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That Weird Girl Life

Keeping It Real Weird

My First Session of EMDR Therapy


If you read my last post (which I’m imagining you did, just to make myself feel better), you may know that I’ve been in therapy for quite some time. Years, in fact. I started going when I was in kindergarten, believe it or not, and have been seeing some sort of mental health professional on and off over the years. So I feel like I’m pretty experienced in talk therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

But the one therapy that was never offered or suggested to me until now? EMDR therapy.

EMDR, or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a type of therapy usually used for people suffering with post traumatic stress disorder, but also helps with people with anxiety, depression, or phobias. It’s a therapy that’s used to help you process and unblock past traumas or events that you have not psychologically dealt with yet and may be affecting your life without you even knowing it. It uses the same eye movement that occurs in your REM sleep; you know, when you’re dreaming and processing your day, while your eyes rapidly move back and forth beneath your closed eyelids (have you ever seen someone sleeping and their eyes doing that? It’s a little freaky, to be honest!) Though some EMDR therapies use hand tapping or even audio stimulation instead of rapid eye movement.

My current therapist, who I have been seeing for almost a year and is just lovely, suggested that since I admitted I felt a little stuck in therapy and where I am in my life, we might try EMDR, since there may be some things in my past that might be contributing to my feeling of being stuck.

Without going into too many details (because seriously, who has the time or the interest to read my entire mental history? Hell, I don’t even want to write it!), right now I’ve been dealing with negative beliefs about myself, that have kept me from moving forward and making changes in my life, hence, making me feel pretty stuck. Since I've seemed to have tried everything else offered in therapy, why not EMDR? The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work for me, right?

I wasn't too nervous to start my first session. My therapist explained that we start with a traumatic memory or experience that upsets me and has stuck me for a long time and has had a negative impact on me. We chose one (it’s weird how when you’re asked to recall a negative memory, you suddenly blank, but then when you’re trying to sleep at night they all come flooding in, one right after another. Great timing, horrible memories!), and she explained that she would stick out her arm to the side, bent at the elbow, and swing her arm upright, pointing two fingers, left to right like a clock’s pendulum, for my eyes to follow. We positioned our chairs across from each other, but her chair to the right of me, so her arm and fingers were right in my eye line. She also told me before the session that if something was too painful or I got upset, I could quite literally tell her to stop, and we could take a break if needed.

We started our session by me recalling the memory in detail and focusing on that feeling. She then swung her arm and fingers from left to right, with my eyes following her fingers while I focused on that memory. She would then stop after about 10 seconds (or what felt like it), we would both take a deep breath, and she would ask me what I was feeling or thinking about. I would follow up with what I had felt or what had crossed my mind, and she would say, “let’s focus on that,” and then she continued swinging her arm/fingers and I again followed them me eyes. This whole process is literally called processing. That continued for the rest of the session.

Sounds kind of boring, right? Um, not so! Just from this one memory that had always stuck with me negatively, SO many other memories and feelings popped into my head. It really did feel like one thing literally led to another, that so many feelings and experiences I had were connected in one way or another to this one memory. I started crying at numerous times as other things popped into my head, as the connections were made and I admitted out loud and to myself some things that been buried inside my mind, that I never wanted to acknowledge.

EMDR sessions continue until the memory is resolved (aka reprocessed), meaning until the memory doesn’t upset or impact you anymore. We started at a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being that it doesn’t affect me at all, and 10 being pretty much this is such a terrifying memory that I can’t even deal with it. I started at a 7 during my first session and at the end it was at a 3. So for the next session, we focused on that memory again, to see if we could get my feelings towards it to a 0. And we did! After two sessions, that memory no longer negatively impacts me. I processed it during those two sessions, looked back on it, went through those feelings, and what came up during the session, and I was able to put it behind me. It was pretty amazing.

I can’t believe no other therapist had suggested EMDR before, but I’m so grateful my therapist did. We already have two other memories that we both feel I need to process (they popped up several times during my first two session, almost without me realizing it. Thank god my therapist takes notes), so that means my EMDR sessions will continue for the time being.

I’m eager to feel better and would highly recommend EMDR therapy to anyone who feels they may need it, but I also want to point out some tips that may help you during the process of, well, the process of EMDR:

#1. Have coping skills to use before, during, and after the sessions. My therapist warned me that bringing up traumatic or unresolved issues can be very upsetting and trigger some people. So before we began our sessions, she taught me some coping skills to help me feel safe and supported. We close each session with a coping skill that I choose, and I actually really needed to use a coping skill after our first session, where I spent most of it crying, after I got back into my car. I used a grounding technique to remind myself that I was present, safe, and okay. And guess what: it helped.

#2. Have someone besides your therapist you can lean on for support. You don’t have to tell them what happened during your session, but just having someone you know you can count on to be there for you as you revisit some traumatic events is really helpful and reassuring.

#3. Take time between EMDR sessions. I see my therapist once a week (not to brag), and at my last session, I told her I needed a break from my EMDR sessions to talk about my EMDR sessions and to process what I’ve been processing! I was a bit embarrassed to admit it, but she assured me that that was totally normal, and if I needed to take breaks in between sessions, I could. Especially if I was feeling nervous or anxious at upcoming sessions, which I was and just wanted to talk about how to prepare for those new sessions and new sets of memories and what may come up. So please be open and honest with your therapist if you need a break. You’re already pushing yourself a lot, so don’t push yourself even more to the point of hurting your mental health.

EMDR is tough, rigorous, and extremely emotionally draining, but so rewarding. I know it helps a lot with people with PTSD, but I’m so impressed that it’s helping me, with my anxiety, depression, and past memories that are hindering my recovery. And I feel so lucky that I’m at a point where I’m able to challenge myself to confront these fears and try to change, and that I have a great, supportive therapist who is willing to work with me. I hope it helps me get to a point where I’m able to live my life the way I want to, and not the way my negative beliefs and disorders have made me think I should.

