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

Another BES, but different this time!

CHOSEN BOOK:

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

((nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

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


THEMES:

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


SUMMARY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


BOOK LENGTH:

262 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

5/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

An example of the smallest acts being mindfulness:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A relating quote to mark off the previous:

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

Β 

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

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

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

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


NOTEWORTHY IMAGES:

This part will be broken up into visual segments….

Segment A: Beautiful photographs of inspiration and creativity

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Segment B: Prompt Photos

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

TOP DOWN: 10 Mission Statement/eulogy worthy

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

5 I COULD CARE MORE:

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

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

1 I COULD CARE LESS:

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

Basic prompt for this image:

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

I completed this image in Jan. 2022

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

Section C: Final Images to Consider


THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

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

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM POINTS:

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

Β 

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

Β 

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

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

Β 

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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


book-prints-thumb-2.19.21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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


ALL THE THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

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

Next up…..

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

“Getting Away” by Jon Staff (nonfic)

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

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

Thank you again, endlessly. Until next time….

xxx Raquel πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ€


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES OF DAY I READ THIS BOOK:

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

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

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

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

“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!).

Β 

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

Or is it more abnormal not to?

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

Β 

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

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

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

A hard truth, yet necessary:

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

Β 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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! πŸ’šπŸ’™πŸ’›β€
  • p. 41’s ending reminded me and made me think of Loki in my D&D fanfic. It made me think of adolescence and Loki and his family in that setting, a sense of belonging through new friends and how that will eventually grow and revitalize him and such. πŸ˜ŠπŸ™‚ At least, I think that’s what I liked about it hahaha It’s been a while again (12/11)
  • (of shoving food into your maw) “Maybe you do [have to shove it all down]. Sometimes one just does and there is nothing wrong with this” — Lamott, 2018, p. 44

