“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! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’š

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


BOOK LENGTH:

262 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

5/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love, love, love, love, LOVE thissssss. It’s so important. It’s SO true. As the book progresses, the theme is further brought up and explored and it’s EVERYTHING. I love how much it builds upon the last nonfic reading I think I at least published which was the Teen’s Guide on Overcoming Procrastination. The callback by someone else entirely but still within the same realm is fantastic and so very nurturing and true! Enjoyed this!! ๐Ÿ’ฏ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š (Also, high five to myself: I got to page 40 of this review work the third day I worked on this post soooo yay!!! Now I’m gonna go a little bit further to really make it special!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

I honestly just thought this was straight up spitting facts. It was badass to me at the time. They are nice, great questions with a lot of power behind them. A great way of sensing when to let go and when to hold on. Can’t get better than that!! ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ˜Š

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

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Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the details. Being in the moment, noticing, mulling over, thinking and being present. It is truly a gift that continues to give and expand your world and perspective. Love that. ๐Ÿ’š๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒป

*”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 ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿฅฐ)

*”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!! ๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜™

“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. ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿค—โœจ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought this was super interesting and also just a great plug for utilizing that ‘Focus’ section of your iPhone when you’re like me and doing something fancy like working on a BES in the library or reading a book for a while or being at work, etc. ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

**”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”. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿคฉ (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!! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š

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

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

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

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

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


NOTEWORTHY IMAGES:

This part will be broken up into visual segments….

Segment A: Beautiful photographs of inspiration and creativity

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Segment B: Prompt Photos

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

TOP DOWN: 10 Mission Statement/eulogy worthy

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

5 I COULD CARE MORE:

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

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

1 I COULD CARE LESS:

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

Basic prompt for this image:

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

I completed this image in Jan. 2022

Final prompted image to come in the future as a pingback (either in video solely or as a post here and video coverage as well. ๐Ÿ˜Š)

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. ๐Ÿ’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. ๐Ÿคฉ (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!!!! ๐Ÿ’™โ„โ„โ˜ƒโ›„
  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!! ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’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. ๐Ÿ˜ 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!! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜Ž
  16. *The chapter on a cabin in the woods was one of my favorites. It really reminded me of #RecoveryHome and I loved that. I should really dust off the idea soon and return to making it into something!!!
  17. *Within the section regarding vacations, the author mentions how she likes to visit more local communities, independent bookshops, local libraries, markets, etc. I could REALLY relate to doing this when my family and I went to Germany in summer 2019 to visit my brother hahaha. I went to a local book shop from where we were staying in one place and bought up to 4 books from there. Not in German, they’re English written books, but I can still recall 3 of them from memory of their covers and loosely what they’re about. I was also telling this second story the other day at work, but um, we went to this little town in Germany and combed up and down the hills and up the ladders and around the scenery and we, before dinner, were in a local bookshop. My brother got bored (he’s not into books much) so he and my dad went away to the place we were going to eat at. Well, I found this super fancy German written coloring book with little interactive exercises you could do within it (maybe like word searches, dot by dots etc) and it was so cool and fascinating but my Mom was saying how we should go get dinner, come back for it later, or even that I had plenty of coloring books at home (true). Anyways, we go back to meet up with the other two and I’m antsy waiting for food, having connected with this book in my head and my Mom offered, noticing me, that I could go back to the shop and buy it. I was excited and pranced about to do so! Until, LEGAD, it turns out the shop had closed early. I was really sad and disappointed and to this day I don’t know what book it was and we left from that town that same day so I never got the fancy German coloring book. Alas….
  18. The shades of color fading into ombre that exist on p. 191 (white to oatmeal to pink) was just so satisfying and beautiful.

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM POINTS:

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

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*So a big theme that came up for me even originating on page 14 is that this idea that a person buys things and items for the status or social/societal status of it. For me, I don’t relate to things in that way. I don’t buy fancy things for what Joe down the street will think of it (and by extension, me) but rather because I like it, I want it or I can already picture a formidable use for it within my mind (often happening just in the store itself). I mean, I’m no stranger to having lots of things (the clutter is bordering on hoarding, let’s be real, and also I have such a hard time letting go of things, even the most “useless” looking things (old device cases, tags of wallflower scents, unusable gel pens, many little containers of hand sanitizers (but what if this scent doesn’t come back? There’s just a teensy bit left, I have to save it.), potential art pieces like cardboards for vision boards and other little things like some bags of items because I could use them as backdrops in photographs (which, I’ve been saving for YEARS and still have NEVER done that with its use)). So yeah. I have some leftover OCD for sure. Don’t get me started on the amount of journals and books I own…. Or paint. Watercolor and acrylic. ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜›

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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! ๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ˜ (McAlary, 2018, p. 86).

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*On the topic of constructive criticism, McAlary discusses on p. 157 that the nature of some humans is to take “any opinion different from ours, any criticism, any worldview, as the work of a troll or a hater. We end up with our own echo chamber full of people who think like us, people who won’t challenge our opinions, people who tell us we’re right because they’re right” — (2018). Personally, this is something I really, really strive not to do online. I hope that that can ring true even when tough conversations go sour. It’s so important to understand the difference between hate and criticism or constructive criticism. Saying “you’re an asshole” is different than “I think you’re struggling with intense feelings right now and I feel upset by your blow-out, maybe we can both take a break for a while?” Not everything online is hate, pure hate in its rawest form, it certainly CAN be at times yet it shouldn’t overpower a discussion to be had or minimize the depth of the conversation. It’s okay to disagree and it’s only expected to remain civil, which some people struggle with. It’s all about weeding out when someone is purposefully (from what we can discern and maybe what the majority thinks) being hurtful and toxic versus someone offering another viewpoint to something we’re conversing about. That is all. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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

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

*I don’t know, McAlary p. 178, I feel like we can argue that time spent online can be time spent creating art and doing good things too. Creating is very fun and doing that instead of consuming others’ stuff is worthwhile. And it’s also good to consume a bit of others stuff to get ideas for your own creations! I feel like online time, when wielded right, can be pretty fantastic. But offline time is good, too!! ๐Ÿ˜œ

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Another thing I was able to do while I was reading this book was to finish watching “Thor”!! Took me literally almost an entire year but I DID IT. It was great. I’m gonna try and outline the review for it next as I’m working on this current review on the third night of writing it. But yeah, that was awesome to finish! I have been already craving and trying to look into when I can finally start watching “Captain America: The First Avenger”! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

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!!! ๐Ÿ˜…

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!!). ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜™

“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! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿค—

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!! ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿค๐Ÿค๐Ÿค

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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. ๐Ÿ˜™๐Ÿค— 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!!)

ย 

*”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!

ย 

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!!!)

ย 

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. ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’™๐ŸŒธ

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 ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿค


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. ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ 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).

Soon to Come… (Apr. 2022)

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

Journaling THUMB

Let’s seeeeeeee….

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

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

That is all.

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

sending light and love.

๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒป๐ŸŒธ

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

Follow my Insta for more posts (same username)

XX

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


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

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

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

It’s honestly, actually, probably pretty unhealthy.

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

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

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

I don’t know.

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

It takes time.

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

And maybe collabs help. Maybe.

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

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

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

ย 

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

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

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

ย 

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

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

You are not alone.

People care about you.

Your voice is important.

Your story matters.

Better days will come.

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

Stay safe, my Readers.

xxx

๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒ โ˜”๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›

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

Bridging the Gap | #WordPrompt #MonthlyWordPrompt 2022

Taken from the monthly word prompt March 2022 WordPress newsletter I got a few weeks ago. Not my image. Just using it as a jumping off point. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Š

From partner, to ex.

