Gifts for 'Mom' that are Better Than a Card

First, you need to know that Mother's Day is not for only biological mothers. It is a day for you to appreciate the person who mothered you. Sometimes that is your dad, your sibling, your aunt, uncle, grandparent, friend, teacher, neighbor, and sometimes that is you. So, these gifts are a way for you to appreciate that person who mothered you, whomever that may be. So, apply said filter to each of the following gifts.

I fully support and value the candle/lotion/bath bomb/face mask/perfume gift. 100%. I just wanted to make a 'gift guide' that had a little more to do with my specialty, writing.

You're probably thinking, "that will take way too much brainpower that I have reserved for CandyCrush(is that still what the kids play?)." I've broken it down for you, so it shouldn't be too overwhelming. And for those of us that just want to click, click, click and be done, I'll include some links to a few books that would make great gifts.

A List of Memories

Write them a top 5 favorite memories list. One of my favorite conversations to have with friends and family are the ones where we remember some of our most deeply imprinted memories together. These are often my favorite because I don't have a great memory and I forget a lot of the little moments in my life that others remember clearer than I do. So for your mother, make a list of 3-5(or more, go crazy!) of your favorite memories together. They will love reminiscing on them, I promise.

Tell a Favorite Story

If you'd rather not make a list, or you're like me and can't remember much, the following is for you. Write down a story they may not remember of an experience you had together. Describe what it means to you, the feelings you had and why this experience is important to you.

More Than a Photo

Choose a photo that you love of them or of the two of you. Print it on stiffer paper (or if you're me, glue card stock to the back) and on the back of the photo, write 3 things you learned from them. Or 3 of your favorite qualities they have. 

More Than a Card

Write them a letter, not just a card. Letters allow for space to say what you appreciate about the person, to tell stories, or to share insights. If you are already planning on sending them a gift, add a letter, maybe not just a card. If you don't know what to include in the letter, see my how to write a letter post.

I have read the following books and loved each one, all for different reasons though. If you click on the cover it will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Every once in a while I read some historical fiction and it ends up being really great and I tell myself I'll read more of it and then I never do till months later. This is a great read, and I'm once again recommending it years after it was published but at least I'm staying on brand with that. I won't try to introduce it but if you click on the cover, Amazon has a nice little blurb for you.

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
I'm realizing I haven't reviewed any of these on my blog, which is sad, but also makes me feel good that I read all these books. If you love Mindy, you'll love this book. I didn't love her first book(sorry, Mindy), it just never really sounded like her and lacked direction, I felt. But this one is all about how she's a boss and made room for herself in her industry. It's funny, insightful, and poewrful, just like Mindy.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Jeanette's writing is captivating, image-inducing, and rich. You are there with her seeing and hearing and feeling all that she feels. It's an incredible story, but one that told by another writer would not be as magnetic. It tells of her childhood spent mostly homeless and in constant poverty.

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines
When I first cracked this one open I was basically prepared for a written version of the opener to Fixer Upper. You know how it goes. "We take the worst house in the best neighborhood..." etc. BUT this book is so much more than that. It is a deep look at their relationship, their beliefs and their dreams. And it is wonderful. I feel like this book is both of their hearts on paper and it was just refreshing to get to know them better.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Again, came out years ago, and I read it years ago, just never wrote about it. They made this into a movie, which I never saw and probably never will because the book was perfect and I don't want to cross-contaminate. The story of a woman who has early-onset Alzheimer's written from her perspective. It is heartbreaking, eye and heart-opening, and I still think about this story often.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
I know, her trendier book right now is Big Magic but I haven't read that one yet so back off. I read this one almost immediately after reading Eat, Pray, Love so I could find out what happened to her and the guy she met in the end. Well, let me tell you. This is not a story about them two. This is full of research on marriage, the history of it in countries across the globe, and the state of it currently. After getting divorced and then falling in love, her and this guy(don't remember his name) are put in a position where they can only live in the same country if they get married. I learned a lot from this book and it lead me to do a lot of research on my own regarding the history of marriage. I was surprised and delighted. At one point in it, angry, and had to step back to see why, but still delighted in the end. Turns out I did review this one.

Thanks for sticking around to the end. If you made it this far you are a hero. Let me know what ideas you have for Mother's Day in the comments here or on Instagram. Asking for a friend.


