The Firebolt and the Patronus (PoA 11 &12)

What. A. Summer.

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http://sandradeillustration.com/artwork/619386-Patronus-Practice.html

The past month has been one hell of a ride between an internship, my part-time job, a 5,000 word essay, a 10-pg essay, a 1,000 word essay final, a 1500 word final and numerous mini-assignments for my summer seminar class. But, now that they are all either done or wrapping up I have ALLLLLLLL the time to write Harry Potter blogs again. It’s perfect timing with Harry’s Bday coming up next week!

Today we are combining two chapters and looking at how we can be blinded by our negative emotions AND how we can unblind ourselves by getting our own “patronus.”

So let’s start with a quick recap of the two chapters and then dive on in!

The Firebolt starts with Harry storming back through the secret passage ways to Hogwarts from Hogsmeade after finding out the Sirius Black was the reason his parent were dead. He then has a horrible dream about the whole thing. The trio goes to visit Hagrid who tells them all about dementors and his time at Azkaban. Christmas comes and harry’s got an anonymous gift under the tree which turns out to be a Firebolt, the fastest new Quidditch broom there is out there! Hermione tells the professor’s who then take the broom because they are worried its hexed or jinxed and they wanna run tests on it before Harry can use it. Harry and Ron get mad at hermione. The Patronus chapter begins with everyone still mad at hermione as the holidays wrap up. Oliver Wood hears about the Firebolt and tells Harry that Harry needs to get his reaction to dementors under control before they lose the Quidditch cup this year. Harry starts his demeanor fighting lessons with Lupin where Harry starts to work on conjuring a patronus charm. After a few tries harry manages to conjure a weak charm and Lupin and Harry talk about Harry’s parents. Harry learns more about dementors, gets his Firebolt back and everyone makes up with Hermione until Ron finds blood and Hermione’s cat’s hair on his bed, but not his pet rat.

What’s funny about this post that I am writing at work today is that I could really use a patronus charm right about now. Social Media is overflowing with posts about how sad people are to at their last day of their internship, or how happy they are to have made all these new friends this summer. I’m extremely happy for them, but at the same time I’m trying to fight of the negative feelings I am starting to drown in. My summer internship has been one of extreme loneliness. I’m the only intern in my department (well for the most part, someone just started but only works Fridays) and most days I sit alone at a cubicle waiting for the time to pass because there’s not a flux of information requests coming in. I’m very lucky to have this internship and have learned a lot, but its extremely lonely at times, and not something I enjoy immensely.

It’s hard to not get stuck in negative feelings. Looking at these two chapters there are negative feelings everywhere. Harry has anger and hatred towards Sirius Black that causes him to lash out at friends or isolate himself. Hermione is stressed with class work and isolates herself from others (but also is isolated because Harry and Ron are mad at her for her worrying over Harry’s safety with the Firebolt broom). Ron is consumed with jealousy towards Harry and uses snippy remarks in celebrating Harry’s new broom. Wood is consumed by a desire to win and even admits to Professor McGonagall that he doesn’t care if Harry falls off his broom again so long as he catches the snitch first. And lastly Lupin is stuck in a nostalgic rut failing to see the hurt Harry is going through as they discuss Harry’s parents at length.

Negative feelings tend to blind us. These feelings cause us to only see our hurts or hang-ups and not be able to view the world clearly. For me, negative feelings tend to rule my life. I tend to dwell on the things that aren’t going right, the things that feel strained or hurtful in my life and I act out of those emotions instead of the numerous positive ones that surround me daily.  But then Lupin described a patronus and it made me start to think that there’s something to truly having a positive mindset.

The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the demeanor feeds upon- hope, happiness, the desire to survive- but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the dementors can’t hurt it.

Dementors are commonly compared to depression, that very deep despair people can feel until they feel nothing anymore. And sometimes a positive mindset doesn’t help in the deepest of depressions and you should seek professional help when depression sets in that deep.

But when it comes to warding off negative feelings and thoughts I think being able to conjure up your own patronus of sorts is an important thing to do and it takes dwelling on positive memories, ones that aren’t tainted with a hint of despair, but feel us with hope, happiness and the desire to survive. So here’s my little outline for conjuring your own patronus:

  1. Find a happy memory, like super happy!
  2. Focus on that memory, journal about it, dwell on it, live in it for 5 minutes
  3. identify why you chose that memory and how it makes you feel
  4. No hold on tightly to those feelings
  5. Go and face your troubles with those feelings and memory as your shield
  6. If you fall victim to negativity, it’s okay, eat some chocolate, get back up and try again.

