The Adventures of Anastasiya Didok

Life and faith in a nutshell.

Finding Motivation

This morning Dave Ramsey posted “Figure out what motivates you” on Facebook. I’ve never considered what motivates me, but after thinking for a few minutes, jotting things down, and consulting with my husband, I’ve figured out quite a list for myself:

1. Taking a walk or going for a run outside
2. Interaction with energetic, successful people who encourage and believe in me
3. The energy of a big city (like NYC)
4. Getting rid of clutter both in thought and in my physical surroundings
5. Being able and knowledgeable about how to help people
6. The smell of freshly brewed coffee
7. Feeling well-rested
8. Accomplishing goals and knocking out to-do lists
9. Bright colors
10. Feeling pretty
11. Having an outlet for speaking my mind/expressing my thoughts openly and without fear or reservation
12. Being able to dance to good music

 

What motivates you?

52 Books Series. Week 11. “Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

How is it Thursday again? And how is it that I owe my readers not one, not two, but THREE posts in my series? Oops. I fell off the writing wagon, but I am not going to let that stop me from catching up.

This book stays. Mine is this fat red hardcover, and I postponed reading it for a long time because 1. It looked long and boring. 2. I knew the storyline and it seemed dramatic and scary. 3. I thought the book is going to be heavy. Well, turns out I was wrong about all three. The book read very well, and more like a fairytale (if you can compare the subject matter to that somehow) than a real-life drama. The hardcover turned out to be very light to hold, so once I got started, I read the book within a couple of days.

While the books is typically depicted as a classic about the witch trials of Salem, to me it was more of a “how a single mom raises a child while being cast off from her community” story. As always, I could relate to someone being picked on by a church, while the pastor of it acts like a hypocrite. Since reading the volume I’ve been blessed with finding a church community that was not like that at all, so I am not going to go into a discussion about the negative feelings the book provoked in me.

My biggest attraction to the book is Salem, MA. Before I read anything about the witch trials there, I had an opportunity to visit the Peabody Essex Museum located in that city. It was hands down the most interesting museum I’ve ever been to, because it houses a real, imported antique Chinese house! Right next to the museum is a cemetery where you can find some of the oldest graves in the nation. It is probably one of the most peaceful places on earth that I’ve had a chance to visit. It’s a tiny plot of land straight in the middle of the city, but standing there envelopes you in silence, history, eeriness, and peace all at the same time. That cemetery also houses Hawthorne’s grave. I’ve gone back to the city four or five times just to wander the narrow streets and absorb the deepness of history set in its stones.

When I finally read The Scarlett Letter, I kept going back to the Salem I know in my mind and trying to place the events in the book into locations that I knew fairly well. By then I have already relocated to the west coast, so going back to Salem was not an available option. I am keeping the book in hopes that one of my kids reads it one day, at which point I would love to take them to Salem and show them the cemetery and the Chinese House as well!

52 Books series. Week 10. “Eat, Pray, Love.” Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is also not mine, so I will be soon mailing it back to my friend, who kindly let me borrow it about… 5 years ago or so?

To be honest I was disappointed after finishing this book because it turned out to be so much less than what it was hyped up to be. All the buzz around it made the book sound very promising, but I ended up only liking one part of it. The Eat.

The book is about a woman who discovers that her husband is cheating on her by someone submitting a book about it for review to her (she is a book reviewer). After a nasty divorce, she pretty much starts over with nothing. I feel like lately getting divorced and starting from nothing has been over romanticized. I didn’t particularly enjoy the part where she is basically taken for a fool. Probably because I’m afraid of that happening to me deep down inside. What woman isn’t? Dealing with the truth is easy. It’s realizing that something that you thought was the truth was a web of lies that is so heartbreaking.

