Book Review · Bust · Self Help · thoughts

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

518iXO-fmcL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Hey Y’all!

I’m back from the best summer vacation ever, a 5 day summer camp in Michigan!  It was uh-mazing.  Camp fires, sing-alongs, yoga, morning runs, dance parties, lake swimming, adventure races, great food and bunking with 9 total strangers who became your best friends by the end of the trip.  I literally can’t stop talking about it.

The only (and I do mean ONLY) disappointment from this trip was my book choice.  Girl, Wash Your Face was highly recommended and discussed profusely over Facebook by one of my nearest and dearest.  Her opinion paired with a 92% 5 star rating on Amazon was enough to get me to purchase this book.  I want my $12 back.

Rachel Hollis is not a life coach or a mentor, she is a life-style blog guru and event planner, so Girl, Wash Your Face is not written in your normal self-help style.  This is refreshing but also a little bit annoying.  The chapters and story telling felt insanely disjointed and often repeated across different chapters but with new or different information.  Even after reading the entire book, I had no idea who Rachel Hollis was.  I didn’t know the name of her blog or why it was so famous.  I didn’t know how many kids she actually had.  2 boys?  4 boys?  A daughter?  Where they all adopted?  Some natural, some adopted?  I had no idea where she actually lived or came from.  Based on her voice, she came across as a girl from the deep south with lots of Southern colloquialisms and uber Christian values/sayings.  Surprise!  She’s from a small town in California.  WHAT?  Didn’t see that coming.  Was she a recovering alcoholic?  Someone who realized they were about to drop off that cliff?  Still don’t know.  Granted, none of these are things I know about Jen Sincero, Liz Gilbert or Mark Manson, however none of these authors talked so profusely about themselves in their books.  Hollis’ books is essentially a memoir with a few self-help-isms tossed in.  I love a good memoir, but prefer to read them about people I am interested in and would not have picked up Hollis’ book if it had been billed as a memoir and not a self-help.

Speaking of self-help, let’s get to that.  Hollis essentially starts each chapter with a “lie” she has told herself about herself, something negative and ugly.  This has the power to be profound, but it ends up feeling forced.  Something about Hollis’ writing comes across as insincere and flippant.  The entire book, in my opinion, comes across as immature, vapid and thrown together.  I think most of this comes from her choice to write in a very casual trendy manner, using words and cultural references that will in no way stand the test of time.  I am the same age as Hollis and couldn’t stand the blippy slang she used CONSTANTLY.  (And yes, I just made up a word because I can’t find any other words to describe what would otherwise be bubble-headed basic bitch slang.)

As mentioned before, there were a lot of stories that were repeated within chapters and many of those stories weren’t well fleshed out.  The most powerful story in the book, about her brother’s suicide and how it completely changed her life, wasn’t really given any more emotion or space than any other topic.

Hollis has a lot to talk about and a lot of experiences that really resonate with her readers; her brother’s suicide and subsequent melt down of her family, an abusive relationship, struggles with adoption and foster care, flirting with alcoholism, being a successful working mom, creating her own empire, becoming an author.  But she lets her readers down with her bubble-headed approach to everything.  Yes, be positive, be light, be fun.  But Girl, be smart, be mature, be profound.

All in all, 2 stars.  0 from me, 2 because my bestie loved this book and our discussion about it was very deep and brought up a lot of great topics for us to flesh out around motherhood, career and the need for validation.

Until next time, happy reading!

-R

OOOOHHH and before I forget..Michigan is apparently “The Beer State”.  While there, I was able to try some amazing beer from Founders Brewing Company.  Dirty Bastard, a Scotch, style ale was fantastic.  It was a very strong beer and tasted a little smokey, but good.  Backwoods Bastard, a bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale, was insanely strong.  At 11% this beer went down more like whiskey and was not a great choice for breakfast at the airport!

