Bittersweet – Introduction

Dear Reader,

I hope you are doing well. Yesterday, I started to read Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain. If I remember correctly, it was one of the books that came up after I did a Google search on how to cope with major life shift about a year ago. Later on, I found out Oprah Winfrey has recommended Bittersweet for her 99th Oprah’s Book Club selection (to read about it, click here).

I also heard that Glennon Doyle also recommended this book by listening to episode 85 of “We Can Do Hard Things” (to listen to this episode, click here; read the transcript here). So I’m wondering if this was this was the reason why I had placed Bittersweet on my to-read list at GoodReads. However it came to be on my to-read list, I am grateful. I will forever recall when I opened up the book and started to read it. It began to be my own reflection. So, if you want to get to know me more, I would recommend reading this book.

Now to share with you the introduction. But before this section, there was a short prelude.


Susan Cain started off with a prelude that explains how she had had dream of how Sarajevo was a city of love. At first she thought “love” and “Sarajevo” was an odd association since Sarajevo is the site of “one of the bloodiest civil wars of the late twentieth century” (Cain, 2022, p. xiii). Then she recalled the cellist of Sarajevo: Vedran Smailović.

“All around him, the rifles fire, the shelling booms, the machine guns crackle. Smailović keeps on playing. He’ll do this for twenty-two days, one day for each person killed at the bakery. Somehow, the bullets will never touch him.” (Cain, 2022, p. xiv). In response to why would he do such a thing, he said “Why don’t you ask THEM if they’re crazy for shelling Sarajevo?” (Cain, 2022, p. xiv, xv). Cain states there have been other musicians that has done the same since Smailović’s response to destruction/attacks.

We’re not combatants, call the violinists; we’re not victims, either, add the violas. We’re just humans, sing the cellos, just humans; flawed and beautiful and aching for love.

Bittersweet : how sorrow and longing make us whole (2022, p. xv)


Cain uses her college experience to share the power of bittersweet. Right before some of her friends picked her up from her dorm room, Cain was listening to bittersweet music in a minor key. “Ah!” I exclaimed inside my head when I had read this. A kindred spirit. Unlike Cain, I don’t recall anyone asking me why I was listening to funeral music. However, I was listening to such classical music (as well as other types of music) in the bedroom of my parents’ house so maybe they already accepted that I was “different.” Friends often take a while to notice ones differences so this may be the reason Cain received this question.

Back to the “kindred spirit.” If you are one of those that, like Cain, feel like such music opens your heart (as in “expanding chest muscles” [Cain, 2022, p. xxii]) to the point that you move towards accepting that everyone you love is going to die one day, then I would consider you a kindred spirit. Such music, as Cain puts it, allows me to a feeling of transcendence “as a moment in which… self fades away and… feel connected to the all” (Cain, 2022, p. xxii). Cain states “these musically bittersweet moments are the closest I’ve come to experiencing it” and I also agree to this (2022, p. xxii).

To get a taste and explanation of this, watch the video below.

Cain had stated what her book is about (2022):

  • The melancholic (sad) direction of the historic belief that the human body contains four humor/liquid substances of different temperament (in which are melancholic [sad], sanguine [happy], choleric [aggressive], and phlegmatic [calm]). She calls this the “bittersweet.”
  • The idea of transforming pain into creativity, transcendence, and love.

The American culture has taken on the sanguine-choleric outlook (“forward leaning and combat ready; it prizes cheerful goal orientation in our personal lives, and righteous outrage online” [Cain, 2022, p. xxv]). However, the bittersweet-melancholic mode, is what the American culture often avoids: sitting with the concept of yearning and longing (Cain, 2022).

Please note that Cain is not encouraging one to stay/remain depressed and encourages one that often experiences such a state of being to seek help. But also note it is a common longing/hungering for a place much better than our current state (ex: “somewhere over the rainbow”). While waiting to experience the feelings of hope that comes after the state of sitting with longing/yearning/loss/suffering, use such feelings to connect with others by expressing compassion. This is something I had did in my early 20s. Whenever I saw someone that looked sad or their body language expressed loss/suffering, I would write out words of encouragement or give them flowers. Unfortunately, after much interactions became more common to do so digitally, I had noticed my handwritten and physical “gifts” were often looked upon with uncertainty with eyes of the receiver not expressing gratefulness but fear. Therefore, I had to become creative in expressing hope to others.

Cain ends her introduction with a Bittersweet Quiz (click here to take the quiz).

