It’s that Time Again: Where Mental Health Matters… #StompOutStigma

A new thumb for a new year. Stay tuned for more to come!! Made with Canva.

A very short post, this will be.

I actually began this post back on the first day of May 2022, but I had a spell of perfectionism and everlasting procrastination come over me, plus then exhaustion so I held off. Which, is possibly ironic, I suppose.

But yes, this will be a short post to state that for the month of May 2022, I’ll be gravitating to more mental health awareness posts and recovery tales and stories across my platforms (this blog, this Youtube channel, this Instagram account, all the same usernames as here).

I’ll be doing things across platforms like:

  1. Tags (mental health advocate tag (my own creation from last year that I never debuted, oops); mental health tag)
  2. Song A Day’s (check out my Archives if you’re curious as to what these are) (Mental health editions)
  3. Life updates
  4. ART creations: Insta for some photography and drawings (some new photos I’ve taken in particular that I can do a cool before and after for the state of my alumni college), videos discussing/reacting to my own artwork I made during my early mental health recovery journey, art time lapse vids just for funsies, the usual hauls for vids too, advocacy based vids, shout-out vids, any adult coloring pages, identity and hobbies, updating fan fiction stories, etc.
  5. Books content
  6. Films content
  7. Journaling-like posts on here
  8. Recovery burnout (vid)
  9. Shout-outs (Insta, blog, besides the vids ones)
  10. Shorter vids and posts on here.
  11. Things that I struggle most with today (perfectionism in particular)
  12. Advocacy stuff—and promoting my personal and team page for the NAMI Walk 2022 this year. Please donate if you can!!

And probably more things that I can’t think of right now!!!!

All in all, much of this will lead up to the NAMI Walk but it will also continue afterwards as well (the Walk is May 21st). So, help me raise some money or share my posts or promote my videos and if there’s something that YOU are creating that you want some feedback on, let me know that too!!! I’d love to help support and network and work together on this larger mission of bringing mental health conditions and their recoveries to the forefront of the conversation.

Thank you so much if you read this far! I know it’s a little late but I’m trying. Also I could do some cool shout-outs for Insta posts that have been helping my mental health and recovery journey if that’s something that would be interesting for everyone across platforms!! I’ll also go live on my Youtube channel at least twice this month–posssssibly tomorrow, 5/5/22 but I’m not sure just yet. Regardless, have a happy and safe mental health awareness month and if you know of any tags being utilized for this year’s campaign, leave them down below!!! See you all again soon.

xxx

— Raquel

Soon to Come… (Apr. 2022)

What’s in store coming this month on RecoverytoWellness??

Journaling THUMB

Let’s seeeeeeee….

  1. “Slow” Book Exploration Station (A BIG UN REVIEW POST)
  2. “Thor” MCU Film Review
  3. Ersatz daily word prompt from Apr. 6th that I really, really want to do but haven’t fully yet (and it would have been today’s post but alas, time…. SO this weekend instead wheeee)
  4. Two or three other word prompts
  5. A life update
  6. Posts about my fanfic/current projects/Youtube videos etc
  7. A post about the NAMI Walk this year (virtual and in person mix)
  8. Gearing up for a mental health awareness motivation month (May) posts
  9. Some fun tags from over the years
  10. Maybe another book review or two
  11. Something else-anything else that pops into my mind and that I can make a blog post out of buahahhaa

Annnnnd that’s all I got. SIMPLE POST BECAUSE FUCK PERFECTIONISM.

That is all.

Go check out my Youtube channel where I’ve been posting extraordinarily soooo. Also let’s hope and dream and plan for more book content in the future.

sending light and love.

๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ

PS Spring photography ideas? New photo concepts, ideas and whatchamacallit’s? Yesss. Probs vids to come in the future regarding this too!!

Follow my Insta for more posts (same username)

XX

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


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Almost Everything” (2018) by Anne Lamott

Notes on Hope; ((nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

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


THEMES:

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


SUMMARY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


BOOK LENGTH:

189 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

2/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or is it more abnormal not to?

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

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

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

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

A hard truth, yet necessary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ย 

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

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

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

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

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

ย 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

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

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

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

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

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

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

book-prints-thumb-2.19.21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

Other works by the author:

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

Book reference:

  1. The Magnificent Defeat

Quote reference and following book it arises from:

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


Next up….

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

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

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


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I READ THIS BOOK:

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

TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

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

You Don’t Have Lived Experience Being a Serial Killer–So You Shouldn’t Write About One | Creativity Discussion

I’m feeling pretty agitated. Focused. Annoyed. Distraught. Forgiveless. Oh, I mean, of course: unforgiving. I just single-handedly obliterated my own therapy session from some BS online and so I’m just feeling at a loss. But I have a platform, like Agatha does as well, and I’m going to use that platform now because this comment has been bothering me for months (and it’s SUCH a good comeback, I think) that I’ll never get to properly utilize and all that jazz. So, I’m angry and I want to talk about this key point:

“If you haven’t lived through X, you cannot write creatively about it.”

So, Agatha isn’t their real name of course. And who they are will remain anonymous because it’s not even about them necessarily. I can have my own thoughts and some things don’t need to populate as they already do on the Internet.

