Journey To Chocolate – Reflections On a 21st Century Woman’s Life
Ann Girling uses her own life experience as a way of drawing attention to the emotional baggage that we drag behind us and often have difficulty in ditching, no matter how old we become.
She says that she does not want it to be a self-help book but that is essentially what it is. The difference, she claims, is that many self-help books give the impression that change can be achieved ‘in a week’. For her, the change many of us need to achieve is less of an event and more of a process.
She offers up her personal story as a case study with a pause for thought at the end of each chapter which she entitles, ‘moments to ponder’. There is a narrative to the chapter headings.
In the first chapter, Childhood, the theme is one of values. We are encouraged to have our own personal values which help us to find the right way in life, but which also help us to find out where we are now by use of the ‘moments to ponder’ section.
The second chapter, The World of Work, deals with the idea, which is covered well in Nick Williams book, that we need to find work which suits us; not just which suits us in fact, but which inspires us and we can feel passionate about.
The Third Chapter, about motherhood, sets out to bust myths surrounding childbirth and rearing. She reminds us that along with the joys of motherhood, there can also be a sense of things lost, whether it is financial, independence or even in the pattern of previous relationships. She believes that we need to have a sense of this in order to be able to deal with it, if it happens.
Chapter Four, Wanting Another Baby, is really about loss and grief. She tells us that ‘we are not our feelings’ and we should not be afraid of them but again be prepared to deal with them, because they will not stay buried for ever.
Chapter Five, An Emotional Roller-coaster, is about guilt, in particular a mother’s guilt. She exhorts mothers to stop being so hard on themselves and recognise that they do not need to be perfect. In the ‘moments to ponder’ we are asked to think about positives, such as joy, serenity, amusement, etc. as an antidote to guilt.
Chapter Six, The Hamster Wheel, is about how we deal with stress, recognising the negative emotions which feed stress and how we deal with that.
Chapter Seven, The Crash, tells its own story, by ‘being a victim of your circumstances’ and how you can regain control after a burnout.
Chapter Eight, Acceptance and Letting Go, helps us to understand how to move forward. This involves accepting a holistic approach to ourselves as human beings.
The last two chapters, Rebuilding and Having the Chocolate encourage us to have a vision of how we want to move forward and suggests some strategies for how we do this.
Finally, she encourages us to develop resilience, balance and self-care, and love as a way of dispelling negative emotions.
There is not much, if anything new in this book, but she tells of her work life, in the NHS, candidly, which I found interesting. Bringing all these different elements together in this way, I thought was useful. We often find books, albeit good ones, dealing with the different aspects of our lives. In pulling them together in this book, Ann reminds us that we cannot compartmentalise our lives; if we have a problem, we need to look at all of what has and is happening, if we are to get an holistic solution to the problem.
The book is very geared towards those who have had children and I think that, not being a mother, this did leave me feeling a bit excluded, but overall the book does have a sensible, no-nonsense approach to it with useful, uncomplicated exercises. I know, I tried a few of them. She has also provided useful references in each chapter for anyone who wants to delve deeper into any of the issues she has covered.
If you would like a copy of tyhe book, please contact Ann directly via her website