To learn more about Susan Cain, click here. To get a copy of Bittersweet, click here.


Cain S. (2022). Bittersweet : how sorrow and longing make us whole (First). Crown.


Know My Name – Book Review

Dear Reader,

I hope you and yours are doing well. As I sit before my computer screen, I am relistening to “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast episode 92 that I had listened to about a year ago.

Listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Read the transcript by clicking here.

The guest speaker is Chanel Miller. Her book, Know My Name, has been on my to-read list at GoodReads since October 2022 and, therefore, I had completely forgot what the book was all about until I started to read a copy from the library during this month.

The beginning of the book hit me hard. I realized this book was something I had to read while alone. Processing such events brings up a lot of emotions in which causes me to want to go into the life of the person and give them a big hug. When I read how Chanel did receive “hugs” from various individuals around the world, I was able to relax and let out a huge sigh. That was when I knew the the author was okay. We, as in global, was holding her up when she had thought she was the only one that experienced such inhuman acts and mental anguish. She was surrounded with love and humanity was saying something needs to be done.

Chanel Miller was the one that started a conversation not only in California but in the United States as well as the world. She wrote a 12-page letter to her attacker in which was her victim impact statement. Katie J.M. Baker asked to release Chanel’s statement on BuzzFeed (click here to read it). It didn’t take long for it to go viral. People started to read the statement in various group gatherings such as a congressperson on the House floor. It was translated into Spanish, French, and other languages. The statement was also published in various entities such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. Then came the responses. Then came the “I see you” (i.e. “hugs”) directly to Chanel: letters, gifts, etc. Even Joe Biden wrote Chanel from the White House underneath his vice president title.

“The statement had created a room, a place for survivors to step into and speak aloud their heaviest truths, to revisit the untouched parts of their past” (Miller, 2019, p. 252). To view Chanel’s explanation in an animated fashion, watch the video below.

To learn more about Chanel Miller, click here. To get your own copy of Know My Name, click here. For resources that are associated with violence, sexual assault, harassment, etc., click here.


Miller C. (2019). Know my name : a memoir. Viking an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Sarma Melngailis – Bad Vegan

Dear Reader,

I hope you are doing well. Last week, I had watched the short Netflix series entitled “Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.” It is a documentary of the story of Sarma Melngailis who was a businesswoman and owner of a “Pure Food and Wine” vegan restaurant as well as “One Lucky Duck” until she was mentally manipulated to continually give her now ex-husband money until her vegan restaurant and employees greatly suffered. While watching the series on Netflix, I viewed how she was slowly pulled into a one-person cult. Being a part of a cult is a phenomenon in which anyone can be easily influenced into joining. To read an article from Psychology Today on “12 Signs That Someone May Be Involved With a Cult,” click here.

Below is the trailer of “Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.”

I was introduced to Sarma through a podcast. I was trying to recall which podcast I was listening to when the guest speaker was Sarma. I thought it was from “We Can Do Hard Things” by Glennon Doyle. However, the search browser doesn’t recognize Sarma’s name associated with Glennon’s podcast. So I’m guessing I heard it at “Just B with Bethenny Frankel” podcast. The episode is called “Sarma Melngailis (of Bad Vegan). To listen to this episode and here Sarma explain that anyone can become part of a cult, click here.

For those that are interested in knowing if “Pure Food and Wine” will ever reopen, click here. I personally hope Sarma finds or receives investors that will help this happen. From the various stories that others have shared about the restaurant, it was a great experience by just being there. It would be nice for it to have a rebirth.

To read Sarma’s response to her ex-husband (called “Dear Mr. Fox”), click here. To learn more about Sarma Melngailis, click here. To watch “Bad Vegan. Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.” on Netflix, click here.

Brazen – Book Review

Dear Reader,

I hope you are doing well. I was introduced to Julia Haart by listening to “Just B with Bethenny Frankel” (episode 64) in September of last year (click here to listen to this episode). What I had recalled from this conversation was how Bethenny had a hard time coaxing Julia to share about her life in the podcast. Whenever Bethenny asked a question, Julia would refer the listeners to read her book entitled Brazen. At first, I didn’t understand why until I read her book. She explains her experience of being forced within a religious community to do things that was in conflict to her being. It was a traumatic experience in which retelling can often been mentally tasking. Maybe after writing it all out Julia didn’t want to revisit it all mentally? Whatever the reason was, I encourage anyone that has experienced religious trauma to read it.

