Two new books sit on my nightstand. They cover very different topics – one faith, one interior design – yet they resonate with me for a similar reason. Both authors talk about how their cross-cultural upbringings have influenced their life and work.
When Strivings Cease by Ruth Chou Simons is the book on faith. She is the founder of Gracelaced, and was the first guest on Someday is Here, the podcast mentioned in my last post. This new book was released last week so I’m just getting started, but the stories she shares about growing up as a child of Chinese immigrants and trying so hard to fit it quickly brought me back to my childhood.
She writes, “Yes, it’s amazing to think of all the ways our little family overcame the obstacles of language, transportation, education and culture, but the greatest challenge was figuring out what it took to be accepted – and to assimilate.”
She goes on to say, “You don’t have to be an immigrant to feel well-acquainted with this futile mission.” Because many, if not all of us, have experiences of being in new circumstances, where we are thinking, what must I do to be enough?
From what I have read so far, she breaks down the ideas about constantly wanting to fit in, to achieve, to strive unceasingly, and shows that through faith there is a much better way to live, a way that honors who we truly are.
Several years ago on Second Life, a podcast about women who have made career changes, I was introduced to Justina Blakeney and have been a fan ever since. I have her beautiful first book, The New Bohemians, and she just released a new one called Jungalow: Decorate Wild, in which she digs into the influences of her vibrant interior design style.
She writes, “I’ve always felt at liberty to mix things up when it comes to home decor. Maybe it has something to do with my own mixed heritage. Maybe it was my parents’ eclectic collection in my childhood home. Maybe it was all the traveling I was able to do. Maybe it’s because I believe that mixing is what creativity is all about.”
Again I felt as if she was talking about me, just substituting home decor with writing or reading or living. At times “mixed” has had a negative connotation in my life, as in mixed up, not one or the other. I love that Justina embraces it and uses it as inspiration. She even titles Chapter 1, Magic in the Mix.
I’m so thankful for both of these women, for sharing their journeys and their own unique gifts to foster more authenticity, understanding, and joy. They give me the courage to do the same.
I love this idea of mixing it up to be ourselves and explore creativity. I recently finished Brene Brown’s “The Gift of Imperfection” where she mentions these definitions:
“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” She goes on to say, “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” I love that last line.