From friend, to enemy.

From hating my job, to loving my next one.

From active, to inactive.

From free, to held tight. Closed off. Separate. In search of perfection. (Perfection doesn’t exist.) Perfection, the chase of it–the fall, the hurdle, the jump, it all leads back to that: a world growing smaller. And smaller. And smaller. Until you snap or there’s nothing left. And still, still it’ll take. Take. Take. No matter how much you give it back. It just takes.

From present, to absent.

From well, to unwell, to well again.

The world rightens itself. The job takes time. But it does straighten. It does fix itself. There’s work that goes into it, of course, yes, and still, this life, these circumstances, they are imperfect. They are temporary. They do not last forever.

Mortality. An uncomfortable subject among most. Feared of, given power to. Comes with an expiration date. Life is terminal. Got that from a quote I saw the other day. Mortality… this existential awareness, that life will be and life will cease. We just don’t know when or why or how. It’s scary. Justifiably so. And yet, it shall come. One way or another. It shall come. So maybe being aware of our fear, of being aware of our circumstances and for taking this day, this moment, in the sea of trillions of moments we will experience, maybe that is all that matters. Maybe that is all that cares at the end of the day. At the start of the day. Maybe it’s that. Always, always that.

From unintentional, to intentional.

From loss, to growth.

From wondering, to wandering.

From writing less, to writing.

There exist gaps here. Gaps in life, gaps in wonder, gaps in the street, in the pitfalls from one foot to the next. In the way the breeze carries through the air. In the way that a seed forms a true plant. In the way a dog barks, half a bark, before fully committing to another breath of air. Hackles raised, shackles upon their wrists. In the way the train tracks are uneasy. The way thunder claps following lightning. The way the rain patters upon spiderwebs, just trying to make it, trying to exist, trying to live.

Aren’t we all just trying to live?

There are gaps here. From writing much and writing long and writing enough, to silence.

Quiet, quiet silence.

…The Void, if you will.

But maybe where there was once space, then emptiness, maybe there can be space again.

It begins with this moment. One moment. One choice. One change. To pick up the pen, to scatter words onto a keyboard, fingers steady, music blaring, the mood set in, fitting even.

To update. To share. To encourage. To love. To bring hope. To provide light. To explore. To connect. To be not alone. To be whole.

Maybe… maybe not always in all the right places.

But I think I’m finding it… This gap. This bridge.

How do I get from here to there? I’ve often wondered. How do I change the story that I’m writing? Because I enjoyed it once. I loved it once. I was it once. And now… over the years, when I got stable, it vanished.

And I’d like it back. I want it back. I want that for myself, and I want that for my Readers. My friends. My chosen ones.

So I write. I plug in the headphones, I play the song, I count the words as they scrawl past. And I begin.

I begin.

I choose to begin.

Because only with experience, with action, with consideration, with doing does the gap grow smaller. Or, if not fully smaller, than the perception of it grows smaller. And that, that I can tolerate.

That I can live with.

So I begin.

I try.

I move forwards.

From ex, to being enough just for me. For growing into who I can become. For planting my seeds and nurturing my own recovery.

From enemy, to just not in contact with right now. Yet hopeful that in the future, this, too, can change. If I want it, if they want it, it can change.

From loving my job, to excelling at my job. Growing, putting in time and dedication and making a steady and uplifting paycheck.

From inactive, to I’m here again. I’m back. It’s me. Welcome aboard.

From tightly held, to loosening the grip. Because maybe not everything has to be held onto so tightly. Maybe freedom is also in the letting go.

From absent, to welcome back. To showing up. To rebuilding. To regrowth. To reshaping the path ahead.

From well, to well, to well. And some sprinkles of unwell here and there. Because only with the darkest of nights can be truly appreciate and be grateful for the brightest of days.

So I write.

And I write.

And I commit to writing. Because I commit to life and the dreams I have yet to make happen and the accomplishments I have yet (and presently can celebrate) to swim in. I commit. Because it’s my life. And I have that choice. I have that responsibility for what I do with it.

And I want to make something big.

I hope, I do, that maybe one day you can too.

Until then, my Readers.

Welcome back to RecoverytoWellness.

And truly: Where survivors radiate badassery.

— ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š Raquel


Written: 3.30.2022

Music: “Dynasty” by MIIA

Estimated time length to write, edit and publish: <45 mins.


Information regarding my socials:

I’m most active now on Instagram (recoverytowellness), Youtube (I go live on there 2-3 times a month now; RecoverytoWellness), Discord (still super new to this but email me or comment if you’d like to join me there or eventually hop on the RecoverytoWellness server I’ll make there!! A hub for in between Youtube videos, lives, fun stuff and books related things (like book clubs and book content on my socials)), WordPress here of course, if you’d like to see some of my designs on Canva annnnnd I think that’s it. OH! My fan fiction stories can be found on FFN (Unmasked Potential) and AO3 (UnmaskedPotential) in case you’re looking for some creative writing Loki centered Avengers fanfic stories!!!

I’m getting closer and closer to deciding to just delete my Twitter account. More on that in the future and the reasoning and settling upon that, I think.

But yes, check me out wherever you feel the most comfortable!! Much more to come on here soon. Wishing you all a blessed week and good rest of your day. Sending light and love. xxx Thank youuuu

“A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done” (2017) | BES (Nov. – Dec. 2021 & Jan – Feb. 2022)

Welcome back!!

CHOSEN BOOK:

“A Teen’s Guide to Getting Stuff Done” (2017) by Jennifer Shannon LMFT, Illustrated by Doug Shannon

((Discover your procrastination type, stop putting things off and reach your goals;

nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

None.


THEMES:

Procrastination, procrastination types: perfectionist, warrior, pleaser, rebel, productivity, therapy, guide, illustrations, simplified language, psychology, self-help, nonfiction, easy read, user friendly, teens, young adult, self-esteem, self-confidence, recovery, overcoming adversity, goals, planning, self-compassion, self-improvement, coping strategies, exercises, skills: reframing root beliefs, pros and cons, 5 minute jump start, eliminate distractions, stay on schedule, hit the target (not the bull’s eye), coping with criticism, ride the wave (of emotion), deep breathing, calendar sharing, divide until doable.


SUMMARY:

If you’re looking for a simple, life-affirming and easy way of overcoming some of your biggest procrastination struggles but those same struggles also get in the way of you achieving your dreams and you’re lost as to WHERE you can possibly start??? Then this is the book for you!! It’s easy to read, has large concepts and what could otherwise be boring blocks of text broken down into simplified language, illustrations and wonderful paragraph spacers. It’s compact, it’s simple and it’s a great little read! Something to dip your toes into finding and figuring out which procrastinator style you are and also with exercises that help to practice what the majority of the REST of the book is about: which is tackling that procrastination demon and achieving your goals with smarter, more clever ways of being!

Personally, I fall into the categories of The Perfectionist and The Warrior. I don’t relate as much with The Pleaser or The Rebel. The prior two are my main procrastination types. What might be yours? Pick up this book and find out!!!

Something I also took away from this book was some of the end of chapter questions and the exercises sprinkled throughout. For instance, the one on perfectionism and identifying task-avoidant thoughts and root beliefs was something I actually did try out in the moment for something I was clearly avoiding (contacting my old job, Amaryllis, to wipe my hands clean of it and fully move on) and so that real world application was really, really helpful!! I did it when my partner, Vaness, and I were at a library so that was super helpful. Right smack dab in December 2021 haha. It was nice and helpful!! Further elaborated:

“Step 1. Think of something you have been putting off and write it down.

