Some of us need a kick up the bum whereas some others need to slow down more. Which camp do you fall into?
(For those interested, I did a post of this last year with different books - hence, this blog post is entitled 'Vol 2'.)
I struggle to do less. No really. Wait.. you guessed? So it is ironic that one of the key themes of Jess Stuart's book, 'Like A Girl' is about feeling like we are 'enough' as women.
Of course, ironically, finding the time to fully read this book has been a challenge, juggling my blog, relationship, work, family stuff and more through 2018.
I was lucky enough to meet the author, Jess, a few weeks ago and understand better why she wrote the book. Jess always heard the expression 'Like a Girl' used as an insult while she was growing up. In her work as a life coach, she's seen many women, with similar worries and concerns. We can feel like somehow we lack something, and so overload ourselves to strive to prove how good we are. Her book is the culmination of Jess's more than 15 years of experience in the corporate world.
"I got wrapped in that whole climb the ladder, be successful, trap. I had the car, the house by the beach and everything was great but I wasn't happy so I decided I needed to do something that wasn't just about paying my bills. I wanted something that fuelled my soul." Jess now is a life-coach and author, who consults on the side - marking a big change in career.
'Like a Girl' has four parts to it, aimed at helping people like myself question why they do what they do and ways to improve their relationship with themselves. She concentrates on looking at what makes us happy and how to be ourselves authentically, something I know I struggled with when I was younger. In the second part of the book, she tackles feminine traits, such as wisdom and intuition, kindness, emotional intelligence, being a woman at work and leadership. Jess's voice is that of a caring older sister, who is never patronising but gently coaxes us to reconsider how we view what it is to be a woman.
In part three, Jess looks at the negative side of neglecting our feminity: burnout, mindfulness, people pleasing, de-complicating life, perfectionism, self-doubt, comparison (so easy in an internet age!) and self-care all are carefully considered. The book looks at all of the above as part of a toolkit we have for resilience, using authenticity as a cornerstone: "Happiness is not the mere absence of suffering or temporary cessation of unhappiness. It's less about elation and perfection and more about purpose and fulfilment, being connected to who you are. A big part of that is reliance. Bad things will crop up. It's how we deal with it and bounce back that impacts our happiness" explains Jess.
'Like a Girl' reminds us that not everyone is living a 'perfect' life. Not everyone has ideal jobs, romance and relationships. What is most important is our relationship to ourselves, and thinking of oneself highly, and with kindness. I would recommend this book to any young woman from her late teens to women in their fifties. It is insightful, helpful and engaging. For those interested, Jess also does coaching sessions in Wellington - a must if you need someone to help you take a step forward in life and are overwhelmed with being you.
On the other end of the spectrum is 'Go Girl' by Barbara Else. This is a storybook about epic New Zealand women. While it may seem like one for little girls, I can assure you it is not. 'Go Girl is the perfect entry point if you are interested in learning more about Herstory of New Zealand women, but like me, don't have the time. Filled will beautiful illustrations, and even more beautiful women, 'Go Girl' is a book you'll want to settle into the couch and have a really decent flick through. With women as varied as Janet Frame, Margaret Mahy, Lorde, Karen Walker, Lucy Lawless and Lydia Ko, this book is the ultimate annual of women in Aotearoa who've made their mark.
The best part of this book is that the women are from such wildly different industries and backgrounds, it really does show how New Zealand women can and have done it all. Personally, I think every New Zealand home should have a copy of 'Go Girl', not just for the females in the house but the boys as well. It's so important to showcase role models to both genders and for boys to have women they look up to and admire as well. 'Go Girl' gets a 10/10 for me and makes for perfect pre-bed reading for those who just want to flick through one or two inspiring stories before heading into dreamland.