“If you ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it... But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.

~Frank Lloyd Wright

Friday, July 18, 2014

Making Memories (vol. 1)

I really think that is what summer should be for.  Memories of good times with the people we love, of new places traveled to, of inspiring beauty, of joyous laughter, of hard work well done.  And I've been incredibly blessed to be able to make a lot of these kind of memories so far this summer.

It makes me think of when Frodo told Sam, "You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do." That's what I felt like, going into summer. I really do have so much to enjoy and to be and to do.

So I'm sorry that my blog has been pushed to the background, but that has to happen every once in a while and I really feel like that break was very good for me. Now I'm popping up out of my hole, back into the blogging world again. And so much has happened I don't even know where to start.

I've gone to two different (very different) summer camps, and the one at Christendom College was probably the best week of my life.



That summer program was absolutely amazing. Peregrin wrote a fantastic post about the week that you should all hop over and read if you haven't yet.  She just knows how to word things perfectly. ♥♥  And it was so lovely to meet her and have fun together at Christendom. :)

There were so many things about that week that I just want to treasure for the rest of my life. 

I'll always remember...

- the fantastically amazing and super fun counselors 
- the wonderful people I got to meet
- the bowling fun our first night, and the ice cream
- discussing the philosophical question: Can a dog be happy? with the most amazing professor ever
- winning $5 from said professor for identifying a nighthawk swooping through the air at a barn dance
- jamming to Lotr music along Skyline Dr. in a crowded van with Peregrin 
- hiking to the top of a mountain for some astounding views
- trading and sharing clothes with fellow girls right and left -– coming from a girl with no sisters, let me just say that living with a bunch of girls for a week was just so delightful :)
- singing the beautiful Prayer of St. Augustine for the talent show with my three lovely friends from Michigan 
- canoeing on the Shenandoah river
- swing dancing in an 1800's barn to jolly Irish tunes
- THE VIRGINIA REEL...it does not deserved anything less than caps... most fun thing ever
- daily Mass and adoration in the chapel
- choir practice every day, and the chance to sing such beautiful hymns in the chapel for our last Mass
- amazing classes with amazing professors: literature, history, philosophy, theology – I can't even say which was my favorite
- late night conversations with my awesome roommates
- listening to the coolest debate ever, put on by the Chester-Belloc debate society one night, with everything reminding me of Chesterton's time and just blown away by the awesomeness of it all
- having SO much fun at the talent show, laughing oh so hard – that was one of the best nights, and it even ending with dancing before we went and crashed into bed
- and then the Friday night dance in the Commons that was even decked out with lights, where everyone knew how to dance so much better than earlier in the week
- having a Rosary-candlelight procession late at night
-sitting around the bonfire the last night, toasting marshmallows and listening to touching spiels from counselors
- staying up till 3:30 a.m., signing dog-books and savoring some of the last moments we would have together





The Irish sing-alongs we had were totally fantastic: these songs below bring back so many fond memories. And singing them in a barn with fiddles and a real Irish dancer, and swaying together in lines as we belt out the chorus... I'm missing those times so much now.  Do I need to say that I've become really, really in love with Irish music?







This is the awesomely-hilarious head counselor we all enjoyed so much. :)


And look who's here!  It's the promised picture of Peregrin and I (with one other friend, Rose, on the left. :))


As a skit for the talent show, I performed John Branyan's Shakespearean three little pigs, which was a lot of fun.


thank you to Peregrin for these last two pictures :)

The Friday night swing dance, view from the balcony of the Commons.  Isn't it just gorgeous? 


The whole thing was truly an experience I'll never forget.  Ever. 


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ramblings on things I love


Back in May, Iris and Rachel were so kind as to nominate me for some more Liebster questions.  I was fully meaning to respond to them, but then one thing happened after another, and the time just slipped away.  I've been so busy this June, and will continue to be busy (as I get ready to go to VA in a few days!), so I wasn't able to answer all the questions but I did really want to address this one of them.  I always have so much to say about books. :)    

What movie/book has impacted you the most, and why?  

