Sunday, October 15, 2017

Be Your Own Lady Fall Quarterly Update!

Se que nadie le esto así que  me siento tan solo triste y roto como todos los pensamientos que pasan por mi cabezaThe last time I posted, summer was just beginning, and I was feeling really whiny about the future, and I was 31, and I was a first grade teacher. Pretty much the only thing that remains unchanged is that I'm still taking myself mega-seriously, and I've still got it in me to whine.  One morning this summer, I was out to breakfast and whining to a dear friend about how I couldn't "make it all work." I knew I needed to cut some things out to grow in other places, but I didn't want to give up on Be Your Own Lady. She gave me an idea of using this space to share quarterly updates, still talking books and activism and writing without feeling the pressure of regular posting. I loved the idea. I think I'll probably still post a year-end recap, and I'm going to be trying to facilitate more guest posting, but I'm sticking to four major check-ins throughout the year. It will still give me the diary-esque feel I'm going for, and keep me interacting with Be Your Own Lady until I have more time to decide where all this is going.

Work: At the end of the summer, I got a job as a Library Media Specialist at the elementary school I was already working at. I was petrified for three days, then elated, and now I'm still over the moon and also kind of tired. I'm taking graduate courses through Salem State to get my school library license, and I'm learning a lot, but it's really hard. I think it's the actually-trying-to-learn-something thing. It's exhausting. It's worth it, because I'm living a dream that I thought might take much longer to reach. So I'm eyeballs deep in digital literacy standards and Makerspace ideas and the Dewey Decimal system, which, for a book lover and librarian enthusiast, I am shockingly unfamiliar with. I am finally using the nameplate Ben made for me years ago. Ashlie Swicker: Librarian.

Emotional Club (@emotionalclub) on InstagramWriting: Over the summer, before I knew my fall would be quite so consuming, I also worked on making a site for my writing work, with the eventual goal of trying to get a few more freelance jobs. I'm really happy with how it came out, and look forward to adding more of my favorite pieces to the clips page. Check out ashlieswicker.comThe biggest sacrifice I've had to make is my writing group. We've been meeting monthly since last September, sharing insight and excerpts and it's been such an amazing experience to talk about stories and have an excuse to keep my word count up. We met as part of a writing class and enjoyed each other's company so much that we kept meeting afterwards. I adore these ladies and leaving sucks, but I haven't kept up a writing habit for a few hectic months, and I know it will be awhile until things are settled enough for me to dive back in. I miss my story, but also have been picking away at the same plot for three years, and I feel weird relief to step back. Interesting.

Here are my most recent articles for Book Riot:

Buy, Borrow, Bypass: Body Positive Memoirs (Read THIS IS JUST MY FACE! Do it!)

I'm struggling with not writing for them as often as I  should, not keeping up with new releases the way I'd like to, and not pursuing new freelance work the way I thought I'd be this fall. My library job is bigger and more important growth, so when am I being pouty about it taking up so much of my time?

Reading: I'm going to keep myself together and try not to cry right now- I'm having a TERRIBLE fall where reading is concerned. I have so many things I'm interested in reading, but I'm not working hard enough to set aside the time. I could blame it on the fact that I am truly busy, but I find the time to mindlessly scroll Twitter and Insta for countless hours, so there's no excuse. I'm not working out as much as I should to feel good, and my best reading happens when I'm on the elliptical, so there we are. STILL I have read a few things that I loved the crap out of, so here:

Moxie  The Witch Boy  I Am Alfonso Jones  The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

I'm also loving A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir on audio, when I get my act together and remember headphones to listen while I grocery shop, and I'm reading two library-adjacent titles for work (Resolve and Rescue and a book about Makerspaces).  I have some great books on deck, including the third in Libba Bray's Diviners series and some middle grade egalleys that I was praying I'd get approved for, then instantly forgot to download (EYEROLL AT MYSELF). Tell me what you're loving. Get me jealous enough to break this slump!