Bad Ass Women · Book Review · Cupa Tea · Self Help · thoughts · Wheat Beer

The craziness of Amazon book reviews…(And The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Big Magic)

Y’all know by now that I am a self-help book junkie.  After being waitlisted for so long I forgot they were even on my library’s waitlist, I finally got The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  In a fun surprise, Gilbert actually mentions Manson as one of her favorite bloggers and uses one of his posts in her book.  Super cool to get some reading synchronicity like that, particularly since Overdrive auto-checked out both books to me at the same time.

Anyway, both books brought a lot of really good thinking and talking points.  Manson’s book is honestly like having a super in depth life conversation with  your super drunk frat-boy friend, except you’re not drunk and he’s making a lot of really good points.  Yes, the language is over the top, even for me, but that’s part of the book’s magic.  As you read, you totally get the feeling that Manson is speaking to you and that’s EXACTLY how he talks.  As the book progresses and gets into deeper and finer points, Manson tones the language down a bit, but still manages to throw in some random-ass sayings that only a total drunk-ass would come up with.  The last chapter did feel a bit weird and out of place, it probably should have been edited out, but overall I loved this book and think the key to enjoying it is to approach it the same way you’d approach the bar patio picnic table that is currently home to your very drunk friend…with your favorite beer, some fries, and an open mind.

Big Magic,  while totally different from The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, had the same one-on-one convo vibe.  Although instead of having a convo with your super drunk frat boy friend, this convo is with a beloved mentor/friend who is giving you all of the advice they’ve stored up for 50 years, almost like a retirement speech.  At the end of the book, Gilbert mentions that Big Magic was inspired by her Ted Talk, which really should have been part of the intro or first chapter, as Big Magic TOTALLY reads like a bunch of Ted Talks instead of connected chapters.  So while you read Manson’s book with a beer and fries, Big Magic requires some fruity tea in a delicate cup and scones.  Or mimosas and poppy seed muffins….(or maybe I’m just hungry…anyway…moving on…).  I really appreciated Gilbert’s take on inspiration (you just gotta move in some sort of direction (any direction!) and inspiration will follow), how you don’t always need a college degree before you can become great (just start creating!), and perfection (the enemy of progress!).  When read as multiple Ted Talks bound into a single book, Big Magic is great for quick tips and tricks on motivation, inspiration and short bursts of Gilbert’s own life.

Which brings me to the Amazon reviews for these two books.  While both are highly rated, I was amused by several of the reviews that gave 2 stars.  One reviewer gave Gilbert’s book 2 stars because the author wears perfume, which is bad for the environment or animals or something (who knows, the review was rambly and random!).  It was such a bizarre review, considering that was literally one line in the entire book and Gilbert was only mentioning how when she loses inspiration, she gets herself all fancied up, which in her case includes lipstick and perfume, as a way to attract inspiration.  It’s quite good advice, as most fitness gurus will tell you that putting on your workout clothes will essentially force you out the door on days when you don’t want to work out.  It just cracked me up that someone would focus on a single point and miss so many other fantastic points in a book.  Definitely a review written by a small picture person.

For Manson’s book, many of the 2 star reviews were “due to vulgar language”.  Seriously, if you pick up a book with a title like “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and then you get offended by the language inside the book, it is totally your own fault, as the title was a very LARGE clue to the personality of the author.

In an interesting twist, both books got a lot of reviews that said something like “this book is full of advice for younger people”.  I can see this being true for Manson’s book, my Grandma probably wouldn’t get as much out of it as my brother, but Gilbert’s book felt a lot less directed towards a specific market.  Big Magic seemed to be geared towards creatives of all ages looking for some friendly advice.  Many reviewers seemed upset that neither book offered any practical steps towards not giving a F*ck or finding their own magic, however if you read between the lines, the magic of these books comes from the fact that they don’t give you a cookie cutter recipe to follow.  Sort of like some modern day Mr. Miagi randomness that you have to figure out for yourself.

If you are looking for some practical steps, Big Magic would pair well with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck would pair well (ironically, I know) with Brene Brown’s Rising Strong or The Gifts of Imperfection.

That’s all for today, so until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

R!

