I received a digital copy of the following book for review purposes.
I was not compensated in any way, and all opinions are my own.
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Don't let the dry and necessary legalize above turn you away from the singular truth: I really enjoyed this book!
I found Danielle Pashko's story so encouraging and inspiring; even though life was not so easy for her. Which might sound impossible if you simply stopped reading at "young model living and working in NYC." If you stopped reading: that would be a mistake on your part.
I didn't make that mistake. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting.
One pot of green tea and very full bladder later; I found myself wishing I had been BFFs with Danielle back in my late teen and early college years. I could have used some of her practical wisdom.
And I dare say there are many young girls today, who could benefit from such a role model.
It takes more than just going gluten free, drinking green juice and practicing yoga to solve your problems.
That seems like a throwaway tag line. At first glance. However, if you think about it, how many people do you know who seemed to be in "perfect shape" and had everything going for them: and then a tragedy struck? Or they were just miserable?
Did their clean living, healthy lifestyle and external attractiveness save them from depression, illness, or tragic circumstances? No. Not always. Sometimes life throws you curves; even if you are doing everything "right." Certainly, make the best, healthiest lifestyle choices for yourself; but know there are no guarantees.
The synopsis from her website:
After losing her mother to breast cancer and having an absent father, Danielle Pashko was living as a teenager on her own in Manhattan. She worked as a model to support herself, although much of her free time was spent studying yoga, massage, holistic nutrition and healing modalities.
While later working as the "go to" practitioner for every one's health issues she, ironically, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Her strongly ingrained philosophy of restrictive eating and physical discipline had to be questioned. “Was drinking green juice, going gluten free, veganism and a daily yoga practice a cure all?” Danielle believes that we can take all the external measures in the world to achieve health and happiness, but there are never any guarantees. Smile at Your Challenges is her personal story of overcoming unexpected obstacles (in all areas of life) and even having humor about it. We plan and God laughs, but there's always a reason behind our circumstance.
I really loved how she wrote about the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) being akin to a disease in our society. It causes us to make short sighted choices. It's a consciousness of the immediacy, rather than a more purposeful consciousness that looks to the future. Certainly we all should know that the choices we make now, will determine our happiness, success and health in the future. And yet, we act with such shortsightedness.
"With struggle comes maturity, and some of the wisest people are
guilty of at one point having done some pretty reckless things. It’s a
lot harder for individuals to turn their lives around and now make
the right choices when their inclination is pushing them the other
Danielle outlines all the factors that contribute towards our overall well being: age, attitude, emotional, intelligence, fear (a big one), faith (another big one), the strive for perfection (clue: no one has it - even the Cover Girl), and of course our physical health. It's all connected, and a brokenness in one area absolutely impacts all the others.
Does everyone else seem happier, more successful ... content than you are?
Try and remember that no one person actually Has it All. Historically, I am certain there is no one successful person, who did not fail at some point first. What made them succeed?
They most likely did not focus on the negative, the setbacks; but rather found the strengths and pursued that. Don't dwell on what is lacking -- think ahead to what can be found.
"It’s easy to think an aspect of strength is to always be in control, but strength actually comes from allowing the right outcome to occur."
I love how Danielle described the moment she received the Cancer diagnosis - after living in fear since her mother passed away from the disease - with Calm. Here, the thing she always feared would happen and relentlessly fortified her body against: happened despite her efforts to prevent it. Yet, in the midst of this trial - her worst case scenario -- she did not suddenly forget all the important things that she had based her existence on. (faith, love, hope, courage)
"without pain, we are blind to blessings"In such circumstances, you really only have 2 options: fight or flight.
Do you stand still in one place and complain about those circumstances? Allow the negativity, the fear, or depression to grow? All those feelings may very well be valid -- friends and family would understand! but -- do they get you where you need to be?
No, rising and moving forward to face the challenge will. She has a saying "dark mind, bitter body" that I LOVE because I think it's so true.
You can be the outward personification of beauty and calm, but on the inside, you are withered; rotting from holding on to things that are of no benefit to your body and mind.
It reminds me of something I heard my grandma say once: acid can do as much damage to the container it is stored in, as that upon which it is poured.
Living - and letting go - with an open heart, is the best medicine for your body.
Finally, The Magic Pen - brilliant. Here is the question:
If told anything you wrote would come true: could you articulate what you wanted down to the most minute detail?
Then how do you expect it to come true?
Be Brave!! Name those desires!! Be open to how they might be revealed!! They may not be exactly like how you envisioned, but don't be blind to a blessing. A little flexibility does help the mighty oak to withstand the blowing winds.
Trust in possibilities, use your gifts, have a little faith: but don't be afraid to help the miracle either.
I believe absolutely in God, in the power of prayer and His good plan for my life.In a world that is so full of the negative, of the dark, and so consumed by the over whelming stench of entitlement: I find this book so positive and encouraging! You can have the life you want.
But it is not just up to God. We need to trust that things ARE possible, and take the appropriate steps to move to the next chapter. Then like Danielle says, our "book of Life" can be that wonderful story we wanted it to be.
You deserve to be happy - notice I did not say "successful" - and absolutely have the power within you to make those dreams come true. Failures and falls are inevitable. Life isn't fair.
Grab that magic pen, draw your smiley face - and start living your story.
It is yours to write.
But read Danielle's first: she says it much better than I.
And, she lives it.
What would you write with your Magic Pen?
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