Step 2. Ask yourself: Why don’t I get started right now? If I did start what am I afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could happen if I started right now? List the answers that pop into your head. These answers will most likely be your task avoidant thoughts.

Step 3. Circle one of them that feels especially true or upsetting.

Step 4. Ask yourself, If this thought came true, what is the worst thing this could mean about me? About my life? About my future? Write them down.

Step 5. Repeat Step 4 until you have identified a root belief.”

— Shannon, 2017, p. 38-39

If you fall under the ‘Warrior’ type of procrastinator (you need to be motivated in order to start tasks, you’re easily distracted, boredom is the bane of your existence) you know you have a warped sense of time, so instead of saying ‘I’ll complete this in one hour’ DOUBLE your estimated time to instead be like ‘I’ll actually complete this in two hours.’ That way if you do, you’re on target and if you don’t, there’s not as much of a feeling of failure or shame and you don’t continue to put off other goals and tasks related to the big picture because of your insecurities around judging time completion (Shannon, 2017, p. 117).

There’s another great technique to use to help battle against your procrastination that Shannon, 2017, outlines as “Hit the target” NOT the bull’s eye–once again, reiterating that it’s the process that matters and less so the ideal behind the root belief at the center of the target (the one that becomes so overwhelming and all-encompassing that we naturally procrastinate and put it all off). Hitting the target means that you begin–in whichever way that is, whichever learned step from this book (like breaking until doable, 5 minute jump start, breathing exercises/riding the wave, identifying root beliefs). The bull’s eye for the perfectionist could be having a PERFECT score on an exam or for the pleaser to not make anyone upset. The reality though is that we won’t always hit that bull’s eye, and, really, we don’t even HAVE to! What matters is that we start, we begin, we move forwards and we inch our way towards completing tasks that ultimately serve as goals that ultimately serve our dreams and healthy root beliefs. So, finally, before other sections of this review are ramped up, remember this:

“When you hit the target and not the bull’s eye, you open up a world of ways to win. Give yourself praise for the work you did, instead of a kick in the pants for what you did not do. The more you’re rewarded for being on target, the more your motivation and self-esteem will grow” — p. 142


BOOK LENGTH:

143 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

4/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

“But being a perfectionist doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means you believe you should be” — Shannon, (2017), p. 7

Now… that’s just relatable. Stay tuned for more to come!!

“Making decisions can be a constant problem for the perfectionist, who always believes there is only one correct choice. Whether you’re buying a pair of shoes or deciding on a college, you always need more time. When you can’t be sure you’re right, you’re paralyzed, unable to commit to any choice at all. To others, this can look like laziness or lack of motivation, but the perfectionist isn’t lazy. You’re working overtime, agonizing over making the correct choice” — Shannon, 2017, p. 9

Ugh, truer words have never been spoken… I can relate to this statement and description 1000%. It actually makes me really more interested in finding other books about perfectionism and overcoming it! I’ve gotten so lost in perfection these days that everything slides backwards, time passes on endlessly and I fall further and further behind.

Case in point: blog posts, book reviews, film reviews, Youtube videos, live streams, gaming, reading books, writing fan fiction, editing videos, and even other stuff that trickles into my professional life like postponing a difficult conversation, learning how to work a blood pressure cuff and doing house chores like laundry and the dishes and downloading music or lying back in my bed after I get up for only an hour. It’s EXHAUSTING. 0/10 would not recommend. SO if YOU have any tips or suggestions for books on perfectionism and overcoming it, leave that down below!!!! Maybe I’ll try a quick search and add it to the ‘things to check out section’ down below too, before I fully publish this post!* (*or maybe later? I DO want this post out TODAY which it’s Feb. 9th 2022 now soooo yeah. I’ll do a future follow-up post and if you leave any ideas down below, I’ll shout you out over there some time!! Yes, it doesn’t have to be perfect and I’m not putting it off for it to BE perfect, I just don’t think I can achieve that plus editing this whole review plus finishing all the leftover sections plus getting it published while in public… It’s a LOT of steps already! And that can be a future impact of productivity that doesn’t have to be done today! I really want this review done and over with!! Hahaha. It’d be a nice callback in the future too! A future post already in progress, ooooo (even if it’s just the thought stages))

“Even low-stakes situations can be a challenge when perfectionists apply their high standards to them. You may only need to write a thank you note, but if you think the note must sound flawlessly sincere, you can be immobilized and wind up writing nothing at all. And of course, the hurt feelings at the other end would be exactly the opposite of what you were after” — Shannon, 2017, p. 9

Why is this EXACTLY me??? I’ve always shied away from calling what I go through and have been going through in the last couple of years “true perfectionism” because I know a big part of it can be an actual OCD diagnosable condition and I don’t want to insinuate things that are smaller and NOT conditions as being other, larger things with layman’s terms (Think the clueless mental health conditions people that claim they’re “soooo OCD” because they like things filed a certain way. *rolls eyes*)ย 

This description of it here regarding procrastination though just fits so much with my experiences and may just be yet another way OCD is coming out in a different theme in my life now. (Along with having to do things in three’s (like emoticons) and harm OCD directed towards other people, mainly small children, mostly babies, from afar (like babies I see online from family posts, other people’s families, not my own)).

It’s frustrating how OCD changes shapes and molts and puffs in other ways. But I’m working through it the best I can. And I’m catching myself a bit more when I am procrastinating and such… which if I could correct the behavior more often that would REALLY help but for now I’m noticing it and sometimes still going along with it with self-sabotage but I guess it’s a process? I don’t even know. But now perfectionism may be something that’s getting in the way of things so there’s that. Awesome. Just what I needed, right?

This just happens a lot to me now though in many areas of my life all at the same time: I can’t finish a TV series because I want to review it on my blog. I can’t finish dropping off a book until I’ve gone through my page flags and written the review. I can’t read my next book because I want to preserve the thoughts of my last one that still needs to be written upon, I do manage to move forwards with it, but keep hitting snags and then also neither read my current book or review the last one. I can’t watch any current MCU things because I’m still stuck in Thor from last year. I can’t write X or Y review because I haven’t done the previous ones. I can’t watch a couple Netflix horror movies because I never fully did the book reviews from before. I can’t edit my Fai series because they have to be in chronological order and what video out of thirty should I really edit first to get up online? It’s awful, this juggling and getting nowhere at all. I hate it. And it’s overwhelming and I procrastinate and avoid and still, still I reside in these situations. Procrastination sucks. And can be super debilitating, but the jokes about it never cover all that expense.

“Once you finally get around to studying or writing, you may even get into it, feeling satisfaction in getting it done, and pledging to stay on top of assignments in the future. But due to the warrior’s distorted experience of time, daily planning is especially difficult” — Shannon, 2017, p. 16

I found this quote to be especially interesting. As identifying with The Warrior, I find I DO have quite a distorted perception of time. I know I SHOULD only assign myself 2 or 3 main goals for the day but I’m soooo ambitious (maybe overly so) and think I can handle it all that I wind up always writing 10 or 11 and then maybe achieve two or three and feel bummed about the rest. I struggle with factoring in time to eat, sleep and perform my ADL’s. And how long it takes me to naturally get things done… Ooof. A flawed system, of course.

