The Kingdom of God

I’ve been sitting and reworking and writing blog posts for the past two weeks that would help describe the changes that have gone on within me but also try to help make sense of the horrible massacre that happened last week. I’ve scrapped almost all of them. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable sharing them, but I also like to keep this blog only about Star Wars. I usually save personal thoughts for one time of year – my year end blog posts.

In the end, this post became a mishmash of personal reflections and also Star Wars, so bear with the scattered feel to it.

Here is the one main change that happened, followed by two other thoughts.

  1. I read a wonderful book called The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg that has changed the way I think about my life and faith in God/Jesus.
  2. The massacre in Vegas happened. It could have been any horrible, human-led event honestly that changed a bit in me, but it happened to be this one and it was a doozy.
  3. These two events culminated in me thinking about the Kingdom of God and where the Jedi failed.

 

Sometimes, the way you stumble upon something can be labeled as divine influence, and that may be what happened with The Heart of Christianity. I had never heard of Marcus Borg before I was asked by a client to go into her Audible account and purchase a book on her wish list. While scrolling and trying to find that book, I saw The Heart of Christianity sitting in there. I clicked the link, read the description, and thought “That’s an interesting premise,” and of course I didn’t think about it for days. But then, one day I did think about it. I’m not sure why. There was no rhyme or reason but something compelled me to read that book.

I got it out of the library and devoured it.

I was raised very conservative, Protestant Christian. The Bible is fact, it’s an undeniable truth, and some people go to heaven and some people go to hell. I call myself a Christian, but…I wanted a fresh take on Christianity. It had gone stale for me. I have had trouble praying, finding God in my life and understanding where this all fits in the big picture of life. That’s not to say I didn’t try – I still read my Bible a few times a week and attempted prayer, but I wouldn’t say Christianity was a daily “thing” for me.

This changed when I read the book by Marcus Borg. I don’t agree with everything he said and there are some parts that are questionable, but I would say I’m a changed person after reading this book.

One thing that really stuck with me was his concept of the Kingdom of God. I was raised to believe that the Kingdom of God was something “up there” or, more precisely: heaven/afterlife. Borg argues that when you focus on the Kingdom of God as heaven, or something for after we die, you miss a crucial point that is essential to historic Christianity (i.e., the time when Jesus was speaking to everyone and the few hundred years following). Jesus argues that the Kingdom of God is the future…but also the present. With the historical context that is often lost on modern day United States – Jesus used the word “Kingdom” because that is the political sphere they were under. They were living under Roman rule, a kingdom under Caesar. When Jesus was telling us to pray “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven,” he was asking us to imagine what life would be like in the present day and moment with God as king.

There is a lot more about the argument Borg makes, but for now, I will just go into how it changed my life. Essentially, when you think of God as our king and bring his kingdom into our daily life, then treating others as you would yourself makes a lot more sense to me. It becomes a community action. You cannot have a kingdom without a community of people. Treating others as you would like to be treated is Jesus’ number two command, after loving the Lord with all your heart. But what if we all did it? By doing so, we make this a social action, a call to arms for this community of people (NB: I did not say believers). Politics within this kingdom would call for being compassionate to others, loving all of creation, perhaps exercising more patience with each person we meet in our daily walk.

This opened my eyes – realizing the Kingdom of God could be in heaven but also here on Earth and we can create it every day.

I realized that this community action needs to begin with us, within our homes. I read a post by epicipseity few weeks ago where he wrote that somewhere in this country, someone is raising their child to have them believe that white people are the dominant and best race. It struck me like a blow. I have a child who is almost a year and a half old and she understands so much of what I say. Within two years I will be able to teach her things that she will take as law and truth without questioning.

So how do I battle against someone who grows up thinking that? I hope to teach my daughter that loving others, even when it’s hard, is the best way to heal this community. That we need to go into our community and make a difference by being kind to everyone you meet, even if you don’t like them.

You might say – oh that’s such a wussy way of thinking. There’s so much MORE you can do.

Oh, trust me, I know there is more I and we can do. But can you imagine if we taught our children love instead of hate? If we really instilled in them that every person could be someone in need of a kind word or gesture? We’d make a community one step closer to the Kingdom of God.

These thoughts piled around in my head when I heard about the Vegas shooting last week. I thought to myself, “What if more people treated this shooter kindly?” That thought alone is weird…I would never have thought that prior to reading Borg’s works. Have we, as a society, become too distant and exclusive? Have we ignored people on the street too much?

The shooter’s brother, said, “Something horrible happened to my brother and whatever happened to him in his head, it made him go over the edge like this.”

Could that something horrible have been something simple, like someone just flipping him the bird in traffic? And that set him off?

Now – how does this relate to Star Wars? It does, because everything in my life can somehow be traced back to Star Wars (is that sad? I don’t know).

For over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice. In a way, their task was to bring the Kingdom of God to the galaxy. They wanted peace and they wanted fairness and they wanted equality. It didn’t matter what species or race you were, they were there to help.

