“Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World” (2018) | BES (Jan. – Apr. 2022)

Another BES, but different this time!

CHOSEN BOOK:

“Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World” (2018) by Brooke McAlary

((nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

One societal beauty standard measure that could trigger eating disorder thoughts or feelings; brief mentions of diet and healthy food.


THEMES:

Self-improvement, mindfulness, noticing, thought/emotion/behavior, decluttering, simpler living, slow living, psychology, easy to read, life-changing potential, you vs the Joneses, carving your own life and your own Why as to put what matters to you the most as the forefront of your life, shout-outs to other people’s content, reading, books, prompts, questions, post-partum depression, mental health, recovery, wellness, self-help, wonder, awe, lifestyle changes, photography, social media/influences effects, finding a life worth living, no to the comparison games, change of action, progress not perfection, imperfection over perfection, imperfect action vs perfection, stopping procrastination, small steps, baby steps are still progress, moving forwards, family life.


SUMMARY:

Something right off the bat that I enjoyed about this book, and is stylized throughout it, is the real rustic and authentic look the opening statement the author makes about slow living and why she no longer wants to be in competition with others. It was just such a creative spin for me and really welcomed me in, from the get-go. Plus the washed wooden background with the off kilter black box was so neat and, as I mentioned, is pretty often utilized in other chapter presentations so it was something nice and on-brand to what was yet to come.

Early on in the book, in the introduction, I enjoyed the way the author danced with their literary language. There was something so comforting and nostalgic about the way she worded things and danced with description. It was really enlightening and kept me hooked. She really portrayed personality and style within her writing and I really enjoyed that throughout the book.

The chapter I probably got the MOST out of was definitely the mindfulness chapter. Sooo many good ideas and I’ve been feeling for months, if not a couple of years, that I’ve lost touch with my mindfulness practices and entered a continued state of mindlessness. It was super amazing and great to find some old and new tips regarding being more mindful and really letting me see that while I am often mindless, I am also mindful and both exist in the same space! And I could even practice more moments of mindfulness as I read the chapter days in between so that was super great and really lovely! It also inspired me to want to do more outdoorsy things this year so I’m beyond grateful and excited about that! Things kinda like camping, hiking, kayaking haha.

I go through more of what I fell in love with within each section of the rest of this review. Overall, I really, really loved and enjoyed this book to pieces!! It was SUCH a ride for me and I loved it. I actually did this review differently than I’ve done most others because I realized having 30 flags in before 50 pages that it was going to be TOO large to do only at the very end, so instead, I broke down the review in parts and began it and wrote for it while I was STILL reading the book (instead of waiting until I was completely finished).

Alsooooo, I talked a lot about this book on my Youtube channel via live streams and a few various videos. This is also the first official book I am converting into a filmed video review as well, so stay tuned for that pingback in the future!! If I go over 25 mins then I will have two parts to the review process, if it’s less than that, I’ll have the review as just one video. This review, BES, blog post is going to be the bare bones towards my video review so read through if you’re interested to see a sneak peek into what I’ll be discussing there. Alsoooooo, if you see any asteriks next to quotes here or statements by me, it’s stuff I really wanna highlight in the video review. Additionally, this BES will be posted before I film or edit or publish the video reviews and while this will go live before the end of April 2022, the video processing probs won’t take place until Sun-Mon in May. Once that’s more down pat, I’ll be returning the book to the library as well. God, it’s been SO LONG.

But yessss, stay tuned and hear everything else I have to say about this book all down below! πŸ˜πŸ˜ŠπŸ’™πŸ’š

PS the bigger breaks in paragraphs means I was working on that section at a different date than the one previous. Just to highlight how many times that happens. I have all the probably unnecessary information of how I tracked myself reading this book along with how I tracked myself writing this post soooo if that’s interesting to anyone, yay?!


BOOK LENGTH:

262 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

5/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

“Slow living is a curious mix of being prepared and being prepared to let go. Caring more and caring less. Saying yes and saying no. Being present and walking away. Doing the important things and forgetting those that aren’t. Grounded and free. Heavy and light. Organized and flexible. Complex and simple” — McAlary, 2018, p. XV

*I honestly just loved, loved, loved this use of a dialectic and the wondrous way it also describes life and that duality that so totally exists within it. I am a fan thus far of simple living!!

“Please don’t waste your energy comparing your path to that of a friend, a sister, or the author of slow living books. Comparison is a losing game, and I’d much prefer to see you run your own race” — McAlary, 2018, p. XVIII

I really appreciate this reminder. I think especially following more artsy accounts on Instagram, I’ve been chewing away at my own creativity and how I’m no where near a professional artist–but at the same time, I could still work on challenging that and say, Why NOT for my own art!! Creating art is such a process, especially water coloring or painting, because I never realized how much layering makes for some amazing, amazing productions. It’s not my particular forte and I still have to recognize that what I create, while not realistic to the true presence of light and shadow, it’s still worthy and it’s still important and it still matters!! Creating art is so subjective and while I can always improve and grow more, I need to recognize more of my strengths and realize that the path to getting there is windy and also remember why I CREATE in the first place: a soothing place of comfort, of creativity, of inspiration (in even the smallest of ways) and because it’s an art therapy/mindfulness perspective. If I create at that core again and again, not judging how it comes out or if I do, keeping that at bay and less overly self-critical, then I win, EVERY time!! Art can be complex and it can be minimal and simple. And it still matters either way. That’s what I have to remind myself of. And this quote really helps with that. Stop comparing and start appreciating more!! (Every artist starts somewhere. Rarely they’re profesh right at the start and the more I practice and hone my craft, the better I’ll get at it! Keep trying!!)

“My story certainly isn’t the neat, linear version. It is a messy, frustrating story of someone who takes her time learning lessons and is willing to take imperfect action anyway” — McAlary, 2018, p. 4

I love this honest and clear-cut reframe! I especially resonate more now with ‘imperfect action’. Perfection does not exist and any action taken is such an achievement (as will be outlined later in this book) and so worthy of being celebrated and congratulated!! I loved this and it’s still important to me today as it was when I first read and flagged it. There is such beauty in imperfections, if you twist the image just the right way (yet imperfectly!).

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*”I needed to flip my thinking on decluttering and remove some of the urgency I’d attached to it. I was operating on a tight deadline, but I was the only one who knew about it, because I was the one who’d created it” — McAlary, 2018, p. 36

The accuracy here is just PHENOMENAL. Hah! Haven’t related to a group of words so much as this in a long time….

I add soooo many stipulations to everything these days and strive for that level of perfection I can barely ever reach, or even begin to and get to because I get so paralyzed in it that I just never fly to begin with. It’s made my life a MESS. For sure. Honestly.

*”There is always something you can do to move forward, a tiny action that will improve your current position. Pick up one piece of paper, and put it in the recycling bin. Find one pen that no longer works, and throw it away. Remove one book or magazine from the bookshelf, and acknowledge that a tiny step forward is still a step forward” — McAlary, 2018, p. 46

I love, love, love, love, LOVE thissssss. It’s so important. It’s SO true. As the book progresses, the theme is further brought up and explored and it’s EVERYTHING. I love how much it builds upon the last nonfic reading I think I at least published which was the Teen’s Guide on Overcoming Procrastination. The callback by someone else entirely but still within the same realm is fantastic and so very nurturing and true! Enjoyed this!! πŸ’―πŸŽ‰πŸ™ŒπŸ»πŸ’šπŸ’š (Also, high five to myself: I got to page 40 of this review work the third day I worked on this post soooo yay!!! Now I’m gonna go a little bit further to really make it special!)

“These obstacles of decluttering (money already spent, previous memories attached to things, time passing, needing them again someday, not wanting to throw it into a landfill) present us with an opportunity to move forward and let go, if only we allow it” — McAlary, 2018, p. 49

Just thought this was so amazing and powerful. That choice is inherently up to us. So pick apart a section of the room to declutter and work on not recluttering once that space is there!! I know, A LOT easier said than done. Still though, it’s wicked advice!! That choice, it’s up to us!!

“Give yourself a break. Making these changes is hard work and it’s totally normal to feel the effects of that. If that’s the case, see if there’s a tiny task you can do–pick up one thing out of place and return it, file one piece of paper–then go and do something completely unrelated to simplifying. Take a walk, have a cup of tea in the sunshine, read a book, listen to music, play with your kids, do something creative. This is the golden stuff of life. Sometimes you need to fill yourself up again before getting back to work” — McAlary, 2018, p. 54

I absolutely love and adore this wisdom, and I hope that you do, too!!! Amazing. Such an important highlight. Working on thy self is hard work so keep rewarding yourself, starting small and continuing onwards!! You’ve got this! (And now it’s time for a break for a bit for me, too!! Here I come Thor outline review!!)

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All right, back to this review, even if it’s been a few days… We’re coming back with some hard hitting questions regarding keeping everything in sight because it reminds you of someone, something, some place or some time and how in the world you can declutter with all of that on your noggin:

*”What emotion does this item represent? Study it. What is it? Why do you feel it? Would you still feel that emotion without the physical item?.. Do you have multiple items that rouse the same emotion? What if you kept one or two things that are truly meaningful and representative of that emotion instead of blindly keeping everything that’s related to the person, time or place?” — McAlary, 2018, p. 57

I honestly just thought this was straight up spitting facts. It was badass to me at the time. They are nice, great questions with a lot of power behind them. A great way of sensing when to let go and when to hold on. Can’t get better than that!! πŸ’šπŸ˜Š

The most relevant questions regarding decluttering on page 67, (McAlary, 2018) for me were ones 5, 6, 9 and 10: “How many of this thing do I really need? Do I have another item that can do the same job? Can I do without it? Do I want to do without it?”

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Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the details. Being in the moment, noticing, mulling over, thinking and being present. It is truly a gift that continues to give and expand your world and perspective. Love that. πŸ’šπŸŒΈπŸŒ»

*”Every day, I would find time to notice things, to practice tiny moments of mindfulness–spending time outside, breathing in the scent of flowers, studying the bees, and feeling the sun on my skin” — McAlary, 2018, p. 120

This was such a great reminder from this chapter and in this book!!! Mindfulness does NOT have to be this super fancy, elongated, time consuming thing. It’s all about noticing and being aware and having a conscious moment of thought and looking out at the world like a child: curiously and intrigued. So good and such a lovely reminder! What mindfulness have you practiced today that incorporates these small things?

Hi again, it’s been a while but here’s to completing another portion of this book review!!! (I have since finished reading the book as of 4/20/22 😁🀩πŸ₯°)

*”No one can live mindfully for you. And while there are absolutely techniques and strategies that experts can teach, those techniques and strategies are useless unless they’re implemented. Mindfulness is something you need to practice–yourself” (McAlary, 2018, p. 123-124)

This is such a simple and complex sentiment: that in order to really benefit from mindfulness or any other way or thing of life, you are the one and only one who has to actually practice it in your life to reap the benefits of it. No one can practice mindfulness for you and have it have positive effects on your life. It has to come from you. To begin and to end, with you.

An example of the smallest acts being mindfulness:

*”Standing in the kitchen, making a coffee? Pay attention to what you can hear, smell, taste. As you make your coffee, pay attention to your breath as it passes in and out of your nose. Feel the sensation of your feet on the floor and the sound of the hot water as it fills your cup” (McAlary, 2018, p. 124)

Mindfulness does not have to be a lengthy 30 min or hour long meditation, it can be in the smallest moments just noticing, the way you carry breath into your lungs, noticing the sights and sounds around you, watching flowers grow, the way the bees flap their wings, humming lightly and so much more. Even just noticing how you’re sitting in your chair or what you’re listening to. Being present in the moment and when you wander elsewhere, bringing that attention right back gently and calmly. That is mindfulness. Fun fact: When I read this part I was on a live stream so I got pretty mindful in the moment too, so that was fun!!

“Doing nothing: Fight the urge to connect with your phone and simply be. Be still and listen to your thoughts, feel your feelings, and recognize the urge to break the nothingness with action. Learn to let that urge pass, and you’re learning to acknowledge a desire without acting on it” — McAlary, 2018, p. 128

I really liked this quote and this message!! My ex had an uncomfortable way of experiencing silence and would need to constantly be engaged and alert and on the ball, they really struggled with allowing silence and moments of calm in the time we’d be hanging out. So I liked this reminder, too, because it’s okay to just do nothing some days. It’s definitely still hard for me, even having days where I just only sleep, yet sometimes that’s what my body needs and rest can be so beneficial for the mind and body and help to re-calibrate, recharge and get through the next mission up ahead!! πŸ’ŸπŸ˜€πŸ˜™

“What is happening around you that you’ve never noticed before?…The way the light hits your coffee table or the pattern on the carpet in your doctor’s waiting room. The swirl of your fingerprints or the creases in a tree trunk. By switching to noticing mode, we immediately bring ourselves to the present” — McAlary, 2018, p. 134

What I really enjoyed and liked from this quote is that I do notice moments where I notice things (sunsets, the way the light hits through the window, the colors of a morning sun against the trees, the moon across water, etc.) usually for making art in the future or what could be photos. It also reminded me how I used to be with the trains when I was first going to uni, just having a moment of awareness where I hoped, as a young adult getting off at South Station, watching the way light hit the tracks and all the other trains and busyness of the atmosphere, I hoped that I wouldn’t take it for granted in the future and would be able to preserve some ounce of magic and wonder in the world instead of becoming jaded and cynical and unsatisfied with some of the little moments in life. Looking at the world like a child as an adult is so underappreciated and so, so worthy of interest and awe. I think during the pandemic when I did go up to Boston once, I retained some of that wonder and inspiration (particularly with knowing how things once were vs how they now appeared, it was pretty wild) and I hope that I can continue to maintain that going forwards. This book definitely gave me the payment of having more mindful moments and really let me see and notice things that I hadn’t for a while in my pursuit and following of mindlessness. So, little moments of mindfulness watching gnats outside on the porch, reading outside, feeling the sun on my back and cooking up like a little chicken has been SO lovely. πŸ₯°πŸ€©πŸ€—βœ¨

*”But ‘bad’ feelings are important, because in order to feel the highs of joy and happiness, we also need to understand the lows of grief, envy, or disappointment. Mindfulness allows us to acknowledge and accept such feelings, feel them in all their depth, and understand that they are valid and important. It also helps us to understand that they are not everything–even on days that feel like sadness has swallowed up the world” — McAlary, 2018, p. 141-142

*Being afraid of feeling too many things is such a human experience. And it’s the counter intuitive thought that in order for the feelings to pass, you have to allow them space to exist, acknowledgment in having existed and then let go and not take any action (good or bad) in experiencing them. At the end of the day, all thoughts and emotions just yearn to be felt. And for whichever duration of time they can be felt and noticed, they will fade and they will pass (so, don’t flood yourself for a whole day, rather feel that sadness or that anger for a short five mins and increase the duration of time until it can be processed from beginning, middle to end, and take no action regarding it to either suppress it or avoid it or flood yourself with it, instead feel it and allow it space and it will naturally pass. It will be seen that opening space for an emotion or a thought allows it to more quickly pass and show you that you can survive the storm and you can remain safe despite what the thoughts or feelings may tell you otherwise). And maybe those thoughts or emotions will come back, yet they always fade. Personally, after doing lots of DBT work, for me it goes from an experience of what would be instability for days on end, that it’s just a really painful twenty mins or so. In the last year, I’ve faded from truly experiencing my emotions for a painful twenty mins, but, as always, it’s a process and a fluid spectrum. So, don’t beat yourself up too much! You’ve got this. You can overcome it. And where there is a high, there is a low. Because duality exists in life just as it exists in recovery. Be careful out there, friends, and know that no matter how far you fall, you can always rise again, higher and higher than ever before, and the pain of that fall will not last forever. Stay safe. xx

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Don’t engage with drama, no matter how intense the urge. Looking at that car crash is something you have to ask yourself is it worth spending your time on? If not, cut it out and use self check-ins to right your path ahead. If yes, then, well, have a merry time. There is certainly no shortage of it within online and entertainment environments.

