I read a blog post last month by Allie D that caught my attention. She listed 50 of the Best Preschool Books that she has read to her boys. I instantly wanted to read her post because I love books and I was curious to see what books she recommended. Also, because I have a preschooler and a kindergarten-er who enjoy books also. After reading her post I discovered that quite a few of her books were favorites of my children. One reason I thought Allie’s post was awesome is the reading. I have been a reader since I learned the magic of reading back in the early 80’s. That is something I pass on to my children because – reading is fundamental. Anything on this planet you want to know about, you must read something.
Why I love reading – because of all the interesting stories and characters I discover. I am a romance fiction fan but I also enjoy adventure, science fiction and the occasional biography. I gravitate towards books with a conversational writing style where I can become the main character and transition through the book. Reading is fundamental for me because:
- It is how I honor my ancestors who were unable to learn to read because of the color of their skin. Every book I read is for my grandparents who couldn’t.
- It is how I learn new things and comprehend what I learn.
- Knowledge is powerful. How you wield that power shows what type of person you are.
- I love being able to help others using what I have learned through reading.
- I love hearing my children laugh when I read to them.
I enjoy reading also because based on the statistics of the neighborhood I grew up in, I shouldn’t be any good at it – but I love proving people wrong when assumptions are made about me.
According to an article by Lauren Gelman for Reader’s Digest (www.rd.com/health/wellness/benefits-of-reading/), reading is good for you for other reasons:
- Reading can protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reading can melt away stress.
- Reading boosts your vocabulary.
- Reading improves empathy.
- Reading can encourage life goals.
But don’t just take my word for it. Read the article for yourself and then comment with a good book you would recommend for me. I’ll look over the comments and add those books to my list. I’ll start with a couple of recommendations of my own.
I just found out the singer, Chester Bennington, from the group Linkin Park committed suicide. If you are not familiar with the group this may not bother you, but for me this hurts. I discovered Linkin Park in 2000 through my then-boyfriend. He didn’t know it at the time but when he popped Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory CD on, the tracks spoke to me. I was depressed. I was also in denial. I knew something didn’t feel right with me but I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to appear weak or whiny. I pushed on and pushed through and through the music I was able to hide my feelings with a smile.
Earlier this year a good friend of mine, Chris Collins, committed suicide. Right after the New Year started. He spent the last twenty years of his life fighting for equality in the LGTBQ community here in Philadelphia. Fighting for those who felt they had no voice to be heard and yet he felt no one heard his voice. Losing him hurt, especially like that. He was one of the first friends I made in high school as an awkward teenager and his friendship helped me through a lot of dark days over that initial four years. He didn’t realize how much he meant to those around him that he had touched over the years.
See, depression does that. It creeps into your mind and takes root into all of your memories, old and new, and tries to twist them this way and that. Depression loves to feast on the negative memories. Those memories are like protein shakes, making the depression stronger and harder to shake. Constantly whispering how bad you suck at life and reasons why bad things happen in your life. Depression is the voice of evil whether you want to believe in it or not.
But even with all of the infomercials and poster boards describing the symptoms of depression, many people ignore the obvious because once you acknowledge something you become responsible for how you react to it. Imagine if everyone actually paid attention to how their loved ones were feeling. The slightest deviation from their normal behavior would be an initial clue that something isn’t right. As a friend or loved one it only makes sense to inquire if everything is okay. Because I know what depression feels like and I had to wrestle with that beast head on to reclaim myself, I can spot subtle changes in those around me (even my co-workers). So naturally, I’ll ask if everything is alright. I let the individual know that if they need anything to let me know and then I quietly observe them without being obvious.
Why do I do this? Because I do for others what I wish had been done for me. I have survived the darkest part of my depression, I haven’t completely conquered it but I have learned how to manage it so I understand wholly what it feels like. Some people will twist their faces and proclaim that you’ll be institutionalized if depression or the hint of it is mentioned, but that is due to misinformation and fear. Once we stop reacting on the basis of fear and find out the facts, then we as a collective can help prevent someone we know from succumbing to their depression.
I am currently in another transitional phase in my life. Hence, why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Children graduating, seasons changing and children preparing to begin their school career. But amidst all of that change (because change happens regardless) you can steer it in a way. There is a way to direct some of the changes with a chance to reduce the amount of ‘pains’ associated with growth.
We all have those moments where we wake up one day and our inner being is screaming that something has to change! It’s during those moments that we have to stop and listen to what else our inner being is telling us. Chances are, our inner self has been speaking to us for a while and we were just too busy being busy to notice.
It was during one of these moments that I had to stop and listen because I was on the verge of screaming at the top of my lungs and snapping on my co-workers at my day job. I didn’t like that feeling at all. I listened to what my inner being was saying and discovered that I absolutely hated going to work; not because the job sucked, but because the politics at the job sucked – bad.
My inner self screamed at me to GET OUT!!!! I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve heard enough reviews to know that when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. We all have those moments at the day job where we want to walk out of the door and not come back but the responsibility of bills and families (for those of us who have them) weighed down on us. I evaluated my interests and came up with three ways to foster change in my life, became a notary public and quit my day job.
- Assess Your Interests – Make a list of the things or areas you are interested in. What do you enjoy doing (outside of watching t.v. or playing video games)? Write down 5-7 areas that you are interested in. Write down why you are interested in each of those areas. Ask yourself whether you would be able to participate in this interest for the next 20 years without being financially rewarded and still enjoy it.
- Assess Your Skills – Pull out your most recent resume. When did you last update it? Have you acquired any new skills? Have you improved any of your current skills? Are there any skills you need to acquire or that you are interested in? Research where you can improve your skills.
- Decide on a Path to Pursue – Go back over your lists. Cross out the ones that don’t make you feel anything. Focus on the ones that light you up inside.
Which interest makes your heart soar? Gives you goosebumps? Most likely those are the ones you should focus on. By taking steps toward your interest there will be a lighter feeling to your day and a twinge of stomach flutters as you realize that you are in control of your hearts’ desires. Make a decision about what you want in your life and go for it, you deserve it!
Using these ideas I have recently become a notary public because I truly enjoy helping others. What dreams have you chased and caught or are currently chasing? Comment below.