent and gifted (though not a jerk like House or Dr. Lightman).  I like to watch Castle, Chuck, White Collar, and Burn Notice because I think they are entertaining well-written shows.  My husband and I like to watch them together.  What shows do you watch?

When I’m snowed in, I’ll also read.  I love to read!  I delight in afternoons with no distractions so that I can read a novel cover to cover.  I developed a love for reading as a child and was a literature major in college.  Books are so fascinating!  I’m always looking for a good read.  Do you have any suggestions?

I’ll also write when I’m snowed in.  I’m a freelance writer in addition to being an avid blogger (I contribute to more blogs that I can count at the moment) and an English teacher.  Writing is really relaxing for me.  I love all aspects of it, from researching to outlining to the actual writing.  I definitely love the editing stage too!  Writing provides an outlet for me to explore and express my thoughts, emotions, and ideas.

The importance of being flexible

At the moment, I am in the middle of a six-month teaching English as a second language stint in China.  While it has certainly been an interesting experience, living in China does have its moments, especially when speaking English with the Chinese.

The Chinese method of teaching involves a lot of wrote memorization.  This means that for every subject, including English, students memorize a set of responses for given questions.   While this may work for science and math, it leads to stiff formal English that doesn’t sound natural at all.

For example, this is a standard (by which I mean literally everyone who speaks English says it) greeting in China.

“Hello, how are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks.  And you?”

While this is by no means incorrect, it is certainly formal.  Native speakers of English have many different ways of saying hello, many ways of asking how are you, and many ways of responding to that question.  “Hi”, “Wazzup!”, “What’s up”, “Yo”, and “Good morning!” are just a few examples of the phrases native speakers use with ease.  It is quite strange to hear this formal exchange constantly – from my students, from people on the street, from my colleagues.  It’s everywhere!  There is no flexibility and change.

Aside from the fact that this exchange is very formal, it is memorized.  It is the only way that the Chinese know how to say hello.  They literally freeze and can’t speak when faced with any variation of the phrases they have memorized.  And this is what frustrates me the most.  Language is very fluid and flexible.  Words have many connotations beyond their denotation.  Slang enters and exits any language quite quickly and constantly changes.  Students of any language must be willing to be flexible and learn as they go.  Learning a language requires speaking and trying and even making mistakes so that native speakers can correct the mistakes.  Wrote memorization doesn’t actually help anyone speak and interact with native speakers.  It may help when reading texts, but it doesn’t help spoken communication.

So to sum it up, it is important to be flexible when speaking a language.  Flexibility is key, especially when two people don’t know the language at the same level.  Sometimes you must describe something when you forget a word.  Sometimes you must describe something in order to explain it to someone who doesn’t know that word.  Slang influences and changes everyday communication.  The reasons are nearly endless… but be flexible!  Don’t just memorize a language to get a good grade on an exam.  Engage with it!  Interact with it!  Explore its nuances and intricacies!  Oh the joy of flexibility – it brings a language to life, and a rich life at that!