But the Jedi were wiped out, for the most part. They failed. They succeeded for a bit, but then they failed. It’s easy to pinpoint their demise on Anakin – he is the literal reason for being extinguished. But there was a lot more at work than only Anakin when you look beneath the surface.

One of the strongest reasons why I think they failed was their exclusivism and their way of being untouchable, in a sense. They helped when called upon, instead of trying to step up to the plate to prevent situations in the first place. In a way, they had gotten proud.

It’s kind and wonderful when we give other people help when they call upon us for our assistance. How much more important would it be if we could make it so that no one would ever have to ask for our help because we were always there? It would always be a team effort, like Baze and Chirrut.

I understand that physically, it would be impossible for the Jedi to be on every planet, but why have only a central place on Coruscant? Why not have the Jedi set up shop on different planets in the galaxy? Can you imagine how much more effective that would be? Living and getting to know the people of a planet instead of doing a one-stop help and then peaceing out?

Another reason they failed is that they were brought down by a member from within the Order. Their internal disagreements led to slight fractures. When a member was questioning the Order and not understanding his place, instead of welcoming the discussion, they shut it down.

I see this often at the church my parents attended. There was right (their way, based on the literal Bible) and there was wrong (any other interpretation you could have).

Why have so many people left Christianity? Because from the outside they see it in a similar way I was brought up – all questions can be answered within the Bible, but there is only one correct interpretation. Basically: there is right and wrong. Who wants to join a religion where exploratory questions are shunned?

When Anakin vents his frustrations to Obi-Wan about being put in a position that he didn’t even ask to be put in, Obi-Wan tells him off saying, “But it’s what you wanted!” Anakin continues to question the Order, wondering why things are not the way he thinks they should be. I don’t think Obi-Wan really understand the internal dilemma and battle that is going on within Anakin. If he did, he would know that it was not the right time to ask him to spy on Palpatine.

Lastly, the Jedi failed because they were too much like Mace Windu and not enough like Ahsoka.  Most Jedi lacked compassion. They helped others because they were told to help others. Would they do it on their own without the council guiding them? Because that marks a true Jedi….a little like being told to go to church, do right and help others, instead of honestly believing that being compassionate and attending church to help you to grow as a person will help our society.

They raised their younglings to be separate, apart, exclusive, and distant. They also told them to be kind, to think of others, and to do what was right. But I’m not sure I ever saw real, true compassion in most of the Jedi. I view Ahsoka as one of the best Jedi’s, up there with Qui-Gon Jinn. Ahsoka was one of the most compassionate Jedi I have seen in all of Star Wars. If I had to pick Jedi that could be capable of bringing the Kingdom of God into the galaxy, Ahsoka and Qui-Gon would lead.

If we were more patient with the way we treat others and demonstrate love as much as possible, would there be less shootings and less violence?

Yes and yes. I know and firmly believe this with all my being.

I challenge you to think about in everyday – what kind of Jedi do you want to be? Are you too proud and not compassionate enough? Do you view the world as your way or the highway?  How can you bring the Kingdom of God into your daily life? How can you show compassion? And with those individual changes, how will that bring changes to our society as a whole?

 

 

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Blogger Recognition Award

Mei-Mei (whom I share my Fan Art Friday’s with) recently nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award.  While most of the time I don’t do these awards (who am I kidding, why did I even write that lie…I love doing them every time because I get to write about me for a bit, which is a refreshing change from Star Wars lol), I liked this one because it provides advice for new bloggers.

Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated and provide the link to the post you created.

So:

  1. Thanks Mei-Mei!
  2. Here’s my post. Hi!
  3. Star Wars Anonymous started through a culmination of reasons.  I used to have a blog over on hyperspace (back when starwars.com had an official fan club where you had to pay a fee in order to have your blog hosted with them) through some of college.  When I got the notice that hyperspace was shutting down, I was too lazy to save all my posts.  Stupid me.  I took about a two to three year break (I think, I can’t actually remember) from blogging.  I began to miss blogging and considered starting up my blog again because I had very few friends to talk to Star Wars about and I was bored at work and wanted to write about Star Wars while bored.  I then made a Star Wars parody video which went semi-viral and decided that I would finally start up my blog again so that I could direct some people to my blog from the video.  Again, I was lazy and didn’t want to do too much work actually building a community from scratch.  Silly me (again) – that plan backfired and I did end up putting a lot of work into building a community of other fans on WordPress.  I’m glad I did though!  I’m not sure how my name came about though, sooooooo can’t answer that question.
  4. My two pieces of advice is this: 1) Blog regularly.  Try to blog at least twice a week for a year.  That will get momentum and help with SEO, along with helping other fans on WP/internet, find you.  Make sure that when people comment, you take the time to reply back to them.  Your blog should be a conversation that you started, it doesn’t end when you publish your post.  (Okay that was more like 3 pieces of advice).  2) If you want to become a “famous” blogger or perhaps make your blog a source of revenue – build social media accounts that relate to your blog and drive people back to it.  Social media is a great way to make your blog a business.  (No, I have not done that with my blog but I have done it for clients in my day job so I kinda know what I’m talking about)
  5. 15 bloggers?????  Uh, no.  I’ll give you two blogs that I have recently found and like though: There Has Been an Awakening and Graphic Novelty².

