July292014

"Once you understand how a horse communicates," the old man said, as he lit another cigarette, "you can understand how he thinks. Once you understand how he thinks, you can understand what’s important to him. And that’s the key." 
"He taught me the difference between a horse that was scared, one that was mad, and one that was somewhere in between. He showed me how to teach the ones that have trouble learning, learn from the ones that are trying to teach, and help the ones that wanted to be helped. He taught me that the best horses aren’t always the biggest, the prettiest, or the shiniest. Sometimes they’re the little skinny ones with the broom tails and big ears that stand in the back of the pen." 
"From working with the old man and Bennie, I learned two very important things about working with horses that have turned out, even to this day, to be the keys to success. One is that a horse will only learn what we have to show him if we are showing him in a way he can understand. That, I have come to realize, is really the single most important part of working with horses. The other thing is that horses will almost always learn what we have to show them. We just need to remember that they can only learn as fast as they can learn, not necessarily as fast as we can teach." 

Book: A Good Horse Is Never A Bad ColorAuthor: Mark RashidPublished: Skyhorse Publishing (2011, 2nd Ed.)
My Review: The more Mark Rashid I read, the more I like Mark Rashid. He’s one of those genuine, gentle people who makes you want to find your calm and your quiet. And despite the fact that he’s exceptional at what he does, thanks to an incredible mentor of his own, he writes with an admirable and rare (particularly in the horse world) sense of humility. Genuine? Gentle? Humble? No wonder he’s so successful with his equine companions! 
Much like his other books, this is a zen and soulful kind of read. It’s simple and flows easy, but it’s wonderfully deep and philosophical in message. While intentionally avoiding the feel of a more sterile, step-by-step horse training handbook, Rashid’s narratives and stories contain soft-spoken advice and practical tricks to use in everyday life pulled from his own learning experiences. 
Highly recommended. Good for people, good for horses. Win-win. 

"Once you understand how a horse communicates," the old man said, as he lit another cigarette, "you can understand how he thinks. Once you understand how he thinks, you can understand what’s important to him. And that’s the key." 

"He taught me the difference between a horse that was scared, one that was mad, and one that was somewhere in between. He showed me how to teach the ones that have trouble learning, learn from the ones that are trying to teach, and help the ones that wanted to be helped. He taught me that the best horses aren’t always the biggest, the prettiest, or the shiniest. Sometimes they’re the little skinny ones with the broom tails and big ears that stand in the back of the pen." 

"From working with the old man and Bennie, I learned two very important things about working with horses that have turned out, even to this day, to be the keys to success. One is that a horse will only learn what we have to show him if we are showing him in a way he can understand. That, I have come to realize, is really the single most important part of working with horses. The other thing is that horses will almost always learn what we have to show them. We just need to remember that they can only learn as fast as they can learn, not necessarily as fast as we can teach." 

Book: A Good Horse Is Never A Bad Color
Author: Mark Rashid
Published: Skyhorse Publishing (2011, 2nd Ed.)

My Review: The more Mark Rashid I read, the more I like Mark Rashid. He’s one of those genuine, gentle people who makes you want to find your calm and your quiet. And despite the fact that he’s exceptional at what he does, thanks to an incredible mentor of his own, he writes with an admirable and rare (particularly in the horse world) sense of humility. Genuine? Gentle? Humble? No wonder he’s so successful with his equine companions! 

Much like his other books, this is a zen and soulful kind of read. It’s simple and flows easy, but it’s wonderfully deep and philosophical in message. While intentionally avoiding the feel of a more sterile, step-by-step horse training handbook, Rashid’s narratives and stories contain soft-spoken advice and practical tricks to use in everyday life pulled from his own learning experiences. 

Highly recommended. Good for people, good for horses. Win-win. 

July212014

"However, for my money there is a big difference between trying to make a horse understand something and trying to help a horse understand." 
"I guess sometimes we get so tanged up in trying to find ways to teach our horses to do things or in finding training "techniques" to help us solve our horse’s problems, that we forget to take the most important factor into consideration— the horse. It seems to me that by giving our horses half a chance to tell us what’s on their minds and genuinely listening to what they have to say, we can open the door to a whole new line of communication with them, one that perhaps wasn’t even there before." 
"Things hat I used to get from my horses, such as lead changes and four-stride trot/canter/trot transitions… I see those now as gifts. Gifts that were in that moment, willingly given from my horse to me. I think there is definitely a connection between what I am able to give my horse and what the horse is able to give back to me. Things like technique, mechanics, and goals shouldn’t ever compromise the gifts from the horse." 

Book: Horses Never Lie: The Heart of Passive LeadershipAuthor: Mark RashidPublished: Skyhorse Publishing (1993, 2011) 
My Review: I’ve never had a quiet mind. Since the day I was born, my brain has been over-analyzing, over-thinking, over-stimulated, over-worked (mostly as a consequence of my own silly choices). And in that constant racing, it’s been easy to forget the importance of being still.
I find that I need books like this (and folks like Mark Rashid) to remind me to hush occasionally, and to simply be present in the moment. This is an especially important reminder when working with horses; often the quieter you are, the more space you create for connection. Quiet leaves room for clear and creative thought, conscious communication, and honest attention to the powerful details that are instantly overlooked in the race toward meaningless goals and the implementation of technique.
Being soft yet direct and earning the trust of those who rely almost solely on consistency takes practice and serious commitment. It’s a skill that is not often come by or valued in our frantic and over-caffeinated world. But, when it comes down to it, there’s truly nothing more valuable if you’re looking to develop a partnership based on respect and understanding with a 1,200 pound being who speaks a foreign, yet much more natural and soulful language. 
Become a passive leader, Rashid suggests. Speak with your body and your actions, lead by example. Most importantly, leave all the harshness and mindlessness of everyday life at the barn door. Make room for quiet.
Who knows, maybe if I practice enough, I’ll learn to let go of harshness and mindlessness altogether. A happy thought, if you ask me. I can’t think of a single reason to hold onto such destruction. 

"However, for my money there is a big difference between trying to make a horse understand something and trying to help a horse understand." 

"I guess sometimes we get so tanged up in trying to find ways to teach our horses to do things or in finding training "techniques" to help us solve our horse’s problems, that we forget to take the most important factor into consideration— the horse. It seems to me that by giving our horses half a chance to tell us what’s on their minds and genuinely listening to what they have to say, we can open the door to a whole new line of communication with them, one that perhaps wasn’t even there before." 

"Things hat I used to get from my horses, such as lead changes and four-stride trot/canter/trot transitions… I see those now as gifts. Gifts that were in that moment, willingly given from my horse to me. I think there is definitely a connection between what I am able to give my horse and what the horse is able to give back to me. Things like technique, mechanics, and goals shouldn’t ever compromise the gifts from the horse." 

