Review: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F#ck 

Review: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F#ck 

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F#ck ~ by Mark Manson

4.5 Stars

Let me first say that I’m not a fan of self help books as I find, like diet books – they all say pretty much the same thing and are filled with fluff, “visualize your goals”, “life is like a game of chess”, “without desires & dreams, your thoughts do not matter”, “be positive & positive things will happen” …. blah, blah, blah. 

This book caught my eye about a year ago when I was on vacation – seriously, how many times have I said my life would be so much easier if I didn’t give a fuck! It was like Mark Manson was reading my mind. Still – it was a self help book so I had my doubts and the book stayed in the store. Then I picked up a tattered & torn copy laying on my sisters porch that looked as though it had be read, reread, and used! There must be something to this beyond the “F” word! 

I perused Mark Manson’s book with Chapters like “Don’t Try” & “Happiness is a Problem” and I was sold! Plus when I got to chapter 3, “You Are Not Special” I thought – this is what my family has been telling me for years! 😊

But really, the title may have dragged me in but the the book well written and uncomplicated. Don’t let the title fool you though, it’s not about not giving a fuck about everything, it’s about being deliberate in what to give a fuck about. At its core the book is about learning from the negative, asking yourself hard questions, exploring your values, and even possibly changing your values. Most of all it spells out that YOU are responsible for your life, not your parents, not your 5th grade teacher who gave you an F or the asshole boss that fired you. Challenge yourself, never get comfortable, don’t be afraid of negative experiences.  

“I say don’t find yourself. I say never know who you are because that’s what keeps you striving and discovering. And it forces you to remain humble in your judgments and accepting of differences in others.”  Mark Manson
What sets this book apart from the dozens of other self help books I’ve read is that Mark Manson blends personal stories with humor and brutal honesty, not the fluff sold in so many self help books. 

Think positive? 

“Fuck positivity, Let’s be honest; sometimes things are fucked up and we have to live with it.” 

Seek happiness?

“Happiness is a constant work in progress. Happiness comes from solving problems, not avoiding them.”

Be extraordinary?

“Not everyone can be extraordinary – there are winners and losers in society. If everyone were extraordinary, then by definition on one would be ordinary.”  

So what made this book different – it focuses on values, on having an appreciation for life’s basic experiences. Maybe I won’t ever be a published author, maybe I’ll won’t become CEO, maybe I’m not extraordinary but I can enjoy the simple pleasures of friendship, or reading a good book. I can relook my values OR just the way I measure them (as I believe my values are solid). I can question myself, get out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to fail and never stop challenging myself. I will do something, no matter how small.  

I can, in a nutshell, reevaluate and learn to let go, I will give fewer “fucks”, and focus on those things that are truly important and in my control. 

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry   by Gabrielle Zevin

4 StarsFikry

I love bookstores – the smaller and quirkier the better – I love roaming the aisles and finding treasures, I love seeing and feeling the personalities of the bookstore owners within the “pages” of the store. What I liked best about this story was the setting, “Island Books,” A. J. Fikry bookstore and the way the story unfolded within its doors, the characters that grew within its walls.

A.J. Fikry owns Island Books on a summer destination island off Massachusetts. He’s widowed at the age of 39, his wife killed in an auto accident. Fikry drinks as his bookstore drifts toward bankruptcy. Then, within a span of days, his rare copy of Poe’s Tamerlane is stolen, and 2-year-old little girl is deposited at his bookstore. However, the story does not dwell in the darkness of Fikry’s existence. Rather, it’s about the power of life to surprise, about how plans – and lives – change in the barest of moments.

The Characters are well developed, my favorite is Police Chief Lambiase who wasn’t an avid reader but liked the occasional Detective book, while using prose of purchasing new books to check on A.J. he gradually grows into more literary novels and becomes an avid reader.  Eventually, Lambiase starts a book club for police officers at the store. I think I am drawn to him because of his growth as a reader!

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, a likable literary love story about selling books and finding love.

Reunion

Driver holding welcome sign in airport, smiling, portrait

The Ass waited and waited, his excitement grew,
He couldn’t wait til his friend joined his crew!

 

beave-plane

His friend had arrived,  the Ass became a believer,
It was a Holiday miracle, it was the Christmas Beaver!

reunion

 

Weight a Minute, Do You Want Thighs With That?

sizeIt seems to be a bi-annual routine in my life to clean my closet out, not because it’s the changing of the seasons or because I’m a clean freak (I wish), but because my clothes don’t fit (again). Sometimes it is a good thing, my pants are too large and starting to look saggy, then 6 months later my new “slim” pants are too small and I’m back to my old size! The ritual is always the same, start a weight loss program – successfully lose weight – happily pack up my “fat” clothes to donate – buy new clothes – gain back the weight! Repeat!

The sad part is, each time I lose weight, each time I buy smaller pants or blouses I tell myself that this time the weight will stay off. However, life continues to happen, and old habits die hard (and wine and ice cream taste really, really good)! Sadly, I always end up back to that same size, the size I don’t like, the size that screams like a beacon in the night guiding my ass into port.

So the question is – do I work harder to loss the weight or learn to love me, just the way I am!

I don’t know which one would be harder to do. Since high school I’ve tried every fade diet out there, everyone secret herb, vitamin, oil, every plan. I try to move more and eat less and for the most part I don’t over indulge. Yet, here I stand, staring at the numbers on the scale still hovering above the same 30-50lbs over the “sweet spot” where I want to be. I have successfully lost and found the same 40lbs over and over again. Although I can’t say the same for my mind!

I have wasted a lot of time worrying about my weight, worrying about how people would look at me or judge me or like me based of the size of my hips & thighs. If someone doesn’t want to be a friend because my ass doesn’t fit neatly into a size 4, 6 or 8 or because my thighs have their own time zone, then they don’t deserve to know me.

WOW, that is tough talk for a women who stares into the mirror each morning hoping the view changes! It’s so easy to talk the talk, walking the walk is much harder after years of judging yourself harshly! How do you change years of negative thinking? In other aspects of my life I am rather self-assured, I’m smart, successful and funny; but that one thing keeps weighing me down (pun intended) and always seems to get under my skin!size2

Queen said “Fat bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round” – maybe that’s my destiny, to make the world go round or at least my little part of the world! Calling all Fat Bottom Girls – here is to loving who you are and how you look, full figured, big busted, hippy and beautiful!

Size is just a number and being happy and healthy is all that matters!

Book Review ~ “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman

light-betweenMy Rating / 4.5 Stars

“The Light Between Oceans” is the first novel M. L. Stedman has written and it is an extraordinary story of the difference one decision can make; how the future must be lived and the past cannot be changed, and how love can blur the boundaries between right and wrong.

I liked how the author recognizes that so much of life unfolds in shades of gray, not simple black and white. Even the Lighthouse almost become a character, which is stationed between two very different oceans, the Great Southern Ocean (cold and treacherous) and the Indian Ocean (warm and calm), is named for Janus, the two faced Roman God of doorways, “always looking both ways, torn between two ways of seeing things.”

This idea of seeing things black, white or grey is mirrored throughout the story. The idea of honoring those who came home from the war but ignoring the scars, the idea of nature versus nurture and the love between husband and wife, parent and child, especially mother and child.

The story takes place after the first World War in Australia, after four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. Janus is an isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a quarter and shore leaves are rarely granted. Before heading to Janus, Tom meets Isabel, a young, audacious women, who eventually becomes his wife and solitary partner at the Lighthouse. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

When the choice is made to keep the baby, instead of reporting the tragedy it eventually has a devastating effect that reaches far beyond the craggy shore line of Janus Rock!

Tom, who retreated from war to find peace in the solitude of the Lighthouse, miles from anyone, is soon confronted with conflict on a deeper and more intimate level than those he faced in war.

Isabel, who has had so much taken from her, the loss of her brothers at war and her three babies, see this “miracle child”, as a way to bring back a balance to her and Tom’s life. However, she failed to see the unbalanced effect, this decision would have on others, especially Hannah, the child’s birth mother, and the little one, Lucy.

The eventual reunion of birth mother and child takes place, however not smoothly. At one point Hannah makes a decision to give the child back to Isabel, “for the good of the child.” This reminded me of the bible, 1 Kings 3:25, the woman that loved the child did not want it to suffer, therefore was given the child. I felt that Tom decision not to report the death of the father and the discovery of the child, was for the same reason – the love for his wife. But ultimately, he could no longer live with his choice. I do feel that Isabel, while she had moments of regret and sorrow for Hannah’s loss, could have lived her life very happily with her original decision.

Putting aside what I thought was the morally right decision – I found myself developing empathy for each character. They are so well defined that, at one point or other throughout the book, I that sympathize with each of them and their internal struggle to do what’s right versus want. I especially like the development of some of the minor characters, Ralph, Bluey and Gwen to name a few.

A good story, a bit slow to start, but definitely picks up, I did find myself crying through the last 50 or so pages!

My favorite quote ´”You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”