Have a great rest of the day guys and MTFBWY (oh, and happy St. Patrick’s Day!).

 

Books of 2016 (and my lengthy reviews)

Okay!  This is it…one last recap post and then onto more Star Wars goodness.  I promise.

I really thought that after the birth of my daughter I wouldn’t have any time to read books.  While I definitely slowed down, I was able to squeeze in a lot more than I originally thought.  Especially while breastfeeding!  When she was very little, she would feed every hour to two hours and for at least 30 minutes so I had plenty of time to catch up on a book.

In 2016, I read 26 books and 9349 pages.  The oldest book I read was published in 1952 (The Glitter and the Gold…which I didn’t even finish) and the newest book was the Star Wars Bloodline from 2016.

 

These are listed in chronological order with the first book I read in January through to December of 2016.

 

  1. A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda. Oh my gosh, horrible memories keep flying back to me of this book.  I couldn’t stand it.  So many people loved this book on Goodreads so I’m completely baffled as to why I really struggled with it.  The cover captivated me, as did the description.  I mean, there was a dragon in it, c’mon…  But, oh, so painful.  The book was “yuge” at 800+ pages and I thought at least 600 of those pages could have been cut out.  It follows a main character, Jenn, on her day to day life for two weeks in a remote village in a fantasy world.  There is magic of course, but it’s slightly confusing on how it works.  And a little creepy too.  I wish I could give a good plot summary but I think I’ve blocked most of it out of my head.  The book does get interesting at the end and I feel like it finally began to pick up and pieces fell into place.  I just wish that momentum could have carried us throughout the entire novel as opposed to consistently dragging on with oh-aren’t-these-homey-farm-folk-cute and oh-they-have-unexplained-magic-in-their-land-too-how-cute.  Enough already.  The characters were way too complacent for even homey farm folk and their actions were boring.  Books like this are why non-fantasy readers do not pick up fantasy novels.  If only they would read books like Elantris or Name of the Wind, they may have a different opinion of the megahuge novels.  2/5 stars.
  2. Burma Chronicles; Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China; Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea; A User’s Guide to shenzhen-guy-delisleNeglectful Parenting; Chroniques de Jerusalem by Guy Delisle. I stumbled upon Delisle’s Burma Chronicles by mistake when I was looking in the graphic novel section of our library.  And I fell in love.  I quickly read all of his travelogue’s, plus his Guide to Neglectful Parenting (not near as good as his travelogue’s).  Translated from French, Delisle recounts his experiences in remote places of the world through drawings and sarcastic humor.  It’s also very insightful and the way he conveys his thoughts on places like North Korea comes across clearly in his little pictures.  He first gets placed in places due to his job and later on accompanies his wife as she works with Doctors Without Borders.  The best part is when his child is born and he becomes a stay at home dad in a foreign country.  Out of all these books/graphic novels/travelogues, my favorite was the Burma Chronicles and Shenzhen5/5 stars for all, though some fall closer to 4.5/5 stars.
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This novel was a bestseller a few years ago.  It was on my list to read for a long time but it was always taken out at the library.  I finally got the chance this February when I was on vacation and I loved it!  Circuses have always interested me from when I was very young and saw the movie Toby Tyler.  What made this book gripping was the extra element of magic that was thrown into it, plus the two main characters who were forced against their wishes to compete against each other to the death with their magic within the circus…but they fell in love.  How do you circumnavigate that?  I appreciated the ending to this book.  I think Erin Morgenstern gave us a happy medium.   It was frustrating to read it and know from the very beginning that one of the main characters had to die.  You couldn’t see a way out.  Then when the characters learn that one has to die, you wonder who is going to make the sacrifice since at this point they are both madly in love.  Some reviews complained that the ending was a cop out, but I did not feel like that at all!  I thought it was deftly played and I did not see it coming.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was a good blend of realism, magic, romance, and historical fiction without going overboard in any of those categories.  I would like to give a larger review but then I’d go into even more spoilers than I already have, so I’ll leave it at that.  5/5 stars.
  4. Nobody’s Princess by Esther M. Friesner. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when this book was over.    Talk about annoying!  I couldn’t stand the main character and felt like the entire storyline was taken too much out of historical and into the fiction realm.  Helen, based on the Princess of Sparta/Helen of Troy, was so unrealistic that I almost didn’t finish the book.  Thank goodness it was short.  Friesner obviously wanted to create this “strong” heroine who makes her own paths but it felt very forced. I see what the author was trying to do and the point of view she trying to bring to Helen but it felt immature.  The writing also felt unpolished and like a teenager had written it.  I would not recommend this book to any female young adult/teenager.  It’s just too unrealistic.  2/5 stars.
