Last fall, I hit a rough patch. An emotional rough patch. It was unexpected, felt like it came out of nowhere (although in hindsight, signs of it had been creeping up on me for about 2 years through flashbacks I kept ignoring). Eventually, I lost the "shoving the flashbacks under a rug" battle. Physically, my body broke down. Emotionally, I hit a low. I was dealing with the repercussions of not seeking help and healing from emotional trauma I had suffered as a child. Thankfully, I got help. And during that time of healing, the three books below served as my compass, map and North Star.
Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution, by Brene Brown
The title of this book caught my eye at the library. I definitely wanted to "rise strong" again. But given I could barely make everyday simple decisions without breaking down in tears, "rising strong" felt like a distant and faraway concept. This was my first Brene Brown book. If you don't know who Brene Brown is, here are two facts: 1) Oprah is a fan of hers, and 2) you can see Brene Brown's talks on TED. Brene is a research professor, and studies human emotions such as vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. At the end of the day, life is always going to throw us curveballs, and this book gave me an emotional roadmap for processing and moving on from hard moments in life. What I found very helpful was how Brene provided tools on dealing with curveballs, rather than trying to define for us what's hard - whether we had an argument with our spouse, didn't get the promotion we were hoping for, and the list goes on. This book lived up to its title, and finishing this book was a milestone in my journey of healing, and rising strong.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
This book caught my ear at a Sunday sermon at church. The Pastor shared Marie Kondo's idea of only keeping items in your house that bring you joy. What sounded at first like an absurd thought turned out to be pure genius. Initially challenging to execute - as with anything that's behaviorally different than what you're used to, the methodology was a game changer for me - it's changed my life for good. One of Marie's observations is that when you start to implement her methodology of tidying up (an intense form of de-cluttering), it feels like your quality of life gets better, and more success comes your way. She's right. The best part is I haven't had to clean my closet since I implemented her methodology 6 months ago, and I never will have to clean it again. It really is magic.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
A friend had given me this book years ago. I forgot that I had it, until one day, I found it in my drawer. Was it coincidence that I found it immediately after reading the works of Brene Brown and Marie Kondo? After reading The Alchemist, I think not. The Alchemist inspires us to go after our dreams, our "personal legend" as he calls it. When we choose to pursue our personal legend, life conspires in our favor. There are signs and omens all along the path, as well as people who cross our paths that are there to help us reach our dreams. As with any journey, there are obstacles. And sadly, many people never pursue their personal legend - as they allow other things in life to get in their way. For me, this book was an omen telling me that I will create my personal legend of being a writer. A blogger. A children's book author. A storyteller. Reading this book just might be the jumpstart you need to pursue your own personal legend - and what a gift that is.
I'm going to end this blog post explaining why I provided the context I did at the beginning. I shared it because at our lowest points, if we have the strength to seek help, and have the good fortune of having a support system of some sort, that time can be a time for us to make a change for the better. The kind of change that feels like a renewal of sorts. It can set us on a new path, a better one. One that helps us realize our potential, and what we want to do in the lifetime we have on this earth. I experienced a new clarity after reading these books, and if you take the time to let these authors speak to you - you may feel that your life has changed too, for Good.