An INFP’s Guide to Navigating Despair

It seems that September is a month many people seem to prioritize self-care. Coincidentally, I had actually started to draft this post in late August when I was coming out of a particularly dark mental state. I don’t really know how to describe it. Breakdown seems a bit strong and panic attack doesn’t sound right either. I’ve just been calling it a mental rough patch (or a case of the mean reds).

Let me try to describe it. You know that feeling where you find yourself getting angry at someone who maybe doesn’t truly deserve it and you know that but you’re still just itching to lash out. And you can recognize you’re being entirely irrational but don’t know how to cope or drop it.  And then this negativity just kind of turns inward and you find yourself unable to think about anything but every single fault with yourself.

Oh, you don’t know what I mean? OK, so but maybe you’ve felt extreme self-loathing that sticks in your mind and make you want to curl up in a hole and never come out? I’d say this happens to me on average around 2–3 times a year. (If there’s a word for this cycle/state, let me know!)

I feel like there are a lot of articles out there about things you can do for self-care. But every person is different, so I thought I’d share the things that gradually help me navigate my own despair and remember how to feel more like myself again.

First…

✎ 1. Have a good cry. Let it all out. Cry until you can’t cry anymore. I promise, you’ll eventually feel better or at least in a place where you can begin to heal. (ALEXA PLAY ARIANA GRANDE’S “NO TEARS LEFT TO CRY.”)

✎ 2. Take a nap. If you’re feeling particularly inconsolable, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is just flip the switch and take a nap. Call in sick to work. Take a mental health day. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep and keep your brain from spiralling, maybe listen to some of your favorite music to be sad to. Bathe in the catharsis of another’s art.

Power ballads can be great. Listen to some classic Noah and the Whale or Smashing Pumpkins or Fleetwood Mac.

✎✎✎ AFTERWARDS, THINK ABOUT IT ✎ ✎ ✎

Think about what’s making you sad or angry. Maybe vent in a journal or online diary before you try talking to someone (if you think talking to someone is a good option). Try to think about what the real issue is, the true reason why you might be upset. Maybe something has been building up for a while subconsciously. 

However it happens, you need to make peace with the fact that you cannot control others, you can only control yourself. You might be able to tell someone why they are bothering you, but you can’t reasonably expect them to change. You have to realize that you are in control of how you let others affect you. 

Then…

✎ 3. Take a hot bath. Light a candle, have a water bottle handy, bring a book or your laptop (for watching Netflix, not scrolling through social media). The hot water will make your muscles feel great. You can sweat out the negativity.

Don’t think of it necessarily as a luxury. Think of it as a chore, something that must be done. I think it’s good to do every once in a while, even if you don’t like taking hot baths. It forces you to be alone with yourself. If you don’t have a bath tub, first let me say I’m sorry. Alternatively, you can take a long hot shower.

✎ 4. Clean up your room. Do you have a corner where everything seems to end up? It’s amazing what tackling a small task can do for your mental health. Celebrate the small things you can do to make your immediate living environment more clean and clutter free.

✎ 5. Dress up to go nowhere. How do you expect to feel better about yourself on the inside if you’re not taking care of yourself on the outside? I think a lot of people think that we dress up entirely for other people, but I think we dress up so that other people can see us as we want to be seen. For normal people, it’s not about being the best dressed or most attractive. It’s about showing that we want to be treated with respect.

When you’re not feeling great, think of dressing up as a form of “faking it until you make it.” Even if you’re not happy right now, you got to treat yourself with respect. It’s easier to be happy when you feel clean and are dressed up.

✎ 6. Cook your favorite meal. Feel productive by fueling your body with something of your own creation. Preferably something that won’t make you feel gross afterward. I know it can be appealing to make yourself a carb-heavy meal and to wallow while you grieve whatever it is that is causing you grief, but feeling gross afterward can make things worse. Especially, if you already have an unhealthy relationship with your body.

I love making a satisfying strawberry salad (fat-free feta, chopped walnuts, & strawberries over lettuce /spinach mix with some raspberry vinaigrette) or chewy vegan oatmeal cookies [Liv B’s Recipe Video].

On the topic of food, you might feel better if you change your diet. Even if you don’t think you have a problem with what you eat, integrating new recipes into your diet might rejuvenate how you’re feeling.

✎ 7. Assess what can stay and what must go. It might be time to clear out all the clutter taking up space in your life, whether that be mental or physical. Clean out your desk. Get rid of those clothes you never wear. Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you really need that orientation packet from that job five years ago?  Do you really think you’ll still like that blouse after you’ve lost 20 pounds?

Also think about the people in your life. Is there anyone who causes you more unhappiness than joy? Think about ways to distance yourself from their negativity. Even if it’s hard to cut off certain people completely, you can find ways to gradually minimize your time with them. Maybe a break is all you need to heal. You don’t need to burn your bridges completely.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

If you are feeling despair and none of my tips seem to work, you might want to consider seeking professional help. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Choose self-care over self-harm. I’ve never been truly suicidal, but a couple of weeks ago when I was at my lowest I did find myself very curious about the resources available at the suicide prevention website.

I found it really cathartic to read other people’s stories and learn about how they came back from the brink. Maybe it’s because I’m a reader, but sometimes I find easier to care more about other people’s stories of pain than it is to sit in my own. I feel selfish for feeling any pain at all when others suffer far worse than I do.

Thank you for reading!
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Job Applications & NaNoWriMo Prep! | Week in Review

Welcome back to my Week in Review, the weekly feature where I share links to everything that went up on the blog this week, mini life updates, and anything else I found noteworthy during the week. I was super busy and active this week but not so much on the blog.