Here’s what’s relevant:

Empathy exists but at the same time does not. At all.

And this notion that unless you’ve BEEN THROUGH something (let’s say, mental health struggles (as broad of a term as that is): substance use disorders, personality disorders, psychosis, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidality, homicidality, on and on–) you CANNOT or worse, SHOULD NOT (NEVER EVER) write about it because… well, I don’t know why you can’t.

But this really has been bothering me. Essentially we’re saying:

“You can’t write fictitiously about a serial killer unless you’ve BEEN a serial killer.”

“You can’t write about time travelers because TRUE time travelers would be offended and irked that you wrote about them so incorrectly.”

“You can’t write about completed suicides because you’ve NEVER BEEN a completed suicider (because how could you if you’re writing about it?)”

“You don’t KNOW because you haven’t LIVED through it!”

Do we see–can we ALL agree–that this notion, this concept, makes very, very little sense?

Can I not write about vampires and unicorns (hopefully separately, nudge nudge) because genuine vampires and unicorns may not agree with the way I convey them? Is this so inherently wrong–that writing about something you have not lived through, you don’t have actual experience in, things you could never (mermaids, fantasy, dragons, queens, kings, war, magic, creatures) and things you just haven’t (sickness, cancer, suicide, homicide, being an actual detective, being a medical doctor, historical fiction, being a prisoner of war, being a veteran, living through depression, and on and on) that that somehow means you could NEVER, SHOULD NEVER write about it?

That not educating yourself on the topic, to researching it, to finding that you could convey something so HUMAN, so natural, so beautiful and meaningful and hell, maybe even some form of relatable, is something you should not do, never do, because… because… because some people, and there will clearly be people, who can’t relate or don’t feel reflected in the categorization of your characters and your plot and your ideas?

That because one person, or five hundred, can’t relate and don’t feel adequately seen or heard, you should, as the writer, just never try to write about things that you may have never or just have not experienced firsthand?

What happened to empathy? What HAS happened to empathy? And why is that not enough?

ย 

I just don’t understand. I mean, yes, I understand that not everyone will feel represented so fully and wholly and completely based on just one person’s experiences. That’s true. That’s valid. I just… I can’t believe that because my experiences are my own (and not of those I write about) and no one will ever fully know what my experiences are (they are mine for a reason), that that is somehow an indication or warning sign that everyone else out in the world with imagination, empathy, understanding, willingness to be educated and bring forth more creativity and knowledge than I could even see in my situation because it is mine and I’m blinded to it–to even think of proposing to them “No, you can’t write about THIS because you have no experience with it.” Or, “because you haven’t experienced like THIS you can’t write about it. Because you’re THAT not THIS.” As if it were ever truly your choice.

ย 

No one on this earth will exactly experience the same event in the same exact way. That’s what makes us human. Our perception is everything but not everything. It shapes us and how we see things–and how WE CHOOSE to react back to it, that’s up to us. And some people are more aware of this than others. And some people will never get it. It’s true. But for those who are curious, who are willing, who are feeling–maybe we should do less judging of them and how they go about their research and their feelings to not cut them out from a full experience of life and the lives they can write about so flawlessly, so believably that we don’t have to question it, whether it’s true or not, whether it’s been lived through or not, maybe we can let those writers feel and experience and engage with the world in a form of art that other people, that maybe some people may not feel heard or seen, but others, maybe they will.

ย 

I think it’s naive and silly (and silly doesn’t have to be bad, inherently) to police what people can and cannot create and for not having lived it to be a huge indication of what can or cannot be written about. Will it reflect everyone’s experiences? No. There will be differences. Maybe accepting those flaws, those inherent cracks, those demented dimensions, maybe the fact that some people, maybe even a lot of people if you’re lucky, will understand, and will feel seen and heard and uplifted, maybe it’s for those and mainly only those that we write for. Because we have stories to tell. And stories to heal. And stories to begin.

Maybe that’s what it’s all for.

ย 

What are your thoughts? Where do you fall on this line? What determines something to have art and value and purpose? Or is it all just a waste of time to twiddle our thumbs and feel absurd connections to others that exist until we all become dust again and the world is obliterated into oblivion? Or is there something here? Something worth exploring? No matter how much time we have left?

ย 

As for Agatha: Please don’t make puppet accounts to come after me. Your identity is safe with me. And if we can agree to go our separate ways and do our separate things, that will be all I ask for. I hope you feel better one day. I hope that Life gives you more than it has.

ย 

As always, be safe, my friends. And be kind. And wonder and ponder and question. Question it all. Because maybe we’re bound to find some very interesting answers….

ย 

Until next time. xxx

๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›

PS Do you like that I made this thumb on Canva JUST for this post? Ahaha. First time I have in months. Next posts will be book reviews, once I can finally get them done!! XX

“The Incredible Hulk” (2008) Film Review | MCU Review #2 (Apr. & Nov. 2021)


ย 

MCU Timeline By:

Chronological order of Release Date


Chosen Film/Year:

“The Incredible Hulk” (2008)


Movie Rating:

PG-13


Movie Length:

1 hour and 52 minutes


End Credit Scene:

One.


