“Tiny Beautiful Things” Book Review #1

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Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis and wished that you could talk with someone and get sound advice?  I have been there many times in my life and in my past there was a time when I would share parts of my story with anyone who would listen.  As a result I have gotten lots of advice from people.  This gave me a chance to learn how to:

“Take the BEST then leave the rest.”

Not every bit of advice that you get will be right for you and that is okay.  You are doing what you need to do to figure out what works for you.

This book, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice On Love and Life from Dear Sugar” is comforting, inspiring, heartbreaking, yet heartwarming.  Sugar – was the once anonymous online columnist at “The Rumpus,” now revealed as Cheryl Strayed.  Tiny Beautiful Things collects the best of Dear Sugar together in one place.  It is rich with insight, humor, compassion, and absolute honesty.

I read this book at the perfect moment in my life.  I was at a “fork in the road” or the proverbial “crossroads” and sugars tender love and advice helped me get through the painful bumps in the road along the way.  This book is a perfect warm hug with honest, non-judgmental advice.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from “Tiny Beautiful Things”

“How You get Unstuck”  p. 28-29

“I told her it was not okay, that it was unacceptable, that it was illegal and that I would call and report this latest horrible thing.  I did not promise that anyone would intervene.  I told her it would likely go on and she’d have to survive it.  That she’d have to find a way within herself to not only escape the shit, but to transcend it, and if she wasn’t able to do that, then her whole life would be shit, forever and ever and ever.  I told her that escaping the shit would be hard, but it she wanted to not make her mother’s life her destiny, she had to be the one to make it happen.  She had to do more than hold on.  She had to REACH.  She had to want it more than she’d ever wanted anything.  She had to grab like a drowning girl for every good thing that came her way and she had to swim like fuck away from every bad thing.  She had to count the years and let them roll by, to grow up and then run as far as she could in the direction of her best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by her own desire to heal.  (Tiny Beautiful Things)”

“Write Like A Motherfucker”  p. 58,60

“We get work done on the ground level.  And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor.  I know it’s hard to write, darling.  But it’s harder not to.  The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do.  The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce.  You have limitations.  You are in some ways inept.  This is true of every writer, and it’s especially true of writers who are twenty-six.  You will feel insecure and jealous.  How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you. (Tiny Beautiful Things 58)”

“How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured.  How many of them didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead were right ahead and became better than anyone who would have predicted or allowed them to be.  The unifying theme is resilience and faith.  The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker.  It is not fragility.  It’s strength.  It’s nerve.  and “if your Nerve, deny you” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.”  Writing is hard for every last one of us -straight white men included.  Coal mining is harder.  Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine goal?  They do not.  They simply dig. (Tiny Beautiful things 60)”

“Go!  Go!  Go!”  p. 93

“It’s hard to go.  It’s scary and lonely and your bandmates will have a fit and half the time you’ll be wondering why the hell you’re in Cincinnati or Austin or North Dakota or Mongolia or wherever your melodius little finger-plucking heinie takes you.  There will be boondoggles and discombobulated days, freaked-out nights and metaphorical flat tires.

But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful, Solo.  It will open up your life. (Tiny Beautiful Things 93)”

“No Mystery About Sperm” p.  123

“What’s important is that you make the leap.  Jump high and hard with intention and heart.  Pay no mind to the vision the commission made up.  It’s up to you to make your life.  Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks.  Build your dream around that. (Tiny Beautiful Things)”

“The Future Has An Ancient Heart” p. 133

“The most terrible and beautiful and interesting things happen in a life.  For some of you, those things have already happened.  Whatever happens to you belongs to you.  Make it yours.  Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow.  Let it nurture you because it will.”

“Carry The Water Yourself” p.  147

“In your twenties you’re becoming who you’re going to be and so you might as well not be an asshole.  Also, because it’s harder to be magnanimous when you’re in your twneties, I think, and so that’s why I’d like to remind you of it.  You’re generally less humble in that decade than you’ll ever be and this lack of humility is oddly mixed with insecurity and uncertainty and fear.  You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, or bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior of love.”

“Romantic Love Is Not A Competitive Sport”  p. 195

“You aren’t haunted by your boyfriend’s sexual past.  You’re haunted by your own irrational, insecure, jealous feelings, and if you continue to behave in this manner you will eventually push your lover away.

You say that your knowledge of your lover’s past sexual experience makes you feel jealous and insecure and afraid that you won’t be “enough to satisfy him.”  Really?  If you weren’t enough to satisfy him, you’d know it because he wouldn’t be with you.  In fact that he is means that he likes you.  A lot.  And he doesn’t want to be with all the other women he’s fucked.”

“A Big Life” p. 202

“You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself.  I don’t say this as a condemnation -I need regular reminders to stop feeling sorry for myself too.  I’m going to address you bluntly, but it’s a directness that rises from my compassion for you, not my judgement of you.  Nobody’s going to do your life for you.  You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice.  And you have to do it no matter what is true.  No matter what is hard.  No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things have befallen you.  Self-pity is a dead-end road.  You make the choice to drive down it.  It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.”

“We Are All Savages Inside” p.  260

“You know what I do when I feel jealous?  I tell myself to not feel jealous.  I shut down the why not me? voice and replace it with one that says don’t be silly instead.  It really is that easy.  You actually do stop being an awful jealous person by stopping being an awful jealous person.  When you feel terrible because someone has gotten something you want, you force yourself to remember how very much you have been given.  You remember that there is plenty for all of us.  You remember that someone else’s success has absolutely no bearing on your own.  You remember that a wonderful thing has happened to one of your peers and maybe, if you keep working and if you get lucky, something wonderful may also someday happen to you.

And if you can’t muster that, you just stop.  You truly do.  You do not let yourself think about it.  There isn’t a thing to eat down there in the rabbit hole of your bitterness except your own desperate heart.  If you let it, your jealousy will devour you.”

“Put It In A Box And Wait” p. 287

“Don’t do what you know on a gut level to be the wrong thing to do.  Don’t stay when you know you should go or go when you know you should stay.  Don’t fight when you should hold steady or hold steady when you should fight.  Don’t focus on the short-term fun instead of the long-term fallout.  Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.  Don’t seek joy at all costs.  I know it’s hard to know what to do when you have a conflicting set of emotions and desires, but it’s not as hard as we pretend it is.  Saying it’s hard is ultimately a justification to do whatever seems like the easiest thing to do -have the affair, stay at that horrible job, end a friendship over a slight, keep loving someone who treats you terribly.  I don’t think there’s a single dumbass thing I’ve done in my adult life that I didn’t know was a dumbass thing to do while I was doing it.  Even when I justified it to myself -as I did every damn time -the truest part of me knew I was doing the wrong thing.  Always.  As the years pass, I’m learning how to better trust my gut and not do the wrong thing, but every so often I get a harsh reminder that I still got work to do.”

“We Are Here to Build the House” p. 302

“We are here to build the house.  It’s our work, our job, the most important gig of all: to make a place that belongs to us, a structure composed of our own moral code.  Not the code that only echoes imposed cultural values, but the one that tells us on a visceral level what to do.  You know what’s right for you and what’s wrong for you.  And that knowing has nothing to do with money or feminism or monogamy or whatever other things you say to yourself when the silent exclamation points are going off in your head.  Is it okay to be a participant in deceit and infidelity?  Is it okay to exchange sex for cash?  Those are worthy questions.  They matter.  But the answers to them don’t tell us how to rightfully live our lives.  The body does.”

“Tiny Beautiful Things” p. 350

“Stop worrying about whether you’re fat.  You’re not fat.  Or rather you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit?   There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round.  Feed yourself.  Literally.  The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.”

This book found its way into my life at a perfect time.  It inspired me, encouraged me, comforted me, and ultimately helped me to heal and find strength within myself.

Remember that you are Beautiful.

Love, Joy, and Blessings Always,

Alana Xoxoxo

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2 thoughts on ““Tiny Beautiful Things” Book Review #1

  1. Reblogged this on Living Out Loud and commented:

    I absolutely Love “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. I highly recommend snuggling up to this book with a cup of hot tea or frothy hot chocolate. I am ready to re-read it!
    Here are some of my favorite excerpts from this lovely jewel of a book!
    ❤ Alana

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