- Currently, for books, it definitely would be A Tale of Two Cities.  (*Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't read it!*)  That ending just shows such powerful self-sacrifice and love… it just blew my mind.  The guy who was drinking and wasting his life away, actually turned around and sacrificed himself so a loving family wouldn’t be broken up by the guillotine.  It really, really touched me, and just the love manifested in so many parts of the book, like between Charles and Lucie.  But there was also that underlying belief at the end that what would make a life worth living, would be one where you left people who actually cared about you.  That you’ve done something worthwhile so that they love you, and will always hold you in fond remembrance. 
“If you could say, with truth, to your own solitary heart, tonight, “I have secured to myself the love and attachment, the gratitude or respect, of no human creature; I have won myself a tender place in no regard; I have done nothing good or serviceable to be remembered by!” your seventy-eight years would be seventy-eight curses; would they not?’ 
‘You say truly, Mr. Carton;  I think they would be.’ 
Sidney Carton comes to realize how important and rewarding is service of others, and while he despairs in himself and believes he can never depart from his path of waste and gluttony, he still wants to do something that will be remembered.  This leads him to perform the supreme sacrifice: that of laying down his life for a friend.  
‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’
Man, I just cried buckets of tears over this ending.  It was both happy and sad, and so so inspiring.  Just amazing. ♥♥♥♥♥


*  *  *
 “They said of him, about the city that night, that it was the peacefullest man’s face ever beheld there.  Many added that he looked sublime and prophetic.  One of the most remarkable sufferers by the same axe – a woman – had asked at the foot of the same scaffold, not long before, to be allowed to write down the thoughts that were inspiring her.  If he had given an utterance to his, and they were prophetic,, they would have been these:

‘I see Barsad, and Cly, Defarge, The Vengeance, the Juryman, the Judge, long ranks of the new oppressors who have risen on the destruction of the old, perishing by this retributive instrument, before it shall cease out of its present use.  I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out. 

I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which I shall see no more.  I see Her with a child upon her bosom, who bears my name.  I see her father, aged and bent, but otherwise restored, and faithful to all men in his healing office, and at peace.  I see the good old man, so long their friends, in ten years’ time enriching them with all he has, and passing tranquilly to his reward. 

I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence.  I see her, an old woman, weeping for me on the anniversary of this day.  I see her and her husband, their course done, lying side by side in their last earthly bed, and I know that each was not more honoured and held sacred in the other’s soul, than I was in the souls of both. 

‘I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine.  I see him winning it so well, that my name is made illustrious there by the light of his.  I see the blots I threw upon it, faded away.  I see him, foremost of just judges and honoured men, bringing a boy of my name, with a forehead that I know and golden hair, to this place – then fair to look upon, with not a trace of this day’s disfigurement – and I hear him tell the child my story, with a tender and a faltering voice. 

‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.’  
~ A Tale of Two Cities

//

- For movies, the one that has impacted me a lot lately is Lord of the Rings.  I finally got to watch all three of those!!! And wow, there is just too much to say about them.  Aragorn is really, really fantastic, and I love Samwise too, and Legolas, and Eowyn, and just everybody. ;)  They bring the books to life so well, making it totally feel like you're in Middle Earth.  The New Zealand landscape is mind-blowing... The snow-covered peaks, Rivendell, Hobbiton...  Now I really really want to go to New Zealand some day! 

The story behind how they made the film is fascinating too, and how the actors had to go through many hardships and difficulties.  It was like they were truly on the quest through Middle Earth with the Fellowship in real life! 

Man, there are just so many things you can take away from those movies.  One of my favorite lines is when Elrond gives Aragorn the sword of Isildur and says, "Put aside the ranger.  Become who you were born to be."



Each one of us can really take that to heart.  We each have a purpose God is calling us to fulfill; we each have the responsibility of becoming who God meant us to be.  And the whole story is just such a testimony of how individuals have big roles to play and they can make a difference.  I love when Galadriel tells Frodo, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."  

There's SO much you could say about these movies, so much to take away from them and learn from and be inspired by.