Directors/Screenplay Writers:

Louis Leterrier

Zak Penn


Genre:

Action, science fiction, adventure, superhero, thriller


Trigger Warnings:

Violence, drug use, sexual content, language, PTSD, trauma, paranoia, death.


Themes:

Weapons of mass destruction, militarization, superheroes, villains, romance, imprisonment, caged, heart monitors, running, avoidance, power hungry, antidotes, getting rid of unwanted characteristics vs controlling it (in this case, being Hulk), saving the day, anger, love, hate, on the run, escapism, supersoldier, safety/unsafe, flashbacks, scientists, lies, “[Banner’s whole body is considered] government property”, emotional, rescue, gamma poisoning, traveling.


Where I watched it from:

Amazon Prime Video


Plot Summary:

As previously done in my “Iron Man” review, I will not be writing my own version of “The Incredible Hulk’s” plot summary, rather instead listing some other accounts of people who’ve done it far better than I ever could. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ–ค

  1. Link 1 from Roger Ebert
  2. Link 2 from James Berardinelli at ReelViewsย 
  3. Link 3 from Wulff Den on Youtube

**If you happen to write MCU reviews and would like me to shout you out in the future with the corresponding movie, just let me know in a comment or email via by Contact page or my other social media. Thanks for contributing!!


Memorable Quotes or Scenes:

  • When the army leader told Tim Roth’s character about the Hulk and Roth was confused but the guy just said, “It was Banner.” That just really struck me and really stood out to me. I think it highlights the fact that everyone (or almost everyone, at least the big people in charge) were treating Banner and the Hulk and the situation like an object and a weapon of mass destruction rather than seeing and believing in his human side and that he’s not just some menace out to rule the streets. I don’t know, I thought that that was important. (Especially with the contrast we get and see with Roth’s character, hot damn. Banner was just out here living his best life (or trying to) and he wanted few things but the simplest and most basic of those needs just weren’t met. Sad.)
  • This movie overall to me is just very saddening and maddening.
  • The thematic concept of cures vs getting rid of things vs controlling things vs acceptance
  • The “[we] gotta try” sacrifice. Always a classic
  • Concept piece of: “you’re not a monster” or you’re not a murderer
  • “What if I told you we were building a team together?” I forget who said this but dun dun dunnnnn. Foreshadowing haha
  • I suppose it is a good thing to also wonder what the aftermath was like for Banner after he ran away at the end of this movie and the strain of the relationship he has with authority and how that is brought back into play in later films (Looking at you, Civil War–even though, yeah, Hulk wasn’t in that but if he had been, what side would he have been on?)

Emotional Intensity:

Anger, very well done but super heartbreaking, unsatisfactory and doesn’t allow me to repeatedly watch the movie over and over again (limited viewership)


Fan Fiction Ideas/Themes to Explore in My Fics:

  1. Insecurity
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Cures vs acceptance (the golden apple vs acceptance)
  4. Sadness
  5. Anger
  6. Not deserving happy things or romance
  7. Paranoia
  8. Distrust
  9. Being controlled or manipulated by others
  10. Power
  11. Struggle
  12. US military
  13. Weapons
  14. “Monsters” (what makes someone a monster? Could definitely overlap well with Loki!)
  15. Worth
  16. Running
  17. Danger
  18. “Home” (what is a home? What makes it a home?)
  19. Safety/lack of safety
  20. Stopping from killing
  21. Romantic interest’s love and understanding
  22. Being suspicious of others’ intentions
  23. PTSD
  24. How the military attacked Hulk rather than approached carefully, diplomatically and delicately
  25. Family life (or lack thereof; not allowing one’s self a family life, goes back into deserving and worth and paranoia)
  26. Strength
  27. Resiliency
  28. Eventual understanding instead of an us vs them
  29. Science
  30. Hope
  31. Death

Estimated Timeline of When I First Watched this Movie:

Phhhhewww, what a GOOD question. I mean, besides this rewatch for the review… definitely a few years ago. Probably after I watched the Avengers. I think it bothered me just as much then as it did this year hahaha. This isn’t a super memorable film for me and not something I’d watch over and over but I know at some point I did watch it, maybe just on regular TV or eventually a DVD. Probs took it out at least once from the library itself (which I’ll be doing again soon with my partner, yay (as such it’s a big push and pull to get this review finally published while it’s still 2021 hah)).


Subtle or Overt Preparation for Future (or past) Films:

Definitely the introduction to the Avengers and putting together a team. That’s for sure. I think also that contemplation of which side Banner would have been on if he had been in Civil War is a good question and potential wonderful fan fiction idea someone should write about (if they haven’t already). Of course this film drew on the first film’s full on original backstory of Banner but like that one I can’t stand to rewatch it too much. It’s a good movie, this one, it’s just so frustrating. And really sad because I love this science bro and that’s tough to see him struggle so much. But I do think I have a lot more ground in store for my own Loki centered Avengers fanfics based on having rewatched this movie (regardless of all the avoidance, stress, procrastination and more that went on in the months after I fully sat down to watch it. Let’s just hope Thor doesn’t take quite as long.) I also liked that concept of being “a monster” because that’s heavily in play with characters upcoming like Loki. Also it’s great to see more of the mental health representation in these MCU movies too. So, yeah! Good job!! Thanks for reading ahaha


Recommendation Score:

6/10


Upcoming Movie:

….”Iron Man 2″ (May 2010)….


