Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Life in 2013

I love the opportunity to look back on the year and see how things have changed. And since my birthday is in June, I get a good opportunity for a "half-way" point check-up. I can't believe it's another half-way already! This year has flown by, and it's been one of those years where I feel like my life didn't change much, which can be a little discouraging.

Sure, I can sense gradual changes in myself. I think I'm more patient (even if it's such a tiny improvement that it's not noticeable to others... I am not very patient). I used to channel all negative emotions into anger because I didn't like to cry as a child. I'm finally learning to reroute negative emotions into the less damaging release of tears. I've become more peaceful, not as easily stressed, and I'm becoming more relaxed. 

I've learned a lot more about myself with my discoveries about the MBTI personality typing. I used to envy my friends who could just rattle off their types, because every time I took this test, I got a different answer. I have finally determined that I am an introvert (I) (but chocolate can make me act very much like an extrovert) and I am an intuitive (N). I can't figure out yet if I'm a thinker or a feeler, but the last letter, I am definitely judging (J). I think I use thinking and feeling almost equally, depending on the situation. I take an extremely long amount of time to process things, so maybe some posts will come about once I get it all figured in my head.

As a piano teacher, I feel much more comfortable in my role. For the first few years (when I was still in high school) I felt like I was cheating my students somehow. I've definitely gained a lot of experience, and I have been comfortable in my role for the past couple of years, but this past year was when I switched from saying "I teach piano lessons" to "I am a piano teacher." I am a degree-less piano teacher, and finally, I am not ashamed! I have as many wonderful students as I could wish for, and I enjoy teaching every one of them. 

What can often be saddening at these time markers for me is the fact that I am still single. As I've mentioned before, the younger me would have been horrified to know that I would still be single at 22 (and a half!) years, but I am becoming more content with that also. I know God has a plan for my life, and if His plan matched up with mine, I wouldn't have to TRUST HIM, now would I? Do I trust that He knows best if it means that I will be single the rest of my life? I have no business whining and wishing for a husband! I need to focus on trusting my Lord, my Savior and my King to have the best plan for my life. As His servant, my only purpose is to bring Him glory with every fragile breath.

I heard this song on the radio today, and I think it may be my theme for 2014:

Particularly the third verse: 
Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely
‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

That's what I want this year and every year, Lord. Keep making me more like Jesus.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Watched in 2013

As noted in my previous post, I didn't read as much as I would have liked last year, and that was probably due to the increase in TV and movies. We watched a lot of movies and TV, adding to the shows that we watch weekly, and binge-watching some on Netflix.

The beginning of the year, Sarah and I watched a lot of period drama movies for the Period Drama Challenge. I enjoyed writing the reviews, but unfortunately, I just couldn't force myself to write reviews for everything period that we watched, so I ended up spending a lot of time watching movies, many of which I didn't like very much. But I did enjoy the excuse to re-watch old favorites, and I found some new movies that I liked, even though they didn't get reviews.

We began 2013 with Doctor Who, Castle, Psych, Person of Interest, NCIS, Elementary, White Collar, and Covert Affairs on our regular TV watching schedule. Since we were caught up on all of those, there was only a new episode to watch once a week during the show's season, thankfully. But almost every night we had at least one TV show to watch after dinner. It felt like a lot of TV to me, and then we added Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Almost Human and Atlantis.

Besides our regular shows, we got into Merlin during the summer and watched 4 seasons inside two months. We had to wait a month for season 5 to come on Netflix, and then we finished it up in about a week or so. We were a little obsessed, and I really enjoyed it, even though it was kind of silly and cheesy sometimes. We watched at least one episode every day that we could. 

Then in November we started doing the same with Chuck starring Zachary Levi, and now I've become addicted. It makes me feel guilty to watch so much TV, but it's such a fun show, lots of action, Chuck is a really sweet guy, and he's really cute with Sarah, his CIA handler/partner/girlfriend. There is an unfortunate amount of inappropriate clothing (or lack thereof) and some intimate scenes, unmarried folks living together, etc. Still, skip those parts and it's a really fun show! We went through 3 seasons in a month or so, and just started season 4 after New Year's. 