Has anyone else gone through EMDR therapy? Has it helped you at all? If so, let me know! I’d love to hear from you! And if you’re interested in more of my EMDR journey, let me know if you’d like to hear more about it. I’m sure the mental health adventures aren’t over yet!


Stay Weird,
Emily

A Tale of Too Many Therapists


For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been in therapy. I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) when I was in kindergarten, and from them on it’s just been one long string of diagnoses, therapists, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and any sort of mental health professional that may offer counseling. So I think it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of talk therapy.

Therapy is literally so different, all depending on your age (as a kid you get to freaking coloring, reading stories, play with a dollhouse all while an adult tries to slyly ask you questions? No biggie!) and your therapist (man, woman, nice, stern. Therapists and doctors come in all shapes and forms). And as for one who has been in the therapy biz (only, you know, the one being counseled, not the one who is actually doing counseling and has that degree), I think I know a good therapist when I meet one. It just took me a long while to get there.

When I was first diagnosed with OCD, my mom immediately took me to a child psychologist. She was super nice, read me stories about a cute family of bunnies who lived in a tree trunk, and I honestly barely remember anything else about it except for the cute bunny book. So to me, therapy? It was fun!

I was then later sent to a child psychiatrist when my OCD got worse. This doctor not only have an amazing dollhouse to play with, she also had a treasure box filled with cheap toys and trinkets that I could pick out one thing after my appointment. Um, you bet I could sit through those questions while rearranging the dollhouse (the kids before me always messed up the rooms in it. Even as a youngster, I knew how a dollhouse should be set up). Therapy? Still not a big deal.

But as I got older, and new symptoms popped up and new diagnoses were, well, diagnosed, therapy became incredibly difficult. Either working with a particular doctor wouldn’t work out or my insurance wouldn’t cover that doctor, therapy started to get real. I bounced from doctor to therapist, trying to find my way, all the while my mental health issues were at an all time high and as much as I wanted to feel better, the older I got, the more pressure and anger I felt that my parents were pushing me to see people I wasn’t comfortable opening up to. Thus let a long line of therapists and mental health professionals:

I remember seeing a psychiatrist who specialized in Eastern/Indian medicine and determined I had too much Earth and wanted me to take herbs to help alleviate my grounding (you know, to add more Air to my Earth). I remember seeing a male psychologist and lying to his face that I was just fine, because I didn’t trust him one bit (he made my mom cry, so that sealed the deal for me). I once saw a holistic psychiatrist who either wanted to film our session or type the transcript literally as we were having our session, which was very awkward. I even visited a hypnotist once, to help with my extreme phobias. My parents drove me all over, taking me from doctor to health care professional, trying to find one that worked for me. Sometimes they worked for a while. Sometimes we came to a stalemate, and other times, it just didn’t work out. Sometimes it ended with a bang.

The first child psychologist I had when I was first diagnosed ended up treating me as a tween. I confronted quite reasonably and asked her about wanting to change our session from once a week to one every two weeks, and she said no, and proceeded to say I was resisting treatment. I was so hurt by her sudden coldness that I stormed out and never went back. That wouldn’t be the first time I heard that in my life from a therapist. It’s amazing how often a therapist will immediately drop you if “resist treatment.” In the second case, my therapist suggested I do something I didn’t feel comfortable with, and instead of discussing it with me, she immediately threw up her hands, said I was “resisting her,” and recommended I find a new therapist. Literally. Just like that.

Through all of this, I’ve learned a lot about therapists, and about myself too. Number one being:

It takes a while to find a therapist that’s right for you. And even it works out for a while, it may come to an end. Because being in therapy is like being in a relationship, just a very one-sided relationship. Sometimes it works for a while, and then it doesn’t. You change, and therefore sometimes your relationship with your therapist does too. And that’s perfectly okay. It just means you move on to someone else who can work with you for what you’re going through now.

Number two: You have to find a therapist you trust. I tried to trust a lot of mental health care professionals, but being an awkward and embarrassed tween and then a moody teenager who was sick of the constant appointments, it became too much and I just stopped trying. Trusting your therapist is so important. You’re going to be telling them your most intimate, private thoughts and dealing with your delicate emotions and digging deep into your past. That takes trust. Don’t just pick the first therapist you come across who takes your insurance. Shop around, and find one that you click with. It you feel more comfortable with women, go to a female therapist. There’s no shame in it, you just have to do what’s right for you and your mental health.

Number three: Therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors are people too. Sometimes they’re kind and understanding. Other times they’re rude, snobbish, and think they know best. They are the professional, after all. I’ve had to learn that some doctors feel that it’s their way or the highway, and are not going to try to be flexible with their patients. That’s their choice, but I hope that they understand that that might lose them patients. So look out for red flags. If your therapist doesn’t listen to you, talks about themselves, makes you feel bad about yourself, leave. They’re not for you. The therapist I saw before the current therapist I’m seeing now, was tough, abrasive, and I left crying, feeling terrible about myself, after almost every appointment. I didn’t trust her but I tried. It wasn’t until I reached a breaking point that I realized that I could find another therapist who worked for me. The realization was a revelation and it made me realize that I did have a choice in who I had to see.

As for me, after seeing so many therapists, I’ve learned so much about myself. That sometimes, being forced into therapy isn’t the best, but sometimes it’s what was necessary. My parents knew I needed help and did what they thought was best and tried every possible avenue to help me. I just wish that at a young age that I could have been more grateful for the enormous effort they put into caring for my mental health, and tried harder with those therapists, even if it didn’t work out. But in my own way I did try, and as I got older, and my symptoms got even worse, I realized the importance of therapy. It wasn’t until I got my own insurance and realized I needed help, that I looked into finding my own therapist as an adult, that it was all my choice, that I saw how great therapy is. I actually found a therapist that I clicked with and I’ve honestly been working so hard and putting so much effort into my mental health, that I feel that this is the best decision I’ve ever made. And I made it just for me, when I needed it.

Which leads me to the most important part: you need to want to be in therapy for therapy to work for you. You need want to change and feel better and put in the work. You need to try. You can’t half ass it. It will be one of the most grueling experiences of your life, but it’s so worth it.