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

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

    • I LOVE how this was said. It’s just so fruitful and amazing, I find. That, while life is so hard, it’s also so, so beautiful and gives back.
  • So there’s this interesting concept that got the gears turning in my head during this book: This notion that as the Reader reading the work of a Writer, you get taken out of your element either because you can relate or because you can’t and it reminded me of this realization I had in my early twenties (when I was far more creative than I am these days), where I realized that some of the life experiences I gave to my characters, particularly if they were set earlier than my chronological age, were experiences I had “missed” out on living but that I could live through them instead. I don’t know if that makes sense but like I remember I was sitting in the old science building of my university working on my laptop and maybe taking photos and I was just like “Damn, when I write about Susie in a mosh pit, I’ve never done that myself but I can live it viscerally through her” or just generally realizing that maybe the Craft doesn’t always reflect the Experience (like my recent creativity discussion post). It was just like a sudden dawning epiphany that I could write about Susie in a mosh pit all I wanted to but because she did that at nineteen, and I never had at twenty-one, I was never going to be able to go back to experience that or have that as a part of my own life. Like, I guess, it was just this notion that one day I will cease to exist but all these characters and things I’ve done will (hopefully) live on. Like, even if I was one person via body, I was made up of many more in soul because I was creative. Does that make sense? I could probs do a whole post on that separately if anyone is interested. Maybe I’ll start a Creativity Discussion series for this blog…. I don’t know, that was just something on my own mind. I just remember it as a sudden epiphany and existential awareness that was pretty wild at the time. It’s interesting to have a creative mind!! I think that creativity and the characters and plots and scenarios (our imagination, shortly put) we create in our minds is such an incredible talent and to craft that into something so believable that other people buy (physically and metaphorically) it is just such a wondrous thing. It’s wild if you think about it too long. But it’s cool. Art is nice, isn’t it? What do you get out of your craft? What keeps you going when maybe the audience for you is mute? I’d love to know and learn your perspective!!! I definitely will toy with this ‘creativity discussion’ thing too. I think that has some great potential….
  • Β 
  • (I can’t tell if I highlighted this enough so here’s another short verbiage on it: It was that strange notion that my characters would get to experience things that I no longer could because of time passing and experiences and life happening that happens for them differently than it did for me. But that even if I couldn’t have experienced it myself based on how time fell for me, didn’t mean they couldn’t or I couldn’t live vicariously through them. It was that daunting realization that even if my characters were false, they felt very real to me. And they had their own hopes and dreams and stories to tell that I was just the messenger to. I don’t know, it’s… very interesting. I can almost feel them shaking about in my skull and coming out from under the cobwebs… I should do some reading soon about imagination and creativity and all of that. I’d love to re-access all that they have and had to offer. I miss that… A lot.)
  • I also liked the notion on p. 79 about those who have been nearly destroyed may explain why they also destroy. Reminds me of Loki a lot and was something I particularly liked and wanted to highlight here. 😊😊
  • p. 89’s got me questioning myself as to why I want to write and publish books. Is it for creative release? To add my voice to the many others out there? To create? To make a career out of it? To earn money? To do it like those who garden? Interesting question with interesting answers….
  • Any time I see the word “unmasked” it makes me think of my FFN and AO3 account’s name (Unmasked Potential). Same for when I hear “Lighthouse” by GRL the song. Reminds me to do videos, that and my BANNERS outro hahaha. Love it. But yeah, this book mentioned unmasked at one point and so I was thinking, oh! I should write some fanfic soon. Still in progress with that idea currently hooray!!
  • Trees are fucking awesome and we should have more of them (not less! Never less!) πŸŒ³πŸŽ„πŸŒ²πŸŒ΄
  • By the end of the book, when Lamott is commenting on school shootings, she raises the idea that instead of focusing on all that’s wrong with the world, what if instead we focused on what comes after–the humanity and goodness in that that arrives or the new land that still breathes and grows after a fire, etc. She suggests where placing our focus and attention could bring forth another perspective or incidence of thought (so instead of just focusing in on the tragedies themselves, where else could we turn for an uplifting narrative? Even if it’s one we’re just creating for ourselves). I bring that up because it reminded me of an interview story I watched (and was the original inspiration for miscellaneous reviews for this blog, though I never fully wrote it back then, although doesn’t mean I can’t next year!) about the Nice terror attacks a few years back and how the girl the storytelling focused on wanted to give more power to the man who was there to hold her hand after the blast than the guy who perpetrated the evil acts. That always really stuck with me. And it’s such a fantastic strength and spin on what would otherwise be a horribly terrible bad after taste for humanity but is instead a celebration that love always wins. It’s beautiful, honestly.
  • I loved this notion: “The characters in your story are real people to you and include you but they aren’t yet real people to your audience” — Lamott, 2018, p. 96-97
    • I just loved that this is so true for fiction. It’s so true and makes it such a wonder how imagination works and how storytelling is so powerful and so useful and so artistic. As the Writer, you know your Characters so well, but the audience doesn’t yet, and how you go about showing them that and pulling them along to witness whatever story you wish and are destined to show, that’s so remarkable. It also reminded me once again to do more writing soon which I have been able to do so far with my mental health fanfic! It’s actually the first time I’ve EVER written scenes out of order and am then pulling them together to form a cohesive chapter that I plan to update before the end of the year! Huzzah!!! More updates on that in the future (and I’m planning to get this post out by the weekend before Christmas, so, hooray). That’s the pull and the drive I have for today (12/16) at least! [[**Oops, got this out after Christmas, but the intention was there and this is still something (just one day late!)!!]]
  • “More than any other sentence I have come across, I love Ram Dass’s line that when all is said and done, we are all just walking each other home” — (Lamott, 2018, p. 109

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

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

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


THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

Other works by the author:

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

Book reference:

  1. The Magnificent Defeat

Quote reference and following book it arises from:

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


Next up….

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

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

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


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I READ THIS BOOK:

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

TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

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

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


Β 

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. πŸ’šπŸ–€

  1. Link 1 from Roger Ebert
  2. Link 2 from James Berardinelli at ReelViewsΒ 
  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! πŸ’šπŸ’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

“Iron Man” (2008) Film Review | MCU Review #1 (Mar-Apr. 2021)

A fresh new thumb dedicated just to Marvel Cinematic Universe related movies and shows. What do you think? 🧑

MCU Timeline By:

Chronological order of Release Date


Chosen Film/Year:

“Iron Man” (2008)


Movie Rating:

PG-13


Movie Length:

2 hours and 7 minutes


End Credit Scene:

One.


