How Rainbow Rowell helped me beat anxiety – for one night anyway.

Wow. Okay. So. This post contains two big things for me – the first being hearing Rainbow Rowell speak, and meeting her after. The second, and it ties in with the first, is how I (barely at times) overrode the anxiety that tends to rule my life – for a night anyway.

About… a month and a half to two months ago I got an e-mail from my county library system. Important to note that my city library isn’t a part of the county system, and I’m not exactly sure how I ended up getting this email. Anyway, I found out that Rainbow Rowell (and Markus Zusak!- more on that later) were going to be in my area. I waited a bit too long and wasn’t able to get meet and greet tickets for Rainbow Rowell, but I was signed up for her talk that night. One of my best friends was going to try to join me. I was, obviously, beyond stoked. Rainbow Rowell! I love her books and relate especially to Cath in Fangirl – the whole not going to the dining hall because of anxiety was me in college… both times.

Day of the event, my friend can’t make it and it’s snowing/icing outside. I decide that if I can find a fairly easy way to the library she will be at I will try to go on my own. I am terrified to do this. I DO NOT want to go alone. I don’t do well at all in unknown places with lots of people I don’t know when someone is with me, so imagine how I can be when alone. I realize this chance may not come again for a long time, if ever, and get in my car and make the drive.

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Oh so blurry, but its Rainbow FREAKING Rowell!

 

She spoke for nearly 90 minutes.  I teared up when she came onto the stage.

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Seriously, guys.  It was a life changing moment for me.  For nearly 90 minutes I got to hear an author I adore speak, and I was so captivated by her words that for most of that 90 minutes, the anxiety was pushed back just enough.

When the talked ended we were informed that Rainbow would be singing books.  ALL the books, but only personalizing one.  Being by myself was a slight advantage at this point because while people gathered their things and waited for their friends, I was able to maneuver around them a bit and get in the line, so I wasn’t standing alone in line with my anxieties for too awful long.

I brought the three books I have in hard copy.  Eleanore & Park, Landline, and of course – Fangirl.  I was set to have her personalize Fangirl for me.  I stood in line and just stared at her… she was so attentive to every person who was there.  Reading her interviews and twitter feed only scratch the surface of how amazing she really is.  Then, finally, it was my turn.  Shaking and teary eyed I get up to her and hand her my books.  Where she personalized TWO of the three for me, as I explained to her my kinship to Cath and she shared her own anxiety story with me.  I told her how came alone, but I wasn’t willing to miss her even in the storm of anxiety and she looked me in the eye and told me how happy she was that I made it there.

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In short, it was amazing.  So much so that today at work when I was telling some co-worker friends the story, they said I was glowing.  I was absolutely excited about meeting her and having my books signed.  That still hasn’t worn off. But I was also proud that for one evening, just for a few hours, I managed to beat my mind at it’s own game.

 

 

Authentic.

So about a year ago I chose the word “Be.” as my word for 2015.  A one word mantra, if you will.  I did my best to stick to that.  I worked hard to be present in the moment, I did my very best to keep myself calm even in times where I wanted to lose my shit (I wasn’t always perfect, but I did try).

In that post I also mentioned things such as:  blogging a review on each book I read, womp womp.  Sticking with this blog, well… not updating often, but I do still use it.  I mentioned my hopes of becoming a mother in 2015, which sadly wasn’t meant to be.  But, through it all I realized how freeing it was to just be present in my life.  Some things haven’t changed much… my iPhone is still an attachment to my hand in any situation that I am even remotely anxious in – it’s a coping mechanism, and I know I’m not alone in that.  I still much prefer to be home and binge watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime rather than going out – and I am absolutely awful at making and keeping plans.  My anxiety issues have grown slightly, and I have some thoughts on that topic that I will, hopefully, remember to share soon.

So, I had to ask myself what I want out of 2016.  What word could I use this year to keep tucked away as a mantra to help me grow and learn.  This year I am choosing “Authentic”.  This is because in the last year I have become more un-apologetically myself than I have ever dared to be before.  I have always relied so heavily on what people think, and I am starting to let go of that.  For nearly my whole life I would consult my mom on things – ideas I had, a new bedspread or shoes.  I never felt confident in my choices without someone close to me backing me up.  And this past year, I realized I can be confident without someone’s explicit consent.