A lot of therapists led me to believe that therapy will never end, especially the ones who you pay out of pocket to. But my current therapist actually told me that, no, therapy wasn’t a forever thing. You use it when you need help, and then hopefully you won’t need it again unless something else comes up. This was such a revelation to me. I won’t need this forever? No, I hopefully I won’t. But just in case, it will still be there when I need it. And I can’t tell you how hopeful that makes me feel about the work I’m doing in therapy and now, and for my future.

Stay Weird,
Emily

What's In A (Last) Name?



“So...how do you say that?”

“Why-ruh-….?”

“That’s an usual last name!”

“Is it Ear-bear…?”

“What kind of name is that?”

“...I’m not even going to try to pronounce that!”

“No, seriously, how do you say it?”

Every time I got to a new doctor’s office or any sort of appointment where someone sees my last name on a form or my ID… it starts. The questions. My last name is only nine letters long but the particular combination of vowels and consonants confounds everyone. Maybe it’s because it starts with a Y (pretty unusual for a last name, unless your last name is Young) and no one can decide if you pronounce the Y like, well, Young, or as in sky, a long I. (Psst… it’s actually pronounced like a long E! But don’t tell anyone. It’s actually kind of fun confusing everyone. You know, when it isn’t really, really annoying.)

Or maybe it’s the length of the name. I never thought a nine lettered last name would be that intimidating. A nine lettered first name? Um, yeah, I’d be intimidated by that. By how impressive and elegant it sounds. Alexander. Madeleine. Gwendolyn. Sebastian. Angelique. That’s are some pretty freaking awesome nine lettered first names are. So what’s wrong with my last name?

I’ve been asking myself that for years now. Because I’ve always disliked my last name. No one could pronounce it, it wasn’t a cute and easy to pronounce last name like Smith or Adams, and in school, I was always the last one in line because guess what? We had to line up alphabetically. And guess where all of my friends were at? In the front of the line because their last names starts from A-M. Even as a kid I longed for the day I would get married and get to change my last name. Moving up in the alphabet...it was what every little girl dreamed of.

And my mom’s excuse for why the tooth fairy only left me a quarter under my pillow instead of the dollar my friends usually got for their teeth? Because by the time the tooth fairy went alphabetically through all the kids who had lost their teeth that night, by the time got to me, she was starting to run out of money and she only had quarters left. Curse the penultimate starting letter of my last name! I never win!

Most people I know can trace their heritage through their last name. From Irish to German, Spanish to Italian, people can tell exactly where their families came from. And I was so jealous. Not because I didn’t know where my last name was derived from, but because it wasn’t a cool culture. I wanted to be Irish, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, visit Ireland, and find long lost Irish relatives on the Green Isle. Or be Italian, thinking I was descended from the Romans, their culture and empire stretching the globe, leaving ancient ruins of the past as proof of their existence, and have an excuse to eat pasta and spaghetti with mia famiglia. And I thought my ancestry was anything but cool.

Have you ever heard of the Basque country? Most of you will probably say no. Because it’s not actually a country. It’s a section of land at the border of France (the northern part) and Spain (the southern part). While it’s not it’s own country, it has a long and complicated history, filled with upheaval and conflict, and even has its own language, appropriately called Basque.

My last name is Basque. I’ve known this my whole life. My dad’s side of the family, my last name, is Basque, Spanish Basque. (My dad’s mother was Czech, my mother’s father was Mexican, and my maternal grandmother was German and English. I’m a true American melting pot, people) My dad has always been really into his Basque heritage, and my sisters and I always teased him about it. We thought, what was so impressive about being Basque? Weren’t they just sheep farmers? Some strange folk who didn’t have their own country and yet had their own language filled with letters like x’s, z’s, and y’s, and hard to pronounce? (Hmm...sounds familiar.) Being Basque wasn’t as cool as flashy as being something like being Irish or Italian.

But as the years went on, something in me started to shift. It first started with my oldest sister spending the summer in Spain. And guess where in Spain she visited? Yep, the Spanish part of the Basque country. She told me that when she was paying for something with her credit card, the merchant looked at it, saw our last name and said, “Ah! You are Basque!” And you know what? I bet he knew how to pronounce it too.

There’s also a street in the Basque country with our last name on it. As in “My Last Name” St. And an even cooler fact that I found out from my sister’s trip? She stumbled across a memorial of people who had lost their lives because they had been accused of witches (you know, Spain, Catholicism, the Spanish Inquisition? It was not a good time to be alive in those days), and what do you know: an ancestor of ours was accused of being a witch. How random is that for an ancestor of mine to be a part of history that we learned about in school? (And I sincerely hope their ghost haunted whoever killed them as an act of bad-ass vengeance because that’s what I would have totally done.)

And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve actually started to embrace my weird last name. Instead of being embarrassed when someone asked me the origin of my last name, I just started embracing educating people on the Basque country. Most people have (obviously) never heard of it. I even had an optometrist ask me to spell it out (meaning Basque, not my last name) so she could look it up online, she was so fascinated by a place she had never heard of before. I even started to research the history of the Basques. Did you know that before they converted to Christianity (or, well probably were forced to convert to Christianity) they had their own gods? There’s a whole Basque mythology out there, filled with fairies and giants and other crazy legends. I mean, for all I know, the Brothers Grimm got some of their ideas from my ancestors. (It’s a stretch, but just give me this, okay?)

My last name isn’t even as uncommon as I thought. I’ve had people friend me on Facebook in other countries with the exact last name, same spelling and everything. There’s people out there just like me! Maybe we’re related, or maybe my last name has spread across the globe and expanded into different countries, cultures, and maybe even they have to explain their last name to other people too. And maybe like me they’re proud of it. I’ve even started to consider what I would do if I were to ever get married. Would I change my last name? Because I’m not so sure anymore. And if I wrote a book? Would I use an easy to pronounce pen name? Maybe if it sounded cool (Emily Ravenwood, has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?), but how could I turn my back on my last name, my family’s history, my history?

Kid Emily was desperate to get to the front of the alphabet, but now, I’m proud of my long nine lettered last name starting with a Y. It’s different and unusual, and so am I. I’ve worked so hard to embrace who I am, and I hadn’t even considered embracing my last name might include that too.

So go ahead, mispronounce my last name. Yeah, I know. It’s long. It’s complicated. It’s a few more syllables than most “normal” last names. It doesn’t sound like it looks. But it’s mine. It’s a part of me and who I am. And I hope that one day, I can go to the Basque country and explore my roots. And have people recognize my last name and actually know how to pronounce it. That’s the literal dream. One day I’ll get there, but for now, I’ll keep on teaching people how to say it and explain its history. Because it’s actually pretty darn cool.

Stay Weird,
Emily

That Weird Girl Life 2.0


Hi, did you miss me? (It’s totally okay if you didn’t.)

Welcome to That Weird Girl Life Version 2!

I know, I left. A while ago. But let me explain!

First of all, my laptop died (RIP). That puts a real wrench into blogging. (But I have a new one now! Yay!)

And to be honest, I fell into a pretty bad depression. As in, the last few years (yeah, that’s how long it’s been since I’ve been blogging!), and I had to go back to therapy to work through it (but that’s another story for another time). While I was depressed, my words just stopped flowing. I couldn’t write anything. Not a blog, not a short story, I could barely even read books. And I love reading books!

But I’m feeling so much better now after finding some help, and I think I’m ready to get back into the blogging game! But this time, it’s going to be different. Good different, don’t worry.

First, as much as I love books, I am no longer going to be posting book reviews. As much as I loved doing them, they just took the fun out of reading the books. Whether it was receiving a book from an author or publisher, I felt a lot of pressure (from myself, not the authors or publishers) to really put my heart and soul into the book review and it started to suck the joy out of reading and writing reviews. So for now, I’m reading books for me and only me. No more reviews.

Second, I’m no longer going to try to compete with other lifestyle/book/{insert other type of blogging niche here} bloggers. I’ve tried for so long, posting blog posts about my monthly favorite things, trying to take artsy shots of myself and everything in my life on social media, and basically just trying to be a blogging influencer I know that I’m not. I’ve had to come to the fact that I’m just me, and as much as I’d love to post a perfect life that everyone else seems to post on their blogs and social media, I can’t. It’s time for me to be honest. Which leads me to…

Third, I’m going to be really honest. I’ve touched on my mental health before here on this blog, but it’s always been really hard for me to talk about. But things are about to change. I’m ready to be honest and speak out about the struggles I’ve gone through. If Jenny Lawson, the literal Bloggess that she is, can be honest about mental health, I can too. (Not that I could ever be Jenny Lawson, she is just the weird, wonderful, strange, funny, and lovely person that I aspire to be). So be prepared for some real talk when it comes to mental health. Because it’s time to break some (societal and my own emotional) barriers and get real.

Fourth, this blog is going to be all over the place. My old posts are going to be archived (minus the mental health and travel), but you’ll still be able to read the old stuff. But I’m moving forward and so is this blog. So expect different, fun, and better. Just like everyone, we all change and hopefully it is for the better. I hope you’re along for the journey, because I can’t wait to begin.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this new direction of my blog! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Stay Weird,
Emily

The Autumn Tag!

That Weird Girl Life
It's that wonderful time of year: autumn, or as we say in the states, "fall." (I know, that's such a weird name for autumn once you start thinking about it. It's like Americans were all, "hmm. We know we want to be different from those Brits but we can't take all of the U's out of the word 'autumn' so that wouldn't work. Oh hey, look at all of those leaves falling! Wait a minute...") It's my favorite season and I love everything about it: the crisp, cool weather, the falling leaves, the sweaters, pumpkins everywhere, Halloween! It honestly is such a fun kickoff to the holiday season. It's cool but not cold and you're not as stressed about Halloween like you are with Thanksgiving and Christmas (ugh, the stress of Christmas is just awful!). It's honestly just such a perfect season and I can't think of a better way for a blogger to share their love of autumn than with an autumn tag!

The rules are simple: answer the questions, tag others to continue the tag, provide the questions for them, and thank the person who tagged you! Easy-peasy!

Thank you so much to Frankii over at quitefranklii for tagging me! Check out her amazing blog and follow her on social media cause she's awesome!

My Answers:

What Signifies Autumn to You?

The changing of the seasons and orange, red, and yellow fallen leaves and that wonderful earthy, damp smell they give off just symbolizes fall perfectly to me.

What Is the Best Way to Spend a Rainy Day?

If I could spend every single rainy day just reading and snuggled up on a comfy chair or couch while listening to the rain outside, I would! Bonus points if I have a cup of hot chocolate to drink while reading said book!


What Is Your Most Fond Autumn Memory?

I think my favorite autumn memory is probably of when I was a kid and I raked up all of the leaves in the backyard and jumped into the pile and tried to cover myself completely in leaves. I was not successful, but I remember having a grand ol' time. But then I think I found a bug among the leaves and skedaddled out of there, haha. It was fun while it lasted though!


What is Your Favorite Autumn Scent?

I love love love the smell of fireplaces or fire-pits on a cold autumn night. It just smells so cozy and warm and reminds me of nights with friends and family celebrating the holidays.

What Are You Most Excited About This Autumn?

I'm always so excited for Halloween when autumn arrives! To me, Halloween signifies the start of holiday season and it's my favorite holiday ever, so Halloween is always the highlight of fall for me.

What Is Your Favorite Autumn Song?

I don't know if I have a favorite autumn song! I know there are a few Halloween songs and Christmas songs, but I don't think I have a favorite autumn song. They have so many dang songs about winter and Christmas, they should have more about fall! Michael Buble, get on my level!

What Is Your Favorite Autumn Movie?

