Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Am SOOO Over-Thinking This... Right?

We've had an especially busy few weeks, what with an out-of-town con, visiting family and friends, some meetups, birthdays, events, etc, so I've let some stuff slide. I've gotten behind on work, neglected my stretches, missed some meds. I've found myself compiling useless lists in my head, getting overwhelmed, and then staring at my phone to numb the urgency. Wash, rinse, repeat.

This might not be the best strategy.

Last weekend we went to Dapper Day so I could take pictures, and I caught a bug that makes me shaky and tired and utterly useless... until about 4AM, when I am wide awake and shaky and utterly useless. So I've been lying in bed a lot, stewing and sighing and - ug - thinking.

You know those feedback loops our brains get stuck on sometimes? How come those are never about nice things? Like, why can't we endlessly obsess over that perfect trip to Disneyland? Or the way our favorite person looks when s/he laughs? But noo-oo. It's all, "Oooh, you shouldn't have said that thing last week!" Or, "Surprise! You forgot so-and-so's birthday and now they secretly hate you." Or, "Hey, remember that time ten years ago when you got fired? WASN'T THAT AWFUL?? Let's go relive allll the tiny details in slow-motion and with color commentary from your inner self-loathing again. And again. And again and again and again!"



This month I learned a family member thinks I don't work, and is disgusted by it. She thinks John and I are independently wealthy (hoo!) and sit around making costumes all day. She's never been to Epbot, and brags to others in our family about this, because ew, blogs.


We see her all the time, by the way, and talk about Epbot pretty often. So, I was a little rocked. I mean, I'm fine, and this *does* explain why she glazes over every time I say the word "steampunk," so it's actually kind of funny.

Or... bah, maybe I'm not fine. Maybe I'm a people-pleaser, and relatives more so. Maybe I fret for days before posting personal, anxiety-related things, and rely on you guys to assure me it's OK that I do. Maybe I pour my heart and soul into my photos, my projects, my proud cheer-leading of the things I love. Maybe this blog is the one contribution I make to the universe that I feel actually matters from time to time.

Maybe I'm just a little "peopled" out, a little sick, and need some quiet to recoup.

Cats and/or stuffed animals always help.


I'll never blame folks for thinking I don't work. I get to do things I love, and a lot of times I get paid for it. That certainly doesn't seem like work. I'm surrounded by joy and creativity and support, and most of the time I don't have to wear pants. If that's not the American dream, then heck, let's all move to Ottawa and eat Beaver Tails. (The pastry, I mean, not actual beaver tails. [Those wouldn't taste nearly as good.])

But I really do try. I put me into the things I do. Then I agonize over whether those things are good enough. I take too much time, I stay up too late, I neglect John. I lose sleep, I re-write 'til it's memorized, and I fret over readers who tell me their pain, searching for just the right words to lessen it.

I feel less when I'm not working. Useless. Unfulfilled. Like all I've done 'til now was for naught, and all that really matters is my next post. I can recognize that's not entirely healthy, but on the flip side, when I really nail a post? When I've written something I'm proud of, or show you something new I love, and think you'll love, too? Best. Buzz. EVER.

And when John brings home letters from the PO box, saying I helped? When I look at Fans of Epbot, a community that's doing its best to lift each other up, and come together, cross divides, all grounded on a foundation of commonality I helped spark? When I get e-mails and fan art that show I do have an impact?

(A reader named Jim drew this after my Panic Victories post... and I love it.)

Or when a reader gets tongue-tied or cries, because of meeting me? Me, the girl who got fired that time. The girl who says the wrong things and who will forget your name. The girl who messes up, who's ashamed and uncertain and just, you know, trying.

Those things aren't a buzz. They're a reason to keep trying.

I'm a people-pleaser. Always have been, always will. But I hope, with your help, I'll aim to please the right people, and learn to care a little less about the ones who will never be impressed, no matter how I try.


As I lay staring at the wall this afternoon, I thought again about my favorite quote from Maya Angelou: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel." I closed my eyes, and thought about how *I* feel around each of my closest friends and family. The answers actually kind of surprised me.

I realized some of the people I most want to be around are the ones who make me feel less, inadequate, uncertain - even ashamed. I realized these were the ones I was forever trying - and failing - to impress.

But other family and friends, well, just the thought of their presence made my shoulders loosen, made me feel relaxed and confident and creative.

We rise or sink to the level of those we choose to surround ourselves with. I've always known that, but this was the gut-check I think I needed. Because I need to be around that second group of people more in my life. And I need to tell them that.

So my challenge to you - because heck yeah, let's make this a challenge - is this: Close your eyes and imagine each of the people in your life, one by one, sitting in front of you. Think about how their presence makes you feel. You might just be surprised. Then orient your life, best you can, to be more around the ones who make you the best you. More importantly, tell them they make you the best you. I can say from experience, there is no greater compliment.

And now I'm going back to bed. Hugs, high fives, and I'll see ya on the flip side.


155 comments:

  1. You make a difference in my life and in the lives of so many others. You da bomb. And I wish I didn't have to wear pants.

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  2. First off, shame on the relative that thinks you don't work. Shame on her for assuming and passing judgment. No matter what you do for a living, that's your business... family or not.

    Second, shame on the person that told you how that other family member feels. By them sharing that information, regardless of their intent, they knew it was going to spark some sort of emotional response.

    You bring such joy and support to so many people each day you rise out bed. You share your struggles, your accomplishments, and your interests with others so that they know they're not alone. So many people walk around thinking "I'm the only one that...". If we would just talk with each other and be kind, we'd be so much better off!!

    You keep doing YOU! Be bubbly! Be bright! Be supportive! Be nerdy! Be steampunky! Be YOU!! Because that's who matters...

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    1. Yes, I agree with the second paragraph. What possible reason did they have to tell you this? Nothing good would come out of it (unless they thought you would think it was funny or something). There's PLENTY I have not told people because I knew it would not elicit a good response from them.

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    2. Someone did this to me this week - told me something a person I work with said about me as a person which was very awful. I don't even like the person who said it...and yet it hurt. But then I reflected on why the first person told me this and thought, you are not a very nice person for telling me this...and I think you just wanted to spark a response. So, I took a deep breath, said, well, what a shame for him to think this way, and then went out of my way to change the subject. I am a people pleaser, but I have gotten very good at figuring out who are the people who use and abuse my energy, and I try very hard to avoid them.

      My Mom and I developed a game many years ago for a very difficult relative, Filly (not the real name!). We created a point system with an agreed upon prize for the most points BEFORE we see this relative. Every time Filly says sometime rude, inappropriate, cutting or offensive, we earn points. We also have a code word that we use when the person gets to just be too much (usually a food is a fun one to use - pumpkin or orange or such - but also easy enough to make a reference without struggling. When you're upset, hippopotamus is a lot to manage). It works like magic, it makes us both feel better, and we sometime even seek Filly out because we want to earn points. In short, it's the perfect game with just one other person that makes even the most difficult moments a bit better.

      Jen, try not to ruminate on the negatives, or make a deal with yourself that every cycle of negative thoughts has to have one positive (a simple, I matter to other people is a great start). You've done great things and you continue to do so...

      PS: One of the smoothest, most extroverted people I've ever known went up to a woman at an event we held last week and congratulated her on her upcoming baby. He had been told by a family member that they were having another child...except they are not! He said to me, I've going to have trouble sleeping tonight even though she was so kind about my mistake. So, the moral of the story is that even really awesome public speakers and extroverts get it wrong too...which makes me feel so much better! <<>>

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  3. I just checked Facebook. FoE has 3800 fans. Your relative probably doesn't. You win. Never doubt you're awesomeness.

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    1. FoE has 3800 members. Epbot its self has over 22,000 fans!

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  4. Jen, I adore you. You are so amazing. You are so important and you matter so much to so many people. I love the community that you sparked (not helped spark...let's be real, none of us would be there without you) and it means so much to me. It has very truly and tangibly impacted my every day, real life. you have made real, positive, tangible differences in many people's lives. never forget that. Next time your misery-loop starts playing, stop yourself and start thinking of all the people on the FoE group and all the people who write you and comment on your blogs. That should set your mind right quick enough. Or heck, just get on the FoE group--someone is bound to be there to give you a fawning, fan-girl/boi, gushing pep talk any time of the day or night.

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  5. FoE got me through the last few weeks of turmoil, both at home and in the world. YOU made that happen (John, too, without question, but we're going to focus on you for the moment). YOU created the environment that made a positive, caring, SAFE community possible. That is a massive accomplishment. As for your relative, 1) NOT HER BUSINESS. 2) In best Chandler Bing voice: could she BE any more jealous??? Not worth your time, my friend.

    We love you and your amazing hubby. We love your crafts, we love your geekiness, we love your enthusiasm, we love YOU. Do not EVER forget that. You truly have made the world a better place, and THAT is something to which we should all aspire. :-)

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  6. A few months after my mom died, someone told me a few relatives thought I didn't cry "enough" at the wake (whatever enough means). Then those relatives tried to take advantage of my willingness to help just as they used to do with my mom. So those relatives are kept at arms length now and I am way better for it. I think people treat relatives like they wouldn't treat any other person thinking you have to endure it because they are family, but no way. If you are judgmental, you are out of my priority list, even if you are a relative.