Favorite Books · Self Help

My 5 Favorite Books to Jump Start Your New Year

Happy New Year Dear Readers!

It’s that time of year when we call go nuts making resolutions and big plans for the year ahead.  Whether you’re hoping to lose weight, stop smoking, be more social, read more, or take control of your finances, there’s guaranteed to be a book for you!  Here are 5 of my favorite “self-help” books.  Enjoy!

  1. The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything by Joshua Becker
  2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  3. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  4. The Life Changing Habit of Cleaning Up by Marie Kondo
  5. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
classics · finance · minimalism · Self Help

Wrapping up 2017: The Millionaire Next Door, Madame Bovary and Babbitt

As I finalized my books read list for 2017 the other day, I started reflecting on the year’s book choices and realized many of them were rooted in challenging the status quo, particularly the thoughts and habits built around consumerism and finance.

“The Millionaire Next Door”, was recommended by my mentor as a tool to frame how we were setting our financial goals as a family.  I expected a “get rich quick” theme or endless lecture similar to Dave Ramsey or Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  What I got instead was a life changing paradigm shift.  The Millionaire Next Door really opened my eyes to how we personally and culturally define “success”, how we measure ourselves against a name brands and labels, and most notably how research shows that the “rich” among us are not the ones buying big flashy expensive new things.  Without a doubt, this book changed my life.

While The Millionaire Next Door sat brewing in my brain for several months, I picked up Madame Bovary, a classic French novel written in 1856.  The story follows the beautiful Madame Bovary who drives her family to ruin with her boredom and endless search for meaning in frivolous material pursuits.  Unfortunately for Madame, the unhappiness she finds in her very normal and simple life cannot be cured by her many debt-inducing purchases, the birth of her only child, nor the affairs with handsome interesting young men, leading poor Madame to commit suicide while her husband and child deal with the fallout of her selfish decisions.  While the language can be a bit old fashioned, Madame Bovary is every bit as relevant today as it was 160 years ago.

The universe popped “Babbitt” into my hands shortly after Madame Bovary.  Sinclair Lewis did an amazing job capturing the mind and emotions of a middle aged man who had already achieved significant wealth and success but was caught between his desperation for his youth, more money, further success, his endless lust for acceptance by his peers and being happy.

I absolutely hated Babbitt and his grandiose speeches, his wishy washy nature, his constant need to be loved, admired and respected by his peers.  His constant scheming, planning and ladder climbing left me grossed out and I felt like nothing Babbitt did ever felt genuine or true.   Again, a credit to the author, who created a character so wholly flawed you can’t help but feel sorry for him, even though you hate him.

Until next time, may you find the time to curl up with a good book and a pot of tea!

Cheers!

Bad Ass Women · beach read · Mimosas · Self Help · Summer Read

The Doctor Is In

If there is one type of book I can’t resist, it’s a good old fashioned self help book.  I just can’t help it.  They’re fun, easy to read and occasionally you’ll find a gem in the heap of unconventional life advice.  Self help book are like the flea market of literature.  You never know what treasures you’ll pull out of the pile.  We’re at the beach again this week and my trusty Kindle companion has been Dr. Ruth Westheimer.  Prior to reading “The Doctor Is In”, my knowledge of Dr. Ruth consisted of: cute little old lady with a funny accent giving sex advice.  Post read, I want Dr. Ruth to be my spirit animal. the doctor is in

At only 4’7″ tall, this German Jew refugee has led enough life for ten people.  After escaping Germany on a kindertransport and earning a degree in housekeeping from her Swiss boarding home, she relocated to Israel, becoming a sniper (!) for the Israel army.  In Israel, she became a teenage bride and migrated to France with equally young husband.  After a brief marriage, Dr. Ruth chose her education over marriage and spent the next five years in France.  After another marriage, the birth of her first child and relocating to America, Dr. Ruth found her home and a slew of degrees in New York.  It wasn’t until her 50’s that this wickedly funny therapist found her calling and catapulted to fame on her radio show.  The rest as they say, is history…a history spanning over three decades, 35 books, and countless tv and radio shows.  Dr. Ruth is now a staple of American pop culture!

