• the little things •

  • studying for an economics test when the guy with a deep voice from your math class (but with the personality of a puppy) begins telling you how he couldn’t sleep last night, so he watched Howl’s Moving Castle instead and you find out he is also reading The Lord of the Rings
  • complimenting someone on their outfit and them saying, “I needed that today; thank you”
  • asking someone whether or not you should get chocolate chip cookies or M&M’s and they take the time to seriously help you out
  • going to the drugstore because you need/want new mascara + eyeliner but meeting a person with a lovely personality and giving them eyeliner tips
  • seeing your friend who says, “how did your economics test go? I remembered and prayed for you.”
  • getting to the chapel a bit later than usual when a woman walks in, kneels down, and begins crying. You wait a few minutes before handing her a tissue and holding her hand. She continues to cry and squeezes your hand back. You sit beside her and hold her. She asks for prayers for her son, Steven (Stephen?). You give her your Pieta prayer book (which you didn’t think you had anymore) and dog-ear the prayers which offered you the most comfort in your time of need.
  • she thanks you for being there for her; you think, “no one should have to cry alone”
  • realizing your iPod was in your pocket so you plug it in on the way home and listen to Kim Jae Joong and G-Dragon before feeling happy enough to sing with Taeyang
  • getting home and realizing your computer is being used, so you draw instead
  • once you’re done drawing, you read Not God’s Type

the little things are often ordinary, everyday miracles

pay attention

Love,

Rana || xoxo

Advertisements

• no rain, no flowers •

It’s my birthday.

I’ve been breathing for 18 years.

In the eyes of the law, I am now an adult and will be held accountable for my actions; because up until today, all my bad choices could have only been marked down to immaturity. Obviously. So if anyone needs a crime committed before I’m an adult, let me know yesterday.

But law and life are two different things.

• Education •

I’m expected to have a plan for the next 40 – 50 years of my life. And there’s been a lot of pressure because I don’t.

I’m often jealous of my friends. They don’t have the pressure like I do. Their parents don’t pressure them to go to college; they’re chill; they’re open to other options. If the kid wants to take a year off, that’s totally fine. But I’m expected to have it all planned out with a college picked and scholarships lined up while staying on top of school and, oh, I should get a job too.• no rain, no flowers •

It’s stressful + it’s painful mostly because I’ve always been expected and told to go to college all my life; make lots of money, support myself… but I don’t think that’s what I’m called to do. Not right now. All these things are fine, but it’s so shallow and not satisfying to me. I don’t mean I don’t want to go to college, so I say “I’m not called to do it” as an easy way out. I like school; I want to go to college. But I just don’t think it’s what I’m supposed to do.

• Friendship •

I’ve been learning lately that I’m looking for love in the wrong places. I want the things I don’t/can’t have. I want a friendship like that. I want to be so individualized like that. I want to stand out like that. But if I am like that, then I am not who I was created to be which is not that. It’s this. Maybe I’m not supposed to have those things at all or maybe I’m not supposed to have them until I’ve learned that I can’t be truly happy as I am if I’m only half myself without that.

I wasn’t created for partiality. I was created to be whole + when you’re supposed to be full, it’s lonely to be only halfway there.

• no rain, no flowers •

All this context to say that I believe that my life will ultimately be a garden. Trial results in rewards if we handle it the right way. I have faith and I have hope that this struggle now will be useful to me later. I give it to God, the One who loves me more than I can love back, the One who doesn’t pressure, doesn’t confuse, doesn’t go on vacation, doesn’t get too busy, doesn’t leave empty.

As an 18-year-old, I strive to grow in that love, not love to be loved, not even hope for love/friendship. I strive to let go of the things that don’t matter to me + to be okay with disappointing others if it’s what I’m supposed to do. I strive to learn, grow, and make my soul a garden.

I wasn’t created to follow the path laid out for me by those who do not know God’s plan; neither were you. Let’s be okay with that. Let’s be okay with letting others down because, ultimately, we weren’t created to please them, were we?

I strive to love God more than anything else; I pray for the strength + grace to allow no human ties to separate me from Him. I pray for the grace to rid my heart of fear.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

– 1 John 4:18 –

Peace + blessings,

Rana || xoxo

P.S.

