“Almost Everything” (2018) | BES (Oct., Nov., Dec. 2021)


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Almost Everything” (2018) by Anne Lamott

Notes on Hope; ((nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Suicide, specific suicide methods, suicidality, OCD, depression, mental health conditions, addiction/substance use disorders, perfectionism, eating disorders, topic of weights/ED behaviors (specific weights), dysfunctional/otherwise unhealthy families, stigma, secrets, “behind closed doors”, intrusive thoughts, romanticizing EDs/active substance use, casual engagement of self-harm/”picking up cutting”, suicide pact, toxic relationships.


THEMES:

Philosophy, life, death, suffering, struggling, hope, memoir, life lessons, spirituality, paradoxes, dialectics, retail therapy, health, recovery, creativity, storytelling, existentialism.


SUMMARY:

Hi, so it’s been a while again since I worked on this blog post of a Book Exploration Station. That said, and the roughness of this post and how imperfect it is, I’m going to try my hardest to pull together all the last stitches and details and make this something I can finally post and then, finally, lastly, be done with it all and wipe my hands clean so I can move forward to the next thing (the next books, the next words, the next stories).

So this particular book is non-fiction and begins with a poem that I wish I was more understanding of its significance for the way the author relates to it and the story she later goes on to tell. Like, it was featured but I don’t know why. What did it mean to Lamott? What sparked something in her soul for it and why wasn’t or couldn’t that be explored within her text later on? It didn’t seem all that relevant. I definitely picked up that I was supposed to pick up something from it but I have no idea what.

It’s a tad frustrating and a let down, I’m afraid. Which, I suppose is a good way to summarize how I felt reading this story. I’ll get into that a lot more later. Hmmm, now that I’ve reread it, I suppose it makes sense:

I think Lamott’s entire book here is meant to show the paradox of a dialectic and that two opposing things can exist in the same space and that this small poem is also an example of that. It sets up what she tries to propose as her life and the way she’s viewed life. So, I guess just, on the surface it seems distant and unexplained and later it’s still unexplained and also very fitting. Poetic, even.

A good and simplistic way to sum up this book, I think, is this:

“This is a very profound book. A little nutty, but very profound” — Me, p. 34

I know this description isn’t going in the way I want it to, and that’s a frustrating process. But I’ve spent too much time on this piece and I’ve spent too much time putting off dealing with this post because of all that anxiety, stress and avoidance so I have to just see this through. I CAN say the rest of this review goes pretty well with some really great gems in it, so please keep reading when you have the time! I’d say this book overall was okay. It wasn’t super remarkable or something I’d carry along with me consciously upon the rest of my life’s journey but it was a nice blip and something to think about for a time. Like, I’ll carry a piece of it, it just won’t be on my entire world’s radar. Something faded and in the background works though. It’s definitely a very philosophical book if you like that kind of thing! And it also brings forth a lot of sharp points that are sometimes hard to digest–the types of truths you don’t want to hear but that you need to hear all the same, like from the mouth of a good friend who refuses to only tell you what you want to hear, instead they’ll tell you what you don’t want to be true and you’ll thank them for it later because you didn’t realize how MUCH you did in fact need to hear that. If you’re looking for a book to make you think this would definitely be it. Just be careful if you’re in recovery though because there’s a lot of inflammatory words and depictions in this. It doesn’t shy away from hard topics but it also doesn’t warn you about them either, which I think would have been better if it had.

Personally, I like trigger warnings because it hands back the power into my own hands where I can then decide for myself with all the information given if I wish to proceed or not. I didn’t appreciate or like that a book seemingly on hope and light and positivity, was immediately throwing me into the deep end because of the language it used and specific methods of suicide it gave ideas to. I almost tossed aside the entire book but we know how I am about reading. Still, it was super unexpected and threw me around for a bit. I just would have liked a head’s up. But yes, onward to the next bit!


BOOK LENGTH:

189 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

2/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

Let us note: Thoughts are just thoughts. Feelings are temporary. Actions are a whole other beast. And let’s work to continue to dispel the myth that suicide is ever a permanent “solution” to a temporary problem. Another, better, way of phrasing that would be “suicide is a permanent action to a temporary crisis.”

Let us also note and ponder this: At what point does being specific about methods of self harm or self induced death in a fashion such as a book or web post, when does that become too detrimental and dangerous for anyone else out there reading it? I know I’m not much of one to talk, I distinctly recall some of this factoring into my time online over the years, while I was struggling in recovery (that’s probs the most dirt you’d find on me, let’s be real) but yes, at what point is that information more suitable for a therapy session rather than a publishable material? It’s a wonder. A thought. I think we really can run into trouble when it’s more and more specific. I get generally defining a self harm mode, but things to do with what is used specifically or the gore and romanticization of it, that’s tricky territory.

For this book, I really felt at first that I wasn’t walking into a minefield of methods and diagnoses. It was a book on hope but it tackled really heavy things that I nearly walked away from it entirely. Also, there were no trigger warnings. So it could have been super hopeful or super triggering. It landed somewhere in the middle but damn. A warning would have been nice, I think. Hence why I do these reviews for the mental health conditions person out there who may be wandering about looking for some books to read or care to read my thoughts on the ones I choose for myself, haha. Best for me to read it first and then offer one perspective about it later, especially when there are warnings that should have been stated but never would (or is that too harsh a judgment?) be.

As for this particular book, it read to me that the author suffers more from OCD intrusive thoughts than genuine suicidal ideation. And that actually confessing it to those she’s with or in a book could actually be a compulsion stringing her along (which is what happened to me, too). I think because it seems more OCD in nature, it’s not something to be too worried about (easier said than done), because it won’t lead into other complicated territories (like what happened to me, damn you co-morbid diagnoses!).

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“Parents are blown away by something this catastrophic [death of their children] and their roots barely stay in the shifting soil. But life holds on. Little by little, nature pulls us back, back to growing. This is life. We are life” — Lamott, 2018, p. 12

I really just love and enjoy this sentiment and statement a lot. Thought it was particularly moving and I’ve always enjoyed the little sapling/tree roots into the ground to stay within the premises of life. What do you think?

“And that seed pushes up through, no matter what, because this is how life is constructed–to live” — Lamott, 2018, p. 13

I find this to just be beautifully said. A gem within the darkness.

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“I have felt ectoplasmic flickers of my father and best friends, life forces that have been snuffed out in the human realm but exist, like candles in another room” — Lamott, 2018, p.16

This is pretty much the best indicator of how this author writes in this book. Very philosophical and educated and with a depth that most others don’t possess or don’t quite wield in the same manner. It’s refreshing, albeit confusing at times, but still, refreshing. xx

Is it normal to question your perception of reality? Of your sanity?

Or is it more abnormal not to?

Descartes would have a field day with this. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜Š

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On p. 22, I highlight how this book is very philosophical but also question why I should take her statements and experiences of life as fact? It made me feel suspicious.

“Every day we’re in the grip of the impossible conundrum: the truth that it’s over in a blink, and we may be near the end, and that we have to live as if it’s going to be okay, no matter what” — Lamott, 2018, p. 25

The accuracy of this is off the charts!! It’s beautifully crafted, once again and what is the true alternative? We can have moments sitting at the kitchen table where we realize, one day I’m going to die and my life will be over and whatever good (or bad) I did will be what’s left and I’ll just be a memory to those around me. That one day, the story will end, in a final bow, and whatever comes next will come to be, though how aware of it we are is up in the air. And then after having that realization: well, time to get back to the present moment where I’m just drinking my milk with my cookies all over again, like I haven’t just thought of this big mega brain thing of how little things matter before that final fall, and somehow I have to transition back into my present day life and push aside this big moment that I can do very little to prepare for! It’s absurd to have these moments, what I call existential awareness. It’s not truly a crisis but it’s a weird moment where I realize this and then am aware that I’m realizing it and then I go back to whatever I was doing to cope with that realization (most probably a Youtube video, let’s be real haha). But yeah, just, so much truth is in this statement above. We have to believe everything’s going to be okay and we’ll be alive to experience it, even though our experiences of things is time sensitive, we just don’t know when or how or why. Life is a very, very strange mystery.

A hard truth, yet necessary:

“Peace of mind is an inside job, unrelated to fame, fortune, or whether your partner loves you. Horribly, what this means is that it is also an inside job for the few people you love most desperately in the world. We cannot arrange lasting safety or happiness for our most beloved people. They have to find their own ways, their own answers” — Lamott, 2018, p. 35

You cannot force another person to live or love or be in recovery, no matter how much we wish we could, lasting recovery and getting help has to begin and end with them, themselves. You cannot make someone do something they don’t want to do. You support them, you offer advice (if they’ve asked for it, and sometimes even when they haven’t, depending on how well you know them and especially when it’s hard to hear), you be there for them, you accept them and you hope to god that they find it along the way on their own, but you’re never really super sure on it. Lasting recovery and getting help starts with them. Unfortunately, you can try forcing recovery but it probably won’t stick. You can’t help someone unless they want to be helped. It’s a horrible affair, clearly. It’s just how life draws the hand at times. I wish it weren’t true. But it’s not up to you to rescue them. They have to find a way to rescue themselves. (Which is possible, by the way!!)

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[about rescuing your kids/friends/partner] “What’s the harm in that? The harm is in the unwanted help or helping them when they need to figure things out for themselves” — Lamott, 2018, p. 45

I found this to be a particularly hard truth. It seems very unnatural to my senses, as a helper and fixer. But it’s necessary and needed. It just hurts to learn and know. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜•

“You can raise and care for your nearest and dearest the best you can, put them in the best schools, rehab, or condo, and never, ever give up on their having the best possible life available. But if you do so thinking you can rescue them with your good ideas and your checkbook, or get them to choose a healthy, realistic way of life, that mistake will make both of you much worse than you already are” — Lamott, 2018, p. 47

Well, damn, isn’t that some tough shit news to learn of. Not the type of information I’d seek out myself but very necessary as a reminder!! It’s hard to think it’s your responsibility to save someone or think you have to rescue them when really there’s little we can do to fix or help here on the outside of them. Of course, one can try and help with validation and good faith and words, but thinking it’s up to you to save them? No, that’s up to them. They have to save themselves. Which is really tough, of course, and necessary to be reminded of. Sometimes just shedding that layer of ‘rescue them’ like a cloak can uplift the burden we carry when we fail or it doesn’t work out. So, lift up this layer and carry on a little lighter for the next moment. ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

Hearing the journey it took the author (and mother) of an ill son with substance use disorder to reach the point of removing her help (that was really enabling) from her son by keeping him in jail and how the parents of unlike kids asked, how did you do that, jail is so cold and dangerous, for Lamott to be like ‘Wow, bummer’ is just SUCH a glimpse of strength, power and inspiration. She still thinks keeping her son in jail and not bailing him out, helped him more than bailing him out would have, and that had she bailed him out, he would have wound up dead. Because helping him and enabling him wasn’t helping him at all, maybe just helping her own psyche, but when she removed this notion that she could rescue him and accepted that only HE could do that, she found freedom and she found the ability to let go for him to take up the reigns of holding on himself. Genuinely inspiring (p. 51) I found this so captivating, engrossing and true. xxx

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Next, at the end of this chapter, Lamott also explains how she had to accept that her son wasn’t going to ask her for help as his mother and would instead look towards others in his meetings and how he would one day tell others the same thing they told him, etc. There was a sense of community that helped him most. I guess, my point is, that this makes me wonder how do I maintain my own sanity with my loved one Fai in a similar self-destructive cycle and where I fit in. Also, I miss a sense of community. I keep searching for that online. So far, results are mixed. ๐Ÿ’”

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“We see this toward the end of many people’s lives, when everything in their wasted bodies fights to stay alive, for a few more kisses or bites of ice cream, one more hour with you. Life is still flowing through them: life IS them” — Lamott, 2018, p. 63

A beautiful and captivating description of the fragility of life amongst all of its beauty and its meaning to hold on for one more second, knowing it’s too good to waste, too good to do anything but pause for a moment, recognize the absurdity that is life and what it contains, appreciate it and let it go to pass, so that other lives and souls and bodies can come to be and to experience similar states that is this thing called life.

“No one can take this hatred off me. I have to surrender it every time I become aware of it. But I don’t want my life’s ending to be that I was toxic and self-righteous, and I don’t know if my last day here will be next Thursday or in twenty years. Whenever that day comes, I want to be living, insofar as possible in “joy though you’ve considered all the facts”” — Lamott, 2018, p. 83

I felt at the time I read this book and at the point of writing and editing this review that this line hits like a sack of bricks onto my bare feet. It just rocks so much and radiates so much power to it. Which I wholly believe in. Some great, great words and larger even sentiments. Do you feel the same?

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“My friends’ novels are taking years, because they have to dig deep, and insist on being true to the story, to the story they are called, assigned or moved to tell, and on being honest about what they found, instead of telling the story they thought or wished they’d found. Writing that carries truth uplifts us, teaches empathy, purpose, dignity” — Lamott, 2018, p. 93

I feel like this is such a true and deep running canal for story telling and writing. I know it’s something I always try and remember in my own fan fiction and even with my other more original based creative projects: be true to the story. Sometimes what I write about, especially in fics, is really dark and there’s a large weight in carrying that, but I also do refuse to dampen the blow of what I feel in my soul is the ‘right’ thing for that character or chapter or situation, that there’s some reason I feel compelled in that direction and that I have enough faith in myself and my characters that they can survive it and grapple with it and overcome it. Of course, I give proper warnings and such if it IS heavier material in the chapter or story itself but yeah I don’t really shy away from hard stuff and it reminds me to make sure I also take in and explore all the brighter spots that come thereafter too. To highlight all the hope and all the joy and all the purpose and meaning that comes with life, because life isn’t just pain. I think that’s important; to highlight the dichotomy of both: life is pain and life is beauty.

It always mind boggled me when I’d read a good fanfic and the writer would promise a follow-up to the story or a new chapter if it ONLY got a certain amount of comments or likes. I’m very much a ride or die kind of person, so for me, delaying something because of what other people think is just absurd. At least, in the sense that if you don’t comment X things I won’t continue the story. Like, for me, the story will always be continued. It might be literal YEARS until I continue it. I guess on a related note, these days I’m frozen sometimes in the fact that I’m worried that a couple of my stories with larger followings will be disappointing in some way or that it won’t be as good and “perfect” as I want it to be or that I have to be in the “right headspace” to write for it or what if people don’t like it…

But I always strive to be as true to the story and myself—all these issues NOW are a part of my process (and wasn’t before 2016 when I began most of my current present day ongoing fanfic stories) but like I wouldn’t just rely on other people on whether or not I continue something. Like, if I started it, I’m going to finish it. I’m not swayed by ‘Oh, I’ll only continue this story if I get 30 likes/reviews’ To me, it’s like, ‘No, I’ve started this story, I’m going to finish it. Whether people like it or not, I will write it how I see it happening and be true to what I think the story desires and calls for.’ I hope that makes sense!!!!

I have gotten more aware of how people might like or dislike something, and that that is okay, and I do appreciate feedback of course too, I just also can’t see myself downgrading a story to only if other people want it a certain way if I don’t myself believe that that’s the true way for the story. I’m probably rambling now ahaha. Sorry!! I guess my point is just: Be true to the story. No matter how dark or how bright it gets, be true to it. If you are truthful to how the story wants to be told and you’re pulled along for the ride and it’s authentic, that’s all that matters. Of course, you’ll want readers, but if no one read it at the end of the day and you were true to it and yourself then there will be satisfaction there and maybe if no one sees it today, maybe three years from now so many will and maybe it’ll give them some flicker of comfort or fear or wonder or awe. You have that power as the writer. Wield it wisely. ๐Ÿฆ„๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿค๐Ÿ’š

“The universe is usually telling us the same story, that our lives are rich and fluid and infinitely mysterious; that we only thought we were stuck, that nothing stays the same for long” — Lamott, 2018, p. 95

I find this to be so refreshing and brilliant. A beautiful sentiment to share with others who may be struggling–particularly in my life, Fai and Vanessa (my partner). ๐Ÿ”†๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™

“Gratitude is seeing how someone changed your heart and quality of life, helped you become the good parts of the person you are” — Lamott, 2018, p. 117

I love this. Isn’t this just about everything? One could say….almost everything? ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ˜…

“Of course, when certain people die, there is anguish. We will never get over their deaths, and we’re not supposed to” — Lamott, 2018, p. 117

Grief is a journey, not a phase by phase destination. It’s fluid and murky and yucky and necessary. It’s the cost to have loved and be loved. It is everything, almost, and ever present. But because you carry it doesn’t mean it has to consume you. Be aware of the journey you have with your grief and allow it space to hurt and be felt, that’s all any emotion really wants: an awareness of it, a letting the shitty-ness be felt and then, gradually taken up by other emotions and other life experiences and more that goes on, because life, life does go on and so we have to decide how we’re going to go along with it: are we stuck in the past and those damning past hurts or have we moved through and onward, over the next hill, the wolves only a distant howl to an otherwise bright sky? That choice, that is truly the only one, maybe the most important one, up to us. ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

“You can’t force people to be willing to face their pain and anger, to own the ugliness that is in all of us. You can’t. I’ve tried so hard” — Lamott, 2018, p. 142

A horribly true fact. This arises at the point of the book where two people in substance use disorders make a suicide pact so if that is something that could trigger you I’d miss over this book. It is still a horribly true fact though, you can’t force people to get better and that’s exhausting and draining and horrible. You can offer what you can and help support them and encourage. But it’s not your place to fight their battles. Only they can do that. And they have to want it, too, in order to do it. Phew.


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THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  • I really liked the style of the opening page for the book, with the gold dots on the top and bottom borders. That was really sweet. Plus I also enjoyed the symbols under the chapter headers for each one as well. Just a fancy nice touch
  • There are some great cardiophile moments in this book, huzzah! ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’›โค
  • p. 41’s ending reminded me and made me think of Loki in my D&D fanfic. It made me think of adolescence and Loki and his family in that setting, a sense of belonging through new friends and how that will eventually grow and revitalize him and such. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™‚ At least, I think that’s what I liked about it hahaha It’s been a while again (12/11)
  • (of shoving food into your maw) “Maybe you do [have to shove it all down]. Sometimes one just does and there is nothing wrong with this” — Lamott, 2018, p. 44

    • I enjoyed and appreciated this small validation. It’s nice! ๐Ÿ˜‹
  • “Life just damages people. There is no way around this. Not all the glitter and concealer in the world can cover it up” — Lamott, 2018, p. 59

    • Maybe it’s just me but I LOVE this line. The glitter and concealer… Maybe because I’m slowly getting into makeup myself but yeah I don’t know I just thought it really stood out to me. It’s fancy. And true. Life is hard and bleak sometimes (and also hope and light). Sometimes it’s really hard to sparkle up a dark picture. And sometimes such efforts are futile to begin with. Life is hard and unforgiving for whatever reason (and maybe not knowing why contributes to this pain) and in the efforts of paradox, it is also bright and opaque and beautiful. We haven’t quite gotten to this latter part for this chapter it’s from yet but the overall arching theme is there.
  • “We do get a taste of the spheres in birdsong (how nature is beautiful and restorative to the human soul), eclipses, the surf, tangerines. In the dark, we see the stars. In the aftermath of the devastating fire, the sun rose red” — Lamott, 2018, p. 62

    • I LOVE how this was said. It’s just so fruitful and amazing, I find. That, while life is so hard, it’s also so, so beautiful and gives back.
  • So there’s this interesting concept that got the gears turning in my head during this book: This notion that as the Reader reading the work of a Writer, you get taken out of your element either because you can relate or because you can’t and it reminded me of this realization I had in my early twenties (when I was far more creative than I am these days), where I realized that some of the life experiences I gave to my characters, particularly if they were set earlier than my chronological age, were experiences I had “missed” out on living but that I could live through them instead. I don’t know if that makes sense but like I remember I was sitting in the old science building of my university working on my laptop and maybe taking photos and I was just like “Damn, when I write about Susie in a mosh pit, I’ve never done that myself but I can live it viscerally through her” or just generally realizing that maybe the Craft doesn’t always reflect the Experience (like my recent creativity discussion post). It was just like a sudden dawning epiphany that I could write about Susie in a mosh pit all I wanted to but because she did that at nineteen, and I never had at twenty-one, I was never going to be able to go back to experience that or have that as a part of my own life. Like, I guess, it was just this notion that one day I will cease to exist but all these characters and things I’ve done will (hopefully) live on. Like, even if I was one person via body, I was made up of many more in soul because I was creative. Does that make sense? I could probs do a whole post on that separately if anyone is interested. Maybe I’ll start a Creativity Discussion series for this blog…. I don’t know, that was just something on my own mind. I just remember it as a sudden epiphany and existential awareness that was pretty wild at the time. It’s interesting to have a creative mind!! I think that creativity and the characters and plots and scenarios (our imagination, shortly put) we create in our minds is such an incredible talent and to craft that into something so believable that other people buy (physically and metaphorically) it is just such a wondrous thing. It’s wild if you think about it too long. But it’s cool. Art is nice, isn’t it? What do you get out of your craft? What keeps you going when maybe the audience for you is mute? I’d love to know and learn your perspective!!! I definitely will toy with this ‘creativity discussion’ thing too. I think that has some great potential….
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  • (I can’t tell if I highlighted this enough so here’s another short verbiage on it: It was that strange notion that my characters would get to experience things that I no longer could because of time passing and experiences and life happening that happens for them differently than it did for me. But that even if I couldn’t have experienced it myself based on how time fell for me, didn’t mean they couldn’t or I couldn’t live vicariously through them. It was that daunting realization that even if my characters were false, they felt very real to me. And they had their own hopes and dreams and stories to tell that I was just the messenger to. I don’t know, it’s… very interesting. I can almost feel them shaking about in my skull and coming out from under the cobwebs… I should do some reading soon about imagination and creativity and all of that. I’d love to re-access all that they have and had to offer. I miss that… A lot.)
  • I also liked the notion on p. 79 about those who have been nearly destroyed may explain why they also destroy. Reminds me of Loki a lot and was something I particularly liked and wanted to highlight here. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š
  • p. 89’s got me questioning myself as to why I want to write and publish books. Is it for creative release? To add my voice to the many others out there? To create? To make a career out of it? To earn money? To do it like those who garden? Interesting question with interesting answers….
  • Any time I see the word “unmasked” it makes me think of my FFN and AO3 account’s name (Unmasked Potential). Same for when I hear “Lighthouse” by GRL the song. Reminds me to do videos, that and my BANNERS outro hahaha. Love it. But yeah, this book mentioned unmasked at one point and so I was thinking, oh! I should write some fanfic soon. Still in progress with that idea currently hooray!!
  • Trees are fucking awesome and we should have more of them (not less! Never less!) ๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒด
  • By the end of the book, when Lamott is commenting on school shootings, she raises the idea that instead of focusing on all that’s wrong with the world, what if instead we focused on what comes after–the humanity and goodness in that that arrives or the new land that still breathes and grows after a fire, etc. She suggests where placing our focus and attention could bring forth another perspective or incidence of thought (so instead of just focusing in on the tragedies themselves, where else could we turn for an uplifting narrative? Even if it’s one we’re just creating for ourselves). I bring that up because it reminded me of an interview story I watched (and was the original inspiration for miscellaneous reviews for this blog, though I never fully wrote it back then, although doesn’t mean I can’t next year!) about the Nice terror attacks a few years back and how the girl the storytelling focused on wanted to give more power to the man who was there to hold her hand after the blast than the guy who perpetrated the evil acts. That always really stuck with me. And it’s such a fantastic strength and spin on what would otherwise be a horribly terrible bad after taste for humanity but is instead a celebration that love always wins. It’s beautiful, honestly.
  • I loved this notion: “The characters in your story are real people to you and include you but they aren’t yet real people to your audience” — Lamott, 2018, p. 96-97
    • I just loved that this is so true for fiction. It’s so true and makes it such a wonder how imagination works and how storytelling is so powerful and so useful and so artistic. As the Writer, you know your Characters so well, but the audience doesn’t yet, and how you go about showing them that and pulling them along to witness whatever story you wish and are destined to show, that’s so remarkable. It also reminded me once again to do more writing soon which I have been able to do so far with my mental health fanfic! It’s actually the first time I’ve EVER written scenes out of order and am then pulling them together to form a cohesive chapter that I plan to update before the end of the year! Huzzah!!! More updates on that in the future (and I’m planning to get this post out by the weekend before Christmas, so, hooray). That’s the pull and the drive I have for today (12/16) at least! [[**Oops, got this out after Christmas, but the intention was there and this is still something (just one day late!)!!]]
  • “More than any other sentence I have come across, I love Ram Dass’s line that when all is said and done, we are all just walking each other home” — (Lamott, 2018, p. 109

  • What I love about the above quote is that it has such a touching significance that I really adore. A beautiful soliloquy, a timeless tale. ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿค๐Ÿ’™
  • “Get out of yourself and become a person for others, while simultaneously practicing radical self-care: maybe have a bite to eat, check in with the sky twice, buy some cute socks, take a nap” — Lamott, 2018, p. 131
    • This was cute and genuinely a sentiment that made me smile. I enjoyed it and wanted to share it, here, too with you. XX
  • “It’s another inside job: if you are not okay with yourself at ___ pounds, you may not be okay at ten less or even thirty less. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not in your weight. It’s within you” — Lamott, 2018, p. 157

    • Weight specifics aside, this is super duper accurate and so super duper important, for anyone out there suffering with an ED or on the disordered spectrum. A worthy component to keep in mind. Whenever you’d hit that next “goal weight” you won’t be satisfied, it will take more and more (or less and less) to bring you some kind of satisfaction and it honestly won’t be worth it. You deserve to take up space as you are. You don’t need to be “ill enough” or too ‘wide’ or ‘small’ in order to have help and seek support and be worthy of recovery. You are worthy, as you are right now. I don’t know, I thought this was important to also highlight in this review itself. And it will help to add to my fanfic D&D too.

book-prints-thumb-2.19.21

MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING & THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME:

Something that I really loved about this book occurs at the very end of p. 64 onto p. 65, where the author Lamott takes us through what it’s like for her to experience reading books and the imaginations of others’ minds she plays in for a time to forget her own struggles or just to feel something or feel inspired or learn wisdom and to have that accompaniment of humanity with her in her darkest (or brightest) hour. Personally, I loved that depiction so much. I absolutely adore and love books (and plan and dream of publishing my own!!) and they’re just SO transformative and wondrous. I just want to become a life reincarnated again as a whole ass library. That would be SO sweet. Maybe in my RecoveryHome I’ll have a room just designated for books (but let’s be honest, there’s so many I own (let alone borrow!) that I’d probs need a room and a half for all of them). Hahhahaha. Physical hard copies of books are just so… magical. Which, reminds me!!

There’s a book I took out from a further away library that I had to return because it was so overdue and it was a whole thing but it was REALLY hard to let it go so I did order it on Amazon for my own personal copy and though I haven’t read it whatsoever I’m SOOOO enthralled and greedy for the aesthetic of it and what it captures, I think it was… yes, the “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George and oh my gooooodddddd. I’m just craving other things like it by other authors/similar themes and it’s totes a thing for me now. Which, I think George has a few similar to that anyways (those little coffee shops/bistros and there’s some Christmas related one that recently came out by a separate author) and I’m just LIVING for it. I love it. It has piqued my interest ahaha SO, if you know any others out there like that, let me know in the comments what you’d recommend!!! And also, what type of genre would that be? It might make my search a little easier. I guess it’s like a hygge kind of thing, isn’t it? I love it. It’s like getting into Bath & Body Works sprays and lotions–I never knew I’d want to smell like a pastry but now that I can, I LOVE IT. I’m all in, 100%. Hahaha

Something that recently came up for this BES was this conversation I held in previous sections, particularly regarding more of a series from the creativity discussion panels and also from being true to the story that wants to be told, whether it’s what we set out to do at first or how it evolves as is. These are two really distinct moments I had writing this review again today (12/15) and they were really, really nice. I think a good part of me could see the bright spots of creativity from the writing in this book and relate it to other things like the MCU and Loki in particular (and all my fanfics as a whole). I just also loved this section on p. 94 where Lamott talks about her favorite stories being the shifts in points of view, from point B to point A, where something changed and hope unfurls its wings from a previous setting of pain and doom. The paragraph in Lamott’s story details how the details are so important in such changing tides of stories that move us and inspire us and let us see something funny or something remarkable. I guess, the overall framework is this: telling stories matter and how they are told matters and what they leave behind, that matters too. You could genuinely change someone with a story that you tell, so what are you going to tell?

To be fair, when I read the eating disorder heavy chapter, I was pretttttty confused as to what I should have taken away from it. It was a tad unnecessary in how triggering it could be for someone who struggles with that type of thing (and of course there are no warnings for such content) so it just left me perplexed and bothered. It was odd.

Something else I really took away from this book is that notion of how writing and creative writers and writers as a whole really hold a powerful light against the darkness that can crowd out the stars: this symbolism of characters who have gone through hell but came out the other side, this powerful attestation to hope and faith and belief in one’s self (even if for a time, it’s only because of the faith and light we find solace in from others holding it out FOR US until we can one day take it into our own palms). The way a story can be told to inspire and get other people moving…. it’s magical, writing is, and art in general and of itself, and that is so, so beautiful, so precious and so kind. Humans lighting the way for other humans is probably the best of humanity as a whole. (Theme from Lamott, 2018, p. 98).

This book holds a beautiful wrap-up that if this review has done anything for, is worthy of reading again. It’s a beautiful tight bow to everything that was covered. Maybe that’s enough of a tease for you to get it out at your local library or maybe the entirety of this review has made you say “Nah, I’ll pass.” That’s okay. Both can be true, just for different people.

Thank you so much for reading all my rambles here and my interaction with the chosen text for this BES. It was a wild ride. It took a long time to get to the point where I’m able to fully immerse myself and set aside all the time and all the page flags and jotted down notes, to fill in all the empty spaces, read it over again one final time for the editing process and then, finally, finally submitting and publishing it into The Void. It took a long time, it usually does, but after procrastinating on it again and again (and again!), I can finally say it’s done and I can let it go and move on from it to my next few books. Thank goodness. It took long enough!!! Ahahha. Here’s to cheer towards the next books to come!! Rejoice! You’ve made it. Thank you so much for reading and supporting. Sending light and love to all who made it this far. XXX ๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ”†๐ŸŒˆ๐Ÿฅ‚ I still have so much in store!!! For you, for me, for everyone reading. ๐Ÿค๐Ÿ˜Š


THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

Other works by the author:

  1. Stitches: A handbook on meaning, hope and repair
  2. Crooked little heart
  3. Blue Shoe
  4. Imperfect Birds

Book reference:

  1. The Magnificent Defeat

Quote reference and following book it arises from:

***”You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on” by Samuel Beckett from “The Unnamable” (ref. p. 180, Lamott, 2018). This seems particularly profound and interesting, powerful and everything. Even the search results on Google were interesting so I want to check out this book some time for sure!! Very cool.


Next up….

Fiction books: “Shut Your Eyes Tight” by John Verdon

Nonfiction books: “A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done” by Jennifer Shannon LMFT

((Now, if I can actually read these today, that would be an entire miracle!!!!)


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I READ THIS BOOK:

10/12/2021 (super late evening), 11/5 (evening), 11/6 (brief, early evening), 11/7 (morning), 11/8 (evening), 11/9 (noon), 11/11 (early evening, evening), 11/13 (early morning, morning), 11/14 (early evening to evening).

TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

11/14/2021 (late evening), 11/17 (evening at the library), 12/1 (afternoon in the library,) 12/11 (3am), 12/15 (evening, late evening), 12/16 (evening), 12/26 (late afternoon, early evening).

“Quiet Influence” (2013) | BES: June – Aug. 2021


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Quiet Influence” (2013) by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler PhD

The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference; ((nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

None.


THEMES:

Introverts, introversion, leadership, exercises, self-improvement, Quiet Influence Quotient, open-ended questions, self-discovery, evolving, not changing your personality for your workplace (like becoming an extrovert), skills, guidance, hope, strength, weaknesses, self-help, feedback, business, face to face contact, body language, tips and tricks, end of chapter highlights.


SUMMARY:

Have you been feeling like an underestimated team leader because you tend to be a little more quiet, don’t earn your energy through the people around you or like to sit in quiet (not always complete silence, a trip to the library or nearest cafe works too!) for some “me-time”? If any of this sounds familiar, you may be working in an environment and society, let’s be real, that seems to value extroverts over introverts. BUT this book is here to tell you that you CAN lead, you CAN be a big player changing the game while STILL being YOU.

