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Archive for December 2015

Learning to Put the Merry in My Christmas

It's not #tbt yet? No? Oh well lol Mom and Me,
Christmas in the '80s

Over the weekend, my friend and I were talking about how neither of us are feeling festive this holiday season. By commercial standards, I'm doing slightly better than her; I finished shopping for everyone, for whatever that's worth. She told me about how she picked up a couple of gifts for her young nieces and nephews before shrugging and letting the conversation die.

The silence sent us both into thinking about why we were feeling like two little Grinches. Her pain is on a complete different level than mine - her father passed away about a month ago. My Grinchness is because around the same time, my brother moved across the country with his family. She and I are both having our first Christmas without someone we love.

So, in a way I guess our drab spirits are an indication that our values are inline with the season's purpose - love. But we're still left to figure out how to make old traditions into new ones.

I guess this is all a part of the cycle of life. The photo to the left is of me and my mom celebrating Christmas at her parents' house. Our family celebrated the holidays a lot at my grandparents house when I was really young, until my parents decided to start building their own traditions.  These "new" traditions have been the ones I've held so close to my heart all these years. The ones where my Dad, Mom, brother and I were all together cooking, watching movies and playing games. The traditions I'll miss so much this year in the absence of my brother.

But just as my Mom adjusted to a change in her Christmas traditions, my brother will do the same and I'll have to fall in line. But for me, one new tradition will definitely be Facetiming my brother and his family on Christmas day.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and hoping you not only have all your hearts desire, but also the ability to appreciate all you have.

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Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, is a little difficult for me to review because I don't want to give too much away. But if I could sum it up in a couple of words, I'd say it's about the effects of living a life of vanity.

See, in his young adulthood, Dorian Gray was convinced to pose for a portrait by his artist friend. After seeing the painting, Gray said he'd love to stay as handsome and innocent as he was portrayed, while all the effects of life would mar the rendition of him. And so it was, Gray went through life doing whatever he pleased and never dealt with any negative consequences because people were too enamored by his unchanging beauty to suspect him of wrongdoing. As for the painting, it became more and more grotesque with every sin Gray committed, but was never questioned because it was hidden in the attic.

That's all I'm going to give on the plot because as I said earlier, I don't want to give too much away. Plus, I want to talk about the real reasons I enjoyed this book.

1) The imagination it took to create this book. Although the conclusion left me wanting more - it felt forced - the premise was realistic. Wilde took what could happen if the wishes of those who went back to old pictures of themselves and longed to be like they were in younger years and ran with it.

Wilde created characters you could connect with, or not. There were numerous times in this novel where I read something Gray did and found myself thinking "I can not believe this dude," like he was someone I know in real life lol Other times, I would question what I would do if I had Gray's opportunities.

2) The philosophies and the language and methods used to convey them. Most of the profound theories Wilde wanted to impart were done through Lord Henry, the character who had the most influence on Gray being led through life by pleasure. Some of those include:

"He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time." As someone who hates being late and as a result, feels like a lot of my life is spent rushing instead of enjoying small things, I can stand behind this statement.

And, "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." You need only read my other blog posts to know I strongly agree with this statement.

Overall, this novel just made me think. And so, although I didn't love it enough for it to make my Reading Room page, it's definitely a good read.

Since finishing this novel, I've moved on to reading The Science of Breath by Yogi Ramacharaka. But I won't be reviewing it because, well really how do you review an instructional, lifestyle book? It just seems blasphemous lol

So until next time...

All Types of Lessons

In my last post, I let you all know I picked up my guitar again, but I didn't give you the backstory. I need to now because it ties into where I am in my life.

About five years ago, I decided I was going to stop putting off my dream of learning how to play the guitar. So I bought a guitar and signed up for classes at my local rec center. All was going well until we got to chords. I've played piano nearly all my life and was already confused as I don't what about the guitar having multiple notes on each string, so the thought of finding and combining those notes into chords completely blew my mind.

Around the same time, I was traveling for work and missing a lot of practice and classes - the perfect excuse to bail on the guitar, right? So I did. For five years. But although I could hide my guitar away, I couldn't hide my love for the music, so I decided to pick the guitar back up.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I went to Guitar Center and asked for a recommendation for private lessons. The sales associate matched me with a teacher and I contacted him. I gave him my musical background complete with the fact that I'd been learning guitar some years ago, but shied away from it when I started learning chords.

A week later, I'm sitting in my new teacher's studio and he pulls out a piece of paper containing my first lesson - chords. So we're just going to jump in headfirst, huh? Completely pull me out of my comfort zone from go.  This stepping outside of my box has been the theme for the past couple of months.  And every time I've done it, I've had amazing results - new ways of looking at the familiar and overall personal growth. Why should the process of learning the guitar be any different?

So anyway, towards the end of my lesson, I told my teacher my wrist was aching. He tells me to let go of my guitar and let the body swing out so the neck is at a 45 degree angle to my body. I do it, reposition my left hand on the neck of my guitar and all the strain I had been feeling was gone. I look at him and say "It's that easy, huh?" He replied, "Sometimes you just need to loosen your grip." Simple yet profound. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know this is a lesson I've been trying to apply to my overall life; stop trying to hold on so tightly and control everything. Sometimes I just need to loosen my grip.
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