Directors, Screenplay Writers:

Jon Favreau

Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway


Genre:

Science fiction, Action, Adventure


Trigger Warnings:

Torture, substance use (alcohol; tobacco), trauma, manipulation, war/weapons of mass destruction, PTSD, character death, “crazy” reference.


Themes:

Humor (sarcasm), back-stabbing, betrayal, trust issues, demilitarization, respect/disrespect, responsibilities, heroes, superheroes, feels, grief, ease of emotional expression/body language, cheeseburgers, ethics/morality, determination, grit, perseverance, not giving up, self-sacrifice, saving the world, high stakes, suspense and action, honesty, hope, financial gain, “I am Iron Man.” πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€


Watched from:

Disney+


Plot Summary:

I’m doing something differently for this section in the majority of my MCU film reviews because I’ll be showcasing two to three other people’s content regarding the summary of the movies so that one, it’s not forever long from me and two, because I’m sure others have made it far more concise and user-friendly and three, because it’s been so long most of the time since I’ve watched the movies or I’m just late in the game of reviewing them so I think shouting out what others’ hard work exists out there rather than having the focus, like with the rest of the review, be just about me. Let me know what you think of this choice in the comments!! 😜πŸ€ͺ

  1. Link 1 from the critic Roger Ebret
  2. Link 2 from Β  James Β  Rocchi of Common Sense Media
  3. Link 3 from John Campea on The Movie Blog
(*this section was finally completed as of Apr. 2021, 
about one month since I watched the film and started
this review, as it were.)

Emotional Intensity Along with Character Development Commentary and Scoring:

This film is so emotional: outlined below especially and because it covers such vast and tough subjects. It doesn’t shy away from talking about intense stuff or showing intense stuff (see above trigger warnings as appropriate). It also paints a clear picture of who Tony was before he was captured and how some of that experience changed him afterwards (and we are teased some introduction to Tony and the loss he has already faced in his life). Luckily his snark and humor outlasted him but he definitely did change when he decided he was no longer going to support the mission of his and his father’s reputation which was to build weapons of mass destruction. He learned where they were really going and who they were affecting and he chose to no longer be a part of that story line which is immensely commendable and so, so wonderful to see play out. He’s still arrogant at times but we see such growth. We see him fight for a cause and his determination and perseverance and self-sacrifice really, really shine. He becomes enamored with a new mission and that’s to protect the world and all the people in it, which carries on endlessly throughout the franchise.

Additionally, Robert’s emotional capacity to show this through his body language and facial expressions is so spot-on, and that’s not even mentioning yet his chemistry with his hetero love interest Pepper Potts. Their chemistry is so refreshing and if I wasn’t a total FrostIron shipper, I’d definitely ship Pepperony next. There’s just SO MUCH to unpack in just this performance and I can’t wait to jump aboard as we go further and further into the franchise, yet again.

So, I have to say for emotional intensity and the immense suspense of the movie and the twists and turns it made all along the way, the transitions of the movie and the quick-wittedness it held, this movie definitely landed for me with an emotional intensity/character development of:

8/10

The emotional range definitely kept me interested, intrigued and captured myself. I was in it for the long haul and I probably would have scored it higher if it hadn’t been a month since I last watched it in full. Buuuuut, I also think this movie has a great re-watchability factor. So that is equally wonderful. Now, onto the rest of this review!!


Memorable Quotes or Scenes:

  1. (Yinsen to Tony) “Is that how you want to go out? Is this the last act of defiance of the great Tony Stark? Or are you going to do something about it?”

Tony (despondent and depressed): “They’re gonna kill me, you, either way. And if they don’t, I’ll probably be dead in a week.”

Yinsen: “Well then, this is a very important week for you, isn’t it?”

