My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘advice’

The Fix

Avila at Chestnut

A few times a month, I’ll receive a message either on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or via email asking me for help. For advice. For an opinion on what they should do.

Y’all, social media is a funny and crazy and daunting thing, but it also has this weird way of bringing people together.

It’s humbling, every time I receive one of these messages. From strangers, from friends, from strangers who become friends. And it’s flattering to think that someone somewhere might think I have some answers, or was enough of a catalyst to help someone try to find help for themselves. I don’t think it has much to do with being inspirational so much as it does that most of the issues I talk and write about are things I have struggled with, am struggling with, and am honest about struggling with. Trying to navigate work, relationships, my incessant yet incredibly annoying habit of thinking that ‘perfect’ is and should be this obtainable goal, and adulting in general are all things that I have and will always be open about. Life is hard and confusing as hell sometimes. But from my experience, there’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in this thang.

And when you’re a peer, an equal, another regular person who faced any given monster and is doing okay, sometimes that’s less intimidating than a therapist or a doctor or a parent or anyone else in your immediate life who might unknowingly judge you as they try to help. One of the things computer screens have given us is a little piece of illuminated hope, the kind of hope that doesn’t ever touch your real life unless you want it, and the kind that allows you to be anonymous. When you’re struggling, knowing that you’re letting that hope in on your life is sometimes the most blessed thing. It’s empowerment. And who doesn’t like a big ‘ol slice of that every now and then? I know I do, preferably covered in cheese and pepperoni.

But I hardly know what to tell people, in part because I am not an advice columnist, and because I don’t know their lives, and because I am scared to take the ownership of giving bad advice. The truth is, my life is still messy in places. I don’t have it all figured out. I’m trying, and each and every day I learn something new, and grow, but I’m still a work in progress. I think we all are in a way. Nine times out of 10, I’m making my own answers to my life up as I go.

I suppose this is an apology, in part, if you’ve ever asked me something and I didn’t respond. I probably didn’t know how. That’s hardly an excuse, because I could have tried, but I am human too. And humans get scared sometimes. Of our emotions, of our history, of our struggles and our scars. Sometimes we’re scared that if we poke the box where we packed all those bad things away, the memories of those struggles will peep their ugly heads back out. Sometimes giving advice feels like that.

But one thing I do know is that I can cheer you on. I can ask questions. I can tell you that deep down, you know what you need to do, you just want someone else to tell it to you because that’s the easy way. I can be rhetorical and tricky and universal, and it would probably seem personal because when you seek advice, you latch onto whatever you can and call it yours. And I will do all of these things, if that is what you want and need. Because I really do hope that the people who find even the smallest amount of inspiration in my own story know that someone is cheering for them. Someone always is.

But though I can root for you and tell you that if I made it through, so can you, I cannot fix you. I don’t have the answers. None of us do. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have, but the Internet and the transparency and immediacy of communication means we can do it together.

I cannot fix you. But then again, I shouldn’t. That’s not my job. The only person who can and should and might fix you is you. Trust that you’ll be able to do that.

You’re more capable than you think.

Well-Read 101: Advice From a Bookworm

It’s safe to say that no matter what I’m doing–working, driving, brushing my teeth, cooking defrosting a pizza or hanging out at a bar/club–I most often than not would always rather be reading.


I would always rather be reading.

I’m not gonna lie, guys. I kind of wished everyone felt this way, this mad and sometimes obsessive need to read (hey, that rhymed!). And not just so folks would understand not to try and strike up a conversation with yours truly when I’ve got my nose buried knee-deep in a book on the bus. No, I also want people to become manic bookworms such as myself because reading for pleasure is, get this, linked directly to future success in children and teenagers, and increases the level of overall empathy in people of all ages.

I mean, how cool is that?!

And how necessary.

Plus, reading doesn’t only actually make you smarter, it also makes you look smarter, which is helpful if someone is on an interview trying to land that dream job, or perhaps on a date tying to land that dream guy/gal (a great ice breaker is to ask about what your date is reading/has just read/wants to read!)

I’ve noticed in my experiences, both while working at the library and in general interactions with my friends and family, that some people aren’t born with a book in their tiny baby hands like I was. No, some people don’t discover the love of reading until well into their adulthood years. On the other hand, some may have loved books at one point, but switched to streaming live videos of cats when the Internet came along.

If you fall into one of those categories, get excited–YOU HAVE SO MUCH DISCOVERY AHEAD OF YOU!!!!

Starting out on this adventure might seem intimidating at first, but don’t worry–mama’s got your back. Reading is essential, but it’s also A LOT OF FUN! Like, THE MOST FUN! Here are some ways to start reading for pleasure that won’t make you want to tear your hair out. Or worse, the pages of a book!

1. Sample lots of genres.

books gif

Start with contemporary fiction–it’s super accessible and unbelievably varied, so no matter  who you are, there’s a book out there for you. Don’t worry about what may or may not be “useful” or what may or may not impress people. Read what looks interesting to you. My favorite genres are realistic (sometimes called literary fiction), fantasy and young adult (which, yes, is totally worth reading even if you’re no longer a teenager.) Other types of novels include mystery, science fiction and romance. I’ve pretty much found something to enjoy in every section. Don’t reject an entire genre based on your perception of it. You could be pleasantly surprised if you take a chance.

