Reading Funk/How Do I Get Out!

What do you do when you lose your motivation to read?

It can happen to anyone. You can’t really find anything that sparks your interest…no book covers are catching your eye in the stores. You start half a dozen books only to quit a few chapters into the story.

It’s a listless existence when you lose your bookworm bug 😔 I’ve found myself in such a funk lately and I have a few solutions that are helping me!

1. Read from an author you LOVE!!

Go back to a feel good writer that inspired you and made you want to write something amazing yourself. You know what author I’m talking about. It’s the one that made you stay up for hours turning pages because putting the book down felt wrong or even sacrilegious! I decided to read the third book in the Anne of Green Gables series. *Sigh* L.M. Montgomery is a genius.

Note: A good book cover never hurts when you find yourself in a funk 😉 Don’t believe what they say, a good bookworm always judges a book by its cover 🙊 Check out these AMAZING Anne of Green Gables covers by Jacqui Oakley!

2. Read a feel good story

In general, find something sweet. An easy feel good read that is consumed much like a chick-flick or an episode of Friends on Netflix. It helps if the reviews say it’s funny too 😂. Laughter always makes for a quick read! Couple of options here:

3. Read short books!

It’s not rocket science, but it works. Read a book that’s only 150-200 pages long. You’ll feel like your a speed reader, if only for a moment 😉

All these books are under 230 pages and they definitely helped get the ball rolling!

4. Read on Audible!

I can’t say enough good things about Audible!! I have read so much more with Audible than I would ever be able to with physical books or e-books. Some say it’s cheating, like it’s not real reading. However, I would argue that listening to an entire plot, keeping up with complex characters, and holding focus is much harder than it appears. 😉 Some studies show it’s good for you to alternate between different kinds of reading. My favorite way to read is to have the physical and audio version and use both simultaneously! It can be expensive but you can always get the book from the library like me! And with Audible, audiobooks aren’t expensive at all!

My favorite audiobooks of all time:

I hope these tips and tricks helped you get out of your reading funk! Do you have any suggestions or ideas to break the stop-start-stop reading cycle? Let me know in the comments! Happy reading! 📖

-Sarah

The Great Gatsby/Unique Take/Classic

TGGWhat makes a book get to the renowned section dubbed “The Classics?”  What makes it classic?  How many people have read it?  How many people liked it?  How many people hated it?  Or is it all a game of chance?  Is there a formula to what makes a book a classic?

These questions may be too complicated to answer in one blog post, and I don’t really think I’m looking for an answer.  I’m one of those people who judge a movie like this:

Critics love it — I’m going to hate it.

Critics hate it — It’s going to be my new favorite movie!

I have never held much stock in Tony or Emmy awards since they don’t go to the person or movie the people I would’ve picked.  I appreciate the People’s Choice Awards for this very reason.  So in spite of my doubts, I decided to read a classic recently.

The Great Gatsby

I’ve never seen the movie, only snippets here and there.  Nothing much is given away there, and the movie can be SO much different than the book.  (We nerds know that REALLY well! lol)

Therefore, I dove in with very little expectations except for the Taylor Swift song line, “Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year.”  I had images of gold and crystal, fine china and gorgeous gowns, excess beyond wildest dreams and a beautiful dream of a novel to go with it.  Ok….maybe I had a few expectations, lol.

You all know the drill:

*****SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*****

As I read the story, I was drawn in by the character of Nick.  Fitzgerald had this beautiful way of creating this observed world through our narrator.  It was rather ordinary scenes he portrayed in a dazzling kind of way.  However, the other characters turned me off from the beginning.  Daisy, the elusive love in the story of The Great Gatsby, was nothing like I thought she’d be.  I found her flighty, whiny, and very eager to give excuses for her bully of a husband.  Gatsby I decided was even less interesting.  He merely puts on displays to appear in a certain way to make up for the past in his head.  You rarely ever glimpse an authentic moment within these two characters.  They simply are infatuated with one another.  Not in love.  That is something very different.

I know I’m probably stepping on a few sacred cows here, but this is for all those who don’t like “classics.”  Just because a title has been called “classic” does not mean everyone will love it.  Nor does it mean that it is an amazing book.  Reading is relative, like everything else in life.  Your favorite book is your favorite for your reasons.  And mine is my favorite for my reasons.  It comes from our experiences, our backgrounds, our values.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

In my personal opinion, the ending of TGG can be read in two ways.  Comment if you have any others!

