September curled her fists. She tried very hard not to cry.

“Green! Stop it! I just want to know–”

“One! Because you were born in–”

“If I am special,” finished September, halfway between a whisper and a squeak. “In stories, when someone appears in a poof of green clouds and asks a girl to go away on an adventure, it’s because she’s special, because she’s smart and strong and can solve riddles and fight with swords and give really good speeches, and . . . I don’t know that I’m any of those things. I don’t even know that I’m as ill-tempered as all that. I’m not dull or anything, I know about geography and chess, and I can fix the boiler when my mother has to work. But what I mean to say is: Maybe you meant to go to another girl’s house and let her ride ont he Leopard Maybe you didn’t mean to choose me at all, because I’m not like storybook girls. I’m short and my father ran away with the army and I wouldn’t even be able to keep a dog from eating a bird.”

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Because sometimes, just sometimes, while reading a passage in a book, the words resonate so deeply with what you feel that you have to stop. I read this at work today during my lunch break and had to stop. My breath came out as a slight sigh and my thoughts for the rest of the day were daydreams I’d tried very hard to suppress.

 

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“Let the Challenges Make You Strong.”

I apologize to whomever cares to read this that I’ve been silent for the last few weeks. These past few weeks have been a bit rough for me. Between personal problems, health issues arising from said personal problems, and another push to find employment of some sort, it’s not been fun.

To put it simply, something in my life had me suffering a full-blown anxiety attack. I’d never had one that bad and over the days afterward I had mild aftershocks. Two days ago I had another one that left me terrified of some other health effects. Stress always goes straight to my stomach, so I lost a few pounds as a result. As of today, I’m happy to report that my stomach is no longer hating me upon waking up in the morning. I can eat a little without feeling nauseous or like it’ll make a return appearance.

It’s kind of sad when that’s my happy moment of the day, isn’t it? And truth be told, I’m a little disappointed in myself. I’m the cause of my personal problems. It’s a psychological issue and it amazes me how much control the brain and emotions can have over the rest of the body, how much damage we can do to ourselves just because of fear and anxiety or whatever.

A friend of mine shared an image via Facebook today. It’s a classic motivational poster type image with a scenic background in muted colors with an inspirational quote on top in white letters.

“Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder. Let the challenges make you strong.”

And it made me realize that even though I used to do that regularly, I haven’t been doing that much, if at all, recently. The question of “when did I stop” floated near the surface, but in the end that answer is irrelevant. When I stopped doesn’t change when I’ll start again. But it does bring to mind a truly relevant question: What other good habits I once built for myself have I been ignoring and thus forgetting? What did I used to do that made me happy and fulfilled that I’ve stopped doing for one reason or another or no reason at all?

I used to meditate. I used to do regular tarot readings for myself because it made me think about my life and feel good (even when the reading was more negative, I still felt good for some reason). I used to dance regularly. I used to sing more. I used to sit at my computer and write almost daily. I used to sit down and enjoy a few cups of tea in the afternoon (haven’t been since my stomach has been upset, but I’m fixing that today). I used to go for morning walks. I used to stay up well past midnight and enjoy the quiet that comes from a house at rest. I used to play more puzzle and hidden object games than I do. I used to devour books and not feel bad about it. I used to go out for myself every couple of weeks (now it’s once a month if I’m lucky, and I’m not counting going out to fill out an application as “for me”).

So what am I doing to fix all of this? I don’t know yet. But I need to. And the consequences are mine alone to suffer.

“‘Have you ever been in love, Kiko?’ Isobel asks.

“Tsukiko’s shoulders stiffen as she exhales slowly. For a moment Isobel thinks her question will go unanswered, but then she replies.

“‘I have had affairs that lasted decades and others that lasted hours. I have loved princesses and peasants. And I suppose they loved me, each in their way.'”

— Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

Because sometimes you just happen to come across that perfect passage that reminds you of someone you know who has affected your life in some way.