  5. Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn. This book was good.  A solid good.  Not great, not meh, but good.  I found that I enjoyed it a lot.  I loved the blend of a teenager in the modern world, but also the prevalence and acknowledgement that dragons were living breathing creatures right over the border.  It’s an easy read and perfect for just zooming through a book that has an urban fantasy feel to it.  The only thing that really bothered me was the focus on sex in this novel and losing her virginity.  In the end, Vaughn uses it as a plot point but I still felt like it was pounded into our head. Should she have sex?  Should she not?    I did love the main character however, despite her obsession with losing her virginity.  Other than that, she was relatable and a female heroine who wasn’t too obsessed with her boyfriend, could make decisions on her own, and level headed enough to make me understand her actions.  And dragons!  Real, talking dragons in the modern day world.  How fun is that??  3.5/5 stars.
  6. Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. Um, loved this book.  Absolutely loved it.  Having been raised by a European mother, I had a hunch that I would not be raising ARM (or any of my
    children) like other American mothers.  Reading this book after skimming through some boring “Baby’s 1st Year” books was a refreshing, and much needed, change.  It reminded me a bit of my childhood.  I always thought my parents were overly strict, and they were…compared to most of my American friends.  It wasn’t until I was in high school and college that I realized the difference was my mother is European and my father is Australian and they both brought a unique, non-American cultural view to raising children.  My favorite parts of reading this is how many moments I had of “Oh, I never realized that, but that is SO TRUE!”  For instance – how much American kids eat.  How impatient children in our society are.  How we don’t follow through with our “No”s occasionally.  How our kids our picky eaters (and how to prevent that).  There are definitely some parts that are overgeneralized about Americans and there are parts of French society that would not make me want to live there (the pressure on having your body back and looking fabulous months after giving birth!), but the parenting style is to be commended.  I liked this book so much that I bought it (big deal) and read it again after Ayla was born on some of those long sleepless nights and tiring days.  5/5 stars.
  7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. Em. Gee.  This book took forever!  I was simultaneously reading it alongside all the other books Silmarillionthat were previously listed here.  It took me 4 months.  I would get super into it, and then in typical Tolkien fashion he would blab on and on about something boring and I would drop it for a bit, etc.  I found that the book did not follow as quite of a linear pace as LotR does.  There’s also a lot of mythology to the novel, which lends well but at times can leave you confused.  The gods are there and then they disappear and leave everything to the elves…who have their own unique history.  I found that the elves read a little like a soap opera, but the problem was that we’d get a quick glance into one story line, and just when I found myself getting interested in the characters, they disappeared.  They *might* turn up again, or they might not.  This made it hard for me to read and remain interested.  I love LotR, but maybe I should read the rest of Tolkien’s work sparingly.  3.5/5 stars.
  8. The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan. I picked this up because we live close to Newport, RI and I have visited the summer mansion of the Vanderbilt’s.  I thought the autobiography of one of the Vanderbilt children would be similar to a Downton Abbey season.    It was not.  Though I must say, her mother was an absolute bitch and therefore a delight to read!  But once she was old enough that her mother was no longer in the book, I got very bored and stopped reading it.  2/5 stars.
  9. Wild Within by Christine Hartmann. A romance novel written by my neighbor.  Enough said.
  10. Dealing with Dragons; Searching for Dragons; Calling on Dragons; Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. In which Kiri reads all 4 books in the series before giving birth.  (All chapters in these novels begin, “In which…”)  I love these books.  I used to dealing-with-dragonsread them all the time when I was younger and even with a 10+ year break since I’ve read them…they still are amazing.  The characters are great, the storyline is great, the world building is great.  It’s all great.  I also wanted to read them to see if they pass the independent-female-heroine YA novel I could give to ARM when she gets older and they still do.  It’s the story about a princess who does not want to do what normal princesses do (embroidery, curtseying, marrying prince’s)…so she runs away from her kingdom and becomes a princess to a dragon instead.  The dragon admires her sense and intelligence and they become fast friends.  Meanwhile, wizards are trying to “steal” magic from the dragons and this is a mystery, but of course ends in a climactic battle.  That’s the first book.  The next three continue to follow the princess’s life, but from different point of views.  Book two is from her future-husbands point of view, book three is from her good friend (a witch), and book four is from her son’s point of view.  If you love YA, and even if you don’t, but want an easy read full of magic and fun – definitely read these! 5/5 stars.
