Book Review: Furiously Happy

Title: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy

Author: Jenny Lawson

Series: none

Edition: Hardcover, borrowed from a friend

Blurb: In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”

Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?

Review: Oh my stars, you guys. Have you ever had that moment when the right things just collide? When there was something you needed to hear and, miraculously, the words were delivered right to your door? That was my experience with this book.

I was stuck in a rut, feeling very down about a lot of things (you can read about some of these feelings here – there was just a LOT going on in a relatively short period of time). Basically, I felt lost. Very lost. The problem with these feelings, which for me stem from my problems with anxiety and depression, is that it is very easy to feel like you are the only one. Everyone else is fine, aren’t they? Just look at them! They’re fine!

My stepson’s mom had heard some of this and sent this book to me. It sat on my desk for a while as I suffered through my reading slump and finally got shoved into my purse for a book to read during my lunch breaks at the new job. And boy, did I suddenly feel enlightened! If any of you have read Jenny Lawson’s posts over at The Bloggess (and if you haven’t, get thee over to that site, pronto!), you will know that she is a very . . . different . . . individual. I mean that in the best way possible. She is a very strange, very flawed, very unusual person, and is very unapologetic of that fact! The way she shares her battles with anxiety, depression, and all-around survival of the world we live in are hilarious and inspiring.

I laughed my way through this entire book and read the last two chapters with tears in my eyes. Not tears of laughter though. Tears of relief. Tears of “thank-the-gods-someone-understands.” This book is wonderful if you are dealing with these issues, or if someone you know is dealing with these issues, or heck, even if you just need a really good laugh. This book feels like catching up with an old friend over coffee – you know, that old friend who always has the great stories to tell from her life and can make any experience one that you will always remember. Jenny Lawson has become that friend for me and I will always be grateful for that.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. Would give 10 if it let me.

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WWW Wednesday – 9/12/18

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

I’m actually really excited, because I am reading again, which I had almost completely stopped doing for a while. Didn’t realize how much I had missed it.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books, although only one actively. I’ve been reading 18 Thoughts by Jamie Ayres on my Kindle app, trying to actually get through all the e-books I have on there. This one is actually the third in a trilogy. I got the first book, 18 Things, on BookBub a long time ago and finally read it (basically picked a book on my account at random). If I had to categorize these books, I would call them . . . Christian fantasy? Like with God and angels? Except the first book isn’t really? It’s complicated. I’m going to write a review of the whole series when I’m done with them.

Also currently reading Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages, even pre-ordered it so I would get it as soon as possible . . . and then my reading slump happened. I tried to make this the book that would drag me out of it, but it just didn’t for some reason. Not because it’s bad! I really like the characters and the story (although it’s a tough story). And I absolutely love Mark, and always have (visit his website, MarkReads, and you will love him too). I’m hoping now that I’m reading more again, I can finish it.

What did you recently finish?

The book that finally got me out of my reading slump was Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. This book was so good and just what I needed when I needed it. Many people will know Jenny as The Bloggess, so if you’ve frequented her website, you will know what you are in for with her books. She writes about dealing with depression and anxiety, two things that I have been struggling with, in such a way that just makes you feel better. Less alone. She doesn’t pull any punches, freely admits that she is a weird person who doesn’t always deal with things the best way, but all of that is okay. A good friend of mine lent me this book, knowing a bit about what I was going through, and it was the absolute best thing.

I also recently finished The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore. I freely admit that this is not the type of book I usually read. I hardly ever read non-fiction, and usually not something this dark and serious. The reason I picked it up was because it was one of the group reads over at the Seasonal Reading Challenge. I don’t usually read along with them for their group reads, but figured I’d try to track down one of the three books they had picked for the Fall challenge. Of the three, this one was the one I could borrow from my library in e-book format. It is a hard book to read, but also in a way reads very easily? If that makes sense? The subject matter is very serious and dark, but also very engaging and inspiring. More details when I post an actual review.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Unless I am working on a series, I am never completely sure of the answer to this question. I am like a dog, distracted by anything and everything (SQUIRREL!). I do know for sure that I will be reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson. The same friend who let me borrow Furiously Happy said that I had to read this one as well. She actually said that the enjoyed Let’s Pretend even more, which makes me even more excited to read it.

So that’s what’s on my reading plate this week? Is anyone else out there reading something exciting? My TBR pile is the size of a small mountain range, but I’m always looking to add to it!

Imposter Syndrome

While yesterday was mostly an upbeat, positive day, today has . . . not been. I’m not even sure why. In the past month or so, I have been bouncing wildly between being really happy to being really sad. There is sometimes a good reason: I was supposed to be really happy that I found a new job. I was supposed to be sad when my daughter started having problems with her suicidal thoughts again. So some of these I can account for, but most I can’t. I will probably start using this blog somewhat as a means for tracking this sort of thing, just to see if there are any patterns or anything else I can recognize.