The first part of the week I was busy doing some lengthy job applications and errands for my current job. I needed to go to the police station to get my picture taken for my I.D. badge that grants me free access to the community center, a perk of my part-time job. I also took a free clerical test downtown so that I could apply for some other city jobs. I’m hoping I might be able to work at my local library!

I’ve also been trying to more active each day. I started taking my little guy Ty on walks every morning during the school week and continued that this week. I also started doing about 20 minutes of Pilates every afternoon before work. I get cardio at work from running around with the kids, but I still want to tone up!

➴ This Week on Betwined Reads . . .

This week I only published three blog posts! I definitely knew there was no way I was going to repeat last week. While I loved having a post up practically every day, I knew I needed to give myself a break from the late night post polishing. I’m still working on finding my happy medium.

TTTpages
Books on My Fall TBR
Weekend Reads
A Quick Blog Update
TBRbooktag
TBR Book Tag

➴ The Job Search

Normally this space would be dedicated to noteworthy blog posts from the week, but I didn’t do too much blog hopping this week. Instead I thought I’d share some of the job positions I applied for, in case anyone is wondering what kinds of jobs a former English major can apply for.

  1. Human Resources Foreign Service Officer (Full-time)
  2. Tourism Coordinator (Full-time)
  3. Shelving Clerk (Part-time)
  4. Community Facility Worker (Part-time)

I’m still applying to part-time jobs because I’d like to work a few more hours right now outside of my current part-time job. I’m hoping to get some office experience that will help me get my foot in the door at those entry-level jobs that require a certain amount of office experience to begin with. Can we all roll our eyes together now?

➴ Novel Progress

I’m bummed I didn’t write a Novel Progress on Wednesday. I ended up coming up with a great idea for it too! I think I will use it this week. It’s about different kinds of writing goals. I’ve not talked about that on Betwined Reads yet, and I’ve been thinking a lot about goals that work best for me right now.

I will also go ahead and announce right here that I will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, probably with the project I’m working on right now, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’ve been itching to try my hand at writing a contemporary! Whatever I end up writing, October will be spent preparing for the November writing frenzy.

As Novel Progress will be dedicated to NaNoWriMo prep, each Wednesday I will share resources and advice for anyone thinking about joining in November.

Tentative Schedule

  • Oct. 3: Announcement + Plans
  • Oct. 10: Deciding What to Write
  • Oct. 17: A Writing Bullet Journal + Organization Tips
  • Oct. 24: NaNoWriMo Survival Kit
  • Oct. 31: Making Time to Write

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I’m hoping to have a very productive Sunday! Saturday took it easy, taking care of household chores in between working on my novel. Today I want to finish up some blog posts ahead time and do some much needed reading. I have about five posts currently that I’d like to share this week, so I need to get a few of them drafted today so that I’m ready for anything else that might pop up during the week.

Thank you for reading!
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Preparing for October | Week in Review

Welcome back to my Week in Review, the weekly feature where I share links to everything that went up on the blog this week,  mini life updates, and anything else I found noteworthy during the week. Since I’ve been blog hopping quite regularly each day, I decided I wanted to start sharing some of the great blog posts I come across each week!

I need to learn how to keep better track of blog posts over the week, though. I feel like I’ve most definitely forgotten about some posts I would’ve loved to share :,(

Usually Septembers are not all that memorable for me, but I think this one will go down in the books! I don’t know how I’ve managed to blog so much. I’m also already planning so much content for next month. October is the month I traditionally spend on NaNoWriMo preparation, but since I’m also participating in  Blogoween  next month there’s a lot I need to do before October 1st!

➴ This Week on Betwined Reads . . .

This week I published six blog posts! I’m still in awe of how I was able to accomplish it. I know if kept me busy practically every day, but now it somehow it feels like nothing. I look at these posts and wonder how I found the time to write them!

TTTpages
Hidden Gems
novelp
Developing a Writing Routine
howiresistfeat
How I Resist | Anthology Review
Weekend Reads
Strange the Dreamer & Understanding Comics
The Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 2 & 3)
Blogoween (Level 1) Announcement!

➴ Blog Hopping

  • Briana opened up her 2018 book blogger survey to help get a sense of what the community considers “normal.”
  • I’ve been looking into bullet journaling and discovered this really inspiring little blog post from Olivia earlier this year.
  • Last week Clo introduced a new book blogger event called Blogoween and this week shared some more details for participants!
  • This week there were two posts that made me think about our international book bloggers. Clo got a conversation started about the consequences of the pre-dominance of the English language in publishing. Marie shared some answers about common questions international book bloggers receive about why it is so difficult to get books overseas.

➴ Novel Progress

Not really a writing update, but I updated my static Novel Progress page to list all the writing updates I’ve ever written on this blog. The most recent ones are actually linked, so feel free to marathon them if you’re ever feeling bored and/or have too much time on your hands!

Writing-wise, I had some writing sprints with my writing buddy on Saturday. I decided to start writing in a Google doc, so she could access what I write whenever she wants. I figure it will keep me accountable. Plus, it’s a backup of my work!

My short-time goal is to write 10 single-spaced pages by next weekend. I started a new prologue this weekend and I’m liking it so far, even if it does not read too plausibly yet. It’s an alternative universe fantasy, but grounded in world I want to feel real. I may need to read up on anthropology in the 1930s!

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I’m gearing up Sunday for another busy week, but also trying to take time for myself to read and write without distraction. I feel like I’ve been blogging 24/7, whether it means working on blog posts, responding to comments, and reading other people blogs. I love it, but I don’t want it to take over my life. I may need to take a little time off this week to set some time frames for when I’ll be on WordPress!

Thank you for reading!
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Blogoween (Level 1) Announcement!

A week ago while blog hopping, I came across an announcement for  Blogoween , a fun new month-long book blogger event that will take place over the month of October co-hosted by Clo Book Dragons and Sam @ Fictionally Sam along with some of their friends. There will be multiple hosts and prompts for each day of October that will guide you on your creation of Halloween– and autumnthemed blog content for your blog!

SEE: Blogoween: Content, Hosts & Prompts & BLOGOWEEN 2018 [Announcement, Hosts + Prompts]

There are three levels of participation. You just need to pick one:

⟡ Level 1: Post any 13 days during October

⟡ Level 2: Post consecutively from October 24–31st

 Level 3: Post every single day in October (!)

I personally decided to pick Level 1, just so that I had more freedom with what prompts I’d like to do and also so that I would have time to write and produce anything else to supplement my posts (e.g. graphics). Also, from a cursory look at the prompts, I wasn’t sure I would be able to come up with something good for each day.

If you are uncertain which level would be best for you, I suggest brushing up on the rules and prompts. Once you’ve decided the level at which you would like to participate, you just need to do two things before October.

  1. Publish your blog post announcement of your plans, &
  2. Sign up on the hosts’ >Google sign up form< (which will ask for your level selection and the URL link of your announcement post)

My Prompt Selection + Schedule

I decided to list the  Blogoween  prompts I intend to use this month for my own records and also so you all will know you can expect in October! For the full list of prompts, see Clo’s post (linked above) and visit the blogs of each day’s specific host if you have any questions about the prompts.

I personally may interpret these prompts liberally where necessary suit the kind of posts I feel like writing! ^_^

Monday 1st  ← My own idea!
Prompt Title: My October Routine
Explanation: Things I like to do in October + plans for enjoying the season

Thursday 4th
Prompt Title: Top 5 Books about Witches
Explanation: List your Top 5 favorite books about witches

Saturday 6th
Prompt Title: An Evening of Mystery & Murder
Explanation: You are hosting a Halloween-themed dinner party and seven of your favourite morally gray fictional characters and/or villains have accepted your invitation. Sometime during the party there is a murder, and there are only seven suspects – you and your guests. Who did you invite, who was murdered, what was the murder weapon, and where in the house did it occur?

Monday 8th
Prompt Title: Gory Magical Sweet
Explanation: Create one or more snacks (sweet or savory) and a drink (if you want), all must be Halloween-themed. Should be created with a mix of common food elements and parts of our beloved mythical and magical creatures. Just to be clear: things like rainbow unicorn sparkles aren’t gory. Get morbid.

Tuesday 9th
Prompt Title: Bookish Monster Bender
Explanation: You’re transported in various book but a bad surprise awaits you. Everything is horror and death, because a monster version has taken over the story.

Wednesday 10th
Prompt Title: Local Supernaturals Who Demand A Book
Explanation: Share your local stories of ghosts, supernaturals and what happens round your area. Either where you live, or nearby; can also share your own personal scary experience. These are the stories which you think, deserve their own novel – could add a blurb to the story. Can share as many stories as you wish as long they’re: horror/supernatural/scary/ghostly/etc.

Friday 12th
Prompt Title: Loving the Monsters Always Ends Badly for the Human
Explanation: Exploring and recommending my favorite creatures – vampires!

Tuesday 16th (TTT Replacement)
Prompt Title: Love Spells
Explanation: Favorite ships at least one must be a supernatural creature

Tuesday 23rd ➝ Thursday 25th, so I can do regularly scheduled TTT
Prompt Title: Bonded, Bewitched, Drowned
Explanation: Halloween version of Kiss Marry Kill with your favorite characters

Saturday 27th
Prompt Title: Toil and Trouble
Explanation: Villain Halloween Theme – would you want a villain as a roommate, a villain as a companion in a haunted house, etc.

Monday 29th
Prompt Title: Halloween In A Fictional World
Explanation: Pick any fictional world that you’d love to experience Halloween in

Tuesday 30th
Prompt Title: Trapped With You
Explanation: Characters I’d want with me if I were trapped in a haunted house

Wednesday 31st
Prompt Title: The Veil Is Thin
Explanation: The 31st Oct is supposed to be a day when the veil between our world and the otherworld, is at its thinnest. As such, it was originally a day to ward of evil spirits; what spirits are you hoping to ward off? (e.g. paranormal characters, evil characters, writer’s block, procrastination, etc.)

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I’m really excited about this event and hope you are too! Just in case anyone is wondering, I will be keeping up with my own personal blog schedule. There’s just an additional 13 posts related to  Blogoween  that you can now also expect. ^_^

Be sure to check out Clo’s blog posts (linked at the beginning of the post) for more information, as I only attempted to condense what I thought was the most important information in this post. Let me know in the comments below if you plan on participating or if there are any other October blogging festivities I should know about!

Thank you for reading!
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How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation | Anthology Review

A few years ago, one of the first major YouTube scandals occurred that affected me as a regular watcher of YouTubers from many different circles. A precursor to the #MeToo movement, several young fans came forward online with their stories of abuse and manipulation at the hands of many OG YouTube creators of 2014.

It turns out that many of these big name YouTubers, including one of my favorites at the time Alex Day, were exposed for using their power as influencers and fame to manipulate and coerce their young fans and female friends into things they were uncomfortable doing. Around this time, I remembered coming across this beautiful Tumblr post written by Maureen Johnson reflecting “ABOUT THE RECENT EVENTS CONCERNING YOUTUBE.”

While I had been casually aware of her from her appearances in vlogbrothers videos and even remembered her name from years ago when I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes, this post gave me an entirely new impression of and respect for this author. She completely opened by eyes to the broader issue of harassment women have been forced to tolerate for simply going out and trying to live their lives.

This past all came back to my mind when I discovered this book and saw Johnson’s name attached to this anthology. It is the reason I decided to purchase this book even though I recognized so few of the contributors. I figured it would be a valuable, eye-opening read. And that it was.

I definitely feel like it provides a great array of views and perspectives on a variety of issues that are related to resistance. The very word resistance is redefined throughout the book as we learn about how such a diverse collection of people individually view their work, art, and mere lives as acts of resistance.

• • • How I Resist • • •

Released: March 1, 2018
Pages: 224 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Activism, forms of resistance, fighting oppression, raising awareness, making art
Genre(s): Young Adult / Activist Essays
Age Group: 10+

★★★★½

An all-star collection of essays about activism and hope, edited by bestselling YA author Maureen Johnson.

Now, more than ever, young people are motivated to make a difference in a world they’re bound to inherit. They’re ready to stand up and be heard – but with much to shout about, where they do they begin? What can I do? How can I help?

How I Resist is the response and a way to start the conversation. To show readers that they are not helpless, and that anyone can be the change they wish to see in the world, in their news, and for their future.

*  ⁎   My Thoughts   ⁎ * 

This anthology includes 29 pieces written by a range of people from celebrities to authors to people lauded for their activism. I was originally trying to review each piece, but I quickly realized how long this review would turn and I didn’t think anyone would actually go through my thoughts on each piece.

I also found it was hard to objectively review each piece. I found some pieces really aggravating and narrow-minded in their quest to awaken new activists. I found some pieces really brilliant in exemplifying how diverse this country really is, illustrating the struggles of people who don’t fit traditional gender roles and the variety of ways in which people can be oppressed.

I found this anthology truly fascinating given its target audience of young adults and how odd it was that it had taken this long to write a book that I assumed would speak so well to today’s youth of passion and activism. When I was in high school, Tumblr was still relatively a new thing. It’s a platform I’ve long credited with my generation’s interest in social justice.

I’ve been surprised over the years to see slacktivism turn into true activism, especially after Stoneman Douglas High School shooting earlier this year. It’s been truly inspiring to see how many of the victims have decided to prioritize their activism just as they are entering adulthood.

I would say this book is a great entry-level text into activism for young people today. There are some pieces I hated and think unfair, but I think that their presence in the book is justified if only for inspiring healthy debate. However, Johnson doesn’t provide any commentary of her own on individual pieces. So I think if this book was to be taught in school, the teacher would need do their own homework and provide context that will help frame how the students read each piece.

 ❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

I’m sorry this review has taken me over a month to share! It was hard figuring out exactly how I wanted to format this review and what I felt I most wanted to say. This is a really important book, and I just wanted to do it justice. I haven’t seen it talked about by any of the people I follow on BookTube or in the book blogging community. So if I was going to be the first to introduce this book to people, I wanted to get it right. Basically, I psyched myself out!

Have you read How I Resist? If so, what’d you think?!

Do you consider yourself an activist?

Thank you for reading!
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Feels Like a Renaissance | Week in Review

Welcome back to my Week in Review, the weekly feature where I share went down on the blog this week and what’s been going on behind-the-scenes. It’s been a surprisingly great week where creativity has been soaring. I go through ups and downs when it comes to blogging and how much time and work I want to put into it. Right now, I’m loving it again!

I’ve also finally started blog hopping again, which has reminded me how good it can feel to get involved in bookish discussions and share in the celebrations of other bloggers’ personal and blogging accomplishments!

I’m also feeling more comfortable in my new job. I’ve made a really good friend in one of my co-workers. I also just feel more confident interacting with the kids. My job can be so much fun, because it’s literally playing games with kids. Yes, I’m often playing peace-keeper and disciplinarian, but I think of it as a benefit that I’m able to hone these leadership skills in such a safe and supportive environment.

➴ This Week on Betwined Reads . . .

This week I was extremely productive, and no one is more surprised than I am! I managed to prepare three blog posts this week. Thursday’s post “Happy National Read-a-Book Day” was actually developed completely on the fly, I had no idea the day was coming up. It’s great know I can whip up a blog post idea one morning and have it up in the afternoon. Not that I want to do it all the time!

novelp
How I Plotted Troubling a Star
TheGreatAmericanRead
Happy National Read-a-Book Day!
Weekend Reads
The Weekend Experiment

➴ Blog Housekeeping

This week I came up with some featured images I can use for Novel Progress and Weekend Reads. I don’t see myself using them long-term, but they work for now as I continue to work on my design skills. The thing about creating my own images is that it takes a lot of time to accomplish very little.

Ultimately, I’d like all my graphics to be completely original and have similar elements (e.g. color scheme, art style) across the board that connect them visually to me and my blog. Right now, I feel like I’m trying to figure out what I like.

I’d like to start sharing resources and tips on simple graphic design tools once I get better at this. I expect Mondays will eventually alternate as a day for Lifestyle and How To-style posts.

My aim is also to ultimately be able to knock out a few blog posts during the weekend before they’re scheduled to go up (or earlier), just so I have more free time for reading, writing, and spontaneity during the week before work. I think it will become easier once less time needs to be dedicated to creating graphics.