"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for." ~ Samwise Gamgee

//

Of course I have been inspired by many, many other books and movies, but these two stand out in what I have read and watched recently.  So now I want to ask you, What movie/book has impacted you the most recently, and why? :)


Friday, June 6, 2014

Summertime: Plans

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


//

I am so, so delighted that June has come.  This time of year does kind of feel like we're starting out afresh, with life just beginning, doesn't it?  The whole season of warm sunny days seems laid out at our feet, ready for what we will.  And planning what to do in summer is just one of my favorite things. :)

This summer holds so much excitement for me, guys, it's really going to be crazy.  And I mean crazy.  But crazy in a very fun way. ;)  My grandma from the West coast arrived tonight for a visit and stays till Tuesday... my uncle, aunt, and cousins from Washington State fly in a few days after for the next weekend... Oh and I've got the ACT that Saturday...  And then I have a space of three days before I depart with a car load of girls from my area heading to the Christendom summer program in Virginia. (AND Peregrin will be there too. :D  Isn't that just awesome!?!  I am soooooo excited for that week that all the exclamation points in the world couldn't express it, so I'll contain myself. xP)



But it doesn't stop there.  Once the second week of July rolls around I'll be off for a week of SSI summer camp at Michigan's capital - Media track this time! :)  (I got accepted!)

After that, the list of planned things on the calendar slows down.  Then it will really be time to pull out that summer to-do list, and reading list, and get started.  Although I'll definitely find time to read before this too. ;)

//

That's one of my big goals for this summer: to read lots and lots of books.  

- First up will be Brideshead Revisited!  I even have the book checked out from the library, and it currently has been residing on my dresser.  I am so excited to get started! :)

 


- I got this lovely Jane Austen set for my birthday back in May, and I've already read four out of the six, but this summer it'll be time to dig into Mansfield Park and Northhanger Abbey.  (Yay for Austen! :D Gotta love her books.)


 

- Les Miserables.  That's my big summer project.  Probably won't start it till July, but that'll still leave me with plenty of time.  Big books daunt me a little, sometimes, but I really need to get this one under my belt.  Wish me luck!

- The Chronicles of Narnia.  Of course I've read them all before, but it's been awhile so I'd like to go through 'em again.  Especially I want to re-read The Last Battle.  

- There are billions of other books I need to read too... Yeah, I know I've said that before. :P  Once I get the ones I just mentioned finished, I'l probably start on Great Expectations.  But I'm going to leave the rest of my summertime books free and open to whatever whim I have at that time.  Whatever I feel like reading. :)

So, so many books, and so little time.  But that's partly what summer's for, right? ;)

//

Don't get the idea that my summer will be entirely books, books, books though.  It won't be at all.  No matter how long a reading list I make, my summers are never very occupied by that.  There are too many other important things to be done.  

This summer is going to be for making new friends, and growing closer to old ones... 
for playing ultimate frisbee and laughing around bonfires...
for roaming the woods and photographing flowers...
for watching the kittens grow and training the goats...
for tending the garden and harvesting its fruits...
for enjoying time with family members I haven't seen in years...
for a taste of college classes and the Shenandoah mountains...
for baking lots of cookies and trying something new...
for going to the beach and lying in the sun...
for spending time with my brothers and joking together...
for drawing lots of pictures and writing down my thoughts...
for having friends over and watching movies...
for pulling out the sewing machine and seeing what I can do...
for early morning runs and afternoon canoe rides...
for smiles and fun with the people I love...

for making memories.

It won't be perfect of course, but I'm ready to welcome summer with open arms.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Life Lately and Inspirations


The spring is really just flying by.  I cannot believe June is nearly upon us!

May has been such a busy time here at the farm.  Goats, chicks, kittens, planting the garden – definitely a lot going on!  (And two hot air balloons sailing over one day.  I LOVE the reflection in the pond that I captured. ♥) (And yes, I know this has nothing to do with busyness.  It was just one of those awesome little moments.)



Isn't all that green just so, so lovely too?  I am so excited that summer is practically here. :D  I got to go on a fun shopping excursion with my mom the other day, buying some lovely new summer skirts and blouses. 

// 

Right now I wanted to take the time to share links to some wonderful posts from this past week that really inspired me.

