Knowing When to Let Go

I come from a long line of people who are afraid to or don’t otherwise know how to let things go. I’m talking material things, feelings, relationships, that ratty old sweatshirt that belonged to Eddie n’ them back in the day. You know, the kind of people who think that cutting people off because of old grudges is productive.

I grew up with the idea that possessions can have value the same way that people can. Let me explain. My Grandmother was a pack-rat–she was a lightweight hoarder. She had so much STUFF. Picture this: a 150 year old victorian duplex with ten rooms on either side filled with as much victorian furniture she could find. She was a collector of antiques and spent a lot of her spare time yard-saling or perusing through the isles of the local thrift shop. Then there were those family heirlooms that she refused to get rid of because cousin so-and-so got it from great-great uncle what’s-his-name. When we moved from our big house to a smaller house in the midwest, we had to downsize and it broke my Grandmother’s heart to see the things she kept close to her for comfort disappear.

As a kid, I came to understand that family was important. Those big dinners, sleepovers, and bike rides meant something. They meant that we were bonded. Or at least that’s what I thought at the time. I think that these are some of the reasons why I have struggled with the divided band of relatives I have today. When I was younger, I was taught that “blood is thicker than water.” But as my experiences have changed and my view of the world has transformed, I believe that loyalty and honor make you a family, blood just makes you related. But that’s another conversation for a different time.

Like my Grandmother, I have the habit of holding onto material possessions that I connect with positive memories or emotions. I have allowed myself to become complacent in relationships that were not good for me. I stayed at jobs I couldn’t stand because it was convenient for whatever reason and I was comfortable with that. I have lived the majority of my life afraid to let go. Of things, possessions, relationships, etc.

I was bullied a lot as a kid and I can only think of a few friends. More often than not, whenever I would develop an attachment to these friends, someone else came along to “steal them away from me.” I didn’t like sharing my time with other kids. Eventually, my friends thought I was annoying, creepy, or just “not cool” enough to be associated with. So I was left alone and bullied. I would write notes to my former friends begging them to be my friend again. It never worked. And I looked like a loser begging for people to talk to me.

As I’ve grown up, I have learned that nothing changes if you’re comfortable. Everything happens for a reason. There is a lesson in every struggle. Somewhere between my adolescence and into my adulthood I have figured out that it’s okay to let go. I have purposefully walked away from the people, places, and things that were not beneficial to my journey to happiness. I had to let go of the thing I kept close to me as a security blanket. Letting go was difficult, but boy has it been worth it.

I made a goal for myself that 2017 would be my year. Mind you, I say this every year and nothing has ever changed. But this time, I made changes and accepted my struggles for what they are. I let my past family issues go and was able to gain some sort of closure. I moved out of an uncomfortable living situation and into a new apartment. Most importantly, I got a new job.

I had been at this particular agency for 5 years and hadn’t had a raise in 3 years. I was looked over for promotions. I wasn’t being paid for the amount of work I put in each day. I never felt supported by my peers or my superiors. I stayed for so long because the job and location was convenient and familiar. But I was killing myself for nothing. It felt like there was no one there that believed in me, my vision, or anything I had to say. I got uncomfortable enough in my predictable world at this agency that I knew it was time for me to go. So I applied for other jobs and I left. Would you believe that my former supervisor never said goodbye or good luck? I was there for 5 years. Apparently, it didn’t matter.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining–because I am not. I just want to point out that the people, situations, or things that we think are valuable to us may not reciprocate those feelings. But letting go teaches us to put one foot in front of the other. It teaches us that we are stronger than we know. Letting go has been liberating for me. In retrospect, I was terrified of letting go because I am comfortable with familiarity. Not anymore.

I want to live my life having taken risks. I don’t want to be afraid of change. I want to experience something new everyday. I know it’s hard, but sometimes you just have to let it go. But, you have to know when to let go. When it isn’t helping you grow in a positive way it’s time to walk away. If the passion is gone and you aren’t challenged properly, let it go.

Think about it: do soldiers hold onto grenades after pulling the pin? No. They let it go because it is detrimental to their well-being to hold on. So let go. Live your life. Be you unapologetically, and most of all, BE HAPPY.

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Jagged Little Thrill: Right Behind You Review

As I’ve said many times before, I LOVE a good thriller. Anything psychology or crime related. My favorite TV shows and movies all revolve around psycho killers and sociopaths. Think: Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, Hannibal, etc. I have always been fascinated by the criminal mind and mental illness. This fascination has extended to my reading activity. After reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl a few years ago, my craving for psychological thrillers has been insatiable.

A year or so ago–when I spent a lot of time at Barnes and Noble before working there part-time–I discovered the intriguing cover of Lisa Gardner’s now NY Times Best Selling thriller Find Her. I had never heard of Lisa Gardner or read any of her books, but the cover and description sucked me in. I was not disappointed. Find Her is a crime/thriller hybrid about surviving/coping after being a victim of a gruesome crime. Anyway, when I saw Right Behind You hit the shelves at work I knew that I had to get a copy. Not just any copy, but a signed copy. Thanks to working at at Barnes and Noble, I heard that Lisa would be at another store in my state. Rhode Island is an hour in any direction, so I thought it would be worth the troop. I missed the discussion beforehand, but I was able to chat briefly with Lisa, get my book signed, and take this awkward picture with her.

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In my feeble attempts to get a friend to read this with me, it ended up sitting on my bookshelf for a month after I bought it. Eventually, I got impatient enough and started reading it on my own. I didn’t really need a reading partner, did I? I didn’t really think so. I dived in headfirst and immediately became submerged in the plot. This one was immediately relatable to me.

In Right Behind You, we learn that retired FBI Profilers Quincy and Rainie are about to adopt 13 year- old Sharlah May Nash who hasn’t seen her older brother, Telly Ray Nash since he murdered their parents to save their lives. The Nash siblings endured abuse and neglect from their drug addicted, alcoholic parents. Telly had to beat his drug enraged father with a baseball bat to save his baby sister. Now, eight years later Telly is the main suspect in what appears to be a vengeful killing spree. Is he the killer? Is Telly on the path for revenge?

I hate reading reviews with spoilers, so I refuse to give any details that give away the plot. But I will tell you why I loved this book so much. I work with kids in the system so I have an understanding of the trauma that causes kids to be removed from their parents. Telly and Sharlah’s case is one of many examples. With that, the trauma they endured I have seen first hand in the faces of my clients. Telly became the parentified child when he cared for his baby sister. Even through the abuse, Telly proved his resilience when he was taking Sharlah to the library and reading to her. Sharlah handed Telly that bat to save both of them. These are the reason I love working with kids–their resilience.

Now eight years later, we learn that Telly has struggled with his identity and the kind of man he wants to grow up to be. Is a hero? Or is a he a zero? I have had the privilege of working with kids who have been subjected to endure situations out of their control in which they were exploited, abused, and/or neglected. I have seen kids come from darkness and make it out on the other side. In some ways, I’m one of those kids, too. Perseverance is a beautiful metamorphic process.

Gardner wrote this both thoughtfully and provocatively. Reading this from my point of view, she captured the emotions and struggles that kids in the system must face. Furthermore, she captured the importance of bonding and the difficulties that foster children and foster parents struggle with. What does it take to be a family? When do you know you’re a family? These are questions where I feel Gardner hit the nail on the head. She took her time developing this plot and telling this story.

I haven’t read any of the other Quincy and Rainie books, but I can see how these two profilers have influence and understanding of the human condition. Quincy and Rainie put a lot of emphasis on the importance of being able to bond. In my line of work I have seen kids who are still able to bond with staff and mentors. I have also seen kids that are unable to bond–these are the kids most at risk of resorting to crime. There was decent balance of good and bad in Right Behind You. It wasn’t rushed, it didn’t ever stagnate, and I was exhilarated with every page.

My Strange Addiction: Books

My Strange Addiction: Books

I have been reading books for as long as I can remember. In pre-school, I somehow got my hands on Jack & Jill and See Spot Run. You know, the board books with all the pictures and semi-large print? Yeah, those bad boys. I carried them everywhere I went. I would sit in corners trying to put all the words together. Even then, I was enchanted by the pages of a book. When I got to kindergarten, I recall being taught the alphabet and how to phonetically pronounce letters and words.

It was in kindergarten that I remember being introduced to the idea that “Reading is FUNdamental.” I can’t remember why I was so entranced by books. Maybe it was the fact that we didn’t have cable. Maybe it was being an only child and having to entertain myself. It could have been any of these things. I just always always wanted books. My Grandmother was always willing to buy me books from Scholastic Book orders. Do they still do those? Or am I dating myself?

By first grade, I could read fairly well on my own. I wrote my first pop-up book about a prince and a princess. By the time I got to middle school, I had written a dozen books. In seventh grade, I found poetry. English/Language Arts has always been my favorite subject in school. To be a good writer is to be a good reader first. Or at least that’s what my English teachers would say.

Books and writing have helped me keep me sane all these years. Books protected me from boredom. They have given me strength and encouraged me to develop an active imagination. Thomas Jefferson once said, “I cannot live without books.” This is true for me. Books are the security blanket I haven’t had to get rid of.

I can’t remember the last time I left my house without a book. I always have backup plans. If I don’t have a paperback or hardcover stuffed into my purse, my kindle is shoved somewhere in there, or I have several books loaded onto the kindle app on my phone.

When I first got my Kindle a few years ago, I stopped buying physical books because it was cheaper. However, I found that reading is a complete experience for me. That is, a physical one in addition to a mental one. I need to smell the paper, feel the weight of the book in my hands.I discovered that with each page turned, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Especially if the book is 500+ pages–I didn’t have that with my Kindle. So now, I don’t use my Kindle unless I am reviewing ARCs on Edelweiss or NetGalley. I work in a bookstore, so I spend a lot of time perusing through books on my breaks trying to find something new to read. The discount isn’t too bad, either. 🙂

I have accumulated so many books in the last few years. When I’m anxious or stressed out, I buy books. There are worse things to be addicted to, right? I have to tell myself (and my coworkers) that I cannot buy any more books until I am finished with at least 2 of the 150 I have sitting in my bookcase at home. The struggle is real, man. People are always telling me to borrow books from work or the library. But for some reason, that doesn’t satisfy me. I need to own the books I read–I just have to see them on my bookshelf and in my room. I covet them. And I am not ashamed.

In my defense, I am always trying to give books away or encourage others to read. I’m always buying books for other people in my life. I have converted several non-readers into fellow bibliophiles in the last year or so. I thoroughly enjoy talking to people about books. Something inside me just comes to life and I am instantly animated. I love being able to share my thoughts and hear the perspectives of others. You can learn a lot about someone just from knowing what their reading preferences are. Me? I love a good thriller, but any sort of fiction will do most of the time. I love the exhilaration of trying to figure out the plot that a good thriller should provide. Some of my recent favorites include Lisa Gardner’s Right Behind You and Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby.

I have been told that people find a hard time relating to me because I am so direct and literal. But if you can talk to me about books, I promise I’m not as scary as my facial expressions suggest I am. 🙂  Feel free to check out my reading activity over on Goodreads by clicking here!