We're also re-watching Doctor Who, in preparation for the Christmas special in which Matt Smith leaves - left! Sadness! We didn't get all the way through to season 7 in time for the special, but at the rate we're going we'll probably wrap up our re-watch before January ends. And with Matt Smith gone, I will be significantly less interested in Doctor Who. I thought the Christmas special was terrible, and I DO NOT LIKE the idea of Peter Capauldi being The Doctor. 

New movies I saw in the theater this year:
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Great Gatsby (review)
Iron Man 3
Thor 2
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (twice!)

My favorite was Catching Fire, sorry but Desolation just didn't quite beat out Catching Fire for awesomeness in book-to-movie translation, which tends to matter more to me than I guess it should. I loved Desolation on its own, but I thought it could have been better if it were more like its book.  

Catching Fire left me with only the slight disappointment of Venia's non-existence. Flavius and Octavia's characters didn't get much of an increase, so there wasn't much to miss, but Venia is my favorite of Katniss's prep team. The rest of Catching Fire was awesome, and since I saw it for the second time yesterday, I'm considering writing a review. It's my favorite of the books, and it is a really great movie!

With the new year always comes reflection, and the overview of how much time I spent entertaining myself in front of a screen last year is a little dismaying to me. At the time, it seems like it's only one TV show, only one movie, but how those hours add up! If I felt like doing the math, how much time would I find I had spent? If I took the time to make up an estimate of the time I spend on everything I do, would my amount of TV/movie entertainment be an acceptable percentage of my life for me? I definitely intend to cut back some on the TV shows I watch this year, and focus on keeping my priorities in line.

But I will not be cutting out movies and TV altogether, and I am definitely looking forward to finishing up Doctor Who and Chuck plus anticipating Sherlock: Season 3 (January 19!), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, and The Hobbit: There and Back Again!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Read in 2013

I have read a pathetically small number of books this year, and strangely, for a list-making, self-proclaimed bookworm, I didn't even keep track. Maybe that's because I knew if I could see a list, it would be humiliating and tragic. I read Pride and Prejudice at least once, maybe twice (it's my go-to book when I want to read and haven't read something Austen lately) and I read Sense and Sensibility once. I may have read Northanger Abbey, I can't remember for sure, but I don't think I read any other Jane Austen novels, so it's definitely been a low book year. 

The only two new books I remember reading are The Mysteries of Udolpho by Radcliffe and Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering. I meant to write a review of Udolpho because I liked it a lot, and it was my first experience with a gothic novel (which Northanger Abbey parodies - now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I read Northanger after Udolpho for comparison) and there were so many things I wanted to tell other readers who might not have ventured into gothic novels yet... anyway, briefly: if you like Northanger Abbey, have patience for long books and don't mind excessive poetry inserts, definitely read Udolpho

Oh, I also re-read Catching Fire and Mockingjay after I saw Catching Fire the movie, because I just had to compare my memory of the book with the movie (and yes, it was a pretty awesome book-to-movie translation!) and then of course I couldn't just NOT read Mockingjay. I can't wait to see what they do with that movie!

Okay, after quickly browsing through past blog posts for a review of my year, I also definitely read The Great Gatsby before I saw the movie, and my main summer reading was slogging through the GAPS Diet book. Instead of a fun summer read, I took the GAPS book and a notebook and pen with me to the pool. But don't worry, I did have a fun summer read in Rules of Murder (mentioned previously) for the beach vacation.

So, my lame (and rambly) attempt at constructing my book list from this year looks something like:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride
Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Yes, I realize this is a fiction-heavy list (I like fiction), but I am trying to find more non-fiction books that I really enjoy and are worth reading... last year I chose some to add to my morning reading, like Elisabeth Elliot books. And like I mentioned in a previous post, I follow Professor Grant Horner's Bible-reading plan, so I do get Scripture in, even though it looks like I didn't read any other non-fiction this year.

My reading goals for this year are to read at least one non-fiction for every five fiction reads, and I've decided that I want to start keeping a book journal, to keep track of the books I read, and also my thoughts (including new observances in re-reads) in an actual book. Keeping lists on the computer has never worked well for me. And I really need to make time to read more!

Any suggestions for my 2014 book list? Happy New Year!