Technical information regarding this post:

This post began with the showing of the film April 5th 2021 at 
4pm with some notes in progress, Apr. 5th for outline of review
online and then working on the review itself Apr. 6th around 7p.
Worked on again Apr. 7th at 12:30p - 1:30p.
Worked on again Apr. 29th at 9p, 10p.
Worked on last: April 30th 2021.
Revised, edited, completed, finished now on Nov. 17th 2021.
Can't believe it's been that long. Le sigh.


Thank youuuuu!!!

Thank you so much for sticking by me and reading!! If you got this far, leave a green heart emoticon down in the comments! ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š I’m sooooo sorry this review took as long as it did. Ooof. Also I apologize for my most random of disappearances. Not just on here, but also on Twitter. New job, my partner, Fai (who my last post was about), friends, trainings for a new job and reading some books or not reading books and then reading books and now being stuck trying to publish some backlogged posts (like for books) as well as with this series and then actually finally finish watching Thor so I can get even FURTHER along in the MCU… plus the countless hours of procrastination, avoidance, anxiety, stress and poor time management. Yeah, it all led to here. How exhausting. But, we’re here now and that’s what counts. More to come very soon. See you all then!! XXX

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.

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


CHOSEN BOOK:

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

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


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

None.


THEMES:

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


SUMMARY:

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

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

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

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


BOOK LENGTH:

162 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

3/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

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

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

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

END OF CHAPTER PROMPTS/EXERCISES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

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

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

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

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

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

Other final thoughts regarding this book involve:

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

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

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


My next books to read are….

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

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


TRACKING DATES AND HOURS OF TIME I READ THIS BOOK:

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

TRACKING DATES AND HOURS OF TIME I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

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

Questioning: When Are Support Groups Helpful vs Harmful?

Let me just say this right from the get go:

I don’t have the answer to this question yet. I’m still trying to figure it out and it’s going kind of rough. A few of the pros and cons I have done over the course of time have been inconclusive: running into the problem of how to quantify and numerically decode when my cons are as long as my pros and whether I should be identifying percentages towards either of them. It’s…. complicated. So, I don’t know the answer yet myself. It’s tricky and difficult.

Secondly, here are some of my boundaries (as I’m finding and being taught that they will have to be more consistent in me reiterating them each and every time I can):

  1. I am not a crisis service, mental health professional or expert in mental health. I like to say I’m an “expert only in my own lived experiences” but I don’t have any licenses or degrees besides a BS in psychology. (I do have some trainings though but nothing like a master’s or PhD.) Basically, I’m not an appropriate person or place for others to reveal crisis information or to get direct professional help from. Of course, if you feel that you’re a danger to yourself and it’s between telling me or no one, I’d rather you tell me, because I will not keep safety information private and will instead link you towards local or national resources or call emergency services etc. So, if you come to me for help, I can get you to the appropriate resources, and you can get help in an indirect way, but either way I’ll point you to where you need to go and practice my own self-care to maintain my own health, wellness and stability.
  2. What can I offer? I can offer peer support in the sense of being non-judgmental, pro-recovery, positivity, hope, what’s helped me and worked for me, providing inspiration (I hope!), the skills or treatments that were most life-changing for me, “I” statements (sometimes I use “we” as well though, I try to limit the “you” statements as much as I can) and empathy, kindness, validation, healthy coping strategies, problem-solving and compassion. Again, if it’s an issue regarding safety, I will do everything in my power to get you the resources and help you need and deserve, and will NOT keep matters regarding safety confidential. I, of course, would prefer to not be in that situation, but if it happens, I know where I can go for help to help you, if that makes sense.
  3. Please do not discuss specific methods of suicidality or self-harm with me. In regards to eating disorders (EDs), please do not discuss specific numerical measurements like weights, calories, and unhealthy behaviors (like tools used for purging or things to that effect). For self-harm you can specify the type of self-harm, for instance I’ll say things like scratching or skin picking, but don’t go into what you use to hurt yourself, how to hurt one’s self, etc. That’s just unhelpful information and unnecessary. (As an example: If you want to say you were thinking about “standing on a ledge” that’s enough general information for me to picture what you mean. If you were to say “heights” that’s a little more specific and not helpful. And if you were to say “this specific building on 34th street at this time etc.” that’s WAY too specific and a more appropriate conversation with a crisis line, a mental health professional, etc. The less specific you can be the better. Think of the too specifics being unhealthy or inappropriate people and places for that information. Essentially, you’ll have to be a little more creative to abide by this boundary of mine.) I also as of July 2021 don’t wish for my space on the Internet to be a how to guide for hurting one’s self, because the Internet is already so much a place of that. This is to keep myself safe, keep you safe and keep others safe as well. So, please respect this as best as you can. If you mess up here and there, that’s okay, but continued misuse will result in me speaking to you directly or blocking you if need be or moderating comments, etc. Whatever is in my power, I will pursue. Thank youuuu for your cooperation!!
  4. I am unavailable for support/guidance between the hours of 10p EST and 9am EST. I am also unavailable the days that I work at Amaryllis which is currently Sat and Sun mornings.
  5. If you happen to have known me before 2018 or in 2018, I would rather you didn’t compare how “bad” things were for me in my life then COMPARED to how well things are for me now. The reasoning for this is because when people compare how “bad” things were for me, I know it’s supposed to make me feel proud of how far I’ve come, however, it has the opposite effect. Instead, my brain makes me think that it was “oh so great” back then and wants me to go back to those very dark times. So, it’s unhelpful. Thanks!!
  6. As for confidentiality, unless broken in the case of safety concerns, I won’t repeat back specific information regarding your identity or who you are with others. If anything, I’d make a pseudonym for you and discuss matters of our conversation, not verbatim, with people like my partner, my Mom, my therapist/psychiatrist, or change certain details of who you are and focus more on how I’m handling or struggling with the information you’ve shared with me. For instance, if I felt dysregulated, I’d discuss what led to that dysregulation but keep my focus on how I can problem solve it and work through it going forwards.
  7. As for what you can share about me with others, I’m okay with a changed name (pseudonym/pronouns) or keeping my name (Raquel) the same. Of course, please don’t doxx me but if you want to share my age, my first name, my experiences, etc. then that’s totally fine by me. I do use she/her pronouns just in case anyone was wondering that! Thanks!! ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ˜˜


Honestly, I think that’s about all I’ve got!

Which is definitely, definitely plenty it feels ahaha. For those wondering after all of that, regarding this post:

Trigger Warning: Discussion of self-harm, past suicidal ideation, BPD, depression and OCD.

So, what DID I want to talk about in this piece?

Honestly it’s been SUCH a long time since I’ve blogged. Like, far, far too long. And I wasn’t even necessarily going to do this post but it was definitely gnawing at me and I realized I had enough to say and think and do with this information (I’m between journals at the moment, my routine is severely off lately) than to just keep it to myself with no one else to know about it for weeks.

So, here I am!

Let’s regroup for a moment, shall we?

The question I have for creating this post:

When are Support Groups Helpful vs Harmful?

So let’s talk about some context first.

I started going to an OCD support group for the first time ever in fall 2015 when I spent 5 weeks at the OCD-Institute at Belmont MA. It was not a locked unit and it was actually pretty enjoyable for a treatment type of thing. I live, if you don’t know, with OCD on self-harm and suicide obsessions (not genuine intent; though I do also live with depression, BPD, trichotillomania (hair pulling), dermatillomania (skin picking) and essentially intrusive thoughts of hurting myself and genuine thoughts of hurting myself, though I’m much, much better as of now in 2021!!!). I was diagnosed with OCD by my university’s Counseling Center in fall 2014 for further context. I also had an OCD specialized therapist from about spring 2015 – winter 2016.

I’ve had lots of different treatments over the years since 2014: ERP, CBT, DBT, medications, individual therapy, hospitalizations, OCD-I, ECT, group therapy, short term and long term day programs, family therapy etc.

I’ve also been a prominent mental health advocate since spring 2016 to now, both online and offline. Advocacy is the central part of me and who I am, I think, though I’ve become more recovery based over the last three years, I’d say. To me, advocacy is sharing my story with lived experiences in the field of mental health conditions and sharing what’s helped me most and how I handle myself and my situations. For me, it’s overcoming adversity and getting a leg up over the bullshit my brain comes up with on a daily basis. I am VERY open about my struggles, or at least in the past I certainly was, probably a little too much let’s be honest but yeah, I am open and I talk about them and nowadays I like to focus more on what I can DO about them but overall talking and sharing my story has been an integral part of finding meaning and purpose in my life. (If you’ve been with me since the beginning or if you ever plow through some of my Archived posts, you’ll also see I was an advocate while at university as well, sharing my recovery and my journey through it via newspaper articles, something I’m finding in the last year with this pandemic that I miss and wish I could get back into in some way, even if it’s differently.)

I’ve only ever been to OCD support groups over the course of my treatment. I’ve never been to a DBSA group or a NAMI based group either (NAMI being the National Alliance on Mental Illness where I do my advocacy work from).

I started going pretty regularly to the Belmont support group while I was at the OCD-I until about fall of 2017, if I had to guess.

In 2018 I don’t think I really went at all, maybe once or twice over the course of the year?

2019, I think I went a couple of times. I was at my long term day program Passages which was giving me PLENTY of mental health topics and surroundings that I didn’t need something like a support group to go to (same as well for the blogosphere.)

2020, the pandemic hit and by June I was definitely starting to return to more of them. Naturally, all the support groups went virtual on Zoom and I started to attend ones like Cambridge and eventually Worcester alongside the Belmont here and there.

Now is when we get to the meat of this post (or, with the gif added above, the slicing of the cake portion of things). I’ve been going to support groups decently regularly over the last year and I’m no closer to answering this big, big question I’ve surrounded this blog post about. Which is super frustrating–and exactly the emotion I feel when I’m at a support group.

It’s so frustrating.

I honestly don’t know what I live with mental health conditions-wise anymore. I mean, for YEARS, I’ve blamed it on OCD but the more I’m at these support groups, the more I realize what I’m “defining” as OCD may NOT be that at all. And then of course, though, me trying to figure out if it IS OCD, is OCD itself. Trying to find that certainty and conclusion and all.

Personally, I definitely view knowledge as power. And I know that the purpose of diagnostics is to guide treatment and for insurance purposes. So it frustrates me to no end that I can’t pinpoint or understand if what I am feeling and dealing with is even this big bad OCD monster I’ve always said it is but may not actually be all along. Then of course, WHAT AM I dealing with if it’s NOT OCD? Oooof.

To me, I blame these things on OCD, what I’ve identified as OCD and what’s consistent up until today:

And if you don’t know anything about OCD and have somehow found this post, OCD obsessions are the persistent and intrusive thoughts regarding whatever topic that gives the survivor distress. It questions and is often called the doubting disease because it makes a person wonder and question if they’re truly wanting to act on a thought or that they might lose control just by having the thought even if they do not want to act on it, etc. So, there’s all sorts of OCD topics out there, as long as it gives the survivor distress, it will cling to it tightly. For instance, moral questioning like if you’re a good person; harm OCD if you have thoughts of hurting others or yourself; contamination; having to count or check things (mentally or physically); did I just run over someone while I was driving? etc.

Compulsions are the behavioral or mental things a survivor does to cancel out, however momentary and temporary the relief is, the distress or anxiety that they are feeling. So, if it was a contamination thing, maybe one compulsion could be hand washing; or if it was a car thing, going back to check to see if there was any evidence for having run someone or something over; or for harm OCD to others, checking that all the eating utensils are still there or checking memories for any indication you’d want that person harmed etc.

Here’s what I’ve always blamed OCD on that might not even BE OCD but that I can’t find is anything else either (and the act of trying to figure it out is OCD in disguise, as it were, so I’m kinda fucked lmao ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ถ) ((I’ll start with the classics from years ago and go more into later years/current struggles))

  • Intrusive comments/loop tapes; for me in the beginning it was hearing my brain say “Kill Yourself” or “You should just kill yourself” on repeat for hours at a time.
  • More currently, and I haven’t had a new phrase in over 4+ years, but now it’s “Just do it” in terms of acting on an intrusive image of harm, so, gee, thanks OCD! Ugh. ((I will say it’s a little alarming that in the last month the OCD has come up with and attached itself to a brand new phrase, and so maybe that is some of the anxiety? I don’t know.))
  • Memory checking for any intention to act on the thoughts (way back in the beginning).
  • Now it’s more of the thought action fusion involved so like when I have an intrusive image of harm it’s increasingly more difficult, whenever I am struggling (which isn’t as often, let’s be clear) for me to separate the fact that what is happening inside my HEAD is NOT happening truly in reality. It’s probably as close to hallucinating as I can get. It’s just so hard to center myself and remember that it’s not actually happening
  • Also, trauma memories. I’ve only experienced trauma at the hands of my mental health conditions and what feels like a crisis where there’s a lot of trauma memories in truth is really just OCD and intrusive images of things that I’ve NEVER truly acted on. Trauma memories definitely come up the most often in support groups I find. I went to one last night and there was talk of police officers and all my encounters with them in the past was something I got sidetracked by
  • Avoidance: and this is a behavioral pattern I am STILL struggling with today and have for years and years. In terms of OCD I’ll avoid things like certain places with ledges or certain drives home etc. I’ll avoid my feelings most often by over-distracting with content etc. I’ll avoid, potentially, with support groups. I’m rarely ever in the actual moment, I’m usually doing other things like playing with thinking putty or having music going etc. I honestly don’t know the difference between when is it avoiding and when is it self-soothing. Because when I’m spoken about self-soothing in therapy, my therapist thinks it’s actually avoidance. So, I have no idea on this tactic that’s for sure
  • I don’t, this isn’t really OCD but it kind of is, like to admit when I’m anxious. Anxiety is just an emotion for me that I HATE to admit when I am, so instead of noticing my bodily cues, I just plow forwards until I’m behaviorally acting on the anxiety so like hair pulling or skin picking. It’s something I really have to continue working on. Gwah For skin picking itself it’s definitely an inconsistency feeling on the skin that gets me to start going at it. Bleh
  • Reassurance seeking: A BIG one, from the beginning to now, I’ll wonder if these ‘thought commands’ (Just do it) is really OCD or if it’s something else like psychosis and then I’m researching it and uncovering, AHA it’s OCD in disguise!! So yeah, even reassurance seeking with validation from others and such. Ooof.
  • Rumination: fixating on the OCD, talking about the OCD, thinking about the OCD etc. Wanting to think of old memories, old habits, old behaviors, old stuff. Spending hours and hours doing so (luckily I stop this a lot better now over the last 3 years)
  • Glorification of harm and death. This is the biggest one. My brain likes to be like “Oh hey, you know this [suicide] plan? That would be awessssssome. We should totally go do that. It’ll be so relieving and so much fun. It’ll be great. Let’s go do that.” etc. It’s like this “oh so magical and sparkly thing will be so great and wonderful, you’re missing out on experiencing it by not doing it, etc.” It’s also like this “it would be so ironic/poetic/symbolic thing” or “it’s your destiny to die this way”.
  • Alongside this is the glorification of near death experiences in particular. There’s something so tantalizing to me about a near death experience. Or actual death then coming back to life. And definitely the case if there are NO ill physical effects from it. I remember someone at Passages said there IS a name for this that people with substance use disorders can relate to but I can’t remember or they also couldn’t remember what the word was so I’ve never known
  • Fixation continued: thinking of the OCD and harm, taking up more and more of my time etc. Again, hasn’t happened in ages luckily. If it came out in artwork that was also a compulsion too. I think I’m better at this but honestly I’m not sure.
  • Little things that might become problems: rereading a book, is this OCD or is this me genuinely not paying attention while I read? etc. And the stubbornness that arises when I refuse to let my brain win over me not reading a book etc (I love books so much). Doing certain things in matters of three, so like three heart emoticons etc. Keeping things like price tags for a bit or lots of hand sanitizers, is it hoarding? Eh. Maybe not.
  • Distress: I really can only relate to the distress that these OCD or “OCD” things cause. If it is anxiety, and I’m sure some of it is, I refuse to acknowledge it. But so many more people have the anxiety as the prime and only emotion involved and I just can’t relate.

So, I mean, I hope that all makes sense.

The big thing I’m uncovering in these OCD Support groups I have been returning to is they are immensely triggering for me. And I wonder, is this a trigger that’s healthy (like an ERP opportunity) or is it risking my stability unnecessarily? A question to which I STILL cannot begin to answer, aggravatingly enough.

The biggest thing I’ve been trying on my own, without an OCD specialized therapist (and with little indication I’ll get one any time soon) is that I’m taking some charge in some ERPs myself, I’ve started a new video series on my Youtube channel called “Trudging Through Trauma” where I’ll use an ERP exposure during the filming process and another in the video editing process. I’d like to talk about some of my trauma experiences and name them and think them over and then do the opposite of them, so with the OCD I’d want to fixate and be consumed by them, when in reality I’ll just go self soothe or do something else for a bit etc. I don’t know, it could be self-exploitative I suppose but yeah, and I obviously wouldn’t go into unnecessary detail but for my own head it’d be there, I just wouldn’t vocalize it officially.

My Mom was also suggesting we do ERPs together too. Having someone be there could be safety ensuring and all. So I have that to mull over.

But overall, why I wanted to make this post is for this reason:

When is it helpful and when is it harmful? When is focusing on it vs distracting from it an exposure or just unhealthy?

Another thing, there’s no professional support or, as far as I know, guidance or trainings involved and that makes me wonder two things:

When is peer support bordering on playing therapist? and

What qualifications, if any, are expected in these group settings?

Now, specifically, I have my friend Gretchen (naturally not their true identity of course ๐Ÿ’œ). I’ve known Gretchen for, well, since the beginning of my support groups history. Gretchen has some … good and kind intentions but none of the boundaries in place to achieve them. Gretchen tends to bite off far more than she can chew.

And I never really mention in support groups my history with mental health advocacy (something I’ve decided to change actually going forwards, if for however long I may still attend them) but something that really bothered me in yesterday’s support group was this ongoing pressure or resistance to talking openly about the struggles with OCD with non-OCD individuals.

Personally, this just rubbed me in all the wrong ways. Like, is it supposed to be shameful? Should we really be encouraging the beginning types of co-dependency? Should it really be US vs THEM?

Also, what do we do about the pissing contests of whose experiences are worse? And what about how draining and depressing they can be on top of that? It just makes me wonder–at what point is ‘teaching’ skills or ‘experimenting with ideas’ playing therapist and overstepping what peer support is about? Should there be someone, a professional, around to navigate the waters of these groups better? Because it makes me wonder for sure….

Also sometimes they end on such depressing or retraumatizing states that it’s bewildering.

The other thing I struggle with is the line between reigniting my old behavioral pathways (getting attention for unhealthy purposes; i.e. holding a crisis session) and focusing on who I am today and getting help in the most helpful and healthy way today than/as opposed to how I once received it. Which means I’m really just a lot more guarded now and less likely to open up and be honest upfront. It’s very confusing.

(My apologies for how direct of an attack there is on Gretchen down below; she really does mean well. She has the best intentions in mind. Her boundaries and adhering to them is just troublesome.)

Overall, there’s just some things that Gretchen has done or said that makes me feel super uncomfortable, mainly breaking my boundaries, not intentionally but pretty often as is. I wonder if it’s possible to get a professional to sit in on a support group or two and see what their assessment is of the matter. Maybe that’s something worth exploring. I feel like Gretchen needs to (as horrible as this phrasing is) get her shit together to figure out what she can reasonably offer and when she’s overstepping. Like, Gretchen, you’re awesome, you’re great, a little less pissing contest would be best though. I get it was to be empathetic and ‘I’ve been there too’ but a minute of that would have sufficed, not fifteen. (And of course I’m going to be bringing this up to Gretchen herself too, because she’s the only person who can change these behaviors or be aware of them and adjust from there. I’m really not mad at her, I guess I just feel frustrated in general with where I sit on support groups and I REALLY want to be done with this blog post, it’s been sooo long)

My partner did suggest that maybe I’ve outgrown support groups as well. Which, could be very valid and true. They asked if there were different groups for OCD support for different stages of recovery, which I’m not sure exists, but is definitely worth looking into.

