International Literacy Day

“International Literacy Day, celebrated annually on 8 September, is an opportunity for Governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges.”– UN.org

Literacy and Multilingualism is the theme of 2019 where the UN urges the peoples of the world to express solidarity with the linguistic diversity that is present in education and the development of literacy to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The reason why today is so essential is that literacy is for everyone, everywhere. My ability to read and write allows me to have this platform to express myself. I can pick up a book and get lost in another world that is unlike my own. I can pursue a career that I enjoy as well as further my future with the enrichment of my ancestors and diverse cultures.

I couldn’t imagine a world where I lack a way to communicate with the various cohorts I keep. I love my growing library and world of knowledge I have learned through the skills of literacy, but I understand how crucial maintaining diversity in our education systems is.

I keep a copy of Other-Wordly: words both strange and lovely from around the world on my coffee table to remind me how diverse languages can be and how some languages have words for feelings that the English language cannot sum up in a single phrase. I open it on occasions to familiarize myself not only with words but with emotions that I will then include in my writing.

Knowing there is a word like ‘querencia‘ which is a noun rooted in the Spanish language that means a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home; the place where you are your most authentic self, means I not only am educating myself on new vocabulary from a language that was for a lot of my friends, their first language, but it’s reminding me about the places that I feel my most authentic self. 

I feel most at home with a blanket wrapped around my shoulder. I feel at home in the arms of my partner or with my toes dug into the warm sand. I feel most at home in Florida, London, Boulder, and New York City. I feel most at home with the crisp autumn air, crunching leaves, and an abundance of pumpkins.

The first time I truly felt like my authentic self, I couldn’t describe it. Still to this day when I recount my time in London, I say I “fell into what I wanted to be” “I changed into the person I felt like I have always was” because after feeling different for so long, it was great to feel the strength I always had at my core finally radiating a golden hue.

My native language isn’t going anywhere, but even if English is something many people know, that doesn’t mean we erase the languages that are so important to the histories of others. I’ve always appreciated that there is no national language of the United States because I never understood why others would say “you’re in America, speak English” to someone speaking a foreign language to their own. Irradicating someone’s culture isn’t necessary, but encouraging language diversity, education, and literacy are essential.

I urge my readers and followers to pick up a book today. I want you to read a page, a chapter, or the entire thing. I want to know what book you choose, what you learned from your moments reading, and how it made you feel.

I urge my readers to write something today for yourself. Write down your grocery list on paper, an encouraging quote on a Post-it note to place on your computer screen, or a letter to a loved one.

I want my readers and followers to take from the gift of literacy and do something positive with it today. Happy International Literacy Day!

 

Starting a Book Club

As a writer and aspiring author, I have found myself buying up more books than my Ikea bookshelves can handle all while calling myself a “reader.” Which I am, but I am the type of reader who rewards myself with new books, even when I have hundreds of novels left unread on my shelves, and I wasn’t reading to keep up. For a while, I obsessively bought every recommendation and new release and added them to my fast-growing collection of “want to read next” while I neglected to read.

In May, I said enough is enough, no. more. books.

Before I get ahead of myself, I was doing this to save money. I called it my ‘book hiatus,’ which is where I set the goal for myself to read 1/3 of my books before heading out and buying new ones. My bookshelf would always be accepting of Advance Reader Copies and gifts, but I am now actively trying to read what is already in my collection.

It was around the time of my hiatus that I realized I was reading a lot in the spring, but that number started to dwindle in the summer. At one point, I was reading a book a week, which sounds like a lot, but I was a fast reader and I often get sucked into a story and have a hard time putting them down. In order to maintain my habit of buying and not reading, I revamped the goal by talking to my fellow reading friends and asking if they wanted to start a book club.

My best friend is just like me, she obsessively stalks Barnes & Noble’s inventory, rewards her seven-foot-tall bookshelves with more books, and is trying to find time to catch-up with all the books she wants to read. It was back in 2016 when we first started this idea of a book-club. We were prepping for our road trip from Florida to Colorado, and I was showing her all around my home town of Naples; which included stopping in Barnes & Noble. We both, separately, found the book Virgin by Radhika Sanghani which followed a 21-year-old on a mission to deflower herself.

We both decided to pick up a copy, read it on our own time, and discuss the book when we were done. Together we sat in my living room on matching couches and turned the pages in silence. I ended up devouring the book before bed, which pushed my best friend to read it faster, and still to this day, I loved the book, and I loved discussing it with a friend.