I can now reply to comments! Comment away, friends! I look forward to meeting you all. ^_^

• love thyself •

 

“You’re so thin! Oh, my gosh. If I could look like you…”

“No, I’m not! Look at you! You’re gorgeous! I’d switch bodies with you in a heartbeat!”

• love thyself • || • The Gingerling •

It’s not right. It’s destructive to, not only ourselves, but also to the people around us. We teach ourselves and others that we must always consider another’s beauty to be the absence of our own. We teach each other that, to make someone else feel better about themselves, we must point out our own flaws.

That’s not true.

And it’s not helpful.

In loving yourself, you help others love themselves.

I realized this when I was speaking with a darling friend of mine. I had mentioned that I didn’t like my lips because my lower lip stuck out farther than my upper one. She told me her lips were the same, but she loved hers. And then it dawned upon me that… it’s okay to like the way you look. It’s not narcissistic. It’s not selfish. It’s self-love.

It’s okay to love something unique about yourself. It’s okay to love the way you look even if (especially if) you don’t look like everyone else.

In my friend loving herself – loving the things about her that I am insecure about in myself – I was able to love myself. I am able to love myself. To love the way I look.

• I love my lips. I love how full they are. I love the color.

• I love my hands and feet. My fingers are short, but they serve their purpose. My toes are sausage-like, but they do their thing well. I love my hands and feet because they are just so dang pretty!

• I love my eyes. I love the dual tone. The mutation. I love that my right eye has a brown spot in the blue. I love the asymmetrical beauty.

• I love my legs. There’s not much of them as I stand at 5′-nothing. But they’re supportive (I like puns and I suspect everyone does but for whatever reason, we have to pretend like we hate them…?).

• I love my body shape. It’s difficult to work with sometimes (you know those things everyone wears and it looks great, but you try it on and how did I end up looking like I just crawled out of the sewer system? I promise I’m human.), but I love it. I love that I have some meat on me.

• I love my hair. I love that the bottom half decided to turn blond for whatever reason (probably to give me a reason for the less-than-stellar remarks that slip out of my mouth). I love that I’m a ginger. I hope that I never go all blond or brown because I just can’t see myself as anything but a redhead.

• I love my eyebrows. They’re on-point frequently + always without makeup.

I don’t love myself all the time. That’s not to be expected. I don’t think anyone loves themselves all the time. That’s a part of being human. We’re not perfect. And we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be.

I think we confuse being cocky with being confident.

Don’t be cocky. Don’t overestimate yourself. Don’t walk around thinking you’re the best.

Be confident. Trust in the risks you’re taking. Know that you can always learn something and be better than who you were yesterday.

Love yourself genuinely because, in loving who you are and what you look like, you can help others to love themselves.

Peace out.

Rana || xoxo

 

I Dig It

Autumn is upon us.

How do I know this? Well…

a) Kitty is fluffy again.

b) I am wearing plaid.

c) Pumpkin lattes are back.

d) I broke out my purple eye shadow pallet once again.

e) Chipped red nail polish adorns my fingernails.

I dig it.

Autumn + winter are my favorite seasons! Autumn because, well, that means winter is almost here and if you live anywhere other than Florida, you get orange, red, and golden leaves. You get crisp weather and wear adorable jackets.

I can pretend.

I love winter because it’s a magical time of year when the bugs die, over-sized sweaters are acceptable, and I get to wear my boots!

******************

Today, I’d like to talk about what I love.

A few weeks ago, Mirriam and I Skyped and gabbed about crazy experiences, being understood, and how to become yourself (here’s a summary of one of the things we talked about).

Over the last few years, I’ve become quite the cynic. I criticize like it’s my job to tear apart the things I don’t love; I wonder if it’s because I like ticking people off or if it’s because I enjoy bringing out my debate skills and making others see the logical fallacies, the plot holes, the lack of consistency.

But I really think it’s because I don’t know what I love. A few different factors have played into the “why” of it all, but I’ll save that for another day.