I could always say the very first Harry Potter movie but I love You've Got Mail because #1: it's a classic and wonderful rom-com, #2: Tom Hanks is just delightful in it, as he is in most things, and #3: the movie starts out in New York City in the fall, and Meg Ryan is describing how much she loves the start of fall and the smell of school supplies. The start of the movie is the perfect representation of that happy feeling I feel in the fall, the hopefulness that comes from the changing of the seasons and the excitement of things to come.

What TV Show Are You Most Looking Forward to This Autumn?

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, hands down. There aren't a lot of TV shows that I was super excited for this fall, but after how the last season of CEG ended, I was desperate to see how things were going. Seriously, if you haven't watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend yet, you should. It's so so good! I've actually lost count on how many times I've talked about it on this blog, so if that's not enough of a recommendation for you, than I don't know what else is!

What Is Your Favorite Autumn Color?

I love a dark maroon, like the deep reds on fallen leaves. I think it's just such a stunning color on pretty much anyone, plus I think it's also very timeless and won't go out of fashion anytime soon (no offense mustard yellow!).

What Is Your Most Loved Outdoor Autumn Activity?

Does sitting around a fire-pit with friends count as an activity? Because if so, that's my favorite! I love gathering around a glowing fire-pit on a cold night with friends and just chatting about nothing and everything.

What Is Your Favorite Autumn Fashion Trend?

Cozy and warm sweaters! Nothing says fall like when you finally break out your thick, comfy sweaters in fall colors or even muted pastels or grey. So cute!

If You Could Have a Familiar/Spirit Animal, What Would It Be?

A cat, hands down! What better way to celebrate fall than with the ultimate symbol of a witch's familiar? (Plus I'm totally a cat person, so it all works out!)

Name One Place You Wish You Could Visit During Autumn?

Speaking of witches, I think it'd be fun and very interesting to visit Salem, Massachusetts to visit this historical site. It's such a sad part of American history, but incredibly fascinating. And nothing says autumn as much as witches and the fall foliage that you know New England has practically trademarked!

What Is Your Favorite Photo You Took Last Autumn?

The picture doesn't have to be of me, right? Does it? Okay, well how about I post two, one of my very favorite and the other of my favorite with me in it? Deal? Deal!

The first is of the giant Hogwarts model at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London which I went to last September. This is probably my favorite picture of the trip (and probably one of my favorite outings of the trip), just because the picture turned out so well considering I absolutely suck at taking photos.

That Weird Girl Life
And this is my other favorite picture from the trip, except this one has me in it (well, obviously, it's a selfie). This one is from that same trip to England last autumn but this picture was taken at Stonehenge (not pictured in selfie). Look at my happy but very, very jet-lagged face! And that wind swept hair! Ugh, can I go back to the UK already???

That Weird Girl Life
What Are You Being This Halloween?

I love Halloween, but I honestly haven't dressed up in about two years! No one I know has really given a Halloween party in a while, so I've mainly just been spending the money I would have spent on making a Halloween costume on Halloween decorations. I'm a bit obsessed... But I hope I get invited to a Halloween party next Halloween so I can finally wear a costume again!


Those were my autumn themed answers to the autumn themed questions! Now it's time for me to tag some others to keep the tag going:


I Tag...

Amber @ mylifeinlimbo
Bexa @ hellobexa
Arielle @ littledismaid
Meagan @ meagan_lambert
North @ thenorthleft
Fazelah @ likeaparisienne
Jazz @ allthatjazz720
Brynn @ BrynnieBlogs
Cassie @ ZombieGoddessxi
Danielle @ dmcdowall129

Sorry if I've tagged someone who's already been tagged and has done the tag! And if someone just doesn't want to do the autumn tag, no worries! But if you do end up doing the tag, let me know so I can read your answers, I can't wait to read them!

The Questions

1. What Signifies Autumn to you?
2. What Is the Best Way to Spend a Rainy Day?
3. What Is Your Most Fond Autumn Memory?
4. What is Your Favorite Autumn Scent?
5. What Are You Most Excited About This Autumn?
6. What Is Your Favorite Autumn Song?
7. What Is Your Favorite Autumn Movie?
8. What TV Show Are You Most Looking Forward to This Autumn?
9. What Is Your Favorite Autumn Color?
10. What Is Your Most Loved Outdoor Autumn Activity?
11. What Is Your Favorite Autumn Fashion Trend?
12. If You Could Have a Familiar/Spirit Animal, What Would It Be?
13. Name One Place You Wish You Could Visit During Autumn?
14. What Is Your Favorite Photo You Took Last Autumn?
15. What Are You Being This Halloween?

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There you have it! A little late, but a still relevant autumn tag! Thank you so much for reading post. Who else loves autumn out there? And do you call it "autumn" or "fall"? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Weird,
Emily

September & October 2017 Monthly Favorites

That Weird Girl Life
I know, I know, I'm very late on my Monthly Favorites October post. And I'm very very late on my Monthly Favorites September post. Which is why I'm putting them together and making this duel Monthly Favorites post! Two is better than one and more is always better, right? That makes up for this being super late, right? I think so! Plus I talk about a few of my favorite books that I've read, TV shows I've been watching and lots of other fun stuff, so I know you'll forgive me for my lateness. (I mean well! Life just gets in the way!) So please enjoy my September and October edition of my Monthly Favorites!


Music:


I've re-fallen in love with my favorite band, the Arctic Monkeys. I know that sounds strange, but it happened! I first discovered the Arctic Monkeys when their first album "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" was released years ago and I've been smitten ever since. But you know how it is when you get distracted by shiny pop music and before I knew it, my Arctic Monkeys CDs were gathering dust (sometimes I still listen to CDs, okay?). But one random day, I decided to grab one to listen to on a long car ride and when the opening music of "My Propeller" started, I was reminded of why I fell in love with their music in the first place. And then the shame set in: how could I have not listened to my favorite band for years??? Thankfully I'm making up for lost time though ♥ (Also, how good was "AM" and also WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO COME OUT WITH ANOTHER ALBUM???)