I had to go back into the movie to make sure I heard this right and it was within the same conversation but, god, man, I loved Yinsen. That look of determination that crosses Tony’s face after Yinsen challenges his thought processes from how hopeless and desperate he feels, is just… chef’s kiss. It’s the right amount of push, motivation and inspiration that Tony and the viewer needed and is everything, I swear. The concept of just giving up can be so tempting but placed into this situation and prompted by Yinsen, it was immediately eliminated as a choice, an option, and it’s just so beautiful, I think!!!

2. (Tony to Yinsen) “Thank you for saving me.”

Yinsen: “Don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life.”

I’m loving these recurring themes of not wasting your life (from S17 of Grey’s Anatomy, the book I just finished with the acronym FOMO, etc.) (which I’ve done for the last year or so with my Youtube addiction) so it’s especially refreshing and important to me. This scene was SO EMOTIONAL too, as we find out that Yinsen’s family had already passed on and that’s why he was going to be seeing them again soon. Yinsen, too, had sacrificed himself to give Tony more time to escape and live his own life, forming a family and getting a second chance to make things right. It’s so beautiful and tear-jerking. Especially within the context that we know in Endgame that he got that family he wanted and unfortunately, left it behind in his last, ultimate sacrifice. πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€

3. Tony to Pepper: “There is nothing except this. There’s the next mission and nothing else….. I shouldn’t be alive. Unless it was for a reason. I’m not crazy, Pep. I just finally know what I have to do and I know in my heart that it’s right”Β 

😭😭😭 Once again, the intention and fixation Tony has had on protecting people and the world from their own selves has been present, most certainly, since the beginning. The character development to get to this post is nothing short of amazing and the post-traumatic growth was heightened for sure. I just wish he could have gone on to experience this everlasting peace while he was still alive, in the end. But, I’m kinda jumping ahead a little. By like, twenty movies, haha. I think that intensity of wanting to do right when he’d done wrong for so long really, really matters so much. It was his drive and his self-proclaimed mission and venture. And he did it to the best that he could, and he achieved it for others to carry it forwards on their own shoulders. A true hero. Now I’m gonna start crying next…


Fan fiction Ideas and Themes to Explore in My Fics:

