Tag Archives: Marines

Book Review: “Hero” (The Secret #4)

Just a day or two late on posting this review… the kids and I took a little vacation this weekend, to visit my husband (who’s a Marine away at training) in Maryland. There was a few inches of snow on the ground, and we got the opportunity to stay with some wonderful friends we haven’t seen in four years, so it was a really exciting weekend. My computer, which I brought with me, never made it’s way out of my car – we were just so busy!

So, again… a day or two late in posting this review, but here it is!

This week, in keeping with our “New” theme for January, we tackled a new book, and a New Age book, Hero by Rhonda Byrne.

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This book is the fourth in The Secret series. The first book, The Secret, was a huge success, inspiring audiences to use positive thinking and affirmations to change their lives. It even inspired a documentary (which can be found on Netflix, for anyone interested).

In Hero, Byrne uses interviews and stories from successful people around the world who have used positive thinking and affirmations to become the hero in their own epic. Byrne outlines the idea that we are each a hero in our own story, and we need to live the “heroic” life to be successful. She suggests that we each have the ability to be that hero, we just need to know how – and then proposes to tell us how.

Basically, the process of becoming our own hero includes visualizing yourself as successful in something, and not doubting that positive outcome. While I am naturally skeptical about this, I have actually seen it in play. A friend of mine was inspired by The Secret, and began making vision boards. She puts up pictures of things she wants to achieve, and the idea is that, by looking at these images multiple times a day, you are sending positive energy out into the Universe (and into your own subconscious) to help these things come true. I watched her husband’s career advance, a rocky relationship with her stepson’s mother get smoothed over, and (after a long bout of trying), she finally got pregnant. While all of these things might just seem coincidental, it has been interesting to see her have positive change after positive change after positive change in her life, right after she started visualization.

This book came along in a really important time in my life. In the next six months, I will be graduating from college, looking for a job, and – oh yea – moving directly across the United States to California. With all of these things happening at the same time, my natural skeptic has taken over, and I’ve been having a rather negative attitude about the whole thing. I’ll be far away from my family. I’ll never get a job. We’ll never sell or rent our house. The drive across country is going to be miserable. No one will want to hire a “recent grad” despite my experience. But opening Hero has enabled me to realize that I cannot control the situation, but I can control how I think about it.

So I’ve started picturing myself as a working professional at some undisclosed sunny San Diego location. I’ve started picturing someone moving into our house. I’ve started picturing how beautiful and exciting our road trip is going to be. And while I haven’t seen a change in my situation (we’re still a few months away from any of this actually happening), I have seen pieces falling into place. By changing my attitude, and using visualization and positive affirmation, I now have a totally positive attitude about the next 6 months – and I know that will encourage things to work out for me.

Before reading Hero, I always felt that the “successful” people of the world either had luck, or money. The people in this story had neither – all they had was a “can do” attitude, and the ability to see a better future for themselves. It seems that our biggest road block on the way to being our own hero is our self doubt – maybe not in our abilities or knowledge, but in what we feel that we deserve. And it doesn’t have to be about material things. It doesn’t have to be about the bigger house, or the paycheck, or the job… it can be about deserving love, deserving appreciation, deserving opportunities. Once we all understand what we deserve, we will open ourselves up to that opportunity.

Okay, while I was clearly inspired by Hero, I do have a few negative criticisms. First, it was too closely related to The Secret (and presumably all the other The Secret books). It seemed to be using the exact same ideas, with different words behind it. While I’m all for “driving home” a message, are four books about the same thing really necessary? Secondly, the book seems to have been written to be an easy translation to a documentary. There’s a format that would make that easy transition – introduction to an idea, quotes from people who have been successful using that idea, and then encouragement to try that idea. This format is exactly how The Secret documentary is laid out. I haven’t read the other The Secret books, but I think it is safe to assume they are using the same format. It’s a little distracting, and, in my opinion, takes away from the point trying to be made in each chapter. I keep flipping back to the beginning of the book to remember who all these people were (the successful people from different parts of the world, and different industries).

That being said, Hero is a good book. It is a good book for anyone undergoing a major change in their life – I would recommend getting it for someone going away to college, looking for a new job, or anyone you see struggling with making a major decision. Sometimes, we all need a little reminder at how we have all the tools necessary to make ourselves successful, right inside of us! We just have to find them, and use them!

So – have you read Hero? Have you read any of The Secret books? Do you use, or have you ever used, visualization to help you? Any positive outcomes to share?? Or does it all sound like hocus pocus?

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Happy Veteran’s Day!

Well, this might not have anything to do with books, but I wanted to send out a “Happy Veteran’s Day” shout out to all the veterans out there. If you read my “About” page, you’ll learn that I am a United States Marine Corps veteran, and happily married to an active duty US Marine. It takes a lot to be in the military, and a lot to be a military spouse, especially in a time of war, and I am exceptionally grateful to all those who have paved the way before me in both roles.

Yesterday – November 10th – was the 238th birthday of the US Marine Corps. Every year the Corps has a Birthday Ball, and every unit throughout the Corps, even the deployed ones, celebrate the history of our Corps. As a spouse this year (and no longer active duty), I was able to get glammed up and enjoy an evening of history and traditions. Here’s me and my handsome husband at the ball:

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We had a really great time celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps, and being in a room full of Marines in their dress blue uniform is never a bad thing! I just wanted to share because I’m exceptionally proud of my husband’s continued service, as well at my own time in the Marine Corps. Happy (belated) Birthday, Marines!

To all the Veterans out there – thank you all for your service. It is because of you all, and all the veterans of the past, that we Americans are able to live the lives we have, and take advantage of the many freedoms your service has assured us. I hope everyone out there will take the opportunity to thank a veteran or two today, buy them a drink, and let them know that you appreciate all the freedoms you have!

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The Book Was Better

Okay, usually the book is better… this isn’t a secret. This list would go on forever if I were to list all of them. However, there are a few movies I’ve seen that I LOVED, yet the book was just that much better. Here’s my Top 5. If you’ve seen the movie and liked it, you should try giving these books a shot.

1. Gone With the Wind – Margret Mitchell

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This is my favorite movie. I love everything about it. The story is heart wrenching, the cinematography is beautiful, and the acting is spot on. The book, however, is head-and-shoulders above the movie (which is saying something). Margret Mitchell doesn’t just introduce you to characters, places and history, she draws you in, and makes you feel like YOU are experiencing the Civil War, the Reconstruction and the destruction of the South.

SPOILERS – If you only watch the movie you miss: the fact that Scarlett has a child with each of her husbands; a great deal of the history (the book goes in depth to many historical topics that the book only brushes on); the actual strength of Melanie (who is portrayed in the movie to be a rather weak, but loveable, character).

2. Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling

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Don’t get me wrong – I have greatly enjoyed the Harry Potter movies, but the books are SO MUCH BETTER. These books were my “gateway books” – that is, they showed me how to love to read! While they may seem juvenile, they can be enjoyed by all audiences, and contain a hefty amount of mythological references. If you’ve only seen the movies (and never read the books) you’re missing out on a whole magical world, and characters you will love. Adults: get over your “grown up” attitude, and FINALLY read these books!

SPOILERS – If you only watch the movie you miss: the story of Neville Longbottom; Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party; a lot of Dursley plot line; Dumbledore’s past; and so much more.

3. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein

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I hate to hate on Peter Jackson (cause his Lord of the Rings adaptation was A+), but I was kind of disappointed in The Hobbit. I really enjoyed the thrill ride (of the first) and am looking forward to the next installment, but the book didn’t need all the changes the film gave it. Again, this might be considered a “children’s book,” but it has a lot to offer adults as well. Anyone who loves the world of Tolkein (LOTR, or the Hobbit or otherwise), should pick up The Hobbit. It’s only just over 300 pages long and can be a quick read!

 SPOILERS If you only watch the movie you miss: … the fact that Jackson created some characters and plot to turn a 300 page book into three movies.

4. The Road – Cormac McCarthy

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This movie is great – and it sticks to the plot line of McCarthy’s book perfectly. But still, the book was better (sorry, Viggo. I still love you!). McCarthy’s words are… breathtaking. It’s like reading poetry. Post-apocalyptic poetry, but poetry all the same. The story is, in general, actually very slow – it’s about a man and his son struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, making their way along the road, trying to get to the coast (essentially because they have nothing better to do). McCarthy’s storytelling, however, tugs on your heartstrings and makes you fall in love with this book.

