• Lists,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: the thankful edition

    Thanksgiving is the low pressure holiday: you cook, get together with people you enjoy being around, eat, watch football, and contemplate what you are thankful for. Easy stuff.

    I know I’m in the minority but it’s my favorite holiday.

    Today’s Top Ten is simple – what I’m thankful for. There are so many more than just ten and these are not necessarily my top ten because this list is fluid. I.E. my dogs may not make today’s list because they have been super naughty lately but ask me again next week and they might be at the top of the list.

    Here goes!

    1. My family – We have gone through so much this year and we have come out on the other side closer, more understanding, and we grew as humans together.
    2. HealthMental health in particular. There were days that I honestly didn’t know how we were going to make it to the next. Trauma is tricky thing but here we are, stronger and healthier.
    3. Resources – We are gainfully employed and have what we need; including books to read.
    4. Writing – Having a place here to write has been particularly helpful. I’m thankful that I found writing again and that it became a new way to express myself.
    5. Little things – One day I’ll tell you about what Chaney told me she used to think the library street sign was. It was hilarious and as I found myself laughing with her this past Saturday, I was keenly aware of how great it was to laugh at something small and silly.
    6. Hobbies – I obviously love to read. I also enjoy knitting. I had to give up quilting due to space several years ago but that’s about to change. I’m thankful to have artistic and creative outlets that I enjoy. Ten years ago I would have told you that I wasn’t creative at all.
    7. Time – The time I get to spend with my family is precious. Maybe it’s just because our kids are getting older but that has a way of making you acutely aware of how fast time flies. I’m grateful for the time we have to spend together and with our extended families.
    8. Change – For those who know me, they are probably laughing. But this year has been a year of change and I am grateful. It hasn’t always been easy and I know the changes aren’t finished but for the first time, I’m finding myself able to embrace change and look forward to the future – even when there are unknowns.
    9. Steve – My husband is my rock. He makes me laugh, he listens, he loves, and he’s my biggest supporter. Our family would not be where we are without him. Even when I lose my shit, he’s a pretty cool guy.
    10. Ok fine, my dogs – Buddy and Gus are old (11 & 12) but they act like puppies. That’s challenging because every day we think that they might start acting their ages. But no, every day they prove us wrong by doing something funny, ridiculous, sweet, mischievous, or crazy.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to check out the rest of Top Ten Tuesday on Artsy Reader Girl!

  • Lists

    The Proper Care & Feeding of a Bookworm: the holiday edition

    gray notebook beside tealight candle
    Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

    As November winds down and the holiday season ramps up, I decided I would make a list for myself and share it for those who need a little extra care to get through to the end of the year.

    1. Gratitude – I listed this first because gratitude sets a lot of emotions back on course. Stopping to be thankful can change your focus. It’s not to pretend that what you’re feeling doesn’t matter but it does give you a break from the sadness, anger, grief, etc.
    2. Sleep – Coming from someone who used to run on very little sleep, I’ve realized how important it is for my health.
    3. Food/exercise – If you can’t do both, pick the one you can do marginally well and stick to it. When I’m struggling, I have a hard time with the exercise part so I focus on what I eat instead.
    4. Say no – I am terrible at saying no. As in, I have a sign on my body somewhere (haven’t found it yet) that advertises this. I have really been working on this though and it is making a big difference. Plus I feel better about the things I say “yes” to because I wanted to say yes.
    5. Ask for help – My husband fusses at me about this one all the time. I don’t ask for help until I’m imploding or exploding. Asking for help, with even mundane tasks, has helped me tremendously.
    6. See a therapist – See all of the above because I basically ripped off all this from him. But seriously, my therapist has been invaluable. Finding a good one can be a bit of trial and error so don’t give up if you don’t click with the first one.
    7. Quiet moments – Plant some flowers. Turn off the TV/the noise. Pray, meditate, etc. One of the best things I do for myself in the fall is planting pansies. I get an afternoon outside, in the quiet, and add some color to the dying leaves.
    8. Readobviously. I have been on a nonfiction binge this month which is strange for me. But I think this goes back to #1 – everyone has a story and reading nonfiction has let me look at life from other perspectives.
    9. Write – It doesn’t matter what or where. Writing has helped me a lot this fall.
    10. Social media – Comparison is the thief of joy. If all the perfect table settings and Christmas trees in your feed are leaving you feeling inadequate, cut back or take a break. This also frees up time for # 1-9. Win/Win.

