• 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

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    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!

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

    Wednesday Words: The Joy of Syntax

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    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?

  • Feminism,  Personal,  Wit,  Writing

    Wednesday Words

    No, I’m not on fire. At least not for the sake of other’s comfort.

    Anymore.

    Last night after dinner my husband asked me about taking care of some rather mundane tasks that belonged to other people; other adults to be exact.

    My gracious response was, “I’m not doing it. I’m tired of doing shit other people are supposed to do.”

    No kids or animals were around to hear my sparkly words so at least there’s that.

    His response was actually gracious. Because he is a very smart man. Well, actually he just said, “ok.” But whatever. Still a smart guy.

    However, I do think my abrupt answer speaks to where a lot of women are coming from these days. Especially women with one or all of the following: jobs, families, pets, household responsibilities, personal care, etc.

    We have been told we can have it all and in the process we have set ourselves on fire. Or worse, we have let others set us on fire for their own gain. They have taken advantage of our warmth.

    Now we are left burned. And hurting. Yet life moves on.

    Kids still need to get to school and activities. We have careers we show up for with smiles on our faces. Our homes need to be clean-ish. Our families have this crazy expectation to be fed. Even our pets want treats every time we walk in the door, even if it was just to get the mail. It’s exhausting.

    So Sunday evening, after a particularly trying weekend, the thought crossed my mind:

    What if I just stopped talking?

    I spend a lot of time up in my head with my thoughts but this was a weird one, even for me. It’s now Wednesday and I have finally figured out what that my silence would ideally achieve.

    If I stopped talking, people would see me.

    They would have to look. Forced to make eye contact. Forced to read expressions. Forced to make gestures… some probably not so nice if we’re being honest.

    We don’t see each other anymore. Our noses are buried in electronic devices. Even as we are rushing from activity to activity or chasing the next big promotion, we are texting and emailing instead of seeing the other person.

    And this lack of seeing others; I don’t believe it’s a female specific issue either. But because I’m a woman, this is my own perspective. And because this is me, I’m going to tell you what I, along with most women, long to hear:

    I see you.

    I see your frustration. I see your tears. I see your hurt over the destruction of addiction. I see your worry over your kids. I see the times you clean up messes made by other adults you are supposed to be able to count on. I see your struggles because we all have them. I see the well-intentioned fire you started to keep others warm and I see the harm it is doing to you.

    It’s time to stop the madness. Put the fire out and help another woman put her fire out as well. Because there is more than one way to generate warmth. Community instead of competition would be an excellent place to start.

    Build a different kind of fire. One that illuminates and allows us to see and support each other. We can all do better.

    And one last thing, take a look in the mirror and see yourself. I did that this morning and saw a woman doing her very best, and purposed to keep talking. Without as many sparkly words.

    Maybe…

  • Bookish,  Personal,  Writing

    About last month…

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    I have never been a big, “It’s [whatever month] and I’m thrilled!” type of person.

    By writing that, I realize I have an automatic elimination from the PSL (pumpkin spice latte) club and the sweater weather crowd. Not that there’s anything wrong with either because I wear sweaters every chance I get and drink exactly one PSL per year.

    But October 1st, on a Monday, the day before a vacation, after a ridiculous September, and I’m all about a big cheer for October.

    September was a month for de-cluttering our home after reading this book. The book talks about the “magic” that happens beyond having a tidy home. Pounds are lost, money is found, new paths are revealed, relationships change, etc. I was skeptical of it being one of those pseudo-spiritual things but the author was right.

    It’s not an automatic state of enlightenment but what happened for Steve and me, as we let go of our past belongings, we were freed up to turn a page and consider the future.

    1. New boundaries were set that were long overdue.
    2. Relationships changed. And for the better, no matter how you look at it.
    3. Things we thought we needed; turns out we didn’t.
    4. We found ways to save over $1000.00 per month.
    5. I started writing again.

    I’m amazed at what we were able to accomplish in September, even with high stress levels because of situations outside of our control.

    And about the control; I know I’ve written that in large part the past four years have felt completely out of my control. I lost myself. But I feel like I found myself again in the simple acts of throwing away papers, donating clothes, and finding what brought me joy in my surroundings.

    Who knew that I was buried under a stack of papers and in a sock drawer of mismatched misfits? That’s not where I imagined I would find myself because let’s face it, that’s not as adventurous or exciting as going on a solo kayak trip or climbing a mountain eating berries and drinking water from a filtered straw.

    But I’ll take it. Along with the $1000 in gift cards that we found tucked away in cards and drawers.

    So bring on October! The month where we will turn the page, travel, and finish creating a home full of what brings us joy.

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