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  7. You are amazing and I love Epbot. It is a great creation you and John should be proud of, and FoE is also great. You do so much creative good in the world! Sending much love!!

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  8. Replies
    1. That sounds good but isn't helpful. That's simply not how anxiety and other brain issues work.

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    2. Yes, criticizing other people's coping methods is a much better strategy.

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  9. I have bouts of avoiding Facebook, and pretty much the entire world, because I go through similar cycles. I get a bit down on myself, I feel inadequate. Then I visit here, or take a peak at my 25 FoE notifications, and, for that moment (and often for the rest of the day), I am uplifted. I am renewed. I feel like, even if I can't see it from here, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and people can be awesome and I still belong somewhere. Thank you, Jen, for creating that; for sharing yourself and making us feel comfortable to share ourselves.

    Not everyone is going to like me. I'm learning to be okay with that. The hard part is knowing when not to put energy into fruitlessly trying to change it.

    Sorry for the rambling mind dump.

    -Just Andrea

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  10. Remember that time you were the reason an entire *village* got a new well? Oh wait! My bad, it happened more than once!! You're amazing. <3

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    1. No lie; I honestly *did* forget that. And remembering the misspelled plaque make me smile all over again. Thank you.

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    2. I WAS JUST ABOUT TO MENTION THE WELLS!!!! YES THAT! :3

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  11. The first time I ever ran across you, I didn't know it was you. My friend showed me this hilarious set of books about cake wrecks. My favorite was "Good Luck Christ!". I knew that whoever wrote those books had to be kin, or close to it. Warped sense of humor? Check. Sense of irony? Check.

    Fast-forward a year or two later, and I found the greatest pin on Pinterest for a craft I was considering trying, and followed it over to Epbot. I don't read blogs because, eww. (Ha!) But I started reading yours and I felt like I was reading my diary. And I totally got your sense of humor, your appreciation for child-like things, your joy at silly and ironic, your health and sometimes mental struggles, your total geekiness for loving Harry Potter and Star Wars, and on and on. I felt like I found a friend. And THEN I found out you and hubby did Cake Wrecks! Kismet, my friend :o) I know I was supposed to find you.

    After a friend of mine turned 50, she told me the best thing that happened to her is that she stopped caring about what other people thought of her, surrounded herself with people that loved, but challenged her (not Borg-thinkers), and generally found joy in life when she stopped worrying what other people thought all the time. My goal in life is to start thinking that waaaay before 50. I wish that for you. Life is entirely too short. You're blessed with a fantastic hubby, and a job you love. People who can't find that joy for themselves try to drag it out of others. Don't let it happen. You're loved and blessed by many. Keep the joy!

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  12. First off, nothing wrong with living in Ottawa and eating beaver tails. ;) The pastry is delicious!
    I hope you'll find the ability to focus on the people who bring you joy, who confirm that the work you do (even if it seems like play to many) really does bring them joy, and let that enable you to be proud of what you're doing. Then the family "disapproval" (for lack of a better word) can be diminished -- you and John know what you're doing and doing well, and their criticism/shaming/questioning can't negate that.
    And, as I continue to work on this, I'm struck by a thought. You're a people pleaser, and need the outside validation. Can you and John work on internal validation? Finding the spark and pride in yourself to carry you through the awkward family events?
    Keep it up. :)

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  13. I've worked hard at trying to fill my life with only the people that matter and make me and my life feel good. It has meant less time with certain family members, who, no matter how many times I've attempted to explain WHY I distant myself, still don't understand.
    I've grown tired of trying to please others and am now just trying to learn how to please myself.

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  14. You work hard, we can all see it. We appreciate you so much. I'm really sorry that happened, some people just don't think it's work unless it involves and office or manual labor. Again, I'm sorry. And you guys rock hard.

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  15. You make a difference for me. Thank you. (And thanks for the reminder to check my social priorities!)

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  16. "I closed my eyes, and thought about how *I* feel around each of my closest friends and family. The answers actually kind of surprised me.

    I realized some of the people I most want to be around are the ones who make me feel less, inadequate, uncertain - even ashamed. I realized these were the ones I was forever trying - and failing - to impress...

    We rise or sink to the level of those we choose to surround ourselves with. I've always known that, but this was the gut-check I think I needed. Because I need to be around that second group of people more in my life. And I need to tell them that."

    ...Holy Cripes. You know, I consider myself a strong, independent woman (also with a strong people pleasing streak, though I try hard to quash it) and you know what? I NEVER took the tack to really think through the people I'm trying to please.

    This is *so* me - and it makes *so* much sense that we should stop craving the approval of those who will never approve, and instead focus on those who help bring us up - that reading this was like someone smacking me upside the head.

    Thank you, Jen, for being you. Because *your* revelations? Help some of *us* make revelations. Yes, even if it means I just thanked you for smacking me upside my virtual head ;)

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  17. you are matter more than words can properly convey. please don't ever doubt this.
    none of us are perfect. someone much wiser than i once told me that if the ocean didn't make waves, we wouldn't be captivated by the sound and beauty. be you. and the jealous folks, regardless of whether or not they are relatives, can be their miserable selves.
    huge boobies squishing hugs and lots of love to you.

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  18. There's something almost funny about them assuming you're independently wealthy just because it lacks so much logic, but hey, we all have those family members who are strangers to logic (please tell me we all have them...). I think we also all try and please the wrong people sometimes, I do my best to appreciate what I have but sometimes I just want the popular kids to like me.

    I love your photos and your projects, I come here to marvel at the artistic skills of you and others while I'm only capable of gluing my fingers together undoing the tube (I wish that were hyperbole). I don't often comment because I don't have much to add but I wanted to show my appreciation of you today, keep going Jen!

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  19. Wow, Jen. Your post today has given me a lot to think about. I am a world class people pleaser myself. Relatives, friends, coworkers, boss, neighbors, random people in the grocery store. You are right, my people pleaser module turns up on the highest setting when I am around those who make me feel more insecure, anxious and guilt-ridden than usual. So the big question now is not HOW to stop being a people pleaser, but WHO I should be pleasing. Deep thoughts for a Thursday afternoon.

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  20. Your work is important, but more than that YOU are important. Even if you closed up shop right now and spent the rest of forever in bed (please don't!), you have touched the lives of thousands upon thousands of people and we are all better for having known you. And I'm not sure I can accurately describe how amazing the FoE community is or how much being a part of it has truly improved my quality of life. So, for everything you do, and who you are, thank you <3

    (All of the above applies to John as well! Y'all are a great team.)

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    1. You nailed it KDot! Thanks for saying this and saying it so well.

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    2. Yes, KDot. Jen and John could retire 'wealthy' right now, if you were to count wealth in lives better for having known them. Perhaps Jen and John *are* 'independently wealthy' after all. :)

      -Just Andrea

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  21. Jen, LOVE this challenge! I'm working on my EQ (emotional intelligence) right now and totally need to do this.

    Love you and John and have been a fan of yours for YEARS now. We have family in Orlando and get to visit FL periodically. See you soon, hopefully!

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  22. This is a really interesting experiment, I'm gonna have to try it. And I hate when I find out something about a relative that I really wish I didn't know. Anyway, I love this blog, love Cakewrecks, and wish you all the best in getting over this bump in the road. You've really nailed that annoying inner voice, the one that brings up all of your worst mistakes. I'm still thinking about things I did 20+ years ago. Like, geez, inner voice, let's let that one go.

    Also, off topic, but where is that gif from? The top one, with the little girl pulling Totoro into the trunk with her? Is it from a movie?

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    1. Oh my gosh, thanks! That is the one hole in my Pixar viewing. I will have to get on that.

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  23. You both have touched my life since the first moment I found cake wrecks and then immediately got in trouble for laughing out loud continually in a very quiet office. And when you started this blog and opened your heart and life to us, you've touched me a thousand more times. You connected a group of people who would have never known there were so many other geeky, steampunk loving people out there. You have filled such a void you'll never understand. And honey we all have relatives that suck. We may love them but some of those relatives are best held to only major holidays when day drinking is not only accepted but also encouraged. So let me end with this. Thank you. Thank you both so much.

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    1. "some of those relatives are best held to only major holidays when day drinking is not only accepted but also encouraged"

      Oh wow, so much this. 😂 Although TBH, it still makes me sad that my parents fall into this category. I'm 40, you think I would have made my peace with it by now.

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    2. YES! I'm also 40 and my Dad & his girlfriend DEFINITELY fall into this category. I've had to make peace with the fact that some people never change and you just have to accept that's how/who they are. Unfortunately, they live an hour away, so I can't day drink too much...

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  24. If you could use a smile, check out this article about Dr. Seuss--first I've ever heard of these creations!
    http://www.npr.org/2016/11/17/502164850/before-his-name-was-known-at-all-seuss-put-creatures-on-the-wall

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  25. Thank you for sharing everything you do with us, Jen. We love and admire you and live vicariously through your victories.

    Your post also reminded me of a quote from a Rainbow Rowell novel (maybe Landline?): "Some people count sheep; I self-loathe."

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  26. I've only met you once for a too-short time, Jen, but I love you and your open and honest posts get me right in the feels every time. ::hugs::

    (and yes, Tonks is still my favorite)

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  27. Thank you for keeping it honest and authentic on your blog! It means so much to me that I can hear your "voice" (and now I want to hear your real voice, but not in an Ursala-Ariel way).

    When my daughter entered public school in sixth grade (she had done homeschool up till then) I had some relatives who came out of the woodwork saying all kinds of weird and uncomfortable things that made me feel bad about myself and my choices for a little while (our favorite - "aren't you excited to stand in line and raise your hand?") Then I remembered that they weren't living my life, raising my child, or walking my road and thus had no basis for judgement. When she changed schools to attend a co-op (half private half homeschool) 12 weeks into the school year I took a deep breath and remembered that her father and I knew what we were doing. By the way she's in high school now (an online school) and doing great.

    The thing I find ironic is that the people who criticized homeschooling were the first to say how creative she was, how intelligent she was, and how she was able to talk to anyone!

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  28. This post is really reassuring to me just to know that I'm not the only one who replays those less-than-perfect moments over and over again (accidentally burning a little boy with a stick at a campout when I was 5, for example - really wish my brain didn't keep harping on that one). Thank you for the countless hours you've dedicated to making the world better for so many. I've no idea what you guys earn, but I'm guessing it's not nearly enough! Thanks ever so much, for everything.

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  29. I am struck with the overwhelming urge to throw eggs at your relative whilst shouting, "I was gonna give money to Jen's blog but now that I know she's independently wealthy I decided to use that money on EGGS! To throw at YOU!" I may be projecting my own feelings about certain relatives of mine, but this sounds incredibly cathartic to me.

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    Replies
    1. Bahaha! And reading your comment is cathartic for me. CIRCLE OF LIFE FIST BUMP.

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  30. I teach middle school. This is filled with kids that are trying to figure out who they are, how they should relate to others, and just beginning to see the vastness of the world that they live in. I constantly have to remind them that the only person whose behavior they can control is their OWN. They can't be in charge of what others say and do, they can't change the people around them, they can only make good choices for themselves.

    Focus on making those good choices. Blowing off an unkind relative is a wonderful choice. Spending more time with those who support and appreciate you is an even better choice. Take one step at a time, don't worry about pleasing others, and know that you are loved.

    Hugs!

    Vanessa

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    1. 'Take one step at a time, don't worry about pleasing others, and know that you are loved.' I need to make a plaque for my daughter's room with your words of wisdom as she gets ready to enter tween--dom! :) Thanks, Vanessa.

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  31. Don't let the muggles get you down! I too have relatives that don't get what I do. Most of them didn't go to college and just went straight to work, so going to college for costume design isn't something they understand. There is a chance that your relative genuinely doesn't understand how you can do what you do to earn a living. And on top of that blogging as income makes almost no sense to pretty much anyone! It may all be a misunderstanding, or she could just be a not so nice person you need to have less of in your life!

    I love this blog and Cakewrecks. I went to see you and John on your Christmas book tour years ago. It was so much fun! I have social anxieties that I thought I outgrew, in high school I was on meds for it, and saw a psychiatrist. But, making plans is still nerve racking. Because of that night, I try way more. Hearing you talk about comic conventions, I tried that too! I've been to 2 now! It's so much fun to be around people so excited about what you are too! Please know how much you change peoples lives for the better! Even if we are terrible about commenting very often :)

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  32. Yeah, my parents don't understand what I do for a living no matter how many times I explain it to them. They're super supportive of my brother's business, because he makes things that they can see and hold. They just can't wrap their heads around writing web copy and blog posts for clients. It's one of the downsides of the new economy - it's too abstract for some people.

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    2. YES! You just have to accept that the older generation (mostly the Baby Boomers) will NEVER understand how the internet gives some people a living. Heck, I gave my Dad an old computer; do you know what he does with it? He uses the monitor to hold his post-it notes. I swear, I am not making that up. He will not learn how to use it. If I was doing anything internet-related for a living, he wouldn't think I had a "real" job either. It is just completely beyond his comprehension. Honestly, one of the reasons why I am in an office job (other than I really am good at it) is so that he will not be disappointed in me.

      So, KUDOS to you, Jen for taking the leap at all and it working out.

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  33. You're probably already aware, but just to be sure, you've heard of Esther Day right? Not saying that people should wait until next August to tell the important people in their lives how important they are, but there *is* a specific day for that. I hand made cards this year and wrote to all my best people about why I love them. It felt really good to do, I recommend it.

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    1. DFTBA! I love the Vlogbrothers and often watch their videos and I'm in my 50s! My kids have performed at fundraisers for This Star Won't Go Out and my daughter arranged for Esther's Mom to talk at our HS (plus John Green via Skype) when she got on the One-School-One-Book committee and got them to select The Fault In Our Stars as the One Book.

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  34. I think you and john work your buns off! You have two incredibly successful blogs with scores of fans who eagerly await each and every post! You bring joy to so many people and connect those of us who aren't able to attend cons or do crafts with coolamatious people and ideas. And all without pants! :)

    You guys are amazing!
    Love,
    Zippy

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  35. Oh, this came at exactly the right time... I've been feeling like this all week! I had a student tell me that I looked like I had given up on the class, I hadn't... It made me feel awful, like my efforts were completely unnoticed... And my brain, how does it react? It reminds me of that time my Aunt told me my blog was 'cute' and then acted surprised that I wanted to update it more than once a month... Again, something I care about being pushed aside and my efforts unnoticed. BUT I know I'm a good teacher and I keep plugging away at my blog because I like it... Those people can go jump.
    Basically, you're awesome Jen and this post was just what I needed today. Thanks for being you!

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  36. It's always worth asking...are you trying to make the world a better place for more than just yourself? If the answer is yes (and obviously it is); then whether you do this for a living or for free, whether you enjoy it or hate it, what you are doing is worthwhile so you have the right to sleep easily (whatever middle-of-the-night brain or your divvy relative might say). xx ps divvy is a light-hearted, non-malicious north of England term for foolish.

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  37. Wow, another great post seemingly written by someone inside my head! One thing that's great about your blog (besides all the personal stuff you share, and the fun crafting things) is reading others' comments and realising I'm not a weird, one-off nut job; lots of people are just like me. And thanks for your challenge; it's helped me see that the person I'm always trying to please (and never succeeding) has been DEAD for 15 years, yet I'm still doing things based on her disapproval! So I'm going to work on stopping that right now!

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  38. There's a reason I cut my parents and siblings out of my life decades ago. I always think of it as: is this person treating me like a friend would? No? Then sayonara.

    Also...why Ottawa? I've been living in Ottawa for 6 years and let me tell you...it is the most boring and small-minded city I have ever lived in.

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    1. Ottawa is a great city - only boring if you ARE boring.

      In Ottawa's defence https://medium.com/@ryanpaulgibson/ottawas-not-boring-you-re-just-lazy-f5f2dd9396fb#.9tr6uyn6j

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    2. I've only visited twice in my life - once as an adult - and I love it there. When I went last time it was just for a few days for a conference, and I only had time to scratch the surface of the city. I can't wait to go back sometime, and not just for the beaver tails, which are amazing. :)

      Delete
    3. shade here replying (I don't know why it doesn't know me this time).

      Ottawa is boring. There are many articles on the subject and if you want to read them, please go ahead and google "why Ottawa is boring". Here is one: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/24/most-boring-city-canada-ottawa_n_3333161.html

      The only people who like living in Ottawa are people who grew up in the country (so a place even more boring) or those who have young children (so are too exhausted/busy to go out and do things - and also like everything to be geared towards said young children).

      Funny note: I was talking to my husband who was born and raised in Ottawa about this blog post and it turns out that he has no idea what beaver tails are. I thought that was priceless.

      Delete
  39. Mother trucker! I seriously want to harshly bop your relative on the snout!

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  40. The negative feedback loops are so terrible and exhausting. Just know that hundreds of us (even those of us who would never be rave enough to say hi in real life) love you and are encouraged and made happy by every post on epbot. Your blog has showed so many of us that we have a tribe and that we aren't alone and, speaking for myself, I am eternally grateful for what your blog has done for my life. You bring joy to so many people, I hope remembering that will somehow minimize the time your brain takes you hostage thinking about all of the terrible (in reality not that bad) screw ups you did ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. <3

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  41. You make a difference to me. The love and joy on this blog and on FoE warms me daily. I feel like I have a million friends across the globe now, even though I've never met any of them. You did that.

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  42. I'm sorry this person was so rude to/about you, and I'm sorry that you feel bad about it. We do, don't we?, feel bad when people judge us. But really, it's on them, not you!

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  43. Miss Jen: I've said it before and I'll say it again. You are my Wonderfully Geeky, Cat-owning, Craft-Inspiring, Floridian auntie. Reading Epbot is STILL one of my favorite things to do, and ganache-durn it if Squee's adventures with my family in the Purdue University, Indiana area don't show that. You've helped me though some hard times (actually, a lot of hard times if we count all my writer's block) and you've helped so many other people too. The wells in the villages- YOU inspired us to do that! Star Wars Katie and her book: YOU inspired us for that! That little boy a few years ago who tried to commit suicide after being made fun of for liking my little pony- YOUR POST made me aware that it was a problem and everyday I pray for him and others who might be in a similar situation. I also pray for you everyday. Through this blog, you've been real. Most blogs I've read, they skim over personal details. You don't. And that's hard. But also brave. Here are some sparkles to really make my point.
    -Pinkie Welborne, 16
    Indiana

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  44. Epbot is one of the bright spaces on the internet where I come for warm fuzzies and happiness. I for one am really glad you're a blogger!

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  45. Of all the things in my feed, Epbot is the one that makes me actually excited when I see a post, rather than just a number of things I'm behind on. I love all the posts, whether they are new crafts, art round ups, or personal information that lets us get to see the real you. And I know all of us that come here love you for it!

    It's an unfortunate fact that relatives can be jerks. You want the relationships to be amazing, because they're relatives and we're brought up to love family. And of course it's a great goal! But don't let the thoughts of someone who hasn't taken the time to learn about you, even from the most basic effort of actually reading your blog, make you feel bad about the things you love most.

    We love you Jen! (and John!)

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  46. Love Epbot! I consider blogging to be the modern day equivalent of the newspaper advice/opinion/lifestyle columns (most definitely considered real, paying jobs). Also, I love the anxiety posts. It is not something I struggle with, but your words help me understand and support friends and family members who do. And the cosplaying... the amalgamation of crafting tips always ends up being helpful (quickly made a faux foam leather wristlet for a little Rey's Halloween costume). Some people don't understand, some people thrive on feeling better than others, you do you. You're the only one who can.

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  47. You and John make this world sparkly. Just knowing that you guys are out there possibly coming up with new ways to create a little more joy makes me happy. Be yourself and take care each other. Rock on!

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  48. You are amazing Jen! You create so many brilliant things and help so many people just by sharing your experiences. Don't let the nay sayers get you down! Your relative is probably just jealous that you get to to do awesome things and get paid and she doesn't! ((HUGS))

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  49. You are important to me. I love your posts both here and on Cake Wrecks. They have made me laugh when I've been sick, they've made me think and they've made me happy. The community on FoE is something I cherish.

    Never let anyone tell you you're not good enough. You are.

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  50. It's cliche and all, but haters gonna hate. I can guarantee this relative has many critical things to say about other people in her life, and is not singling you out. I know, I have a sister in law just like it. Take the time to soak in all the reassurance you need, refind your footing, and have pity, as it says in Hamilton. This person probably has her own grundle of insecurities and just has very unfortunate way of coping with them.
    Singling. The present tense of single. Singling. Is that a word? I keep staring and it looks funny. Is it singleing? Gah.

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  51. Haters gonna hate. We love you, 4K strong.

    Take care of yourself, really really. <3

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  52. Girl, you are awesome. Your corner of the Internet is one of my favorite places to escape, and I love seeing everything you create, how you open up about difficult things in a desire to help others, how you bring joy to other people's lives, and I celebrate with you every time you or one of your fans has a victory. It stinks when relatives aren't supportive, and I'm sorry you have one being contemptuous. I will gladly take her place because she obviously doesn't know how lucky she is to be related to a kind, compassionate, creative couple.

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  53. You matter so much!! But we can't control what other folks think and this family member must get something out of their willful ignorance of how hard you work. You haven't failed to explain it, they are just unwilling to try. I think it's like back in the early days of the internet, my parents couldn't understand how I could possibly have "friends" that lived so far away and that I'd never met - now my Mom has a blog and "friends" of her own. So, it's on them really and their loss....I'd be willing to be that just about everybody else is fully on Team Jen!!

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  54. Did I miss the post about the wells? Regardless, I second everything being said upthread. You rock. Your blog rocks. You matter. And dangit I need to stop visiting during work hours so I'm not cutting onions in a duststorm at work.

    Oh, and it isn't just any blog that I share with my mom. It is yours. She can't get out to see the Festival of Trees so tomorrow we're going to visit all of your old posts on your visits and she'll get to visit vicariously. Thank you.

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  55. As a wise young poet (Nietzsche, perhaps?) once said, "Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate." Y'all are SO much more than "independently wealthy bloggers who don't really have a job." You're comedians and therapists and inspirers of creativity and you give hope and laughter to people who are going through terrible things. Of course you can't quantify that and label it and try to put it in a "job box" to make someone feel more comfortable about their choice to be miserable about other people's success. You can't quantify joy and friendship and love and inspiration. You've helped to build a community of people (many of whom feel like outsiders) and given them a place to belong!

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  56. Anyone who doesn't think that writing is "work" has never sat down and stared at a blank page they had to fill. It's "work" even when it's for "fun" and not for "your livelihood." Sheesh. Jen, you and John contribute. You are makers and doers and inspirerers (not a word). Don't let people who don't get it bring you down. In the imortal words of a Facebook Meme: You can not make everybody happy, you are not a taco.
    xo

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  57. You and John have literally changed the course of my life. Because of you and this blog, I've made new friends and was brave enough to book a trip to London to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet last year. I love the quote by C.S. Lewis, “Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” By being brave and taking those risks and opening up about the ugly sides of life, you have helped thousands of people realize they are not alone. That's life SAVING for some people. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the effort and love you pour into this blog. You and John are making this world a better place.

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  58. Jen - the fired, the forgetful, the tongue tied, the awkward - are a BEACON of Fun, Joy, Hope, Togetherness. A Shinning Light of what we, FoEs, want the world to be.

    And we are SO GLAD to have you!

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  59. Gosh, if you had a "normal" job, many of us wouldn't know that there is a whole community of other people like us out there. We wouldn't know that a corset can help with crippling cramps, that we've been wearing the wrong size bra all our lives, that there are interesting books to read, games to play, and tv shows to watch, that its okay to have anxiety because sometimes you can work through it and do the thing, Thank you for jobbing this not-job that you job. I know my world is different because of you.

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  60. I am so tired of people thinking that those of us who chose to be creative are "not working". Have they any freaking clue how hard it can be to design yet another dress for a play that is original and new? Nope. Jen - you have made me more sensitive to family members who struggle with depression and medical issues that "don't show". So THANK YOU! And You have posted fab costumes for me to look at. You and John have posted fun, cheap and creative projects for home and person. As for the family member being a negative person - avoid them. Smile like butter wouldn't melt in your mouth because you have an Army of Fans backing you up. Carry On, God Lady, Carry On!

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  61. You had me at "eat Beaver Tails" yummm. Grew up in Indiana and we had those and elephant ears, two must haves at the county fair; fresh grill corn on the cob and a tail or ear to be washed down by lemonade. Thank you for the challenge, I needed that extra push, as I know what I am,but trying to change it - long time follower, first time poster

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  62. Jen, sometimes I think you've crawled inside my head and said what I couldn't. Thank you for being you. When I think of you (and no, we haven't met ... yet), I relax and feel all warm and fuzzy. <3

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  63. Hi Jen,
    You are amazing, wonderful, talented, and fantastical! You lead us in dreaming and we all just adore you to pieces! I completely understand the horrible brain loop syndrome, and I have to say it's awful, but it doesn't last forever. We're all here to help pull you out of that loop and to help you realize that you are apart of something so special and so big, that the darkness that you feel in that loop, it can't change or even touch that. All the love! <3

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  64. I am in full support of you visiting Ottawa and eating Beavertails. Come during Winterlude and eat them after a skate on the Canal-it is the best way.

    Your website is amazing. I see what you post, and I get inspired to make my own Halloween costumes, or to take on nifty DIY projects at home. You're living an incredible life, and spreading creativity while building community. Don't ever let anyone think you're just farting around on the internet when you are living a passionate life and helping others to do the same.

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  65. There will aways be people ready to put you down in order to make themselves feel big...but only if you let them.

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  66. You know who else doesn't work? Teachers. Because, you know, 8-3 and summers off, and all they have to do is read from the textbook. And librarians - let me tell ya, all we do is sit around and read all day. A monkey could do my job. Well, if the monkey could read. And cops? Drive around with a gun, yelling at people. Psh. Military - everything is paid for, and how many actually see combat? Therapists sit behind a desk and listen to people talk, which is annoying, but not really work.

    Soo...what I'm saying (with the assumption that Epbot readers can recognize the sarcasm above) is...you are in FANTASTIC company. And you rock all by yourself. And if I put a smidgen of the work you do into my own blog, someone besides my mother might read it. And would any of us have ever heard the words "Star Wars Katie" if not for you? Please. We heart you.

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  67. I agree with what someone up above thread said, even if you quit all right now... you can't undo the differences you've made and the GOOD you've done. You have made REAL life differences in sooo many lives, SAVED lives, improved quality of life, to so many people. You collect your heroes in all of their merchandise, we all revel in our fandoms... but you realize... YOU are a hero, and PEOPLE COLLECT YOU TOO, finding you at conventions and seeking out chances to meet you, we buy out carrot jockeys faster that you can make them... we are your super power, when you see injustice- you point us at it and BOOM! And you bare your soul... your KRYPTONITE to the whole world- not even Superman does that... that takes bravery not many possess. Power, strength, goodness of heart, and the willpower to affect change... you, my dear, are a superhero...
    And we will wear our fandom (you), and NONE of us will let you forget the changes and GOOD you have done...

