The Adventures of Anastasiya Didok

Life and faith in a nutshell.

Month: February, 2014

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.

Advertisements

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.

Why I want to move to New York

If you’ve ever been to New York, you probably wanted to do one of the following:

#1. stay forever
#2. get out as soon as possible

I really haven’t seen much middle ground for this city, and I happen to fall into the #1 category. When we lived on the East Coast, I would visit New York about twice a year. Every time I came there, I wanted to stay. Here’s why:

#1. It’s instinctual, like having a crush. You aren’t sure why you like the person so much, but you just want to be with that person. You don’t need an explanation, and no matter how much you try to convince yourself that the person has flaws, you still like them. New York is like that.

#2. The energy. There is this mega vibe that the city gives out the moment you enter it. It’s drive. It’s happiness. It’s business. It’s moving forward and sweeps you off your feet with its current.

#3. The breeze. Sounds cliché, but the breeze on the streets that run from one side of the Island to another is symbolic of freedom to me. I remember standing on 6th Ave by the Time-Life Sculpture, the wind in my hair, and just feeling completely free of any restrictions or expectations.

#4. Its acceptance. New York is the most diverse place I’ve ever been to. There are no rules to the type of person you need to be. You can be whoever you want, and if you don’t like that person, change at any time, and it’s ok. Nobody will be disappointed, and plenty will accept the new “you.”

#5. Its motivation. New York is where the best of the best flock to. The competition motivates you to keep going and develop the work ethic and resilience you would have never otherwise known you had.

#6. Its history. The history of New York is really unlike any other city in America. And I like unique things.

#7. How much there is to do. I think the dream of never being bored can only be accomplished in New York. Same goes for having a good selection of, say, everything. I don’t believe there is such a thing in NYC as “we don’t carry this in our store, do you want me to call the one in _________ and ask them to ship it to you at an additional charge before you can try it on and no, you can’t return it after?”

#8. The food. This is nothing new, but if you haven’t tried the pizza and the bagels, you seriously wouldn’t understand.

#9. The real estate. There is something quality about buildings that were built 100 years ago. I am lucky to own a house that’s almost 100 years old, and its character and quality of craftsmanship could never be matched by the newer constructions. Well, New York is, for the most part, that old!

#10. The fashion. People look good in New York. In fact, when I started interviewing in Seattle, I was somewhat shocked at what people wore at professional organizations (I am afraid I may have fallen into that trap myself by now). It’s not even about designer looks, but more about looking put together and paying attention to details. Just like everything else, it’s a higher standard.

#11. The directness. People in New York don’t like to waste time, so they say it like it is, and don’t preface their interactions by useless pleasantries. This approach is widespread in the rest of the East Coast, but apparently not the case elsewhere. I am still adjusting to having to have a “nice” tone of voice and forming my sentences to include niceties. Apparently what I consider direct is considered abrasive here. (But of course, when I moved to the West Coast I was floored with how nice everyone was.) I think I would enjoy being direct again, because I hate wasting time.

#12. The subway. It reminds me of childhood when we used to visit my mom’s cousin in St. Petersburg and take the subway everywhere.

#13. Having to walk. I love to walk.

#14. The view. Another thing you wouldn’t understand if you’ve never taken the Staten Island ferry, crossed Brooklyn bridge, or had a layover at Newark airport.

#15. The unity. As diverse as New York is, when disaster strikes the city unites like no other. I had the privilege of visiting the top of the Twin Towers, and then returning to New York a few months after the tragedy of September 11th. I didn’t have to live there or have anyone say anything to understand. The unity was apparent in the silence by Trinity Church as people roamed the boardwalk approaching Ground Zero.

Losing a dream on a bet: Why we are not moving to New York (at this point)

Today I saw an ad on Craigslist for a job in NYC for my husband that would have been perfect in getting us to the city, with an income, with housing all set up, and the ability for me to stay home with our baby. He qualified down to the detail in the three-page requirements outline. I brought the listing to lunch in order to show him the job, but honey wasn’t exactly thrilled. (New York is as far as it gets from HIS dream location of “somewhere in the forest.”) After a difficult hour spent discussing the pros and cons of actually moving, we came to the conclusion that he will not be thrilled to move, and I will not be dissuaded to want to move there. So my husband, the wise man that he is, took out a penny and asked me to pick a side. I picked heads. It was tails. I lost the bet, so we are not moving to New York.