Today I feel very down, which concerned me at first, but then I looked at the date. Yeah. This one I get. Even if I didn’t know immediately what the date was when I got out of bed, the energy was in the air. It’s weird how you can feel that, even when you are by yourself. And I’m not going to spend this blog post talking about 9/11, except for this one paragraph. It affected me, of course, but only as it affected all Americans. I wasn’t there. I didn’t know anyone who was killed or injured in any of the attacks. I was scared for my country and for the uncertainty that had suddenly been put upon us, but other than that, my life continued on in a pretty normal pattern. I realize how lucky I am to be able to say that, to the point where I almost feel a bit guilty for admitting it. Which brings me to what originally inspired this post.

A video popped up in my Facebook memories, which I shared again today because I thought it was funny. I am not savvy enough to link the video here, so I will just describe it. A mom is watching her kids walking to the bus stop from her window. She is telling the camera about how she is hiding from the “fancy moms.” You know, the ones who are always put together and seem to know all the right things to say and do. This mom (and I absolutely adore her) was still in the clothes she had fallen asleep in the previous day. She couldn’t figure out how the “fancy mom,” who was in clothes to play tennis (which she apparently does every day), was able to not only be so perky, skinny, and awake, but also drinking from a “wealthy person mug.” This real mom is not the one who will be bringing homemade cookies to school, but she will be glad to write a check. “I’m the check-writing mom,” she says towards the end of the video.

While I don’t go out of my way to hide from other moms, I’ve never been completely comfortable around them. Like other parents at my kid’s school, for example. So many of them just seem to have, not just parenting, but their whole lives figured out. They either have a job that they are good at and find satisfying, or they stay home and raise their lovely younger kids.  With few exceptions, they never seem frazzled. They always seem completely in control.

I wish I could feel that way. Even if it was only for five minutes.

So what do I do when I have to interact with these people? I fake it. I fake it so hard. Seriously, anyone who thinks that I am a bubbly, upbeat person is someone who does not know me well. At all. And then I go home hating myself because I had to fake it in the first place. Why can’t I be just like all the other moms out there who have everything put together and figured out? I moaned about this on Facebook, mostly as a joke, partially as a cry for help, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. And here’s the funny thing: I got several comments and messages back from friends of mine who are moms, all admitting that they have no idea what’s going on either. And not just moms my age – one of them is the mother of a girl I went to high school with! We’re all muddling through it, and none of us have a clue what we’re doing! Yay!

It made me feel a bit better (and also a bit worried for the rising generation who will be looking to us for guidance at some point). It’s easy to forget that you are looking at usually people’s best selves when looking at social media. Vacation pictures. New babies. New pets. If someone posts about a hardship, you see outpourings of support and prayers, followed by a heartfelt thank you for how much that helped. When I was a kid, I looked at the adults that surrounded me and thought that they all had life figured out. That was just what you did, right? You grew up, you understood life and your place in it. End of story.

If only, right?

One of the commentors on my Facebook memory said, “Imposter syndrome is a very real thing. I always feel like someday people will find out that I’m not really talented or kind or good or intelligent or (insert whatever here).” And it’s true. I replied that, “I keep wondering how long it’s going to take before people realize that I’m just a scared kid in an adult costume!” So I’m putting it out there now. I am a scared kid in an adult costume. I have been since the day I turned 18 and expected this wash of knowledge and “adult-ness” to come over me. It never has, and it never will, but here’s the best part. I’m starting to believe that I am not alone. This is what most of us go through and you know what? That’s okay.

We’re okay. Or at least, we’re gonna fake it. And most likely, that “fancy mom” is faking it.

And that’s okay too.

Wake up, it’s Monday! – 9/10/18

Good morning, folks! I am still adjusting to being up early on Monday mornings ever since school and my new job started, so I’ve decided to try and celebrate it. As much as one can when one is not a morning person.

So it’s Monday. What can I say about this week coming up? I’ve recently finished two wonderful books, both very different but both very inspirational. I will try to get reviews posted as soon as possible. HOLD ME TO THAT, INTERNET! I am really bad at follow through, but I am trying to do better about that.

The new job is going well. There are still lots of other aspects to learn, but I have been told that I am doing a great job so far. My only real concern is that I really need to buy some new clothes. At my old job, very few people saw us, so we could wear whatever we wanted. I actually think I rolled in there in pajama pants once when I was not feeling well but wasn’t sick enough to actually stay home. My new job not only expects me to dress like a grown up, but a well-dressed, professional grown up at that. It’s an adjustment, to be sure, but probably a good one. It does feel nice to dress nice. I just need some more comfortable dressy shoes at some point.

I think school is going well for the girl child. Who will BE TURNING 14 THIS MONTH!!! When did that happen? It just doesn’t seem right! She had a bit of a slip during the first week when anxiety and depression got the best of her, but she is doing much better now. This weekend, she got to spend some quality time with her grandma, which she always enjoys. She has also done something else that made me really happy – she ordered a bracelet from Life Token. Her phrase: Stay Strong – You Matter. Such a breakthrough for someone who has been battling with depression so young for so many years. I’m really proud of her.