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  68. Jen, I just realized I need to share another awesome community with you! I don't know if you know what Twitch is, but I discovered in a couple months ago and I'm currently obsessed with it. General_MIttenz is a cat (he is definitely a cat!) that streams video games on Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/general_mittenz). He has declared war on stress, anxiety, and depression. He personally deals with PTSD and agoraphobia. Like the Epbot community, the GM community comes together to support each other and cheer each other on when we're having bad days/months/years.
    I'm not trying to promote another community, I just wanted to make sure you knew about this because I think you might enjoy it. At least check out GM's promo videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cJQe23Z5R0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuFDAJ3zNlA

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  69. You have been a huge blessing in my life Jen. You've given me a community of other people who understand that I'm not a weirdo (well, except in the best way) when I want to watch a disney movie, or play a game with my family, or craft something crazy, or decorate my house in my own off-beat way instead of replicating the Ashley furniture store. Be you. I'll continue to hang out with you virtually because you make me feel better.

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  70. I agree with what someone up above thread said, even if you quit all right now... you can't undo the differences you've made and the GOOD you've done. You have made REAL life differences in sooo many lives, SAVED lives, improved quality of life, to so many people. You collect your heroes in all of their merchandise, we all revel in our fandoms... but you realize... YOU are a hero, and PEOPLE COLLECT YOU TOO, finding you at conventions and seeking out chances to meet you, we buy out carrot jockeys faster that you can make them... we are your super power, when you see injustice- you point us at it and BOOM! And you bare your soul... your KRYPTONITE to the whole world- not even Superman does that... that takes bravery not many possess. Power, strength, goodness of heart, and the willpower to affect change... you, my dear, are a superhero...
    And we will wear our fandom (you), and NONE of us will let you forget the changes and GOOD you have done...

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  71. Unfortunately human brains are just wired to remember and focus on the bad things. It's a survival instinct or something. If you remember the things that hurt or made you sick you won't do it again. It really sucks sometimes, but it's not something you're doing or can change, it's just something we have to try and work through.

    That family member you speak of is the worst kind of awful. What kind of terrible person passes judgement on something they've never even experienced? Sounds like the green-eyed monster rearing it's head, honestly. You do something you (sometimes) enjoy as work, and that can really irk some people. People don't see all the incredibly hard work and insane amount of time you put in. And that person doesn't even see the result, just whatever crazy story they've made up in their head. I know you likely still will, but don't think about them. They really aren't worth it.

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  72. I had a lot of mental health issues a few years ago, stress, anxiety etc. I was shown that I was a 'pleaser' too. I had never noticed as I was too busy pleasing others to look after myself. I was told - 'if you treated your friends how you treat yourself, would you have any?' I don't think I would have had! I learned the behaviour from my Mum as she spent her whole life trying to get her parents approval. Nothing she ever did was either right or good enough.

    I realised when I was better that life is far too short to tolerate idiots, bigots and people that annoy me. I don't have the energy to waste. I don't care if the people sucking my mental or physical energy are 'friends' or relatives - I don't have time anymore. I have cast them all asunder! If I find myself going down the rabbit hole of self loathing, I internally shout loud and hard *STOP!* and bring to mind my happy place. It varies, but the sun is always shining and the grass is green, the sky is blue and the air is sweet. The ones (human and animal) I love are there with me. Somewhere around there might also be cake... ;0)

    I hold my true friends, my parents and husband with care and love, knowing that they will be there for me as I will be there for them.

    Be there for the ones you love and that love you. What is passed is passed, nothing can be done, there is no rewind button. Do things differently if you feel you need to, but the most important thing is - do things and be with people that make you happy. As you lovely Americans say - don't sweat the small stuff.

    Love and hugs to you and yours from the UK.

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  73. Stay at home moms don't do anything either, FYI. Homeschool moms are even worse--not only do they not do anything, but they are depriving their children of a "real" education and "normal" life.

    That being said, people love my kids and say our house is an emotionally safe place. Those are the comments I get much less frequently than the above, but I treasure them and trust that's where the truth lies. : )

    I am so happy for you, making this realization. That relation cracked me up--that is just so awful it is funny. I feel sorry for her, not for you--you have the ability to see what's going on in your relationship, but she clearly does not. She's stuck in a very small psychological world and it does not sound like it is a very nice place to be in. With that knowledge you can be nice to her whenever you see her--but I'd say you don't need to share any more of your world with her. Pearls before swine and all that.

    You and John are such a blessing to the world, and that this lady has you both in her life already and does not see you and cannot be blessed by knowing you--just tragic.

    I realize as I type that that maybe other people here need to hear that. Maybe I need to hear that, as I'm preparing to go have holidays with a significant family member who not only actively steals joy but who actively and loudly tears me down in front of others. I know in my head that my value is not in what she thinks of me--in fact, usually she thinks and says the exact opposite of who I am--but that negativity can still creep in to my thinking and affect me and how my husband sees me. Truth--I am a unique creation, very much imperfect but flawless through the eyes of Love. My value does not have to be proved or recognized by anyone else for it to be. And my value is not in what I DO--neither is yours, Jen, although I'm so glad you are blessed by the memory of all the good you and John have put into the world. : ) Our value is just that we are who we are. That is enough.

    Final thought--by any chance are your love languages Words of Affirmation and Loving Acts of Service? If so, this woman might be not only be sucking joy from you but actually wounding you in your love arena.

    Much love to you from CA!

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    Replies
    1. Ooh, how could I forget those two huge categories of lazy people! Especially since I have been in both at various points! Yep, the list of people who don't do any work but who make the world better sure is getting longer.

      Delete
  74. I seldom comment on blogs, although I love reading the comments here on Epbot. But this needs saying - We all love you, because you are our own inner selves. Only more articulate and creative. Not perfect, because who wants to hang out with perfect? But Real. Authentic. An actual person who makes us all feel better about ourselves, and then better about people. (Well, most people). That takes real commitment, and it *is* work. You are important to us - and we don't need to hang with anyone who doesn't understand that.

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  75. So here I am. I'm going to suggest something for your anxiety. Because, holy snot it helped me. I got both of my daiths pierced. And let me tell you! I did it for migraines. But the anti anxiety benefits are surprising. I found myself standing on the top of a ladder looking down, thinking to myself, "wow, that's far!" rather than "holy crap I'm going to die"
    I didn't realize it at the time... It was gradual.

    Also, you may not remember names, but you remember people, or you do a Damn good job of faking it! I see you at dragon con every year, you always seem to recognize me and my husband. We're the couple that Jon bought donuts our first year, and you told us of "the secret food" vendors. Nope never forget you. Thanks for being you.

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  76. "Close your eyes and imagine each of the people in your life, one by one, sitting in front of you. Think about how their presence makes you feel. You might just be surprised. Then orient your life, best you can, to be more around the ones who make you the best you."

    This, Jen, is something some people NEVER figure out. This is an amazing piece of insight that everyone should walk away with. I didn't encapsulate this sentiment in quite this way (although your way is better because it's much more specific), but it was encompassed in something my Mom once told me "Life is too short to spend any of it unhappy." Part of that unhappiness was dealing with people who I didn't feel good around. So, I just stopped dealing with them. I have walked away from a few "friendships" because of this. I just wish it was easier to make new friendships as adults and find more people "that make you the best you".

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  77. Oh, sweet Jen.
    There are always people who will disagree. Always. You could be the most perfect person in the world, feed and house the homeless, and find the cure for cancer, and someone would still have something negative to say.
    Jealousy does awful things to people.
    You've built a community. Hell, you've built an ARMY, that would stand with you. You've helped so many people in so many different ways, and helped us all feel like we aren't alone anymore. That's one hell of an accomplishment.

    Ask your "relative" how many people she's helped this year. I bet the number is far lower than yours.

    “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

    --Piper P from Washington State

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  78. This is going to totally get buried but whatever lol.

    Your relative shouldn't judge. Just because you choose to live your life in the way keeps you happy and healthy, doesn't mean it doesn't take work. I've had people tell me 'must be nice to be rich' when I buy a specialty coffee or a new pair of shoes. But they don't see that I don't spend money on - say - sporting events, or a lot of other things. I've noticed that people who judge that way automatically assume you spend like they do and tack on what they think are extras.
    Life is far too short to live it unhappy - I came to that conclusion when I quit my soul sucking call centre job and went back to school on a leap of faith. I'm so much happier today because of it.

    I don't read blogs. Never read one before I randomly found cakewrecks cos I saw a news article on your first book. Then I found epbot and found my people. Seriously y'all are great.
    There will be so many days where we want to just give up and crawl back into bed - and you know what? That's okay. The point is not to give up completely and to just keep trying. Cos no one can't say you didn't try.
    You're awesome and reading your posts is a bright spot. Just cos you might not have met me - but you get me, and so many others.