  1. These two were star-crossed lovers who passed in the night and never had the chance to live together in the true love they shared.     OR………
  2. They were two idiots who got what they deserved.

I know that seems harsh but I honestly think this plot leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve made mistakes in life.  A lot of stupid mistakes.  I’ve mistaken infatuation for love, and want for need, and good for GOD AWFUL!  I’ve ignored my gut instincts.  I’ve regretted ignoring my gut instincts.  Just like the characters in this book, I am imperfect.

Maybe that’s what makes this book a classic.  Not that it is happy or has good closure, or leaves us uplifted, but it instead makes us ask the hard questions in life.  It makes us second guess whether or not we truly listen to that little voice that tells us who we truly are.

I won’t give it that many stars (because let’s face it, I’m a need-a-prince-on-a-white-horse kind of gal! lol) but I will give Fitzgerald this: he made me think.

-Sarah

Coincidences/Mystery Read/Kate Morton

the lake house

Do you remember the first time you read Sherlock Holmes or the first time you watched Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray the crime-solving duo?  Perhaps you binge-watched the Benedict Cumberbatch version with the nail-biting arch nemesis, Moriarty?

Either way, I’m sure you remember the first mystery you ever read.  You remember the way it made your heart beat faster, your head started swimming with all the possible endings, and you turned the pages so fast you damaged a few.

 

 

 

These are the kinds of books I like to read around Halloween.  I like to go on a journey where I become totally engrossed in a world I’ve never seen.  It’s intoxicating!

I have recently discovered a new author with a knack for mysteries.

Her name is Kate Morton.

Here is a quote from Kate about writing:

I started writing because I wanted to recapture the joy of reading as a child. As soon as I learned that the black marks on white pages were doorways and that it was within my power to go through them (and the back of the wardrobe) whenever I chose to, I was hooked. I read everything that I could get my hands on and could usually be found hiding in a bough of one of the avocado trees in our garden, book in hand. I’m still chasing that feeling of complete immersion, which makes the real world disappear. There are ups and downs as a writer, but when the fictional world starts to live and breathe, there’s nothing like it.

This woman is a true talent with adorable bangs and an admiration for history.  It’s like we were separated at birth.  It has been a while since I connected with an author like this!

The first book I decided to read by Kate Morton was merely just a cover that caught my eye at Barnes and Noble.   I never thought I would read it for 5 hours straight.  It’s been a long time since a book has captured me like this.  With every twist, I would come up with a new theory on “who dun it” LOL.  I would think to myself, “Aha!  I have it.”  I decided this writer was nothing more than another two-bit mystery writer like all the others when she spun me on my head and up was down while down was up!  I love when that happens!  Something amazing happens when the whole story hinges on one sentence, and Morton did just that over and over again!  I’m not going to even go into more detail.  I wouldn’t dare do any *SPOILERS*  Just read it!  You won’t regret it!

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The world looks so different with just a small bit of change.  We usually point our fingers outward thinking we know the source of all our problems when in reality a slight shift on the inside could transform everything.  I’ve personally experienced this feeling in my own life.  Perhaps that’s why I related so much to this book.  You can change your whole life by simply looking at it differently.

Some have criticized this book as predictable and full of convenient coincidences.  However, I don’t believe there are such things as coincidences.  The word “coincidence” is scattered throughout the entire book, so much so that it’s almost a joke.

Some are so pessimistic when good things happen in their lives.  I know I have.  We think life can’t be that wonderful, but it can.

I’ve seen it.

I’ve felt it.

swing.jpgI’ve watched Providence step in and change everything.  Where hope was non-existent, opportunities now flourish; where doubts had flooded in, courage grows effortlessly; where loneliness overpowered, you discover friends.

I don’t think it’s an accident that one of the main characters of this book was a writer.  I don’t think it was an accident that I picked this title over all of Morton’s other books.  You can feel it when inspiration is hitting you.

I can feel something really amazing on the horizon.  Just because I’m looking at the world in a new way.

 

Some of you may or may not know, I’ve decided to write a book.  It’s a book about a woman who inspired me when I was writing my thesis.  Her name is Nixola.  She was a journalist in the late 1890s.  I love her writing style, her quippy sarcasm, and her tireless search for the truth.  I want to tell her story.  It needs to be told and the world needs to hear it.  It’s going to take some time and hard work, but it’s going to happen.  I never thought I would do something like this, let alone want to, but here I am.  It’s funny how things turn out, but it’s not a coincidence.

