a year of Wooden: week 39

Happy Tuesday, friends! My arm is SORE from getting my flu shot yesterday! Other than that, it’s a fairly quiet day around here: working, eating yummy food, going to yoga class tonight. What are you up to today?

Now it’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge… and a new month means a new focus!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}
  • November: Pray for guidance.

But before we move on to November, let’s wrap up our October challenge: Make friendship a fine art, focusing on new friendships.

Last week’s challenge was to nurture and celebrate one of the new friendships you created this past month. I reached out to Allyson and made plans to get together again next week after I teach in Fremont. And I also made a new friend, Stephanie, at the Asante Africa dinner on Sunday night, so I’m hoping to get together with her sometime in the near future!

are you my friend

Now, moving on to the month of November! Our challenge for this month comes from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: “Pray for guidance.”

This week’s challenge is to think of an issue in your life that causes you worry or stress. Each night this week, pray on this issue. Ask God or the universe or whatever you believe for guidance. When you wake up in the morning, journal about your feelings. 

prayer quote Wooden

Question for the day:

  • What friendships did you nurture in the month of October?
  • Do you believe in the power of prayer?

a year of Wooden: week 38

Hi there, everyone! Hope you’re having a great morning! On my agenda for today: run a few errands, finally get a flu shot, go to the gym, and bake something yummy. Tonight I’m going to Dana’s house to watch the World Series game! GO, GIANTS, GO!!

Before I hop in the car and head out, time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}

Our October challenge is a reprise of our February challenge, from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Make friendship a fine art. For October, we’re focusing on nurturing new friendships.

Last week’s challenge was to ask a stranger out on a “friend date” like Rachel Bertsche does in her book MWF Seeking BFF. I exchanged numbers with a new woman at church in the hopes of meeting up for coffee sometime. Also, I am slowly trying to become friends with my favorite yoga instructor. We chatted for a bit after class this week, and I definitely feel like she’s someone I’d love hanging out with! But it felt too soon/too pushy to suggest getting together outside of yoga class. I’m going to play it cool and keep building momentum, and maybe in a couple weeks I’ll feel better about asking her out on a friend date! 🙂

are you my friend

This week’s challenge is to nurture and celebrate one of the new friendships you’ve created this month! Send a note, card or email to your new friend or acquaintance. Invite them to do something else together. Tell them why you think they’re awesome and why you’re happy to know them. As Coach Wooden used to say…

to have a friend quote

Question for the day:

  • What new friend will you reach out to this week?

a year of Wooden: week 37

Hi there, everyone! Allyn’s mom just returned from a 3-week trip to China {Allyn was house-sitting for her, and I occasionally stayed over as well}… it sounds like she had an amazing trip, and we are very happy she’s home safe! She also solved the mystery of my disaster pumpkin pie last week — apparently her oven takes a really long time to preheat, and the broiler stays on for the entire time it’s preheating. So I definitely did NOT let the oven pre-heat long enough, and the broiler explains why the pie formed that weird burned skin on the top. I’m relieved that there wasn’t something wrong with my recipe 🙂

Now, time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}

Our October challenge is a reprise of our February challenge, from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Make friendship a fine art. For October, we’re focusing on nurturing new friendships.

Last week’s challenge was to reach out to a friend of a friend you have always wanted to get to know better, and invite him or her to do something fun. I reached out to a young woman friend of my Aunt Annie’s family, and I also sent an email to the wife of one of Allyn’s MBA friends, who happens to be a writer too! Here’s hoping I hear back from them and we get together sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted!

This week’s challenge is to ask a stranger out on a “friend date.” Rachel Bertsche did this all the time during her journey to make new friends in a new city, which she chronicles in her fabulous book MWF Seeking BFF. I find her bravery and positive outlook very inspirational!

I actually used this approach when I met my now-friend Emy, who is a fellow teacher at my Aunt Mary’s school — I met Emy in the teacher’s lounge when I was teaching a creative writing lesson for my aunt’s class. After Emy and I chatted about books for a couple minutes, she had to head back to her classroom. I blurted out, “You seem super nice and I would really like to be your friend. Do you want to meet up for coffee sometime?” {Note to self: zero points for smoothness, gold star for earnest honesty.} Emy sweetly agreed, we met up for coffee that weekend, and later I became friends with some of her other friends, too! PLUS, Emy is the friend who I signed up for online dating with, as a mutual-support thing, and that was how I met my sweetheart… just another reminder that you never know what will lead to what!