With a history like hers, it would have been very easy for Dr. Ruth to settle where she was and stick with her lot as a child refugee, a migrant house keeper, a poor single working mom.  Instead, she made the best out of every situation, often edging her way into opportunities, experiences and adventures that were both interesting, scary, and worth the risk she took to get there.

After reading countless self-help books written by numerous bad-ass women, I can say that Dr. Ruth without a doubt, takes the cake.  While most self-help books for women encourage confidence and taking risks, Dr. Ruth’s age and background bring a depth of energy, experience and reality that can be somewhat lacking in other books of this sort.  Yoga books in this genre, in particular, can be harder to connect to.  The author’s story can feel out of touch or out of reach, particularly when they pack up their life and spend months at yoga retreats in exotic locations.  As an ambitious woman with loads of impatient energy and an honest writing style, Dr. Ruth is easily relatable.  We’ve all employed a sneaky trick or two to catch a man,  plotted and schemed for way to advance our careers or relationships, and jumped into things head first while still feeling totally unprepared , scared, worried, and impatient.  This complete relatable-ness makes reading “The Doctor Is In” comparable to sharing secrets with a giggling grandmother over mimosas at a bridal shower.  It’s fun, it’s enlightening and it’ll leave you in a good mood.

Happy reading my friends!

 

 

 

Bad Ass Women · Favorite Books · Grab a Martini · Self Help

How to Dress for Success by Edith Head

how to dress for successWe’ve gotten quite a few graduation announcements and invites this year and I’ve been so excited to mail off Congratulations cards with a few little gifts tucked inside.  Of all the gifts I received over the years, there are several books that were literally life changing and would make fantastic graduation gifts.  One of those books was How to Dress for Success by Edith Head.

This book changed my entire approach to fashion, shopping, personal style and gently nudged me on the path towards minimalism.  Prior to reading this book, my closet was full of ill-fitting fast fashion, a thousand different styles for every body type but mine, and a bunch of clothes that I would never wear.  This book opened my eyes to the reality of doing more with less.  While Edith Head never even mentions the words “capsule wardrobe” or “minimalism”, the concept is clear: a few quality pieces of clothing that fit well, are well kept, and accessorized properly can make a killer wardrobe.

For those interested in classic vintage style, this book is a gold mine.  With that said, much of the book is full of old school wisdom that seems more appropriate for the 1950’s than today.  However, the concepts, ideas and suggestions are perfect for young professionals looking to make their mark as stylish and well groomed without breaking the bank.

 

 

 

Self Help

My Super Secret Weapon…How to Win Friends & Influence People

how to win friendsLast week I had the task of presenting to a group of people who had previously been given incorrect information about my project.  Setting the record straight is never easy and it was a daunting task that left me nervous and sweaty right up until show time.  It took me a good month to create the 30 minute presentation, which luckily, went off without a hitch.   Many of the guests thanked me afterward and their smiles and friendly conversation were a sign that the presentation had hit its mark.

When one of the guests asked for advice in her own similar campaign, I immediately recommended she read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  My entire presentation was guided loosely by the advice contained in this 80 year old book, starting with “Smile” and “Remember names”.

Knowing the topic was already heated and folks were bringing reactions to previously incorrect information with them, it was particularly important to follow “The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it”, “let the other person save face”, and “show respect for other person’s opinions”.  Starting an argument with these folks, tossing the previous informant under the bus, or belittling their concerns would win me no friends and would definitely not earn me their trust or respect.  Instead, I used a few more of Carnegie’s timeless gems by “talking in terms of the other person’s interest” and “making the other person feel important” while also “appealing to the nobler motives”.

With the entire presentation designed to defuse the situation by avoiding being argumentative, respecting and understanding people’s current concerns and reactions, and letting them know they were important to me, I was able to get the result I wanted: an audience who had overridden incorrect information with correct information.

