Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Liebster Award

My dear old friend and youth leader, Tanya, writes a great blog about her experiences living in China. I'm amazed at how well she understands the language, culture, and food. Most of all, I appreciate her heart for Third Culture Kids - she had a huge impact on me as a teenager, and I'm so excited that she's working on a handbook for people with TCKs in their lives (which I get to contribute to sometimes!). A while back, another blogger awarded her blog the Liebster award, and in turn, she passed it on to mine. 

Liebster is a German word meaning, roughly, “favorite." It can also be translated “sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, lovely, valued, endearing”. The Liebster Award is something that has done the rounds of the blogosphere for several years, and is a way for small blogs to honor one another and introduce their readers to other great small blogs.

Here’s how it works:
My “nomination” came with a list of 11 questions for me to answer.
I am also asked to share 11 random facts about myself.
Next I choose up to 11 other small blogs to bestow a Liebster upon,
and write a list of 11 questions for them to answer as their own Liebster acceptance.

Here are the questions Tanya came up with for her nominees to answer:
What are 5 adjectives that describe you? Honest, Loyal, Intense, Brave, Reckless.
What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse? I don't have a muse. I think my inspirations and reasons for writing are different. My inspiration often comes from finding myself chuckling at an internal retelling of something that happened to me or intense agreement/disagreement with something I recently heard in the news, from a friend, or on a podcast. 
What is your favourite post on your blog? I have no idea. But I do love it when people engage with me after I've put something raw on the line. It's really interesting to me that the oldest post on this blog (almost 6 years ago) is in celebration of Obama's first election. So much in the world has changed since then, and I have changed a lot too. 
What book do you think everyone should read at least once, and why? The original Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I don't think I even realized that was a real thing for the longest time, and then when I finally got a hold of it, I was so impressed and drawn in. Classic literature is the bomb, and I'm Team Forget About Edward any day. 
When it comes to media (TV/movies/music), what is your guilty pleasure? Celine Dion. I rarely put it on, but let's just say I don't turn it off when it comes on on its own. It's partly a nostalgia thing, partly that I really do like her voice. 
If you could snap your fingers and play any musical instrument flawlessly, which instrument would you choose? I'm gonna go with the Chinese Zither. 
If you could snap your fingers and speak any language on earth fluently (and with a native accent), which language would you choose? Arabic. Ideally, some dream-version of Arabic that anyone in the Middle East could understand. 
What is the most amazing place you’ve visited? It's really hard to say. Amazing, beautiful, fun... all of those might describe different places. One that comes to mind though, is the sand lake on the road between Kashgar and Tashkorgan (at the foot of the Himalayas) in the province of Urumqi, China. The water is only about 2 feet deep, so you're not even sure if there's water there unless you're touching it, and it makes this crazy, otherworldly landscape. The picture to the right is from 2005. Isn't it crazy how it looks black and white?What is your “bucket list” of travel destinations? Iceland, Japan, Sweden, Curacao, Vietnam, Cambodia, India. Pretty much everywhere. 
What is something you were told as a child/young person that has continued to encourage you? Somewhere along the way, I was taught that not knowing the answer or asking questions is nothing to be ashamed of. I wonder about stuff all the time, and even if I'm tempted to be embarrassed by my ignorance, I ask with confidence. I benefit enormously from that, almost daily. Thanks, to whoever convinced me of that! 
What is an achievement from your own life that you are particularly proud of? (Even if it’s something that seems small to others). Seeing my son learn things I teach him is constantly astonishing and elating. Most of the time, I don't feel like it has that much to do with any talent of mine, though. 

11 Random facts about me:
1. I've hoarded candy for periods of a year or more ever since I was a child.
2. I have 7 piercings and no tattoos. 
3. I was bitten by a bear cub as a child. 
4. Initially, I did not at all like the ring my husband proposed to me with (but I kept it!).
5. I'm not a great swimmer.
6. Each color of the rainbow (and then some) has been my favorite color at one point. 
7. I once spent a semester of college collecting all the bobby pins I found on campus.
8. I only like pointy toed flats. 
9. One of my greatest fears/dreads is breaking my hands.
10. Covering graffiti as a part of community service is one of my greatest regrets.
11. I wore saggy gangster jeans in high school.

Blogs I nominate:
(all images taken from the blogs below)

Nita, her sister Katie, my sister Annelise, and myself spent many a summer together as kids putting on plays for our neighbors, wearing sparkly make-up, watching musicals, pooling our allowance to buy candy, playing cards and hand-clap games in the grass, and writing stories together. Basically, we lived out how every kid should get to grow up. Nita is now a nurse and she writes short memories of her time as a missionary kid and thoughts on adulthood. I love how poignant her writing is and how she makes me get it on a deep level. She opens little windows into her past that are at once both autobiographical and beautiful prose.

Hot Pot Blog -
I think I first found Dani through one of my favorite (and wildly popular) blogs, A Cup of Jo - she told stories of her experiences as an American mom raising kids outside of the U.S. I've since enjoyed following Dani's own blog, and we even follow each other on Instagram now. Although I don't know her personally, I enjoy the familiarity of stories of growing a family in Asia, and her photography is beautiful as well! Dani, her husband, and her two kids are headed to Italy next, and I can't wait to read about and see all their new experiences there. 

Jessica and I were in long-distance high school together, and I'm proud to say my fellow students in Torrey Academy were/are just smart as can be and are using their lives to make a difference in the world. Jessica is very well read (and that makes for quality writing!), and has put herself through nursing school by being in ROTC, which I am in awe of. My sister Annelise, who studies nursing at the same school was uber impressed when I told her that I had been in school with Jessica. Her reputation proceeds her as an incredibly hard worker, and a kind spirit. I especially appreciate her take on being a woman in the military. I like the way she sees the world, and I know she is bound for great things, so keep your eye on her. 

Abby and her whole family have been so awesome and a huge influence in the growth of my own little family. She's the oldest of 6 kids to parents who have mentored, fed, and laughed with Jonas, Ishmael and I since right around the time Jonas and I got married. Abby is a girl with serious style, and she's studying library science, which is THE coolest. I love talking about which celebrity has the most impressive dresses with Abby and her mom, and Abby's blog is all about her niche style.

I first met Kara in Hong Kong when I was about 4, I'd guess. For a large part of my growing up years, she was "the really cool older girl". I remember completely coveting her American Girl planner, gawking over her senior photos, and being dreamy eyed about her engagement and wedding. She has always been the picture of grace and class to me, and I love seeing her now as a mom and a very talented party planner/decorator. I still think she is just the coolest! 

Kenna's blog isn't exactly unheard of in our area or in the party world - Kenna herself is hard to miss. Everything about her is full-throttle energy at all times and full of color. She is one of the hardest workers I know and succeeds at everything she puts her hand to, perhaps by sheer will. The first time I met her, she and her husband were leading a college retreat at a lake that Jonas and I attended, and she conscripted me to help her make crafts for her son Cormac's 1st birthday party, which I was quickly fired from due to my sub-par scissor skills. I've always admired her imperfect approach to life and her openness about it (her blog is all about that!). Oh, and she can style a mean party. 

New Questions for my nominees: 
1. What do you most admire in people of your same gender?
2. What is your biggest insecurity about your own writing or blog?
3. What color best describes you?
4. Can you remember the first tape/CD/ you ever bought? What was it?
5. What would you do with $50 of spending money?
6. What is your least favorite smell?
7. What would you describe as a "hidden gem" in the area that you live?
8. What were you known for as a kid?
9. Is there a cancelled TV show you really wish would come back?
10. If you're asked to bring something to a potluck, what's your go-to dish?
11. On what occasion do you lie?

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