Love Is All You Need

“That is the truest form of empathy: Not just feeling, but doing.” — Michelle Obama

What can I do?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot over the last five months.

What can I do to find my way in a world that’s suddenly nothing like the world I knew before? What can I do to help all the people around me who are struggling? What can I do to feel more like myself again?

So much of my sense of self is wrapped up in the way I interact with others. I like being someone who randomly compliments someone’s shoes at work or tells the salesperson at the mall to have a great day or smiles as she holds the door open for the person behind her at Starbucks. I like hugging people and planning trips with my loved ones and taking my friends out to dinner to celebrate the big and small victories and to soothe the major and minor heartaches. And while this pandemic hasn’t completely taken away those things, it has shifted how I deal with the world—and how I see myself.

For a long time, I’ve been feeling lost, and in the spirit of openness and vulnerability that’s always been behind everything I do at NGN, I want to say it’s been hard. I want to say it’s been the cause of tears and sleepless nights and downright panic. I’m blessed to have my health and my job and to be surrounded by immediate family, but I also think we do each other and ourselves a disservice when we try to push down or hide our struggles just because we think we have it easier or better than others. There’s room to both acknowledge our blessings (of which I have an abundance) and to acknowledge our struggles.

But lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to take my struggles and my sense of searching for how I can interact in this weird new world and use them to move forward in a better way, in a way that feels true to the version of me I know is always there. And it hit me this morning that it can start in the place where I first really discovered that version of me: here at NGN.

Everyone is going through their own things right now. Some are bigger than others, but everyone is trying to find their footing on rocky ground. So how can I help? One way is to say that I’m right there with you—going through the entire spectrum of human emotions basically every day since March.

But another way—the way that feels the most like the version of me I want to hold on to—is to spread some love. In this current environment, sometimes it’s hard to remember the good things about both the world and ourselves, so today I wanted to try to help all of us reconnect with some positivity.

If you haven’t guessed the plan by now, here it is: We’re having our annual LOVE POST, and we’re having it today.

Here are the basic instructions as I remember them from my old LiveJournal days: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are.

I don’t care if you’ve never visited NGN before today or if you haven’t been here in years or if you’re an old guard member of the NGN Family. You all deserve to have people tell you nice things about yourself—no matter how much you might tell yourself you hate compliments. I’m going to reply to every single person’s posts, so don’t worry that you’ll be stuck with no comments, either. That’s not how things work around these parts.

The world is dark, and everyone is stumbling blindly toward the light in their own way. So what can I do? I can bring some light back to this little corner of the internet that’s been dark for too long. I can feel for all of you, but I can do something too. And if I can make one person’s day brighter with a comment they read in this post, then today’s already been a better day than a lot of the ones that came before.

I’ll start things off with a comment of my own just to show any newbies how it’s done, and I hope to come back later to a long list of names for me to send love to.

Things are hard right now, but love has a way of making them feel a little bit easier.

Sharing the Galentine’s Day Love

parks-valentines-muskox

I love you all like Leslie loves Ann.

Happy Galentine’s Day, you poetic, noble land mermaids!

Galentine’s Day may have started as a fictional holiday created by my hero and ultimate life inspiration Leslie Knope, but it’s now become a day celebrated by women around the world who want to honor the ladies in their lives. Seeing this holiday grow from something shared only by our beautiful little Parks and Recreation fandom to a day that has its own decorations at Target has been incredible, and it brings me so much joy to know that so many people are taking time today to tell the women in their lives how special they are and to honor the power of female friendship (hopefully with lots of breakfast food).

I’m so blessed to be surrounded by the smart, funny, passionate, protective, warm, and welcoming women I call my friends. They support me and surprise me; they’ve challenged me and changed me; and they’ve helped me embrace the best and most authentic version of myself. My female friends have been the great loves of my life to this point, and I can’t think of a better group of people to call my soul mates.

And that includes all the brave and beautiful women I’ve met because of fandom—and NGN in particular. Over the years, this has been a place where friendships have formed both for me and completely independent of me (which is the coolest thing in the world). Even if our comment conversations aren’t as plentiful as they once were and even if our interests have diverged, I still treasure the moments and memories we’ve shared in this little place that I’ve called home for so long. The friends I’ve made through fandom are some of the best friends I could have ever hoped to have, and I love having a day to single out just how special you are.

With that in mind, I wanted to take a page out of Leslie Knope’s playbook and tell all of you how amazing you are. It may not be a 5,000-word essay, but I want to take a moment today to shower each of you with a string of compliments that would make my sitcom spirit animal proud.

So let’s have a LOVE POST!

Here are the basic instructions as I remember them from my old LiveJournal days: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are. Even if you’ve never posted at NGN before or think no one will know or remember you, leave a comment. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll start things off below just so you can see how it’s done, and I hope that by the time this day of ladies celebrating ladies is done, the comments will be the best virtual Galentine’s Day party ever.

I’ll bring the waffles!

 

Six Years and Counting: Let’s Share Some Love!

Today, NGN turns six years old, and I’m struck by how much things can change in six years—but also by how the really important stuff stays the same.