➴ Novel Progress

Last week I talked about how I plotted my current WIP (How I Plotted Troubling a Star | Novel Progress). This week I will be talking about how I’m developing a writing routine. So that’s been one of my priorities this weekend. The hardest thing about writing is sitting down and sticking with your story in face of so many distractions. I think it’s easier when you know you’re not alone, so my hope is this week’s post will inspire others to dedicate the time required to finish their WIPs.

☙ ❧ END NOTE ❧ ☙

I have four posts planned for this week (Tuesday–Friday) that I’ve been working on this weekend so that they may go up earlier than last week’s posts. I want to see if there’s a difference in views and engagement depending on when the posts go live, as I have blog readers who live all over the world (Hi!).

However, this might turn out to be a tough week. My mom will be having a major foot operation on Monday (funnily enough, my dad’s birthday), so I don’t know yet how that will affect my productivity. She’ll need to stay off her feet and, unfortunately, my mom tends to be one of those people who doesn’t like to be miserable alone. So I’m sure there will be some tension in the house this week. :S

Thank you for reading!
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August Goals + TBR ➹

I realize we are more than halfway through the month, but going out of town threw a wrench in my plans. What should have been a nice, pleasant trip turned out to be quite stressful and unhappy. I came back home kind of overwhelmed by all the projects I had started and questioning whether it was all worth it.

I guess you could say the blog has been somewhat on hold this month while I figure it all out. I’m still trying to figure it out, but I’m dipping my toes back into it slowly. Even though it is late, I didn’t want to look back on this entire month and wonder what happened.

So I ruminated about what I’d like to get done by the end of August minimally and came up with this list of three things. I also thought about what books are my priority TBR right now as I’m just trying to keep my head above water!

Goals

➴ 1. Develop a more healthy reading-blogging-writing balance

I feel like I have a strange habit of taking on all the things and then struggling because I find one thing more interesting than all the others. Looking back at my monthly notes/goal posts from this past year, the pattern is really clear! My passion jumps between reading, writing, and blogging all the time. This month in the couple weeks I have left, I want to better prioritize.

Unless I find a way for the blog to become a major source of income, I don’t want to be spending all my time on it. Blogging should be for reflection anyway, so I don’t want it to take up all my time. Neither do I want to feel like all I have time to do is read, because that can become just as dangerous as watching YouTube or Netflix all day long.

So when it gets down to it, writing is what I want to focus on more while I still have the luxury of free-time.

2. Look for a Job + Share the Search

In July I realized I really do need to start looking for a full-time job again. It’s something I don’t really like to talk about, because it’s kind of embarrassing. But I know the longer I put it off the worse off I’ll be in terms of future job opportunities and debt repayment. So I want to overcome my job lack of confidence and interview anxiety to apply more widely for job paths I may not have considered before.

I also want to start talking jobs on the blog for anyone who is still in high school and college and doesn’t know what they want to do or anyone who may not be happy with their current employment and might like to consider other options. Job searching seriously sucks, and I hope to make it more fun by blogging about it!

3. End in the month with all my loose ends tied up

I can never fully relax while I know there are things that I’ve left incomplete. Blog-wise, there’s a lot that I still want to finish up and would like to do before the end of the month. This list of things is less for you, my blog readers, and more for my own peace of mind. It does include books, though! I really want to end the month having at minimum finished all the books I’m “currently reading” (Strange the Dreamer, How I Resist, and Rebel Spring).

I also don’t want to start anything that I’m not going to complete this month! If I start something, I want to keep it to myself until I’m sure I’ll follow through with sharing it.

TBR

In July I met my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2018 goal of reading 30 books. At the start of the year, I literally had no idea that I’d be where I am with my blog today. It’s kind of insane. I thought I might’ve peaked in 2015 with my blogging career, and I’m just so happy that I’ve fallen back in love with reading and reviewing books.

As it’s halfway through the month already, I don’t think I’ll read more beyond what I’m currently reading. I do have some books I’m itching to start once I can commit to them. I’m on a contemporary/non-fiction/literary fiction kick right now, and I’m going to see where it takes me!

Disrupt You!  by Jay Samit

In today’s volatile business landscape, adaptability and creativity are more crucial than ever. It is no longer possible-or even desirable-to learn one set of job skills and to work your way up the ladder. At the same time, entrepreneurs with great ideas for new products or technologies that could change the world often struggle to capture the attention of venture capital firms and incubators; finding the funding necessary to launch a start-up can feel impossible. The business leaders of our future must anticipate change to create their own opportunities for personal satisfaction and professional success. In Disrupt You!, Jay Samit, a digital media expert who has launched, grown, and sold start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike, describes the unique method he has used to invent new markets and expand established businesses.

Samit has been at the helm of businesses in the ecommerce, digital video, social media, mobile communications, and software industries, helping to navigate them through turbulent economic times and guide them through necessary transformation so that they stay ahead of the curve. In Disrupt You!, he reveals how specific strategies that help companies flourish can be applied at an individual level to help anyone can achieve success and lasting prosperity-without needing to raise funds from outside investors.

Incorporating stories from his own experience and anecdotes from other innovators and disruptive businesses-including Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, YouTube, Circ du Soleil, Odor Eaters, Iams, Silly Putty, and many more-Samit shows how personal transformation can reap entrepreneurial and professional rewards. Disrupt You! offers clear and empowering advice for anyone looking to break through; for anyone with a big idea but with no idea how to apply it; and for anyone worried about being made irrelevant in an era of technological transformation. This engaging, perspective-shifting book demystifies the mechanics of disruption for individuals and businesses alike.