(Want to read a total throwback post from when I first started blogging? I wrote a post all about how I finally got to see the Arctic Monkeys in concert a few years ago and it's a total trip. You can read it here. Also, I apologize for the awful concert pictures. Me plus the camera on the iPhone 5 really didn't mix well)

Movies:
Netflix
Yaaassss, Gaga, yaaaaassss!- is what I was saying after I watched Lady Gaga's Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two. I've always loved Lady Gaga and got to see her in concert a few years ago (it was right before she cancelled her tour to have hip surgery and I felt so grateful I got to see her before that happened!) and she is just an absolutely brilliant musician and performer, so I was super excited to see this documentary. It pretty much all takes place as she recorded her latest album "Joanne," and her preparation before her big Super Bowl performance (pretty much the only reason why I watched the Super Bowl last year) and it gets deep and real. So, basically I loved every second of it and I found it fascinating to see the real Gaga, rather than her stage and music personas. I may be biased though because I love Lady Gaga so much, but I highly recommend giving the documentary a try!

YouTube Originals
I know, another documentary? I've been on a documentary kick lately and I've admired Demi Lovato and her openness about her struggles for years, so I was pretty happy to see that she had released a free YouTube documentary about her journey to where she is today. And you guys, it's super inspiring. It's probably one of the most honest documentaries I've seen about someone dealing with mental illness (and drug abuse) and I found it incredibly powerful, honest, and thought-provoking. I think it's a must watch for anyone who is has struggled with mental illness (or still is struggling), especially young girls. I honestly wish this documentary had existed when I was a tween so I would have known that I wasn't the only one going through something tough. But I'm glad it exists now for everyone who needs some reassurance that they are not alone in their struggles. I think Demi is doing a wonderful thing because when you speak up about an issue, you're also reaching out to people affected by it and that's honestly one of the bravest things you can do (and something I'm hoping I can do more in the future!).

TV:
Netflix
I had forgotten how obsessed I was with the first season of Stranger Things and it took the second season to remind me that not only was I obsessed with this show, but I honestly think I'm a super fan. While I think I liked the first season a tiny bit more, I loved the second season and the character developments were so good (who knew Steve would be the best baby-sitter ever? And who knew we'd even like Steve??). But I think my absolute favorite part of the season two probably had to be Sean Astin as Bob. They seriously could not have picked a better actor to play such a lovable and sweet character. Plus, having 80's queen Winona Ryder and Sean Astin aka Mikey from the quintessential 80's kids movie the Goonies paired up together just made my heart so so happy. But now that I've finished the second season (I watched two episodes a night, to try to space it out. It still did not last long enough for me), comes the wait for the third season. Sigh. I guess I'll just rewatch the first season again!

The CW
This was probably the show I was most excited about coming back this fall. If you haven't watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend you are missing out on probably the most unique, funny, and honest show on TV.  I don't want to give too much away, but it's about a woman who moves to her old boyfriend's home town and is convinced they're meant to be and imagines her life as a musical (yes, there are original musical numbers and they are all brilliant). It may sound weird, yes but trust me, it's hilarious (and you will fall in love with every single odd and strange character, I can promise you that), but it also deals with mental illness in such a genuine way and the last episode that just aired....oh my goodness. I'm still in shock about what transpired, but I'm also so impressed that they handled it with such honesty and truthfulness. It was such a powerful moment and I really appreciated that they portrayed it so sincerely on a platform directed at an audience where it could make a big difference by being aired on a popular, youth-centered TV channel. But you should really give it a try from the first season and I bet you'll fall in love with this weird underrated little show, hilarious and serious moments included.

Books:

That Weird Girl Life
*Hedwig's Theme starts playing* I have such a soft spot for the illustrated editions of the Harry Potter books. I think Jim Kay's illustrations are beautiful in a messy, zany, and imperfect way, which I think is exactly how the Wizarding World looks. Not that I don't love the movies and their interpretation of the books, but I think Jim Kay's vision is the closest to what I imagined Harry's magical world to actually look like. Though thanks to all of these new additions of the Harry Potter books, my Harry Potter bookshelf is getting a bit crowded. I may need to turn it into a Harry Potter bookcase. Do I need more copies of every single one of the books in the series? No. Do I want to buy every single new edition with new covers and artwork, added information, notes from JK Rowling, illustrations, embossed images on the images? Heck yes I do!

(I wrote more about my love for the Harry Potter illustrated books, more specifically the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition over on this blog post. Can you imagine how long the illustrated edition version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is going to be? That's gonna be one thiiiiiiiick book!)

Harlequin Teen
Oh. My. Goodness. I. Loved. This. Book. And. If. You. Want. To. Know. How. Much. I. Wrote. A. Book. Review. Of. It. Here. And. Seriously. You. Need. To. Read. It. Or. Else. I. Will. Continue. To. Bug. Everyone. About. It. For. The. Foreseeable. Future. (But seriously, can at least a couple of you read the book so we can discuss how great it was??)

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I have been waiting for this book for YEARS! Libba Bray is one of my favorite authors ever. She could write a book about the most boring time period in the world (what's a super boring part of history? Just pick the time period you always wished you could skip instead of study in your history class and apply that to what I just said. So yeah, that boring) and it would still be an engaging and wonderful read. She can literally do no wrong in my eyes (literally, because she writes books). Before the Devil Breaks You is the third installment in her Diviners series, about a group of teens in 1920's New York who all have some sort of psychic gift and use those powers to defeat evil, supernatural forces. It's definitely a supernatural thriller, but it's set during the roaring 20's, so we have speakeasies, race issues, radio shows, gangsters, political unrest, and so much more packed into one teen series. The thing that I love about Libba Bray's work is that it always has a little bit of everything, despite the genre: there's always humor, heart, and memorable characters who just feel so real, like you know them or would like to know them. Plus, the witty 1920's style banter in the Diviners novels is just so fun and transports you right there to those days of jazz and illegal booze (or what I imagine it was like. Man, I wish I could time travel).

