Category Archives: Life

Brittany Runs a Marathon Movie Review

At some point in our adult lives, we have to take responsibility for our actions.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is the directorial debut of writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo. Based on the story of a friend of his, Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell) is in her late 20’s and living in New York City. She has a job, but it is neither professionally or financially fruitful. She drinks too much, sleeps too much and is overweight. Her life, in short, is a hot mess.

Hoping to score a prescription of adderall, Brittany visits a doctor. Instead of receiving the prescription, the doctor recommends that she lose weight. She initially balks, but follows through and starts running. She is encouraged by her neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and Seth (Micah Stock), whom she met in her running group.

The running opens the door to other goals, including running a marathon. But doubt and insecurity gets in the way. Can Brittany succeed?

This movie has it’s pluses and it’s minuses. On the plus side, the characters and the narrative are realistic. Brittany speaks for many people, regardless of size, who are hindered by unseen emotional scars. We live in a world which is dominated by social media. The image that many of us put on our profiles may not reflect reality and may cause those who look at our profiles to compare their lives to ours.

On the minus side, the film is a little longer than I think it should be and is a little predictable story wise.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Life, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, New York City

If Kodi Lee Can Do It, Then I Can Do It

Success starts and ends with hard work. Talent is great, but talent is like a rowboat without oars. Hard work is the oars that will propel the rowboat to it’s final destination.

On the outside, Kodi Lee does not look like he will be successful as a performer. Blind and autistic, he relies on his mother for more than most people his age do. But he has a gift for music and the drive to become a performer, which was obvious to anyone who has been watching this season of America’s Got Talent.

His rendition of A Bridge Over Troubled Water was nothing short of stunning. I will be shocked if he does not win this season.

If Kodie Lee, blind and autistic, can see his dream become a reality, then so can I, so you can you, so can anybody. We have just have to believe in ourselves and be willing to do the hard work. Neither is a guarantee that our dreams will become a reality, but a dream is just that without the the willingness to sweat a little.

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Filed under Life, Music, Television

Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond Book Review

Life would be easy if it came with an instruction manual. But it doesn’t and that forces us to unfortunately learn as we go.

Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in your 20s and Beyond was published earlier this year. Written by television journalist Mika Brzezinski and producer Daniela Pierre Bravo, this book is the guidebook I wish when I was in my 20’s. Using the personal experience of the authors and the experience of other successful women, the reader is guided through every step in the early stages of their career.

While I was reading this book, I kept thinking back to my 20’s and the career mistakes that I made back then. This book is the perfect book for the young person in their 20’s (young women especially) who are starting their careers and need a helping hand. It is part guidebook, part cheerleader and part fire lighting under the proverbial behind of the reader.

If I had to choose one aspect of the book that stood out, I would say though the advice is aimed at twenty somethings, some of it can be applied long after we have aged out of our 20’s.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, Life, Television

Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life Book Review

Religion can be a tricky thing. For many of us, it provides a community, a family and answers to questions which seems impossible to answer. But for others, religion may feel confining, controlling and downright impossible to live with.

For most of her life, Amber Scorah was a Jehovah’s Witness. A devoted member, she believed firmly in the doctrines of her faith. Then she and her husband traveled to China to preach and things were never same. Her journey is chronicled in the new book Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life.

Aware that openly proselytizing was illegal, she had to find another way preach and keep out of the sight lines of the authorities. She was essentially living two lives. On the surface she was happily married and working with others who were not of her faith or her world. But underneath, she was preaching the word of G-d as she knew it.

But then things began to shift as her world view began to change and she saw the complexities of other people who did not believe and see the world as she had been taught to see and believe.

What struck me about this book is how honest and brave she is. It takes a lot to share a story such as this with the world, not knowing how the book will be received. It was for me, as story of a woman looking for her path and trying to figure out who she is instead of letting the doctrines and the leaders of her faith make that decision for her.

I recommend it.

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Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change Book Review

There are many who are ready, willing and able to provide advice on how to lead. There are few who act on that advice.

Earlier this year, former Georgia minority leader and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams published her new non fiction book, Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change. Using her personal and professional experience as a background, Ms. Abrams writes about how real change is possible, especially when one is an outsider or has self doubts stand in the way of being a leader.

I enjoyed this book. Instead of providing pie in the sky advice, Ms. Abrams not only provides real world guidance, she provides worksheets to the help the reader work through the examples in the book. She is also humble and not afraid to use her flaws and past mistakes to inspire the reader in their own leadership quest.

I recommend it.

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Is Job Hunting About Quality or Quantity?

                Looking for a job, regardless of whether one is employed or unemployed, is not easy. The question that I wrestle with as an unemployed job seeker is the following: is the number of jobs that I apply for or applying for a job that fits my professional past and hopeful professional future more important?

                Someone arguing for quantity would state that the more jobs one applies for, the greater chance there is of being contacted for an interview. If Jane Doe is looking for a job and she applies to ten jobs over the course of an average day, she may receive an email or a phone call for about 1/3 of those jobs (which is utterly frustrating, but that is another topic for another time). The numbers are not ideal, but the more the jobs that she applies for, the greater chance that Jane has for being called for an interview.

                Someone else arguing for quality would state that it is a waste of time to apply for a large number of jobs. A job seeker’s precious job-hunting time is better spent on the quality of the jobs, making sure that they are a good fit for the position. However, there is something to be said for taking a chance and applying for a job in which an applicant might have some, but not all of the qualities and/or experience that the employer is requesting. It might be just enough to secure an interview and have the opportunity to sell yourself as the right candidate for the position.

                The question is, which matters more: quantity or quality?  My experience says both quantity and quality are equally important in the hunt for a new job. The more applications that a job seeker sends out, the more employers are likely to review their resume and possibly consider them as a viable candidate. However, it is also as important to apply for a job that the candidate can present themselves as a good fit.    

Readers, what do you think? Which is more important: quantity or quality when it comes to the job-hunting process?

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Sometimes, A New Perspective on an Old Favorite Can Be Unexpected Surprise

Yesterday, I met two friends for lunch. We had not seen each other for a while and it was time for us to catch up with one another.

Between the three of us, we have read and/or own quite a few books.

One of my friends had never been to the Stephen Schwarzman Building, which is the main branch of the New York Public Library. My other friend and I had been there many times, mainly to pick up or return books. To be honest, I don’t think about the experience of visiting the library, my focus is the books that I either need to check out or return.

But my other friend had never been to that library. The look on her face was of pure joy and wonder. It reminded me that a new perspective on an old favorite can be an unexpected surprise. Looking at the library through her eyes, I was reminded of the majesty and beauty of this temple dedicated to books, knowledge and learning.

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Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, Nelson Mandela Book Review

The old saying of not appreciating something or someone until it is gone can apply to any aspect our lives. All of my grandparents have long since passed away, but I still miss them. As a child, I did not fully appreciate them and their impact on my life. As an adult, I wish I could have had more time with them.

Ndaba Mandela grew up in his grandfather, Nelson Mandela‘s house. His 2018 book, Going to the Mountain: Life Lessons from My Grandfather, Nelson Mandela, is about growing up with his grandfather. While the world knew Nelson Mandela as a civil rights leader and humanitarian, Ndaba simply knew him as “granddad”.

It was a unique experience. While Ndaba would have preferred to have the household rules relaxed (as many young people who live with strict parents hope for), he also watched and listened as his grandfather interacted with world leaders and local government officials. Along the way, Ndaba absorbed wisdom as only one can with a grandparent who is active in their life.

I really appreciated this book. I appreciated it because shines a light on the human side of Mandela instead of just telling his story as an icon of recent history. I also felt like I related to Ndaba because I too, grew up with strict parents.

I recommend it.

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Sometimes, You Have to Take A Chance

There is an old saying: you never know what your capable of until you step out of your comfort zone.

I want to tell you the story of a moment in which I stepped out of my comfort zone. It is a moment that I will never regret.

Five years ago, I was looking for a new way to work out. The workout that I was doing at the gym was not doing anything for me, physically or mentally. On the way home from a doctor’s appointment, I decide to stop into a local martial arts school and ask for more information. Yesterday, I received my certificate for my Muy Thai Kickboxing black belt.

It was not easy to start and to this day, it’s not easy. Stepping onto the mat as a white belt is an experience that is full of anxiety and stress. Will I fit in, will I be able to keep up with the class, etc, are two of the multitude of questions that any white belt experience. These days, the difficulty is pushing myself to attend classes when I am tired after a long day and have a list of chores to attend to at home. But I still go to class regularly and I look forward to it.

A black belt and the certificate the follows is more than the cloth that is the belt and the piece of paper that is the certificate. It is the commitment, the energy and pushing yourself even when you don’t feel like it.

That night, I took a chance, it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. If I can take that chance, what other chances can I take?

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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed Book Review

In our culture, therapists have achieved a unique status: part confident, part best friend and part confessor. But what happens when a therapist needs to see their own therapist?

This is the premise of Lori Gottlieb‘s new book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed. At the start of the book, Ms. Gottlieb had what appeared to be it all. A happy and healthy son, a solid career as a therapist and a boyfriend who was as dedicated to her as she was to him. Then her boyfriend broke up with her and she decided to see a therapist for her own needs.

Blending her professional history with patient profiles and her experience on the other side of the couch, the book is a novel approach to human relationships and the need, when it occurs to seek out a therapist.

Among the books I have read about mental health, this book is certainly very different. I like that in revealing that she sought out a therapist for her emotional issues, Ms. Gottlieb has shined a human light on an industry that in which is often seen differently from the outside.

I do have to warn that the book is a little slow at points, but overall, it is a good read and well worth your time.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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