The point is, there are potential friends everywhere, as long as you have the guts to put yourself out there and make a connection. This week, why not strike up a conversation in line at the grocery store, or while you’re waiting for your drink at Starbucks, or in the locker room of your gym? Take that first step and see what happens! Maybe you’ll make a new friend!

Question for the day:

  • What new friend will you reach out to this week?

a year of Wooden: week 36 {happy birthday, coach!}

Hi there, everyone! Today is a very special day in our Year of Wooden challenge because today would have been Coach’s 104th birthday! Happy birthday, Coach Wooden!

My dad is doing a really neat thing today in honor and celebration of Coach’s birthday — he is donating one copy of his book WOODEN & ME to disadvantaged youth for every book bought today through either his website or Amazon! His goal is to give away 100 copies today! Be sure to shoot me an email if you order a copy because I would love to send you a personal note of thanks. {If you’re interested in reading a review of WOODEN & ME, here’s a great one Sarah wrote on her blog The Pajama Chef.}

Now, onto this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}

Our October challenge is a reprise of our February challenge, from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Make friendship a fine art. For October, we’re focusing on nurturing new friendships.

Last week’s challenge was to get together one-on-one with a friend you normally only see in a group type of situation. I was really grateful to get together for dinner with Allyn’s sister Allyson after I taught in Fremont this past Thursday. Not only is she a warm, friendly person, she is also extremely intelligent and knowledgable and I always learn a ton from her. In group situations the two of us often gravitate towards each other — we both are passionate about books, reading, writing and teaching — and on Thursday it was terrific to spend some time just the two of us, chat chat chatting away. We went to a fabulous Thai restaurant and two hours flew by before we finally realized it was probably time to head home! Since I’ll be teaching in Fremont through December, I’m hoping we can make dinner or coffee happen again sometime soon.

A bunch of us celebrating Allyson's birthday back in April.

A bunch of us celebrating Allyson’s birthday back in April.

Also, yesterday I was able to get together with my church acquaintance Amy for coffee. {I had reached out to her on Facebook as part of week 34’s challenge.} It was lovely to get to know her better and I really felt like we clicked.

This week’s challenge is to reach out to a friend of a friend you have always wanted to get to know better, and invite him or her to do something fun.

Before I head out for the day, in honor of Coach’s birthday I wanted to share a poem he wrote that ties in perfectly to our theme for this month:

On Friendship

At times when I am feeling low,
I hear from a friend and then
My worries start to go away
And I am on the mend
No matter what the doctors say –
And their studies never end
The best cure of all, when spirits fall,
Is a kind word from a friend.

Question for the day:

  • What new friend will you reach out to this week?

a year of Wooden: week 35

Good evening, everyone! Hope your week is going well so far. I had one of those all-too-rare, really really great writing days {which is why I didn’t come at you with this post in the morning as originally planned… I was on a roll with my novel, so I just went with it!} As the day progressed, I kept my butt in that chair and kept writing a little bit more, a little bit more… then I looked up and all of a sudden it was time for dinner and I’d written nearly ten pages. It was another reminder for me that tackling your goals in bits and pieces can really add up!

Before it’s time for bed, I wanted to share with you this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}

Our October challenge is a reprise of our February challenge, from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Make friendship a fine art. For October, we’re returning to this point, but instead of improving existing friendships, we are focusing on nurturing new friendships.

Last week’s challenge was to reach out to an acquaintance you would like to get to know better, and invite them to do something — coffee, lunch, a movie, etc. I sent a Facebook message to a woman I’d had a couple conversations with at coffee hour after church and asked if she was free to get together sometime soon. She wrote back right away — she seemed happy that I reached out — and we made plans for dinner this upcoming Monday. 🙂

This week’s challenge is to get together one-on-one with a friend you normally only see in a group type of situation. Group gatherings are fun, but there’s something about individual time that really helps you get to know someone better. Nurture a budding friendship by carving out time for just the two of you to do something together.