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-Sarah

2-month Update/Will I Make It?/New Website

So what do you think!  I hope you like the change.  I think WordPress is going to make a nice new home for “Nerd Named Sarah,” don’t you!?  I’ve added a new feature for the blog as well.  If you click any of the pictures it will take you to Amazon so you can purchase the book!

Ok, so this is more of a 2 months and one week update, but close enough!  I only read four books in the past month, and I’m starting to worry about making it!  I will though!  You can bet on it.

The schedule for the rest of the year is to finish The Great Gatsby, which is such an easy read.  Next, finish four more books during the last week and a half of October (don’t worry, it’s not as crazy as it sounds with all the books I’ve started but have not finished).  Then I only have 6 books a month for November and December. Whew!

Here’s what I read this month:

0125d-no2bbarriersNo Barriers — If you want to know what I think of this masterpiece and you missed last week’s blog post, click here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

KalingWhy Not Me? — She’s refreshing in an off-putting way

Though it’s difficult to relate to a famous comedy writer/actress, she had a way of portraying herself if a very ordinary way.  She made silly mistakes when she first came to Hollywood.  She fawned all over the president.  Kevin Hart made her laugh and cute boys made her blush.  She was cute…in a greasy hair, t-shirt and underwear kind of way!  Favorite quote: When you are entitled, you are the most insufferable person ever.  If you are entitled and hardworking, which I am, you are still pretty insufferable, but at least you somewhat earned your entitled behavior. 

 

I Dare YouI Dare You! — If you want to put a pep in your step and read what I thought of this classic, click here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

the darkThe Dark Between Stars — This author is the most amazing artist.  I have struggled to find poetry I could enjoy, but ever since I read my first Atticus’ poem I have been captivated ever since!  His first book was amazing and his second book just might be even better! There is no way I could only choose one favorite poem, so here are two of my favorites:

 

 

 

“What if she says no?”

asked the boy,

and the old man smiled,

“best not live scared of thorns

or you’ll never find a rose.”  

How beautiful is that!  Wait, here’s another one.

“The doubters

are just dreamers

with broken hearts.”

He can do so much with so few words!

 

That brings the grand total to…….

Pink Heart Light Bulb Anniversary Card

YAYYYYYYYYYY!  That’s 17 books to go.  I’ve started the following:

  1. The Lake House by Kate Morton–Which is crazy fascinating!
  2. These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach–It’s kinda funny so far.
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl

Til next time,

-Sarah

No Barriers/I Broke Through One of Mine/New Location

This book…you guys.  This book.  If you follow me on Instagram (@nerdnamedsarah) you might have seen how much this book got to me.  If you read this book (and I highly suggest that you do) you will need a box of tissues for sure!

No Barriers is a book my mother gave me.  I thanked her for it but didn’t think much more about it since non-fiction is very difficult for me and this book is 454 pages long!!!  Yeah, I never thought I would pick this book up.  However, as of late, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching.  I’m trying to learn how to communicate better, with myself and with others.  You would think it would be easy to tell yourself what you want, what your dreams are etc.  False.

Interestingly enough, it is not easy to be honest with yourself.

Y’all, self-sabotage is a real thing.  It sounds stupid, but in the moment, it really makes a lot of sense to shoot yourself in the foot. 😆 You regret it later, sure, but will you learn from it?  No.  Will you get past it since you learned the hard way?  No.

It turns out, it’s a choice.  It’s a choice to break barriers in your life.  Let me show you what I mean.  Or rather, let’s have Erik Weihenmayer show you what I mean.  *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*

At first glance, Erik Weihenmayer is a blind daredevil.  A crazy dude who likes to pull stunts even though he hasn’t been able to see since high-school.  However, if you look with more than just your eyes, you’ll see so much more in this inspiring man’s life.

The odds of Erik contracting the disease that took his sight were about as good as winning the lottery.  It could have happened to anyone, but it happened to him.  He grew up learning to cope through climbs and hikes.  True, he couldn’t catch a ball or throw a frisbee, but he could do a lot of things most kids don’t do with perfect vision.  As an adult, Erik helped start a movement dubbed “No Barriers” that sought to break the stereotypes of disabilities.  He was inspired by veterans that barely lived through the injuries that took their limbs.  He learned lessons from blind children in Tibet who fought against the cultural belief of feeling worthless.  Erik learned by looking outside of himself that others have it rougher than even a blind guy who likes to climb mountains (Someone else will always have it worse than you-NOT a constructive thought in my opinion).  An idea kept coming back to Erik.  The idea that there is a choice.  The choice you make when you’re on the edge. “Déséquilibré. It means…that point of imbalance.”  It’s that moment where it feels normal to give up.  You think to yourself, “I’ve gone far enough.  It’s only logical to stop here.  How could I possibly go farther?  There’s something in my way.”  A barrier.

We’d rather give up than fail.  We’d rather not try than miss the mark.  Why don’t we get a kick out of at least saying we tried?  Another good quote from the book, “I want to run more, but I think I’m going to fall a lot.  Falling sucks, but that’s just a part of it.  I’ve got to get up and keep running.  I guess what I mean is that you can’t run if you’re not willing to fall.”  I have trouble with this in my own life.  Irrationally, I expect to be perfect right out of the gate.  When it gets tough, I bail.  Can’t fail if you didn’t really try.  It’s MUCH easier.
Erik goes through so much in this book.  He loses his brother to alcoholism.  His best friend is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  He experiences a traumatic adoption with his son from Nepal.  Not to mention, he fails to be able to kayak the Grand Canyon, his first dream since reaching the top of Everest.  Now before I turn you off to this book entirely, stay with me.  Just keep reading.

That’s a lot to go through in a lifetime, let alone a couple of years.  We say the phrase “face your fears” like it’s easy…like we can see the benefit on the other side in the midst of the storm.  Here’s the catch.  There is NO hindsight in the moment.  Through the struggle, the pain, the tears, you can’t see the way out until you are there.  BUT, you can’t get there, unless you’re willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears.  It’s an investment.  Sometimes they’re risky, but whether the outcome is good or bad (unlike with money) you always get a lesson out of these investments.  Erik tried so many things to get where he is today.  He tried out a crazy weird mouthpiece that creates sensations and draws shapes for the brain to interpret (like he’s seeing with his tongue. How cool is that?! 😃).  He tried different kinds of kayaks to find out which one worked best.  Erik tried countless radios and other forms of communication so his guide could effectively lead him through the white waters of the Grand Canyon.  It’s difficult for us to try new things because it removes us from our comfort zones, but only then are we able to grow into the person we want to become.

So here’s the part where I tell you something about me.  Have you ever thought you knew something about yourself?  It’s a thought you have pretty much set in stone.  You say, “I KNOW this about me.”  You don’t think it will ever change.  But then it does.  It shakes your reality a little bit.  You don’t know which way is up and which way is down.  I’ve always thought I didn’t belong in Midland, Texas.  It’s a city I’ve lived in for ten years.  I got the chance to be somewhere else for a bit, and I took it!  With glee and joy in my heart, I took that chance and ran with it!  I didn’t realize how much I would miss it.  I didn’t know how much this city is a part of me.  Being away wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.  I thought it would be a chance to see new things, be a different person, finally spread my wings.  How arrogant was I?!  Reality check.  You don’t change with your location.  You change you.  If you’ve got something you don’t like about yourself, GET UP and DO something about it!  After all, what’s stopping you.  Oh yeah, that barrier, right. 😏

Here’s the truth about barriers.  They are a choice.  It’s a choice because the barrier is all in your mind.  If a man without arms or legs can climb a mountain or learn to surf, if a deaf woman can write original songs, if a blind man can kayak through the grand canyon AFTER climbing Mount Everest, then you CAN choose to break your barrier.  🙌
I know what you are thinking.  “Sarah, you don’t get it!  I have a real disability or I don’t have the same options you do or I REALLY do need a change of environment.”  Are you telling me that’s IT!?  You’re just going to accept that barrier as a part of your life now? Hogwash!

There’s ALWAYS a way around, under, between, through, over, behind, beside, or beyond your barrier.  The ONLY reason you are still on this side, the only reason I’m still on this side of it…is one choice.  It’s my choice.  It’s your choice.  You don’t have to live in fear of your barriers anymore.  You don’t have to give up.  You don’t have to turn back.  Choose to stick it out.  Choose to face your barrier.  Decide, today, you will live a life with NO BARRIERS! 🙋

-Sarah

P.S. Erik eventually kayaks the Grand Canyon successfully!  Just in case you were wondering. 😉

P.S.S. Thanks for the book, mom 🙊

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves.

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
-Marianne Williamson

Girl, Wash Your Face!/Rachel Hollis/ #Last90Days

If you haven’t heard of Rachel Hollis yet, you need to make sure you haven’t been living under a rock because this lady is the bomb!  I actually read her book earlier this year while I was finishing my thesis for my Master’s degree in history.  It was timely because, at the time, I was feeling sorry for myself.  I kept concentrating on how HARD the process was instead of enjoying the fact that I was finishing my FU**ing thesis at the young age of 25!!! (Pardon my french 🙈) I mean come on!  I should have been crazy proud of myself, but no.

Now maybe you didn’t have trouble finishing your degree.  Maybe the idea of staying in school for that long sounds like a nightmare to you, but we can all relate to feeling sorry for ourselves.  The worst part about being in that state is no matter what you do, you don’t feel like you can do anything right!  You can’t ever get ahead, you are always exhausted.  Nothing brings you joy, and you spend your days bitter and lonely even when others are around.
Here’s how Rachel helped me crawl out of the pity party pit where I had given up on life.  (I’m being a little… ok, a lot, melodramatic but you get the idea. Lol)
In just the first chapter this woman had me hooked.  As a fellow people pleaser, I really related to her.  It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and induce a stress-eating, self-loathing depression where you might as well give up if you can’t be the best.  At least, it’s easy for me.
So, now that I have admitted I have a problem, (Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a people pleaser. lol), I can deal with it.  First, take responsibility.  One of my favorite movies, How Do You Know, with Reese Witherspoon, has a quote. “Don’t judge anybody else until you check yourself out that way you are lucky if it’s your fault because then you can correct the situation.”  The first time I heard this quote I HATED it!  I’m like, “Great, so everything is your fault and you can’t be mad at anyone else ever?!”  I was not in the right place to hear this.  But the second or third time I watched the movie (Because who can resist a good chick-flick with Reese Witherspoon?!) I heard it a little differently.  Since I am a people pleaser I have a tendency to point fingers, anything just so I don’t have to admit I am the cause of the problem or anything is wrong with me.  DEAR GOD DON’T LET ANYTHING EVER BE WRONG WITH ME!!!  I can’t stand to admit when I’m wrong and will white-knuckle it past the point of logic.  Let’s just say, it’s not pretty.
But if you listen carefully to the quote, it’s just saying pay attention.  There’s nothing wrong with checking in to see, “Could I make this better with a few tweaks?  Could I do something different to change the outcome in the future?”  It’s what grown-ups do, and I don’t mean that in a condescending way.  Rachel can explain it better than I can.  Her first call to action is to take responsibility for your life.  The whole thing is yours!  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Then and only then can you create change in your life.  Stop beating yourself up because it serves no purpose.  Get up and do something about it!  Girl, get out of bed!  Girl, dust yourself off!  Girl, wash your face!! (Great title, right?!) The point is to own it.  I think we sometimes think someone, someday is just going to hand us the life we want.  It doesn’t really work that way, and in all honesty, I don’t think we would like it if it did.  When we fight for something, it’s truly ours.  You need a goal in life.  I don’t think I knew that.  You NEED a goal in life to push you forward.  You NEED something to shoot for.  Sometimes you’ll hit it right on!  Other times you’ll miss the target, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t need the goal.
Here are some of Rachel’s rules to live by:
1.  DON’T compare yourselves to others!  “Comparison is the death of joy.”  If you haven’t listened to Rachel guesting on the Ed Mylett Show Podcast, you have to!  She says that life is a little like a math test.  Keep your eyes on your own paper!  Beat your own record!  Be better than YOU were yesterday!  Compete only with yourself!
2. Start small.  She started by giving up diet coke.  I decided to start with small things like making my bed in the morning, giving up ice cream (I have a mild addition to Ben and Jerry’s, like that was a threesome I could always get on board with! lol) Making your first goals easy to chew create momentum and you start to trust yourself again.  Ed Mylett said in the same podcast episode mentioned above, that if you can’t keep promises to yourself, you begin to not trust yourself, so it’s no wonder you can’t keep promises to others.  You have to keep those promises you make to you.  They matter.  Your goals matter.  Life does get in the way.  We all make mistakes and miss the mark but that does not give us, that does not give ME, permission to quit!  You can’t quit on yourself.  You can’t!  I won’t allow it and neither will Rachel!  (I’m only slightly kidding. lol)  But in all seriousness, I got your back girl and I’d like to think you have mine. 😊
3. “Hustle for joy.”  This one sounds like “Duh, Rachel!  Of course, I know I should be joyful and happy!” But it goes beyond just being happy.  Rachel tells us to enjoy the simple things in life.  Every day, write down ten things you are grateful for, and eventually, you’ll notice that you have to pay attention to be able to write down that many things.  So, you create a habit of joy and gratitude.  Look for it!  Seek it out!  Enjoy your family, friends and the little things that make you happy.  You know what they are.  😉
There is so much more to this book but these are the things that stuck out to me.  Don’t be afraid to say your inner dreams out loud!  Go after them!  Dream BIG!  Like BIG, BIG!  Do the things you’ve only day-dreamed about.  Love yourself even when you fail and DO NOT WALLOW IN SELF PITY!  It doesn’t help you or make you feel better anyway.  What’s easy is not what you want.  Believe it or not, you want the challenge.  You’ve just made a habit of finding the easy way out.  These are the things that spoke to me and these are things I say to myself as I maneuver through life.  It is eye-opening, timely, a little scary, but definitely good!
This feels like a core workout.  All these books, podcasts, epiphany-filled moments, and long big-girl conversations with my mother, feel like I’m stretching myself passed where I ever thought I could go.  My sister is getting her yoga teaching certificate right now.  But before she ever thought about becoming a teacher she knew what she had to do.  She had to get strong.  She had to try and fall.  Strengthen.  Try and fail, strengthen.  Over and over, pushing the boundaries to find her inner strength as well as the physical.  Now, I watch her going into head stands with ease and grace.  She makes it look so easy, but I know firsthand it was not.  It took a lot of work, pain, bruises, breakdowns, coaching, and learning to get to the place she is now.
That’s what this feels like.  It feels like I’ve just discovered my core muscles (theoretically speaking) and let’s just say, I don’t have any abs to speak of! Lol, I’m learning what I’m capable of, I’m listening to people as they show me how to adjust this or that.  I’m testing my boundaries and I’m surprised when I can do more than I thought.  I’m getting stronger.  That’s what matters!
And that’s why I’m so excited to say I am doing the #Last90Days challenge with Rachel Hollis!  You should join us!  Here’s the link! There’s an inspirational theme related video every Monday and a Facebook group and it starts today!!! We can do this!  We can treat the last 90 days of 2018 like we do the first 30 of most years!  We can make today count.  We can make the next minute, the next second count when we decide, Yes!  Today is the day.  Today I will try, and I won’t give up.  Today.  That day is today.
Love,
Sarah

I Dare You to Read this Blogpost!

In this book, William Danforth seeks to change your problem-solving tactics, from the way you stand or sit in a chair to the way you look at the world. Originally published in 1931, this book is still very relevant and powerful.  Danforth as a counselor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and co-founder of the American Youth Foundation sought to ignite generation after generation with the idea that nothing was impossible until you deemed it as such.  I found this book very refreshing.  It did not put up with the usual excuses we give ourselves when we decide we can’t do something or other.

If you don’t feel strong, Danforth says, “DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”  You feel bad about yourself? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  You don’t like your love-life? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  You don’t feel at peace in your soul?  DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Danforth separates our lives into four parts.  According to him, unless you address these four areas you can’t even imagine progress or happiness in your life.

1. Physical 

2. Mental

3. Social

4. Spiritual

When you think, or even say out loud in a joking fashion, “I’m weak.  I’ve never been strong.”  In that moment, instead of doing what you’ve always done, dare to be the strongest person you know.  Decide then and there to change that belief.  Go to a class, ask a friend for help, read books, find out how to change yourself into the strongest person you know.  It’s that simple.  Decide, and do it.  The truth is the only thing that stops us from doing anything is our belief that we can’t do it.

For example, I doubt myself all the time.  I say to myself, “You’ll never finish that project.  You’ll never come through.  You won’t make it on time.  You can’t be depended upon.  No one can trust you because you aren’t trustworthy.  You still can’t grow up.  You haven’t before, what makes this time different?  Yeah right.  You’ll never change.”  Mean, I know.  But don’t you do that sometimes too? Do you think those awful things in the face of adversity?  It’s hard to drown out those voices when you don’t replace them with something else.  Something that tells you the outcome is inconsequential.  It doesn’t matter how well you do.  What matters is you did it.  That’s it.  You faced your demons.  You got in the game.  Here’s what I’m daring to do:

Physical — I’m daring to give up ice-cream.  I have previously believed I can’t say no to myself.  Well, that stops here.  

Mental — I’m daring to stop doubting myself.  I have always thought that I can’t stop the doubts from stopping me, but the truth is I choose to listen to those voices when they say I can’t. 

Social — I’m daring to be brave and put myself out there.  I have always thought that prince charming either didn’t exist, or he wouldn’t want me, or (when I was in a good mood) he would just show up at my door someday. Lol, right.  This goes for friends too.  I have to think the best of others because that’s how I meet the good people that I now know and love with all my heart.  

Spiritual — I’m daring to believe that I really do matter to a merciful God who has never given up on me even at my worst.  I’m daring to believe that I don’t have to meet any expectation to deserve the love He gave willingly and freely to me.  I’m daring to believe He knows what He’s doing and that I don’t know better. (that last part is the hardest. I’m a bit of a know-it-all if you didn’t notice, lol.)
Here are some things Danforth said I think you should hear in my own interpretation:

!!! SPOILERS, SPOILERS!!!

Easy has already been done.  Quit looking for easy and look for the impossible.  Emulate those that inspire you and you’ll learn by osmosis.  Your personality is something you develop, not inherit.  Learn, grow, change.

Don’t judge someone as useless or a stick-in-the-mud.  You can still learn something from them.  Even if it’s learning what NOT to do.  Keep looking for the good in people.

In addition, learn from everyone you meet.  Whether you spend five minutes or five decades with someone, learn from them.  The world is your classroom.

This one I can’t do it justice so I’m simply going to quote Danforth: “Unfortunately, there are many people in the world so constituted that they are always licking the boots of those over them and lording it over those under them.  That’s a sure way to destroy personality.  On the other hand, really great men and women are those who are natural, frank and honest with everyone with whom they come into contact.”

Here’s one moment where I questioned Danforth.  He quotes an idea that you learn nothing when you win.  “We learn practically nothing from victory.  All our information comes from a defeat.  A winner forgets most of his mistakes.”  It was in an effort to encourage the reader to not give up when they fail, but it seems to be a bit of a lop-sided thought.  We learn nothing from victory?  Really, are you sure?  I’m not.  You learn what you are capable of when you win.  Perhaps, you learn that the process wasn’t what you thought it would be.  But you don’t learn nothing!  However, you do learn a lot when you fail…and when you are stubborn (like me) it’s possible to learn quite a lot.

One of my favorite metaphors by Danforth:  Some people are like the sea of Galilee; it makes beauty of what it is given because it has an outlet.  Other people are like the Dead Sea, it lets everything it is given die because it keeps everything it receives.  No outlet, no life.  You don’t get much out of what you receive unless you give it away.

Danforth says some fun and inspiring things toward the end of the book that makes you want to soar out of your chair, like, “Make a masterpiece of your life.”  Which makes me think of the Jessie J song lol.  I wanted to cry and sign when I read, “Measure your powers, not your problems…Don’t count the multitude. Count the loaves.”  I feel like I have so much to give the world when I read this book.

Another quote.  I can’t do better than this: A few men build cities — the rest live in them.  A few men project subways — the rest ride in them.  A few men erect skyscrapers and factories — and the rest toil in them.”  Danforth wrote to the few.  He wrote to those who truly want to change the world.  You have to really want it, to be willing to fight, sweat, and bleed for it.  Nothing worth getting is easy to get.  It takes hard work and lots of it.  People admire hard work.  Respect comes from hard work.  Accomplishments come from not giving up.  And the only thing standing in your way…is you.  Say this with me.  “I am one of the few.  I have a leader’s opportunity.  I have a shepherd’s responsibility.  The rest are dependent upon me.  I Dare You!”


I dare you to make something of yourself.  I dare you to try again.  I dare you to start over.  I dare you to give it your all when you don’t feel like it.  I dare you to do the things you’ve never done.  I dare you to do the things you think you can’t do.  I dare you to be the person you’ve always wanted to be.

What do you say?  Do you dare?

-Sarah