Thirteen Reasons Why: My First Book Review

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated and was not retained by the author, publisher, or any other person or persons to review this book.  I just read a lot, liked it, and want to write about it.  The opinions expressed below are my own.

“Thirteen Reasons Why” is a best-selling Young Adult novel by Jay Asher.  It’s a haunting story told by high schooler Clay Jensen, an all-around nice guy and friend to troubled (and recently deceased) classmate, Hannah Baker.

Hannah’s death comes as a shock to many, but unbeknownst to them, she has set a plan in motion to explain it.  Not to everyone – just to the people who were, whether directly or indirectly, involved in her passing.

It’s an easy, exciting read and (hallelujah!) a new concept.  While aimed at a teenage demographic, the writer does not condescend or ‘dumb it down’, and still manages to capture accurately the sometimes horrific sub-culture that is High School, USA.  The dialogue is smart and relate-able, and most importantly, believable.

Asher has found a new way to discuss an old, much talked-about subject: Bullying.  It happened when I was in school, and it happens now.  We hear about it more now thanks to social media, and that also contributes to more drastic actions by teens and unfortunately, frequently dismal outcomes.  This is what we see (or hear) happening to Hannah Baker.  A new student at a new school whose world is slowly destroyed by others, some never realizing the damage they’ve done.  He also conquers a the difficult topic of suicide, and reminds the reader that oftentimes a person’s screams for help are just whispers.  But if you listen, you can hear them.  Unfortunately for Hannah, they didn’t listen.  Now she’ll make sure they do…

Anyone who is in high school, has a child or relative in high school, or who simply wants to be more aware, should read this book.   Not only does it shed light on the real struggles (and perceived “life altering” effect of those struggles) that teenagers face, it also reminds us that what we do and say to others has meaning.  Sometimes a flippant remark can remain lodged in someone’s psyche indefinitely.  We should all be more careful with how we treat each other.   The Bible says the power of life and death are in the tongue [Prov. 18:21] and sadly, sometimes it’s more true than we want to know.

To learn more or purchase this book: http://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Reasons-Why-Jay-Asher/dp/159514188X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

To find mental health counseling in your area: https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/

And finally, if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.IMG_3345

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Feeling Too Much

What is an Empath?

I am an Empath.

There, hope that clears it all up.

(kidding.)

An Empath, depending on what you believe, is either a name or description someone made up (totally bogus) to describe someone who cries too much, is a drama queen, is anti-social, etc. – OR – An Empath, sometimes called an HSP or Highly Sensitive Person, is someone born with the gift of feeling.  Google dictionary defines Empath as “a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual”.

Don’t let the word “paranormal” throw you.  Empaths aren’t evil, ghosts, spirits, witches, or make-believe.  They are real, flesh-and-blood people like you, good reader, who feel on a level much higher than most.  When I describe this to others, I like to say “mine goes to 11” and I also reference E.T. and Eliot.  (If you do not understand those references, get off my blog now. Seriously. Quit. Bye.)

My ability shows up in little ways in my life.  Quirky things, like not being able to watch blood-and-guts movies.  I have a visceral reaction to … well, viscera. I also can’t handle lots of loud explosions.  Honestly my favorite types of films are happy ending, Disney-style, boy-gets-girl ones.  I tend to insert myself into the film, and feel emotions even as I watch, as if the story were real, and it hurts (physically, hurts in my chest) when I have to watch tragic things.  So I avoid them.  My sweet husband is wonderfully accommodating with me on movie dates, even if it means we see something rated PG or animated.   Another way it shows up is in thinking so strongly about someone that they call (or show up), or dreaming about someone, asking if they are alright, and having them respond with “how did you know?”

In addition to having stronger experiences emotionally, Empaths can often “read” other people, or feel the emotions of the people around them.  This is true in my case.  (Remember Deanna Troy in Star Trek?  She had this ability.) As you can imagine, this makes trips to places like the mall and crowded restaurants uncomfortable.  Often, it makes me tired, and I experience sensory overload.  The talking, the music, the clanging, the smells, and on top of that, the anger/depression/worry soaking into my pores usually gives me  headaches and a strong need to nap.  Empaths love to love people, and have a strong desire to avoid confrontation at all costs. (I have a shirt that says “Lover, Not a Fighter” on it.  That pretty much sums it up.)

Some people say that Empaths are not really gifted, they are just people who get their feelings hurt easily.  I am writing to say that 1) That’s a lie, and 2) People who call others “too sensitive” just don’t want to feel guilty for acting like jerks.  Now, it is true my feelings get hurt easily.  But I also love easily and deeply, feel compassion and – of course – empathy in a way that most others don’t, and when I’m happy it’s an ecstasy that most people don’t get to experience.

Most Empaths are gifted in more than one way.  Some can see auras, some have visions in dreams.  In a crowd, they usually go unnoticed, sitting in a corner somewhere watching quietly.  But they are valuable members of society, the “bleeding hearts” who have a tremendous ability to love their fellow man, generosity beyond measure, and an appreciation for people of all shapes, sizes, and creeds.

Mother Teresa is believed to have been an Empath, as well as actor Keanu Reeves, who is famously reclusive, shy, and kind.  Empaths are extremely good listeners, will quite literally hand over the coat on their back for someone else, and do well in creative careers like writing (hello) and painting.

Do  you know an Empath?  Are you Empathic?  I’d like to hear about your experiences.  If you would like to take an Empath test, try here: http://www.empathtest.com/ or here: http://themindunleashed.org/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html

If you love an Empath or HSP or want to know how to love them best, please read: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-tips-help-you-love-empath.html  AND  http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/famous_empaths.shtml  AND https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/awake-the-wheel/201305/feel-live-the-secret-life-empath .

