My Gerry Girl: My review of Marie-Claire Donnelly's BEST-SELLING book
As a decent pal, a fellow West Lothian girl and dare I say writer (?), I was always going to buy Marie-Claire's first book, and every other book she ever chooses to write. Loyalty points please? I just knew it would be good. She has an excellent track record with good: doing good. Making others feel good. Just being good. This isn't a "get my straw out her butt" kind of piece and I'm sure MC wouldn't mind me saying that she isn't perfect but she is DAMN...(you've guessed it) GOOD! The good news for us mere mortals is that like most of us she needs to work at it and the even better news is this brilliant book helps us to search for the power within us and the tools available to us all to be good or actually even better than good. Brilliant...amazing...wonderful...whatever you go for. It's yours!
More of a manual, workbook or toolkit, "It Is What It Is" is not only funny, intelligent and so insightful but something that you could return to again and again. And not only because you're a tight a*** fae Bathgate who likes to get her tenner's worth. "It is what it is", eh? In all seriousness though. You know how it is... You feel shite! You do all the things you know are good for you! It makes you feel good (yay!) You stop because, (guess what?) you feel good! Oh, wait, you feel shite again! Rinse and repeat. Shite. Yay. Shite. Repeat. Not the first Fatboy Slim adapted lyric on these blogs. What can I say? I'm a big fan. I obviously inject a bit of humour into this as we are ALL susceptible, and failure and fluctuation are just facts of life and humour is something that really gets me through. Not taking life too seriously, and whether it's laughter, self-care, 'booster books' like this, or all of the above, we create a toolkit. MC's gorgeous wee butt will be getting wedged onto my 'booster books' bookshelf, ready to rediscover all over again whenever I take the fancy, or I'm back on the "hamster wheel" as MC describes it so aptly.
I love reading when I actually make myself do it but I am just SO bad at sitting still. This is completely down to how self-inflictedly (not a word, but should be) busy I am ALL the time and how hard I find it to just sit still and just be in my own company with a good book and, believe me, this is a good book! I also think I've maybe now written my own book judging by my scrawls on the "journaling and reflection" sections at the end of every lesson...move over MC. Just joking, these will NOT be for public viewing, the whole beauty of journals. Writing down something that would get you locked up so that you don't actually get locked up, while kinda locked up...mmm. Foolproof logic, I would say. I'll be so interested to see how my answers change each time that I do them because I do intend to read this and complete these again, and again, and again. Eye for a bargain, me. The book, made up of lessons, as opposed to chapters, is a series of "light bulb moments" and internal (sometimes external) exclamations of: "no WAY has she felt like that", "but she seems so confident", "she has is all together."
I had one of these moments with MC said that she on occasion had felt she didn't "bring much to party". I was GOBSMACKED! To me, MC is the balloons, the presents, the buffet of loveliness...the WHOLE party. The reason to go to the party. The reason you feel good at the party. I could not believe that someone like MC felt this way, but then it struck me that people will look at me and think the exact same. Carefree, confident and filled with fun and silliness which I am most of the time and it's not a façade but I'm sure everyone has their own internal struggles. Thanks to books like this, the secret is getting out. It seems everyone has their struggles with confidence, self doubt and one of the worst...comparison shopping.
I think I loved the book even more because I could relate to it so much. Marie-Claire and I both grew up in West Lothian. Her, a few years before me, sorry MC! We are each one of three sisters and have a lot of the same hobbies, friends and I'd say beliefs. It was the stories of her relationship with her sisters which I could relate to the most and why I have decided to call this blog piece "The Power of Three". I am the youngest of three sisters with just five short years separating Mandy (the eldest) with me, and Pam perfectly slotted in the middle. Oh, my poor mum! I'm thinking Ellen (my mum) & Marie, MC and her sisters' mum, should create some sort of support group or instruction manual for how to survive life with THREE daughters. All I can say is thank goodness lockdown was not a thing when we were all teenagers at the one time, or I reckon Ellen may have found herself in a whole different type of lockdown. Let's face it, jail may have been more blissful! I also find myself really drawn to groups of three girls and me and two of my besties call ourselves 'the trio' or even "The Powerpuff Girls." I'm the blue one and I swear I'm 32 and not 12! These are my "gigging girls", my "feisty feminists" and I just want to know their opinions and thoughts on EVERYTHING. I am very open to hanging out with any number of people (of course, that would be very strange) but as I initially wrote this with the intention of just thinking my OG trio, aka "the Shepherd sisters" (by name, not occupation), it made me reflect on this other trio which I'm lucky to be a part of. These are my Gerry Girls and MC is one of those too. A Gerry Girl is someone who is obsessed with the music of Gerry Cinnamon and will travel hundreds of miles, on multiple modes of transport and spend far too much money to see the Scottish star. Worth every penny! My trio even had a Zoom launch for The Bonny album. Talk about being adaptable, absolutely NOT a 'sado' as I'm sure many readers may be calling us. This is me manifesting loads of readers. I don't know why, Gerry Cinnamon just feels like "one of our own." The same way I well with pride for someone I know from my town who is now a BEST SELLING author, how cool is that? Although, I have to confess I was hoping for a wee bit Ebay profiteering when the book instantly sold out. They damn publishers worked fast and my dreams of making myself a small fortune were dashed and it's very much available. So GO!...BUY it! Disclaimer: not on commission.