It’s not a fool proof method, it’s truly one that you have to work on, just like Harry. Even Lupin says qualified wizards have trouble with the Patronus Charm, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try to make the most of every moment, every time.  Hope, happiness, and the desire to survive are the quintessential parts of getting through anything hard, including a job that turns out not to be what you thought it would be, law school and tough patches in life.

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A memory I hold onto… 80s dress up day…

But as long as you remember there are so many beautiful parts of life to counter those negative, hard parts you’ll make it through. I believe in you. And for me, today I am focusing on using humor as a means of curing my loneliness, because all the time I have spent laughing with good friends makes me have hope that I can get through anything.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

P.S. log onto pottermore.com and see what your patronus is! Here’s mine:

 

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That those who take the form of dogs tend to be friendly and loyal is no secret. The borzoi dog usually marks someone who is also easy-going, often quiet, and possessed of a good sense of humor. They have active, intelligent minds and are experts at amusing themselves, being content alone or with others. Rare is the borzoi that can manage to keep themselves bored for long. The tendency to find humor in almost anything is also common in borzois, from the mundane to the macabre. Though, naturally, the range depends on the individual. The humor comes with a helping of class and, when applied properly, they are quite eloquent people that can navigate difficulties in life with easy grace.

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The Marauder’s Map (PoA 10)

There is nothing I love more than a good summer escape. A couple of summers ago I got the opportunity to escape my hometown 3 times in one summer. In June, I went to NYC for a week long vacation with my friend Kalle and her family. In July, I went to my now home, Colorado to hangout with Kalle and her sister. In August, Kalle and I drove to LA for a little Taylor Swift and Disneyland weekend.  It was one of the best summers I ever had. Full of fun, full of laughter, and full of exactly what I needed: a chance to escape.

In this chapter of HP Harry is  released from the Infirmary. He goes and talks to spin about the dementors’ effects on Harry compared to other people. Late in the chapter the holidays are approaching as well as another Hogsmeade trip. Fred and George approach harry before the students leave for Hogsmeade and give him the Marauder’s Map (a magical map of the Hogwarts castle where you can see where people are at all times). Harry uses the map to sneak into Hogsmeade from Hogwarts undetected. He meets up with Ron and Hermione. As the three head to get some butter beers at the Three Broomsticks they overhear a conversation from some Professors and the Minister of Magic. During this conversation it is revealed that Sirius Black is not only Harry’s Godfather, but also the reason his parents are dead.

What I love about this chapter is that we find need for escape shown in three ways:

  • Sirius’ escape from Azkaban: when you need to escape from something bad
  • Ron’s depiction of the Holidays as an escape: When you just need to let loose
  • Harry’s escape from Hogwarts: when you escape and face some hard truths.

As we find out later in  the book, Sirius escapes from Azkaban for good reason: it’s a bad place he doesn’t belong in. Ron asks Hermione to stop being a rule follower and let Harry have some fun for once because of the holidays. Harry sneaks out of Hogwarts to go and find his friends but then finds out that the reason Sirius is a wanted man has to deal with he deaths of his parents.

It’s interesting to see how similar yet different each of this depictions of escape are illustrated. They all come from a place of needing to get away for various reasons, but they all end in a place of sorrow or deep realization.

You don’t need a vacation, when there’s nothing to escape from- Jason Mraz

For me, anytime I feel a need to escape it also ends in a place of deep realization. That summer I went from place to place, trip to trip, I used it as a way to escape from the heat, but also to escape from my realities. Each trip helped me realize that I was unhappy in my current life. I felt unfulfilled, unwanted, betrayed, bored, sad, frustrated and above all else needing to get out of my current situations. In day to day life we don’t always have time to sit and ponder life. We don’t always have the ability to reflect on how things are going we just see a planned vacation, a map for the getaway, a chance to drink and laugh with friends as a light of hope to getting out of our misery.

Then when you finally get away you have the chance to sit and reflect. The chance to really have to face life and reality. When Harry has to sit under a table and listen to people talk about his parents being betrayed by their best friend and then murdered because of it, his seemingly innocent escape form Hogwarts to be with friends becomes a hard dose of truths he didn’t know he wanted answered. All of a sudden it all made sense to him, he realized why people told him to not go after Sirius no matter what. He realized why there was panic when Sirius showed up to Hogwarts. He realized a lot about the world around him.

Kristina Ellis-2
Looking official at my summer internship

The summer I described above gave me a much needed push to start looking for a new job, to start looking for new friends and things that made me happy. It pushed me towards law school. This summer, I haven’t gone away looking for an escape, but in escaping the throws of law school classes and being around other students constantly I have found that I might want to change my law school focuses to a different area. It’s a scary thought, but an interesting one to face. Now all I need is a weekend away to process it.So whatever it is you need an escape from this summer, do it. Go and wander. Go and get lost. Go and face some much needed truth about your life. You won’t regret it, even if its frustrating and a bit sad. Let loose, be you and find comfort in knowing that life is always changing and sometimes you just need a change of scenery to change with it.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

 

Grim Defeat (PoA 9)

Law school and friendships have one thing in common: an overwhelming feeling of defeat always looming with every interaction… or maybe that’s just my anxiety talking.

