My Greatest Save: The Brave, Barrier-Breaking Journey of a World Champion Goalkeeper Book Review

To be a pioneer is anything is an experience that few have. While we celebrate these people for the paths they created for others, we sometimes forget the hardships they had to go through.

My Greatest Save: The Brave, Barrier-Breaking Journey of a World Champion Goalkeeper, by World Cup champion and Olympian Brianna Scurry, was published in June. The memoir, co-written by Wayne Coffey and with a foreword by television anchor Robin Roberts, is the story of Scurry’s extraordinary life.

The youngest of nine children, Scurry was a tomboy as a child. Finding a niche in soccer, she excelled at the game from a young age. Following her passion all the way up through adulthood, she reached professional levels that many dream of, but few reach. Along with being the only African-American and gay player on the team, she also dealt with mental and physical health problems, in addition to financial difficulties.

In terms of the genre, the narrative is fairly generic. Though Scurry’s achievements are nothing to sneeze at, I was not as inspired as I thought I would be. When I got to the low in the story, it felt like it was just rushed through. I wanted what she was going through, but I couldn’t.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

My Greatest Save: The Brave, Barrier-Breaking Journey of a World Champion Goalkeeper is available wherever books are sold.

Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD Book Review

Jason Kander is many things: a politician, a veteran, a published author, and a family man. He was also living with PTSD after serving his country.

Kander’s new memoir, Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD, was published earlier this month. Back in 2017, Kander’s political future was bright. He was running for mayor in his hometown of Kansas City. All signs pointed to an easy victory. There were even whispers of him as a possible candidate in the 2020 Presidential election.

Then everything stopped. After being home from Afghanistan for more than a decade, he suddenly became depressed and suicidal. This deeply felt and dark memoir is the story of how the darkness nearly claimed him and the difficult task of recovery that he underwent to heal.

His story is personal, heartfelt, and a reminder that mental health is health. Just because the scars are not visible to the naked eye does not mean that the person is not suffering. What I was impressed by was how brutally honest Kander was about the experience. He also was very vocal about the fact that our veterans are not being given the medical care that is owed to them. They gave up almost everything for this country, the least we can do is ensure that they are as physically and mentally healthy as possible.

My favorite part of the book was the interjections by Kander’s wife, Diana. It shows that this disease does not only affect the person, it affects everyone they love. Mental illness requires a team effort to live with and/or overcome.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD is available wherever books are sold.

Reputation: A Novel Book Review

It was not that long ago that a woman’s reputation was her most important asset. Any black mark on that reputation, whether real or imagined, had the potential to destroy her future and her family’s future.

Reputation: A Novel, by Sarah Vaughan, was released earlier this month. Emma Webster is a woman in a man’s world. She is a former teacher who has made a career switch to politics. In doing so, she lost her marriage and her emotional connection with her teenage daughter, Flora.

Emma knows that her success depends on her image and what the voting public thinks of her. She also knows the downsides that come with being a female politician. It takes one moment, one miscalculation of judgment to destroy everything she has built.

While her mother is getting figurative shit thrown at her, Flora is dealing with bullying and the loss of a long-time friendship. After a young woman takes her life due to online mistreatment, Emma works with the girl’s family to legislate against future crimes of this nature.

Emma and Flora’s problems collide when Emma is accused of murder. Determined to protect her family and prove that she is innocent, Emma is pushed to her limits.

Vaughan does it again. She mixes politics, family, sex, and growing up into a heady and powerful narrative that instantly pulled me in. Emma is a flawed heroine who I genuinely liked. She has chosen to go into a profession that by nature, is male-oriented and still not 100% accepting of women. Like many working mothers, she does the best she can to balance both motherhood and her job.

I was gripped by the proverbial throat until the very last page. It is so good and so far, one of my favorite books of the year.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Reputation: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

Let’s Talk About the Real Baby Killers (Hint: It’s Not Pro-Choice Activists)

We all know that children are our most precious resource. Without the next generation, our future is non-existent. As we all know, 19 of those precious resources were taken from us earlier on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas.

Those who are pro-life and against Roe V. Wade argue that abortion is nothing more than the killing of babies. I would argue the opposite. Republicans who are vocally against gun control laws are the real baby killers.

In the three days since the murders, Texas leadership has placed the blame on every issue except one: the fact that the gunman was able to easily get access to a firearm. The only one of them to speak the truth is Beto O’Rourke. When he dared to confront public officials, he was booted out of the room and called all sorts of names.

Courtesy of Facebook.

What I find completely ironic and sad is that while Governor Greg Abbott placed at the feet of responsibility among other things, mental health, he authorized cutting millions of dollars of mental health aid from the state budget.

When I think of both of these topics entwined together, I think of the younger generation who has been traumatized by these events. Not just the kids who are hearing about this on the news or from adults, but the ones who were there. The scars of hearing and/or watching their classmates and teachers being killed will likely create scars that will stay with the survivors for decades.

I remember that right after Columbine happened, there were some who condemned the band, Marilyn Manson, for the killings. I’ve never had even an iota of interest in their music. The problem is that instead of looking inward to understand what led to the tragedy, the accused were outside actors who in reality, had nothing to do with the problem.

It’s been three days and my heart still hurts. The only silver lining is that this may be the figurative fire that finally forces us to codify legislation, both at the national and state level that stops this kind of event. The question is if our lawmakers have the balls and the backbone to do so.

P.S. The husband of one of the teachers who tried to save her students died from a heart attack, unable to deal with the grief. I can only imagine what their kids are going through, having lost both of their parents.

Z”L

Sandy Hook Part II: At Least Eighteen Children and Two Adults Killed in an Elementary School in Texas

We all remember the horror of Sandy Hook in December of 2012. The young lives lost, the adults who tried to save their students, and the heartache that will never fade.

This morning was the sequel to that day. An eighteen-year-old gunman charged into an elementary school in Texas. Among the dead are at least eighteen children and two adults.

This is the third mass shooting to make national news in the last seven days. The third occurred in a church in Orange County in California. Five people were injured and one man was killed. Closer to home, a man was killed by a stranger carrying a gun on the Q train on Sunday in New York City. The accused was caught today. When did we become so desensitized that this unnecessary loss of life that it is nothing more than another headline?

I keep thinking that it is going to get to the point in which we have to wear bulletproof vests as part of our regular wardrobe and go through airport-style security to complete simple errands.

I blame the NRA. I blame the Republicans who are more concerned with their careers and lining their own pockets than doing what is right for the country. I blame all of our politicians who are too chicken shit to speak up and save lives. I blame Fox News and other right-wing media organizations who knowingly peddle lies. I blame those who are more concerned with the unborn than the current members of the young generation. I blame those who use mental health as an excuse instead of looking for real-world solutions and once more create a sense of shame around needing help.

We need rock-solid gun control laws now. We needed them in 2012 and we needed them after Columbine 23 years ago. I don’t know what it is going to take to get this legislation on the books. How many of our children will die before we do something about it?

If you have children, hug them and tell them that you love them. It may be the last time you say it to them.

The only thing I can think of right is to vote in November. Regardless of party or affiliation, if a candidate or incumbent does not support gun control, do not vote for them. Send the message that lives are more important than power.

May the memory of those murdered today be a blessing and finally be the impetus needed to get off our asses and fix this problem for good. Z”L.

P.S. I have no doubt that certain members of the press will use the fact that the allegation that the accused crossed the border illegally to once more further their own agenda.

P.P.S The fact that the shooting in the church in California is news to me tells me everything I need to know about where this nation is going.

So You Want to End Abortion…

There are many people in this country and around the world who believe that abortion is both illegal and immoral. If this is what you believe, this is what has to be done to stop it entirely.

  • Teach our boys and men to respect women.
  • Break down all of the boundaries that still prevent females from achieving everything they want to achieve. An educated woman with a solid career is more likely to have a child when she is financially and emotionally ready to be a mother.
  • Upon reaching puberty, all boys are required by law to have a vasectomy. When they have proven that they can properly take care of their offspring, the vasectomy is reversed.
  • If an unplanned pregnancy occurs (whether via wanted or unwanted sex) and the man refuses to take responsibility, use law enforcement to ensure that both the mother and child are taken care of until the child turns eighteen. If he still refuses, cut his junk off.
  • Ensure that every child is given age-appropriate sex education.
  • Make birth control easily accessible without charging an arm and a leg.
  • Ensure that every pregnant woman has easy access to affordable and reliable medical care until she gives birth. After the baby is born, make sure that the parents can do the same for pediatric care.
  • If the mother and/or parents are in a financial/employment bind, the government is responsible for providing additional support. This includes housing, food, etc.
  • Reduce the cost of daycare to be proportional to the salaries of the adults in the home.
  • From the moment they are born, each child is guaranteed a well-balanced education from pre-school all the way up to college. If they choose to go for an advanced degree, that is on them.
  • If the youngster is unable to be raised within the bosom of their family and has to be put into social services, remove the identity labels that prevent some from fostering and/or adopting the minor.
  • Add mental health screenings as part of the regular medical checkup. If there is supplemental help is needed, it is marked as preventative by the health insurance companies and charged as such.
  • If abortion is determined as necessary by a medical health professional, give the family room to consider their options and do not judge them if the decision is made to end the pregnancy.

P.S. Did you hear that a good amount of Republicans in the Senate voted no on a bill that would help with the baby formula shortage? So much for pro-life.

The Shooting in Buffalo is a Shit Storm of Everything That is Wrong With This Country

Saturday morning started as out as a normal day. For the residents of Buffalo in upstate NY, it became a day marked by grief and horror. A gunman walked into a grocery store and started shooting. By the time he was apprehended, ten people were dead, and three were injured.