Here is why I will probably not give up on my dream of moving to NYC:

I understand that when you go heads/tails, it is a very fair and manly thing to do, and if you lose that bet, you need to tough it out like a man. Well, I’m a woman, so I can’t do that. I toughed it out at lunch, but right now I’m kind of a mess of sadness, anger, tears, and despair (not really this dramatic). So reason #1 is I’m not a man, so I will not lose a bet like a man, and therefore do not consider this a final say in my lifelong goal of moving to New York.

#2 is that I have a feeling he may have rigged the outcome. That penny didn’t fly high enough and why was it him that should be throwing it in the first place? So I am not taking the result at face value.

#3 My husband mentioned that he feels uneasy about moving if he hasn’t heard a word from God. So I’m gonna wait for that word, because to date God has not failed once to communicate to honey separately what he has already communicated to me. (I guess this was another situation in which I should have just shut up and waited).  In the meantime, on the car ride back from lunch, God reminded me of the word He has given me for this marriage. This verse has come to me over and over again in different situations and from different perspectives. Now it came in yet another light.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

I might share more on this in another post, but let’s just say that our relationship didn’t start out in a typical lovey-dovey manner with pink glasses and no faults. We dated for 3 intense weeks pretty much knowing that we are called to marry each other. In those weeks we had long and very serious conversations that dissected every inch of one another’s life, and searched out any excuse for the other person to back out. We basically flaunted our flaws up front, and put down our unyielding demands in advance.  It didn’t make sense to either one of us, and it was uncomfortable. That’s when God gave me the first part of that verse: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” It was only after my spiritual breaking point of letting go of certain aspects of my life, and surrendering everything to God, that He reminded me that the verse has a second part to it: “that He may exalt you.” For the first year of our marriage I lived on hope of that verse, as God painfully pruned both of our characters. But the longer we are married, the more I see that step by step this marriage has exalted me in ways that I cannot begin to describe, and served as a jump-start to some of my wildest dreams becoming a reality. It makes sense now that we couldn’t be a better match for one another, and of course God knew that in advance! I am just thankful that both of us were obedient enough to follow through.

Today in the car God gave me the third part of the verse: “at the proper time.” I guess patience truly is virtue. Since I am a firm believer that God leads the family through the husband, I’m going to practice what I preach, let go, and let God do His work either in my husband’s heart, or in my heart, so that honey will want to move to NYC as well, or so that my lifelong dream is completely eradicated from my mind and I become absolutely content with where I am right now.

Psychology of a Purchase

Today I went to the store and then online, and got my baby some homeopathic gripe water, Weleda diaper rash cream that my doctor recommended, and an organic cloth diaper. I’ve wrestled with myself about buying those items pretty much since he was born, so about 5 months now. I had many reasons to stop myself from purchasing, one of which was our debt. The total purchase cost me about $50.00, and after I finally pressed “Confirm Order,” it felt like a huge weight fell of my shoulders.

This feeling was surprising, since the purchases did not constitute anything that was absolutely necessary for me to buy. We definitely have enough cloth diapers, albeit they are not the organic one I ordered and do not fit him too well at this point. I literally have a basket of Desitin and other ointments in his room. Oh, and that basket also has some tummy drops in it. Since technically I already had everything that I ordered, I expected to feel guilty for spending the $50.00, since instead I could have paid at least two bills. But I didn’t. I just felt like what I was wrestling with for 5 months didn’t have to take up space in my already busy mind any longer.

I am no psychologist, but I do think that there was a reason why it felt good to finally make those purchases.

#1. Since we just paid off our debt, $50.00 is a really small price to pay for peace of mind. I didn’t realize just how much of my energy the effort to convince myself not to buy those items took!