There is a difference between an actual defeat and a perceived defeat. A lot of the time we run into these little things we see as huge defeats. Whether its losing a friend over something silly, not getting to eat somewhere you’ve always wanted, missing out on big events in life, not doing cool things for holidays or something as simple not getting your way. These defeats are frustrating, but they are small battles lost, and usually they are lost because they are meant to be lost. Real defeats occur when there are no options left on the table, when you’ve done all you can and you are stuck with the results. Perceived defeats always have more options left on the table.

This chapter of Harry Potter, aptly titled Grim Defeat, shows a lot defeats both perceived and real. it begins the same night that the Fat Lady’s portrait has been destroyed. Everyone is sleeping in the Great Hall as the Professors check every part of the castle for Sirius Black. As classes resume that week, Professor Lupin is out ill, Snape teaching the class in his place, giving the students homework on Werewolves, a subject they have yet to cover. Quidditch takes place a few days later and during the game dementors attack as Harry goes for the Snitch. The result is Harry falling from his broom hundreds of yards above the ground. He wakes up in the infirmary only to find out that the Hufflepuffs won the match and Harry’s broom was destroyed by the Whomping Willow.

One of the best showcases of a perceived defeat in the chapter is in the description of Oliver Wood’s reaction to Gryffindor’s loss of the match. When asked where he is, Fred replies: “Still in the showers…. We think he’s trying to drown himself.” Disappointment is a real branch of defeat. It always seems to occur when you feel like you’ve been defeated. Here Wood is true disappointed over losing the match, something that happened due to circumstances out of his hands. He stands in the shower unable to see ahead, to figure out his options, to know if there is a way for the Gryffindor team to make a triumphant comeback during the season. The defeat is not concrete yet, but doused in some disappointment and heightened expectations, this perceived defeat can feel very real.

My life tends to be composed of perceived defeats.  This past week I had it in my head that I wanted to have a cool Fourth of July Adventure. I wanted the food, the fireworks, the friends, the parties, everything. At the end of the day, I had the friends, but not the other cool things that I kept seeing pop up on Instagram. It was not that huge of a deal, but in my mind I felt defeated. I felt sad, disheartened.  The thing is, I could have done some many things. There were so many options left. I could have done so many things to get out my disappointment, but instead like Oliver Wood, I stood in my sorrows and let them take over.

For me, a lot of my perceived defeats come from my need to be a people pleaser. Instead of going for the things I want, I tend to sacrifice those wants for others wants. I like to make things easier and go along with everyone else. My entire life has been built on this desire to be the person that goes with the flow. And in my mind that meant to do whatever everyone else wants to do. But it’s not healthy because it ends up in the exact same way it always does: my feeling defeated. My trip to Italy showed me that I needed to stop this behavior, and my Fourth of July sadness for like the 3rd or 4th year in a row showed me the same thing.

So here’s my advice (well my boyfriend’s advice) to myself and to everyone else… don’t get bogged down int he need to people please, don’t get bogged down in the expectations of the world, social media or the people around you. Go for what you want, realize that you are the one who controls your life and that there are no real defeats in everyday life. There are always more options… there are always more opportunities. Even when there doesn’t feel like there are, realize that things happen for a reason, you just have to find that silver lining, fixate on that and keep pushing forward. Defeat never hangs around long…

Lose a Quidditch match? Who’s to say that you’ve lost the entire championship yet?

Have your broom destroyed? Why can’t you get an even better one later?

Have a holiday that doesn’t turn out the way you hoped? Go find the fun in whatever else you wanna do!

At the end of the day, don’t fall victim to your defeats… Control those defeats!

Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.    – Dumbledore

So go turn on the light.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed.

Owl Post (PoA 1)

There is something I find absolutely magical about starting a new book (and it’s not just because this is Harry Potter either). The beginning of this book is perfectly timed with the beginning of finals season and the end of the 1L year. I sat down to read and write today listening to one of my absolute favorite musical compositions in the world: October by Eric Whitacre 

In middle school and high school I played the flute (and sometimes other instruments) in band. I loved when we would play complex musical pieces like this one. Every instrument had its own crucial part to play. Every time we started with a new piece we would sight-read it, meaning as an ensemble we would get the music and just attempt to play it together, not knowing how the notes worked together, how each line created a piece of the story, how important the crescendos and diminuendos were… we would just play, hoping we would all at least stop together.

