The Honest New Year Post


I have come to enjoy changing years and the opportunity it gives me for reflection, rebeginnings, and dreaming for the future. Because of that, I’ve been excited about writing this post for several weeks.

But as I actually sit down to write, it’s hard to find words. My mental health isn’t bad this weekend, per se, but it’s acting up, and things are muted. Enjoyment is hard to find, and words–at least the good ones–even more scarce. (Just writing this post is a way of fighting back, of trying to live through the discomfort of this low rather than numbing it.)

If I can’t find my own words, I’ll use words from someone else; Continue reading

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Abrupt Horror


Everything affects everything.

Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why

I have a pretty good life. Not many bad things have happened to me. But recently I’ve had some breath-stopping, heart-pounding, stomach-turning moments.

“The baby has a heart defect.”

“They’ve found his body.”

“Something horrible has happened.”

Freeze. Feel the paralysis that abrupt horror creates. 

Most of these moments haven’t even been directly related to me. It wasn’t my baby. It wasn’t my family.

And in some ways, that makes these situations stranger for me. I’m hurt, I’m gutted, I’m crying, but there is nothing I can do. My coworker asks if I’m having a bad day, to which I incoherently reply, “No. Well, kinda. Yes, I guess so.” There’s no way to explain the small anchor on my heart, the tragedy that isn’t close enough to warrant stopping life long enough for grieving.

One of the boys I grew up with committed suicide.

He was the last person I would have expected. (everyone says these things) He was one of the happiest, kindest people I knew. (that light is gone and I can’t believe it) There was no warning, no signs. (there are almost always signs)

But I wouldn’t have known if there had been.

I went to college. He stayed home. We exchanged some Facebook messages, but to be honest, I probably haven’t talked to him in 2-3 years.

And now…well, now that feels like a mistake. Like something I could have done differently if I had bothered to care more.

A few days after he died, I reread 13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher’s seminal YA work on suicide. I read it first many, many years ago. I haven’t read it since because I was afraid it wouldn’t seem as powerful. I was afraid I would be disappointed. Then I heard Jay speak and with the timing, it seemed like a good read.

It was. It didn’t give me any answers (there aren’t any). But it reminded me–again–how important it is to care about the people around us. To go out of our way to show them that we care. To tell them that they matter.

A few days later, I read “Letter to an Ex, on the Occasion of his Suicide.” [Note: strong language, read with discretion.] It was as heart-breaking as I should have expected. Masha made sense of what I couldn’t:

The more time goes on, the more I think being a grown-up means accepting that you might have done your best, but still it wasn’t enough to prevent harm. It wasn’t enough. And for this I bear responsibility.

I want you to:

  • Read 13 Reasons Why
  • Act like you care about the people in your life
  • Care more
  • Breathe. Cry. Write. Fight.
  • Don’t ever forget.

 

If you came to my blog looking for standard book reviews, you can find them further down in the feed. This isn’t a typical book post, I know. But I think this is the soul of reading. Reading is often how we process, heal, make sense of our desperately painful world. I’m trying to be more intentional about showing that reality. Thanks for reading. 

Quotes from my Notes #12


[Since I haven’t done this in awhile, a quick explanation. I collect quotes from a variety of places, but don’t have a good way of sharing or processing them. This series is my way of sharing what inspires and challenges me with others.]

It’s easy to pretend that the dominant narrative is insightful, based in reality and in sync with what we wish it was. Denying it doesn’t make it go away, though.

We can’t easily change the dominant narrative that people have about us, we certainly can’t do it by insisting that our customers or colleagues bring more nuance to the table.

Instead, we can do it through action. Vivid, memorable interactions are what people remember. Surprises and vivid action matter far more than we imagine, and we regularly underinvest in them.

–Seth Godin

Limbo (Also: I might be crazy)


After 1 entire week of no job or classes, I am back at school. I came early for work training, but that’s all over today. Classes don’t start until Wednesday. Work doesn’t start until Monday. It’s just me, alone in my dorm room, with nothing to do.

That’s not quite true. I have books I could read, paperwork I could fill out, organizing I could do, and naps I could take. But I have nothing I must do. And it feels so weird….

I forget how to function when I don’t have a demanding schedule. When my mind is not full of a never-ending task list. I can’t sleep at night, because I’m not exhausted. I could read…but without looming deadlines to make that recreational reading seem precious, I have no desire. It has been like this since I left my full-time job at home a week ago. I didn’t even pack until the day before I left, because there was no urgency.

I am ready for school to start. I want schedules, syllabi, textbooks, an agenda. I thrive on meeting deadlines and completing assignments. I am crazy.

Side Effects of Bibliophilism – Part 1


It seems like such an innocent hobby when you’re young…read lots of books, become smart in the process, experience super cool stories, nothing bad here (except the staying up late and parents telling you you read too much (I know, seriously?), but that’s not important). Now a little older, I recognize a few side effects of such obsessive reading. I’m not saying the side effects are good or bad, simply observing that they exist. Also, there are obvious side effects (did I mention excelling at some school subjects?), but I am not dealing with those.

Side effect #1: Treating everyone around you like a fictional character. No disrespect to anyone around me meant by this. Fictional characters are good. 🙂 Realization of this side effect took awhile to dawn on me. I wrote about my fascination with people a few months ago, and started asking “why?”. Why would I look at some people and suddenly want to spend a significant amount of time picking their brain? I wanted to know what was going on in their head, where they had been, where they wanted to go. Duh! What do you learn about a character? Generally, you see some back story, read their thoughts, watch where their life goes. There is no privacy…you see everything. In the space of a few hours, I’ve probed the depths of a (imaginary) person, every tiny secret of their life.

Unfortunately, life outside of books doesn’t work that way. I have no excuse to become so knowledgeable about a person, no basis for probing them. Probably best for them…real people deserve privacy from the intense curiosity of strangers. I watched this side effect play out in my relationships too. The best excuse you have for that type of deep probing is the guise of a relationship. With no conscious intent whatsoever, I believe I may have enjoyed the high of figuring out a few of my partners as much as I actually enjoyed the “relationship.” My depression after those breakups was more from the sudden lack of connection rather than any real hurt. I have yet to decide if that was unfair to the guys…I’m just aware of it for my future relationships.

This side effect is a mixed bag. Is it bad, my desire to probe the depths of a person? Probably. However, my fascination of people leads me to be accepting and more appreciative of humanity, which is clearly a good thing. It balances out…I am fascinated from afar, with no threat to anyone’s privacy.

Has anyone else experienced this side effect? Please tell me I’m not alone!

Magically Ordinary


Confession: I engaged in a highly dangerous activity for a college girl.  I…..browsed Pinterest. If you are unfamiliar with this hazardous practice, I encourage you not to research it. But definitely finish reading this post, because Pinterest actually isn’t the theme. I am clearly desperate to escape my homework, because I worked my way through the humor, geek, and women’s fashion categories before perusing the Quotes. Now, not that I have anything against quotes, but they tend to be…sappy. Also sketchy. How to make a quote pin: Find a random picture, write words on it, slap a name on the end. Voila! But I can’t really diss it, because the quotes did give me a blog idea, yay!

What are the magical moments in your life? Not the “man of your dreams got on one knee and asked for your hand in marriage” magic. The simple magic moments. There are obvious ones: sunrises, sunsets, animal antics, moving sights of nature, etc. But it could be anything. A bright color, a smiling child. I am going to list a few of my favorite magic moments of the past, and then this week I am going to keep a log of my favorite moments, which I will then share next week. I encourage you to do the same…acknowledging magic makes it ever so much more powerful in your life. 🙂

 

*Lying in the backyard with my dog, watching the stars * sitting out in the sun reading * watching snow fall for the first time in my life * having a little boy run up and tackle hug me * the little girl at work who told me I looked like Rapunzel * sitting on a bridge over a creek, soaking up the sun and reading * wandering the library, memorizing the placement of each book * nights at the fair full of laughter and adrenaline * holding my puppy for the very first time * dancing around the living room with my little sister * staring out my window mesmerized by the green, blue, and gold that came through our pine tree * the smell of freshly cut grass and sweat on a soccer field * the running of any water…river, lake, ocean*

What are your favorite magical moments?

Musing’s End


In between celebrations, Christmas is a good time for reflection….considering the past year, appreciating family and friends, and planning for the next year. For me, it seems like this is especially important this year. Many, many things have changed in my life over the last year. Starting college is the most obvious, but it has been a year of huge growth for me in other ways. All of these changes leave me with a lot to sort out. A few things stand out from all of this mental/emotional sorting.

1. I am very, very blessed. There are things about my life I don’t like, but in the big scheme, I have a very good life. I’m in school, doing well, paying for it from my jobs, fully supported by my family. My friends are amazing, always there for me. I have a spectacular boyfriend who came out of the blue and brings unbelievable amounts of joy to my life. I am in possibly the best period of my life right now, with nothing to really complain about. It’s important for me to remember that in the midst of the “growing pains” all of these changes bring.

2. I like being challenged. Christmas break is great, and I definitely needed the rest, but I find myself antsy, unsure of what to do. It’s hard to fathom, this freedom, after having to do homework practically every night for the last few months. I’m working 40 hours a week, but still feel slightly lost in the evenings.

3. I like learning. I never particularly liked school until college. Tying right in with the challenge point, I like being challenged to learn something. I could turn into a professional student very easily. I have to remember that when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to get out of bed or off, say, Pinterest. I know that learning is good for me, I just have to get off the couch and do it.

4. I still have a lot of uncertainty. Making decisions about issues in my life has only opened more questions about other issues. There are still many issues that I just haven’t decided. This sometimes frustrates me…in a way it makes me feel like an immature or weaker person. Which is probably an unwarranted feeling, but there regardless.

5. I was well-prepared for life. My parents and youth pastor repeated these mantras constantly about life. Do this, don’t do this, etc. Now that I’m on my own, I find myself realizing how true all of these teachings are. In a way, it makes me feel like such a typical child. At the same time, I am extremely grateful for such good raising.

Looking past all the annoyances and uncertainties, I am so happy with my life. I don’t take the time to acknowledge that often enough. This Christmas, think about what is wonderful about your life. Yes, your relatives may drive you insane. You may have had any number of disasters. You may have even had recent tragedies in your life. In that case, my heart goes out to you. But in general, I encourage you to be happy with life. It is magical and good. 🙂