Blogging: I haven't been doing much but I've been reading some great things that soothe and inspire! Click through and be well (hopefully I'll get back to more focused Coffee and Blogs posts soon!)

Hymn: A Poem by Sherman Alexie  ("Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.")
5 Ways to be a Good Friend  (Another thing I am constantly working on.)
Reading Pathways: Paula Danziger  (Best author of all authors.)

I also check my horoscope every week/day at Astrostyle and monthly with Susan Miller. Chani Nicholas is another great resource.

Looking for similar Posts? Follow me! | Source: visualgraphcLife: My lucky little life is trucking along. Now that we're all back to school I'm MUCH happier than I was in the unscheduled, unstructured summer. Milo is in kindergarten at the school I work in, and I'm liking being so near to him- I wasn't sure how that would go. Elliott is doing so well at PreK, reaching his goals and making friends and seeming more mature everyday. My mom and stepdad were living up here for the month of September, and my sister Laurel is getting married at the end of October, so we've been spending our weekends on family time and birthday celebrations. Ben shot a new movie in September and his last film is being shown in festivals all over. 

I always wish there was more time- to read, to sit around, to see friends, to travel- but I recognize this is a period of wild career growth and I need to buckle down. Each of the boys has a skill they're really working hard on and both are right on the cusp of new milestones. Ben's brainstorming some next steps that are really exciting. We're all strapping in to make it through the holidays without too much stress, and I'm so excited for what 2018 will bring.

That's all I have at the moment, but I would love to hear from you. Where are you in work, reading, writing, life? Do you have a horoscope site to suggest, because I'm currently obsessed! What is making you happy? DO SHARE, these kinds of updates are my favorite things to hear. So much love to each of you. 

(image credits: 1, 2, 3)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 24th, 2017

This weekend, I'm going to make some decisions. 

It's my first weekend of summer vacation. I'm spending almost the entire time with friends- on a lake in Maine, at a lovely lunch destination in New Hampshire. I'm going to have a lot of driving time to think and to listen. I'm going to have a lot of time away from the hectic pace of work and family to process everything bouncing around my ridiculous brain. I'm going to absolutely embrace the damn magic of this gift of a weekend.

And I'm going to make some decisions.

Last weekend, I talked with my mom. Really talked, with the barriers down. When I was young, I was a bitch at home, and I didn't have a good relationship with my mom. When I got older, we got incredibly close, but I was so scared of returning to the bitch-daughter status that it was hard for me to be real. This weekend we were real. About the deaths in our lives. About the things we wanted for ourselves a long time ago. About the things we would need to do if we wanted to live the lives we had planned, or even if the plans changed. We ate lobster rolls and fried clams and had one of the most personal conversations of all time under the cover of the bluegrass live music that was playing right next to us. The dude started playing You Are My Sunshine, the song that, in our family, represents all the men who have died before their time, and we started openly sobbing. It was that kind of day.

My mom said two things that have stuck with me big time. She used the phrases "small life" and "I'm not going to let moss grow under my feet." These things resonated so hard I could feel them vibrating in my chest. I can talk FOREVER and I can't find words to explain how those things made me feel.

I haven't fought for much. I haven't taken any risks. The biggest thing I've done that includes even a modicum of self sacrifice is going on medication, and I benefit as much as my family. I got a teaching degree because someone said I'd be a good teacher. I got a job in a district and I stayed there because it's safe and because you get better at it every year. I had one kid because I like kids, and just as much because it's what you do when you've been married awhile. Without much thought, another came along quickly. We moved because we ran out of space. It's a wonderful life, one I truly love. But I wonder how I can add intentionality moving forward.

I spent my teens and twenties dabbling in other people's lives, trying on different personalities, exploring what I liked. Sometimes I cringe when I look back and see how clueless I was, but I try to be patient with myself. It was all work that brought me here, to this strangely pivotal time. I've felt strongly in 2017 that I am at a turning point. And I feel it even more strongly this weekend.

