Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

“Sometimes all you can really do is keep moving and hope you end up somewhere that makes sense.”

5/5 stars.
ebook, 384 pages.
Read from December 17, 2020 to December 18, 2020

Allie Brosh took the internet by storm with her blog and book Hyperbole and a Half in the mid-2000s. Her comics perfectly captured life’s random mishaps and the strange things we did in childhood, as well as accurately describing what life is like living with depression. Allie disappeared for almost seven years shortly after her fame. What happened to her? Solutions and Other Problems captures the difficult time that Allie went through in her silence along with hilarious insights and more intriguing and ridiculous things about childhood.

Allie had planned to release another book within a year or two after Hyperbole and a Half but then tragedy happened. Her sister died suddenly. This was then followed by the end of a long term relationship and with Allie having to contend with some serious health issues, all of which she includes and reflects on in this book. A triple whammy of difficulties and pain, so it’s no wonder she became reclusive. It didn’t help that her email and social media was also hacked into at one point. This book takes on these major transitions in her life. It includes comics about her childhood as she remembers her sister and how she managed to get through some of the most difficult years of her life. Her story is relatable, potent, hilarious, and grounding. I should also add that while there are some very sad parts in this book it is still very much a comedy and that Allie’s trademark humour is present throughout.

The best part about this book is that it is deeply insightful and offers an intimate glimpse into Allie’s experiences and the things that have shaped her as an artist while still being immensely engaging and entertaining. It’s a book that shows how Allie has grown as a person and an artist. Allie has also come to see how much of an impact her work has had on others and just how much other people care about her. I also think that this book was healing for Allie and was less about what her fans wanted and more about what she needed. Many fans did not connect with this book as much as her first for this reason but I feel that not only was this book necessary but an authentic effort from Allie that reached an even wider audience. 

This book was absolutely worth the wait and completely captures the growing pains of grief and coming into your own despite life’s intense difficulties at times.

Strength and Conditioning for Pole by Neola Wilby

This book doesn’t read like your standard fitness book, the author is really funny and has a way to keep you engaged from page to page with her antics and relatable pole struggles and jokes.

5/5 stars.
ebook, 447 pages.
Read from April 14, 2020 to May 27, 2020.

One of my most recent obsessions in this last year is a fitness endeavour that does not get the credit it deserves. Pole dancing. Now many of you probably instantly associate this activity with stripping, and you’re not wrong as the root of pole dancing did originate in that trade but for most people partaking in the sport today, it is not because they have ambitions to be strippers. Pole dancing is an amazing workout, an insane confidence booster that I would recommend for everyone to try at least once, and on top of that, it’s just so much fun! Pole dance usually branches out into two streams, pole sport, which is done without high heels and focuses on acrobatics, and the exotic stream which pays tribute to the sport’s roots with sexy dance moves and impressive tricks done in mile-high heels or boots.

I took a trial class with a friend and was enticed by the immense challenge of this intriguing sport. I had absolutely no dance experience and when I started and no flexibility either but I’ve since become obsessed and I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s waaaaaay harder than it looks. Pole requires an immense amount of strength and flexibility. The people who make pole dancing look easy are extremely fit individuals and I dream of being able to perform some of the advanced tricks. This is where this book comes in. One of the first of its kind, the author uses her personal training knowledge of body mechanics to put together a strength and conditioning book specifically for pole dance. That may not sound like a big deal but there really isn’t anything out there for pole dancers and the muscle requirements and stresses are so specific for pole that this book details the muscle groups that need to be worked on for the specific moves and abilities that you’re hoping to achieve.

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This is me doing Gemini or left leg hang.

The book is broken down into different sections. One that goes over muscle mechanics and gives you appropriate tests to see where you are in order to advance in pole dancing. The book includes links to videos and has great pictures and instructions. Further, the author then gives you the tools to come up with your own program based on your current abilities and with what strength and flexibility moves you’re looking to achieve. What’s more, is that this book doesn’t read like your standard fitness book, the author is really funny and has a way to keep you engaged from page to page with her antics and relatable pole struggles and jokes. She is also immensely relatable as she discusses her own struggles with certain moves and the things that she struggles with and is quick to remind you that every pole dancer has a few nemesis moves and everyone’s pole dancing path is different.

Overall, if you’re into pole and you want to improve and get stronger you’re going to need a book like this and I would highly recommend picking up a copy. You can get a physical copy of the book or an e-version off the author’s website The Pole PT.

 

Overcoming Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors by Dr Charles S. Mansueto

BFRBs affect 1 in 5 people. That means that someone you know is dealing with a BFRB.

5/5 stars.
ebook, 216 pages.
Read from April 7, 2020 to April 16, 2020

BFRBs affect 1 in 5 people. That means that someone you know is dealing with a BFRB. What is a BFRB you ask? BFRB stands for Body-Focused Repetitive-Behaviours and they include excessive hair pulling (trichotillomania), excessive skin picking (dermatillomania) as well as a bigger spectrum of other repetitive behaviours. If you’ve never heard of these conditions before and your first reaction is reluctance or disgust, I beg you to do some more reading as chances are that someone close to you is hiding their behaviour due to that exact fear and stigma. I can assure you that these conditions are very real and cause very real trauma for those that have to deal with it.

You don’t read a book like this unless you’re looking for help yourself. Over the last few years, I’ve made it no secret about my skin picking disorder and have been actively volunteering with an organization in Canada called the Canadian BFRB Support Network (CBSN) to help others with BFRBs as well as to aide in my own recovery. I also contributed to a book called Project Dermatillomania as well as some blog posts on BFRB Relapses and Dermatillomania Makeup Tips.

Lately, this little demon of mine has started to become a problem for me again and I’ve realized that I’ve been denying that fact. I’ve not talked about it like I used to as I’ve felt too ashamed to deal with it or acknowledge again.. My last breakthrough with dermatillomania was when I opened myself up to the BFRB community and my loved ones. It was lifechanging. I have to see again that trying to hide or acknowledge these issues again is only going to make my shame grow and is not going to help my progress.

So here I am, being as proactive and forward as I can.

Overcoming Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours is the book that BFRBers have been waiting for. When I first began my BFRB journey, skin picking wasn’t even in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Health Disorders and all three of the health professionals I spoke to didn’t have a clue about my condition (though they were still pretty helpful). BFRB awareness has come a long way and its thanks to organizations like CBSN and The TLC Foundation for BFRBs for their constant work and dedication. The author of this book as well as the contributors are health professionals and researchers that have worked closely with the TLC Foundation to help learn more about BFRBs and come up with an effective program to help combat and deal with them.

This book talks about the specifics of BFRBs, what makes them different from just a bad habit, what they do to our brains, thought processes and feelings, and how we can try and rewire our patterns of behaviour. The method that Dr Mansueto and his team have found to be effective in working with many people with BFRBs through the TLC Foundation is called the Comprehensive Behavioral Model (ComB), which combines aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT).

What makes this book exceptional is that it gives you all the tools you need to tackle your BFRB on your own. Worksheets are provided using a SCAMP model (Sensory, Cognitive, Affective, Motor, Place) to help you determine your very own pattern of behaviour when it comes to your BFRB. The book then gives you to the tools to create an action plan for all the different aspects that you’ve identified where you engage in your BFRB so that you have real tools to support you no matter how intense your urge. While I’ve always advocated for ‘habit tracking’ and have had great success with it before from Annette Pasternak’s book Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop, this particular book is so much more robust as it identifies just how rooted our BFRB behaviours are.

I’ve restarted the process of tracking my behaviour and I look forward to creating some action plans to help get me back on track. The thing with BFRBs that there is no easy fix. If you have a BFRB like I do, you’ve probably got years of practising your BFRB so it’s going to take a lot of dedication and hard work to break free from your BFRB,  but if you’re willing to put in the work you will see results with this book.

This book is now my top recommendation to anyone that is battling a BFRB. It’s concise, reassuring, easy-to-follow, supportive, progressive, with feasible accomplishments that you can track if you put the work in. If you’re fed up and ready to tackle your BFRB head-on, waste no time and pick up this book as soon as possible.