For my birthday this February, I treated myself to some non-fiction books of the self-help variety, hoping I might find some inspiration from them on what my next step should be. I wouldn’t say they lit any lightbulbs personally, but they were motivational in the sense that they made me get more productive. I decided to save on of those books, Disrupt You!, for later and have decided that now as I need to switch gears again is a great time for it.


The Promise by Chaim Potok

“A superb mirror of a place, a time, and a group of people who capture our immediate interest and hold it tightly.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

Young Reuven Malter is unsure of himself and his place in life. An unconventional scholar, he struggles for recognition from his teachers. With his old friend Danny Saunders—who himself had abandoned the legacy as the chosen heir to his father’s rabbinical dynasty for the uncertain life of a healer—Reuvan battles to save a sensitive boy imprisoned by his genius and rage. Painfully, triumphantly, Reuven’s understanding of himself, though the boy change, as he starts to approach the peace he has long sought…

The Chosen by Chaim Potok was one of my first reads of the year (see What I Read This Winter), a book that got me back into reading after a few months of despair and uncertainty. I loved it and immediately looked into what other books the author had written, happy to find that there is a “sequel.” I had to order it on Amazon, but shelved it soon after as I was on a mission to read more popular fiction. I’m in a funny place again where I need to read more books that feed my soul, so I’m hoping this one does not disappoint!


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

In this seductive, wistful masterpiece, Truman Capote created a woman whose name has entered the American idiom and whose style is a part of the literary landscape. Holly Golightly knows that nothing bad can ever happen to you at Tiffany’s; her poignancy, wit, and naïveté continue to charm.

This volume also includes three of Capote’s best-known stories, “House of Flowers,” “A Diamond Guitar,” and “A Christmas Memory,” which the Saturday Review called “one of the most moving stories in our language.” It is a tale of two innocents–––a small boy and the old woman who is his best friend–––whose sweetness contains a hard, sharp kernel of truth.

Like most young girls, I went through an adoring Audrey Hepburn phase. I first watched Billy Wilder’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960) in high school. I even gave myself horrible baby bangs à la Holly Golightly my senior year. It was not a good look, considering I never ever wore my hair up back then! Also my hair was all bleached.

Anyway (and in case you didn’t know), the movie is based on Truman Capote’s short story. It not supposed to be anything like it, but I still find myself wanting to read the source material. The specific book I have includes three short stories in addition to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” which I think will be a fun read as I don’t read a lot of short fiction.

I read the first 50 pages or so of Capote’s non-fiction masterpiece, In Cold Blood, so I know he’s a brilliant writer. The only reason I didn’t finish that book is at the time I wasn’t in the mood for something quite so chilling . . .

✄ —– End Note ——–

In case you missed it, my July Notes ➴ in which I summarized my successes and failures of last month went up on the blog last week shortly after I returned from my trip. The first thing on my agenda is to start tying up those loose ends this weekend with regards to the books I’m reading and the blog stuff I want to complete. Maybe I’ll share my to-do list on Sunday . . .

What are your goals for the month?

Thank you for reading!
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A Quick Update | August 9th

aquickupdate

Hello! I kind of disappeared last week without saying anything or even finishing up blog posts I wanted to go live this weekend. I’d like to chalk it up to blog burn-out, but really it was just that I didn’t get a lot done last week. I was tired all the time (probably because I was working out about twice a day) and watching a lot of YouTube in between naps.

I’ve discovered a lot of new YouTube channels over the past couple of weeks. Shane Dawson has been a favorite of mine since the end of the last year when he started doing more personal, heart-felt videos. More recently through him, I’ve discovered James Charles and Jeffree Star. So there’s been a lot of binge-watching these creators old videos! And I don’t even really wear makeup so let’s just let that speak to their personalities, creativity, and work ethic, which are all reasons I’ve been enjoying and feeling inspired by their videos.

It’s kind of embarrassing how I let myself get derailed from the blog so quickly. That’s actually why I think I was getting a little burned out. I’m on a never-ending quest to strike the right balance between blogging about life and actually living my life. Consider it a theme of Betwined Reads!

So before I left for my trip to the Rio Grande Valley, I had three posts mostly written. The only reason I did not publish them is because I hadn’t created featured images for them. I just don’t like posts to go up without any visuals. I wanted to try something new for this month, but never gave myself the time to work on them.

I’m not sure if it’s worth posting them now. Does anyone want to see super late July Notes ➴ and August Goals + TBR ➹ posts? They’d require some revision at this point…

      Immediate Plans   ➵ 

I was going to go into this in my August Goals + TBR ➹, but since it’s not up yet I figure I’ll announce it here and now: I am seriously going to kick up the job search this month. I feel like this year has been me trying to feel like myself again, without the crutch of school to give me a stronger sense of self-worth or identity. It’s time for me to join the world of the living and working.

I’m not saying the blog is going to take a back seat, but I don’t want to stretch myself thin with everything I want/need to do. That being said, I’m not sure I want to be publishing a lot of blog posts each week. I’m not someone who can start a post and publish it all in the same day. Generally, I like to sit on a blog post for a day or two to make sure I’m happy sending it out into the world like a little fragile little sail boat going into the unknown.

I feel like sometimes I do a lot more work than I need to for things that should be straight forward and simple, so my goal for today (8/9) and this weekend is to make sure everything I do moving forward on this blog I can do with pleasure and pride. I have a lot more free time than the average person, but with so much that I want to do it can still feel like I don’t have enough!