The accused (whose name will not be mentioned on this blog) is an eighteen-year-old Caucasian boy. According to the police, his intention was to murder as many African-Americans as he could. Only two of the victims were not POC. Upon further digging, law enforcement officials discovered a manifesto in which he also believed the antisemitic bullshit.

To make matter worse, he had previous mental health issues and was able to evade the laws that prevented him from legally buying a firearm. If that was not enough, he lived streamed the massacre. As much as I appreciate the upsides of social media, the companies that run these platforms have some serious work and soul searching to do.

Everything that is wrong with this country is represented by the event on Saturday and the person accused of perpetrating it. There are many who would have no restrictions at all when it comes to firearms, but they will do everything in their power to control a woman’s/pregnant person’s body and their right to choose if/when they become a parent. They also turn a blind eye to the hate coming out of the right-wing press and the politicians who prefer power over respecting democracy, political norms, and the rule of law.

I don’t know what it is going to take to shake us out of this dream world that we live in. I fear that when we do, it will be too late.

May the memories of those killed on Saturday be a blessing. Z”L.

P.S. There were five mass shootings across the country this past weekend. How many people are going to die before we do something about this once and for all?

Hello, Molly!: A Memoir Book Review

Whoever said women can’t be funny has never seen Molly Shannon perform. This actress, comedienne, and Saturday Night Live alum have been making audiences laugh for more than twenty years.

Her new autobiography, entitled Hello, Molly!: A Memoir, which was co-written with Sean Wilsey, was published last month. Her life was forever changed at the age of four when her mother, younger sister, and cousin were killed in a car crash. Her father was behind the wheel. Raising his surviving daughters as best he could, Molly had a unique childhood that opened the door to her future career as a performer. While becoming a celebrated actor/comedienne, she struggled with the loss of her mother and her complicated relationship with her father.

I loved this book. It is candid, it is funny, and it speaks to the power of belief and rising above tragedy. What hooked me was her ability to deal with grief in a way that was not overpowering or stopped her from living.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

P.S. I cannot end this post without talking about my favorite character of Molly’s, Mary Katherine Gallagher. Mary Katherine was the rare comedic combination of insecure, fearless, and not afraid to be herself. The comedy love child of Lucille Ball and Chris Farley, this character never failed to make me laugh.

Hello, Molly!: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.

Happy Molly Shannon GIF by Saturday Night Live - Find & Share on GIPHY

Just Getting Rid of the Homeless Camps in NYC is Not Enough

I think it is pretty safe to say that the homeless issue is a worldwide problem. Though the solutions seem simple enough to execute, the reality is that it comes down to deeds, not words.

Over the last couple of weeks, New York City Mayor Eric Adams decided that the way for the city to solve the problem in regard to homeless citizens was to purge the streets of encampments that have popped up in various locations.

While I understand that aggressive action is needed, this is nothing more than kicking the can down the road. The issues that contribute to someone living on the streets seem enormous: mental health, drug addiction, structural racism, lack of affordable housing, unsafe shelters, etc.

The truth is that while they are daunting, they are not impossible to solve. Now granted, I’m not an expert, but simple logic seems to be the cure for what ails us. If we (by we I mean both the government and the individual citizen) deal with the respective issues that contribute to the overall problem, then it goes away. But if continue to say we are going to do something and not follow through, then the outcome remains the same.

Why We Argue and How to Stop: A Therapist’s Guide to Navigating Disagreements, Managing Emotions, and Creating Healthier Relationships Book Review

Relationships, whether they are romantic, parent/child, friendships, etc, are not always sunshine and roses. Arguments are bound to happen. What matters is the ability to come out of the disagreement with the connection intact.

Jerry Manney is a therapist with more than thirty years of experience. His new book, Why We Argue and How to Stop: A Therapist’s Guide to Navigating Disagreements, Managing Emotions, and Creating Healthier Relationships, was published this year. The author starts the book by explaining why disagreements occur. He then goes into how we can either put a stop to them or at the very least, turn down the temperature in the room. The chapters end with open-ended exercises, allowing the reader to digest and personalize the content.

There are a number of ways to approach this subject. The easy way to write a self-help book of this nature is to write in either therapy speak or clinical terms that the average person will not understand or relate to. The author writes in a way that the audience does not feel like they are being talked down to. It was as if he was my counselor and I was meeting with him for our usual appointment.

What I related to was the mental health aspect of the subject. When something is left unsaid, it can fester and open the door to words and/or actions that we may come to regret. Opening the lines of communication allows us to not just heal, but to make difficult conversations easier to have.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Why We Argue and How to Stop: A Therapist’s Guide to Navigating Disagreements, Managing Emotions, and Creating Healthier Relationships is available to purchase via the publisher and wherever books are sold.

Thank you to the publisher for the ARC.

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