I Can’t Make This Up, Life Lessons By Kevin Hart

IMG_20180705_171309_733This hilarious autobiography/ memoir is exactly the type of story we need to read in today’s stressful times as it will have you laughing out loud. Famous comedian, Kevin Hart takes the reader through a roller coaster of events that occurred throughout his life including the good, the bad and the ugly. Hart begins his story by taking us back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he grew up. From childhood to teenage stages, to being a young man to adulthood, Kevin provides insight and wisdom on life that he gained either through experience or via the characters that have entered and/or left his life. With each chapter being a new “life lesson”, we learn about his drug addicted womanizing father, his brother who was in and out of trouble but eventually got his act together due to the military, the co-worker who told him he should go into comedy and to Tory, his baby momma who added drama. We learn Kevin loved his Dad but never wanted to end up like him, and loved his brother but were two different people, to how Kevin was Mr. Awesome in high school but graduated with no plan and ended up working retail all while dealing with a love-hate relationship with Tory that all lead to self destruction, self discovery and relationship wisdom. Kevin provides us with keen insight into the hustle that he endured during the early stages of his career driving from Philly to NYC to perform in comedy shows that either paid little or nothing at all.

Throughout all the hustle and hardship that Kevin mentions in the book, he continuously makes references to his solid foundation that came from his rock which was his mother, Nancy. He comments on how she kept him consistently busy with activities like swimming lessons and then having to be watched by a neighbor everyday so he would stay out of trouble. He mentions how all she had to do was give “the look” and knew that he was in deep water. While he describes her as a strict, fierce, highly disciplined, church-going, bible-reading tough love kind of a mother, he also mentions how she was his everything and biggest supporter all along whether he was aware of it or not. Kevin mentions that it wasn’t until she got really sick and eventually passed away while he was shooting the film Fool’s Gold (2008) in Australia that he realized how much she meant to him and that life lesson number whatever is that there is nothing stronger than a mother’s love.

The take away from this memoir is a mix. By the end you feel as though Kevin is a good friend, yet also a comedian who provides you with life lessons that don’t always hold value but then shockingly your heart is melted by the fact that Kevin learned and shared the biggest life lesson of all. That lesson is that is life is short, and you should spend it with your family and loved ones and that you can’t expect 100% of anything when you give anything less that a 100%. That you should work hard everyday, stay disciplined and focused on your goals and that you will achieve success through all you hard work. 

My advice to the readers out there reading this article is to not read this book but rather listen to this book through audible.com or audio books via apple or the library with books on tape. Kevin Hart reads his own story and thus adds comments that are improvised throughout the reading that is not on page. Kevin’s energy throughout the reading makes the words come to life and fills the atmosphere with laughter, wit and love. Hard copy 4/5 stars, audible version 5/5 stars. 

How To Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh

IMG_20170819_220443_139Many know Thich Nhat Hanh for his words of wisdom and life alerting practices. Out of all of his books, I thought reading “How To Relax” would be a good first read, (considering I myself am in a constant juggling performance). I found it to be an easy and short read for anyone and can be finished within a day. Many books that are created to help individuals alter their life for the better are filled we things we’ve heard time and time again. What makes Thich Nhat Hanh so different? Aside from the fact that many are aware of his name, I feel that this particular book differs in its simplicity. Hanh is able to deliver words of wisdom and life altering practices in a clear and precise manner that they don’t intimidate or overwhelm the reader. Many “self-help” or “self-improvement” books can feel like diving into a text book filled with graphs, measurements, references etc, but “How To Relax” was relaxing enough just to read it. Straight to the point in a harmonic presentation in the section of “Notes on Relaxing” under the title “Lazy Day” he does just that. Under Lazy Day he says

“Do we have enough lazy days in our calendar? A lazy day is a day for us to be without any scheduled activities? We just let the day unfold naturally, timelessly. On this day we have a chance to reestablish the balance in ourselves”

His message is clear in that in today’s society we are constantly on “the go” even when we are not at work and that if we can allow days of no schedule, we can truly be at ease. Being at ease is what will restore the necessary inner balance to be one with ourselves and find peace. You don’t have to be a scholar or a book lover to realize the truth within his words and I feel that anyone and everyone can take something away from this novel. Go now, grab yourself this pocket sized relaxation and take from it what you will. I’m sure something will strike true…..Happy Reading! 

Milk & Honey By Rupi Kaur

IMG_20170819_210312_093After much hype and discussion, I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and read Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur. To my surprise it was not what I was expecting, but I agree that this particular poetry book deserves all the attention it received. Written with beautiful precision and progression composed within four chapters; The Hurting, The Longing, The Breaking and The Healing. Rupi’s story begins with heartbreak, deception and molestation/rape. (The Hurting) As she grows she enters what we would title an “emotionally and mentally abusive relationship”. She discusses manipulation, alternative motives and longing. Manipulation by a man, him not in love with her and only using her for intercourse, and her longing to feel true unconditional love that is not being provided. (The Longing) Like any true poet she experiences even more heartbreak through an emotional hurricane of a break up resulting in anger, frustration, sorrow and eventually landing with clarity and epiphany. (The Breaking) Her final chapter embraces inner strength, femininity and how one’s self worth is based on their inner beliefs / thoughts and not based on what your partner says. (The Healing) Having been though an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship before, a poem from Chapter 2 – The Breaking on page 210 spoke volumes to me. It read “i didn’t leave because i stopped loving you i left because the longer i stayed the less i loved myself”. This was just a taste of the honesty she provides. Trust me when I say with poems as blunt and provocative as hers, one will thoroughly enjoy this read.