This book not only gave me the tools to run a smooth presentation, it changed my entire life.  By nature, I am an observer and often waited for people and things to come to me.  As you can imagine, there was a lot of disappointment in observing opportunities headed my direction only to lose them because I didn’t know how to meet those opportunities head on or blew the networking tied to those opportunities.  After reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, I stopped waiting for things to happen and instead applied the skills from this book to go get them or at least meet them half way.  More than any other book, I recommend everyone read this one, particularly high school students and college grads starting the interview circuit.

Until next time, happy reading!

audio books · Book Review · Self Help

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

the life changing magic of tidying upSpring time means spring cleaning!  Everywhere you look lately, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo pops up.  It’s been out for a little over 2 years now and still ranks in the Top 30 best sellers on Amazon.  It was THE number one selling book on Amazon for quite a while, and no not just books on home organization or self help but number one best seller for the entire book category.  Pinterest is on fire with Marie Kondo inspired checklists  and tutorials.  Bloggers are filling their posts with their own experiences with the method.  I first came across the book on a friend’s blog and it wasn’t until after I’d read it and started googling more, that I realized this book was even a thing.    

Parts of the book are a little eye-rolly…an 11 year old tearing through home organization magazines just didn’t sound believable, even to my 11 year old dork self.  Tales of people hoarding 200 toothbrushes and 50 million rolls of toilet paper left me with more questions than answers.  My friend Alejandra and I both had similar moments of “oh yaaaa right…” followed immediately by a text to the other to discuss.  

Despite the random “no way” moments, a lot of Kondo’s book was really valuable.  Initially, I thought Kondo’s book would help with my minimalist/OCD/own nothing/organization habits and be especially useful with the massive wardrobe curation project I’ve got going on.  And while it was totally eye opening to lay out every book I own in one place at one time, to be honest, the biggest take-aways didn’t really have much to do with stuff and were more about why we keep stuff and how we feel about our stuff.  

Kondo’s thoughts on gifts were particularly freeing.  She encourages clients to think of gifts not as physical items but as expressions of affection from the gifter.  The original intent of the gift was the expression of affection.  That purpose served, you’re free to acknowledge the affections had been expressed and move on from the gift.  Glory, hallelujah!  This little gem saved me from loads of guilt and lots of freedom from things I’d been hanging onto for years only because they were gifts.  Some of the “gifts” were even broken and I was still hanging onto them!  It also brought a fresh perspective to receiving or opening an unusual gift.  Rather than focusing on the item, it’s better to focus on the intent behind the gift.  Maybe that blender for Christmas wasn’t the perfect gift, but the love expressed by the gift totally was.  

The other really powerful tool from Kondo’s book was the thankful acknowledgement and letting go of items.  Rather than dumping things into a bag mindlessly or negatively “this is broken”, “this sucks”, “I hate this”, Kondo has clients thank each object for whatever it did for them.  “Thank you for keeping me warm”.  “Thank you for teaching me I do not actually like this style”.  This subtle mindshift from negative to positive turned the entire experience into a lovefest.  Rather than getting aggravated or overwhelmed while going through clothes or books, I was happy and relaxed.  It felt good to thank each item and move it on to its next home.  The wastefulness guilt and “what if I need it” hoarding mentality that usually damns up a good downsizing were nowhere to be found.

The mindset business really put a lot of my stuff into perspective.  Rather than wishing I had something else or living with minor annoyances all the time, I’ve spent a lot of time fixing things I already have or replacing others that just weren’t right and never would be.  I’ve started focusing on finding the right item and thinking long term instead of just going with things that will do right now.  I’ve started taking better care of the things that bring me joy and completing projects that have been sitting in the closet for ages.

The biggest impact on daily life has been adding the “thank you home” ritual to my day.  Rather than walking into a room and analyzing what has to be done, what’s missing, what’s wrong with the room, what could be improved or changed, I’ve started taking little those assessment moments to thank my home for being there, for being a safe loving place for my family to come home to.  

Even if you don’t buy into anything else in the book, practicing gratitude for what you have is a total game changer.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes.