“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*)Β 

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. 😱😰😳🀐

Β 

“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.

Β 

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. 😐😱😨🀭

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.

Β 

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. πŸŒ²πŸŒ²πŸŒ²πŸŒ³πŸŒ³πŸ’™

“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? πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ€©πŸ˜πŸ₯°

[[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!!! πŸ€—πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’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!!! πŸ–€πŸ–€
  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…. 😁😊
  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)Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β  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. 98Β Β Β Β Β Β  >>Β  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).

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


CHOSEN BOOK:

“Almost Everything” (2018) by Anne Lamott

Notes on Hope; ((nonfic))


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

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


THEMES:

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


SUMMARY:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


BOOK LENGTH:

189 pages


MY RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

2/5


OUTSTANDING QUOTES AND IDEAS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or is it more abnormal not to?

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

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

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

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

A hard truth, yet necessary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I HAD WHILE READING:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THINGS I’D LIKE TO CHECK OUT:

Other works by the author:

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

Book reference:

  1. The Magnificent Defeat

Quote reference and following book it arises from:

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


Next up….

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

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

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


TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I READ THIS BOOK:

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

TRACKING DATES AND TIMES I WROTE THIS REVIEW:

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