What Harry Potter teaches about loneliness – A blog about a podcast about a book

I love the Harry Potter series. I love to read. I love Hermione being a badass. I love magic. I love the JK Rowling story. I read each book as they came out back in the day. Then I discovered Jim Dale, one of the two best narrators in the history of audiobooks. I listened to all of the books and loved them all over again. I read the first book out loud with The Boy when he was in 4th grade in an effort to try to engage him in reading. We powered through, then let’s just say the wheels fell off when he realized we were going to do all seven. We quit. I cried. 

Now I have found the podcast “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text“. Sure it has been out for three years, but I have never been known as an early adopter. When I was a teenager, I never jumped on a trend until it was out of style and impossible to find in a store. Harry and the gang don’t mind though, they are still there for me. I borrowed the first couple books from my sister and got started. 

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text Sorcerer's Stone

The gist of the podcast is that each episode is based on a chapter of the book. Each week they have a theme that they use to provide a context for the discussion of the characters and their shenanigans. 

It’s the English class you didn’t know you missed and the meaningful conversations you didn’t know you craved.

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text Podcast

I am loving it so much I had to bring it to my blog for a few reasons. 

  • I really want everyone who remotely was interested in Harry Potter to know this podcast is out there. 
  • Sometimes I don’t know what to write about and the themes of the chapters are inspiring me.
  • May I be so bold as to suggest that we need to talk about some of these themes more. 

This will be a bit of a meta – series. It is a blog series about a podcast about a book series. I am not going to do a post for each chapter, just the ones that resonate. And let me tell you – chapter two was a roundhouse kick to the head it resonated so much. 

Loneliness: The Vanishing Glass (Book 1, Chapter 2)

Chapter two is about loneliness. No no no – stay with me. I know many of us are not comfortable hearing about loneliness. I know many of us are not comfortable being lonely. Yet ironically we are all lonely at different times of life. But avoiding or stuffing feelings is not something that sustainable for those who strive for good mental health.

Lonely in a group

Casper, one of the podcast hosts, tells a story in this episode about going to boarding school and not fitting in. Then the episode delves into the loneliness of different characters. Harry’s loneliness is obvious. His interaction with the snake being the first connection he probably made – at age 11 – feels incredibly sad. But then they continue to talk about the Dursley’s loneliness. They only have 2 people to lean on to keep Harry when they go to the zoo. Sure their loneliness is partially self-inflicted and fear based, but the loneliness is still valid. 

There have been times in my life where I have felt lonely in a crowd as well. 

  • A varsity college athlete who lived on the honors floor of the dorm. 
  • A grad student on janitor and maintenance crews.
  • An introvert at the party. 
  • The person all in their feelings in a group of friends that wanted to keep it on the surface. 

Lonely in relationships

The conversation about the loneliness Petunia may have felt really touched a nerve with me. The podcast talks about the morning of Dudley’s birthday when he counts his gifts. The discussion is around the fact that Petunia put in all of this energy leading up to Dudley’s birthday – planning, shopping, wrapping and hiding the gifts to make his day special. Then the morning of – BAM, not good enough. Only 36 gifts. How lonely Petunia must have felt with her family at this moment. 

I have been lonely in relationships as well. This specific example of a gift giving holiday was a really hard transition for me when I became a step-mother. When I grew up the four of us took turns opening Christmas gifts slowly. Ohhhing and ahhing over each, opening it and showing it off. My first Christmas as a step-mother, the kids had just turned five and seven. Christmas morning came and they tore through all their presents and stocking stuffers in less than five minutes and were upset about what they did not get. Tears were shed – mine! It seems as though no one cared about the Christmas I wanted, they just charged forward to what they wanted. 

What I did about it

Spoiler alert – Harry does not stay with the Dursleys much longer. He gets out and goes to Hogwarts to be with other wizards. But the Dursleys continue to stay where they are, physically and emotionally. As we all know – if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got. This has been true in my life as well. Here is how I am working to manage feelings of loneliness

  1. Feeling my feelings 

Turns out that when you shove down feelings. They will either squirt out in weird ways (I cried one morning because the turtleneck I ordered online felt gross and smelled like plastic) or unproductive ways (wall punches, anyone?). But when I take a minute to feel my feelings, they moderate and are manageable. If I come home from a terrible day at work and get in comfortable clothes, play fetch with Lucille, and breathe, I am much more able to handle “second shift.” 

When I cry for a minute or two about something I am sad about, I tell Bixby, “I am just sad right now and need a minute. I know there is nothing I can do to fix this, I didn’t cause it. I am just sad about it.” Tears clear after a moment and we move on. 