  11. The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher. This book has a weird place in my heart.  I got it because I was getting induced into labor.  I heard that it can sometimes take 24-48 hours to even give birth when you’re induced and you could be bored out of your mind for a long time…so I wanted a gripping book to sustain me.  I was lucky and was only 8 hours so the book didn’t help much, but I read it during the endless hours of breastfeeding that come with a newborn.  That said, the book wasn’t amazing.  I liked it but I don’t think I’ll be reading the second book.  It takes a lot to keep me enthralled enough to read another book in a series.  My main problem with the book were the characters.  I did not get connected to enough of them to care if they lived or died.  In fact, my favorite character was a cat, Rowl, but only because he was funny.  In order for me to love a book, I have to love the characters.  This book had plenty of swashbuckling fun but if I don’t care if a character lives or dies, then I’m not going to rate it any higher than 3 stars.  3/5 stars.
  12. Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein. This historical YA novel explored the lost Roanoke colony from a fictional character’s point of view, Cate.  Banished by Queen Elizabeth for falling in love with Raleigh, it goes into the people’s first years in America and what could have happened to the people.  The book makes the assumption that half leave after a disagreement in hopes of finding a better area and the other half assimilate into the Native American culture and tribes.  What I enjoyed about this novel was we received two different looks at life from Cate’s view: Elizabethan England and the first colonists in America.  4/5 stars.
  13. Bloodline by Claudia Gray. See my review here3/5 stars.
  14. Broken Skies by Theresa Kay.    Meh…  I liked that the main characters, Jax and Lir, did not spend the entire book fighting but instead fell into a groove early on.  There’s nothing worse than YA teen novels where the two main characters ignore their feelings for each other and bicker throughout the entirety.  I also think Kay did a great job with creating characters and societies that were fleshed out as much as possible for a YA novel.  It was fascinating to see a dystopian world where you weren’t quite sure of the motives of either side – it was a breath of fresh air from most other dystopian novels nowadays.  The main problem I had with this book was that though Ms. Kay was trying to present Jax as a “strong female character”, she still needed a male (first her brother and then Lir) to help her overcome her difficulties and a broken past.  That’s why I give this a “meh”.  My one main problem was actually a big problem for me because it frustrated me the entire way through reading.  I felt the book could be a lot stronger and more beneficial to young girls if we didn’t have Jax so reliant on different men.  3/5 stars.
  15. Clan of the Cave Bear; The Valley of Horses; The Mammoth Hunters by Jean Auel. Clan of the Cave Bear was amazing.  It was unbelievably good.  It had a slow start, but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down.  The book goes into the story of a young girl named Ayla, who loses her family to an earthquake.  She gets taken in by a prehistoric group who calls themselves a Clan.  Ayla is the “modern” human: completely upright, smart/inventive, pale with blond hair, and can talk easily with sounds.  The Clan is prehistoric: hunched over, broad foreheads, bowed legs.  The book follows her life trying to fit in with these prehistoric people who are the only family she knows, while being so different..and because of that difference, facing hatred from some other Clan members.  She has a baby with one of them that is deformed and at the end, she is forced out of the clan to be on her own.  The next novel follows her living by herself and looking for others like herself, and also following the story line of a man named Jondalar who is like her.  Predictably, they both meet up towards the end and fall in love.  Then it starts going downhill.     Ayla was an awesome character.  Then she met Jondalar and he sucked which made the book almost unbearable. The final novel, The Mammoth Hunters, introduce Ayla and Jondalar to a new group of people and Ayla learns how to live with others like her.  The book also sucked because Auel decided to create a love triangle between Jondalar and another man.  It was excruciatingly painful to read.  How did a series that start off SO WELL end up SO HORRIBLY?  Just read the first book of this series if you are going to read it.  It’s hard, because it leaves on such a cliffhanger, but the last two novels were so disappointing that you’ll get as frustrated as I did.  Book 1: 4/5 stars.  Book 2: 3/5 stars.  Book 3: 2/5 stars.
  16. The Lies of Locke Lamora; Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. I believe this is a trilogy but it didn’t hold my interestlies-of-locke-lamora enough to continue to book three. I learned my lesson with Clan of the Cave Bear.  I’m a little surprised only because the Goodreads reviews on this book are amazing and even my beloved Pat Rothfuss wrote a review on how good it is.  The book follows the life of a professional (and I mean really professional) pickpocket: Locke Lamora.  Think almost like Ocean’s Eleven heist-like novel.  The first novel jumped between flashbacks and current day which made it a little hard to follow but in the end, it was worth it.  The novel didn’t shy away from deaths of main characters, other characters getting screwed over, and nail-biting suspense.  It was long, though.  The novel had a lot of fluff that I think could have been cut out.  I remember debating if I should keep reading when I finished the first one, but I thought, why not?  I’ll try the next one.  It was not near as good and dragged a lot more.  But again, it did not shy away from deaths and I actually liked the main character, Locke, a lot more in the second novel than the first.  I would recommend these books to people who want something different while reading fantasy.  It had a tad of magic, but nothing was overdone and there was not a lot of romance either.  3/5 stars for both books.

