Sunday, November 24, 2019

Renting vs Buying

This topic is subject to much debate. There are pros and cons to both renting or owning a house, and one or the other often works better for certain stages of life. I have lived in all sorts of scenarios. I've lived at home (obviously), I've lived in a monastery, I've lived in a dorm room, I've rented two houses, I've bought one house . . . pretty much every kind of living there is. Of all of them, I miss dorm life the least and home life the most, but the most practical for me has been owning a home.

While renting, you often cannot change a lot of your environment, or if you do (such as painting or gardening) it is ultimately benefiting your landlord more than you because your time there usually will have a cap on it. You are paying for lodgings that you will never own and investing in a place that is temporary. On the other hand, there are a lot of expenses that don't fall into your lap. You don't have to fix or replace major appliances or heating and cooling systems, you don't have to pay for homeowner's insurance, and you don't have to make improvements or updates to your home.

While owning, you will take on all these responsibilities and expenses on your own (or with your family). You call in repairmen, you cut the grass, you have property taxes, a mortgage for some period of time. Yet, you are investing in a future. You (hopefully) will make a return on your home when you sell, you can change anything you want to the place without asking anyone, and can truly call it yours. There's a sense of planting roots and feeling settled with owning that gives a sense of peace that renting doesn't. It is a nice thought not to wonder each year will I continue living in this rental?

So, it's a hard decision which option is more financially sensible. Renting is a fee each month you will never get back; owning has repair fees and taxes you will never get back. As I said, it truly depends on your stage in life and where you see yourself down the line! In the long run, you'll probably be glad to own, but either way you have a place to call home.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

"Give Me a Story to Tell"

For our 200th post in almost four years of blogging, it seems appropriate to hear the thoughts of another fellow author in her journey of writing! I had the great pleasure of interviewing Lena Donellan this week, who is the author of Paint Everything Blue and West of Yesterday. You can also check out her blog here where she shares her beautiful stories! Enjoy the inspiring interview below :-)

1. What inspired you to become an author?

I always wanted to do what my older sister was doing, so when she started writing stories, of course I followed suit. I guess I was around eleven years old then, and it’s been something I’ve loved to do ever since!

2. What is your favorite book that you have written and why?

Of course you love every story you’ve come up with, but my favorite book I’ve written would have to be my most recent, West of Yesterday. I always considered it my dream story to write someday: a triumph of human brokenness finding healing and wholeness, of very strong darkness being overcome by even stronger love and light. I’d call it my favorite because the central character of the book and his theme always felt the most dear to my heart of any of my ideas.

3. Who is your favorite character from your novels and why?

This is a really hard question…but again, I’d have to say my favorite would be the main character of West of Yesterday, Alan Bledsoe. Alan is a man who has both suffered tremendous injustice and has committed his own share of wrongs, and I’ve always loved the contrast of violence and gentleness that comes to a head in his character. In spite of his flaws he can’t resist his own goodness when he encounters someone who really needs him. He’s a victim, an antagonist, and a hero all rolled into one. His character has always enchanted me.

4. What is your favorite book that you have read and why?

The Fool of New York City by Michael D. O’Brien was among the finest novels I’ve ever read. I think I loved it so much mainly for the excellent telling of the main character’s journey through his own broken manhood to wholeness, mainly through the friendship of the story’s unexpected hero. Also, in the romance department, I think it did a great job of contrasting real love with infatuation and purely emotional attachment. It was a wonderful read and I’d highly recommend it!

5. Who has been the most influential author in your writing?

Wow, what a question! I feel like so many have contributed to how I hope to write: Tolkien, O’Brien, Rumer Godden, Mitch Albom, among many others. But I think the people who have the most direct influence on my writing are probably my sisters, who are way better writers than I am! They’re always the first to read and give me feedback on my writing.

6. How does your Catholic Faith contribute to your writing?

My Faith provides me with the main reason I write anything: namely, in the hopes of glorifying God. Whether what I write is specifically Catholic fiction or not, the morals and truths of the Faith always seem to find a way into the heart of the stories as honest themes of light, love, mercy, and hope. Of course my faith also keeps me striving to always please God in what I write and avoid anything offensive to Him.

7. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an author?

If you have a story to tell, tell it firstly out of love for God, and then out of love for the story itself. Write so that even if you’re the only person to ever read the outcome, you will be satisfied because you have brought that story from a vision in your heart to something real, and have made yourself happy doing so! If you try to write with that attitude, you’re far more likely to create something genuine that will please readers more than something you wrote just trying to please other people’s taste! I’m not sure why art works that way, but in my experience it does!

Thank you, Lena, for your wonderful thoughts! Order a copy of West of Yesterday here!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Reflections from an Airport

It's time to travel again. It's always a challenge for me to shake the itch to go on an adventure. Usually, when on a trip, I think about the comforts of home, but once home my mind reaches out for the next place to explore.

It's been a year though since I have traveled by plane, and airports truly fascinate me. Every day there are different people going to different places to see other different people and do different things. There is no day that is exactly the same in an airport. No ticket that will resemble another. Lives will cross and most likely never cross paths again. A chance conversation or encounter could leave a lasting remembrance.

I love the “people watching” that happens when you wait for your flight. What luggage someone has, what food they are eating, what outfit they are wearing. Are they traveling with someone? Traveling for business? One way or round trip? The questions are endless and rather unanswerable, but it is fun to guess and create a story in your head.

You never know how connected you are with the people who board the airplane. Those who were on U.S. Airways flight 1549 on January 15, 2009 never could have guessed. Sometimes we don't realize little moments are significant, but each one is. Each moment is significant like the people that fit into them. Each person may be going about their business, following their schedule, reaching their destination, but that person touched your life in those moments, and you touched theirs.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

City Life

I used to write posts about country life, but it's about time I wrote one about city life, or I guess more like "suburban life" but who wants to get all technical. Having lived near the city for nine months now, I think I have a solid comparison now between that and rural living. A lot of people think the kind of setting they appreciate is linked to their personality, but I think that anyone could live anywhere.

How? Because there are beautiful aspects to each way of living that a person could find if they were truly looking. The country for its quiet, the suburban for its activity, the city for its convenience . . . but you can discover quiet in the city, convenience in the suburban, and activity in the country.

What I enjoy about more urban areas is the people. Well first of all there's more of them ;-) but it's exciting to me to watch the world go by and see the diversity of those who live there. There's restaurants to try, events to participate in, stores to window shop, parks to walk, new people to meet. There's city skylines and public transit. There's landmarks and tourist attractions. In short there's history and the future.

Even though anyone can live anywhere, I prefer the city. Yes it has its traffic and noise, but it's energetic like a bee hive and there's a corner of contentment each individual bee finds that flowers under the sun. Too poetic? All right, then how about words from Whitman, "Give me the streets of Manhattan!"