Book: Horses Never Lie: The Heart of Passive Leadership
Author: Mark Rashid
Published: Skyhorse Publishing (1993, 2011) 

My Review: I’ve never had a quiet mind. Since the day I was born, my brain has been over-analyzing, over-thinking, over-stimulated, over-worked (mostly as a consequence of my own silly choices). And in that constant racing, it’s been easy to forget the importance of being still.

I find that I need books like this (and folks like Mark Rashid) to remind me to hush occasionally, and to simply be present in the moment. This is an especially important reminder when working with horses; often the quieter you are, the more space you create for connection. Quiet leaves room for clear and creative thought, conscious communication, and honest attention to the powerful details that are instantly overlooked in the race toward meaningless goals and the implementation of technique.

Being soft yet direct and earning the trust of those who rely almost solely on consistency takes practice and serious commitment. It’s a skill that is not often come by or valued in our frantic and over-caffeinated world. But, when it comes down to it, there’s truly nothing more valuable if you’re looking to develop a partnership based on respect and understanding with a 1,200 pound being who speaks a foreign, yet much more natural and soulful language. 

Become a passive leader, Rashid suggests. Speak with your body and your actions, lead by example. Most importantly, leave all the harshness and mindlessness of everyday life at the barn door. Make room for quiet.

Who knows, maybe if I practice enough, I’ll learn to let go of harshness and mindlessness altogether. A happy thought, if you ask me. I can’t think of a single reason to hold onto such destruction. 

July92014

"My parents were aware that it was my choice to remain in the Sea Org, but they also knew I was brainwashed. The last thing you want to tell a person who is brainwashed is that they are brainwashed." 
"In many ways, the Celebrity Centre was the perfect stage for the act that Scientology put on for the celebrities. The accommodations were gorgeous, and the beautiful grounds made the experience enjoyable. Everything was tightly controlled and orchestrated, and if the celebrities themselves took things at face value, they’d simply see the act and never witness what went on behind the curtain. There was never any risk that they would get exposed to child labor or something similar that the Church didn’t want them to see. Sea Org members at the Celebrity Centre appeared happy because it was their job to do that, so celebrities wouldn’t know from talking to them or watching them whether they’d been paid their forty-five dollars that week, or if they missed their families."

Book: Beyond BeliefAuthor: Jenna Miscavige Hill Published: HarperCollins (2013)
My Review: Shifting gears a bit with this one, from the appalling abuses of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) to the appalling abuses of Scientology. Not that much of a shift, I suppose, but a shift nonetheless! 
Despite major philosophical and practical differences, both FLDS and Scientology demonstrate cult definitions to a tee. Cults, as opposed to other more socially acceptable religious organizations, are typically characterized by relatively small groups of people who have been strategically isolated from others, coerced and brainwashed, and micromanaged to the point of complete incapacitation by leaders (typically “representing” various religious figures) who demand excessive devotion and submission of individual will in exchange for salvation, ultimate contentment, or similar grandiose purposes. 
While FLDS leaders seem to inflict significantly more extreme trauma upon individual survivors (institutionalized rape, underage marriage, physical abuse, neglect, etc.), Scientologist leaders also leave their mark, as Hill points out, with practices involving extensive child labor, strategic separation of families, intimidation techniques, and physical/financial manipulation. And, to give credit where credit is due, Scientology is WAY more famous than the FLDS; I mean, they have Tom Cruise and John Travolta toting the line! How could NOT be Ultimate Truth?!
Regardless of the techniques used, the goal of cult leaders is 100% the same: power and control. Ensuring complete power and control over individuals ensures money and status, primarily through leeching off lower-level believers who have little-to-no capacity to change their circumstances, even if they so desired (which is uncommon, as brainwashing is typically quite thorough and cult principles fundamentally internalized over time). Often, the majority of believers live in squalor and fear while the leaders they worship are enjoying a luxurious existence, showered with riches stolen in the name of religious salvation.
Convenient for these “prophets,” is it not? 
Overall, this memoir was fairly insightful and paints a basic, Cult 101-esque picture of modern-day Scientology. My only legitimate complaint is with the many grammatical and spelling errors, which may not be of concern to most (normal) people. I, on the other hand, would like to have a word with the person who calls herself Jenna Hill’s editor! 

"My parents were aware that it was my choice to remain in the Sea Org, but they also knew I was brainwashed. The last thing you want to tell a person who is brainwashed is that they are brainwashed." 

"In many ways, the Celebrity Centre was the perfect stage for the act that Scientology put on for the celebrities. The accommodations were gorgeous, and the beautiful grounds made the experience enjoyable. Everything was tightly controlled and orchestrated, and if the celebrities themselves took things at face value, they’d simply see the act and never witness what went on behind the curtain. There was never any risk that they would get exposed to child labor or something similar that the Church didn’t want them to see. Sea Org members at the Celebrity Centre appeared happy because it was their job to do that, so celebrities wouldn’t know from talking to them or watching them whether they’d been paid their forty-five dollars that week, or if they missed their families."

Book: Beyond Belief
Author: Jenna Miscavige Hill 
Published: HarperCollins (2013)

My Review: Shifting gears a bit with this one, from the appalling abuses of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) to the appalling abuses of Scientology. Not that much of a shift, I suppose, but a shift nonetheless! 

Despite major philosophical and practical differences, both FLDS and Scientology demonstrate cult definitions to a tee. Cults, as opposed to other more socially acceptable religious organizations, are typically characterized by relatively small groups of people who have been strategically isolated from others, coerced and brainwashed, and micromanaged to the point of complete incapacitation by leaders (typically “representing” various religious figures) who demand excessive devotion and submission of individual will in exchange for salvation, ultimate contentment, or similar grandiose purposes. 

While FLDS leaders seem to inflict significantly more extreme trauma upon individual survivors (institutionalized rape, underage marriage, physical abuse, neglect, etc.), Scientologist leaders also leave their mark, as Hill points out, with practices involving extensive child labor, strategic separation of families, intimidation techniques, and physical/financial manipulation. And, to give credit where credit is due, Scientology is WAY more famous than the FLDS; I mean, they have Tom Cruise and John Travolta toting the line! How could NOT be Ultimate Truth?!

Regardless of the techniques used, the goal of cult leaders is 100% the same: power and control. Ensuring complete power and control over individuals ensures money and status, primarily through leeching off lower-level believers who have little-to-no capacity to change their circumstances, even if they so desired (which is uncommon, as brainwashing is typically quite thorough and cult principles fundamentally internalized over time). Often, the majority of believers live in squalor and fear while the leaders they worship are enjoying a luxurious existence, showered with riches stolen in the name of religious salvation.

Convenient for these “prophets,” is it not? 

Overall, this memoir was fairly insightful and paints a basic, Cult 101-esque picture of modern-day Scientology. My only legitimate complaint is with the many grammatical and spelling errors, which may not be of concern to most (normal) people. I, on the other hand, would like to have a word with the person who calls herself Jenna Hill’s editor! 

June262014

"It irritated me that Uncle Rulon utilized his position to make his preferences suddenly seem like they were what God wanted from us."
"If a girl didn’t ever know she had a choice, she had no choice."
"I stepped reverently from that chapel with a startling realization. Man was fallible. No one, not the Dalai Lama nor any Prophet, pope, or minister, was beyond reproach. To follow blindly was to shut down our sacred voice of reason and deny the God that lived in each of us." 
"Never treat another in a manner which would make them feel small; not anyone, not even yourself." 

Book: The Witness Wore RedAuthor: Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget CookPublished: Grand Central Publishing (2013)
My Review: I know, I know, I know. You all probably need a break from the series of disturbing cult books, and I hear you. I get it. But lucky for me, I own this little space of zen, so I can obsess and rant and review to my morbid little heart’s content! For those of you who’ve had enough FLDS-cult-activist talk, please feel free to go ahead and click that little red x button at the top of left. For the rest of you, my iron willed allies in justice, I invite you to stay, read, commiserate. 
AND THEN DO SOMETHING. 
Of all the memoirs I’ve read by FLDS escapees, this is by far the most gentle. And by gentle, I mean gentle in everything. It was gentle toward her community, her home (much more forgiving and kind than other memoirs I’ve read). Gentle toward her family members and loved ones. Gentle, even, toward ill-equipped, under-prepared, and willfully ignorant government agencies that, time and time again, have failed to live up to the tasks entrusted to them. Even her language was gentle.  
Soft spoken as she is, Musser’s true brilliance is in her ability to be both respectfully gentle and fiercely honest in the same breath. No easy task, eh?
And, using this impressive approach, Musser ultimately reveals a more complex, human truth than has been discussed before. Despite the plethora of harsh, intensely critical pieces, Musser is able to highlight that there are in fact two sides to every story. For every well-meaning CPS worker there’s a terrified and confused family. For every arrest and conviction, there are difficult religious and familial ramifications. For every abuser, there’s a genuinely healthy mother/father/sister/brother. For every sorrow, there is a modicum of happiness. 
I think Musser would likely agree, however, that there’s a time to shelve the gentle and bring out the fierce. Acknowledging humanity in us all is admirable and productive, but that revelation does not warrant total amnesty for despicable behavior. Particularly behavior that involves brainwashing an entire community of thousands to believe that sexual abuse, rape, underage marriage, child neglect, abandonment, tax evasion, welfare fraud, money laundering, human trafficking, kidnapping, illegal eviction, and hostage holding is God’s will and their only salvation. 
Yeah, I’m looking at you, Warren Jeffs. You are NOT EXCUSED. 
So my nerdy, compassionate, bookworm allies, I again invite and challenge you to action. 
Do anything. Take a stand, pull up a chair. Listen. LISTEN. Read, inform. Offer a hand, a blanket, a home, a refuge. Make a friend, be a mentor, learn a culture, learn a language. Donate. Give time, give money, give love, give service. Embody compassion, empathy, hope. Reject ignorance, ask hard questions, get mad, stay present. Petition the government, create accountability. Fight the man, the system, the oppressor. Heal the hurt, bring people with you into better worlds. 
What else were you going to do today, anyway? 
Because really, who needs Grey’s Anatomy when you have one short, itty bitty life to make this world a better place? 
Hop to it, kids. Hop to it. 

"It irritated me that Uncle Rulon utilized his position to make his preferences suddenly seem like they were what God wanted from us."

"If a girl didn’t ever know she had a choice, she had no choice."

"I stepped reverently from that chapel with a startling realization. Man was fallible. No one, not the Dalai Lama nor any Prophet, pope, or minister, was beyond reproach. To follow blindly was to shut down our sacred voice of reason and deny the God that lived in each of us." 

"Never treat another in a manner which would make them feel small; not anyone, not even yourself." 

Book: The Witness Wore Red
Author: Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget Cook
Published: Grand Central Publishing (2013)

My Review: I know, I know, I know. You all probably need a break from the series of disturbing cult books, and I hear you. I get it. But lucky for me, I own this little space of zen, so I can obsess and rant and review to my morbid little heart’s content! For those of you who’ve had enough FLDS-cult-activist talk, please feel free to go ahead and click that little red x button at the top of left. For the rest of you, my iron willed allies in justice, I invite you to stay, read, commiserate. 

AND THEN DO SOMETHING. 

Of all the memoirs I’ve read by FLDS escapees, this is by far the most gentle. And by gentle, I mean gentle in everything. It was gentle toward her community, her home (much more forgiving and kind than other memoirs I’ve read). Gentle toward her family members and loved ones. Gentle, even, toward ill-equipped, under-prepared, and willfully ignorant government agencies that, time and time again, have failed to live up to the tasks entrusted to them. Even her language was gentle.  

Soft spoken as she is, Musser’s true brilliance is in her ability to be both respectfully gentle and fiercely honest in the same breath. No easy task, eh?

And, using this impressive approach, Musser ultimately reveals a more complex, human truth than has been discussed before. Despite the plethora of harsh, intensely critical pieces, Musser is able to highlight that there are in fact two sides to every story. For every well-meaning CPS worker there’s a terrified and confused family. For every arrest and conviction, there are difficult religious and familial ramifications. For every abuser, there’s a genuinely healthy mother/father/sister/brother. For every sorrow, there is a modicum of happiness. 

I think Musser would likely agree, however, that there’s a time to shelve the gentle and bring out the fierce. Acknowledging humanity in us all is admirable and productive, but that revelation does not warrant total amnesty for despicable behavior. Particularly behavior that involves brainwashing an entire community of thousands to believe that sexual abuse, rape, underage marriage, child neglect, abandonment, tax evasion, welfare fraud, money laundering, human trafficking, kidnapping, illegal eviction, and hostage holding is God’s will and their only salvation. 

Yeah, I’m looking at you, Warren Jeffs. You are NOT EXCUSED. 

So my nerdy, compassionate, bookworm allies, I again invite and challenge you to action. 

Do anything. Take a stand, pull up a chair. Listen. LISTEN. Read, inform. Offer a hand, a blanket, a home, a refuge. Make a friend, be a mentor, learn a culture, learn a language. Donate. Give time, give money, give love, give service. Embody compassion, empathy, hope. Reject ignorance, ask hard questions, get mad, stay present. Petition the government, create accountability. Fight the man, the system, the oppressor. Heal the hurt, bring people with you into better worlds. 

What else were you going to do today, anyway? 

Because really, who needs Grey’s Anatomy when you have one short, itty bitty life to make this world a better place? 

Hop to it, kids. Hop to it. 

June202014

"Keep Sweet" is the sacred song of the church, preached with relentless passion. It covers a multitude of sins. It means be modest and pure; obey your parents; obey your husband. But to me and thousands of other abused kids, keep sweet meant keep silent as your father is molesting you. Say nothing as your mom or dad beats you with their fists, a belt, a steel pipe. Do as your told when, as a young teenager, you’re ripped away from the boy you love and ordered to marry a man in his seventies. Smile sweetly through your pain because there is nothing you can do about it." 
"Because of inbreeding, Colorado City and Hildale have the world’s highest rate of fumarase deficiency— more than half the cases of this enzyme deficiency in the world are right in my home town. These babies have terrible seizures. None has an IQ over 25. Some have brains that are literally half water." 
"They don’t want to arrest me," I replied. "They want me dead." "Why?" "Because I take their biggest asset— their daughters." 

Book: Church of LiesAuthor: Flora JessopPublished: Jossey-Bass (2009)
My Review: I’m on a cult kick. Light, uplifting summer reading, is it not?
Cults are difficult to read about in general. Memoirs by cult survivors are even harder. I think this is because while facts are disturbing on a logical level, raw emotions and lived experience are where things really start to hit home. Well-written memoirs poke at us in a much deeper way; they remind us of our connection to one another and provide an emotional sense of experiences that we may not have lived ourselves. Walking a mile in another’s shoes, so to speak. 
Flora Jessop, a little spitfire of a woman, does just that in Church of Lies. She brings the facts to life; gives the inhumanity of the FLDS community a name, a face, feelings. Born to FLDS parents in a polygamist community, Jessop seemed destined to suffer the brutality and lifelong imprisonment that FLDS women have somehow managed to live for decades. But, being a naturally rebellious and fiery little girl, she didn’t. She ran and, miraculously, made it out. 
After escaping from abusive hands and her fate of miserable FLDS baby-breeding, Jessop wanted to experience a different kind of life. And experience she did— all the good, bad, and ugly of the world. Ten years later, having developed a sense of self and regained her own mental and physical health, Jessop became a rescuer of runaways and a fierce enemy of the FLDS way of life. 
At times going quite beyond the boundaries of appropriate self-care and preservation, Jessop risked life and limb to help women and children follow her path to freedom. No easy task, easing the thoroughly brainwashed and terrified into a world that they’ve grown to accept as utterly evil and dangerous. 
A heart-wrenching read at times, Jessop uses this memoir as a space to uncover the depravities and criminal offenses that have gone on uninterrupted within our society for far too long. She relives molestation and rape perpetrated by her father, sickening abuse sustained by friends and family members, infuriating ineptitude and undermining actions of the U.S. criminal justice systems. The list of horrors goes on and on.
I always think it’s important to read hard things. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose, but knowledge is right. And knowledge is power. So put on your big kid pants, inform yourself, and do something about whatever injustice you find compelling. Is there a better purpose than doing good in this world? I think not. 

"Keep Sweet" is the sacred song of the church, preached with relentless passion. It covers a multitude of sins. It means be modest and pure; obey your parents; obey your husband. But to me and thousands of other abused kids, keep sweet meant keep silent as your father is molesting you. Say nothing as your mom or dad beats you with their fists, a belt, a steel pipe. Do as your told when, as a young teenager, you’re ripped away from the boy you love and ordered to marry a man in his seventies. Smile sweetly through your pain because there is nothing you can do about it." 

"Because of inbreeding, Colorado City and Hildale have the world’s highest rate of fumarase deficiency— more than half the cases of this enzyme deficiency in the world are right in my home town. These babies have terrible seizures. None has an IQ over 25. Some have brains that are literally half water." 

"They don’t want to arrest me," I replied. "They want me dead." "Why?" "Because I take their biggest asset— their daughters." 

Book: Church of Lies
Author: Flora Jessop
Published: Jossey-Bass (2009)

My Review: I’m on a cult kick. Light, uplifting summer reading, is it not?

Cults are difficult to read about in general. Memoirs by cult survivors are even harder. I think this is because while facts are disturbing on a logical level, raw emotions and lived experience are where things really start to hit home. Well-written memoirs poke at us in a much deeper way; they remind us of our connection to one another and provide an emotional sense of experiences that we may not have lived ourselves. Walking a mile in another’s shoes, so to speak. 

Flora Jessop, a little spitfire of a woman, does just that in Church of Lies. She brings the facts to life; gives the inhumanity of the FLDS community a name, a face, feelings. Born to FLDS parents in a polygamist community, Jessop seemed destined to suffer the brutality and lifelong imprisonment that FLDS women have somehow managed to live for decades. But, being a naturally rebellious and fiery little girl, she didn’t. She ran and, miraculously, made it out. 

After escaping from abusive hands and her fate of miserable FLDS baby-breeding, Jessop wanted to experience a different kind of life. And experience she did— all the good, bad, and ugly of the world. Ten years later, having developed a sense of self and regained her own mental and physical health, Jessop became a rescuer of runaways and a fierce enemy of the FLDS way of life. 

At times going quite beyond the boundaries of appropriate self-care and preservation, Jessop risked life and limb to help women and children follow her path to freedom. No easy task, easing the thoroughly brainwashed and terrified into a world that they’ve grown to accept as utterly evil and dangerous. 

A heart-wrenching read at times, Jessop uses this memoir as a space to uncover the depravities and criminal offenses that have gone on uninterrupted within our society for far too long. She relives molestation and rape perpetrated by her father, sickening abuse sustained by friends and family members, infuriating ineptitude and undermining actions of the U.S. criminal justice systems. The list of horrors goes on and on.

I always think it’s important to read hard things. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose, but knowledge is right. And knowledge is power. So put on your big kid pants, inform yourself, and do something about whatever injustice you find compelling. Is there a better purpose than doing good in this world? I think not. 

June152014

"The entire FLDS structure is supported by how many children can be contributed to the system, so the abusive cycle is repeated, time and again. The more wives a man is assigned, the richer he will become both on earth and in the hereafter. Women and children are considered chattel and the measure of a man’s success." 
"It was all done in the name of the Lord." 
"If we abandon these children, because of fear of lawsuits or costs to our state, we are no better than the men who systematically sexually assault the young girls in the name of religion…" 
"I have often pondered how the public would react if the same sort of ritualistic crimes that I have investigated within the FLDS had instead centered on a congregation of Satan worshippers. The only difference is that Satan worshippers know without a doubt that they are going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they get caught raping. If the FLDS crimes had been put in proper perspective, outraged citizens and lawmakers would have demanded action years ago." 

Book: Prophet’s PreyAuthor: Same BrowerPublished: Bloomsbury USA (2011)
My Review: Two warnings. First, for all those who couldn’t already guess (hopefully not many of you), this book is quite disturbing. Second, this may be a rant review. You’ve been warned.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a long-ago breakaway sect of the more well known Latter Day Saints) has, since its foundation, been one of the most notoriously secretive and isolated religious groups in history. And not by accident.
Tucked away in rural areas of Utah, Arizona, Texas, and other remote locations, FLDS members are raised with zero access to the outside world and are, generation after generation, brainwashed to believe that 100% obedience to their prophet (currently the incarcerated and certifiably insane Warren Jeffs) is their one and only ticket to heaven. Their entire town police force, business administration, and all other leaders with any semblance of power have all had quite a bit of the Kool-Aid, if you know what I mean.
While this isolation is strange and arguably unhealthy in and of itself, the true evil exists in the depraved activities that are not only endorsed, but mandated and revered within the community. Child abuse, rape, underage marriage, incest, tax evasion, unlawful eviction and neglect— the horrific list of both civil and criminal offenses goes on and on and on. 
It’s terrifying to think that this “religion” has been flourishing for so many years without any significant or effective intervention by government; a government that just happens to be charged with keeping us safe and enforcing the law. It would be less appalling (although no more excusable) had these agencies been blissfully unaware of the crimes taking place within these secluded communes…
But they did know— they DO know. Mountains upon mountains of evidence have piled up over the years of investigation (primarily by private parties, brave ex-FLDS individuals, and specialty contractors) and yet the cause is continually deemed “too expensive, too complicated, too political” for any meaningful involvement by all entities that may have the power and resources to effectively address this nightmare. 
Let me ask you this. How many thousands of young children have been neglected, assaulted, raped, and abandoned; how many wives and sister-wives have been battered and torn again and again from their families; how many fathers have willingly sold their pre-pubescent daughters into the hands of dangerous pedophiles while Child Protective Services, the police, and even the Attorney General’s Office(s) have turned a blind eye?
Inexcusable and absolutely sickening if you ask me.  
But before you start in on religious freedom, I’ll tell you that I understand completely the importance of the First Amendment. I believe in the Constitutional right to practice your truth in the religion of your choosing. I even believe in the right to live in rural, uber-isolated communities worshipping a man who may or may not have serious issues with paranoid schizophrenia and sadistic pedophilia. But I do have lines. 
I DO NOT believe, for instance, that you have the right to “marry” a 12 year old girl to a 55 year old man and stand by complacently while she is repeatedly raped, abused, impregnated, and traumatized for life. (Many times recorded on audiotape, by the way, so the “Prophet” could re-live the atrocities of his limitless power again and again. Yeah, I about puked just there.)
I DO NOT believe you have the right to abandon young, pre-teen boys (now frequently referred to as “Lost Boys”) on the side of the road with absolutely no skills or resources and forbid them from returning to the only community that they have ever known or even contacting the families with whom they have grown up— all for the purpose of growing harems of young women for the predatory, decrepit leaders of this vicious cult. 
I also DO NOT believe you have the right to evict people from homes that are rightfully their own, re-assign men’s families and destroy their lives because you don’t like the way they looked at you last Tuesday, or to launder money through corrupt agencies across states to fund multi-million dollar prophet-harem homes while everyone else is forced to live in squalor.
Not even in God’s name do I believe that these things are okay. Especially in God’s name!
Moral of the story: This “religion” (at least the way it is practiced now) is very literally a lifelong torture sentence and, in my opinion, an unbelievable violation of all the laws and human rights that we hold dear and inalienable in our society. Whether the FLDS like it or not, they are part of this country, and part of this world. Behavior like this is monstrously destructive and we’ve set a terribly dangerous precedent by making allowances and oversights on the basis of “religious freedom.” 
And really? Religious freedom? So (as Sam points out in his book) if this were a Satan worshipping group, per se, and they were all about this kind of rape and pillage and brainwashed obedience bullshit, would we stand around idly and turn our gaze?
I think we all know the answer to that question. 
It is way, way, way beyond time to make this right. For the sake of the women who are unimaginably traumatized and want out; for the sake of the assaulted, battered, neglected children who are too young to fully comprehend the brutality they endure (the trauma will come); for the sake of men and boys who are left with nothing and who often find their only answer in suicide. 
This needs to change, and it needs to change now. 

"The entire FLDS structure is supported by how many children can be contributed to the system, so the abusive cycle is repeated, time and again. The more wives a man is assigned, the richer he will become both on earth and in the hereafter. Women and children are considered chattel and the measure of a man’s success." 

"It was all done in the name of the Lord." 

"If we abandon these children, because of fear of lawsuits or costs to our state, we are no better than the men who systematically sexually assault the young girls in the name of religion…" 

"I have often pondered how the public would react if the same sort of ritualistic crimes that I have investigated within the FLDS had instead centered on a congregation of Satan worshippers. The only difference is that Satan worshippers know without a doubt that they are going to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they get caught raping. If the FLDS crimes had been put in proper perspective, outraged citizens and lawmakers would have demanded action years ago." 

Book: Prophet’s Prey
Author: Same Brower
Published: Bloomsbury USA (2011)

My Review: Two warnings. First, for all those who couldn’t already guess (hopefully not many of you), this book is quite disturbing. Second, this may be a rant review. You’ve been warned.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a long-ago breakaway sect of the more well known Latter Day Saints) has, since its foundation, been one of the most notoriously secretive and isolated religious groups in history. And not by accident.

Tucked away in rural areas of Utah, Arizona, Texas, and other remote locations, FLDS members are raised with zero access to the outside world and are, generation after generation, brainwashed to believe that 100% obedience to their prophet (currently the incarcerated and certifiably insane Warren Jeffs) is their one and only ticket to heaven. Their entire town police force, business administration, and all other leaders with any semblance of power have all had quite a bit of the Kool-Aid, if you know what I mean.

While this isolation is strange and arguably unhealthy in and of itself, the true evil exists in the depraved activities that are not only endorsed, but mandated and revered within the community. Child abuse, rape, underage marriage, incest, tax evasion, unlawful eviction and neglect— the horrific list of both civil and criminal offenses goes on and on and on. 

It’s terrifying to think that this “religion” has been flourishing for so many years without any significant or effective intervention by government; a government that just happens to be charged with keeping us safe and enforcing the law. It would be less appalling (although no more excusable) had these agencies been blissfully unaware of the crimes taking place within these secluded communes…

But they did know— they DO know. Mountains upon mountains of evidence have piled up over the years of investigation (primarily by private parties, brave ex-FLDS individuals, and specialty contractors) and yet the cause is continually deemed “too expensive, too complicated, too political” for any meaningful involvement by all entities that may have the power and resources to effectively address this nightmare. 

Let me ask you this. How many thousands of young children have been neglected, assaulted, raped, and abandoned; how many wives and sister-wives have been battered and torn again and again from their families; how many fathers have willingly sold their pre-pubescent daughters into the hands of dangerous pedophiles while Child Protective Services, the police, and even the Attorney General’s Office(s) have turned a blind eye?

Inexcusable and absolutely sickening if you ask me.  

But before you start in on religious freedom, I’ll tell you that I understand completely the importance of the First Amendment. I believe in the Constitutional right to practice your truth in the religion of your choosing. I even believe in the right to live in rural, uber-isolated communities worshipping a man who may or may not have serious issues with paranoid schizophrenia and sadistic pedophilia. But I do have lines. 

I DO NOT believe, for instance, that you have the right to “marry” a 12 year old girl to a 55 year old man and stand by complacently while she is repeatedly raped, abused, impregnated, and traumatized for life. (Many times recorded on audiotape, by the way, so the “Prophet” could re-live the atrocities of his limitless power again and again. Yeah, I about puked just there.)

I DO NOT believe you have the right to abandon young, pre-teen boys (now frequently referred to as “Lost Boys”) on the side of the road with absolutely no skills or resources and forbid them from returning to the only community that they have ever known or even contacting the families with whom they have grown up— all for the purpose of growing harems of young women for the predatory, decrepit leaders of this vicious cult. 

I also DO NOT believe you have the right to evict people from homes that are rightfully their own, re-assign men’s families and destroy their lives because you don’t like the way they looked at you last Tuesday, or to launder money through corrupt agencies across states to fund multi-million dollar prophet-harem homes while everyone else is forced to live in squalor.

Not even in God’s name do I believe that these things are okay. Especially in God’s name!

Moral of the story: This “religion” (at least the way it is practiced now) is very literally a lifelong torture sentence and, in my opinion, an unbelievable violation of all the laws and human rights that we hold dear and inalienable in our society. Whether the FLDS like it or not, they are part of this country, and part of this world. Behavior like this is monstrously destructive and we’ve set a terribly dangerous precedent by making allowances and oversights on the basis of “religious freedom.” 

And really? Religious freedom? So (as Sam points out in his book) if this were a Satan worshipping group, per se, and they were all about this kind of rape and pillage and brainwashed obedience bullshit, would we stand around idly and turn our gaze?

I think we all know the answer to that question. 

It is way, way, way beyond time to make this right. For the sake of the women who are unimaginably traumatized and want out; for the sake of the assaulted, battered, neglected children who are too young to fully comprehend the brutality they endure (the trauma will come); for the sake of men and boys who are left with nothing and who often find their only answer in suicide. 

This needs to change, and it needs to change now. 

June102014

"It’s my firm belief that perfection is not what forms your love for something or someone. No. It’s imperfections that make you love unconditionally, in an unexplainable manner." 
"But I can have the worst day of my life, walk out and talk to my horses, and everything is suddenly okay. They have been the best therapy money could buy." 
"After we finished, I realized what a team Ben and I were. We both had our fears and weaknesses, but together we were strong." 

Book: Rescued By A HorseAuthor: Cheryl DudleyPublished: MJF Books (2010)
My Review: I’m going to be honest with you— I’m still recovering from my Stephen King “It” hangover. And when I’m book-sick, typically anything horse related is a solid go-to in terms of distracting my mind from crippling literary withdrawals. 
This book is cute. That’s really the only word that comes to mind. It’s cute and short. Like, less than 12-hours short. And because it is these things, it’s also superficial. The relationship between horse and human is deep and intricate. While these essays are endearing in a Chicken-Soup-For-The-Teenage-Equestrian-Soul kind of way, they reduce what is actually an awesome, multi-layered connection to mindless fluff. 
If these horse owners are anything like me (and maybe they aren’t— I am not, however hard I try, the center of the universe), there could never be nearly enough space in this kind of collection to express the real, messy, and intensely powerful nature of equine experiences. The simplicity and sugar-coated stories are enough to make folks smile, sure, but they absolutely cheat anyone who wants to know about the true intimacy and complexity of this marvelous inter-species bond. 
Overall? Great as an easy-reader/palate cleanser, significantly lacking in the substance department. Move on horse lovers, there’s not much to see here. 

"It’s my firm belief that perfection is not what forms your love for something or someone. No. It’s imperfections that make you love unconditionally, in an unexplainable manner." 

"But I can have the worst day of my life, walk out and talk to my horses, and everything is suddenly okay. They have been the best therapy money could buy." 

"After we finished, I realized what a team Ben and I were. We both had our fears and weaknesses, but together we were strong." 

Book: Rescued By A Horse
Author: Cheryl Dudley
Published: MJF Books (2010)

My Review: I’m going to be honest with you— I’m still recovering from my Stephen King “It” hangover. And when I’m book-sick, typically anything horse related is a solid go-to in terms of distracting my mind from crippling literary withdrawals. 

This book is cute. That’s really the only word that comes to mind. It’s cute and short. Like, less than 12-hours short. And because it is these things, it’s also superficial. The relationship between horse and human is deep and intricate. While these essays are endearing in a Chicken-Soup-For-The-Teenage-Equestrian-Soul kind of way, they reduce what is actually an awesome, multi-layered connection to mindless fluff. 

If these horse owners are anything like me (and maybe they aren’t— I am not, however hard I try, the center of the universe), there could never be nearly enough space in this kind of collection to express the real, messy, and intensely powerful nature of equine experiences. The simplicity and sugar-coated stories are enough to make folks smile, sure, but they absolutely cheat anyone who wants to know about the true intimacy and complexity of this marvelous inter-species bond. 

Overall? Great as an easy-reader/palate cleanser, significantly lacking in the substance department. Move on horse lovers, there’s not much to see here. 

June62014

"What if our understanding of ourselves were based not on static labels or stages but on our actions and our ability and our willingness to transform ourselves? What if we embraced the messy, evolving, surprising, out-of-control happening that is life and reckoned with its proximity and relationship to death?"
"So much of life, it seems to me, is the framing and naming of things. I had been so busy creating a future of love that I never identified the life I was living as the life of love, because up until then I had never felt entitled enough or free enough or, honestly, brave enough to embrace my own narrative."
"When the world is right, it will be the unpaid and unsung people who will be the honored ones, the ones who get paid the most, and they will sit at the big table. When the world is right, it will be these invisible people who we see and cherish." 
"Three of the ten principles governing the City of Joy are (a) tell the truth, (b) stop waiting to be rescued, and (c) give away what you want the most." 

