Heart Talk by Cleo Wade

Heart Talk- Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life is written by Cleo Wade.  She has been featured on prestigious lists such as America’s 50 Most Influential Women by Marie Claire and 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. She has written for many magazines such as Vogue and The New York Times. (Just a brief summary of her accomplishments that I have grabbed from the back of her book.)

She beautifully writes about love, anxiety, self acceptance, being “a work in progress” and being the best version of yourself. While this book may be considered to be poetry, I loved how Wade wrote about things that reached me so powerfully. I am someone who loves reading books that help me delve into my self-awareness and encourage me to continue on my journey of being my best self. I love “self-help” books, I find them insightful and frankly are frustrated by people who add negative connotations to them. I hope that if you are someone who enjoys them, you don’t shy away from the section or hide them in a pile of other genres when you are checking out or making your purchase. There is no shame in reading self help books, it means you like to learn and you like to learn about how to make yourself at home within yourself! You want to be the best YOU you can and that’s super important! To have self-awareness, I believe, is the greatest kind of knowledge. Don’t be afraid to take care of YOU, you can’t fully take care of others if you can’t do it for yourself. I am someone who is always looking to better understand myself and how others work. I am all about learning how to make yourself the healthiest person you can be, especially during tough times. Self-help doesn’t mean you’re damaged goods or troubled, the genre, self-help, is empowering, if you let it. So don’t be afraid to take some time, reflect in or through the words of others and look out for #1, which should be you, unappologetically!

Here are some pieces I really liked:

“Know that you are valuable

Know that you are worthy

Know that you are rare.

How can anyone be better than you if you are the only you?”

(Wade  157)

Wade suggests a complaint cleanse. The concept is one I have been trying to pursue since reading the book and one that I want to continue to be mindful of. It keeps your mind and your heart healthy.

“When we live with honesty, positive intentions, fairness, love, integrity and transparency, we do not need to spend our time explaining ourselves to others. Explanations are necessary only when our actions require justifications, and justifications are necessary only when our intentions are murky. Live your life with clear and good intentions and you will never have to spend your time explaining what you do or who you are.” (Wade 35)

I  love the mentality of being a work in progress. Here is what she has to say about it.

“To know that you are a work in progress means to recognize that your goals are also a work in progress. A friend of mine once said to me that there is no … “there.” It reminded me that every single day we are growing into who we will be tomorrow. Because we go through so many stages and phases, it is important to consistently reset our goals so that they can grow with us. When we reset our goals, we allow for each one to flow into the next and connect with all phases of our life. Refresh your goals regularly and with intention. It will help you stay  continuously motivated and inspired.” (Wade 77)

Advertisements

Playing catch up…

Hey there, it’s been a little bit since I posted. During that time I graduated, read 3 books and worked on  job stuff. I now actually have a job and will be moving to Alberta at the end of the month to start my career as a journalist.  The 3 books I read were Chessy Prout’s I Have the Right To, Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project and Cleo Wade’s Heart Talk- Poetic Wisdom For a Better Life. (I’ll be talking about Heart Talk in a separate post)

