Everyone has at least one of those books. The kind of book that fills your cup, perhaps because the words on the page feel nostalgic, meaningful, to your soul. Words have that power. For some people it may be a novel you read in seventh grade, and every summer after. For my Nan, I have a strong feeling it may have been her cookbooks, she was Catholic, but I always thought The Joy of Cooking was her Bible. Paula Dean, her savior. (She would not have laughed at that joke). I love to read, a trait passed down from my Great grandmother, Marion (Nan's mom), we called her grandmother because she was a classy broad. Grandmother was a no nonsense kind of woman, but she instilled a love for words in my family. There were some years that I was not a faithful reader, I often skimmed over novels that were assigned in high school. I can honestly count on one hand the books I finished for those classes. I never gave enough of a shit to read the books. I was too busy watching Jersey Shore, or Saturday Night Live, not reading The Odyssey. Those were some interesting years. I have mentioned in previous blogs, I was all things zebra print-obnoxious glitter-ratted hair. I was in no way a fan of reading meaningful literature. I don't believe that my fashion choices were the reason I wasn't reading, but I could only imagine the amount of hair spray I was using was probably affecting my ability to think clearly. It's probably hard to read anything when your inhaling those fumes. I have attached a picture of my voluptuous hair below- enjoy. It wasn't until college that I realized how impactful good books are. I only realized this when I completely BS'd my way through a scholarship paper, on my favorite book. At the time my true favorite book was Bossypants by Tina Fey (READ THIS BOOK), but I wanted to sound like I knew classic lit, so I lied and said my favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird is an amazing book, but I hadn't actually read it until months after my bogus scholarship paper was submitted(I didn't get the scholarship). When I finally read it, I felt guilty for claiming I had, it was so powerful. I learned that it's okay to love books, the way I love Bossypants, but I also have to read books that are out of my comfort zone. I have started to really love reading, even when the book is difficult. I think it's becoming a lost skill, to read books that challenge us. I struggle when I read books that widen my vocabulary and test my values, but those are the same books that have made me better in conversation, and a more open mind. I love the people who introduce me to a good book. When you share your favorite books, you are showing people words that make you feel whole, make you laugh harder, cry deeply, and think meaningfully. The ultimate compliment to me, is when someone tells me that they thought of me when they read a book, or a poem. There is something so concrete in knowing someone felt your presence in the words.
Here is a small list of books, from your girl Lib (comment on the blog if you ever want more recommendations, or have any for me)
- Bossypants by Tina Fey
-To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
-1984 by George Orwell
-Yes Please by Amy Poehler
-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
-The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
-Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
-The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
-Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
-Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Today, December 12th, my sweet mom, Jillian turns 50. WOOOHOOO! You fucking rock star;).
Sorry, that may have been a bold statement to start this blog, but I feel so much pride in who my mother is at 50. I was born when my mom was around 29. We have spent 21 years together. I feel like I have some words to say about this woman. She isn't your typical Jill. She's a ballerina, bee keeper, a wise soul with quick wit, a nurse, cancer survivor, mother, wife, friend, poet, ocean lover, a pastry chef, a woman who swears sparingly and meaningfully. Those are a few things. To start this blog off right I must admit I owe my naughty sense of humor to my mother, she's a nurse, a morbid sense of humor follows her. Nurses are the kind of people you write books about. Every time I have pushed my boundaries too far, my mom is the one person who always understands why I'm still laughing. We LOVE shock value humor. I remember at 16, calling my mom to announce I got my nipples pierced. Let's chill out for a second, and let me explain. 1. I didn't actually get my nipples pierced, I was just an asshole who derived joy from stressing out her mom (don't judge me too harshly, as an adult I know this was mean) 2. This isn't supposed to be a TMI moment, like I said, Jillian and I love shock value humor, and when have I ever held back? Back to the story. I remember giggling with my friends as I dialed my moms number, it was pure adrenaline. My mom is savvy to my ways. She knows in a moment of anger she may be giving me the reaction that I find hilarious. Instead, she answered the phone and carried the conversation quite normally. All in her soft, relaxed tone. I was the one who was shocked. I was expecting getting cussed out, quite thoroughly, but as I said earlier, Jill only swears when she means it. Unlike me. My mom rarely loses her temper, but when she does it's best not to be on the receiving end. That woman can use her words. If you ask my brother about making my mom mad he would tell you the same thing, but he would also tell you that his little sister(me) poked at mom's patience like it was my job. I am forever grateful of the mother I was given, she was so patient with me. My mom's patience with me has roots as deep as my earliest memories. As a little girl I was a hurricane in her garden. I over watered plants, and pulled her most beautiful flowers to be dresses for fairies. This never made her angry, instead she looked at me as though my imagination was magic. It's a pretty powerful feeling when someone looks at you, as though you are magical. That look she gave me as a little girl in her garden, is the same look she gives me as an adult, when I make her proud. Powerful, and to me, magical. I love my mom for all she is, she is my best friend. I find it refreshing to see someone who is everything authentic, and unapologetic. I love that you find contradictions in people to be poetic, you love everything that is deep and soulful. I think you carry what you love in the way you speak and the art you create. I hope this next year is bright. I want you to wake up everyday of 50, with good coffee, and even better people. Love you mom.
When I think of my depression I have a loss of words for the way it affects me, some things in life are felt so deeply, you simply cant articulate it. Depression isn't just sad, or lonely. For me, it's vast and consuming. When I picture my depression in my head I see myself as a young woman pressed against the glass window in my bedroom, at my parents house. I liked the coldness of the glass on my face while I tried to work through my pain. It might sound cliché, but I found solace in my depression when I felt my cheek against the cold window because I felt less numb. I hate that I call my solace cliché, but I feel that we have these preconceived notions of what depression looks like. A girl crying by a window. Cliché? Maybe. But it is my truth. Our society paints pictures of mental illness a lot. When I began describing what depression looked like to me, maybe some of you began to visualize yourself. I am writing about my experience with my mental health, because maybe someone needs to hear it. I know as a young woman how alone I felt. I had several people tell me I was too young, and supported to be depressed. I was clinically diagnosed when I was 13. Those people who told me I was too young to be depressed were probably relying too heavily on that picture in their head of what depression looks like. Society doesn't promote depression as your mother, child, student, brother, or friend, it is shown in the face of a sad stranger. It's easier to disconnect when the person you love doesn't fit the stigma. I am funny and outgoing, which doesn't fall in line with the idea that people who suffer from depression are quite and distant all the time. Some people with depression may be quite and distant, and that is understandable. We don't have to compare our pain, it is all still valid. I'm not a mental health specialist, but I can tell you from personal experience how damaging it is when someone doesn't validate what you are going through. I know the people who told me I was too young for depression were not malicious, in fact I think they loved me very much. They simply couldn't fathom someone who appeared healthy to be in so much pain. However, that didn't stop my suffering, it closeted it. I didn't talk about my depression. I had supportive people in my life who encouraged me to, but I felt that would make me weak. If I can make anything clear to someone who is struggling, it is this; mental health issues do not dictate your worth, it does not make you weak, and there is no shame in getting help. I have started counseling because I know I deserve to be healthy. I feel no shame in sharing with people how much therapy has changed my life. I wouldn't have been able to move forward with out help. I feel empowered that I have taken steps to help me overcome my depression. It's a work in progress. Another issue with depression that deserves to be talked about is shaming others. I have been on medication, tried yoga, drank more water, worked hard in therapy, and practiced mindfulness. They have all helped me. I don't think it's my place to tell someone else what they are doing wrong when it comes to their journey. As I said earlier, I'm not a mental health specialist. I think people need to remind themselves of that before they shame someone with a mental health issue for following through with their doctors suggestions. I have had many people tell me my medication is bad for me, and that if I would try getting off of it I might feel better. They don't know what a night and day difference it makes for me. I have been off of my medication, and its messy and destructive, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I am a healthier, more productive person when I take care of myself by taking my medication. I struggled with those peoples opinions on my meds for a long time. I felt like they thought I wasn't trying to be healthy, that I was being reliant on a drug. That is nothing more than that ugly stigma of depression. It's easy to pass judgment, I am guilty of it. I have wondered why people with depression let it get so bad, in hindsight, I don't believe they did. I think it happens progressively, they may not have had the tools to get help. If you're reading this, and wondering how it has gotten so bad, I encourage you to reach out. There is always help. I don't think there is beauty in the pain we suffer, depression is ugly, but I think its remarkable that we are able to heal.
"Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyways."-Mother Teresa
Libby Anne Groseclose