Gary John Bishop’s “Wise As Fu*K” – Loss

My new and already very worn edition of “Wise As Fu*k”

Gary John Bishop’s “Wise as Fu*k” delivers an impactful punch of insight in a straightforward no-bullshitting style that is admirable. Bishop breaks down his books into sections or rather “fundamentals of life:” Love, Loss, Fear and Success. I will admit I perused the “Love” section but the parts on loss, fear and success really spoke to me in a way that has motivated me to attempt to make a very real change in my life. I will address the three sections of loss, fear and success in three separate blog posts. This one will be dedicated to Loss.

Bishop offers several nuggets of wisdom throughout this book and writes in a way that connects with you on a universal level. You cannot help but be entranced and pushed to ponder further the ideas he expresses through his writing. Before he even begins to address the topics explored in this book he drops a bomb of wisdom in the opening pages, “you have the life you’re willing to put up with” (Bishop 7). He asks you to then let those words sink in and compare your own life to the statement and how you’re currently living.

It is because of statements like this that Bishop is one of my favourite writers in that he puts the responsibility back on you. He reminds us that it is up to us to create the life we want or think we deserve. No bullshit, no excuses, what you make of your life is up to you. This phrase made me a little uncomfortable because if I am being completely honest I have been accepting a level of mediocrity currently in my life. I know I could do better and that I could be taking real action to turn some of my goals into reality. That’s ok though because now that I am reminded of the ownership I have on my life, I can make a plan to change it to reflect more of the life I want for myself.

It is Bishop’s reflections on “Loss,” however, that really opened my eyes to some of the shit I have been carrying around and letting impact my life. He points out that loss can mean more than the death of a loved one but can also be the death of a dream. He writes, “the loss of a dream or situation, the death of an answer to your current predicament or situation – we actually grieve about things that were supposed to happen but didn’t” (Bishop 85). I grieved the loss of my dream to finish my degree and become a professor for years. I literally drove myself to suicidal ideation obsessing over this loss. I may not have lost anyone but I felt the same sorrow if not more. I lost the idea of what I believed my future held for me – I lost the version of myself I had placed all my faith in. When my dream died, it felt like a piece of me died and as a result I legitimately wanted to die.

 “Wise as Fu*k” reminds us that grief is a natural part of being human but it is up to us to interpret that experience and collectively move on from it. Bishop writes the following, “…you do have to be responsible (aware) about how this experience plays out in your life in the longer term. Most people have zero awareness of the lingering clouds of loss in their life and how they have changed themselves in its aftermath. The changes, sometimes subtle; the results, completely life-altering.”

Upon reflection of these words, I realize now that when I lost my dream there was definitely a lingering cloud of loss that tainted me moving forward. I convinced myself that I was uncapable of receiving a degree or working towards one and put off schooling for about five years. I did not grieve in a healthy manner and became obsessed with my loss to the point it affected my future. I eventually worked through my shit and am now working towards a graphic design degree at the local college but I wasted a large amount of time getting lost in my well, loss, that could have been used towards moving forward. There is a certain amount of time which is appropriate to grieve things but once it becomes detrimental to your future – its time to move the fuck on.

Bishop says that you can identify the expiration date of your loss by the number of times you’re now using to explain or excuse yourself. If it starts to become your go-to to justify things occurring in your life or why you do the things you do then the expiration date is definitely past due. He writes, “But when that time of “enough” comes, you have to be ready to do the work to center yourself, to relocate that grief to a place where it strengthens rather than weakens you” (Bishop 95). It is up to you to heal yourself from whatever you are grieving. I realized too late (but better than never) that I needed to grow and work on myself in order to move past my grief. I sought counselling, read every self-help book I could get my hands on, and forced myself into school despite my doubts that I could never learn again due to my past experience of falling short of my goals. I repositioned myself into a better head space in order to move forward. I worked on my limiting beliefs and insecure doubts until they were no longer relevant but the key thing here is  “I” did that, no one else. It was up to me to work through my shit and I finally did. I am stronger for my grief but “Wise As Fu*k” has shown me that I could have chosen a lot sooner to work through it and from now on I will never delay my healing process – I’ll own that shit!

A picture of me In My Element -Reading

Stay Tuned for the following two blog posts on Fear and Success according to Gary John Bishop.

All my Love,

BiPolarMania,

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

You Don’t Always Get What You Want But Perhaps What You Need

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“Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of good luck, because it forces you to reevaluate things, opening new doors to opportunities and information you would have otherwise overlooked” (58) is a quote from the book I mentioned reading in an earlier blog post titled “1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently” by Marc and Angel Chernoff. This quote really got me thinking about my life and how it took a complete detour from my original route.

As mentioned before I was a star student at a prominent University and felt I had nowhere but up to go (“up” being an eventual Undergraduate degree, Masters, and then PhD).  I was defiant in my belief I was born to become a University Professor, specifically in the field of Art History, when all my ideas of who I was and who I was becoming came to a grinding holt with my first manic psychosis and diagnosis of Bipolar Type One. I had studied bipolar in brief as part of  my psychology minor (an element of my undergraduate degree) and as part of a neuroscience course – which I aced, despite the professor continuously warning us that this course was no “cake walk.” The point is I had a foundation of understanding when it came time to being diagnosed with this lifelong affliction but had no clue the ramifications it would have on my life journey and the deep feeling of loss I would feel as I mourned my pre-diagnosis self.

It’s one thing to study bipolar but it is an entirely other thing to live it. Prior to my mental break and diagnosis, I had completed three years of my Undergraduate as a double major in English and Art History with a minor in Psychology. People often joked how did I stay sane with a course load that thick and now having lost my mind. I find this question ironic. I remember reading about cycles of mania and depression in those with Bipolar Type 1 in my neuroscience textbook and thought how eerily familiar that concept seemed and wondered nervously whether I could possibly have it. I would ultimately push this idea to the back of my mind.

The summer upon entering my fourth and final year of University, I had a psychotic break with reality in late August. I experienced visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, as well as paranoia. I would be treated quickly and relatively effectively within a week to two weeks with anti psychotics and the mood stabilizer Lithium. I requested I be released in time for the first day of school and the hospital happily obliged with the promise I would return for a follow-up. The problem was when I left I was still struggling with some residual paranoia and found my brain couldn’t keep up at the pace it was at before while on Lithium. The best way I can describe it is my brain felt like it had melted. I understand they were slowing me down but they may have dosed me too high and I swung into slug brain mode. Also hindsight being 20-20, I now know years later I do not respond well to Lithium in general.

It was disheartening to find I could not remember facts or hold on to them in my brain for very long – being a history major who excelled at this normally I felt devastated. I was also entering the hardest year of my Undergraduate and worried I would not be able to maintain the grades needed to enter a Masters program of my choice at the rate my brain was working. My brain was regressing at a time when it needed to be at its peak. I panicked and ultimately decided to leave school in hopes of returning some day when I was ready. The problem with this decision which led to my deepest depression ever was that I highly identified with being not only a student but a successful, overachieving one.

I had to let that go. It took my years of being at my lowest and reading a lot of self-help books and quotes about failure to eventually do this – truly and utterly let go. As the quote in the beginning of this blog post suggests I was put into a position to reevaluate my life and my choices. A door firmly closed on my face but it opened another one – a deeper and better understanding of me as I am as a person. I was so busy with school and getting the best grades, and having the best leadership roles on my resume, that I never stopped to consider WHO I was becoming. And quite frankly I was becoming arrogant, selfish, naive, and closed off to the world around me. I lived in the universe of Academia but anything outside it I deemed as unimportant or irrelevant. I was working towards real and ambitious goals but I wasn’t doing the work on myself. For example, I lost many romantic relationships because I refused to make more time for the other person if it conflicted with my study schedule and p.s. my study schedule was overkill but hey it got me on the honor roll!

I was introduced to and became addicted to drugs as a way to escape the fact I never ever truly loved myself while at University. It is through recovery from psychosis that I am now sober and am attuned with myself. I may be more depressed than when I was in University, but I still love myself ten times more because I’ve had the time through recovering (which I still am and might always be) to reflect on my choices and how to make newer better ones but also to let go and stop holding on to the not so great ones I made in the past. The past is the past folks! Let it lie there, turn your back and don’t look back. Forwards is the only direction you need to be going. I also have grown to accept myself for the positive aspects and the negative ones. I take each day as a challenge to grow and  for self-discovery. I used to shy away from trying to get to know myself better now I buy and fill out workbooks dedicated to doing just that!

I may not have gotten what I wanted, a fancy degree and career I could be proud of, but I got so much more from my psychotic detour – I found myself. I realized I am an insightful person with an opinion that matters. I now give love when I get it. If you are one of my friends I don’t judge you regardless of your journey and choices. I stand by people when they are at their lowest and try to lift them up. I found out I am the LEAST judgmental person after having experienced several psychotic breaks and struggles with my mental health. I understand each person’s struggle is unique and though I may not understand it, I can relate. I value writing and sharing stories – stories of hardship are my favourite for we’ve all been there. I also am aware that I am less motivated on medication, less prone to “put myself out there” and that on my worse days I forget all my good traits and decide I’m not even worth getting out of bed for. But the most important thing I’ve learned is I have a voice and that voice will be heard. I have experiences now, with bipolar, that are worth talking about so others can feel less alone.

Though I may not have gotten that degree, I got something I needed – something to write about and since a child I have been looking for content that inspired me to write something worthwhile, something that meant something to me. I now have the confidence and self-esteem to say my story is worth telling and it’s worth telling because it might just mean something to someone else too.

10, 10, 1 – Ten Years, Ten Dreams, One Goal

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Rachel Hollis is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company so when she sets out to write about how to set goals and crush them, you listen. In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Hollis asks that women stop talking themselves out of their dreams and start chasing them. She identifies the excuses to let go of , the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth. I am going to go into detail on one chapter of her book in which she breaks down her invented concept of “10, 10, 1.” This numerical equation of sorts defines a process she created called ten years, ten dreams, one goal.

Hollis asks “Who do you want to be in ten years? What are the ten dreams that would make that a reality for you? Which one of those dreams are you going to turn into a goal and focus on next?” (Hollis 98). Hollis encourages you to write down as fast as you can on a piece of paper what this future version of yourself may look like. What kind of car does she drive? What does she do for work? Is she a runner?

When I did this exercise the following came spewing out onto my page: My future self has a career and degree in the arts. I own and drive an Audi. I wake up every day feeling energized and ready to take on the world. I start with a morning coffee and work on my latest novel for an hour or two. Then I go into work at my dream job of arts journalist or arts professor. I come home and make dinner for my husband (because in this fantasy I am a really good cook). I then head out to run around my neighborhood (because yes, in this scenario, I am a homeowner as well) to train for the marathon I am running in a couple of months.

Hollis then says to take your vision and break it down into ten dreams over the span of ten years. She says to choose ten dreams that, if they were to come true, would make your future self real. My ten dreams are as follows: Marathon Runner, Writer and Blogger, Career in the Arts, Driver and owner of a luxury car, Home or Condo owner, live in a big city, have a degree in the arts, married, visual artist or photographer, Instagram influencer.

“Now here’s the key: write down those ten dreams in a notebook every single day. And write them as if they’ve already happened” explains Hollis it’s about repetition and maintaining a focus on those goals. You want to remind yourself of who you should be.

Now that you have come up with ten dreams in ten years, it’s time to focus on the one goal you could be working on currently to make your future self  a reality. I have decided that this year my main goal is to go to driver’s school and get the next class of my license. This will bring me closer to my future self who as I discussed earlier drives and owns a luxury car.

That sums up my brief introduction into Hollis’ 10,10, 1 process and whether it works or motivates me will be determined. I will be sure to write a blog on my progress with my one goal for this year in about six months. But until then stay tuned! And remember to write down those dreams as a reminder of who you want to be and what each day you are striving to achieve. Hopefully it’ll light a fire under your ass and push you to work for more.

Girl, Stop Apologizing and Start To Hustle!

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

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Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck is not about “not giving a fuck” but rather choosing to give a fuck about what is important. Manson introduces quickly and abruptly our impending mortality in his book.

Manson writes: “You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice – well, then you’re going to get fucked” (Manson 13).

The thing about Manson introducing our mortality so early in the book stands as significant to me because I tend to think a lot about death. I have been fascinated by it and entranced by its notion for hours, some times days at a time, since a child. My father dying of cancer when I was a mere fifteen years old probably had something to do with it. I watched him deteriorate from a person into a ghost rambling incoherently and screaming at me to cut off his legs, because they had been rendered useless through paralysis. The point is, I think about death a lot and if I was going to take someone’s advice such as Mark Mansons’ in The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, I knew I would be more receptive and could trust someone who just put it out there –  “hey, we’re all dying here. Why don’t we choose to dedicate our time to a fuck worth giving.” Of course I am paraphrasing – quite horribly might I add – here. What I am trying to say is, Mark Manson had my trust since page thirteen when he laid it all out there and had his readers confront the realization of their own death.

Now you could argue “Well, that’s a little dramatic, ain’t it?” And I would argue yes and no. The point is not to scare you or make you envision your death in grueling detail, but rather get you thinking about your life and what you’re choosing to give a fuck about. I realized as I read this and reflected on my inevitable death, I had been selling myself short. I was giving too many fucks about the wrong things like if so and so found me interesting or cool if I did drugs with them. I was also giving way too many fucks about what other people thought about me because of my mental health and history of multiple hospitalizations.

I realized reading this that I was wasting my time giving a fuck about pointless shit I cannot change when I could be choosing to give a fuck about something worthwhile – like blogging more, which is what I am doing right now. If Manson can shove in my face that I’m dying and word it in a way that my perspective towards my life shifts and I am better for it, then what are you waiting for – buy, steal, borrow this book. It is worth the read because it prompts you to rethink what you truly should give a fuck about.

Manson breaks down the subtle art of not giving a fuck into three subtleties: “Subtlety #1: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different” (Manson 14), “Subtlety #2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must give a fuck about something more important than adversity” (Manson 17), “Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about” (Manson 19).

Let’s address subtlety #1. Manson introduces right away, before the reader can be disillusioned into thinking otherwise, that there is no such thing as not giving a fuck. As he puts it: “You must give a fuck about something” (Manson 15). The suggestion here is that if we can get over the fact that there is no way avoiding giving a fuck we can then choose to be more selective of what fucks we give. Manson also suggests we can not give a fuck about what ultimately does not matter – in my case whether or not someone thinks highly of me.

The second subtlety introduces the idea that adversity can be overcome by “giving a fuck about something more important than adversity.” Manson suggests in his book that if you give too many fucks about trivial things than you most likely do not have an important fuck to care about. For example, I have been giving too many fucks about whether I have the latest moisturizer or lulu lemon sweater lately when I need to give a fuck about what’s important – finishing my degree/ finding a way to continue my education.

This leads into the third subtlety: “Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about” (Manson 19). When put simply and in swear-word form, this statement blew my mind a little. It wasn’t anything I have not stumbled upon in my own thought processes, but to have it re-instated in a way I could relate to, led to a deeper reflection of these words. It helps you think more clearly about what you’re choosing to find important in life and what you’re choosing to find unimportant. This book is so special because it encourages you to have difficult conversations with yourself and to re-evaluate your life and priorities.

When reflecting on these subtleties, I realized my life had become a mess of choosing to give a fuck about what’s ultimately unimportant. I was caring too much about superficial things like whether my hair was long or shiny enough, and not focusing my energy on what is important to me – building a future for myself. The great thing about this realization is that I can also choose to give a fuck about changing it.