So anyway, away from 'bad but good' pics and back to trios! Each person involved so unique and equally amazing. I was astounded to hear Marie-Claire talk, (or should I say confess?) about comparison shopping with her sisters. Then, of course, in true narrow-minded, "comparison-culture"-style I started trying to determine who my favourite was... Obviously this "pros and cons" exercise lasted about two seconds, as there were no cons and no clear winner and I also just laughed at the ludicrousness of it all. I would HATE people to be thinking this about me and my sisters, biological or otherwise. They, like us, are all equally good. Ground-breaking thought, right? Plus Joanna- youngest, so obviously the most badass- would seriously kill me! Seriously though, the "Power of Three" is that without either one person, it's simply just not as good. A diluted version. Some people would probably be all for this or at least some of the time. Maybe my step dad, when he's the only male and we're a complete gaggle of girls with strong personalities and loud opinions flying everywhere. May as well cancel that audiology appointment, Andy, as the granddaughters aren't displaying any signs of quieting things down.
Anyway, back to the book. In true "It Is What It Is" style, Marie-Claire's book launch took place online (see shameless pose, left). This is the way most things are happening nowadays due to Covid and I have to confess that I don't hate it, actually I quite like it. I enjoy not feeling guilty because I'm not doing stuff ALL THE TIME, visiting this one or that one, or leaving the house at 6am so I can go to a gym class. Now I just attend on lunch and no one can smell me through Teams, thankfully. The whole Dolan (MC's maiden name) sister team built up to the book launch in superb sisterly-style. Joanna and MC with their pop up group offering fitness classes and much more and Gill giving us an amazing sound bath on the Friday morning. HUGE fan of Gill's sound baths FYI! The two girls just radiating pure pride for their big sis and their big sis radiating confidence right back through their unwavering belief and support. It was a real honour to be a part of, even though I'd signed up to a million things that week- that has been a very unexpected covid challenge for me. Where a year ago, I thought I'd be twiddling my thumbs, I've managed to keep myself super busy...sometimes too busy! Many distractions, which is probably easy to believe if my digression in my writing style is anything to go by. Right! Back to the launch. I attended with some of my really close friends and plenty of familiar faces, who it was lovely to see again after so long. I was even brave and asked a question. Asking for a sequel to tell us how to cope when things go back to "normal". It was reassuring to feel, through the power of Zoom, that I wasn't the only one feeling anxious about this. I'm sure the book will be back out soon enough as I navigate my way through these upcoming challenges too...
The book has taught me to realise that the best thing that you can rely on, is how you can control and manage your response to change, as opposed to change itself. If this year has taught us anything it's that we can't control the world but we can control (as best we can) our wee part of it. I have to confess, when I read the title of the book, I did think "It Is What It Is" was a wee bit of a cliché. Was thinking Love Island, firepit. Hopefully I have said enough nice stuff that MC won't bin me from her friend's list for that comparison, but just to be safe I will take that ALL back. It is thee perfect title. The perfect outlook. True acceptance but with a resilient and defiant undertone. Or maybe I just intuitively search for that because acceptance isn't my strong point and I'm a bit of a 'fixer'. Also, because I feel some people say this sort of phrase for injustices in the world and dated laws and views and stuff like that. Anyway, that's a whole other blog! In the context of this book and accepting things that you can not change, it is perfect! As MC so beautifully begins each 'lesson' with some religious rhyme, I feel compelled to end this piece with one. This is the Serenity Prayer which I have always liked. I'm not sure where I sit on the religion scale, or if there even is one. Oh, I really hope there isn't! It is also often used in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings which is not an indication of how lockdown is going for me, which I state with, of course a bit of humour, but also gratitude that this is not my fate as is tragically afforded to so many, with whom I have full support and solidarity. I just like it and would say that this is MY version of "It Is What It Is"...
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."
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