❧ ☙ Final Note ☙ ❧

I don’t want to commit to a schedule in this post, because I’ve not given my posts a serious thought yet. I wanted to do a quick little update just so you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth! I think things will be back to normal (or a new normal) by the start of next week! I just need a few days to reflect and establish a new schedule/work flow.

Thank you for reading!
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Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene | ★★★½

I picked up a copy of Summer of My German Soldier earlier this year, after browsing my local 2nd and Charles store for books I might get in exchange for the store credit I accrued by un-hauling a number of old books I saw no purpose in keeping. They had a bunch of nice copies of this book; I assume because it’s been an elementary or middle school class reading. Since I’ve been on a bit of a German kick all year, I decided to purchase one.

I do not recall ever reading this book when I was young, but I figured it’d be a nice, light read that fits well with the other stuff I’ve been reading this year. And after reading Ceremony (which I reviewed last week), I knew I wanted to read something light.

Today review is pretty short. I didn’t see fit to include a Craft section, because there wasn’t much I found note-worthy about prose. Most of the time, I felt like the book omitted or lacked in details I would’ve found helpful to the book’s flow. I enjoyed this book, though, and I’m glad I read it so soon after buying it! Usually, I keep new purchases on the shelves far longer than I originally intend to when I buy them (*cough cough* Obsidio).

• • • Summer of My German Soldier • • •

Released: 1973
Pages: 230 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Love, domestic abuse, validation, inner strength, choosing your family, race, pride, war, loyalty
Genre(s): Young Adult / Historical / Fiction
Age Group: 12+

★★★½

It was a summer of love. A summer of hate. A summer that would last a lifetime.

The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi — but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own, who understands and appreciates her in a way her parents never will. And Patty is willing to risk losing family, friends — even her freedom — for what has quickly become the most important part of her life.

*  ⁎   My Thoughts   ⁎ * 

While it did not blow me away, I found Summer of My German Soldier a quick and satisfying read. I was expecting this book to be a somewhat light, pleasant romance between people from two completely different worlds. Instead, I found the book much less about the actual relationship Patty develops with the soldier and more about how he came into her life at time that she really needs it. It’s actually kind of dark.

It would be overly reductive to criticize this book by today’s standards for its large age gap between the girl (a child of 12) and the soldier (a 22-year-old man) or for a message that may seem to imply at surface level that a girl needs a boy to come into her life and save her. I will admit, I found these things irksome while I read it last week, I’m certain that my 12-year-old self would probably have found this book super thrilling for those exact reasons.

What surprised me most about this book is the horrible home life that could be interpreted as to partially to blame for Patty’s treason in the book. It’s really heart-breaking. Her parents are not just neglectful but openly cruel to this poor little girl who keeps trying to win their love and admiration. Her father doesn’t even try to hide that he beats her, later in the book we discover town’s sheriff knows, and it’s a sad reminder of a time in history when the law did not interfere to protect children from abusive households.

Despite her horrible parents, Patty is a bright girl with a open heart. She’s not hardened to the world or people in general, despite the cruelty she has endured, which makes her all the more sympathetic. While I found it hard to connect with Patty on a super personal-level (she has a tendency to lie in order to get attention), I found a lot to admire in the girl and inspiration in her strength of patience and optimism.

I haven’t read much YA where the protagonists are the victims of parental abuse, and I end this review wondering how many girls throughout the decades have found hope or strength in Patty’s story in a time when it seemed like there was no one they could turn to for help. While I don’t think this book is especially insightful about WWII or American Jews (honestly it’s horrible in that regard), I can see it being of some value to young readers who feel under-appreciated by their family.

CompleMentary Books 

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood To Kill a Mockingbird The Book Thief
Also features young southern girls with dysfunctional families in the early 20th century. Also features a girl in the American south learning about social prejudice. Also features a young girl who hides a person her country considers “the enemy.”

 ❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who has read Summer of My German Soldier, especially if it was in school, and what your biggest takeaways from the book were. I don’t know if I think it would still be a good book to teach nowadays. I also wonder about real-life German POWs who were sent to the U.S. during the war and how they were treated / how they found life in the states.

With this book, I completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 30 books! I set only 30 at the beginning of the year as my goal, because I wasn’t sure how this year would shape up.

I won’t set a new goal, but I imagine that my reading will continue at a pace of at least one book per week. I still would like to read some more of the books I’ve had on my TBR for a long-time and re-read some more of my favorites that I’ve not yet reviewed on this blog.

Have you read Summer of My German Soldier? If so, what’d you think?!

Thank you for reading!
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Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko | ★★★★

In Spring 2014, I took English 346: American Indian Literature at Iowa State University to satisfy my English B.A. degree’s U.S. Diversity requirement. My other options were women’s literature, U.S. Latino/a literature, African American literature, and more broad survey of ALLLLL the multicultural literature. I chose American Indian literature because I wanted to take something in which I had the least background knowledge.

Unfortunately for me now (but fortunately for me then), the class was almost entirely a lecture-class with a super chill professor who did not care if we had our computers out. So I was almost always working on homework for other classes. He didn’t even test us to make sure we were reading. All we had to do was show up. He was completely comfortable talking the whole time. I feel like the professor laid out the class’s major themes in the first week of class and there wasn’t much I actually missed, beyond the class discussion on the books . . .

Anyway, I always told myself I would read these books one day. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth dedicating a lot of time to writing this review, especially considering how unpopular book reviews are anyway. But I loved reading and thinking about this book and my good pal Ely said she wanted to see a full-length review, so even if she’s the only person who reads this, it’ll be worth it. I’m sure I’ll enjoy looking back on it too.

