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The choices we make

Decisions-714972Deciding to live in another country is a tough decision. It comes with a price. It’s a decision to leave behind all you ever knew as right, as safe. It’s a decision to be far away from those you grew up with and love. It’s to know not only that you’re now responsible for your own laundry, your own cleaning, your own groceries, your own toilet paper, but also to know that you’re responsible for taking care of yourself when you’re sick, when you’re sad, and when you need to cheer up. You’ll meet new people, that’s true, but it won’t be the same.

Most importantly, to decide to move to a different country by yourself means to accept you’ll always have this voice deep inside of you asking “did I make the right choice?” In good days the voice will be so quiet you’ll forget it’s there. You’ll have moments so full of happiness you’ll think yourself to be a fool for ever wondering if it was right or wrong, and you’ll know in your heart you did the right thing. But there will be bad days, in which the voice will scream so loud you won’t be able to ignore it. You may find yourself stalking your hometown friends on Facebook and even regretting not being there when things happen in their lives. You’ll regret not going to a graduation or to a wedding, not holding someone’s baby in your arms, and not being there to see them attempting to parent said child.

I’ve been living away from home, from my country and the ones I love, for almost 6 years now. It’s been a long journey and things have not turned out as I planned, but for the most part I’m happy with my decision. Sure, there are good and bad days, but the good tends to outweigh the bad. Or so I choose to believe. What other choice do I have? Sit down and regret? Consider what if…? What good will that bring? 

In life we must make choices all the time. And since there’s no way of turning back time to try both decisions first, there’s no way of knowing which one is best. All we can do is trust our guts and hope for the best. After all, all we have is now. So make the best of it. Free yourself from the weight of guilt or regret, and enjoy your choices. Allow yourself to be happy about them, even if they didn’t turn out the way you hoped they would. After all, the choices you make are, at least at the moment you make them, the ones you want.

And when things seem to go wrong, do not waste your energy on what ifs. Allow yourself to say “Oh, well,” smile, and move on.

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Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends.

PS_I_Love_You_(film)Watching the movie P.S. I Love You today got me thinking. The movie starts with a couple fighting over some silly misunderstanding, ending with the couple having make-up sex. It then jumps to him a time where he died and she’s left mourning him as if nothing else in the world mattered and her own life had ended.

Is it a bit too much? Yes. Is her reaction too dramatic? Of course, it’s a movie after all. That’s what movies (and all other stories) do, they exaggerate feelings to an extreme. And even though we do know it’s an exaggeration, we still identify with it. Maybe because we have, at one point in our lives, felt a bit of the hopelessness she feels there, and it’s always nice to be able to identify ourselves with a character. And maybe it is an exaggeration, but when we are hurting, at that very moment, we do feel hopeless, even if for just a short period of time. We all know all suffering ends, but as we go through it, sometimes it’s hard to see the end of the tunnel.

But I do think that what’s nice about this movie is not the overwhelming hopelessness that makes us feel like our life is not so miserable, or even the love stories in it. It’s the other message. The bigger one.

This movie is not about finding someone to love. It’s not about the importance of finding love or of letting love find you. It’s about finding yourself. Holly is in a journey to find herself, and only after that she can find her happiness. Love will come when she’s happy, not as a means to happiness. And that’s something we must learn in life. You can’t hope that you’ll find love and that will solve all your problems. You must first fight and struggle and find yourself. Find yourself and learn to love yourself. You must find something you love doing and make it go from a dream to a reality. Not that you can’t find someone you love before that, but you can’t expect that love itself will fix everything. You are the only one who can fix yourself.

In any case, there are several little bits I like. I like the different characters, the cheesy lines, the crazy letters, and the idea of a kiss that will show you that life as you know it has ended. And that doesn’t mean life as you know it can only change once. It will change as many times as you allow it to happen.

So go, live your life to the fullest, and watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends. 🙂

Quotes:

Gotta be rich to be insane, Hol. Losing your mind is not a luxury for the middle class. ~ Sharon McCarthy

So now, all alone or not, you gotta walk ahead. Thing to remember is, if we’re all alone, then we’re all together in that too. ~ Patricia

Oh, is that why? [fake smile] Oh. Okay. Because I thought it was something different. I thought that it was because I thought I deserved the best and he’s out there. He’s just with all the wrong women. And let me be clear. After centuries of men looking at my tits instead of my eyes and pinching my ass instead of shaking my hand, I now have the divine right to stare at a man’s backside with vulgar, cheap appreciation. If I want to. ~ Denise Hennessey

All I know is, if you don’t figure out this something, you’ll just stay ordinary, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a work of art, or a taco, or a pair of socks! Just create something… new, and there it is, and it’s you, out in the world, outside of you, and you can look at it, or hear it, or read it, or feel it… and you know a little more about… you. A little bit more than anyone else does… Does that make any sense at all? ~ Holly Kennedy

We’re so arrogant, aren’t we? So afraid of age, we do everything we can to prevent it. We don’t realize what a privilege it is to grow old with someone. Someone who doesn’t drive you to commit murder or doesn’t humiliate you beyond repair. ~ Daniel Connelly

Lemon drops and Tequila, my friend. The moment where a 30-year-old body does not recover quite as fast as a 29-year-old body. ~ Sharon McCarthy

Honestly, I don’t blame you. It’s not your fault, it’s mine. I didn’t plan on liking you, it just sort of happened that way, I’m sorry about that. ~ Daniel Connelly

If you can promise me anything, promise me that whenever you’re sad, or unsure, or you lose complete faith, that you’ll try to see yourself through my eyes. ~ Gerry’s letter

You made my life, Holly. But I’m just one chapter in yours. There’ll be more. I promise. So here it comes, the big one. Don’t be afraid to fall in love again. Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends. P.S. I will always love you. ~ Gerry’s letter

Gerry Kennedy: You have my jacket.
Holly Kennedy: I’m keeping it unless we meet again, otherwise that will be the most perfect kiss ever shared by two strangers
Gerry Kennedy: I bet we will meet again.
Holly Kennedy: You better win that bet, because if we do, that’ll be the end of it.
Gerry Kennedy: The end of what?
Holly Kennedy: Life as we know it.

Dear Gerry, you said you wanted me to fall in love again, and maybe one day I will. But there are all kinds of love out there. This is my one and only life. And it’s a great and terrible and short and endless thing, and none of us come out of it alive. I don’t have a plan… except, it’s time my mom laughed again. She has never seen the world. She has never seen Ireland. So, I’m taking her back where we started. Maybe now she’ll understand. I don’t know how you did it, but you brought me back from the dead. I’ll write to you again soon. P.S… Guess what? ~ Holly Kennedy

 

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Letting go

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Just let go…

Why is it so hard to let go of things from our past? And why is it that the hardest things to let go are the ones that hurt us the most? Why can’t we not let go of good things instead? I don’t have the answer to those questions, but I sure wish I did.

Things from our past, especially the painful ones, seem to stay with us longer, and letting go of them seems too hard at times. I don’t get why my brain chooses to remember the painful things. Maybe it’s a lesson I’m supposed to learn. Maybe it’s so I won’t make the same mistakes in the future. Maybe it’s so I learn not to let people treat me the same way ever again. But in the end, the reason doesn’t really matter. What matters is the way we feel when we think about those things.

But now I think I may be learning to let go of some of those things. At least the last time I talked about them, they didn’t hurt the same. It still hurt a little, but not nearly as much. I’m starting to think those things are not influencing me as much. Am I growing up? Or is just that I’ve decided that I won’t let that pain dictates my future?

Hard to say. But whatever it is, I woke up feeling much happier about that.

Photo credit: Sophia “release” by David Hayward. And by the way, if you click on this link you’ll see what the artist wrote about the drawing and it goes pretty well with this post.

 

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Welcome to Monsters University!

Earlier this week I went to see Monsters University. I have to admit I was pretty excited about seeing this movie but also quite a bit worried about it. It’s just that making a prequel is not the same as making a sequel.

In a sequel, things move forward, so almost any action can be justified, since the future has not been determined. It can be a disaster, and fans can be disappointed, but there’s more freedom in them. In a prequel, things need to move toward an established truth. The characters already exist and act a certain way, and the prequel must show the characters as they were but also be true to who they are now. Prequels don’t leave much room to play with the ending, which usually pleases the fans more than sequels, but it also creates a lot of expectations in fans, and when expectations are not met, things can get complicated.

I was relieved when I saw that MU was not at all what I had expected. It was so much better! I was happy with the choices made for how the characters met and how they were in the past, as much as what led them to choose the path they did later in life and how much college life influenced them later on. I was happy to see that Mike and Sulley were not best friends from the start, and that Randy was so insecure. It showed how little experiences and how you deal with them have a huge influence in who you’ll become.

“Just wait, hot-shot. I’m going to scare circles around you this year.” ~ Mike Wazowski

Oh, and before the movie, as it happens with all Pixar movies, there was a short animation film, The Blue Umbrella, which was adorable! I loved it! Here’s a clip of it. I’ll post the full version when available.

 

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Easter with a touch of childhood memories.

When I was little Easter was a fun time. I remember following the Easter bunny’s paw prints around the house to find the place where he (you can’t call him it) had hidden my basket. The basket would always have a big chocolate egg. And by that I mean one of those:

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Just a few examples of Easter eggs.

You can find them everywhere in Brazil (yes, I grew up there) and you find them hanging from the ceiling (or a support over your head) in grocery stores. All you have to do is pick the one (or ones) you want and grab them as if you were getting fruit from a tree.