Now, I’d like to make a list of the things I dig, the thing’s I’d like to get into, and who I want to be. Because, really, if you let other peoples’ interests define who you are, you’ll be everyone and no one. Parts of you will be a copy of a copy; and other parts will be empty because you didn’t fill your heart with what made you tick. We were too worried about what everyone else might think.

So… here goes:

  • I like quirk.
    • Quirky clothes
    • Quirky catch-phrases
    • Quirky words
    • Quirky people
    • Quirky shops
    • Quirky music
    • Quirky jewelry
  • I like flavored coffees.
    • Peppermint mochas
    • Pumpkin lattes
    • Mochas
  • I like to draw.
    • I dig hand-lettering nowadays.
    • I dig doodles.
  • I like to write letters.
    • I like to doodle in the margins + on the envelope so every letter is unique and the receiver gets a little piece of me.
    • I like to write letters because it shows the person that I cared enough about them to stop, take the time to write by hand, and think about them for however long it took me to write that letter and doodle on it.
  • I like the college atmosphere.
    • I like the coffee shop.
    • I like that everyone’s got their own style.
    • I like that the students aren’t very judgmental.
    • I like that people are pretty accepting.
  • I like layers.
    • Form-fitting undershirt + breezy top is my go-to style.
  • I like my red hair.
    • I like that there are about five or six different colors in it naturally.
    • I kind-of like that the top half is red and the bottom half is blond (naturally).
  • I like my eyes.
    • I like that I’m rare with blue eyes + red hair (rarest combination, I hear).
    • I like that I have sectoral heterochromia in my right eye.
  • I like being petite.
    • I think I’m adorable.
    • I like that I’m not a twig and I like that I’m not plump.
    • I like that I’m just right.
  • I like that my skin is fair.
    • Red nail polish + white skin = bomb diggity.
  • I like that I can cook.
    • And bake.
  • I like the fact that I can be super loving.
    • I had a bigger heart as a child and I’d like to go back to that but I’m also happy where I’m at now.
    • I pray that I can love the way Christ loves.
  • I like the fact that I enjoy reading quirky books that others usually don’t.
    • Jane Austen (I have actually laughed out loud reading some of her stuff)
    • Mark Twain (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was the bomb dot com)
    • Alice in Wonderland (still working on it)
    • A collection of philosophical  works from Bacon to Mill (Mills?)
  • I like my lips (at least one day I will…)
    • Full + naturally dark pink? I think yes.
    • One day I’ll get over the fact that my lower lip sticks out farther than my upper lip.
  • I like J.R.R. Tolkien.
    • LotR was not his best work in my opinion.
    • The Silmarillion + The Children of Hurin were phenomenal.
  • I like Atomic Fire Balls.
    • You know those cinnamon candies?
    • They’re a personal challenge.
    • I’m strong enough to get to the core without water.
  • I like floral outfits.
    • Floral dresses? Yes, please!
  • I like dresses.
    • Feminine five-foot-nothing is adorable, don’t you think?
  • I like that I’m a penny-pincher.
    • Spending money borders on physically painful.
  • I like popcorn + hot chocolate mix.
    • Seriously.
    • Dump that Swiss miss all over the buttered popcorn. You won’t regret it.
  • I like Batman.
    • Always + forever.
  • I like +.
    • Quirk, yo.
  • I like (terrible) puns.
    • I’m sure there’s one I could use here, but I’m a little slow…
  • I like terrible jokes.
    • What’s the hardest part of a vegetable to eat?
    • The wheel chair.
  • I like that I’m an optimistic pessimist.
    • I don’t get excited because, if something doesn’t work out, I’m not crushed. If it does, I’m pleasantly surprised.
  • I like that I’m a writer.
    • Kill thy darlings, darling.
  • I like fictional boys.
    • If you’re real, you probably repulse me but I still love you because I love everyone.
  • I like K-Pop.
    • I dig EXO, ShinEE, 2ne1, Super Junior, ZE:A, and all the others I can’t remember.
  • I dig Oxford commas.

The one thing I’d change about myself is my semi-apathy and my fear of judgment.

Because, if someone really loves you, they’ll be interested in you. Not necessarily everything you’re interested in. But you. And that’s what counts.

When I’m away at college a year from now, my parents won’t be there to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. My friends won’t be there to encourage me to like this or that.

It will be me deciding what I like. And I’d like to know what I’m interested in before I’m thrown into a world where everyone likes the same things.

If you don’t know who you are, people will tell you; you will be everyone and no one and none of them will be who you really, authentically are.

So what do you love about yourself?

Who do you want to become?

Love + peace,

Rana

Prayer Request

Hello, lovelies!

I hope your week is going well so far. 🙂

Today, I’d like to talk about something I probably have no right to talk about: parenting. I’m not going to tell you how to bring your kids up (just, more like, strongly suggest 😉 ). But before you get all defensive, let me say something: this is all common sense. So if you’ve got some of that, don’t worry your pretty little mind.

Someone very dear to my heart is hurting a lot. Because of her parents. She’s not even a teenager yet, but she’s one of the strongest people I’m blessed to know. She’s taught me more than I think she knows about what it means to be strong, not give up, and act older than you should at twelve years old.

So what’s up? How are her parents hurting her?

  • One of her parents has been in jail many times.
  • Her other parent was getting better for a while. This parent has tried to raise their three kids alone for a long time. They got better, stopped smoking. Now, they’ve relapsed and picked up drinking and partying and dating as well.
  • The parent raising the kids also does not discipline their kids. The eldest (the twelve year old) basically makes better decisions than her parents. She knows right from wrong. She tries to step in and parent her siblings, but she can only do so much with a bratty six year old and mischievous ten year old.
  • Especially when the present parent is constantly yelling at her and letting the little kids do whatever they want because they don’t care enough to say no.

It’s hard for me to write this because this is something that happens to other people. Not the people you know and love. But I guess everyone is someone’s son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, or friend.

Now, all this begs the question:

What are a parent’s responsibilities?

  • Say flipping no. I get that you “love” your kids. I get that you don’t want to upset your little angel. But that’s part of your job. Upset them now to save them later. Want to know why your six year old is overweight? Because you allow her to eat only toast. You don’t force her to eat what she doesn’t want because that’s inconvenient for you. Which leads me to the next point:
  • Convenience isn’t in the job description. You gave that up when you decided to sleep around. Sorry, not sorry. You’re not allowed to go out ’till 3:00 a.m. while your 12 year old is up worrying about you. She should not be worrying about you. That’s flat out wrong, selfish, and just plain idiotic and immature. You’re not allowed to go out and get drunk every weekend. You’re just not. You have kids, responsibilities and you’re slacking.
  • Discipline. This goes along with saying no. But a parent needs to discipline their kids; otherwise, it follows that no decent parent will want your kid hanging out with theirs; when they go out into the workplace, no one is going to want to hire someone who doesn’t know how to force themselves to do their job.
  • You don’t get to swear around or at your kids. What do you think that does to or for them? Nothing except make them feel worthless.
  • You don’t get to tell your kids that what you’re doing is okay because you’re an adult. That’s illogical. That’s you making excuses. And the minute you start doing that, that’s the minute I know you’re trying to justify your actions.

Essentially, you don’t get to put yourself first.

You’re going to school, working two jobs, have three kids, raising them alone because your partner is a flop.

I get that. I get that parenting is hard. I get that I have next to no authority to talk about this. I get that parents everywhere despise the fact that a 17 year old is writing about their responsibilities.

But am I really telling you anything new? I certainly hope not. This is just common sense.

Your selfishness hurts everyone. Your kids most of all. Your family.

I don’t judge you. I judge your actions. And it hurts because I love you and I thought you were better than this. I know you are.

And I ask all of you reading this to please, please pray for this family.

Maybe if a minor can see these problems so clearly, actual parents with these struggles can too.

Love always + stay strong,

Rana

Why I Really Don’t Care That Animals Are Hurting

Hello, friend (we’ll see if you can call me that by the end of this post 😉 )!

I was going through someone’s FaceBook page and they were posting all about animals, the environment, petitions to save the [insert animal here]… It kind of made me ill.

I know what this sounds like: I’m the reason we have dog meat festivals in China, why antelopes are dying, why entire species are going extinct, and why happy meals from McDonald’s are really not all that happy.

Yeah, I get it. Animals die. Dogs get beaten, burned, skinned alive. Cats get beheaded. Antelopes die and are therefore no longer able to frolic on their plains and feed a lion family.

And we are the reason that’s happening. Animals don’t do this to animals. People – humans – do this to animals. I am 100% aware of that.

And it’s sad. I’m 100% against this behavior because I know we are better than that.

But you know what? I kind of don’t care.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Priority = precedence?” Well, it’s one I’ve heard in debate a lot and I agree (in this context, at least).

I don’t care about the brutal treatment of animals because I see this happening to people.

Why I don't really care that animals are hurting

Sarah with her dog, Zoe, and yours truly.

In a day and age where everyone is offended by anything and everything, I realize I’m stepping on toes. If you’re not comfortable with that, then just step back and stop reading.

Why can’t people focus on people? Why are we not okay with dogs being burned alive, but we can turn a blind eye when the exact same thing happens to a human being?

I don’t get it.

To be human means we can act beyond instinct and think for ourselves. I don’t care about animals dying because we have bigger issues to deal with. We have crimes against humanity to deal with.

Did you hear the story about an abortionist who sells aborted baby parts to customers? Sick? I think so. Which issue merits more attention/hurt? Tearing babies apart or animals?

If we can’t love each other, what business do we have loving an animal?

It is far, far more important to love (in the most real sense of the word: sacrifice) one human being than it will ever be to love the entire animal kingdom.

Until we can solve our world-wide human-hate problem, I won’t pay much attention to the species going extinct.

Why I don't really care that animals are hurting | The Gingerling

I would totally give credit to whoever owns this, but I don’t know whose it is!

Humans have dignity and can think for themselves; animals don’t and can’t. You tell me which issue is more important.

When you can identify that, you know which priority merits precedence.

(In case you’re wondering, I do have a pet. Over the years, we’ve had multiple dogs, chicken, geese, cats, a turtle, and cows. I know what it’s like to be attached to a pet. I love my cat. She’s sleeping by my feet as I write this. When I was little, we hatched a baby chick with a twisted beak. I cried when it died because I wanted it to be comfortable and happy and alive.)

Bottom line: essentially, I find it difficult to put so much focus on animals when we are avoiding the very real problem that has to do with a lack of love toward human beings. Toward people.

I suppose we can’t put anything totally into perspective until it affects us.

And, just to be clear, I don’t mean disrespect toward animal-lovers. I completely respect them and I respect you and your views (whether I agree with them or not).

And now that my rant is over, I release you and your precious eyeballs from their voluntary bondage to my words.

Love,

Rana

Define “love”

Good morning/afternoon/evening!

I’ve been watching LOST.

Don’t tell me to stop before it’s too late.

It’s already too late.

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the premise: a plane on its way from Sydney, Australia to L.A., U.S.A. crashes on an island in the South Pacific. People from all over the world are stranded. There are Americans, Aussies, Koreans, Canadians, Arabs, Nigerians… A rescue plane hasn’t come, so they need to figure out how to survive. Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones on the island and the other people aren’t all that friendly.

You get my drift (when you watch the raft scenes, you can laugh at my pun).

Now, as I was watching, I realized that there are different types of love we can utilize in our novels. Let me share some using the LOST couples as examples:

(NOTE: There may be spoilers.)

Claire + Charlie = Innocent/Naive

I think this relationship is born out of a mutual need. Let me explain.

Claire, a pregnant single mom, is kind of avoided by the other members of her flight once they crash. Why? Because she’s pregnant. She’s a “ticking time bomb of responsibility” I think was how she put it. When Charlie, a drug-addict and kind of self-absorbed “rock god” befriends her, she begins to like him.

Who wouldn’t, right? She doesn’t know he’s an addict. And when you’re lonely/shunned, someone sweet to talk to is not unwanted.

Mutually, Charlie likes Claire. He’s used to being adored by fans. Now, he’s just another one of us. Attention wouldn’t be unwanted when that’s what you get your energy from and are used to.

They satisfy each other’s needs.

Bernard + Rose = Faithful

Rose is religious. I assume they were traditionally married in a church and pray a lot together. They are a very committed couple. And something Rose said early on to Charlie struck me…

“There’s a fine line between faith and denial. What I’ve got is better.”

She doesn’t need Bernard. But she loves him. She’s faithful to him. To me, it’s clear that she loves God more than Bernard and that’s what keeps her sane. She has faith that He will guide her through her trials.

Michael + Walt = Family

Yeah, they’s been through a lot of rough crap. But as the show goes on, we see Walk begin to look up to his father and Michael begin to put his son before himself. They begin to enjoy each others company and look forward to working with each other.

Sun + Jin = Loyalty

Jin begins to put his work before his wife all the while justifying his actions by the fact that he loves her. And she loves him. But when things start to get in the way of your marriage, I would assume it ain’t easy working things out. But what would I know about that, right? My family is perfect.

The bottom line is, they do work it out. They love each other and they learn to do that more perfectly.

Jack = Work/Commitment

Oh, Jack. I really do love his character. He’s probably one of the most consistent characters in the show. He’s constantly putting others before himself and shows that he cares by his actions. He’s also very committed.

Boon + Shannon = Kind of shallow, but hopeful and sort of protective/supportive for a bit

Boone and Shannon are step brother and sister. He loves her. She’s a brat. He wants to care for her because he loves her but he’s kind of fed up with her bratishness. It’s probably not something that would last, but it’s sort of hopeful and, dare I say, cute.

But here’s what’s not cute: love triangles.

Jack + Kate + Sawyer = the wretched love triangle of doom

Kate’s character bounces between interesting and uggggggggggggggh. Her back story is her only salvation really. And if she could choose between Jack and Sawyer, maybe she’d be really awesome. Or maybe, if she could become independent and then choose, it’d be fantastic. But she can’t choose and Jack’s fed up and Sawyer’s in love.

Sayid + Shannon = Mutual need

I think Sayid needed to be whole again and Shannon needed personal validation although I also believe that they did love each other.

I’m sure I missed some couples or types of love, but I hope this helps. And here are some things to keep in mind as you write love (but also keep in mind that this doesn’t come from a professional, so use your discretion):

Rule #1: Some relationships are shallow and should be used only if they’re going to add to the plot or character arch. Love triangles should generally not be used in my opinion.

Rule #2: The relationship you utilize should add to the story plot/a character arch (this is essentially how the character grows/changes throughout the story).

A good rule of thumb for using anything in a novel is if you can take it out and the novel still works, then you might want to consider just leaving it out. 🙂

God bless!

Rana

The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay: Part 1: A Review

SPOILER WARNING. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

Last night, I had the privilege of seeing The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay: Part 1. I read the books a while back and don’t remember if it followed the book closely, but I feel that it had a huge impact.

The first two books/films were necessary in setting the scene for the third installment in the Hunger Games trilogy/series and definitely had impact, but this one just seemed like a major wake up call. As I watched, I kept seeing parallels between that world and ours.

I’ve written about it before – we read to see ourselves. And I definitely saw us.

  • I saw us in the pain and hunger – not so much for food as much as hope. Hope is something we lack so much in today’s day and age. We’re constantly being bombarded by noise and products – we’re constantly wrapped up in the superficial. Things that make us happy for a fleeting moment. But in the long run, we’re left empty. Our energy has been sucked dry by nothing and we allowed that to happen.
  • I saw us in the murder. In the scene where rebels were shot, all I could think of was ISIS. You either convert or you die. You either do as President Snow wants or you die. Seeing any connections?
    • Is it true faith if it’s forced? Is it true patriotism if it’s done out of fear?
  • I saw us in the massacres and death. The hospital in District 8. I thought of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta tending to the wounded, dying. And now, as I think about it, the Rwandan Genocide. Guys, we’re all equally human. But, I suppose, not equally humane.
  • I saw us in Peeta’s (or was it Peeta’s? 😉 ) urging for peace (peace or submission?). I think it was too late for peace. I think there does need to be a rebellion before we can attain a long-lasting impact with positive effects. People are dying, there’s injustice, morals grew corrupt and that’s what we need to combat.
  • I saw us in the relationship issues. Okay, I promise this isn’t going to be cheesy. I try to steer clear of that. Oh, and please get over the Team Gale and Team Peeta spat.
    • Gale + Katniss = mutual need for survival. Take away the mutual need. What have you got? Maybe two friends. Maybe not. The glue between them was a recipe of one part need and one part time (they had a lot of history – supporting each other, feeding their families, etc.). I don’t know that their ideals were always the same. But maybe more on that another time.
    • Peeta and Katniss, however, I believe embodied true love. Love in the most realistic sense. They’re not a Cinderella and Prince Charming. They’re both messed up and they both are willing to give up their life for the other. That’s love.
  • I saw us in the corruption. The people have less power than the government and that’s always a recipe for disaster. As the old quote by Lord Acton goes, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I don’t think I need to expound on this point.
  • I saw us in the selflessness and sheer humanity. When we’re suffering, when we’re all stripped of our titles, riches, popularity points – everything – we see what we really are. We’re either monsters hungry for death or we’re people fighting for the ones we love.
    • Katniss isn’t a very likable character, but she embodies certain ideals we all want. When it comes down to it, she’s courageous – scared, but going to push forward. She loves – not perfectly, but selflessly. Oh, and she can sing. I’m so jealous of Jennifer’s voice.
  • I saw us in Peeta. Though he was tortured, he still loved, he still risked it all. And, just as in the book (if I remember correctly), the longer he was in the enemy’s clutches, the worse he looked. It’s so true with us. Smoking could be an enemy. Negative thoughts could be an enemy. While not all of our demons have physical effects, they all have internal ones. They all hurt us ’till they get down to our souls and, if we’re not strong enough to destroy them, they’ll destroy us.

I hope that was comprehensive and left you with something to think about (as is always my hope).

A huge thanks to Suzanne Collins for her time and effort in writing The Hunger Games trilogy as well as to the whole film team in bringing it to life. You can read about death and imagine it, but until you see it, it’s hard for it to have as large of an impact. I cannot wait for the last installment in this film series. The books were amazing with a message to match and now the films are doing a great job in helping us visualize horror and truth.

Listen. I can’t get enough. I think I’m going to buy this when it comes out tomorrow on iTunes.

Don’t forget to like, comment, rate, and follow!

God bless!

Rana

Mint & Mozzarella Pizza

I think it’s no secret that I have an unhealthy addiction to cooking and baking. As a result of this cheesy passion (is that phraseology corny at all?), I tend to experiment with a lot of recipes. When I was little, I would watch Food Network and help my mom make pizzas (I often got caught eating the cheese before we put it in the oven). Now, I’d like to share a hit recipe (it’s a hit in the home – but let’s spread the love and share it throughout the internet).

My brother (my brother!) likes it.

My father (and he’ll never admit it, but he’s a picky eater) likes it.

My sister told me that I am the best cook (she’ll never live that one down).

My mother, no matter how hard she tries, cannot resist it.

Enjoy this one, kids! And if you want more, I’ve got other pizza recipes for you. 😉

Mint & Mozzarella Pizza

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy.
  • Print

Mint & Mozzarella Pizza

Pizza dough recipe adapted from All Recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water (more or less)
  • 1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) package mozzarella cheese
  • A few pinches of dried mint

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 550 degrees F (288 degrees C). In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until bubbly (10 – 15 mins).
  2. Stir in flour (you may need to add more water to get the proper consistency). Beat until the dough doesn’t stick to the sides. Add a drop of oil to the bottom of the bowl and turn dough around in it until it’s all coated.* Let stand 10 – 15 mins.
  3. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and roll until it reaches the desired thickness. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured cookie sheet or pizza stone.
  4. Drizzle olive oil on top of dough, spread with spoon. Sprinkle salt on top. Dump that mozzarella cheese all over. Next, dust the top with dried mint and stick that baby in the oven until the edges have turned a golden-brown (10 ish minutes? Keep an eye on it though because it can cook really fast – unless you’re hungry – in which case, it will take 5 centuries.).
  5. Eat.

*If you add too much oil here, the dough will not rise.

If you end up making this recipe, do us a favor, love, and comment to let me know how you liked it!

Oh! And don’t forget to rate this post (on the left just beneath the title).

Love,

Rana

Love in Literature

“We’re all fools in love.”

Jane Austen

I used to be a romantic. Now, I consider myself a realistic dreamer. I don’t plan on getting married or having kids. If it happens, it happens and I’ll thank God, but I’m done hoping and wishing for it. Most of my friends – you can tell who they’re going to end up with. And I hate them [/mild sarcasm]. I think I’ll just end up being a crazy cat lady one day. Let’s be honest: I’m not a fantastic people-person. I can hold a conversation most of the time, but I’m always freaking out that I’m asking too many questions or boring them or not being clear or whatever.

At the practice speech and debate tournament I went to on Saturday, a kind boy said hi (you know when you never really feel like a very noticeable person and then someone starts talking to you out of the blue and it’s one of the most touching things?). I ended up asking him about fifteen+ questions. Way to go, Rana.

Oh! And I also discovered that little girls are fascinated with pantyhose. I was wearing some and they kept touching and rubbing my legs. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life.

ANYWAY, I like love as a sub-plot in my novels. And I thought, “hey, why not do a post on love in stories?” So here we go. Some of my “rules” for love in literature:

#1: Insta-Love is an Insta-No-No

Just don’t do it. Please. It’s cheesy and not realistic. In this post, we went over whether or not to make things up or make them realistic. Although fiction is fake up to a certain point, it should also be believable. We read to see ourselves. Books are like verbal mirrors. If we can’t see ourselves reflected through a character’s actions, personality, or journey, we’re not really going to like the book. So, as far as love in concerned, I would steer clear of love-at-first-sight.

In Desensitized, Cael and Ashland end up becoming super good friends and fall in love eventually. But at first, they hate each other. The character arcs change throughout the story and that’s important to me. I like to see people get better. Love helps with that. (Not the cheesy, romantic love, but pure, selfless love.)

#2: It Should Be Significant in Small Ways

So, without Cael, Ashland would probably die – not in a ‘oh-I-can’t-live-without-you’ way, but just that she’s going through a ton and needs support. Without Ashland, Cael would probably continue to be a heartless leader who isn’t concerned with anyone’s quality of life, but just that they’re alive.

They change each other for the better and that’s what love is about. Love in literature should serve as a means of communicating that no man is an island. We’re social creatures and that’s not a bad thing. Also, it’s not all about the feelings.

Essentially, if your story isn’t impacted by the love sub-plot, then it doesn’t need to be in there. It needs to be significant, but not so that the whole focus is on the love.

#3: It’s not all about the feelings

Love is sacrifice. It’s willing to give up your personal, instant pleasure for the good of someone else. This is what we should see. We need an accurate portrayal of love in a world that constantly tells us that it’s nothing more than a //feeling.// Guys, it’s so much more than that. Writers have the ability to tell the truth without getting hated (as much as we would if we said our message to someone’s face).

#4: Don’t make it easy

Okay. It doesn’t need to be Romeo and Juliet level difficult, but it shouldn’t be – forgive me for being cliche, which I warned against in #1 – Bella and Edward easy. Love is a horrible, beautiful thing. It hurts, it feels good, sometimes it feels like nothing, but requires a choice (not a love-triangle choice, mind you, but a choice that’s either going to help or harm the other member in the relationship – think of a parent and their child – the parents gives up a lot for their children and we call it ‘love’).

Love is full of heartbreak and pain, but it’s worth it. Show that. Don’t make it a Ferris-wheel ride (I went on one maybe once or twice and they’re flipping scary. The dude running was like, “I can’t put more people on. I have to balance it out or I could kill everyone on this thing.”) with cotton candy and moonlight kisses. That’s not love. That’s a feeling. And love isn’t a feeling.

Well, I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I’ve got for you for now.

I hope this helps and if you have any more to add, I’d love it! 😀

God bless!

Rana