Six years ago, when I sat down to write my first post, I had no idea what was in store for this little hot pink blog. All I knew was that I had things I wanted to say; I had a part of myself—a nerdy, passionate, emotional, enthusiastic part of myself—that I needed to share with the world after hiding her away for a long time.

There are a lot of things I never could have imagined about the highs and lows of the last six years—the friends I’d meet, the shows and movies I’d write about, the sleepless nights spent trying to plan the perfect post, the conventions I’d go to, the tears I’d shed when the words wouldn’t come, the actors and creators I’d be so blessed to interact with, the things I’d share about myself—but the most surprising thing of all is that people actually wanted to read what that nerdy, passionate, emotional, enthusiastic person had to say. And people still want to after six years. There is nothing more humbling to me than that.

This has been a year of balancing in my life. It’s been a year of trying to find a happy medium between my developing professional life, my own personal wants and needs, and my passion for running this website. And sometimes, that’s meant setting NGN aside and focusing on things like staying on schedule at work and getting a healthy amount of sleep. It’s meant fewer posts, but I truly believe the posts I’ve written this year have gotten back to the true reason I started this website. I wrote them not out of a sense of obligation, fear of letting people down, or desire to please others (all of which naturally happen sometimes in the course of six years as a writer). Instead, I wrote them because I had things I wanted to say, and I wanted to share those things with my fangirl family.

I still find myself in awe of the family I’ve created here, and I am so thankful to all of you who have visited NGN during the last six years—from the ones who just stopped by to read one post to the ones who form the backbone of my support system and have been there for me through it all. So many things can change in six years, and so many things have both with NGN and with my life in general. But one thing that has stayed the same is the overwhelming gratitude I feel that so many incredible people have taken the time to read the ramblings of a nerdy girl and have reached out to let that nerdy girl know she’s not alone. I’m grateful for every comment, tweet, Tumblr reblog, and like, and I’m honored to have so many brilliant, funny, and kind people as part of the NGN Family. I don’t know what I did to deserve not only your readership for the past six years, but also your support and friendship, but I hope all of you know that this thing couldn’t work at all—and certainly couldn’t keep working for six years and counting—without you.

With all that being said, I want to bring back a little something that we used to do around Christmas here at NGN. That’s right—it’s time for a LOVE POST!

Here are the basic instructions as I remember them from my old LiveJournal days: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are, or finally tell that one commenter you really respect how insightful you think their thoughts are.

The greatest thing about NGN’s development over the last six years has been seeing all the friendships that have formed among all you who’ve stuck around, and I thought there was no better way to honor that and to thank all of you than a post meant to shower you all with love and to encourage you to do that for each other.

I’ll kick off the comments to show you how to get things started, and I hope all of you join in so I can personally thank you for being such bright lights in my life. Let’s put some more love into the world today; I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!

I love you Winston

Fangirl Thursday: NGN’s Holiday Love Post 2016!

There’s no denying that 2016 has been a hard year. There are plenty of valid reasons to want to stay in bed and just wait out these last few weeks, hoping for the best (but probably expecting the worst) for 2017. But if there was ever a time of year to try to salvage what’s left of 2016, it’s the holiday season—the time when we’re reminded that joy and hope can be found in even the smallest acts of kindness and love.

With that in mind, I wanted to bring back a little exercise in spreading joy that I started last year and really want to turin into a holiday tradition around these parts. That’s right, friends; it’s time for a LOVE POST!

I love you Winston

What’s a love post? Here are the basic instructions as I remember them from my old LiveJournal days: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are, or finally tell that one commenter you really respect how insightful you think their thoughts are.

Will a love post magically fix everything that’s gone wrong this year? Of course not. But it can help all of us find and share a little happiness as we get ready to end this year and start a new one. And if this post can brighten even one person’s day, then my mission will be accomplished.

I’ll kick off the comments to show you how to get things started, and I hope this post is filled with love and happiness by the end of the day. Because, as the Fraggles taught me:

When you’re giving love away
Love will come again to stay
What you give is what you gain
When you pass it on

 

Fangirl Thursday: Let’s Have a Love Post!

I can’t be the only one who feels like things have felt a little bleaker than normal in our little corners of fandom this TV season. Even some of the shows we turn to for escape, fun, and happiness have taken very dark turns. For a while, I was really letting the overwhelmingly sad tone of the media I’ve been consuming take its toll on me. But then I realized that just because the things I’m watching feel dark; it doesn’t mean I have to let it darken my outlook on everything. It’s even more of a reason to shine whatever light I have more brightly.

As such, I’ve decided it’s time to spread a little love and joy at the start of the holiday season. And what better way to do that than an old-fashioned LOVE POST!

If any of you are or were active on LiveJournal at some point in your fandom history, you might know what love posts are all about. If not, here’s a quick rundown of the very basic rules of the game: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are, or finally tell that one commenter you really respect how insightful you think their thoughts are.

Love posts are a great way to make new friends and strengthen existing fandom friendships (I think I owe LJ love posts a lot for allowing Heather and I to grow as close as we are today).

I’ll kick off the comments to show you how to get things started, and I hope this post is filled with love and happiness by the end of the day. Let’s have some fun today making the world a brighter place—one virtual hug at a time.

I love you Winston