Books · music · tag

Literary Playlist Tag: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Literary Playlist Tag: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Greek mythology is fascinating!

With heroic feats, monsters and gods, ancient mythology may seem crazy, but it once helped people explain and cope with harsh realities. My favorite window into that ancient world is Rick Riordan’s YA series, you may have heard of it: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. (Also, The Heroes of Olympus.) You might think, hey, it’d be so easy to fashion a Greek myth retelling into a modern epic series! I doubt it, myself. It must take incredible talent and skill to write relatable, motivated characters, who then attend super-awkward family get-togethers … with the Olympian gods!

Every Demigod Needs a Theme Song

Music was an important part of the culture in Ancient Greece. They didn’t have iPods either, so if a hero wanted a theme song bystanders or superfans would have to play them an epic tune! (On a lyre or whatever, not a Bluetooth speaker!) It’s not always easy, even in modern times, to find that perfect track to set the mood. There is nothing quite like a perfectly balanced playlist for adventure, suspense, or wallowing in delicious gloom! I often arrange awesome tunes into a playlist based on the book I’m currently reading.

A lyre looks like a fun way to celebrate the feats of local heroes

I enjoy prescribing myself music, the ideal treatment after a stressful shift or a grumpy Monday! Sometimes the best cure is nostalgia (90s rock, anyone?).

It necessarily follows that music is part of my process to emotionally digest a great book. Is there a better tribute to an epic character than dedicating a song to them? And so this post was born, and simultaneously the “Literary Playlist Tag”, as tribute to the heroes of the PJO and HoO book series’ by Rick Riordan.

Spoiler alert. (If you have not yet read the PJO series, I suggest you stop and read it first. Meet these heroes the right way!)

Questing Soundtrack Vol. 1

Percy (Perseus) Jackson aka Seaweed Brain
Son of Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea
Classification: Demigod

When Percy finds out about Camp Half-Blood it sounds unbelievable, but, also kind of explains everything about his entire life. His absentee father, his ADHD and dyslexia (Demigod traits, of course!), and why his teacher tried to kill him. Not only does he belong – finally- he is one of the most powerful demigods in recent history. This doesn’t help with his abusive stepfather, his expulsion from school, or an ominous prophecy from the oracle Delphi. What has years of being bullied and alienated taught Percy? Well, he knows the value of brave friends, how to keep on fighting for what’s right and definitely to stand up to a bully.
Hopefully he doesn’t explode, like this song warns:
Superheroes by The Script

Annabeth Chase aka Wise Girl
Daughter of Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom and War
Classification: Demigod

Annabeth has been training longer than any of her friends, so she’s got skills! She can fight, and not just with a sword and bow, but with a knife which is gutsy! She left home at age seven after her father got married. Sad, yes, but Annabeth doesn’t ever get dragged down by the past. Ambitiously working her way up at Camp, she’s a commanding leader and a clever strategist, implicitly trusted with responsibilities by Camp director, Chiron. In her free time she studies, a lot. All she wants is to use that knowledge, all the while unknowingly becoming a woman that warriors will follow into battle. There is also strength in her ability to love and trust those she cares about. Those two strengths are oft at war as her best friend Luke takes a path that her own conscience resists. This song might describe how others feel about Annabeth. She’s a force that needs a great team behind her, and Annabeth finds hers:
Invincible by Skillet

Grover Underwood aka Goat Boy
Classification: Satyr

Grover is still a little green when he becomes a “Protector”. Having a few nature-related skills and a taste for tin cans doesn’t help much with going undercover at high school’s, looking out for vulnerable Demigod kids! But this Satyr dreams big. He’s got to succeed at protecting his new pal Percy, or he’ll never get his promotion to “Searcher”, never find the nature god Pan, and never help Pan save the planet. Ambitious, right? He’s also reeling from a failed mission, so his lost confidence and hopeful attitude shine through these lyrics.
This song embodies Grover’s anxiety and determination despite his inexperience:
Over My Head, by Judah and the Lion

Questing Soundtrack Vol. 2 – Angry Demigods

Luke Castellan
Son of Hermes, Greek God of Roadways, Travellers, Merchants and Thieves
Classification: Demigod