There’s another half a quote here that I’ll mention briefly regarding “when you encounter the tedious steps that are necessary to move forward, you begin to lose steam and put off what you had begun” (Shannon, 2017, p. 16) as additionally super accurate and on the nose. Losing steam is the worst part. I can start off pretty strong and then I get tired and want to just give up, give in and do the easier thing like watching videos or shows… Then it feels even harder to pick it back up, more time passes and I start missing out on things or not doing other things in the genuine reality timeline and yeah. It’s a cycle. I don’t think I’m even in this review 100% anymore and that feels odd and strange and not something ‘perfect’ and enjoyable and that sucks, a lot. Gah.

“[Once procrastinating] you may feel ashamed, disappointed and frustrated. So you return to the stimulating activities you love, where warriors thrive, forgetting the tasks you need to get done to move your life forward” — Shannon, 2017, p. 18

My literal response: Oh damn. Don’t call me out like that. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฐ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿค

ย 

“If you haven’t called a friend in a long time, you may be hesitant to call even though you care about the person. Because you let so much time go by, you’re now afraid your friend will be mad at you. The longer you put it off, the harder it is to reach out” — Shannon, 2017, p. 24

I don’t relate so much to this as being The Pleaser or afraid they’ll be mad at me but more so that yes, the longer I put it off, the harder and less likely I am to reach back out which then triggers some shame and anger and frustration and loss and continues the cycle. For me, it’s more of an issue of “right timing/right mindset”. Waiting for that “perfect” window of time.

ย 

So at another point in time of this book, we are shown various root belief trees that work against us and for whichever type of procrastinator we are and then the adjusted new belief tree that could take place instead. I’ll spare you the perfectionist negative root belief tree and just tell you it happens on p. 37 and was super duper profound and on point, for my experiences at least. Okay, I’ll give you ONE example from the tree: “I shouldn’t start unless I’m sure; I’m clear; I’m confident.”

For the Warrior’s tree: The root belief is “I must feel motivated” with a relevant tree branch for me being “I’ll wait until I feel like doing it; I’ll feel more like doing it; After I do this” — Shannon, 2017, p. 41

Yeeeeep, this is accurate to my experiences!! Waiting until I feel motivated or in the right frame of mind has gotten me to avoid many, many things.

“Tools are only powerful in the hands that use them, and you’ll need to be motivated to use them. One of the ironies of a self-help book about procrastination is that anything the author asks the reader to do is by definition a task” — Shannon, 2017, p. 53-54

Thought this was nice, true and useful. That you can learn all the tools and be educated all upon them but if you don’t wield them yourself and practice them and try them out, then you’ll have only learned abstract concepts with none of the reward or benefit that would actually take place if you utilized them. Kinda like recovery, in many ways, you have the skills and knowing them is half the battle or at least a quarter of it, and now it’s up to you to continue to use them the rest of the time!! That step is only one YOU can take. No one else. Hmmph.

So, here’s an important thing this book continued to highlight for me: Around the section about procrastination pros and cons lists to figure out what is it that’s holding you back (procrastinating) and what values you have going forwards with action (owning the task and moving ahead; Shannon, 2017, p. 62) it reminded me of how people, meaning well, tell me over email or text sometimes or online like “No rush on when you can respond.” I do horrible with this!! It automatically gives my mind “permission” to put it off for as long as possible, forget about it day in and day out and eventually maybe respond back with something etc after it’s been literal MONTHS. Gah, I know it’s a polite thing to absolve some of the responsibility but gwah it doesn’t help me at all! Just gently remind me of it with a check-in or two at a later date but don’t tell me to get to it whenever I can, because I’ll just never do! It happens EVERY time, I swear. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜จ๐Ÿคญ

Along with this, my therapist June tends to challenge my own self-imposed deadlines too and how in the larger scheme of things if I don’t get it done within that time frame nothing “bad” really happens but this just gives my brain the excuse to never, ever get it done in the future! Grrrr. Like how this review is only now existing months later since I finished the book or began writing it. Ugh. I hate it.

ย 

On owning the task: “A quick source of motivation could be to ask yourself, Will completion of this task bring me more [independence] than putting it off?” — Shannon, 2017, p. 64

For this example, it’s mentioning a great little shortcut to reap the rewards from weighing out the options inside your mind. If the goal is more independence, more human connection, more authenticity then asking the question could then provide a snapshot of reasonability that gets you from being stuck and paralyzed to up and going. For instance, the accompanying image for this section was a woman holding a job application in her hand and imagining herself working as a barista at that job–so visualization of the goal’s outcome helped her to decide yes, I DO want this other reward down the line which makes not procrastinating right now important to me.

“…Because doing things wrong is a great way–sometimes the only way–to learn how to do things right” — Shannon, 2017, p. 69

I personally believe and appreciate and love this sentiment in all of its degrees. Sometimes getting things wrong provides more of a learning potential than always getting it right! And experience is so important, so don’t be too afraid to make mistakes! Someone will try and uplift you when you do (and you may get others who don’t, but that’s life! We can’t always agree with one another and it’s important that instead of slinging insults, we disagree respectfully and maturely.)

Within the page of letting new beliefs set in, the new tree is just SO magical and amazing (for the perfectionist). The new root belief is ‘I am willing to make mistakes’. Some of the relatable branches are then transformed into “creativity requires mistakes, it is more important to get started than.. to be sure, than to be confident, than to be clear-minded. If I make a mistake, I can handle it, I can learn from it” — Shannon, 2017, p. 70

It’s truly everything I ever needed in a fictional tree yet concrete visual fact. ๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒฒ๐ŸŒณ๐ŸŒณ๐Ÿ’™

“Practice holding the new root belief in your mind while allowing the old belief to play in the background like a song you’ve gotten tired of.” — Shannon, 2017, p. 77 >> The new belief needs to be nurtured and grown just like how the old one was and it won’t automatically happen yet with hard work and patience and self-forgiveness, it IS possible. The brain is quite malleable, honestly. Shannon also encourages that “the old belief will still continue to express itself so don’t try and quiet it.” Instead, you could practice some mindfulness and allow it space to exist and be and then do the opposite action regarding it (so not procrastinating ahaha).

“What we forget when stuck inside the procrastination cycle is that avoiding and distracting ourselves from negative emotion is counterintuitive because all emotions have a beginning, a middle and an end. ..They don’t last forever. And you can handle them” — Shannon, 2017, p. 81

What I like about this quote in particular is that it is SO critical regarding emotions. Emotions at the end of the day just want to be felt and experienced and while they are SUPER uncomfortable at times, allowing 5 mins to sit with them is better than over an hour or multiple days of dealing and feeling and mucking around in them because they’re too scary or uncomfortable. If you can even just experience them for a few seconds at a time and then longer periods of time, that will lessen the extent of the burden they will otherwise present upon you and me. So feel them, to feel them! Allow them space and then you can cope through the rest of them. That initial ride or die is so crucial.

