Review// Unf*ck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head & Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop

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Author: Gary John Bishop
Series: Standalone
Genre: Self Help
Release Date: October 22, 2016
Book Length: 221 pages 
Publisher: Harper One
Review: 2.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Have you ever felt like a hamster on a wheel, furiously churning your way through life but somehow going nowhere? It seems like there’s a barrage of information surrounding us in our everyday lives with the keys to this thing or that thing, be it wealth, success, happiness or purpose. The truth is, most of it fails to capture what it truly takes to overcome our greatest barrier to a greater life…ourselves. What if everything you ever wanted resided in you like a well of potential, waiting to be expressed? Unfu*k Yourself is the handbook for the resigned and defeated, a manifesto for real life change and unleashing your own greatness.

My Review:

Not the worst self-help book I’ve read, but not the most memorable either. I do have to say though that Gary John Bishop was very motivating – I liked the 7 personal assertions he broke each chapter down by:

1. I am willing
2. I am wired to win
3. I got this
4. I embrace uncertainty
5. I am not my thoughts; I am what I do
6. I am relentless
7. I expect nothing and accept everything

The main idea this book presents is that you can’t just sit around waiting for life to hand you things or for you to be ‘ready’ to face certain challenges that come with making positive changes. Although the message is a good one, the manner in which the author conveys it does come off as a little bit aggressive at times, and I could see how one could be turned off by that. Usually with these types of books, there is an ‘aha moment’ for me, and even though some of his insight was important and something I needed to hear, I just didn’t feel that. For this reason, I have given it a 2 on Goodreads, however, if I really think about it, it was probably closer to a 3 as I did enjoy it for the most part – I just didn’t feel as strongly about it as I would have liked.

Don’t let your mind control you any longer. Stop letting it hold you back with its excuses and distractions and worries. You are not your thoughts. You are your actions. You are what you do. And your actions are the only thing separating you from where you are and where you want to be. This isn’t just about seizing the day; this is about seizing the moment, the hour, the week, the month. This is abut seizing your fucking life and staking a claim for yourself as though your life depends on it. Because, the reality is, it does.


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Review// Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life & Love From Dear Sugar

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Author: Cheryl Strayed
Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-fiction
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Book Length:  304 pages 
Publisher: Vintage
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

My Review:

It’s hard to think of the perfect thing to say that would accurately convey what this book has done to me but the one thing that I know for certain is that it was life-altering. I’m better for having read this, and that, to me, is what all the best books do—they make you feel changed for the better.

This book is a compilation of advice columns answered by a woman who goes by the name, ‘Sugar’. It is what the title says it is—advice on life and love—but for almost the whole book, I wondered why it was called Tiny Beautiful Things. It’s not until I finished that I understood that it is sometimes the tiny, beautiful, seemingly-meaningless things about life that you don’t think matter that much in the moment which are the things you look back on as some of the most profound of your life.

The letters written to Sugar over the course of this book come from people of all ages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and the like—people who are lost, confused, lonely, desperate, and scared, looking for someone to give them answers. Sugar isn’t some all-knowing fortune teller with a crystal ball who can see into your future, and she doesn’t claim to be; she is a real human being like you or I who has also been lost, confused, lonely, desperate, and scared. That is what makes her advice so good.  That is why thousands of people write to her—because even if she hasn’t been in their particular situation, she makes them feel understood by bringing up her own experiences and never saying that they are wrong for feeling what they do. And feeling understood feels really, really good, especially when you are going through tough situations that make you feel alone, as many of these people were. Even though I can’t say I have experienced half of the exact things that the people who wrote to her were going through, I can say that I have experienced the same emotions, which made the stories feel relatable regardless.

This was eye-opening and, at times, a heavy and emotional read. I really cannot recommend it enough, and I will be giving it a reread in the future for sure.


What would you tell your twentysomething self if you could talk to her now?

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.


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18 Things I Learned in 2018

This post is going to be something a little different from my norm in that it’s not necessarily related to books, but it is something I want to share. Since starting my blog earlier this year, I have learned so much, and I want to be able to reflect on all of it in one final post of 2018. It would be awesome if I could write two thousand and eighteen things I learned this year, but in the interest of time and length, eighteen things will have to do.

  1. Do whatever it is you’re ‘waiting to be ready’ for sooner rather than later, because chances are, if you don’t, it’s never going to happen.
    This goes for anything – careers, self-improvement, hobbies, and everything in between. For months, I contemplated starting this blog; I would come on WordPress, fill out all the fields to get started, and then press backspace on the browser because I was scared I wasn’t ready. Finally, after a gentle nudge from a friend, I just closed my eyes and did it. Even now sometimes, I still don’t think I am ready. But guess what? I’m doing it. And it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself. Reading and writing are more than just hobbies, they are an escape, and if it wasn’t for this blog this year I would have had a much harder time getting through it all. Even now I wonder, am I ready to publish such a vulnerable post? Nope. But I’m going to do it anyway, and I’m going to be better for it.
  2. It’s okay to not finish a book.
    Leaving things left undone is not in my nature. I always feel like a quitter when I stop in the middle of something or think I haven’t given my all. It’s true when they say you are your toughest critic – at least, I am mine. However, it’s okay to recognize you’re not enjoying whatever it is you’re doing – like reading a book – and stopping if it doesn’t make you happy. This same logic can be applied to many other situations in life: if it doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it; if it isn’t fulfilling to you, you’re allowed and valid in focusing your attention elsewhere.
  3.  Every bad thing that’s happening to you is preparing you for something better.
    This is going to sound so cliché, but I’ll put it like this: when plants are growing, they need water, and dirt, and fertilizer. When you Google how fertilizer helps plants grow, you get this answer: “Plants need to be fertilized because most soil does not provide the essential nutrients required for optimum growth.” Well, I like to think that humans are the same way. Just like plants need to grow through shit, humans need to go through shit. If all the negative things that happened to me this year didn’t happen, I would probably be a lot happier, but I also wouldn’t be as strong. There have been so many times when I thought, “why is this happening to me?” but looking back, I feel like none of it was ever truly negative, because the character I’m building will only serve to prepare me for all the good things the world has in store in the future. And if I’m being honest, I kind of like the me that I am now more than I liked the me that I was at the beginning of the year, and I couldn’t say that without all the things – good and bad – that happened this year to shape me into who I am today.
  4.  You will never regret putting yourself outside of your comfort zone.
    If you asked me if I were an introvert or an extrovert, I would say that I’m an extroverted introvert. It’s like having the devil and angel on your shoulder – the introverted part of me tries to convince me to stay inside the comfort of the bubble I’ve created, while the extroverted part tries convincing me that it would be fun to pop it. About 60% of the time, the introverted part wins, but the 40% where the extroverted part does are the most exciting. I have no idea what winning the lottery feels like, but I imagine the high I get from doing something outside of my comfort zone and it not being the most painful experience in the world, like my introverted side tries to warn me, is prettttty close.
  5. Your feelings are valid. All. The. Time.
    People will try to convince you that they’re not, and for the rest of your life, someone probably will. For the rest of your life, these people will also be wrong.
  6. Having a full-time job does not have to be miserable.
    This was a big year for me career-wise because I got my first full-time job. For probably my whole life, I have had the impression that having a full-time job is daunting and that I’m going to go to work every day hating my life. Well, guess what? That is not the case all the time! I’m very lucky, but I genuinely like going to work every day and I never thought I would say that.
  7.  Forgiving yourself is just as important as forgiving other people.
    I’m way quicker to forgive other people than I am to forgive myself. If someone hurts me, I’m over it before I was even under it. But when I hurt me, I can hurt me and hurt me and hurt me and the forgiveness just doesn’t come as easily – I almost feel like I don’t deserve it sometimes. With that being said, you have to live with yourself your whole entire life. Isn’t that crazy? It sometimes boggles my mind to think that I will never know what it’s like to be someone else. So, even though it’s hard, the least I can do for myself is learn to forgive me if I have to be around me forever. You should do the same for you.
  8. Your worth doesn’t come from other people, it comes from you!
    I think that I have placed too much of my self-worth on whether or not other people see me in a certain way, and this year has really challenged my ability to see worth in myself.  It’s not something you can change overnight, and it’s something I’m going to have to keep working on, but I feel like I have come a long way. Focusing your energy on you actually attracts people automatically. You don’t (and should never) have to actually work to get people to like you, or to care about you, or to see you, or to talk to you, THEY JUST DO. And anyone from that point who doesn’t see how amazing you are to be around or talk to is just plain stupid, probably has their own personal issues to sort through, and doesn’t deserve your attention anyway.
  9. When you’re at a party, dance.
    You know how many solo dance parties I’ve had in my room? Too many. And you know what usually happens when I go to parties? Not dancing! I don’t want to constantly think about whether or not I look stupid, because even if I do, who cares??? I love singing and dancing with my friends and if I’m having fun, who cares. The secret is that no one is paying attention to how stupid you do or don’t look, because they’re too busy worrying about themselves. So dance at parties, these are the memories with your friends you’re going to remember.
  10.  Meeting new people is really fun.
    This kind of goes back to the comfort zone thing, but I never realized how much I love talking to new people until this year. Like I said, I am not the most extroverted person, so talking to strangers is something I’ve never thought I enjoyed until now. This year, I complimented a lot more strangers and let me tell you, it felt good! Also, if it weren’t for me talking to new people, I wouldn’t have met Kelly, one of my best friends in the book community ❤ So, go out there and talk to strangers, because you never know if one might end up being a big part of your life one day.
  11. Going on trips without your family can be really good for your growth.
    This year, I went on vacation for the first time without my parents. It was both my friend and I’s first time going anywhere alone together, and we were both kind of nervous, but it ended up being one of the most memorable things that happened all year. Planning our own trip made me feel like a real responsible adult, and made me a lot more grateful for all the times my parents organized vacations for the five of us, because organizing for just myself was hard enough!
  12. Take the opportunity to go for walks when the weather is nice.
    Something I kind of dislike about myself is that I am a hermit. I love being in my room alone having me-time, which is fine, but it makes a world of a difference when that me-time is out in fresh air. I live somewhere where the weather is nice less than half of the year, so when it was good, I went for a walk almost every day and my mood improved all the time. Definitely going to be doing more of that in 2019.
  13. Go to bed early if you’re tired. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
    I’ve been a night owl ever since I can remember. I don’t know what happened to me this year, but I have been getting tired at normal times lately, and I have never regretted falling asleep early and feeling so refreshed waking up early the next day. Didn’t even know that was a possibility for me, but let me tell you, it is life changing.
  14. If you compare yourself to other people, you are always going to be miserable.
    This is a huge one and I’m probably going to have to keep working on it for life. Trying not to compare yourself is hard enough without social media in the mix, magnifying everyone else’s highs and making you feel like you’re behind. It’s not easy at all, but when I tried my best to not compare where I am at in life to where other people my age are, I stopped feeling sorry for the things I haven’t done, and started to feel proud of everything I have. Life is not a race; everyone is on their own path. Focus on yourself instead of focusing on other people.
  15. Putting effort into your appearance can actually make you feel 10x better about your day.
    Obviously appearance isn’t everything, that’s not what I’m saying. But I noticed that this year, I tried putting a lot more effort than usual into what I wear and trying to get up earlier to do my makeup, and the outlook I have on my day has improved exponentially.
  16. It is okay to make mistakes – healthy, even.
    This is another one I am going to have to continuously work on, but I really hate making mistakes. However, making mistakes is really the only way you’re going to learn life lessons. I know that I have a lot more mistakes to make, and it does scare me, but for the first time probably ever, I think it excites me too. I know that sounds strange, but I actually feel kind of happy about it because it means that I am going to continue to grow and change so much more and (hopefully) become a better person from them; who doesn’t want that?
  17. Doing things alone doesn’t have to be lonely.
    I used to be so embarrassed to do the smallest things, like sitting in a coffee shop, alone but now I love it. I think enjoying your own company is really important and a healthy part of growing into who you are.
  18. Everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t see it right now, and everything is always going to work out – maybe not in the way you imagined, and maybe not as soon as you’d hoped, but it will work out for the best and you will see that eventually.

Although I think that 2018 was probably my hardest year mentally and emotionally, I don’t want to look back on it as a bad year because I learned a lot, I grew a lot, and despite everything, I still laughed a lot. Something tells me that 2019 is going to be even better, and I can’t wait to experience all the highs and lows that come with it and see how much farther I’ve come next year.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year, and if you made it this far, thank you for reading.
If anyone has any of their own experiences to add, let me know! I’d love to hear them 🙂

-Catherine

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Review // You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

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Author: Jen Sincero
Series: Standalone
Genre: Self-help 
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Book Length: 256 
Publisher: Running Press Adult

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it NOW.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

If you’re wanting to kick some serious ass in the money department (you wanna?) and start making the kind of dinero you ain’t never made before, pre-order the next book in the series that’s all about your financial badassery: You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth, coming April 2017 from Viking Books.

My Review:

I have never read a self-help book before just because it is not the genre I typically gravitate towards. I like books that help me feel like I am escaping reality as opposed to facing it head on. Why, do you ask, did I decide to pick this up then? Well, for starters, there are a lot of times where— to put it quite bluntly— I’m not feeling like a badass whatsoever. It can be easy to compare yourself and/or your success to others’, doubt your abilities, and feel lost and confused about your place in the world among what seems to be only successful people. So, in an attempt to get motivated and feel awesome, I thought I would give this a chance. Secondly, a Youtuber that I started watching recently, Meredith Foster, was reading this book and praising it. She presents herself as a very positive person, so I thought, “If she likes it, maybe I will learn a thing or two.” And thirdly, it’s one of the books that my library has unlimited audio book copies of, so it was quick and convenient to download onto my Overdrive.

Now, you may have noticed I didn’t rate this one. The reason being, I really don’t know how to. Jen Sincero is a motivational speaker and success coach; it is her job to make people feel uplifted and inspired. In that regard, did she succeed? Yes. However, did she tell me anything I don’t already intrinsically know? No. Sometimes though, you just need someone to tell you the things your brain already knows but keeps doubting and I really needed to hear some of the things she said.

Important things I took away from this:

  • It’s okay to not have everything together all the time; you will learn and grow through your mistakes and making them is not the end of the world (probably the most major thing I needed to hear).
  • Being at peace with yourself involves being in the present moment more often than you are looking for things to dwell on from the past or make you anxious for the future (something I am very guilty of).
  • You create your reality based on your beliefs— ridding yourself of subconscious beliefs that self-sabotage is the first step to living a better life.

Even though I already knew these things, it was still nice to hear them from someone else’s mouth. There are some things she said that I couldn’t really get on board with though. For example, she had mentioned an instance where she lied on a resume to get a job and basically the point of the story was to say that anyone is capable of anything and paper qualifications don’t matter. Her excuse was that she does have the qualifications in other ways. Like yes you’re an older sister so you’re good at being a leader, but so is half the world? I don’t know I just found it quite senseless. Another thing she said that I didn’t agree with was how she bought a really expensive car when she couldn’t afford it just because she believed that she would get the money somehow. To be honest, I don’t think I will ever be that irrational when making a big financial decision like that, and I’m totally okay with it.

All in all, if you are looking for a motivational read that is going to change you overnight, this probably isn’t it. However, if you are looking for a kick in the butt to make you feel a bit better and motivate you in the right direction, I recommend listening to the audio book version. I’ll leave this review with one of my favourite quotes of the book:

“You are on a journey with no defined beginning, middle, or end. There are no wrong twists and turns. There is just being. And your job is to be as you as you can be.”


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