Cold Weather Happiness #6: When being tired is worth it

cold weather happiness

Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

When being tired is worth it

This past week I drove/was in the car for about 20 hours. I went to Meridian with some friends on Monday (1.5-ish hours each way) and Nashville through Birmingham with another friend (3.5 hours to Birmingham and 3 hours to Nashville each way), plus four days of to and from work (at least .5 hours each way). We also had our Holiday Open House at our library. So yeah, I’m kind of exhausted. I slept for like 11 hours last night. But it was worth it. Want to see what I did?

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On Monday, I went to Meridan to see Eddie Izzard. If you don’t know who he is, educate yourself. I’m kidding. But for real. He’s an actor and comedian from the UK, and he’s absolutely hilarious. You should really look him up on YouTube if you need a good laugh. We were only 8 rows back, so we had fantastic seats. I wish I could share some of his bits from the show, but I don’t think they’d translate well into typed words. However, I’ll just say that I haven’t laughed that hard in a LONG time. Totally worth the 3 hour round trip after a full day of work.

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On Wednesday, I drove through Birmingham to meet up with a friend and then we continued on to Nashville to see the lovely Eric Hutchinson – who I was seeing for the second time, her for the third. It was an all acoustic show, which was absolutely wonderful. The opener was a comedian named Gareth Reynolds and he was pretty funny. Eric, of course, was fantastic, and he played a lot of my favorites – including Tell the World, A Little More, Rock & Roll, Ok, It’s Alright with Me,  Breakdown More (I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there).

So even though I exhausted myself a bit this week, I got to hang out with some good people and I saw two amazing shows that had me laughing so hard I almost cried and singing along to my heart’s content. What a wonderful week.

Cold Weather Happiness #5: Look forward

cold weather happiness

Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

Sometimes it’s okay to struggle

You might’ve noticed the missing Cold Weather Happiness posts from the past two weeks. You also might’ve noticed that I’ve been a little MIA on the blog for the past week or so. I posted a TTT and WoW, but those were both scheduled a couple of weeks ago.

What I’m trying to say is that I have had a really hard week this week. I’ve been really struggling to find things that make me happy. Honestly, I’m even struggling to write this post. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know if I want to say anything.

So what I’m going to do is share some of the things I’m really looking forward to that are coming up soon:

  • December 7 (TOMORROW!) – I’m going to see Eddie Izzard perform in Meridian, MS. A perfect way to inject some humor into my life and get me smiling.
  • December 9 (WEDNESDAY!) – I’m going to Nashville with someone I love to be around to see Eric Hutchinson live for the second time. Road trip with one of the people that’s guaranteed to make me smile and some live music are surefire ways to make me feel good.
  • December 20 – Skype time with one of my best friends, Jo! She is pretty much the one person who gets me without me actually having to say anything. She always makes me feel better – pretty much just by us having a conversation.
  • December 24-27 – I have four days off for Christmas! Plus I finally get my Erin Condren planner so I can start planning a better 2016.

I’m sorry I don’t have more to say right now, but I’m working on it. I love this blog, and I’m going to use it to find my passion again. If I don’t respond to your comments right away, know that I will – it might just take me a day or two longer than normal.

I think what I mean by this post is that I’m telling myself it’s okay to struggle as long as you keep fighting and keep looking forward. And I am. Trust me.

Cold Weather Happiness #4: Best Friend Time

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Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

Best friend time

I have a hard time making best friends. In fact, until the past few years, I don’t think I ever had what I now know as a best friend. And then in the span of just 3 years or so, I found TWO. I’ll be talking about the other soon, but today I want to talk about this weirdo – my ex-boss turned best friend, Matt.

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This post might get a little sappy, and I’d probably not say any of this to his face. And if he actually reads this, well, good. When I first started working with Matt last year, I wasn’t in a good place. But he was exactly what I needed. He made (makes) me laugh even when I don’t really want to (either because I’m sad or because he’s highly inappropriate). We have a lot in common and a lot we don’t have in common and that makes for some interesting conversations. He’s the person who got me into comics and who I now go to the comic book store with every single month. He protects me and would fight anyone for me. We’re both a little messed up, but that’s why we work so well, I think. He lets me talk about all my bookish shenanigans and even though he has no idea who or what I’m talking about, he still listens. And even though I no longer work with him, we still make time to hang out – like last night, when he drove the 35 minutes to my house so we could watch The Walking Dead together. I’m just really glad I have him in my life.