“Emotions are like ocean waves. You can try to resist them and be slapped down again. Or you can learn how to ride them and get things done. How much more could you accomplish if, rather than avoiding unpleasant emotions, you rode them like a surfer does a wave?” — Shannon, 2017, p. 82

Does this quote not just open up an amazing amount of possibilities? ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿฅฐ

[[Okay, I am back again to completely finish, edit, turn back in (the book) and publish this post. I’ve got this!!! == 2.9.22]]

Here’s a great list of ways to prevent smartphone distraction for overcoming procrastination of challenging tasks:

  1. “Go to your settings and turn off all notifications, alerts, sounds and vibrations. Or switch to airplane mode (the Focus page on iPhones)
  2. Send a group text to everyone important to you saying something like ‘In the next 90 mins I’ll be working on X, and won’t be available’
  3. Store your phone in a place beyond your immediate reach, perhaps in a drawer or better yet, in another room” — Shannon, 2017, p. 90

“By sticking with your Beat the Clock time limit, you will also be preventing burnout. If you keep working until you are done, even if you feel motivated, you can become physically, mentally and emotionally depleted. It can color your experience, making the next doable more imposing. It can also reaffirm the idea we must never stop working unless everything is done, which can turn any task into drudgery” — Shannon, 2017, p. 107

I thought this observation was particularly interesting!! Once again, not everything has to be done in black and white terms or all or nothing so keep celebrating every small win and every step of the way towards accomplishment! It’s about the process, not the outcome. When you set a 5 minute or 10 or 15 minute time limit for yourself to work on a task, when the timer is up, honor it and keep with it, give yourself a break and do something else rewarding or fun for a while then come back to it! You’ve got this. Things don’t have to be done ALL at once, even if we’re told otherwise by society. It’s okay to break it down into smaller steps and have little achievements all along the way (instead of building a giant mountain from the get go, climbing all of it and getting back out the other side, if we do this too often with tasks, we just avoid, avoid, avoid and the mountain gets bigger and we get a little more like spaghetti in response. So, break it down!!! [[Okay, super unexpected circumstance but this is now me with this review as well! I am in no way finishing it in my allotted time BUT I will still get it done. I’m returning the book very soon and checking it back in, heading home and finishing this review. Is it perfect? Gwah, no, not at all. It is what it is though! And it will still get done. So, for that, I am glad]].)

For the perfectionist out there:

“The perfectionist must be comfortable with mistakes. Does this mean you need to be happy with the mistake itself? No. It means you won’t let mistakes get in the way of your happiness” — Shannon, 2017, p. 124

As a perfectionist, this really rang true and important and critical for me. I don’t have to like that I make mistakes, hell, I can be very uncomfortable with it, and I also can’t let it get in the way of how I do manage to otherwise achieve my tasks and get going towards my goals, dreams and wishes for the future!!! ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š

Again, again, again, for perfectionists:

“Focus on the doable part of a task instead of the end results to allow yourself to more fully live in the present moment and decrease your stress and anxiety” — Shannon, 2017, p. 141

Love this, love this!! It’s about the overall message not how loud it was shouted or the depth of pain behind it. An outcome is an outcome, the process is what wins. As long as it gets completed, how “long” it took you to get there, if you’re there, you’re THERE and that’s what matters. Keep going!!


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THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

  1. There was a friend of mine I found on WordPress that does a bunch of Lego Ninjago fan fiction stories and they messaged me about a year to a year and a half ago and I always meant to write them back but never did… I should reach back out to them! Or follow some other fanfic blogs that exist on this site!!! ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค
  2. Sometimes if I can make the simplest tasks into Youtube videos, I will because A, I get content out of it and B, it gives me accountability and gets me motivated and on target to complete the task so it’s a pretty nice win-win situation.
  3. I really, really need to update some of my fan fiction. Sigh.
  4. Reminder that when feeling emotions: Breathe through them. Allow them space. Allow them presence. They may change into another feeling or another form of feeling it in your body. Allow it. Don’t fight it. The more you resist and fight the longer they stay around (the quicker you sink). — Shannon, 2017, p. 84 ((About riding the wave of emotion!))
  5. I wish I could watch a movie as a reward to completing tasks… I’m thinking of you, out there, Thor. Sigh. Maybe one day soon…. I cannnn say, I watched an awesome horror movie a couple of weeks ago that I plan to review on here soon and that was really great and got the gears churning again, yay!
  6. I haven’t completely yet but I should totes do some photos uploading to my computer, deleting through eh okay ones and preserving the best ones, make more live stream announcements and so on as well as take a few more baths!! And do more Insta posts…. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š
  7. Whenever I film videos or do live streams in my bedroom, I’m always putting up the chalkboard sign I have that says “Filming in Progress” or something to that effect. To be honest, I’m actually not 100% sure how it’s phrase. Maybe a “Do not disturb, Filming in Progress” Huh. I’ll have to check on that later. [[It’s “Recording in Progress” huzzah!]]
  8. Also, also, productive procrastination is still totally a thing!! Where you, like myself, might be avoiding or putting off putting away clean laundry, if you do reorganize your whole dresser because the clothes are a mess and you’ve also been putting that off, now you’ve accomplished ‘productive procrastination’ even if the main, initial goal, wasn’t achieved completely! At least, I remember reading about this phenomenon years ago. Maybe it’s changed though… Hmm
  9. So there’s a great segment in this book about how the tools to overcome procrastination and set new root beliefs HAVE to be practiced over and over and over again, and have to be done through willingness to change and the ability to make mistakes and not always ‘show up fully’ to take on the game–like having shown up AT ALL is a major step and should be celebrated instead of I showed up AND I won the whole game and participated in the after party. Like, all the small steps MATTER and deserve to be celebrated, which is really huge and important, I think, as well. (Shannon, 2017, p. 97)ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  Personally, for me, this reminds me of how I have to be going forwards about my fan fiction stories. Every little bit or scene written out (even if completely out of order and it’s chaotic), is still something and worthy of being included and figured out at a later date, as necessary–meaning, even if it’s going to take some mental gymnastics later to figure out what to put where, it’s all small steps that achieved a larger goal which was to write a chapter so, again, worth it!!! Better than nothing!! Additionally, I *AM* choosing tonight to be the night that I watch more of Thor if not completely finish it, depending on how things go. I’ll do 25 mins for sure, and depending on my attention span, time and other things I’ll see if I can completely finish it tonight or set off the last half hour for another day (tomorrow). So yeah! It’s taken a LONG while to get here but I think I’m finally, finally there. Phew! (I’d also say partially hearing about the current Spider-Man movie, Wanda and what’s setting up for Doctor Strange 2 and Morbius from a co-worker at work totally helped yesterday to make this final push in the right direction because I’m basically like, for myself: ‘I’m tired of putting off this whole universe I love and admire and adore so it’s time now to stop being silly and just get back into what I love’ So there’s that!! Little by little!! Once this review is edited, completed and uploaded I will work on my Iron Man 2 review! Huzzah!! PROGRESS
  10. “Between each “foothold” (each step of the small goals to complete) Emily could relax a bit with something more engaging for her, like playing one level of a video game or chatting with friends. And as each part of the task was completed, the more manageable cleaning her room would appear” — Shannon, 2017, p. 98ย ย ย ย ย ย  >>ย  What I like about this quote here is that celebration of each bits of progress! For instance, what’s helping me the most now the last couple days I did this review is to listen to positive I Am affirmations in the background. It just really helps to get my head in the game and be getting through it and also tuning in and out sometimes of what is happening via the affirmations video. I’m also at the library now and that’s doubly helpful. And I’m ready to be done with this book entirely so I’m excited and far more motivated and in the moment than usual. Speaking of, I find that nowadays when I do photography that I like having music playing in the background. It keeps me grounded in some respects even if I may not be fully fully in the moment, it just kind of anchors me and makes for an even better fun time too! Yay! I guess, whatever works right? Also, I think it’s a great version of ‘Me time’


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

Definitely what kept me reading this book, no matter how much time went by and how long I procrastinated on it for, was the fact that I knew I was going to get something out of it. Whether conceptual, concrete-ual (i.e a blog post) and actionable, I knew I had to finish it. Maybe that’s just because of my own rules or because I did enjoy it and it was a simple read, I guess we’ll never know for sure, you know? But I enjoyed it, overall. It was a good book. I rated it well, it wasn’t the MOST BIGGEST EVER LIFE CHANGING book yet it was still a very good read and I got stuff out of it. If I had procrastinated with it less, it probably would have ranked higher. It was a great little sneak peek into literature on the topic so I do, once more, encourage anyone out there who has read similar types of topics to mention them in the comments and I’ll include you in a shout-out post in the near future.

Overall, I think I learned a few things and I hope this review was something after all!! First real post of 2022 and it feels a little strange, yet probably everything that is my life at the moment. Like me at work when I’m always late for my COVID tests: I showed up, and that’s enough. It might not be on time, it might not be ‘perfect’, but I’m here, I’m there, and that’s what counts. Process, not the outcome.

Until next time, folks. See you on the other side!!! xxx


THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

  1. New Harbinger Instant Help Books SERIES and also just a list of books can be found here.
  2. “Overcoming Procrastination for Teens” by William J. Knaus
  3. “Get Out of your mind and into your life for teens” by Joseph V. Ciarrochi, Louise Hayes, Ann Bailey
  4. “The perfectionism workbook for teens” by Ann Marie Dobosz

Next up….

Nonfic: “Slow” by Brooke McAlary

Fic: “Shut Your Eyes Tight” by John Verdon


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I READ THIS BOOK:

11/18/2021 (very late evening), 11/19 (afternoon), 11/20 (afternoon), 11/29 (noon-afternoon), 11/30 (late evening), 12/1 (late afternoon), 12/3 (late evening), 12/11 (late afternoon), 12/14 (late morning), 12/30 (very early morning, noon), 1/6/2022 (mid-evening, late evening), 1/8 (evening, late evening), 1/9 (noon to completion.)

TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

1/10/2022 (later evening: 9p), 2/6 (late evening), 2/7 (late afternoon actually early evening), 2/9 (late afternoon, early evening, evening).

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

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

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

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

Here’s what’s relevant:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ย 

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

ย 

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

ย 

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

Maybe that’s what it’s all for.

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

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

ย 

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

ย 

Until next time. xxx

๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’›

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

Questioning: When Are Support Groups Helpful vs Harmful?

Let me just say this right from the get go:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

So, here I am!

Let’s regroup for a moment, shall we?

The question I have for creating this post:

When are Support Groups Helpful vs Harmful?

So let’s talk about some context first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s so frustrating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When is peer support bordering on playing therapist? and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks so much. xxx

Stay safe everybody!!!

๐Ÿช๐Ÿช๐Ÿช๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒž๐ŸŒŠโ˜”

Feeling Low: Job, Twitter, MCU…Life


Today: I’m feeling low.

I don’t even know how I want this blog post to go.

I just know that I want to capture what I’m feeling and thinking for a frozen moment. Frozen in time, suspended, distilled, captured. In the hopes that I can move on from it. Be unleashed. Free. Liberated. Safe.

The words don’t come easily. I feel the twirling fan’s breath on my exposed arms, a hooded, soft gray blanket dispersed over my head making me look like a nun. Or… Yoda. I want to turn it off, but I don’t because it’s grounding. My iPod is nearby, shouting out music, but it’s never quite high enough, no matter how much I turn it up. It’s never quite enough. And the mind, the mind I have, with the fumbling fingers on the keys, constantly making mistakes, constantly having to go back a space to fix them, still, that mind is swirling. Thoughts are coming half-formed and fully formed. Emotions the height of a tsunami, threatening to overtake me, wash me with its ruin. I’m caught in it, for a moment, I’m caught in it.

Maybe, no, maybe that last song was good. Hmm, maybe I’ll play it back once more:

MIIA – Dynasty

The tabs are open. The links don’t do what I want. The annoyance is there, bubbling to the surface, then, just really formed into disappointment. I remind myself to turn on the repeat function on my iPod along the same time I can smell the sweat from my feet, hunched over, legs on top of one another, crouching before the laptop, from a day’s activities, a day’s work, I think to myself to take them off, maybe even take off all the layers, so I can be comfortable in my pajamas. But I don’t really move. I don’t really move to do any of that.

Too caught up in the words. Caught up in the stories.

No, I change my mind. Place the song on repeat. Crack my neck. Unleash one sock… Then two. The smell still remains.

I’m tired.

I notice it more now, in the crux between the music keys and the way I sludge forwards, onwards, into the mix.

What was I talking about before?

Oh, right.

Feeling low.

…… Where do I begin?

There’s so many avenues to start the story, and each would play across the right one.

I guess, I’m unhappy with my job. I’m unhappy with my place in the world. I want more, and…less. My avoidance is chipping away my soul, slowly at a time, so that I don’t notice it until I realize “No, I can’t do that.” Because my world is spinning and crumbling, ever so slowly, ever so smaller.

My job isn’t where I thought I’d be by now. It’s not the job I thought I’d get after graduating university. It’s, in some parts, not even the job I wanted. But it’s the job I got, and it’s the job I’ve been at and been trying to learn and grow and succeed and go forward.

But I find myself… craving, wanting more. Wanting something different.

But I’m terrified on how or if I’ll ever get there.

I’ve been talking about my dreams with new friends online lately. And it’s reminded me a lot of my dreams. And how what I’m doing now, doesn’t really feel like it’s cutting it anymore. Or, at least, it’s just starting to dawn on me that this may be the case.

But how do I go from here to there? To the land of my dreams?

I want, or I think I want, to go into Certified Peer Specialist.

It’s just…. complicated. I have to factor in the fact that I’d probably work for an agency, that I have to get trained and pass a test, that I have to carve out more hours of my time for actual work, that I’ll be expected in Clinicals and DRIVING peers around, the fears of that, the responsibilities and the strangeness of it all. I’d have to get certified. I’d have to get gas coverage (in the sense that maybe there’d be mileage reimbursement but also I’d be hefting over part of my salary, likely, to the never-ending need for more fuel). I’d maybe still only be earning what I do now.

But, would it be more fulfilling?

Would all of it, everything considered, be worth it? And when would it happen? Soon? A year from now? How do I get from here to there?

I know I have to start small. I know I have the tools ready for me. I’m just… scared. Overwhelmed. Unhappy.

I’m craving more advocacy work. I think that’s what I’m missing now. Summers are always slow for presentations at NAMI and I haven’t had one all month so maybe that’s a factor. Maybe the other factor is that I’ve been talking of my dreams this week. Reminding myself of my potential and how much I don’t want THIS job to be my end goal. It was always just supposed to be a stepping stone. And maybe, maybe I’m finding that I’m finally ready to move onto the next one. I want to go into advocacy work of public speaking, give a TEDtalk one day, build up my 4 main recovery art projects, share my story, write and publish books, etc. So, so, so much more than this.

And it’s taken me a while to get here. I… maybe because of the BPD have … intense attachments. Hell, whenever I take out a book from the library I get too attached–even when the book is past due and I’m accruing fines, I can’t let it go, not when I haven’t completed my end of the deal with it. I most often override this but it’s still a functionality of my personality. At Passages I was the same way, thinking me and my DBT-Intensive crew were a team and flabbergasted when finding out that they were going to go on their own way before the ‘true’ end date. I have problems with attachment. Even if I’m mulling over an item in the store to buy, I get attached, I start to ‘see’ it in use in my life, and once that’s there, I don’t want to leave it behind without buying it. Again, attachments.

So for me, what I’m trying to say is, for me to get to the point where I’m starting to think: Maybe it’s time now, is pretty big. And yeah, I’m afraid in some parts because a few of my co-workers in the last month tried to leave for another job and now they’re back again. So, maybe I’d be the same?

But this was never my end goal. And maybe CPS will be it, for a while. Maybe just blooming into more of that advocacy work, the work I really want to do, maybe that’ll be everything.

