Dining alone at The Ritz London

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While going out to eat with friends we would toy with the idea of dining alone. Would we dare? As if eating alone were some kind of accomplishment. But in a society in which many people are uncomfortable with themselves, in some ways I guess it is some sort of feat.

Some friends thought it seemed exciting, others said that it was something they would never want to do. Traveling alone to London has managed to teach me more about myself than I imagined, which is a topic I’ll explore more in upcoming blog posts. But today I wanted to write about dining alone at the Ritz, London.

At times I am exceptionally frugal, as evidenced by my decision to buy salads at grocery stores or cheap eats from Borough market for a lot of my trip. But I also love the occasional taste of luxury and at 57 pounds for an afternoon tea at The Ritz, London. It was definitely luxurious but worth every darn penny.

First of all, it is an experience. You start off with sandwiches and light desserts like a macaroon and lemon tart. You have your choice of tea and can add milk and little squares of sugar. Later you are given scones and jam and at the very end you have the choice of cake.

I often feel like spending time alone traveling is glamorized and as an extrovert/introvert I have to admit that I missed having a friend’s company. There were moments of awkwardness when realizing that there was no random conversation to fill the silence, just you and yourself. But there was also a feeling of freedom in taking as long or as little as I wanted to eat and feeling almost invincible in knowing there was a freedom in being in your own company with no-one to really judge you other than yourself.

Regardless, if you ever have the chance to ever have afternoon tea or afternoon tea at the Ritz, I couldn’t recommend it more.

 

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Do we give up too easily? | Being a Woman in the Indian Church

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I was watching a video of Aimee Mullens’ Ted Talk, for maybe the eighth time. I had already watched her talk several times before deciding to teach my students about about her speech or more so the power of her passion and how that elevated her speaking. She was poised, put together, passionate and was standing on prosthetic legs. She challenged society’s notion of what a “disabled” person should be and I looked at her and thought that if I were her, I wouldn’t have dared to stand on that stage. I wouldn’t have become a runner like her. But she, with her disability, was doing things I could only dream of accomplishing. 

Watching Aimee Mullens made me think- she trusts her legs. She trusts her prosthetics, probably more than I trust my flesh and bones. If she doesn’t give up, why do I? There are many times in life when we may face seemingly insurmountable challenges. Some of these hurdles have presented themselves in my experiences as a woman in the Indian church. In the moment we believe that things cannot and will not get better, that we are limited in some way. But looking at Mullens I am reminded that our definitions and perceptions of situations can be challenged and that maybe- we give up too easily. 

There are two ways people can respond to set backs. There are the Cains of the world and the Davids.

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Characteristics of Cains 

  • Jealous
  • Cynical

Cain and Abel are the children of Adam and Eve. Cain grew jealous of Abel’s sacrifice to God and this ultimately led to his demise:

…Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. Genesis 4:3-5

Cain’s jealousy of what his brother had and what he lacked led him to ultimately killing his brother. Instead of trying to offer something better to God, to be something more- he turned to sin. How many times do we feel like we just cannot do or be more? I believe we all know that feeling all too well. We fail in some way or form and instead of trying again, we give up. A friend of mine told me that before getting the job he now has at a big financial company, he applied to 99 jobs at the same firm. He now worked in hiring and can see all applications that come in for the company and noted how most people apply maybe once or twice. While hearing his story, most of my friends admitted that we would do the same. If a company rejected us after a couple of applications, that was it for us. But my friend didn’t give up on the company he wanted to work at until he finally got a position.

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Characteristics of Davids 

  • Resourceful
  • Hopeful

David was the youngest of his brothers and naturally passed by for opportunities. But David didn’t let his background hold him back. In fact, David leveraged the very qualities that would make others think he was weak. In the classic bible story of David and Goliath, David used the unusual tool of a slingshot to defeat a giant.