Cold Weather Happiness #3: Mini Mississippi Bonfire Night

cold weather happiness

Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

Mini Mississippi Bonfire Night

As most of you know by now, I lived in Scotland for over a year while I got my Masters degree. You might have heard of this celebration that happens every year on November 5 called Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night. If you haven’t heard of the actual celebration, you’ve probably heard the poem/verse, which was made pretty famous in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta:

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Anyway, Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night is a yearly celebration of the night that King James I survived the attempt to blow up parliament. People light big ol’ bonfires, there’s sometimes fireworks and usually lots of drinking. It’s a lot of fun, but since I’m back in Mississippi, I had to improvise a bit. I lit my own little fire, had a nice cup of coffee, and finished reading an incredible book (in case you’re wondering, it was The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner). I had a great evening with my parents around the fire, and though I missed the UK something fierce, I’m glad I got to have a mini bonfire night.

Bonfire Night

Cold Weather Happiness #2 – the Harry Potter soundtracks

cold weather happiness

Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

My favorite songs from the Harry Potter soundtracks

I don’t know about you guys, but when ABC Family starts playing the Harry Potter movies pretty much every single day, I watch them pretty much every single day. I LOVE these movies, just like I love the books. I also tend to listen the soundtracks (which are AWESOME) more often during the fall. They are perfect fall weather/get work done to/pump you up songs, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Great Hall at HalloweenSource

Hedwig’s theme // this is the classic “Harry Potter song”. You’ll recognize it almost immediately, and it appears in every movie in one form or another.

Harry’s Wondrous World // a fantastical feeling song that really encapsulates what the first two books/movies felt like – magical. (This is also one of the songs you hear most often playing at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter)

Potter Waltz // a fun, fast-paced song. The song where Harry tries to dance at the Yule Ball and…fails a bit.

Buckbeak’s Flight // a sweeping, lovely piece. The song that plays as Harry rides Buckbeak around the Hogwarts grounds in the third movie.

Professor Umbridge // kind of enchanting and a lot of fun. Very bouncy. Just ignore the fact that it’s about that horrible woman.

Double Trouble // do I even really need to explain this one? Taken from the incantation in Macbeth and put to music, this one is really wonderful.

Cold Weather Happiness #1

I’m a walking contradiction this time of year. I live for the cooler temperatures, coffee on the front porch, nights around the fire, boots, sweaters, scarves, yellow leaves, driving with the window down, just…fall. I LOVE it. But I also start to get a little anxious because cooling temperatures means earlier sunsets, darker evenings, cold nights, and less sunlight. It means, unfortunately, that my depression usually worsens. I wasn’t always like this. I am a contradiction because I both crave and am scared of the cold weather, the darkness. I hate this, SO starting today and every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. I’m sorry if this is a little deeper than I usually go, but I need to do it for me, and I hope that, maybe, it can help some of you too, because I know I’m not the only one that feels this way during the fall and winter.cold weather happiness

twenty one pilots // Holding On To You

Remember the moment you know exactly where you’re going,
‘Cause the next moment, before you know it,
Time is slowing and it’s frozen still,
And the window sill looks really nice, right?
You think twice about your life, it probably happens at night, right?
Fight it, take the pain, ignite it,
Tie a noose around your mind loose enough to breathe fine and tie it,
To a tree, tell it, “You belong to me,
This ain’t a noose, this is a leash,
And I have some news for you, you must obey me.”

Book Review: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive is beautiful, open, honest, genuine, brave, and hopeful. It should be read by everyoneReasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haigif you’ve been depressed, are depressed, know someone who is/has been depressed. Honestly, if you are alive, this book is for you.

Author:  Matt Haig

Genre: Autobiography, memoir

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Date: March 5, 2015

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Have you ever had a book that you were simultaneously unable to wait for and very scared of reading? That was Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive [Matt is the author of The Humans, which you should ALL know by now that I LOVE].  I’m sure you can tell from the title a little of what it’s about, and you may or may not have been able to guess why I was nervous to read it if you’re a regular reader of my blog. I have never said this outright on my blog, but I am depressed. I have depression. I am a depressive. Do you know how terrified I am to say that on my blog? Petrified. But I’m going to say it because it will make it that much more clear why I needed and appreciated this book. From the very moment I heard about it, I needed it. And thankfully, because I interned at the amazing Canongate Books a couple of years ago, I was able to get an early, digital copy of this one and didn’t have to wait the several weeks it’s going to take for my UK pre-order to get here (though I’m still quite looking forward to my physical copy).

