Monday, January 25, 2010

Running into English Majors

There is something about loving books--REALLY loving them--that can create a deep emotional bond between people, even people who have just met. There is also a certian way of looking at the world, as if it can teach you something (instead of vice-versa); and being open to that experience can make all the difference. English majors don't just treasure beauty, they get their hands dirty fighting for it.

This weekend I had the wonderful experience of attending not one but three literary events. And I have a confession to make: English majors are my favorite people.* Being around them enriches my soul. Which is why it makes me so sad to read about the dissapearance of the humanities in articles such as this one from the New York Times called "Making College Relevant."

My English department was a thriving community where I recieved more than just an excellent education. If their funding were to be reduced, it would make me lose all faith in my alma mater. I don't know if there is anything I can do except support the arts as I get older and encourage young people to follow their dreams.

For now, I will pledge to read, not from a computer screeen or a kindle, but from a real, printed book. You can spread the word on your blog too by visiting Read the Printed Word and posting an icon on your website or blog (found via Chelsea of Frolic).

Read the Printed Word!

*(Also includes people who study foreign languages and people from foreign countries who study literature in their mother tongue; and even if you weren't an English major I will probably like you anyway).

PPS: I highly recommend the tumblr Book Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When life breaks your Amaryllis...

put the buds in a bowl full of water:

They bloom!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy MLK weekend!

"Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated."

- Martin Luther King, Jr. (Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story)

I promise some lighter fare next week ;). Enjoy the holiday weekend! Laser cut art piece by Julene on Etsy. Visit her shop here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This week in my area studies class, an inspirational speaker told us about the verse "tzedek tzedek tirdof" which means "justice, justice, pursue it." Some interpretations of the Torah suggest that the word justice is repeated twice to indicate that both the means and the end of any action must be just.

I hope I can carry this gem of advice with me as I begin my career with the federal government. I gather that it can be frustrating at times - but even little cogs can make a difference, right?

The more I read and learn about the world--the pain and suffering and senseless injustice--the more I want to do something about it. I want to educate myself by seeing and experiencing diverse cultures, and I want to pursue peace in any way I can. I hope I never take for granted how fortunate I am to have a job that allows me to live out this passion.

PS: Isn't social media amazing? The Red Cross has already raised $800,000 for Haiti disaster relief via their texting drive. In case you haven't seen this anywhere else, you can text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10. Read more about this and similar drives at the Huffington Post and on the State Department website.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Patience & Fortitude

Oh my goodness, friends. I survived my first week of Hebrew training... but just barely. So far, it is the most difficult language I have ever learned. My brain is spinning from the aleph bet (a.k.a. the new alphabet I have to memorize in print and cursive). Learning languages is fun, but it is also a lot of hard work. This is going to be a challenge (as in, I have never worked so hard in my life). And in the meantime the dishes will pile up. There's one resolution down the drain already.

Have a great weekend, folks! And wish me luck. Sigh. I think I need it :).

Picture from Supermarket HQ found via Swiss Miss.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Five Favorite Green Products

Is one of your resolutions to do more for the environment this year? If so, you should consider trying some all-natural products. Living green isn't just about the long term benefits. Exposing your skin to toxins is dangerous for you and for generations to come. I have very sensitive skin, but after switching my toiletries and detergents to green/natural brands, I have noticed a difference in the way my skin feels. I feel better about my impact on the environment--plus, none of these products were tested on animals.

1. Seventh Generation Natural 2x concentrated laundry liquid. I have used both the unscented and the lavender. In addition, you can use tennis balls to fluff your clothing in the dryer instead of using dryer sheets.
2. Dr. Bronner's pure castile soap or Tom's of Maine soap.
3. Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil. I just starting using jojoba oil, and it is amazing. I use this on everything from my scalp to my toes! You can use it as leave-in conditioner and mixed in with any face or body cream. It is fast absorbing and super-hydrating.

4. Jason everyday natural hair care. I use the tea tree scalp normalizing shampoo, but they offer a wide variety of shampoos and conditioners.

5. Good old-fashioned baking soda and vinegar. To unclog a drain, use a combination of baking soda and vinegar and let it sit for five minutes before pouring boiling water down the drain. Use a small plate of baking soda to get rid of odors in your fridge or elsewhere. Mix vinegar with water to quickly kill most bacteria and germs. Check out this website for more details.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Farewell 2009 and Hello Hebrew

2009 was a significant year for me. I earned my Master's degree, got the job I wanted--astonishingly--and made lots of new friends at the Foreign Service Institute. In addition, starting this blog has helped me tap into the creative part of my brain. I know at times what I write can seem vapid--or even superficial--but I keep this blog in order to celebrate beauty and optimism. I love my life here in DC, and I will try to do a better job of logging my activities without boring you with the details.

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to be more intentional about how I spend my evenings... i.e. less TV and more reading and creating. In 2010 I hope to do more yoga, drink more tea, live greener, take dance classes, have more dinner parties, join a toastmasters club, and finally stop biting my nails. We'll see.

Tomorrow I start Hebrew language classes in preparation for my move to Israel this summer. I am very nervous but also excited! After a wonderful break visiting with my family and old friends, I am ready to go back to training with a gusto.

What are you looking forward to in 2010?