the process of becoming

a blog for twenty-somethings trying to navigate the world and follow your dreams


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book reviews have moved!

Since I was bogging down this 20-somethings blog with book reviews, I decided to become an official book blogger and make a book-reviewing blog. Especially since I am trying to debut in the publishing world and get as organized as possible, I thought this would be better for everyone.

Check it out at The Bookcase Wall.

I will still be posting book-ish posts like what I’m reading or maybe short summaries of recommended books. But this way you don’t need to read reviews of books that aren’t so great (: And now I can focus more on getting the articles and humor posts that you guys want out there.

my reading challengeOh, and this picture pretty much sums of why I need to have a book-reviewing blog. My goal for 2015 was just 35 books and I’m already halfway! I had no idea I was going to be so crazy about reading this year. Maybe its because of this Minnesota cold 😉

Thanks for bearing with me!

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the jumble of my brain, growing up, and other messes

(Source: Pinterest)

(Source: Pinterest)

Do you ever have something you really really want to say, talk about, or bring up, but you don’t know how to do it?

This is me when it comes to my Christian, fundamental, homeschooled upbringing.

Yes, that is a Lion King quote. But if you’re around my age, maybe you remember and relate to that move as much as I. It was my favorite, and I thought of this quote when writing this post.

I don’t know what to say about my past because I don’t want to bash – I didn’t hate it, and I mean no disrespect to anyone who endorses all that. I love my parents and am thankful for their excellent parenting in many areas (pretty sure I turned out all right!).

But I’m realizing now how much I disagree with many of the books I read, concepts I was taught in churches, and leaders who spoke to me throughout my entire life – including my private, Christian university. I’m having trouble sorting it all out, what’s “good” what’s “bad” (if those categories are even okay!), and whenever I’m asked about it, I want to explode. So many thoughts in this brain.

I’m only a year removed from all of that – a year since graduation. I’m not removed from my faith, I just attend a different church than I did even while at college, and I am surrounded by friends who don’t constantly bring our childhoods up. But when one of us does, and we have childhood stuff in common, it’s like I’m a top that can’t stop spinning. Or we exchange similar memories one on top of the other like caffeinated pre-teens.

I guess I’m writing this post because I literally do not know where to start. I want to share what I am learning and the opinions I am forming about stuff I’ve known about my whole life but that looks so different to me now. I want to talk to 20-somethings who grew up similarly to me, about things we were all taught, about youth groups, Christians who hurt us, Bible verses and concepts that hurt us, books that confused us, maybe even people who judged us. But to talk about it all in order to sort out the good that existed, that came, and that continues.

I’m tired of being angry or hurt.

And I don’t just want to talk about faith and the Christian church. However, that is the lens through which I used to look at every single thing on the planet. So to think about my childhood and teenage years while excluding Christianity is like trying to look through purple sunglasses without seeing any purple. It just can’t be done.

So bear with me, if you are interested, in the jumble of my post-college and growing/changing-of-my-faith brain.

And as I invite you to participate in the ramblings, please don’t hesitate to share your experiences too! I think it’s time our generation spoke up about homeschooling, fundamentalism, the Purity Movement, or whatever burden you are carrying around unspoken about. And then turned it into a conversation about how we can do even better for the next generation.


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thoughts on The Hundred

the 100

(Source: Wikipedia)

Another YA dystopian! Will it stand the test of trilogies that are making Hollywood? Not so sure.

Honest review! The premise? I just learned it is based on the CW Network TV show, so if that scares you, be warned. I won’t say whether I’ve seen any of the show or not.

100 teenagers from Confinement are sent down to Earth after 300 years of living up in space. The government on the space ship wants to know if the radiation has gone away enough for them to come back to Earth and repopulate. But the only way of knowing is to see if the 100 survive. Follow Clarke, Wells, Glass, and Bellamy through this gripping new dystopian YA romance to find out.

Now that I think about it, it really does sound (and truly is) so so so unrealistic. Um, radiation? Nuclear war? Is Earth really gonna be livable and why wouldn’t they know that through technology? They survived 300 years in space! Also, how do not all of the 100 not die when landing on Earth? Seriously, the amount of details that were stretched and skipped to make this book – and TV series – possible is insane. It’s so unrealistic it’s not worth listing all the details. Just stay away from it if you’re a sci-fi fan (this is not sci-fi) or need a book to be realistic at all in order to enjoy it.

The other downside, if you’re able to look past the missing details of the background and surroundings and the almost-completely-absent explanation of why the way things are the way they are, is that there are four main characters POVs you must follow. Four. And if that wasn’t hard enough, there’s a good amount of flashbacks per chapter that all explain the background emotions and actions of the characters. A little confusing and hard to follow, to say the least. It was hard to differentiate the voices as well, even though two are girls and two are guys.

Lastly, this is not a survival novel. This is a romance, plain and simple. But hey, I’m a sap. This book confirmed that I still fall for contrived, cheesy teenage romance in thrilling environments. It’s true – all the actions the characters made were not from common sense but out of their teenage emotions (some of which drove me crazy by the end). It didn’t make me cry, and I didn’t really feel anything for the characters. No plot, no “survival,” no actual details of what Earth is really like. But oh well, I guess.

But for some reason, the book kept me reading. It went very fast (hardly any background given before the plot just takes off), but I went with it. Goodness, I don’t mean to rant. I just like it and I wanted it to actually work. I want to end by saying that it gave me hope: even when a book isn’t perfect or the “best,” it can still be enjoyed.

Will I read the next two books? Maybe, if I’m in the mood for a quick, YA romance, yes. And I sort of still want to know what happens… but there’s always the (very different) show.


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thoughts on The Zookeeper’s Wife

zookeepers wife

Time to catch up on some book reviews! I have been reading and putting books on hold at the library so much. But for this book, I took a break from YA and fiction even to read a historical story I will remember.

The Zookeeper’s Wife by poet Diane Ackerman is the non-fiction story of Antonina Żabińska, the Warsaw, Poland zookeeper’s wife, during World War II. Based upon Antonina’s diary and other research, naturalist Ackerman paints the tremendous story of an unlikely heroine’s care for refugees and animals during the world’s most darkest time.

Ackerman, as the poet that she is, paints a rich description of not only the environment of living during the war in Warsaw but the emotions of the zoo itself. I’ll admit I’d never even thought about what happened to animals during the war much less exotic ones. I came away from the book with a greater appreciation of them – almost caring more for them than the protagonist! One is definitely able to become lost in the beautiful words Ackerman uses. Learning the history was very informative and interesting, although I didn’t feel it was as complete as it could have been.

If you are not into reading about facts and history, you may not enjoy this book. I couldn’t decide whether I liked her style of going back and forth between research and the “made up” stuff (filling in the gaps of the diary as there obviously were), all the while including quotes from the journal. It reads like a history book in that she provides a plethora of background information (the Ghetto and a few of the famous people the Żabińskas come into contact with, to name two examples).

What I did not enjoy was the extreme focus on this background information as well as the descriptions of the animals. I never really understood the wife the story was supposedly about. It didn’t read like a story or a bibliography, and I honestly have no idea what the characters were like. It not only continually lost its focus on Antonina Żabińska but failed to give a complete picture of any character or setting featured. The diary quotes were not enough. Overall, it lacked the emotion I was expecting to feel.

I won’t give spoilers in regards to the ending, but I didn’t much like the post-war details either. Honestly, the details and people Ackerman chose to focus on were seemingly random. As a reader, I wanted to know the facts about how they went about harboring Jewish people in their zoo, but I really couldn’t tell you after having finished the book. She pays a little too much attention to beetles, artists, politics, and superstitions, etc.

Overall, I’m happy for Ackerman’s fulfilling journey to Warsaw to visit the places that may be still there. She still writes beautifully, and now I have more emotions for animals I suppose? But maybe I should return to her poetry and leave the history writing for the historians.


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you don’t need to achieve everything before 25

With my recent birthday – 23 – the age where I could no longer deny my post-college age and lifestyle, I have been thinking a lot about the way I function through my age. We 20-somethings deal with so much social pressure to be the best we can be right now without realizing the age we actually are.

Now, I agree with being your best (you should always be your best), but maybe we should define what “best” means for you. Maybe that means being the best at the age and place you are – excelling at your current job, building your experience, and meeting people.

For me, it means doing a little something towards my future every day, even if that just means going to work to earn my paycheck. Recently I’ve been getting down over not blogging every day, not working on my poetry/creative work, not “doing” anything to make myself the 20-something I want to be soon, career-wise.

What is this sense of urgency that drives me to feel this way? I don’t need to achieve everything before I’m 25 (or 27, or 30)!

I find myself becoming self-conscious when I see someone’s resume with tons of internship experience, or a literary agent’s assistant with all of his or her credentials, or a published article written by someone who has so many more. I think I want to be like them! Why am I not there yet!? 

But when I think about my actual life, I remember that I’m only newly-23. They probably are not, and if they are, good for them!

I’m only one year out of college – a year spent getting to know the special needs and health care community, a year spent getting to understand their behaviors, thoughts, and actions, a year spent figuring out what direction I want to go besides to be an advocate for them, and a year spent forming my marriage to my husband (don’t laugh at me, but since I’ve always treated marriage as the beginning and not the “end life goal,” I act like it’s no big deal that I got married. It is. And I shouldn’t take it – or the fact that it took a lot of work/time/energy to get here – for granted).

We are told the lie that we have to be achieving things now to be getting to where we want. But the fact is that these things take time. 

Have you made a LinkedIn profile? Edited your resume on InDesign? Written cover letter after cover letter, editing and making sure that everything looks perfect? Given yourself a well-earned episode of Friends after submitting your application, resume, and cover letter because you just spent all your energy on that one job application?

Well, I have. And even if you get that dreaded rejection email/phone call, know that your time was still well spent.

You don’t need to write a novel, publish a million articles or poems or creative work, or land a starter position at your dream company before you turn 25 (or 30). If you’re a 20-something like me, relax and keep at it. If I do achieve things in the next 2 years, I hope it’s something I can be proud of rather than something rushed or that caused anxiety, too much stress, or made me forget my other priorities in life.

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(Credit: Buzzfeed. Quote: New Girl)

What other priorities? Exploring my fabulous city, spending time with my husband and close friends, reading great books, trying the best food at recommended restaurants, and keeping up with pop culture, world news, and the best new music.

I’m learning how to be content with 23, with slowly working my way up in the world while also enjoying my life. Are you?

Can you relate to wanting to “do all the things” before you reach a certain age? What are your priorities that you don’t want to let achieving your career overshadow? 


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6 birthday things that 20-somethings can get away with

As told by the girl turning 23 tomorrow. I decided to do a little experiment: to see if I fit this list.

1. All the freebies.

I’ve decided that, since I’m still young and free and broke, I deserve all the birthday freebies (OK, maybe not all). But a few. So I actually found Minnesota-specific lists (lovely blog posts or articles) that include all the email sign-ups and places to show up that will give you some sort of freebie on your birthday. Problem is… gas money getting there. And all. The. Emails. Worth it? We’ll see! (My new personal mission is to find out).

First stop? ….Perkins for breakfast?

2. Having a party.  

I opted out of this one this year because I hate planning parties (although it sounds like there might be one anyway). But if anyone can get away with planning their own birthday party still, it’s an early 20-something. Because, let’s face it, after 24 or so you don’t feel like celebrating the fact that you are getting older (or at least that’s what they tell me). As your twenties advance, the celebration becomes more of a “friends, let’s go get drinks/dinner and toast once.” Or drink wine and watch Netflix with your cat.

3. Drinking. 

…or can you? I’m not really one to talk since I starting consuming a lot later and a lot less than most, but I’ve heard from others that it gets a lot harder to party hard the older you get. So, uh, make wise choices! Which include not staying in bed all the day after with a hangover (I won’t be!).

4. Getting gifts/cards.

I stopped expecting gifts long ago, but it’s nice when family members or close friends take the time to give a card rather than just a Facebook message! But this might not be something that will last forever (or at least not in the same form, as in free food/Tupperware leftovers).

5. Taking a day off.

Obviously not everyone can do this, but for those of you who have part-time jobs and have flexibility on your schedule? Make your birthday a holiday and celebrate however you want! With, of course, some productivity included (like laundry, maybe? Or bills… On second thought, maybe not).

6. Relaxing and not worrying.

Hey, you’re still in your twenties! Stop worrying about getting older and just get out and live.


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why I’m not seeing Fifty Shades of Grey

nope 2Valentine’s Day is at the end of next week, and with it, ironically if you ask me, the movie release of talked-about book Fifty Shades of Grey. 

I am going to tell you why I won’t be going to see that movie, and it’s more than just “I’m poor,” “I have better things to do,” or “Jamie Dornan isn’t hot” (because we all know that’s not true). 

It’s funny it’s coming out on Valentine’s Day because this isn’t a romantic, intimate movie about love. It’s a movie about a twisted view of sex and abuse. And that is not okay for many reasons.

Last Thursday, I watched a Today show bit where Hoda and Kathie Lee interviewed elusive British author E. L. James on how she started writing the novel. They praised her because she wrote it during a mid-life crisis. It was also originally Twilight fan fiction that she self-published before it got discovered. A few reasons why I probably wouldn’t like it either way.

I remember when the book first came out. I was working as a cashier at a very busy Super Target, and I could have sworn 80% of women between the ages of 20 and 40 were purchasing this book. I had no idea what it was about, so naturally I turned to the internet and Wikipedia, where I found the book described as “mommy porn” and was horrified to read this sentence: “[Fifty Shades] is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM)” (Wikipedia).

Slow. Down. Think about this for yourself.

Religious convictions aside, is that really something you want to and should be reading, supporting, and now watching? 

No it is not. Erotic fiction sounds and is nothing short of a form of pornography. It may be “different than porn,” and it may be what many women are tempted by because we are generally emotional/intimate beings rather than visual like men. But there’s no justifying it. Despite what the world may say, erotica and porn are harmful. They are harmful to yourself and they are especially harmful to relationships and marriages. And they are harmful to many, many others, BDSM aside!

I am aware that everyone believes different things about sexuality and sex itself. I am aware that I have not made this exclusively a Christian blog or blog for primarily believers. But regardless of my faith and biblical beliefs, I find it disturbing that our culture has accepted and praised this book so readily. And it honestly makes me wary of the future because this will inevitably spark more novels, books, and media about BDSM and other erotic fiction to be embraced widely.

Seems a little bit like our culture can’t make up it’s mind. Do we want to empower, or do we want to abuse? Each gets to decide.

As a feminist, I am not okay with this. As a believer, I am not okay with this. As a woman, I am not okay with this, with the plot, only about “a cold and sadistic millionaire and his seduction of a young, innocent girl into a world of sadomasochistic sex” (from Fight the New Drug’s article on why it’s wrong). I’m not going to get into more of the book, but you get the picture.

I simply want to say that I will not be supporting Fifty Shades, ever, and I want everyone, especially around my age, to be aware of the harm erotica causes. I am passionate about sexual issues like how porn is harmful to men and relationships, bringing awareness about sexual abuse (towards women and men), and ending sexual slavery. Abuse is a real thing, and BSDM is never okay and only fosters abuse down the road! This erotica only feeds sex industries and these problems, and I want no part of that.

Can’t we see how this all is related? Be aware of the small decisions you are making that are part of a bigger, more sinister purpose.

I don’t want to offend those of you who have read it, nor am I judging you and trying to make you feel bad. I just want everyone to think about this and not just be okay with it because our culture suddenly tells us we should.

I could back up much of what I’m saying with research, links, and studies, but many other bloggers are writing about this currently who know more about why this is emotionally, psychologically, and relationally harmful to you. Everyone has a different view on why the movie/book is harmful, and everyone is saying their opinion well.

I’m glad people are talking about this, because honestly the Church needs to be more vocal about issues like this and helping those who have already been affected by it.

Please think about those who are harmed by erotica/abuse before you think about seeing this movie.

See these recommended-by-me links for more information on bringing awareness to the harm of Fifty Shades, told by several different perspectives:

Five Things Fifty Shades of Grey Teaches About Sex

I’m Not Reading Fifty Shades of Grey

Think, Discern, and Wisely Consider

A Black and White Choice Not to Read Fifty Shades of Grey (7 Reasons Not to Read Fifty Shades)

50 Shades is Bad for Your Marriage (mainly for women)