While reading some parts of her story, I started to get really angry. People often misrepresent God as someone that wants to control us to the point of killing us off just because we are wearing something that the religious community views as inappropriate. From my understanding, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not a God that is looking around for someone to kill because they are being “disobedient.” Of course, some people who read only the Old Testament may beg to differ. I would simply say to this that the people in the Old Testament were those that were given laws as a “chosen people.” When reading in the New Testament, God’s “chosen people” were attempting to weigh down the Gentiles by demanding them to heed the practices that they themselves couldn’t keep (says Paul). Plus, due to type met antitype, the practices that they were attempting to uphold were no longer valid.

I’ll just leave it at that.

Back to Julia Haart…

Julia is courageous. She kept saying throughout her book that she started to place money to the side to get out of the community because she didn’t want her children to continue to be brainwashed. She started her own company and went through a lot of “oops” by not having those that were helping her financially sign contracts. Despite those that attempted to pull her business down, she and her business survived.

For those that rather not read her book, you can watch her reality series (“My Unorthodox Life”) on Netflix. However, I will warn you that it doesn’t have the in-depth explanation of the religious community she came out of and the story line of the foundation that people are often taught there to allow one to understand why Julia just left the community.

To get a copy of Brazen, click here. To learn about Julia Haart, click here.

The Sum of It All – Ed Sheeran

Dear Reader,

I hope you are doing well. Today, I am giving you a treat because this is my second blog entry for today. I wanted to talk about Ed Sheeran. This singer and writer caught my attention when I was working at H&R Block. Although headquarters have asked us to not play music in the office, the specific office I worked at one year had a tax advisor who would walk in and turn on the radio. So, during the evening, the radio would play pop music. This is how I heard songs from Ed Sheeran.

The words is what caught my attention. I have loved poems since I was a child and I often see song lyrics as poems. I had went home one evening and looked up the words to “Photograph,” I was blown away. I’ll let you read it and sit with it for a minute.

Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing makes us feel alive

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
And time’s forever frozen, still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans
Holding me closer ’til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone, wait for me to come home

Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul
And it’s the only thing that I know, know
I swear it will get easier
Remember that with every piece of ya
Hmm, and it’s the only thing we take with us when we die

Hmm, we keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts were never broken
And time’s forever frozen, still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans
Holding me closer ’til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone

And if you hurt me
That’s okay, baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages, you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
Wait for me to come home
Wait for me to come home
Wait for me to come home
Wait for me to come home

Oh, you can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen
Next to your heartbeat where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul

And if you hurt me
Well, that’s okay, baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages, you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go

When I’m away, I will remember how you kissed me
Under the lamppost back on Sixth street
Hearing you whisper through the phone
“Wait for me to come home”

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Edward Christopher Sheeran / John McDaid / Martin Peter Harrington / Thomas E Leonard
Photograph lyrics © Royalty Network, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Spirit Music Group

I watched the music video on YouTube and cried (watch the video below)

The video is Ed Sheeran “growing up” before the watcher’s eyes. It is so cute! It showed how he was always into playing instruments, drawing, laughing/smiling, and then, one day, BAM! He is well known. I wanted to know more! I wanted to see more of him growing up. That’s why when I heard on “CBS Mornings on the Go” podcast (to listen to this episode, click here) that I can watch “more” on Disney+, I was like “YAY!” It’s entitled “Ed Sheeran: The Sum of It All.”

Unlike that is shown in “Photograph” music video, it hasn’t been always happiness for Ed Sheeran. He went through loss and uncertainties. Therefore, I believe, it will do anyone well to find about two hours worth of time to just sit and watch his documentary (four episodes) on Disney+.

Watch the trailer below.

For more of Ed Sheeran, click here.

The Way of Integrity – Book Review

Dear Reader,

I hope you are doing well. I was introduced to The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to your True Self by Martha Beck from episode 66 of “We Can Do Hard Things” with hostess Glennon Doyle (along with Abby Wambach and Amanda Doyle). Martha Beck was the guest speaker.

Listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Read the transcript by clicking here.

To listen to the next episode (in which was the continuation of the conversation with Martha Beck), click here (to read the transcript, click here).

This book is amazing! Martha shares her journey towards integrity, and gave examples from her previous clients, by using Dante’s journey from The Divine Comedy.

In The Divine Comedy, Dante goes down into a huge pit (the inferno), then up a mountain (purgatory). He goes stronger and walks with less and less effort as he reaches the mountain’s summit. Then, to his amazement, he finds himself rising upward. Flying. That’s what happens when the misaligned parts of a human life come into integrity. Dante uses flight as a metaphor for a life that feels unlimited, literally heavenly.