It never sounded amazing on the first run through. So we would try again. We would practice at home. We would work with our section leaders and each other to better our parts. We would come back together and play it again and again, working to see the big picture, to paint the musical storyline through each note and each rest. We would work together, we would listen to each other and I swear we would bond through the piece.

Now I played sports, was on student council and did many other team oriented activities, but there was something about band that made me feel like I belonged. Ever since then, when I gave up on a dream of playing music, because school and work became more important i’ve worked to see music in other aspects of my life. When I listen to music, or attend musicals I can literally feel the music in my heart and see the music in my mind picking out each individual instrument. A lot of the time my soul longs to be sitting in the front row on a stage with the conductor in front of me and clarinets and trumpets behind me simply getting lost in the creation of a beautiful symphony for the audience to listen to and indulge in. Yet, that was a dream of the past.

Sitting down to read this week’s chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban I turned that piece of beautiful music on, looking for inspiration once again. There within that chapter, I didn’t find a theme. I found music. Like sitting down to play a composition, writing a book takes bringing the right notes and rests, the right crescendos and diminuendos together. J.K. Rowling composes a beautiful opening chapter. She juxtaposes Harry’s past two summers with the one at hand. She paints humbleness through the letters sent to Harry on his birthday. She paints thankfulness through Harry’s thoughts about his friends. She paints wonder through the simplicity of Harry’s interactions with the Wizarding World. Yet, she also still paints a hunting doubt and wincing moments of foreshadowing through minute sentences hidden in Harry’s thoughts and treasures. Writing, reading and playing music can all be hard to do when the material is fresh, the excitement boiling over and the insecurities lingering nearby.

Reading this chapter, listening to music from my past, and trying to prepare for the finals ahead made me think of how difficult journeys can be. Harry is having a typical summer, a summer vacation that he hates and spends longing to now be back in school, the place he feels like he belongs. He sneakily does his homework at night as to not invoke the fury of the Durselys. He awaits to hear from his friends. He lives out his present in hopes that his future will be better. He dwells for small moments on the past, revisiting the school year before, looking forward to the school year ahead, all whilst knowing that Voldemort is still out there looking to kill Harry at any moment. He feels full when he hears from his friends, and he feels alone when he does not. Every summer is like playing the same musical piece, one he knows good and well until the end, when school is about to begin, then he starts sight-reading a brand new piece.

This past year, moving away from home, getting back into school, having to make new friends while trying to keep old friends, living with someone and learning how that works when I’ve lived alone for 4 years, not working then working, and learning the law and how law school works in general has been like one giant sight-reading exercise. There are section leaders and peers that come in and out of this exercise to help, but no one consistently throughout the whole process. The sections of flutes and trumpets and percussion have cycled through so many people and the second you think you’ve got it down, a few key players, soloists or full sections get sick and take leave.

Law school is the giant orchestra that never comes together to produce one song. There are too many rogue soloists, there are too many paid musicians who come in for an hour and leave to go be with their real friends and family, there is a lot of heart but it is all given to other motivations. No one is truly in it for the good of the music, for the heart and the soul full of passion.

After every huge piece, when we would perfect it, when we would accomplish something huge, as a group we would beg for something new, something harder to tackle as a group. The music, the challenge, the passion became addictive… the thing is we knew we couldn’t do it without each other. Band wasn’t always glamorous, we fought like families do, we were friends most of the time and enemies at other times, we hated seeing each other all the time, but missed each other when it had been too long. We were up before the sun together and still awake together hours after it went down. We wanted to kill each other at times. We were a family though, fueled by a love of music and a longing to create it together.

Law school can be that way at times… until finals. Everyone loves and hates each other up until finals… then we all leave each other. When the music gets challenging we dip out. We leave, lock ourselves away, stop communicating to most people, only talking to and reaching out to those key individuals who are on our level, who are part of our smart study group, those we deem worthy of our time. We cast away those instruments that were essential to us when we were no longer struggling.

Harry felt alone most of his summer. He realized that Ron attempted to reach out and then went on vacation and probably told Hermione not to call harry since Ron’s attempt went so poorly. Harry spent most of the summer feeling like an outcast again… until his birthday. Around 1 AM on his birthday everyone wrote to him, sending him gifts.

As we go into finals, as we sight-read a new piece of music together before heading off to let the music go dark for the summer, I think it’s important to take a moment and assess what’s truly important: the music we play together or the music you play alone. For me, there was nothing more nerve-wracking than playing a solo while every one else rested silently… I loved being part of the music, the build to end, with my peers. It’s where I felt I belonged. Hogwarts is where harry feels he belongs with his peers. Going into finals… where do you feel you belong?

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed