28 June 2021
This post contains adult language and mind-expanding ideas. If you are not interested in reading those, please consider skipping down to the (safer) next post, "Mi María."
Book Review: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
This review presses hard upon me. It is something I want deeply to accomplish, yet the irony is that in spite of the books fantastic message that you can do anything you believe in, there seems to be a flaw: you can do anything you believe in if you’re not battling hormones or mental illness or massive stressors.
To be clear, Sincero does mention that all of these things could fall into the category of self-limiting beliefs. I grant that. Perhaps, today, I am falling prey to my own self-limiting beliefs.
However, there is something yet to be said for the impact that hormones, mental turmoil, and stress can have on the psyche and badassery.
As if. As if. As if the start to this review weren’t enough…I began it while on the phone with our medical insurance in the midst of switching our providers from there to here. It’s just another in the long list of “to do” items that I have not been able to accomplish, today. It’s just barbs after barbs today. Is it me? Is it mental? Is it the fact that the sun is not out? It started with my left calf twinging on my run this morning. I completed the run but at what cost? All I wanted to do since that moment is cry. Then, outdoor rec did not allow me to complete the registration for our RV storage spot (apparently, it specifically had to be the AD member who showed up, today – not me – I’m not sufficient to complete the reservation). Then, K can’t get into the soccer camp she wants because we’ll be on vacation, and then I tried to schedule the kids for sports physicals here on base but couldn’t because we’re not registered here yet for medical, and finally, now, I cannot even get us registered here for medical. What. Ever. My attitude is complete pot. Definitely a self-limiting attitude and it’s been reinforced by the belief that literally nothing will go smoothly today.
What’s funny is that Sincero would say I am still capable of a winning attitude, in spite of myself. She’s not wrong; while all of the aforementioned goals remain unmet and unaccomplished, today – I *have* done and folded four loads of laundry, emailed Grant’s new XC coach to get him signed up for practice (starting next Wednesday), bought groceries, picked up our general delivery mail, did (in fact) complete that short run, got the kids a soccer ball (K) and a basketball (G) to keep them occupied, bought two (TWO!) hummingbird feeders plus hanging hooks and sugar for hummingbird water, made the hummingbird water, hung the feeders, and even got (really pretty) contact paper for cupboards and drawers (the one thing that usually stymies our progress for at least two hours every time we finally get access to a new home). Moreover, I learned this morning that family will arrive tomorrow!
Oh! And I bought a lilac smelling Yankee Candle to make this lousy temporary living space (which is actually not lousy at all, as it has four beds, a full bath, a full-ish kitchen, a dining table, living room, full back yard replete with coyotes and hummingbirds, a kickin’ a/c, and even washer/dryer) smell like home.
Would you look at that!
Good hot damn, this book is genius!
Ok fine. FINE. I’ll do the review fairly, now.
AMAGAD. So, after all of that, Brian and I got online and on the phone and got almost everything done that hindered me earlier, anyway. We’re on our way…
So. The book.
Eastern philosophical threads: Throughout the book, Sincero weaves threads of Buddhism and Taoism that impart deep calm and – well – credibility for her message. For example, beginning as early as Chapter 2: “The G Word,” Sincero acknowledges that just about anywhere someone mentions God, this can be taken as the same “Source Energy” applicable in almost every religion:
Call it whatever you want – God, Goddess, The Big Guy, The Universe, Source Energy, Higher Power, The Grand Poobah, gut, intuition, Spirit, The Force, The Zone, The Lord, The Vortex, The Mother Lode – it doesn’t matter. Personally, I find the God word to be a tad too loaded, I prefer Source Energy, The Universe, The Vortex, Spirit, The Mother Lode (all of which I will use interchangeably throughout this book, FYI). Whatever you choose to call it isn’t important, what is important is that you start to develop an awareness of, and a relationship with, the Source Energy that’s surrounding you and within you (which is all the same energy), and which will be your best pal ever if you give it a chance. Because here’s the thing: All of us are connected to this limitless power and most of us aren’t using but a fraction of it. (30)
A few things, here. First, per Taoism/Buddhism, there is no such thing as “spirit,” right? Everything that exists is what is purely physically present in this world. Of course, that does, in fact, include energy – energy is a thing. Therefore the vast majority of these terms Sincero enumerates here are accurate. The bottom line – and my point, here – is that Sincero’s perspective on some driving force gives me comfort and also increases her credibility in this reader’s mind. Love it.
What’s more is that she points out that whatever energy you’re putting out – whatever vibration – the universe will know it and match it. This feels too true. It resonates with the way that I’ll often have “off” days; like, for some reason, something goes wrong first thing in the morning (like it did today, with my calf), and then the whole rest of the day goes downhill. It’s the vibration I’m putting out because of that negative attitude.
As if – AS IF to prove a theory, we just got our hands on the kids’ physicals from last year. My calf may not be healed, but we used some universe-approved outside-the-box thinking and got someone up there to FAX (who even knew that was still a thing?) the kids’ old physicals to us here. Now I can get the kids registered for all of their sports camps this summer!
It’s like the universe or Sincero’s “Source Energy” heard and felt my vibrations after my change of attitude earlier – which I literally wrote into this piece – and responded accordingly. This means that all of my goals for today, after I’m done writing this book review, have been accomplished.
Let that explode your brain just a little bit.
I am a firm believer. Is that weird? I don’t care.
Know what happened afterward? We drove out to re-weigh our cars at the local TA travel plaza Cat Scales, and our exit off of the highway was UNIVERSITY BLVD!
So you know what I was thinking after all this happened? I was thinking, I’m totally going to go reregister my car in New Mexico and get a New Mexico license plate with the University of New Mexico on it.
I’m getting in, people. This is what I want. This is what I will manifest. Watch me and just you wait. It’s happening.
What’s preventing it right now? Nothing more than a cloud of nothing: my fear. But as Sincero writes, “This is about your faith being greater than your fear” (34).
Ok ok ok…so I’m a believer, but that’s not all that this book is good for: there’s also the writing style. Sometimes it feels like Sincero can get a bit off-topic, like toward the end of the book when a few of her chapters’ sections strayed into the land of “What was I saying, again?” But I can forgive this. Why?
Because her tone and style are magnetic!
As for her tone, it’s the most informal piece of writing I’ve read published – nearly as informal as some of my text messages. Sincero isn’t afraid to use the full spectrum of English vocabulary without compunction; her language is peppered with “swear words” but also words of her own creation, like “bad-assery” and “self-helpery.” This, if you’ve read my piece called “Meg-a-Mind (Oof That’s Bad)” you’ll know is always going to appeal to me. My nuclear unit is a clown show of wordsmiths. No word is safe, here, and most of our made-up words are quite easily defined. So she hits close to home and close to my heart throughout with her easygoing attitude toward writing and communication in general.
For example, look at this excerpt: “When I first started getting into self-helpery, there was lots of talk about something called the ‘Ego’ that confused the hell out of me” (41). Gah! I love it.
What’s even more engaging about her waay informal style is that, as a composition instructor, I could only wish my students might understand that writing like this is publishable. That is to say, if you can read Sincero’s personality through her words – all of her words – then you should be able to read any student’s personality through their words in the very same way! Why not! Why shouldn’t each and every one of my students be allowed (and encouraged) to get creative and chill with the English language the way that Sincero has? Oh sure, there are punctuation errors throughout the book, but they do not detract from her message one iota. As I pointed out in my essay, “Just Begin,” we need to look past perfectionism in order to get our message and voice out there onto the page! There is a message here that she did not intend to impart – and I’ve heard it. I hear you, Sincero.
The very last point I want to make about this book is that it touches deeply upon a theory I mentioned in my vlog last week: openness and love. It’s definitely my experience that US Citizens are the closedest, most isolated people on the planet! We each live in our separate houses behind our fences, and we forget to even learn anything about our neighbors. We value our privacy over intimacy and community – and it’s kinda gross.
Sincero points this out in her own words in Chapter 16: “Loosen your bone, Wilma.” Here, she describes a time that she went to India and feared, since this was her first solo travel experience, that she would feel so very alone trying to figure out how to handle situations in a foreign country. The truth is, she was never alone. She writes,
In India, some people will spoon you on a bus if you fall asleep next to them, roll down their windows to chat with you in a traffic jam, stare unblinkingly at your non-Indian-ness, help if you’re lost, insist you get in their family photos at historical monuments, invite you in for tea, burp, fart, and laugh in your face – it’s totally annoying. And sweet. And makes me think they clearly know something important that I’ve long forgotten (and that I suspect most of the world has forgotten, too). I didn’t have to darken the doorway of an ashram or stick a red dot on my forehead or partake in any of the other thousands of spiritual options the country is famous for offering – who needs them? As far as I’m concerned, you can learn pretty much everything you need to know about spirituality and life by taking a twelve-hour bus ride through India during wedding season. (130)
Sincero’s India story gets only more extravagant and real from there – and it jives perfectly with my own experiences in Bangalore, India (for my best friend, Vineeta’s wedding), Israel (for a Holy Land trip with my youth group senior year in high school), two of my visits to Ireland (traveling once just for fun and once to investigate our family’s ancestral roots), and one trip to southern France with my study abroad group. In all five cases my travel partners and I were invited into family homes (not our own relations) and offered food, beverages, and community. In Israel, we were invited into a family home for “real coffee” served in a thimble (ok not a thimble, but smaller than a shot glass) because it is so powerful. We were told by our host, in Arabic (we had a translator), that it would “grow hair on our chests.” I will never forget tasting that bitter coffee while seated on colorful thatched rugs. In Galway, during a folk jam session at a local bar, we met a couple that offered us a night (or two) at their own home up the west coast on the countryside! We actually took them up on the offer. US Citizens probably cannot even believe some of the stories I have to tell about the warm, welcoming experiences I’ve had with locals across the world.
Yes, our culture is emotionally constipated.
Funny, it’s my non-US-born friends who agree with this statement. It seems my American friends feel rather insulted by it – and defensive. But, my dears, it’s true: “Loosen your bone, Wilma!”
I cannot even. This book is pure gold. It will stay with me – perhaps for the rest of my life.
Buy it. Read it. Live it.
Your life will thank you!