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Easter eggs are expensive, but walking into a supermarket and see all the eggs hanging above your head is priceless.

And if you have never seen the inside of one, they look kind of like this:

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This is a homemade one. Yes, you can get homemade ones and they are simply delicious!

Of course the contents of the eggs differ from one egg to the next, but they are all hollow with candies (and sometimes also toys) inside. The chocolate on the outside of the egg also changes, matching the candy they are based on (some have peanuts mixed with the chocolate, some are white chocolate, etc.).

But they were not the only thing in my basket. There were also smaller eggs and a chocolate bunny. I always got a chocolate bunny. Maybe because when I was little someone stole my bunny, a chocolate one, so my mom decided to give me one every year to compensate. Who knows, the point is, it was magical.

But one thing was even more magical. The decorated egg shells. My mom would start collecting eggshells weeks (maybe months) before Easter  It was a tough job to get them ready. She’d break just a little piece at the bottom of the eggshell, just enough to get the egg out. Then she’d wash the eggshells, let them dry, and store them in an egg carton. Later she’d make sugar peanuts (or Easter peanuts, as we’d call them) and put them inside the eggshells. She’d use a tiny cupcake liner to cover the whole and keep the peanuts inside. Then she’d decorate the shells using watercolors and a paintbrush.

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My mom’s ones had cupcake liners under them instead of egg holders, but they looked just like these ones.

Can we just take a moment to admire the artwork on those? I have to say I admire my mom’s dedication in using a tiny paintbrush to make the tiny details on the eggs. Nowadays with sharpies it would be a much easier job. Yay for that, right?

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Here you can see the peanuts inside and the cupcake liners.

And now I’m a bit nostalgic. Gee, I wonder why, right?

How was Easter for you growing up? What things are part of your fondest memories?

Oh, yeah, and HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE! Hope the Easter bunny leaves you a bunch of good moments to turn into sweet memories one day.

 

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Anya’s Ghost

anyas-ghostHave you read it? I’m not going to lie, I don’t usually read graphic novels. I saw the name Vera Brosgol somewhere, saw she was involved with the film Coraline (as storyboard artist) and was curious, so I looked for her as an author at my library’s website. That’s how I found Anya’s Ghost.

The cover was interesting and so I decided to give it a try. It started out as a story about a girl having a hard time fitting in at high school. Then she skips school and falls down a well. This is the moment you yawn, right? Not really.

Inside the well there’s a skeleton. And the skeleton has a ghost. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the title of the book, of course. But who is this ghost? Is she a friendly ghost? What’s her motivation to do what she’s doing?

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, so I’ll just say I really enjoyed the book. And don’t try to speed-read it. Take your time and enjoy the pictures, the expressions, the looks, they are all there for a reason.

If you’re curious about the author, you should check out her website: verabee.com.

 

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The Book Thief

book-thief_custom-5556fa04c9c8b2854fecdce5f096940a892255db-s6-c10The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is the story of Liesel Meminger, a blonde girl with dark brown eyes, living with a foster family in Germany during World War II. But the most interesting thing is the narrator of the story: Death.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul. (Random House)

It’s just a small story really, about, among other things:

* A girl
* Some words
* An accordionist
* Some fanatical Germans
* A Jewish fist fighter
* And quite a lot of thievery

I saw the book thief three times.

A long time ago my grandmother was reading this book and insisted I read it. At the time I was busy with other things and found excuses not to do so. Then last December I saw the title again and decided to give it a try. But I read about a third of it and had to return the book to the library. At the end of January I got the book again and devoured the last two-thirds of it.

When I was done reading the last page I felt this emptiness inside of me. Do you know what I mean? It was as if I had been in a cave and had suddenly emerged from it. My eyes took their time getting used to the light of day once again. That’s how I felt. I held the book in my hands and just said the last line of the book in my head.

I loved it! And that made me really, really sad.

You see, I love libraries. Love them! I love going to the library and just touching the books on the shelves. I love the ability of reading anything I want without having to worry about money. To be honest, if I could, I’d buy all the books I want to read. But unfortunately I don’t make that much money. And that’s why libraries are so amazing, because they are for everyone, regardless of how much money they make.

But every now and then, when I read a book I truly enjoy, I get sad because I know I have to return the book. It’s not my book to keep. Is this silly? Maybe it is. But it’s okay. At least I have one more book to add to my ever-growing list of books to buy even though I’ve already read them.

If you have a chance, read it. It truly is an unforgettable story.

A few quotes:

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter.”

“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate.”

“I like that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It’s probably what I love most about writing–that words can be used in a way that’s like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around. They’re the best moments in a day of writing — when an image appears that you didn’t know would be there when you started work in the morning.”

“Can a person steal happiness? Or is just another internal, infernal human trick?”

“You cannot look afraid. Read the book. Smile at it. It’s a great book – the greatest book you’ve ever read.”

“I am haunted by humans.”

 

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