    Lastly, don’t be afraid to look beyond this list.

    One of my biggest pet-peeves are the quotes about “running is my therapy” or “I knit so I don’t kill people”.  Those things and the activities on this list are not a cure-all and I will be the first to admit this. In the past I have ended up in real trouble with depression believing that running, diet changes, crafting, etc were enough. These things help but please ask a doctor for help if you’re still struggling. There is no shame in taking medication or getting intensive help.

    And please, if find yourself in a really bad space where you feel like hurting yourself there is help 24/7:

    National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

    UK

    Canada

    Australia

    Now I’m going to go back and read this list to myself another 50 times. Happy Holidays!

  • Book Reviews,  Writing

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Have you ever read a book and felt like you were reading a letter from a friend? Or listened to an audiobook and it seemed like a long conversation with a friend who moved away?

    That is what a book by Anne Lamott feels like. A letter from an old friend.

    I had been living under a rock because it took Amazon suggesting this book, after loading other books in my cart, for me to figure out who Anne was. Sure, I had seen some of her quotes floating around the interwebs but I didn’t realize she wrote books – really good books.

    November is probably my toughest month depression-wise. Everything is dying around me and even though fall comes every single year, it takes it’s bite out of me before winter comes. Couple that with some some other stressful situations completely out of my control and you get this super-fun November 2018.

    I try a lot of different things to feel better, most of them healthy, and I’m thankful that I started this blog a few months ago because writing for it has been one of the things to keep me afloat this month.

    I wrote last week about NaNoWriMo and that is going well so there’s another bright spot in the Month of Dead Leaves. In my preparation for it, I bought a few books on writing because let’s face it – I’m a numbers person with a degree in economics & finance. I sure sound super fun and interesting.

    Anne has very unique writing voice which is what made it feel conversational for me.

    Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and your shitty first draft. … Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force (these are words we are allowed to use in California). – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

    Girl, I know. About the the perfectionism and people from California (like my husband).

    See what I mean?

    This book was about the writing process but wove in life, hard lessons, family, friends, and even religion. I appreciated her take on writing because it felt like a manual on writing for people who have a million things going on besides waking up, making coffee, and sitting down for the day to write: see yesterday’s post as exhibit 562.

    Her methods of observing life and capturing those moments have become a part of my daily thoughts and it’s made these tough weeks a little more fun and interesting.

    The last chapter was my favorite and I had my husband pausing a football game so I could read to him. He really loved it. No really, he did.

    The basics were this: avoid libel by changing details in your writing with the last detail being a tiny appendage. No one is coming forward claiming it was written about them if they have to admit to that last little part.

    I enjoyed this book immensely and I have since read another one of her books, Stitches, which I’ll review soon. Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone who is interested in writing and would enjoy a perspective from an author who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

    And that tiny appendage part? Since I read it to him, my husband and I have laughed multiple times about that and who I could write about.

    See, I told you that he loved it.

  • Book Reviews,  Bookish,  mental health,  parenting,  Recommendations

    Book Review: This is How It Always Is

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    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    – Martin Luther King Jr.

    Rating: ✂️✂️✂️✂️.5/5

    If you want to read a book that will make you laugh, cry, think, and easily find your way into someone else’s shoes, This is How is Always Is is a great pick.

    I was raised conservative Methodist, went to private parochial school, and was indoctrinated with conservative southern views and politics just by living in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Today I classify myself as a moderate liberal but more than that, I classify myself as pro-kindness and believe it’s important to extend respect and grace even when we have different views.

    This book does a beautiful job of illustrating just that: grace.

    When Claude, the youngest of five boys bounds down the stairs in a dress and insists on wearing it outside the house and eventually to school, everything this family knows as normal is turned upside down as Poppy emerges as their youngest family member.

    Remember the part about being in someone else’s shoes? That happens a few minutes into the book and the author doesn’t let you change your shoes until the end. And at that point I don’t really think you will want to anyways.

    From each family member’s perspective, the reader gets to question, grieve, get angry, keep secrets, and learn to accept their youngest sibling/child as Poppy.

