Ultima, at last.

A little over four years ago, the job I had required a lot of travel to desolate and depressing parts Arizona. It was a short stint, but one that often left me lonely and disconnected.

On one such journey to the town of Safford, an eight square-mile dust bowl of fast-food chains and hardware stores, I was surprised when my hotel offered me a free novel. Part of a well intentioned attempt to make a Comfort Inn more comfortable, I suppose. I received a paperback copy of Bless Me, Ultima when I checked in and didn’t think much of it.

I kept the book on my shelves for years, but never read it. I recognized the title, assuming it had garnered acclaim for something, but I had little interest in actually exploring it.

Fast forward to today, when I took my little sister to see the recent, on-screen version. After all this time, I only recently donated my copy of the book, but always felt guilty that I hadn’t read it. Like it had come into my life for a reason that I chose to snub.

The movie was good, well done and pleasantly simple. The story was narrated throughout different scenes, reminding me that it was based on a novel. I like when movies have narration – probably because of how much I was read to as a child.

There are likely lots of lessons one could dissect from the storyline, but I think these quotes sum up my favorite parts:

“It is because good is always stronger than evil. The smallest bit of good can stand against all the powers of evil in the world and it will emerge triumphant.”

“I made strength from everything that had happened to me, so that in the end even the final tragedy could not defeat me. And that is what Ultima tried to teach me, that the tragic consequences of life can be overcome by the magical strength that resides in the human heart.”

“Understanding comes with life. As a man grows he sees life and death, he is happy and sad, he works, plays, meets people – sometimes it takes a lifetime to acquire understanding, because in the end understanding simply means having sympathy for people. ”

Will my life will change significantly by closing the loop on this? Not likely. But it’s nice to know how the story ends.

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being vs. doing

The age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?…gets a little awkward when you’re almost 30. I suppose it’s because by some standards, I already am a grown up – or at least – I’m something closely resembling one.

I think the millennial version of this question should be, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” This is much easier to answer, and I’m willing to bet that if you asked a handful of 20-somethings what their career aspirations were, you’d get some seriously halfhearted answers. But if you asked the same individuals what they wanted to do in life, you’d hear a more passionate chorus of responses.

Needless to say, we don’t always get to spend everyday doing what we love. And that’s ok – it’s life – and there are lots of way to make a full one that exist beyond the world of cubicles, outside of 8 to 5.

Being happy, really happy, means finding a way to do what you love. Whether it’s volunteering, reading, shopping or writing a blog.

One of my favorite writers has found her true calling doing what she loves, which she refers to as truth telling. As I’ve become addicted to her blog over the past year, I’ve started to understand that this is what I want, too. Nothing makes me happier than sharing, loving, crying and growing, and using those moments to forge connections with other people.

So, when I grow up? Not sure what I’ll be, but I know what I want to do. I want to do exactly what Glennon is doing. She’s started an inspiring revolution and I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling.

Her book, Carry on Warrior will be out soon. In the meantime, I seriously encourage every female reading this to read the excerpt  and put this on your to-read list.

I’m serious, you have five minutes. Read it. You’ll feel better.

summer reading

In elementary school, I always participated in the public library’s summer reading program. You know the drill; you read some books and then earn prizes based on how many pages you can burn through.

Well, call me nerdy or call me blessed, but I love reading (thanks Mom and Dad) and have always been speedy. I typically completed the entire summer challenge within a few weeks, feeling a pang of disappointment at the lameness of the prizes, and for having to defend the fact that yes, I had really read that much in a month.

Old habits die hard. Here I am, 20 years later, still plowing through a summer reading list. A few friends have asked for recommendations lately, so here’s a list of what I’ve enjoyed this summer:

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected–A Memoir by Kelle Hampton

The Birth House by Ami McKay

The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain

Midwives  by Chris Bohjalian

Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed  by E.L. James *only slightly ashamed about these

The Space Between Us  by Thrity Umrigar

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Snottypants

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I’m disgusted yet intrigued. Here I am, on page 189 of Bossypants, when I stumble across a used Breathe Right nasal strip shoved in between pages.

I’m immediately curious about the previous reader of this library book, and why he or she chose this page as a receptacle for nasal waste.

Was it intentionally used as a bookmark? Or shoved here discreetly in a moment of shame?

Libraries really do bring the community together. I’m going to add to the fun and stick a bobby pin in at page 223. It’s a scrapbook and time
capsule all in one!

a conversation guide

Remember when you were in eight grade and waiting for a boy you liked to call you, and you you were so nervous that you made a list of things to talk about, “just in case?” No?

Maybe that was just me.

According to the world’s manners expert, Miss Emily Post…

“IDEAL conversation should be a matter of equal give and take, but too often it is all “take.” The voluble talker—or chatterer—rides his own hobby straight through the hours without giving anyone else, who might also like to say something, a chance to do other than exhaustedly await the turn that never comes. Once in a while—a very long while—one meets a brilliant person whose talk is a delight; or still more rarely a wit who manipulates every ordinary topic with the agility of a sleight-of-hand performer, to the ever increasing rapture of his listeners.”

That makes my head hurt.

I’m fortunate to have a wonderful group of girlfriends with no shortage of things to discuss. We’ve successfully maintained our ‘book club’ cover in order to get together monthly to drink wine. Recent conversations have been especially entertaining, and really spanned the spectrum of topics:

  1. The traumatic deaths of childhood pets. Cats in sofa beds, need I say more?
  2. Creepy vs. cute maternity pictures. Why would Yoda be involved in the shoot…
  3. Why foot cramps turn you into an evil clawed beast.
  4. The science of baking. How, no really how, do the same ingredients turn into so many different things?
  5. Which is more important to carry at all times, Smart Water or tactical pepper spray? And does the risk of pepper spraying yourself in the face outweigh the intended benefits?
  6. What does the Victoria’s Secret PINK line really mean? Regardless, it’s offensive.
  7. What are the best ways to avoid being killed while jogging or biking?
  8. The shame in tripping and falling flat on your face. We’ve all done it. And still do it. And sometimes we cry when it happens.