The part of the book that I did like was her taking the time to eat in Italy. I love food. I coined a saying “love cannot replace food,” and I will always stand by it. When I read the book I was somewhat surprised that it was that part that I liked the most. But the other two parts were disappointing. They were sort of similar to each other and I didn’t feel like there was a point to them. In addition, there is more disappointment that she faces in those parts. Basically I didn’t relate or wasn’t in the right mood.

It’s 10pm here in Seattle right now and I’m barely getting this post in on still my Thursday. It’s been a long day, but I still managed to get this post in, no matter how brief and not upbeat it may be. Feeling accomplished :)

52 Books Series. Week 9. “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

This book is part of five others that I borrowed from a friend. It’s the only one that I actually read, but I’m going to make it a goal today to mail them all back to her and free up some space on my bookshelf. I doubt that I will get to others anytime soon, although they are good books. Once it’s time to read them, I will opt either for a library or for owning them myself. The fact that I have other people’s books just sitting there is weighing me down, although my wonderful friend has never mentioned a word to me about keeping them for over a year.

“Three Cups of Tea” was very educational for me. It is about a man who goes climbing a mountain in Pakistan and stumbles on a village where he figures out that there isn’t a school. He promises to return to build one, and actually does so. The book is about his struggle to raise finances for the project, as well as to actually get it accomplished in a country he knows nothing about.

I found the cultural depiction of Pakistan fascinating. I’ve never researched that country in-depth, but have another friend who is dying to go there. After reading “Three Cups of Tea,” I got a clearer picture of why her heart is in that country. The book also inspired me to reconsider my priorities in life, and explore what is stopping me from accomplishing my calling.

“Three Cups of Tea” was interesting and easy to read, but didn’t quite have an ending, since it’s a depiction of an actual person’s life. I believe there is now a sequel. The only thing that I didn’t enjoy about the book was its political undertone. While the plot is meant to depict a real man’s journey and struggle, it still works to establish a certain outlook on the world events. Perhaps because I don’t agree with that specific outlook, I didn’t enjoy the slight push towards it. Or maybe it made me feel like someone is trying to manipulate me into seeing things their way, instead of boldly stepping out and saying what they believe in. In any case, I didn’t like the influence, although I understand that most books are written in order to communicate a certain stance and to influence people to agree with it, even if the authors are not aware of it consciously. I believe that this one was planned though, since the second author is an investigative journalist.

I would recommend this book any day.

Proverbs 31 Woman: Misconception #2 – She is a compilation of multiple women

Along side the misconception that the Proverbs 31 woman is a stay-at-home mom who cooks and cleans, I ran into another one: that the Proverbs 31 woman is a collection of women because no single lady could possible accomplish as much as she does. This misconception lies in not looking into the passage in-depth enough. I believe that if the Proverbs 31 woman was a collection of characters, the bible would have mentioned something about it, and that simply thinking that what’s on her plate is too much to handle is not reason enough to deduce that she is multiple people.

Besides, I don’t think there is too much on her plate. From what I am reading, she has a main business of making linen garments, supplemented by being a middle man between the tradesmen she deals with and someone else. From what she makes from that she later plants a vineyard. She also seems to make time to work out and cook breakfast for her immediate family. Sounds like any driven woman these days to me. I am deducing this from the following verses:

“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16
“She makes linen garments and sells them…” Proverbs 31:24
“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” Proverbs 31:17

But what about the rest of the verses? Let’s take a brief look at each one that may be stumping you:
“She seeks wool and flax,and works with willing hands.” — in order to produce linen, you need flax. We will look at why she seeks wool in a later post.
“She puts her hands to the distaff,and her hands hold the spindle.” — this is what needs to happen to produce that same linen we talked about above.
“all her household are clothed in scarlet.” — IF she made her household’s clothes, it was a one-time deal and not something that takes up her time on a regular basis.
“She makes bed coverings for herself;her clothing is fine linen and purple.” — as in the case above, this is a one-time deal. I will write later why I don’t think she makes her own clothes or that of her household.
“she delivers sashes to the merchant.” — this is where I think the P31 woman serves solely as a supplier. It does not say that she makes the sashes, but possibly utilizes her connections with the merchants to get someone else’s work delivered to them. Either that, or the sashes ARE the linen garments that she makes. Stay tuned for finding out why she is so connected.