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  79. I was scrolling to the bottom to comment. And kept scrolling. And kept scrolling! I remember you said you once had someone that read and moderated the comments for you but you didn't anymore because the comments were few enough that you could read them yourself. Well, I hope the comments on this post keep you busy for days! Weeks even! I, and many many many others simply adore you and your ew blogs!!! It may sound cheesy and super fangirly, but I actually do loop fun things! Like that day my hubby and I got to spend at Universal with you and John. I think about how nervous I was to meet you, and the brain exploding moment when you said you loved the book I sent you! And that was just in the first ten minutes. I seriously had SO. MUCH. FUN. that day and I loop it in my brain because it was such an amazing experience for me to meet you guys! And everything else that happened that day is burned into my memory because I have it on pause and hit repeat whenever I wanna grin like an idiot.
    I love that your heart and soul is poured into everything you do because it makes everything you do that much more amazing.
    I could go on and on, but I'll just leave you with this: I shop on Amazon. A lot. Like sometimes more than once a day. And every time I do, I go through the link on your blog. Because I am trying to make sure you stay independently wealthy so you can keep "not working" for my own selfish desires.
    Much love, and get some rest!

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  80. It can be a hard thing to learn, but (and after you read this go back and read it again until you committed it to memory) just because someone is related to you doesn't mean they have your best interests at heart. They very well may have no interest in knowing the real you. Or they may just be jealous.

    Just because you're stuck with them doesn't mean you have to give them power over you. Your power is yours alone and you should only loan it out to the people who lift you up, encourage you and want you to be the best version of yourself. You wouldn't stand for it with a stranger, so don't stand for it with someone who shares DNA.

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    1. Yup. All of those people out there who suck? THEY'RE ALL RELATED TO SOMEONE. Ergo, some relatives suck. Just because someone's in your family doesn't mean you have to like 'em. And you certainly don't have to listen to them.

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  82. Dam. Sometimes you hit it right on the head. Or in this case, the heart. I'm right there with you, and I wish you weren't. You are doing amazing things, and the community you've gathered is a bright spot in an otherwise brutal world. Live your dream and don't let the haters get you down.

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  83. I don't have Facebook because I have to cap my time-drains somewhere, and I don't comment often, but I am a regular reader of both your blogs. I love your sense of humor. I also love your honesty with emotional/physical issues (and how you have discovered they overlap). I deal with depression, and I get a lot of encouragement (and amusement) from your blogs.

    I was debating vacuuming behind the bookcases because of my own relative-impressing tendencies and Thanksgiving at my house this year. I've mostly talked myself out of moving ALL the furniture to vacuum. Maybe just the couch...

    You and John have such a solid, supportive marriage. And to think you're independently wealthy? She must be insanely jealous!

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  84. This blog has helped me through so many hard times, mainly just because it makes me smile and I feel like I've found the happiest, geekiest corner of the internets. It's become my online safe space, where things don't always have to be perfect and wonderful, but there's no fear of judgement or anger, just a sense of "someone else feels the same way I do, that's a relief." So the fact that you and John have created a place on the internet free of horrible trolls and unprovoked vitriol is a significant accomplishment. And you can honestly tell anyone that thinks that you don't work that you've made a community of people, created a place where they feel happy and welcome and supported, all built around you and the things you love, and that is the most profound thing any of us can hope to accomplish in a lifetime. So thank you for being you and sharing yourself with all of us.

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  85. Dear Jen, We've never met and I've never even been to Epcot, or Florida for that matter. But yet, every day cakewrecks makes me smile. Smile at a minimum, really. On a good day it makes me yell out the door for everyone within earshot to come and look because it's so frickin funny. And Epbot? Well that's a real treasure. And you know why? Not because I cosplay...I don't. Not because I craft...because I don't really (at least not on your scale). Not because of Disney...because I've never been. But really you know why I love it here and why I come back? Because your joy is infectious. About everything! Your joy about little kids dressing like characters I've never heard of. The joy in your posts about cons you've been to. So infectious and wonderful and even rare on the internet. And I learn about things that you've gone through and some of them I've gone through too. You know, I have a little sign, on my desk that says "never kick a fresh cow flop." Hearing a nasty thing said by someone you trusted with your life is awful. But don't "kick" it. Let that turd just lay there and dry out and maybe fertilize a flower. Seriously. Thanks for what you do here. Really appreciate it.

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  86. I think you need to print all these comments out and keep them beside your bed to read in the middle of the night whenever you are lying awake. That might help drown out the u-suck channel! I know how you feel though - I still find myself cringing and blushing over things I did (or said) as a teenager and I am in my fifties. Most of them are things like telling a friend about the crush I had on this boy while forgetting that we were in a tent camping and he and all the other boys were in the next tent. Yup, still makes me cringe. You have made a big difference in my life, Jen. You have helped me realise that it's okay to accept that I have depression and mild anxiety. That I can be my geeky self and not try to be what I think others think I should be (which is probably wrong anyway). Now if only I can manage to convince myself that if someone else has a problem with who I am it's THEIR problem not mine.

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  87. Ok, first off. I don't think you're really over thinking. I think you're over caring. Which is a completely different thing. It sounds like you've probably correctly identified/analyzed/whatever the situation. It's just that you care too much what this other person thinks. (Which, given that they are a relative, is understandable. Your relatives are supposed to love you and care about you and care about the things you care about. So boo on them for sucking at that part of life.) But good for you for figuring that out and committing yourself to spend more time and energy with the people who DO make you feel loved and appreciated. I am blessed to be able to say my life is full of those types of people, but you have definitely inspired me to make sure THEY know this about themselves! So thank you for that!
    Secondly, I think what you do is awesome and have spent many hours trying to figure out how I can do this too! I'm hoping to open my own cake business eventually, and I have to say, it is a life goal to get onto Sunday Sweets one day! But hooray to you for figuring this out so early in life. Too many people spend their lives in jobs they hate waiting for their "golden years" to follow their dreams.
    Thirdly, even if you and John WERE independently wealthy (cuz who doesn't wish that for themselves anyways, right???), it's not like y'all are just out there leading this extravagant, wasteful life. Based on the pictures you've posted of your home, it is very cute and very tastefully decorated, but by no means some gazillion-square-foot mansion. So if she really believes that, it's still no reason to look down on you. I think she's just jealous and wishes she could spend her time doing what she loves, the way you and John clearly do.
    And in conclusion... I think you should just take it as a compliment. If you love what you do so much that when you talk about it around her, she doesn't realize you're talking about a job, then I say goal accomplished!

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  88. Fellow people pleaser here with a dose of depression and anxiety too. Thank you for being so open and real with us. Hugs!!

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  89. I got fired once, when I first moved to the town I now live in. Spent a month with the boss from hell, she fired me, and I was glad! Glad I tell you!

    I flew kites on the beach every day! I lost weight! I had fun! I would do it again!

    Then I got a job I more-or-less love.

    So if getting fired led you to where you are now, then be glad about it!

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  90. There are so many things I want to say to you.

    You have so much courage. I have a lot of similar issues, so I KNOW how hard it can be to live with chronic pain, anxiety, and a mixed bag of medical issues that doctors never *quite* know how to handle. To not have a regular job, which is always held up as some sort requirement for People Who Matter. To feel out of place, to be dismissed by the extroverts of the world because you don't conform to their loud, brash way of life. To not have children because you know that's the best choice for you, and then deal with people who think you're a selfish jerk because you're child-free.

    You deal with all of these things with such grace and kindness. You forge ahead through bouts of illness, anxiety, and self-doubt; and I cheer for you every step you take whether you make it or not because you are my champion. Your courage gives me courage. I feel like it's okay to be ME when I read about YOU. And you've done that for thousands of people.

    Will you do something for me? I'd like for you to go back through your Epbot posts and print out the ones that are most meaningful to you, and make a scrapbook. I bet when you go back you will be shocked at how many lives you have impacted for the better. All of the little girls who wanted to be Batman. All of the little boys who wanted to be Elsa. All of the people who finally went to their first Con or Dapper Day. Artists that we never would have known about if not for you. All of the times you were struggling and told us about it, and by doing so made our struggle a little easier. All of these things are PRICELESS. You have made the world a better place.
    So thank you. Thank you for who you are, what you do, and for sharing it with us.

    P.S- John, thank YOU also. Your kindness and strength of character shine through every time Jen mentions you. You are a wonderful, talented, selfless superhero.

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  91. I'm having a similar sort of day and this post helped me a lot. So you do, Jen, you really do help people. And you and John are inspirational with your creativity and senses of humor and fun and obvious love for each other. I love to read your posts about Cons and your projects because, though I don't do anything like that, I would like to. But the thing that brings me back to your blog is not only that I like your geeky creativity but that you are kind. It's a friendly, positive space, and that is nothing to sneeze at. So thanks! Thanks for being you and sharing what makes you YOU with the rest of us!

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  92. I had a situation in my family several years ago that made me see peoples true colors. I figured out that the people who didnt love me for me and treated me as disposable had no place in my life from then on, blood relative or not. You cant keep toxic ppl around you its just not good. Ive also learned from past experience that you cant please everybody all of the time, its impossible and exhauating. Once i started living for me and making choices that I was happy about and not worried about how other ppl would react or think, life was better. So much better. We should all learn to be ourselves. Unashamedly, unapologetically ourselves. And accept each other without judgment. I think its awesome what you and John do. You guys are valued to thousands of us! Its rare that in this life we get to do what we love for a living. Maybe your relative is jealous yal have found the perfect work/life/play balance combination. Keep doing what you do! We'll always be here :)
    -brandi

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  93. E.T. looks good, but I didn't capture your eyes nearly as well as I'd hop-er, uh, I mean not a bad drawing of you, E.T., and the 'bot. Yeah, a few more years of practice and whatshisname that drew it-Jerry? Julian? Jigglypuff?-whatever, a few more years of practice and drawing, and he might be able to do something with it, y'know?

