I didn’t read the book for my leadership book club, and I showed up unapologetically to discuss it. Actually, I mostly just listened to the discussion because the other readers had intriguing and interesting insights. For the first time EVER, I felt like I could still show up even though I hadn’t even attempted to read the book. I was the kid who always did her homework, who always read the books, and who would find an “excuse” to not show up if I hadn’t read the book. This time, I felt at peace showing up without having even purchased the book. In all honesty, I considered buying the book, but I waited too long to order it. (What takes overnight for delivery in the United States, takes as long as a month for delivery in Okinawa.) Because I waited too long, I decided that listening to the Audible version would be good enough. It never occurred to me that the book would not be on Audible.
Several years ago, I was introduced to Personal & Professional Development books. Some would call them “Self Help” books. I needed to make a shift in life, so call them what you want, but I NEEDED HELP, and they worked. Also, in finding them, I found a group of authors who helped me learn and grow. I also found other readers who were interested in what I found helpful and thought-provoking. Books about self improvement, leadership, and personal growth became the only books I wanted to read. My nightstand would typically have 2-3 books on it. They would vary. Some would be educational. Some would be about running and mindset, and others would be about general personal development. I quit reading novels completely. It felt fulfilled, and I enjoyed the process of personal growth.
Fast-forward to 2020…
The thing about introspection and personal development is that if you deep-dive into it, you may not know what you are getting into until you have come to the deep end. I had been reading “the books” and doing “the work” for years, but because of the events of 2020, I had a lot of quiet time, and I created even more space where I began to dig into the deepest parts of my mindset, my past, and my core. It was like peeling an onion. The outer layers peeled off easily. Those are the layers I had been working on peeling from 2014-2019. However, in 2020, when I reached the inner layers, I found that they were tough, messy, made me cry, and were not so easy to peel back…just like the onion. My flaws were presented so openly, so painfully, so clearly. I began to see flaws that we all have, but few of us really take the time to observe. (Note: I am not proposing doing this much peeling; it is painful. I am simply sharing what I did.) I sat in my thoughts, in my self-awareness, in my flaws, in my shame, and it was ugly work. I am stilly trying to figure out what to do with all of the onion mess, but in doing so much reading, so much introspection, so much work, I became exhausted.
My best friend saves the day…
That’s the thing about best friends…even if they live over 7,500 miles away, they know what you need, and out of no where, my best friend, Jenn, sent a novel. It arrived in early 2021…just in time for me to make a reading-shift. It was a light, fluffy, romantic, and an easy reading book. It had enough of a story in it that it made me consider life and life’s choices, but it was a novel and a beautiful love story; it was exactly what I wanted, without consciously knowing that I wanted it. My brain and my soul needed a break from me. When I completed it, I went to the library and picked up more novels. They weren’t recommended. They weren’t on best-seller lists. They just had interesting book-covers or titles. They were straight-up novels, and they were so simple. I have spent the last 6 months listening to funny books, reading light books, and enjoying every minute of it.
So what now?
Going to book club made me realize that I actually miss Personal and Professional Development books. I love being around people who like those types of books. I also really like novels, so for now, I’ll try to read both.
About the onion…
Sometimes when you peel back and find the ugly and shameful, you also find the beautiful and empowered. As challenging as it is to start seeing all of your flaws so openly, you also find strengths that you didn’t know you had. Peeling back the onion wasn’t all bad. As I think about it, I was able to show up to that book club and to sit in a room with a bunch of brilliant women because I peeled back the onion. I felt confident enough to sit with PhD students, a chemist, a nurse, a non-profit founder, a financial services counselor, and a real estate professional. When I say brilliant, I mean driven AND brilliant. A year ago, I would not have shown up, or I would have shown up and not felt like I belonged, but because of the “work,” I could show up with confidence.
4 thoughts on “Books, Books, Books”
Don’t forget that you are an MBA, my dear! Now you know why I needed to laugh when I read all of those Janet Evonovich silly novels that summer. Sometimes we all need to laugh out loud and forget about deep thoughts and pressures. You inspire me every week! Thank you!
I remember when you read all of those books. At the time, I could not get into them…not my season to enjoy them, but I know someday, I’ll end up binge reading all of them, and I will literally laugh out loud when I do! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog ❤️
You know I love the personal development books, too – in fact, you might have been the one to inspire me to start reading them and “doing the work.” ❤
But I usually have (at least) two books on the go at the same time. Something for personal development in the morning while I have my coffee, and something that isn't too gripping or thought provoking for bed time when I'm just quieting my brain (or any time in between morning coffee and bedtime.) Although sometimes I DO wind up with a page turner at night and end up staying awake past my bedtime! 😉
I want that routine!!! I love morning routines, but my reading hasn’t been a part of the routine 🤦🏻♀️