Maybe trying to change who you are isn’t working out for you–and WHY should it? You have excellent amounts of strengths as you are today, in this moment, just by being an introvert. In this particular nonfiction book, we are guided through the talents, the wise words of advice and the potential growth and understanding by fellow introverted leaders to spark our own creative juices and tackle situations and our leadership in a new and improved way. This book follows the six main quiet influence strengths singularly in depth per chapter with end of chapter questions to help get those cogs in your brain churning and working in the best way possible FOR you. This begins of course with a test and quantifying your current day, present moment quiet influence quotient. At the end of the book, we revisit it and reassess and you can wander off on your own with new insights, new knowledge and hopefully an updated approach to leading the world forwards.ย 

The following strengths are as follows: 1. Taking quiet time 2. Preparation 3. Engaged Listening 4. Focused Conversations 5. Writing 6. Thoughtful Use of Social Media

Per this review, we shall be reading my own answers to the end of chapter questions (I picked out the main highlights to cover via text and if you’re curious and can decipher my handwriting, then you can gleam some bonus content out of them, too!), along with a couple of the graphs I made before reading and after reading this book about my QIQ points themselves. I’ll take you through step by step as well as interpreting some of my handwriting as necessary and we’ll finish off this review through the final following sections. As such, let’s begin!


BOOK LENGTH:

162 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

3/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

  1. “Being silent provides energy (for introverts), increases self awareness and spurs creativity. Introverts return to quiet time frequently in order to recharge and reflect” — (Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 19)
    1. I found this quote to be very true of me and especially when I drive alone with music on my iPod in my car haha. Although I have become more talkative and use music a lot more now but this will be expanded upon, Quiet Time, later in this review. ๐Ÿ˜€
  2. This is more of a concept piece but I did find it interesting and helpful to read over the advice on people watching/people observing to get better at identifying and being more aware of body language cues, nonverbal cues and so on. The author suggests watching others in a public setting like at the grocery store and so on, although I’m sure it was easier without masks back then, but even so, it makes me want to research more on this and do some more reading on the topic and such so I appreciate that and that it doesn’t have to be this HUGE project, it can be something simpler etc. Plus checking in with people to assess whether I’ve assessed them correctly will also be impactful. For now, I’m mainly practicing it via videos or movies, which is still helpful!! My biggest struggle is that I take in the cues but I am not consciously aware of what they mean or what I should be doing about them or the gut feelings I’m getting from those cues. I’ve definitely gotten a lot better with it but it’s still something I have a hard time with. (Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 29)
  3. So, I thought this following quote was pretty powerful and fitting enough to highlight in this review itself. I just think it’s hard hitting and it made me think of a few content creators I watch on Youtube and reminds us all that our presence and how we react to situations does have a lasting impact on others and we can either wield that for good or for evil. I don’t know, it seemed significant and something worth noting and gleaning from everything else in this review. What do you think?ย ย ย ย  “When you use your quiet time for calm reflection, you get to know who you are. You become more self-aware when you take time to allow your thoughts and feelings to emerge. You can assess your motivations, tap into your values, recognize your strengths and address your weaknesses. Keen self-awareness means that you can make better choices about how you influence others and react to others who try to influence you” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 38
  4. Quiet time doesn’t have to be pure silence. There’s such thing as “communal solitude” where someone can take in the energy and atmosphere of hearing or being around others in a calming setting, for instance a library or a cafe. Individually people are doing their own thing and together it can provide such a unique ambiance and soothing settlement of feelings and getting work done. I was glad to see that QT doesn’t have to be just silence and it’s something I explore more of in the exercises portion where I list out my favorite spots for QT and getting work done. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜„ (I’d also like to capture this focus and comfort in my fics regarding Loki, particularly in D&D)
  5. “(perspective from an Introverted leader) ‘I don’t think I have the brains to come up with a lot of the stuff I write. Thoughts just come out of nowhere. And for me, unless I write–until I write them down–they keep coming up over and over again. And the minute I can write them down, they are gone and then new thoughts surface in my mind'” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 45
    1. I really, really found this quote super relatable in terms of how I approach my own creative writing. He talks about how if he tries to force himself to write he gets majorly stuck and it’s only when he’s in that creative flow just letting it stream out of him that he finds as much success in quiet time. Again, I could relate to this when either I’m blogging sometimes or if I’m writing my fan fiction stories. So, I thought that was particularly cool and something I’d share with you guys, too!!
  6. ย “[The ideas in quiet time that emerge may be brilliant] yet if they remain within you and you do not move any of them into action, they remain just that: ideas. Millions of books remain unwritten and innovations continue untapped because their originators stayed in quiet time instead of moving out to share these ideas with others” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 46
    1. The reason I wanted to highlight this particular quote is because I find it super, super relatable and important. I’ve done this soooo much with my own projects (blogging things) or creative projects and ideas and book ideas and such and it’s just a super helpful reminder that action is a necessary, expected step and if you don’t get out of just the idea and waiting for perfection to execute it, you’ll likely never do it or life will get in the way first. So yeah, maybe I should be brushing up on my old recovery art projects soon. That would be exceptionally lovely. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Š Do you have any projects you’ve been neglecting that you could work on soon? Share em down below!!
  7. “How much introspection is too much introspection? Keep this helpful phrase in mind: ‘Look back but don’t stare’. When you realize that you are simply recycling the same thoughts and not learning anything new about yourself, it’s time to stop the mental music. Getting stuck in self-analysis can plant you too firmly in the act of dredging up the past” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 47
    1. If you carry on towards the next section of this review, you’ll find that I posed this question about when is it quiet time vs when is it rumination so having this quote spelled out so clearly was super helpful for me and really helped me to better conceptualize the ideas within this book.
  8. “Avoid exhaustion and burnout by knowing your limitations and enlisting the help of others….. Asserting yourself when you need help goes beyond even saving time. It also shapes others’ perceptions of you as a proactive influencer who challenges the status quo when things are getting off track” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 64
    1. I thought this was a particularly helpful and important assertion to focus in on in this review. I’ve definitely strayed away from this in my work at Amaryllis, but it is super helpful and important to remember and live by!! Even just the reminder is helpful. Don’t let your pride get in the way if you need more help!! If you try it out some time soon, I will too. ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™
  9. “You will never be able to find all the relevant facts, you will never be able to predict the success of a change you propose, you will never know for sure what will stand in the way of challenging the status quo. Perfection is a tough goal to reach, and you don’t need to have all the facts. Shoot for 80 percent” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 66
    1. I thought this to be a very interesting quote and conceptualization I wanted to highlight for this book. I definitely get soooo caught up in waiting for perfection that I freeze or get anxious and then things never happen or I start off well, lose focus or motivation or proper time management, and then I struggle with getting back on track. So I thought this was important to highlight here. I find it relatable to my online presence as well as Amaryllis, and it may be a leading factor into why I’m considering moving on from Amaryllis, potentially. But, that’s a whole other discussion and informational catalogue I don’t have at the current moment.
  10. “When you make a commitment to research a concern and then actually get back to the person with your response, you increase your credibility with that person and other people they impact. Building credibility is a process that happens one intentional action at a time” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 77

    1. I thought this was particularly interesting, engaging and important! Engaged listening is so, so, so important and there were some great tips in this section of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed (you’ll have to take my word for it or find the book for yourself!!). I really want to do this more than I do because again, I tend to have these images in my head of me doing these things but never fully actually doing them in reality, so if I can improve on this and work through it, that would be amazing and maybe even extend my reach to those I come into contact with! Yeeee.
  11. “When you are a great listener, people feel comfortable talking to you. They may continue to talk on and on, rehashing the same ideas without getting anywhere. It is, however, difficult to solve a problem when the only person talking keeps talking about the problem and not the solutions. As the ‘listener in chief’ you need to make sure that person you’re listening to does not become a ‘venter in chief.’ If you don’t ever ask questions that move toward solutions, you enable others to stay stuck in the problem” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 86
    1. Hi again, thought this was pretty critical within the psych and mental health community and support groups and such. Reminds me of my dear friend Gretchen quite a bit. She can really self-depricate and put down herself when just introducing a question or answer to something someone else has stated that makes it hard, for me, to fully hear out her point of view. Like, her low self-confidence is glaring in how she talks badly about herself and this could be a questionable way of credibly leading in a scenario like a support group. I also think that working with people in a support group is tough because we have to learn how to cut off when it’s just unhelpful venting vs problem solving and finding a path through it as well as how we prepare our group members to the idea that ‘Hey, if you need to go, say so, don’t feel guilty and stay longer than you need to and here’s a few ways you could approach this, etc.’ Like, people always say if you need to go that’s fine, but it’s never shown HOW to do so which I think makes it that much more likely people pleasing or self-sacrificing to a harmful degree can happen and lead to more upset feelings that no one says anything about because they’re so low in self worth, low in self confidence and are being passive. Just been something I’ve been noticing lately…
  12. “You need to verbalize your idea or proposal so that people know how to engage with you. If you remain silent, that never happens. In order to inspire others to move forward with your idea, opinion or advice, or to bring about a change you want to see, first solicit ideas through observing the situation, asking questions and listening to the responses. Then take the next important step: state your unique point of view and opinion and share your compelling vision. The world deserves to hear it” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 87
    1. Obviously doing this within the healthy amount of boundaries and when it’s asked for, although I think we’re all a little guilty of giving advice or input when it wasn’t necessarily asked for. But yeah, overall, you could lead and make an important impact with people if you can offer your opinion as something else for them to consider, even if they disagree with some of it or parts of it or all of it, you did your part and that can count a lot. Sometimes we’re so blind to the situation ourselves that having another person’s fresh eyes and story involving it can help so, so much.
  13. “Many people share stories about a teacher, parent, friend, boss or random stranger who encouraged them in a focused one-on-one encounter. This kind of individualized encouragement can have a deep and lasting impact, influencing the very direction of a person’s life. It is often the catalyst for provoking a new way of thinking and encouraging someone to move forward to take action” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 93
    1. This description really reminded me of the conversation I had with a friend in Feb. 2018 that really did change the course of my life thereafter. I don’t really remember a whole lot from it but it was so impactful and it’s what got me down a better course of recovery thereafter, so for that, I’m endlessly thankful. It was someone from the Mass Media while I was writing for the newspaper at uni. And also other instances as well. ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ”ฅ๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒž
  14. ย “When done well, the process of writing develops a depth of thinking and authenticity that jump off the page and can deeply influence others” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 111ย ย ย ย  >>> Thought this was especially eloquently said and something to highlight here in this review. We are starting to wind down to being finished with this post, only 9 more flags left!!!
  15. “Writing helps you to gain clarity about what’s important to you and what you think and feel about situations. When you put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, the words often flow as if they are writing themselves. You’re able to release and better understand strong emotions like anger and resentment–feelings that may cloud the clarity of your thinking that you need to influence others. You can then merge your passionate feelings with logic and clarity” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 112
    1. I thought this was especially nice. I think this may be why I enjoy writing logs at Amaryllis so much. It helps me to process the day’s work and what went on and any issues that may have arose. I could probably serve to limit or trim them down though, to be honest!! Still, it’s an important skill and one of the few areas at work where I excel. Thanks, writing!!
  16. “Sometimes jumping right into the written word when advocating for your position can have serious consequences. Be sure to check out your assumptions and talk to key people before hastily writing out and sharing your position in what becomes a permanent format” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 124 >>> If this isn’t a big enough warning sign for going on’s online or over email or anywhere else written down via text… I’m not sure what is. I definitely have to practice more of this myself. I hope that you do too, whoever you are out there, Reader. Be careful out in The Void–whether it’s in videos, blogs, tweets, stories, etc.
  17. “Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish through your social media activities. Are you trying to change the world one click at a time? Do you want to initiate conversations to get feedback on your ideas? Are you trying to spread your message to large audiences? Do you want to attract clients, sell products, or position yourself for a new job? Who are you trying to reach: a few of the right people or a lot of the general public? Once you answer these questions you will have a better idea of how to channel your online efforts” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 138

    1. I think this such an important, important thing. I think once I developed a routine of things, and became severely inactive in a lot of my social medias over the years, and just with time away from them, I’ve really, really forgotten what it is that I’m searching for or after or am trying to accomplish. I have to really sit down with myself and have a discussion on this soon. Try to re-formulate things and maybe things have in fact changed and decide how I’m going to change with or without them. I think I need to make peace with the ways I used to make and use social media and maybe make room for the newer, future ways I want to channel and travel with them. Mmm, a lot of soul searching to do, for me.

END OF CHAPTER PROMPTS/EXERCISES:

  • All right, we are kicking off the image sharing with this post above!! This is the messiness of all the math I had to do, and have been seriously, seriously declining in since being out of college ahaha. I took the quiz in the book which is the first scoring section in Part A. Part B I catalogued together the averages and what they meant at the far right corner. And Part C I made my graph based on what I understood of the beginning strengths overview (which wasn’t much, let’s be real, and you’ll see this at the end, too) andddd yeah, that’s all I got. Crediting: Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 23 // Completed June 23rd 2021
  •  So originally I was only going to do Quiet Influence for one scenario, work (Amaryllis) but even then I had some doubts and also wanted to cover online presence as a second one, which after a week or so I wound up caving in and doing a separate one just for that on a small piece of paper (as you can see above). As for this Amaryllis based one, here’s some but not ALL of what I wrote down:
  • AMARYLLIS: Q1, Describe a situation that you would like to have more influence? Amaryllis I want to step up to the challenge of running routine more, being a more prominent leader, managing difficult situations with more grace, direction and patience, coming up with activities and being listened to as a staff.
  • AMARYLLIS Q4, What actions or behaviors have you tried thus far? What results have you seen? Avoidance, laziness, apathy, unhelpful stuff. Inspiration, motivation and ideas to create and improve. Taking charge in small moments or preparing so even on days off to build confidence.
  • AMARYLLIS Q6, What skills could you use in this situation? Preparation, taking quiet time.
  • ONLINE PRESENCE: Q1, My online presence, in particular Youtube and WordPress.
  • OP: Q4, uploading more frequently, playing with length of videos, networking with others more, making new friends, being involved in others’ work
  • OP: Q6, Thoughtful use of social media, quiet time, focused conversations or engaged listening.
  • Amaryllis notes: 6.23.2021 evening; OP notes: 7.14.2021 evening
  • —- Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 30-31

  • So in the next chapter of this book, in the section just on Quiet Time, I did this first (left picture) thought rundown and run through of what I thought QT would be for me and the different ways I’d define it as (activities) and how having this written guide can help me moving forwards. So, for the first 3/4 I define some of those aspects like listening to music, creative writing, blogging, video making, engaging online with others, reading a book etc. On the bottom of the page I asked myself some key questions: When does QT become rumination? Does QT have to be only in silence (nope!!)? When is QT underused? (Overuse is something answered later in the chapter) When is distraction over used? How do I balance being “on” with being “off”? For that final question, I find myself wandering and getting super distracted with Youtube or it’s the biggest source of my procrastination and I feel like when I’m watching countless videos that I can be “off”, I can be relaxing and just “enjoying myself” without any real work put into place, instead of something like blogging or reading a book, etc. I don’t know, I thought it was a good question to have… — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 36
  • The right handed picture is probably the easiest prompt answered in this entire book ahaha, for me at least!! Q2 Where can you go without distraction to reflect and plan? What activities provide you with good reflection time? I answered: the library, cafes, sometimes my bedroom, outdoors (between the lakes, porch, gazebo etc.), in the car (driving), early in the morning (when few are awake), listening to music/ambiant sounds, making art, sitting in the quiet. — Written down 7/12/21 morning, evening. Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 49

  • All right!! Welcome back to this section. So, this is the photo I have for Chp 5, and I’m going to list out the most relevant questions and answers here. I was working with two scenarios of influence: Amaryllis and online presence. So, Q2 I answer how I manage when I don’t prepare ahead of time, and how effective as an influencer I am when I don’t prepare and what could be done differently to prepare: Winging it on second shift for activities is definitely pretty hard. For first shift, it’s also tricky because I don’t tend to know what building I’ll be in with what group of children, so I could prepare all I want and still be unprepared regardless. So that’s something that stinks with this job, because I don’t have a predictability going into it. Then again, I might not somewhat at a newer job either.
  • In terms of this same question for online work: I could use guiding notes for videos to center myself or a quote or two. If I am working with a video, I can always take stuff out later in the editing process. So, there’s more room to prepare and achieve productive and satisfying results. Whether that’s in the creative filming or the creative editing
  • Q3 – What steps could you take to prepare for your influencing challenge? Would you benefit from a written plan? How and when are you going to follow through on these aspects of preparation?
  • Amaryllis: I think writing out scenes and stories for work to help mentally prepare myself for what I might walk into would help. Like visualizations that no matter what I’ll manage and it’s only for one shift. Written plans would help, for sure
  • Online: Same as outlined in the question above.

  • All right, so this is on the subject of Engaged Listening. Q1, How did someone who truly listened to you impact you? What engaged listening skills did they have? How can you use EL to influence someone else?
  • At Amaryllis, I’d say in supervisions/monthly reports, my bosses have given me great advice or metaphors to reframe what next situation I’m getting into, etc. I could continue to use my own forms of EL with metaphors and paraphrasing
  • For online presence, a few new friends I’ve made on Youtube have been super helpful and I could use EL with more validation, questions and problem solving.
  • Q3: How can EL help your situation? Could EL help you develop empathy with a person involved? What could you listen for to learn more about the situation?
  • Amaryllis: Just listening for more feedback and observing the skills and techniques of others and adapting my position to enhance and be improved upon.
  • Online presence: EL online can be to validate more and rephrase and be open about behavior I see that’s healthy, positive and brainstorm alternatives to unhealthy, negative behavior. For me, knowing when to educate and when it’s not necessary to respond (hate, trolls). I could speak more from my own point of view and “I” statements and owning my feelings.

  • ‘Ello!! This one is a little different but I figured that taking a picture of this example breakdown of the AEIOU skill would be the easiest way to convey it and get you guys an additional look inside this book. It’s not a perfectly flawless example or outcome, maybe some re-wordings would benefit both parties, but I thought it was still a really great example and something to dig one’s toes in a bit more. Let me know what you think of this down in the comments!!

  • Okay, this is the chapter questions for Focused Conversations. Let’s jump in!
  • Q1: Reflect on a focused conversation with someone in your situation that moved you forward. How did the conversation help bring a solution into focus? What can you learn from that experience to take into other FC’s?
  • Amaryllis: When my boss reframed that my shifts with the baby are only a few hours and getting through it onto the other side, I get to go home and live my life and get to be away from campus. This reframe was very helpful, realistic and life affirming
  • Online presence: Probably online interactions through Youtube, FFN, AO3, blog. Getting feedback and working towards new results and new alternative situations (vid editing). Even just being validated and respected. Offering feedback and check ins.
  • Q3: How can you learn from others in your next dialogue? Think of a pivotal story or anecdote you can share to illustrate a central point related to your influencing challenge?
  • Online presence: For online besides fanfics, I should work on more new metaphors, scripts like with IOOV’s, video condensing and so on. Metaphors and visceral situations grounded into tangible experiences helps.

  • All right, all right, we’re almost done with this review now. I’ll just have to finish a couple last sections, this section and then reread it all and edit and then I should be posting it the same day as the final day that I worked on this entire review (8.27). As for this image… this is the last FULL question/answer list I did although it wasn’t the final two. But I’ll talk about that more below. For now, this one focused on the writing skill.
  • Q1, Identify a piece of writing that has either challenged you or inspired you in the last month. Which aspects of it can you incorporate into your own writing?
  • Online presence, I definitely think online fanfic related reviews have inspired me to see the influence and impact I have and am making. Carrying this into my stories would be crucial.
  • Q2, what opportunities exist at work or home to refine your writing skills?
  • Amaryllis, Definitely reread and getting an idea of other people’s logs helps and how I can reframe what I write. Becoming more succinct and logical/formal will also help
  • Online, At home, continuing to read others works and stories will help a lot. Just being more open to others will help. And joining writing groups or forums could make an important difference.

All right, I’m definitely winding down now and it’s almost time for dinner so I am going to do that next after I finish this section and then work on a couple of blurbs for the last section and then end this post, edit it and publish it, whoohoo.

As for the Chp 9 material, I never answered those 3 questions so I am not going to share a photo of that but once I DO finish it one day, I’ll make an update post/separate post linking back to this one, just on it. That’s the plan. There’s also the next photo I’m going to share with 2 questions left unanswered that I’ll update again later but for now I have the updated graph (slightly messed up though, oops) and the two new skills I can try and work on the most from here on out.

So, without further ado… Here’s that final photo for this post.

So all I have officially completed for this picture above is the graph section. I messed up on the graph actually and tried to fix it but it didn’t totally work. The QT should be all the way up to 10 on the scale versus preparation only being up to 5. I need to work more on those two skills: preparation and thoughtful use of social media.


THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  1. Books are great friends. That’s it, that’s the message. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜š
  2. No context for this page flag but I love trains and the ambiance and soothing nature of them as well. Wonderful playgrounds of productivity or resting!! ๐Ÿ˜„
  3. Exercise can be a great set of recharging the batteries, for me trying out video games on the Switch like the boxing one or the Fit thingy or Just Dance would be really great and perfect!!
  4. I find breathing exercises or trying to pace breathing and things when I’m upset to be particularly difficult but I have found a few other ways of self-soothing around it that isn’t as direct but still seems to help (ironically I mentioned it sort of in my cardiophile blog post; I basically just trace my veins at the backs of my hands, particularly my right hand, and that helps to just ground me and calm me down. If I tried to use deep breathing it just doesn’t seem to help and frustrates me more. But the veins thing helps. I’ve noticed I do it in videos sometimes now too and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve really started to as well. I hope to mention it in a video some time soon. ๐Ÿ˜Š)
  5. Here’s a concept in this book that I liked but I think it can suffice itself well enough in this section: It talks about how becoming TOO attached to the visualization process of us planning to see our good outcomes occur in the future can be problematic because we get inflexible and too wedded to our ideals and ideas of things that haven’t actually occurred yet. It also says how life has so many variables and it’s not something that can be guessed super easily. So yeah, I thought that was helpful and interesting, in the workforce especially. Sometimes what happens for me, is if I see myself doing certain things so much, I almost vicariously live as though they happened, even if they only happened in my head, and didn’t become reality. I definitely have a work, Amaryllis, related regret about that unfortunately. Oi. — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 48
  6. There was a section in this book that talked about setting up work spaces early for meetings or spending some quiet time alone to recharge before facing these situations and I thought it was super memorable for me when I was President of the Photography Club at uni. Hahah. It was a nice reminder!!
  7. There’s another concept in this book that talks about even if you are someone who is long-winded and talks a lot, having a ‘short version’ of your pitch or request or story is super duper helpful and it’s something I want to continue improving and working on going into the future with my videos!! ๐Ÿ˜€
  8. “A powerful tool for influencing people is silence. Often, a person will talk themselves out of a wrong decision without the listener saying a word” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 78 >> Thought this was super interesting and can be quite true sometimes!! Sometimes just listening does wonders. Make sure to ask what the person needs or is looking for to help them out the most!! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‰
  9. “[Bracket Distracting Thoughts] Do you ever find your mind wandering to what you didn’t get done, what you’re making for dinner, or the fact that you need to call your Mom–all while you are trying to listen to someone else? Such thoughts block your ability to really hear the nuances of what the other person is saying. To improve your attention, take those thoughts and imagine placing them in brackets where they can stay safely tucked away while you really listen. They will be there for you when you’re ready for them” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 81 >>>> I feel like in theory this is a fabulous idea, but at the same time I don’t think for someone like myself whose memory is shot to the heavens and I forget if I don’t do it right then and there, this would be very, very tricky. I can maybe try writing it down on scraps of paper or something but yeah, trying to just assume that I’ll remember later means I probably won’t. If I don’t write it down I’m lost. Even if I do write it down, it’s likely I’ll be writing it down again because I forgot I already did or the idea repeated itself again. Even when I just said something, I’m not paying attention with what I said when so I can’t even recall then either. Unless it’s recorded somewhere or in text, forget it. But, maybe trying this paired with some writing will help… Hmm. Worth a shot!!
  10. On p. 82 There’s a great example of how students that feel comfortable with their professors in uni can sometimes reach out for indirect help and get pointed to the necessary and right sources of help and input, and that greatttttly reminded me of my time in uni and some of the professor’s I reached out to that helped me immensely through my recovery. I’d love to do a video some time of getting indirect help from people and such. This portion of engaged listening really had me going down memory lane for a bit which I didn’t mind entirely. I remember I reached out to my abnormal psych prof, and my learning and memory prof who at the end of the semester emailed me and told me how much grit it took for me to get through the semester, something I’ve always, always valued since then. I don’t know, I don’t think, I ever responded to their email but it really did stick with me. I think I even forwarded to my business email so I could probably find it and uncover it again. But yeah, that was super relatable for me and something I wouldn’t mind sharing or discussing at greater length online. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜™
  11. “When you see or hear mismatches between what is being said and how it is being said (body language), ask a question to bring focus to the disconnect” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 84 >>> I thought this was some great advice and still continues to be something I want to learn more about and look into and quiz myself on and get better at. ๐Ÿ˜…
  12. “‘And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine… Because I knew you, I have been changed for good'” – Quote by Steven Schwartz, composer, Wicked — from Chp 7 Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 89 >>> I thought this was a wonderful little quote and really cute! That’s all. ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿค—
  13. A book I’d like to check out as mentioned in this book: “The Drama Years” by Haley Kilpatrick, founder of Girl Talk.
  14. Eyebrows can be very expressive body language cues. So, look out for those more in the future!
  15. The loudest voices being the most heard and all other opinions falling to the way side is definitely an instance of intense group think. Reminds me in some ways of some of the support groups I’m going to. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜’
  16. Something I definitely notice I do more and am such a stickler about is fixing typos or rewording things and spending the time to edit so I can come across as succinctly as I want to and polished and fresh. Times where I don’t always make me face palm and I regret it later. Oooof. I really work hard to comb over everything I write to make sure it is clear and I’m making sense and I fix up any mistakes. It definitely means more work but eh. I try my best, and sometimes I still get typos! That’s okay!!!
  17. [about giving people handwritten notes] People touched by the attention, they will often hold onto these symbols of recognition for years. Writing makes it official. Some recipients have told [specific person] that glancing at these little confidence boosters helped them get through some rough days at work. The permanence of the written word means that these mementos can motivate people to action again and again in a variety of situations” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 116-117; >>>> I loveeeeee this type of thing myself!!! I love things with people’s handwriting and really cherish them very much. I have so much of that type of stuff all in and around my bedroom. I also love this type of thing can be maybe felt by others that have my handwriting or cards or little art pieces and can apply on a larger scale to pro-recovery art projects. I should really go about sending another round of them at Amaryllis. It’s been a lonnnnnnnng time!! I also think it’s just a wonderful random act of kindness too. Costs nothing to be kind! Well, maybe sometimes it costs haha
  18. This book also covers, on p. 120, the importance of using visual mediums to support large walls of text which I can definitely get behind as well, I just added 3 gifs to this post, but I should have waited because now my text is taking too long to buffer appropriately which is severely annoying. Guess I’m doomed for the rest of this post. Eugh. But yes, thumbs, videos, gifs, images, all helpful, helpful stuff. Good tips for blogging!!
  19. “When you regularly use content found on social media, you become more aware of what works and what doesn’t, and this knowledge will help you improve the content you put out there. You will get used to the appropriate length, tone, pacing and format and become a better editor of your own material” — Kahnweiler, 2013, p. 141 >>>> I really, really look forward to this for my Youtube channel one day ahaha I guess the more I work on it and the more I take tips and techniques from others, the better I’ll get at it, one day!!

MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING AND THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME:

I actually elected to take out the Critical Corner section of this review because I’m tired and I’m ready to just be done with this ahaha. I’m just running out of steam and I think I can do without that section and write this last one and then take a small break and reread everything, edit and then finally be free to hit publish. It’s getting late for a Friday for me and I have work all this weekend that I have to be okay with and deal with and such, but I have a lot of fun upcoming week things going on so I’m excited and I hope everything goes okay!!! I’ve just procrastinated for so many weeks with this one book that I just can’t wait to be fully done with it. Then on Sun, my plan will be to drop this book and OA off at the library, it’s further away, and then for sure I’ll be fully done with it, not having to look back other than maybe a video on this book in the future or those final two question/answer prompts.

I definitely don’t think this book was AS impactful as TAoCL but it was still pretty decent. It wasn’t a terrible experience and it did get me thinking a lot and I think I got the most out of the QT section and the FC I think it was for kindness stuff and recovery art projects and then maybe the thoughtful use of social media and engaged listening.

I cannot wait to start my next few books, I really haven’t completely yet so it’ll be so refreshing and nice to even spend just 20 mins tonight getting involved in the next best thing. Who knows, they may be even BETTER. Well, that’s all from me for now.

Other final thoughts regarding this book involve:

Engaging more with my audiences across platforms. Also, structuring tweets for my vids like how other people could get stuff out of it or what’s in it for them (personalizing a video more towards what can be found in it versus the nitty gritty numerical details/how I was structuring them before), is a new change that came from this book. No idea what page though. I just remember that.

Overall, it was a decent book to read and it didn’t have any real major issues. It was short enough and nicely laid out so I’d give it a whirl if you’re another introvert out there!! Best of luck and I will see you guys soon. XX

Thanks so much for being here!!! Stay safe, my friends. xxx What are you reading next?


My next books to read are….

“Dear Life” by Rachel Clarke (nonfic) and “Hazards of Time Travel” by Joyce Carol Oates (fic)

And then maybe after these, “The Audacity to Be Queen” by Gina DeVee or “Imagination” by Jim Davies (both nonfic)


TRACKING DATES AND HOURS OF TIME I READ THIS BOOK:

6/18/2021 (late afternoon), 6/19 (early afternoon), 6/22 (evening), 6/23 (late afternoon), 6/24 (early evening), 6/27 (late afternoon), 7/6 (early evening), 7/7 (late morning), 7/14 (early evening and late evening), 7/12 (early morning), 7/15 (late afternoon and early evening), 7/26 (early morning, mid-morning and noon), 7/29 (late afternoon and early evening), 7/28 (early evening).

TRACKING DATES AND HOURS OF TIME I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

7/30/2021, 8/2/2021, 8/9, 8/23, 8/24, 8/27,

“Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?” (2019) | BES: Aug. 2021


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?” (2019) by Patricia Marx and illustrated by Roz Chast

((nonfic; humor))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Heavy on the topic of food, judgments, “skinny days”.


THEMES:

Dinner parties, food, stiff personalities, humor, brevity, introduction, illustrations, words from a mother, jokes, advice, water colors, wallpaper, color, patterns, artistry, creativity, light read, caring about what others think.


SUMMARY:

If you’re looking for a decently easy read without a lot of weight in terms of topics and just something to fill in some of your time while you read short sentences and view illustrations that are pleasing to the eye, this may be the short read for you!

I picked out this book from the nonfiction humor section at the library and if anything, it helped remind me of a similar though more serious and more engaging book that I own and have owned for a couple of years now regarding the wisdom passed down from mothers and loved ones (a book I began but never finished, obtained Oct-Nov 2018 approximately, maybe 2019, I hope to read it through fully one day soon, it’s called “What To Do When I’m Gone” by Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman). Personally for me, this book by Marx and Chast was okay but nothing really groundbreaking and nothing that I’m taking away a whole lot from. It was nice to read though and get another perspective on the types of mothers that exist out in the world. Arguably, it makes this BES post pretty easy too, which I need because my latest BES post for QI I’ve been avoiding lately and procrastinating on and I’m only doing this post first so I get one other book done and returned soon, and then can trick myself into working on that post to get it done and let loose into The Void. Back to this book though, it was pretty food and dinner party focused and there were some things I didn’t jive with but that could just be from my point of view. More on that later.

I do think the illustrations of this book really adds a shine to it that would be otherwise dull and boring without them, so that is some great teamwork!! If you pick up this book yourself, what do you think stands out the most for you? Are my observations in this post different and what challenges could you raise from my own words that you could add into the blogosphere as well? More opinions, more eyes, more minds are great, great things. Cheers, my friends!!


BOOK LENGTH:

81 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

1/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES, IDEAS OR IMAGES:

  1. So, this is generally how the book is set up: the far left page features either a blank water color solid color or a water colored pattern that reminds me especially so of wallpaper. Sometimes the theme of this is carried over to the right page where it may make an appearance in the illustration, but it’s not always the case either so this may have just been a stylistic choice. On the right page, is the advice from Marx’s mother with an accompanying illustration by Chast. Her style is quite scratchy and colorful and full, and great, great additions to the work of text. I particularly enjoyed the water color wallpaper and some of the usage of either black solid colors on the left or this rich and creamy vanilla, butterscotch type color. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š
  2. BES 7 - Susan WDYW == Aug. 2021
  3. Personally for the above picture, I thought it was just lovely art and quirky enough and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Far better than anything else I could come up with myself!! I love the use of light and shadow… I really ought to use more shadow in my own work haha. Love it. (Marx & Chast, 2019, p. 9)
  4. BES 7 - Rainbow
  5. We all know how much I LOVE rainbows, so it’s only fitting that this beautiful, beautiful illustration sees the light of the Internet and the powerful and interesting advice that makes it up–though I’m not sure how much you could get away with that today!! Love the shadow, the light and the detail and scratchiness of it all. What do you think? I think this is my favorite one by far. ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿงก๐Ÿงก (Marx & Chast, 2019, p. 21).

flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

Not really any that stood out for this book, and honestly I think this is the shortest BES post I’ve ever done in the last 5 years lmao It probably won’t ever be this short again, I imagine. This book overall was all right, not anything super spectacular though or something I was super engaged in or had time for other things to think about. I’d say I was pretty mindful during it and that the flags I did write down were largely regarding the illustrations more than the text itself. I’d also say the short length was helpful because it made it all the more easy to ingest in a short, timely fashion.


CRITICAL CORNER:

So, when I chose this book I was very intrigued and curious and the short length did stand out to me quite a bit. Again, like I mentioned in the summary, it reminded me of this other book I started to read, own and never finished, and so I thought this book in question would hold the same amount of weight, relevancy, importance and significance. I was quite a bit disappointed. I feel like Marx’s mother and her priorities (particularly so much talk of dinner parties) were sloppy at best and borderline irritant and stiff and harsh at other times. Her mother seems to be quite concerned of what everyone else is thinking and by Marx’s own account, her mother would be nice and kind to everyone else first but less so and less soft and gooey with her own kids. Marx has taken this well though because she views being told the truth and not having it sugarcoated as more authentic and fundamental, knowing her mother wouldn’t tell her nonsense if she didn’t mean it and Marx has learned to live around it. I do wonder how this would be a challenge if other ailments like mental or physical health would be at play and how this might not bode well for such instances. It kinda reminds me of Odin and how I write him in my fanfic involving the teenage, mental health one, D&D. It’s…interesting.


MY EXPERIENCES: WHAT KEPT ME READING AND THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME:

I’d definitely say the short length of this book was super duper appealing. But I also think I barely got anything significant or interesting to take away from this book. I don’t think it had much of an impact and makes me see where my own Mom has done a lot more than maybe some other mothers out there. I also feel that for the author themselves that as the book went on the narrower and narrower their target audience became.

But maybe you will find something more out of it yourself!! I suggest you pick it up at the library and glib your way through it with a patient stroll. You never know what you might find!!

This again is probably the first time I’ve ever written such a short post and I’m grateful to be able to get it done (even if I was looking at it like a chore most of the time while writing, and even more so the dread that is going to come when I have to address my neglected other BES post for QI, but I know I have to do it, I have to not avoid! I have to DO!) Okay, let’s hurry on and get to the editing phase of this and then the final publication button.

Thanks so much for reading this post and stay tuned for my next and upcoming ones!! After I publish QI, would you rather see a new BES or my revival of an old one from years ago? Let me know in the comments!!! Stay safe out there. xxx


My next book to read is…. & My next BES post focuses on….

Next BES: “Quiet Influence”

Next nonfic book: “Dear Life”; next fic book “Hazards of Time Travel”


TRACKING DATES AND CHUNKS OF TIME I READ THIS BOOK:

8/9/2021 (evening), 8/10 (late morning), 8/20 (evening).

TRACKING DATES AND CHUNKS OF TIME I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

8/23/2021 (evening).

“Once Again” (2020) | BES July – Aug. 2021



CHOSEN BOOK:

“Once Again” (2020) by Catherine Wallace Hope

((fiction novel))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

pedophilia, crime, substance abuse, murder, preying on children, suicide, grief, assault, abduction, language, “crazy,” drug overdose, PTSD, depression, gaslighting, narcissism.


THEMES:

Grit, overcoming adversity (again and again and again), strength, time lines, time, time travel, quantum physics, alternate universes, pain, emotion, hope, light, meaning, psychological thriller, keeps you guessing, cooking, very descriptive language, quotes, parts (part 1, 2, etc.), healing, (group) therapy, flashbacks, mathematics, time stones, memories, consciousness, simulators, Colorado, what if chances, paving into a new future, change, detectives, medical scenes, black holes, white holes.


SUMMARY:

Hi hi, the summary for this book is tough for me because I want to talk candidly about what the story as it unfolds is about but I don’t exactly want to give it away either! Ahaha, SUCH a problematic pickle!

Either way, if I start off the review vague but get more specific in the Critical/Questioning Corner, it’s because I’m grappling with these decisions. Honestly though, I LOVED this book. It was such a good read. I definitely still struggled with my re-reading and having to go back at times because I couldn’t remember things (for instance, by p. 120 I was angry trying to figure out who Aidon was lmao) or things that I thought were one way turned out to be another way, etc. Overall though, I pretty much devoured this book in a few long sessions, which was super nice and wonderful!

Something I haven’t been able to do in a long time. It’s a complex read in terms of the quantum physics, alternate time lines and all the consistencies and confusions that arise from the popular and well-explored in movies (especially lately–I’m looking at you, MCU) time travel components, the makeshift of the science fiction involved and the tang of creativity that envelops it all.

There is betrayal. There is the darker sides of humanity. And there’s a mother who will stop at nothing to save her daughter. I should probably explain…

So, the story focuses on Erin Fullarton and Zac Fullarton, parents to the six-year old child Korrie. We start in present day where it’s June 2021 and slowly and gradually learn that the shell of what is left of Erin is because of the intense grief and pain that came with losing her child. We don’t find out right away how this happened exactly but it is revealed later. Zac is working on some time and physics type of thing where he has created two time stones, one as Erin’s wedding ring and a second a year or so later. He begins to spend his day in the ‘Clean Room’ of his workplace on the kinda anniversary of Korrie’s death; as time begins to shift and present itself, Erin is forced to realize that what she could potentially prevent is within her hands and only something she could do (she tried, valiantly, to get aid but it didn’t come readily, unfortunately).

She decides to put her everything into changing the story that her life had took a dark turn in.

We get the perspective a few times from Korrie’s killer, the icky yucky pedophile who–ooof, his chapters were particularly disgusting. Hated them. Hated him.

There’s also the Detective from Korrie’s case and that is tied up nicely at the end but I’ll leave it there for now.

Erin faces a LOT of adversity throughout this book–trying to get people to understand the gravity of what was happening and that things themselves were repeating and people treating her like she was “crazy” for it, etc. She realizes some of the pattern with the time shifts–one minute it’s summer and the next she’s stepping into winter. And when the simulation that Zac is running falls into the abyss, she recognizes that too. There’s a whole section I could talk about but I’ll say this instead:

This story will keep you guessing all the way through. You’re going to get pissed off, elated, enthralled, interested, sometimes bored (sorry, for all the physics talk! But, they lighten up, too!), wondering what certain things have significance, confused at all the time travel and how things are happening but then jumping so far aboard that it’s just natural and where the writer wanted to take us with this story that needed to be told. It’s such a gripping book. Every time I started to celebrate Erin’s wins–another thing impeded her path. “No!” I would internally shout. “You were so close!”

This book had a great balance and instances of things looking up, then going down, then looking up, then going down. It reminded me, towards the end of the story, of a video game I’m playing on the Nintendo Switch: “Journey of the Broken Circle.” Very similar I’m finding (in the sense that the story line paves the way from when things are seemingly at their most hopeless, there’s still a way through and out the other side to better times, better life and better health.) This book has a lot of those themes too.

Ultimately, the last thing I’ll say is this: The ending and those final scenes were so poignant and wishing to be captured, frozen in time as they were, forever and always. For time to retreat backwards without memory, with repetition and with different details… I don’t understand quite why they were different details, was it just the universe that was at play or did something change within the intervals of the waves on the simulation, it’s never quite explained but maybe it doesn’t have to be. Things are different and yet similar and surprising and then just are. They shine with the possibility that only having read the book’s prior pages, knowing how certain events unfolded and fell apart, only then could you appreciate those small changes that made such a different outcome. The ways it was described was very thought-provoking for me–that little bit of wonder when you take a moment to think and realize right then and there in the present day reality: how could this event unfold next? What if I acted on this thought now? Or what if I never did? What would change? What led to what? What would be different?

Time is an elusive beast. The universe works in strange ways. Maybe that we’re all here, for however long that is, is all that matters. ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿค


BOOK LENGTH:

276 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

4.5/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES OR IDEAS:

  1. I love the way Erin in her grief is described in this book, particularly in the first act. Hope uses the metaphor and theme even with Erin’s husband and it’s such a magical little callback. I found this part particularly captivating and relatable at the start of the book: “{Erin is considering and getting ready to make some muffins} Did she even know where the whisk was anymore? And with that, she was overwhelmed and could not face it. There had been a time when she could have put muffins together without a thought..now she couldn’t handle the idea of even starting them” (Hope, 2020, p. 11)
  2. The pain of the grief that not only Erin has felt from the shock waves of Korrie’s death, but the fact that Zac was isolated in his own is rocked even harder and with more intensity in this description here: “The other Erin, as he’d begun thinking of her, the one who’d replaced his wife, this lifeless Erinesque version who had appeared when the love of his life was sucked into the void…When Korrie died, Erin departed without him for regions unknown” (Hope, 2020, p. 16)ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  Personally, I found this was very relatable and how I tell the story in my fanfic “Distorted & Disordered” (to be fair, quite a bit of this book reminded me of D&D but I think a couple other fics were also on my mind too).
  3. When the story behind the nickname is revealed of how Erin and Zac called Korrie, it’s just so breathtaking. Like, she’s in the midst of a dream and consciousness and just the way it was written, thinking she’s lost her Korrie from when she was just a fetus, remembering the bump and then not feeling it, looking for her in the blankets, damn it’s powerful writing.
  4. I’m pretty sure this was unintentional but the commentary for those who are suffering from severe or even just mild or moderate mental health conditions was something that needed to be said. For Erin, in an impossible situation, she was painted to be “crazy” or a “lunatic” or “losing it” etc. That her grief had made her go “out of her mind.” We know, as the Reader, that this is not the case. But we’re powerless to stop them from feeling and judging her so harshly. I think, also, when she’s trying to get help from other people who immediately dismiss her because of her intense grief, her intense depression and her just overall struggle from her mental health because her daughter freakin’ died–that commentary, that “other-ness” is such a strong stigma in place in our real life and society as a whole. It paints the very real picture that “just because it’s all in your head” it’s not valid or real or true to you etc. Or that your whole identity is that “illness”. Or that you’re somehow “wrong” and “broken.” These are disastrous ideals because we know that mental health conditions recovery is a process, a journey and there’s no one way fits all. Hope is out there. Help is available. You deserve to have nice things, to live a happy and fulfilling life and you can if you decide to still be here and choose life. Recovery is possible and we’re here for you. Sorry, side rant. Compassion, empathy and understanding can go a very long way. Validating doesn’t mean agreeing!!
  5. Another super relatable, emotional and grieving point of the book was how Erin described her feeling lost and broken after hearing the first news that no one knew where Korrie was: “In the time that followed, people kept introducing themselves… Erin fell apart and pulled herself together and fell apart again. People gave her drinks in paper cups and handed her tissues and patted her shoulder. And yet nobody managed to do the only thing that mattered: find Korrie” — (Hope, 2020, p. 89)
  6. This next scene is so horrendously and marvelously composed that I just have to share it with you all. It fits so perfectly into this story, it definitely belongs in it and the grappling of time and understanding amongst the confusion is so on point: “[Erin] dreaded the idea that she might stand where he had stood, where he had discarded what he stole. But perhaps if she were to stand there in winter before he did, she could find a way to undo what he’d done before he did it” (Hope, 2020, p. 130)ย ย ย ย ย ย  It makes so much sense, it gets us to where we need to go, it fills in the gaps and at the same time it’s almost insignificant. Truly fascinating.
  7. At one point, ending a phase of the book, Erin struggles with realizations and the questioning nature of time and its happening in a perfectly described token of: “She couldn’t understand how this had happened. Now she had no idea where she was, or rather when she was, or what to do, but she knew she had to get back, back to where she’d been” (Hope, 2020, p. 141)ย ย ย ย  To me, it felt totally wild and even MORE adversity. The adversity and the odds were truly stacked against her and her family. This book is a RIDE.
  8. There’s something so remarkable, fitting, human and true in the following scene: “(Erin to Korrie) ‘You have to keep talking. Let’s do a story.’ Korrie: ‘I don’t want to, I feel bad.’ E: ‘The trick is to keep going, no matter how you feel. That’s how it has to be.'” — (Hope, 2020, p. 217).ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  To me, it’s just something so striking, this scene. Erin’s fight and will to survive and thrive and do everything she can is super admirable. She doesn’t give up even when she has those moments where she considers it. Even with how much of a mess she is at times, she still fights. That’s amazing. It also again reminded me of that Switch game “Journey of the Broken Circle.” And really just life in general. (Which I can relate to very much right now with my physical health, as you get older ailments don’t seem to come individually wrapped but rather altogether to test your resolve. Bleh. ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜–)
  9. What I really love about the way things ended in this book is that vague, distinct thought or phrase or almost memory that something had already happened before, something in another future, another place, that a perspective had been made and even though it came through distantly thereafter (fragmented in some cases, somewhat whole in others) it was a little glimmer of what once was even if it never became anything. I don’t know, just thinking about how these gut feelings at times or these conscious dabbling scenarios could hold so much more significance in a different time line is just fantastic eye candy to me: “As Erin stood, a feeling illuminated within her, the sense that she had the strength to take on whatever might lie ahead of her. She couldn’t know what the future was, but she knew she could rise to meet it” — (Hope, 2020, p. 255).ย ย ย  Again, I just thought it fit so well with the ground covered in this story and then was also just so mind-boggling, fantastic peeks into detail and yeah. A memory of what once was even though it never came to be.

THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  • Legit, I have no context to understand this now but early on in the book there was a scene that reminded me of this really great horror movie I watched on Netflix, I’m gonna pull up the name here: “Before I Wake” (2016) Something about how the story line in that movie went and how it’s relatable and similar to this particular story, I’m thinking specifically how the mother in the movie kinda uses her foster kid to purposefully see these tangible rehashed memories of her first son (who died) and how in this novel there’s that tangible aspect first going back in the past (so that Erin was back when Korrie was still alive and how she related and touched and could feel the very realness of the bedroom around her, in such stark contrast to her present day time line) and just… yeah. I don’t know if I explained that right or if it even fits here now having gone through the story but I think that’s what I was thinking of. That just holding on to what once was even though it’s no more (or wasn’t for a while). ๐Ÿ˜Š
  • Shout-out to any other cardiophiles out there: this book has a pretty good plethora for them in case you’d like to read it and also be in for a great story! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿงก๐Ÿงก
  • The way Erin reaches out to the next person she can think of that holds power in the situation to help alter or change the line of events that the first three quarters of the book presents, and that she’s told she can’t be helped and that there’s something wrong with her and just overall abandons her…. yeah, that reminded me of Luna a lot.
  • Hah! I did think of “This Would Be the End” fic at one point! Hah, I knew it!
  • Probably one of the coolest things about this book was seeing the way I write Loki in my fanfics being mirrored back to me. Like, I could so relate to what the author was conveying and the depth of which she did (though not completely, I may add) and the ANGST involved and the pain and grief and also see how I’ve achieved or already done and am continuing to do similar themes and cases of writing within my own fics. That’s cool. That’s nice. So, it works? Hahaha
  • I do love that the betrayal we witness in the majority of the time line DOES get brought up and addressed and it’s SO cathartic to hear Zac’s POV of it (the book is all written in third person regardless)
  • Calling time mischievous reminded me so much of Loki. I wonder how Loki and the TVA described and told a story with that (time, memory)… Maybe one day I’ll actually catch up with all of the MCU… We can dream, right?
  • It’s funny, there’s a green page flag where I wrote possible scenarios (three of them) of what would happen later in the book annnnnnnd none of them occurred. Ahaha, the ending/the conclusion was truly a surprise!!
  • There was a scene in this book, maybe because I had already been thinking of it in some videos I filmed prior, but Erin describes the old mill building and how it’s “derelict and shoved against the rock of the mountain” (Hope, 2020, p. 139) and it reminded me so much of another book I read called “Ash” Though I don’t remember the author or if I even have the review of that published online. ๐Ÿ˜—๐Ÿคจ
  • There were some great glimpses of thoughts, peeks into consciousness and thoughts the characters were having mixed in with their assessment of the world around them that I really, really liked. It made it more tangible and real to me, I think. Also reminded me again of my fics
  • For some reason, I thought the zip ties were white….. They were black.
  • It’s funny because towards the end of the book when there’s some medical scenes, I realized why it was so familiar, it’s because I had done similar types of scenes in my D&D fic haha So that was nice to see that research in someone else’s head!
  • There’s this really neat part of the story where Erin is thinking about how she’s going to explain the things she has done and how in the world she was going to convince anyone else that they had happened, this list of an outcome from multiple time lines–is just a nice reminder of how I write in my fics when I haven’t written in them in ages and I have to get a better picture and grasp again on the character and where they’re at with things hahaha (So, like often I’ll write a few sentences on Loki’s history laid out in the movies because I need to remember who I’m working with! Haha)

**At the end of the novel, our author shares that she read a particular book to help her understand and explain loop quantum gravity and it’s definitely something I also want to read and check out, here it is: “The Order of Time” by Carlo Rovelli


CRITICAL AND QUESTIONING CORNER:

More of a questioning corner but there was a point in time of me reading the book where I thought the power behind the time stones would prove too great and the money-hungry gaslighter would try to get involved and Zac would have to destroy the stones in some manner for the good of all mankind. Didn’t shape up like that though but hey, maybe a fanfic idea? ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜› I think that also makes sense why it never is quite panned out like that because when time does that weird thing it does and snips out certain details and changes others, then what the book ends with that Zac studies isn’t the same as what he began with. So, there’s that.

Another Questioning Corner thing: I was very, very surprised to learn that, at least never completely written in whichever time line or any time line, that Aidon didn’t sexually assault Korrie. That, to me, was something I was expecting but there’s never the autopsy that pointed to that and such. But just the way he would describe Korrie and kids in general… Eh, I’m not convinced he didn’t try at one point of a time line.

Critical Corner! Maybe just a statement but I feel like with the detective’s story line that the guy is just WAY too hard on himself. We find out some understanding of this later in the book but the dude is just mega struggling and has a lot of cop PTSD and is just so, so unhealthy in terms of how he handles his cases in the sense that he’s not taking care of himself and beating himself up for things he couldn’t really control or had very little power or play in. It’s sad to see. And it’s also sad to see the stigma that he notices from his peer cops when they treat him differently and ostracize him. Also, it sounded more like mini heart attacks than PTSD/anxiety attacks but maybe that’s just me.

Critical Corner but it’s more of another commentary piece I don’t know where else to put: Aidon is SO dislikable. The dude is so narcissistic and arrogant and pompous and says a lot of fucks and just ugh. He is SO unsavory. He has SO MUCH audacity and just, no. No. *shudders* Brava though for Hope to pull this off. It really sounds like a different character/person/identity set different and apart from all the other characters. Nicely done.

Questioning Corner: I wonder if the question of time erasing itself, of the universe unfolding in a way that couldn’t be anticipated, I wonder if that being brought up explains why things were so different in the later time line. I honestly don’t know but it’s an itch in my mind I can’t scratch. From my understanding, everything in the adjusted time line had changed even what the original feedback had been before, the original carry out of events, so time corrected itself in that instance because it didn’t leave any room to be born again in the same way it was at that juncture. Hmmm.

Critical Corner: I don’t know this for FACT, but I found it odd that the EMTs would ASK Erin whether there was any neck or back trauma to guide them whether or not to give Korrie a brace and not just put one on themselves. Like, normally in shows we always see them just go do it just in case and it was odd to me that they’d ask her rather than just go with their gut and do it. But I guess…


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING AND THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME:

I’d say for this section, the best thing I cannot harp on enough is the fabulous, dedicated and highly descriptive language and portrayal of this story through the author’s eyes and fingers, as it were. She takes you on a mystical ride, deeply colorful arrays of the science that can sometimes be too science-y but still breathtakingly understandable when explained a little further. Like, to me, she just rocked it. I found words I didn’t know and feelings I hadn’t come by in a while. It was a great type of distraction read for me too, because sometimes I went to it when I was feeling ill physically and mentally. Just being lost in someone else’s story for a while and to see all the triumph after so much hardship was genuinely inspiring. If her writing was this good and she continued on for another 100 pages, I don’t think I would have minded that at all–it wouldn’t have been a chore.

Another great thing I want to highlight about this book is that hidden clique experience where as the Reader we know far more what is happening, we have that inside scoop and a look into all the characters involved and there’s just something so magical and captivating about that. I know it’s run for the mill, par for the course, but it’s still nice to know certain things, even when the main characters don’t and we’re yelling at them to listen to us! Hahha, it just makes it more real, you know?

I’m personally experiencing a lot of physical pain right now but really want this post to go up before I get checked out so I just wanted to say, thanks so much for reading this post! It’s a truly beautiful story and I hope it sticks with me. I think parts of it will for sure. My next fic book I’ve decided will enter another time travel one so I’m excited about that and to learn more about these things… maybe I’ll understand them one day and carry them through further into my own writing haha.

Well, thanks so much for everything. Again, I hope Erin’s wit and her charm and her perseverance are something I remember from this book. And the strange ways the universe works and the fascination of the human memory and mind. Thanks again. See you all soon. xxx


My next book is….

“Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?” (nonfic); “Hazards of Time Travel” (fic), then when I finish WDYW, which I will it’s less than 100 pages with illustrations–I’ll begin (as of the current plan) “The Audacity to Be Queen” (nonfic)

*Next upcoming BES is for a nonfic I read called QI.


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

6/28/2021 early evening, 6/29 late afternoon, 7/29 late evening, 7/30 mid-evening, 7/31 evening, 8/10 mid-evening, 8/11 early morning and early evening, 8/12 early evening, 8/13 mid-evening, evening, 8/14 late morning, noon, early afternoon.

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS POST:

8/14/2021 (early evening, evening, late evening).

“It’s Your Funeral” (2020) | BES: Apr-June 2021


CHOSEN BOOK:

“It’s Your Funeral” (2020) by Emily Riesbeck, Ellen Kramer and Matt Krotzer

((graphic novel))

BES 5 -- Apr. - June


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Not applicable.


THEMES:

Purpose, death, afterlife, bureaucracy, case workers, art, body language, emotional expression, mysteries, unanswered questions, meaning, life, bitterness, emotions, scathing retorts to interpersonal relationships, letting go vs acceptance vs holding on, getting better, living again or for the first time, ghosts, multiverse, inter-dimensions, imagination, hard to pronounce names, pronouns, teenagers, the “voice” of the characters, fear of abandonment, miserable outlooks, not giving up on someone, aliens.


SUMMARY:

Marnie Winters is dead after her chair blew up and killed her and now she has to deal with an internship in a case worker’s alien bureaucracy to help other ghosts like herself cross over and have their files closed. She goes through the process of trying to identify why she is still there, and not in her own dimensional destination within the multiverse of universes, as she grapples with the new alien co-workers she’s met and has to live alongside in her afterlife, while also questioning if they’ll really be there for her because she’s far more used to people abandoning her and forgetting about her. Marnie struggles with her emotions and how she handles interpersonal relationships as evident throughout the graphic novel. She comes to learn about her main case worker X’lakthul (Xel) and her related co-workers and learns how to approach other ghosts and the circumstances around her afterlife position through the internship in training and then actual field work.

Marnie learns, most importantly, at her experiences within the Department of Spectral Affairs that life and the end of life takes time, healing requires time and effort and not giving up on someone and that acceptance is a powerful force and we have to meet people where they are at in their journey, not where we think or want them to be at based on our own experiences.

This graphic novel is an emotional read with funny light-hearted moments and endless depths of meaning, existential awareness and the legacy we are choosing to leave behind as we follow our lives from this existence into the next one. It is a timeless read that can help improve the lives of anyone it comes across. I hope that you will enjoy this review just barely scratching the surface and peeking into what it has in store. Many thanks, xxx


BOOK LENGTH:

200 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

4/5

๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿค๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ’Œ


OUTSTANDING QUOTES, IDEAS OR IMAGES:

  • BES5 -- Img.1
  • As stated here on my green page flag, I’ve written: The emotion/power conveying through these images is so amazing and, this is C’tharla and I already loved her early on ahaha. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š
  • BES5 -- Img.2
  • Of the above image, I really, really just loved the perspective captured here between Marnie and the educational video for her new internship position (lead by Xel) ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜…
  • BES5 -- Img.3
  • For the above image here, I absolutely ADORED the way the light play was done. Just the attention to detail that the video recording would project onto the screen was so wonderful and refreshing, I found. Especially for me because I never include light and shadow in my work ahaha. It was marvelous to see it done SO right. This is Xel, or X’lakthul our main case worker working with Marnie and helping her through her ghostly life. ๐Ÿ˜Šโคโค
  • Luckily, for me, p. 59 really redeemed itself in my eyes for why I wanted to read this book and what I was looking to get out of it, so that is nice! I really enjoyed the notion between Dev and another caseworker, Marnie in tow, towards a ghost that there was no rush for his file to be closed and that it was going to take time. Additionally, that “we’re all in this together. But if we gave up every time we were frustrated, we’d be doomed from the start” (Riesbeck et al, 2020) I really, really loved that message. It was SO poignant to me and really highlighted something important that I could gather from this book and keep with me, hopefully tightly because it’s so relevant for my life!! (I’m looking at you, Avoidance!). Just wanted to highlight that in this review. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿค๐Ÿค๐Ÿค
  • p. 60 involved a nice breath of mindfulness where Jose (the ghost), Dev and V’qttyr take another moment to choose to watch the boats pass by on the river because there really isn’t a necessary rush and it’s okay to take a moment sometimes, just for you. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Š
  • BES5 -- Img.4
  • My page flag, I believe written in pencil here, says: “I do just love the illustration of existential awareness here.” It was very, very well done, in my opinion!! ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™ (p. 71)
  • Another detail I enjoyed out of this book was the dialogue boxed squiggles when Marnie was being silenced/muffled by Xel’s hands over her mouth ahaha. So, instead of a straight line off the speech bubble, her speech bubble main “line” was just a squiggle instead! Like a snaking squiggle, so to speak. A little squiggle with an edge of personality to it ahaha
  • I feel like my number one favorite scene in this entire book happens, unsurprisingly with C’tharla, on p. 93 when C’tharla is explaining to Marnie that “[C’tharla] has to be the one to tell her employees to care less. That [she] has to be so cold so that Xel can be so warm. This job (she tells Marnie) needs coldness as much as it needs empathy or it would suck us dry. The greatest good for the greatest number” I just absolutely loved this scene and it took SO MUCH care and beauty and challenge and understanding from me. It absolutely made sense and it was just so wonderful I had to share and highlight it in this review (because god knows I shit on this book in the critical section haha!) I just thought it was so powerful and it really humanized C’tharla and made her character have that much more depth and purpose. It’s just beautiful to witness, I feel.
  • My next favorite scene that I think defines, or should arguably define, this entire book is this: “[C’tharla telling Marnie] A third of our clients will succeed no matter what we do. And a third of our clients will fail no matter what we do. The last third.. that’s where you can make a difference. That’s where you have to focus your energy…” [Marnie:] “Which third am I?” [C’tharla] “That depends on you.” (Riesbeck et. al, 2020, p. 94-95).
  • The above section is just SUCH a powerful scene, even more so with the images of the body language but yeah like, it’s amazing. That is the biggest thing sticking with me and I’ll focus on it when I consider my recommendation score for sure. Like, the empowerment that is channeled here is amazing and the determination that that part, if nothing else, is up to you, like, oooof, chef’s kiss. I’ll probably even mention it in the what kept me going section of this book and its lasting impressions on me. ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ˜ญ
  • The above image takes place on p. 126 and is really, really something I loved and adored about this book. Xel validating Marnie in the sense that Marnie cannot understand why people wouldn’t give up on the hard cases (like how her life was while she was alive, at least to her perspective) and instead would want to fight through hell and back for people (that wasn’t her experience in life) and Xel’s words saying it’s because these people are WORTH the effort, is just all sorts of emotional, heartwarming and hopefully inspiring. I thought it was worthy of mentioning in this review, myself. ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™ They’re worth it. You’re worth it. And so am I. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ญ
  • I would like to say that before the concept is brought up later, on p. 139 I was even thinking that Xel was necessary to let go of the box she had placed Marnie in and instead work with her with where MARNIE was at rather than attacking the problem and the issues Marnie was having in only Xel’s point of view and point of reference. It felt to me that Xel was pushing for something that maybe Marnie didn’t even want anything to do with and that was something I was hoping Xel to come to realize on her own (as a Reader, I’m powerless) and luckily she did. I just noticed here that I was hoping for this resolution and I’m glad to say it was reported on later. Sometimes we have to let go, even when we want to hold on tightly and forever. Not necessarily to abandon but to allow for extra space to regather our thoughts and adjust our approaches. ๐Ÿ˜Š
  • The above image, from p. 143, shows an increasingly pissed off Xel after Marnie jabbed at her roughly regarding how she handles her job and isn’t very good at it. YIKES! She is literally seething and I LOVED the display of emotion here. Not only just within this particular photo but the lead up and drop off after (she just takes a deep breath and re-centers herself) ahaha
  • I liked this quote in particular from King Tut’s ghost (I imagine if I were still in school, like traditional school ages of middle to high school, I would have better understood this reference and information, but since I’ve been through higher education and left that for a while too, I really don’t remember much if anything at all of King Tut ๐Ÿ˜…) where he says, on p. 150: “Mine was a life wasted. For three thousands years I have sat idle, as helpless in death as I was in life” There’s just something so somberly beautiful about this concept that I HAD to highlight here. It really speaks volumes to me.
  • (Once Marnie tells King Tut his true legacy he laughs and says…) “I suppose I feel silly. For spending so much time worrying. And I suppose hearing it made me realize that it really…doesn’t matter. Knowing [my legacy] doesn’t change what I did in life or what I’ve been doing in death” — Riesbeck et al., 2020, p. 153

  • The emotional and wave of acceptance of these simple facts was just SO much of a relief and a wonder to experience as the Reader, for me at least. It was just so beautiful to get the chance to witness. That in the end either being remembered or being forgotten, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t really matter. It didn’t change what was or could have been and there’s something just so magically empowering about that. This book does have some fantastic sprinkling of messages, even though it didn’t live up to my full viewpoint of potential. It could have been so much more yet… what does exist is still at least worthy of telling. And overall, it sent its message and I was receptive to it. It’s not without faults yet it does have its beauty, too. And amazing artwork at that as well. I probably won’t pick up a graphic novel again for a while but it was nice. It took me a while to get into it or stay in it but it was nice when I was in it.
  • The motion achieved and captured here was just far too astounding to not include. I love it, yay! Riesbeck et al., 2020, p. 154.
  • I thought it was powerful the way Xel wanted Marnie to get better no matter what the cost and the ultimatum that was offered to all the characters in that moment. So heartwarming and lovely, I found.
  • “It’s a process. You’ll get there someday. But give yourself time. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself along the way. Celebrate the wins, even if they’re small” — (Xel) Riesbeck, 2020, p. 198

  • Wise words to live by and take from this book above if there’s nothing else you read in this post (but if you do read it all I send you a gold star and some glitter (virtual glitter, so no mess!) along the way and thank you very, very much for your time, attention and gratitude!!) ๐Ÿ˜˜๐ŸŒŸโญ๐ŸŽŠโœจ๐Ÿ’– Remember these few things: time, effort, healing.

flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  1. Probably the nicest thing and also the most surprising thing that I got out of this book was inspiration and motivation for my own novel in the works. By p. 13 I was already adding new notes onto my iPod for my novel, for an improved and new ending, for the main characters to “end as they began” and a few times throughout reading this book I did in fact work on my novel. Noteworthiness was the fact I worked on my novel for about 2 hours just from getting inspired on p. 13. So that was very exciting. ๐Ÿ˜Š
  2. Attention to detail is definitely something this book really shined in doing, and speaking of shine, I absolutely loved the sparkles in each alien character’s/case worker’s hair!! Particularly C’tharla’s, who was honestly my favorite character to begin with ahaha. But Xel was great too. ๐Ÿ˜
  3. p. 16 with its “comes to pass” phrase reminded me that I should try and work on my own fanfic “Come to Pass” very, very soon. For fanfics, I’ll most likely be updating these guys soon: ALU, CeC, D&D, S and TAaBBT, AUS
  4. At the beginning of the book, on p. 28 where Marnie is attacking and threatening angrily towards Xel, it’s definitely her depression coming out on the attack but I wondered to myself why Marnie necessarily had to attack Xel’s positivity because that optimism can so often come from a place of having known pain. ๐Ÿ˜“๐Ÿ˜”
  5. For a while, and maybe this is to show the change and pay off for Marnie later in the book, but for a while I feel like she chooses to isolate herself and be miserable instead of being open to embracing that while love does hurt and is painful, it can also bring her much peace, understanding and patience. Again, maybe it’s to highlight later how she changes her mind about her predicament, it’s just a bit tough to work through in the beginning, and tough for me as the Reader to give her that time and space to figure it out on her own (there’s a helplessness involved and also I really DID feel for Marnie and I cared enough about her story that I wanted to find out what happened, regardless of my stance in the next section. I did care for Marnie and I wanted to love her and in some ways I did, it was just complicated and a roller coaster getting all the way there, but I’m glad I stuck it out, even if I felt the ending was underwhelming and rushed.) Back to this review though!!
  6. This is ESPECIALLY highlighted on p. 64 where Xel is talking about having patience to Marnie and I realized I maybe needed to have more patience for her, myself, too. I was hoping she would redeem herself in the coming pages (and she did, for a while, until going backwards and then being in a cheesy ending, ahaha).
  7. The chapter where Marnie has to learn how to speak with the character Carol was something I could relate to (Carol seemingly speaks gibberish and unclear English) because the supporting characters tried to give tips or experiences they’ve had with Carol that helped them learn about Carol and how to communicate with Carol, but it turned out their stories had little resolve to complete Marnie’s questions and one of those characters tells her that it just takes time and is something that Marnie will learn on her own. For me, personally, this reminded me of work at Amaryllis and having to learn and build a rapport with each kid and any tips I manage to gather to help with that process, particularly with the nonverbal toddler as of late (though I have to brush up on my interpersonal effectiveness skills because I’m severely lacking in them lately, that and passive/aggressive/assertive stances as well. Ooof, I’m pretty exhausted by this point of the review, a few days later, so this is already feeling rough to get through and I hate it. Ugh. Bleh. I went on another Athena dive too so that reallyyyyy didn’t help anything. Meh. 6/21/2021)
  8. Xel even tells Marnie on p. 125 that her work with Carol is in fact that: work. It’s going to take time and she doesn’t have to rush the process. Again, this reminded me of relationships and building rapport with, in my job, kids, and even just other humans in life in general. ๐Ÿ˜Š In fact, Xel even says how she can’t give a lecture or show a video for Marnie to learn how to speak with Carol, that it’s just something that is learned and cannot be taught exactly, which again, I related to very much. It’s a process, basically!! Communicating with other humans, hehe.
  9. I loved Marnie’s and Xel’s stare down on p. 150 Ahaha
  10. I found it so heartbreaking when Marnie was apologizing to Xel, thinking Xel was pissed and going to abandon her. My heart, oh! ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’”
  11. I would say, yeah, not meeting someone where they’re at in recovery or life can be pretty invalidating so try and validate where they ARE rather than where you think they could be! Validation doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with the person, too. Take care, out there!
  12. On p. 181 when Xel suddenly hugs Marnie, Marnie makes such a Loki-like comment telling her to put her down and it was just such a hilarious little thing that my MCU mind took over. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜™
  13. p. 191 reminded me of Deadpool 2 in particular when Deadpool sacrifices himself to save the kid from going on to commit acts of murder against humanity and he dies until Cable goes back in time to save Deadpool from dying with the little token thing. Basically, that sacrifice of the self for someone else just reminded me of Deadpool 2. Which I have to still do a review on…
  14. The book ends with some lovely progress from Marnie. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿค๐Ÿค

CRITICAL CORNER: THINGS THAT DIDN’T SIT RIGHT WITH ME…

I’m not sure which section this next part should go in exactly: Is it a Critical Corner thought? A Thoughts or Ideas I had while reading thought? A Summary thought? I’m not sure.

But Marnie, as the main character in this story, is… complex. She, to me, was very unlikable. Like, I get that she dealt a lot with worthlessness feelings, low self-esteem, and pushed people away that were only trying to help her, as she had deserved in her living life to begin with however she did not receive, yet at other times she was very scathing and hurtful and angry towards people that were doing her a favor. Like, she was just ruthless and mean-spirited, and didn’t really give herself pause to consider how she might be negatively impacting others around her. She was definitely struggling with her identity and depression and how that was unfair that it wasn’t treated right in her living life and as a ghost, she’s taking out that pain and frustration on everyone around her, and it doesn’t make it right, it makes it understandable and it also was just soooo annoying to me. Like it really grated my nerves. If the story had been about Xel or C’tharla, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

And there were times that Marnie would realize the error of her ways and change.. only for her to resort back to abandonment and angry/miserable tactics that weaponized her emotions onto others. And that was frustrating (because I was open to Marnie, I disliked Marnie, I cared again for Marnie, I hated Marnie and then I was indifferent and wanting more from Marnie). And even the ending of this book seemed rushed to me and was so, so cringe, anticlimactic, underdeveloped and unfinished. It just fell really flat. I feel like the main rushed in plot at the end where another supervisor was being introduced, could have been hinted at before rather than being tossed in for one final punch. It was also very unprofessional of everyone involved and lacked any sense of realism, which is ironic for a fiction graphic novel about the bureaucracy of aliens in the afterlife, so I get that’s an odd sentiment to hold.

Also Marnie was apparently 19 years old. She spoke to me and acted FAR more like a fourteen or fifteen year old. We also never really get an insight into how her family coped with her loss or the way she died. Like, it was just a comical joke that her butt blew up from her chair and it was never revisited again. It was very odd.

Pairing this with the ending where, yes, there were some great points by Xel, it also didn’t fully answer anything. It just seemed lackluster and I think at least 20 additional pages could have mapped things out in a far more clear fashion. It just felt and read to me like the deadline for finishing this novel was approaching and everyone just had to put together all the last pieces the night before and one hour before it was due. I would have liked to see more growth. I do think, again, that Xel had some great ending of the book quotes here but like it was cheapened and we don’t get to see the more growth and change that Marnie gets to experience. Does she stay in the job as an intern forever? Does she eventually leave for the further afterlife? It’s never quite answered.

And then what happens to everyone after the boss issue? Do they get spoken to about what happened, is there any justice served to them for their unprofessional behavior? It seemed more like a six year old ending a story than something well thought out and planned meticulously. Again, rushed and just forced.

There were definitely moments where this book made me laugh or made me think or kept me going for sure. I would say 60% of me was disliking Marnie and 40% was me already being invested and needing to know what happened etc. (The closure aspect, I suppose one could say).

So, for instance of how much I disliked Marnie and resented the fact that this story was mainly about her: Take in point p. 50 where her smug attitude is presented towards two of the case workers, the main chapter being on Dev where she is suggesting that instead of finding the ghost they’re looking to work with they just abandon the process (mmm, do you taste that? The sweet scent of projection) and head back to the office. This is putting it delicately for Marnie’s attitude because it’s about to get a whole lot more direct and miserable. Bleh. ๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿคฎ

Also, in general, I feel like the worlds and environment about the inter-dimensions could be further explained and unraveled but it’s just never covered further.

By p. 55, Marnie is once again hurling insults at the two people she’s working besides. She, to me and in my eyes, became very unlikable, abusive, powerless, miserable and lashing out cruelly in a verbal fashion (though her body language ALSO communicates this without a doubt). She’s so often in a angry positioning of her ghostly form, which is probably just her shtick and how the character wanted to be presented (but it doesn’t make me want to feel for her, at the same time. So, eh). It’s almost like as a character, particularly the MAIN character, Marnie is just so…. agh, I forgot the word. Like, I definitely felt for her more later but so soon into the novel and I’m ready to chuck the book out the window and never touch it again, you know? It’s not the best way to keep the reader engaged, I think. And maybe this is meant later to build such a testament that Marnie plays such a vital role in the ending of the book but at what cost does me disliking Marnie from the get go make me want to stick it out and see how she turns out (for the better/ultimate good)?

I think I honestly may have mentioned it in another section, but I don’t recall where and I’m still plugging away at this post days later, so I just wanted to add that I was also disappointed in the way that the chapter named after V’qttyr BARELY had any of him actually in it, which was super odd and different from how all the other chapters were constructed. And it seemed SUPER rushed to me, like the last hour before a deadline paper is due and you’re just throwing everything at it to get it done. I thought this was pretty, yeah, I already said it, disappointing. I think if the story had gone on even another 20 pages there could have been a better way of handling it. I believe I’ve said this, too, but like the ending with a new character being suddenly involved to serve as the purpose of Marnie growing a thick skin and finding someone darker than she was and crueler than she was so as to build up Marnie and have Marnie change her stance on things (becoming more assertive, sticking up for her friends etc.) was pretty obvious and predictable. The added character was just so random and not built up in previous pages or chapters, so that was rough. There were still some great things that Xel told Marnie then, which I covered before (I’m writing this review out of order, haha) but yeah, it was just not what I was expecting and the fact that I expected something before it even happened made it cringey to me and dull.

Carol is also accidentally misgendered on p. 175.

To me, I felt that the ending of the graphic novel was kinda like the way parents are presented on Disney channel shows. Very like clueless and just a, I mean, I want to say a ‘mockery’ of their own selves but I feel that may be harsher in words than I wish to intend. I guess just it was pretty cheesy and formulaic and not what I was expecting. I would have preferred less of the random new character involved and more thought placed into it with even more scenes if that was possible. I think taking out the new character would have worked fine and there could have been another way to show how much Marnie had changed (and even then, we could potentially question how much of that was that positive change, she was still having somewhat of an attitude) over the course of the plot line but we didn’t quite get that, in this case. It was still a good and decent book overall, with some excellent ability to code and decipher body language and emotional expressions which I really appreciated.


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING AND THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME….

As I already hinted at earlier, I got, as I tend to do, pretty invested in this story and needing that sense of closure and finality when it came to seeing through the graphic novel. For better or for worse, no matter how much I disliked Marnie, I still cared for her and wanted to know what happened to her and where the story went. I cannot abandon a story, I have to see it through and this was definitely one of those cases.

In the end, I did enjoy my time with this graphic novel. I definitely don’t want to read another graphic novel for a while and I probably won’t anyways so that is nice at least. I have my next book that I’m working on and I’m so, so, SO ready to finally just let this book go and no longer be in my possession. As you’ll see below at the very end of this review, I read this book on and off since April 2021 and I’m soooo ready to just be done with it. Thank god!!! It’s going to be SUCH a relief to finally pay off all my final fines from my local library and then continue moving on and forwards with the remaining books I have from two other library networks.

I am excited, I am grateful and I am inspired and motivated. I will be making a lot more videos this coming week and I’m really happy and excited. I also have more blog posts I can do and I plan to finish watching Thor and work on that review, and really get out the TIH and IM2 review posts, along with things like life updates, talking about my romantic relationship and some other older book reviews or film reviews that I have in various documents and physical journals.

I cannot wait. I think I’ve said everything I wanted to say.

Soooo, thank you so much for reading, stopping by and putting up with my shenanigans!! Thank you so very, very much. I’m still working on messages and will continue to uphold that across my socials this week. I am already reaping many benefits and just talking with people by doing that so I’m really motivated and inspired. Thank you so much once again!! I can’t wait to bring this book back, yay. Ahaha

My next book? (within the current timeline of me reading, not necessarily next upcoming BES’s)

Quiet Influence” (2013) by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler PhD

๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Ž


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

4/4/2021, 4/13, 4/14, 5/7 (late night), 5/8 (morning), 5/19, 5/27 (late night read), 6/1 (late night), 6/2, 6/3 (early morning reads), 6/16 (afternoon), 6/17 (multiple hours in one day).

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

6/17/2021, 6/18, 6/21, 6/22/2021

“Online Danger” (2018) | BES: Mar. 2021


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Online Danger” (2018) by Dr. Eric Cole

((Nonfiction.))

BES 4 - 2.19, 3.13


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

“Crazy”, “[encouraging] a healthy dose of paranoia”, suicide method joke, obsession/compulsion remark.


THEMES:

Cybersecurity, servers, technical but watered down jargon, online, virtual world vs real world, dangers, improvements, security, tips and tricks, advice, people “being stupid”, trust and mistrust, safety, threats, viruses, cyber criminals, lies, adversaries, hackers, identity theft, cyber crimes.


SUMMARY:

Hello, welcome to this next installment of a Book Exploration Station. This post focuses on the nonfiction book regarding cybersecurity and the very real threats and online dangers that exist in this world of cyberspace. The book is divided into about ten chapters self-titled on different matters involving cyber crime and staying as safe as possible online. Our guide is author Dr. Eric Cole, an expert in the field of cybersecurity who is using his expertise in the field, his public speaking to corporations and his academic work to dispel the myths behind cybersecurity and safety for all those involved online. He manages this hefty task through his reflection on the things he has learned, been taught and continues to teach to all. Cole translates large, technical language into an easy to understand identification through a usage of pre-determined sections within each chapter aided with hip ninja illustrations every now and then in the corner of a related paragraph or page. He ends each chapter with a breakdown of tips and tricks regarding the material of the chapter as well as the big takeaways, which I’ve listed out down below as some of my biggest ones too. If you’re looking for a book regarding how to keep private matters like personally identifiable information away from the hands and eyes of the adversary, i.e. the cyber criminal, this may be the book for you!! The book is simplified for the average digital user and provides some advice towards keeping teens and children safe online as well as the adults that made them, which is wonderful! It’s a pretty easy read and I’ve outlined the types of things I had issue with coming from a mental health advocate and recovery based persona as well as what I gleaned as most important from the book itself, having gone through the book page to page with my own mind and eyes.

Something I wanted to name right off the bat is that within the introduction chapter there is a lot of typography changes and size differences that really were abrupt and gave me quite the headache. Luckily they did not persistent heavily into the rest of the book and when implemented at other times it was only done so as to provide emphasis on certain matters. Other minor mistakes like deadpanning what seemed like a question or a misuse of quotations direction occurred but were pretty mild. As with anything else, the book has its faults, which I’ll describe for me down below. Overall it’s a decent read. It wasn’t exactly about what I thought going into it so I had to level these different expectations on my own as I gave the book a fair chance. Let’s begin!


BOOK LENGTH:

160 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

2/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES OR REMINDERS FOR YOU AND ME:

A really big theme in this book is to not trust links, URLs and email attachments or other embedded links.

The problem with this, particularly relating to the blogosphere, is how do we continue to exercise such caution? Blogging relentlessly involves other links whether spelled out completely or hyperlinked via related text. And this book was released along the timeline (2018) that blogging has been popular but never once goes about answering this very, very large question. So, what is the etiquette there? What is the rule of thumb? I guess it would be to never trust a link again but is that truly practical when it comes to books, reviews, movie reviews, regularly inspired accounts, artwork, music, mental health posts and the like? What do you guys think? Do you trust links in blog posts or even in comments and how do you exercise caution and mistrust regarding them? I’ve become now skeptical of links but I’m also not sure how to go about changing my entire worldview and believable nature about them. Do I change my thinking the best of the people behind creating them and merely adjust my perspective via exercising caution and suspicion that anyone out there may be working against me (which really, arguably, isn’t the best practice to be engaged with in the first place) or do I fall prey to a system that is corrupt and unjust? I’m not sure.

In addition, I think it’s natural to be more trusting within the mental health community, which is not to say there are no predators within because we’ve been shown this to be false repeatedly across different fan groups, but overall I think because we’re more authentic and candid, we can forget these intrinsic rules of the Internet and safety regarding it and that not everyone has our best interests at heart. I think it’s more likely that people will be open to other channels of communication (email, texting, phone calls) and trusting who is behind the screens, where maybe more skepticism should be common place and continuing to entrust that layer of protection between the self and others. Just to be safe. One minute someone could be an ally and the next an adversary. Maybe, maybe taking these small risks could prove to be disastrous. Maybe it’s best to continue to enforce a level of uncertainty in order to protect ourselves, one another and more. It’s definitely something to think about and mull over more.

Another thing I would have liked to see discussed more than it was in this book would be a Virtual Private Network (VPN). I’ve definitely seen a bunch of ads on Youtube videos where content creators have been sponsored by Nord VPN for the usage of watching different Netflix area shows per countries around the world and I’ve been somewhat interested here and there but have never fully looked into it. I think this book lightly touched on it without really exploring it more which I think could have been beneficial. The book does warn a lot about taking off tracking locations on devices so maybe that is something worth looking into and disabling from various functions of apps and such. Personally, that’s not something that bothers me a whole lot but it’s worth looking into for sure.

Another big theme in this book is the notion that we cannot prevent ALL cyber attacks but rather limit their destructive natures and the impact they leave behind: “Reducing exposure can be done; eliminating it totally is just not possible” — Cole, 2018, p. 40.

Personally, I view this along the same lines as preventing all suicide deaths or all cancer deaths–in reality, it’s unlikely to happen although the effort behind it is admirable and worthy of pursuing. By working to help evade even just one death from these conditions matters and can have a positive effect rippled out. The reality is that it won’t be possible for various reasons to postpone death from either of these conditions but maybe we can make it hurt a little less or be a little more bearable for those left behind, like with what can be managed after cyber attacks and cyber crimes. The book later goes on to say that it’s more likely that cyber attacks happen on smaller scales and the media doesn’t report on them. It takes up to 22 months before suspicious activity like on banks and credit cards are actually discovered so it’s even more likely that little bits of money are being used and exploited and the average person never notices it until that two year length of time, which is terrifying!!! (Cole, 2018).

“In cyberspace [this premise of wanting to trust human beings] no longer works. Your high-speed wireless connection does not provide a window into the soul of the user on the other end of your communication. Because verifying electronic information is next to impossible for the average user” — Cole, 2018, p. 44

This, I imagine for anyone else in my position with a blog and especially within the mental health community where so many of us feel compassion and empathy for ourselves and others, is a very, very difficult idea to swallow. It absolutely needs to be said and it’s also incredibly heartbreaking. We have to strive to be more careful online because there are those people online who exist to hurt, damage and destroy one another. It’s very hard and exercising more caution is definitely necessary. I’d say giving out like a less personal email address* (like a public one) if you do at all would probably be best. Offer a DM on the social media where it has that but keep online stuff to online. I know, this is hard, and I’ve not done this in the past myself, but from here forward I’m gonna try and implement it more, or at least just weigh out the pros and cons before I do so. We have to be careful for our own safety at the end of the day and anyone who pushes against that or tries to finagle it doesn’t deserve us and our trust. Be careful out there on the Internet, my friends. ๐Ÿค๐Ÿค๐Ÿค We don’t necessarily know what threat lies behind the next typed word. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ (*We’ll talk again about email addresses later on.)

“Next time you share online, ask yourself two questions:
‘Am I comfortable sharing this with my friends?
‘Am I comfortable sharing this with strangers?” — Cole, 2018, p. 47

Personally, I gotta say, I think getting involved with advocacy for as long as I have now (since Mar. 2016), I’ve completely warped the way I think about this. Even before then, on deviantART and such I always used the journal features and descriptions of my artwork as like really public journal entries. I still do that heavily on Twitter and even just in the blogging world too. To me, I don’t really think about it when I hit send or publish–like once I do, it’s like it never happened even though I’m kinda aware that there’s a record of it somewhere. (By the way, does anyone have a good way to look back on original first tweets? You can’t really search through tweets, can you? I wouldn’t mind looking back on some of my tweets but they’ve just been so completely swallowed up by The Void that I just never look into it. Additionally, I am aware of some cringe from my past exists online but I kinda just avoid it and pretend like it didn’t happen, mmm, avoidance). I probably should think about this [the impact and the cataloguing that happens because I hit publish] more than I do, but I do treat what others might consider private and personal information as just super public information. Eh. *shrug* ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Maybe one day I’ll look more into this but for now I’m comfortable in it and don’t see a super big problem with it.

It does make me think that for purposes of safety in my videos that I will refrain from specifying specific places or companies and the like and just ask in the description of the video to not reveal these things if people do happen to know. Just in hopes I can limit being doxxed and such. Also, this feels a little meta because if I didn’t treat blogging as personal and sharing myself and my thoughts, I probably wouldn’t be doing so even on here. Interesting, isn’t it?

I guess ultimately, my point here is that what other people may consider private information, I’ve always, in terms of my mental health, treated as public information and I’m really open about it and don’t see the ramifications of why I shouldn’t talk about it, if that makes sense? Like, it has opened up doors for me and new opportunities and I choose to think of it like that rather than be shamed and limited in what I can accomplish and do. It’s about perspective. And I knew getting into this that I might be treated differently or be shunned from things and that’s okay because I know my speaking out matters so much more than that. So, I’ve accepted it and move forwards without thinking too much about it. ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

DO NOT i.e. NEVER OPEN ATTACHMENTS IN EMAILS

Honnnnnnnestly, for work purposes, I don’t see this ever being truly feasible and the norm. Like, I’ll definitely look differently at email attachments from unknown sources for sure but like if it’s work related? Ehhh, I mean. Nah. Nah, bro. Especially if it’s an email from myself to myself, like should I not open that either? It’s tricky. Again, strangers hell no. But potential strangers posing as people I know and that it’s super convincing, I don’t know man, that doesn’t happen to me or hasn’t yet, as this author would like to caution everyone–it hasn’t happened YET. I still don’t see that being something I can manage all the time across my accounts. I definitely won’t do links in like comments for instance, like if there’s something you want me to see you can mention the title and I’ll look for it myself but like not opening email attachments, that’s a little much. Sorry. For me and for you and for everyone. ๐Ÿ˜•๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜ญ

Also, don’t trust video links and playing videos either. Just when you thought the Internet was okay, it says not to do something else because people ruin a good thing!! I’m not sure how it works in any manner but it’s something to be cautious of as well. Trust little online!! Even this maybe? See, these are the conundrums I fell into, too.

Invest in a portable, physical back-up hard drive and Cloud-based backups for your various important information.

Be careful with storing things like personally identifiable information (credit cards, super secret numbers, license numbers, addresses) on Cloud based formats (leave Cloud based backups to things like family photos, creative writing documents, etc.) and utilize physical hard drive backups for things like those same personal documents, photos, videos and personally identifiable information such as taxes information, purchases, etc. Treat your computer like it could become ill and unusable at any moment and so keep things up to date on your hard drives with the photos and information you need there. Perform a careful balance between having too many copies of things and not enough copies of things. (Remember too that once it’s created it can potentially be brought back even if you ‘delete’ it!!! So make sure you get rid of your hard drives carefully when you’re done with them using things like magnets to break up the data.) Most backup drives can be encrypted or password protected and it’s important to keep them in less obvious places in the house like in a safe or secure place (something out of plain sight; don’t use it as a doorstop!). — Paraphrased; Cole, 2018.

Own multiple email address accounts (12’s a lot, 3-5 is better) designated for different, separate purposes only.

So, if you have things like banking information on one email, make a new one just for blog updates and another separate one for another area of your life. Right now, I have two: my public email address and my business email address. After reading this book, it’s best to try and scatter information in multiple places (kind of, some things shouldn’t be, again it’s that balance) so that if one thing goes down, not EVERYTHING goes down with it. (Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!) I’m not sure what I’ll name that email address (it should also change with providers so one Gmail, one Yahoo, etc.) though I have a couple of ideas. I’m not sure what I’d designate it as yet (types of content) so I have to think and consider this more. It may be something I definitely look into and establish soon.

If you want to file share with someone, try looking into file sharing platforms (think Dropbox) that are safer to engage with than simply email attachments that could carry viruses.

This is something I’m gonna have to look more into. It might be even easier if I make a Gmail account. Using things like the Cloud and sites similar to Dropbox might be a worthy investment. Speaking of investments:

Always update your software (virus protection; Windows/PC updates; browser updates) to the new, current models.

The reason for this, despite the hassle, is that new, updated software features patches to previous plot holes and instances where adversaries could take advantage/get past software protection and therefore means if you DON’T update, you’re more at risk to falling for a cyber attack from current loopholes and future continued ones that may appear. Software updates signal to cyber criminals that something was missing before and could be an opportunity for their next attack. Software updates will be lifelong because hackers are very smart and continuously find those holes and ways around a system. Software updates will keep you better protected than if you do nothing.

Shut your computer down for the night when you go to bed or are not using it. If you step away for a moment, lock it up to be password protected. If you’re going to sleep at night, shut it down.

The reason is because a shut down computer cannot be hacked or utilized in serving viruses and adversaries against you. If it’s not connected to the Internet, it cannot be accessed and even if it’s a hassle, it’s for your protection so it’s definitely something I’m allowing for myself more than I used to pre-reading this book–I have a bad habit of having too many documents or tabs open so I’d always avoid this notion of shutting down the computer, not realizing it was such a red flare!! (Phones and smaller devices it’ll be a work in progress for me).

Password vaulting programs may be something interesting, useful and safe to look into. They are programs that can remember various passwords of yours with a two factor authentication system to get into. They are a better alternative than having your browser remember your passwords because these are not as heavily guarded and are more susceptible to being found out. (Cole, 2018, p. 77).

If you’re in the USA like myself, you can (and should) use Annual Credit Report . com as the official government sanctioned website. (Without the spaces, of course.)

Airplane mode on your device can offer you some benefits more than just in-flight progress. It can help limit the location finding of your device when you’re say, going to sleep for the night. (Cole, 2018, p. 83)

I think I mentioned this somewhere else in this review, but I can’t remember now where (I know I mentioned it on Twitter too) but I am going to be shopping/looking for another tetrabyte related physical hardware back-up device to invest in. I’m pretty sure I have a 1TB one and that’s going to be getting full soon so I may line up a 2TB one from what I’ve found thus far via Best Buy. It’s a lot of money (it’s marked down for $60 from $110 but it’s important and will probably last me a long time). My current one has lasted since like 7 years or so. So, it’s worth the investment. I have to finagle between that and a new phone, not sure which one I’ll purchase first. But it’s on my mind and in one of my tabs now too.

P. 84 is where the author talks about “splitting” your personality, i.e. making multiple purposed email address accounts. I honestly couldn’t fathom this at first and like I said earlier or later than this point in time, I’m still trying to figure out what name I’d use, what account where (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc) and what for but I’m definitely warming up to the idea and thinking of what it’d be in relation to. It’s definitely now on my mind when before it never was. Definitely something I’m taking away from this book!!

There’s never a clear identification system or protocol to tell fake adversaries links, hyperlinks, Twitter posts, videos, and the like from legitimate, real accounts which is too bad and blogging is never addressed either so I’m still wondering about these things myself now. Maybe having the virus protection software would help with this? Being able to see which websites are ‘green’ for being safe rather than being iffy? I’m not sure. We’re left to figure this one out of on our own.

“We live in a world where no one can make a mistake, because if you do, it will be recorded, monitored and tracked” — Cole, 2018, p. 90

This section where this quote ends from talks about how we have to do a mental pros and cons when posting onto social media EVERY time and that yes, this is the culture of the Internet: it does not forget and it does not forgive. It’s a wild one and it has its benefits and its imaginative parts and it can get very nasty, very quickly. Mistakes online are forever. It’s frightening and the reality for many. Myself included, I’ve definitely fucked up here and there. It serves as a reminder. It’s tough. Be careful, peeps!!

“The Internet does not forgive, does not forget and it punishes those that do not remember this” — Cole, 2018, p. 98

See, he even says so himself right here!!! Let this be a reminder for all who come across this review. Oooof, it’s got me biting my nails in anticipation and fear! And yes, maybe I’m trying to get this review done and over with, too!! I’m so close to finishing and it’s now 7p as I’m writing this paragraph right here. It’s been a while and I cannot wait until I’m free and have returned this book along with five others!! ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿฅบ

“If you need a camera or microphone on your devices, disable those features when you are not using them. Be sure to investigate security settings and limit the applications that can access audio-visual accessories” — Cole, 2018, p. 104

This is a HUGE reminder and important thing for me to notate. We’re always hearing horror stories about these things and for years on my old laptop I covered up the webcam with a sticker. I wound up taking it off as I started to film on my laptop and for my new laptop, which is where I’m typing this now, I haven’t done that because I do use the camera for videos and for Zoom support groups and presentations. But I definitely have to look into disabling it when it’s not in use just to get into better practices about that and stay safe for my own sanity, if nothing else!! I suggest you guys do the same or at least consider doing so!! We cannot control many things in life but this may just be one of the few!!! ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š

“Consider email a permanent record. You cannot control what a recipient will do with your emails. The same holds true for social media posts” — Cole, 2018, p. 107

Dammmmmmn that be true. I have to be more careful with my emails and who I trust. I remember one email I got from someone from Youtube and we spoke briefly about someone we were concerned about (actually, there’s probably a couple more of these that exist with other people that I can think of on the top of my head) but yeah, we only emailed like a couple of times and I never heard from them again but I think I may have over-shared a little and it’s been on the back of my mind ever since then, but I try to just let it go and maybe I can follow-up with my friend to see how they are, they haven’t posted lately either, maybe I’ll do that tonight, as a little check-in (I did manage to do this and they are doing pretty well, hooray!! Yay interpersonal effectiveness and managing odd attachments). I always think of these types of check-ins and I love myself for thinking and imagining them but then I forget to actually do them or I’m busy and put it off and then I forget completely. Anyone else have this issue?? The struggle, man. ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ญ


THOUGHTS I HAD WHILE READING:

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Another question I had reading this book is whether or not there are viruses and malware that can effect things like files of documents, or photos and videos. If nothing else, I’m very likely going to be backing up my files again onto my Passport and also investing in another one because mine is almost full. Videos especially are big so I think I’m getting to the point where I’ll need to upgrade, and so I’m starting to look around for that a little bit.

The biggest thing I’m afraid of online these days is that my FFN and AO3 (fanfic sites) will be hacked or I’ll lose the passwords or be otherwise locked out and unable to update all my stories and such. That would suuuuuuck. And then just getting hacked in other social media accounts too. I’m pretty scared about that. Luckily it hasn’t happened yet. I do need to update some passwords and change some things around and I’m likely, though I’m not sure how or when or where exactly, going to create an additional email address, for what purposes I’m not certain of yet, but you’ll probably have read about this already in the previous section. I’m doing these very out of order ahahaha (It’s about 5p on Mar. 15th as noted here.)

On p. 65 I was reading about how modern day Trojan horses come across as seemingly legitimate virtual programs or people when really they’re big tricks in deception and it made me think of “Frozen” (having just watched it) and Loki particularly in my fic “Distorted & Disordered” but also just in general. It made me think of the Silvertongue he is and how he gets away with his mischievous deceit. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜…

I liked the concept on p. 74 about (responsible) parents explaining to their children where they’re coming from with their concerns about their child’s Internet usage and safety, and how this explanation can better guide the child in addressing their problematic behaviors or changing them for the better. There’s something about explaining things in an understandable way to children that helps in so many ways, and really is important in my work at Amaryllis so far, too.

On p. 75 is when the author officially backs up his claims towards an end of chapter footnote, which was what I was expecting from him since the beginning and luckily for him and myself, he did include something of this at some point in the book (though before would have lent him far more credibility and understanding from me and maybe I’d have given him more of a pass for his arrogant ass).

My next nonfic books I want to look into taking out include: home decorating, interior design, hobbies, gardening, cooking and online safety/social media (p. 87 thoughts).

On the discussion of never checking-in online: Hah! Jokes on you, ’cause I have no routine!! I also try to post after the fact or am careful with SOME things I say or don’t say. Look at me being productive and somewhat a responsible adult. ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ฒ

p. 115: Reminded me, it was a paragraph regarding limiting screen time for kiddos an hour before bed because of the blue light effects, of when, as a teenager, I’d be on my bed, reading House MD fan fiction until like 2a or 3a and even pulling all-nighters and reading them for hours at a time. Ahahah Good memories, for sure. I’ve done it a small handful of times since I was a teen, usually until 1a or 2a but I remember even in 2014 I was reading fan fiction for days on end because I found such a compelling, great multi-chaptered one, like a perfect 50 chapter one ahaha. Those were great times. I should really read more than what I do nowadays. Something to improve on!!


THINGS I DISLIKED OR DISAGREED WITH THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK:

Another thing I noticed featured throughout this book are the little ninja related illustrations and how much the author, to me, came across as trying to be hip and in the “in crowd” with younger audiences via these ninja references. It seemed a little forced at times to me. He also was blatant with being snarky and I think he had a different definition of ‘stupidity’ than me because he would insult the average human repeatedly in the book and even blame the victim for their own ‘stupidity’ for doing something nonsensical online, which, granted while it’s somewhat reasonable it also probably isn’t the best thing when you’re catering to an audience and expecting them to be fair, respectful and give you a chance for a book of yours they’ve either bought or loaned from a library. It might not be the BEST monetary evolution relationship. Regardless, sometimes his attitude was refreshing and he did refer to his expertise only at the very END of the book (p. 159), which I think would have been more beneficial at the beginning because his calling out the average Internet user with truths and hard realities was difficult to face and that combined with his snark definitely made me tune out and off for a bit and I could have easily stepped away from this book without looking back. His questioning of the validity of my Internet friendships made me question the validity behind why I should be taking HIS word and changing my relationship with the Internet based solely on his own opinion. Essentially, a classic ‘why should I listen to you if you’re the one telling me not to trust people?’ If he’d been more up front early on and using references to studies and resources, it would have been more understandable rather than my having to have faith that he meant what he was saying regarding wanting the best for people and also for me to better understand his point of view and why I should give him a chance to speak. You know?

Again, I wished he had made references to other studies and media earlier in the book rather than only on just page 75. If it had been earlier, I think I could have been more fair towards him and would have better understood that he’s an academic and coming from that type of perspective rather than the equivalent of a “Jilly Juice” author. But his attitude was already off-putting and I was pissed off by page 13. Having read the full book I can see where he could have improved on certain areas and what he managed all right.

I think with the “being hip” kind of thing he was trying to appeal to a younger audience even though the content of his book is more so geared towards a young adult, average adult age group so I think knowing his audience better and tailoring to that would have been more appropriate. It was a little odd of a predicament.

Sometimes the author also sounded patronizing to me and like ‘better’ than others and when he would call people’s mistakes stupid he would never fully explain it or say how things could have gone about differently which I felt was stupid in and of itself. Like, if he could explain why it was wrong I think that’d be super helpful and teach the Reader at the same time. Later in the book he would even say not to blame the victim whereas his previous standpoints were to blame them for their own stupidity. So, this was frustrating.

As I already alluded to, by page 12 I was definitely disliking this “healthy paranoia” painting towards the Readers by this author. Yes, exercising caution towards trusting individuals online is important and definitely necessary. However, there’s a way to go about that and I don’t think the way this author did it is right. I think he’s trying to encourage skepticism but saying it like ‘paranoia is a natural thing every human possesses (yes) in a healthy way (not necessarily)’ and that simply isn’t always the case. Yes, paranoia as a feeling is something any human can experience. But as a symptom and a byproduct of a severe mental health condition it is not and I think he was getting confused between this line drawn in the sand. I think his efforts in emphasizing no one can be trusted could be dangerous for someone already susceptible to this level of thought and altered mental status and therefore is not something I agreed with in this book. Also, it just made me question why I should trust himself myself. At this point, there was only the brief introduction and his genuine credentials are only told on page 159 of the book, and he had no references to established studies and media until page 75, and because anyone can write and publish a book (think “Jilly Juice”) than that made me feel even more mistrusting and wondering why I should care about his opinion to start with. It made me defensive, basically. And that’s probably not the way he would want the Reader to feel if he wants them to read his book. Just saying.

Something else I disliked about this book was that it focused the most on opportunistic attacks from adversaries and cyber criminals (so think big corporations) rather than even exploring a little bit on the targeted assaults (like stalkers, doxxing). I think I thought reading this book would be focused more on social media (which it did cover a bit!!), Internet safety and how to combat against doxxing and people treating you unfairly (or fairly but in a repetitive and obsessive manner) when it was primarily focused on cybersecurity and keeping documents and personally identifiable information safe (super secret numbers, banking information, medical records etc). Like, it covered a little bit of what I wanted to read but it was more focused elsewhere than what I was expecting, which was a bit of a letdown. I would have liked to read about what protocol or advice can be taken after a doxxing for instance. But if he were the one giving me this advice, he’d probably call me stupid first and then explain what could be done, let’s be honest.

Dr. Cole does show synonyms for “paranoia” later in the book like when he uses the term ‘skepticism’ so it’s not like he doesn’t know that there are better and more fitting words to use. I just have a problem with him normalizing paranoia the feeling from paranoia the symptom of a mental health condition. He expresses at one point that we should treat “paranoia as a friend” and that could be really disastrous for a mentally unwell person who lands across this book. Like, a healthy dose of skepticism is better worded than paranoia. I don’t know if it’s just me on this train or not but it didn’t sit right with me and because he used a different word later that means a similar thing made me think he may have been being intentionally dense or just ignorant, ironically.

It definitely felt to me like Dr. Cole would insult me, the Reader, every twenty pages or so and his lack of defining what HE deemed as stupidity was super aggravating, stupid in itself and then also made him just increasingly unlikable. Luckily for him I can’t stop reading books no matter how much I may want to, I’m in them for the long haul (ride or die) so I kept giving him chances and it was a decent read altogether. Didn’t mean I liked it any better though. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿค”

It’s kind of impressive because in one instance of this book, Dr. Cole makes the giant leap from saying how sharing a soup recipe online then corresponds, somehow, to having that social media account hacked and your identity stolen. It’s SUCH a leap and is never fully explained and was soooo mind boggling to me. (Happened on p. 47)

“Obsession. Compulsion. Abduction. Even vengeance” — Cole, 2018, p. 67

IIIIIIIIIII just really hate the potential insinuation that this is a jab at OCD or similar mental health conditions and I can’t stand by it. Like, we’ve got two big factors seemingly involved with OCD (the OC parts) but they’re not used appropriately if they are being said to begin with. “Obsession” in regards to OCD isn’t the same definition in common place use. An obsession for OCD is an intrusive thought, word or image that a person doesn’t want to act on and is not aligned with their values and causes the person distress. Obsession in terms of Hollywood and more commonly thrown around is when someone is fixated on a particular thing, subject or person. And then compulsions, like in OCD, are things (behaviors, thoughts) that a person does to minimize or discredit the obsession. So, for instance if I had an intrusive thought that I was going to stab someone with a pencil, my compulsion might be something like checking I have all my pencils, moving the pencils away from someone so I don’t lose track of it, checking my memories for any intention or evidence that I did it, asking for reassurance that I haven’t hurt them with a pencil, etc. I just don’t like how he’s edging close to maybe saying something he doesn’t mean or doesn’t intend to mess around with.

I know even with like the “To Catch a Predator” show with Chris Hansen they sometimes implied the predator’s actions as compulsions which is not what like OCD is like. I hate that brain illnesses like those of people who abuse and destroy other people’s minds are lumped together with the most kind-hearted, compassionate and empathetic people. It sucks. And it makes mental health conditions more taboo and implies that they’re “dangerous” towards others and such. And that’s awful stigma. ๐Ÿ˜ซ๐Ÿค•

“Never mistake cyberspace as a beautiful and simple place, where unicorns drift through fields of daisies, while spreading fairy dust and rainbows in their wake. The Internet is not a safe place to work, live, and do business–evil is lurking behind every email and website, waiting to turn you into a victim. Cyberspace is complex and filled with disease” — Cole, 2018, p. 68

IIIIIIIIIIIIIII don’t know, man, I think it can be both.

Why does it have to be this extreme all or nothing thinking? Why can’t BOTH be just as true and valid?

The surface level Internet is safe-ish, kind of, most of the time. Going lower, some sites, yeah, it’s not good. But like, I don’t think it can be so easily defined as idolization and demonization, you know? I think there are certain approaches to the Internet world people get wrong or don’t always anticipate and I think part of that is forgetting where we’re at and becoming very comfortable in what you’re doing and treating everything really too seriously. Like, knowing people are going to post memes or be a little cruel here and there is understandable. Yes, some people have a lot more time on their hands and may enter levels of intense fixation that are damaging to their health, their minds and for others around them, and the person they’re fixated on. Still, there’s good people out there and people trying to better the world of this giant Internet place. I think both can be true. There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like you and that’s okay. And being civil and having a conversation about that is respectable and awesome and if they’re not ready for that, handle it and put up some blockers or something and go from there. A lot of this lashing back out isn’t good and also it’s so huge to understand the difference between criticism and genuine hate.

There are definitely people out there who genuinely hate and we have to watch out for them for sure (safety issues for instance) but offering constructive criticism or just misguided wordings of criticism shouldn’t be lumped together as ALL hate. I see that happen a lot more these days and it’s infuriating and sad. I hope I never get to that point. Holding someone accountable is not the same as wishing them death, you know? It’s complicated for sure. But I think there have been some improvements made on the Internet since the early 2000s. Some people are just gonna shit post and use the Internet as their break from their real life and we just gotta roll with it a bit, find the humor in things, and go from there. That’s how I look at it, at least.


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING; THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME; WHAT I’LL BE DOING DIFFERENTLY:

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Honestly, by the time I’ve made it to the end of this post, having finished off about 45 mins of editing, I’m sooo exhausted and ready to just fall over and fall asleep. Overall, I think you guys have already read what I got out of this review, this book and the whole process of it. I’m probably gonna have a new, additional email address; I’m going to change my passwords around; I’m disabling my camera feed on my laptop; I’m shutting down my computer; I’m backing up my files and looking into getting a new TB; I’m being more careful online and suspicious of links and posts and I’m just exercising more caution and a healthy level of ‘hmm, I don’t think so.’

From the book itself, I kept reading because I always want to give them a chance and the opportunity to redeem themselves. I’m glad I read it and stuck with it. I probably wouldn’t read it again but I’m ready for the next book and I’m grateful and happy that I was able to return it and 5 other books to the library (I didn’t read the other 5 though). But for now, that’s all I got. I’m exhausted. This is the end. I’m done and free.

See you next time. It’ll probably be another review–whether an MCU film or a book review, we’ll just have to see. I’m challenging myself to another novel and that will be very interesting (it’s been months).

Thank youuuuuu so much for tagging along and reading!! What books have caught your attention lately and which ones have you consumed in a record amount of time? Sending you all the best. xxx


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

2.19.21, 2.21, 2.26, 2.27, 3.4, 3.5, 3.8, 3.13.2021

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

3.13.21, 3.14, 3.15.2021


This review is brought to you by music featuring Billie Eilish, Dan + Shay, and a fabulous jamming inclusion of Fall Out Boy occurred as well. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ˜…

“Willow Brook Road” (2015) | Book Review (April, Sep, Oct. 2020; Feb. 2021)


Chosen Book:

“Willow Brook Road” (2015) by Sherryl Woods

A Chesapeake Shores Novel; Fiction

Book Review - Multi. dates


Trigger Warnings:

“Crazy” multiple times, grief, loss, trauma mentioned, substance use (alcohol), mild suicide jokes, trichotillomania (hair pulling) language (‘they were ready to pull their hair out’).


Themes:

Grief, loss, drama, romance, adoption, family, meddling, straight couples, marriage, meaning, childcare, attachment, starting a business, dreams, adversity, challenges, emotions, snippets of emotional abuse, manipulation painted as quirky, desperate needs for DEAR MAN’s, relationships, interpersonal effectiveness, small town, through the seasons (summer to autumn), Southern town, forgiveness, understanding, career paths, definitions of living a fulfilled life.


Plot Summary:

This novel follows Carrie Winters and the meddling of her near and extended family as she tries to uncover what her own unique career path is and whom she may fall in love with along the way. Sam Winslow moves into the town of Chesapeake Shores with the single intention of raising his nephew Bobby after a horrible car accident killed his sister whom he hadn’t spoken to in forever and her wonderful husband. Thrust into a world where they no longer exist and trying his best to raise a kid he barely knew and completely change who he was as a traveler and not being tied down with a home and family and wife, Sam and Carrie’s paths cross and a spark ignites, following them as they continue to interact with one another and Carrie’s family rejoices that this match may be its true potential, even as they want her to be careful or question if it’s a healthy dynamic.

As time goes on, and Carrie works on volunteering at a daycare out of town and growing her interests (both in love and in career), her family has to accept that this is where her heart is going and it’s what’s best for her. Carrie takes care of her sibling’s and cousin’s kids and her cousin, Susie, is struggling from having recovered from breast cancer and wanting a child of her own. When an adoption falls through, Susie becomes distant, envious and unlike herself. She reacts by lashing out at Carrie and others in the family, and hating Carrie for walking into a romantic relationship that involves a small child to begin with.

As the relationships crack and break and drama ensues, the novel follows Carrie and Sam’s relationship and everything else as it seems to crumble around them. In the end, love strives to win and the dust settles. Forgiveness is passed around and the novel ends on a hopeful and existential awareness note.


Strengths and Weaknesses:

A. STRENGTHS:

Something I liked about this book was the notion of taking on other people’s issues or relating too much to them in a way that is self-sacrificing or just causes problems. Like, it was super relatable to read about falling into those traps or falling into the notion of trying to “fix” or help others even if it’s at a cost to yourself. Carrie did this at times with Sam so that was just something I could relate to as a Reader.

Another thing I could relate to in this story was the working with kids thing. So, like, I work at a residential for trauma informed youth primarily ages 4 – 12 so the insights into dealing with traumatized kids, regular kids in general and just working with them or having to do right by them or keep them safe was super relatable. One of the characters on p. 113 at the daycare was still trying to figure out that balance between being stern and being nurturing which was something I could HUGELY relate to. It’s that fine line between getting taken advantage of and sticking to your limits. I liked that about this novel and learning a little from some fictional characters. That, that was cool. ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜˜

In addition to the above, p. 119, picking up on body language cues is also something I need a lot more work on and my therapist actually recommended in the last month (at the time of me writing this review it’s Feb. 2021) to do some research and learn about typical body language cues from children or warning signs that things are going awry. I’ll try to write that down some time soon to start reading up on and such. It’s funny because when I do creative writing I do a lot of body language cues and such even if in real life I’m a little unaware of it. Sometimes when I’ve worked in other environments on campus though I’ve managed to pick up on it and can work with it more hands on so it’s a work in progress, for sure. Ahaha

Carrie’s snarkiness within the novel was so lovely and refreshing at times!! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฃ

Something that I also really loved and appreciated and stuck out to me was when Sam was waiting on Carrie to express what it was that was bothering her (which happens on p. 257). His patience was ever present and he was willing to be there for her because she needed it and it was just SO sweet and wonderful. He waited for her to be ready and that was just so lovely. ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

Towards the end of the novel, Sam’s low self-esteem, low self-worth (from a traumatized childhood he had) is revealed as well as his own self-fulfilling prophecies that work against him to keep him away from Carrie and love and happiness that he feels he doesn’t deserve. It’s a note that he finds from his sister that restores his faith in the relationship he was developing with Carrie which was such a beautiful progression and I wish more of the novel could have focused on this and humanizing Sam and making him into really the main character he was supposed to be. All this drama with Carrie’s cousin Susie and everything took away from the heart of the matter, which I felt sucked a lot. I feel like if Sam’s history and his growth could have been focused on more and how he was handling these matters that were against him would have made a far better story to tell.

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B. WEAKNESSES/Things I had issues with:

Emotional manipulation and streaks of gaslighting is painted as quirky and desirable because it’s coming from “family.” Meddling is seen as natural and something to be put up with, as if family cannot be toxic, neglectful or abusive. The book understands that this does happen and has happened to people within its pages but still paints this viewpoint that because it’s coming from a caring, loving place that it’s acceptable, okay and should be put up with.

Also, there are the traditional views of women in Western society that they should have a family with a husband and children in order to have a fulfilling life. There’s the notion that having a romantic partner is a goal in life, implying potentially that not having that is just as unexplored as anything else. This rubbed me the wrong way.

The drama in the book was present about 85% of the time and the romance only 15% which sucked because I was there for the romance. This is the third full book I’ve read by this author and I was pretty disappointed by it, sadly. I’ve never read the others in this series so maybe that affected my judgment as I could see some things as disastrous and problematic than maybe I would had I gotten to know the other characters better instead of walking in in the middle of a scene, so to speak. I also felt that it was an emotional roller coaster of a ride and I dreaded it a lot of the time and a lot of my symptoms of BPD came out with it (idolization of characters, demonization of characters, mood swings, attachments, etc.) I definitely went through waves of this book: I liked it at first, I disliked it, I hated it, I despised it, I loved it, I wanted to quit on it, I was still attached and involved, I started to like it again, I was disappointed as I finished it. It was a LOT. Just exhausting, really.

There was also this idea that Susie’s emotional abuse was something to put up with when really it just made me think of her as a bitch later evolved into a…well, not the most flattering of words. Let’s just say she became like a “mewling quim”. I hated her character and groaned every time she came on board. Her and Carrie’s reconciliation was not discussed explicitly which I would have liked because maybe I was being too harsh on her and despising her greatly, again this notion that because she was hurt she had the right to emotionally abuse her cousin was horrible, horrendous and a dangerous ideal, and I would have appreciated understanding more from her perspective and seeing why and how Carrie could forgive her. Carrie was far more forgiving and understanding than I would have been and really, really needed a DEAR MAN in her life. It was super frustrating and I almost quit the book entirely because of Susie’s bitterness, refusal to handle her emotions in an appropriate and healthy manner because she was hurt and hurting and that still gave her no right to be a bitch towards her loved ones. Ugh. Fuck Susie.

Manipulation by the family was painted in a “oh, that’s just them/that’s so cute” which was really dismaying and awful. It was like toxic positivity. It was super frustrating and definitely NOT something that even because it’s family is something you have to put up with. Ugh, no.

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I think the novel could have worked with fancier page breaks than just simple spacings but maybe that’s just me. I also found the notion of all this manipulation and meddling as endearing was missing the mark in this book and it is a theme in some of the other novels I’ve read by Sherryl Woods but for this one it really rubbed me the wrong way and made the experience bitter and I really, really almost quit for real (but I can’t fathom not giving a book a chance so I’ll continue no matter how much I hate it!!).

On p. 146: We are introduced to the idea that a happy and fulfilling life is mainly one where a person has a love interest and isn’t alone (and down the line has a family of children and kids of their own). I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this exactly because I don’t know if it’s a good idea to paint the notion that romantic relationships and families are the only sound ways to live a happy and fulfilling life. Like, why can’t independence and “being alone” be okay, too? It’s just never really explored and I think it’s a little exclusive to only certain types of people that have to share those points of view and understanding about the world. To me, it’s like traveling the world. Some people where that’s integral to that part of their life love it and can’t imagine life without it and at the same time, will think a life without that is boring or not as complete. I personally am content with where I’m at and don’t feel the need to have to travel. And sometimes that perspective is painted as ordinary or not as good as traveling or having the family or having a partner, etc. Also, I don’t know if Woods ever writes about non-straight couples because I’d be very interested to read about that than just the traditional family views. But, maybe that’s just me!! ๐Ÿ˜›

Aaaa, yes, by page 155 we really live in the age and the thirst for meddling by the family and it’s painted as endearing when in reality it’s manipulative, overstepping boundaries and is super frustrating at least from my perspective of being the Reader in this novel. ๐Ÿ˜ค๐Ÿคฌ This continues on p. 156 where it’s explicitly said that the meddling is typical and expected even though it’s not wanted. And when in reality it’s not something that has to be put up with just because “it’s family.”

Another thing I found super frustrating was Carrie’s lack of self respect and voicing her concerns about things or effectively managing her interpersonal relationships (sticking up for herself, saying what’s on her mind, saying what she’s comfortable or uncomfortable with, being true to herself and where she’s at, expecting people to “just know” rather than telling them) etc. She totally could use some help with DBT skills like DEAR MAN, GIVE and FAST. It was super aggravating.

Susie, (I hate to gripe on her more but…), had a problem with being manipulative and then playing the victim when things didn’t go her way or her ruthlessness was met with a broken record from Carrie and Carrie trying to keep her distance from her melting over cousin. Susie particularly shone like this on pages 276 – 277 and probably a little more beyond that. It was so annoying. Around this page I also felt that Carrie had an advantage because she knew more context about her cousin Susie than I did as a Reader. So I had all these mixed feelings about things but was still strong in my dislike for Carrie’s cousin. I still felt resentful on behalf of Carrie. We never get a full on scene of the apology which I would have benefited from greatly had there been one so that was additionally disappointing. I would have liked to read that. I think it would have helped to repair my relationship with Susie and understand where she was coming from instead of just glossing over that and having Carrie move on and forgive so easily and what seemed to be as unjustifiably. On p. 278 Carrie does in fact forgive and says to forget what Susie had said but really, I don’t. I still don’t think being hurt and in pain gave Susie the right to be abusive towards her family, especially when they had very little to do with it. Her lashing out at her cousin just wasn’t it. I hated how much the novel revolved around her and her drama rather than some ooey gooey romance stuff. Grrr.

I also think that not so much “hitting girls” is wrong, but just hitting anyone in general, regardless of their gender or gender identity is something we should be more strict about. Like, hitting a girl isn’t great but a girl hitting a boy or a boy hitting a boy, etc. also shouldn’t be condoned as okay or right, you know? It’s not like boys can’t be abused or assaulted too, and this notion that they can’t or it’s not on people’s minds first off is something we have to work on in society. (This comes up on p. 317).

What really helped me most towards all this hatred and despised nature I had towards Susie was actually in real life Mandy Harvey’s music, in particular her two songs: “Try” and “This Time“. These two songs really got me through my anger and my intense emotions as I grappled with the nature of this novel and all the feelings it brought up. They just diffused the situation right away and I could listen to them on repeat while I read and it gave me a chance to take a deep breath and just let it go as I continued onward. I am glad that I managed to finish this book, even if it was a hurricane of a time, but apparently I still managed to remember quite a bit of it as I did the review process, so, that at least was nice. Yeah, just, ranting and raving about this book and being so upset by it was tough but it’s over now and once this publishes, I can really wipe my hands clean. And I’m ready for that. I’m excited for that. It’s what I wanted all along. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š Peace, at last.


Book Length:

379 pages


Recommendation Score:

2/5

Dramatic stories

book-prints-thumb-2.19.21

What Kept Me Reading & the Book’s Impact on Me:

Definitely my intense levels of being stubborn kept me reading this book. I refuse, no matter how good or how bad a book is, to give up on it half-way through. Not only have I become invested with my time, my attention span, my mind and my craft, but I refuse to let the book make or break me. By that point, I want to see it through all the way. I can’t fathom giving up and not giving it a chance. I hold onto hope that it gets better and when it doesn’t, it doesn’t, but a lot more of the time it DOES. The satisfaction I can feel and the fulfillment that I got through it, no matter what, is something I want to give back to myself at the very end. The moment I can shut the book and sigh and then just plow through its review is immense and such a relief (even if more of the time I’ve written up reviews that I have yet to publish. It’s… a work in progress). And again, a lot of the time I will like a book, then dislike it for a bit (usually because I’m not reading it or not able to focus well enough for it) and then by the end I have liked it again. I usually have so much to say about the books I read that it’s only mandatory that I write a review of it.

For this book, again, I managed to remember quite a bit of what happened in it so I’m proud of that and I’m so happy to be letting it go again soon. My plan is to return this book and TAoCL tomorrow at the library so I can finally let go and say goodbye. It is so nice to be able to do that. To stick with something no matter how good or bad it is and know that you did everything you could to get through it and in the end, whether it was a happy or a doubtful experience, it’s done and it’s over and you gotta move on to the next one. For this book, I’m glad it’s over, I hope I never hear of another Susie again in a Woods novel and I can’t wait to uncover some of my other Woods books from the libraries that I’ve loaned them from. For now, I think I will settle on a psychological thriller I’ve had in my possession for over a year, haha.


Noteworthy Quotes:

  1. “Everybody has problems. Some are worse than others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter to the people trying to get through them” — Woods, 2015, p. 31

2. “He’d vowed not to show any sign of weakness in front of his nephew. Bobby needed to believe in [Sam]” — Woods, 2015, p. 43

I think it’s pretty arguable that emotions and grief are not weaknesses and instead showing them is a sign of immense strength.

3. “‘[Carrie to her Grandpa Mick] You mean I’m letting you down yet again…. Sorry, I guess I’m just destined to be a huge failure in your eyes'” — p. 217

Honestly in this exchange, Grandpa Mick was a total asshole and the hurt and pain in Carrie’s body language and words was SO palpable. It also hugely reminded me of Loki in the MCU and just in my fanfics as well. It was so rough. It definitely also reminded me of his relationship with his not-father Odin, too. It also made me think how much Loki, as well as Carrie, needed to verbalize their pain more. ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ’”

4. “[Sam to Carrie] ‘I’ve already made mistakes.’ [Carrie] ‘Find me one human being who hasn’t. Or one parent who hasn’t made a boatload of them…. Mistakes are part of life. It’s what you do to fix things that really matters'” — p. 266

I thought this was just SO beautiful and really captures the romance which was what I was here for. I’m so annoyed that Susie and the other drama was the main focus of the novel and not just nurturing and blossoming this love interest. If it had been, I would have rated it a lot higher and it would have been a far more pleasant experience. Instead I just despised Susie and hated her so much.

5. “‘You can’t fix this,’ Bobby said to Sam, clearly resigned to suffering alone. His attitude made Sam want to cry. No six year old should be feeling this defeated. ‘Fix what? Maybe I can’t, but you have to tell me so I can at least try'” — p. 290

I really loved this scene and thought it was so poignant and something I have to try out at work some time!! The notion of this tactic to be honest and yet problem solving is so huge and something any kiddo struggling needs to hear. ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

6. “As Sam’s sister had told him [in her letter], it was time for him to start running toward something, rather than away from it. People who loved deeply got hurt. They suffered terrible losses. It was unavoidable. But loving deeply was the only way to truly live” — p. 372

Again, I’m not entirely sure how much I agree with this statement. In some ways, yes, I can understand it, but I’ve also not been a person who has had a long lasting or much of a lasting romantic relationship and I don’t have plans to have a family of children one day with a partner so I don’t know how much I can relate to or agree with it. I think being alone can be okay and not wanting traditional values is also okay. I feel like saying it’s the ONLY way to live a happy life is a bit insensitive and not all that inclusive. I think there are multiple ways to live a fulfilling and happy and healthy life beyond just having a partner (especially in a straight, heterosexual world only) and having kids and a family. I guess my avoidance patterns of behavior is blocking me from exploring this so much right now, especially since there’s a worldwide pandemic happening and I can’t exactly meet up with people for romance, let alone just my friends. It’s something I’ll have to explore one day but not for now. I do suppose it’s that notion of “to love at all is worth it even if you’re not loved back”. Hmm. I’ll have to mull this one over more.

There’s the additional quote later on where Sam says he’s ready for love to win over fear–I’m definitely not there yet in my life. Fear still trumps a lot in my life so maybe one day when I’m freer I can experience more of these benefits of life. I think I’ve gotten very used to being “on my own” or not having the backup of an emotional relationship like romance and so I’m more attuned to self-sustaining behaviors and ideals rather than opening myself up to putting someone else’s needs besides my own first. I guess I’m just in a different place than most.


flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

Wandering Thoughts I had while reading/Extra Notes:

    • p. 154: Equivocal and vocalized are nice words
    • p. 165: That’s definitely NOT what a threesome means and why does Carrie have to change because of someone else’s opinion of her and her influence in the setting with Sam and Bobby? I don’t think that’s particularly necessary and maybe something she should be more critical of and wary against
    • p. 167: I don’t understand why Carrie cares so much about what other people think. She takes the notion that Bobby may be attaching to her in an unhealthy way as fact when really it’s because she is nervous about falling in love with Sam and can’t separate the fact that other people’s opinions are just opinions and not something she has to change for her own sanity. I think she used the opportunity as an excuse to not get close to Sam or Bobby further until she could figure out what her intentions were and where she would be going with them. Which, was too bad at the time.
    • p. 168: Shows a good indication of manipulation with good intentions where Sam wants Carrie to stay with him for the evening keep him company with food and wine. Carrie is conflicted and definitely sending him mixed signals so this is annoying in one part and also an indication that Carrie needs to pick a side and stick with it. She struggles with this though and being clear about her intentions and what she wants and doesn’t want and is easily influenced by others. ๐Ÿ™„
    • p. 174: There is not a capital letter after a dialogue exclamation which I found interesting and will try to remember when I use similar wording/typography in my own work (my grammar/technical writing has become so awful since being out of school). “For example!” she muttered.
    • p. 185: Reminded me that I should (as of Sept. 2020) work on my fanfics and my memoir! I’m at a mixed state with this. I haven’t touched my memoir in months and I’m working in and out of different fanfics and a new creative writing endeavor I’m on at the moment of writing this review (Feb. 2021).
    • p. 216: There’s this notion with Susie and Carrie that taking care of other people’s children will never fully replace their need for having one of their own. For me, I find that it fills that pretty well (but I also don’t want children myself) and having the work I do gives me my fill of children and allows me to be able to go home and do what I normally would be doing without being bogged down with other matters. (Also it freaks me out that you don’t know what kind of human you could be creating and what if they become like a serial killer or a horrible person? I don’t want to get murdered. And it’s such a lifelong endeavor. Meh, not for me. I can have pets sure but I’m not all that inclined to have to have children.)ย 
    • p. 237: In regards to Carrie and Susie’s now estranged and strained relationship, I would NOT be as quick as Carrie to forgive her cousin because no matter how much pain she is in (Susie) that gives her NO right to be cruel and emotionless towards her family members (or even strangers!). I just wouldn’t forgive her right away and wouldn’t want to be around her for a while. Susie was being SUCH a bitch. That doesn’t give her an excuse just because she was hurting. On top of that, Carrie needs to confront the issue and practice a DEAR MAN and also not be alone with her thoughts.
    • p. 308: There’s a nice “rise and fall” of chest reference here which made me go (โ—’โ—ก’โ—) because of the innerworkings of being a cardiophile. ๐Ÿ˜™๐Ÿค—๐Ÿคฉ
    • By p. 320 I was feeling exhausted and annoyed that the book felt far more like 90% drama and 10% romance. This constant back and forth between Sam and Carrie was just so ugh, eye roll worthy. Every time they made some progress, something else would slide back against them. And it wasn’t like there was a lot of pages left for the novel so it definitely ended prematurely and without having a saturated amount of romance throughout. It was definitely a bust for me. Which sucked. I’d invested so much into a story that just didn’t have a significant payoff. Surprisingly though, I still remember a good chunk of it so that helped in part of making this review–hooray, I suppose?
    • p. 363: I noted that about 85% of the time I didn’t understand why Carrie was mad ๐Ÿ˜‚
    • p. 379: The very end of this novel ends on a super existential awareness point of view that I honestly could have happily gone without. It ends with Mick’s perspective and was just too real, too soon, too much and immensely depressing and sad while also layered with a sense of hope, lingering feelings, family and love. It was a whirlwind for sure. It was also a bit horrifying. And just very surreal to think of life and the end of life and all of that jazz. ๐Ÿ˜จ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿคช

Dates I read this book:

4.5.2020, 4.7, 4.8, 6.18, 9.17, 9.18, 9.21, 9.29, 9.30, 10.1, 10.4, 10.5, 10.8, 10.9.2020


Dates I wrote this review:

10/12/20, 2.22.2021, 2.25.21

Any background music: “This Time” by Mandy Harvey, ambient nature sounds, a mix of songs including Demi Lovato, Shawn Mendes etc.


Thank you:

Annnnnnnnd so, we have made it to the end of this review!! This was more of a traditional book review for me and I surprisingly did not have a super lot to say regarding quotes and I originally had it set with this thumb above so I didn’t feel the need to make it into more of a “Book Exploration Station” post. So, you’re welcome for that! It was still about 4,800 words but by far simpler and not as intense and complicated as my latest TAoCL review/BES. So for now, I’m going to go to a support group and I’m gonna have dinner, take my meds, read a book and begin another review so that I can drop off books tomorrow to their respective libraries. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!! Feel free to share this post across social media and let me know what you thought! I’m planning to get back into the blogosphere very soon. For now, I also have some print-outs for work I have to manage and some watered down versions of my fanfics for a kiddo at work I’m sharing with. As well as that creative writing story I am working on with them since this past week and on towards Sunday as well.

Thank you so much and I’ll see you again soon.

PS I really need to work on videos too, ooof. It’s a process. I’ll try to soon.

All the best, my friends.

xxx ๐Ÿค๐Ÿค๐Ÿค

“The Art of Confident Living” (2009) | BES: Nov.2020; Jan & Feb. 2021


Chosen Book:

“The Art of Confident Living” (2009) by Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

((Nonfiction.))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Brief insensitivities towards mental health conditions (“no one worries 24/7”; “[describing] depression as how everyone gets sad sometimes”; “crazy” equaling bewildered etc.)


THEMES:

Self-improvement, self-help, psychology, behavior, thoughts, cognitions, challenges, emotions, patterns, truth, perception, ten practices, user-friendly, self-love, self-compassion, kindness, quotes, insight, hope, change, learning, help, aid, confidence, exercises, empowerment, optimism, choices.


SUMMARY:

This book is comprised, as generically as possible: a contents, introduction, 10 chapters on the 10 Practices towards leading a Confident-Led life, end of chapter exercises for the Reader, a conclusion, a resources list, a bibliography, and an index. The 10 Practices include: The Practice of Separation, The Practice of Perception, The Practice of Choice, The Practice of Optimism, The Practice of Empowerment, The Practice of Harmony, The Practice of the Unmade Mind, The Practice of the Vacuum, The Practice of Magnetism and The Practice of the Boomerang. Some of the exercises that I completed include (these will be outlined via text and photos in the relevant sections below. If you would like an exploratory Youtube video on the matter as well, let me know in a comment so I can publish one to my channel. This will take me a bit of time, if you are curious for me to make one. Since I’ve written this post over the course of a few days, I’ve gotten very deep in the muddiness of this review and I no longer feel as much of a necessity to film a video on the matter, however I can use this post as a backbone/guidance towards it if there’s enough interest in that. Thanks!!) p. 38 Presence of the Eight C’s in my life [curiosity, clarity, calm, confidence, compassion, courage, creativity, connectedness]; p. 58 My Parts Detector, Challenging the Parts; p. 78 Reclaiming the Power in My Life/Conscious Choices: the problem, I can accept, I can choose….; p. 98 Mapping the Parts of my interpersonal effectiveness avoidances in therapy; p. 172 – 173 The Goodbye Exercise; p. 84 Thought Challenges and Belief Scores; p. 111 Group Activities and Ideas for work; p. 134 The Letting Go Exercise; p. 174 Removing Roadblocks Art Map; p. 188 My Magnetogram; p. 208 The Boomerang Activity; p. 207 The Looking Glass.

BONUS content that helped me get to this point of both reading the book, finishing the book, writing this review and posting it online as well as making a lot of GAINS and fulfilling activities in my life that I’ve been using thoroughly and happily: My Fanfics Story stats (AO3; FFN); My Expectations, My Fears and My Thought Challenges for Writing and Uploading Fanfic Again (2 pages); What I need to get back into writing fanfic; Master List of Videos I have to edit; Skills and reminders within the video editing process; Processing when things go wrong in video editing; after uploading self-care plan (videos); repairing my relationships with MCU movies, movies and TV; repairing my relationships with books; thought challenges regarding movies and MCU movies; thought challenges regarding books; thought challenges regarding blogging (2 pages); (IN THE WORKS: thought challenges regarding avoiding chores) and finally, the backbone behind these new BES posts.

I feel like that was a lot of listing and jargon that may seem unmanageable or overwhelming for right this moment. So, let’s just take a deep breath and find comfort in the fractions within this review and what we’ll be seeing in the time ahead of us and the words upon the screen. Let’s return to that now….

I’d say, overall, this is a great book for beginning the process of self-exploration, self-love, self-care and self awareness. It’s also great for quantifying and qualifying information that’s locked behind your mind and the functions and processes occurring in your brain that you want to gain some insight into and uncover old habits or challenge yourself in ways that maybe you haven’t dared to before or haven’t considered needing to in the past but find yourself hesitant to not look towards altering now. It’s a book for self-improvement and a lot of growth, depending on how well the Reader is open to that notion and moving forwards with more confidence, as the title would suggest, and also just being welcoming to a fresh perspective. It’s user friendly and I’d say not doing the exercises and just reading page to page would definitely lessen the experience and the help and guidance that can come from it if the Reader properly tackles the information and makes it their own. There has to be a willingness there to see what is and how, with time and patience and compassion to yourself, that you can unlock some improvements and big gains that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have happened. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through my experiences and my fulfillments by doing this and the process I took through reading this book, playing in the sand and writing this review. So, welcome aboard! And let the Lewis Capaldi background music (a playlist) guide you through with as much ease and brightness as it did for me writing this intimidating but worthwhile post. ๐Ÿ™‚ โค xxx Also, “What Other People Say” by Sam Fischer and Demi Lovato was a wonderful addition to the background noise.


BOOK LENGTH:

214 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

5/5 thought challenges lists


OUTSTANDING QUOTES ALONGSIDE MY COMMENTARY/SHARING EXERCISES:

So, this book talks a lot about “parts” and how as people we are NOT our thoughts. We are instead vessels that have thoughts and think and feel and behave in certain ways. These parts wish to be acknowledged and understood and are inevitably trying to help us rather than hurt us like why they were created in the first place in the past. They are looking out for us even if their expression of this isn’t always healthy or helpful right off the bat. It’s our job to acknowledge them, let them in and breathe and be nonjudgmental and then say that we’ve taken their input into consideration and move forwards with our own Confident Led selves. So, you’ll see that mentioned, these parts, in the future. The parts are originated from the Ego, just to clarify, as well.

There is a SUPER excellent and powerful guided meditation explanation on pages 36 – 37 of this book that I would highly, highly recommend perusing as it’s so wonderful. If I can work on finding a similar already established guided meditation online on Youtube or something similar, I will try and make a future post referring to them. For now, it’s SO good. It basically talks about imagining you’re giving a speech on a stage and in the audience is each of your parts and your Confident Self is in the lead. You take the time to get to know each part, how individual they are, their characteristics, their mannerisms, what they have to say. You give them your attention and you recognize that they are not you and you are not them. You welcome ALL parts and let them take their seats again after they speak to you. Notice if your Confident Self is in the lead on stage and where you are if you’re separate from them. Then thank each part for existing and sharing and bring your awareness back to the present moment. That’s a super abridged version that doesn’t do the original text justice, but hopefully you get my drift!!! (Robinson, 2009).

EXERCISE 1: Me and My Eight C’s p. 38 [[Dated: Jan 7th 2021]]

For this exercise, the prompt was to record and rate on a 1 – 10 low to high scale the presence of each of the 8 C’s in my life: curiosity, clarity, calm, confidence, compassion, courage, creativity and connectedness. I color coded them for easier understanding and visual acuity. As you can see, the areas I need more improvement on include curiosity, clarity, connectedness and calm. ๐Ÿ™‚

EXERCISE 2: My Parts Detector, p. 58 (multiple journaling pages for me): [[Dated: Jan. 15th 2021]]

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION::

PART A: My Parts Detector. 1. “I’m better than other people. I have more advantages.” — Judgment. Better than others like in recovery or superiority? I will need to better explore and allow a presence of this. This makes me self-conscious and is something hard to admit to while I was being open to the thoughts and what was coming to me at that given moment. Thought challenges to arrive in PART B.

2. “I’m better equipped to handle tough situations” — Judgment. Core belief. Integral ((I’m thinking of situations arising criticism, hate, bullying, etc. Online stuff primarily))

3. “Nobody cares about me” — Dismissing, emotional

4. “I’m all alone” — Emotional, despair, abandoned

5. “No one is there for me. When I need someone, no one notices and/or is there” — Emotion Mind, all or nothing, mixed signals

6. “I can’t relate to other people’s perspectives” — Noticing differences not similarities

7. “I push away from uncomfortable situations because I’m afraid to reignite old neural pathways and behavioral patterns” — Yuuuuuup.

PART B: CHALLENGING THE PARTS:

  1. “I’m on a different plane and state of being, a different place in my recovery and journey. It’s not about who is first or behind rather supporting one another as we go along.”
  2. “I’m a better me than I once was. This strength has prepared me for the worst. It’s time now to put my skills to the test and I am ready.”
  3. “Sometimes I don’t get attention, praise or recognition that I am looking for from other people. I need to learn how to validate my own experiences and rely less on others. It is still okay for me to get outside support when I need it. I can also improve the way I’m asking for my needs to be met. People aren’t mind readers so I have to be upfront. I may not always get what I want and I won’t know or receive it if I never voice it. It’s a work in progress.”
  4. “Sometimes I feel alone in my experiences and in my struggles. I know that I am not. I know I need to reach out more than I do. People are within reach–I need to let out my call for them and only I can do that.”
  5. “I’ve struggled in the past with thinking that no one would notice if something bad happened to me. I know this isn’t true and is my brain playing tricks on me because my absence and presence of things matters, people count on me and people ask about me. I need help reminding myself of this and recognizing not everyone can be there every time however I can and will be there for me. I can choose to be my own hero or villain. That is my choice.”
  6. “Because I don’t hear back people with the same journey as mine I tend to dismiss other people’s perspectives. I tend to maximize the differences between us instead of looking, noticing and describing our similarities. I struggle with controlling that part of me that wishes to be fed attention and be the center of attention. This is something I have to work on by being more in the present moment. I may now always understand where someone is coming from. I can work on being more open, curious and fair and patient with myself and others.”
  7. “Flooding myself is as problematic as avoidance for me. I won’t always agree with someone and that is okay. I can take time to gather my thoughts and feelings and come at a situation in my own time. I am aware of the slippery slope however that doesn’t mean my awareness of it will definitely lead me down the wrong path. I can know that it exists, accept uncertainty and still move forwards. I don’t have to let the past be repeated.”

“You can always find the granule of good in the bad if you look for it: more beauty than flaws, more hope than despair, more blessings than disappointment… This idea of holding on to the belief that something good will come out of adversity…”

Robinson, 2009, p. 89

I personally just LOVED this quote and the situational lead up towards it and even the illustration of it after this part. Again, my favorite chapters were: Empowerment, Optimism and Choice. More on these to come. I additionally thought it was perfect for how I set myself about in my life, how I categorize random acts of kindness (and setting forth ideas on how to do groups like this at work when we get older kids) and helping and finding support in other characters that I’ll be using and welcoming into my fanfics and stories. ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ˜… xxx

EXERCISE 3: RECLAIMING THE POWER IN MY LIFE/”CONSCIOUS CHOICES” (p. 78):

Written 1.15.21

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

The Problem Column. > The I can accept Column. > The I can choose Column.

Example 1 (in book): My colleague is a negative person. > I cannot change her. > I can be a positive person regardless of how she thinks.

Example 2 (ME): My procrastination is getting in the way of achieving all that I can in a day to day basis. > I can accept that it’s a pattern of behavior I’ve become comfortable with. > I can choose to build up my resiliency, challenge myself against it and make more thoughtful choices instead of blindly reacting only.

Example 3 (ME): My desire for attention on Youtube* is leading me to emotional brick walls that cause a small spiral after uploading videos. > I can accept it’s my current relationship to Youtube and content creating. It may not always be this way if I work on it. I can accept that I won’t compromise my values and who I am for views and numbers online, which is helpful and healthy. > I can choose to challenge this with a routine for after I upload videos. I can look at other ways to network or get attention. I can notice when it’s happening more and choose to address it and not run from it. Try to understand it.

*This list spun off a few other lists like the video I filmed all about attention and validation seeking online (I haven’t edited or uploaded it yet but when I do I will LINK IT HERE) via lists like sites I get the least and most amount of attention, how easy it is to get noticed on those sites, how long I’ve been on those sites, what it’s like having attention and not having attention and what are possible solutions; the various thought challenges lists, the fanfic stats list and lists all about my videos which you can find further laid out on the table in the BONUS section of my summary (above) for this nonfiction book. (And again when those videos are edited and uploaded to my Youtube channel here) ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜™

EXERCISE 4: MAPPING MY PARTS (p. 98):

Written here: 2.15.2021

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

Mapping the parts avoiding doing interpersonal effectiveness DBT skills for review in this week’s therapy session:

  • Perfectionism (a book and writing utensil)
  • Procrastination (moon and stop sign)
  • Anxiety (a sun/black and blue coloration feeling and or star shaped item)
  • High expectations (skyscrapers and some tumble weeds) Feelings include uncomfortableness and nervousness. Beliefs include: “I should know these skills by now”, “I should be able to review my old materials”, “This is going to take a while”, “There’s my own expectations that I should be further along and not need as much of a refresher as I do need now”
  • Forgetfulness (thought bubble)

In red marker I’ve stated that with “The Confident Self of Me is located between high expectations and perfectionism. I still feel uncomfortable after completing this exercise. And I am not super confident but if I adjust my high expectations this should help and I can regroup and break down these expectations to smaller and simpler pieces.”

EXERCISE 5: Technically NOT an actual exercise but I’m tired and I mentioned it in the summary portion of this review so I’ll just dedicate some time to this here which is a list of ideas I thought of that I could do activities and groups on at work with some of the topics covered in this book: ๐Ÿ™‚

Written on 2/16/21

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

Random acts of kindness (positive messages, examples, giving away art, coloring pages, ideas, why, coping strategies, self/others, compliment writing; empowerment; choices; survivor vs victim; growth (art therapy ideas); coping strategies (focus on one each week); affirmations (3 examples, scrapbooking/collages); transformation coloring or drawing activity (what’s one way you’ve transformed in the last day, month, year).

EXERCISE 6: THOUGHT CHALLENGES AND BELIEF SCORES (p. 84):

I apologize in advance, because this review is getting pretty muddy and broken up but I see that I missed an exercise from before, on p. 84 so I’m going to address it here and down below now. Sorry about that!! I didn’t exactly write them down in this review on paper or in order of appearance so things are just kinda jumbled up. But I’ll address them now and get on with things.

Written: 2/15/21

MY THOUGHT CHALLENGES:

  • Life is full of problems.
  • REFRAME: Life is an inherent balance between solutions and problems. It’s all a matter of perspective.
  • I usually assume people will take advantage of me.
  • REFRAME: I believe the best in people on the outset. If I am wronged, I take issue with that one person.
  • Things never turn out the way I want.
  • REFRAME: Things don’t always go according to plan and that’s okay.
  • Nothing I do is enough.
  • RF: I am enough as I am. I can always learn more and improve.
  • Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.
  • RF: Life is comprised of so many variables and possibilities that cannot be predicted in one sitting.
  • I’m a born loser.
  • RF: I am fabulous.
  • Trouble follows me wherever I go.
  • RF: If this were true, maybe I have to look at the common denominators (me).
  • I’m not a worthy person.
  • RF: I was born with worth. I live with worth. My life is worth living.
  • I can’t change the way things are.
  • RF: I can only change and control how I react to it.
  • I don’t have what it takes to meet most challenges I face.
  • RF: Simply not having learned yet doesn’t mean I never will. Give it time. ๐Ÿ’š

EXERCISE 7: THE LETTING GO EXERCISE (p. 134)

2.17.21
  1. I am forcing… (offensive reaction) – my issues on others (identity, coping, resources), – not being open to others struggles and not making them mine. > I can accept and surrender open-mindedness to this part of my life.
  2. I am resisting….. (defensive reaction) – letting go, – moving on, – exploring new areas or things I’ve never done before > I can accept and surrender sacrificing my level of comfort(ability) to this part of my life.
  3. I am clinging to… (avoidance reaction) – familiar habits, – familiar routines, – rigidity, – perfectionism, – not learning and implementing life skills (at home and at work), procrastination. > I can accept and surrender moving towards experiencing that which I avoid, one step at a time to this part of my life.

EXERCISE 8: THE GOODBYE EXERCISE (p. 172 – 173)

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

What was it like being in a relationship with (person, place, thing)?

๐Ÿš‘ Avoidance: my relationship with avoidance has been long lasting and lifelong. I’ve not gotten done as much or as many as I could have without it or less of it. It was a lot of unhappiness and lack of fulfillment.

Name each negative experience you had and after each say “I say goodbye to that”.

๐Ÿš’ Avoidance has robbed me of my time — and I say goodbye to that. Avoidance has robbed me of my ambition and excelling to my full potential — and I say goodbye to that.

Name the resentments you carry for all of this and after each say “I say goodbye to that.”

I resent avoidance for not allowing me to grow and excel sooner and I say goodbye to that. I resent avoidance for swallowing my world and collapsing my perspective and making my existence small– and I say goodbye to that.

Name each positive experience you had and after each say “I say goodbye to that”.

My avoidance has kept me safe from perceived threats and I say goodbye to that. My avoidance got me to where I am now and I say goodbye to that. My acceptance of realizing I no longer need to be protected by my avoidance has cleared ahead a path for me. I can begin to avoid avoiding. And I say goodbye to that avoidance.

Name the fondness you carry for all of this and after each say “I say goodbye to that.”

I have fondness for avoidance protecting me and I say goodbye to that because I am strong enough now to protect myself. I have fondness for avoidance serving its purpose and now I say goodbye to that.

Name each dream you held for this relationship and after each say “I say goodbye to that.”

I dreamed of avoidance continuing into my future and I say goodbye to that. I dreamed of avoidance giving me more than it reasonably can today and so I say goodbye to that.

Finally say I am releasing myself from my past with you and I am getting ready to enter my future.

I am releasing myself from my past with avoidance and I am getting ready to enter my future.

And I say HELLO to:

I say hello to… better time management, I say hello to being more “on” and taking breaks to recharge, I say hello to less procrastination and more measured activities, I say hello to new beginnings, I say hello to ore motivation and perseverance, I say hello to new as much as I can and as patiently as possible.

EXERCISE 9: REMOVING ROADBLOCKS ART (p. 174)

DESCRIPTION OF DEPICTION:

BLOCK 1: Draw the Problem you’d like to change or move out of life. How does it feel inside you? Jot down any words, thoughts, emotions or beliefs with it.

For me: I focused on avoidance as the problem. I used signs like a STOP sign, a Turn Back sign and a Don’t Go sign. I also wrote down fear, lots of effort, anxiety, nervousness, inconvenient, needing to be “on”, procrastination, blockage, ineptitude, too much time, uncomfortable.

BLOCK 2: Draw the Resolution if it were to resolve and how you want it, how would you feel inside you, and jot down any words, thoughts, feelings or beliefs.

For me: I drew a shining sun with yellow and orange and wrote in the middle of it, POTENTIAL. I would have so much more potential and so much productivity, fulfillment, growth, facing challenges, living the reality of my dreams, love, light, hope, empowerment, improvement, happiness.

BLOCK 3: Draw the Block and what’s inside of you that blocks you from going to the Resolution. Words, beliefs, thoughts, and feels.

For me: I drew a barren, dead tree with FEAR written across it and some grass and growing flowers. I wrote that I have fear to bloom, fear to rise, fear to excel or fail, fear to burnout, fear to fear, fear to live, fear to drive (both driving a car and driving my life forwards), fear to let go, fear to realize.

BLOCK 4: Draw the Release. What needs to happen inside you to release the Block?

For me: I drew an egg breaking open (which “Soldiers” by Rachel Platten was a perfect song to be listening to as I was doing this page) with light and color streaming out of it. I wrote down that I need OPENNESS. Openness to try, just try. It may not always go well but be willing to try. Give it my all. Do something new and different. Be open to the risk because it could all go uphill and be so wonderful. Accept and cope with the risk and grow, grow, grow. Breaking open doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Similar lyric “We might [break] but we won’t [fall]” ๐Ÿ˜›๐Ÿ˜จ

EXERCISE 10: MY MAGNETOGRAM (p. 188)

So this exercise served the purpose of identifying the types of relationships you have in your life with 8 main people. I wrote about my Mom and Dad, myself, my coworkers, my friends David, Madeline and Vanessa and online friendships overall as well. I wrote that most of my relationships encourage my confidence. I am hesitant in some relationships due to past trauma and codependency so I don’t always reach out when I need to. My ego parts need to be heard and seen by me over fears to revert back to old unhealthy behaviors, even if they haven’t happened in years. My ego parts on fear of old behaviors need to be recognized and allowed, fears of abandonment and previous/ongoing jellyfish clinging. My exploring these parts with compassion may be the perfect key.

EXERCISE 11: THE LOOKING GLASS (p. 207)

The exercise of the Looking Glass is to see how conditions or flaws we perceive in others is actually more so a reflection of our own flaws and mistakes. So for part A the instruction is to write 5 negative traits to someone you dislike. Notice how many apply to you and this may say more about you and your ego parts and areas needing work in your confidence than how much of it is about them.

I did not just one person but traits in a few people I dislike. Those traits were: too many jump cuts in Youtube videos, popularity, threatening by being themselves (usually in work relations), using filler words (uh, um), me feeling left behind. For what actually applied to me in this category: I don’t do enough jump cuts in my videos, I get lost in my judgment about me, my place and them, I have the fear someone will grow more than me, I say uh and um a lot and feeling I should be in a different place myself and the uncertainty that comes with that.

In part B it’s now to list positive traits in someone you admire. I wrote openness, fairness, confidence (speaking their mind in a polite and sustaining way), lifting up others and staying away from attacking or purposefully harming someone. To be honest, I have no idea what the second blurb is below this because I don’t think it’s about me, I think it’s about someone else that I admire so maybe I accidentally did this twice? Honestly, I have no idea and I’m burning out pretty quickly but as for that I just wrote that they were very open and honest, fair to individuality and experiences, radiates positive energy and is easy to trust and talk to, does so much to help peers and themselves and has good accountability and responsibility.

EXERCISE 12: THE BOOMERANG ACTIVITY (p. 208)

In terms of this actual, FINAL, exercise here is how it went…. I will introduce confident thoughts to ego parts that need my attention today. State them each.

Parts: Jealousy/envy over coworker’s presence and my fears of losing my job. Feeling left behind by my friend’s moving on and upwards in ways I haven’t yet.

Confidence: I can bring more awareness right now to my parts and thoughts. Awareness is the first step and then I can problem solve appropriately.

I will introduce confident feelings to ego parts that need them today.

I will be open to my parts and compassionate towards them. I will let them have space in me and not be overpowered by them. I will be kind and patient to them and myself. They are there to protect me.

I will speak confidently for ego parts that need to be spoken for today. State them, the person you need to speak them to and the confident words you’ll use.

I need to speak them to myself. I have many ideas and ambitions and noticing these more and being attuned to my body will help me achieve my goals. I will allow them acknowledgment and the freedom to let them go.

I will project confident thoughts, feelings and actions to someone today. State them:

I will finish these exercises and repeat them back in the BES process and a video (potentially) on Youtube in the days ahead.

Honestly, I was going to film a video for this blog post as well but having gone through all the information and sharing the photos and sharing text based descriptions of each image, I don’t feel AS much of a need to film a video on it as well. So for now, unless there’s more interest in it, I think for now I will NOT be filming a video for this review. But, you let me know if you’d like me to talk about it via one if anything here was confusing. Keep reading or take a small break because this post is BIG and I hope that you can enjoy it and learn something from my experiences or perspective as well as gleam some understanding about the book just from my POV. PS Subscribe to my Youtube channel here: RecoverytoWellness


THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  1. On page 2, the author discusses the concept of how our brains and inevitably our behaviors, thoughts and emotions are things we carry with us wherever we go and how it doesn’t necessarily matter where we live geographically because (even like with new year’s) we cannot run away from what insecurities or struggles lie deep in our minds, souls and hearts. This reminded me especially of when I struggled with my mental health in university and I was always against leaving UMass Boston and attending a different school because I realized that the problem wasn’t necessarily the environment but how I was interacting and viewing it. And I was stubborn, as well. And I was also codependent in a few ways which didn’t help. But it was true, I knew that my brain would always automatically find self-destructive pathways because that’s what it was used to and that’s what it did. With time, recovery and a lot of healthier coping strategies and a lot of hard work with DBT, I’ve graduated from uni and I don’t have my first thoughts about harm or death, rather they’re either seventh or eighth thoughts, and that’s from all the work I’ve done on myself over the years. So, that’s something wonderful and something I can celebrate!!! I had to change the relationship I was having with myself before I could change the way I was looking at the world around me, so to speak.
  2. By p. 26, where Robinson is exploring how the parts of us that are angry or selfish don’t eclipse us as people or eclipse our Confident Selves because we are not each of our parts or individual thoughts or experiences (our identities are much larger than that) I felt that I could relate in terms of my avoidance behaviors and procrastination and found this to be a very interesting concept to explore and manage as I read this book.
  3. Being kind and compassionate to our parts when they arrive and we notice them reminds me of a group/therapy activity I was given before where the goal is to imagine your hurt part and giving yourself a hug to that part and that part to you. ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. p. 33 had me pondering what my parts were saying to me and what it was that I was not hearing from them. Also, the author used a stage/CEO corporate metaphor that really works and was super helpful. He also mentions quotes from other authors and people’s experiences and writings so that was a cool inclusion at times. ๐Ÿ™‚
  5. p. 35 talks about a great meditation metaphor about letting the parts speak in the corporate office and asks the Reader to lend compassion and mindfulness and nonjudgmental stances towards each part and allowing them the space to exist and not have to either fix them or shut them down etc. It’s a curious look into why they are there and what they’re trying to accomplish and then moving forwards yourself with your Confident Self. โค
  6. p. 42 discusses those feelings of inadequacy, never being enough and worthlessness for not striving to do better that can sometimes happen in people’s childhoods and how that pain can carry over into their long, enduring adult life. I thought this was particularly poignant to draw from with Loki in my fanfics and other characters I use here and there in my writing life. (But especially with Loki in D&D etc.)
  7. p. 44 Reminded me of the perceptual illusions I carry in my life mainly regarding work experiences (fear that people will find out how little life skills I have (cleaning, cooking, etc.)), and with social media (no one is watching my content, I’m not as good as X at this, Y doesn’t struggle with Z, etc.)). This helped me to start being more aware of my own parts while I was still early on in reading this book
  8. This is more of an observation than anything else but it took place on p. 53 where I could partially relate to the issue of connectivity with people and how certain people can behave in ways that remind you of other people who have hurt you before so like some transference type of stuff and it made me think I struggled with that especially in support group settings where I’m still working on whether or not it’s more helpful or damaging for me. I think I walk in with such a closed mind that even when I DO relate to someone, I’m so quick to judge it and push it away and point out all of our differences than being open to the experience. Also, I don’t like when people bring up my past which can happen in a way to show how much I’ve grown but I don’t interpret it like that. Instead it makes me long for different times, even if those times sucked. And it glorifies it too. And then it reignites old pathways that I make it a point to ignore or avoid today. ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค
  9. I really liked the concept on page 54 where current everyday problems trigger off old hurts or parts and how working to notice these changes and not react to them today as you would have in the past was very telling for me. Like, it’s important to practice recognizing when the current situation isn’t exactly the problem but rather what it’s reminding you of or where it brings you back and how those parts are just trying to help to protect you from pain. This reminded me of things like my friends bringing up my past for support groups as well as my friend Griffin on Twitter and things to that effect. So, it had real world applications for me and I can continue to see where I would benefit a lot from working on interpersonal effectiveness/DBT skills again.
  10. p. 63: I can choose to look at circumstances that are proving to be difficult as efforts for which my self-efficiency will be preparing me for easier times ahead so in the context of engagement on Youtube, if I can be there for myself than over time others can be able to step up the helm and we can all be happy. Also, putting myself more out there by commenting and networking is super, super important and critical!! As long as I’m there for me, anyone else is bonus. (And still needed and wanted, don’t get me wrong!!) I must in some part be doing it for me so that’s what has to matter at the end of the day, did I make something I love and am proud of given my skills in the present moment? Then that can be enough. XXX
  11. End of p. 75 reminds me of the describe and observe DBT skills. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿค—
  12. p. 85: So there’s a really awesome concept introduced in this chapter on the Practice of Optimism that the author calls the “zoom lens” which is about focusing in on pessimism of the things you lack, don’t have and how you’ll never have them. It’s a black and white thinking or all or nothing type of deal. By hyper-focusing on what you don’t have, you dismiss and lessen all the things you DO have. It’s a faulty comparison, seeing what everyone ELSE has and then not seeing clearly what you DO have yourself. I can really relate to this with work at Amaryllis. I always catch myself comparing how my co-workers down the hall are “having more fun”, “more needed/necessary” down there without me rather than me recognizing we are ALL doing our best work and we are all valuable members of the same team with a common goal. I have to tweak the way I’m looking at it and thinking about it, which, is of course, another work in progress for me as well. I can also see how one of my close friends does much the same too, and I’m going to make it a point to recommend them this book. ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™ PS The way to combat the zoom lens is to engage with the wide angle lens of your Confident Self.
:iloveyouplz:

13. p. 87 speaks about the concept of yes, knowing our limitations is important, and that also recognizing all of our “tallcomings” is just as important to get a clearer picture of who we are: to others and to ourselves. Finding ways to love ourselves and respect ourselves as much as we show and respect others is so crucial. I think I still seek a lot of praise, attention and validation from other people so I could really relate to this bit and I want to return and enhance my experiences of providing myself my own validation, care and praise and doing this in the fashion of: “by me, for me, from me.” ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐ŸŒˆโ˜€ The way I’ll do this is by writing lists, cards and journal entries to myself along with scripts (for scripts: I really want to do a lot more writing exercises regarding roleplays for work issues I have as well as just practicing visualizations and fanfic based stuff).

14. “[this] shows us that we can transform our lives into meaningful life experiences, no matter how horrendous the circumstances” — Robinson, 2009, p. 108

For me, on 2/16/21 I wrote down on my page flag that I had an art idea for watercoloring/drawing of this concept regarding transformation and meaning-making and purpose. I’m thinking a butterfly with a rainbow/rainbows in the background of it. Something I can do in my sketchbook, or at worst a watercolor based paper that I got before from Target. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ™‚

15. p. 126 There’s talk about how avoidant and perfectionistic ego parts were getting in the way of someone’s experiences because they were inevitably trying to protect her from a fear of failure that she had carried with her from childhood and I thought it was SO relatable to me. Way back when, in college, I had fears of failure and fears of success and I think this might be an insight into how they are still acting in my life today in more shielded and masked ways. So yeah, I definitely struggle with those two issues of avoidance spawning from perfectionism and finding that key could prove super vital for me going forwards in time as well. This book gave me a LOT of insight into myself and that was partially because I took the initiative to look into these matters myself and that I didn’t just stay complacent and bored with where the matters circled old thoughts, patterns and my awareness levels or even levels of my subconscious. So, if that’s not clear, I don’t know what ever will be. It’s taken a LOT of work just to write this post but hopefully it was worth it all, all the hours and the listening to music and the flow and the information and the pictures and descriptions. It was a lot. But I got a lot out of it, too. If you can tackle this book yourself in some of the same ways I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it yourself, too.

16. I really appreciated, in the Harmony chapter (p. 127), this idea that tackling something I haven’t worked on in even the smallest of ways or challenging myself in a small way each day was particularly impactful. It suggests things like even taking a different route home from work. For me, that’s going to prove to be cooking at work and at home with the proper amount of support and feedback and handling more meds/MAP based principles, too. It reminded me that not everyone has everything figured out and we can always find more ways to improve ourselves and it’s okay to ask for help and get support in these matters because we’re not alone!! โฃโฃโฃ

17. I also liked the reframe on page 161 (The Practice of the Vacuum) that an example person forgave her husband and her best friend for having an affair and running off together leaving her behind as not an act of forgiveness for them but for her own peace of mind and her own self. It was a compassionate act for her to give herself, rather than to absolve them of what they did to her (they were no longer in the picture in her life but she was still holding onto resentments). So I think that was an important thing to note here as well.

18. “I release, one by one, all the upsetting thoughts and feelings that I have carried and that have weighed heavily on my mind and heart. I wish you no harm. I bury the hatchet once and for all and set myself free. As these burdens lift, I am open to receiving life’s blessings in this empty space”

Robinson, 2009, p. 170

What I really liked about this quote above is that it is a great exercise in accepting forgiveness’s and letting go once and for all in an effort not unlike radical acceptance in DBT. It’s just this really nice, kind and compassionate/caring act for one’s self and a nice reframe to otherwise difficult situations. Not returning to the hatchet in any way and finding more creative or artistic ways to identify and explore these parts is also critical and poignant.

19. Art Idea #1 from Feb. 18th 2021 on p. 187 regarding radiating positivity, a person in a triumphant position with light and sparkles surrounding them as a nice homage to my slogan “[survivors] radiating badassery”

20. The conclusion of this book ends with that 5 part poem about falling in a hole and I can’t recall if it was this poem or a similar one about falling in a hole and someone coming by to fall in too and help the narrator out, but it was super awesome to see it or similar things again and I really loved that it was included in this book!!! I can relate to being in Chapter 3 with the trich right now. It’s the “Autobiography” poem by Portia Nelson.


THINGS THAT I DISAGREED WITH OR DIDN’T SIT RIGHT WITH ME:

In terms of the trigger warning I placed for this book, there were a small handful of instances where more severe mental health conditions were painted as things that they’re not, in the sense that depression is something EVERYONE experiences which just isn’t true as a condition (if we’re talking sadness or low mood, then yes that’s different) but that’s not how it was worded initially. On top of that, things like “no one worries 100% of the time”, eh, maybe, but what about people with a severe anxiety disorder? Is that still the same then? I’m not sure. Additionally, there’s this “making friends” notion between the parts inside of the Reader on p. 27 which I think the INTENTION was to accept the difficulties of the parts (for instance, anger or it even mentions depression specifically) and allow them space for a while and then move on forwards with a more informed and cognitively aware Confident Self, however, it came across to me as more like “make friends” with the conditions which could be really dangerous because sometimes, in my experiences, when I made friends with OCD and depression, things like treatment, treatment teams, medications, behavioral changes etc. felt threatened and I felt like it had been Us Against the World and it’s not like those conditions really had my best interests at heart (read: harm and death). Like, they would have done everything and anything to make me go down with them so I just think this has to be worded more carefully. No one’s fault really. Just… it’s tricky.


MY EXPERIENCE: WHAT KEPT ME READING; THE BOOK’S IMPACT ON ME….

Even when I started reading this book, it was hard hitting with spitting facts and making me existentially aware of myself, my surroundings and what I’d be expecting to get out of this read (which I could never have properly expected, I realize now). It was emotional but necessary. And it made me realize I was in it for the long haul–through the ups and the downs and the procrastinating, avoiding and eventual returning to it to finish it off. Man, it was a journey. It was an experience.

There was an awareness by the author in the very beginning of the book where he realized that what the Reader would take away from his book could have so many endless possibilities and existences because we’re working from our own unique Perspective and what we already think, believe and interact/act/react with the world around us. So, I found that to be pretty refreshing and an interesting point of view to state from the get-go.

I did appreciate the push towards proactive/active practitioner in this book versus being a passive life experiencer. Meaning, taking charge of your experiences in life and choosing to plow forwards by identifying the limiting thoughts, beliefs, emotions and behaviors that are holding you back in life and preventing you from living the way you want to live (Confident-Led). That, I found, was refreshing. My favorite all time chapter was the one on Empowerment (with Optimism as a close second!!). I LOVED and LIVED for that chapter, (Empowerment) ahaha. More on that soon.

So, there was also a really meaningful and profound moment that I had on p. 82 (and it’s now a new day that I’m writing so I’ve been flickering between which section to place this thought but….) it talks about this concept that sometimes we, as people, get caught up in looking ahead to future experiences that we forget or dismiss what it is happening RIGHT NOW. So, in this example the author talks about a colleague he had that loved long, summer days and on the longest day of summer, he asked her how she must be so happy and she said that she was so sad thinking of the fact that all the days ahead were going to be so short (Robinson, 2009). That was SUPER relatable for me because I’ve been doing a LOT of that lately in my life. I keep putting down milestones in the days ahead of me: so like, yesterday (Friday) I had a doctor’s appointment and it’s what I wanted to get done and rush through it each day before then I looked towards that appointment and then when it was there I was busy thinking about how I was feeling physically, mentally and looking towards the next thing I had upcoming. So like, even with work tomorrow (Sunday), I’m thinking of wanting to rush to get through that experience so that the next thing I have to do on Monday, hopefully, will be going up to the library to return this book and another one ((it’s now Monday so I’ll actually be doing this on Wednesday instead)) and then once that experience is there and happening, I’ll be too busy focusing on the next thing. I’m just NOT being mindful and patient with the experiences in my life and I’d really, really like to work on that and just get back to the present moment. So, there’s that. I think I got really good at distracting myself which can be great but also a slippery slope into avoidance and over-distraction, if that makes sense.

Like, I can learn how to enjoy this moment or take just a second to ground myself and be okay with what is happening or at least accepting of it. Something that I did when I filmed a video about my book thought challenges list was encountering the absurdity and unfathomable notion that I’d read a book just to read it (not to review it here) or stop reading a book if I don’t like it (not finishing it) and I was SO animated about that process that I was actually able to let go a little bit and start reading a book I’ve had for YEARS on mindfulness and challenge myself in that way to just be in the moment, listen to ambient noise and read through it little by little. It was REALLY great and I gave myself time for just me for like 15 mins and it was SO refreshing and I’ve been able to consult it a couple times since so yeah, it was a really great milestone and achievement. So basically I have to work on enjoyment of the moment and being in it as much as possible. A stroke of progress for sure.

Another thing that really struck me was from the chapter on Empowerment on page 108 where Robinson, 2009 talks about how everyone in life is faced with challenges, some small ones and some seismic ones and how we choose to respond to them was up to us and it was very much possible to turn obstacles into opportunities and it reminded me a lot of my fiction novel and the other ideas, dreams and aspirations I have in my life so that was really wonderful and cool and something I wanted to share with you guys. โคโคโค

Personally, I found a lot of inspiration and guidance in the Empowerment chapter, where Robinson details how it’s the work of a survivor that transforms their suffering and hardships into meaningful experiences via shifting their views of life’s challenges into lessons from which they can grow and learn about their Confident Selves (Robinson, 2009, p. 109). This in particular also reminded me of my fanfics and that was really refreshing at the time. :] As another example from this chapter:

“When life’s adversities come your way–as they surely will from time to time–perhaps you can be reminded to look for meaning, strength and growth in how you face and cope with hardships. Cosmic slaps are not choices; how you handle them is a choice. You can take the ‘cosmic taps’–those everyday challenges that are much smaller in scale than devastation–and rework them to your advantage. Finding the gains in your losses will help you lead your life with confidence”

— Robinson, 2009, p. 111

The above quote gave me another wonderful round of ideas for groups at work and I just love the way it was written and how that perspective of optimism and seeing the greatness in all the shittiness of life was just so relatable and inspiring. It also highlights the choices the Reader can regard and recall for themselves and I think that is so, so powerful.

There is also a cool visualization exercise for meditation and imagining positive experiences coming out of p. 155 that is noteworthy to mention. It’s a meditation to envision some good fortune happening and noticing any parts that come up and then moving forward as though all the endless possibilities did physically occur and repeating to yourself that I am experiencing X thing etc. Just thought I’d mention it. โ˜€โ˜€

Something I really want to end with as a highlight from this book is this extraordinary instance that I’ve had to manhandle into my life recently as well….

“[Claire’s envy] was eclipsing her Confident Self because the good fortunes of others were reminders of Claire’s own inner unhappiness and lack of confidence. Until she could celebrate the good fortunes of others, Claire was blind to her own gifts…Envying what others have can keep you from seeing your own blessings and prevent you from realizing that you have other gifts that they don’t”

Robinson, 2009, p. 196

The reason I want to highlight this is because it’s relevant to some experience I’ve currently have with work relationships at Amaryllis and with a friend of mine moving out on their own. I can get threatened by other people improving and doing really well at work and it’s something I have to keep an eye out for more. With my friend, I was super jealous at first that they were moving out because I thought I should be the one doing that and I’m not even at that stage yet. However, I’ve challenged this like it describes here that participating in other people’s joys helps you to feel and experience those joys as well, and like the above quote, I do have other achievements I’ve made since being friends with this person that maybe they haven’t managed just yet on their own (and that that’s okay and we can each celebrate our differences and where we’re going in life!). There’s also this secondary quote in the next paragraph that says “Confidence comes from being grateful for what you have–not from wanting what others have”. So, yeah, this really stuck out for me and I wound up deciding I could give my friend some house warming gifts so I’ve compiled together objects regarding that all from TJ Maxx and it was very exciting and I can’t wait to give it to them and share that with them. Things are definitely a work in progress; and I’m proud of me!!! ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿคฉ

Something else I’d like to put together more is writing out roleplay scenes for work and creating writing exercises and listening to meditations and doing those visualization exercises so that is something else I am carrying with me from having read this book and done so much dabbling in it and everything. (And I’m challenging my all or nothing tonight by setting aside the Editing Process of this post for the next day (sorta) to give myself a break and maintain my own sanity ahaha).


TRACKING DATES I READ THE BOOK:

11.16.2020; 1.7.2021; 1.13; 1.15; 2.15; 2.16; 2.17; 2.18.21

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS POST:

2.18.2021, 2.19, 2.20, (took a break completely on 2/21), returned 2/22 to edit and post. :))

GOSH, THAT WAS SOOOOOO MUCH.

Thank you ENDLESSLY for anyone who made it THIS far into the post. You’re so AWESOME and you deserve all the good things in the world. I am definitely gong to leave the editing process up to myself for Sunday evening Monday evening because I gave myself an even larger break from Sunday rather than trying to squish it all in on Saturday because honestly I’m tired of looking at this screen and fumbling with my spellings repeatedly. I need a break ahaha. Just some time to myself, which I’ll be taking very shortly. Maybe I can try and download two or three new songs because I’m gonna NEED them tomorrow.

Welp, that’s all I got. Thank you so much and I hope that this post was interesting for you and at the end of the day…. FAREWELL. I will see you guys VERY soon. I’ll be doing a few other reviews and then most likely scheduling some posts. ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™

PS Books referred to in this main text that I do want to check out some time…

  • Pema Chodron, 1997 “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
  • Viktor Frankl, 2006, “Man’s Search for Meaning”
  • Shakti Gawain, 2002, “Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Life”
  • Eckhart Tolle, 2004, “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”
  • Eckhart Tolle, 2005, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”

“Hero” (2013) | Book Review (Sep. 2020)


Chosen Book:

“Hero” (2013) by Rhonda Byrne

Part of “The Secret” series.ย 


Trigger Warnings:

None!


Themes:

Hero, “the hero’s journey”, maps, guidance, inspiration, compass, advocacy, stories, aspirations, advice, worldwide, global, dreams, belief, how to get there, perseverance, pursuit, visualization, hope, graphic design, art, expectations, potential, encouragement, success, self-worth, self-esteem.


General Layout/Information Delivery:

This book is uniquely defined in a way that I haven’t seen any other book do before. This book follows twelve incredible human beings and their successes in businesses and life and finding meaning in their struggles along with advice for the reader to understand and grapple with, to become inspired and searching for their own dream either locked away or uncovered again from within their soul. The book has this beautiful aged paper look to it and it communicates wisdom and power just by the look of it, let alone the words of hope and help that are bound into it to begin with. Each “hero” is determined by a relating graphic design that appears beside their name as they add in quotes or sharing their own lived experiences about various parts of the “hero’s journey”. The separate but continued parts of the story are comprised of hotly orange, yellow and red landscapes and each chapter has the title at the right with the introduction to the chapter below in text and to the left, the area of the map and title with a red flag to mark where the hero is upon their journey. There are trees, mountains and often bodies of water. It makes for a book interactive and intuitive along with being aesthetically pleasing and inspiring.

I also happened to find the art not too overwhelming or distracting and I really quite appreciated that notion. ๐Ÿ™‚


Summary:

Following the advice and wisdom of every hero’s journey along with Rhonda’s interpretations and spirit through each page and paragraph, comes alive a book about dreams and making them a reality that I have not encountered before in my life. It wasn’t without issues, of course, because at the beginning of this book I felt their notions of optimism and faith to be forced and pretentious in some respects, I found it to be a little annoying and seemed like it was trying too hard to be uplifting and inspiring without putting in the work yet to show me that it was uplifting and inspiring. I’m glad I stuck it out though because eventually I fell in love with the book and I’m grateful to have read it and have the opportunity to properly review it on here. โค ๐Ÿ™‚

Additionally, “The Secret” is a widely acclaimed international film that made strides and leaps in bounds in hundreds of ways. Although I would have liked some type of explanation to what the film was, what it was about, even just a small blurb about it, we never get that from this book. There is apparently a book about the film out in existence as well as two other books in the series. Personally, this is the FIRST time I’ve ever come across this information so I have purely NO opinion or formulated thought about this series, the books or the film and I would have appreciated some introduction or blurb about anything on the material, but alas, I never received this. It does make me wary and also grateful that I can go forwards into this topic further without preconceived notions or judgments. ๐Ÿ™‚

Overall this is a great book to read if you’re looking for inspiration and wisdom and guidance based on other people’s successes and how they made their dreams come alive like never before. The book really doesn’t cover any triggers so it’s safe in that respect, as well! I think a lot of people could get an excellent benefit from this book if they took the time to read it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Keep reading this review to check out my thoughts on this book and how I interacted with it as well as some pieces I thought could have been better defined or explored.


Book Length:

227 pages


Recommendation Score:

4/5

accomplished dreams


Outstanding Quotes with My Commentary:

  1. “You might think ‘I’ve got time to follow my dreams.’ You don’t have time. Life is short. The current life expectancy is more or less 24,869 days. You do not have time to put off your dreams” — Byrne, 2013, p. 31

I found this quote to be particularly: necessary, anxiety provoking, important, true, crucial and terrifying. :O

2. “Realizing that no one else is going to make your dreams come true is a big step. Your boss, friends, partner, family cannot live your life for you. You are responsible for creating a life that makes you happy and fulfilled” — Byrne, 2013, p. 32

I really felt this quote and it reminds me once again how other people can’t exactly write a story or a fanfic in the same avenue that I am–not to say I’m particularly unique but that the plot, the way it happens, the details there, come from my head and while they can be influenced by my life and others, no one can replicate it in the exact same way that I do. So, if I passed on before I could get everything I wanted out in the world, people left behind could try and piece it together but it would never be quite “me”, you know? No one can live my life for me besides me. No one can make my dreams come true besides me. I have to live and live the way I know how. The rest will come into play later. โค ๐Ÿ™‚ I definitely find quite a bit of truth and wisdom in this quote.

3. “We can’t take material things with us [when we pass on] because they are not who we are; while they are part of the joy of living on earth, they are not the purpose of our life” — Byrne, 2013, p. 37

I thought this was an incredible, poignant and resounding quote to read. Just, wow. I think a lot of us could use this reminder in our lives. I love the notion of it, and it reminds me of estate sales and yard sales even, because when we do pass on from this world into the next–whatever that may be–none of our personal belongings or ties to this world will go with us, not exactly. Certainly not physical items, some things like relationships will carry on but likely they won’t follow with us exactly. It’s fascinating, really.

4. CONTEXT: On p. 45 Byrne asks the reader to take a moment to listen to their subconsciousness, to find an inkling of an idea of what their dream is and what action step they can take towards completing their dream. She asks questions like ‘What is my purpose in life?’, ‘What am I meant to do?’ and ‘What is my reason for being here?’ She suggests to notice anything that arrives and says that the answer will come (from the Universal Mind) while we’re busy doing something else and try not to judge it or ignore it. Mine? Here:

“I am an inspiration not because I am flawless but because I am flawed.”

5. “It often takes courage to do the thing you love and go against the majority. Resist the temptation to try and please anyone and be true to yourself. It’s not your job to please anybody else, anyway; it’s their job to please themselves and find their own happiness. This is your life and you must follow your own heart” — Byrne, 2013, p. 60

I thought this was such a beautiful paragraph that needed to be seen by everyone’s eyes who reads this review. It’s so true and so well said. Again, it’s a wonderful reminder. We are not responsible for the actions of others or their reactions, only they are. And remember, not everyone is going to like you or approve of you, and that’s okay!! โค

6. “Believing in yourself doesn’t mean there won’t be moments where you question your ability to achieve your dream….you can only take one step at a time on the Hero’s Journey and one step at a time is all that every successful person took” — Byrne, 2013, p. 74

I felt this was particularly important to note and if the journey at length becomes overwhelming, just break it down into the smaller pieces because everything has smaller pieces and it’ll be easier to carry that load than the entire tree. One log at a time. โค

7. “The energy you put into the world comes back. In other words, the fruit is in the seed. You can’t sow an apple seed and expect to get an avocado tree. The consequences of your life are sown in what you do and how you behave” — Tom Shadyac p. 118

I really, really liked this and it has inspired me to do more art shares on my social media platforms and get back into doing that because I used to do it a lot before so yeah. Yay, inspiration! If I do it for online like with Twitter I can actually use some hashtags ahaha.

On top of this, the intention isn’t to put good out to get good back rather it’s to feel good about giving out good and being happy and fulfilled in that exercise.

8. “In fact, there are no walls (for your dream); there is only the appearance of walls. There are no dead ends; there is only the appearance of dead ends. Both are actually only detours for the purpose of redirecting you to that greater version of your dream” — Byrne, 2013, p. 141

I thought this was an excellent thing to be reminded of. That sometimes the roadblocks we face in the pursuit of our dreams really are ways the Universe is working for us to see the other side in a different way than what we may have imagined and maybe this new way could be even better and greater for us than what limited view we had from our own perspective (Byrne, paraphrased). It also made me think that I may try and get my memoir compiled and done within one and two years. As well as work towards more of the TEDtalk I’d like to give, my recovery projects, books and artwork. ๐Ÿ™‚

9. (Liz Murray) “Every time something got in my way, what if it was just another hurdle? Because a hurdle’s not separate from the track; a hurdle is a part of the track, and it wouldn’t be an indication that I was off my track. When things were in the way that was just part of the course and eventually if I jumped those hurdles enough I would reach my finish line” — p. 163

I really, really, really LOVED this metaphor. So good and so easy to visualize and have such a fresh new perspective on obstacles and adversity in this way. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really want to continue checking out Liz’s work trampolined from this book: she’s an author, has a movie about her journey and she’s a motivational speaker, which is really up my alley! Can’t wait to check her out. ๐Ÿ˜€

10. “(Liz Murray) [This woman] told me, ‘I can’t do much, but I can do that’ and if everybody on this planet would get that lesson–I can’t do much but I can do that…I learned that you can help other people in small ways that are available to you right this second” — p. 171

I love this!! It’s so profound and such a wonderful glimpse into a person’s life and what they wanted to do to help make a positive impact in the world (or in someone’s world; the woman wanted to do Liz’s laundry). It definitely made me think of the articles I wrote for the paper and one of my friends dealing with homelessness. I hope that she’s okay!! โค

11. “(Peter Foyo) Some people say, ‘Why do you still work?’ and I say, ‘Because I’m making a difference and I’d like to continue to do that while I’m here.'” — p. 191

Straight up in love with this. What a perfect answer to an interesting question and so deep and profound at that, too!! It’s honestly so beautiful. *_*

12. “(Laird Hamilton) I only wish to figure out how to do more and make a bigger difference, and as I continue in that direction I think I may realize, at the end, that my goal was more to make a difference than it was all the other things” — Byrne, 2013, p. 204

I just thought this was breathtakingly beautiful. I’m not sure if it still is out of context but it was a great juncture to make at this point in the book.


Wandering Thoughts or Ideas I had While Reading:

  • How much do cruel comments about another person’s potential successes or failures wind up making or breaking an individual and what they can go out and do in the world? Can these remarks be unintentionally inspiring? Even if their intention was to hurt and put down–what defines whether a person will rise to the challenge or give in, give up and never try?
  • On the notion that how you were raised or the “circumstances of your beginnings” don’t dictate the life you lead made me wonder how much this is true for cases of trauma? Abuse? Neglect? Having finished the book I suppose it makes sense that one can aspire and become greater than those circumstances and at the same time it may be important to recognize the very reality that some people won’t. But that that power is up to the individual’s choices themselves. (Paraphrased, Byrne, p. 16).
  • I did find it frustrating that I was never told plain and simply what “The Secret” film/book/other books were about or what they even meant. Also, I was reminded early on about “Ashes” by Celine Dion in the film “Deadpool 2” (a film review that I could do very well in setting aside time to address and upload for myself and you all just the same; p. 18). :3
  • On the notion about how your hobbies are clues into what you’re most passionate about, what you make time for and that they can even be avenues for you to explore to make money out of: came the idea and reminder for myself to work on my fanfics synopses and place these and the dates they were created into my memoir. Of course, since then I uncovered a rule about them on FFN that clearly states to not use song lyrics in stories (how I missed that I’ll never truly know) which will be a difficult roadblock for my memoir, but I hope that I’ll figure it out or one day with an editor I can have my uncertainties answered properly. For now, it’d be nice to work on it again, I actually thought of it today, the last day of Sept 2020 but yeah. Haven’t quite made it there yet again but it’s on my mind. โค (Reference to paraphrasing: p. 20, Byrne, 2013).
  • From the section on receiving the call to my dream I was able to link and uncover the fact that reading GIAJ got me to make a Disney+ membership, YAWI (you haven’t seen this yet) inspired me to title my memoir “SOAR” and begin to work on it and this book, H, well, I haven’t completed figured it out just yet. But I was approached by someone on Twitter along the same time as I got my memoir title idea that prompted me to think about writing my book so there’s that. I think this book, H, helped to redefine goals and motivation and inspiration and structuring for myself, at least, from what I can remember! I’ll have to see at the very end of this review if there were any other lingering factors. ๐Ÿ˜€ ย 
  • At one point of reading this book I thought of Chadwick Boseman and his passing and hoping that he, himself, had led a fulfilling life and was happy. It’s so sad to have lost him. And it was wonderful to have him for a while. โค </3
  • Being around books, reading books, ingesting books and watching movies really lights up my world. I’m drawn to books so much even if it’s more difficult these days to read, still I crave them. I find them hard to let go of, too. I also find photography helps me to pass the time by fast… which actually reminds me, I need to do some tracking tonight!! Art in general also serves that function. It’s what I’m most passionate about and I’m really glad I have that as one of my main outlets. In so many mediums, too!! ๐Ÿ˜€

ย 

  • p. 47 talking about the Universal Mind and asking it for questions or advice reminds me of my Thinking Rock out in my backyard that I would refer to for instructions and guidance to any problem I was having. It was a large oval rock by a beautiful tree and I would feel the coolness of the rock against my clothing and the mossy bits here and there. I’d sit saddling it and close my eyes, looking up at the tree’s leaves, imaging what life was like when the dinosaurs existed and pretending this big rock was a dinosaur egg. Those were good times. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • From tips about how to ask for advice or guidance from people who’ve made their own dreams come true I thought of how: 1. getting help and advice from others mattered, 2. getting inspiration from others and 3. immersing myself in reading and writing helps, too. (Particularly in regards to being a published author, of course!)
  • I really want to work some day soon on mind mapping in my planner, setting aside and brainstorming monthly SMART goals in said planner as well as creating a cool and awesome mini vision board in my memoir’s journal ๐Ÿ˜€ Hopefully some day soon!!
  • I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of not putting in as much effort and work and time into the things I enjoy yet still expecting to be hitting it big regardless. So, as ofย  p. 50 I need to work on this and work on interacting more online and blogging and such and doing more than the stationary level I’ve reached as of the last few years. ๐Ÿ˜› I suppose all in due time.
  • I don’t know how much my dreams involve popularity versus community but it’s definitely something I’ve been searching for for a while, once again reminding me I have to put in the effort myself to network and boost myself while also supporting others in their journeys and such. I’d like to do more shout-out posts and things to that nature to help with this. Maybe October will be a good month to start with! (Again though, I need to track tonight and fill in my planner a bit with these goals and ideas!)
  • The idea of navigating and expanding on daily blissful moments reminds me a lot of building mastery in DBT and the pleasant events diary homework assignment. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • While I do want to write my own memoir and have that journey be the way it is, I also do want to return to reading other people’s memoirs, I think that’d be nice! ๐Ÿ™‚ Get some exposures going again and all. ๐Ÿ˜›
  • Opening your subconscious mind to believing in yourself…and you will find that others new or old begin to believe in you too (paraphrased, Byrne, 2013, p. 73). This reminded me of Amaryllis again. :3
  • (About the keys and use of visualization…) I definitely want to practice more of drawing and writing about situations and dreams coming true and going well so I found the information on page 81 to be really helpful! I’d like to do practice scripts and things to that effect. ๐Ÿ™‚ More work ahead of myself, for sure! XD I also have an existing idea about what the cover image of my memoir would be. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • One of the successful people talks about a book they only ever read the title of and no other mention of the author but I’m incredibly curious now: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” โค
  • There’s a nice few sections on gratitude in this book that I enjoyed. It made me think (p. 104) about my fanfics like D&D, S, ALU and also made me think of someone whose mental health/ED journey I follow online as well as even just practicing gratitude when I’m at work. Which I still need to come up with activities for this week! Eeep! :S
  • I also think I can use gratitude for an old blog post idea I had back in the day and for my current online presence and community (maybe in shambles in some respects) but yeah. :3
  • I also think all this gratitude stuff came to align with a new twice daily journal that I got at Michael’s on clearance which has a prompt about gratitude and such. So, that’s nice. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Universe!
  • On the idea of intuition being a flash of reasoning from the Universe: I need to work on trusting my intuition more at work especially. It is growing and becoming to exist/blooming in my chest.

ย 

  • Learn more about humility.
  • As told from Liz Murray’s perspective and how she moved from homelessness into a degree and motivational speaker: “what if that’s the school that lets me in? So I went and that was the school that let me in–that very next school. You never know when you’re about an inch away from your dreams. You have to do it one more time. Even if the one more time didn’t work, then do it one more time” — p. 133 For this, these positive what if’s, reminded me of the first IOOV and even the second IOOV from NAMI presentations I saw about mental health conditions and it always made me aware of this snagging reality that recovery is possible and maybe I could feel happy and fulfilled and live a life with mental health conditions. And, I’m where I’m at now. So, it IS possible!! Having a story and a purpose in that way was so beneficial for me. I’m grateful for that!! ๐Ÿ˜€
  • I don’t know if I ever did a proper blog post regarding this thumb/graphic design I made but it talked about how there are no one ways in life, that there are rotaries and side streets that will get you to the same destination in the end regardless. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Life Works Itself Out - No One Ways - THUMB - TT6 - 7.16.19
  • Art Idea Drawing #1 (9/14/20) : Lantern with rainbow light pooling out of it with a dark black background. Watercolors.
  • There exists an interesting comment on page 143 about how dreams evolve and how they will always be greater than you imagined, never smaller. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • On the idea that as sensitive beings you’ll always be affected by naysayers but how you react to it is up to you (p. 147): This is exactly right and trolls and insensitive comments will always be there, how you handle it is up to you. Even in fanfics this would arise. It’s the consequence of putting yourself out there. Also reminded me of the lyric from “10 Feet Down” by NF: “it’s not about what you did, it’s what you became from it”
  • On the concept of other people taking your ideas and running with them before you get the chance to… yes, this is why I don’t want to be overly descriptive of some of my more pressing projects like my memoir, SOAR and my own fiction novels, etc. I’d rather keep some things under wraps whereas a few years ago I would have (and planned to) put it all out there. ๐Ÿ˜› (By the way, SOAR isn’t the actual name of my memoir’s working title for now either, it’s just the pseudonym I’m using for it. :D)
  • On about p. 159 Byrne discusses how facing adversity and overcoming it gives you a set of strengths that forms your character and changes who you are into something greater than you were before…. This reminded me of an article I wrote during my final semester at uni titled “How I Earned My Degree Despite Adversity”. It was a pretty great article. It also makes me think of these words: ambitious, persistent, perseverance and determination

ย 

  • Concept: obstacles prepare the hero with the abilities to handle maintaining our dream when it comes true; without the skills to handle success [the dream] would not last (Byrne, 2013, p. 160). — I felt this was a good reminder even to myself to have more gratitude and patience with creating an online presence and following. โค
  • I’m still pretty confused because on page 177 one of the hero’s mentions chronic fatigue to a debilitating degree and I’m not sure if they meant in general like tiredness or chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. It was never spelled out. :/
  • Liz Murray has a movie and a book!! I definitely want to check them both out! ๐Ÿ˜€ โค
  • I liked this quote a lot from another hero saying essentially that living her dream is satisfying in respect and that she’s grateful for the fact that her doing what she wanted to do was inspiring to those who look up to her! p. 187 ….. I felt this was relatable even if just for my IOOVs and having hope within the darkness like I try to mention in my story’s script. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Out of nothing, you made something” Gwah! Love that! Byrne, 2013, p. 188
  • A hero is someone who’s made their life about something more than just themselves” — Byrne, 2013, p. 196; Amazing. Once again: interaction, promotion, encouragement. โค Bringing back the glory for everyone else to communicate with it, see it and engage with it.
  • I feel like giving back with writing blog posts and reviews and reading books in general is a great way to contribute to the larger good in the world. And my recovery projects and acts of kindness are also ways that make me feel like and inspire me to do more. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Not gonna lie, at this point I’m getting very sleepy).
  • There’s a really great quote and experience that Liz Murray shares on page 209 of this book where she talks about how we are the sole authors of our stories and that we can change the way the plot goes at any point in time, that our interpretations make up our lives and it’s up to us to answer why we’re here and who we are. ๐Ÿ™‚ This also reminded me of ALU.

At the very end of the book’s hero’s contributors pages (p. 200-227):

  • What’s the difference between a nonprofit organization and a foundation?
  • I wonder if Laird Hamilton ever made his goal for assisting 700k of people with the global water crisis. Also, did they help Flint, Michigan?
  • I would like to also check out Mastin Kipp (The Daily Love)
  • Mastin Kipp has Daily Love published by Hay House Publishing, 2014
  • Liz Murray: Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard; Hyperion, 2010.
  • Rhonda Byrne: The Secret film, The Secret book, The Power, The Magic.

A List of All the Things I Disagreed With:

    • I feel that on p. 25 it’s flawed logic to always look for the good in negative situations because it could be interpreted as dismissive and invalidating while having some kernels of truth locked away inside: that there is that duality in life and that something good can come out of the bad, some strengths can be found in the moments of weakness, etc.
    • Something I really didn’t agree with was on p. 31 where one of the heroes talks about how sitting on the couch moaning about what could have been and not living life by meeting people and traveling to new places was just unnecessary because just because they live their life one way doesn’t mean that’s the way EVERYONE has to live theirs, you know what I mean? It just didn’t sit right with me and really drags people down when you could easily use “I statements” or change the way you’re saying something instead of demeaning an entire population of people. ๐Ÿ˜› Again, just because it wasn’t their definition of a life worth living doesn’t mean that they have to drag someone else’s life through the dirt like that. Bleh.
    • Another thing I didn’t agree with at all was this notion that mental health problems occurring throughout the world (p. 58) more these days is because it’s evidence that people are living miserable lives with jobs they were pressured into taking or had the expectation placed on them by others or society to do instead of their dreams. Like, no, that ain’t it chief. You can’t, or shouldn’t, define every case of a mental health condition to that of job dissatisfaction. Like, no, it’s a helluva more complex than that and doesn’t do the topic justice. Grrr. >:[
    • On the idea that people who are living with a pessimistic attitude suck the joy out of life and they suck the energy out of you and they’re miserable…. at what point is this insulting and demeaning to those who have these world views because of trauma or because of living with a mental health condition that clouds their perspective? Hot damn.
    • On the idea that whining, blaming, complaining and criticizing can’t fulfill a person’s dreams and give them happiness….. Whoa, whoa, whoa there. When is critique such a bad thing? When is having critical thought or skepticism or looking at all angles of a situation something so insulting and below a person? Like, not everyone is going to have the same opinion on things and they may tell you about it but what you do with that information is up to you! No one is forcing you to compile, change or do something at all in response to that. Besides, I admire those who can speak of their own opinion when it’s different than the masses. That’s helpful. Unless it’s just hate and is derogatory statements, than no, that’s not helpful/constructive criticism yet painting all criticism as a bad egg is one dimensional and doesn’t allow for enough freedom of speech and exploration of other things that the person in charge may not have realized. Again, saying nay when EVERYONE else is saying only yay, can be courageous too and just as helpful. Again, you don’t have to take their opinion into consideration. I don’t think it’s fair to begrudge and damn all of people’s opinions if they’re not just asspats to your ego. ๐Ÿ˜› (p. 92) Critique, at its best, helps to spur on growth not diminish another’s worth.
    • Again the idea continues that a hero cannot ever be self-deprecating, miserable, a negative person could never be a hero, they can’t blame or complain etc. Honestly? That’s just mega judgmental and invalidating. I think having these flaws matters a little more than measuring up to whatever belief this author has about those types of things. I’d still watch if Tony Stark was more ‘negative’. It wouldn’t diminish him in my eyes! Ugh. Ranting and venting doesn’t equate to complaining. Having moments of despair doesn’t equate to being negative or pessimistic. It’s a part of being human. ๐Ÿ˜›
    • I really, really, really dislike this dangerous notion that certain feelings are “bad” and shouldn’t be experienced and never are by heroes, etc. Like, no, that’s not it. Emotions simply are and as long as we’re taking a more balanced approach to what our action urges are and what we want to do healthily with those emotions, than it doesn’t need to come down to “should’s and shouldn’ts”. Again, I think eliminating the experience of darker, less fun emotions is dangerous and not it at all. A person can’t exactly control their emotions and trying to suppress them could ignite a whole other flame of problems.
    • Continuing my level of disagreement with this book is what happens on p. 95 under the presumption that a hero is consistently optimistic, predominantly having a positive mind (eh) and the notion that your thoughts and your attitude become your life: 1. Yes, thinking it and believing it are related. Reminds me of that quote “Believe you can or believe you can’t, either way you’re half right” Also though, the idea 2. that your thoughts become your life is hardly the case in situations like MHC’s and OCD for instance. So, um, no. Maybe don’t make sweeping generalities that could be misconstrued and painted false easily by incorporating other perspectives? Or is that too much criticism from me? ๐Ÿ˜›

What Kept Me Reading and the Impact this Book Had on Me:

What really drew me to this book was when I found it at a great library by my psychiatrist’s office and I was looking for helpful and inspirational nonfiction books. I saw this cover and read the inside and outer flap and flipped through the pages and really wanted to try it out. I accidentally read it as “The Secret: Hero” rather than just “Hero” up until the point I actually dusted off the book and started reading. I’m glad that I stuck through the parts that made me disagree or exasperated and that I was able to read it pretty well, got pretty into it and got it done in a month. I’m proud of me for that! There is something very satisfying to me to get from page 1 of a book all the way to the end! ๐Ÿ˜€

One thing I really did like about this book was within the introduction when it was described by Byrne that the world is comprised of duality: that there is good and there is bad, there is hope and there is hopelessness, there is light and there is dark and it’s about how you perceive and interpret these things that paves ahead the road you’ll walk upon. Also, it’s emphasized that everyone has something great to offer the world and so it’s uplifting in that sense as well as encouraging and good for the soul and one’s self-worth. ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s up to you whether you achieve your dream or not, too.

I think this book has a great quality of being relatable in a lot of ways and sometimes also I found that it focused too much on business only dreams, but I took that in stride with the rest of its enthusiasm, patience, and practice. :3

I also think this book reminded and validated some of the areas of my life that I’m existing in right now, too: like, my work at Amaryllis, which it’s been a year now once a week and for a little while twice a week, is NOT my end goal destination job path. Rather, I want to write and publish books, do public speaking and the like. Those are my real dreams. *_*

Another thing I liked about this book is the way I could relate to it and how it made me think deeply on what I want to accomplish in life and how I might work towards getting there. The way I interacted with my own memoir, the preparation, the incentive and just being reminded that my dreams were possible and I could achieve them just as much as the next person, like the heroes stories in this book was very encouraging and uplifting. It definitely kept me reading more because I wanted to see not only where the book would head and end and how much inspiration and motivation I could even pull from it for myself–something no one else will have exactly in the same way I have. ๐Ÿ™‚

On the idea of visualizations, I’d like to practice them going well with things like: IOOVs, work days, my memoir, my TEDtalk, reading and reviews. ๐Ÿ˜€

Something else that really inspired me about this book and from this book, really, was Liz Murray’s story and how she got into public speaking and sharing her story of adversity and overcoming it into success and triumph. It’s exactly the type of thing I want to get involved in and I found it particularly inspirational and I’m really, really happy for her!! ๐Ÿ˜€

For my own self, I’ve been doing advocacy work since March 2016 so that’s great. I am hoping to line up some of my ventures (interviews) in this avenue onto my blog within the next month. ๐Ÿ˜€


So, yes, overall those were ALL my thoughts about this book and the review. I tried to do a few things differently in this work of art so I appreciate you sticking with me until the end and around as I try and compact all of my thoughts, commentary and resounding opinions as I carry on reading books and reviewing them on this blog.

Thank you so much for reading!!! I am adding the final touches to this entry now on the first of October. I hope you all are doing well and I hope to be utilizing my planner very soon to revamp the way I do some blog posts, shout-outs etc. I desperately need a schedule ahaha. Thank you again! xxx โค โค โค


Dates I Read this book:

8.30.20, 9.1, 9.8, 9.9, 9.12, 9.14.20.


Dates I Wrote this review:

9/24/2020, 9/30/20, 10/1.


“Grief Is A Journey” (2016) | Book Analysis (Mar-June 2020)

Book Analysis - THUMB - 7.3.19

Edit: Aug 31, 2020; I changed this post from a “book review” to a “book analysis” so the thumb is now different and the rest of the post should reflect this change. This is a LONG post, I had a lot to say and I’ve been procrastinating on it for months. Bleh. It’ll be so satisfactory to end this analysis, publish the post and return the book to the library**. Happy reading!! โค xxx
**As it were, I finished all the quotes section and the wandering thoughts section on a time crunch because I wanted to return this book and 4 others (that I never read, yes, I know) to the library today, Sep. 10th 2020 so technically the rest of this analysis is being written without the book in my possession. But it’s still going to feel so GREAT publishing and finishing this after so, so long. ๐Ÿ˜€

Chosen Book:

“Grief Is A Journey” (2016) by Dr. Kenneth J. Doka


Trigger Warnings:

Emaciation, skeletal reference; grief; loss; disenfranchised grief; death.


Themes:

Losing and repairing relationships, legacies, anecdotal scenarios, grief, definitions, checklist, myths vs facts, finding meaning, adversity, triumph, grief is a process, changing relationships, inspiration in some aspects for me reading it at least, reminding the Reader that they are not alone, comfort, informational, a bit dull and boring at times.


General layout/Information Delivery:

I didn’t like at first the way the myths were spoken of and then the later descriptions as to why they were instead false. It seemed a bit redundant to me and didn’t always hold my attention well. To emphasize the myths and how they came about made me see how they seemed rational but then only paragraphs later Doka was dismissing them and that just rubbed me the wrong way and made it confusing. Like I think if the myth was stated and then the focus was emphasized on WHY it was inaccurate and like have it be like: Myth X; Reality Y would have been better, like right from the get-go have it be disproved, would have made more sense to me and would have improved my experience of the book, especially so early on. (For instance, in the way the book is styled itself it shows a Myth, explains all about it, THEN it says the reality and explains all about that at length too. It’s just a little wonky to me.)

Sometimes the general sentence structures would confuse me, too and I found that to be taking me out of the immersion of the story being told and made it really frustrating, too. It wasn’t exactly the cleanest read through I’ve ever had and it really seemed to draaaaag on and on for me and I’d get annoyed with myself multiple times so that I had to read it in little exposures here and there over the course of a few months.

It was a little overwhelming at times however once I did get into it, it wasn’t so bad. It gave me a bunch of inspiration for my fan fics, novel and other things. For that, I am grateful. It is a pretty dull and boring and at times, ironically, lifeless read and I did learn quite a bit from it either way. These factors will come into play in my final recommendation score. Also, it was pretty gender non-inclusive too, only ever referring to people with “he” or “she” so I think it could have been better in that aspect too (“they” is a good option).

The chapters were split up by general myths and facts on grief, what type/style of grieving the Reader may be, each type of loss from: adult siblings, parents, child, then into disenfranchised grief and each topic underneath that. I would have liked for it to go into more detail regarding homicide/suicide and what changes would have been explored in the case of abusive parents passing on, etc. but it never really goes into it. Also, celebrity deaths, it mentions it, but never really dives into it, which is what my expectation was of it, so if you’re looking through in from that lens, this probably isn’t the book for you.

But, before I say anything more, onto the rest of the analysis….


Summary:

This book carries with it a caring and delicate deliverance of realities and news regarding grief, grieving styles and grieving processes per individuals, circumstances and the relationships involved. Grief is not in stages, as is popularly referred to, rather death and dying is. Grief is more of: a continuum spectrum, where the loss of life or loss of the relationship isn’t the end of the story–instead, grief and loss is about having an unbroken bond with that relationship because the relationship is forever and it remains intact even when death or other circumstances (moving, divorce, separation, ending relations) take away the physical aspects. The loss itself is felt and shared throughout loved ones (family and friends) and even death cannot sever this enormous tie. So thinking otherwise or thinking that grief has an end date is particularly damaging and simplifying the large and intense complexity of the matter to a minor or dismissive state, which helps no one and can disenfranchise some people’s experiences with grief even more than society may already be doing so (suicides, homicides, AIDS deaths etc).

If you’re looking for a book to provide you with examples and information in the form of unrelated, pseudonym based characters, this may be the book for you! This book is rich in information and the necessary replications of repetition that go into handling these emotionally difficult matters. It also has a great source of resources and opening the door towards understanding more about this phenomenon than what I’m used to. I definitely read this book as an insight into grieving, to relate, to understand what I’ll have to deal with at some point in my life and it did get me thinking a lot and even was the reason I signed up for a Disney+ account! :O

While meticulous in some spots, this is a good informational book and a starting point to the topic of grief. Grief and loss will happen to each of us at some point in our lives–objects, people, pets, etc. It’s helpful to know what style of grieving you possess and how to manage that.

If nothing else, it was helpful for me to read about how reading books especially means I can control how much I expose myself to and I definitely used that for this book because it was just heavy and felt like a lot at times. I found that taking those breaks really helped me to come back at the book and attack it. It definitely has its faults and it also has its wins. I’m pretty stickler about finishing a book once it’s started so that definitely came into play here, however, I’m still glad I stuck it out and finished reading. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Book Length:

261 pages


Recommendation Score:

2.8/5 losses


Unforgettable Quotes and Comments I’d like to add:

1. “[Grieving] takes you as long as it takes. There are no rules that make one person’s response normal and another’s abnormal” — p. 5

I particularly think this is a nice quote and a fundamental part of the book as a whole. This book explains how there’s no true stages to grief as what is often misconstrued as existing (those are the stages of dying rather than grief), and it really drives home the point that grief and reactions to loss will be different for each person depending on how their relationship was, how the loss or death occurred, how that person has dealt with loss in the past and more. There’s no right or wrong way to deal with grief necessarily, and each process and each loss is different and unique to the individual. There can be circumstances that make it more difficult or engage the person into self-destructive behaviors which Doka encourages seeking professional counseling or group support for as adequately as possible, while reiterating the normalization of grief and that it’s a process we will ALL go through at one point or often multiple points in our life’s journey. Yeah, those are probably the biggest take-aways from this book that I received, which is great.

2. “There is no closure to grief. Grief is not about letting go of past relationships or closing yourself off from them. Even in bereavement, you continue your bond–albeit in a different way” — p. 6

Again, this helps to further reiterate the biggest take-aways from this particular nonfiction book. There is no real getting over part of grief, it can come and go and the emotional reactions can be caused by reminders or certain memories and while there do exist parts of it that can become unhealthy or disordered, it is an ongoing journey that you embark upon differently for each case and each death and there are ways to grow and learn from them as you continue onwards in your own life’s journey. You will find ways to grow in strength, to make peace with what was lost and what never was and so on. You will be able to survive it and you may be able to even thrive despite the nasty repercussions of that painful, painful bereavement. It’s not about moving on but moving through.

3. Be specific in what you can do to help (p. 9) i.e. instead of just saying “I’m here if you need me” or “Let me know if you need anything” mention specific ways you can help, like “If you want, I can pick up someone from the airport; I can bake you a cake; I can call you at X time” etc. Platitudes of generality are nice but if not followed up on or through they’re more like empty words. Plus these nice intentions when not followed through on can be lacking perceived care when it comes to the grieving individual, potentially accruing more pain onto them and their isolation, if they are doing so. It helps to name specifically what you can offer as they try and understand for themselves what they need during this difficult time. This is true as well for those struggling with their mental health conditions and wanting to best support them. Follow-through is HUGE. ๐Ÿ™‚

4. “The bad days will come less often, will become less intense, and will not last as long” — p. 13

As we move through grief and the grieving process it will become more manageable and if it doesn’t or the pain spikes again, then there may be other underlying issues beneath the surface that require professional help and support to identify, uncover and manage. This will take time. And again, there’s no real closure in grief, you carry on with the relationship in ways that the other person isn’t physically present to interact with you on but the relationship is still there. That cannot be severed and you have your memories and your feelings and your thoughts to sift through, as well as rituals to remember them by or legacies to unfold or other meaning making ways to celebrate them and grow from the experience.

5. “People we love become part of our own biographies. We cannot really separate ourselves from them. They have left an indelible mark on who we are and how we see ourselves” — p. 15

Again, this is the part of the chapter where Doka goes into labeling myths and then asserting their true realities. The idea that loss is about letting go of people or things or pets is inaccurate as really we still have a connection and a past relationship with them that is just now challenged by the metaphysical world and what our brains can imagine and see. The people we encounter in our lives all have a special place and we are so intrinsically interconnected that leaving them “behind” as you “move on” isn’t really true. You still have them even as you move through the pain of loss. It’s just in a different way. โค

6. “One task of mourning is deciding how to carry those memories and feelings with you in ways that still allow you to reengage fully in life” — p. 16

Once again, the point driven home is the ongoing relationship regardless if the person is still on this physical plane or not. Part of the grieving process is finding ways to live with it and through it and memorialize the person or perform rituals in their honor or compact your feelings into a visual and significant process that makes the most sense to YOU and what you need, not necessarily what you think other people think you should be doing or acting or behaving. Your process is your process and you have to own it. How you choose to remember this loved one is up to you. Allow people to grieve as they will, unless it’s detrimental or harming themselves or others, of course!

7. “Even in grief, you are not without resources or devoid of any power. In acknowledging your grief and in recognizing that your emotions are normal and natural responses to loss, you can begin to cope with your feelings” — p. 31

I feel, as I’m now returning to this review turned analysis (although arguably it was always going to be an analysis) in August 2020, this particularly hits strongly now with the recent news of Chadwick Boseman’s (Black Panther/MCU) passing. It may actually do me some good to finish commentating on the content of this book not only for you guys who may still be grieving whatever you happen to be losing and for myself as well to come to some terms and baseline with it. It’s sad news indeed. I’m not sure how this year will get worse, but I’m prettttty sure it’s gonna find a way to do so. :/ Maybe it’ll help someone else out there too, if they’re able to read long and hard at my thoughts, ideas and that of this book itself. So, thank youuuu!! โค

8. “Rituals of affirmation celebrate the life of the person who died and recognize his or her legacy or accomplishments” — p. 33

Relevant for today’s end of August truths. </3 As well as being potentially just as helpful while people are still alive, to appreciate and say that you love them more and more. We never know what someone else is going through by just looking at them, like how we can’t tell their story by their face today, yet we can learn. We can try to grow and get better. It matters to be as kind as possible, and critique constructively where needed. Overall, being kind is worth it. It is.

9. “‘I have come to terms with the death of my daughter… I have not yet come to terms with the loss of everything I believed'” — p. 43

Hot damn. That’s powerful and says a lot!!

10. “Our different ways of grieving may create conflict. Some grieving individuals avoid reminders of their loss, while others seek them. One person may want the home full of photos while another wants to put away all these painful photographs” — p. 46

Grief, however it is felt, thought of and expressed, is never either “right” or “wrong.” Grief just is. Allow yourself as much as you can to feel your emotions and express them towards those you trust. And if you’re still struggling much time later, get help from a professional. It’s okay. The grief will subside somewhat, at least in its frequency and intensity, even though the relationship will always remain intact, just in another way. Sometimes it comes back in smacking waves, sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it is loud and painfully felt, it all depends on the relationship, when you heard the news, how you heard the news, if it was a singular death or multiple at the same time, what else was going on, if you’ve dealt with other losses before this one, and so forth. Additionally, if it’s been unclear from before this point: Grief/Loss can happen with any one or any object. Loss is still loss. โค

11. “You are having these [grief] reactions because you lost someone–or something–you loved. You are grieving” — 50.

So be kind to yourself!!! โค

12. “The intense pain of grief will not be forever, but grief is not something you get over. It is a process that becomes part of a new, meaningful life. Certainly the pangs of pain will continue. But you need to mindful that, over time, it is not helpful to the deceased for you to live in a state of chronic loss” — p. 65

And promises you made to the deceased prior to their dying don’t necessarily have to be something you’re locked into for life. Like, if you swear you’ll never love again, your significant other probably never wants that misery of loneliness for you. If it would make you happy to love again, they’ll be glad that you’re enjoying your life and moving along as steadily as possible even when–and especially when–it hurts.

ALSO: This reminded me of Thor in Endgame and Tony Stark. And my avoidance of all of that. And how fics work. XD I keep wanting to rewatch the MCU movies but I’m getting bogged down in the perfectionistic bubble that I should watch them in order and review them all. Gwah. I do have Disney+ now so that’s a start. I don’t know, I’ll have to work on it and challenge myself. Maybe I’ll watch one or two out of order to just get into it again, you know? We’ll see. I am listening, at the time of writing this part on Aug 31st, to an MCU soundtrack/instrumental music video that’s about an hour long, so I mean, progress! Baby steps, ahaha.

13. “The good memories or life lessons that a person left us create a legacy that lives with–and within–us” — p. 72

A true point. This also reminded me of Luna but in general to other grieving relationships as well. Sometimes, as is mentioned after this quote, the memories of the illness can become more prominent however it is possible to work on bringing the lighter moments back into the forefront. They will always be with us, some even standing the passage of time like through photos or videos. โค

14. “After all, the greatest legacy your loved one can offer are the memories and life lessons you can take from them as you learn to live without their physical presence” — p. 74

An emotional roller coaster of a quote. </3

15. “Sometimes you may feel you are not getting support when, really, you are asking people for support they cannot offer. It is good to remember that some people are good listeners; others are doers, while still others offer respite–or time off from your grief. Use your support system wisely” — p. 96

I feel that this quote is ESPECIALLY important and critical to keep in mind and is a fabulous take-away from this book if nothing else is. Or at least with newly frame grief experiences alongside it. โค I also think it applies well to even physical health and mental health conditions. xxx

16. “You may be giving mixed messages–saying you are all right when you really can use support. You cannot expect people to read your mind and guess your intentions. If you need others’ support, you have to ask for it. Only then can you know if it is available or not….. Sometimes people may offer help so generically–for instance, saying ‘Call me if I can help’–that you really do not know that they are willing to follow through with their offers. If someone offers to help, ask them for something [specific/] tangible” — p. 96

So this is actually two quotes I wanted to get through. For the first: advocate, advocate and advocate. You have to advocate for yourself in your treatment, relationships and life in general. People can’t know how to help you if you don’t ask for what you need. So yeah, that’s HUGE. For the latter: it’s so, so, so important to follow-up after the initial message is sent. I know we get busy and everything and that’s okay and if we really want to be a part of the solution for that person we’re trying to help help themselves, we HAVE to follow-up. If you say you will, follow through! And be specific too. Like the previous quote, ask for what you need and if you’re not sure, try and do some soul searching to come up with some idea, or try out what you think you need and depending on how you feel about receiving it, adjust your expectations from there. Good luck!! โค

17. “Book services such as the Centering Corporation (centering.org) and Compassion Books (compassionbooks.com) [may be helpful resources]” — p. 97

Just spreading the word on a couple of the good amount of resources mentioned in this book. โค

18. “While there is an inherent loneliness in your journey with grief, you do not have to journey alone” — p. 101

Just a nice reminder. โค There is help, there is support and you have to do a lot of work to manage it. It’s a process. Never-ending, always there. That doesn’t have to always be a bad thing. :3

19. “In other cases, you may overwhelm your support system. Sometimes neediness can drive away other people…You may be expecting too much from those around you” — p. 114

Oops, can relate to what all went down in 2017, my codependency and a friend I tried to reconnect with this summer who wanted nothing to do with me. Whoops. :/

20.ย  “You may never have the opportunity to respond [to an invalidating comment on your grief] but just thinking about what you could have said reaffirms a sense of control and empowers you not to be a victim again” — p. 118

I thought and think this is an important and nice comment to refer to. Sometimes doing role play for the future or the past can be really therapeutic and prevent future issues or at least prepare you in case they happen again and you have a template on how to deal with them. :3 โค

21. “Acknowledge to yourself that some days may be more difficult than others. Flexibility is important. When you have a rough day, you may not be able to accomplish all that you wished. Other days will be more productive. Be gentle with yourself” — p. 119

This is relatable not just towards grief but to mental health conditions and life itself in general, too. I think this is a very important and critical lesson to be reminded of. We all have bad days, with or without health issues. And it matters to self-validate and remind ourselves (and our loved ones) that sometimes days are off and it’s okay and we can work towards making tomorrow a better one. โค ๐Ÿ™‚

22. “It is important to remember that there is no single, right way to experience grief. Nor does grief have a timetable. Your experience of grief is what it is and comes from who you are. You cannot compare your loss to the losses of others, or your reactions or responses to those of others. Differing experiences of grief have little to do with how much you loved or cared about your loved one (or thing)” — p. 132

Just a really important thing I wanted to highlight, have you focus on and remind myself of, too. I think lately with my mental health conditions I’ve been struggling with this notion, the whole comparing myself to others and it’s important to notate for myself even in an analysis that those types of depictions aren’t reality and aren’t comparable. It’s also nice to be reminded what grief really is and how it takes its course is how it takes its course. โค :3

23. “You do have choices within your grief. You could choose to live your life in perpetual mourning for your child. Or, as difficult it is and may seem right now, you can choose to live a now different life–but to live it fully, keeping alive the memories of your child and lessons that, however long or short your child’s life was, you gleaned from them” — p. 149

Honestly, this is just beautifully stated, worded and conceptualized. โค xxx

24. “Family holidays offer an opportunity to name the elephant in the room and to acknowledge that someone who was so much a part of your life and other lives is now missing. It can be as simple as a toast that allows the name to be spoken, stories to be shared, and the cloud of silence to be lifted” — p. 181

I think this is so beautifully and poetically stated. โค ๐Ÿ™‚

25. “Sometimes you have to have the courage to share with others what you are feeling and to ask for the support you need. This may mean that you educate your community about the meaning of your loss. Sometimes you can be your own best advocate” — p. 195

Vulnerability is a strength. โค Advocacy is crucial, even when, and especially when, it’s hard and exhausting and you’re tired of it. You have to tend to your reserves until they’re recharged and use your support network appropriately and as healthily as possible and then go from there! โค

26. “A loss of functionality tests your sense of self. Your identity is challenged when you lose the ability to do things that were once important to you” — p. 208

I think this can relate especially towards disability as a broad term and also with the cognitive impairment of mental health conditions and also apparently I’ve severely limited my capacity and ability to read books as effectively as I was once able to do. Grrr. Each page and paragraph and book done is a test to the amount of concentration and mental gymnastics I had to uphold to remember what happened, who was involved and all the information I feel abounding my soul because of all the commentary I have to say about it and the experience of reading it as a whole. Phew. That was a lot. ๐Ÿ˜›

27. “‘Anything that you have, you can lose; anything you are attached to, you can be separated from; anything you love can be taken away from you. Yet, if you really have nothing to lose, you have nothing‘” — Quote by Richard Kalish p. 211

I thought this was particularly interesting and worthy of being mentioned in this analysis. :3 Blap!

28. “You may even find that your loss generated significant changes that in some way made the world better–creating new laws, or something more local such as a safety rail or traffic light where none had been before. However significant such changes are–in yourself or in society–they do not bring the person back. Yet that is not the choice. The choice is how you deal with the loss you experienced” — p. 254

This important quote is something I referred back to and referenced in my #SummerComer poem entry #4 HERE.

29. “Grief, too, takes time. Sometimes you want to get over it so rapidly that you lack the patience to let the process unfold. You expect to wake up one day and be “better”. You need to give yourself time to grieve, but like watering a plant, you can sometimes test how far along you are in the process. You can experiment by testing yourself as to what you can do” — p. 259

So this final quote is a testament to the idea that we take grief as a moment by moment kind of thing, a process, and some days the thought of doing one little action can feel too insurmountable and so when that happens we know to back off and try again another day. Then, each day we find ourselves getting closer and closer to actually and actively acting on the thought. Like, for me, I’ve been getting closer and closer to watching various MCU movies or working on a journal entry in a guided journal or things like that. Each day and moment I’m getting closer and I’m warming up more and more to the idea, it just hasn’t quite fully happened yet. But I know it will. I know it will. โค ๐Ÿ™‚


Wandering Thoughts or Ideas I had while reading:

  • p. 7: I used to be really stickler about keeping my artwork and dating it properly and having trouble letting go of it. Nowadays, I still date religiously but I’m also able to give things away and let go of other things that at one point were mine but no longer need to be. I found this a fascinating thing to come into awareness of as I read this book myself. And the way that I related to other parts of the book itself, seeing how I could incorporate certain concepts into my creative writing, how I’ve dealt with loss in the past, what techniques I can try in the future, etc. I still struggle letting go of physical things (pieces of clothing, lists, tracking things) but it is becoming more of a natural pace for me to save some things and share others elsewhere with the world or with those I come into contact with. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • p. 24: Here I had the idea that I could incorporate the ideas that whatever we grow attachments to and love can be lost and when those ties are severed we will grieve. I think this could be especially relevant to some of my fanfic stories, including “Severed,” as there is a loss of health in that fic (and honestly most of my stories) where Loki has to come to grips with things he’s unable to do now and grieve that loss, while also building ways he can soothe himself and still carry on forwards. Just a thought I had. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • p. 27: Doka explains the physical symptoms that grief can ignite in the human body and this made me think of my fiction novel I wish to write and how I can incorporate some of these symptoms into my story’s main character and sibling relationship. ๐Ÿ˜€
  • p. 31: “[Causation guilt, something we did or didn’t do caused the death] We may be fixated that if only we had taken the person to a doctor or recognized a symptom, death could have been avoided” — This is a great inclusion I’d like to make in my fanfic “A Little Unsteady.” โค
  • p. 34: I really want to focus in on a “Distorted and Disordered” alternate universe spin-off where Loki actually does die from his suicide attempt and how that impacts his family and tears them apart, really. It would be multi-chaptered, focusing on each family member. Thor would be like how he is in Endgame and develop a difficult and harrowing drinking problem. Odin would leave and grieve to himself, pushing everyone away and Frigga would be trying to find meaning and purpose through her life’s work in the nonprofit and probably dedicate something within it to her son. I think I could even explore the side characters/the other Avengers as they react to the death. It’d probably be each character as a chapter, I think. But yeah, this page here discussing anger in grief made me think of this at the time.
  • p. 35: On the topic of constructive ways of channeling anger, it reminded me of how I got started writing in my uni’s newspaper on mental health and my recovery journey. :3
  • p. 35: “Fantasies can be an effective way to cope with anger” — This made me think of my own travels with art and fanfics/writing in general. It makes me think of how I transform my grief. I wonder how many T’Challa related fics there are out on FFN and AO3 right now. Maybe I will look into this. I feel like I don’t know his character well enough to write about him but it would be cool to see like Black Panther and Chadwick meeting on the other side. I know FFN doesn’t allow you to write about real people though, I guess maybe Black Panther leaving behind his family instead? Like his ghost seeing each of his family members one last time as he moves from this plane to the next? I don’t know, it’s an idea, at least. โค [AIwFF: 8/31/20]
  • p. 42: Reminded me of the movie “White Noise” (2005) that I watched a summer ago and am still in the middle of a film review notes section on. ๐Ÿ˜› I’d have to take it back out again though too. (Which won’t happen until I bring more books back…. Like this one. Sep 20: Now I’ve brought it back but haven’t got out any movies. :3)
  • p. 75: There’s no option within the talk of spirituality for what to use religion/prayer with grief when you happen to be an atheist. D: It’s never explored in the book, either.
  • p. 87: What style out of four is Thor through my fic D&D? (Head grievers are impacted most by the cognitive impairments that arrive from loss) In D&D he’d be fixing Loki’s bed sheets etc. What about in “Lead Me Home, Brother”? Or in Endgame?
  • p. 88: “[Reading books about grief] may appeal to your mind and allow you to “dose” your grief. A book after all can always be put down for a while…. John Gunther’s book Death Be Not Proud
  • So for the above statement: I’m pretty sure I read that book in high school and absolutely LOVED it. Also just in general, I feel the former is very true. When I get frustrated or upset by a book I can take space away from it for a while unlike some other things. I did that a few times with this book (it’s just lengthy, informational and boring. Deathly boring, ironically enough). But yeah this just reminded me of what I was doing with this book itself and researching for my fanfics even. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • p. 93: I would like to rewatch “Being Human” (US) version, find “Saving Hope” and watch that too as well as get Disney+ and watch MCU movies. Which, I have had the account for for the past few months (D+) and it was actually reading this book that brought that into existence, so, thank youuuu, book! โค I have seen a couple MCU movies on TV at least, so that’s some re-watching. ๐Ÿ˜›
  • p. 117: Estate and yard sales are pretty cool. I got a few books and a couple paintings and such from an estate sale my Mom and I went to a couple years back. So that’s nice. :3 (About re-purposing items left behind from loved ones for other people to cherish and enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  • p. 130: In my AU spinoff from D&D where Loki does die in his suicide attempt, Frigga would find some relief in the notion that he wouldn’t be in pain anymore and that even though that painlessness meant he was taken from her too soon, it would also comfort her in the smallest of ways. Odin would leave them and Thor would, as I mentioned earlier, would dabble into alcoholism to bury his own pain. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • p. 132: [Parents having lost a child can sometimes reach a state of renewal where…] “They choose to move forward, to live a meaningful life despite the loss. They find a meaning that makes their lives a tribute to their child”
  • Commentary on this quote: I really liked this and again I think it conveys a sense of pain and rebirth to a very tragic and unfortunate situation.
  • p. 132: Yes, your memories of your child (or any other loved one) will always be with you…unless you die or you get dementia of some kind. :S
  • p. 144: I was raised in a Christian household but in my teens I turned more towards atheism. I don’t know exactly what I believe now, maybe agnostic, but I do like to think of “god” as the Universe. That is comforting to me. Also, ironically, for someone who didn’t believe in an afterlife, I wrote and still write a LOT about it ahaha. This ‘rebuilding faith’ section made me think of this and reminded me of my plot for my fiction novel. โค
  • p. 144 cont: For that novel, I’ll list out a couple of themes mainly for myself to remember and jot down into the future (and which probably will make no sense to you ahaha) – RxR, breakdown, remembers decisions to stay after 1/2 through, afterlife. โค
  • p. 147: Again for that D&D AU of which I don’t yet have a title for: Focusing each chapter on the immediate family, then to the Avengers as would have been friends and then other characters as the people Loki had yet to meet and how his absence impacted and changed them. โค :3
  • p. 148: “Your child’s death will affect not only your spouse and children but also other relatives and friends. Your parents have lost a grandchild, your siblings grieve the death of a niece or nephew. Neighbors, coaches, teachers and friends all experience that loss. Their own ways of dealing with that loss may influence their own abilities to offer support” –> This is exactly why I want to do that additional AU fanfic where this is explored properly and fully. I hadn’t even thought of the further ramifications and how plenty of other people would be impacted by Loki’s suicide. So, yeah, super important! If only I could actually do some D&D writing for what’s happening now and then come up with a title and start working on it. I have a title for the AU where he gets help instead of attempting first, too (“Failure to Pass A Psychiatric Evaluation”.)
  • p. 168: “As parents age, we realize that they are not the awesome or awful powerful figures we once imagined them to be” –> This also, once again, reminded me of the relationship between Loki and Odin (both in D&D and in general). ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
  • “(Your parents’ deaths reminds you…) of a central truth. Your parents left their mark on you–left you legacies and perhaps liabilities–not only in their lives but also in their deaths” — p. 169 I thought this was particularly poignant and necessary to be brought into the discussion of this book analysis. :B
  • p. 176: The name isn’t said here but I do like for one of my future characters somewhere to be named “Nardia”.
  • p. 205: “Experts recommend open and ongoing communication between adoptees and adoptive parents to allow information, thoughts, and feelings to be acknowledged and processed. This is unlikely to be a “one time tell all” but rather an ongoing process” –> This reminds me of the Thor movies where Odin pretty much did a one time tell all and how it’s referenced in the movies thereafter. Also makes me think of my sequel for D&D. :3 BUAHAHAH
  • QUESTION: p. 207: (How visiting within the prison system can be humiliating for the search of property and person) Can psych hospital admissions be grief provoking? And related, can you grieve what no longer is (like for me it’s been 2.5 years hospital free, can I grieve times I was in the hospital or times I’m not in it now? Like, mainly for “free” meals or meeting friends etc. I don’t know, it’s an interesting thought. :3
  • QUESTION: p. 218: Does a positivity bias [“in those with intellectual disabilities they may have positive bias where they have a sunny disposition that masks their deep sense of loss”] exist in other realms and contexts too? Because I think I can be like that sometimes too because of my optimism and positivity and kindness whereas it’s there because I’ve been through pain, you know? I thought this was interesting and I was curious about it. :3
  • p. 257: Exercise on life imprints by asking how a person we’ve lost affected our mannerisms, way of communicating/speaking, hobbies and pastimes, basic personality and values/beliefs can be like sea shells making indents in the sand–we can have imprints from people’s legacies placed on us, liabilities from them, and just imprints in general. This could be a good group activity for my work at Amaryllis. I may need to flesh it out more or research a bit more but it could be excellent. โค
  • p. 258: Strengths group for work as an art activity. What strengths have gotten me through hard times before and what can they do for me now etc.

What Kept Me Reading, How I Read it & The Impact of It All on Me:

There are sweet moments within this book that made me cry, smile and laugh. Ahaha. Also I have rules for myself and while I can change them, I just don’t yet. (Like if I start a book I have to finish it. If I read or consume something (books/movies), I have to review them, etc.)

Overall, what kept me going was that I was closer and closer to finishing it. I knew that I had to get through it to get to all the other books I really, really do want to read so that helped. I found that putting on perfume or lotion helped too, ambient music like train sounds on Alexa and Calm app scenes like the mystic water fountain, sunset on the ocean, gleaming sunshine, etc. Even just reading on my bed or curled up on the floor. Definitely having a view of the stack of books helped, too.

So yeah, once I was reading it I wanted and knew I’d be in it for the long haul. I’m so glad and relieved I’m almost completely finishing off this post and everything about it. I’m excited for my next review or analysis. I think this book overall served a great purpose for me and that’s reflected in its score as well as the fact that I made this review and stuck with it, regardless of all the procrastination involved and finally it is done and I can wipe my hands clean.

I’d say it made an impact on me and definitely got me thinking and trying to find ways to relate it to my stories and everything, so that was really nice!

Lastly, thank you so, so, soooo much for reading!!! Leave me your thoughts down below and if you have a post you’d like me to read and review, leave it down there, too! โค โค โค

As always: stay safe, take care and be well. Much love and light to you. xxx


Dates I read this book:

3/23/2020, 4/8, 4/23, 4/24, 4/26, 5/16, 5/18, 5/19, 5/27, 5/29, 6/11, 6/12, 6/15.

Dates I wrote this review:

6/15/2020, 8/31/20, 9/1, 9/10/2020.