 

My favorite book of this year would have been Bringing up Bébé and Clan of the Cave Bear.  I read Bringing up Bébé twice this year, so that definitely says something.  Clan of the Cave Bear was so thought provoking and took a subject that I thought would not be interesting at all and had me crying at the end of the novel.  It was so gripping that I was able to consistently read it, even while sleep deprived and having a newborn.  I definitely recommend it to anyone.  Even though it starts slow, it’s so worth it.

I read a lot of books in series this year, which is unusual.  I also noticed that I didn’t like a lot of the books I read, unfortunately.  Life is much too short to not read good books!  This means I’ll have to pick and choose better this year OR learn that it’s okay to put down a book in the middle of it, instead of wanting to finish because I think it’ll get better.

Mostly, I’m just happy to see that my reading didn’t slow down *too* much since having a baby.  Everyone said it would go out the window but I found that if I make time for reading, I can still enjoy it.

If you want to follow me on Goodreads, here’s my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3910665-kiri I’d love to follow you back!

 

What was your favorite book(s) of 2016?  I’ll put it on my list!

The Highs and the Lows: 2016

Another year has come and gone.  I always feel like 12 months is so long in the beginning of the year and then at the end, I feel like it was a blink of an eye.  “The days are long, but the years are short,” is what someone told me when ARM was a newborn and I totally get it now.

This blog didn’t have so well of a year as it did in 2015, primarily for two reasons:

  1. I posted a lot less, and
  2. TFA really helped out my blog last year.

That said, it didn’t do as badly as I feared either!  Only ~7000 views less than last year.  My most viewed post was Costuming & Characters on Princess Leia, followed by the Han Solo, and lastly Luke’s costume analysis.  I remember how long those took to write last year so I’m happy to see they are still getting traction.  My most viewed post that I wrote in 2016 was In Which I Defend General Hux and Speculate on Supreme Leader Snoke.

When searching the Internet, most people came to my site by way of “pregnant Padmé”, “Boushh Scene” and “Princess Leia Endor Ewok costume”.

 

2016, overall, was a great year for me personally.  In fact, there were more highs than lows which is always a GREAT thing, but I feel like the lows had longer effects.

 

The Highs of 2016

  • Obviously my daughter’s birth. With a middle name of Rey, I’m hoping this child grows up strong in the Force, independent; open to change, and a kind hearted person.  After having two failed pregnancies, it was nice to see this come to fruition and meet our own
    One of my favorite photos taken in Ireland

    One of my favorite photos taken in Ireland

    child at last.  I really was hoping she would come to this world on a Star Wars date, but alas, that didn’t happen.  I love her anyway though.  😉

  • We still traveled quite a bit this year: Florida in the earlier part of the year, Ireland and London in October, and Nashville in November.  I went by myself to NYC last month as well.  I’ve wanted to go to Ireland for years so it was nice to finally have that dream of mine come true.  I loved the Western Coast the best and we stayed in a beautiful, relaxing Airbnb right on the coast.  The backyard was a cliff to the ocean! London was way more fun than I thought it would be and I sincerely hope that I get to go back one day. We visited family and stayed for two days and I really wish I had stayed longer!
  • My business continued to thrive, despite having to figure out an unpaid maternity leave. I lost some clients, but also gained some!  I have also learned how to be picky on who I bring on as a client as my new schedule with a young baby does not give me as much availability as before.  But on the other end, I now am working very early in the morning and until late at night, so there is a darker side.

 

The Lows of 2016

  • The election. I actually had a whole post devoted to this, but then scrapped it because I don’t want my blog to be about politics.  But I can write about it briefly here!  In a nutshell – I am a registered Republican, but was/am appalled by Donald Trump.  I am trying to keep an open mind now that he’s been elected, but I do worry about the direction our country is headed.  That said, I did not think padme-gifHillary Clinton was a good choice either…but I thought she was the lesser of two evils.  Trump reminded me of the Empire, in fact, many times uncannily so.  I am hoping I will never need to say Padmé’s famous line of “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause,” during the next four years.
  • My health. My health has taken quite a beating this year and I am still having issues.  I got the flu back in March and let me tell you – when you have any kind of sickness and your pregnant and/or breastfeeding – life gets a whole lot harder!  Being pregnant with the flu was horrible.  You can only take Tylenol, and not a lot of it, but it doesn’t help much.  If I got a coughing fit, I would pee my pants due to the baby sitting on my bladder/extra pressure.  It took a good month and a half for me to feel well again.  Fast forward to mid-October, I get another cold…that hasn’t gone away.  I found out I had strep throat for a few weeks without knowing it.  I took the antibiotics and broke out in a horrible rash.  I stuck with them and though I am slightly better, I am not 100% and it’s been 3 months now.  I went to a naturopath Monday and am hoping I start to get better.  We are experimenting with cutting out lactose for a few weeks (ugh) and she has me on a few different supplements as well.
  • The death of my grandmother and godmother. I was not especially close with my grandmother and she lived in Australia, but it’s still a family member.  I have funny memories of her and she was quite a quirky woman (the complete opposite of my dad).  However, she was older, in a nursing home, and it was an unspoken thought that it was only a matter of time.  But I was close to my godmother, despite the distance.  She died unexpectedly and that is always hard to deal with.  I still have all her texts on my phone and even now, a few months later, I can’t believe she’s gone.
  • This blog and learning a new life with a baby. I’ve definitely been posting a lot less since having ARM.  I knew it would happen but it’s funny how fast the weeks go by.  I’ll have a draft started and it may take me 2 weeks to finish it!  Or, I work on a post and by the time I’m almost done, I change my mind and decide it’s now irrelevant (a lot of Rogue One posts had that happen).  I also haven’t been able to keep with other people’s blogs on WP as much as I would have liked either.  Having a baby is a total adjustment.  Not only with blogging, but with life.  If people joke around that marriage is a ball and chain, life with a baby is that x10!  My life revolves around her nap time.  If something wakes her up too early during her nap time…ugh, I’ve almost had break downs.  Nap time is my time and it’s interesting at how much I cherish those few hours now.  I love her, but it’s hard to take time for yourself.  (Please note that this is barely a “low” of my life – it’s more of a big change)
  • Carrie Fisher’s death. I guess 2016 was not content with the death of Kenny Baker, our beloved Artoo, it also had to take our beautiful princess from us.  I think anyone my age knew that we would be alive to see the main 3 OT characters die, but no one wants a shocker death.  I’m curious as to what this means for the other saga films (she was done filming VIII, but was slated to also appear in IX) and what they are going to do with it.  I don’t want more CGI Leia, but it may be the only option at this point.  Killing her off-screen would be cheap and CGI would suck.  So we’re left in a no win situation.