I read this entire book in roughly 4.5 hours. I devoured it. I also cried more than I have probably EVER cried while reading a book. But I also smiled. Maybe not a lot, but it happened. The synopsis says “It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more.” I was pleased to find that to be very true. I felt a lot reading this book. I like that Matt mentioned that not everyone’s depression is the same, that you can be both happy and sad at the same time (“just as you can be a sober alcoholic”), and how most people will not be able to see it:

To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames.

My heart pounded so HARD in my chest practically the entire time I was reading, just as it is beating hard just writing this all down.

Reasons this book made me cry:

– My own sadness and depression
– Matt’s battle with depression
– The feeling that someone could so completely understand me
– The fact that I HATE that I could relate to so much of the book
– The fact that I DON’T WANT to relate to any of it
– The “My Symptoms” section – I related to so many of these that it was a little horrifying. One of them – “A sense of being disconnected, of being a cut-out from another reality”
– “You are on guard to the point of collapse every single moment, while desperately trying to keep afloat, to breathe the air that the people on the bank all around you are breathing as easily as anything.”
– “Minds have their own weather systems. You are in a hurricane. Hurricanes run out of energy eventually. Hold on.”

Matt said at one point he hoped someone else would read his words and that maybe the pain he felt wasn’t for nothing. I know it wasn’t for nothing, but THANK YOU, Matt, for writing this book, for being brave and open and honest, for showing me I wasn’t alone no matter what the depression told me, for telling me that life will wait for me, for The Humans, for all of your words, for being alive.

Let’s get down to the bottom line, shall we? Read this book. Read this book because you have emotions and hopes and feelings. Read this book because you are human and because you are alive. Read this book to live. Reasons to Stay Alive is a celebration of life, books, words, and humanity.

Rating: Honestly, this book defies ratings. How can you rate a book like this? However, I’m sure you can tell that this book will occupy my favorites shelf right next to The Humans forever.

ARC Review: My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

You guys said you wanted me to get a little more real and tell you more about myself. This review is as real as I’ve gotten. I hope you still love me. My Heart & Other Black Holes

Author:  Jasmine Warga

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental Health

Publisher: Balzer + Bray / HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 10, 2015

320 pages, Hardcover

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

I’m sitting here trying to start a review on a book that made me cry, made me smile, made me hurt, and that I loved with all of my black hole of a heart. I’m not sure if I can do it.  Alright, take a few breaths, Stefani. Here we go.

This book is beautiful, you guys. It deserves to be read, whether you are suffering from depression or not. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone can find something to relate to in My Heart & Other Black Holes. I really cared about these characters because they were me. I’m so glad that this book is out there, because it tells you that you aren’t alone. It tells you there’s hope and this doesn’t have to be the end. It’s something that is important and needs to be talked about.

The characters were real because of their feelings. You can feel Roman’s grief. Aysel’s depression was tangible and real. I loved this book, but I also hated how much I could understand both of them so well. Warga’s description of depression was spot on and I relished in it. This book felt so real, you guys. “Depression is like a heaviness (ARC 14)” and sometimes “It’s like your sadness is so deep and overwhelming that you’re worried it will drown everyone else in your life if you let them get too close to it (ARC 183).” Aysel thinks “He gets it” after Roman says that last part – I thought “Jasmine gets it” when I read that.

But I didn’t just love this book for the sad parts. I’m not giving anything away, but the ending was so realistic, and I really appreciated that. I’m just happy I got to spend time with these two characters, because I loved their journey together. I’ll end this review with my favorite quote:

I will be stronger than my sadness” (ARC 266).

The bottom line: My Heart & Other Black Holes is a beautiful, honest, heartbreaking, real, and sad book. It deserves to be read – not only by anyone that has suffered any kind of mental illness, but by everyone.