To understand Luke you need to know that a prophecy can drive a person crazy, even if they try to ignore it. Luke was unfortunately destined for suffering. His surrogate family broke apart when he lost Thalia. He still had Annabeth, but throughout his years at camp both his godly and mortal parent were painfully silent. When he was finally sent on a quest, and wounded, he gave up on fighting fate and became bitter towards the gods.
These lyrics describe a hollow life, a “one way street” because fate seems to leave him no choice. Although all he wants is to make his own way and to find his own voice as the song says: Hollow Tune, by Brick + Mortar

Thalia Grace
Daughter of Zeus, God of the Sky
Classification: Demigod

An intense teenager, Thalia survived alone for years before she met other demigods, Luke and Annabeth. Tragically, she sacrificed her life for this surrogate family, demonstrating love, loyalty and courage. Even back then, her style was punk/grunge with angsty black makeup to match her black spiky hair. (In mythology, however, Thalia was the name for the muse of comedy and pastoral poetry- there’s some comedy for ya right there!) This Thalia may not be poetic, but she’s a (nearly) fearless leader!

This song reflects her nature and heroism, placing the good of others before her own desires. (Also, it’s a great soundtrack for gutting monsters!): Warriors, by Imagine Dragons

Clarisse La Rue
Daughter of Ares, Greek God of War
Classification: Demigod

Clarisse wakes up in the morning ready (and willing) to take your head off! She saves that sentiment for her enemies, like Percy Jackson who gets on the bad side of her electrified spear early on. The thing to know about children of Ares is that they inherit a sort of thirst for war, not to mention huge muscles. (At least, I assume those traits are from their godly parent!)
Clarisse in particular tends to make enemies of other demigods who probably think muscles that big should be considered cheating. While she strives for greatness, she admittedly earns a healthy dose of respect!
This song was very likely written for a child of Ares, if not the God of War himself: Born for Greatness by Papa Roach

Nico Diangelo
Son of Hades, Greek God of the Underworld
Classification: Demigod

If someone had asked Nico, ‘do you want to be a hero when you grow up?’ his unequivocal answer would have been: ‘YES’! But his destiny as a hero would be darker than he ever could have imagined. Alone, and in the wake of a tragedy, Nico would learn he was a son of Hades, extremely powerful, and also pretty creepy! The kid’s ambitious, though, as he strikes out on his own to seek answers about his family and his future.
Outcast or hero, that is the question (insert Shakespeare skull joke here) this song asks in such relatable words: Hero by Weezer

Questing Soundtrack (Single) – Half-Brothers with a passion for peanut butter!

Tyson
Son of Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea
Classification: Cyclops

Tyson met Percy in Manhattan and they became friends before even realizing they were related. It’s a warm-your-heart, underdogs-gotta-stick-together kind of story. Tyson’s pure soul is clear by his devotion to the happiness of others. (Especially to Percy, and “water ponies”!) He has the mental understanding of a young child which makes his talent for metalworking especially impressive!
This song shows his innocent concern for his friends who he loves with all his heart: Critical Mistakes by 888

Spoiler alert. The following heroes pertain to HoO, be warned!

Questing Soundtrack Vol. 3 – Heroes Unite!

Jason Grace.
Son of Jupiter, Roman God of the Sky.
Classification: Demigod

On the surface Jason is the ideal hero and a good guy. Son of the king of the gods, he is intimidatingly powerful. All his life people have treated him with reverence, expecting him to be important. Sure, he rose to those expectations, becoming a respected leader. He is also deeply motivated to help others, but that doesn’t mean he’s not lonely. Responsibility weighs heavier than armour, so when newfound friends offer to shoulder the burden alongside him, he can finally be himself – just Jason.
He’s taking risks for the first time, flying “higher”: Higher by The Score

Piper McClean.
Daughter of Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love.
Classification: Demigod

Piper has everything money can buy, which excludes quality time with her famous father. Fighting for anonymity takes it’s toll and it’s hard to make real friends. Being rich, beautiful and strangely persuasive should be advantages, yet she battles constant insecurity. However, Piper will fight tirelessly for those she cares about and that fight just might be what she needs to come into her own.
Does “love is the answer” sound ridiculous? A daughter of Aphrodite knows that love has “a million faces”, some kinder, some more cruel: Resistance by Skillet

Leo Valdez.
Son of Hephaestus, Greek God of Blacksmiths and Fire.
Classification: Demigod

