“Sometimes you need to, and want to, get out of your own head, and a book lets you choose whose you’re going to step into instead.”
This week on Small Talk, we sat down with Anne Bogel; author, storyteller, and mother, to chat about overthinking it, coping with COVID, and accepting the inevitable.
We wanted to know if Anne’s fascination for books and literature came naturally to her, or if she had a role model influencing her to pick up her first book.
“If by, ‘came naturally to me’, you mean, ‘was I a giant book worm’? Then yes, absolutely yes. I’ve just always enjoyed reading and talking about reading, and it wasn’t until I was about thirty, did I realize that I missed the volume of book talk that I had when I was a student. That realization is what brought me to writing and talking about books on the internet.”
Anne’s podcast, ‘What Should I Read Next’, is the holy grail for all book worms. Appropriately named, her podcast features books to discover, for getting lost in, and gaining a fresh perspective.
“I do appreciate how, especially in these days, when we can’t travel to all, and in some cases, what feels like any of the places we’d like to go, books can take us there.”
In a time where even going to the grocery store may be unavailable to many of us, books can provide that sense of adventure and freedom that seems to have been stripped from our lives.
- Books can take us to places we’ve never been, whether in time or geographically.
- Books can introduce us to new relationships.
- Books can allow us to step into the shoes of someone else and see the world from a different point of view.
“Sometimes you need to and want to get out of your own head, and a book lets you choose whose you’re going to step into instead.”
Don’t Overthink It;
In March 2020, Anne released her newest novel, ‘Don’t Overthink It’, a book on making easier decisions, putting a stop to second guessing, bringing more joy into your life, and you guessed it, overthinking.
Her book offers the framework on actionable strategies towards making choices you’ll be comfortable with, while focusing on the stuff that matters in life.
“This book is the product of hundreds of conversations with readers over the past ten years, but also thousands of girls' night talks. When we get together with our friends, we talk about the things we’re overthinking, and then we talk about the overthinking itself and why we can’t stop it. I just knew that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this.”
Anne’s book offers tactics towards small decisions, such as, ‘should I buy these flowers’, to the larger ones like, ‘what am I doing with my life?’
“I kept thinking about it and reflecting on if the book was really worth writing, until a particular conversation I had with a girlfriend over dinner. She had said to me, ‘ I keep thinking and thinking about this thing, I know I’m overthinking it, but I’m a woman, it’s just what we do.”
At the time, the remark from her friend hadn’t made much of an impression on Anne. But, as time went on, she kept circling back to the question, ‘is it just what we do?’
“I kept coming back to that question and thought to myself, ‘surely not, there has to be a better way’. I had already wanted to explore that topic a little more, and I found an opportunity that would allow readers to explore that option as well, in perhaps a better way.”
Anne’s newest book, 'Don't Overthink It', was released in March of this past year, the same time that the pandemic struck.
As unfortunate as this is, what better time to have been granted access to a book about what many of us have been dealing with these past months, overthinking.
“I did not imagine that my book would be released in the midst of a pandemic, but the reality is that we’re all stuck at home, overthinking. So, I’m glad that it’s helping readers with whatever they may be going through.”
We need strategies right now, we really do, and Anne’s book provides exactly that. This goes to show how what often seems to be a setback, may end up being a blessing in disguise.
“My team and I did spend a lot of time reading the news and health data, we needed to make some decisions and we needed that data. But, at the end of the day, if you’re not solving a problem, if the information is just making you feel bad, and it’s repetitive, not helping anything, and you’re not working towards a solution, that is overthinking.”
No matter what we may be doing to ‘kill our time’, even if it’s as simple as refreshing Twitter on repeat, we need to practice stepping away from the negative patterns and cycles, and step into new and productive ways to cope with the confusion surrounding us.
‘Overthinking doesn’t do us any good’, says Anne, ‘we must give ourselves other ways to occupy our attention.'
“A book can be such a wonderful way to divert your attention in the midst of a pandemic. Some people are really struggling to read at all, but those who are choosing to pick up a book, have found some very interesting coping mechanisms within the pages.”
Some of Anne’s readers have chosen to pick up books based around;
- Other people’s tragedies; reading war stories from a hundred years ago, saying, 'if they could get through it, then so could I'.
- Novels with a guaranteed happy ending, bringing them that sense of comfort and ease, oftentimes with a romance-oriented plot.
- Mysteries, books in which the characters have a problem, they solve it, and it ends.
"Readers find some sort of resolution within the pages, something that no one seems to be getting in our daily lives right now."
The pandemic has definitely been nothing less than a beautiful test for families all over the globe. Seeking to be in sync with those around us, serves as a necessary practice when obtaining balance.
With a family of four children, a husband, and a dog, Anne knows this firsthand.
“My husband and I make sure that we both get deep, focused time to work at home; especially as a writer, I can’t just pop in and write a paragraph, I need time to get oriented in my work and think about it deeply.”
There’s something about knowing that an interruption could occur at any moment, that saps our attention from the task at hand.
“It’s as if there’s a program in the back of my mind that stays alert and doesn’t allow me to get ‘too comfortable’. Usually, if they were at home making noise, I could just leave, and I can’t do that now.”
For many of us, working from home, especially with the constant company of loved ones, is new and unexplored territory.
Being able to identify the problem, articulate the problem, and find solutions to the problem, takes time and requires patience from everyone in the household.
“It took a while to get that far, and it was only then that we could start to say, ‘okay, how can we get everyone closer to what they need and what they want, even in the midst of these challenges that we haven’t encountered in this lifetime’.”
As quoted by Catherine Pulsifer, "Learning patience can be a difficult experience, but once conquered, you will find life is easier."
Strength in Stumbling;
“It’s all part of being human.”
Not everything goes great in our day-to-day lives, not everything goes the way we want it to, but more often than not, things go the way we needed them to, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first.
“I’ve been thinking, during these COVID times especially, about relationships. When everything is going along swimmingly, it’s not until something goes poorly that you have the opportunity to figure out why and work it through.”
We begin to realize, as adults, that the good projects, the good relationships, the good, long-term things in our lives, have all come with struggles.
"When you’re forced to work through something, it changes the nature of the relationship or the work, and it makes you care more deeply.”
Without challenge, there is no value. What seems to be our biggest challenges now, may end up being our biggest opportunities for growth and change.
“There’s still time, there’s enough time, and you have enough time to do the things you need to do.”
What a beautiful reminder. So often we find ourselves believing that we don’t have enough time in a day, rushing from one place to the next, one moment to the next, we fail to realize that what’s truly needed of us is to take a step back, relax, and breathe.
"I like to remind myself of that every morning. There's no need to rush, there's no need to rush myself, and there's no need to rush the process."
We asked Anne Bogel what she knows 100% to be true, her answer;
“I am loved, I am enough, and I have what it takes.”
At TrooMe, we believe that love starts from within, and what better way to water our gardens of self-love, than with this beautiful mantra.
May we follow in Anne’s footsteps, walking hand in hand with a fresh perspective, an open heart, an open mind, and an open book.