One year ago, an old friend of mine (Kelly Martin) self-published her first book. I met Kelly online whilst I was at uni, and I had seen how she began to find her voice when she set up a blog all those years ago. We lost touch for several years, so it was a truly lovely surprise to find her again just as she was preparing to publish her first book.
Photo Credit: Kelly Martin
When Everyone Shines But You is a wonderful book, which I actually bought a year ago when it was first released. But, as life has been so crazily busy for me these past 12 months, I am only just now finding the time to write about it. There is a major part of me that feels terribly guilty about the length of time it has taken… until I remember that Kelly’s book is all about losing these judgements we make of ourselves, forgetting about trying to “be like the rest”, and actually loving ourselves and our own journeys, no matter what form that takes.
As Kelly so beautifully says, “You are enough – exactly as you are! Right now”.
So, casting aside these feelings of guilt, let me share with you what I think to the book…
When Everyone Shines But You is a book that delves deep into our feelings of inadequacies, the thoughts we have that we aren’t good enough, and the comparisons we make with those who we think “have it all” whilst we still struggle onwards, never seeming to get anywhere. It doesn’t shy away from facing the darker, more explosive emotions we experience, such as rage and anger, rather it acknowledges them as a natural part of our journey in life:
You can and will embrace this rage, because it will not stop until you surrender into the rapids of this emotion.
This is one of the most refreshing things about this book – it allows you to have real emotions and reminds you that life isn’t good 100% of the time, we all have times when we get dragged down by the challenges we face, and that actually we don’t need to be good 100% of the time either:
You need not be a saint.
You are not a saint.
It’s okay not to be saintly.
It’s okay not to be ‘good’.
It’s okay not to be ‘bad’.
It’s okay not to be perfect.
What you are, right now, in this moment is okay, more than okay, it’s who you are.
However, whilst it is a book that encourages you to accept who you are and how you are as perfectly okay, it still inspires you to aim for more. Kelly knows that the reason you have picked up this book is because you want to change, in some way, and she wants that change to happen for you too. But unlike so many “self-help” guides which suggest you practise techniques such as positive thinking, affirmations, and meditation to ‘change’ or ‘fix’ what we feel is wrong in our lives, Kelly invites us to embrace what is and allow change to happen naturally:
Don’t try to be present with your emotions and feelings in order to change them.
Being present allows them to simply be and sends a signal, that as you are, you are worthy of acceptance and care. The emotions over time dissolve on their own, without force or will…
When Everyone Shines But You is like a love letter to yourself, asking you to see who you are as a beautiful human being (warts and all) and that instead of needing to be something else, you are already perfect right now. This doesn’t mean that life is always rosy, and that you’re not going to want for more, or feel bad about yourself – that isn’t the point of the book. The message here is to realise that every single emotion you feel is showing you something, and when you can begin to embrace those emotions and hear what they are trying to tell you, change will come naturally. Because once you listen to your heart, you’ll find your own purpose in life rather than trying to live your life in accordance with others.
When I read the book, I could see the exact journey Kelly had taken whilst writing it. She writes from the heart, sharing the path she has taken and inviting us to walk with her. It won’t be for everyone – it’s not a book that tries to appeal to all, but rather a book that hopes to be honest and open. But for those who relate to the thoughts and emotions Kelly writes about, it will be a welcome breath of fresh air. There are no rigid steps to follow, no exercises that must be completed to ensure success, instead there are 39 short, easy to read chapters that feel like a letter from a good friend.
If you’d like to find out more about Kelly and her writing, do check out her blog at Kelly Martin Speaks. And if I’ve caught your attention and you’d like to buy a copy of the book for yourself, now is the time! As part of the book’s 1st birthday celebrations, Kelly is offering the Kindle version for 99p (it usually retails at £5.99). If you’d rather a hard copy of the book, or need an alternative eBook version, you can find the book at any of the retailers listed here.
Finally, I thought I’d leave you with some of my favourite quotes from the book. If you’ve read it, do share your favourite quotes with me too!
Disclaimer: Kelly is a friend of mine, and I purchased the book and wrote this review because I wanted to share it with you. All views are my own.
DawnJuly 30, 2015 at 10:45 am
This sounds just like the Mindfulness taster I went on at work. I found it useful in the sense that it confirmed that what I was already doing was that sort of thing, but didn’t really expand on it. I think I’m very aware of my small place in the Universe but it doesn’t stop me wanting to improve myself, but not for anyone else’s benefit! I do want to make other people’s lives easier but I am also aware of my limitations: I will do my best but when it gets too much, I will try and say so.
We are all fallible, we are all imperfect in places and we just need to acknowledge that we’re amazing: humans are great at focussing on the can’ts and the didn’ts and keeping up with the Jones’ but the Jones’ are having just a crap a time as you, they just crow about the awesomeoness. I would not advocate crowing about the awesomeness because that makes other (i.e. normal) people feel like crap, but take stock of it and remember it when you do have a bad day.
And you know what they say about practicing what you preach: it’s bloody hard! I am surely guilty of my low moments where everything I want has seemed impossible, too far away and out of reach. But I think of what I have achieved and how happy I was yesterday/last week/a decade ago and that sadness melts away. Just because I’m not Doctor of Russian Metal Music now, like I could have been had I started a Masters sooner, doesn’t mean I can’t be in the future and doesn’t mean that those nine years were wasted. I would NEVER live my life differently (I can’t anyway!) and, while I wouldn’t say I don’t have regrets, I don’t focus on them and I do not wish to change them. regrets are healthy: it shows you’re learned. But they aren’t the be-all and end-all.
Do your best: it’s the best you can do 🙂 And be satisfied with that: you’re the hardest person to please and the only one who matters.
I evidently feel really strongly about this subject judging by the essay I just wrote 😀