Leo is the funny one, clowning around and pranking his teachers. He’s clever about it, too, moving a-mile-a-minute, thinking up genius schemes! Handy doesn’t begin to cover his mad skills. This might explain how the kid escaped all his foster homes. Yeah, the jokers are almost always hiding a secret sadness. Leo’s secret is darker and more dangerous than the average teen. Fire, certainly, is no joke.
For loveable Leo I have chosen, not a snappy-fun tune, but a sort of eerie, hip-hop lullaby about the helplessness of immaturity, and the fear of facing reality as flames slowly consume us: Cradles by Sub Urban

Hazel Levesque.
Daughter of Pluto, Roman God of the Underworld.
Classification: Demigod

Hazel is reminded that she doesn’t belong every time she blacks out and sees flashes of her first life, decades earlier. She knows from experience that the life isn’t fair. Nevertheless, she’s surrounded by young heroes intent on saving the world, and she’ll give everything she has to help them succeed.
In the past, Hazel was once too late to act to prevent disaster, so this song’s reference to Pompeii’s tragic destruction is poignant: Pompeii by Bastille

Frank Zhang.
Son of Mars, Roman God of War.
Classification: Demigod

Frank is a fair-minded, kind-hearted young man. He is frequently underestimated because of his round face and teddy-bear build. Unlike most demigods, he’s always known a bit too much about his fate. Peculiar abilities run in his family. His grandmother always reminds him to stay true to himself, but who is the real Frank? To find out, he will have to overcome his fear of losing control. He’ll have to confront his own power and the inevitability of death.
These lyrics describe Frank rising to take his stand:
Waking Lions by Pop Evil

If you have stuck with me thus far, Thank you! What do you think? Are these songs hardcore enough for our heroes?
I am partly looking forward to the promised Percy Jackson TV series on Disney+ because it will mean a new theme song! Meanwhile, I can try to conjure Camp Halfblood now, using music-magic!

Listen to Monsters by Shinedown on Spotify and be transported to the infested forests of Camp Half-Blood!

~ Are there any songs that remind you of Rick Riordan’s books?
~ Are you psyched for the future Percy Jackson TV series?

Happy reading, and happy blogging! I’d like to take the liberty of tagging a few blogger friends. Consider this an invitation to create your own version of the Literary Playlist Tag! @brownowlgirl @nilyme @bookdragonism @sajalbansal @hermionessecretlibrary @littledragonmama

Books · reading

Are You “Bookish?”

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Am I book-obsessed… or just addicted to reading?

I live and love the reading lifestyle! I have been reading consistently for most of my 31 years. I don’t exactly collect books, though. And the books I do own aren’t always the prettiest. Or the newest. Or the oldest. I haven’t kept every book I ever owned. I don’t stockpile them. Why not? Can you relate to this? Or am I just terrible at being book-obsessed? 

With social media being what it is, books themselves are like celebrities: praised, shared, glamorized, fawned over. The bookstagram and bookish hashtag are trending hard! I love it. Books deserve their spotlight. But, it has me wondering if I qualify as “bookish”, “a bookdragon” or even a “bookstagrammer”. Do I actually want to buy and display those lustrous hardcovers? I hesitate to do so, and I often wonder if I’m not the only one to admit that those visually impressive marvels of literary design are not something I need, or even want.

Returning to a good read.

Let’s explore the idea of what a “reader” is, or should be! There are probably a zillion types of readers, the blogger/bookdragon, the social/wine drinker, the political/crowd follower, the lounger/beach bunny, the escapist/world traveler, the thrill seeker/armchair detective… and so many more!

When I own a book, I usually return to it every year or two, like brunch with a good old friend. I’ve had comparatively few of these: Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, The Alchemist. But did it matter that they were mismatched, dog-eared copies I adopted from the nearest used bookstore? Absolutely not! Did it matter that Jane Eyre had a plain-Jane classic cover, because I had grabbed it from a sale table at the mall? Nope!

Let’s travel back to my teen years when, after watching a certain 2005 film, I ran to the local book shop to purchase my first copy of Pride and Prejudice in a garish two-tone, with yellow hearts, pink lettering, and an affordable price tag. Did I care that I abhorred the color pink? Decidedly not. That book was my portal into the regency era – and a literary treasure trove of witty women – disguised in bubblegum hues!

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A book by its cover.

Does it matter what color it is? The font, style, the author’s name placement? Well, of course, it does! We first judge a book at first sight, no exceptions! Except for ebooks, or classics, or the stout novels next to the grocery store checkout that are #1000 in a romance or crime saga. Yeah, what was I saying?

