Book or Movie: The Fault in Our Stars

I usually try to avoid anything “trendy” when it comes to talking and writing, but really…this book and this movie…OH THE FEELS. So many emotions all at once.

First, the book:

The Fault in Our StarsIf I’m being completely honest, I didn’t even really want to read this book. I mean, it’s a book about teenagers dying of cancer. I just wasn’t interested. But then the world (all my book-loving friends, anyway) just wouldn’t stop talking about it and how amazing it was. So, I picked up a copy at the bookstore, mostly because there were close to 100 reservations at the library and I am, by all accounts, a little irrational when it comes to books. And it took a whole 4 pages for me to be hooked.

John Green is a gifted writer, for one thing. He somehow manages to balance unquestionable eloquence with honest, real conversation. It could seem flowery and over the top, but it doesn’t. There are probably three dozen quotes from the book that I would hang on my walls.

“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

“Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

“Do the thing you’re good at. Not many people are lucky enough to be so good at something.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Seriously, they can just go on and on! In the middle of a tragic story, there is such a celebration of what it truly means to be alive.

 

And then I heard they were making a movie of by beloved book.

And everything inside of me screamed “NO!!!!!”

But, I saw it anyway.

The fault in our stars movie posterAt first, I kinda wanted to hate it. I wanted to be disappointed by it. I wanted it to do a disservice to the book I loved. Not because I wanted it to fail, but because I was sure there was no way it could succeed. And then, as the date got closer, I wanted it to succeed. I wanted it to be huge. I wanted everyone to know the story, even if they didn’t want to read the books. I wanted to celebrate Augustus and Hazel Grace and their love; their story; their little infinity.

So, I went to the movie. There were brilliant moments. The dialogue, much lifted right from the book, didn’t come off as cheesy, because it was delivered with wry smiles and honest tears in the most important places. It didn’t shy away from Hazel’s cannula, which I know was a big deal for John Green and the entire team behind the story. It didn’t make light of childhood cancer, but it didn’t make it the center of the story.

Because, whether movie of book, the story is about first loves and first heartbreaks. The main characters just happen to have cancer, too. The story is about living well. The story is about dying well. The story is about embracing this moment, right now, because it might be the only one you have.

I cried like a baby through the last 1/3 of the movie. I cried for Augustus and Hazel. I cried for my friends and family who have lived with, loved with and fought through cancer. I cried for little infinite moments that I had taken for granted.

So, which is better? Movie or book?  This quote sums it up nicely:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

The movie is maybe one of the best book-to-screen adaptations I have ever seen. But still, the book. Always the book.

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June Goals

June Calendar

I’m joining the lovely Hayley at the Tiny Twig this month to talk about my June Goals! I need the accountability and someone to say, “Hey, how’s it going with those goals.” (Any of my readers are free to do that).

Here’s a little note, though. When I get in the goal-setting/goal-writing mood, I tend to go overboard. I tell myself I can do it all. I make lists of things that, in reality, have no chance of getting done. So, I’m going to limit myself to 5 goals for the month. That still sounds like a lot, but I think they’re a nice blend of complicated and hey, just do this and be done with it already.

  • Memorize lines for Sherwood Kids! and VBX (June 9-15)
  • Schedule Book Review & Blog Posts for month
  • Research and plan for audio book audition reel
  • Get 2013 Smashbook finished (yes, i realize it’s almost 6 months since the year ended)
  • Walk 10-15 miles a week

Some of these goals have deadlines. Some of them NEED deadlines. Some of them just need to be a part of my life.

What about you? What are your goals for June?

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Beyond Blessed

jacksonvilleSometimes it’s easy to forget how blessed I really am. This weekend was a good reminder. Here are just a few of the ways I was blessed this weekend!!

  • I’m blessed to have a job that allows flexibility so I could leave work early on Thursday and spend a little more time with Elizabeth.
  • I’m blessed to have a friend like Liz who never once complained about having to get up at a ridiculous hour (445am) to take me to the airport that was a lot farther away than I thought it was.
  • I’m blessed to be able to hop on a plane and fly across the country with ease (Louis CK says it best here)
  • I’m blessed to have a friend like Annie. After 2.5 years of not seeing each other and only emailing/texting on occasion, it was like we’d never been apart.
  • I’m blessed to live in a place where hotels and public transportation are in abundance, allowing for a fun weekend in comfort.
  • I’m blessed to have been instilled with a love of reading that makes it so easy to pass the time in airports and planes.
  • I’m blessed to have a car that will take me safely where I need to go…and home again.
  • I’m blessed to have a husband that encourages me to have fun weekends like this one and never makes me feel the least bit guilty about spending money or going away.
  • I’m blessed to have a warm, wonderful home to come back to.
  • I’m blessed to have a dog that loves to see me.