 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.(1 Samuel 17:49-50)

In a situation in which others would have given up, David remained hopeful. He trusted in everything that God had provided and in the end was triumph. Growing up as a female in the Indian church, it was hard to have an older brother in some ways.

Being a Woman in the Indian Church

I frequently spoke at church and was very open about how I loved public speaking but no speech I ever gave seemed to measure up to the sermons my brother spoke. He rarely spoke publicly and didn’t care for it, but the few times he spoke were admittedly spectacular. There were many times I wanted to give up on my love of speaking. Why try to have a voice in a society that would rather hear from a man, especially when others could speak better? There were many times when I felt as though the opportunities given to me in the Indian church would be so much grander if I were a man. How could I not think that way when even in one of our most prominent organization, Pentecostal Youth Fellowship of America (PYFA), I have only once seen a female leader in an organization founded in 1981.

My parents and grandparents would pray every night for my brother to be a minister of God, but I never once heard them pray for me to minister God’s word. My grandfather was a prominent pastor and my brother was the only grandson born with the last name “Thomas”, the default heir. My mom recounted that a prophesying preacher once spoke to my parents and told them that they had prayed and hoped for ministry to come from their family from their son, but it would come from their daughter. My mom shared what was said to me but reminded me that she still hoped for my brother to one day minister.

If Aimee Mullens doesn’t give up even when she was prosthetic legs, why would I give up because I’m a woman? Everyday we choose whether we give up or keep going. Giving up can happen in small ways. We stop working towards that goal we really had set in our heart. Or maybe we stop moving forward in acquiring a new skill we long to have. It could even mean underestimating ourselves because of whatever our “disability” may be. There are days that can feel so dark and times in which all hope is lost but I pray that if you cling to hope, you too can do the seemingly impossible.

 

 

 

 

How my Pride Led to Insecurity

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As a Corporate Communications undergraduate major, I gave a ton of speeches back in college and naturally grew tired of a once intimidating task. On one occasion I gave a better speech than usual and upon leaving class two classmates ran up to me and asked, “How were you so confident?” I don’t remember what I answered but the truth was that the secret to my perceived confidence was that I didn’t care about the opinions of anyone in that class I gave a speech to. In a college of 17,000 people, it was easy to be in a class with a bunch of people I never met before and I didn’t care for the opinions of people I didn’t know.

I began to adopt an odd pattern of feeling a sense of pride around people I grew comfortable around or who I felt better than or didn’t care for because I didn’t know them. That is until one day I realized how my pride was the seed from which fruits of my insecurity sprout. But luckily, in learning this lesson, I was also presented with the incredible hope that comes from understanding that humbleness can lead to a God centered sense of security in who God created us to be.

These realizations around my pride all started two weeks ago after  I taught my sunday school students a lesson on a pride- pretty logical progression, right? We explored how pride distorts things meant to be good.

Beauty can become vanity.

Instead of feeling joy in the accomplishments of others, we wonder why we didn’t get what they have.

When criticized, we are defensive, never assessing the validity of the others claim.

I taught that lesson and admitted to my students that I failed “The Pride Test”. I looked at myself with a sudden awareness of how Pride was ruining what was meant to be good in my life. I realized that Pride had led to my feelings of insecurity.

The lies of Pride become smaller next to God

I became prideful in small ways, in comfortable circumstances. My mom would always joke about my cavalier attitude around family members and my church family. I would take up as much space as I liked and probably said some things I shouldn’t have without thinking much about it. I felt confident of myself because I saw others as less. That person doesn’t have a job, at least I have one. I could only feel secure if I could imagine myself as better than someone else. I hate that I thought that. I hate that I’m writing this paragraph and that I’m admitting something so disgusting about myself. I feel ashamed to admit that I treated others so poorly and in turn hurt myself.