  • I feel like exploring some fanfic or plot where Tony talks to Loki about Phil’s death and does come to understand that Loki was also being mind controlled by Thanos/the Other and that they just nestle their foreheads together in quiet acceptance, wishing for things to have played out differently and still loving each other all the same. Maybe like some distrust at first and then some understanding even if not liking what happened. I don’t know, I just have that forehead nestling image in my mind right now, and I always kinda forget that Phil’s death was caused by Loki and how that is handled (or not) in fics themselves. So, this could be a meaningful one-shot for me to explore. 🀐😭😱
  • If I wasn’t such a FrostIron shipper, I’d totally get behind Pepperony. Their chemistry with each other is UNMATCHED. I loved it and could really respect the fandom πŸ˜†πŸ˜—
  • There’s a scene where Rhodey questions Tony for not having enough respect for other people’s time (shown in how he doesn’t arrive to galas and conventions or making speeches for award shows, etc.) as well as his own self–I thought this nature of potential trauma and self-centeredness would be excellent to explore in a fic. Like, the insecurities that lies behind the front and uncertainty in his own belief of himself and just not respecting himself (lack of self-respect)/unworthiness. I thought that was particularly interesting
  • I also think more of a reflection and insight into Tony and Yinsen’s relationship would be wonderful to explore as well. Whether that’s him mentioning it to the team more or confiding it into Loki and their relationship as well. Maybe I could even adapt it into some of my fics like D&D, the mental health/eating disorder one. There’s definitely potential here. I have seen a couple of fics that explored this too or covered it in some way and I think it’s definitely something worth expanding and commenting upon.
  • The classic cheeseburgers. πŸ’”πŸ’”
  • Trust issues (understandably)
  • Trauma denial (not sleeping enough, not eating enough, being obsessive and fixating on certain topics, over working himself, etc.)
  • Responsibility and maybe even instances of over-responsibility (thinking the weight of the world does in fact reside on his shoulders and only his, which may be a relief when other heroes join the mix in the future)
  • Abandonment: (I might explore this in the emotional intensity section above but since I’m writing this section first….) Now that Tony was saying he no longer wanted to create weapons for the military to use against the war on terror (because they were ending up in the wrong hands and he was actually taking responsibility for his work and the damage his reputation and more had already transpired) than no one wanted to be supporting him in this highly ethical and morally just situation/change of heart he had. It’s like the moment he switched gears, people regarded him as “crazy” and didn’t take him seriously or thought badly of him because he was no longer doing what they wanted. It was super frustrating and luckily he called out Pepper on this thinking too (listed above) and then she had a better understanding of his motivations and what he wanted to do. But it just sucks that Rhodey and Obadiah (even if he was the villain so it made sense why he felt threatened) weren’t there for Tony in the same way he would be there emotionally (physically?) for them. Like, once he wasn’t doing what they wanted they saw little use for him. So, that sucks. That kind of abandonment would be nice to explore in a story and the unjust nature of that, the moral dilemmas and second guessing one’s ability, etc.
  • I don’t know why Tony doesn’t like to be handed things so if anyone could enlighten me on that ’cause I know that’s a theme, that’d be great!!
  • I also just want to highlight the fact that Tony was self-sacrificing even as early on as this movie, like when he was climbing altitude fast with Obadiah when his suit power was low and again, even if you think about it, with Yinsen and escaping the terrorists and then again when he told Pepper to push the surge from the arc reactor even when he was in the way, knowing it was the only way to stop Obadiah. So, he’s always been like that even as far early on as here. I think exploring this further with like specifics in conversation, probably off-handedly would fit his character (humor/dismissive nature towards help and support) and be something he’d do, haha.
  • Parallels of the sand landing in this movie and the clip for the “Loki” series on Disney+ πŸ˜…πŸ˜‰
  • What were the 3 months Tony was held in captivity like for everyone else around him?
  • I find it a little surprising that Tony would be against the military involvement with his suits and future paths of his company yet be for them when it comes to “Civil War”, but then again, I never really understood the depth and bureaucracy behind that later movie (maybe watching it anew and fresh will help, or reading about it more, etc.)
  • A one-shot exploring the thanks Tony gives to Dum-E would be appropriate, needed and the kind of fluff we all deserve. πŸ§‘β€πŸ’›

Subtle or Overt Preparation for Future Movies:

There was definitely a presence of the character Agent Phil Coulson from SHIELD throughout this movie. He served especially helpful towards Pepper Potts when she needed his help and aid to get away from Obadiah after copying over the files he had about making his own iron man suit as a weapon for the military and keeping/aiding fugitives from other countries (as well as being the one behind getting Tony killed in the first place). So, there was that. Coulson is also featured at the end, preparing Tony with the talk about SHIELD and how to handle the press, encouraging and expecting Stark to not alert the authorities to his true identity (and we all know how that really panned out πŸ˜‰). There was also the end credit scene where Nick Fury himself came to Stark’s home and spoke about the Avengers Initiative. Of course, if we fast forward to other movies (like Captain Marvel) we know why and how the Avengers Initiative got created in the first place along with what the next steps are going forwards. I think that’s all I really remember from this movie now so that’s where I’ll end this section.


Estimated Timeline & Setting of When I Watched this Movie the First Time:

Honestly, I’m not sure when was the first time that I watched this movie in particular. I know that I only became an MCU fan in summer of 2014. I got introduced into the entire MCU then when I started to watch movie clips from Thor (2011) on Youtube and became very intrigued and interested in Loki. Then I watched scenes from Avengers (2012) and I read lots of fan fiction about the Avengers and Loki (my all time favorite story is the well-deserved popularity of “Drown” by Ordis here) and I really, really fell in love. I wound up watching Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3 thinking the Avengers scene with Loki were in there (they weren’t) until I finally watched Avengers with my Mom and for the first two hours thinking to myself Aw, shit, it’s not this movie either, but then it WAS. Some time between then and the coming years I saw parts of and then the full Iron Man film that I watched, again, this time in March 2021 for this review and to really make myself feel and cry when the inevitability of Thanos happens and all of that jazz. I guess I just wanted to REALLY feel it again, that pain, but that love too. That…humanity and that kindness and love and wonder. I love Iron Man, he’s my favorite right after Loki. Is it any wonder that I’m a FrostIron shipper? Ahhaha.