• • • Ceremony • • •

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 9.43.30 AMReleased: 1977
Pages: 262 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Alienation, colonialism, healing power of stories, guilt, witchcraft, post-WWII trauma, alcoholism, dealing with grief
Genre(s): New Adult / Native American / Literary Fiction
Age Group: 16+

★★★★

Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution. Tayo’s quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions—despair.

*  ⁎   My Thoughts   ⁎ * 

I really liked this book and how beautifully it fits within the western literature and U.S. history with which I’m already familiar while also providing a view into the Native American experience of life post-WWII in the 1950s. Tayo is a super empathetic young protagonist who returns from Japan after WWII traumatized by having lost his two most beloved people in his life, his cousin Rocky and uncle Josiah.

Tayo is facing alienation and dealing with a grief that no one seems capable of understanding or soothing. Part of the reason he is so helpless is that he was an outsider in his community even before the war. Tayo’s mere existence as a “half-breed” has been a stain on his family name since he was a child, something his aunt never let him forget. Being an outsider, he felt a unique grief not just of being other but from also seeming to be the only person see how deeply his people are hurting.

This book effectively captures the complexity and nuance of Native American guilt, shame, and misplaced blame for their misfortune. Their shame in having not been strong or smart enough their keep land, having the spoils of their land continually flaunted in front of them, and from wanting and being denied friendship with white people. (Honestly, it’s heart-breaking.)

Ultimately Tayo finds someone who understands his pain and is able to situate his struggle amongst a larger story in which Tayo is a crucial part. Betonie, a medicine man also of mixed heritage, has a more forgiving perspective of white people and sees beyond to common source behind the larger societal problems of both white and Indian people.

He tells Tayo how he can make things right by recovering his uncle’s missing stolen cattle. But his bigger mission is to complete the story (the ceremony) to combat the witchery Betonie claims is responsible for both his people’s plight and white people who have the power to destroy the world.

At one time, the ceremonies as they had been performed were enough for the way the world was then. But after the white people came, elements in this world began to shift; and it became necessary to create new ceremonies. I have made changes in the rituals. The people mistrust this greatly, but only this growth keeps the ceremonies strong . . . things which don’t shift and grow are dead things.❞

Ceremony is an ode to the power of storytelling and the need to adapt. Regardless of your culture, I think most people (especially us book bloggers) can appreciate the power of stories, how they seem to hold a certain kind of magic. Storytelling brings characters and worlds to life. It can keep people alive, as Tayo learns, even in memory. There are important lessons in this book from which I think anyone, regardless of culture or heritage, could benefit.

This feeling was their life, vitality locked deep in blood memory, and the people were strong, and the fifth world endured, and nothing was ever lost as long as the love remained.❞ (220)

 —✃ Craft  ✃—

Prose • The book is written in the third-person past-tense and primarily follows Tayo, but jumps in time through narration and dialogue. In addition to the main story of Tayo readjusting to his life back home amongst the Laguna Pueblo Indians after fighting in Japan in WWII, the novel’s story is enhanced by poems that relate old stories that explain Tayo’s world-view how to interpret his current struggles.

Not much attention is spared for clarity in terms of time or who is referenced with pronouns like he/she. The ambiguity helps keep the story dream-like, but also generalizable to others who may find themselves forced to follow in Tayo’s footsteps to heal.

It seems like I already heard these stories before . . . only thing is, the names sound different.❞

Digression: My professor used the terms “circular and accretive” to describe the way much Native American literature is written, which is derived from the oral tradition in which there is a lot of repetition in the spiraling narrative. Each time the narrative loops around, more meaning is built upon the story in the mind of the listener/reader. He talked about how this mimics how children can learn, by listening to stories over and over and one day the story may click in a certain way at the right time.

Structure • Chapters are not numbered but somewhat distinguished from mid-chapter breaks by extreme indentation. Throughout the book we also get short stories formed like poems interspersed with the main prose that represent ceremonial stories presumedly passed down to explain problems like drought and colonization.

Some of these poems are complete in themselves, like the explanation for how white people were created by witchery to destroy the world. (Honestly, the story behind the existence of white people is one of the main reasons worth reading this book. It’s obviously just a myth, but there’s something underlying the quirky horror story, yes, that’s worth considering there.)

CompleMentary Books 

The Things They Carried The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Slaughterhouse-Five
If you want to read about the American soldier’s experience in a rainy jungle climate (Vietnam) and post-war readjustment. If you want to learn more about Native Americans in a contemporary YA novel featuring a young boy torn between two worlds.  If you want to read a classic work of fiction that depicts the surreal effects of WWII on an individual’s psyche.

Amongst the books I recommend above, I’d also like to make note of the others I was asked to buy for my Native American literature survey (which I haven’t yet read but plan to do so in the near future):

 ❧ ☙ END NOTE ☙ ❧

Funny side note for anyone who actually reads my blog post end notes, I remembered that I had to do a presentation on one of the books I was supposed to have read for this American Indian literature class. I vaguely remembered making a Prezi for it and was able to access my old account there associated with my school email. And guess what! I did what was probably about a five-minute presentation on Ceremony (without having read it)!

I was cringing so hard as I looked through it! But somehow I was not off at all. It’s probably because the professor LITERALLY told us everything he wanted us to know from the book and I took notes in preparation for that presentation! Anyway, here’s a link to the Prezi. It’s nothing extraordinary and obviously doesn’t include my any of my discussion or transitions between ideas so it may not mean anything to you.

Have you read Ceremony? If so, what’d you think?!

Thank you for reading!
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