It has certainly been awhile since I’ve updated my reading. In fact, I think I’ve manged to go through nearly all of November with nary an update. Here’s a brief run down of what I’ve read since Readathon in October. Don’t worry, it isn’t much. I’ve read a smidgen of Young Adult novels. Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City. I enjoyed both books, but in a passive sort of way. They were enjoyable, but I think I like the photographs and the idea of the story more than the writing. It is my typical issue with YA, I like the story, but I want it written as an adult novel with more depth of character and world-building. I will most likely pick up Library of Souls – the third installment – but I’ll wait until it is available at the library.
I also re-read (for the fourth time I believe) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Beautiful, exciting, and yes… I still cry during the last fifty pages of the book. I will say this is the first time I realized that Dumbledore’s experience in the cave was very much like a PTSD flashback. It resonated for me in a much deeper way. I’m also amazed that I’ve moved from Dumbledore hero worship to a much more murky opinion of him. Harry so implicitly trusts him and, well, as we know by the end of the seventh book, Dumbledore knew so much more than he let on. I love the complexity of his character though. In fact, all of Rowling’s characters are so distinctive and human.
And that’s it. Alllll my reading for November thus far. Of course I have plans to catch-up on my Goodreads challenge and read nine books before December 31st. Let’s see what I have lined up.
I’d like to finish a few “in progress” books including Among Others by Jo Walton, The Thing on the Doorstep by HP Lovecraft, and the collection of Five Victorian Ghost Novels from Dover (really they are more like longer short stories or novellas). Christmas at Thompson Hall by Anthony Trollope for some holiday reading. Reading the second to the last volume of Fables (#21, I think). Ann Patchett’s The Story of a Marriage for some non-fiction. The Thirteenth Tale to satisfy my desire to re-read something bookish and Gothic. Maybe some mystery with The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. Then I’ll round out the year with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Of course, as most book bloggers do, I am already planning out ideas for next year’s reading. I want to complete Galsworthy’s Forsyte Chronicles and Trollope’s Chronicles of Barset. I want to read more Viragos and fill my year with Willa Cather. Perhaps I’ll work in some poetry, too. Lots of plans, loads of lists, stacks and stacks of books. So perfectly satisfying.
Two turkeys just wandered in…huh.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I adore wrapping gifts and unwrapping them. In fact, even though Sam and I have our money in one pot, I insist that we set a budget and buy each other gifts. It can be giftcards, but it has to come in an package to be unwrapped on Christmas morning.
Our family tradition is to keep Christmas morning going as long as possible. The kids are up early and we open stockings. Then we eat breakfast. Next the gift opening! We start with the youngest and each take turns opening a gift. I hate rabid tearing through piles. Instead I get each child (and adult) to appreciate and relish the joy that comes with a little bit of patience and watching the people you love be surprised and joyful.
I seriously do not care about the monetary value, I just want tiny glad things to open and I want them to be a surprised. In fact, the thing that sucks most about being an adult (besides all that boring responsibility) is not getting a Christmas stocking.
To help Sam out I made a Christmas list. Here you go, hun. Knock yourself out!
Eating and Drinking Things
- coffee mugs!
- hot cocoa
- altoids (seriously, I love these)
- pots and pans (ceramic or stainless steel, not Teflon coated)
- glass or ceramic bakeware
- metal measuring cups and spoons
- metal cheese grater
- wooden cutting board
- Burt’s Bees Lipgloss
- lotion (not too frou-frou)
- ModCloth giftcard
Writerly and Bookish Things
- small bookcase
- Sharpie fine tip pens
- stickers, wasabi tape and other journal decor doodads
- thriftbooks or abebooks giftcard
Alright! There we have it. Now if only I managed to be good this year!
Anxiety has a way of knocking me to the ground in a very short span of time. I can be well-rested and having a marvelous day and then suddenly find myself in the throes of anxiety. The nagging circular worry, the helplessness of feeling urgency and hesitancy at the same time, the way my reasonable and emotional self war with each other hit in an instant and can quickly plummet my day.
I’m learning to live with this panic bird of anxiety thanks to therapy. Therapy this year has been marvelous. I’ve processed a great deal and made some changes in my parenting style, career goals and relationships with others. I have made many mistakes, but I’ve bounced back. Much of the bouncing back is due to employing tips and tricks learned in therapy to get me out of emotional anxious jams. I’m very proud that I haven’t self-injured in over a year and I haven’t had a compulsive binge episode since April.
There are three things I’ve learned in therapy that has helped me the most and I thought I’d share them here.
- Dialectical Thinking. My brain worries about making everything agree or placing items in a hierarchy, but that doesn’t always work. Often things can be both and exist side by side. For example, my reasonable mind will often point out the ridiculousness of my anxieties and depression, but my emotional self will still feel anxious and upset. That’s okay. I don’t need to berate myself (“you are stupid and ungrateful for being so worried about something dumb”) and I also don’t have to give into the emotional side by handling things with outbursts or self-injury. Instead I acknowledge that both things are true. Sure, a minor fender bender (that was Friday night) is no reason to be so scared and upset, but I am scared and upset. It is okay to be both. It is natural to exist in a constant state of flux between feeling and thought. One doesn’t need to win by the demise of the other. When I do this I am using my wise mind.
- Finding Gratitude. My friend Katie writes about this best and her words have echoed the wisdom of my therapist. Even in the worst moments there is an opportunity for gratitude. Persy Jane has had a rough month and a half of illness: three stomach bugs, an ear infection, and now a UTI. Schedules are disrupted, sleep is impaired, and then there is the helplessness of not being able to make my child well and watching her suffer (seriously, if you could hear her cry when she tries to use the bathroom your heart would break). Even in this I can find gratitude. Gratitude for medical insurance, my husband’s understanding professors, my teenager who pitches in without asking, for Atticus’s small concessions and kindness to his baby sister, for paid time off, for the moments spent with her little body curled up next to mine… these tiny moments don’t mean I enjoy the illnesses, but allows me the space to breathe and appreciate my life.
- Recognizing when I am skillful. The summer was rough. I wasn’t engaging in harmful behaviors, but I sure as hell wasn’t happy about it. I was restless and upset over not being “grown-up” enough to shake off the bad days. I felt like I could be more. One day I took to Facebook and spilled all of my worries and woes. Sam was at work, I was alone, and I was feeling terribly bleak to the point of self-harm. I spilled my guts and had so many kind messages from friends. It also opened the door for me to ask a friend to stay with me the next time Sam worked an evening. I also delayed making stupid decisions that would be harmful to me. I told myself to wait and kept myself busy with other things. When I confessed this awful evening to my therapist I thought I was the biggest failure. Pleading on social media for help, promising myself I would self-injure after caring for the kids and doing an extensive chore list; I felt so weak and silly. I mean, I shouldn’t be thinking this way…I am awful… what is wrong with me?! Instead my therapist pointed out that I was skillful. I recognized and identified my feelings, I asked for help, I employed delays, I observed, I slowed down, I used “all the tools” to keep me from harming myself and then the feeling passed. I did a great job. I was floored. I truly hadn’t thought of it that way. Now I acknowledge when I succeed.
The constant tearing down myself and thinking I will never be enough as a mom, wife, friend, or decent human is a tiny whisper now instead of the only loud voice I hear. The anxiety is still there and I’m learning that, much like my depression, it will show up in fits and starts. Accepting the dissonance between my reasonable mind and emotional mind, actively seeking ways I can be grateful for this life, and recognizing my own skills when battling anxiety and depression is keeping me well.
And for that, I am grateful.
Image used with permission from the best Yarn/Cat Instagram account around, MyMarvelousFlight
Oh hai! Look at this little draft of a post started in October. See I was going to do this big crocheting and knitting thing in November. 13 days into November and I’m finally posted. Best laid plans and all that.
I am trying to focus on knitting and crocheting more. It relaxes me and ups the cozy factor. My goal for the rest of the month is to post on Instagram at least one photo update a day. Even if it is only one row. Even if it is just making a center-pull ball. Even if I just decide to naked dive into my yarn stash. Okay, maybe not the last one.
What have I accomplished? I wove in the ends, washed, and blocked five washcloths I’m mailing to a friend tomorrow. Currently, I’m twelve rows into a dishcloth for a dear friend. Up next, finishing Sam’s scarf for Christmas and then two baby blankets. Baby blanket number one will be Charlie Brown themed with a pattern like this but mostly in yellow with a wee bit of black. The next baby blanket will be this pattern, but with deep lavender, gray, and mustard yellow.
Now, time to go play in some yarn.
Today the readers at Top Ten Tuesday ask:
Book to Movie Adaptations! What’s on my “to watch” list. Some movies are already out, others coming soon, and a few I’m looking forward to for next year.
- First of all I need to complete The Barchester Chronicles. I was watching last year before we moved and just didn’t pick it back up.
- I also need to finish watching The Forsyte Saga
- WOLF HALL!
- Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
- Victor Frankenstein (I’m rolling really loose with the literary adaptation angle here)
- Mocking Jay, part 2
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
- The BFG