In order to be the authentic me, I need to do what I feel is best.  Go with what I like/enjoy and not worry what someone else might think, especially if they may not like it.  That’s not to say this is in everything, because I am a happily married woman so my husband’s thoughts do come into play on some things.

I will continue on in school and do my best- it has been so good for me in a lot of ways, even when I am feeling burned out and too exhausted to think.
I will, hopefully, get more ink – getting my first two tattoos helped me feel complete in a way that I didn’t realize I craved.  Putting my story onto my skin isn’t a testament to the world, but rather a way to honor myself for myself.
I will be working on getting our home set more to what WE want- It doesn’t matter who else likes it, as long as we do.  Time to get that in gear.
Along with that, working to find organization and routines that work for us to keep things looking good around here because chaos makes my brain fuzzy.

I will be working on my physical self – eating better, sleeping better, and getting into better shape.  It will only benefit me on several levels.
I will NOT be setting a reading challenge this year – I think part of my issue with reading the past few years has been that I was so concerned with meeting a certain number of books.  I started and never finished so many books, and wouldn’t even attempt longer books.  My hope is that by not setting a specific goal, I will read and enjoy more.

Here’s hoping for a beautiful 2016.  I hope a year from tonight I can look back and smile at how things have changed.

Mindfulness on Social Media.

**This may be the first in a likely short series about mindfulness and it’s place in my daily life**

As always, the new year brings on introspection and self evaluation for many people – including myself.  Honestly, I find myself really doing this a few times a year.  I think being introspective is a great thing and to spend some time on deep personal introspection often is important to me.

With social media being so prevalent in recent years many, including myself, have falling victim to the need to make a status update at every single moment.  I love keeping up with my friends, and as an introverted home-bodied person I love seeing most people’s daily lives play out.  When my friends share their happiest moments, I am there to ‘like’ that status and celebrate with them.  When they post their struggles, I offer my support and an ear to listen.  But, where should we draw the line when it comes to what we share?  We’ve all heard about the ‘over-sharers’ on social media.  The ones that explain, in detail, their horrible break up or bout of the stomach flu.  We’ve also all heard of the ‘lurkers’ that never post a single thing but drink in every single moment of each dramatic status posted.  The key, for me, is finding a balance between the two.

This year I am trying to break myself of the daily habits I had when it came to social media. On January 1st, I posted two posts meant to be inspirational to others that were feeling introspective and wanting newness in their lives.  I’d like to continue some more of that.  I want to continue to share news stories that touch me, affect me, or that I feel others should be more informed about.  I want to share bits of my life, but to be mindful of not only what I am sharing, but also why I am sharing it.  Looking back at my Facebook timeline (the form of social media I use most often) I see quite a bit of them are repetitive or update style (doing this, now doing that, next up this… throughout a day updating as I go).  Let’s be honest here, no one cares 😉  That’s obvious by the very little interaction on those posts – and that is perfectly okay!  To share important and exciting moments is fine for me, but I don’t need to do a day by day diary.  It just doesn’t feel like ‘my style’ any longer.  That being said, I LOVE reading others posts like that and I am in no way trying to shame anyone away from it.

This also brings to light posts that can be misconstrued as ‘bragging’ or ‘showing off’.  I joined in a friends discussion of something similar back around Christmas time when she posted her feelings about the piles of presents under the tree/Christmas morning carnage photos.  I think in all honesty most of those are done out of sheer excitement and wanting to share their happiness and joy – not as a “Look at me!  Look at me!” deal.  I got a bracelet I had been wanting for several years from my husband for Christmas, and yes, I did post a picture of it on Facebook.  I used to post book hauls on Facebook as well, and I don’t any longer.  I am trying to be mindful of other people’s feelings – and also their opinions (which can at times be downright hurtful).  I’m not ‘showing off’ to show how ‘great’ my life is, nor am I doing it to make my life seem better than it is.  But, the more I have thought about it that’s another thing I want to try to pull back on a bit.  It’s not that I get tons of gifts all year long that I feel the need to share, but I also don’t need to prove anything to anyone for any reason 🙂

This was a lot of off the cuff thoughts pulled together rather quickly today.  Like I said before, this isn’t to say that I am judging ANYONE who chooses to do things differently than I do.  These words are just my own introspection on my own habits.