I have decided after reading this book to start giving a fuck about the things I used to give a fuck about when my life seemed rosier so to speak – things like self-care, my education, and respecting, loving and caring for others. I have already started to take action by arranging counseling for my addictions, quitting smoking, and contacting my University to see if I can graduate with the credits I do have so far. With the help of this book, I’ve realized it is up to me to change and decide what is important in my life. There is a great deal of ownership introduced in the ideas Manson talks about. Two sentences in particular that Manson writes stand out in my mind after consuming this book: “There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances” (Manson 94). It is ultimately up to me to change and as much as that is scary, it is also a beautiful thing because I can begin to exert some form of control in my life.

Would I recommend this book? Abso-fuckinglutely.

But here’s the catch – this book is not about the subtle art of not giving a fuck but rather about choosing to give a fuck about what is truly important. It is not a manual on how to live a carefree life devoid of fucks but rather a careful reflection on how to live a more purposeful life full of the right kind of fucks – the important ones. If you’re down with re-thinking what you truly give a fuck about then this book is fucking perfect for you!

Girl, Wash Your Face!

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As I mentioned in a prior post, I recently went to the local bookstore looking for books to nourish my soul and if that’s what you’re into look no further than Rachel Hollis’ book titled Girl, wash your face.

In the book, Hollis addresses common lies told to us or that we tell ourselves such as “I’m Not Good Enough” or “I Should Be Further Along by Now.” She breaks down these lies and how they are not true through clever use of anecdotal stories from her past.

In her final chapter, Hollis writes: “Girl, get ahold of your life. Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can’t do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year. Stop crying about what happened and take control of what happens next. Get up, right now. Rise up from where you’ve been, scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again…Girl, wash your face!” (Hollis 213).

A lot of this resonated with me such as to “stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year.” I have been putting off writing my memoirs for a couple years now afraid I will fail. I am afraid I cannot sit down and be motivated enough to write it out in the first place and then there is the fear that nobody will be interested or read it.

When Hollis says “Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid…stop saying you can’t do it” it really struck a chord with me. If I am being honest with myself I have been self-medicating for awhile now with drugs and alcohol. I realized too that I have been in fact hiding out – hiding out at my parent’s house not moving forward and too scared to make moves to do so. I never fully recovered from losing my dream of finishing my Bachelor’s degree. Sure, I licked the wounds but I never really healed from them. I have carried that failure with me for what seems like a lifetime and have allowed it to affect every decision I make – whether it be not returning to school for fear “I am not smart enough” or not taking that job because I feel I will not be good enough and inevitably be fired.

Enough is enough. I need to as Hollis says “…scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again…” and I need to do it sooner than later. Yes, I did not finish my degree due to the onset of bipolar disorder but this does not need to be the end of my story. I can not take “no” for an answer which Hollis addresses in her book. She states that “No is the Final Answer” is a lie and that we need to fight for what we want. She writes: “When it comes to your dreams, no is not an answer. The word no is not a reason to stop. Instead, think of it as a detour or a yield sign” (Hollis 58).

So I have decided the big nope that is/was my bipolar disorder should actually be viewed as a detour. A detour that led to a better understanding of life and that led to the experiences I have which make me a qualified mental health blogger and writer. Maybe I needed this detour to gain the experience needed to write that ever allusive book. Maybe my bipolar disorder was a detour in my education but will ultimately lead to me continuing it like perhaps studying psychology the second time around instead of focusing on Art History. I refuse to take no for an answer when it comes to my education or let my bipolar disorder get the final word. I have faith I will return to school one day and finish a diploma or degree program. In what? Well only time will tell.

This brings me to the final lie Hollis mentions in her book that really stuck out to me and that is that “I Should Be Further Along by Now.” I think we all fall trap to this lie in what shape or another. We constantly focus on what we want to become rather than enjoying who we are and the process of getting there.

Hollis writes “I can’t count the number of times in my life when I’ve beaten myself up because I thought my goals had expiration dates…” (Hollis 104). This more than anything stood out to me as a problem. I do the same thing. I always thought I’d have my degree by 22, a master’s by 26 and a PhD by 30. The truth is there is no expiration date on your goals and they will always be there if you continue to put in the work and effort. If you finish your degree in four years or six what does it really matter? The goal is still the same. I think I needed to be reminded of this cause I’ve been beating myself up for not finishing my degree for years. But I can now re-frame this goal and decide to accept it may not happen right now but maybe some day. If something is important to you, do not let time limits define it and decide for you when it is appropriate or not to chase it.

Overall, Girl, Wash Your Face was a treat to read and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for some insight. It changed my perspective and the way I relate to my goals. It reminded me that I am more than capable in achieving my goals and to not let anyone or anything get in the way.

Girl, Wash Your Face!

Where’s My F**king Unicorn?

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I recently went to the local Chapters bookstore to seek guidance on my never ending quest for answers. I purchased four self-help books and for simplicity’s sake I am going to address only one in this blog post and that is Michelle Gordon’s “Where’s My F**king Unicorn? – A Guide to Life, Your Unicorn & Everything.” I am going to be honest here and admit I regretted purchasing this book at first until it dawned on me I had never taken the time to figure out “What?” let alone “Where?” is my unicorn.

Now you’re probably confused as to what the hell I am talking about unless you too have of course read the book. Why on earth are you talking about mythical creatures? And what do they have to do with improving my life? Gordon explains in this text how everyone’s unicorn is different and illustrates this point by describing what her unicorn is: “My unicorn is living life as an author. A writer. My unicorn is being able to afford to write books as well as eat and keep a roof over my head” (Gordon 9).

Your unicorn or unicorns are your aspirations in life. These will change over time, for instance, your unicorn at age 7 will most likely be drastically different from your unicorn at say 27. Gordon raises a valid point in her book: “One of the biggest reasons why people don’t change their lives is that they have no idea what their unicorn is. They haven’t defined it. How can you find something if you don’t know what it looks like, feels like, smells like or sounds like?” (Gordon 10).

I realized I had not defined my unicorn in years, not since my mental health deteriorated to the point I was trying to simply survive. I had no aspirations or goals or ideas of where I wanted my life to be heading, not since being in University. I, however, have now been stable for a few years and am slowly recovering the ground I lost. Through this process of recovery, I have come to realize that I need to once again set goals for myself and chase that damn Unicorn. But what is my Unicorn?

My unicorn (and I am terrified to say it/type it out loud) is to write an autobiography on my life and struggles with bipolar disorder. I am terrified to say it out loud because then it becomes real. It is no longer an idea floating in my head but rather an intent, a call to action. I am fucking terrified of my unicorn because of a medley of fears such as “Am I qualified to write an autobiography? How will I market it? What happens if I invest all my time and effort into this project only for it to fail? What if nobody reads it?” and so on, and so on, and so on. You get the point.

This is the beauty of stating my unicorn, I can now work towards finding it. One good tip Gordon suggests is to “Get Off The Merry – Go – Round” so to speak and step outside our comfort zones (an excerpt from this section is pictured below as it appears in the book).

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I have definitely been in a rut and avoiding tackling finding my unicorn because I believe I will never find my unicorn but I know that’s just my fear talking. I have been avoiding writing my memoir due to several fears and one being that I will never finish it if I start it. I realize this is some serious fucked up logic. I resonated when Gordon said that breaking this cycle for her “was realizing that I didn’t want to get to the end of ANOTHER year and find myself in the exact same place” (Gordon 31). I want to as Gordon says “evolve, grow, change” (Gordon 31).

So How will I find my unicorn? Thanks to Gordon, I have a starting point with this book which was helpful enough to reference NaNoWriMo, the movement that encourages you to write a book in a month. All you have to do is write 1, 667 words a day for 30 days. I have decided to take on this endeavor and attempt to bang out my memoir in apparently 30 days. I am not delusional, I may sit there some day’s with writer’s block or come to hate half of what I have written but I can at least try to put myself out of my comfort zone and focus my energy on creating something. The result could end up being  truly beautiful.

Would I recommend this book?

Abso-fuckinglutely.