SPOILERS – If you only watch the movie you miss: not much in plot line, but the stunning storytelling should not be missed.

5. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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 Listen … the movie is crap (at least the first installment is, the second looks much more promising). I enjoyed it simply because I read the book, so I had more insight into the plot. The problem is, the book takes place mainly in Katniss (the main character)’s head. When she’s thrust into the arena to kill her fellow teenagers (you’re probably extremely confused if you haven’t seen the movie), there’s very little dialogue, and most of the story telling is told through her musings. This is hard to translate into a movie. With the book, however, you get much more insight into the characters and the history of Panem (the post-apocalyptic take on America). Yea, yea, yea – they’re mainstream and ::shudder:: young adult novels (technically), but personally I think they’re more appropriate for an adult audience (if I can get a unit of grown US Marines to read and enjoy them, trust me, they’re good!). I’m looking forward to the second movie, which includes MUCH MORE dialogue, action and drama.

SPOILERS – If you only watched the movie you miss: Madge; a background of Panem and the Games that makes you understand what the hell is actually going on; about 2/3 of the character development for our heroine; most likely the second movie (since the first movie gave you NO encouragement to see the second)

What about you? What movies did you enjoy, but found yourself thinking it paled in comparison to the book?

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Memories from boot camp…

“Dap came to the door that night and moved quietly among the beds, touching a hand here, a forehead there. Where he went there was more crying, not less. The touch of kindness in this frightening place was enough to push some over the edge into tears” (pg. 44)

This quote from today’s reading of Ender’s Game struck home with me. I’ll never forget Marine Corps boot camp. The first few days were whirlwinds of chaos – screaming, running, pushing, crying, silently questioning “why? Why? What have I gotten myself into?” There was cocktail of emotions pumping through each recruit’s veins – nervousness, excitement, fear, doubt, curiosity, pride.  When we were a week or two into training, the emotions were all there, but muted by the daily routines of boot camp – waking, dressing, eating, marching, running, pushing, training.

Then I fractured my hip. Around training day 10 (about two and a half weeks into boot camp), I began limping, and my senior drill instructor sent me to get an x-ray. There was a small stress fracture on my hip, right where the ball of the femur meets the hip socket. My senior drill instructor took me into her office to have a talk with me. She told me I was going to be dropped in training. “Okay, that’s fine,” I thought. “I’ll be here a little longer, but I’ll get back to training stronger than before.”

Then I went to the Female Readiness Platoon. It was a miserable place to be. Injured recruits like me were shoved into a room with the sick, the recruits who couldn’t pass their initial physical test – and the dropouts. The dropouts were the worst. They were the ones who had gone to boot camp, and couldn’t “hack it.” Their low morale was like a virus, spreading from recruit to recruit, until we all wanted to be nowhere but home. I didn’t feel that way when I said goodbye to my family. I didn’t feel that way when I first got to boot camp. I didn’t feel that when I got yelled at, or punished, or even when I fractured my hip. But I felt that way when I was stagnant – not moving forward or backward in my training, contracting the virus of misery.

When I and been in FRP for about a month (I was there two months total), a group of women came to visit. They were moms from the surrounding areas who had sons who were Marines – some of them even had children who were at boot camp while I was there. They brought candy (which we, of course, had to hand in to the drill instructors – I’m sure they enjoyed it all), and spoke to all of us about keeping our heads up and getting back into training.

Then they did something that seemed so foreign – they hugged each and every one of us.

I still tear up now thinking about that moment. These strangers – who didn’t know our names, and who we would never meet again – knew how desperately we needed their kindness – just a bit of gentle human-to-human contact we were so long deprived of. There was not a dry eye in the room. It made me think of my own mother, who I knew would have done anything to hug me at that moment. It made me think of how long I had been gone, and how much longer I was going to be there. I felt a rush of emotion fill me as my pride, my motivation and my spirit returned to me – from something as simple as a hug from a stranger.

Like Ender writes of the simple kindness from the platoon “mom” at their first terrifying night at training, “The touch of kindness in this frightening place was enough to push some over the edge into tears.” Sometimes all a person needs is a tiny touch of kindness to realize there is still some tenderness and warmth in their life.

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