– The Way of Integrity (2021, p. xxiii)

Prior to reading this book, I learned about the word “integrity” in my early twenties. It was something that I had said I wanted to make sure whomever my husband was, I wanted to make sure he was full of integrity. Martha Beck states in her introduction that “the word integrity has taken on a slightly prim, judgmental nuance in modern English, but the word comes from the Latin integer, which simply means ‘intact'” (2021, p. xiv). In other words, to be in integrity is to be “whole and undivided” (Ibid).

The exercises in the book are a must! It reminded me of some things I have my clients do. Watching clients move towards their own integrity has a sacred feeling. This work is sacred! “Tragically, many people go their whole lives without ever learning [how to have a fulfilling life], never experiencing the joyful ease that comes with full integrity” (Beck, 2021, p. xv).

Your own life is probably somewhere between utterly blissful and completely wrecked. You have a vague sense of purpose, which you hope to follow someday… When I meet clients who fit this description and suggest that their lives could be better, they often protest that they’re doing fine, just fine. Look, they say: Life is a bitch and then we die. Failure is much more common than success. We can’t just flap our arms and fly.

– The Way of Integrity (2021, p. xv)

For a quick answer/hint on how to increase bliss, it is to review what part of culture (as in social standards) that one has been accepting (i.e. lying to self to blend in with culture) but doesn’t actually “fit” with ones true. To get deeper into the process, I recommend reading the book.

To see Martha Beck share an introduction to her book, watch the video below.

To learn more about the author, Martha Beck, click here. To get a copy of The Way of Integrity and gain a PDF version of the exercises within the book, click here.


Beck M. N. (2021). The way of integrity : finding the path to your true self. Penguin Life.

The Art of Livin’ with Matthew McConaughey

Dear Reader,

How are you and yours? I hope you are doing well. Yesterday, Matthew McConaughey had did a virtual live event called “The Art of Livin’.” It included Dean Graziosi, Tony Robbins, Trent Shelton and Marie Forleo as special guests. Unfortunately, I had already scheduled clients during the live experience (only tuned in during lunch time). However, we can watch the recorded event through YouTube for a short limited amount of time. I have placed the video below. To watch it in two separate parts, click here.

While reading Greenlights (written by Matthew McConaughey), I was so intrigued by his wisdom and honesty (to read my book review, click here). So I was happy to know that he had set up this unique experience for those that desired to participate.

If you weren’t able to experience this event, McConaughey has a way one can gain more on what he has to offer: Roadtrip—The Highway to More. As Dean Graziosi explained, such marketing is done out of love: hoping the receiver is able to gain a positive experience afterwards. Therefore, yes, one has to do a payment for this more but if one is committed in investing into self (i.e. excellence), please consider.

To sign up for “Roadtrip—The Highway to More,” click here. For more information about Matthew McConaughey, I recommend reading Greenlights (click here to get a copy).

Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus – Book Review

Dear Reader,

I hope things are going well for you. Last week, I was able to get my hands on the children book Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus by Mo Willems after learning about the book through a “CBS Mornings on the Go” podcast episode two weeks prior (to listen to this episode, click here). My daughter receives library books from her preschool classroom. One of the two books she received was this book.

When I pulled out the book from her Apple Bag, I was like “Wait a minute! This is the book I heard about on a podcast.” I went around my home declaring it to family members. That was how excited I was to have a copy of this children book in my hand. Watch the video below to see why.

This book allows children to verbally interact with the book (ex: whenever I turned to my daughter, her job was to say “No!”) and also to be creative in figuring out how to write their own narratives (ex: their own “don’t let the pigeon” book). My daughter loved the interaction (full of giggles) and I enjoyed reading it to her.

For more information about the author, click here. To get your own copy of the 20th anniversary version of Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, click here. For the 20th Birthday Celebration Activity Kit, click here.

Uninvited – Book Review

Dear Reader,

I hope you and yours are doing well. After watching most of the following YouTube video, I had decided to reread Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst due to the video shares several points that are found in the book itself.

Before continuing, I would like to write a “disclaimer”—a word of caution due to some assumptions that the book is for everyone:

Please note the audience the author was writing to is to Christians. Therefore, if you are not a Christian or desire to avoid reading Biblical scriptures or Christian beliefs, this books is not for you.

