I decided to read Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar after Rebecca Joines Schinsky included it on a list of books to read through your quarter life crisis over on Book Riot.
Strayed pushes us to know that we make ourselves, and it’s up to us to make ourselves whole. Someone in these pages will have the problem you have had or are having. Many someones will have it much worse. You will get perspective and reassurance and at least one that’s-exactly-what-I-needed-to-hear moment.At 50, I’m not going through a quarter-life crisis, but a mid-life one and could certainly use a little perspective as I continue to make my way, so I decided to give the book a try.
What is Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar about?
Cheryl Strayed, the author of Dear Sugar an online advice column at The Rumpus, has put together a book of her best Dear Sugar columns along with a few that have never before been published.
Before reading this book, I was concerned an entire book of columns might be advice overload, so when I packed it for a recent vacation it was almost as an afterthought; perhaps I’d read a column or two. Once I began reading, I was so taken with Cheryl’s writing and her advice I couldn’t put the book down. I will warn you though Cheryl includes a story from her own life in every column instead of just giving advice. While I enjoyed this, some of you may not.
Here is some of the advice I am taking to heart:
To the husband whose wife lost her mother:
Say Oh honey, I’m so sorry for your loss over and over again. (Page 98)I’ve been in several situations where someone I know has lost a loved one and I’m never sure what I should say or do. Cheryl suggests being there and saying you are sorry over and over is what you need to do. It doesn’t make it okay, but it makes it better.
The guidance Cheryl gives the wife whose husband had an affair with a young woman the wife hired for the family business is perfect. Instead of forgiving the young woman Cheryl suggests she first accept the situation.
“Acceptance asks only that you embrace what is true.” (Pg. 113)She recommends the wife neutralize her negative thoughts with a breath. Calm your mind. Breathe in deeply with intention, and then breathe out. Cheryl has breathed her way through many people she feels wronged by.
Then there is the Dear Sugar column I wrote about in my post Is It Possible to Change the Course of a Young Girl's Life. In this column, Cheryl writes about her experiences working as a youth advocate. Initially she tries to help the teens by getting the authorities to intervene. When no one comes to their aid and she’s told there is no money for kids over the age of 12, Cheryl changes her advice. She tells the girls to survive it. To endure it. This column gives me goose bumps every time I read it.
And lastly, the mental vision I have of the ‘rain” song Cheryl sings with the children in 'Ten Angry Boys' has stayed with me long after reading the book.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar isn’t what I would call a light vacation read. I had been feeling a bit down prior to my vacation and this book didn’t exactly bring me up. I spent a couple of days wallowing in my dysfunctional childhood, but the book did help me see things from a different point of view. I came away able to forgive someone from long ago and also to feel reassured I did the right thing in distancing someone else. All in all reading the book was good for me and I gained perspective. I can only imagine how much I'd have gotten out of it if I had read it during my quarter-life crisis.
Have your read this book? If so what were your thoughts?
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