I’ve been thinking lately, I don’t have all my advocacy work like from when I was at university. I think I miss that, am missing that. Maybe even finding odd jobs for paid writing work would help, too. I’m just kinda tired. I want more and I’m realizing I have to be the one out there to get it.

So, alas, I find myself wondering:

How do I get from here to there?

And, I’m not sure, not entirely.

Obviously I’d overlap the two careers before I moved on officially, just to see if I’d even like it to begin with. And then, I mean, I guess I just start making little goals? Maybe like a road map or a vision board of my dreams and start plugging away at it a little at a time. I also want to start by asking some of my NAMI co-presenters how they’ve gotten into the field (at least two are in CPS work) and then start that way, too.

Mmm, I’m feeling a bit more hopeful now with that idea.

With my calves hurting (curse those hills at work!), with a newfound determination, I’m going to work on what I can for the rest of tonight: mainly, mayb– oh!

Twitter & MCU: I’m still a lengthy amount of movies and time away from properly watching and being in the loop about everything happening with the “Loki” Disney+ series. So, with less than 10 mins on my Twitter timeline today, I’ve officially decided that I have to now avoid it for the rest of time (at least until I’m more in the loop and caught up, which will probs be July ahaha, did I say that? I meant AUG! Let’s be honest). Soooo that sucks. Also, I just haven’t been as active on Twitter this week. I’ve been discreetly uploading these avenues of content WITHOUT placing it on there: fanfic, videos, blog posts. So maybe one day but not any time that near.

And as for life, I’ve covered the fact that my avoidance bullshit is getting in the way a lot. And I won’t be leaving my job any time soon either, but I’m gonna start chipping away at it. Find trainings I can attend to, roles within the peer support arena, continuing to craft my online presence, teach some classes, do (when the time is right) presentations. Work on my public speaking skills (really rusty on that). Drive around more. List out the pros and cons of my potential decisions. And just grim face and bear the rest as much as I can. It’s not something I’ll have solved tomorrow. But we all start somewhere.

So for now, I’m going to answer a few online messages/emails and texts, read a book, go to bed early tonight, take my meds, eat dinner, network, listen to music and just get ready for the hellhole that tomorrow will bring.

Anyways, that’s it for me. I’ll either shower tonight or tomorrow, just want to make sure I do before Mon when I go to visit my partner! And maybe tomorrow I’ll watch the rest of Thor!!

All right, guys, thanks so much for reading. Do you have any tips or advice for how you made different career plans in your own life? Jumping from one job to a whole new one?

I’ll see you guys next week.

๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

PS There is ONE last thing I didn’t quite cover here but that I had thought of for the ‘Life’ category: the slow burn acceptance that my previous mental health problems and complications (i.e chronic suicidality) will probably be something I always have to deal with. More so in the sense that my automatic go to within my mind and body is to end everything, though I am now EONS away from ever, ever acting on those thoughts now. Regardless, I’m thinking like with most recoveries, the thoughts and emotions will always be there, just the behaviors are up to me. Which, is … nice, in some ways, and empowering and also frustratingly disappointing. But, alas, such is life. I can realize it, recognize it and do the opposite of it. Which is what I will do. Don’t worry, I’m safe!! Just something that popped into my head while at home, after work, before I started writing this post.

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


CHOSEN BOOK:

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

((graphic novel))

BES 5 -- Apr. - June


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Not applicable.


THEMES:

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


SUMMARY:

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

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

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


BOOK LENGTH:

200 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

4/5

๐Ÿ’Ÿ๐Ÿค๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ’Œ


OUTSTANDING QUOTES, IDEAS OR IMAGES:

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

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

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

flight-of-ideas-bes-thumb-2.19.21

THOUGHTS OR IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carol is also accidentally misgendered on p. 175.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Ž


TRACKING DATES I READ THIS BOOK:

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

TRACKING DATES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

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

Rereading Fanfics & Can I Just Nuke My Phone?

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com ((Picture my phone in the fire pit, and I’ll complain about WHY REAL quick))

So, first off:

UGHHHHHHH, GRRRRRR, WHHHHYYYY.

Now, onto the post:

IIIIIIII am hating my phone right now. I keep–

No, so I have a 7 year old BlackBerry smart phone with an actual keyboard (it’ll have its birthday, actually if not this month then next I believe) and it’s been PISSING ME OFF lately like, SO much because:

  1. I cannot receive a text message at the SAME TIME that I am sending one. Because if it happens, and it HAPPENS, my phone REFUSES to load for at least 10 – 15 mins (I should clarify, I cannot access those in question text messages from the person I’m having difficulties loading with or CREATE any other NEW ones to ANYBODY else. I’m pretty much locked out of my phone unless I email or call). And that has to be 10 – 15 mins of active involvement trying to have it load, so if it goes to sleep during that time, it just adds MORE time to the recovery phase of things. This is particularly annoying and I’ll get to that later.
  2. 85% of the websites when I do go on Google, most often, save for Youtube and my blog, don’t load. The funky new text interaction and ads just doesn’t work on my phone. When I try and click on them I get an error message. This also applies if I try to enlarge an image via a Google search, it just doesn’t work.
  3. Even with Youtube, I cannot stop or change the location of the video–it has to play all the way through, I cannot, especially now, I cannot change where I put it because the window for it is so small (it wasn’t always this way)
  4. I can’t load Twitter whatsoever. (And we all know how much I use and like Twitter, even when it’s The Void)
  5. I can’t even load most images via emails like if the email is of a company and sample images for promotional purposes it refuses to load or show up at all
  6. When I do have the loading issues like with a “locked” text message (so to speak), my phone starts overheating and I’ve had instances in the past couple of months where it kills literally HALF of my battery power or more. Soooo that’s annoying too!!

Honestly? I think that’s about it. I think I complained and vented enough.

It’s just been proving to be far more of a hindrance than a help lately and I’ve been really getting sick of it. I just want to hurl my phone–OH RIGHT:

8. I believe my keys at work nudged into the bottom center of the screen where the letters ‘T’ and ‘Y’ are (so just above of the keyboard, on the glass screen) while they were in my pocket, maybe back in Feb, and it cracked a (at the time, small) section of the screen. I literally had glass come out and now it’s gotten a bigger scratch expanding from the injured area and more of the glass falling off each day with the glue-like substance beneath it. I did have a screen protector which probably minimized the damage but yeah, that sucks. When I realized what happened (at first, I was eating a bag of pretzels so I thought it was a piece of salt until I found out what happened) my first thought legitimately was “Welp, I guess it’s time for a new phone.”

So I knew the end was coming soon.

Especially given the fact that, oh right:

9. I can’t use most of the main stream apps on my phone because it is neither an iPhone or an Android. It’s…. a BlackBerry.

10. I can’t access things like my accounts on Netflix or Disney+ (which would be helpful at work)

…that I’ve now had an iPod Touch since about Jan. 2020 so I’ve been able to experience the fact, when I’m in a place of WiFi (library, home) where I CAN go on all these websites, I can be on Youtube maneuvering the time stamps to wherever, I can be on app games and such, I can be on TWITTER, I can be on my blog, I can be looking at the Weather app given each town I’m in (to plan my outfits, of course) and so on and so forth.

Of course, while at Amaryllis, because there’s no free WiFi/open WiFi, I can’t access these things— OH YEAH

11. I can no longer go on FFN on my BlackBerry. It doesn’t support it at all. I was fine up until this year when things on the site changed, apparently. Ugh.

—like the Internet and such on my iPod, and I can’t use it as a phone so I can’t send texts or calls but the idea that I one day, with a new phone, will be able to is soooo brightening.

