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Three Books That Changed My Life (And Just Might Change Yours, Too!)

Apr 13, 2018    |   by Holli Fawcett Clayton

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A few years ago, life got hard. I mean, really, really hard. 

I went through an ugly, embarrassing divorce from my first husband (at the time, I had three young children—ages 10, 8, and 2). My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And I was suddenly forced back into the working world as a single parent—somehow expected to excel at a job while managing the busy schedules of three kids and caring for a terminally-ill mother whose only child was me. 

Life. Was. Hard.

And it got harder. 

I lost my mom in February of 2015. The days and months that followed were dark. Very, very dark. There were days I couldn't leave the house. Days where tears would hold me prisoner and keep me from accomplishing anything. Days where I'd cry uncontrollably on the closet floor, writhing in pain. A dull, lasting, invisible kind of pain. One that wouldn't go away.

And then one day, a dear friend dropped by my house and brought me a book, which sat on my countertop for months before I finally mustered the emotional energy to read it. And boy, am I glad I did. Because this book, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” was the first of three books that changed everything for me.

Here they are, and here’s what they did:

1. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.

This book was a lifesaver. It taught me that I was still valuable in spite of all of the crap that life had dealt. It taught me that enduring a failed first marriage and being parentless and falling short of my life’s goals didn’t mean I wasn’t worthy. It reminded me that it was okay not to be okay, and that asking for and accepting help is not shameful, but sometimes absolutely necessary.

Perhaps most importantly, this book taught me about the importance of courage and connection. It sparked my writing journey and inspired me to create my own website. And it has led me down a path to leaving a meaningful legacy through authenticity, not perfection.

Friends, if you are struggling with the exhausting, worth-stealing, soul-sucking goal of trying to be perfect in order to be loved, this is a must-read. You can find it here (click on the image below for link):

2. Karen Ehman & Ruth Schwenk, Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet Jesus.

Not long after my mother died, I was asked to chair a neighborhood little league auction—a great-big, highly-coveted social position. And the same sweet friend and mentor who loaned me Brene Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection"  convinced me to do a very hard thing: to say no. Instead, she suggested that I begin a Mom’s Encouragement Group at my youngest daughter’s preschool—thus channeling my talents into something much less glamorous, but truly purposeful.

This unpopular choice was one of the best decisions I ever made, because after the devastating loss of my mother, it brought a much-needed, faith-based connection with some of the most fantastic moms I’ve had the privilege to know. 

Our group eventually chose to study this book—one that I just happened to notice as I was out shopping one day—and it has been fabulous. I highly recommend it for any mom who feel unseen, unheard, and drowning in the throes of motherhood and life right now. It renders some helpful practical advice on how busy moms can stop and remember the importance of faith, which gives us a tremendous sense of purpose.

If you’re feeling burdened and frustrated with mom-responsibility overload, this is a great read. I challenge you to start your own Mom’s Encouragement Group and begin with this book (click on image below for link). It could be a life-changer. 

3. Carmine Gallo, Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds.

Even if you don't care anything about public speaking, this is a great read. And if (like me before I read this), you don’t know what a TED talk is, then please… read this book! It highlights some of the best TED talks ever given, emphasizing the power to bring great ideas to life in the way that you communicate them. (For those who have never listened to a TED talk, start with Brene Brown—whose TED talk is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Google it and watch it now. You won’t be sorry.) 

We all have great ideas, and we all have a story. This book is teaching me how to transform my ideas and my story into something meaningful by communicating them in a way that people want to hear.

Click on this image for link:

Happy reading, friends... may you be encouraged and inspired!

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Holli Fawcett Clayton
I’m Holli Fawcett Clayton, creator of Courageous & Connected, a website about human connection and the ways we can find it.
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