Youtube:

Watching YouTube is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. If I had the chance, I'd either be reading or falling down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos (I finally stop watching when I get to that weird side of YouTube. You know what I mean, we've all been there). I've never been one to watch reaction videos- I mean, you're just basically watching people watch YouTube videos or other things like that, which is exactly what you are doing whenever you watch a video. But I had heard of Dwayne and Jazz aka Couple Reacts, thanks to Shane Dawson's podcast and decided to watch a few of their videos. And you know what? I really like them! I think it helps that they're a very personable, fun couple and they honestly react in such a genuine way that you know isn't fake or like they're acting for the views or thumbnail. Plus, after a while you really start liking them as people and especially as a couple. I tried to watch a couple of videos where they prank each other (i.e. one where Dwayne makes it look like another girl is texting him and Jazz sees or where Jazz pretends to break up with Dwayne) and I almost had to turn it off, it made me so sad to see how angry and hurt they got because you know they really love each other. They post several videos a day of them reacting to lots of different things, plus a lot more videos of them doing other things, so you won't run out of things to watch! (Which I've been super grateful for since I've been having a hard time falling asleep lately and I turn to Dwayne and Jazz to pass the time!)

Check out Dwayne and Jazz's videos here and subscribe if you like 'em!

Holidays:

To me, nothing says autumn (or fall, as we say here in the states) like Halloween. I think it's the perfect holiday to start fall off with. It's getting darker and colder out, the leaves are falling, you start wearing cute, comfy, and cozy sweaters (well, none of that really happens where I live. It gets slightly less hot and eventually gets to our winter which is what most people call "autumn"), pumpkins are everywhere and then there's Halloween. The ultimate fun holiday celebrating all things spooky and dark. Plus there's candy! It's a very underrated holiday but definitely one more people should embrace and enjoy. And I need to brag about something: I always allow myself every year to buy a few Halloween decorations and I'm so so proud of myself: this year I only bought three decorations. Only three! Though to be fair, after I took out all of my Halloween decorations out from storage, I decided I probably had enough Halloween decorations after these last three decorations were added. Well, at least for now. Until next year you know when you know all the stores get their new Halloween decorations in. Aww, I can't wait for next year's Halloween!

(Want to read more about why Halloween in the freaking best holiday ever- in my humble and most likely right opinion? I wrote a blog post about the top 10 reasons why Halloween is the best here if you're a Halloween nerd like I am. Which I'm totally proud to be!)

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Voila! Better late than never, these were my Monthly Favorites from September and October! Have you watched the second season of Stranger Things? What did you think of it? Are you super excited it's fall? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Weird.
Emily

Need to catch up on my past Monthly Favorite posts? Well, look no further because you can read them all right here! (Your life is totally complete now. You're welcome!)

Thowback: Movies You Know You Loved As A Tween/Teen (I Know I Did!)

That Weird Girl Life
Memories of a tween/teen are so nostalgic- you know, in a painfully awkward way where you cringe at your old photos of you wearing too much shiny lip gloss (more is never enough!) and the idea that you thought you could do your hair and makeup (you couldn't, but bless you, you tried). But some memories are more sweet than bitter- like sleepovers with your friends, gossiping, trying on makeup, maybe talking about that cute guy in your class that will totally be interested in you if you spray yourself liberally enough with Victoria's Secret body splash (no, because his body spray would overpower the entire classroom. Seriously, did all guys like bathe in Axe body spray?). Even if these weren't your experiences (because they were totally mine), I know we all share at least one thing in common: we all freakin' loved these movies in the late 90's and early to mid 2000's. Deny it all you want, but as cheesy and silly (and let's face it: formulaic) as these movies were, are, and ever will be, you know they still have a special place in your heart and every once in a blue moon, you maybe throw one in your DVD/Blu-ray player, just for old time's sake. And if you haven't, you've at least thought about it. Me, I unapologetically relish in the old and awkward memories these movies bring me, to a much simpler time of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and butterfly clips. So let's revisit these classics of our youth and remember the time when we thought that all it took was a makeover to change our lives and get that cute boy to notice us! (Being a princess would have helped though, honestly)


1. Aquamarine
Fox 2000 Pictures
A movie featuring friendship and a mermaid?? Yes, please! This movie seriously has it all: two best friends (you know you were totally picturing you and your BFF in Emma Robert's and JoJo's places), living in a beach town during the summer- seriously they lived like ON the beach!-, a super cute older (but that much older. Let's not get creepy) lifeguard, a total mean girl who's super rude to the two best friends (we all knew that one girl), and a MERMAID, who mysteriously washes into a swimming pool and then is found by said two best friends and then they become friends with a mermaid!! As silly and ridiculous as the movie is, it actually has the sweetest message about the different types of love there are, and the power of friendship. Can you say best summer ever??

2. What a Girl Wants
Warner Bros.
I miss the days when Amanda Bynes was literally the queen of tween movies. With her stick straight long hair, cool outfits (those spaghetti strap shirt and flaired jeans!), and comedic timing, Amanda Bynes was the IT girl you wanted to be. (I mean, she got to kiss some pretty cute boys in her movies! Lucky girl!) What a Girl Wants is a classic, and one of those movies that will always make me miss London whenever I watch it (the scenes of her sight-seeing and having fun in London just tug at my Anglophile heartstrings). This movie also gives me some complicated feelings about Colin Firth. I mean, he's playing her dad, but he's still really cute? It feels so wrong... but that doesn't stop me from rewatching the movie still!

3. The Princess Diaries
Disney
I think it's probably every girl's dream to be a secret royal without noticing. Even though Mia didn't want to be a princess and get a fabulous makeover (I mean, more power to her for not wanting a makeover but she didn't want people to know she was a princess because she thought it would make her more of a freak. Umm...quite the opposite, dear!), I'm sure the rest of us would have gladly accepted the honor of being a princess of the (fictional) country of Genovia. But seriously, this movie is just so good. It's funny, heartfelt, and Julie Andrews, the queen that she is, literally played a queen. If a movie could be perfection, than The Princess Diaries is pretty darn close and is a movie I'm still not tired of watching it!