How would God look at my heart? I think he must have felt so disappointed. This is the same God who came to earth and didn’t look for any of the things we look for in others. Does the bible talk about how he chose a disciple because of his PhD from an Ivy league? Did he befriend the stylish woman at the well? Sure the bible will give merit to beauty and wisdom, but those factors never stopped God from loving or helping someone. God chose the lowly and despised of the world to shame the wise.

One lesson I taught my students and continually remind myself to remember is that we can begin to feel humble when we remind ourselves of how great our God is. You’re proud of your beauty or intellect? Have you heard of the almighty God? He’s so majestic and beautiful that our eyes cannot even see him and live. When we change our perspective to see ourselves in light of who God is, how can we not be humbled?

How Pride breeds insecurity

In the same way that I would feel better than certain people, I felt worse than others. Pride lied to me and told me that because of my looks or education or my background, I was inherently worth less than someone else. Seeing the success of others made me fear failure.

Did I deserve to work at my job? Was I worthy to be that person’s friend? All of the things I built my worth on crumpled because my pride was built on such an insecure foundation.

 

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Without Pride, we see ourselves and others and God intended

God offers us a unique freedom and privilege to gracefully accept our limits as humans. We are beautiful but not the most beautiful. We are given wisdom, but only because God allows it. We may have accomplished a lot by worldly standards, but how small are our feats in light of eternity? How different would our lives be in a different place or circumstance?

Just as pride brings forth fruits of insecurity, I believe that humbleness can lead to fruits of security in who we are and who it is that God longs for us to be.

Kate Spade Vs. Lilly Pulitzer Agenda

I’m an agenda person, I always have been. I love writing things down in pretty colors and feeling organized. Last year I splurged around Christmas time and purchased a Kate Spade agenda (link to a video of my review of this) for 20% off at Bloomingdales.

I have a few months left in my current agenda but it seemed to be “new” agenda season and with the array of agenda available I jumped on the chance to buy a very small Lilly Pulitzer agenda. This post is to give you my honest opinion of these two agendas and which I prefer. I haven’t had a chance to practically use my new Lilly Pulitzer agenda yet but so far I prefer my Lilly Pulitzer agenda over my Kate Spade Agenda. 
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Size and Price- Winner, Lilly Pulitzer 

Let’s start with size. These are the smallest sizes you can get of these agendas (I believe). My Kate Spade Agenda was honestly way to heavy and bulky for me to carry around to work and school. I hear that many people opt to buy the bigger version of the Kate Spade Agendas and use them as desk planners. The Lilly Pulitzer agenda was just a bit smaller but felt perfect. It was also just $16 full retail price while my Kate Spade planner cost me around $25 and was on sale, ouch.

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Design- Winner, Tie

Now, did Kate Spade ever have a chance? Lilly Pulitzer comes with stickers! My brother saw my Lilly Pulitzer agenda and was immediately drawn to it and thought it was cute. I showed him my Kate Spade agenda and he was not amused, he thought it was bland. 

Back when I purchased my Kate Spade planner I loved the simplicity and elegance of the design. I appreciated the witty headings before each month. But, I’ve grown tired of its blandness and truly appreciate the vibrancy of this Lilly Pulitzer planner. However, I remember how much I yearned and loved Kate Spade’s design not so long ago so I would argue that these two agenda tie in terms of their visual appeal.

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Lilly Pulitzer uses different colored tabs and seemed to have more sections than my Kate Spade Agenda.

image imageBoth Kate Spade and Lilly Pulitzer had “cute” mantras to introduce each month but the Lilly Pulitzer designs were much more elaborate.

imageLastly, the Lilly Pulitzer Agenda has random “extras” like plans for my “next adventure”. I don’t know how useful this would actually be to me but I liked having it there.

Overall, I am in favor of the Lilly Pulitzer Agenda but loved my Kate Spade Agenda when it was first purchased. I don’t think you can go wrong either way but if you want to save a few bucks, buy a Lilly Pulitzer Agenda. If you really want a simplistic “adult” Agenda, go for Kate Spade.