Last month, my lovely friend, Meredith of The Mom of the Year, chose the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed as our book club read for the month of October. I hope you all got a chance to read it or, if not, at least added it to your must read list. Because it truly is a must read!
I’ll be honest, I’m always a little leery of these “Eat, Pray, Love” type books. Let’s face it, I’m a mom. I can’t go galavanting off to another country or wilderness to “find myself”. Don’t get me wrong. I want to! Desperately. Even Cheryl’s toenail-less feet and lack of decent food didn’t deter me from wistfully dreaming of doing exactly what she did … which was hike the Pacific Crest Trail for three months after the death of her mother.
I’m, of course, so curious to hear what you all thought of it. A couple of things stood out to me personally. I could relate so completely to Cheryl in the feelings she experienced in relation to her mother’s death. Having experienced my own mother’s death at about the same age as Cheryl, I thought Cheryl did an amazing job articulating the ups and downs, the deep waves and the soft flutters of grief.
This paragraph, in particular, blew me away.
“It was wrong. It was so relentlessly awful that my mother had been taken from me. I couldn’t even hate her properly. I didn’t get to grow up and pull away from her and bitch about her with my friends and confront her about the things I wished she’d done differently an then get older and understand that she had done the best she could and realize that what she had done was pretty damn good and take her fully back into my arms again. Her death had obliterated that. It had obliterated me. It had cut me short at the very height of my youthful arrogance. It had forced me to instantly grow up and forgive her every motherly fault at the same time that it kept me forever a child, my life both ended and begun in that premature place where we’d left off. She was my mother, but I was motherless. I was trapped by her but utterly alone. She would always be the empty bowl that no one could fill. I’d have to fill it myself again and again and again.”
Have you ever lost someone and found yourself struggling with that relationship?
I also found the way she explained her forgiveness of herself to be most powerful. How do you forgive yourself if you’ve done something you know if so completely and utterly wrong?
“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? … What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”
Have you ever had to forgive yourself of something that you had done wrong? Is it possible to do this and move on and let go?
Lastly, I found this passage – where Cheryl is discussing the legitimate fears of taking this journey by herself – a woman alone – to hold a deeper sense of the real condition of anxiety and how it shapes us and can take hold of us.
“It was a deal I made with myself months before and the only thing that allowed me to hike alone. I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away. I simply did not let myself become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”
Do you relate to this passage? How about the stories you tell yourself? Are they always accurate or do they help perpetuate fear and anxiety in your life?
Meredith and I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave comments and you will be entered to win a copy of Wild!! This will only be available to people living in the continental U.S. Deadline is 5am ET, November 14, 2014.
And don’t forget to go see the movie out December 5th starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed!!
Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.
One of my most favorite actresses on one of my most favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler’s new book looks absolutely amazing! And I don’t know about you, but with the busy fall we’ve had, I could stand a few laughs!!
From the back cover:
In a perfect world . . .
We’d get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we’d all be friends with Amy—someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn’t ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens’ Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she’s not available for movie night.
Luckily we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.
Join us December 5th to discuss Amy’s new book!! And don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a copy of the book Wild!