4. The Prince and Me
Paramount Pictures
The 2000's obviously loved the princess trend because when The Prince and Me came out, I was so into it. I loved that Julia Stiles played Paige, a college student studying to be a doctor and despite falling in love with the foreign exchange student (aka Danish royalty) Eddie and goes back to Denmark to marry him (SPOILER ALERT), she decides to leave and pursue her dream of being a doctor and helping people in third world countries. Which infuriated me as a teen (why would you leave when you were ENGAGED to a prince! You are going to be a PRINCESS! He's cute and amazing WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???) but now as an adult, is so empowering and commendable. She wasn't going to give up her dream to be a doctor so she could help people just so she could be a princess. Obviously she and Eddie still loved each other, but I liked the fact that Eddie loved her enough to let her go and wouldn't let her give up on her dream just so she could be with him. Which made the ending even more bittersweet and I like to imagine a world where Paige comes back to become Eddie's wife and Dr. Princess Paige. (That sounds like what a little girl wants to be when she grows up, a doctor princess!)

5. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
New Line Cinema
Even if you weren't a fantasy fan (which I am not. You know Harry Potter doesn't count!), you saw all three of these movies and they were like NOTHING you had seen before. Full of action, hobbits, elves, dwarves, talking trees, and epic battles, this trilogy totally gave new life and some much needed respect to the fantasy genre and encouraged a lot of people to let their geek flag fly and be proud of their nerdom! Thanks, Peter Jackson! Also, you know you were a Lord of the Rings fan if you had all three extended edition DVD sets- which I did! And I watched aaaaaallllll the bonus features and commentaries. I was pretty hardcore, people. (Umm, also, are hobbits kind of hot? I don't even mind the big, hairy feet. Just me? C'mon! You know Martin Freeman as Bilbo is adorable!)

6. Pirates of the Caribbean
Disney
Pirates of the Caribbean seriously made all of us realize that pirates could actually be cool and attractive. Before that, when I pictured pirates, I personally just pictured all of the greasy, dirty pirate extras from Hook, but after first watching Pirates of the Caribbean, I really hoped that more pirates looked like Johnny Depp than Mr. Smee. Also, this movie is just fun (the soundtrack is epic) and pretty much the only successful movie that's been inspired by a theme park ride. (How cool would it be to have a Matterhorn or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad movie though? And an actually good Haunted Mansion movie!)

7. Moulin Rouge
20th Century Fox
Moulin Rouge brought musicals back, by way of legendary director Baz Lurhmann and the swoon-worthy Ewan McGregor (oh, and Nicole Kidman, she's pretty cool too). How romantic and heartbreaking was Christian's love for Satine? It was doomed from the start, but we still wanted them to live happily ever after, despite knowing where the story would end. But the original songs and covers of classic numbers were the best part of the entire movie, in my opinion. The soundtrack was just a work of art and Lady Marmalade is an absolute classic. (And made tween/teen us start singing some very inappropriate things in French)

8. Legally Blonde
MGM
Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde is the feminist power figure of the 2000's. You know it, I know it, so don't try to argue with me. If this movie doesn't make you want to go out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals and find yourself, then I don't know what other movie will. (Also, as cool as the bend and snap is, does it really work? I have yet to hear any success stories)

9. Miss Congeniality
Warner Bros.
This is another great girl power movie. Sandra Bullock plays a tomboy FBI agent who must go undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant. Throw in Michael Caine in his best role ever (I know, I know, he's a very accomplished actor in some very serious roles, but comedy is much harder to do than drama, and he completely made his character the highlight of the entire movie), a makeover montage (all the best movies have makeover scenes. Everyone knows it but nobody says it) and you've got a hilarious movie with a kickass heroine who can arrest bad guys- in HEELS. (Am I the only one who still sings "she's beauty and she's grace/she's Miss United Staaates!"? I swear, it pops in my head every so often!)

10. The Harry Potter movies
Warner Bros.
It's Harry freakin' Potter. If you weren't at the midnight premiere of the movies or at least seeing it opening day, you really couldn't call yourself a fan. Bonus points if you dressed in a wizarding world inspired costume! (Not to brag or anything, but I saw the first movie eight times in theaters...)

11. Freaky Friday
Disney
How underrated is this movie? I feel like their aren't enough movies about mothers and daughters (at least no good ones anyway) and Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan (RIP her early/mid 2000's career. We miss you, Lindsay) were a dream team together. This movie (kind of) made you wish you could have this experience with your mom just so you could be closer afterwards. Actually, nevermind, that kind of experience would be horrifying! (No offense, Mom. I highly doubt she'd want to trade places with me either!)

12. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Warner Bros.
The first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie is perfection. Friendship, jeans, family, drama, cute boys... I honestly can't think of a better combination for a movie. Tibby, Bridget, Lena, Carmen were the original squad and friendships goals and were pretty much what all friends groups back in the 2005 aspired to be. And I know we all love our friends, but didn't we (and still do) all secretly wish after reading the books and watching the movies that there was a magical pair of jeans that fit ALL of us perfectly and kept us connected as we spent the summer apart on our own separate journeys and adventures? Sigh. If only! (Also, why can't I have relatives in a cool and beautiful country like Greece??)

13. Holes
Disney 
Your favorite kids book turned into your favorite kids movie (thanks to the awesome screenplay written by the author, Louis Sachar, himself!) Who would have thought that a group of delinquent boys sentenced to digging holes all day in the desert would actually turn out to be such a riveting, emotional, and clever story? (Well, stories, plural!) Not me, but I'm so glad this movie (and book) exist! Such an underrated Disney classic! (Also, RIP normal Shia LaBeouf. We miss you as Stanley Yelnats!)

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This was such a nostalgic post to write! I had so much fun putting it together and I hope you had a fun time walking down memory lane reading it! 💖 Were (or are you still) a fan of some of the movies on my list? Did I miss any good ones? What was your favorite movie from when you were a tween/teen? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Weird,
Emily

Need to read some more throwback posts for old time's sake? Then check out my page of even more throwback posts about kids and teen books and movies I loved as a kid!