Rating: 10 – Perfection. One of the best books I’ve ever read (I think this is only the second 10 I’ve given) Thank you SO MUCH to Stacee aka Adventures of a Book Junkie for the giveaway that let me get my hands on this beautiful book.

Waiting on Wednesday: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Publisher: Canongate Books

Author: Matt Haig

Release date: March 5, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

‘I want life.
I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it.
I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt.
I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying’

Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn’t, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how live better, love better, read better and feel more.

Why I’m excited: Words can’t describe how excited I am for this book. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know how much I love Matt Haig’s book The Humans. I love it with my entire being. “Reasons to Stay Alive” is a few page chapter from that book. The Humans was Matt’s reaction to his depression at the age I currently am. I honestly don’t know what to type here. I have too many emotions swirling around inside me right now. Let’s just say that I need this book. Note that I didn’t say “want” but rather “need”. I’ll be paying international shipping and everything. I don’t care how much it costs. March can’t come soon enough.

What are you waiting on today?

 

Book Review: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It's Kind of a Funny StoryTitle: It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Author: Ned Vizzini

Genre: Teen, Contemporary, YA, Realistic

Publisher: Hyperion

Publication Date: April 2006

Paperback: 444

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Let’s start with a brief synopsis:

Craig Gilner is an ambitious New York City teenager who seeks entry into the Manhattan Executive Pre-Professional High School because he believes getting into the right high school will start him on the path to a successful life. However, once Craig aces his way into the school, the pressure builds up, so much so that he stops eating, sleeping, and doing his school work. One night it all gets to be too much and he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s experience gets him checked into a local mental hospital, where he meets an array of fellow patients from many different backgrounds, including “a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio” (book jacket). At Six North, Craig is finally able to find the sources of his anxiety and confront them.

What I thought:

I’d already seen the movie adaptation of this book, though it had been several years. I had a feeling I was going to really enjoy this book. And I did.

When I sat down to start writing this review, I couldn’t. It was difficult for me because of how well I related to this book. The beginning of the book, before Craig goes to Six North, was almost too relatable for me. I won’t go into too much detail, because I don’t think that this is the right place for it, but I’m going through a very rough time in my life right now, and I cried more than once while reading about how Craig was feeling, what he was thinking, and what he calls “The Cycling” (when your thoughts continue to circle around and around on all the things you haven’t done, won’t do, can’t do; in essence, why your life isn’t that great).

Because this review is so hard for me, I don’t think I can do my typical “several paragraphs on why I loved/didn’t love this book” review for this one, so I’m just going to bullet point the things I liked and try to explain them. I hope that’s okay.

  • It’s authentic. Oh my goodness, is it authentic. It’s real, and each of the characters and what they are going through feels genuine, real, true. The emotions in this book are raw and sincere.
  • “My depression is acting up today” (Page 121). I wish I could say this whenever I’m asked, “What’s wrong?”
  • “Sometimes I just think depression’s one way of coping with the world. Like, some people get drunk, some people do drugs, some people get depressed. Because there’s so much stuff out there that you have to do something to deal with it.” – Page 240
  • It’s a story that needed to be told. Ned Vizzini, the author of this book, spent several days in adult psychiatric in 2004. He wrote It’s Kind of a Funny Story right after he got out. Ned needed to tell this story, for himself and for us. It’s important for teens, and adults, to be able to have a book like this that they can relate to, to show them that they are not alone. It’s so powerful.
  • Several laugh out loud moments: though this book deals with very serious content and themes, it comes across as a rather light read. Craig is witty and clever, and the people with him in Six North are funny, vibrant, and animated.
  • This book makes me want to live.

So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.

Live. (Page 444)

  • I felt uplifted at the end of this book.
  • One of the ways that Craig deals with his anxiety and depression is through art: he creates maps of imaginary cities. I totally understood this; I paint, draw, create little sewn monster dolls…make art. It is a perfect way to focus on something completely different but pour out all of your emotions at the same time.

What I didn’t like:

  • Nothing.

The bottom line: I never wanted to relate to this book as well as I did, but honestly, I’m glad that I did. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is a story that needed to be told, and I’m glad that Ned Vizzini wrote it and I was able to read it.

I’d just like to say that I hope wherever Ned is now, he is finally happy.

Rating: 10 – Perfection. One of the best books I’ve ever read

Reading Next: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead