Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

  Photo by John Weinhardt on Unsplash, edited with Canva

Totally borrowing this from Emily, who says it is a BookTube thing. In her words:

The Mid-Year Freakout Tag is an annual tradition in the "BookTube" world where people make videos to do a mid-year summary of what they've read so far. Basically, ending with everyone freaking out realizing that the year is half over and no one has read all of the books they intended to so far.

She credits the creators: 
Chami from ReadLikeWIldfire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03gz6...
Ely from Earl Grey Books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_Wh0...

I'm actually ahead of my yearly goal- to be fair, my yearly goal is less than I read last year. I made it that way on purpose because this is the first year I am taking a class every semester. However...the questions looked fun so I'm doing this anyway. 

Best book you’ve read so far this year?
Ugh, best is such a hard term! Best, most culturally relevant would be The Hate U Give. Best as in, I became the most emotionally invested in, would be All the Ugly & Wonderful Things. But if it is overall enjoyment...I really liked The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It also touched on a lot of cultural issues and surprised me and moved me.

Best sequel you've read so far this year?
Puddin' by Julie Murphy, I gushed about it a lot and have no intention to stop any time soon.

New release you haven't read yet, but want to?
Ok truth, I suck at keeping up with releases. Like, I never know what is coming out unless it's by an author I've already read and keep up with via Twitter or Goodreads. Sooo I'm cheating on this answer and saying Children of Blood & Bone by Toni Adeyemi - I only read half of it before I had to turn it back into the library, and I can't wait to finish.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
What did I just say about being terrible at releases? Anyway, I've pre-ordered Hank Green's debut novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. I'm generally a fan of the Green brothers and feel good about giving money to people who seem to be nice and hard-working and value education and civil rights, so even if the book is only mediocre I can feel good about the purchase (although it sounds interesting & has been getting good reviews).

Biggest disappointment?
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine. It was all over the Show Us Your Books Link-Up but was just not for me.

Biggest surprise?
 When You Are Engulfed by Flames by David Sedaris. Not sure why I keep thinking I don't like Sedaris, when he is so fucking delightful!

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)?
Uuuuummmmm this is super hard, because I have read a lot of new-to-me authors this year. But going with Angie Thomas, who wrote The Hate U Give. I questioned a few things about the writing style when reading but upon reflection came to feel they were done very specifically and with good reason.

Newest fictional crush?
I just don't have an answer for this...

Newest favorite character?
Ugh, I'm trying really hard to pick a different book for each question but I'm going to say Callie from Puddin'. She has both terrible and wonderful traits, and is written to show all the different aspects that make up a person...one of the best, multi-faceted characters I've read in a while.

Book that made you cry?
I honestly don't remember, although I probably have cried over one and it's just not coming to mind. But I'm going with one that gave me a lot of feelings, which is Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado. Because this should required reading in America, and I want to promote it whenever possible.

Book that made you happy?
A Tyranny of Petticoats, edited by Jessica Spotswood. This book was a delight from start to finish, I cannot recommend it enough!

Favorite book-to-film adaptation you saw this year?
Haven't seen any :)

Favorite video you have done so far in this year?
Not applicable, and I don't have a particular favorite blog post!

Most beautiful book you've bought/received read?
There are several beautiful covers that I've already shown, so I'm picking two other wonderful books I've enjoyed this year that also have gorgeous covers! Little Fires Everywhere with Celeste Ng and Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson


What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. There have been too many dang reviews, and partly I think it sounds super interesting and partly I just NEED TO KNOW what people are talking about!

The Case for Crying

Photo by Asdrubal luna on Unsplash

Pretty much exactly on my 13th birthday, I began crying all the time. That is a slight exaggeration...but just barely. 

I cried a lot over the next decade. Pretty much any time my dad used a stern tone with me (he wasn't abusive or anything, I just have several insecurity & hate disappointing people even slightly), the Cosby show, books, commercials...pretty much anything could set me off.

Somewhere around my mid-to-late 20s, I realized I wasn't crying as much. 

I still had the urge occasionally, but I just didn't have the time.

That sounds ridiculous, but it's true. Once I was out of college and working full-time, I didn't have the luxury of sitting around watching sad movies and crying for an hour. For some reason now when I start to cry, it's usually in the morning before work. And I loathe the idea of being the girl who stays out of work because of crying- how cliche would that be?

But the reality is- I should totally do that! Because when I was crying all the time, I had no anxiety.

It was so much easier to deal with an avalanche of feelings once a week than to have this ridiculous hum of anxiety sitting on my chest every day. 

To be fair, my late teens/early 20s had much more definitive emotional events. My husband's deployment and constant training, moving a lot, getting my degree, setting up a home and all those new "adult" decisions. We've been in our house for several years and have no real reason to move...my job isn't fantastic and doesn't have a fast track, but I honestly like it. I had a baby, and we are trying to do foster care/adoption, but the first one has become fairly manageable and the second is a slow trick right now.  Again, it's not one big thing but bunch of slow little ones.

I am not sure if I can get back to that emotional binging, but I think I am going to try.

I wrote a super-sad and stress post the other day that is currently sitting in my drafts. Like, I was concerned about myself after reading it. But within a few hours, I felt immensely better. There was something about purging all that ickiness, even privately, that made it all seem more manageable.

I've mentioned that I getting more and more anxious over the past few years.

But I have still be avoiding admitting some of it to myself. I have been scared to face it head on in case I made it worse. But I'm starting to think that instead, that's what will make it more manageable.

Broken, and It's Okay

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash, edited with Canva

My church does a series ever summer called At The Movies. Each week a different popular film from the year is discussed and Christian themes drawn from it.

I haven't seen any of the movies this year, but I definitely want to see The Greatest Showman after watching a few clips.

I'm usually not a musical person, but this was fantastic. And the song This is Me in particular made me cry. Like...I may have definitely downloaded it and cried singing on the way home.

The movie is about the creation of a circus, and this song in particular is from the circus performers. At this point in the movie, they are mistreated and not taking it any more. The song begins:

I'm not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
'Cause we don't want your broken parts
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one will love you as you are

But I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious

I'm still feeling anxious. My summer class seems to have been a trigger that kicked my anxiety from low-level to high-level. And I have not yet figured out the best ways to deal with it...other than sleeping, which is not always an option and definitely not always the best option.

And I get stressed about the fact that I am stressed...which is just a horrible thing.

But this song made me feel okay about it. This song made me realize that I can't care what people think- whether I should be anxious or shouldn't, how I should or shouldn't deal with it...who I should "admit" the truth too or who will only make it worse. The song made me realize that I am me, and I am enough, within myself, even when I am broken.

I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

I'm thankful for reminders of how resilient the human spirit is, of how fickle society's approval is, of the value of self-love. 

I'm thankful for moments of hope. If that hope is only three minutes of a song...then I will hit replay until the words are truly written in my heart and mind and soul. 

Current Thoughts: July 2018

  • I am taking a summer class and holy balls IT'S SO STRESSFUL. I have a midterm, a paper, and a group project all due next week. It might be okay if it wasn't also my first online class in like 8 years...but it is. Cue all the stress in the world.
  • Babycakes is starting to show some independence! A few weeks ago we went to a birthday party and she spent more time in the Little Library with me than playing with the other kids. But we've been spending more time at the park and community events, and she is slowly starting to walk more than 2 feet away from me without saying "MOMMY! COME WITH ME!" Also I am so thankful for nicer, older kids who play with her. We spent an hour at the park the other day after a little girl immediately adopted Babycakes and "showed her" how all the park equipment worked and was generally adorable and kind. It's nice to be reminded that most of us start with kindness.
  • On the other hand, we've started potty training and it's um...going. Honestly better than I expected- she used to hate the potty but is slowly getting used to it. She rarely asks to go but we bought some special books that stay in the bathroom that she likes, Hubby plays her music to keep her on there...I am honestly not ready but trying to deal.

  • Still nothing on the foster care/adoption front :-/ Like, in a way it's good because hopefully that means kids are being taken care of. But also...I'm worried that our criteria is too narrow or something is somehow wrong with us (we've stated we can handle 1-2 kids, ages 0-6, mild disabilities at most although it's kind of varied between a bunch of different areas which is too lengthy to go into here). We had one call but there was communication issues and by the time we said yes, they had already found another foster family. Trying to have faith that it just wasn't meant to be and "our" child/ren will come into our family when it's meant to be. I know it's going to be so hard but the knowledge that a phone call could come in second or never means I have a low current of anxiety in the back of my head all the time. 
  • We had an awesome day at the beach with our church group, including a couple who moved away but came back to visit! They are truly awesome people, afterwards another couple commented "yeah we thought we had been romanticizing them but no, they are really cool" which is basically the exact conversation Hubs & I had. HOWEVER- during this amazing trip, I got sunburned. And it doesn't hurt, but it itches like crazy and I am loosing my mind. Slapping on as much coconut oil as I can and popping Benedryl. 
  • I am thinking of a blog overhaul...but I can't decide. Parts of me wants a new blog name too- but dude, I change blog names like every 3 years and it's starting to feel ridiculous. Thoughts?

    What's going on with you?

    Show Us Your Books Link-Up: July 2018

    Time for show us your books!  Maybe I will actually remember to link-up this month.

    This was one of set my mom grabbed randomly for me from my old local library. It was a decent romance/stereotypical chick-lit without being too cheesy. 

    This book was a fucking delight from start to finish. I reread Dumplin' last month and Murphy is still a fucking queen. Loved the characters, love the love/hate/both relationship between the characters. I want to list about 342243 other things I like but really just go read the damn book. It's wonderful. 

    This was one of Hubby's books that I grabbed off our bookshelf because I needed something new to read. Not sure why I always think I don't enjoy Sedaris- I have enjoyed his NPR appearances and this book was great! Maybe it's just that neither short stories or nonfiction are usually my jam. But, his dry oddball humor is so appealing to me and I relate a lot to some of the mental quirks he mentions. Highly recommend.

    Okay I had the worst timing with this book. It is SO GOOD so far, but I got it from the library right around the time my summer class started. And at 500+ pages...I just couldn't finish it before it was due. And because it's awesome and there is a long wait list, I can't renew it. I'm about halfway done and probably going to just suck it up and buy it. I can see being 100% all in on this series (expected publication for book #2 is sometime in 2019), and honestly I'm surprised it's not more popular! I haven't finished, but based solely on the first half of the book I highly recommend. Obviously things could go south, but I have high hopes.

    What have you been reading lately? 
    Link-up & let us know!
    Life According to Steph