#2. It was empowering to make a decision. The thing is that the basket of Desitins and Colic drops were not what I decided for my child. They were gifts from well-meaning family and friends who decided that these products were right for THEIR children. And I just went along with it. Well, actually, I didn’t go along with it, because I wasn’t using those products. I just knew I should. But I didn’t want to. It was a passive aggressive thing to do (something that I am currently working on as part of my continuous character development). I kept telling myself that those were o.k., while holding myself back from admitting the truth that NO, they were NOT ok and they were NOT what I wanted to use for my baby!

#3. It felt good to give myself wiggle room to change my mind. Along the Desitins in that baby product basket was a can of Burt’s Bees Balm that I did select and received for my shower. This was probably the biggest obstacle to making my purchase, since I actually chose it and it was cloth diaper safe. But after using it a few times I really disliked how it smelled and how it felt. Besides, it didn’t seem to make things better for my baby boy. But since I already had it, I couldn’t allow myself to venture out and get something else. Having the courage to finally do it felt great!

#4. I can now declutter all the other balms and drops. I think I will pay it forward and give some away to my family and friends with babies, if they want them. I will use the basket that currently holds them for storage in my closet, which can use a cleaner looking top shelf.

I can’t believe this purchase had so much significance behind it. Extremely glad to finally get this off my mind!

52 Book Series. Week 5. “The Sun Also Rises.” Ernest Hemingway.

I don’t own this book, so I don’t have to decide whether to keep or toss The Sun Also Rises. However, it is a volume that made a lasting impression on me, and definitely deserves a post.

In Hemingway’s typical style, the book dragged on and on and on. I had to force myself to read it to the end, but some invisible drive inside pushed me to keep going. It was my freshman year in high school, and the book was an extra credit assignment. I believe something along the lines of “you don’t have to take the final exam if you read this book and write a paragraph on it.” Of course, that’s what I chose, because I was an avid reader. It may not have even involved a free pass from an exam actually. But I was an overachiever back then, so extra credit seemed like a wonderful idea! Turns out it was one of the best decisions of my life.

As a senior I took AP English. That meant that if I took the AP test at the end of the year, I would get college credit and wouldn’t have to take an English class in college. I hated English because I dreaded writing essays (funny how things turn out… ). The final essay question on that AP test gave a selection of books to write on. “The Sun Also Rises” was on there, and it was the ONLY book on the list which I remembered vividly enough to write on. The others I either haven’t read or didn’t recall the plot line and character names. I wrote the essay, passed the test, and never ever had to take any English classes again!

I still remember the story well, even though I haven’t read the book since high school. It took place in the 1920’s Europe, right after World War I. The characters were Americans traveling from Paris to Spain to see the festival of the bulls. It was reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, but overseas. A time where the characters wandered aimlessly, attempting to find their purpose. There was also an injury of the type that prevented a love story from unfolding, although Hemingway never mentioned directly what was going on. It was a “read between the lines” type of deal, and all you had to go on were the people’s actions which somehow clearly depicted their emotions.

What I related to in the novel was the freedom that the characters had to aimlessly wander. I longed for that. As a 14 year-old I couldn’t wait to grow up and have the ability to go where I pleased! The closest I got to the freedom was when I paid off my college loans and moved out of my parents at 22. Although I realized that doing whatever they wanted didn’t give the characters peace or happiness, I still wanted what they had. I wanted that experience of searching for myself, because for a 14-year-old I had things surprisingly too well figured out. But they were figured out in a very narrow frame placed on me by family and church, which was just a tad too narrow and weighed on me heavily until I had the guts to throw it off and test my limits. I got to experience the search for self in real life during the few years between parents and marriage, so in essence I got what I longed for while reading “The Sun Also Rises.” I am very thankful for that time in my life, as it gave me a chance to develop a broader personality and outlook on the world, and truly figure out who I am, what I stand for, and what my goals are in life.

Corners to Declutter

I’m going to make a checklist of corners/spaces I want to declutter, which will hopefully help me get it done, one corner at a time. I’ve found that thinking about doing it all at once has been overwhelming. Maybe this checklist will help someone with ideas of places they also want to declutter.

