Last week, I did my first ever product review and, here I am, doing my first ever book review! Again, I am so honored and excited that anyone, anywhere is interested in my opinion and being featured on my blog. Like, who am I? I’m just a little ol’ mama, breastfeeding and trying to dress to impress. I am beyond honored to post a book review by one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Kate Conner. Two years ago, one of my best friends, Barbara, sent me a link to Kate’s post, “10 Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls” and I was hooked forever. Well, that post has now morphed into not one, but two amazing books that will improve the lives of teenage girls everywhere.
Kate is a firecracker of a Christian woman, with wit and banter that could last for days. She has had more than her fair share of struggles, which she is completely open and graceful about. She is the kind of friend that you want next to you when you receive bad news, the kind of mom that you want in your labor and delivery room to cheer you on, and the kind of woman that you need when a
man boy breaks your heart. Her simple, wise words could cut through the thickest of mistakes that you’ve ever made. To prove it, I’m going to share the times that I could have used Kate’s advice from her post (and now books), 10 Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls. This post won’t be your typical book review, but I hope you enjoy it!
Chapter 1: Neon Purple Leggings
Before I met my husband, I looked at male attention like a third-rate celeb trying to get into the tabloids: any publicity is good publicity. I honestly never learned the destructive outcome of that mindset until some painful hindsight sucker punched me in the stomach and made me lose my breath. The most embarrassing and desperate moment I remember is when I wore skin-tight, sheer white pants to school in an effort to impress my boyfriend at the time. Let’s not even get into the fact that I also wore a black thong underneath and actually hoped that you could see it through my pants. I, personally, just so happened to stumble into the arms of a genuine, pure-heart man who looked past my cleavage and loud laugh to find someone he truly respected and admired. Kate sums it up perfectly when she says, “Men who value compassion are drawn to compassionate women. Men who value intelligence are drawn to intelligent women. Men who value style are drawn to stylish women. Men who value bacon are drawn to women who cook bacon. There is a pattern here.” This is a lesson that I didn’t learn in time. In fact, I still fail at this from time to time. I plan a skimpy outfit for a date night with my husband and refuse to indulge in his deep conversations, forgetting that he always loved me for my brain and heart rather than my…erm…assets. Like I said, these are words of advice that I could
have sincerely use d. For instance, the point that…”No woman should settle for the ability to make a man drool when instead she could have his admiration.”
Chapter 2: The Tanning
When I was in 6th grade, I started dying my hair blonde (or blonder than my natural hair color). When I was in 11th grade, I started tanning. Obsessively. Like, all day, errr day. By my senior prom, I was constantly asked if I was hispanic. I am naturally fair-skinned, light-haired, blue-eyed, and covered in tons of ever-scary and possibly cancerous moles. The darker I tanned my skin, the more and more compliments I got. Tanning couldn’t get rid of my blue eyes and the hair dye helped my hair stay light, so I was somewhat of a walking oxymoron. How many people do you know who have dark skin and light eyes? Not many. They are rare…and they are beautiful because of it. In my early years, I strove to be a rarity. A dark-skinned, light-eyed beauty. Kate brings logic to my actions by explaining, “The most elusive body type, the one nearly impossible to attain under the circumstances of the day, was beautiful.” She also comforts this insatiable desire by saying, “I reject the notion that what I am not is more beautiful than what I am.” Amen.
Chapter 3: In the Cafeteria with a Megaphone
Let me start this part by saying that I am an extremely outspoken and verbal person, friend, girlfriend, daughter, etc. It is not often that someone will get away from me without thoroughly knowing my deepest, darkest innards. As much as I attempt to use my words in a positive way, I have had the tendency to go overboard when I was upset about something and really drive the point home. The problem with that approach is that most of my friends weren’t willing to listen. When they wouldn’t listen, I’d resort to something that would. “Facebook gives us humans something we’ve always wanted-something we crave: a captive audience.” There were so many times that I just wanted someone to hear how upset I was, no matter what the consequence. There were so many times that I just word-vomited all over my Facebook wall in hopes of receiving a few likes and comments to validate my feelings. The truth is, publicly shaming someone for their wrongs is…well, wrong. Kate doesn’t skip a beat when talking about the immorality of it all when she says, “In no real-life situation is this kind of public denouncement of another person acceptable, but the false sense of anonymity granted by Facebook makes it fair game for teenagers today. The result is drama on a cosmic scale.” There is a false hope in publicly posting something that you want to tell someone personally. There is a false sense of being heard. In reality, it only leads to drama.
Chapter 4: Vegan Lions
This is a lesson that I learned recently. I mean, like, a mere 4 months ago. That specific story is still too raw and personal to share, so pardon me for being a bit vague. Vague isn’t really my style, but sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Instead, I’ll share a different story. If you’ve read my blog before this post, then you’ll already know that I have a huge passion for breastfeeding. I was kind of catapulted into that passion as I began my own journey in breastfeeding and it has just grown and grown since then. At first, I went on a huge breastfeeding kick all over my Facebook. Very quickly, I started to offend people (or annoy them, at the very least). I aimlessly posted anything and everything about breastfeeding that I could find, with no real audience. As my passion grew, I decided to aim the breastfeeding info at an audience that actually needed it. I started messaging pregnant friends, offering advice. I joined a ton of breastfeeding support pages on Facebook and constantly answered (and still answer) questions from strangers. I started this blog and drafted ALL of the breastfeeding information that I could possibly think of to post in my breastfeeding series. The end result has left me feeling so appreciated and accomplished. I never realized how necessary it was for me to unleash my passions (in the right venue, of course), but I’m so glad I ended up in such a satisfying place with them. I’ve found it so easy to avoid anything dramatic when I’m aiming my passion where it matters. “Our souls need passion and purpose. When we can’t find it authentically, we manufacture it in the form of drama and daydreams to feed our hungry hearts. The problems is that a woman subsisting off of drama and daydreams is like a lion subsisting off of grass, berries, and bugs. We might survive, but we will never be healthy, and we will never be satisfied.” I wish Kate could personally share this point with everyone on the planet. It is so necessary to work towards your passions. Nothing else can fulfill that need. “The excitement of drama can’t hold a candle to the excitement of a cause, a calling.”
Chapter 5: A Pack of Wolves Is Natural
Just because your heart’s desires are natural, does not mean that they are safe or right. This lesson has been learned one too many times in my day. It’s the kind of lesson that makes you nauseous and buckles your knees. Your heart was wrong. Again. And again. …and again. Kate says “Follow your heart.” is terrible advice and I have to agree with her. I have followed my heart. I have followed my heart over heartbreak bridge and to the heart breaker’s house we go. I have followed my heart to lackluster dreams. I have followed my heart to unhealthy relationships. I have followed my heart to damaging places. I have stopped following my heart. Kate has a long list of better things to follow, but I’ll let her careful words guide you (or your teenage girl) in this lesson, because I haven’t found what is best to follow. I only know that following my heart is not best.
Chapter 6: Get Mad, Not Mastered
There was a day last week, actually, that I was so overcome with emotion that I cried on the entire drive to work. My emotion was valid. It’s a genuinely heartbreaking situation. (It’s a political one, so I’ll refrain from spilling too much of my opinion. Just know that, in all things, I err on the side of loving another human. No political conversation could change that about me.) I pulled into the parking lot at work, grabbed my bag, and dragged my feet into work. I yelled, “I HATE this world!” to the two of my employees who were there. We had a short conversation about the issue (all in agreement, as far as opinion goes) and I had to rush into my office to get things done for the day. After a few meetings and a chance to clear my mind, I emerged from my office and declared, “If others won’t love them, I WILL.” We spent the rest of the day researching how to volunteer and get involved. My heart is still mad over this issue, but it isn’t mastered. Emotion is a good thing. Emotion gets some of us elbows deep in a soup kitchen or ten stories high to talk a stranger off a ledge. Emotion can drive the best of behaviors, as long as you don’t let it master you.
Chapter 7: Smoking Is Not Cool
This chapter has one page…and it says, simply, “Smoking is not cool.” Get it? Ok, moving on.
Chapter 8: Six Circles
There are six circles that represent who has an opinion about you that matters. Let me just tell you that it includes everyone from God to strangers. Yes, Kate dos think that a stranger’s opinion of you matters. She says, “It matters because God says it matters.” and goes on to give many scriptures as evidence. I’m guilty of saying (and thinking), “I don’t care what they think about me.” Mostly before making a poor decision. Mostly before saying something off-color. Mostly after I notice an opinion about me that I absolutely do care about, but don’t have the bravery to change. “Relationships matter, reputations matter, testimonies matter. Girls should care what other people think about them.”
Chapter 9: Dumb Is Never Cute
There is one, single line that I wish Kate would have screamed in my face until I went deaf: “The world is vast and big and bright for teenage girls-and too many women have worked too hard to see women esteemed for girls to act like a bunch of flirtatious twits to get what they want.” I have always taken pride in the fact that I can always manage to get what I want, but I’ve grown embarrassed of the efforts I’ve used in the past in order to do so. In high school, I would become fixated on a single guy that I wished to date and I would relentlessly flirt with him. My flattery was never an honest depiction of my feelings, it was merely my way of getting him to like me: getting what I wanted. I’m not much of a heart breaker, but I’m embarrassed to look back and know that I used such a dishonest scheme as my weapon of choice to get boys to like me. Kate should have been there to tell me how to actually go about flattering people, “Love people well-and know that in so doing, there is no room for manipulation.” As I shared earlier in this post, I am still guilty of thinking that my husband would like for me to revert back to the “flirtatious twit” that I was in high school in order to get my way. It has taken a lot of men who believe in my brain and my heart for me to realize that I’m capable of getting what I want by showing my intelligence and my love for others rather than shoving my flattering wit into their faces. Kate calls me to keep the relevant things front and foremost by saying, “Sisters, we either show the world that we have brains, passion, and skills-or we don’t. We can’t have it both ways.”
Chapter 10: Enough
Kate hilariously describes her own “uncharacteristically high self-esteem” and I have to say that I, too, suffer from uncharacteristically high self-esteem. While I know that I am an attractive and intelligent person, I still struggle with a sense of being enough. At first, it seems bizarre, but Kate explains, “The most beautiful, self-assured, powerful, productive woman longs to hear, at the end of every long day, “You did enough today. It is okay to breathe now. You are enough.”” Amen, Kate, amen. Even though I am confident in my appearance and so very proud of my accomplishments, I’m always craving the reassuring “more” that is makeup, home decor, or knowledge. I need more makeup to be pretty. I need more home decor to be organized. I need more knowledge to be smart. Kate gives me permission to release myself from needing to be “more”, “Whether you are 15 or 115, it is never too late to throw off the shackles of “not enough.” There is no expiration date on the truth. When an advertisement asks, “Is your skin too dry, oily, wrinkly, old, blotchy?” You can dare to say, “No.” You can dare to believe that you don’t need every fix for everything that is purportedly wrong with you.”
In the end, I realize that I needed this book now just as much as I did when I was a teenage girl. I know a few grown women that I will pass this book on to, as well as keeping it in mind for any teenage girls that are in my life. I feel as though Kate has just the right amount of grace and sass to truly drive each of these points home and nail them onto the walls of my heart. It is an amazing thing to find someone who can teach you a life lesson through their writing and that’s exactly what Kate is capable of with this book. I hope you’ll buy this book for yourself and for any girls or women in your life (buy it here). I hope you’ll give “10 Things For Teen Girls” to every teenage girl that you know (buy it here). I also hope that you’ll enter my giveaway for this book!
Enter to win a copy of “Enough” by commenting your own experience with one of these life lessons on this post and following my blog!
Giveaway ends this Friday, August 1st! Good luck!
(Must complete both items to be entered. Open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be chosen at random on Friday, August 1st. You can follow my blog through BlogLovin’, WordPress, or by email. All buttons are located to the right, on my sidebar. To follow my blog on BlogLovin’, click the plus sign button under “Follow and Connect”. To follow me on WordPress, click the “Follow” button near the bottom, above my Beauty and the Binky button. To follow me by email, enter your email and click “Follow” in the line under my Instagram feed.)