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  94. Wow I am experiencing the exact same thing...coming from my own mother of all people. Telling anyone who will listen (including my children) that I have never worked a day in my life...how I am lazy...it is profoundly painful. Thanks for this Jen♡

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  95. Dude!

    You're a published author. That relative can go eat her knickers! ;)

    Peace out!

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  96. You mentioned those times when you just *nailed* a post? Yep, this is definitely one of them. I am sharing it with others, first of all with the girlfriend I just had a long, chatty lunch with, because we were talking about the very same topic. Coping with contacts and relations who don't get us or uplift us, vs. finding ways to spend more time in healthy, joy-expanding company ought to be the aim of every day, every hour. Thanks for the always-timely reminder, sweet Jen.
    xoxo,
    Kathryn

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  97. Well, that stinks. I had that same jarring realization a few years ago and have since taken steps to lessen time spent with those people. It's really tough when they're family members, but having some distance helps. Honestly, I had not realized the toll it was taking on me. I'm glad you've got such a great 'second group' who love you well.

    Jen, I echo what so many others here have said. You (and John) and Epbot are a gift. It's not just a happy/fun/pretty/inspiring/interesting place on the web (though it is that, too). It's an antidote. A hefty chunk of chocolate after an encounter with dementors. It's discovering your home planet where everyone speaks your language. Nothing small or inconsequential about the work you do or the difference you make in people's lives.

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  98. Oh god I so know that feeling. I've been part of the earthquake response here in New Zealand and after a long day of work I go home, go to bed and then my brain decides to fret and keep me awake - thanks brain just what I need!!! My usual strategies haven't been working so well, but then last night my cat curled in under the covers and purred and purred which seemed to drown out the noise in my head. So I am feeling much better today

    We promote downtime and 'normal' activities to help people recovery from events such as earthquakes so this afternoon I am going to 7 year olds birthday - which will be a different sort of chaos and mayhem :-)

    (Thanks for the safe place where I feel I can share my anxiety)

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  99. Jen, this is my internet happy place. YOU and John make it that. I'm sure many others agree with me. Think about that when the turkeys get you down!

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  100. Having experienced the same familial phenomenon myself this summer, I totally get how you feel. I too try to please everyone and/or be the mediator. Found out one relative pretty much despises me. Keep trying to move on but seem to get stuck in the 2 am self hate loop too. Thanks so very much for sharing this. Someone it makes it a bit better to know you aren't alone. We can try to move forward and be a bit kinder to ourselves. Thanks and *hugs*

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  101. Wow, it's like you're in my head! I do all of those things too (except the blogging). Even as I've been typing this, it's taken several tries and several minutes trying to find just the right words for what I want to say. The simplified version is: thanks for being you and for creating a safe and loving space for not only you but those of us that feel we can relate in one way or another.

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  102. If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. You're living the dream, Jen! You have an awesome creative job that you love and that lets you do all sorts of amazing things you love. People are going to be jealous of that. But not the people who matter. For my part, THANK YOU for Fans of Epbot. I've never been in such an amazingly welcome, uplifting place, and it's all because of how YOU made US feel.

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  103. Okay, so if I was ever lucky enough to meet you and I started crying, you wouldn't think I was a complete weirdo. Good. Because I've imagined recognizing you somewhere (because everyone fantasizes about meeting celebrities!) and I'm 99.9% certain that I would cry. I love your blog and your hard work means a lot to me. You should link that relative to this post and have her read the comments, seriously. Thank you for everything that you do, Jen.

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  104. So, that short of it: That person sounds awful and potentially toxic, now that you've learned this side of them. It also sounds like it may be a bunch of sour grapes. They aren't where they would like to be in life and your position sounds sooo much better even though they don't fully understand it so to make themself feel better, they're going to tear you down. Ugh ugh ugh. Work does not have to be physical. Work does not have to require a degree or a fancy title. You've found a way to support yourself and do the things you love all at the same time. That's something to be proud of. This person? Bully. That's all they are. It's impossible not to let them get to you, I know, but whenever you learn about the poison they're spitting, just remember that they don't understand and probably never will, because they don't want to. They're just looking for a cute and fuzzy animal to step on to feel better about themself. Blech.

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    1. *sigh* "Their self" probably works better than "themself", doesn't it?

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  105. {{{HUGS}}}
    The world has been a bit turbulent since the election, and I have taken on a personal challenge to post something that says to BE KIND, every single day. I particularly like the one I posted today .... BE THE KIND OF PERSON THAT YOU WANT TO MEET. Are you doing that? Then you're good. Isn't it just that simple? It should be. :-)
    (not to take away from your own personal struggle with people-pleasing, please understand what I mean ... I mean that it "should" just be that simple, but we humans - with our baggage full of emotions, we make it complicated!)

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  106. *and the pileup of geeks running to their keyboards to comment was nigh unto deafening...*

    Non-creatives sometimes just don't get it - how much time, energy, and heart it takes to pull stuff out of nothing and bring it into the world as something. Like what David & Leigh Eddings say about sorcery in The Belgariad - Sorcery is doing things with your mind instead of your body, but sometimes it takes more energy to do them with your mind, so you just do them with your body because it's easier. (Totally mangled that quote...) To bring the abstract into the tangible? It's dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight. Totally.

    As I said, non-creatives sometimes don't get it. And they never will.

    You can always fall back on the truth about being self-employed: The great thing about being self-employed is that you only work half days...

    And you get to choose which 12. (wait for it... wait for it... WHOOMP. There it is.)

    Hugs, dearhearts - and thank you for the struggle as you bring your intangible into our tangible for all to enjoy. Thank you!!!

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    1. "Non-creatives sometimes just don't get it" .... BINGO! You are soooooo right! Wow, I just hadn't thought of it that way.

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  107. I understand completely. When I decided to go to college majoring in sculpture, I had a lot of family ask me stuff like "What will you do with that?" and "Shouldn't you go for something that will make you money?" It was incredibly frustrating but my saving grace was my boyfriend. He always believed in me 100% and even if he was the only one on my side cheering while the other side was naysaying, I chose to focus on him.
    While I attended school, I lived in a town where at least ten relatives also lived (I'm from a big family). When you graduate with an art degree you have a thesis gallery exhibit of your final year's work. I chose to have mine in an art building in that same town. How many of my relatives from that same town came? Four. And that was upsetting. But I choose to remember the people who did come to support me. I had wonderful friends from the college. Friends from two hours away came for the one night! My cousin and artistic aunt from four and a half hour away came and stayed the night! It was a truly amazing night and it really showed me who cared about and believed in me and therefore who I needed to care about (and not care about) as well. ��

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  108. I've gotten the "doesn't even work" flak from friends before, too. One suggested, "Why don't you get a real job and then do the fun stuff [novel writing] at night!" As if writing novels isn't work. It didn't change much after I got published since I don't make the big bucks. When I can, I try and let those people go from my life, but I realize that sometimes it just isn't possible.
    I feel for you, and I say, fuck 'em.

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  109. Jen,

    I just found out that my mother used to apologize to my husband about me last week. "I'm sorry you have to put up with her." Wow! Trying very hard to remember that one - she's dead so it doesn't matter and two - she never approved of me anyway and I was the good one. Somehow I was always the embarrassment.
    Why do we always hang around the people that hurt us the most and not the ones that make us feel good?

    Maureen

    P.S. It was great to see you in Pittsburgh!

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    1. I feel you, Maureen. For years I was hurt that my mom clearly favored my sister, even though she snuck out of the house, drank, and had sketchy friends in high school (think, stealing cars and going joyriding), whereas I never did anything remotely like that (was a good student, was friends with good students, never drank or did drugs). It took me a long time to really internalize that the problem isn’t with me. Of course, that was after some self-harm and a therapist who told me when I was 18 that if I didn't stop trying to please my parents, I'd have a stomach ulcer by the time I was 25.

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    2. MIB,

      Thank you for understanding. Now I wasn't the smartest and my grades showed it but I was involved in service organizations like Rainbow for Girls and I didn't swear, drink or run around. I wanted to go to college (I did and graduated eventually), get married and have a family. What was so embarrassing about that? I've been through therapy and deal with depression. My Mom always said that she treated us children (I have two sisters and a brother) equally but as I've gotten older I see quite a few discrepancies. So as I stated earlier, I try to remember one and two. It helps. Hope your own journey to wellness and wholeness goes smoothly for you.

      Maureen

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  110. Okay. I've got relatives who also specialize in making me feel worthless. They have real talent at it. You can't choose your family, but you can choose how to have them in your life. So I think we all need to kinda work on this and stop accepting the love we think we deserve and start to remember that we're worth more than we think we are.

    Easier said than done I know. But we're all works in progress right?

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  111. Sorry to be redundant, but I don't have time to read all the lovely comments. But I want to say this: Fans of Epbot is the only reason I haven't completely left Facebook. Yours is one of a very few blogs I still read.
    If you're not reading Brene Brown, or listening to her books on Audible, or checking out her podcasts, please do. She's gradually helping me remember that I am enough, whatever anyone else says. And you're right, the ones who love us can make us feel the most crappy. But Jen, you are enough! and you and John are amazing. And anyone else who says anything different should not be listened to. (As a person with anxiety, I do know how hard that is...but I'm learning.)

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  112. As someone who has lived decades as a people pleaser, and a fellow sufferer of an anxiety disorder...remember....

    You are a people! So make sure to people-please yourself!

    I think it's helpful to think of yourself as your very best friend. If your friend were feeling down, what would you say? What would you do? Can you say and do those things for yourself? You owe it to yourself to be kind to you. Sometimes the most non-judgmental people are extremely judgmental of themselves. Why is that? If we don't expect perfection from anyone else, why do we expect it of ourselves?

    Be kind to you, baby. "God damn it," Kurt Vonnegut wrote, "you've got to be kind."

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  113. Sooooo many comments so as the one above said, sorry if this is redundant but this is BIG. Feels horrible right now but it will, hopefully be liberating for you, if a little saddening. Family comes with the territory and cannot be entirely avoided or disregarded but as you get older these realisations often come or are thrust upon us. Its sad, very sad that those people we would like to love and approve of us just because we are family actually dont. In return, do you love and approve of them? I think people are really lucky if they are able to maintain adult relationships with their family long term. Lives and paths diverge and if you are from different generations and follow different interests, have different lives, its unlikely and actually unreasonable to expect to be able to continue with those nice simplistic family relationships we had when we were younger. You are getting better, getting stronger and your horizons are widening which is enabling you to see (or be told) about things that would previously have been untenable. It is a good thing. A sad thing, true and yes, you have been overdoing it and you need your legs slapped, but the meds are clearing your brain and letting you think and analyse to a depth you haven't before been able. Overthinking? That's a toughie. I still am in denial about the concept of overthinking but I have to acknowledge that sometimes you have to put things down and say "enough for now", especially when you don't have enough data to actually make the analysis move forward. You are amazing, you are growing, you are making progress. Whatever anyone else says or thinks that is all we can ask of one another, whatever our relationships. Being a people pleaser is tough, I can't speak from experience of that but friends, my sister and one of my daughter's are. They have strategies for not allowing other people's opinions impact too severely on their own self esteem. I wish for you that you will learn these too. Even though it turns out Robin Williams was ill, one of the saddest things I felt about his death was that I was so sad that he was unable to benefit from the joy he gave the world. I know that is an extreme thought but you are a good and worthy person Jen. Please try and work out ways of not allowing other people to steal or undermine the joy you give the rest of us. Love and hugs and anything else that will help. x

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  114. Before I even read any other comments: I came to CakeWrecks many moons ago, after reading a few pages from your first book at work (a now-defunct, awesome bookstore), and almost getting reprimanded because I was LAUGHING OUT LOUD BELLY LAUGHS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORE!! Ahem. So I had been following CW for who knows how long, when I stumbled on the Epbot button.

    This was instantly like meeting a cousin or good friend I didn't know I already had! Because I too, had gone through anxiety, depression, and deep feelings of inadequacy. (like, the Pacific, deep.) And I love(d) your sense of humor. Fortunately for me, or we wouldn't be having this kinda-conversation, I reached out for help, and got counseling. Two years later, I was a functioning human being again. Three years out, and I'm working independently, and doing what I can to help others.

    My points are; you are helping others, now, whether you know it or not, because you are so honest and up-front about your flaws and difficulties. We all have them; but it's the people who take the time to share them who can make the most difference in others' perspectives, and ultimately, lives. This may sound a bit over-the-top, but think about Anne Frank. She wrote about ordinary things that touched her small, insular life, and reflected on how they each had to try to move beyond being petty, or mean, because she knew each day is a gift!

    Counseling helps, when you have the right person, walking through your head, and really getting you, wanting you to move forward and get past the crud that bogs you down. Some may say it's not for everyone. Maybe. But the wonders it can do!

    Perspective: it's so darn hard to get perspective when we get wrapped up in ourselves, our "littleness" and inadequacy. Have you ever read the book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"? It's a little self-help book (and isn't that term a turn-off!), very unassuming, that has sold who knows how many copies, and has been translated into 30 languages. I bring it up, because that book actually helped change my life, turning my attitudes slowly around. I found it after my husband left in 2000. I read it again after my cancer diagnosis in 2009. Whether you read the book or not, the message is simple: whatever you are fussing over, mentally or out loud, is it really all that important? Will it bring about world peace? Probably not. Will it end it gory horrible deaths for thousands? Let's hope not! Any way, I offer this title as something that helped me. Because I was, and still am, a people-pleaser. Now I try to do things to make ME feel good, and hope they make other people feel good, too.(Maybe, since you are a dedicated Disney geek, you'd prefer "let it go". :-)

    Anyway, with all this, I just want you to know, the ones who don't appreciate you don't have to matter in your life. Pick the ones that understand and love you. If the others don't, relatives or not, that is their problem. Not yours. Amd any of us love you,: your uniqueness, your Jen-ness! Keep being you, and don't worry about people who don't get it, or you. Their loss entirely, m'dear!

    K, take care, and remember to reach out when you need to. Hugs! CJ



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  115. For what it's worth, I have a "standard career" job that just happens to be home-office based (work for a big company, we mostly work from home offices) and even though I routinely work 50+ hours/week and I manage a team of 16 people, the perception is that I don't work. Family and friends just don't get it. It's like they cannot fathom "work" without a commute. So I always get crap from people about how I don't *really* work or they ask me to do stuff for them mid-day because I don't have to work like they do. All this to say: basically, very few people understand the work-from-home situation. I find that most people just cannot comprehend it and those who can tend to be a little jealous so overall everyone acts aloof. Whatever people say about you "not working" just let it fall right out of your ear. Don't linger, it's never worth it to let it irritate you.

    Also, because I love you and everything that you do I hope that you can get some help with your people-pleasing tendencies. That stuff will drive you crazy! My husband is like that, too, and we've worked so hard over the years to help him let stuff go. Basically, what works for us is that I am the Ultimate Authority - so whatever I say, goes. So he will come to me and say "Ok, I can't stop thinking about this thing that my mom said..." and I listen and give advice (usually something like "ok, well she shouldn't have said it that way, I know that she didn't mean it like that. So stop worrying about it.") and then I give the command to STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT. It actually helps, for as stupid as it sounds. But since I'm The Boss, I get to say "stop worrying" and it somehow helps a bit because he can see that if I'm not freaking out about something, then he doesn't need to worry either. And a lot of times when it's on a loop in his head, he'll come back to me and ask me to repeat it again - remind him to let it go. It may not work for everyone, but if you can find some sort of Authority (maybe a sign or a bracelet or a tattoo or your husband) who can tell you to let it go and take on some of that mental anguish, you'll feel so much better.

    You ARE good enough, you ARE strong enough, you ARE smart enough, you ARE funny enough, you ARE nice enough.

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  116. I telecommute for part of the year... I try to downplay that I do when I'm working on site because do I get a bit of flak- because somehow, if you work from home, you aren't really working? Even though you're doing the same things you do while on site, just calling into meetings, rather than being in the room... Strange, isn't it?
    I'd also like to thank you again for being so open, and for sharing so much with all of us. I don't think I could muster the courage to put myself out there the way you have. And your posts are thoughtful, compassionate, graceful, loving - a reflection of the classy lady you are. I admire you, your relationship with your husband and family, your strength and your huge heart. Oh, and also your creativity and your immense humor. I am forever your fan!

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  117. So I'm late to the game, but my anxiety brain does the same thing too. Whenever I try falling asleep, anxiety brains comes and runs amok. I try to get away, "BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!" What I've been doing lately with a lot of success is taking a low dose of Melatonin, which will naturally get me to sleep, but won't knock me out. So there's still those 20 minutes after I lay down where anxiety brain goes, "Remember? They all hate you. You're not good enough." My new trick is putting on my Sleep Pandora station and focusing on the words to the songs. I do get side tracked, anxiety brain is a hard competitor, but as soon as I fade away, I snap right back to those words. It has helped me immensely, I can't even tell you. When anxiety brain happens during the day I either pick up a book I LOVE (my original Harry Potter has seen SUCH better days), or I stick headphones on and BLAST music, preferably something I can sing to. If I can't sing at the moment, I focus on those words again. Telling anxiety brain that there's better stuff to do and focus on, is super hard, but definitely worth trying.

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  118. You matter. I've found help, support, and understanding from the words written on Epbot, Cake Wrecks, and the FoE page. Thank you.

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  119. This poem always makes me feel less alone when I'm lying in bed at silly o'clock in the morning, worrying about ridiculously stupid, embarassing or petty things I did five/ten/twenty years ago because it reminds me that everyone else does the same thing. Almost always I wake up the next morning and realise that everything I was worrying about is not the big deal it felt like at that moment and wonder why I've tortured myself for nothing.

    Things by Fleur Adcock

    There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public.

    There are worse things than these miniature betrayals,

    committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things

    than not being able to sleep for thinking about them.

    It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in

    and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse

    and worse.

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  120. Also, I love FoE, Epbot and Cake Wrecks so much!

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