Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A better me.

When was the last time you were disappointed in yourself? I mean truly disappointed.

And we’re not talking disappointed in yourself for buying underwear sizes too small and you couldn’t return it (even though they put it with the underwear that was your size! Ok, off my soap box).

I’m not even talking about disappointment when you let opportunities slip away like your chance at a free sandwich at your favorite restaurant (STILL upset over that one).

I’m talking about disappointment when you let yourself down. That was me yesterday. I was not my best self. I was “High School Sarah.” The one that liked to gossip and find entertainment in the drama around me. Yup, that was me, sad to say. I guess I’m a gossiper in recovery.

Anyway, I felt I had been so good – avoiding topics that could lead to gossip, changing the subject if it came up. It was something that I had been conscientiously working on for years. Not saying that I never did it. Like I said, I’m in recovery.

Well I guess I could blame it on “The Bachelor.” Have you SEEN that show? It’s hilarious. And dumb. At the same time. But perfect for that bit of girl time you wanted with your BFF. Lucky for me, since  we don’t have cable or dish, my neighbor DVR’d it (since she didn’t have the time to watch it) and invited me to watch it with her. Heck yes – I’m all for laughing at the silly antics girls do to get the guy’s attention. Or the camera’s. Whatever it is.

Anyway, so in the middle of watching it (and after hearing tons of “OMG, she’s so (insert whatever negative phrase).” “Oh I can’t believe she’s doing that.” “Oh she has a personality disorder. I hate her,” my friend turns to me and says, “Oh, do I have a funny story for you!” She launches into this story about a woman we both know and yes, it wasn’t very nice.

And do you know what I do? I join her. Because I have a story to go along with that one of the same woman EVEN THOUGH I had a nagging little thought that said, “Don’t do it, Sarah, you’re better than that.” I went right ahead and totally ignored that little thought.

Hours later, I was thinking it over and realized what I had done. I felt terrible. I had let myself down. It was a few short moments of laughter and fun for what?

Now you’re probably thinking I’m making a bigger deal of this than I should. Well, if you’ve ever been an addict in recovery, you know relapses are tough and difficult. Sometimes they throw hard curves that make shaking it harder than if you never did. Also, that little moment marked my character, tarnishing it. It’s going to take a lot of cleaning to make it look beautiful again. I don’t want to be known as someone who will take pleasure in laughing at others’ expense. That is not me nor who I want to be. 

So today? I'm going to be a better me. And I'll listen to those nagging thoughts that come around because I need all the help I can get.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Impacting books

Throughout my life, I can think of a few books that have left a lasting impression on my life. I'm not talking about books that were fun and engaging, but that truly changed me. Here are some of them
1. The Book of Mormon
2. The Bible
3. The Diary of Anne Frank
4. Roots by Alex Haley
5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
8. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

This last year, I've added a couple more to the list:

The Land by Mildred Taylor


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

These books have shaped my thinking. The Land is by the same author as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and tells of the journeys and life of the grandfather, Paul-Edward Logan. All his life, he dealt with the struggle of being half white and half black, but it becomes more difficult for him as he tries to make a name for himself, buy land and support his family. It tells of sacrifice and hard work - you feel his pain as hardship comes along and you feel the agony when a loved one dies. I felt the yearnings of his heart to know what it feels like to actually own his own property. Never has a story struck me so much on sacrifice.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a story about friendship. In 19th century China, two girls, Snow Flower and Lily are paired as laotung or old sames - they share the same birthday, their feet are the same and share the same characters. This pairing symbolizes a cementing of a relationship that is stronger than even their relationship with their husbands. They share notes through a secret women's language called nu shu. They grow up together, have their feet bound together and learn to be good wives. However, just as any friendship, theirs is put through the ringer. Through a miscommunication in one letter, Lily abandons the friendship. For 8 years, they were separated and Lily harbored a hatred for her laotung. Finally, word is sent that Snow Flower is dying and Lily goes to her aid. She nurses Snow Flower during her last days as their love is rekindled and forgiveness given.

What a story filled with heartache, love and forgiveness. I was moved and reminded of my own relationships and realized their fragility and how they need maintenance and care.

Whenever I finish books like these, I want everyone to read them! I want them to feel the same passion about these stories and feel the same changes as I did. Funny thing about books is that people react differently to them. But seriously, check these two out for sure. I'm really loving Lisa See, especially her Shanghai Girls book. I feel like such an expert now on Chinese culture after reading the last few books (Mao's Last Dancer and Shanghai Girls).

 I knew when I began a love affair with books at a young age that it would change my life, and all thanks to my mother who instilled that love. I can't wait to see what awesomely impactful books I'll read this year!