We know what’s going on. There are absolutely beautiful books stacked on forefront tables, marked “SALE”! There are elaborately decorated fantasy series’s with only two-star reviews on Goodreads. And there are many dull, drab covers that could be our next favorites- life-changing, breath-stealing adventures cloaked in italic, achromatic indifference. I would agree with those who say color and style absolutely give us a feel for the book before we even turn it over to skim the synopsis. These details hint at a tone or a trend to attract the prospective reader. White is practical, black is authoritative or mysterious, pale blue is comforting, and so on. 

Sometimes, there’s a feeling we get at first sight, not love, but hope. That book! I want to hold it, read it, discover it. I first recall experiencing this feeling during a Scholastic Book Fair (around age 11) when I saw a cover advertised: pale steel-blue. Castle turrets lifting from hilltop to sky. And a sword, promising heart-wrenching adventure, placed upright in stone. I had to have it. I read it, and these days I don’t recall much of the story, but I remember that intensity with which I yearned to have The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White.

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The Sword in the Stone: Magical Story of Young King Arthur Mass Market Paperback – September 15, 1978 (Image from goodreads.com)

 

I would also agree with those who read a book before they decide whether to buy it. Absolutely. Appraise, then collect. Once I have finished my pitiable trudge to the library, I have to figure out when I can afford to revisit my new friend! If it be in ebook form, all the better- no shipping, no waiting. Does anyone else almost prefer new books on their Kindle? When I first received my Kindle, a gift, I considered it to be my Belle’s Library- elegant, well-stocked- my goal in life! All the classics I never got around to reading were ready and waiting for me. All the old friends were also in residence, Harry Potter, Jane Eyre, Bilbo Baggins, Emma Woodhouse, and Lyra Belacqua, to be joined by future favorites Malcolm Polstead, Ender Wiggins, Don Tillman, and Percy Jackson. The cover didn’t factor into these, my friends!

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 We have needs.

The point is, there’s no practical need to buy a physical copy of a book. Just an emotional need. I theorize that when a reader connects deeply with a book/character/fictional world, they need it to be visually, physically present in their lives. How could I not own Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? I must know it is there, waiting for me. I need to know I can gaze upon the star-strewn chapter pages in anticipation of returning  home to Hogwarts.

Could I upgrade that worn, well-loved copy of my childhood favorite, knowing that it’s journeyed by my side through the most turbulent years of my life? Have you ever mourned a lost book? Then, you know what I am saying. These books are our companions, snapshots of our past selves and reflections of our worthy, world-worn, warrior selves. Oh, what perils we have survived!

 

Are you a “bookish” person?

So, is there a need to qualify or classify a love of books? Honestly, I do not believe so. We may be a self-appointed bookdragon, hoarding and obsessing over stacks of literary treasure! We may be a planning, list-making type, patiently awaiting a library copy, with plenty to read meanwhile. We may be the nostalgic type, collecting our top favorites, special to us, as links to our unique past adventures! Or, we may be a combination of various bookish habits, all fulfilling and natural in a reader.

I’m rather the third type, myself. I recently tracked down six matching Signet Classics Jane Austen novels- beautiful! Yet, when I open each volume, view the small type, feel the crisp binding, and breath it in… it’s not the same. It’s not the same emotional experience that I enjoy when I pick up that original, vibrant albeit water-stained (I’ll admit it) copy I’ve carried with me for fifteen years. It’s just not the same.

So, yes, I love to read. It fulfills me to learn new ideas and perspectives; to become a character, adopt her adventurous traits, and to explore those pathways which an author has mapped out and clothed in a wink and a promise! Do I photograph a gorgeous cover, admiring its bookish intrigue, docility, or flirtatiousness? Yes! And then I get back to reading, grateful for the words, whether in the form of epub or PDF or bound paper, with which I am already so infinitely rich.

The end.

 

What do you think?

Would you agree that there are different types of readers?

Which are you?

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About me

The First, A Reason To Write.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

The First, A Reason To Write.

Under pressure to choose a starting point I have, rather optimistically, themed this attempt: ‘Voice of Reason‘. Though I have very little idea of a theme, I have often wished to turn the cacophonous whirl of my mind into a blog! I hope to write more than ‘reason’ and more than self-deprecation!
The primary goal in writing here, is to conquer my oppressive fear of sharing anything personal about myself with…well, anyone. To find my voice.

