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So long, 2017

It seems crazy that it’s the end of the year already. It seems to have gone by in a blur and yet, when I think about it, I really have done a lot.

This year, I travelled to Ireland (first time to Europe), Halifax, Chicago, Calgary, and Kelowna. I started working in my chosen field – and have already begun to excel and meet amazing people. My mind grew through experience and through reading, including the TWENTY-SIX books I completed in 2017 (pretty proud of that). I care deeply about some people who I didn’t know before (or know as well). My heart has hurt deeply, many times, almost every time I watch the news. I still don’t usually know what to do about this. I started to understand what it means to have an abundance mindset – and I’m not even that good at it yet but it’s gonna change everything.

It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but I am grateful for every day I had this year. I will continue to fight for gratitude, the act of not taking what I have for granted.

There are many, many things I want to do and be in 2018. I’m not nearly as good as I want to be yet – not as good a person, not as good a sister and daughter and friend. But, like I am a better person now than I was 365 days ago, I’m going to keep improving and striving and failing and getting back up.


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Lightening review: Option B

As you’re looking at how to start next year, may I humbly suggest reading this thoughtful and insightful work by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. The two, each excellent writers of their own bestselling books (I read Sandberg’s Lean In earlier this year and am partway through Grant’s Originals).

Using a careful balance of anecdotes and research, the two draw the reader into the story of Sandberg’s worst day, the day her husband died suddenly, and what she learned from joining ‘the club no one wants to be in.’ They discuss the three Ps (personal, pervasive, and permanence) which cause people to remain in their grief when something terrible has happened.

Although I’ve never lost a spouse, the book examines in some great detail the importance of building resilience as an individual, group, or organization. Written from Sandberg’s perspective since it focuses on her loss, it is both heartrending and humorous. Although the book covers (as the tagline says) “facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy,” it also touches on a host of other topics: raising children throughout grief, issues of single parents, pre-traumatic growth, and equality for women and minorities.

Sandberg admits that when she wrote her first book, she didn’t fully understand the difficulty faced by single parents (particularly women), which I found to be thoughtful and endearing.

The book is clear and well written, but difficult to read: it’s hard to think about the depth of loss the authors are writing about. No one wants to experience that. But I also think reading a book like this, candidly including things such as humour after loss and things she wished she’d discussed with her late husband, can prepare someone to face loss.

I don’t want to face difficult things. But it is helpful, and reassuring, to hear from someone who’s been through very difficult time (and to read the evidence of many others) and come out on the other side.

“I now know that it’s possible not just to bounce back but to grow. Would I trade this growth to have Dave back? Of course. No one would ever choose to grow this way. But it happens – and we do.”

The book goes on to quote Allan Rucker, who was paralyzed: “It’s not a blessing and there is no disguise. But there are things to be gained and things to be lost, and on certain days, I’m not sure that the gains are not as great as, or even greater than, the inevitable losses.”

Wow. When, God forbid, the time comes for me to respond to something terrible, may I have even a fraction of that attitude and perspective.

Go read this book.

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Review: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing

Wow. This book wrapped up my non-fiction requirements for the year, but unlike the various educational and self-help books I’ve been immersing myself with, this one is a memoir.

A Beautiful Terrible Thing is the true story about Jen Waite’s relationship with a man who she believed was her soulmate, but who turned out to be a psychopath who used her to feed his ego for years before she found out the truth.

The story is written in alternating chapters, most labelled simply “before” and “after.” Waite paints the rosy picture of a happy, romantic courtship, relationship, and marriage while simultaneously telling the tale of the relationship’s ugly disintegration. Suddenly on her own with an infant daughter, she realizes her husband fits every definition of the word psychopath and has to process this, retroactively reading the signs and putting the pieces together.

The story of this psychopathic relationship is both interesting (as learning something new is interesting; I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, of course!) and frightening. It seems to throw doubt on many relationships in your life as you read – psychopaths are everywhere! Fairy tale relationships are all a scam! – but really it provides important, factual information while sharing what it’s like to live that experience.

Ultimately, I see this as a story of Jen Waite the Phoenix*, who rose from the ashes of her marriage to become a stronger version of herself. Moving from the discovery, through the stages of grief, to deciding to go back to school, Waite tells her story in a candid, lively fashion. She is an excellent storyteller, pulling the important pieces out and holding them up to the light without shoving them in the reader’s face. She shows that there is hope even after being hurt so badly, and that there is life after a bad relationship.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, relationships, memoirs, psychopathic relationships, books about healing, or strong women.


*I didn’t remember this when writing this review, but the last few chapters are labelled “smoke,” “burn,” “truth like fire,” and “rise.” Maybe the phoenix thing wasn’t my idea after all.