Since then, I have picked up duplicate copies of books for us to read, in addition to us both recommending and FaceTiming one another to show our recent book haul.  Together, we decided enough is enough. No more “let save this for a book club” instead, “lets actually read this for a book club.”

Those words made me a reader again. We planned for September 1st to be the start of our monthly book club. We planned to read one book together, starting with Uncommon Types by Tom Hanks (yes, that Tom Hanks). We habitually start multiple books at a time, so we left the final weeks in August to wrap up our books of the summer. Because I had a plan, I stuck with it. Throughout the past few weeks, I finally finished A Darker Shade of Magic and City of Ghost by V. E. Schwab, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dryer.

I mention that I habitually read multiple books at one time because I would love to read more books with more people. I may have started a book club with close friends, but also entice to my readers to join along in the conversation! You may just be here for my mental-health blogs and tantalizing travel essays, but in actuality, I would love to interact with my followers, and I feel like reading is something you can do to improve your mental well-being and a book is portable enough to take on your journies.

So whether you are interested in reading Uncommon Types with us, or are wanting to discuss books with me, please comment below; if there are four full weeks in September, then you better believe that I am going to be up for at least starting four new books soon!

I think one will be Educated by Tara Westover. I am all for a memoir, and I have never had so many recommendations for a single book since I became a more mature reader. Have any of you read it? Let me know if you’ve been meaning to and want to read it with me!

Learning to Live Purposefully

After writing my post on Monday, I started to really reflect on the time I spent on my phone. I wanted to know how much time I was spending on social media and how that was impacting my daily life or productivity. To do this, I notice Instagram has a new function that monitors your time spent on the app and will set a reminder notification for when you reach a particular time. I set it to 30 minutes because at the time I had averaged around 40 minutes –– 30 minutes goes by very quickly. 

And that makes me sad. Because I know there is so much more I could be doing with my time, so I am just trying to figure out how I make time and kick the habit.  I still tend to pick up my phone in the morning and scroll through social media, but there is a new voice in the back of my head telling me to be more purposeful with my time.

I feed into the idea and stigma that social media has its pitfalls and lacks its benefits, but at the same time, I worked at a start-up who employed over thirty people with generous salaries that were funded entirely by social media. I understand the power that comes with it because so many of us thrive off of it. I am following influencers who are trying to show positive, real stories. I see how they will post photos of them breaking down, unedited, and raw. They understand so many people look up to them and believe their lives are perfect based on what they put on social media, so they are more open.

I appreciate that. I try and do the same, and be honest while I write my blogs because I believe it’s okay to show weakness as you work to strengthen yourself. I am not someone who assumes everyone’s lives are exactly like their feed, especially since some of my proudest accomplishments are nowhere near my feeds; yet I still can’t get rid of social altogether. In the back of my mind, I eventually want to introduce this blog to the world through my friends and followers. There are a few of you that I have confided in, Hello, and there are some that want to read my account, but I have kept the URL private.

In the future, I know I will open up more. I know I will share this more freely and use social media to reach more and more people, but until then I made a list of things I would love to do daily that could only happen when I start living my life with a purpose.

Mock Day, I want to devote my time to:

Journaling my thoughts

Reading a new book weekly

Learning new skill

Walking and exercising daily

Cooking something yummy 

Blogging as much as I can

Practicing more creative work

 

It isn’t a long list, but ideally, between the time I wake up and the time I go to sleep, I would have done everything on this list. Sometimes it may not be realistic, but I am going to try my best to reintroduce each item to my daily activities because I know that they are habits I need to form. When I lived in London, I was able to journal every day for three months, get out of the flat and explore the city, cook food for myself and my roommate, learned how to use a film camera, and blogged daily –– and I was always with friends and excelling at my studies. I know it is possible.  

At times I have done a combination of all these tasks in a day, but never all together. I partially wonder if my time scrolling inhibits all of them being done. Could my thirty minutes in the morning when I wake up go to reading a chapter or journaling? Yes. Could I wake up at 6:00am instead of 7:00am and get out and walk a loop in Central Park? I should. Are there classes online that I have signed up for, paid for even, that are news skills I would love to have? You better believe it. It will take practice, and I know that, but I don’t need to watch Netflix all night, or I could write posts, exercise, and cook while I watch the latest episode of Big Little Lies. There are little changes to be made to make a tremendous impact on my mental health, liveliness, and happiness.

There is so much I want to do, but I want to know what some activities you would do daily if time weren’t an issue? Leave a comment and let’s try and hold each other accountable!