Questions for the evening:

  • Do you have any goals that you are working towards little by little?
  • What new friend will you reach out to this week?

a year of Wooden: week 34

Good morning, everyone! My uncle Frankie just hit the road back down to L.A. after a nice morning of visiting with me and my grandparents over breakfast. Now I’m drinking tea and taking care of some emails/business stuff before heading out to Starbucks for a writing session. {I always get more productive writing done at Starbucks than at home. I crave the background noise and busy atmosphere.} Then I’m hoping to have a gym session this evening!

Before I get moving, time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge! Since Wednesday is the start of October, we’re going to move onto our October challenge this week…

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. In September, we focused on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry.

Last week’s challenge was to read New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver.

Mary Oliver poems

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets — I shared her beautiful poem “The Summer Day” earlier this year as a mid-week meditation — and for this week I’d like to share her poem about one of my favorite things:

The Sunflowers

Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines

creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy

but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young —
the important weather,

the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds —
each one a new life! —

hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.

You all know how much I love sunflowers, so it’s no wonder I was drawn to this poem. At first, I simply reveled in the beauty of the lines and the perfect description of sunflowers — their creaky spines, heavy green leaves, bright faces like “burnished disks.” But as I read the poem through a few times, what I was most left with was a sense of quiet strength, confidence, and hope. I love the lines about “turning their lives/into a celebration” even though this is not an easy task. I think that is a noble task for all of us to attempt!

sunflowers

Now, let’s move onto our challenge for October. This is a reprise of our February challenge, from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Make friendship a fine art. For October, we’re returning to this point, but instead of improving existing friendships, we are going to focus on nurturing new friendships.

This week’s challenge is to reach out to an acquaintance you would like to get to know better, and invite them to do something — coffee, lunch, a movie, etc. Reach out and get to know this person better!

friendship quote

Questions for the day:

  • What is your favorite poem by Mary Oliver?
  • How do you make life a celebration?
  • What new friend will you reach out to this week?

October Book Club: “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher

One of my favorite bloggers, Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers, hosts a book club every month through her blog. I love to read and thought it might be a neat way to get introduced to new books and authors and do some “fun reading” outside of the reading I’m assigned through school. I’ll be following along with the book club selections over at Peanut Butter Fingers and then posting my review/reflections/comments about the book on here at the beginning of each new month.

October’s Book Club pick was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I’d heard a lot of buzz about this book but I hadn’t read it yet, and I was intrigued immediately when I picked it up and read the back cover:

“You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret … is to press play.”

The book is written from the perspective of Clay Jensen, a high school senior who receives a package in the mail with no return address. Inside the package is a series of tapes — thirteen sides in all — containing the recorded testimony of Hannah Baker, a girl from Clay’s school who had committed suicide just a few short weeks before. Clay had nursed a crush on Hannah for years, but hadn’t summoned the courage to act on his feelings {other than one confusing night right before Hannah died} and is filled with regret about the way things turned out. He is both curious and repulsed by the tapes. He wants to hear what Hannah has to say, but is also filled with frustration and sadness to hear the pain in her voice.

Something that really impressed me about this book was the way Asher interweaves Hannah’s voice and memories in the tapes with Clay’s narrative and thoughts in the present line of action. Their voices/perspectives interweave seamlessly and beautifully, in a way that reminded me of a musical duet, steadily increasing the tension more and more until the inevitable, and yet also surprising, conclusion. Asher writes with honesty, vividness, and unflinching realism — and for a novel dealing with suicide, Thirteen Reasons Why was surprisingly hopeful. I was very moved while reading this book, and particularly at the end. I don’t usually cry while reading, but the tears came when I was turning the final pages of this novel.

To me, some of the most poignant moments in the novel were when Clay laments, Why didn’t you talk to me, Hannah? I would have listened. This book made me think of the myriad of ways, both large and small, that peoples’ lives are intertwined. We have no idea how big of an impact we have on those around us. The smallest gesture — a smile, a kind word, a “hello” in the halls — can be just the thing to give someone else hope or happiness or turn their life around.

Have any of you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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My rating: 5 out of 5 stars