 

MTFBWY Carrie Fisher on your next adventure

MTFBWY Carrie Fisher on your next adventure

2016 was overall a much better year for me than the past two.  I had very little lows that actually connected to my life, other than the death of my grandmother and godmother.  The birth of my daughter, though an adjustment to my life, has been so amazing.  Now that she is past the newborn stage, I’m loving her more and more every day.  She’s the joy of my life and I look forward to hanging out with her (isn’t that weird?  She can’t even talk).

In 2016, I learned that time passes even when you think it’s going so slowly.  There were moments of doubt, days with little sleep, fatigue due to sickness, and so much but I did learn that the “days are long, but the years are short.”  It’s so, so true.  My goal in 2017 is to appreciate more, love more, complain less.  Easier said than done, but it’s been so easy for me to fall into the complaining trap, especially when sleep deprived.  Is a positive attitude that hard?  Is smiling a struggle?  My goal is to fly a little bit more casual.  I have so much to be thankful for; I am so blessed.  I need to remind myself of that every day.

Thanks to all you guys for sticking around as I posted less in 2016 and my life has continued to evolve.  Here’s to Episode VIII.  Let’s hope Rey is as awesome as she was in TFA and has more personality than Jyn (teehee).

 

MTFBWY.

The Highs and the Lows: 2015

I’ve decided this year to split the books I’ve read from this past year and my life recap into two separate posts.  It was getting to be too long with both (other than last years, where I wrote it and then somehow ended up deleting all of my reviews).  This way you don’t have to read the one post a year where I talk about my life if you’re more into books, haha!

This blog had a fabulous year!  I’m sure a lot of it was helped by The Force Awakens, but I’ll take it.  I had a secret goal of doubling my views from last year and though that didn’t happen, it still did very well.  I completed my one major goal of finding 10 things I liked about AOTC and wrote some other posts that I was very proud of: my three essays on costume analysis of Leia, Han, and Luke in the Original Trilogy.  My most viewed post was Environmental Attitude (I think because of the images, not the content lol), followed by my costume analysis on Leia.  The Jedi Code Absolutes did well again this year and took home the bronze.

My most commented post was the recent review on The Force Awakens and the highest day for views was December 18th (duh, release date for TFA).  My top commenters were Mei-Mei and Data Glitch.  Thanks for hanging around!

 

2015 was interesting.  It was more highs than lows, and for that I’m thankful.  2014 was very evenly balanced in terms of the highs were great and the lows were horrible so 2014 was a perfect yin and yang of duality.

The Highs of 2015

  • I went to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in California. This was definitely one of the best parts of the year.  I bit the bullet, scraped together my money and headed off on an adventure with my reluctant husband.  Despite almost ruining my costume and standing in line for 15+ hours In line for IMAX TFAover 3 days, it was one of my favorite parts of this year.  And now my husband is used to standing in lots of lines for brief Star Wars panels, so there’s that too. 🙂
  • The Force Awakens was released! Finally!  After almost 3 years of waiting, we got the next installment in the Star Wars universe.  Overall, I liked it and was not disappointed.  I love Rey and continue to use her as an example in random parts of my life, mostly with mantras of, “If Rey can do this, I can do it,” even if Rey never had to open a particularly hard jar of olives in the movie.  Now that the foundation and storyline has been set, I’m interested to see where the universe continues to take us with the anthology movies and Sequel Trilogy.
  • I quit my full-time job and went solo with my Virtual Assistant business. It happened faster than I thought.  It’s been an interesting process and definitely is nerve wracking every time I try to renew a client’s contract.  So far, I haven’t lost anyone but I know it’s bound to happen so am waiting for that time.  Right now, I’m still working out kinks, dabbling in subcontracting, and trying to figure out how to grow my business but somehow not take on tons more work in the process (LOL).
  • We got a new dog! After we put Chewie to sleep last year, we waited out the winter (smart move, lemme tell you) and got Yogi at the end of March.  He is much crazier than Chewie and more of a handful but can also be the cutest little thing.  I wanted to continue the Star Wars naming tradition but he was too much of a cute Yogi Bear (though his size lends more to Boo Boo).
  • I’m pregnant! This is especially joyous as it’s take number three.  Many of you who read my blog post last year remember that I miscarried.  I also had an unfortunate, difficult experience with pregnancy this spring so finally getting news that this one is healthy and doing well is a relief (though I’m not near as excited as most first time pregnant people are – that’s been kind of been robbed from me and I’d like to describe myself as cautiously optimistic).  I am 4.5 months along and the baby is due in May.  You know what that means right?  MAY IS STAR WARS MONTH.  There are five auspicious dates when I’m hoping this momentous event will happen:
    • May 4th – duh. That is a little early for me and my doctor is actually hoping that won’t happen, but, you know, it’s Star Wars day.
    • May 16th – AOTC release date
    • May 19th – TPM and ROTS release date
    • May 21st – ESB release date
    • May 25th – ANH and ROTJ release date

