Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

 

The point is this: we all must give a fuck about something, in order to value something. And to value something, we must reject was is not that something. To value X, we must reject non-X (page 170).

I came to read this book on recommendation from a number of people who don’t generally reach for the ‘self-help’ type book – so I was intrigued.

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Before I started reading the book, I felt I needed a strategy. I chose to pause between chapters to contemplate the concepts of each. I took to the book with a highlighter to capture quotes within the text for quick reference later. As I continued through the book, this was a helpful way to focus the concepts that resonated with me. This helped because there are pages that were heavy on a story that provided ‘context’ and the lesson was buried in the pages. There were times I had to re read the paragraph a few times to capture the point and sometimes the direction of the story didn’t immediately marry with the lesson. This caused me to pause to reflect on the point – I agreed with some, disagreed with others, and some thoughts I was on the fence. The lessons were generally punchy and impactful – often one line comments that were direct and simple and overall, the points made me think – big tick for me.

Admittedly, after reading the first chapter, my initial thoughts I shared were that

The writing style is raw, direct and matter of fact – a lot of thought has clearly gone into his theory. And his logic is simple and relatable. I almost feel as though I am sitting across from the writer at the pub, beers in hand discussing life…and I love that feeling. 

The tone of the book isn’t for everyone – but quite fairly, neither are books written by Elizabeth Gilbert, Gabby Bernstein or seminars presented by Tony Robbins. The wonderful world of freedom of speech is we each have our own views and tastes – and essentially every taste can be catered for – which this book certainly caters for those who aren’t taken by the positive affirmation – life can be amazing people.

So let’s address the title. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck…The title had me pondering, as did the fact that this book was number one on the New York Times best seller list for many weeks selling over two million copies.

The title suggests that the writer has the secret recipe for living life in such a way that we can obtain a level of freedom, which quite frankly we are so desperately craving. In my mind, the title suggests the writer was offering a way to live without taking on all of life’s crap, which would fall away and the creation of teflon skin – where nothing sticks and you magically stop caring about the things that are currently taking up the space in your thoughts – which don’t necessarily need to be.

We as a society, are desperately seeking some reprieve from the stresses of life. We are often pulled in so many directions of expectations that the title of not giving a fuck is almost a promise that the book holds the answers of how to let it all go to life in a peace of sorts – but as I reached the end of the book, I am not convinced I feel like the book adequately delivered that message – but as the writer had points out – he wasn’t intending to make any one else’s life better because essentially he doesn’t give a fuck if someone likes the book anyway.

Just on that point – I found that somewhat disappointing – not because he said he didn’t care but because I felt he wasn’t being honest about not caring. I think the title was catchy and effective in attracting interest but I am not sure the content of the book was a true reflection of the titled – the content was about making the most of life and making choices about your life because as the writer himself says (at page 15)

Here’s a sneaky truth about life. There’s no such thing as not giving a fuck. You must give a fuck about something…The question, then is, what do you give a fuck about? What are you choosing to give a fuck about? 

The tone in this book shifts. There were moments where I felt the tone was the projection of anger, bitterness and harsh judgment of other people’s life. There were sweeping generalisations and moments where he played into stereotypes give the perception of ignorance. Those moments made me feel uncomfortable and distant to his words. There was a point in chapter three that I felt so uncomfortable and disconnected that I put the book down and instead googled the reviews of the book. Many of the reviews were not forgiving – which was not encouraging to continue but I chose to persist and I am honestly glad that I did.

There were moments where the tone was soft, deep and reflective – luring me back into his minds eye looking at life through his rear view mirror. There was sarcasm and flippant remarks to deal with some big life issues. The writer was honest in recalling personal life events and some very tragic stories which have obviously shaped his views of the world. Those stories felt honest and somewhat raw – almost as though he hadn’t originally intended many of them to even come out in the book.

The final chapter titled, …And then you die tells the tragic tale of the writer losing his good friend Josh during a party when he was 19 years old. The writer talks candidly about the emotional and mental impact of the death which the writer identifies as the defining moment when his life changed, and captures poetically

“…in a bizarre, backwards way, death is the light by which the shadow of all of life’s meaning is measured. Without death, everything would feel inconsequential, all experience arbitrary, all metrics and values suddenly zero”.