Did I miss any other verses that make it seem like the Proverbs 31 woman does more than a single person can handle?

Proverbs 31 Woman Misconception #1- She is a stay at home mom who cooks and cleans

Ladies this may come as a shock to those of you who have strived all your life to embody the Proverbs 31 woman as the ultimate homemaker. You may aspire to one day have your house as cleaned as hers and have three meals cooked for your family like she does every day. But let’s look into the passage again. Does she really do all that?

Here are the verses in the passage that correlate to cooking and cleaning:

“She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar”. Proverbs 31:14

“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens”. Proverbs 31:15

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness”. Proverbs 31:27

The first verse I’m still somewhat confused about and haven’t quite looked into. However, what I deduce from it is that she imports foods that are not available in her region through either successful trade (about that a little later), or traveling to get it herself. What I do know for sure is that this verse in no way implies cooking that food.

From what I’m reading here, the most that the P31 woman may cook is breakfast for her immediate family. The ESV bible uses the word “provides.” She provides or gives meat/food for her household. It doesn’t necessarily mean she cooks it. It also says that she “rises while it is still  night” and does that. That would mean breakfast. Nowhere else does it mention that she also cooks lunch, dinner, and snacks. But wait, the next part of the verse might shine some clarity on the cleaning part of the story: she also provides portions (as in pay, not food!) for her maidens!!! That’s right. The P31 woman has hired helped that does the cooking and cleaning for her. What she actually does herself is “looks well to the ways of her household.” She is a good manager who delegates. She is not doing everything herself!

So to all the ladies who are beating themselves up because they just can’t reach the Proverbs 31 woman’s standard, stop it right now. This is an accusation that is probably wasting a lot of your energy that should be spent loving your family and enjoying life. Stay tuned to find out just how the Proverbs 31 woman got to the point of having hired help, and what it is that she actually does.

My love for the Proverbs 31 woman

I know that P31 scares some women and motivates others. I am most certainly in the “others” category, as this girl has built quite a fascinating life there for herself! I’ve read and re-read the passage hundreds of times, and recently got this brilliant idea to try to literally become like the woman in the passage! However, I did not completely understand it. In addition, when looking at different translations, the words I had my doubts about did not match up!

This lead me to do some more research on exactly what she does and who she is. What I’ve uncovered so far has been absolutely fascinating — nothing I’ve heard of before. I don’t recall hearing a sermon on Proverbs 31 in general, and what I learned through my best friend Google was most certainly not included in any sermons or studies I’ve found on the topic online.

Along with the fascinating discoveries in fashion, geography, and history, I’ve uncovered a ton of misconceptions about the Proverbs 31 woman. Some of them were irritating, some just didn’t dig far enough, some made me feel sorry for the women attempting to “chase” the P31 standard.

In the next few days I would like to do a series of posts on the P31 woman to share what I have discovered through my research. Stay tuned to find out more about the common misconceptions about this biblical character, a lesson in fashion, a study on shellfish, and what she has to do with Italy!

52 Book series. Week 8. “The Power of a Praying Woman.” Stormie Omartian

Today I am really glad I made a commitment to write the 52 book series. For the past few weeks there have been quite a few changes in my professional life, which have left no room in me for creative writing inspiration. However, because I’ve made a commitment to my readers to write every Thursday about a book, I have stuck to it, and this has been keeping my blog “afloat.” I would hate for it to die down like my other five have.

Today I am going to deviate from my typical read and talk about a spiritual book. “The Power of a Praying Woman,” by Stormie Omartian, was a powerful read for me. I read it on my train commute from Tacoma to Seattle, and enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed riding that train every morning. It was a unique experience in my life, and although I got tired of the commute after a year, I still remember fondly looking out the window and noticing the outside getting gradually lighter and lighter with the sun greeting me when I came out of the train station downtown.

The book is an easy read, and for that time being was an excellent jump-start to my prayer life. Separated into short and sweet chapters, it helps to itemize exactly what every woman should be praying for. Some things were not what I thought of on my own, but after I started including them in my prayer, my life started to piece together in those aspects. I don’t own this book anymore, so I am not going to give it away. What I do own is “The Power of a Praying Wife,” and I am planning to keep this book for reference throughout my life. It’s the last book I was holding in my hands when I embarked on my resolution not to read anything for a year, and it is going to be the first one I pick up in 2015 once my ban is up.

52 Books Series. Week 7. “Women in Love.” D.H. Lawrence

This book stays along Hemingway on my “If I don’t finish it in 6 months, it goes” shelf. Then it goes.

I thought this book is strange. When I read it, I didn’t really understand what is going on. But that may be because I started it back in High School. I am curious to finish it because not finishing the book has been bugging me ever since I stopped reading it. I believe that now I may have a greater understanding of the history of events the book is set in, as well as love.

The book is set in a small town, where two sisters move to become teachers. Then they fall in love, and the book becomes painstakingly long in describing the emotions of everyone involved with everyone else. The torment of waiting for what happens next in the book (nothing to the point that I’ve read) can certainly be compared to being in love before finding out if the other person feels the same way about you. Lawrence is great at depicting the boredom of life that the characters of his novel experience.

I couldn’t finish the book because it was not pulling me in with the story line, while being a bit too sensual for my taste. I picked it up because it is considered a “classic,” and most of the times I am not disappointed with classics, but this time around I really was. I am going to give the book another chance after my year of not reading is over, but if I cannot finish it again, it goes. The emotion I feel when I think about it is guilt for not finishing something that I started, and it’s time to let that go.

52 Book Series. Week 6. “The Glass Castle.” Jeannette Walls

This book stays. I couldn’t put it down until I was done. It’s a different type of story entirely.

I got The Glass Castle in Value Village (a favorite when it comes to price. You can’t beat $0.99 for a best seller.) My “filter” at Value Village is that the book has to be some sort of best seller. The New York Times knows their stuff. This is one of those books. And to be honest, I got it because of its cover.

The book is a memoir which will blow your mind. Not with anything extraordinary, but rather with how the situation we are in can seem totally normal to us if we’ve never seen anything else. The author grew up in a dysfunctional family, with a father who dreamed all his life of building a glass castle, in the meantime failing to provide for his family. The author talks about things like petting a leopard at the zoo, burning herself while cooking a hot dog at the age of 3 and then running off from the hospital, and living in a house with no utilities connected.

While the depiction of life is shocking, what is even more shocking is the strong family connection that exists through it all. It takes a while for the kids to realize that they need to get out. The parents, on the other hand, are happy with the lifestyle that they chose, and although rocky and violent, stay in their marriage and in love up until the day the father dies, even though their last days are spent as bums on the streets of New York by choice.

The book is psychological, emotional, and vivid. To me it was fascinating to see how the childhood of a person can have such an impact on when they are an adult. I connected to the book not because my childhood was similar, but because it painted a scenario of how life would have been have I married not my husband, but someone else. And boy was I glad that was not the case! Of course the other part of me connected to the author moving to New York with nothing but money for the bus, and thinking that the city was great because it had an abundance of jobs where she could get a regular paycheck and keep all of the money that she earned because the father now couldn’t take it. The job she was excited about was in a fast-food restaurant, which reminded me once again that the circumstances we are in are all about perspective, and while someone may feel sorry for themselves for wiping tables, other think it’s a blessing beyond belief.

The book gave me a newfound appreciation for my own life, including my family, my job, my friends, and my apartment.

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