Book Review: The Courage to Become

A friend of mine from high school, Catia Hernandez Holm, wrote a book.  I adore her for that.  She and I weren’t necessary good friends in school, but we knew each other.  We were in the marching band together, we played softball together, you get the idea.  Her book is called The Courage to Become:  Stories of Hope for Navigating Love, Marriage, and Motherhood.  I’ve seen her journey for several years through Facebook.  I have to admit that I have not paid close attention.  As most of us tend to do on Facebook, I noticed a picture or two from time to time, but never really took the time to NOTICE what she was doing.  I knew that she was a blogger and I knew that she was working on a book.  I knew that she was married and had two daughters, but not much else.

A few weeks ago, a post of hers caught my eye…  she had done it.  She had finished her book.  My interest was piqued, so I clicked on her link to check it out.  I knew going into it that I would read this book regardless, just because I respected her so much for actually writing it.  But the title struck me as interesting…  a book about courage.  As the Cowardly Lion put it, “What makes a king out of a slave?  Courage!”  And I knew that courage was something that I lacked in great measure.  Plus, who doesn’t want additional advice on how to navigate love, marriage and motherhood??  So, I went to the Amazon Kindle Store and clicked Buy Now With 1 Click.

Note, I am by no means a professional book reviewer.  So please don’t assume I do this type of thing regularly.  But I wanted to give you a real breakdown of what I thought of the book.  This book is a collection of stories that chronicle Catia’s life, starting from when she first met the man who would be her husband.  There are times throughout the book where she discusses her life prior to this, but this event, meeting her future husband, is when her real life work began.  She goes into detail about her thoughts about men during this time in her life and how those thoughts grew and changed as she got further into this relationship with her man…  she calls him Guapo, which I think is adorable.  That is the first part of the book, how she navigated falling into love with this man and how she tried to fit a serious relationship into her life.  It is telling and from the heart, which I greatly admire.  Although she and I are totally different people, I can relate to many  of the mental roadblocks that she had to overcome.

She talks about her marriage and how she had a serious issue with control…  as in, trying to control everything.  She wanted things to happen in a certain way, at a certain time, and everything to be perfect.  Well, of course, this is not always how it turned out, and the book speaks truthfully about the discoveries she made with each failed expectation.

Then she moves on to discuss their decision to conceive a child and how that impacted their relationship and her mental state.  At one point, she talks about taking multiple pregnancy tests over a three month period…  I can relate as I did the same thing when I was trying to conceive my daughter.  After they finally did conceive, she discusses, in candid detail, her pregnancy.  She includes the issues she had with sex, body image, and her quest for “perfection.”  She desired the perfect birthing situation and she set out to achieve a gold medal performance in the birthing Olympics.  Of course, as is always the case, birth did not go as “perfectly” as she planned.  But eventually, the realization came to her that birth is special and unique to each person and has no real definition of perfection.

She speaks in great detail about her mental struggles after the birth of her first daughter.  How she dealt with mild depression, reworking her life around a baby, and one of the most difficult struggles a woman can endure (aside from birth)…  breastfeeding.  I am not Catia Holm, but I can relate almost word for word with how she struggled to come to terms with her new role as a woman, a wife, and a mommy.

Finally, she discusses her struggles with her body…  an issue that I take to heart.  As many of my beloved blog followers know, I struggle with body image daily.  Here is an interesting note:  Catia has the perfect body.  In my opinion, anyway.  Now, I certainly haven’t spent my life thinking about her body, but, as many women do, we compare ourselves to other women.  She talks about how she compares herself to others and finds flaws of all kinds in her body.  What’s so funny is that I have done that same thing with her!  I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I read her words, but I recall seeing pictures of her and thinking things like, If only I looked like that in my wedding dress, or Look at how skinny she looks after just having a baby…  I want that. And it’s all so silly because SHE does the same thing!

Catia and I have almost nothing in common.  She is Hispanic, I am not.  She wears regular sized jeans, I wear plus sized jeans.  She has dark skin and an olive complexion, I have blotchy, white skin.  She is shorter than I am.  She is skinnier than I am.  But her story mirrors mine in so many ways, it is uncanny!  I couldn’t believe how much this girl, who I had known many years before, who I had literally almost nothing in common with, could be so on point with how I felt.  It is an awe-inspiring read and I highly recommend it.  Courage is something we all have, just like the Cowardly Lion… it just needs to be brought out.  I appreciate Catia’s courage to bear her soul more than she knows.  Thank you Catia for your words and inspiration!




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