1. Side of the couch

2. Bin under the TV

3. On the top of the computer desk

4. Inside computer desk drawer

5. Desk shelves

6. The little clutter holder by the door

7. Book shelf

8. Top of the pack-and-play

9. Bottom of the pack-and-play

10. Built in china cabinet — inside

11. Built in china cabinet — outside

12. Under the built-in china

13. Corner of the countertop

14. Drawer with the Tupperware

15. Drawer with the coffee

16. Under the sink

17. Drinks drawer

18. Utensil drawer

19. Spices drawer

20. Flour/Sugar drawer

21. Cleaning supply drawer

22. Tea drawer

23. Pasta drawer

24. Canned food drawer

25. Pots and Pans

26. Bakeware

27. Baby’s closet

28. Baby’s shelf

29. Baby’s changing table

30. Shelf under baby’s crib

31. Balloons in baby’s room

32. Drawers in the vanity

33. Under the vanity

34. Bedroom closet top shelf

35. Bedroom closet hanging rack

36. Paintings in the basement

37. Books

38. Baby’s toys basket

39. Baby’s accessory basket

40. Baby’s medical items basket

 

Ok, I think that about covers all of the corners that have been accumulating stuff! We also had things in the medicine cabinet, in our bedside tables, and in our dishes drawer, but I’ve already gone through those  and gotten rid of stuff. Although everything ended up simply migrating into the pack and play after this decluttering disaster. Stay tuned for how each corner works out! I might get inspired enough to post some pics!

Places to live before you die

Today I finished booking the hotel for our vacation in Hawaii this upcoming May, and realized that I wouldn’t want to live there. I have been to Hawaii once, and now my husband and I will return to the same Island so that we can share our experience. A “catch up” of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hawaii, and one of my bucket list items is to visit every island. I’d go back there for a vacation in a heartbeat any day. But I wouldn’t want to live there. In fact, even though I’ve done some travel, and have plenty more cities I’d love to return to (like Paris), there are only a couple of places I would want to live. I have to say that after our honeymoon I was surprised to learn that I wouldn’t want to live in Paris. Or Milan. In fact, I have loved coming home to Seattle after every trip, and even if I never move again I wouldn’t mind a single bit! (Well, maybe a little bit). Nevertheless, the following three places are on my “places to live before you die” list:

1. New York, New York

I know. Shocking. Everyone wants to live there. Well, I guess I am not an exception to the rule. When my family lived on the east coast, I used to make it to New York for one reason or another every six months. or so Every time I went to visit, I longed to stay. The energy, excitement, and diversity of the city called out to me, and I felt a little more at home in comparison to the small town where we lived at that point. I got to go on the top of the Twin Towers before they collapsed, and the next year to stand at Ground Zero.  Being there gave me a peep-hole into the collective pain of NYC at that time, as well as its drive to recover and move on. I wanted to be a part of it all. I wanted to be included. I wanted to be there full-time. Not to make it big, or to live the high life. I just wanted to be a small drop in the huge life of the city. The closest I ever got to fulfilling my dream was when I was wait-listed for a college application to NYU. Talk about crushing dreams. But we moved to Seattle after a little bit, and I got a chance to really make it my own, so I’m not complaining. But I do still have the itch to live in New York.

2. Venice, Italy

I can’t really explain what exactly is attracting me to that city as a place to live. Perhaps it is its age, secrecy, and history. Perhaps it’s how laid back yet full of life the city is. In contrast to New York, Venice is definitely not as fast paced. But it is most certainly a city with a large character of its own. Just like I was surprised that I didn’t want to live in Paris, I was shocked to find out that I would, in fact, want to live in Venice for a bit, although it’s quite small! I probably wouldn’t want to stay there for and entire lifetime, but a sabbatical of sorts for six months to a year would be ideal in that city.

3. Somewhere closer to the mountains of WA state.

Yes, this is the polar opposite of New York City. Lately though I’ve found a certain appeal in the stability and utter calm that the forest and the mountains exude. I would love to have a comfortable cabin on large enough acreage to have goats and sheep. I would love to have no cell phone reception there so that I could completely unplug and concentrate on nature, family, and God. It would require a lot of work, but this is somewhere where I can see not only raising a large family, but also retiring.

 

That’s it for now. I only have three locations in the world where I would want to live. Perhaps that will change as I visit more and more destinations. Do you have a place where you have wanted to live but haven’t had the opportunity to move to? What do you think is holding you back?