So I'll drive, and I'll think. I'll be with friends and enjoy their company and pay close, close attention to what words and ideas make me light up. I'll make some lists. I'll make some decisions.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Things Making Me Happy

At the end of last week, I had a minor mini breakdown. My anxiety skyrocketed. I fought with my husband- not a novel thing, but I recognized old patterns in the way I couldn't drop it, stormed away and stormed back again, louder this time. I isolated myself from people who I wanted badly to see. I stood at coffee counters, firmly telling myself I'd feel much better with tea or water, and walked away with large drinks full of stuff that would make my heart race. Little bells went off- this isn't normal. This isn't right. The little bells are lifesavers and such proof that I've come so far. I thought about how crappy I'd felt on Thursday and Friday, and felt sad that that used to be every single day.

The culprit was yoga, or lack thereof. I had been going once a week to an hour long class and then doing SUPER LOW EXERTION workouts on a little elliptical I keep in my office a few other times. It was nothing that was sculpting my body or blowing my mind, but apparently it was keeping things together. I got thrown off my routine two weeks ago when I had to be out on weeknights, and exercise dropped off the plan. I felt the difference SO HARD. And I felt so lucky to be able to notice, analyze, and trace back to the source. This is a skill I took forever to develop.

Anyway, that awareness is making me happy. So I thought I'd share a few other things making me happy right now.

1. Horoscopes
I love them so much. Right now I'm really, really into the Astrotwins. They have daily, weekly, and monthly horoscopes for every sign and I check in every morning. I love how reading horoscopes lets you see how you're feeling about yourself- whatever person-specific things bubble up as you read are the things you are holding close to your heart. I don't overthink them, but I let them inspire me. I also check out Susan Miller and Chani Nicholas.

2. New Clothes
I don't buy new clothes very often, but I splurged during Modcloth's Memorial Day sale. The thing I love about Modcloth is the community aspect- the reviews are full of honest and detailed descriptions, especially from fat people. This makes me feel so much more comfortable shopping. I know they were recently bought by a different company and am warily keeping an eye on how things play out, but for now, the business side of things went well! I bought a romper patterned with umbrellas and storm clouds, a LBD for my sister's bachelorette, a green skirt (which I own in yellow and get countless compliments on), a heart-patterned tank top, brown saltwater sandals, and a red dress patterned with ice pops for my anniversary party. I have to try everything on this weekend, but I wore the romper to Book Expo this week in New York and no one tried to sell me tickets to the Statue of Liberty, so I think I blended in among the city people. Being a fat girl in a romper was a fashion goal achieved! 

3. Summer plans
Last year was the summer of moving, and house stuff took up every second of my time, This summer is the summer of family, and that's where my focus will be. My sister/best friend is getting married in October, and this summer brings a lot of pre-wedding celebration. My son was diagnosed with a developmental delay at the end of the school year, and we're going to be trying to keep a loose "homeschool" schedule so we can work on behavioral tasks he needs to nail before heading back to school. My husband and I have been married ten years in June, and that needs it's due attention. School goes almost all the way through June this year, but we're left with 8 solid weeks to breathe before everything starts up again. I hope to make the most of them.

4. Be Your Own Book Club
IT'S BACK! Our June pick is THE HATE U GIVE, a wildly popular YA novel dealing with the Black Lives Matter movement and a young black girl torn between two worlds. I've been hearing nothing but great things about this novel for months now, both from the industry and from friends, but what really tipped me over was the fact that Cult of Pedagogy (a teaching website I love) is also reading it as part of their summer book club. The chance to hear about this important book from an educator's perspective was too much to pass up. I'm going to try and focus a lot of the discussion on Instagram and on the Be Your Own Lady Facebook page. Let me know if you're reading along!

What's making you happy?