Hope you had a good weekend. We had beautiful weather here. It felt like spring.
When I was not outside this weekend, I was reading, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. I received a free copy from Thomas Nelson, because – clearly – Book Reviewer is the best job ever.
For those who don’t know her, Rachel is the creative and business powerhouse behind The Chic Site, an awesome blog and portal for women. She has a recipe for Caramel Fudge Topped Guinness Brownies up on the site right now, so obviously she is amazing.
While this book is billed as a Christian memoir, it’s not preachy in any way. She’s a big tent Christian a la Jen Hatmaker, and is as inclusive as it gets. Even if you are not a Christian, I think you will find it encouraging.
Hollis – who has also written several novels and a cookbook – writes as she blogs, with a frank, conversational style. She treats her reader like a long-lost best girlfriend with whom she is catching up with over coffee or a glass of wine.
I always hate it when people who are younger than me seem so wise, but she is the real deal. On the one hand, she runs a successful company, is married to a Disney exec, and lives in Bel Air with her beautiful family (and occasionally goes to the Oscars.) On the other hand, she wrestles with everyday doubts and hassles just like the rest of us. Her candidness and her sense of humour is her secret sauce.
Hollis has had a few harder-than-average knocks in her life, which, quite frankly, are what give her such credibility. As a child, she had to deal with the trauma of her brother’s suicide and the subsequent unravelling of her family. She’s also faced an unbelievably hard road to adopting her daughter, Noah. Though all this, she clings to joy, writing: “this is what it boils down to: faith. The belief that your life will unfold as it was meant to, even when it unfolds into something painful and difficult to navigate.” Her trials have not made her bitter and have made her more grateful for what she has.
The subtitle of the books is Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Be Who You Were Meant to Be. Her book walks through 20 common lies that keep us from being our best and happiest and offers tips on what helped her stop believing these lies herself. With chapters ranging from I Need a Drink, to I Am Defined by My Weight, to I’m Not Good Enough, she tackles a lot of taboo subjects that hold so many women back. If you’ve been struggling in your life, this book is a gift.
Like any good coach or trainer, she is great at giving the reader the proverbial kick in the pants. No matter what terrible things have befallen you, she wants you to move on: “You are a warrior because of the trials you are going through, but don’t you dare squander the strength you have earned just because the acquisition of it was painful.”
For me, the game changing sentence was this one: “What if none of it was happening to you. What if all of it was happening for you.” She talks about the power of a perceptual shift to get you from feeling defeated by your trials, to gaining strength from them. It’s a bold statement and one she can only make because she has walked this path herself. If the worst thing that happened to her was that her kitchen reno went over budget or her kid got cut from the soccer team, those would be fighting words.
But she’s gone through the fire. And has made it through to the other side, hanging onto joy with sometimes clenched fists. She is proof that every day can be an opportunity to pick yourself up, get unstuck, and start to work on your dreams. As she writes: “Every year, you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don’t write the same one seventy-five times and call it a life.”
Amen to that.
We went to the zoo this weekend to see the Pandas, who are off to Calgary in another month.
They were just sitting, eating, and chilling. They looked like they were three friends in a hot tub having a chat. I think they are my favourite animals. The kingdom of Heaven has to be chock-full of them, no? It’s hard not to feel happy while staring at Pandas.