#GreatRead: “Courage to Soar”-Simone Biles

Simone Biles is a name known across the world for her amazing wins in gymnastics during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The gymnast took home four gold medals and one bronze, becoming the fourth American female gymnast to win five medals in a single Olympics!

But, as every journey, the road to Rio didn’t come without A LOT of sacrifice, hard work, tears, and doubt. Simone detailed it all in her 2016 memoir, Courage to Soar: A Body In Motion, A Life in Balance.  Her life story was so inspiring that Lifetime turned into in a biopic for their network, which turned out pretty great too.

In the book, she vulnerably opened up about her rough childhood and time in foster care, ultimately ending up adopted by her loving grandparents. Simone also found she had a natural gift for gymnastics as a kid. Though she started working in the gym later than most gymnasts with Olympic dreams, it was that natural talent that soon catapulted her above many of the rest.

Watch Simone discuss her book and hard work to get to Rio below!

Like I said though, the journey wasn’t without its struggles. Simone missed out on a lot. Parties, hanging out with her friends, and getting to be just a regular teenager, which often had her torn between wanting gold and wanting to just be normal. She was often mocked by peers for her short but muscular physique, built from countless, grueling hours in the gym, which cut away at her self-esteem at times.

And she definitely had her share of losses on the gym floor. Even after her dedication and years of slaving in the gym, Simone ending up missing being selected for the USA women’s junior team by one spot and was deemed too young to compete in the 2012 Olympics. Losses like that could have broken anyone, and almost broke her. But she rose up anyway, and kept fighting for her purpose in life.

Courage to Soar serves as a great reminder that each of us should never lose sight of our dreams, no matter how many times life may knock us down. No matter how far away they may seem. No matter how many ugly doubts rise in our own heads.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that what’s meant for you is meant for you. You may not ever be a world gymnast like Simone, but each of us has a gift and a life purpose that’s worth fighting for like she did. You may not know what yours is yet, but, with a little self-reflection and questioning, you can definitely figure it out.

Simone truly is an inspiration for us all to have the courage to soar with this great read! I encourage each of you to pick up a copy online or at your local book store. 

#GreatRead: “The Motivation Manifesto”-Brendon Burchard

“Every human has a natural inclination to ascend to higher planes of existence, but it rests upon each of us to match that inclination with real initiative.”

I forgot how I discovered this book, but I’m so glad I did. Author and motivational speaker Brendon Burchard‘s book, The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power, kicked my 2018 off in high fashion and forced me to take a real hard look at myself and what I could do better to make this year great.

In the book, Brendon speaks on how we all desire to reach personal freedom—living freely by crafting a life on our own terms. But a bunch of things hold us back. And the craziest thing is that most of those things are in OUR control. One, so many people don’t actually know their life purpose yet (though you can definitely start figuring it out!). So they lack a lot of motivation to get moving because they don’t have anything really to move towards. Others of us, we make plans and have good intentions to do great things, and never back them up with actions. We lose ourselves in ingratitude and bitterness. We become slaves to worry and fear, instead of moving forward with boldness. Brendon calls readers out on all of it in this book, and encourages us to make declarations to be better and realize our power! 

Check out Brendon talking more about the book below!

Throughout the book, Brendon uses practical philosophy and wisdom to push readers to get in better control of our lives, and there are SO many gems. The Motivation Manifesto shares Brendon’s thoughts on reaching this “Personal Freedom,” in all aspects (freedom in time, your finances, your emotions, etc.). What stands in the way is often two things: social oppression from outside people looking in or our own self-oppression caused by our doubts and fears. 

I loved that the book provides practical tools and examples for how to stay motivated and how to not let others or even your own self hold you back. Some things I already knew and some things I learned to think of in a new way, like creating my own manifesto of sorts of what I want my life and legacy to ultimately be, and how I plan to get there.

There’s way too much goodness to truly share in one blog post, to be honest, but you can check this book out for yourself. I got this book here basically for free, only having to pay $7 for shipping and handling. It’s only available while supplies last, so get your copy now! 

Once you’ve read (or if you’ve read it already), let me know what you think about it in the comments!

#GreatRead: Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes

Around this time last year, I started reading a book that truly shaped my 2017—Year of YesHow to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by writer and producer extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes! Especially as we’re getting ready to enter in another new year, I thought it was perfect to share this great read with you guys if you haven’t checked it out yet!

Unless you’ve seriously been living under a rock, you’ve definitely heard the name Shonda Rhimes before. Especially those of us glued to our TVs for another crazy night of TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) with Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Shonda created two out of three of these and serves as producer! She’s got a lot more on her list, too (check her credentials!).

Yet, with all of her fame and glory, Shonda truly liked to stay behind the scenes. She worked and spent time with her family. That’s…pretty much it. In reading the book, I found that she was an introvert like me, who stayed in her head to make up these wild stories we love so much. She didn’t go out to many events or do many interviews or have any fun…until the year that she details in this book.

Shonda’s own journey on her Year of Yes in 2014 started with a simple but staggering statement from her older sister Delorse in Thanksgiving 2013. After hearing Shonda go on and on about all the events she’d been invited to that she had no intention of going to (out of “busyness” but really fear), her big sis dropped a line that shattered Shonda’s entire mindset. “You never say yes to anything,” Delorse told her. Delorse then proceeded to tell her little sister all about how Shonda always works, but never makes time for fun anymore.

At first, Shonda angrily tried to shake off her sister’s words. After all, declining all of these big events made perfect sense for her. She literally runs her own magical TV land (Shondaland to be exact), and she’s also a single mom to three girls. In her own words, she’s literally “bringing home the bacon AND frying it up in the pan.” The lady is a BOSS, okay?

But Shonda also knew that she had grown comfortable in being behind the scenes. Partly out of necessity. Mostly out of fear. So she decided to make 2014 the year she said yes to doing all of the things that scared her. Things like giving  the commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, or going on Jimmy Kimmel for a live TV interview! In this year, she learned to better assert herself and her choices unapologetically, while taking better care of her health and her kids. She learned to enjoy the life she has, and has become all the better for it.

And then Shonda put all the amazing lessons she learned in this book to share with all of us!

Shonda Rhimes is ME. Well, I don’t run my own shows or anything near what she does, but you get my point. Shonda Rhimes is a lot of us. We become consumed in work, or being caregivers to our loved ones, or maybe, like me, consumed with social anxiety that, a lot of times, we literally can’t bring ourselves to enjoy the life we’ve been blessed with. We can’t bring ourselves to try new things or take risks out of fear.

This book forced me to go outside of my comfort zone in 2017, going after opportunities and going places that I normally wouldn’t. And you know what? My 2017 was GREAT. I was finally able to move out on my own with a nice place all to myself just like I wanted. I stepped up my game and asked for what I wanted when it came to my writing career, which worked out well. And I created this site, turning away from what I thought I wanted with my entertainment blog, and realizing that maybe this is my life purpose. Using my gift of words to inspire and uplift others, as well as myself. All because I stopped letting fear get in the way all of the time.

Now, I’m not completely fearless. I still back down from time to time, BUT I’ve gotten a lot better at going after the things that I want and the opportunities I have. And it was partly because of this book! I’m so grateful Shonda decided to open up to the world, because her story truly helped me to move forward in my own life. So I encourage everyone to check it out, and go after everything they want in 2018!