And I’ve been looking at new phones on and off over the last 3 months. I found one that I liked and really attached to but there were some problems with it so that got abandoned and now it’s been over a month since I looked at a phone again. I may still stick with BlackBerry because it DID serve me a long time (I wouldn’t go iPhone, Android only) and it is partnered with Android nowadays or with the models I have briefly looked at so that should be fine. There’s a couple pricey ones and maybe decently priced ones (if we operate on my faulty memory) that do still have a physical keyboard as well. Then there’s things like size of the phone versus pocket to consider and such. Let’s hope that I can start this month again the process of looking at phones. It would be nice, you know?


Now, here’s why I REALLY wanted to blog:

But before that–

Can we just take a moment to celebrate the fact that apparently Mental Health Awareness Month treated me so kindly, and that my iPod was acting up this evening so I couldn’t be on Twitter, for me to bring together the MASS EFFECT of a whirlpool to ACTUALLY be blogging and dealing with my thoughts and feelings IN A BLOG POST like we’re back in 2016 or some shit?

Like, can we just celebrate and take a moment to have a chef’s kiss for everything to have collided right in the universe for me to have my gut reaction to a problem be that I blog (not blob) about it which hasn’t happened in literal YEARS?

Okay?

Okay.

Thanks.

Glad that we had that discussion. I’m amazed, I’m in the feels and it feels REALLY good. It’s been so long. And something about being more active on here when I’ve literally craved it after the last couple of years and to see that AHA Twitter took me away from this a little bit (I mean, there were other factors too of course), I don’t know, it just feels magical to discover at the moment. So, one more gif because I’m happy to find that I can use them and thought of them in the first place for the first time (or what feels like forever) here:

I want to talk a little bit about fan fiction. Particularly, MY fan fiction.

If you don’t know:

Hi, hello, it’s Raquel again and I write mainly Loki centered Avengers fan fiction on topics including physical health and mental health, overcoming adversity, hurt/comfort, trauma, suicidality, growth, recovery, adjusting to life’s difficulties, hope, passion, romance (FrostIron, I’m really big on FrostIron; READ: Loki Laufeyson x Tony Stark relationships), medical mysteries, resilience and probably more, let’s be honest.

I have both an FFN account (I made it back in summer 2014, but only started posting my own fics in 2016) under the name: Unmasked Potential and an AO3 account that I made back in 2018 after someone on FFN suggested it for either D&D or ALU, my two most popular stories, because they thought the fics would do very well there too, and my username on AO3 is UnmaskedPotential. ๐Ÿ™‚

So yeah, I’ve been writing Loki centered Avengers fan fiction stories since 2016. I, actually someone that I was emailing with just asked me this so I can say it here too, am more of a planster kind of writer: I outline chapters when I go to write them but I also keep adding new projects when I haven’t finished my old ones lmao So I have a LOT of stories in progress, really none that I’ve finished (besides one shots) and even a few others that were drafted or started but not finished or put together (mostly one shots, I’ll be honest). BUT some still as only ideas.

I would say… over the last 5 years I’ve been dabbling in other forms of creative writing, for instance:

While I was in college: research papers, essays for academic purposes as well.

What you guys have seen the most of on my blog since the start (and no I never fully finished it, gwah) my newspaper articles for the paper at uni where I spoke of my mental health on a public sphere and also outlines my recovery etc

And then, of course, within the mix of time (I started college in 2012) things like original short stories, multiple chapter stories and poetry.

I ended college in fall 2018, so I’d say, alongside also doing blog posts for writing within all the years, in 2019 to 2021 I’ve discovered something particularly interesting since I’ve just started in 2020-2021 to write NON fanfic work, so like more original stories or looser fanfic that’s not Avengers/Loki based: (like at work, with kids, etc)

While I can write Loki-styled things really well…

I’ve kinda gotten stuck writing Loki-styled things really well.

Me 2021

Like, I cannot UNDO the Loki!!

Like, okay, maybe my novel is a little different, maybe, I’m not sure.

BUT like other short stories or non related Avengers stuff?

It all sounds like Loki.

IT ALL SOUNDS LIKE IT COULD BE LOKI.

I HAVE BEEN LOKI’D.

I cannot NOT write like I’m writing a Loki centered Avengers fan fiction.

It’s a problem. I SWEAR it is.

I also swear I’m crying laughing at the absurdity of this. Never thought I’d be in this situation ahaha. And the fact that the Loki’d jab references are too good is amazing too (but I’m sad there’s no gif of that)

However, my problem STILL stands.

The way I write that angsty, depressing, unworthiness and stylistic pull and churn of Loki in my fics, just, bleeds through in all other avenues as well, it seems.

I mean, I guess there are worse things.

Maybe I just need more practice to relocate my author’s voice, so to speak. Probably some awareness, cracking down out of it, editing through it and reading new content will help with that. It’s probably not forever broken and maybe I’ll just keep writing free fan fiction until I’m in my forties lmao I can dream, can’t I? (Let’s hope I’ll have some original work published by then, though!!!) [[PS If you happen to have any published work, I’d love to read them and review them onto this blog too!!! Hit me up in the comments or an email. <3]]

But here’s the real meat of what this post was inspired by:

I’m in the process of re-reading my most popular fanfic called A Little Unsteady (ALU) and… I ALWAYS forget how good it is until I go back and reread it. Like, it’s SO GOOD. THE FEELS. The questions. The existential awareness/crises. I always fall back in love with it and I am reminded each time, ‘Aaaa, yes, this is why it’s my No. 1 most popular fic’ Of course, I don’t exactly do this process super often given the fact it’s been a year and 3 months since I last updated it but even so, little things come back to my mind to look forward to (I’m particularly currently excited and fangirling for the scene where Tony and Loki hug!!) OH!!!!!! I JUST remembered how that happens. Ahahahhhaa Loki initiated it, yep. Then he threatened Tony about it, ahaha. By the way, my fics all pretty much take place in an AU where the Avengers movie only recently took place, I go and avoid most of what the MCU covers while still making light references here and there. It’s just the OG team for the majority of them though.

But yeah. Just little things and little reminders and ways that the writing flows. I mean, I’m definitely NOT without typos “pale white streaks” not “pale white steaks” or without a catch all plot formation (I make it up as I go, a lot of the time) but it’s my writing so it’s there. I’m there for it. It’ll grow and change and transform, probably with the more I read and maybe even, oooo, take some creative writing classes again.

But yeah, I’ve just been fangirling after a long day at work, reading from 4:30p this story until about 9p. When I got up to fix the streaks/steaks on AO3 and then had the run in with my phone. It’s been nice. I’m glad it was on my mind again today and I look forward to reading the rest tonight and over the next couple of days.

And hey, maybe it turns out that I had writing vibes in me today after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

Welp, that’s the end of this post. How many words? Probably too many. 2,250, eh, not bad, I’ll take it.

I hope that you managed to enjoy this post!!! And check out my fanfic if you have the time and see how Loki things are and maybe I’ll post up some more OG stuff soon so you can let me know if it is really leaked into my every day writing or if it’s a fallacy my mind is creating in and of itself.

I’ve gotta go, but it’s been real.

See you all soon.

XXX

Song in background for the last hour: “Dancing with the Devil” by Demi Lovato; I also tried changing the song I listened to each chapter for ALU so that was nice. This is my first time properly online all day! Besides rereading where I did. (On AO3) Links in my About Me page for the fanfic stuff! PPS I’m reading on Chp 5. Post written at the earliest, 8:30p – 10p