I’m not sure when it happened, me not reading. From the time I could, I was always the kid with her nose in a book, lounging outside all weekend, taking a book to the bath, getting up only when I couldn’t stand the hunger pangs any longer. It didn’t stop when I had kids. People use to marvel at me, the mother of 2-3 small gremlins, going through book after book.
Time and life happened I guess and I just couldn’t make my brain stay quiet long enough to grasp someone else’s words. In the last year, it’s been the worse. So much so, that when someone recommends a book on a blog or whatever, I click to another page almost immediately. Especially if it’s non fiction. Especially if it’s someone trying to tell me how to live.
If you’ve been reading here long, you know where I am. That place that’s not entirely dark anymore, but just gray and murky and fragile. A place that when someone, even well meaning, comes in with sage advice, I come out of my coma swinging. Just so tired of the sage advice.
And then one of my very favorite interweb people Mandy Thompson, mentioned a book called, Pre Middle Age 40 Lessons In Growing the Hell Up, by Cole Harmonson.
I don’t know what it was, but I was intrigued. I trust Mandy not to throw something at me with sage advice. She knows where I am. But we are broke, as it seems we always are right now and the library didn’t have it. Thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter, the lovely Cole Harmonson sent me a copy with a request that I would review the book when I was done.
I got the book this morning in the mail. I finished it half an hour ago.
Yeah. It was that good. I had to yell at some people to stop bugging me so I could concentrate, but see, that’s the beauty of this book. It didn’t require that hard kind of concentration that some deep thinking books demand. This book was like reading someone’s journal.
Cole has a way of writing that is unobtrusive and warm, yet, in your face, without actually being in your face. I found that from the introduction on, she was speaking more than just honesty over me. Sure, the thoughts written are about growing up, facing middle age, whatever that may be, but it’s her story. The bits and pieces of her life that spoke those truths into her growth.
It’s about reaching that place in your life where you put others first, you have grace for yourself and you take risks. Everything I’ve been about this last year. I’ll admit, I suck at the putting others first part. I haven’t gotten there yet. But I will.
Her writing does what a heartbreakingly beautiful photograph does to my insides. It’s hard to use words in the way she does, so seemingly out of balance at times, yet always joined and cohesive. It gets past the act of reading very quickly and becomes a soaking-in. A quiet intrusion of healing to the brain that has shut down any offers of sage advice.
I loved all the little details that made me say, “That is SO me right now.” Things like, “I don’t want to be the me of my twenties, full of self and self-judgment and judgment of everyone else.”
Or, “And hoping from the deep, deep places that someone will sweep the bangs to the side of my face and say huh when they see The Pretty in me.”
Or when she talks how someone giving you a warm blanket is so much more than keeping warm. And how we need someone to push us off cliffs and tell us when to take risks. And I mostly related to the chapter about how our feelings become invisible to people and we want so badly for someone to notice that we are right on the edge. I know first hand how alone that feeling is. It truly sucks.
I read through this book with a pencil in my hand. I don’t think I’ve marked a book up so completely since The Ragamuffin Gospel 7 years ago. I needed this book. I needed to know what I was going through was a shared experience, even if hers looks a little different.
It’s why I started this blog.
Thank you Cole, for writing your wonderful book and being gracious enough to give me one. I will be telling everyone about it.