It left me stuck with the boys for a good part of the weekend, but we amused ourselves. We decided to dust off our old Dungeons & Dragons campaign (of which I am dungeon master – heaven help us all). I don’t even remember when we started it, but the Boy has been through two characters so far. The first one didn’t die, he just decided it was too boring. So goodbye, human fighter, hello dragonborn bard! The Hubby is continuing to play his half-orc paladin, although he has stopped trying to convert the goblins to the worship of Lathander. For anyone familiar with D&D, we’re running the Lost Mine of Phandelvar starter adventure and are smack in the middle of the Wave Echo Cave. Still trying to figure out where we’re going to go from there if we keep playing.

Hope you are all ready for a good week! Stay positive. That’s what I’m trying to do. I know things are really hard for a lot of people right now, but we can get through it all together.

Reflections: the end of August and the beginning of a new life

The last time I posted on here was during my July Blogging challenge, which unfortunately went belly up during our family vacation. I tried to keep it going, but things just got too busy. Which is, ultimately, the reason I always give when I stop blogging: I just don’t have the time. This reason is hardly ever true. Blogging isn’t what you would call a major time commitment, but it is easier to say that it is than to sit down and actually think about what I want to say.

Life has been a bit crazy and unpredictable. You might even say that I was living up to my blog’s title – I have no planned plot, and no idea what I’m doing. Flying by the seat of my pants, mostly, and it was most evident in the events of last month. Let’s list them, shall we?

  • I got semi/sort of diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
  • I quit my job, giving no notice.
  • I went on an unplanned trip to Florida to visit family.
  • I opened an Etsy store.
  • I started writing captions with Rev.
  • I went back to auditions for the theatre group that I’ve done shows with before.
  • My daughter went back to school for 8th grade.
  • I started a brand new job.

Those last two items both happened at the same time and both were just last week. The new job was a bit of a whirlwind. Interview Wednesday, second interview Friday, start Monday. So far, I think it’s going well. I like my co-workers and the office is very nice. Still learning all of my duties, so there’s some downtime right now, which feels strange since I’m used to running full speed. I’m also used to knowing my job inside and out, so this is all a bit new.

I’m hoping things will work out better this time. I’m hoping I can find some things to help my body work better. I’m going to use this blog to track some of my progress, in addition to the book reviews and other shenanigans. Going into September, I am setting a new blogging goal, not with prompts, but to try and find more positive things to write about, whether they are books or other things going on in my life.

I’ve been mired in negativity for too long.

It’s time to really change that.

July Blogging Challenge: Day 23

Day 23 – My spiritual beliefs in one sentence

I am not a particularly spiritual or religious person, but there is one rule that I try very hard to live by, that is found in one way or another in most major spiritual or religious practices.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

That’s right, the old golden rule. Be kind to people. Treat them the way you want to be treated. Do what you wish as long as it does no harm. To me, this is something that is sorely lacking in the world right now. It would be a much better place if more people would do this.

July Blogging Challenge: Day 21 and 22

Yesterday was full of travel and chaos, so I missed yesterday’s prompt. Let’s make it up here, shall we?

Day 21 – The best thing about summer

Ugh. If I’m going to be honest, I am not a fan of summer. I’m much more of an autumn/early winter girl. I do like the more relaxed schedule of summer. Since the kiddos are not in school, there is less to keep up with. Plus I can sleep in a bit. So that’s also good.

Day 22 – It’s embarrassing but true

Not sure if this is embarrassing or not, but I specifically don’t bring it up usually, so I guess it embarrasses me a little? So confession time. This is actually something that most people probably don’t know about me, but I absolutely love fanfiction. The stupider, the better.

For anyone who doesn’t know (I can think of a few people who read this who don’t), fanfiction is when writers, typically amateur or hobby writers, take an established creator’s existing characters and/or story world, and use it to make new stories. This is often to make certain characters pair up that didn’t in the original, or sometimes to explore plot points that didn’t get fully explored.

I first started reading fanfic right before the last Harry Potter book came out. Several fanfic writers were using it to detail their book 7 predictions. After that, I couldn’t stop. I particularly like anything that is told from another character’s point of view (especially Hermione, because she is the best), but my favorite is dystopian Harry Potter fanfic, which details what could have happened if Voldemort had won, Harry had either been killed or captured, and a small group of fighters are trying to take on the new regime.

To further embarrass myself, I also tend to read Phantom of the Opera fanfic. Most of this either tells the story in a modern setting (not my favorite, but sometimes enjoyable), or finds a way to have the story end with the Phantom and Christine staying together (usually by turning Raoul into a complete jerk – poor Raoul).

I have, sadly, binged reading fanfic to the detriment of reading actual books. Sometimes I’m just in a mood. But hey, if you know any good stories out there, let me know! I’m always ready to go down that rabbit hole.

(And Alice in Wonderland fanfic is usually pretty good too.)