Quote for the Day: January 8th, 2022

The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michele Harper

Forgiveness condones nothing, but it does cast off the chains of anger, judgment, resentment, denial, and pain that choke growth. In this way, it allows for life, for freedom.

Michele Harper, The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Quote for the Day: November 7th, 2021

Choose, everyday to forgive yourself. You are human, flawed, and most of all worthy of love.

Alison Malee

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Pinworthy: Cheryl Strayed Quote About Fear

I don’t have any tattoos (yet) but if I ever decide to get one, it’ll probably either be a mockingjay in flight or a Cheryl Strayed quote.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any amount of time whatsoever can probably tell you how much I love Cheryl Strayed. She is possibly the most quotable woman on the planet at the moment. I don’t have any tattoos (yet) but if I ever decide to get one, it’ll probably either be a mockingjay in flight or a Cheryl Strayed quote.

I saw that it was possible to not only not feel regret, but to be thankful for the mistakes I’ve made because ultimately they’ve shaped me into the person I’ve become.

When I read Wild for the first time, it really opened my eyes to the possibility of living in a state of acceptance. I saw that it was possible to not only not feel regret, but to be thankful for the mistakes I’ve made because ultimately they’ve shaped me into the person I’ve become. And is it even right to call them mistakes? You see, I grew up in an extremely religious household where sin was vile, hell was hot, and you most certainly wanted to do everything you could to avoid ending up there. That legalistic framework conditioned me to feel intense shame and regret every time I behaved outside the bounds of what was considered “acceptable” behavior.

You get treats (eternal life and salvation) for good behavior and punishments (eternal damnation and torment via hellfire) for bad behavior.

No one really talks about the paranoia of living that way. You live every day slobbering like a Pavlov dog. You get treats (eternal life and salvation) for good behavior and punishments (eternal damnation and torment via hellfire) for bad behavior. I can already hear my mom saying, “That’s not how it works. We are saved by grace, not by good behavior.” And I will give her points for that, but the act of living in grace and in a state of constant penitence functions exactly like the kind of conditioning Pavlov used on those pooches.

…the act of living in grace and in a state of constant penitence functions exactly like the kind of conditioning Pavlov used on those pooches.

I’m aware that I’m taking the long way around here, but I want you to try something for me. Think of fear as a border. Imagine it as a literal line of demarcation fencing you in. Fear tells you not only where you can go, but how you must behave there, what your limitations are, and ultimately, when you are allowed to leave. Fear is limiting. Now, don’t misread me. The opposite of fear is not bravery or courage—it is water. It simply flows.

Sometimes you must tell yourself you are safe and you are loved over and over again until it becomes the only story you know and the only sound that reverberates.

And like Cheryl says in the quote I’ve shared above, fear is borne out of the narratives we tell ourselves, the ones we play on a loop. Sometimes you must tell yourself you are safe and you are loved over and over again until it becomes the only story you know and the only sound that reverberates.

What I want for myself and what I want for all of you is for us to learn to tell ourselves a different story. From the time we were born, we’ve had narratives projected onto us. You’re too fat. You’re too thin. You’re too gay. You’re so needy. You’re too loud. You don’t fit in here. You can’t sit with us. You can’t show your skin if it’s not flawless. You can’t bare your midriff if it has stretch marks. The way you eat is disgusting. You must have a thigh gap. You must buy your clothes at Walmart. You must have muscles. Boys can’t wear skirts. That lipstick shade is slutty. Give more. Give less. Be quiet. Speak up. Sit down. Disappear. Become nothing.

What do all of these narratives have in common? They’re all lies. Tell your own story and live in your own truth. I promise you won’t regret it.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Book Review: How to Be You by Jeffrey Marsh

How to Be You: Stop Trying to Be Someone Else and Start Living Your Life by Jeffrey Marsh

I have followed Jeffrey Marsh on Twitter for years. Before I found a therapist, before I got on medication for my anxiety and depression, their videos helped me to be able to take a breath and center myself so I could get through the day. I’m sure I’m not the only person whose life has been impacted by them in this way, but I will forever be grateful for their calm voice affirming my place in the world over and over again until I started to believe it for myself.

How to Be You is the self-love manifesto that everyone in the world needs to read, but it is especially essential for those of us in the LGBTQ+ community. We live in a world that is often hostile to us, a world that bullies, beats, threatens, harasses, disenfranchises, and belittles us to the point of fracture, to the point where our very existence is seen as a threat to the standing order. Jeffrey’s assertion throughout their book is that it is our choice whether or not we are going to capitulate to the people who would make us smaller. We can be expansive or we can shrink. We can grow and learn and change and accept ourselves in all of our glorious complexity or we can draw lines of demarcation around ourselves and always exist as less than our true selves.

We can be expansive or we can shrink. We can grow and learn and change and accept ourselves in all of our glorious complexity or we can draw lines of demarcation around ourselves and always exist as less than our true selves.

I’m not going to lie, a lot of the self-help material circulating in the world today is worthless pablum at best and an avaricious money-grabbing scheme at worst, but Jeffrey Marsh is the real deal. Their work comes from a deep place of understanding what it feels like to be marginalized and maligned for being queer, and I am so grateful for their existence. I am grateful for this book’s existence. Thank you, Jeffrey. A thousand times, thank you.

Favorite Quotes from How to Be You

Confidence comes naturally if trust is present.

Aren’t you lucky that you get this life, this chance, to learn to set aside the yuck and muck of other people’s sometimes nasty words and do your best to live your life as fully as you know how?

Even if it seems like the whole world is against you, you’ve got to trust yourself. Even if no one else will honor you, you must honor what your truth is in any given moment.

Beginning to see yourself as worthy and trustworthy is the start of something beautiful. Why? Because you can finally let go. You don’t need to spend all your time trying not to be too much. You can relax. You can feel safe. You deserve that. Everyone deserves that.

Trusting yourself is the way to claim the life you’ve always been waiting for.

Trust your own self-examination more than you automatically believe someone else’s pronouncement.

Worry and hate are habits, and so are love and forgiveness.

Whatever your imagined crimes were in the past, they are not worth ruining your today for. You deserve to feel free. You deserve to be let off the hook.

The above quotes are © 2016 Jeffrey Marsh. All rights reserved.

Bonus: Jeffrey Marsh’s TedTalk

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: August 28th, 2021

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.