2. Managing my expectations

Let’s consider the above example of Christmas Gone Wild. Not once in the time leading up to the holiday season did I describe to my husband and kids what Christmas morning was like for me growing up. I did not share my expectation. This is certainly not to say that if I did, they would have bowed to my requests. I mean seriously – THEY WERE FIVE AND SEVEN. I had not been around five and seven year olds with a stack of gifts. They. Lose. Their. Minds. 

What I do know is that if Bixby and I had talked about this, we could have managed expectations better – I would have been able to prepare for the wrapping paper tsunami. 

3. Choosing my tribe

This one is really hard. Partly because it is just hard to make friends as a grown up. By default we go to lunch with coworkers or start a walking group with others from our church because of proximity. Over the last 5 years or so, this has become less and less acceptable to me. I do not want to be friends with women who disparage their husbands just because we have a job in common. I have no interest in being in a book club with women who only “joke” about how they disappoint their family constantly. 

I want more. Let’s talk about being gutted watching a movie because it brought up stuff we are wrestling with. I want a tribe of women in my life who don’t find it funny to feel like a failure all the time – or cover up feelings of failure with self-deprecating remarks. 

Let me tell you – it is hard to find these people. I think many of us want to be authentic, but it is scary. It feels a little like stepping off a known path – will there be solid ground underneath? Maybe not – what would it be like if there wasn’t solid ground and you did fall? It could hurt, be embarrassing, set you back. 

But I would like to suggest that while we are on the ground after our fall, we will see a different perspective. We will find different material to build the next right step. Being willing to be lonely could lead to authenticity. That authenticity may just bring the tribe we want and need. 

When was the last time you felt lonely? Do you try to stifle that? What would it be like to sit with your feelings – even if just for 60 seconds? 

By |2019-11-27T14:22:57-05:00November 28th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Pull of the Moon – Elizabeth Berg

Rating: 5 stars

Cliff Notes: I could not put it down and read it in one sitting. Then I was sad it was over. I will be keeping this book.

Full Summary: This one really touched a nerve with me as June is my birthday month, and 2019 is a milestone birthday for me – a milestone that rounds up to 50, the age Nan is in this story. The age she is lamenting in this story. Nan is wrestling with lots of the questions I have been turning over this year. What does it mean to get old? Am I supposed to age gracefully or become a truer version of myself as I age and stop putting up with bullshit?

Why is retirement feared – I often hear of employees who don’t want to retire because they don’t know how they will fill their time. What happens when we get still? They don’t know if they can stand to be with their partner all the time – what happens if we have different interests?

From Nan, The Pull of the Moon

I am not going to lie – I had a hard time between 35 and now. I thought I would be at a different point in my career. Seven years ago I chucked the career I had worked for since I was in 3rd grade straight out the window. I am not going to say that I have never looked back, but I will say several changes in my life have made room for the smaller inside voice to be heard in the stillness. The “dull nudge” that Nan talks about in this book.

“The thought was not in words, it was in the form of a dull nudge. And it was that nudge that got me to find this journal, and get going on this trip. And now, in my own stillness, I hear something. ‘Where have you been?’ my inside body whispers to my outside one. Its sense of outrage is present but dulled by the grief of abandonment. ‘I had ideas, There were things to do. Where did you go?’

Nan, The Pull of the Moon

I still do not think I have landed exactly where I am supposed to be, but I sure am closer than ever. I have a few circles of friends who help with this discovery – trying to excavate creativity, authenticity, and vulnerability. It is challenging, exciting, exhausting and invigorating all at the same time. I am extraordinarily lucky to have a partner who supports this excavation and is not threatened by it in the least (I attribute this partly to waiting until later in life to marry). However, I have had relationships change their look and feel or fall by the wayside altogether.

While I certainly have mourned these relationship changes and second guessed myself (usually in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep for thinking about it), I don’t want to continue to put everyone else ahead of me. Dulling my creative energy to take care of someone else’s needs is not what I am on the Earth for. I am sure my fellow people pleasers can relate. And where are all the pleased people anyway?

The Pull of the Moon Elizabeth Berg
By |2019-12-12T19:30:51-05:00June 14th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone – Brene Brown

Rating: 5 stars

Cliff Notes: A must read for everyone. THIS is a book that should be required reading in all schools (instead of The Hunger Games, perhaps?) and board rooms (I cannot believe we are not done with Who Moved My Cheese yet). This book outlines 4 lessons we all need in order to be gentler with each other and ourselves.

Full Summary: Everything Prophet Brene writes is golden and this book is no different. How do we disagree civilly? What does it mean when we are dehumanizing others in our arguments or requiring either / or thinking?

Brene Brown breaks down sociological constructs and concepts for easy understanding through her storytelling, examples from her research, and the writings of others. I highlighted and flagged so many pages in this book that I know I need to digest and write future blog posts about. I hope you will keep coming back to read those as well as going out to get all of her books.

By |2019-12-12T19:31:23-05:00June 9th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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