On my birthday in 2010, a good friend gifted me with a book from my Amazon Wishlish: Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a Smartmouth Goddess, by Susan Jane Gilman. I’d recently read her memoir of being one of the first Americans to travel in China when she was young, and wanted to read more of her stuff.
As sometimes happens when you have a to-be-read pile that reaches epic heights, and have to get the to-be-reviewed books read first, Kiss My Tiara kept getting shoved to the bottom of the pile. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I had both the time and the mood to read it, and I’m glad I did, because while a lot of it doesn’t apply to me, a lot of it does.
Even better, unlike most self-help books, Kiss My Tiara is funny. I’m an improvisational comedian when I’m not writing or blogging, so the use of humor in this book (which is what drew me to it initially) really worked to keep me interested. Engaged even.
One passage that really made me giggle – and then made me think – was her suggestion that we women use our PMS bitchiness to get things done. “I mean,” she writes, “why harangue our loved ones when we can harangue our legislators. After all, it’s what we pay them for. It’s their job to listen to our concerns.” And so, she says (helpfully providing phone numbers) when your hormones make you want to kill your spouse or partner because he/she had the nerve to breathe too loudly (or whatever) instead of picking a fight, you should call Congress, and demand that your representatives actually represent YOU, or avail yourself of the White House complaint line.
And then there’s the bit about ice cream:
Ice cream is non-patriarchal. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, milk shakes – every dairy product we can think of is the exclusive product of females. So, okay, they’re cows. But eating this stuff can be a political act that neatly unites feminist principles with a love of animals. It can be a way of showing support for our bovine sisters! Fuck the vegans, I say. Anyone who doesn’t eat ice cream for purely “ethical” reasons is a killjoy and a moron and not to be trusted. Pro-ice cream is pro-woman, Baby!
Best. Self-help book. EVER!!!
But speaking of self-help, recently for All Things Girl, I had the opportunity to review two recent spiritual self-help books, and interview their authors. One is called The Enlightened Mom and it’s an amazing book about how mothers, and indeed ALL women, should embrace self-love in order to model loving kindness for their families. It basically boils down to “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy,” but it’s written in a really positive way, and as a Unitarian Universalist, the Christian elements felt appropriate and not off-putting, which is good, because even spiritual life guides should be supportive, not preachy. (Also, the Author, Terri Amos-Britt, is one of the most delightful, smart, wise, interesting women I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with.)
The other book, which also has a spiritual element was Dr. Carmen Harra’s book Wholiness, which teaches us how we have to unite to save the world. She talks a bit about 2012, and how it’s not the end of the world, but the end of a cycle, and how endings and beginnings have power. (She’s actually our “cover girl” for our last issue of the year.)
If this sounds like a whole lot of self-help, well it is, and no, it’s not really my preferred reading genre, but sometimes the universe sends things your way, and the best thing to do is accept them, explore them, and take the advice that applies, while not stressing over the bits that don’t.