I thought it’d also be excellent to re-immerse myself into the characters and plots so as a better way to improve my fanfics and above and beyond, as you probably already read about above. It took me a long while to work on this review and I’m hoping once it’s done, I’ll be able to breathe a little easier. But yeah, that’s been how I engaged with the MCU and in particular this one film. It was a very convoluted way of getting there, to the end with the MCU, but it’s how I managed to do it ahaha. Did I mention I had also watched a lot of Thor and Loki fan videos as part of the process? It was that, the movie clips themselves and then the fan fictions. I read about “Drown” before I searched for the movies so the torture thing for Loki was always already head canon for me. Okay, I’ll move on to the next section now!!! (–April 6th 2021)


My Final Thoughts:

It took me three hours to properly view this film for this review plus two or three more hours thereafter to craft the outline of this review, begin writing it, procrastinating from it, then writing, finishing and editing and publishing it from April 2021 for another three hours, gah. But I’d say it was pretty successful!! I’m nervous and on edge that I have to watch like 2 or 3 MCU movies per week for the next two months to get on more/better track of watching new stuff coming out (in particular, naturally, “Loki” series, “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” plus the movie “Black Widow” etc.) I definitely could have gone without wasting an entire month of my time but it is what it is so I just have to accept it, focus straight ahead and move onward. So, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m nervous that this review won’t be as “perfect” as I’d like it to be but if I keep waiting for that, I’ll be waiting forever. I have some other reviews and posts in the works behind the scenes but lost either concentration, flow or drive to finish them or getting on top of a few other things and letting the others slip away from my grasp, yet again. It’s a process. Sigh.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this review though!! And please check out the mentioned stories and reviews from others! If you happen to read this and you write reviews for MCU movies and you’d like to be shouted out or your work seen from my own words, let me know in a comment or an email via my Contact page!!! I’d be happy to shout you out and showcase some of your work. Or if you even write fanfics yourself!! πŸ€—πŸ₯°πŸ€©

But yes, overall, thank you so much for reading and stopping by!! Let me know what you’d like to see next and I’m gonna be trying to network more in the coming future and all that jazz. If you’d like me to check out a particular post of yours, just let me know. Sending you all light, love and the power it means to be a hero. πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’™

P.S. My thinking is that I’ll be about a movie ahead when doing these reviews, so for instance, I plan to edit and publish this today Apr. 6th 2021, work on TIH review to be scheduled later this week, and watch IM2 tonight/tomorrow and then work on that review, watch the next movie, publish the previous movie’s review, etc. I hope that makes sense!

PPS I took out the ‘cinematography’ section because I think the emotional intensity section can better cover that area/I can mention it there, and I don’t want to work on this review any longer (it’s been 2.5 hours again) and want to just get it up sooner without having to rewatch a second/third time all over again, so that’s what I’m doing and why.


Recommendation Score:

5/5


Upcoming movie….

The Incredible Hulk (2008)


Information behind the scenes for this post:

Viewing for this review where I wrote brief notes, memorable quotes 
and things to that effect took place Sunday March 7th 2021 from
8:15p - 11:15p. I began typing the skeleton of this post on March 8th 2021
from 10a - 11a. The rest of the post was completed around 4p - 7p on
April 6th 2021. I did various sections, about 8 or 9 of them,
on this day so the majority was written in April even though I watched
and started it back in March, one month ago. β€πŸ’›β€πŸ–€

Music that helped to listen to in the background to craft this review: burn the house down by AJR, there’s a place by Roo Panes, lonely by Violet Skies, lose somebody by Kygo and One Republic, a 1 hour compilation of Tony Stark ambient sounds.