Well, I’m done complaining and typing and talking now. My wrists hurt, my words are being misspelled and I’m tired. I’ve been at this for almost two hours. That’s… exhausting.

So what do you think? After all this has been said, what do you think? Do my thoughts and experiences sound like maybe I should take a break from the support groups for a while and do some extra soul searching or could they be okay for me to attend and experiment more with in the future?

I’d love to know what you guys think. If you have the time and willingness to offer it to me. ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿค๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜™

Now I just have to go back and reread this post, edit and then upload. Maybe add another gif or two.

Thank you soooo much for reading. I hope something out of all of this was helpful or interesting or captivating if possible. I feel a strange crux between relief and unfinished. But, I’m going to go eat lunch and get ready to visit a phone store today, hopeful that I can get upgraded soon. So yeah. Maybe I’ll actually try to read that book of mine too. I was going to before I decided to do this post ahaha. Any who, more to come soon.

Let me know if you got this far with a cookie emoticon.

Thanks so much. xxx

Stay safe everybody!!!

๐Ÿช๐Ÿช๐Ÿช๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒŠโ˜”

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


CHOSEN BOOK:

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

((graphic novel))

BES 5 -- Apr. - June


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Not applicable.


THEMES:

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


SUMMARY:

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

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

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


BOOK LENGTH:

200 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

4/5

๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿค๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ’Œ


OUTSTANDING QUOTES, IDEAS OR IMAGES:

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

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

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

flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carol is also accidentally misgendered on p. 175.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Ž


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

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

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

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

When You’re Tired and You Start One Project, to Stop and Start Another One.


That is the struggle, right? Being so tired that your attention span is such a fickle creature as you start one thing, stop doing that one thing, start another thing and then work back and forth in that process for a while.

Tis what I’m dealing with right this moment. I thought I could write up a quick little blog post while my brain is sliding back and forth on the floorboards as partially a life update (I really only chose this thumb because I didn’t feel up to finding the Journaling one which is really the one I wanted, I’m far too tired for that level of jumping through hoops, and it may be reflecting even in and of itself in this post as well, bleh) and something else that I just forgot.

Regardless, I found myself stuck in the position where I’m just trying to make the hours go by faster so I can eventually just arguably justifiably crawl into bed and under the covers and just hit snooze until about 9a tomorrow morning. I’d like that that. Mmm, sleep.

I also find myself stuck where I’d love to do some creative writing for fan fiction but I’m too far behind in rereading fanfics to appropriately and properly give them the time and the voice and the re-immersion factor into actually working on them respectfully and fully.

I don’t think that makes any sense…. What I’m trying to say is that I started another project only to realize it could fit well into my D&D fanfic (I had the image in my mind that it was Loki and Tony Stark talking after all–speaking of, this evening was the first time I really explored my Twitter timeline *I’ve been avoiding it because Loki series spoilers* and while it was pretty great, it DID have some spoiler-rich content so I’ll be back to avoiding altogether again soon, but what I did encounter gave me some writing vibes) so I wrote in a blank document a scene and it’s essentially a future unknown chapter number for my D&D fic and so it’s the first real time I’ve written a chapter out of order. It’s still pretty rough around the edges but I’m happy with it.

I’m also tired.

I’m also listening to music–loudly, by the way, but music helps to wake me up. Or sleep, sometimes. Sometimes sleep.

Oooo, a nice new song has come on. Yay.

God, I’m so tired.

But I did some networking online today. I had a long day at work, physically exhausting. But it’s over now, hooray. And I decently edited a video, not finished, but I started it so that counts. And then I did some creative writing. And now I’m blogging.

I have been blogging behind the scenes too, I’d like to mention. I’ve been working on a graphic novel book review/book exploration station thingy. I worked on that Fri and well, Fri. Maybe Th too. But I haven’t further.

Actually, I wanted to talk about that–my library has opened up so now you can browse AND sit inside for a bit, no time limit and you just have to wear your mask. So, yay. I’m planning to stop by tomorrow. Ideally, I’ll finish my review and then the book will be checked in at that time and I’ll pay off the last dues and then no longer be blocked, hooray! I have a nonfic book I’m working on now. I did a little reading yesterday evening even.

But yeah, I’ am sooooo so exhausted.

I think it’s time for sleep.

I’m going to go to sleep.

Goo night.

I’d fix the typos but, eh, too sleepy.

I’ll see you guys more later this week.

Bye. xx

PS I took off on a break from Youtube last week so I’m gonna be cranking out some videos this week. All right I’m losing to my falling eyelids. See ya.

PPS We should be soon celebrating hitting 16,000 views. Amongst other things to celebrate belatedly. Also also also, I think I’m in love and that’s special. I can’t wait to work on more art projects soon. Okay sleep now. Yes. Seep.