This is a very impactful concept and one which I wish had been the opening chapter. The writer instead chooses the last ten pages of the book to describe a hike along a cliff in which he illustrates the enlightenment of living with purpose which feels displaced and not the right way to end the book for me. I personally think that had he commenced the book with the last chapter, the tone of the book would have still been about choosing what to give a fuck about and not giving a fuck about the irrelevant things in life. I think a slight change in structure may have focused the writers message better and have left a greater impact.

I came to ultimately conclude that the status of best seller was a deep reflection of our current society. We are desperately seeking relatable and easy answers to life’s tough road. We are seeking reprieve from our stresses and we want permission to let go of the things we know shouldn’t impact our life and dictate our choices, but for many this isn’t a reality.

So the question left to be answered… would I recommend the book? Yes!

If you are looking for something to test your views – read it.

If you are in a space where you feel as though life is running on autopilot and you aren’t sure how to take back control – read it.

If life is sitting in a tough space and you are feeling lost – read it.

It may not deliver the answers to change your life – But…

To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action (page 12).

~ F.P

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Falling in Love with Minimalism

Spring – A time for rejuvenation and renewal.

I openly discuss my love affair with ‘spring cleaning’ and ‘de cluttering’. Whilst I am not a fan of labels, I have come to embrace that of being a minimalist – well, one in the making.

A little over a year ago, we moved from our tiny ‘baby house’ that we had out grown with a walking toddler to a full sized family home. With it came the temptation to quickly fill it with things – furniture, art, stuff. After all, what was the point in having a bigger space with less things?

Our baby house was filled with our past. It was the first home shared with my husband and the first home I had after living with my family. I had never moved and felt the need to hold all of my memories within my possessions. As we packed to move, I started to feel suffocated by my things. They were no longer providing me happiness or meaning but instead they were creating an environment of frustration. I could never easily reach for things. Opening a cupboard could be an OH & S issue and my mind was often distracted with needing to ‘clean up’ because ‘stuff’ never looks tidy. I had mistakenly believed that being organised meant I needed to have everything on hand and prepared for a ‘just-in-case’ scenario with ridiculous just-in-case items – 40 billion shopping bags anyone??

The temptation to fill our new home quickly evaporated – stuff didn’t provide me happiness – instead it was distracting me from living.

The bigger space instead presented us with something far more beautiful than ‘things’ – it gifted us with mindfulness, gratitude, appreciation.

Our home has most importantly provided the space for clear thought and tranquility – our haven to come home and breathe out the day. It has replaced chaos with calm – busyness with quality family time and inefficient time with productive time – like writing or having a soothing, soul nourishing bath.

Visually, our home is calming. Each item purchased is carefully chosen –

Does it reflect us? Does it add value? Do we love it? Is it essential?

It has provided us the opportunity to ‘hunt’ for unique treasures, items that reflect who we are and what life we want to create.

It has provided us with a comfortable amount of space to celebrate events and life – to have family and friends around to enjoy being together – life’s important treasures…The soul of the home is already etched with memories of laughter, love and happiness.

Having a relaxed home has also given us the gift of adventure – the ability to step outside of it without the guilt of choosing to ‘go out’ over cleaning – the expectation of having a spotless house. There is minimal effort of maintenance with minimal clutter. It also provides a beautiful space to return home to with a heart full of adventure.

So in this moment, I can peacefully enjoy a cup of coffee – each sip without the distraction of needing to do something in this moment because I have replaced chaos with calm and life has become a whole lot more manageable.

~ F.P

 

Life, dreaming and what I have come to learn

On the eve of my 30-B birthday, I started compiling a list of all the lessons I had come to learn along those 30-something years of life. I struggled, not because I couldn’t come up with a list but because it just did not do justice to the thoughts of my heavy heart on this day – and my life isn’t really about lists.

In my quiet moments of reflection, I have packaged by thoughts into a nutshell and this is what I have come to learn:

Life is amazing – Life is too amazing not to be authentic about it …

… About who you are 

…About what you like 

…About what you do.

It’s okay to feel it – It’s okay to say it – It’s okay to do it (generally).

 

The rules are the ones we create for ourselves. Let’s for a moment replace rule with general guideline. In the practice of law, we often refer to issues being viewed in context and on a case by case basis – nothing is a one fits all approach, arguably, the only way upon which we can assess life circumstances on a case by case basis is if we are present in our own world. It’s easy to feel as though we are dragged through life and running to keep up. Things in life will happen – we may be seeking a higher meaning to justify a negative life event – to ease pain and sadness by blaming the universe – if this works, sure, why not! Blame the universe… full moon, life moves in cycles, there is a greater purpose… one door closes for another to open. Some things will never have an appropriate justification and you will be angry without direction and that’s okay – but whatever the life circumstance allow your soul to heal. Breathe through the sadness and give your heart the time and the nourishment to heal and to keep moving forward.

Feel confident enough to ask yourself the hard questions – does this life fit me? Are there things in my life that are counter productive to my happiness? Are there other things that I want to do and can do? 

It’s equally okay not to have all of the answers – It’s okay to have some answers – It’s even okay to have the answers but you haven’t implemented any changes. The reason it’s all okay, is that you are at the very least being an active participant in your life. That’s the authenticity in it.

This is life – your life – Own it – All of it, even the parts that aren’t fantastic or flattering or life events that make you cringe when you think back to your own actions. Own all of it because that is part of your life’s history and your blue print – it helps to shape your world, of which you get to choose how your life is shaped.

Today as I sit here… at the age of 32, I distinctly remember in my early 20’s thinking that I couldn’t wait to be 32 – It was an age I had come to believe would be the age where life would fall into place or everything would be figured out – I am confident enough with myself to allow the roaring laughter at naivety  – I probably have more questions than I did at 19! Again, that’s okay – I am likely to have even more questions at 42, 52, 62…

At 32, life is full of questions, hopes, aspirations, vision boarding, dreaming! All of these blissfully romantic thoughts sit along side the domestic life in my brain because at 32 my life is also full of clothes patiently waiting to be washed, a daughter who is fiercely independent but needs mummy cuddles (on her terms obviously), a thoughtful and loving husband, my awesome tribe of my dearest family and great circle of friends… my work, my writer dreams and glasses of wine for those challenging days…

 

Today will look different to tomorrow. Life will keep happening – whether I have caught my breath or not. I will continue to be shaped by experiences, both the positive and the challenging and that’s okay.

 

I work at life everyday to be in it and to steer it and to make it a life that I continue to feel blessed to live in all of its messy, chaotic and authentic glory!

 

~ F.P

A Letter to my Daughter on Love

To my dear angel heart,

At this moment, you are light years away from any meaningful walk down an isle that is not the local grocery shop, better described as chaotic zigzagging to touch anything you can reach.

You are miles away from a heartbreak that may shape your idea on life and love and you are enjoying the blissful age of showing love with few words and through your innocent affections but at this moment, I choose to pen the ideas of marriage in hope you too come to learn.

So my dear daughter…

Fall in love.

Be not afraid of any future heartache for any guarding of the heart may lose you the opportunity to find the greatest love story of your soul.

Age does not determine the ‘rightness’ of your love. Your daddy and I feel in love as young and spirited teens. We grew together-we navigated life together-made mistakes together and learned but we knew, we always knew that we are a commitment and two souls living our life’s path in compliment to one another and not in consumption of the other and we continue to love each other madly.

Embrace the fear accompanying love. Giving your heart to anyone is one of the greatest acts of taking a leap of faith. You cannot control the response of another but be not afraid for those three words to leave your lips to land on another’s heart. The greatest regrets come from the times we have not more than the times we have.

Throw out the idea of a perfect love. Love takes work, it takes faith and it takes courage.

Settle not for stable. No stability in life is worth the sacrifice of true, awesome, heart pounding love.

Be cautious of distractions by glamour and promise. Be not dazzled by promise of lavish gifts and exotic escapes-love can flourish merely between the souls of each other-minus the fireworks, the roses and any grand gestures.

Marry the person you can laugh at life with… Because when life throws you lightening bolts of chaos sometimes the only option open is to laugh!

Marry the one who holds you tightly when you cry, swooping your hair back caught in your tears and still manages to make a little smile appear… But be cautious if your tears are forever falling over them.

Marry the one who you find yourself caught up admiring.

Marry the one who’s compassion shines especially when they stop to pat a puppy.

Marry the one who dreams your dreams and encourages you to dream to greater scales.

Marry not merely because you were proposed to but because your soul sung the song of a hundred angels rejoicing over the path of fate.

Marry when the time is right by your souls clock and not by the expectation.

Your daddy and I waited until the universe aligned with our souls and life schedules which was not always the accepted situation of those who questioned our motives for delay.

I will tell you a secret – there was no ‘perfect’ time for a wedding.