Book: In The Body Of The WorldAuthor: Eve EnslerPublished: Picador (2013)
My Review: I am ashamed to say that this is my first Eve Ensler book. But it is, I admit. And now that I’ve tasted her work, I feel even more foolish for not having picked her up sooner. But, as I’ve always believed, there is a right time for every book— a time in your life when you’re particularly receptive to its tone, particularly enthralled with its story, particularly in need of its message. The Universe, I guess, has finally decided that it’s my time for Eve.
In The Body of The World, Ensler tells a parallel story of her battle with cancer and the Earth’s battle with ever-increasing destruction and violence. Eve’s lived quite the life, as has our Mother Earth, and the memoir moved through a series of poignant, natural comparisons as she flowed in and out of stories of her body and stories of the body of our world. Feminist to the core, Ensler sings the praises of the power, potential, and persistence of women and feminine spirit. “The girls, the girls,” she says, are our future. 
More poetry than structured storytelling, Ensler’s memoir is easy and beautiful to read, and it’s also incredibly powerful in all its simplicity. It compels us all to reconnect with the body, with the Earth, and with humanity— in all it’s glory and joy and bitter desolation. The light and the dark are hopelessly intertwined, and the meaning of life is to experience the whole messy process with open arms, open eyes, and an open heart.
Not a bad way to end my Thursday night. 

"What if our understanding of ourselves were based not on static labels or stages but on our actions and our ability and our willingness to transform ourselves? What if we embraced the messy, evolving, surprising, out-of-control happening that is life and reckoned with its proximity and relationship to death?"

"So much of life, it seems to me, is the framing and naming of things. I had been so busy creating a future of love that I never identified the life I was living as the life of love, because up until then I had never felt entitled enough or free enough or, honestly, brave enough to embrace my own narrative."

"When the world is right, it will be the unpaid and unsung people who will be the honored ones, the ones who get paid the most, and they will sit at the big table. When the world is right, it will be these invisible people who we see and cherish." 

"Three of the ten principles governing the City of Joy are (a) tell the truth, (b) stop waiting to be rescued, and (c) give away what you want the most." 

Book: In The Body Of The World
Author: Eve Ensler
Published: Picador (2013)

My Review: I am ashamed to say that this is my first Eve Ensler book. But it is, I admit. And now that I’ve tasted her work, I feel even more foolish for not having picked her up sooner. But, as I’ve always believed, there is a right time for every book— a time in your life when you’re particularly receptive to its tone, particularly enthralled with its story, particularly in need of its message. The Universe, I guess, has finally decided that it’s my time for Eve.

In The Body of The World, Ensler tells a parallel story of her battle with cancer and the Earth’s battle with ever-increasing destruction and violence. Eve’s lived quite the life, as has our Mother Earth, and the memoir moved through a series of poignant, natural comparisons as she flowed in and out of stories of her body and stories of the body of our world. Feminist to the core, Ensler sings the praises of the power, potential, and persistence of women and feminine spirit. “The girls, the girls,” she says, are our future. 

More poetry than structured storytelling, Ensler’s memoir is easy and beautiful to read, and it’s also incredibly powerful in all its simplicity. It compels us all to reconnect with the body, with the Earth, and with humanity— in all it’s glory and joy and bitter desolation. The light and the dark are hopelessly intertwined, and the meaning of life is to experience the whole messy process with open arms, open eyes, and an open heart.

Not a bad way to end my Thursday night. 

June42014

"We’re good in bed. That used to seem like a big deal to me. But we’re also good out of it, and now that seems like a bigger deal. I feel as if I could grow old with you and still be brave." 
"And one surpassingly odd thing: there were times when he felt he loved George best in his fear— his uneasy feelings that a zombie-George might be lurking in the closet or under the bed— he could remember loving George better in here, and George loving him. In his effort to reconcile these two emotions— his love and his terror— Bill felt that he was closest to finding where final acceptance lay." 
"The energy you drew on so extravagantly when you were a kid, the energy you thought would never exhaust itself— that slipped away somewhere between eighteen and twenty-four, to be replaced by something much duller, something as bogus as a coke high: purpose, maybe, or goals, or whatever rah-rah Junior Chamber of Commerce word you wanted to use. It was no big deal; it didn’t go all at once, with a bang. And maybe, Richie thought, that’s the scary part. How you don’t stop being a kid all at once, with a big explosive bang, like one of that clown’s trick balloons with the Burma-Shave slogans on the sides. The kid in you just leaked out, like the air out of a tire."
"These were his friends, and his mother was wrong: they weren’t bad friends. Maybe, he thought, there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends— maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for, too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart." 
"But it’s really faith that monsters live on, isn’t it? I am led irresistibly to this conclusion: food may be life, but the source of power is faith, not food. And who is more capable of a total act of faith than a child?" 

Book: ItAuthor: Stephen KingPublished: Singet (1980)
My Review: There really is no pleasant or comfortable way to say you enjoyed reading about the bloody, gruesome deaths of a plethora of fictional characters (children, mostly, to make the confession even more horrifying). I won’t say it enthusiastically because that would be inappropriate (or make me a sociopath), but I must confess that I did. I did like it, I mean. 
I was enthralled with the insane child-mauling monsters and all the nightmarish things that went bump in the night (and day). I liked the appendage ripping, picture moving, clown taunting, sink bubbling madness that painted the picture of a dark town called Derry, full of hard, doomed people and cold, dead cases.
Most of all, though, I liked the concept of fear. Because in the end, “It” in all its horrifying forms and names and glory, is truly just Fear itself; naked, plain, and simple. Fear is manipulative and strategic and (almost)-all-powerful. Fear shows up in your life, inevitably tailor made for you. Created and sewn in your own little brain, to fit your own little measurements.
Fear knows you. And it uses you. It twists and turns all your insecurities, your sadnesses, your anger, your hurts, your love into deadly weapons which are then used to jubilantly hijack your life and drain away the Truth and Power that hold it at bay.
Derry is what happens when that internal Fear, poking and prodding at sanity from within, becomes completely physical, outwardly manifested, and dangerous in such fundamentally game-changing ways. Fear, escaped from the confines of your own brainspace, now has the hands or claws or talons to do its job quickly, easily, brutally. And, as we all know, Fear’s one unquestionable, undebatable, unstoppable job is to destroy you. 
An unstoppable job, that is, until a group of misfit kids miraculously find each other and miraculously find their faith. They find love, power, and out-of-this-world courage in this place filled with monsters human, and monsters super. These little 12-going-on-52’s teach us to quit our fruitless running, to turn and fight our demons— to fight Fear— because no matter how difficult the battles, in the end, reality is truly what we make it. In the end, you are the creator. In the end, there’s a chance you’ll win. 

"We’re good in bed. That used to seem like a big deal to me. But we’re also good out of it, and now that seems like a bigger deal. I feel as if I could grow old with you and still be brave." 

"And one surpassingly odd thing: there were times when he felt he loved George best in his fear— his uneasy feelings that a zombie-George might be lurking in the closet or under the bed— he could remember loving George better in here, and George loving him. In his effort to reconcile these two emotions— his love and his terror— Bill felt that he was closest to finding where final acceptance lay." 

"The energy you drew on so extravagantly when you were a kid, the energy you thought would never exhaust itself— that slipped away somewhere between eighteen and twenty-four, to be replaced by something much duller, something as bogus as a coke high: purpose, maybe, or goals, or whatever rah-rah Junior Chamber of Commerce word you wanted to use. It was no big deal; it didn’t go all at once, with a bang. And maybe, Richie thought, that’s the scary part. How you don’t stop being a kid all at once, with a big explosive bang, like one of that clown’s trick balloons with the Burma-Shave slogans on the sides. The kid in you just leaked out, like the air out of a tire."

"These were his friends, and his mother was wrong: they weren’t bad friends. Maybe, he thought, there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends— maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for, too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart." 

"But it’s really faith that monsters live on, isn’t it? I am led irresistibly to this conclusion: food may be life, but the source of power is faith, not food. And who is more capable of a total act of faith than a child?" 

Book: It
Author: Stephen King
Published: Singet (1980)

My Review: There really is no pleasant or comfortable way to say you enjoyed reading about the bloody, gruesome deaths of a plethora of fictional characters (children, mostly, to make the confession even more horrifying). I won’t say it enthusiastically because that would be inappropriate (or make me a sociopath), but I must confess that I did. I did like it, I mean. 

I was enthralled with the insane child-mauling monsters and all the nightmarish things that went bump in the night (and day). I liked the appendage ripping, picture moving, clown taunting, sink bubbling madness that painted the picture of a dark town called Derry, full of hard, doomed people and cold, dead cases.

Most of all, though, I liked the concept of fear. Because in the end, “It” in all its horrifying forms and names and glory, is truly just Fear itself; naked, plain, and simple. Fear is manipulative and strategic and (almost)-all-powerful. Fear shows up in your life, inevitably tailor made for you. Created and sewn in your own little brain, to fit your own little measurements.

Fear knows you. And it uses you. It twists and turns all your insecurities, your sadnesses, your anger, your hurts, your love into deadly weapons which are then used to jubilantly hijack your life and drain away the Truth and Power that hold it at bay.

Derry is what happens when that internal Fear, poking and prodding at sanity from within, becomes completely physical, outwardly manifested, and dangerous in such fundamentally game-changing ways. Fear, escaped from the confines of your own brainspace, now has the hands or claws or talons to do its job quickly, easily, brutally. And, as we all know, Fear’s one unquestionable, undebatable, unstoppable job is to destroy you. 

An unstoppable job, that is, until a group of misfit kids miraculously find each other and miraculously find their faith. They find love, power, and out-of-this-world courage in this place filled with monsters human, and monsters super. These little 12-going-on-52’s teach us to quit our fruitless running, to turn and fight our demons— to fight Fear— because no matter how difficult the battles, in the end, reality is truly what we make it. In the end, you are the creator. In the end, there’s a chance you’ll win. 

May162014

"The mind is like a circuit of Christmas tree lights. When the brain works well, all of the lights twinkle brilliantly, and it’s adaptable enough that, often, even if one bulb goes out, the rest will still shine on. But depending on where the damage is, sometimes that one blown bulb can make the whole strand go dark." 
"Sometimes, just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly."     
"The girl in the video is a reminder about how fragile our old on sanity and health is and how much we are at the utter whim of our Brutus bodies, which will inevitably, one day, turn on us for good." 

Book: Brain on FireAuthor: Susannah Cahalan Published: Simon & Schuster (August 2013)
My Review: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I sometimes feel like a terrible human being when I dislike someone’s memoir. It’s impossible to criticize someone’s hard work and cathartic process. It’s her life, not mine. So what right do I have to flaw-find? None. But just because I can’t evaluate Cahalan’s fundamental life experiences and her responses to them, doesn’t mean I can’t make some observations about writing style. 
Great. Now that I’ve justified to myself that I do actually have a right to an opinion on this matter, I did find a few sticky spots that made the book feel cumbersome. As I see it, this book was broken down into two separate chunks: (1) The getting sick and my life is out of control chunk, and (2) The let’s learn all the medical terminology in the history of the world chunk. 
Honestly, neither piece was very good.
The first chunk was written with quite a grandiose, self-centered flair (unintentional, I’m sure), whereas the second chunk appeared to be a re-purposed section of the New World Medical Dictionary. Literally. Interesting stuff, for sure, but after the 500th time you scan your eyes over the same jargon-filled, sciency sentence, it takes a real force of will to fight the urge to take a nice, long nap instead.
Recommendation? Find a different brain to read about. 

"The mind is like a circuit of Christmas tree lights. When the brain works well, all of the lights twinkle brilliantly, and it’s adaptable enough that, often, even if one bulb goes out, the rest will still shine on. But depending on where the damage is, sometimes that one blown bulb can make the whole strand go dark." 

"Sometimes, just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly."     

"The girl in the video is a reminder about how fragile our old on sanity and health is and how much we are at the utter whim of our Brutus bodies, which will inevitably, one day, turn on us for good." 

Book: Brain on Fire
Author: Susannah Cahalan 
Published: Simon & Schuster (August 2013)

My Review: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I sometimes feel like a terrible human being when I dislike someone’s memoir. It’s impossible to criticize someone’s hard work and cathartic process. It’s her life, not mine. So what right do I have to flaw-find? None. But just because I can’t evaluate Cahalan’s fundamental life experiences and her responses to them, doesn’t mean I can’t make some observations about writing style. 

Great. Now that I’ve justified to myself that I do actually have a right to an opinion on this matter, I did find a few sticky spots that made the book feel cumbersome. As I see it, this book was broken down into two separate chunks: (1) The getting sick and my life is out of control chunk, and (2) The let’s learn all the medical terminology in the history of the world chunk. 

Honestly, neither piece was very good.

The first chunk was written with quite a grandiose, self-centered flair (unintentional, I’m sure), whereas the second chunk appeared to be a re-purposed section of the New World Medical Dictionary. Literally. Interesting stuff, for sure, but after the 500th time you scan your eyes over the same jargon-filled, sciency sentence, it takes a real force of will to fight the urge to take a nice, long nap instead.

Recommendation? Find a different brain to read about. 

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