Chessy Prout’s book, I Have the Right To, is a memoir about her sexual assault that happened in her sophomore year of high school as a part of a sick senior rite of passage called senior salute. Chessy had the courage and strength to report her assault and face her perpetrator in trial. The book covers her recovery, her becoming an ally and the voice for a number of young women who have faced sexual violence, her experience preparing for trial and the strength and difficulty of facing him in order to find justice for herself as well as the countless women (and men) who’s voices will never be heard.  I took a couple weeks to process Chessy’s writing. I took the time to really process what I was reading, I am a strong ally to anyone who has experienced sexual or domestic violence. The book really reached me and caused me to think about how I can contribute to the conversation. How can I help in enforcing the importance of and expanding the understanding of consent. As I discovered in my 26 minute documentary on sexual violence, 50% of people do not understand the definition of consent. It’s astounding, we are living in a rape culture and we need as many people that we can, like Chessy, to bring the topic to light for those who (either feel or know they) can’t. There is so much I could say about Chessy’s book, but this is where I’ll leave it. Brief note: Chessy wrote the book with the help of Jenn Abelson, an investigative journalist with The Boston Globe.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is about a man on the autism spectrum (I believe he has Aspergers, but it is never fully confirmed in the book) and his journey to finding a wife. In doing so, he creates a survey that women are to complete that will rank them as to whether or not they would make good wife material to Don. Enter, Rosie, who completely doesn’t fit any of the expectations that are in his survey but needs Don who is a geneticist, to help her find her biological father. They embark on a comical journey of finding her father, getting to know one another and, you guessed it, falling in love. It’s a fine story, this was actually my second attempt at reading the book, I think I tried about a year ago. The book can be hard to get into because it can be hard to get into how the author writes as someone in the autism spectrum and it can be hard to relate to Don. I find stories about people on the autism spectrum interesting and enlightening. It opens my eyes and makes me more mindful of the differences and challenges that others experience as well as how incredible minds can also have their own challenges. What I found to be bothersome in the book, is how characters lacked the mindfulness or sympathy to Don’s place in the autism spectrum. I felt that they othered him and that bothered me. Yes, Don could be seen as a challenging person or different, but I felt that since all of these characters either were in the medical field or were studying it, they should have been more mindful and accepting of him without being so critical. Particularly Rosie, at times she just seems to flat out not get Asperger’s and how common it is for those who have it to struggle with emotional connection. It’s not that he doesn’t want to show emotion towards her, it is that he doesn’t understand it and that’s not something to be judged or make fun of. I think that it was wise of the author to write Don the way that he did. It helps you understand the mind and function of someone on the spectrum and to be mindful and accepting of the things that they cannot change as much as they would probably like to. It made me more mindful. Hopefully, it leaves others feeling the same. On a lighter note, it is a unique spin on a romantic comedy, it allows for light reading that can be enjoyable while also leaving room for thoughtfulness.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

 

When Breath Becomes Air is beautifully written and I don’t feel that my writing will adequately explain that, so this will be short. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who was passionate about literature. During his residency he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Throughout his life, he had an interest in understanding death and understanding the meaning of life by accepting and understanding mortality. I’m someone who is interested in health stories both as a writer and as a reader. There are times in his writing where he uses medical terms that lay people won’t understand but he does take the time to explain brain cancer which is what he knew and worked with regularly. He writes about how it’s easy for medical students, residents and doctors alike to become detached from the humanity of their profession. It is easy for them to get caught up in the adrenaline of performing surgery sometimes forgetting the personal, emotional and human responses of patients and how surgery and diagnoses impact them. He learned that while he was working as a doctor and that was put into reality or action by becoming a patient himself. While working through his diagnosis, Kalanithi went through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, in the reverse order.  8 months after his daughter’s birth, Kalnithi passed away. The epilogue is written by his wife who finishes writing the book for him. She shares her grief and her love for her husband that hasn’t wavered after death.  Paul writes the book beautifully. There’s not much more I can say, the book will give you an appreciation for life and in my experience will touch your perception of death as he so graciously accepts it.

Unfiltered – No Shame, No Regrets, Just me by Lily Collins

Lily Collins is the daughter of singer Phil Collins, as well as an actress.  In her debut book she takes the opportunity to talk about issues that many young women don’t feel comfortable talking about – their insecurities, their bodies, love and bad relationships and self acceptance. This book was helpful to read while living in a generation where we are obsessed with picture perfect lives that we see sprayed across social media daily. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing your life to others when everyone else’s looks perfect. What Lily tries to help young women come to terms with is no one’s lives are perfect and that most of those moments we get wrapped up in are staged for the gram and often give an inaccurate portrayal of one’s actual daily life.

I found the book helpful because I could relate to a lot of what Lily has experienced or what she struggles with. The chapter dedicated to ending an abusive relationship had me nodding my head in agreement, the reasons why she stayed, the loss of self and the lessons she learned after some time apart from that person are all the steps I went through and am going through after walking away from a long, toxic relationship.  Lily struggles with an eating disorder and she has a chapter dedicated to it and refers to it throughout the book. While I have not struggled with an eating disorder, I have had similar struggles. I have calorie counted to the point of obsession in different stages throughout my life starting in my early teens.  When I moved away from home I did a story on calorie counts being put on menus, (mostly because my calorie counting self got afraid of going out to eat and wanted some tips for myself while disguising it as being of interest for others). What that conversation taught me was that we need 700 calories just for our brains to function! That idea of 1500 calories that we get from the media is wrong.  Anyone who knows me knows that I obsess over my appearance constantly and I obsess a lot over the foods I eat and I’m not a big eater. I don’t eat anything packaged and vacationing sends my mind amuck because I can’t keep track of calorie counts and I’m away from the foods I know.  I stray away from social media because most days I’m afraid of what people will think of me because I know what I think of me. My self perception is often off from what others see. It is a daily struggle and I often hide behind clothes that are too roomy or aren’t form fitting out of fear and honest humiliation. Reading Lily’s chapter and references to her own body struggles were helpful to me because I am still trying to find my own self acceptance. I am not in a hard relationship anymore which amplified my fears and insecurities but I still struggle daily with acceptance of my body and its appearance. If you’re reading this and feel the same, don’t hesitate to comment because I’m living through it too. Someday we’ll find peace of mind to accept ourselves, just try your best to take care of yourself and surround yourself with good people and hopefully in time we’ll get there.

Lily also talks about insecurities of being outgoing, I’m the same way. I’m quirky and I find making friends hard because I’m shy or overly blunt. I internally struggle with awkwardness in social situations so I shy away from talking at all because I worry that I don’t know how to relate, I worry about being judged and I know for a fact I don’t dress or act like most females my age. I have often found myself left out of social circles because I am not someone who enjoys drinking, I only just started drinking wine for socializing’s sake less than a year ago in the hopes that in the future I don’t find myself left out. I am still very much the designated driver when I’m out and it often sucks. I am constantly worried about offending someone because I’m blunt and sarcastic so I say sorry a lot. I have learned through mentoring in my program that saying sorry is actually seen as a weakness in the industry I’m trying to get into, so I’m trying to be more careful about when I say sorry. I will 100% put other people ahead of myself which often means that I’m put on the back burner. Being put last is something Lily has often done to herself and something she struggles with too. I appreciated her honesty because those of us who care too much are often not seen or thought of, so when we struggle we often don’t have anyone to turn to because others are too busy needing us to lift them up.

Lily also dabbled into journalism which was also of interest to me. If you are a young woman trying to find your place in all this… this is the read for you. I found Lily helpful and I found a lot of the issues of self acceptance she describes are what I face daily and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way. She also talks about other issues like dealing with addiction and her struggles in her relationship with her father. She has a positive outlook on how to deal with the unknowns in her life and how to work through issues of self acceptance – each chapter starts with a quote – words of advice ahead of the topic she’s about to talk about. Her book helped bring me out of my shell to share some of my own struggles in this blog and it will give you the space to start thinking about how you can apply her tactics of living your best life to your own life. I found her writing insightful into my own life and sometimes those make the best reads. I would recommend this to anyone who is young and trying to understand themselves and the world they are entering into.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

White privilege is something we all need to be aware of, it’s easy to say we understand but we really don’t. The Hate U Give is raw and real. If you for a second had your head turned thinking that we don’t have a problem of race in this world, or you knew but wanted nothing to do with the conversation then this book will shock you into reality. I didn’t fall under either category when reading this book. I am a white girl, I have had my privileges in life and I try my best to remember them and not let them blind me. This book is about a 16 year old girl named Starr Carter who’s childhood friend Khalil is killed in cold blood by a white officer. Throughout the book we witness Starr’s grief, and the sad and disturbing reality of the world we live in that is divided by a sense of “us” and “them.” Starr goes to a school that is predominantly white, where she has white friends and a white boyfriend but lives in a “black” community with her “black” friends and family. In her “white” life, she is different, guarded and calculated, just so that she can fit into a world full of privilege, a world so oblivious to who she is as an individual, the prejudice she faces and  the lives she’s had taken from her because of the colour of their skin.

Khalil’s death hit me hard, I felt for Starr – I was angry and upset and I felt myself grieve alongside her.  It wasn’t because she had her friend taken away from her it was because her friend was taken away from her by a trigger happy cop. In America, all we hear of is white cops shooting “black” people because of an alleged gun, most of them were completely innocent. Those “suspicious” or “dangerous” souls (who I suspect in most cases weren’t suspicious or dangerous at all) were in the wrong place at the wrong time, many mothers have been left burying their children, knowing they’ll never come home to them because of a corrupt system that shoots first and asks questions later.

The book gives a hard look into the realities white people are oblivious of. It sheds light on the boys (and girls) who enter gangs not out of genuine interest but because they have no way to help struggling family members pay debts, at least that’s what we see in this book. We see how protests start and the damage it causes in neighbourhoods because white cops just don’t understand. It becomes a confusing space to navigate whites and blacks are scared of or hate each other and violence is often the result. Blacks are stigmatized and whites are taught to be suspicious and react (or rather overreact) rather than converse.

I am treading carefully with writing this blog because I don’t want to sound like I understand any of this. I don’t. I also don’t want to sound like I’m highlighting my white privilege. This book gives a deeper understanding and an outlook on the harsh reality of the world we live in and the need for change. I would highly recommend this book, it will give you a lot to think about.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Surprise Me

First off, I want to start off saying that I’ve had a really busy two months. I wrapped up my program at Fanshawe and I did an internship at CTV London. So, I’ve had no time to read. So over the past week I’ve been getting back into it and I picked up a couple books this week to get started and have some more on my list! My next read will be The Hate U  Give by Angie Thomas. During those two months I got hung up on Surprise Me. The reason why is I am terrible at giving up on books that don’t interest me or just aren’t good. I usually find a way to muster through it. In this case I got to 200 out of roughly 400 pages (on Kindle) and that took me a month to get there, which is way longer than I usually take on a book unless it’s a heavy read (like Hillary Rodham Clinton’s What Happened).

The book is about a couple who are told by their doctor that they will live until they’re 100-over 100. The couple realize that their marriage is going to last longer than they ever imagined, really testing the whole “till death do us part” line in your vows. The wife starts to question if you can really be with someone for that long. The couple has a hard time processing the concept and decide to start trying out this practice of “surprising” each other on a regular basis in order to keep their marriage alive and exciting. (They didn’t make that decision until around a quarter of the way into the book) I picked the book because I thought it would be funny and because I thought it would be an enjoyable read, a nice break after work. Turned out for me to be more of a nuisance, the book drags on and is really rather silly. If you’re a Sophie Kinsella lover then the book is for you. I thought I would give her another chance, I tried Confessions of a Shopaholic and couldn’t get through it either. I tried out Can you Keep a Secret? This sounds bad but I can’t even remember if I got through it which suggests that I either didn’t or the book was bad in my mind and I banished it from my memory. I thought I’d give Kinsella another chance. 3 strikes out for me with this author. If you like Kinsella give her a chance, otherwise I’d suggest giving this book a pass.

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

I pulled a big book lover no no. I saw an episode of the HBO series before I read the book! Alright, before you judge, let me be clear that I do not usually do this. Every once in a while I fall into this mistake and when I do I MASSIVELY regret it after. Watching a movie or tv show before reading the book cramps your creativity and all you see is one person’s adaptation of the book instead of your own. It hinders the book and makes it hard for you to enjoy it and be able to have an opinion that is strictly yours. I am going to do my best to deliver a good review.