Clare over at Come Further Up wrote a beautiful reflection on what the perfect life really is: My Life is Perfect (and I Bet Yours is Too)

Rachel shared some extremely motivating words on getting away from the technology and living our lives to the fullest for God:  life is either a great adventure, or nothing

Samantha Joan wrote a wonderful piece on stepping away from all the emptiness that the world offers and listening to God.  Just beautiful. ♥ : thoughts come naturally at the sea 

And Peregrin had a lovely, summery post with an awesome list for the warm days that we can all take inspiration from: these happy golden days

//

And I'll leave you with some adorable pictures of the fast-growing kittens. 

starting to wrestle!  Can you believe it?

I love, love, love the little grey one's face...

Aren't they all just so sweet...

And now tomorrow it'll be time to go buy lots of flowers and plant my Mary Garden!   Have a wonderful weekend, lovely people. :)


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Peace in Nature

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”
— Aristotle

//

Nature brings such a deep sense of peace.  You walk out in the woods, and you're just enveloped by God's beauty and goodness.


For me, nature provides that calm after a storm.  It's a place for me to refocus and gather my thoughts together.  There's just much noise in our lives today.  All around us, everywhere.  It's such a refreshing change to just walk under canopies of trees with the birdsongs and the rustling of the wind in the leaves over head.  To just look and listen and enjoy.  

//


“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
~ Albert Einstein


//

There are days when I've just been on the computer too long, and I know I've got all these things to do but I can't bring myself to face them... I get this pent up, trapped feeling.  A feeling like the day is sliping by, and it just feels like I'm stuck.  Stuck in this muddy hold of wasted time and un-productiveness.  Stuck in... I don't know what, but just stuck.  

It's at those times that the best thing for me to do is grab my dog's leash and head out of doors with her.  

I have that favorite spot of mine to go walking that I wrote about in the fall.  It has become infinitely dear to me.  The rolling hills and the trees and the wildflowers and the ferns – the occasional bounding deer, scampering squirrel, and the winding trail that goes on and on.   I just love it.

now there are starting to be some nasty mosquitoes in this lovely spot as well, but we won't focus on those. :P


To get there first I have to walk up the road with the cars going by.  But when I turn off onto the narrow little path, it's like walking into a sheltered haven under the canopy of the forest.  And then it seems as if the air is freer, and you can just breathe more deeply and throw all your cares and troubles to the wind. (just "Let it go, let it goooo..." xD)  It really is like that sometimes.  You're being urged to throw off those sulking thoughts and just run, run, run like the wind – down, down, down the winding path.  I have been discovering my love of running lately.  It's just the greatest kind of exercise, isn't it?  And running along leafy trails in the woods is glorious.


But anyway, for me, nature just hold so much peace.  It holds so much tranquility, and so much beauty.  There's so much you can just soak into your soul.

   


And away out there, all those yet-to-be done Biology tests don't seem so pressing. The last few school assignments don't weigh down on you as much.  You don't have a computer in front of you to get distracted at, your mind is free to think. to ponder. to wonder. to enjoy the beauty. 

These kind of walks give me the chance to re-evaluate my day - what's gone right, what's gone wrong. Or if it's an early walk, what can I do to make the day turn out right.  I line up all the things I need to do in my head.  I set up a plan – "when I get home, I'll eat breakfast, do that last math lesson, and then study for the science test."  (Yay for brilliant plans! xP)


But seriously, being out in nature just really allows me to relax and refocus myself.  To remember what's important and how I should be making the most of my time.  It doesn't always end up making my days super productive – oh no – but it tends to help.  

Those times when I'm struggling through my afternoon and nothing seems to be going right, "I'm going to take Maya for a walk now" is just the best thing for me to say.  Now I don't like to think of it as I'm running away from my problems and duties – no, instead I'm getting refreshed and invigorated to come back and face them.  Truly, it brings me home with a wish to get things done.


    
Going out in nature seems to help free me from all the little petty things that can weigh a person down so much.  I can shake off the negative feelings.  I can throw my head back and dance into the woods.  And just let it go.  



//

“There is beauty, heartbreaking beauty, everywhere.” 
~ Edward Abbey