    There were the expected struggles in school, with friends, and most often with other adults but you also got the unique voice of Poppy, an intelligent, insightful, and brave girl. The author did a fantastic job giving us a glimpse of the inner dialogue of a child trying to figure out who they are; just like all kids.

    It gives the reader plenty of time to consider what they would do and for me it was obvious: I would love my child and support them as they figured out the world.

    We all have our differences, be it mental illness, a physical disability, personality quirks, or even something that happened in our past that permanently changes who we are. Despite that, we all want to be who we are and to be accepted. Same with Poppy.

    The characters were all well-developed and I especially enjoyed the relationship between the husband and wife, Penn and Rosie, who also had non-traditional roles. Penn is an author and stays at home. Rosie is a physician. The dialogue between the two of them was real, honest, and accurate for parents navigating raising five children.

    My one problem with the book as a whole was when Penn and Rosie referred, multiple times, to having four and a half boys. It’s their story but it felt like a minimization of their youngest child. A kid is never half a kid.

    I enjoyed this book immensely and while I found the writing a tad sloppy at times, it never distracted from the story or the very timely message. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about real families dealing with real issues. Don’t be afraid of an “agenda” because it’s just not there.

    The only agenda here is that parenting is messy and all we can do is love our kids for who they are, not who we want them to be.

  • Bookish,  Feminism,  mental health,  parenting,  Personal,  Wit,  Writing

    Wednesday Words: The Joy of Syntax

    Ferris-Bueller-Quotes-1

    Have you ever felt like a second person narrator in your own life? What is a second person narrator? Here you go:

    This point of view is the least common of all three persons, mostly because it’s the hardest to pull off …. You’ll recognize this point of view by the use of you, your, yourself with the absolute exclusion of any personal pronouns (I, me, myself). The narrator is the reader. It’s tricky, but it can be done.

    This sounds like the parenting life!

    The past four years of my life have felt like they happened to me. Multiple situations completely out of my control but demanding every bit of strength I had.

    Severe mental illness, physical assault, death, grief, angry and grieving teenagers, a traveling husband, a third teenager who slipped through the cracks, sexual assault, PTSD/anxiety/depression, police interviews, suicidal ideation, therapy appointments, psychiatrist appointments, loss of a hobby, loss of a passion, being used, disrespect, entitlement, addiction, lost dreams, lost friends, a new school, brighter days on the horizon…

    How are you feeling? What do you need? How was your school day? Your orthodontist appointment is tomorrow. The school called about the assault on you. You have therapy tomorrow. Did you take your meds? Are those boys leaving you alone? You can’t drink as much as you are. You can’t do drugs in our house. It’s time for you to be an adult. You love high school?! You have overcome so much. You are fierce.

    You get the point.

    The definition of the second person says that it can be tricky but it can be done; it’s  exclusively you, they, them. That is 100% accurate and correct; it is tricky.

    The exclusion of  I, me, myself is a dangerous way to live. It happens but it’s not without consequences. You miss what’s happening in your actual life while trying to stay on top of everything else that is moving so fast.

    It took four years but it caught up with me. Don’t worry because I’m ok. I have a great therapist. And a fantastic husband.

    I’m writing again. And in my research, along with my favorite “Ferris Bueller” quote, I found the antidote to living in the second person: change the point of view. Tell my story and flip the script to the first person POV where I can ask for help, I can say how I feel, I can put boundaries in place, and I can tell my story.

    Please don’t take this as me making it all about me. Because every good story has a balance; multiple perspectives and plot lines. And if the book is good, they converge and tell a cohesive and relatable story. But it takes everyone, even the antagonist(s) to create a rich plot. Because without adversity, there’s really no story arc and it results in something flat and boring.

    Our life has been anything but boring. Would I change anything about the past 4 years? Probably not. I certainly have learned from these years and for that I’m thankful.

    But I’m also really, really thankful that what our family wrote doesn’t resemble a horror novel and something closer to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

    Ferris-Bueller-s-Day-Off-jennifer-grey-38291373-1280-528.jpg

    And yes, I unapologetically admit to being Jeanie.

    Isn’t writing amazing? What surprising thing has it taught you about your own life?

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