The book is about 5 moms in Australia – Madeline, Celeste, Jane, Renata and Bonnie. Each mom has a kid in kindergarten at Piriwee Public. At an event at and for the school, a tragic accident happens and the book begins with you learning that there’s been an incident but you don’t know what happened, who it happened to or who may have been responsible/involved. There is a story line that seems like a sub plot about one of their children getting bullied by one of the friends children. You find out that it’s not a subplot because the bully is not who you’re led to believe it is and then that kind of goes into who suffered the tragedy. This book is a little hard to give a review on without revealing key points in my opinion.

I found the book unrelatable. It’s a good kind of drama, mystery-esque book where you’re trying to figure out “who dunnit” and why. But the reason why I find it unrelatable is because the women are hard to connect to. Madeline is like a Barbie doll, helicopter mom, she doesn’t seem all that bright, I guess you could say a character like her  could be seen as comic relief… but that doesn’t fit Madeline. She’s airy fairy and some of the things she harps on about you’d like for her to get a grip on. Celeste is  a victim of domestic abuse. She gave up her career to get married and have children. As the relationship becomes more dangerous she realizes its time for her to consider leaving.  She may be someone the reader can empathize with. I know  I did. Jane is a 24 year old mom, she moves to Piriwee for reasons that won’t make sense to you,  and even her, until the end of the book. She fits the description of plain Jane and she doesn’t fit in with the other moms, which makes her relatable if you’re young or if you’re just not one of those snobby, helicopter mom types that has kids in a private school. Jane has a really key moment in her life that makes her character important in the book. You’ll find out as you read. Renata is a helicopter, snobby mom, of course, it is her daughter that is getting bullied. Her personality type makes everyone else’s lives hell and makes you wish you didn’t have to put up with her either. However, you can commend her for being a modern mom who has a passion for her  career and her own independence. I feel that we need more of those kinds of characters. Having Renata’s kind of character in the book makes for a fresh take in what would have otherwise been a book all about trophy wives. Then there’s Bonnie, sweet, innocent Bonnie. We’re gonna leave this hippie at that because her character unfolds nearing the end of the book and I really hate spoilers.

The book itself was well written, detailed and descriptive – allowing the reader the opportunity to really place themselves into the scenes and an idea of who the characters are and how they must look and be like.  I found there was a healthy amount of character development. The author really played out school politics well throughout the book. I can see from a drama standpoint why the book was made into a show. It makes for a who dunnit kind of show. I’d be interested in watching the show to its entirety now that I read the book. It would be interesting to see how they’d go about making a second season to that.  I felt that the book was a good read and was worth the time I invested in it. I would recommend it, it’s a read that has you interested in learning more, the character development for some of the characters really takes place throughout the book. I’d say that Madeline and Renata are stagnant characters, the other 3 grow and that’s interesting to see.

What I know for Sure – Oprah Winfrey

This book is one that you need to be in the right mindset to read. You have to be in a place where you are open to hear other people’s wisdom and experiences, and consider how they could be useful in your life. If you are not open to that kind of a read, then this book is not for you… right now.

This book is a compilation of all of the What I know for Sure pieces Oprah wrote for O magazine. The book was split into different parts: joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity and power.  If you didn’t want to, I suppose you don’t have to read this book in specific order, but that’s what I chose to do. I took a week to read this book in order to let each piece of wisdom resonate with me as it would. I would sit for a minute after each and contemplate how it relates to feelings I’ve had in the past or are currently experiencing, or how her advice could be something I can implement into my life to create positive change for myself and/or others.

You don’t need me to tell you that Oprah is a wise woman who can really school you about how to get your life together and own it. If you are not someone who admires or appreciates Oprah then don’t read it. But I found it to be insightful and thought provoking. I now want to own a hard copy so that I can reflect on pieces as I continue on my journey. I’m sure this book was meant for an audience that is older than I am, but I don’t think this book has a limit. Whether you’re getting ready to embark on a new chapter, you need some inspiration, food for thought, words to feed your soul, whatever it is, if you’re looking for a place to connect back to what really matters, this is the read for you. That’s the takeaway I got from it. I hope that if you choose to read it, you experience the same kind of takeaway.