To read how I was introduced to Lysa TerKeurst (as well as read the book review on another book the author has written), click here.

As for Uninvited, TerKeurst mentioned today’s rejections “are like stealth bombs that zing straight to my core, locating hurts from my past and making them agonizingly present all over again” (2016). Messages are sent and often scramble what one was attempting to use careful planning formulas in hoping to keep their life stable. Insecure and doubtful voices such as “See, I’ve been telling you for years what an utter disappointment you are” don’t have to scream at us for the pain does it with “deafening tones” (TerKeurst, 2016).

When one is honest with oneself and realizes this is something they are dealing with, the bright side is to know is there is hope—there is still work to be done. Reader, I want to invite you on a journey towards healing. Please consider getting a copy of Uninvited.

My favorite part was how the author broke down the story of Abigail. She could have played the “victim card” but, instead, she walked the walk of victory. The steps are written down nicely.

Another thing that was something I had agreed upon was how many of us perceive rejection when facing a social situation due to the story one often tells themselves. It was nice that TerKeurst shared a vulnerable situation that occurred while continuing visiting a gym.

The solution to deal with the feelings of rejection is to change how one thinks (i.e. replace thoughts). TerKeurst shared some ways on how to replace thoughts within Uninvited. Here are some examples (TerKeurst, 2016):

  • Replace the negative talk that will hinder you with praises for God, who will deliver you
    • “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”
  • Fill in the blank: This rejection doesn’t mean I’m [whatever negative label or shame-filled feeling you are having]. It makes this [opportunity] [person] [desire] a wrong fit for me right now. Instead of letting the feelings from this situation label me, I’m going to focus on God and His promises for good things.
  • Questions TerKerust found helpful instead of asking the famous “why” question:
    • What is one good thing I’ve learned from this?
    • What was a downside to this situation that I can be thankful is no longer my burden to carry?
    • What were the unrealistic expectations I had, and how can I better manage these next time?
    • What do I need to do to boost my courage to pursue future opportunities?
    • What is one positive change I could make in my attitude about the future?
    • What are some lingering negative feelings about this situation that I need to move forward?
    • What is one thing God has been asking me to do today to make tomorrow easier?

Another twist to review the concept of feeling rejected is to find out from others what it is like for others to live with you. To have access to this information click here. This can allow one to take a step back and reevaluate the rejecting situation from another point of view.

If you would like to learn more about Lysa TerKeurst, click here. To buy your own copy of Uninvited, click here. To gain access to the study guide and streaming video, click here. To take a self assessment to see if rejections from the past is affecting the present, click here.


TerKeurst L. (2016). Uninvited. Nelson Books an imprint of Thomas Nelson.

What Happened to You? – Book Review

Dear Reader,

I hope you are doing well. I would like to share a book that I am almost done reading. It’s called What Happened to You? by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey. The title is named as such because it is what one should ask about others (as well as themself) instead of asking “What is wrong with you?”

This book is packed with a lot of information to all readers to understand what may be occurring whenever one appears to “be jumpy” or “just snap.” One great explanation is what Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D often uses the following whenever explaining the brain, stress, and trauma.

According to Dr. Perry, the basic organization of the brain is like a four-layered cake: top is the cortex (the most human part of the brain), next is the limbic, second to the bottom is the diencephalon, and the bottom is the brainstem (also known as the reptile brain—controls body-temperature regulation, heart rate, breathing, etc.) (Perry & Winfrey, 2021). Input from the senses (touch, smell, hearing, and vision) goes directly through the lower parts of the brain instead of the cortex and since the “brainstem can’t tell time or know, how many years have passed, it activates the stress response” and then one has “a full-blown threat response (Perry & Winfrey, 2021). In other words, one feels as if they are placed back during the traumatic event (or series of events) and the brain starts to believe it is under attack.

To here more about this concept, see the video below.

The following is a short video that shares another portion of what one can expect from the book.

The last thing I wanted to share was the importance of a community. This is one way can to change what happened to someone. Dr. Perry explains what he observed with the Māori indigenous Polynesian people that live on the mainland of New Zealand as well as explaining what type of relationships that can change what one sees about themself and others. To learn more about this, watch the video below.

To learn more about Dr. Bruce Perry, click here. To explore more about what Oprah Winfrey has to offer, click here. To get a copy of What Happened to You?, click here. To gain access to the free study guide that will enhance the reading experience, click here.


Perry B. D. & Winfrey O. (2021). What happened to you? : conversations on trauma resilience and healing (First). Flatiron Books.