2. Read what you said you read in high school

leo great gatsby

Classics are usually classics for a reason: they tap into human experiences, desires and emotions that transcend time and space. If great literature seems daunting, it shouldn’t. At one point, even plays written by the late and great William Shakespeare were just considered entertainment for the masses. Today, the only differences between the Bard and the MTV reality show are rhyme, meter and some depth of feeling. If the idea of reading “older” English intimidates you, start with something from the 20th Century, like The Great Gatsby, or Catcher in the Rye (one of my fav’s) and work your way back.

Have you ever noticed too how many people claim to have read a book (“Oh yeah, I remember reading Huckleberry Finn. Such a great book! What was it about? Well, uh, there was this guy named Huckleberry? And he, uh…..well…it’s been so long since I’ve read it…”) to maybe sound cool or smart but didn’t actually read the darned thing? This is your chance, my friends! Go back and actually read the darned thing!

3. Get some perspective

read real housewives nene

Read books written by men, and books written by women. Read books written by people of every race and nationality and sexuality and gender identity and any other identifying characteristic you can think of. Don’t do this just to check off items on some diversity itinerary. Do it because all human stories are different from each other, and they are also all the same, and both of those things are vitally important to understand.

4. Go back to basics


The children’s section of any bookstore is home to some of the best stories you’ll find anywhere. As C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia (another one of my fav’s), once said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally—and often far more—worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” Reread your old favorites, and then discover some new ones.

5. Be a rebel.

jake g reading gif

Banned books are some of the most important books you can read, because if something upsets people, it is likely worth a lot of thought. Some people jump at the chance to read banned books (“CONTROVERSY! ALL RIGHT!”), but others are a little more hesitant. If you’re in the second group, consider that before you disagree with something, you should probably find out exactly what it is you’re disagreeing with—and that involves digging a little deeper than reading a warning label.

Reading banned books gives you the opportunity to decide how you feel about an issue—whether that’s profanity, prejudice or pornography—without having to rely on the opinions of a politician or a PTA member. As you’re reading, see if you can find out why the book got banned. Considering the work as a whole, think about what the author was trying to say with the contested parts of the book. Should the entirety of the novel be lost because a part of it offended someone? If you read it, that becomes your call and not someone else’s.

6. For the love of Dumbledore, read Harry Potter.

harry potter

In fact, just go ahead and start with that.

Life’s Tough: Get a Helmet

Raise your hands if you ever have found yourself complaining.

Don’t worry. My hand is totally raising’ the roof as we speak.

Now I don’t do it often, but sometimes I just get in this ‘Whoa is me’ funk; like I have been given the worst of the worst deck of cards, that my Magic 8 ball is stuck on ‘Cannot Determine’ mode, that my life is Brawny paper towel tough–and that’s saying something! I mean have you seen those towels?! They’re amazingly strong!

It’s easy to get stuck in that mode, to let a couple of stresses and silly worries prevent you from really appreciating how amazing your life truly is. Trust me, I know. Let me give you an example: just yesterday I complained like a mo’ fo’ because I got stuck in lovely Atlanta traffic for nearly two hours, sitting, nay, melting in my non-air conditioned car as I moved down I-95 at a bustling pace of 5 MPH. I was already running late to meet some friends and by the time I got to the restaurant, I looked like I had run a marathon…on the sun, sweating in place I didn’t know I could sweat. They also had almost finished eating (which I don’t blame for doing one bit because I was more than fashionably late) which left me to awkwardly slam down a sandwich with Tasmanian devil speed. And just to add insult to injury, in the hustle and bustle of running into the restaurant, I totes forgot to turn off my car lights which lead to me returning to a dead battery post-dinner.

Ugh. Fudge my life. Actually, a little fudge in my life sounds pretty good right about now 😉

Are you guys rolling your eyes? Trust me. I am too. I’m pathetic. But the first step is admitting you have a problem right? Right.

Here are some tips that I’ve adopted that will help you to stop feeling so sorry for yourself and quite the complaining–or complaining as much…

1. Watch Grey’s anatomy.No really, it helps. I mean, how can you feel bad for yourself when you live in a world where this degree of beauty exists?

RIP Denny. RIP.

and also because Grey’s Anatomy can be kind of depressing. There are so many tragic stories in each episode that really can help to put things in perspective and make you realize:  man, life isn’t that darn bad.

2. Think of how annoying it can be when you listen to other people complain about their problems. No one wants to be “that girl” or “that guy”.

3. Transform negatives in to positives: I got stuck in traffic for two hours? Not exactly what I was planning to do with my Monday night but hey, I had time to listen to some rocking tunes, relax a bit and clean out my pores with all of the intense sweating I did (it was more beneficial I think than any sauna could do anyday…and it was free!).

My car battery died? I got to show off my impressive car jumping skills to all of the dudes in my group. And let me tell you, totally worked 😉

4. Write about it. I’ve become a journaling addict recently! I’ve found that the simple process of writing about what I’m stressed/complaining over really helps me to release and forget all of that negative energy. Plus this blog is kind of a neat way to do all of that, as well as reach out to all of you who may be dealing with some of the same shtuff, different day things I am.

5. Accept adversity as a part of life. I could give a prolonged spiel about the inevitability of suffering and how it makes us stronger, but I don’t think anyone can articulate it better than Eric Matthews…

Eric the wise 🙂

But really. Life is filled with challenges and if getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic is the most that I have to complain about, then I’m spoiled with good fortune and really need to take a freaking chill pill already.

See, I feel better already 🙂

Questions of the Day: What was the last thing you found yourself complaining about? Please. Make me feel better about whining over the endless amounts of Kardashian shows that are on 24/7. Ack!!

Any more tips on how to stop feeling sorry for yourself?

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