A Book I Read

I'm happy to say I am now part of two book clubs! I have decided that book clubs are difficult to start and difficult to maintain. But very much worth it if you can keep it up and running. Maybe we should start an AdriLars book club here on the blog? Would anyone be interested in turning these posts into more of a discussion? Let me know.

So for one of the book clubs I'm in we read Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas. I didn't know this book existed until Ash suggested it, which is actually the truth about most things I read. I may have been an English major and English teacher but I'm probably the worst-read English major and English teacher there ever was.

For full disclosure I will say that I didn't read the book with my eyeballs, I actually listened to it on Audible. I turn my subscription on and off all the time (which is probably not how they want you to use it, but oh well) because sometimes I like to listen but other times I really want to read the book so I can write notes in it and mark things. If you want to try it there is a link over on the sidebar right under the popular posts box.

This was one of the books I'm glad I listened to because Firoozeh reads it herself and it was so fun to hear her voice telling all the stories. So many hilarious things happened to her and her family living in America, I actually snort-laughed several times.

Some favorite quotes:
It's not what we eat or don't eat that makes us good people; it's how we treat one another. As you grow older, you'll find that people of every religion think they're the best, but that's not true. There are good and bad people in every religion. Just because someone is Muslim, Jewish, or Christian doesn't mean a thing. You have to look and see what's in their hearts. That's the only thing that matters, and that's the only detail God cares about.
I truly believe that everyone has a story and everyone's story counts.
Is that boy from your country?” she asked me. “Why, yes,” I wanted to tell her. “In my country, which I own, this is National Lose Your Child at Disneyland Day.” “No,” I told her. “He’s not from my country.

Firoozeh has such a sarcastic sense of humor, which speaks to my wannabe-comedian heart. On a more serious note the book addresses the racism and discrimination that she and her family and thousands and thousands of other immigrants have faced living in America.

It made me question myself. It has added to a list of events, texts, and experiences that have made me think about my own racist tendencies, how I think of others and how I treat others. I asked myself if I had ever treated people the way that people treated Firoozeh and her family. And the answer, unfortunately, was yes. I feel I have a long way to go in order to be the accepting, kind, Christ-like person I want to be. I'm learning that it is important to question myself constantly and make efforts to change.

Has anyone else read this book? I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to post them here, comment or DM me on instagram or email me directly as well.

I definitely recommend reading this book if any of the above strikes a chord with you. Here is the link to the book on Amazon. Turns out it is also on sale!

A book I read

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I were given a limited amount of time to live. I think everyone probably wonders that sometimes. Unless you are prone to existential crises in which maybe you put a lot of effort into not wondering about that. I'd like to think I could begin to live every day as fully as possible and soak in every little moment. I'd never be angry, annoyed or frustrated. Only grateful, content and joyful.

I read When Breath Becomes Air and following Paul's path through his diagnosis, fight, and eventual passing away was a lesson in focus for me. He takes his readers, although it doesn't feel like he's speaking to an audience but rather to himself, into his mind as he works through his experience.

The book was thought-provoking as I was reading it but was even more transformative afterwards. It left me thinking for a long time after about not only my own life but the lives of those around me.

Some favorite quotes:
Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. 
Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.
You that seek what life is in death, Now find it air that once was breath. -Baron Brooke Fulke Greville
The last quote on there, from which the title of the book comes, has been hitting me hard recently. I've believed in eternity and souls and God for quite a while. But it's now making me question the purpose of pursuits, trying, and effort in earth life. But those are much too heavy of thoughts for such a light, short post.

This is probably a book I'll read every once in a while to get me thinking. I would 9/10 recommend the writing and 10/10 recommend that you read it regardless of form, just for the content. Here is a link to buy the book on Amazon.

A book I read

I finished two books in January. Which will probably be two more than I finish the rest of the year. I've shared books before on here and I know no one actually cares what I've read but just in case someone wants to talk about it with me or wants a recommendation/warning, here we go again. The first one is The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson.

I followed Rainn on twitter and Instagram for several years and he almost never posted about The Office or Dwight. He was always posting about his wife, son, Zonkey, his faith or his charity Lidé Haiti. I found out he had written a book a few years after it was published and put it on my to-read list and just recently got around to it. 

Rainn has one of the strongest senses of self that seeps out of his words. He talks a lot about life events of course, but he talks more about how the things he has done and chosen have shaped him as a person. He discusses, life, God, religion, death and purpose in a way that doesn't close you off but rather makes you feel more open and hopeful and more understood.

A few favorite quotes because he says it better than I could paraphrase.
When you see a lifeless form, you realize so clearly that we are not our bodies. 
Stories not only entertain us but tell us who and why we are, and what we believe collectively and individually.
 I don't know anything.
I've read several books written by actors, comedians, or other creatives and Rainn's has been my favorite so far. 10/10 would recommend. Here is a link to buy the book on Amazon.

God must feel like a teacher.

"What do you do?"
"I teach high school."
"Oh, wow, how's that?"

If I put together a top ten list of most common conversations I've had in my life, this would be number one. And it would be exactly the same, exactly the way I wrote it, every single time. 
Teaching is hard to explain to someone who doesn't teach. I say that in the present, as in, you must be currently teaching in order to understand teaching. I believe that former teachers, remember a lot about their teaching experience, but I also think it's a bit like birthing a baby. Most of the pain is forgotten/covered up with the cuteness of the baby and/or modern medicine (or in the teaching case: anti-depressants). 

Being a teacher means you are partially responsible for what 200+ other human beings do while they're under your jurisdiction. The measurement of your work is hardly ever based on something you worked on by yourself and then presented to someone else. You are measured by how well other human beings can do what you've taught them to do. Which means your success and satisfaction in your job is based on what these 200+ other human beings do on a daily basis. I say this because if all I did all day was plan glorious lessons and then hand them to someone else to teach and then went home, I think I would feel pretty satisfied with my work about 88% of the time. However, that is not what I do. Therefore, my self-satisfaction rate is at about 19% on the daily.

I struggle each day to cope with the fact that I don't have total control of what my students choose to do, yet I, as well as others, still base my job performance and my satisfaction with my career on what those students choose to do. Which I shouldn't, right? I should know that I put in my best effort for the day and that's all I can really control. To that I say: ah ha ha ha...ha...HA! It's harder than you think. When they don't turn things in on time. When they don't do their in-class work. When they choose to SnapChat instead of study. When they don't care for their grade for 8 weeks and then beg for mercy 3 days before the end of the term.

I understand that students have circumstances that don't allow them to do things on time or that schoolwork really isn't what they should be worried about. I have those students, I know them and I sympathize that. And a majority of my students are not the ones I'll talk about next. I'm talking about the ones who just "don't." There are no other words that would describe those students better. They don't. They don't care, they don't want to, they don't work, they don't try, they simply don't. Regardless of the reason why they don't, they still don't. Now, how can I be okay with what I do when they just plain don't? Should I say don't again? Don't.

Well, let me tell you how. I had a vision a few days ago. Okay not really a vision it was more like a discernment. Maybe manifestation sounds better? Let's call it all three. In my viscernifestation I learned something.

I teach, and I do my best (most of the time). There are days when we read for twenty minutes because I'm afraid if I try to teach it will come out in a raging yell like Hades in the Disney version of Hercules. And on those days my intentions are to protect the children from my rage, not to slack off.

Instead of holding Pain and Panic, I would be holding students...scary, I know.

And you may walk into my room and we may be watching a clip from The Office. Because when The Office has several examples of the literary devices you are learning, you have to watch it. I feel as though I give my best to my students, most of the time. But there are days when I know I could have done some things differently. More on this tangent another time.

So when I give my best and my students still "don't," the frustration sets in. Frustration with them for not doing the things I ask them to. Frustration because I feel I have exhausted myself trying to find a way to get them to care.

I realized that teachers must feel a tiny bit of what God, or whatever you equate to a god, feels sometimes.

You just want them to try it. You want them to feel or know or care about what's there. You want them to see that what we're doing is relevant to them and that this is about their human experience. You want them to take in everything you are giving and do something with it.

He just wants you to try. He wants you to feel something and to do something about what you feel. He wants you to see your relevance in the world and experience the things around you, rather than watching them pass by. He wants you to take what you have and do something with it.

And how frustrating that must be, to feel as though you have given everything and yet your student meanders in and out of your classroom each day unaware that what's in front of them could help them, or change them. Better yet, that they could take what you've handed them and turn it into something more.

It must be pretty damn frustrating.