Where Have I Been All My Life?

Hiya!  Let me start by saying, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated!  I’ve been SO busy.  Like, STUPID busy.  I can’t even talk about how busy I am because I’m so busy.  And that’s life, and I’m blessed and I know it, so I’m not fussing.  Here’s what’s on my mind tonight:

Johnny Depp’s advice to Kate Moss on how to handle fame.  “Never complain, never explain.”  Brilliant. Perfect.  I’ll be honest and say that I do not think Johnny Depp is a genius, or even a man who reads books.  And yet, he so succinctly stated something that I feel should be every person’s mantra, not just celebrities.  This thought led to so many others…

I’m quitting Facebook.  Permanently?  I don’t know.  I like keeping up with old and far away friends, but that’s really all it’s good for.  I do know that it’s a time suck, it allows too many people to see into intimate parts of my life.  Parts that, when I’m honest with myself, I realize should be shared with my husband and kids and those closest to us.  This new “bare it all” version of society has blurred lines and dissolved boundaries of decency, privacy, and even civility.  There are people who have made me very uncomfortable in conversation because they literally inquire about personal details of my life, even when I say I’d rather not share them.  And saying I’d rather not share them?  Oh, the horror.   The usual response is an audible gasp, a stomping of feet, or if the conversation is a digital one, a revocation of “friend”ship.  I shouldn’t feel forced to tell you about my new job, my hair cut, or anything else about my life unless I WANT to. It’s ridiculous and I’m over it.

I’ve been doing a meditation challenge with my buds Deepak and Oprah (see here: https://chopracentermeditation.com/home). The meditation is a 21 Day Challenge I received in an email and I must say, I like a challenge.  The idea of my mind as a quiet, peaceful place sits right on the line between “shut the front door” and “get the heck outta here”.  It’s not an easy task.  Not impossible, maybe. But definitely not probable.  Still, I am trying. I have missed two days, but I will begin again tonight.  I hope to update you all at the end of the 21 days.

I also just finished Louise Hay’s book “You Can Create an Exceptional Life” (see here: http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?ref=149&id=7621). A timely gift from my mom, a pleasant surprise on a rainy day.  I read it in 3 days and I think I may read it again.  Many of the opinions and ideas resonated with me.  Thoughts are things and we create our reality.  Yes, I believe that.  I more than believe that, I have seen it to be true.  Loving others is paramount.  Yes, I believe that as well.  Highly recommend reading this book.

Sort-of related to the previous, I am becoming more aware of myself. My thoughts, intentions, actions, create the life around me. All the time I am sending out vibrations into the universe that, in turn, sends back vibrations that match. (Simply stated, I know, but this is my simplest understanding.)   I am learning about being true to myself, being my best and highest version of me, and manifesting my greatest dreams and desires.  (Not including Liam Hemsworth – see below.)  As a Christian sometimes I wonder if these things conflict with my religion, but they do not seem to, and so far what I have read “feels” very true to me.  Does that make sense?  I want to always be growing, and moving forward, and I believe that I am.  I want to shake off negatives and swim in positives, possibilities, opportunities, and learn to receive all good things.  I say affirmations, I have a vision board, and I write in a gratitude journal.  If nothing else it certainly makes my soul feel light.  Many times I drive to work and use that time to say thank you for all my blessings, thank you for all the blessings on their way to me today, and I laugh out loud. Literally.  These exercises have made me a happier person, more accepting of myself and others and more open to life’s grand possibilities, in a short amount of time.

Liam Hemsworth.  Wait, who?  Yeah I know, he’s so young and his older brother is super hot but I can’t help who my brain decides to insert into my mid-afternoon-nap-dreams.  So me and Liam (love that name) walked around my town, holding hands. Oh my gosh, the paparazzi? How did they know you were here?  Am I going to be in the tabloids? I wish I had brushed my hair.  Ah, dang it Miley’s calling me.  (In my dream she’s friends with my little sister.)  This is inappropriate. I know it is.  Beyond you being ruggedly handsome and (I imagine) quite a good conversationalist, I’m married and old enough to have been your babysitter.  Sigh.  But I’m infatuated.  Yes, let’s hold hands.  Let’s go to my grandma’s birthday dinner and say hi to my family.  Let’s go skydiving. …  I woke up from this dream highly amused, and then a little bummed.  I love my husband with all my heart, but I do so miss the excitement of falling in love with someone.  The electricity you feel when your skin brushes theirs.  I love being in love.  Some days I miss being young and dumb and making bad choices.  Thank goodness for Oreo-fueled afternoon dreams.

Be the kind of friend you want to have.  So simple.  For me, a sort-of epiphany.  I can be gossipy and get offended easily.  I can be guarded and bristly and short with people.  But I wouldn’t like it if they treated me that way.  My brother and sister-in-law went somewhere together this weekend.  I know because they asked my husband to feed their cat.  But they never told ME where they were going?!  Ugh.  Oh, wait.  I am doing that thing that I just mentioned in the Facebook paragraph.  Light bulb moment!  So I intend to treat my friends with loving kindness and courtesy.  You get back what you put out, and this is something I didn’t even know I was failing at.

FOOD.  My food processor died so I need a new one to make protein pancakes. I went to Target and couldn’t find one I wanted at a reasonable price.  Then, I thought I’d get one at a yard sale but that thought kinda grosses me out.  So… I’m using the blender for now, it’s not great but it works.  I have posted a FEW photos to instagram, but that’s it.  I can’t wait to get some time in the kitchen to post some yummy new recipes!  I’ve given up soda, I vacillate between paleo and vegan dieting right now, and I can’t get enough kombucha.

The photo below is my new desktop background.  It speaks to my soul.

So… what’s new with you guys?

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