Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Years Resolutions: 2017 Summary

Hi everyone! Here are my resolutions from last year, and a summary of how I did. TL;DR I gave myself a 50%, or 6 points on the 12 from last year. Stay tuned for a future post with the new ones!

- Floss/Mouthwash (Health)
Did this one! Pretty proud of myself for this. 1 point

- Read 1 news story (Connection)
I did read more news, but not one per day, and I still missed big news items. 0.2 points

- ACTS prayer (Connection)
I did this REALLY well through March, and then went on a trip, forgot to pack the journal, and didn't pick it up after that trip. 0.3 points for 3 months of going strong.

- Text someone hi (Connection)
Zero points, didn't do this. I decided I didn't need to be texting more to stay in touch with people (the motivation behind this).

- Save $10 towards vacation (Finance)
I did this for half the year, went on vacation with Ryan in July, and spend my savings (Which was great, to have that money set aside!) then didn't KEEP saving (which I needed to do for vacation next year) so only 0.5 points for half the year.

- Write a blog post (Connection)
Nope. Not at all. Sorry, loyal blog readers - I was bad this year. Next year will be TEN YEARS of my having this blog though, so even though it's pretty rare for me to post, I've had it for a long long long time. And I have posted every year. :)

- Vacuum whole House (Organization)
I did this, not quite weekly, but I was better about keeping my house clean, which was the goal. 0.5 points

- Do a crossword puzzle (Creativity)
Nope, not at all. zero points.

- Mop Kitchen/Clean Bathroom (Organization)
Did this! 1 point

- Craft Completed (Creativity)
Did this! Lots of cross stitch this year, some paint nights, some pottery painting, some photo albums and some shadow boxes. Was a good, crafty year. :)

- Read non-fiction (Creativity)
Did this one! Did it better than last year, more actual mind-expansion, less memoirs (but still some memoirs). I read Orange is the New Black, Out of Orange, Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard, Your First Leadership Job, How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age, Liturgy of the Ordinary, All Roads Lead to Austen, What Matters in Austen: 20 crucial questions answered, Talking as Fast as I Can, Scrappy Little Nobody,  Hidden Figures, and Rise of the Rocket Girls!  1 point

- Write a Letter to someone (Connection)
I did this one, but missed the intent of the resolution since I mostly wrote to people I was already writing to, instead of new people. 0.5 points.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Evolution of Personality (through the lens of Hogwarts Houses)

Last week was the Society of Women Engineers holiday social at work. We spent a fair bit of time talking about Harry Potter houses, because we're nerds, and one of my SWE friends pointed out that she feels like she's in a different Hogwarts house now than she would have been at age eleven, when the sorting takes place (let's note that eleven is ASTONISHINGLY young to be telling a kid what they're supposed to be like for the rest of their life). 

I tend to agree with her assessment. As a kid, I took several house sorting tests and got sorted into Ravenclaw most times. When Pottermore was released, I took the official test and was sorted into Hufflepuff. When the Ilvermorny houses were released, I made a new Pottermore account, got sorted into Hufflepuff again, and got sorted into Thunderbird as my Ilvermorny house, in the American wizarding school (Thunderbirds are known for representing the soul of the wizard, and tends to favor adventurers. However, there isn't as much lore about Thunderbirds as there is about Hufflepuffs. I look forward to discovering more about being a Thunderbird as the Fantastic Beast movies are released!)

For those that are not familiar, Ravenclaws are "intellectuals" valued for their intelligence, Hufflepuffs are loyal friends, and not valued for their aptitude. Many Hufflepuffs note at this point that this does not mean Hufflepuffs are not smart - after all, Cedric Diggory, who qualified for the TriWizard Tournament, was a Hufflepuff - rather, it means that the loyalty is more important to them than other things.Which I like, because one of my friends/mentors pointed out that I'm extremely loyal, and disloyalty upsets me (which is why I don't like the movie, "The Notebook", because poor James Marsden gets ditched for no good reason.

I'm not sure if I would have been sorted into Hufflepuff house at age eleven. I think, in the seven years students are supposed to be at Hogwarts that they likely change, a lot. And I'm curious to know if the sorting hat can see their future, and sort them into the house they will ultimately grow into, or if it's based on their thoughts that first day, and that day alone. Seeing the future could explain why Neville Longbottom is in Gryffindor despite not being a particularly brave child, or why Hermione Granger is not in Ravenclaw, despite being a particularly intellectual child - but it could also be that the house shaped them into that adult, and perhaps they would have been different had they been placed in other houses.

Which goes back to the age old question, nature vs. nurture. Are you born into a particular personality type, or are you trained into one? Introverted parents can have extroverted children, which seems to imply some stuff is just born into a child, but other things are clearly are a product of upbringing (like how a child can be brought up to like or dislike math based on their parents feelings towards the subject, which is why you should never ever say you're "just not a math person"). In the end, the sorting hat is nothing more than a personality test, which I think are flawed ways to try to capture the complexity of a person's soul. 

Other thoughts about personality tests on this blog:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mulling over names (again)

Names are weird. They're intensely personal, both to the person being named and to the person using the name.

For example, my name is Emily. And 90% of the people I know use that full name and it's generally what I prefer. Some people like to shorten it to Em, and occasionally I'll allow that. One of my colleagues recently tried it out, and immediately laughed because it felt so unnatural to her. Because for her, it wasn't natural.

Another colleague of mine also goes to my church. He has a different name at church than at work, and it's confusing for me to know the same man in two contexts with two names, and I'll often use the wrong one in the wrong context and have to clarify who I'm talking about.

Then there's the formal names - "Mr. So-and-So", "Mrs. Brown" vs "Emily". My mom has a particular distaste for being called "Ms. Joanna", she's told me. Either be fully formal or not at all, the in between frustrates her. This, I've discovered, is a common opinion among women my mom's age. Not sure if it's a generational thing (i.e. when I hit that age I'll also dislike it) or a cultural thing (i.e. the 2000-2010 era saw a shift towards less formality between kids and adults which is why I don't mind as much).

Then there's family names. My grandmother introduces herself as "Bestemor" to almost everyone now, not just her grandchildren, but it started as a family name for her (it's Scandinavian, for those wondering).

Then there's nicknames totally unrelated to someone's actual name. I find these endearing, but my brother in law does not, and I have to make an active effort to remember this and use the name he prefers.

This whole post stems from the fact that my sister Abigail's new boyfriend calls her "Abby", which I never have, and find odd. She doesn't care, so I don't know why I care so much, but I do and so I started thinking about names and how personal they are.

(PS - I said "again" because initially this post was called "What's in a Name" but my blog ALREADY has a post with that title:, if you want to read what I was thinking about names six years ago. Next year (2018) I will have had this blog for TEN YEARS, so expect some thoughts on that!)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mama

Today's my mom's 50th birthday.

I only remember making a big deal about Mom's birthday once in my life - 20 years ago, when I was 5 and she was turning 30. We got some cake pans and cake decorations, and Dad had a big plan to bake mom a cake at the neighbors house, and then Abigail and I ruined his secret. We also got some apple scented lotion that my mom ended up not liking, but my dad really liked the scent.

Another year it snowed on Mom's birthday (I was about 10, I guess, based on the kids in the photos from that day). We celebrated Mom's birthday by taking some family snow photos, but that was mostly it.

Usually my Dad got my mom something like pajamas or a bathrobe for her birthday, and occasionally we kids give her cards, but mostly it passes by and we celebrate later with Chinese dimsum closer to Christmas. It's still fun, and it's a big family event, but it's hard to remember it's tied to my Mom's birthday.

It's hard to tell my mom I love her. She's not big on any of the love languages - physical touch isn't really how she operates (most Asian people don't do this one). Gifts of affirmation she appreciates, but I don't know if I've ever seen her use one of the gifts I've given her. Quality time alone with just mom is hard - and even when I call home, she usually passes the phone to dad. Acts of service she appreciates most, but now that I'm in my own home, whenever I try to serve her by doing dishes or something, she tells me to relax and she'll get it later. Words of Affirmation is my primary love language, but I don't use it to communicate with my mom - it's like the physical touch thing, we just don't say it out loud. Not saying this to fault my mom, just explaining why we never made that big a deal about her birthday.

So I'm saying it now. My mom's fantastic. She has the best advice of anyone I've ever met. If I can be half as good of a wife to my husband as my mom is at supporting, encouraging, but also challenging my dad, I'll feel accomplished. If I can raise a child even one ninth as patiently and graciously as my mom has managed to raise nine kids, I'll be doing well. 

When I was a kid and I was mad at my sisters or my dad (which happened a lot), my mom always managed to point me to the gospel. She was always gentle but firm in pointing me towards forgiving the person I was mad at. Always. sometimes it was infuriating because I just wanted to wallow in my anger, and she never let me.

When my mom had her wisdom teeth extracted, I flipped out, and my mom, even though she was getting over mouth surgery, read out loud to me to calm me down. When my sister Charissa was born, I got into a funk about things, and my mom sent me a note she wrote on a paper towel from the hospital via Dad mail to get me back into the right head space (a faded ink note that's still taped into my old journal). I always knew my mom loved me, and when I needed it, she showed it more than other times. 

So I hope that today, on her birthday, my mom knows that it goes back to her. That I love her, and respect her, and hope I can be more like her as I continue to grow up. Happy Birthday, Mama.