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These days, Brene Brown* and Marie Kondo* are the MUST READ authors according to the women I know in real life. And for good reason. These two women are trailblazing non-fiction topics that hit home for so many. First, being brave and vulnerable, and second, managing household responsibilities while also keeping it neat and tidy and raising a family and/or working. It all sounds impossible and breaks through the walls we are taught to maintain as women that we are strong, unemotional and can do it all.
The fact is, we can’t. And we don’t have to. The unrealistic expectations that the world places on us lead to a life of mediocrity. We can’t enjoy the true greatness of life when we won’t put our guard down and let people into our hearts and our homes.
In March-April I listened to the three most popular audiobooks by these women using my library app and audible. I LOVE audible. I am able to listen to so many more books by simply turning it on during my commute to and from work, or to and from J’s house. It’s only $10 a month for one free audiobook each month. You get to keep the book forever, even if you cancel your subscription. Right now, if you click this banner, you will get one month free and TWO free audiobooks. It’s a great deal!
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
First, the narrator of this book is a fine narrator, but not for this topic. Her voice comes off fake while she’s reading about highly emotional topics. I wouldn’t call it monotone, it’s just very pleasant. It’s hard to imagine Brene fighting with her husband or the people in her study experiencing a shame attack when the woman talking about it sounds completely unaffected. I bet she’s great at other, non-fiction topics, just not this one.
As for the content of the book, I thought it was super inspiring!
The concept from the book that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing hit so close to home for me! I hadn’t ever thought about it, but it’s so true. When I lived in Nevada, I fit in. But when I moved to WA, I felt like I truly belonged. That’s where the name of this blog came from – I felt like I had found where my soul belonged. It only happened because I was willing to pick up everything and move to an entirely new state. I dared greatly.
Being vulnerable isn’t easy, but it is so worth it! I would strongly recommend this book if you are looking to gain the courage to increase your vulnerability.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
I was THRILLED when I learned that this book was narrated by Brene. It makes a world of a difference.
One criticism I have about this book is the repetitive stories. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this if I wasn’t listening to both books at the same time. It was pretty apparent that there are repeats when my Rising Strong library loan ended about halfway through the book (I started this one first), and Daring Greatly began. The overlapping stories were right in front of my face – my ears? I don’t object to this practice. If I had only chosen one of these books to read then I’d never know. And if I read Rising Strong at the appropriate period of time after Daring Greatly, it would have been a great refresher that I might not have noticed except a general feeling of, “This story sounds familiar…hmmm.” But for these reasons I would not suggest reading or listening to both books during the same month.
I have repeated this quote about perfectionism to myself a lot since hearing it in the book. I even rewound it a couple times to listen to it again. I am so guilty of expecting perfection out of myself. It isn’t healthy and it isn’t kind. We should be kind to ourselves. And it’s true that shame is riding shotgun. When I expect myself to be perfect, I am telling myself that failure isn’t an option – failure is shameful.
But it’s not! Failure is necessary to grow, to learn, to create, to LIVE. I loved this book and would strongly recommend it if you’re in a leadership role, or trying to be in a leadership role. Maybe you’ve listened to Brene Brown on TedTalks and you know what vulnerability is, or maybe the emotional basis isn’t what gets to you, it’s the overcoming. If that’s the case, Rising Strong is for you!
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo is an organizing professional in Japan. She has a lot of useful information in how to remove emotion from getting rid of stuff you don’t need (aka “tidying”) and then keeping your home neat and tidy all year long. I particularly love her folding method. My t-shirts have never been so neat and easy to find than they are now.
I read some reviews on Amazon that you can get a lot of Marie Kondo’s tips online through pinterest and blogs these days. But I don’t agree with that suggestion. These ideas were created by Ms. Kondo and to truly understand her concepts, you must go straight to the source. I just don’t think it’s fair to her to give out free printables about her original ideas.
The narrator of this book was OK. Her voices for other people were sometimes hard to distinguish from her own voice, but she was easy to understand and her tone wasn’t out of line with the content of the book.
But here’s the truth: I found some of this book to be totally preposterous. I don’t know enough about Japanese culture to know if this is just a difference in the way the Japanese treat their belongings vs. the people in the United States. So maybe it’s a cultural difference, and if so, I do not mean to call a cultural difference irrational. But I shook my head a lot during the second half of this book, thinking the ideas were wayyyy out there. I cannot wrap my head around the idea that my sweaters have feelings and feel happier when they have space in the closet and actually get used. I also can’t believe that my papers at the bottom of a stack of paper feel smushed and therefore cannot breathe enough to bring me joy. It just doesn’t make sense to me that an object knows it was purchased with a purpose and strives to achieve that purpose for me at all times, and its feelings are hurt when I don’t allow it that opportunity.
She also suggests getting rid of ALL PAPER because it’s unlikely you’ll really get sued. For the love of God, DO NOT THROW AWAY ALL OF YOUR PAPER RECORDS! During this part of the audiobook I was literally yelling, “NO!” Her point was that two lawyers were the worst at this stage of the game, but eventually they gave in. I’m not giving in, Marie, I’m just not. Keep your papers!
She then suggests throwing away all photos that don’t give you joy. 10 years ago I would have agreed with that. I threw away all of the photos with me and ex-boyfriends. But now I regret that. Maybe it’s the advent of Throw Back Thursday posts, or just nostalgia, but I miss being able to see what my life was like in 2004.
Overall though, I would agree that her method works. When I fold the way she says to fold, my drawers look nice and it’s super easy to keep them that way. Now that I have a roommate I see she’s totally right about taking just a couple minutes each morning and night to keep things clean. So I imagine I will have some parts of my house that are life-changingly tidy all the time, and others that won’t. But it was an interesting listen none-the-less. I’d suggest this book if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your stuff and are sick of cleaning your house every single weekend.
*I tried adding the accent to the last “e” in Brene Brown’s name and above the o in Marie Kondo’s name, but my MacBook is not cooperating with WordPress. Sorry, ladies.
Have you read these books? What did you think?