There was no perfect time for our wedding…we had already well and truly committed our love and that did not need the approval of others as you won’t either because in every love story, you write the rules.

Or marry not at all.

You choose the path of your heart and above all-be genuine and navigated by love.

~ F.P

The rise of Trump and the Wall…

Millions of kilometres away in Australia, I felt the vibrations of the emotions erupting from the hearts and souls of the world – both in America and abroad.

Last night, as the coverage of the U.S election ran around the clock I chose to turn the t.v off. As social media filled with heated debates, commentary and memes I resisted checking.

This is all I felt I had the power to control in a time where chaos has erupted.

In this moment, I feel heavy and worn down.

I am not one for politics but I am a global citizen who on a very base level feels as though an election should not breed such hate and segregation. Supporters of either party are fiercely defending their vote and in the wake, are creating an unsettled world. We as a global community are vulnerable. There is much to heal from and yet the suffering continues to be inflicted.

This morning I watched the innocence of my daughter as she played happily and unaware of the pain of many people around the world – because regardless of the outcome, either way there was going to be extreme disharmony. As I watched her, I thought of this wall – this promised wall – promised to be built to keep a group of people out because of one factor – of where they originated from and nothing to do with who they are. In the heaviness of my soul I thought – how do I explain to my daughter that in the 1940’s in Berlin an historical wall was built because one man had a view and a vision and this caused suffering that still vibrates the world more than 70 years later and then in 2016, one man was elected who promised to build a wall just like that one…

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How long will it take to heal this time?

~ F.P

Today I urge connections…especially when all seems calm

In this connected world, the loneliness is deafening.

We are privy to the snippets of another’s world but how often do we touch deeper than surface? How often to we check in in a meaningful way? How often do we give people the space to breathe out their pain. How often do we feel as though we are heard and hear others?

Just moments ago I called a friend. Not text, not Facebook messenger, not liking a social media pic but actually picked up the phone, it dialled and I waited for her to answer. The moments of silence on the other end were unmistakable. She was not okay – but we connected.

We are able to hide and do so well. Sometimes we pretend that we are chugging along well because if no one asks, we don’t need to confront the question in fear of the truths surfacing. And if we are not faced with the question then we can continue to lie to ourselves that we are coping when perhaps the greatest release is falling into the familiar non judgmental comfort of another and cry it out that in this moment of time, life is kicking our butt. Sometimes our reality tricks us into feeling we just don’t know how to reach out.

It is not a shameful position to feel we are floundering. Often it’s merely a moment in time and fleeting while other times it lasts a little while longer… But in all circumstances connections can be the saving grace when we feel broken.

We should never feel as though we have come to a point when it is such a mess that we feel we now need to reach out for survival. We are all part of a connected society. Connect!

Don’t be afraid to connect! Don’t be afraid to feel as though you are leaning on another – that is humanity. We should not feel afraid of judgment because needing help is not a weakness.

So today I urge you to connect.
Ask how another is.
Be open to listening to the genuine answer.
Allow them to answer free of judgment in return.
Don’t be afraid to ask what they need.

Today when I asked my friend what I could do for her, her response caused my heart to ache in guilt and in gratitude.

“You called”… That was all she needed. I called…

I called was something simple I could have done moons ago and something I will remind myself to do more… And in this moment I will take the time to reach out and connect, even when the surface mimics and calm and serene ocean because connecting is the very least I can do as being a citizen of humanity.
~ F.Pimage

When grief teaches patience

Grief teaches us many things. One of which is patience.

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Im tired.
My body aches all over.
My head is thumping.
But my soul is grateful.

I am a mother. One of the only titles that holds a million emotions in a single noun.

My 16 month old is unwell. Its 2.30am as I sit here with her, night two of a restless, uncomfortable and tiring night waiting desperately for the antibiotics to start their job to take over fighting for my tired toddler.

My own bug ripping through like a tornado in my body…yet my heart is overflowing in gratitude.

Its easy to lose sight of perspective in the haze of exhaustion. It is easy to feel as though life is a series of never ending unfortunate events, but grief has taught me to count my blessings – in that moment.

Grief has taught me that the toughest moments are where the best blessings arise from.

Grief has taught me that there are life events that just are. The universe is not conspiring to break me. Life happens.

So tonight I count my blessings because grief reminds me that tomorrows are never guaranteed and the me of tonight will always look different from the me of tomorrow… with or without a night full of sleep.

~ F.P