I’m just blessed.

What about you? What blessings are you especially thankful for today?

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Being The Easy Friend

Friendship BraceletsFor years, I have struggled with the simply complicated definition of friendship. Throughout my life I have been blessed with wonderful friends, some that I still talk to regularly and some that, if I’m honest, I cannot quite remember their names.

Friendship, is a tricky thing, especially as I get older. I remember the days where I just assumed that everyone would like me and that I would always have tons and tons of friends.

That allusion lasted for a few of my formative years, but the reality is this: friendship are fickle things.

I still remember the day the person I considered my best friend found a new best friend. It was heart-wrenching and painful. I was young, but not too young. Young enough to bounce back; old enough to understand that the pain was not just in my imagination. In true child-like form, though, I rebounded quickly. While my best friend maybe wasn’t my best friend, I still had good friends, great friends. In the darkness of middle school, they were lights. And, I had an excellent experience in high school. Instead of one best friend, i had a group of friends that moved fluidly from moment to moment. We laughed, we cried, we had an absolutely wonderful time together.

College came; friendships changed. And, once again I wondered what it would be like to have a best friend; that one person who would understand me more than anyone else. I made a friend, two actually, that I thought filled that gap of best friend. Then, once again, these friends found other friends, people that became their best friends. It should have hurt. But, it didn’t. Not as much, anyway. Because, between 7th grade and rapidly approaching my mid-30’s, I realized something that changed my world.

I didn’t have to have a best friend. I didn’t have to be number one on anyone’s speed dial. I didn’t have to be that person to anyone else. I could have deep, authentic relationships with people who I would be willing to step into traffic to save, but I don’t have to be anyone’s best. I don’t have to be the first person they call in their best moments and their worst moments. I am completely content with being someone who, if I am lucky, gets a text or email before information shows up on Facebook. I am the easy friend.

I like being the easy friend. I’ve never felt so free.

As women, we put a lot of pressure on each other and on our friends. We put a lot of expectation on what friendship should and could look like. I know I have put a lot on my friends and then felt horrible when they failed to meet my expectations. I have questioned the authenticity of friendships. And, all it does is hurt me in the long run.

So, today, once again, I am recommitting myself to being just a good friend; to being a friend that is there when people need me; a friend that people know they can trust and know that they don’t have to worry about my friendship. I am the easy friend. And I am okay with that. Again. Finally.

Writing a New Story

As I was getting ready to leave for Storyline, there was another story being written. I was making plans to meet a good friend of mine for dinner with her husband at some point that weekend. Or, at least, I wanted to see them while we were there (even though they only live about 90 minutes north of me).  At the last-minute, I got a text message stating they wouldn’t be making it to Storyline after all. They were in the hospital. After a moment of panic, I realized why they were there. They were finally getting to meet the child that would be theirs. After so many years of hoping, wishing, praying, crying and sacrificing, they would get to be parents. I was beside myself with joy for them.

No one can tell the story better than Lindsay herself. You can read her first post-Quinn blog here.

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In the little time I’ve known Lindsay, she has shaped me deeply. She has reminded me that it’s okay to be afraid, and that embracing those fears make us stronger. She’s believed in me enough to encourage me to dare to be something more than I am now and reach toward what’s next. She’s taught me to have faith, deep, abiding faith, that God has a bigger story going on around us. She’s taught me that being vulnerable is the key to being authentic and that true friendships are born from a place that is beyond understanding on a human level. She has taught me how to be more me.

I am so thankful that their Storyline now includes a child that will be loved, challenged and changed by his parents. I am thankful that this new beginning is just the first day of a great story – a story that won’t be fully told for generations, of a couple that dared to believe that God would change everything for them. Because, He did.

What Influence Meant to Me

What did the Influence Conference mean to me?

So much.  So very much.

Like I wrote about on Sunday, there was just something about the conference that was unexpected, yet completely lovely. I went into it thinking it would be one thing, a blogging conference, and left realizing it was something else entirely. When I was talking to my friend Liz about it, she said it best when she said that it wasn’t what I thought I wanted, but it was exactly what God knew I needed. I left those two days feeling inspired, challenged and hopeful that my dreams were worth following and my story was worth telling.

Here are just a few of the highlights for me.

spoiled with swag

spoiled!

We were completely spoiled for a couple of days. I mean, check out all the stuff in our SWAG bags. But, it was so much more than just stuff. Each piece was the heart of one of the people or groups in attendance. There was handmade jewelry, knitted cup cozies, coupons for discounted handmade items, calendars, bookmarks, business cards, and so much more. There was a sweet handmade card to share with someone else and a light bulb to remind you that your big idea was worth something. It was awesome!

just a few of the lies women believe!

The first main session talk, led by Hayley (one of the founders of the Influence Network), set the tone of the entire event for me. Her sweet voice, tender heart, and passion for telling the truth of a woman’s story was unexpected and refreshing all at the same time. Looking at that list above, I could easily say that I have believed all of those things at one time or another. And, then, truth refuted in each lie is powerful. Nothing about that list is true, and what a sweet moment for me.

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My favorite session was led by Jeff Goins, who definitely owns up to the fact that he looks like Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. His story and dream of being a writer and speaker is coming true, and it’s coming true because he worked hard, kept his goal in front of his face, and chose to believe that he could do it. It was hard work, no doubt, but it was totally worth it and I think that’s something really important to remember. He talked a lot about making the time, no matter how small, every day to pursue your dreams. He asked what was holding us back. Here is what I wrote:

IMG_1592The reality is, though, that I already have both of those things. I can make the time. And there are people in my life, namely my husband and my family, that already have given me permission to do the scary thing of following my dreams. What I realized the other day is that I also need to give myself permission. And, as someone who hates the idea of failing, I’ve spent a good portion of my dream-following doing just the opposite. If I don’t dare big, then I won’t fail big. And, that’s no way to live.  Side note: A definite highlight was when I instagrammed the above picture a Jeff commented back “this is your permission. Go.” Talk about validation!

The conference wrapped up for me, emotionally, when Jessi spoke about adjusted femininity.

IMG_1587There is something so beautiful and powerful about a woman openly sharing her story with other women, just so they realize, without a doubt, that they are not alone. The courage it took to stand on that stage and say “This is who I am. This is where I came from. This is where I am now” was amazing. It’s not my job to share her story, but her idea of adjusted femininity just won’t leave my brain. How many times, as women, do we become what the world says we should be? How often do we change the surface and heart of who we are to be something that the world appreciates and says is acceptable? How often do we change who God would have us be just because we think there is something missing or wrong with that woman? Seriously, the more I think about it, the more it breaks my heart. But, at the same time, thanks to this tender talk, it is also building me right back up.

Overall, Influence was a great experience. There were some bumps in the programming (I need signs and a schedule, people!), but really, it was a great weekend for me. I didn’t learn what I thought I was going to learn about the art and craft of blogging and social media. But, I did hear clearly the voice in the wilderness of my self-doubt saying that I have a purpose and a plan and to embrace that instead of my own fears! Will I go back? Definitely.

On Conferences & Being an Introvert

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This week I’m doing something scary. I’m attending a conference specifically designed for writers and bloggers. I’m really excited about it, but I’m also a little nervous. See, if you don’t know me, you might not know that I am an introvert. Conferences kind of scare me and stress me out. For me, it’s that fear of being called on that still lives from my middle school math days. No, thanks.

I struggled to even write this blog, because, by linking it to the Influence Conference blog, that means people will know that I’m there. They might say hi. They might single me out. They might want to know more about me. They might want to develop a relationship. But, isn’t that also the point?

I want to meet people, I really do. It just is way WAY WAY outside my comfort zone.

What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t like my writing? What if they think my blog is silly?

What if. The truth is, everyone won’t like me. My writing will fall short. My blog is silly.

Despite all the stress involved in going to a conference, I am still excited, and I still want to meet new people and cultivate relationships that last. So, here I go!

2 things you will be sure to have packed in your bag. 

You think I’ve packed already? Silly! I still have days before I even start thinking about that! Two things I will pack in my bag, though:

  • pen & paper. Call me old school, but I still like to take notes, write and think the old-fashioned way. Pen and paper all the way.
  • cell phone charger. That being said, I love my smart phone and would be lost if it died.

2 things you are most looking forward to during the conference.

  • learning more about how to take my blog from something for me to something that can impact the world
  • girl time with Amy and time to just think in a whole new way.

Just a couple of days to go!

Love,

Emily