I find out the sex of the baby in less than two weeks.  If it’s a boy we will most likely name it Luke because my husband is the best person ever (it’s also not suspiciously Star Wars-y and he thinks it’s a strong name).  If it’s a girl, no idea.  Definitely not a Star Wars name because that’s too obvious and even I don’t want that.    

It's nickname has been "The Little Jedi"

It’s nickname has been “The Little Jedi”

The Lows of 2015

  • My second pregnancy. Unlike the first time in 2014 when I miscarried, this time I carried the baby completely through the first trimester…only to find out in the initial screening that there was something very, very wrong with it.  It was not growing correctly and not moving.  They sent me to specialists at a local hospital, who then sent me into Boston for further testing and genetic counselors.   After a discussion with my husband, and multiple doctors, we decided to get rid of it and have an abortion.  I know everyone’s political views are different and this was a very difficult decision (trust me), especially as we had to rush all of our evaluations since I was beginning to show.

The hard part was the doctors and specialists only had guesses based on ultrasounds, not any conclusive evidence though they promised me that they were 99% sure it was this one issue and it wouldn’t live past 5 years old.  The tests would take almost a month to get back so we had to make a quick decision.

Well guess what?  A few weeks after getting rid of the baby, they called me and told me that what they initially thought was incorrect and they were continuing to test the chromosomes.

My heart dropped and I freaked.  I had been doing okay, but when I realized there was a chance that I got rid of a baby that may have lived – I lost it.

Mercifully, two weeks after that news, they called me again to tell me they found out what it was and it’s something SO rare that only happens in 1 in 50,000 pregnant women.  It’s not genetic (thankfully) and completely random.  They said I would have either miscarried it later down the line or had a stillborn because it’s very rare these types of babies live.

It was a horrible time…the worst was the one month period when we had to make fast decisions, when dreams were shattered, and the first misdiagnosis left me in despair.  Once I got the final test results back, I felt more at peace and was able to move on with my life.  What’s done was done, and I like to believe everything happens for a reason.

This is a very, very short version of the month when it happened.  I wish I could go more in depth of how hard it is to carry and connect with your child only to make the decision to get rid of it, the guilt that follows, the debilitating, cruel jealousy over friends who get and stay pregnant with no problems, and struggling to be upbeat when no one knows what you are going through (only my husband and sister knew while it was happening…since then I’ve opened up to some close friends and my parents, but not while it was happening).

HOWEVER – I do want to say that if anyone ever struggles with pregnancy issues, please connect with me because I’ve been there.

  • The winter of this year. This seems lame compared to my last bullet point, but trust me – it wasn’t.  The winter in Boston was record breaking in many ways…and it also almost broke our backs when we shoveled.  Every week there was a snowstorm, which didn’t allow the previous snow to melt.  I pulled my back for the first time ever and it still gives me problems on and off since then.  It was very depressing and it took until April for the snow to melt.  I hope to never, ever see that kind of snow again.  We had a 7-8’ snow bank at the end of our driveway.
7 foot hill of snow at the end of my driveway. Fun times.

7 foot hill of snow at the end of my driveway. Fun times.

 

As you can see, I had two lows compared to multiple highs.  Though my second pregnancy took a lot out of me physically and emotionally, when I’m here in January looking back on 2015, I realize that I think 2015 was a good year overall.  The beginning of the year was horrible with our winter, but going solo as a business owner was huge for me and a big leap of faith.  Anything and everything Star Wars related were bright points that only shined brighter as the year continued.

2014 was a year of learning about myself, learning what I’m made of.  2015 was a year of learning how to feel, that it’s okay to feel and not resist (“what you resist persists” was one of my favorite sayings this year) and to be more empathetic to those around me.  You never know what other people are going through even if everything seems okay on the outside.

Thank you for bearing with me as I took my normal deviance from Star Wars posts to reflect on this past year.   I’m ready for 2016 (and a baby Jedi!).