Being myself very mellow, my style may be both melodious and melancholy. Without further apology, I’m going to ease in by talking about something outside of myself: change. I love change.

No, not in the “she’s a rolling stone” kind of way. What I love is the transition, like how you’ll be writing down this one thought, and another will catch you up until you’ve written pages full! Or, how you inhale a crisp, autumn morning and notice the world is not quite the same as it was yesterday. Hope. Inevitability. My favorite feeling is waking from a dead sleep to excitedly scribble, in a fuzzy stupor, an idea so electric and new that it returns to me the next morning of its own accord!

In life, we don’t get to make big changes often, most of it is just routine. That being said, routine lies in the wake of every great change. This blog, for example, carries the force of my determination to stir life’s waters! I determine to value my voice and even to share it fearlessly! Already, the newness of speaking out in my own voice feels transformative.

-Robyn (The first of my personal voice entries!)

 

Communication · friendship · Isolation · Thoughts · Tips

Digital Hugs, Friendship & Isolation Tips!

What’s A Real Connection?

It’s a Wednesday afternoon. I’ve just picked up my phone, tapping the 4-digit pin automatically, and readying my thumb to choose an app from the home screen. I pause instead, and glance down in confusion. What did I intend to do just now? Check email? Text? Write a note? Sigh. How quickly I forget.

Technology is said to keep us connected, and to simplify our lives. Having it all in one place can nevertheless make focusing on one task nearly impossible. I’ll speak for myself, it’s tough to keep connected with my friends and family. Maybe you can relate to the following:

1. Several noisy apps are vying for my immediate attention!

2. If I want to connect, I have to consider first which app to use! (Instagram or Facebook? Or text, but do I text one-on-one or group text?)

3. I want to text someone, but once I look at my phone I get sidetracked replying to posts or reading my emails!

Is there a secret to enjoying meaningful online chats with our loved ones?”

We say we can multitask, but what that really means is we force our minds to quick-change between tasks and hope we don’t let one slip! Sometimes it works, others… well, other times we look up from our device after three hours of scanning through Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/WhatsApp and wonder if it was worth it. What does this mean for our relationships? Is there a secret to enjoying meaningful online chats with our loved ones?

The Good Life

Working from the comfort of your own home sounds like a dream come true. No awful break-room coffee and no shared computers. Just you, a steaming cup of coffee and some work to do! Sure, it’s a tiny bit distracting when you glance up to see a chore undone, a project in progress, or a cute pet that deserves a little cuddle. But there are also no co-workers to bother you about how your project is going, or to comment on your numerous coffee breaks! That’s right, shame goes out the window when you work at home faster than you can say “PJs”!

But, it’s also tough to learn to focus in that setting. Finding work-life balance is never easy, but it can be done. I’ve been working from home the past few years, so I can offer some friendly tips as an experienced hermit.

1. Keep work separate from home life non-work. Kitchen is for food, the office is for work, couch is for breaks.

2. Avoid checking personal email and text messages throughout your workday. Don’t waste your breaks on that stuff, either, though. Breaks are meant for resting the eyes, and perhaps even getting some natural light!

3. Chat at the water cooler. By this I mean actually make a point of sending a digital hello to a couple co-workers during the day! Take an interest, share your “Quarantine Playlist” or weekend Netflix plans. (Then drink lots of water, because it’s good for you.)

Why Social Media Hurts Friendships

I don’t just work from home because I like it. I’ve got some issues. Namely, fragrance allergies and social anxiety. In my experience, even if you hate leaving the house, you still need a healthy amount of interaction with others. I think everyone can understand what it feels like to crave togetherness after weeks or months of isolation! After being stuck in our household “bubble” for a while, we yearn to see a friend’s face. We miss our parent, or support group, or even just basic human interaction with random strangers.

Well, in between those necessary excursions outside the home, there’s always a way to connect online. Maintaining friendships that way requires determination, however. In the same way that being a hermit leads to loss of social skills, if we depend on seeing each other in person we’ll never develop the specific skill set required to deepen our connections through digital means!

“In the same way that being a hermit leads to loss of social skills, if we depend on deepening our relationships in person, we never develop the specific skill set required to connect on a deeper level through digital means!”

1. Step Back From Social Media.

“But that’s where I keep up with all my friends!” you might say. That’s a valid response. Still, social media does have drawbacks when it comes to any friendship.

The main thing is, you need value over volume. Sharing, liking, heart-ing, commenting… these are not “real” connections. Ask yourself, is it enough to scroll through their Facebook posts, or does that friendship deserve more effort?

Chandler decides to be authentic with his online gf. “Just me. No jokes!”

2. Make It Count

I suggest trying to imitate how you would talk if you were together in real life. Open with a question specific to the person! Ask if they’ve been working on a hobby they enjoy. Have they been for a drive or a nature walk lately? How is their family coping? Let them vent a little about worries they might have. Show your concern by asking questions and listening, which is almost as great as that hug you can’t give each other right now! (And I’m sure you give great hugs!)

3. Avoid Assumptions

By all means, share a bunch of pics of your sweet puppy, your kids, your crafts… but don’t assume everyone you know and love has seen them.

These days we have uncountable apps for talking, texting, forwarding, sharing photos, watching videos, and generally being creative with our self-expression! It’s unreasonable to expect that everyone knows where to look for your latest life updates. My advice? Just tell them which social apps you use and why. Ask which app they prefer, and how they want to communicate with you. Be direct about wanting to communicate more with that person, and ask what they want from your friendship, because directness is awesome!

Are You Okay?

“In fact, any activity that calms you while allowing you to process your inner thoughts and emotions would make a great addition to your new daily routine.”

Has your self-worth plummeted with changes to your job and lifestyle, friendships and community involvement? I’m so sorry if you’re struggling. I’ve seen some incredible examples of people struggling yet finding new purpose. Humans are resilient!

Isolation is hard on us, though, so it can be therapeutic even to write in a journal. In fact, any activity that calms you while allowing you to process your inner thoughts and emotions would make a great addition to your new daily routine.

You know that amazing feeling you get when you check off each item on your To-Do list until it’s complete? Everyone loves a productive day! It’s what our brains do. Once we choose a task, we mentally set a value on it’s completion, thereby setting ourselves up for success! That’s why we’ve always been told to set goals, for example:

1. Plan to get a certain amount of work done in the day

2. Call your family

3. Wash the dishes

When it comes to working from home, there’s very little external validation and we might end up feeling discouraged. So get the day’s goals done and then appreciate your own hard work!

Not to fully contradict myself, but your self-worth should not be completely tied up in your daily accomplishments. One of the most rewarding goals to aim for is to share a laugh! Honestly. This involves everything good:

1. Being yourself!

2. Helping someone else

3. Letting your mind rest and de-stress

It takes ingenuity to find hilarity while alone (or while stuck with the same people for an extended period of time). This is a great time, actually, to connect over a much-loved comedy series! 😆

Be Lonely

Protect yourself by setting goals and boundaries, and by establishing strong, quality communication with your loved ones.”

We can’t fully avoid the loneliness that comes with isolation, and we’re also facing pressing anxieties these days. There is a pandemic currently affecting people all around the globe. Sometimes it’s all we can talk about! Other times we just want to relieve the stress by turning off the exhausting media updates. I think we should all pay attention to this “exhausted from media” feeling. 😣😓😴 Uncertainty is stressful in itself, and when we open our apps and scroll through posts and news and opinions, we’re feeding ourselves a heavy diet of distress. 😧 This is ultimately harmful, and it can get in the way of truly connecting with the people in our lives- even the people in our home!

My mother Rhoda enjoys her coffee with a walk at the beach, taking gorgeous photos of wildflowers

In the future, when difficulties lessen, hugs are allowed, and gatherings are safe, try to remember that digital communication has both the potential to build up and to tear down. Protect yourself by setting goals and boundaries, and by establishing strong, quality communication with your loved ones.

The quarantine experience has helped us realize how important visual cues and physical affection are to our relationships with family and friends. Yet, we can be lonely together. I’ve seen amazing adaptability in people of all ages, as they learned to video conference to visit one another, once ‘social distancing’ kicked in.

My friend Krista takes her family on nature hikes!

I also admire those in my life who set the example for me by enjoying their best life in spite of these uncertain times! Going out into nature often, learning new creative skills, and sharing these via social media to encourage the rest of us.

My sister Rikki started to embroider patches!

Be Authentic

I’m actually the last person to give advice on authenticity. I’m still working out my own issues and that’s the main reason I chose to write about communication. Quarantine has taught me a few things, or revealed things I didn’t know that I knew:

1. When you need to talk, consider carefully who best to confide in. I have never been good at this. I usually just blurt out whatever I’m thinking to the first person I see! However, some people are “fixers”, others are “listeners”. Some people prefer a light-hearted chat, and hopefully we can detect their boundaries before we let loose with our latest existential crisis!

2. It’s okay not to be okay. Try to tell someone close to you when you are struggling. It’s hard to do when you prefer to hide from the world, but, ultimately, we need to trust others in order to strengthen that relationship. Wouldn’t you want to know if your BFF was having a rough day?

3. Keep it short. Can I just remind you that there’s no need to justify how you use your time? There’s no obligation, ever, to tell people your personal business, such as managing finances, housework, marriages, romantic relationships, health problems. The reverse is true, too. If someone doesn’t want to tell you what they’ve been up to, let it go for the moment! When you’re stressed out even a short conversation can be taxing.

4. Be kind and understanding. “We used to text all the time, but lately- nothing! Are we still friends?” Oh yes, as a social anxiety sufferer I understand the fear of silence all too well! Are they angry, disappointed, distracted, confused? Just remember, you can never know for certain the feeling behind the text! Ask, or let it go, or show some extra love with a *Digital Hug*. It always pays to empathize before reacting to friends and family.

The many hugs of FRIENDS

My Journey

I’d like to tell you about my personal journey to making friends online. It involves a love of reading, a worldwide fandom, and a whole lot of acceptance. I was in a dark place just a few years ago, when it seemed that anxiety had crippled every aspect of my life. The Harry Potter fandom was reacting to an announcement around that time: the creation of a ‘Wizarding World book club’. This would allow readers worldwide to unite, read together and discuss the HP books over the course of a year! 📚🐉⚡️

I was sceptical at first. But I had a Twitter account so I opened my Kindle to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And wow, I can’t find the words to express how I felt on realizing that I could actually connect with others – emotionally, conversationally, passionately – over this timeless story! Friendship, justice, love, and so many more themes bonded us until we felt like lifelong friends. To this day I frequently converse with the beautiful people I met through ‘WW book club’. As the years pass, we find we need that atmosphere of acceptance and compassion all the more. ❤️💛💙💚

“Friendship, justice, love, and so many more themes bonded us until we felt like lifelong friends.”

One fellow fangirl in particular often joined in book club while she was walking to work Friday mornings. Her passion and openness led to fun, insightful conversations about characters! I’d never known there could be so many layers – so many shades of grey – in fictional characters. I had to rethink my feelings for Hermione and Neville and even Hagrid! We had lots in common, too, as nerdy introverts. But she was the expressive one so she drew me out, and still does! We can talk about fun stuff and serious stuff. We share music and books. Together, Krista and I prove that ‘Internet Friendship’ is real! Do you know what else we proved? That connection was really possible for me, despite barriers like social anxiety.

Friends Robyn (me) and Krista first meet at Universal Studios

Digital Hope!

Some people (including me) are much more comfortable writing down their thoughts than saying them aloud. It allows for time to think, revise, and express feelings and opinions in a way others will understand. Some of my most important conversations have been via text. I might actually have an advantage when it comes to digital communication!

Sure, we miss out on the physical proximity- eye contact, hugs, smiles, laughter. But, guess what? We learn to deliberately consider what we want to say, and to listen carefully to the meaning behind the typed message. We benefit from developing the skills to communicate meaningfully via text! Also, we benefit from prioritizing authenticity when sharing of ourselves, and our lives.

If we focus and work at emotional awareness, we can communicate digitally in a deeper, more authentic way! This is why I believe the digital age is truly saving us from disconnection.

  • Do you agree real friendship is possible online?
  • What is your favorite thing to do when you need to cheer up and keep busy?

Uncategorized

Reading Habits ~ Book Tag

How are we to know if our book habits are odd, unless we compare them? I could use some bookish perspective! For example, is it weird that I only use my San Francisco bookmark with the Percy Jackson books?

Okay, deep breath. It’s time to find out if my reading habits really are strange! I am excited because this is only my second blog post, and it was a lot of fun to write. I found this tag at @ Nilyme

So, here we go into my messy, bookish mind! You might even find that you have some of these habits in common with me.

Bookmarks, or a random piece of paper?

Usually, I use a bookmark. I have a few nice ones! This wasn’t always the case, though. I remember, when I was a pre-teen, my mother would recycle paper by quartering it and stacking it on the counter for use as note paper! Phone messages, to-do lists, and yes, makeshift book marks.

My fav book marks, including the Harry Potter-inspired Ravenclaw which is the creative work of my friend, jmlcART on Etsy!

Stop reading randomly, or stop after a certain number of chapters/pages?

So, so, so random. That describes me and my reading! I’ll stop reading if I need to let an exciting event sink in, not even reading on to find out how the characters react! I’ll just set down the book, walk away. Go outdoors, grab a snack, or fold some laundry! It’s worth it, to prolong the anticipation.

What else? I’ll also just stop mid-chapter sometimes if I’m not feeling into the book. For example, if I was trying to read during my coffee break but couldn’t seem to get back into the book I might stop, reading it for the moment. Also, I may fall asleep while reading. (To be clear, this would not happen at work!)

A specific place at home for reading?

No, I read anywhere!

My seat on the couch.

A chair on my porch, facing the forest.

At my work desk.

Sitting up in bed.

On my stomach, propped up on my elbows on the couch/bed/floor (if the lighting is good!)

Eat or drink while reading?

Coffee! No, tea! No, coffee! (In any case, there is usually an oversized mug of green tea or coffee beside me when I read!)

But, I am the clumsy type, so all books are cleared away before I attempt to enjoy a meal. However, my Kindle is a little braver than I am. On occasion, it will sit on a pillow near me while I am eating and tempt me into a little extra reading time.

Insta @Robearsbooks

Music or TV while reading?

Sure, why not? I can block out almost anything while reading, and I love that about myself! (Not sure other people love it about me, though.) Music can even help me get into my reading mindset!

One book at a time, or several?

Oh, always several. I spent a fair few years of my life re-reading old favorites, and that hasn’t changed, although I am progressing down my TBR list these days.

Let’s see, usually I am reading one of each category:

~ a re-read (often Jane Austen or Harry Potter)

~ a non-fiction (memoir or humor, please!)

~ a new book (contemporary, fantasy, or classic but new to me!)

~ a bookclub book

~ Oh, and the Bible, too. Being my random self, I’ve never read it from cover to cover!

Reading at home, or everywhere?

Everywhere! Traveling, waiting, working. I have to have a book with me! My Kindle is well-traveled.

Pocket Jane Austen – @Robearsbooks

Reading out loud, or silently?

Oh, I do enjoy reading aloud sometimes! My McGonagall and Winky voices (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) are particularly memorable. I probably couldn’t do a serious crime novel because my voice is soft and unpracticed. I often have a raspy, croaky voice, which could be interesting!

Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?

I’m an impatient reader. I don’t read fast enough, at least in my own opinion! So yes, if we’re about to resolve a fight between lovelorn characters or face down a mortal enemy, maybe my eyes will flit down the page. Usually, I’ll regret it. If only I had had the self-control to wait a few paragraphs!

Otherwise, I avoid opening a book to the wrong page at all costs.

Sometimes it might be justified, though. Did you ever read a story that was told from multiple perspectives and you just wanted to know what happened to one person? It’s so painful! Set up Cool-Girl-Protagonist for danger/drama/turmoil then, guess what, the next chapter is just Mr. Side-Quest, back again with updates about Who-Cares-What! Come on.

Alternative page markers

Break the spine, or keep it like new?

First of all, I don’t want to seem judgmental. If you’re reading books you’re obviously appreciating them! As a girl who grew up reading library books, I am baffled as to where the idea came from to dog-ear, or fold a corner of, a book’s pages! However, I do know that it’s all too easy to set a book upright, spine facing up, to keep your place. After all, we don’t always have a bookmark on hand. And again, not judging, but there are so many alternatives!

Put a pen in the book. A hair accessory. The corner of a blanket. Any random piece of paper (see first question)!

Sometimes I’ll actually just estimate the number of finger-widths I have read, and close the book with nothing to mark my spot. That could have terrible ramifications, though (see previous question).

My Ravenclaw bookmark, created by my friend jmlcART on Etsy!

Do you write in your books?

No, I write in my lovely notebooks! And in my iPad app. And anywhere, apart from in a book.

Three years ago I set a goal to start writing a blog. I needed more time, however, to find my voice. I’m so grateful to everyone who has listened to me, and to those reading this blog now. Be your authentic self!


Thanks, Pernille, for sharing this Tag! It was a great way to get my blog rolling. I highly recommend her entertaining and thought-provoking blog @ Nilyme .

Did any of my bookish habits shock you?

What is the strangest object you use as a bookmark?