Book Review: Live What You Love

Live What You Love: Notes from an unusual Life

by Bob and Melinda Blanchard

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My Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I found this book on my bookshelf.  I must have bought it at a library book sale at some point.  I chose the book off my bookshelf because the title sounded interesting, and it looked like a very quick and easy read.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Bob and Melinda Blanchard’s first book, A Trip to the Beach, sold more than 85,000 copies and became inspiration for countless people who were ready to start living their dreams. Comprising stories, reflections, notes, insights, and a bit of advice, Live What You Love is the Blanchard’s warm, engaging, and personal response to the thousands of fans who’ve asked them, “How did you do it?”

“What happens if life falls outside the expected lines and inside others that are self-defined? Our experiences tell us that living this way is as wonderful as it is odd. We happen to believe that life really is about choices, and we love what happens when interesting ones get paired together.”–Bob and Melinda Blanchard

After the Blanchards’ published A Trip to the Beach, they found that readers responded personally and passionately, often buying multiple copies to give friends and family. They received countless invitations to lecture and requests for national television appearances, and have been asked to develop a series for PBS. Everyone, it seems, wanted to live their life: during the winter, the couple operate the most popular restaurant in Anguilla, the tiny Caribbean nation hideaway of celebrities, beautiful beaches and luxurious homes, and spend summers in the green hills of Northern Vermont.
Through delightful and moving stories, reflections, notes–and a soupcon of advice–the Blanchards have written a stunning, inspirational manifesto where truly living what you love becomes a revolutionary act, a rebellion against the common life. They show how, through self-trust, personal adjustment, and daily acts of commitment, each of us can live the life we love and make every day a personal treasure. Full of warmth, humor, wisdom, and charm, LWYL is the Blanchard’s love letter to life, a celebration of unusual choices, and a thank you gift to all of their fans.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I enjoyed this book a lot!  It was a very quick and easy read, and it held my interest the entire way through.  It was also very inspiring.  The only reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 is because the story jumped around in time and that was confusing at times.  It was also difficult at times to tell which one of the authors was telling the story since they took turns writing the chapters.  I think the story would have been easier to follow if it had been written chronologically.  I have not read their first book, A Trip to the Beach, but I have added that to my list of books to read.

I would read Live What You Love again.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has dreams and just needs a little bit of motivation to take action on those dreams.

Check out more reviews on Live What You Love on Goodreads.

Favorite Quote

“Choose a rich life over an expensive lifestyle and curate your own memories as treasures you will share.” p. 182-183

 

 

Book Review: The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

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My Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I got this book at a book sale years ago.  I was probably drawn to the title, and I was excited to learn about the wisdom that the Dalai Lama had to share.  Like many other books, this one sat on my bookshelf for several years before I saw it there about a month ago and felt called to finally read it.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I was really hoping I would love this book and take away a lot from it.  Unfortunately, it was not an easy read for me.  It took me over a month to read this.  Happiness is one of my favorite topics, but unfortunately this book did not hold my interest like I had hoped.  Once I started reading, I was disappointed to find out that the Dalai Lama did not write the book.  The book was written by Howard Cutler, M.D., a psychiatrist who interviewed him.

Although this book didn’t meet my high expectations of it, there are some things that I really enjoyed about it.  I liked reading the direct quotes and the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, and this book has inspired me to read some of his books, including his autobiography, Freedom in Exile and The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus.

I don’t think I would read The Art of Happiness again, but I would not discourage anyone from reading it.  The Dalai Lama shares some great wisdom and advice, and there is a lot of information to take away from it.

You can check out other reviews about this book at Goodreads.

My Favorite Quotes

A few of my favorite quotes of the Dalai Lama from The Art of Happiness:

Definition of love (p.286) – “An utter, absolute, and unqualified wish for the happiness of another individual.”

“Motivation is so important…If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you ultimately will be successful in reaching your goal.  Even if you fail to achieve your goal, you can feel good about having made the effort.  But with a bad motivation, people can praise you or you can achieve goals, but you still will not be happy.” (p.272)

“I believe that each individual should embark upon a spiritual path that is best suited to his or her mental disposition, natural inclination, temperament, belief, family, and cultural background.” (p.294)

“The variety of people calls for a variety of religions.  The purpose of religion is to benefit people, and I think that if we only had one religion, after a while it would cease to benefit many people…religions are meant to nourish the human spirit.  And I think we can learn to celebrate that diversity in religions and develop a deep appreciation of the variety of religions…we must respect and appreciate the value of all the different major world religious traditions.”

“I think prayer is, for the most part, a simple daily reminder of your deeply held principles and convictions…Prayers are actually reminders.  Reminders of how to speak to others, how to deal with other people, how to deal with problems in your daily life, things like that…my practice involves reminders — reviewing the importance of compassion, forgiveness, all these things.” – (P. 298)

Book Review: The Gift of an Ordinary Day

The Gift of an Ordinary Day:  A Mother’s Memoir

by Katrina Kenison

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My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I bought this book at a library book sale several years ago, and it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.  Whether I purchased it because of the title or because of the cover (yes, I do initially judge books by their covers), I don’t remember.  I had never heard of it before, so it wasn’t because of a recommendation.  It may have just called out to me, as books often do.  So, I bought it, and it sat on my shelf for years.  The reason I chose this book to read among all the books on my shelf at home is just as puzzling to me.  It just had a way of calling out to me, saying “now is the time to read this.”  When that happens, I trust…because those are the books that often have the greatest impact on my life.  This one did not disappoint.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers–holding on, letting go.

Poised on the threshold between family life as she’s always known it and her older son’s departure for college, Kenison is surprised to find that the times she treasures most are the ordinary, unremarkable moments of everyday life, the very moments that she once took for granted, or rushed right through without noticing at all.

The relationships, hopes, and dreams that Kenison illuminates will touch women’s hearts, and her words will inspire mothers everywhere as they try to make peace with the inevitable changes in store.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  This book must have been calling out to me because I chose to read it at a time in my life where I could really relate with the author.  As her teen boys approach the end of their time living at home, she feels a desperate need to spend more time being present with them, holding onto what is left of their time together under one roof, and appreciating every moment of it.  My daughters are a few years younger than her boys were when she wrote the book, but I still feel the urgency of savoring those moments, those “gifts of an ordinary day.”  I really loved the author’s writing style, and I felt like I was right there with her throughout the entire story, feeling her every emotion.

The author offers so many valuable insights in this book!  I recommend that every mom of a teenager read this book.  Although I imagine nothing can really prepare us for the inevitable day when our children leave the nest, this book helped to remind me that every stage of life is a gift, and learning to slow down and practice presence and gratitude in each stage will help to ease the transitions.

Find more reviews about this book at Goodreads.

Some of My Favorite Quotes from the Book:

“When we focus on what is good and beautiful in someone, whether or not we think that they ‘deserve’ it, the good and beautiful are strengthened merely by the light of our attention.  When we choose to see and appreciate what is good and beautiful in our children, that goodness can’t help but grow, and their beauty blossoms forth.” (p.169)

“The life we have right here, right now, is the best life there is.” (p.209)

“Grace is available for each of us every day — our spiritual daily bread, but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance (p.264)

“Do your work, then step back.  The only path to serenity.” ~Tao Te Ching (p.231)

“The only trust required is to know that when there is one ending there will be another beginning.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes (p.197)

 

Book & Movie Review: The Help

Book Review:  The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

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My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

I bought this book at a library book sale years ago.  I saw the movie with some friends from a book club when the movie first came out, but I had not read the book.  This summer, I decided I wanted to read something easier than the self-help books I usually read, so I pulled this off my book shelf.  It pretty much took me all summer to read, but I’m glad I did.  When I finished the book, I went to the library and got the movie to watch again.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step….

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope,The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

This book took me much longer to read than I had anticipated, but I really liked it a lot, and I learned a lot from it.

This book taught me a lot about the relationships between blacks and whites in the South in the 1960’s.  It really opened my eyes to the cruelty and injustice that existed during that time.  This book reminds me of how far we have come in working towards eliminating inequality and racism.  There is still much progress to be made, but I think this book and movie helps to bring us one step closer to that.

I really came to love and admire the courage of many of the characters in this book.  I liked the way the chapters switched between the perspectives of the 3 main characters:  Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny.  Two of these characters are black, and one is white.  Each of these characters provides her own stories of life in the South during that time, and I admire the way each of them was willing to risk everything to fight for equality and a better life for all.

Thoughts on the Movie

I thought the movie was really well done!  It followed the book closely.  I saw the movie when it first came out.  I had not yet read the  book, and I did not understand a lot of the little details.  When I watched the movie again after reading the book, the details stood out and made much more sense.  I would definitely recommend both the book and the movie!  My daughters (aged 13, 12, and 9) all watched the movie with me, and they all enjoyed it as well.

My Favorite Quote from The Help:

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Aibileen, one of the black maids, said this often to Mae Mobley, the little girl she was caring for.  If nothing else, she wanted to teach her this important truth about herself.  I believe everyone should be taught to believe this about themselves.

For more reviews on The Help, visit Goodreads.

Book Review: The Afterlife of Billy Fingers

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers:  How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death

by Annie Kagan

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers Cover

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

This book was recommended to me by my Reiki Master teacher.  When taking the Reiki Master class a few weeks ago, my teacher played a song called “The Swan of Tuonela” by the composer Jean Sibelius.  In the book, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, Billy tells his sister that cosmic sound is very similar to this song.  My teacher told us briefly what the book was about, and it sounded fascinating to me, so I decided to check it out at my library.

Summary (from Goodreads)

“Annie Kagan is not a medium or a psychic, she did not die and come back to life; in fact, when she was awakened by her deceased brother, she thought perhaps she had gone a little crazy.

In “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death,” Kagan shares the extraordinary story of her after death communications (ADC) with her brother Billy, who began speaking to her just weeks after his unexpected death.

One of the most detailed and profound ADC’s ever recorded, Kagan’s book takes the reader beyond the near-death experience.  Billy’s vivid, real-time account of his on-going journey through the mysteries of death will change the way you think about life, death and your place in the Universe.”

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVED this book!  I thought it was fascinating!  I have a strong interest in reading books about Near-Death Experiences, but this book takes it even further.  Although some of the things described are really “out there”, especially near the end, I really believe this is true.  Just have an open mind when reading this book.

I found it to be comforting and reassuring that we are all loved unconditionally regardless of our actions, and there is something great waiting for each of us on the other side, although the experience will be different for each of us based on what our beliefs are.  This book also confirmed my belief that we are eternal souls, and our time on this earth in a physical body is just one way for us to experience new things and help our souls grow.

This book was a VERY easy read.  I read it in about 3 days, although I probably could have read it all in one sitting if I had the time.  I did not want to put it down!

As Billy gave Annie advice throughout the book, here are a few bits of wisdom that I got out of this:

See yourself Billy Fingers

What you achieve on earth is only a small part of the deal.  If there’s a secret I could whisper, and that you could keep, it would be that it’s all inside you already.  Every single thing you need.  Earth is just a stopover.  A kind of game.  Make it a star game.  If I could give you a gift, it would be to teach you how to stay free inside that game, to find the glory inside yourself, beyond the roles and the drama, so you can dance the game of life with a little more rhythm, a little more abandon, a little more shaking-those-hips.” (p.84)

“All beings on earth carry the light from this sphere within them.  That’s why spiritual philosophies say that we are one…the light from the sphere propels your soul into your body when you’re in the womb.  It then becomes the invisible force that gives you life…” (p. 94)

“Don’t overlook the riches contained in the darkness.  Life’s very temporary, so don’t let time just pass.  Let the moments fill you — the ones you judge to be good as well as bad.” (p.95)

“There are many worlds, and the afterlife has many forms.  Where you go, who you meet, and where you meet them is different for different people.” (p. 104)

“After you’re dead, you are able to be in more than one place at a time.” (p. 105)

“Beliefs are big on earth.  People collect them.  Some of these beliefs are helpful, but others just keep you running around trying to follow rules that others have laid down.  They don’t have a lot of personal meaning.  It’s a good idea to sort through your beliefs now and throw out the ones that don’t serve you.” (p. 105)

“People spend lots of time on things that make them unhappy…to cultivate joy, pay attention to what you like.” (p. 152)

“Every single life is valuable in ways you cannot imagine or figure out while you’re alive.  Every single life is a gift.” (p. 154)

Cosmic symphony

See more reviews of The Afterlife of Billy Fingers on Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Millionaire Messenger

The Millionaire Messenger:  Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice

by Brendon Burchard

The Millionaire Messenger cover

My Rating ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I am inspired by Brendon Burchard, and I would eventually like to read all of his books.  Until now, the only book I have read of his was The Charge (another 5 star book…see my review).  I have a long list of books I would love to read.  The Millionaire Messenger was on the list, but it was not one that I felt I needed to read right away.  Until a few weeks ago.  When I watched one of Brendon’s free videos promoting his program Experts Academy, he referenced The Millionaire Messenger often and I felt called to read it right away.  So, I got it from my library and began to read…

Summary (From Goodreads)

“In The Millionaire Messenger, Brendon Burchard pulls back the curtains on the once-secretive “expert industry” and shows how to become an influential and highly paid advice expert through websites, books, speeches, seminars, coaching, consulting, and online programs.

Blessed to receive life’s golden ticket – a second chance – after surviving a dramatic car accident, Burchard has dedicated his life to helping others find their voice, live more fully, and follow their dreams.

By following his 10-step program, average, ordinary people can learn to package their struggles, successes, research, or life’s story into advice for others and become experts on any given topic.  In the industry of people who share their advice and knowledge with the world and get paid for it, Burchard is the “guru’s guru.”
If you’ve ever wondered how the gurus spread their message, serve others, and build a real business, then this is a must-read.”

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I found this book to be both inspiring and motivating.  There is so much information in there, and it is difficult to take it all in at once.  It definitely is not a leisurely read.  To get the most out of it, you must do the work.  I found it helpful to have my journal nearby and answer the questions that were presented as I went through the book.  I especially enjoyed the questions he presented at the beginning.  He asks the reader to list 5 things they have learned about a variety of different topics.  I enjoyed answering those questions and learned a lot about myself through that exercise.

I feel like I need to read this book again because it is so packed with content and there are so many of his ideas I want to implement into my work.  If you have a message you want to share with the world, as I do, then I highly recommend reading this book and doing the work involved along the way.

Experts Millionaire Messenger

For more reviews on The Millionaire Messenger, visit Goodreads.

Book Review: 90 Minutes in Heaven

90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

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My Rating:  ***** (5/5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

I first read this book several years ago.  After I finished it then, I had considered it one of the best books I had ever read.  It gave me hope about heaven in the afterlife and took away any fears I had about death.  I wanted to tell everyone who had lost a loved one about this book so they may find comfort.  I recently saw the movie, which focuses more on the pain and recovery of Don Piper and it spends very little time on the experience of heaven.  Sadly, the movie doesn’t do the book justice in my opinion.  After seeing the movie, I decided to read the book once more and see if it had the same impact on me as it did the first time I read it.

Summary (from Goodreads)

As he is driving home from a minister’s conference, Baptist minister Don Piper collides with a semi-truck that crosses into his lane. He is pronounced dead at the scene. For the next 90 minutes, Piper experiences heaven where he is greeted by those who had influenced him spiritually. He hears beautiful music and feels true peace.
Back on earth, a passing minister who had also been at the conference is led to pray for Don even though he knows the man is dead. Piper miraculously comes back to life and the bliss of heaven is replaced by a long and painful recovery.

For years Piper kept his heavenly experience to himself. Finally, however, friends and family convinced him to share his remarkable story.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I really enjoyed this book, especially Chapters 2 and 3 where Don Piper describes his experience of Heaven.  I find the description of Heaven to be very exciting, and it erases all fears of dying for me.  To those who have lost loved ones, I believe they may find great comfort from this book.  The book is a very quick and easy read.  It held my interest, but I wish more detail would have gone into the description of heaven than of the recovery process and pain.  However, there are many great lessons to learn from this book through learning about Don Piper’s recovery process.

I think there are some very important lessons taught in this book:

  1. Learn to accept help from others when you can’t do something for yourself.  Letting others help you is a gift you give to them, because it makes them feel useful.
  2. Learn to appreciate what you have IN THE MOMENT.  Instead of focusing on the things you have lost or can no longer do, recognize and give thanks for those things you CAN do.  Accept the “new normal.”
  3. Everything happens for a reason.  You may not understand “why” for a very long time, but eventually the reason will become clear to you, and it is always for the greater good.  Trust in the universe.

See more reviews on Goodreads here.

Find out more about the author, the book, and the movie here.