Some great questions to ask yourself when you’re connecting and connecting online (instead of with people in real life): “Is this making life better? In a real way? Am I learning something? Is it worthwhile? Am I avoiding something? What is it? If this is causing comparisons, negativity or anger, why am I still here? If It’s bringing positive feelings of validation, popularity or connection, can I find that elsewhere? Should I be sleeping? Should I be working?” — McAlary, 2018, p. 162

These, I found, to be really great and immersive questions!! They really each have a great punching line and it’s so important to consider these when going off on various random Youtube rabbit holes or entering far and vast communities online when you should be doing more productive work hahaha. Awareness is definitely the first step. It’s something I have to work on, too. Remember, imperfect action is always better than perfection (because perfection does not exist and will never come around to happen, so it’s either now or never!!).

*”There is nothing more distracting than a constantly buzzing device, and research now shows it can take up to 23 minutes to return to our original task once we’ve been distracted by a beeping phone” — McAlary, 2018, p. 168

Thought this was super interesting and also just a great plug for utilizing that ‘Focus’ section of your iPhone when you’re like me and doing something fancy like working on a BES in the library or reading a book for a while or being at work, etc. πŸ–€πŸ–€

**”I don’t do any of [the following skills] perfectly or even well necessarily, but I don’t let that stop me anymore. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that small, imperfect action every day is going to get me further than one big occasional change” — McAlary, 2018, p. 190

I love, love, love, love, LOVE this. As I mention in another section, this fully ties in together that whole imperfect action/imperfection is worth so much more than a perfect action/perfection because perfection doesn’t tend to happen all that often!!! It’s a big component I’m doing on a group for Althea to release tomorrow (and here is where I’m stopping the review at the library, a VERY successful endeavor where I got to my projected ending line of p. 190 (from about 157), I did little bits of imperfect action and really rounded out this review to be so close or closer to finishing it!!! YAY!) This book has been SUCH a treat and I’m so glad that no matter how many days went by, I still stuck by it and read it and finished it. It feels so good to do and say that!! I might go shopping after this or I might not, we’ll see. But yeah, I loved this quote and it’s so relatable and true. I really think I’m in a lot better standing to overcome my perfectionism more so going forwards than I was before I picked up this book! Huzzah!!

**”Every moment of every day, I can find something to be disappointed by. I can look around me at any given second and find something that is lacking. Something not quite right. Something to complain about, or feel annoyed by, or saddened by. Instead, I try to flip it. If there is always something to grumble about, surely there’s also something to be grateful for in this same situation? My breath, my heartbeat, the sunshine, the clothes I wear, the people around me, the glimmer of hope. There is always something, no matter how dark the day” — McAlary, 2018, p. 196

I thought this was pretty awesome and spectacular. It’s pretty much the core of a two parter group at Althea that I’m going to do involving (first part) self-advocacy and (second part) Choices and Crossroads. Also this quote by McAlary is essentially the depth and goal of #RecoveryHome’s peer support and art project I created oh so many moons ago (year ~2015). So that’s fun!! But yeah, just that choice between I can look at something and only ever see the faults or I can spin it around and find all the beauty or the glimmer of something more. I just love that, so much. Tis a quote I’ll try to remember to put somewhere into Choices and Crossroads (which is essentially about how you always have a choice in life, even if it’s only for your outlook on a situation, you have a choice and recovery is a choice and choosing to live is a choice and all of that mumbo jumbo. I have the example page complete and I think I’ll be doing text for the main portion of the first half. Soooo yay! More groups to cook up soon. I added the imperfect action quote somewhere in this review into my group ‘Handling an Imperfect Life’ and it went really swell. So, yay, progress!! All right, I’m done blabbing for right here.)

There’s a really important part of the end of this book where the author is discussing the difference between constricted, intense, perfected balance versus a wobbly balance. She says:

“By balancing perfectly (or with that aim in mind) we exhaust ourselves. We’re never fully in a moment, because we’re worried about all the other areas of life that aren’t getting our attention in that moment. We’ve turned balance into a constant struggle rather than a long game” — McAlary, 2018, p. 216

This long game is this exercise, physically, that she does at her home where she ties a slackline a foot off the ground between two trees and tries to balance as she makes her way down it. To speak of balance in a metaphorical sense she revisits the physical aspect of it and sets up parameters for which the reader can uncover their own wobbly balance. I could TOTALLY relate to this because I do that so often–I’m trying to balance all the different avenues of my creativity and in doing so I just wind up overworked, avoidant, procrastinating, not in the moment and swallowed up by all the perfectionism I’m trying to coat everything with a thick lick of paint. It’s exhausting and McAlary is trying to show us why and how that’s not a slow or simple or helpful/healthy way of approaching balance.

For instance, I can think of four things I try to juggle all the time that I’ll think of while I’m supposed to be doing other things in the moment: blogging, Insta posts, videos (particularly in the timeline of reality, which do I edit first for the other mentioning of it to make sense? it’s exhausting), fan fiction, groups etc. etc. [[At this point in the review of working on it all, on 4/25/22, I have approx. 10 photo images left and 14 page flags to go through, huzzah!!! It’ll mean nothing to you but it’s nice for me hahaha]]

A relating quote to mark off the previous:

*”Balance is finding the correct weight for every area of life and understanding that the correctness of that weight will change over time. Balance is fluid and flexible. Balance is alive and aware. Balance is intention” — McAlary, 2018, p. 219

*I think sometimes, people like myself, get so caught up in the rigidity of plans and structure and outcomes that it makes for a pretty miserable experience overall when small little efforts or sets in motion could completely change the outcome or at least the process of that outcome. For instance, coming to the library to work on a book review is so great and refreshing and keeps the books–allllll the books–in the forefront of my sight and mind and vision and then that drives me further to plow through what I’m working on and listening to library noise or ambient noise from my Calm app is also super helpful too. Having a Dunkin treat falls along those lines as well. Even negotiating to myself which library to go to, instead of just opting to sleep and not go out at all. Balance, and slow living in particular, is all about intention. And just that awareness of having intention. And yeah, not having to juggle all these things all the time and rather set out with small steps and find that those incremental and maybe ‘easy’ things still are steps and still provide you with the peace of mind, relief and success than “one big occasional change”. πŸ˜‰πŸ€© (It’s all about ‘correctness’ not ‘equalness’)

*”I choose imperfect, small actions over perfect every day. It moves us forward and means that more gets done” — McAlary, 2018, p. 234

Just as much as these quotes on imperfection (p. 190 one for instance) sum up my new path in life moving forwards and continuing to choose that imperfect action over that unattainable and high standard “perfect” that never comes for me, I feel lighter and more at ease. I don’t love my current set up to finish this review (in my bedroom, a few days later since I last worked on this) but it’s something and until the pain in my wrists really gets to me, I guess it will suffice. (It’s too late to go to the library now gwah). But yes, this situation is imperfect and it’s really grating my nerves but I’m gonna stick with it for as long as I can. And also, this little summation is wonderful, I think, too. It’s just a nice, small reminder with big waves of echoing information from all the other quotes that came before it and highlighting that fact that perfection does not exist and the big reason I wanted to work with these book’s quotes in my group on imperfection vs perfection. So, that’s awesome!! πŸ’›πŸ˜πŸ˜Š

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*”What does a realistically ideal day look for you? Not a holiday, but a work-school-cooking-meetings-laundry day. What time do you get up? What’s the first thing you do in the morning? What’s something you do that’s just for you? What do you eat for breakfast? How long does it take you to get ready for the day? What time do you leave? What’s the first thing you do at the office? What’s your attitude? What do you eat for lunch? When do you exercise? Which people do you spend time with? Do you listen to music? Will you have time to read a book? What’s the state of your desk at the end of the day?” — McAlary, 2018, p. 237

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*What I liked about this depiction is that I just found it to be so fascinating and awesome. Really combing over all these questions to what an ideally realistic day would look like, taste like, sound like, etc is just so refreshing and worthy of mentioning in this review!! Hopefully I can remember to feature it in my video review as well hehehe

A final, great summation of the processing within this book:

“Life is complicated, and we don’t exist in a vacuum. A big practical part of slow living is building an awareness and learning how to combat the feeling of being overwhelmed before it takes over. Awareness and action. Noticing and evolving. Paying attention and making it count for something” — McAlary, 2018, p. 247

*It’s a practice. And thus, such a practice will take practice. It will take a repeated seating of becoming more aware and then producing alternative, novel noticing and action in regard to that noticing. It will take time. Give it time.


NOTEWORTHY IMAGES:

This part will be broken up into visual segments….

Segment A: Beautiful photographs of inspiration and creativity

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Segment B: Prompt Photos

My Personal Barometer of Caring (featured in my planner):

TOP DOWN: 10 Mission Statement/eulogy worthy

  • Human connection
  • casting light onto the shadows
  • being worthy to hold this life
  • being a light to others
  • advocacy
  • authenticity
  • having a voice/story to tell
  • books
  • being an example
  • being productive
  • art
  • creativity
  • TEDtalks
  • Be inspiring
  • kindness
  • emotional honesty
  • drive
  • publishing my own books/art
  • being supportive/supported
  • passion
  • my dreams: art and recovery and peer support networks

5 I COULD CARE MORE:

  • languages
  • culture
  • world openness
  • life outside my bubble
  • chores/environmental self care
  • independence
  • observing people/societies
  • learning about others experiences different than mine: race, LGBTQIA+, world issues, immigration, finances
  • Math
  • Learning more about copyrights
  • spatial awareness

(*all this is stuff I took into account later as things I think I could improve upon.)

1 I COULD CARE LESS:

  • Reality TV
  • stock market
  • in fashion things
  • most sports
  • traveling
  • celebrity magazines

Basic prompt for this image:

Focus on what’s most important to you: what will make a life worth lived and what values are at the center of it? What do you want people to say about you or describe your life to others when you’re gone? Understand your why. Your why guides you like a compass. It’s up to you to live and act by it as much as possible. A slower, more content life to lead.

I completed this image in Jan. 2022

Final prompted image to come in the future as a pingback (either in video solely or as a post here and video coverage as well. 😊)

Section C: Final Images to Consider


THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  1. I would like to one day do some collaborative work with my partner Vaness(( on my channel. Maybe we can work on writing cards or doing Recovery Reinforcer for others out there. I think that would be very appealing to me and something fun and creative!! ((=Vaness was my partner before but since Mar. 2022 we’ve broken up so they are now my ex. Bleh
  2. Speaking of postapocalyptic fiction, there’s a book I took out once from a library called “The Undead” and I never read it but I’d really like to!! I think it’s about zombies and such so that would be something great to find again and actually read this time! Let me see if I can find the author…. “Handling The Undead” by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Dat’s it!!–PS As of Mar. 2022, I found out I own this book actually lmao That’s freakin’ hilarious to me, as I forgot that I once upon a time bought it for myself! Oops? I also found a few other books I didn’t remember owning or buying but they’re giving me liiiiiifeeeee)
  3. *I really enjoyed this idea on p. 9 of the author saying though she didn’t imagine herself making the largest impact on the world, she was hopeful to “make an impact nonetheless and be someone who didn’t wait for others to start making a change” (McAlary, 2018). I don’t know, it just lingered in my mind and felt too important to not mention in this review. There’s something so simple and yet so profound in it, I think. This intro talks about finding your why for a slower, simpler life and considering what the author wishes for her own legacy leaves the reader time and ability to contemplate their own and come into their shoes about where they want to go and be in life. It’s … refreshing.
  4. *Books and stories are such an important facet to living and breathing and being. Like, the stories and the characters that can be told is just so limitless and so utterly beautiful. Sharing things a person has learned to help others or to share a common goal or to lead with purpose, it can all be found in books (and movies and other entertainment). It’s just so vital to life, honestly. It’s amazing. Even nonfic too, like, stories of others overcoming adversity or learning about subjects you haven’t yet experienced whether it’s being in the Universe itself and learning about black holes or grief and how to live with it, honestly, it’s just amazing.
  5. *On par with legacy or eulogy statements, I’d love to do a group at Althea all about mission statements. That would be neat and a little less morbid and still very impactful!!! I wanted to do this before at Amaryllis but never did, so maybe the time to is now, buahahaha (McAlary, 2018, p. 14)
  6. I’d love to do/improve on nail art and do some nail painting during a live stream some time!! Ideas for streams? Let me know in the comments!! I’ve done thus far: room care, books (chats, reading), filming in the library (half an hour is best because the quality after that went reallllly bad), hauls, art, listening to music, life updates, mental health chats etc.
  7. (I want to) encourage you to take imperfect action (of decluttering) anyway. No, you probably won’t nail it straight out of the gate, and that’s fine. That’s great, actually. Start anyway” — (McAlary, 2018, p. 65) What this quote reminds me of is a scene from Grey’s Anatomy where Cristina is telling Owen something and she is saying “Do it, Do it (even though you’re scared of it), anyway.” A nice little nugget, is all. πŸ’œ
  8. I really liked the idea of turning around clothes hangers when it comes to discovering which items of clothing you’re actually wearing the most often versus ones you are not and then getting rid of the ones you aren’t. She recommends doing this at the start of a new season until the end of it and gathering what’s left and can be tossed then. Alsooooo I’d love to do more mini little vision boards. 🀩 (p. 70)
  9. *Within the mindfulness chapter, I could really relate to the part where McAlary is talking about the giddiness of being in the moment playing hide and seek with her kids. It reminded me of some mindful and kid play I did after work at the start of March where I wound up going sledding on my back over and over again in the backyard hahaha I filmed it, of course, so I have tons of content for it to put together in the future. It was SO fun!!!! πŸ’™β„β„β˜ƒβ›„
  10. *I used to create art through a basis of mindfulness and art therapy that I’ve since strayed away from over the years… Reading about mindfulness and focusing on the process or the sheer joy I get out of doing something I enjoy, especially just for me, or for the escapism, really makes me want to look into how to re-engage with that core of mindfulness while making art again. I think it’ll be a process, no doubt. I made a water color piece in April that was fun! I listened to Reddit stories while I did it and it was pretty refreshing!! I might continue it but I haven’t fully decided yet hehehe (~p. 125)
  11. I love that art can be mindfulness!! Yey!! πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ
  12. There’s a lot of nice little cardiophile moments scattered across this book which is nice and lovely.
  13. *I got a few different group ideas for Althea from this book!! First three include: sleep hygiene, use of social media/the Internet with an open discussion on the subject, blue light and socials–though I think instead this can fall under sleep hygiene and like the discussion, I’d like to come up with a fictional social media account and what it would contain or show if it could be anything in the world. I think that’d be fun!! The other idea later in this book’s end I got was focusing on imperfect action over perfection in Handling an Imperfect Life–it’s a group I’m currently working on and coming up with! (4.22.22) It will have a coloring component of a broken vase and touch on about six perfectionism quotes and maybe a small discussion and then my guide the group script with an example page filled out. 😁 I’ll be finishing it tonight so I can do it tomorrow!!
  14. *Regular breaks from social media is super great!! I find when I work at Althea for my shifts, I only check my phone two or three times in a whole 8.5 hours so it’s the perfect cleanse of the Internet times there!!! I even make sure if I did get new comments online that I wait until AFTER I’ve finished work than read them in the moment, potentially get triggered, and struggle with the rest of my shift thereafter. Also, scheduling a post to go up before a work shift is kinda fancy too because then I’m not staring at the page for a solid hour, refreshing it frequently to see how many views it got or if it’s getting any feedback. Hahaha
  15. Pomodores was something I utilized once and a few times on my iPod via an app, I think I’d like to get back into doing those again. I think it’d be fun and productive!! πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‹πŸ˜Ž
  16. *The chapter on a cabin in the woods was one of my favorites. It really reminded me of #RecoveryHome and I loved that. I should really dust off the idea soon and return to making it into something!!!
  17. *Within the section regarding vacations, the author mentions how she likes to visit more local communities, independent bookshops, local libraries, markets, etc. I could REALLY relate to doing this when my family and I went to Germany in summer 2019 to visit my brother hahaha. I went to a local book shop from where we were staying in one place and bought up to 4 books from there. Not in German, they’re English written books, but I can still recall 3 of them from memory of their covers and loosely what they’re about. I was also telling this second story the other day at work, but um, we went to this little town in Germany and combed up and down the hills and up the ladders and around the scenery and we, before dinner, were in a local bookshop. My brother got bored (he’s not into books much) so he and my dad went away to the place we were going to eat at. Well, I found this super fancy German written coloring book with little interactive exercises you could do within it (maybe like word searches, dot by dots etc) and it was so cool and fascinating but my Mom was saying how we should go get dinner, come back for it later, or even that I had plenty of coloring books at home (true). Anyways, we go back to meet up with the other two and I’m antsy waiting for food, having connected with this book in my head and my Mom offered, noticing me, that I could go back to the shop and buy it. I was excited and pranced about to do so! Until, LEGAD, it turns out the shop had closed early. I was really sad and disappointed and to this day I don’t know what book it was and we left from that town that same day so I never got the fancy German coloring book. Alas….
  18. The shades of color fading into ombre that exist on p. 191 (white to oatmeal to pink) was just so satisfying and beautiful.

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM POINTS:

Hi there, or again, whichever comes first. I think I’d like to add a section to this BES where I mention some of the things that I personally disagreed or had a different reaction to than what was written out. I think a lot of this review is singing high praises to the book, which is valid and true, I also have reservations that some things didn’t apply as much to my experiences or my directions in life and so I wanted a section all about talking about those things as they don’t fit well enough in other sections.

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*So a big theme that came up for me even originating on page 14 is that this idea that a person buys things and items for the status or social/societal status of it. For me, I don’t relate to things in that way. I don’t buy fancy things for what Joe down the street will think of it (and by extension, me) but rather because I like it, I want it or I can already picture a formidable use for it within my mind (often happening just in the store itself). I mean, I’m no stranger to having lots of things (the clutter is bordering on hoarding, let’s be real, and also I have such a hard time letting go of things, even the most “useless” looking things (old device cases, tags of wallflower scents, unusable gel pens, many little containers of hand sanitizers (but what if this scent doesn’t come back? There’s just a teensy bit left, I have to save it.), potential art pieces like cardboards for vision boards and other little things like some bags of items because I could use them as backdrops in photographs (which, I’ve been saving for YEARS and still have NEVER done that with its use)). So yeah. I have some leftover OCD for sure. Don’t get me started on the amount of journals and books I own…. Or paint. Watercolor and acrylic. πŸ˜‹πŸ˜›

*My point though, is that in the store I find and finagle an attachment to things. I am always buying (which, honestly might be a problem of its own) things because I WANT to or I’d LIKE to or I think it’s COOL and will SERVE A PURPOSE. Sure, I can definitely go overboard (the years worth of stationery to-do lists I barely ever use, the mountain of paper I own, the multiple boxes upon boxes (already in use and housing things I either don’t know where to put or belongs to that box’s home) and so on) but I never buy anything based on what I think other people will think of me because I have it. I’m pretty open about my room care that I pretty much chronicle on my Youtube channel (though out of date because I’m so behind in my editing of videos) because I think that type of stuff is neat and interesting and it’s been updated and upgraded so much of the time and even though that’s opening a grand door for judgment or possible judgment, I still enjoy it and find it fun and easy videos to do. So, I share it! And them. And myself. Because that’s fun. And fun is definitely worth hoarding and keeping around.

I just never buy stuff for other people’s judgments and thoughts. I do buy stuff for other people–when my ex Vaness and I were together, I bought lots of stuff (usually matchy-matchy) for them and for me and for the two of us. I still miss that I’ve now had to rearrange the small pile I was brewing of stuff. But that’s a story for another day (in a future bridge post for the monthly word prompt, that I’ll have to figure out how to manage).

So, this was something I couldn’t really relate to at the end of the day for myself.

*Another thing I couldn’t relate to was the stance towards shunning or at least profoundly limiting social media usage. True, especially on Insta there’s lots of ads for cool things, I agree and admit to that, however, I do crave a sense of human connection and socialization (don’t we all?) that comes from the Internet and places such as social media. I don’t think that’s inherently a “bad” thing either. There can be amazing human connections you find online. Many other artists, creatives, enjoyable things and friends. True, some people are… creepy, blast through your boundaries like no tomorrow (I’ve been encountering some of these lately, but a good block does wonders, I can say), hide both plainly in view and in the corner of the dark basement, have horrible intentions and want to abuse, manipulate, gaslight and run other people down into the ground and yeah, you can’t always super tell which person is which from behind a screen–AND the Internet can still be magical and lovely and wonderful. It’s both. Alas. It’s both. So, where there is the soft and shiny surface of the Internet, I like that. I like that a lot. It’s unfortunate we have to accept the other parts of it because they do exist and I find myself more and more concerned being a female online but alas, it is what it is. So, I crave healthy, positive attention. And I search for it online. I probably always have. Good or bad. I think that relates to some of my even old deviantART days.

Basically, a big part of My Why (which hopefully I’ve attacked in other sections so you’ll know what I’m talking about) is at the heart of human connection. I do value social media. And I crave a community again. *I had it once, I’d like to revisit it again now. I’m not sure how to do that and I think I’m a pretty fair person so it’s just a matter of not settling for less and working harder to find those people out there who need maybe a little extra guidance, some creative exploration or just sharing the spoken/written word. Some of those people out there who need a light in the darkness. Some of those people out there who will respect and affirm my boundaries and let us be a loud roar in an otherwise small and dark little hole of one whispered voice. Mmm.

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*Another point I’d like to mention, related to this idea of trolling online, constructive criticism, criticism, and growth and overcoming is that I am probably the most adept and ready for these potential waves in the crowd than I’ve ever been in life. A couple times this year I’ve had to block a couple of people, because I realized some warning signs, because they blatantly disrespected my boundaries, because I didn’t need to fester in old wounds and they, at the time, were displaying unhealthy standards and interactions with me that could border on pure toxicity (“No Time for Toxic People” by Imagine Dragons is a godsend.) There were times where I questioned the severity of it, times where I laughed at the abundant hypocrisy and ridiculousness and times where I got counseled by a good friend that no, my calculations were accurate, on point, and even a little slow at times to responding. Either way, I operate my life on the function of, well, avoidance. If someone is talking crap about me on another website, the answer is simple: I don’t want to know. I can’t get upset about something I don’t know. And the Internet is a pool for that type of thing to happen. It’s pretty much inevitable. I’ll just try and make it a good impression or something most people can say nice things about. I know that I’m not for everyone and not everyone will like me or agree with me, and overall, that’s okay. There’s so many people on this planet so, no worries. If someone wants to make entire websites about me, well, that’s a little odd but you do you, I guess. I think for constructive criticism or even true criticism: I know that I don’t do everything right (for instance, I’m super aware that I’m a very chill Youtube channel and my live streams are definitely more than a little boring) and that I can learn a lot more about things and grow my channel, my self, my skills and my creative maneuvers far more than I currently am today and I really do welcome any improvable parts. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m such a tiny little channel that I don’t hear a lot of that feedback, however, I am open to it and I want to get better. I guess, my point is, I think I’m ready and with the right amount of supports in my life to move forwards and get better in all aspects of my crafts. Video editing is still so new to me but I’d like to learn! Hmm.. maybe I can find some related Insta posts/profiles on this!! I’ve been learning soooo much about water coloring the past few months hahaha

All in all: I know my story and my voice matters. I just have to work on honing it and perfecting it and also accepting that it’ll be imperfect. Plus creating is always fun!!

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I don’t think I buy things to “fill a gap in my life”, I think I buy things to fill a purpose in my life. xx — McAlary, 2018, p. 73

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*So, McAlary (2018) on p. 85 continued to make me think and see a difference in the way she’s used celebrity magazines specifically (but also home interior/exterior design stuff too) to contribute to the feelings and comparisons of people who ‘have it better than you’ and constantly make you feel like you have to one-up and get the next best thing–I don’t really do that kind of thing. I don’t personally read celeb magazines as they’ve never really interested me. I’ve seen a couple here and there, maybe even some interest in a few, or when I was at the hospital but overall it’s never been something I got into. I can definitely get distracted online with articles and things, especially when I open up Google on my phone. Overall, I DO enjoy home interior/exterior design things and a lot of the mags I DO own (that I’ve predominantly stolen from therapist offices, psychiatrist offices and hospitals) I use for inspiration and motivation and fanciness for scrapbooking/collage making haha. I really do enjoy browsing through like mini recipes or makeup ads or hair stylist posts or tips and tricks or home stuff or gardening things. Again, I don’t really plan or buy things for what OTHER people will think of me rather what I enjoy and like for myself. Or it even inspires ME. Just a continued observation I had while reading this book! ❀❀

I’m biased!! I really love and enjoy seeing other people’s workspaces and stationery hahaha. I was JUST thinking if I could move my old laptop some place else and keep my desk more organized, I could actually work on working there instead of on my bed. Hahaha. I really do love to see other people’s stuff like in their bedrooms, where they work, their desks etc. I just think it’s fascinating!! Definitely can pull you into buying extra stuff though, so I do understand that POV! 🀩😝 (McAlary, 2018, p. 86).

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*On the topic of constructive criticism, McAlary discusses on p. 157 that the nature of some humans is to take “any opinion different from ours, any criticism, any worldview, as the work of a troll or a hater. We end up with our own echo chamber full of people who think like us, people who won’t challenge our opinions, people who tell us we’re right because they’re right” — (2018). Personally, this is something I really, really strive not to do online. I hope that that can ring true even when tough conversations go sour. It’s so important to understand the difference between hate and criticism or constructive criticism. Saying “you’re an asshole” is different than “I think you’re struggling with intense feelings right now and I feel upset by your blow-out, maybe we can both take a break for a while?” Not everything online is hate, pure hate in its rawest form, it certainly CAN be at times yet it shouldn’t overpower a discussion to be had or minimize the depth of the conversation. It’s okay to disagree and it’s only expected to remain civil, which some people struggle with. It’s all about weeding out when someone is purposefully (from what we can discern and maybe what the majority thinks) being hurtful and toxic versus someone offering another viewpoint to something we’re conversing about. That is all. 😊

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“If you’re popping down to the store, it’s okay to leave your phone behind. Going out for a coffee, or out to dinner, heading off on a run or to visit a friend, it’s okay to not always be on call” — McAlary, 2018, p. 173

The main issue I have with this notion is what if something happens, something dangerous, and you don’t have your phone on you to phone for help or a friend or contact someone? I would rather have my phone on me just in case and just have it off notifications than not to bring it with me at all. Like, if I’m outside my house on my property or on the back porch, maybe I won’t have it but even if I’m walking my doggo, just in case, as a young woman, I’d want to have it in case anything came up. Again, just notifications off is fine. I mean, what if I went for coffee and left my phone at home but my car broke down a mile into the destination? Then I’d be kinda screwed. That’s just my take though!!

*I don’t know, McAlary p. 178, I feel like we can argue that time spent online can be time spent creating art and doing good things too. Creating is very fun and doing that instead of consuming others’ stuff is worthwhile. And it’s also good to consume a bit of others stuff to get ideas for your own creations! I feel like online time, when wielded right, can be pretty fantastic. But offline time is good, too!! 😜

“I don’t need a photo or a video to remember [the way my son smiles as he looks up at me]. And I don’t need an audience to validate it. Paying real attention and drinking in those moments imprints more on our brains and our hearts than taking a photo ever would” — McAlary, 2018, p. 180

*Personally, I disagree with this. Maybe it’s threefold because I’m a photographer and also as an artist and also also as a content creator. I think more and more video stuff is becoming like a mini extension of holding the things I’ve bought for instance or the things I enjoyed and drank in or events that I want to remember and such. Because if I did leave it fully up to my brain, I wouldn’t remember it. So, I disagree. I think the wobbly balance is more likely and photography is an amazing skill and art form that has more of a story behind it than just a quick snap here and there, though I also just did some snaps on my phone just now hahaha There’s just so much that can be communicated through it. And validation from others, yeah, it can be a factor, and also just a way of connecting with someone else and getting input or ideas from them or yeah, a nice little ass pat. It’s OKAY. And it still matters–at least to me!!

“So have a conversation and connect. Online posts are not documentaries. They’re a highlight reel. No one shows tantrums and arguments and dirty laundry and hangovers and bloated tummies and bad hair days unless it serves them to do so” — McAlary, 2018, p. 180

*Gahhhhhhh!!! I DISAGREE once again. Personally, I find quite a few people who try to show all the bare bones and all the other pieces of the puzzle behind that ‘highlight reel’. I can get behind that some people’s lives are made out to only be all the good, that’s true. AND I think especially within the mental health awareness campaigns, that more people are out there showing and sharing their recovery journeys (like myself) and all the nitty gritty regarding it. And it doesn’t always have to be because they’re being served to do so, I think sometimes it could be in some cases, and a lot more of the time with mental health, people are looking for a community (myself included) and a space to celebrate life and overcome hard things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be more than that. Yes, it’s attention seeking and hopefully it’s positive or healthier attention than other methods. People being honest about their lives and moments of darkness don’t always have to come from a core of ‘it serves me to do so’. But those are just my thoughts…

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A question I hath raised on p. 182 when there was a discussion about scanning through the phone was procrastination, I asked, But when is it procrastination and when is it taking breaks? Maybe a break could be some quick online time. It can fall into a few hours for sure so you gotta be careful but still. When is it a break and when is it procrastination/avoidance?

Also if you have a business based online or being an artist, does your use of the online game shift or change? If you’re a partner of Youtube and you make paid content, is that different? Or is it still as equally applicable to the layman just watching and making videos?


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

This book made me look closer into my habits, the lifestyle I live, the nuances of the day, the thoughtfulness and vision to see more and see far ahead and enjoy the little things and think about ways to let go of some things I’ve held onto for too long and also redecorate my room and provide me with insights I would never have found, not in the same way at the same time in this universe, if I had never read this book (which has been overdue for a year, soooo, yeah).

Something else that helped me indirectly directly from reading this book was wanting to let go (declutter, so to speak) some of my old years and years ago worth of beads. I wound up buying a brand new container and although I underestimated being able to clean out an old container and toss that out or reuse it for my Mom or something, I still got some progress through it and changed it in some ways so that helped me a lot psychologically as it was like closing an old chapter and moving forwards with new beads, new ideas and lots more fun. I’d still like to fully get rid of the old container or maybe just create with paint on it or decorative tape, because it’s been only one way for years but maybe one day I’ll set up that as a project all on its own.

Another thing I was able to do while I was reading this book was to finish watching “Thor”!! Took me literally almost an entire year but I DID IT. It was great. I’m gonna try and outline the review for it next as I’m working on this current review on the third night of writing it. But yeah, that was awesome to finish! I have been already craving and trying to look into when I can finally start watching “Captain America: The First Avenger”! 😁😁😁

Something that genuinely made me laugh and deserves an honorable mention because I told my friend Madeline about it far after I had read this part: (about keeping things ‘just in case’)

“I’ll keep these five surplus spatulas just in case. Just in case I’m cooking five batches of pancakes at once? Just in case I lose my spatula and all the stores no longer sell them?” — McAlary, 2018, p. 59

It’s such a small thing, an easy laugh yet it is SO soooo true hahaha. That’s really how it feels!!! πŸ˜…

Another thing that came out of this book for me was wanting to redecorate my bedroom again. I am still a classic hoarder so I have to have SOME memory of doing it somewhere in some place (so I’ll be filming it as a video time lapse and then eventually place it upon my Youtube channel, check out my links in the About Me section if you want to see that or check it out through my Insta page!) but still, hitting that moment of ready to let go of some accomplishments or some things from people I’m no longer friends with (and legit throw those things away, at least one for sure) is just so refreshing, so light-making and so wonderful!! I’ve been wanting to for a long time and I still have yet to do it (as writing this paragraph at the start of April) though I know when it comes, it’ll come and it will be so freeing and enjoyable. Something NEW to my eyes, my life and my space! Huzzah! (Inspiration from p. 60 on about 2/23/22)

Related quote on the opposite page about the above paragraph: “Let go of the guilt of removing the item from your home. Let go of the weight of the thing you are keeping. Be proud that you are surrounding yourself with things that are truly meaningful” — (McAlary, 2018, p. 61)

Although I’m not sure how well I can execute the idea, on p. 71, McAlary suggests having a “one in, one out” boundary regarding if you want to bring a new item in, you have to get rid of one you already own (2018). Additionally, she also recommends nominating an area of space for whatever things you collect and NOT exceed that space (having those items in on-growing piles) which is also going to be really hard for me but yeah. It’s a great little suggestion though!! I would LOVE to go through my writing box and make room/rework it into a newer box I got years ago at an antique place. Also, that whole corner of my room needs to be redone and worked on. Soooo yessss. Ideas for days!!

Speaking of what happened in the above paragraph, I identified and learned this for myself:

I would love to revamp my bedroom: get my new writing box together, add some shelves, create a hygge nook in my closet (which means going through all the stuff in there again with my Mom’s help (some of it is hers too)), a basic closet clean-up as such and it would totes be awesome and wicked and this section of the book really inspired me and got my gears turning to what I want to be different in my life moving forwards. YAY!

I could probably put the fancy coffee maker I got for Secret Santa at Althea last year in my closet for a while as I’m not using it and won’t for the foreseeable future (though it’ll be a great addition to my own home someday!!). πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜™

“Take a closer look at who you follow on social media and how their posts make you feel. If you’re following them for travel inspiration or health tips and feel like you’re learning or being inspired, that’s great. But if you find yourself comparing homes, bodies, or wardrobes and walk away feeling inadequate, it’s time to reconsider the impact their input is having on your life” — (McAlary, 2018, p. 87)

*This. This. THIS. For the last few months, since Sep. 2021 I have been finding Instagram to be a space of lots of creativity, artistry inspiration, great motivational and cute designs regarding wellness and health, recovery and so on. YES there are lots of ads which sucks but also sometimes I do get things from it when certain sales go up or I follow people who do art for their living and I can help contribute and get something cool out of it too!! Twitter, in contrary, especially in 2022, has just been a pool of depressing content. Like, genuine depression and also just sad, woe is me, look how awful my life is, comparisons, too much darker sides of mental health stuff and so on. Plus, I have a past there I’m not super proud of. And I also resent it because it took me light years away from this blog and I’m just so done with that. I barely go on anymore and when I do it’s never for genuine notifications or it’s only for DMs with one person. From reading this book, I think I’m very, very, very likely to delete my account some time in April 2022 (been putting this off, so some time more likely at the start of summer). It’s just either too depressing or too full of spoilers for MCU stuff. And I’m already soooo behind in MCU stuff so it’s just NOT worth it anymore. I think when I delete it, I’ll be able to focus my efforts more on Insta and promoting my stuff there online as well as here on this blog more. The fact that I want and am WILLING to delete it entirely is major forms of progress. I AM going to make a thumb for it for Insta and on Twitter to announce it officially (especially once I pick a date; April 2017 is when I made the account, funnily enough) so if anyone from there wants to follow me elsewhere, they can and they’ll have some notice. But yeah. It feels good to leave and also a bit bittersweet, but I know I’ll be okay and yeah. It’ll be nice to let go and grow elsewhere without constraints and bad reminders. So, that’s my plan! There will be some things I miss but overall it’ll be like a clean slate and I’m here for it. I’ve already changed it on YT and my blog to not mention Twitter anymore. I just have to adjust my FFN profile and I’ll be doing new business cards with updated info too. Yay!

*And this is not to say completely that I get NO comparison games from Insta either. I definitely do, especially with artwork. However, I’ve apparently learned a thing or two about water coloring and that’s been super fun and uplifting so far!! Hopefully with more time and effort I’ll feel loads and loads better about it. Art, it turns out, is a lot about layering hahaha

No context point of view: I love libraries. They are so amazing. And less money so yay. But I also enjoy book stores and book places. Book nooks!!! GAH! πŸ˜πŸ€©πŸ€—

Something I’ve never fully tried before but was suggested in this book (mainly taking out library books, actually reading them and then buying your own copy for your collection; McAlary, 2018, p. 96) is to reread books multiple times. I’ve always WANTED to and I know of a few handful I could name at the top of my head that I’d choose but I’ve never fully, really, truly DONE it. It would be interesting and very cool though, I think! First I should work on actually completing the books I do borrow and own hahaha. But I can relate to extremely lengthy and detailed book ‘reviews’ and thousands of page flags and comments all upon them and somewhat towards highlighting and writing in them too (when they’re my own).

Since I mentioned it in the Summary section, I’d like to mention it further here: I LOVED the mindfulness dedication chapter. It was soooo, so relatable to read about someone else’s journey from mindlessness to more mindfulness. And not the mindfull but rather mindful. It was just SO beneficial for me and something that really made me connect fully with this book and be so, so, so glad I got the chance to read it and let it help transform my life!!! I could sooo relate to the mindless functioning of watching screens while eating, rushing through one task to the next, etc. I’m still not perfect of course though I’m trying to be more aware of when I want to be mindless and take in more mindfulness, present moment type of stuff. It’s a process for sure. And hey, every small step is STILL a step forwards!! πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ€πŸ€πŸ€

Β 

McAlary, 2018, describes her new and improved morning routine on p. 166 as “not waking to her phone in the morning having cut down on her technology use massively. She now gets up, practices yoga, meditates, showers, gets dressed and makes a cup of tea before she’s looked at any of her screens at all.”

*I found this to be super neat and inspiring. I think I’d like to film a video in the future where I go over my general morning routine and then do a dream morning routine and make a goal out of it and see what can happen over a course of time!! I definitely wake up to screens so yeah, maybe tinkering with this could be fun!! Alsooooo I am planning to do a whole video/couple videos out of this book review too on my Youtube channel in case you’d be interested in seeing and hearing that!! XX I want to do it before Apr. 30th–or at least film it all–because that’s when I plan to return this book by so I can get the charges wiped clean. Yay!! (More likely will be moved towards the first or second of May 2022 now.)

*Another thing that stuck with me from this book is the work I’ll be continuing to implement moving forwards to overcome my perfectionism. My perfectionism has seriously corroded all areas of my life, including, especially, online content and creating, so I think continuing to work on challenging it and moving forwards with imperfect action is going to be really key for me and really helpful overall. I made an Insta post about it before, though I didn’t cover all the areas of my life impacted by it but still. It was a start. And I’d LOVE to get back into gaming!!! And crocheting….It’s a process. πŸ˜™πŸ€— One that I think I am up to, now!! Also, another great thing about this book is that I read it after I did the book on procrastination for teens so building upon those little movements of progress as movements was so helpful and beneficial to find, read and savor again!! (Every little bit is still movement!!)

Β 

*”As I’ve learned to [shut down my inner mean girl and her vitriol], I’ve started hearing a different voice–my own. And it’s confident and assured. Not cocky, but convinced I have value. I couldn’t write this book without that voice. I couldn’t share without that voice” — McAlary, 2018, p. 195

What I really loved about this quote and why I’m sticking it in this section is because I can relate so much to it. With all my advocacy over the years, I had to have known that my story mattered, my voice was important and there was something more I could do with my life and telling that story over and over again, in all sorts of ways. Advocacy is such a big part of my journey and so much of what I’ve wanted from years ago (careers, job aspects, hair coloring) is all being paved way into today and manifesting and being created in ways I only ever dreamed. It feels so, so, so good to work on being this beacon, I hope not just for me, but for other people too. While advocacy has slightly distorted the way I see public vs private information regarding my own self, it really gave me back so much. I’ve been inherently believing that I’m important and I’m worthwhile, that inner Me voice (Recovery Raquel, as I like to refer to her by), even in times or despite the times where I’ve wandered astray, overall it’s been and become a genuine core belief. I’m not sure exactly to whom it may matter but I’m here to stay, for sure. I want to continue raising my voice and shouting from the rooftops with different amounts of imagination, information, scope and…another “i” starting word I just forgot hahah. Oh! Passions. Yes, passions.

*So yeah, I could really relate to this quote in an advocacy based way. I also spoke about it and this idea a little on my last live stream when I was reading in progress. And I’ll be mentioning it later in the video reviews as well, hopefully. If I can find this section again and reread it and put it all in together hahaha

“Is The Hunger Games the best book series ever? Not necessarily. But it came alive for me, and I remembered what it was like to be lost in the world of my own vision. The words weren’t mine, but the images in my mind’s eye were. I was captive. I was mindful. I was both completely present and totally absent” — McAlary, 2018, p. 200

*I had to keep this line into this review. Like, is this not what the entire quest of reading anything truly is?? That momentary escape and that beautiful juxtaposition between you’re there in that chair or on that bed or on that blanket and yet you’re also light years away in some other person’s mind and memory and existence and span of time? I have a bookmark that I made for my fic novel reading, like super simply scrawled on a scrap of paper, with the quote that reads: “Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.” That’s what this quote reminds me of from this current book. Nonfic is a lot easier for me to read nowadays, heh, sort of, and fiction is a lot harder because I have to wait until I’ve had enough momentum to get lost within the plot itself but I loved this quote and it’s so true. Just finding the written word in another person’s or creature’s or whomever’s mind is so unique and beautiful. And I can totally relate to the present and absent thing because when I do get lost in a book that’s what happens or when I do get lost in a really captivating fanfic or the journey my own writing brings to me writing my own fanfics or sometimes with blog posts or reviews. It’s truly other wordly. And it’s amazing. And wonderful. And the most freeing and containing thing ever. I love books. I’m currently surrounded by them right now, at the library, and it’s so refreshing. I think, with time and effort and patience and practice, I’ll be able to restore the way I read books going forwards.

*It wasn’t as bad as it’s gotten in the last couple of years, so maybe there’s a way for me to unlock that soon. Become unchained. **I am also considering reading back over some of the old books from over the years I’ve read and reviewed on here (not to mention all the handwritten based notes I have in various journals and notebooks for book reviews that never got typed, edited or published on here.) I’m thinking my first few will be “The Pied Piper” and “Ash”. I don’t think I shared “Ash” with you guys in a published fashion but I always think of that book. God, I loved it. We’ll see for sure!!!

*Let me know if you’d be interested in that!! Plus I’m going to be bringing more books content to my Youtube channel and my Insta so check out those when they launch!!! I’ll make a pingback to this post once it’s up with the video for it and vice versa. The video if longer than 25 mins will be two parts, otherwise if it’s less than that, I’ll keep it as one cohesive thing. Yay!

Β 

There’s a real great conversation in the Wobbly Balance chapter about how stupidly effective SMART goals are and how they are soooo necessary. McAlary, even on the previous page, was talking about just becoming more aware of when you’re saying yes to certain tasks (usually mindless ones) and no to other tasks. Take stock of it for a few days and see where it all takes you and then start to be more proactive in changing that routine–instead of scrolling social media, go make your own art. Instead of watching Netflix, read a book etc. She also mentions how a good way to procrastinate less is to break it down, down, down. Focus, if you have to write 500 words, with just opening a new Word document. Focus on just a simple draft in 5 mins. The more you break it down and create imperfect action (rather than waiting for perfection) the more you’re a lot more likely to get done (I’ve tried it myself and it’s amazingly productive and receptive!!!) — McAlary, 2018, p. 224-225

Another super helpful tip: “Keeping up on tasks (cleaning for example) means they actually take less time overall. The kitchen only takes twenty minutes to clean each week as opposed to the deep clean it would require if only done occasionally” — McAlary, 2018, p. 227

I mean, can it get any better than this?? I like to play music or text to speech Reddit stories or scary stories to the tracks of my life when I have to reorganize things (often filming them in my room, because it’s my room care stuff haha) or make different piles of things and all of that. Makes an otherwise energy draining task into something more enjoyable.

“Drop your standards (to a point). If your standards are hovering somewhere around perfection, it’s very easy to never be satisfied by your performance. When you get sick or have to work late or spend longer chatting to your neighbor, it’s easy to beat yourself up over the skipped yoga class or leftovers for dinner. *But by embracing the ish, dropping your standards just a little, letting go of the all or nothing mentality, you can accept that sometimes life just happens that way, and there’s no need to feel like a failure….Opt for done rather than perfect” — McAlary, 2018, p. 229

*I am absolutely enthralled and in love with this concept. This book, overall, came at SUCH an important time in my life and I think I genuinely took a LOT out of it and I’m so glad my stubbornness was there for me and even though I’ve had it out for at least 6 months and have gotten billed for “losing it” I still love it and I still got SO MUCH out of it. It’s remarkable and so lovely. I love this so much, the ish rather than perfect. The being kind to yourself when things don’t go according to plan. And of course, opting for done rather than perfect. I’ve been able to do SO MUCH recently that I’ve been putting off and off and off because I want it to be “perfect”. But done is SO MUCH BETTER than perfect.

*I finally emailed my work employer about groups stuff. I finished reading this book. I’ll finish this review and publish it. I’ll make videos about the book. I grew more and learned more than I have in a long time. I’ll have a good relationship with this book. I worked on some fan fiction. I edited tons of videos. I blogged here and there too and yeah it’s just so amazing. I’m so, so, so grateful. Today even I went to the library, even if it wasn’t the one I wanted to go to, it was the one I DID and I was kinda beating myself up over being tired but said, hey, self, even if I just go down the street to the library that’s SOME library time versus none. And that, that is just so huge. This book is amazing and I just got so much more out of it in all areas of my life than if I would have gone by not knowing or not reading or not completing it. And for that, genuinely, I scream: THANK YOU. (And thank YOU so much for reading all my musings!!!)

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Something I really liked and resonated with came from this: (McAlary, 2018, p. 242)

“I tell you [you’ll backslide sometimes with old, familiar patterns of thought, emotion or behavior] because there is a delicious liberation in acknowledging that our efforts will be imperfect, embracing it, and moving forward anyway, in understanding that there will be missteps along the way and to start walking in spite of them”

What I enjoyed about this quote is that highlight that things will not be perfect in embracing, finding, learning and understanding a slower, simpler life. And with that, the author STILL encourages us to plow forwards, that the ultimate goal is worth the slip ups that will naturally happen and try to flounder us–if you continue on despite it, you’ll reach the goal and the process will be rewarding in and of itself, too. It was something I wanted to mention within this review, as well. πŸ’œπŸ’›πŸ’™πŸŒΈ

Alllllsoooo, you’re almost done!!! Stick with me another moment…


ALL THE THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

  1. Leo Babauta’s blog called Zen Habits
  2. The Slow Home Podcast by Brooke McAlary
  3. Erin Loechner author and slow-living advocate ; along with following on socials #slowliving
  4. Book: 642 Tiny Things to Write About
  5. The author’s personal philosophy’s pooled from the words of Courtney Carver, Rhonda Hetzel, Henry David Thoreau and Carl Honore
  6. Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Judd Apatow’s books on creativity and identity
  7. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  8. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin
  9. Bronnie Ware’s Regrets of the Dying blog post
  10. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  11. Watch a video of a chameleon catching bubbles
  12. Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary

Next up…..

“Shut Your Eyes Tight” by John Verdon (fic)

“Getting Away” by Jon Staff (nonfic)

Annnnnnnd that is OFFICIALLY this completed Book Exploration Station post!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING, EXISTING AND GETTING THROUGH ALL OF THIS. I know it was QUITE the project but it was so important to me and so worthy of my time and energy. I hope I gave enough commentary here to be able to utilize as much of the quotes and content for this review! I can’t wait to do my video reviews too. I really want to get it done by the start of May, so that Sun and Mon and finally returned but yes, I think I have PLENTY of material to work with until then and I can at least be satisfied that THIS review is up and edited and written and completed by the end of April 2022 and not more after then. YAY!

Thank you all so, so, so, so, so much. Let me know which quote stuck out to you the MOST. Which image did you fall in love with? Which concept (mindfulness, imperfection) clung to your soul the most? Which discussion section called out to your mind? What book are you looking forward to me reading next–one on my list or an old one or a new one? What more or LESS would you like of in the future for these types of posts? And which group or video idea/art idea I mentioned here stuck out to you the most?

Thank you again, endlessly. Until next time….

xxx Raquel πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ€


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES OF DAY I READ THIS BOOK:

1/9/2022 (late afternoon, evening), 1/10 (late afternoon), 1/11 (noon), 1/12 (afternoon), 1/23 (evening), 1/27 (afternoon), 2/10/22 (late afternoon), 2/18 (afternoon), 2/19 (late morning), 2/23 (late morning, afternoon, mid-evening), 2/25 (mid-afternoon), 2/28 (evening), 3/5 (evening), 3/7 (evening, late evening), 3/11 (afternoon), 3/24 (late morning), 3/25 (evening, late evening), 3/29 (afternoon), 3/30 (live stream: evening), 3/31 (midnight), 4/4 (afternoon), 4/19 (live stream: evening), 4/20 (afternoon, early evening; book complete.)

TRACKING DATES AND TIMES OF DAY I WROTE THIS REVIEW*:

*I did this review a little differently!! I actually decided since I was all about procrastinating on reviewing my procrastination book (the last BES) that because THIS book already had 30 page flags before getting further than 30 pages into it, THAT I would actually work on the review as I went along rather than leaving it all at the very end after I had finished the book. SO that’s what I tried out and I’m just starting out today, 2/10/22, to see how it goes with the skeleton of the post outlined and before I start filling in the information and stuff. Alsoooo there’s a LOT of things I’d like to check out because that’s making up MOST of the flags so that will be helpful to get compiled at the get-go rather than all at the end. I’m sure I’ll have thoughts about the whole process later on too so I’ll maybe fill that in somewhere or add it as a segment later. πŸ’›πŸ˜πŸ˜ Thanks so much for reading and coming along for the ride!!! XXX

2/10/22 (noon), 3/3/22 (early evening, evening), 3/25 (later evening), 4/2 (early evening), 4/3 (late afternoon, evening), 4/20 (evening, late evening), 4/22 (afternoon, early evening), 4/25 (evening), 4/27 (evening), 4/28 (late afternoon, early evening, evening, late evening–to completion).

Will I Ever Be Seen? | A Conversation About The Void… Again


A moment of insecurity. A moment to breathe in the angst and away the sadness and this need to be seen, to be heard, to be noticed. The time will come, Little Grasshopper, just not yet. Maybe just never quite yet….

To see a post I made a few years ago about The Void, find it here.

As of today: It’s April 2022 and we’re in the POV where I came home from work and worked on online social media content for a good 5 hours. I mean, it was a LOT. And I’m exhausted in far more ways than just one but I scheduled my second video to post at noon tomorrow and the one I posted today, a few hours ago (cough cough, shameless self-promotion, because we gotta be like that, it seems) I’m still doing that thing where I hungrily watch the performance by refreshing the page often and trying to guess if there’s going to be a new view or not.

It’s honestly, actually, probably pretty unhealthy.

But that is what I will have (soon to be) rest from for a few sparing hours while I’m unconscious. This sounds wordy, grrr. I mean to say that soon I’ll be asleep and so I won’t have to waddle in this insecurity and doom for at least 12 hours, huzzah.

I wish I knew more of why certain posts accumulate more views, more attention, more notice than others. But the truth is, I don’t know. I have no freakin’ clue. I don’t know why some things are more popular on my channel. I don’t know why some of my content is seen more than others. (Didn’t I already say that? The tiredness of my brain muddles the intensity to which I wish to speak these words–blurring, blurring altogether) I don’t know who is out there watching or lurking or will eventually speak. I’m not sure I like Just Waiting To Be Noticed. Waiting to Be Seen. Waiting to Be Heard. It feels like other people had it easier in the past, with the way Youtube worked. It feels like it’ll always be this quiet. This soft. This alone.

What am I searching for online that I don’t believe I’m receiving in real life?

I don’t know.

But again I create and I share and I post and I guess, the truth of the matter is this, no matter how much it sucks:

It takes time.

Time to be seen. Time to be heard. Time to be noticed.

And maybe collabs help. Maybe.

Maybe not lurking and commenting and posting helps (likely so).

Maybe shouting out others or trying to garner some positive and healthy attention is the way to go. At least, for my own values and persistence.

Maybe just keeping at it no matter the views or the numbers or the silence is all that truly matters.

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It doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting. It doesn’t mean it’s not hard. But everyone started out small. Everyone faces that question: what is it that makes my stuff more (or less) popular than someone else’s? And just flowing with The Void itself, and finding and appreciating gratitude and the amazingness of coming this far because it truly, truly is amazing and SUCH a gift that maybe some people out there never fully realize.

Growing an audience is hard. So when you do grow it, and you do nurture it, and you do plant it and you get people behind you to support you and at times, yes, criticize you, hold onto that and hold it proudly and with devotion. Because some of us out there in The Void can only ever dream of one day having that too. We don’t always know why we don’t get it, we don’t receive it, so if you have it: Please, hold it close. Be comforted by it. And if you have any tips for the rest of us out here in The Void, share them. Because we know if you could do it, we can too, it’s just really hard, it makes us feel alone and like it’ll never come to be for us too. It makes the darkness feel like it’ll last forever. And just that shimmer of sunlight, that little star out there still twinkling, reminds us, too, that it takes time and we can still shine bright and we can still one day be wished upon and we can still one day matter in all our glory and in all our pain.

So keep shining that light. Because we’re out there, in The Void, in the raging sea, and we need your Light and your Guidance to pull us through the other side.

Β 

On behalf of all those who don’t yet feel seen or heard,

Let me guide my light out to you, too, and let you know:

You are not alone.

People care about you.

Your voice is important.

Your story matters.

Better days will come.

No matter how long the night, the sun will always rise.

Stay safe, my Readers.

xxx

πŸŒˆπŸŒžπŸŒ β˜”πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›

Written with no background music, amazingly enough, 4/12/22 (10:45p EST)

“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.

Β 

“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. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜…πŸ˜Š

Β 

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!!)

Β 

[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. πŸ€”πŸ˜•

“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. πŸ–€πŸ–€

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

Β 

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. πŸ’”

Β 

“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?

Β 

“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. πŸ¦„πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ€πŸ’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). πŸ”†πŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’™

“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? πŸ˜πŸ™‚πŸ˜…

“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. πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

“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! πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’›β€
  • 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. πŸ˜ŠπŸ™‚ 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! πŸ˜‹
  • “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….
  • Β 
  • (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. 😊😊
  • 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!) πŸŒ³πŸŽ„πŸŒ²πŸŒ΄
  • 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. πŸ’™πŸ€πŸ’™
  • “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.

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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 πŸŒ»πŸ”†πŸŒˆπŸ₯‚ I still have so much in store!!! For you, for me, for everyone reading. 🀍😊


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).

Lighting A Candle For You | World Suicide Prevention Day 2021


They say, “Life is fragile.”

And, I thought I knew that.

I thought I knew that before.

But it seems like I didn’t. Or, the weight of it, it didn’t fully occur to me.

You know that I’m reaching out to You. Into this vortex of the Universe. Because I couldn’t be there for You when You felt so alone, when You were struggling so deeply, and I pray, I pray so hard that You’ll be here again for me to do better, do better by You, do better for You.

I am so, so sorry my dear that you were hurting so very deeply.

I’m so …. lost.

You’re not gone. Not quite, not…. not yet.

And it’s hard to be here without You when I can’t be with You.

I’m so sorry, my dear, that You were in so much unfathomable pain. That You felt so lost, so dark, so dull in the night sky filled with other bright stars–unable to see how brightly You, too, shined–because You don’t see how important You are, how loved, how needed, how necessary for THIS life You are, not the next one.

And I pray, I pray so hard that You don’t leave us here alone so soon. You are needed. You are wanted. You are worth the world.

And I wish You knew, I wish You knew how much Your brain is lying to You. That You DO matter. That You are cared for. That there are hundreds of other people out in the world who want to meet You, who will love You, who will accept You. Who want You to experience everything there is out here in this life.

So I sit and cry in my bedroom, trying to find the words for something so inescapable. Something so large. Something that posed so much of a danger to You, my love, so much of a danger to me, to Your family, to Your friends, to Your followers, to everyone You had yet to meet, to the other animals You had yet to love, a life You had yet to find faith in to live by and thrive through–maybe I should have seen the entity lying behind Your eyes. Maybe I should have known to listen to my gut when at 1a I thought of You. Maybe things would have been different.

If I’d just reached out. Reached back out to You through the dark, showing You that the clearing was just up ahead and You were going to make it, You were always going to make it there. And I don’t know what You thought. I might never know what You thought. The way You uniquely would have phrased it, the way Your brain made excuses for Your actions, the pain, the deep chasms of pain that blinded You to everything before You. Everything that would lay in Your wake.

And I don’t mean to guilt trip you. I know that’s not helpful.

I just hurt, too. And I’m trying to process everything and doing jack shit to be able to.

It’s just so hard.

And You don’t know yet what I’m thinking or what I’m feeling. And I pray, I pray so much that You’ll be able to find out about this. About everything.

I wish You knew. I just wish You knew.

I wish You knew how I’m feeling right now, how much I’m praying for You, how much I’m trying to piece together hope and a semblance of normalcy and struggling all the same. I wish You knew how desperately I’m looking for the signs that You weren’t okay online, that I’m wishing the happy events to come weighed more than the pain deep within Your soul. I wish You knew that I was writing these words, that I pray You’ll see them one day. That You’ll be able to comprehend them. I want so much more than this for You, and I know that You can reach it, You can make it through, it’s just hard. It’s so hard.

So I’ll light a candle for You tonight and every night until You come back to me. Come back to us.

And I won’t know how to live without You. I won’t.

And I don’t want to ever have to find that out.

….yet I know that this is ultimately Your choice. And I can hope, I can pray, I can be there for You to the best of my ability and encourage You and love You and want so much for You, for everything I, too, have found, I’d want that and more for You, and ultimately… I have to accept that this life and this fight is only Yours to make. You can choose to live or you could choose to die, but you cannot do both. And some people make it through their suicidal ideation and live happy and healthy lives. And some don’t. And I don’t want that ever to be the case that You are the latter, but, I don’t necessarily have a choice in that matter. That is Yours and Yours alone. I can’t choose to live for You, only You can do that for Yourself.

Yet I want You to know that You still would matter. That Your absence will be fully noted, fully recognized and fully mourned. I would miss You so, so much. I would long to look into Your eyes again, to hear Your laugh, to feel Your hugs, to love everything about You, to see You bake again, to have the opportunity to hold You…

So, You’ve gotta pull through, to give me that type of moment. Your story isn’t over yet, it’s so very, very far from being over. And I know that while resources can be limited, that that does not mean You shouldn’t do everything in Your power to survive, to live, to thrive. You’ve got this, my love, You’ve got this so much.

Please, please know that You can live. You can.

It’ll be so hard and it will be worth the entire world. You are worth the world. And I’m not ready to say goodbye yet.

So if the candle extinguishes before I get the chance to say it loud, to cry it for You to hear, from the vortex of my Universe, from the walls of my bedroom, with the warm tears streaming down my face, praying I get to see You one day again soon (one last time), I will cry:

I love you. I want you. I need you. Please stay. Please choose life. Please don’t go. Not yet. It’s not your time. You’re going to make it through this. And when you struggle to find the light, you need only raise your hand and I’ll part the curtain, and force the trees to move and then you’ll see, then you’ll see–you will be found.

Rest up, my love, this battle will be long and hard and I’ll be with You all along the way.

Music I think the Reader should check out:

  1. You will be found by Ben Platt; from Dear Evan Hansen
  2. Why by Rascal Flatts (trigger warning)
  3. Hero by Faouzia
  4. Black hole by Griff
  5. 1800 273 8255 by Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid
  6. It’s okay by Nightbirde
  7. Run like a river by Jamica

Thank you so much for reading about my grief. Please do your part and hold onto your loved ones an extra bit longer tonight. And tell the people you love that you do love them. And let them know in a card or a text how much you appreciate them. This life is, in fact, short, and you don’t want regrets and you want them to know because in an instant, they could vanish. Take care of yourselves, my friends. I will be planning to update and write more in the oncoming future. May the Universe bless you endlessly. xxx (I’m going into more Mr. Ballen Youtube videos to sleep tonight. Sending all the best.)

**May all those we’ve lost rest in peace. And all those still here to find the determination, the strength and the perseverance to choose to fight another day. Your efforts are recognized. You are doing amazing. Keep up the good work.

“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. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ€


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)Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  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)Β Β Β Β Β Β  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)Β Β Β Β  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).Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  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. πŸ˜«πŸ˜­πŸ˜–)
  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).Β Β Β  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). 😊
  • 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! 😁🧑🧑
  • 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. πŸ˜—πŸ€¨
  • 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? πŸ˜‰πŸ˜› 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).

Doing Something Terrifying | #TrueMentalHealthAdvocate

Hi there.

This, once again, is not the post I was planning for today, but I’m making amends and just going with what I can.

I am doing something incredibly terrifying for today, tomorrow and Saturday. I’m making a “call out” video where I denounce someone who was once a part of and representative of the mental health community online who has done some horrible and inappropriate things and for which I can no longer remain silent about on my channel. I had done a collab with them in the past and after I watched a recent video from someone they threatened physical harm to, I am putting down my mask and my comfort level and going forward with something that’s important and that I firmly believe in.

I filmed the footage today and I’m still drowning in the panic of it and whether it will either hit the wall and nothing will happen or it will get big and the conflict that that arises in me if this is how I’m “discovered” online because of some outspoken talking that’s super uncharacteristic of me.

I’m terrified, to be honest and I hope that I can manage any backlash that may result and just keep my head afloat the best way that I can. I am planning to edit tomorrow all of the footage, I’ve made the thumbnail and created this tag above in the tag. It kinda works anyway because I was going to be doing a mental health advocate tag on this blog but I’m pushing it off to do next week instead. This is mental health awareness month and we have to speak out on abuse and inappropriate actions and holding each other accountable because it is unfair and damaging to the foundations upon which we’ve built our lives and voices in supporting one another’s recovery and not falling into the misshapen pieces the media likes to make of us living with mental health conditions that we are “dangerous” and “a threat to others.”

So, join me, I suppose or rally against me, either way it is what it is. I’m planning to schedule the video for a release on Saturday. I could do Sunday but I’m pretty sure I’d rather get it over with on Sat. Either it goes big or it goes nowhere. I’m not sure which and that’s frightening as all hell.

I am going to upload while I am at work so I can minimize some of the damage to my email and forcing myself to have time to not think about it, not look at it, not ponder it and just breathe in deep and remember it’s not the end of the world and I’ll manage and get through it somehow. Sometimes you just have to speak your truth, no matter how hard and scary it is.

No one knows in my life that I’m doing this but it’s what I think is right even if it opens me up to a lot of ridicule and misuse. I still may think that I shouldn’t do it and whatnot and have to live in that uncertainty. Hopefully if there’s any feedback it won’t be on Sat when I have to go to work again the next day, but maybe that will also be better too (I can keep my mind busy).

Okay, that is all.

I’m going to sleep now. I’ll pop in again tomorrow. Good night!

xxx

πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ€πŸ€

Let’s Talk about Suicide Prevention… My Response to Landon Clifford taking his own life (RIP)

Trigger Warning: Suicide death, mental health, addiction, discussion

Themes: Recovery, hope, positivity, wellness, light in the darkness, a couple of resources

I haven’t done a blog post like this in years. I also hadn’t intended for this to BE a blog post. I spend over an hour and a half crafting a lengthy Youtube comment on Tamron Hall’s video interviewing Camryn Clifford, the content creator behind a million and a half subscribers on Youtube’s channel Cam&Fam, but I had so much to say for her video, no place to put it and decided I’d just leave it under Tamron’s instead.

However, upon crafting it, reading it over and editing it, adding the final touches…. the comment button told me it was too long and that I needed to shorten it.

Granted, it was long. I wrote about 3,000 words and either the channel itself or Youtube just wasn’t about that life. I get it. I understand.

So I went about highlighting and copying a part of it, after I copied the whole thing, just in case any slip of the keyboard happened and I’d lose all my work.

So I did that. I made the comment. Then I went to reply to it.

Except Youtube was all “this reply cannot exist” like a big middle finger to my work and I refreshed the new tab to see why….

My comment was not listed under new.

Visible confusion settled on my face.

But how could this be? Maybe it just hadn’t loaded yet?

So I hit refresh, and refreshed. And refreshed. And nope, whatever happened, whatever Youtube or the channel didn’t like just wiped it clean as if it never even took place (which is strange and hey, maybe it’s possible there’s gonna be a delay of some kind, which I hope not but I guess it’ll have me checking back in later regardless).

Anyways, I decided, “Well, okay then.” and mentioned it on Twitter, pasted it to a Word document and now I’m going to share it here because I wrote it, I spent all that time on it, and why the hell not at this point.

So, here it is:

For some further backstory (and there will be a TL;DR at the end, don’t you worry!) I found out all about this story yesterday at, ironically, a doctor’s appointment for some other physical health issue. It was on TV and the show had spoken about the memoirs of a family generational thing about bipolar I disorder. It was interesting, a bit stigmatizing at parts, but interesting. The next story was about Camryn’s family, her life and her husband’s Landon, untimely death by suicide. It was very moving and awfully sad. I found the video today where she spoke about the suicide in much more detail, which I’m hesitant to share directly here because it does cover explicit details of the suicide, the method and her reaction (which my heart absolutely goes out to her and I want her to know that it wasn’t her fault, she didn’t know and couldn’t have and hindsight is always so much brighter and understandable than the worst thing happening right in the moment, and my wishes go out to her to get through this hard time with the support of her fans, friends and family) which was very sobering and somber and pretty responsible while still be potentially triggering. There are some flaws in it, of course, which I tried to cover in my recanting of my own story and experiences. I’ll see you guys at the end:

“;”;”

Hello to anyone who finds this comment in the forest of other comments. I’d like to add my thoughts and share parts of my story on the matter because Camryn’s main video on the subject was showing disabled comments. The opinions I’ll be sharing are my own and have been carefully laid out in my mind this morning since I watched her main video discussing Landon’s death. Most of my thoughts are backed up by regulations and experiences with suicidality and suicide prevention measures. For now, feel free to skim this comment or if you have the time, read it word for word (which I shall give you a ray of sunshine for!)….

So, as far as myself, I am a mental health advocate deep within the throes of sharing my own story living with mental health conditions across professional and personal endeavors. I’ve been doing advocacy since Mar. 2016 and am still going strong. I’ve lived with OCD on self-harm and suicide obsessions (not genuine intent, rather intrusive thoughts that I feared would equal action even when the last thing I wanted to do was hurt myself), secondary depression, genuine thoughts of hurting myself, Borderline Personality Disorder and most currently trichotillomania (hair-pulling) and dermatillomania (skin-picking). I became involved with advocacy in 2016 through my state’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which is all about sharing stories of recovery, hope and the darkness in order to de-stigmatize these conditions and spread the message that recovery IS possible and better days are ahead and our lives inherently matter. I also used to write publicly about my recovery journey in my university’s newspaper. At the time, I really struggled with my mental health and trying to find peace and freedom and over the course of three years I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation 12 times. The longest I went being hospital free was in 2016 for 9 months. I relapsed and in 2017 was hospitalized a total of 5 times. I’ve made three minor attempts on my life and one moderate one.

In 2018 the depression came back worse than ever after about two months of stability/symptom free management after having six treatments of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). When that depression hit, everything got very, very dark. I stopped believing that my life was important and that things would get better. I wrote about 7 articles for my paper that were all shrouded in darkness and chronicling how I felt so alone and so worthless and so intent on ending my life. My parents called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and it kicked off my 11th hospitalization and note-worthingly, the first time I ever didn’t ask for help myself. I went in to that hospitalization and came back out feeling no different. I was still intent on my plans and preparing my method, carrying it around everywhere I went on the chance that something would “push me over the edge” and it would all be over with. I felt this immense amount of calm. I was so happy and it felt like I could breathe again for the first time in a long time. I knew I wasn’t going to have to face tomorrow but even with these feelings… I would still question my decision, I would still be ambivalent and wonder “But what if… What if tomorrow everything changed? What if I feel differently in a month or three or a year?” but I was scared. I was scared because I felt in so deep. Like, I had wasted all this time planning my death, going over every excruciating detail, setting up fail safes–ways to reach out in the end just in case I changed my mind–and it was an agonizing process.

The game changed for me when one of the articles I wrote….came off darker and more concerning than I ever thought fully through. My uni called me directly while I was attending a long term day program, and it was a mixture of freaking out thinking I’d have another wellness check waiting for me at home, the chaos that was erupting at school, the fact that some of my peers at the day program were honest about where they were struggling and how that reminded me that /I/ used to do that and it made me wonder if I could do that again (be open and honest about my struggles)…

I wound up talking with my friend from the paper at school the next day and it was really that conversation, that moment of hope shone into the darkness. My friend said how I wasn’t myself and my articles had taken such a dark turn. That normally in all the time before this my articles would shine with hope and positivity but they were lacking in that now. For me, fearing that nobody would notice or nobody would care if I died meant everything so even just having this insight that my friend wanted me to be okay and wanted me to live to see that day meant the world. I decided, after talking with another friend who seemed off around me, that I could either tell them what was happening, go to the counseling center on emergency or I could talk to my day program the next day. I decided I’d wait another moment and the next day I was driven to the day program, for easier phrasing I’ll call it Passages, and at first I was still going to go along with it but then I got a little triggered by something that was said and then I got angry and upset and I was adding another method to my plan and was already planning my exit strategy when in, I think, a group therapy instance it was asked directly if I was safe and I said, “No.” The group leader, who happened to be my clinician on my case, said we would speak privately after.

When she and I did, it was determined I needed to get help right then and there. The thing people don’t always realize is that mental health and especially in cases of suicidal ideation, they are public health emergencies. Just as someone having to go to the ER for a heart attack, the same is true for suicidality or homicidality. There is an excellent acronym for warning signs of suicide from the American Association on Suicide Prevention called: IS PATH WARM? Luckily, over time I had managed to learn when I needed help and when a hospitalization would be more necessary.

I was still afraid. I was afraid to let go of what had become so… comfortable in order to trade it in for a life that felt uncertain to take a risk on. But I did go. I got picked up by ambulance and taken to the ER. I was stripped of my clothing and items. I waited in there for a few hours, was assessed by the crisis team and deemed necessary to be admitted. I honestly don’t remember that much from that instance but I remember the last hospitalization I went through. I remember the weekend psychiatrist made a remark that I found relatable and hilarious when he said, from the hospital previous that had actually decreased my antidepressants, “They kinda fucked you over, didn’t they?” And that’s exactly how it felt. I was hospitalized that last time on Feb. 14th 2018.

Hospitalizations for mental health aren’t like a lot of the movies. There aren’t padded cells and a lot more of the people there are broken internally and just need help and support. Everything is watched and documented and we aren’t allowed laces or belts or strings or spiral bound notebooks and in some places not staples or pens. It all depends on the place. The rules in some places are more strict and in others more relaxed. Sometimes it’s a shit show, other times it’s a moment of restabilization and where the story is just beginning.

I got out of the hospital about a week later. The better days didn’t start right away. But by May 2018 I was recommended to join the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Intensive program at Passages. This meant that (and I should probably mention for anyone who doesn’t know, this day program meant that I’d go three days a week from 9:30a – 2:45p and go to various groups like art therapy, mindfulness, group therapy, DBT therapy groups, goal groups, communications etc.) I would only see a therapist on site at Passages, I would be in the Intensive program for 6-8 months as one cycle and that I’d have to complete homework assignments each week and fill out these things called diary cards that would track my moods and behaviors each day.

I made the decision to enter into it and began it. It was hands down the best decision I ever made. DBT covers four main modules: interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, mindfulness and emotion regulation. Across this time frame I managed to enter my final semester of schooling, I wrote again positivitely and healthily for the newspaper, I ended a codependent friendship I was in (which was so hard but so, so necessary; I didn’t even realize it was codependency until a year later when my friend mentioned they had noticed that pattern, when I told my therapist and family about it and when my family therapist, June, finally said straight up that if I continued with the friendship I was going to wind up back in the hospital, and at the time, I didn’t want that.) I also made the realization with this codependent relationship ending that: “No one and no thing is worth being suicidal over.”

It was such a profound statement that I never could have anticipated would be such a game changer. I went from chronic suicidality to an issue that faded away. I still get urges or I can still get triggered but through DBT and learning the skills and practicing the skills and telling my story and building that life worth living–I don’t ever want to go back to the darkness. And it’s still hard sometimes because my brain likes to glorify those dark thoughts and suicidal ideation was always about fantasizing it in a way for me, I guess like how others would fantasize about sex, I just did it with the ultimate avoidance which was death. Not exactly the healthiest or happiest relationship, by far. But every day I made it closer and closer to being out of the hospital, closer and closer to finding health and happiness and stability, the further away I made it from my struggles.

It took a lot of work. It took a lot of effort. It took a lot of handling pain in a different way than ever before. It took definitely something about signing paper ‘safety contracts’ that always had a great habit of me having that voice in the back of my head saying “I can’t hurt myself because I said I wouldn’t. I meant what I said. I can’t go back.” So I wouldn’t.

I wound up graduating from college. I wound up getting retrained for a few NAMI ventures. I ended the DBT-I in January 2020 and moved on from Passages by June 2020. I got a relief job at a trauma informed residential for youth and, besides NAMI, it’s been my longest standing job (Sep. 2019 – present). I’m so much happier now. With the pandemic hitting in 2020, it was probably the best time for things to go to shit. Because by then I had all the skills, all the time and the effort and the training to be able to handle it in a creative and healthy way.

Sure, I still struggle nowadays with hair pulling and skin picking and avoidance in other ways and procrastination and all of that. But I finally found a life worth living. I spend my days making Youtube videos (though I’m seriously behind in the editing process!!), reading books for fun, blogging, writing fan fiction, journaling and shopping and working.

As of 2021, I’ve been hospital free for 3 years. I know life can be unpredictable and I have come to accept I may need further treatment and support like in a hospital setting in the future. I am wary of it but I know, too, that if I need it, it’s there. I plan to one day become a Certified Peer Specialist and to share my story more through videos, blog posts, public speaking and writing and publishing books. I have SO many dreams. So many things I want to accomplish. It’s been such a hard road here and I’ve faced recovery burnout last year and it still marinates into today at times however I wouldn’t change anything about my journey because it all lead to this moment. I’ve made my mistakes, sure, and I’ve been slow to accept that these times were traumatic, yet how I handle my emotions today is so different than 3 or 4 years ago. Now, stability is my baseline. Now, I’m happy and I’m so grateful that I didn’t end my life. That that didn’t have to happen.

I know suicide, a lot of the time, because of mental health conditions, seems like freedom. But in death, can we truly be free? Because in death, we can’t experience anything really. Nothing good, nothing bad. Just dead. I believe that knowing pain makes appreciating life and the beauty in it–recognizing that it can be absolute shit at times and be so horrible–and still seeing all the beauty in it, that’s life. It’s hard to understand and it’s very difficult to have conversations about suicide.

But we have to have them. Because it matters. Because our lives matter and we’re all interconnected. Sharing suicide methods in those whom have ended their lives isn’t the best and isn’t part of the regulations for suicide prevention programs because it can cause copycat suicides (encourages others to try those types of methods). Being specific about methods is most appropriate in a one to one conversation with treatment teams. Additionally, in the US, people do not “commit suicide”, they die by suicide. They kill themselves. They take their own lives. “Committed suicide” is more like terminology of someone “committing rape, committing murder”, because those are crimes. Suicide, suicide is a public health emergency. And it’s not going away any time soon. All of this social isolation is troubling and mental health systems, the very, very broken systems, are at their wits end and it’s time that reform and true change can happen.

I have no doubt that Camryn sharing her and Landon’s story will help so, so many people out there. I watched her video and it brought me to tears so many times. It’s so, so hard. Landon likely didn’t die, like in most suicide cases, by just ONE thing, it’s almost always a complicated, multiple layered reason. Asking if someone is thinking of hurting themselves or ending their lives will NOT put the idea in their head. It actually can provide so much space to have a conversation, for someone to realize “Hey, you’re not okay and I’m really worried about you. Are you having thoughts of suicide?” because in my experience, I’ve wanted so badly for someone to notice, someone to ask or someone to just say “Hey, I see you. You’re in pain. It’s going to be okay.” And sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, I didn’t really need advice or platitudes or anything like that. I just needed someone to see it and offer specific ways they could help me or just encourage me to see the hope that I felt so blinded to or to call for the ambulance.

I don’t think suicide is ever the solution (particularly in terms of mental health conditions). I think suicide is a permanent action to a temporary crisis. I think it’s important to know that not everyone’s experiences are the same, that it has to be adjusted and tailored to the person in question. For instance, telling me how much people would be in pain if I ended my life only made me feel shittier and more like I should do that. Telling me I had so much to live for invalidated that I was in pain NOW and that I couldn’t cope with it NOW. Mentioning different types of methods or saying how certain things would or would not kill me also wasn’t helpful.

We could spend all day wondering what would have happened differently, that’s the horrible pain left behind on suicide survivors (which are the people left behind from a loved one’s suicide, not suicide attempt survivors themselves). We could spend agonizing time wondering about things that just didn’t play out in this reality. Again, there’s so many factors involved. Had I said something else, had I mentioned this, had I been faster or quicker or… these are the unanswered questions. They will carry pain and hurt for a long time. Even when dealing with a friend in crisis, it’s so, so important to take care of yourself, too. Think of the water pitcher, we can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can put on others. The NSPL is available for anyone struggling with ideation, their friends and family, and others who just need some support or someone to bounce ideas off of. I’ve used the hotline on my phone and over chat many times and if it wasn’t always super helpful, I found it to be helpful to at least be a starting point.

Overall, if there is life, there is hope. I wish for Camryn’s story to help anyone else out there. I wish for Landon to rest a little easier. I wish for those who were fans of them to find not so much closure (grief never ends, it’s an ongoing and changed relationship) but acceptance of the untimely death and to learn how important it is to tell people you love them and you appreciate them or just say a kind word or thought to them. Additionally, I’d like to thank anyone who managed to read this far. Honestly, I didn’t really expect to say this much but that’s how it wound up rolling. I will leave a TL;DR at the very end. I hope that if you’re struggling out there, that you know one day you’ll be okay again. That you’re not alone. That your life really matters. And you’re worthy of this life and you were born strong enough to live it. If anyone needs to speak to a hotline, you could use the US one if you’re here at 1800 273 TALK (8255) or Google your local hotlines in whichever country you’re from. Thank you so, so much for reading. I don’t expect this to make it super far, yet I feel more peace now too. In loving memory of Landon Clifford, who was taken too soon and didn’t get to see, like so many others killed, that there were better days right ahead. For all those grieving, I am with you in spirit and I am sending as much healing and bright light as I can. Be well and above all, stay safe. XXX

TL;DR: This video sums up my experiences with mental health conditions and suicidality and then you can skip to Paragraph #6. I know it’s a lot. I don’t fault you for not reading. Take care out there. xxx πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

“;”;”

And that is all that I wanted to say. If you can spare a moment, send a prayer to Camryn and her family–her two young daughters, her loss of Landon, and his family and her own family going forwards. May she find hope and blessings in her future endeavors as she continues to share her story of also living with depression and anxiety, sharing on a large platform her story, his story (that he can no longer tell) and more. She has begun a nonprofit organization in his memory and will be doing a podcast about it too. May everyone find peace, on this plane and the next.

Thank you so much for reading all of my words.

Landon, I didn’t know you before. I only heard of you yesterday. But it feels like I knew you. I would have liked to get to know you. I’m so sorry you were in so much pain. I remember the feeling. It is so, so hard to bear alone. I wish things could have gone as differently for you as they had for me. And I knew, and took some odd comfort in the idea in my recovery and my journey of life and dealing with suicidal thoughts, that some people live to tell the tale and some don’t. And was I going to be the person to tell my story myself or was I going to be one of those that didn’t make it? That choice, ultimately, was my own (which is not to say things couldn’t have stopped me like an ambulance, a hospitalization, worries, etc.) whether I took my life or I took the cards I was dealt and played the hand differently. I wish you could have gotten that chance. I’m sorry that you didn’t. Rest in Peace.

And may all of you else out there find hope and comfort soon. Please take care of yourselves and strive to be the best human out there possible. We all need more love and appreciation. And if we wait too long, sometimes we never get the chance to show it. A difficult truth, indeed.

Relevantly, The Overnight (Out of the Darkness) walk for suicide prevention and for those survivors of attempts or loved ones dying is coming up virtually online in June 2021. If you’d like to join there is a $20 sign up fee and a fundraiser for the event. I believe it occurs on a Saturday. I’ve left the link above. Take care everyone.

“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. πŸ™‚ ❀ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ€©πŸ€—πŸ₯°πŸ˜… 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) πŸ˜πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜ŽπŸ˜™

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: πŸ™‚

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. πŸ’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)?

πŸš‘ 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”.

πŸš’ 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]” πŸ˜›πŸ˜¨

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. πŸ™‚
  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. πŸ™‚
  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. ❀
  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. πŸ’”πŸ–€πŸ–€
  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. πŸ˜πŸ˜…πŸ€—
  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. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™ 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.” πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸŒˆβ˜€ 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. πŸ˜πŸ™‚

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!! ❣❣❣

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. ❀❀❀

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. β˜€β˜€

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!!! πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€©

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. πŸ˜œπŸ’™πŸ’™

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”

Farewell To the Old Me; Finding My Way Through, Free.



Post Written: October 26.2020

Sometimes when we reach new places we’ve never been to before, we are able to notice how we would have reacted in the past had it happened to us then. Sometimes we’re able to see that how we’re reacting now is different to then. Sometimes we’re able to understand we want to go backwards, to regress, rather than progress further forwards.

Sometimes the battle we are fighting is within our own worlds. Our perceptions, our interpretations, our urges.

Sometimes I get stuck like that, too. Sometimes I see things happening that aren’t the greatest but that my brain interprets as being desirable. Sometimes my Ill Mind wants things for me that I would never want for me again.

It’s all a part of life and the cost of living in this life. Sometimes we want things that aren’t good for us–unhealthy ways of getting attention, junk food, drug substances, disordered behaviors, and more. Sometimes even when we can rationalize how much they aren’t good for us, we still find ourselves wanting it regardless.

That’s surely happened to me before and I’m almost certain it’s happened to you too.

So for now, in this space, I’d like to talk about my own experiences with that lately in as open and candid as a place of any. This is my safe space. It’s also a very public place–and it’s also where I feel most comfortable. I’d like to discuss some struggles I’ve been facing lately and how I’ve handled them well along with the times where I’ve deeply struggled.

Because I believe the story matters. I believe that my voice is worth sharing and I believe that living in my truth holds more power over my experiences and the narrative I wish to convey to the world, to my friends, to my family and to my peeps that is necessary and dare I say, vital, in situations such as these, in perspectives such as mine, even when there’s an intense and detrimental pandemic occurring in the world and a political system within America that’s horrid and unimaginable and makes it feel like we’ve been living in a reality TV show for the last four years. Regardless of ALL of this, my situation still exists and I am still valid in my feelings. The World of 2020 has been falling apart and it’s been very close to The End of Days and right now is as important and crucial as a time to discuss the topics of mental health, mental health conditions and recovery processes. So, here’s a part of my story and what I’ve been dealing with lately and at the end, I hope you’ll have taken something away from my rambles. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll reflect on some of your own struggles. And maybe you’ll leave this post with a newfound sense of how you can pave over your problems going forwards. And if the cards lie just right, maybe you’ll even add a word or two of your own thoughts down below. Whatever you’re comfortable sharing, of course. So… let’s begin…

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“We must bring our own light to the darkness…”

(Nobody is going to do it for us.) — Charles Bukowski

I got caught up in trying to find a quote for the above section but what I’d like to talk about here involves the concept narrated above:

How do we become our own light within the shadows of darkness that surrounds each of us at night? How do we choose to be brighter and better than our previous selves the day before? How do we choose to not compare against each other and instead focus on shining our brightest, appreciating our differences and head into the battle ahead with as clear a mind as possible, knowing we’re worth it and we’re able to overcome this fight? How do we get to rely on ourselves instead of looking for attention and validation from others?

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These are a lot of questions and I think the important thing to be reminded about life is that…. we don’t have all the answers. Look towards science and modern medicine, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the brain and what it does and how it does what it does. We barely know about the universe that surrounds our tiny little planet, the solar system that exists, how the world began to begin with and if there are or aren’t any other creatures out there for us to interact with (which would be pretty scary!). Hell, we don’t know how to even live amongst ourselves peacefully.

So, it’s okay to not know. Life is a giant puzzle and its purpose lies in being uncomfortable and living DESPITE–no, WITH–that which is uncomfortable. A lot of stuff that life throws at us, wasn’t something that we asked for. We usually don’t get a say in what thing it is we struggle with.

Yet how we react to things life throws our way… that, that is within our control.

We can’t control much but ourselves. We learn, particularly those facing illnesses either mental or physical, that self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is crucial and critical for existing in life. Having balanced meals, getting enough sleep, taking care of physical (and mental) illnesses, spending socialization time with other individuals (and pets!) as well as having a few other things like hobbies, roles in society, a career, an education, and more. We live, we grow, we age, we die.

We procreate, we find love, we make friends, we make enemies. People like us. People don’t. Some people can’t stand us. Most people project their issues onto other people. We fight, we argue, we struggle, we survive. We are warriors. Some in quite a literal fashion.

We are human.

And being human isn’t something to be ashamed of.

We all have emotions–mostly. We all have preferences and habits and crave interaction with one another. We all need attention. We all need love and care and nice things. We all depend on one another, we are inter-connected. We are human. We will face adversity, sometimes a lot, sometimes not as much, but we will all lose something some day and we will all perish just the same.

But what does this have to do with anything?

You’re right, I got a little sidetracked (such is my attention span for today). What I mean to say, what the point of me saying all these things to begin with, is that life is an uncomfortable phase. Life throws things our way that we weren’t expecting or anticipating or were prepared to deal with.

And still, if we want to get the most out of life, we have to find a way to alight our own flame. While it is absolutely imperative to ask for help when you need it, you also need to learn how to be there for yourself.

You’re the only you there’s ever going to be.

You’re the only you always with you.

No one can live your life for you. They can try, they can help, they can enable you but your life is ultimately your choice. Whether you choose to go down into the dark chasms or instead hike up the next hill and the next and the one after that–that’s your choice. That’s within your control. You didn’t choose to have to go up or down, but the up or down IS your choice. You didn’t prepare the map but what you do with it is your own.

Emotion regulation, your ability to soothe yourself, handle yourself, handle your problems and knowing when and where to get help when you need it, those are all critical and necessary tools for surviving. A friend and a loved one can point you in the right direction. They can be there to hold signs and vigils in your honor. Whether you choose to follow or flee is up to you. No one else can make that decision for you.

We all need to learn how to be there for ourselves. ‘Cause we can be there for others but others won’t always be there for us.

But we are.

We are always with ourselves. It’s the one vessel that will withstand all the hell and all the light. It’s important, as humans that evolve and change and grow, to find healthy avenues and know the differences between unhealthy avenues. It’s important, as healthy humans to control and withstand ourselves. When we feel things, we need to have plans on how to handle them. When we are stuck in the darkness, instead of looking for everyone else’s lights, we need to learn how to ignite our own.

Because this light, this life within us now, is the only light and life we’re given. And it will burn out. One day. Somehow. It will. And what we got to do with it, that’s the only thing truly up to us.

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“I am enough.”

Let me move away from the “you”‘s and the “we’s” because I’ve done a lot of that so far. Let me start with where I am at. And that’s in this moment.

I am enough.

It’s such a complex yet simple notion.

I am enough.

I am enough to handle my own circumstances, my own life. Just like with the light, my own light is enough to wash over the road ahead of me. I don’t rely on other people’s lights to guide me home because I know, deep down, that all I need is my own.

Yeah, that’s a pretty lonely road if I only look at it from that angle, but who makes the rules in my reality?

Me!

So if I don’t like what I see, then I can change it. Why not, right?

The big thing I want to talk about here is being able to validate myself. Because a lot of the time I get this idea in my head that I need other people’s validation or praise or attention rather than my own. And yes, that’s nice and it’s needed sometimes too. But I need to learn, in this next new phase of my life, how to be there FOR me, BY me. If I’m going to be the only one in it from start to finish, I better start liking myself, ahaha. Excluding when I need outsider’s influences–like their input, their support, their conversation–I can learn how to validate myself by validating others.

If my friend were struggling with my struggles, what would I say to them? How would I put myself in their shoes? What would I say? Act? Show? Now what if it were me, what would I say, act or show to myself? Maybe once I start to see the rules I make for myself, the cognitive distortions I fall into, the old traps and cycles that my brain easily confines for me, maybe after all of that, I’ll find a way to be there for me–I’ll find a way to be ENOUGH for ME.

That brings me back around to the main topic of this post. I know, I know, it’s been scattered through this and I thank you immensely for continuing to read if you HAVE read this far. I’m sure the Editing Version of Me will have some fun with this post ahaha. But I want to talk about that validation piece again–I want to paint a picture to what started this moment for me in general and that involves the dreaded word:

ATTENTION.

Remember at the start I was talking about the fork in the road between regression and progression? Yes, well, attention has a big play to do with my experiences thus far.

When I was at my worst, I often sought attention online (as well as in person, I think is fair to say). But it was unhealthy, every time I did it, it was unhealthy. Because:

the Internet is not an appropriate crisis space.

This, of course, is excluding the actual places online that ARE designed as crisis spaces. But the reason I say this is twofold:

  1. It truly isn’t a good idea to place intimate, vulnerable thoughts into a space where it can be taken advantage of, manipulated, tossed into a void or come back to bite you later (the Internet is forever of course, and yes, I see the immense irony or hypocrisy for this notion to exist within this own post, however, I’ve accepted my position far in the past for this type of situation.)
  2. Not everyone is going to know what to do, what to say or how to properly and healthily identify what to do in that given situation. Not everyone is going to respond well, not everyone is going to respond at all, not everyone will be kind, some people may instigate further, some people will just have different opinions, some people will speak their mind or some people won’t have anything to say, to add, to note, to express.

And that, when used in crisis, the Internet that is, can be deadly. It’s certainly dangerous.

And it’s not ultimately, entirely, other people’s responsibilities. It’s asking too much from the Internet, in many ways. Yes, the Internet is changing somewhat and there are definitely amazing, great and compassionate individuals and places on the Internet, however it is also dangerous, unsafe and crippling in other places (or within other people).

So wanting more views, wanting more comments, wanting more of that attention, more of that vocalization, more of that validation, more of that pick me up, more and more and more–it’s all a culmination to a potentially very bad outcome.

This is where balance comes into play. This is where being enough for myself comes into play. This is where I recognize I need to take an Internet break. Because as always:

“No thing and no one is worth being suicidal over.”

— Me, from an article speaking on my codependency to luna, ~fall 2018.

And that’s where regression can happen. Or, recovery progression.

So what happened was I saw or found out about someone online who confessed they were in a difficult spot and wanted a certain type of reaction out of the Internet. In response, their story, their life, kinda blew up in a very positive fashion.

And it made me SO envious. Like I was legit pissed off.

Because that hasn’t been my type of experiences.

But WHY do I want it to be? And hasn’t it? In some ways, by some friends, hasn’t it been?

So I wondered for a moment or two in that sea of anger and envy, I wondered why they had such pleasant experiences when in the past when I’ve done the same, I’ve gotten a small handful of responses or (more often) an echo of long, long silence.

And this ultimately means to me that I’ve been searching for attention and praise where it’s not the healthiest place for it. So I learn that I need to validate myself more. I need to check in with myself more than I am. I need to recognize what is cognitive distortions and when it is that I’m not practicing as much gratitude as I could be and then re-evaluate the way I’m interacting with the world around me–online and off.

Because validation is very easy to become unhealthy with. And I really don’t necessarily need it from other people or at least not in the same way that I once sought for it.

This means, to me, that I need to find ways to boost my projects, my life and my endeavors in a healthy manner that doesn’t rely on how many views it gets or how many people interact with it or even just analyzing what it is I’m hoping to get out of things that I put out on blast. And then maybe, maybe one day I’ll get picked up and maybe I’ll have a few other people to interact with more than I do now, but gratitude will be a good thing for me to practice more too as well as checking the facts and providing my own light for no one else but myself (and then by extension in living my truth and my authentic life, it will burn brightly for other people, too).

Because I have to ask myself: do I want attention for the hell I’ve been through or the growth I’ve made because of it? Do I want attention for who I am rather than what I’ve been through? And which direction is most sustainable?

I know I have a lot left to learn and to experience. I know I have a voice worth sharing and a story left to be told. I know there is so much more I want to do with my life and it doesn’t all have to be about mental health. I know that my identity extends beyond this plane of field and that I can work on getting there each and every day, every moment, and that sometimes I will succeed and sometimes I will fail and it’s in making mistakes that I will learn and grow. It’s within the darkness that I will find my light. It is within the night that I will find my day. The world is a presence of constant dualities and constant instances to try and do better, be better and improve.

I know I’m so much more mature than I was just a few years ago and I know that my happiness and my love for life and light these days is so immeasurably wonderful and not ever something I’d want to trade for a little bit of attention that’s not going to affect my life more than anything else. I, of course, like praise just as the next person, but it’s not my lifeline or my blood or my air. It’s … a bonus.

I have to understand why I create and for what purpose I am sharing it. With time, everything else will follow.

But for now, it’s time to Edit. It’s been a good hour and a half of full-on writing and I’d like to take a break and do something else for a bit. So, thank you for reading and for sticking with me. I really, really appreciate that.

It’s somewhere in the process of breathing and living for myself that I find the most freedom. The ability to be as gracious and thankful as I am able to be now isn’t something I could have ever positively imagined for myself two to three years ago. My stability is amazing and my ability to self-regulate has improved immensely. There are things in my life that I’ve excelled at recently that I’ll lightly touch on here: things like doing ERPs from support groups on OCD; getting certifications for work that seemed daunting and unavoidable (MAP); working more at my job Amaryllis; facing safety issues from youth and exceeding at not getting triggered (and yeah, so I got triggered from a support group but I’m gonna handle it and I’m gonna be okay again, I just need a little bit more time) and other moments that would have crippled me years before are now mere blips in the timeline.

I know that I can use this triggered moment to take a deep breath, then two, then five. I can mindfully listen to music that’s playing on my iPod and work on grounding myself. I can eat some cold ice cream with some yummy pound cake and treat myself WELL and doing the opposite of what’s in my brain because fuck OCD!! So yes, I can manage this, I can use this moment to self-regulate and deal with it with maybe a couple rant-y tweets online ahaha. I’ll even watch some “Kitchen Nightmares” episodes, that would be nice (I’ve been off Youtube ALL day!!!). So yes, I have plans: they include tweeting some more, coughing a bit (I’m getting over a cold), maybe re-reading some fanfic, tracking what I need to track, reading a book, playing Animal Crossing on my Switch, etc. I’ve got this. And I know now that I can believe in that answer, even with all the emotions that FEEL, only feel, otherwise. I am my own hero. I am my own savior. ❀

Thank you so much for reading. If you have the time, you can leave me your thoughts down below. Or don’t, because after all, at the start of the day and at the end of the night, as always, I am (and you are) enough.

❀ ❀ ❀


Background Music to this post: Shuffled playlist; “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson and “I am Enough” by Cimorelli; “Wolves” by Emma Blackery.

Time length: 6p – 7:15p EST; 8:45p – 9:30p

I’m Tired of The Void

Just made this thumb for this post, 9.2.20

What exactly IS “The Void?”

I’m glad you asked!

(Although, this is The Void we’re talking about so you probably didn’t πŸ˜‰ )

I’ve used this term, “The Void”, much lately, mainly on Twitter but on Youtube and the like, too. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about it or complained somewhere online about it before.

Basically, to me, The Void is:

    • Feeling like you’re talking to blank air
    • Feeling like you’re talking to a brick wall
    • Feeling like you’re talking to the Grand Expanse of the Universe except it never returns your calls and never gives you any ounce of recognition that it’s noticed you
    • It’s feeling alone when no one else around you seems to notice
    • It’s rifling between wanting to advocate for yourself and just bearing your teeth and getting through it
    • It’s trying, and failing, to create some type of online community. Whether the mission is to get ass-pats or constructive criticism, you’re no longer sure. Whether you’re looking for something that the Internet cannot, could not or should not, give you because for whatever reason you keep coming back to it and your real life is nonexistent since you spend so much time searching outside yourself for something only you can give yourself within and in real time.
    • It’s seeing other people manage communities online when you’re just having no attention
    • It’s hating that you need attention, that you WANT attention, you want recognition and you’re tired
    • You’re so, so tired of having to put in the effort, the time, the connection, the experience, the work, the avenues. You’re just tired. Too tired. And it never ends. It never freaking ends.
    • The Void is talking to no one that’s actually there. Feeling lost and confused and wanting to deactivate accounts just so SOMEBODY will say something, anything.
    • The Void is creating and creating and creating but for WHAT purpose? If no one sees it, no one acknowledges its existence, does it even really matter?
    • The Void is quiet. Very, very quiet.
    • And yet The Void remembers. One day, whatever you posted online will come back to haunt you, so make sure it’s something good and okay.
    • The Void sucks ass.

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I hate The Void with a passion. I’m tired of working for it. I’m tired of putting in some effort, to become drained, to become busy, to become consumed with SOMETHING else and then hitting another bump in the road only for my car to spin out and no one to come to my side again. I hate making things for no one to watch. For no one to see. No one to notice. I don’t know when it became about other people, and I hate it, but it did. I get so few interaction and even when I DO, because sometimes I DO, it never measures up. It’s never enough. It’s timed, it has its own expiration date, and it comes too soon, too close, only to be snatched away again.

I don’t know what I’m searching for. Searching outside myself for. But I’m not getting it. I’m not getting it and it’s not lasting and it leaves me (leads me?) back into The Void again and I’m so tired of it.

Why share the story if no one is going to read it?

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I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. The Void sucks up my creativity and I’ve returned to another week devoid of writing vibes. I can’t write fanfic right now and while I have been doing my weekly poetry, I’m terribly behind in posts. Maybe I need to re-evaluate. Maybe I need to be more honest with myself. Because I think I want popularity, I think I want what I can’t necessarily have, not something that’s going to come easily. Something that’s going to take a lot out of me and even then, it may not be enough.

So I’m tired. I’m tired and I’ve tried. And yet here I am, talking to The Void again.

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But maybe it’s okay.

Because I know The Void won’t answer back. One of the few good things about The Void is that no one is gonna leave you hate comments or trolling comments because they don’t even know you exist in the first place!

Sigh.

Welp, that’s it. That’s the post.

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In the end, to me, The Void is people seeing, observing, noticing, and never saying anything. Maybe I’m craving interaction more now than ever before but I’m not getting it. And it’s frustrating. It feels like I’ll never receive it again. It feels like it’ll always be this quiet. So, so quiet.

But then, I guess it does start with me. Maybe if I interact more, and do more again and in a timely fashion (hah!) then maybe the interaction, the people will come to me.

…..Maybe only for them to leave again.

Maybe only to hit another lull in followers, in comments, in likes, in re-postings. Maybe once you enter The Void, you don’t come back out the same on the other side. Maybe there is no Void, maybe it’s all just an illusion. People lurk, people see, they don’t always say something. Maybe The Void is there for you to question what you want and then go about changing your perspective to match it. Maybe The Void is there to help.

But it hurts.

It just hurts.

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And maybe what’s painful is a sign that something else needs to change. But just what that is…. I don’t think I’ll ever know. </3

Mood music: “Hold On” by Chord Overstreet; Editing: my spacings are getting all kinds of fucked up. Grrrrr