A Woman's Voice


Book Reviews ~ I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay

Marriage, money, wise life decisions: Author Dolores Ayotte has written an amazing book that needs to be read by young and old alike. Every couple looking to get married should read this book! She brings to the forefront some “old fashioned” methods on how to make a life together thoroughly enjoyable, richly rewarding and solid. Her stories about her and her husband’s life prove it out and show how it’s done.

Dolores also very candidly tells her story of struggles with guilt and depression and other of life’s obstacles and how she overcame them. In this book she shares 13 major keys to living a happy satisfied life, being a benefit to one’s own self as well as to others.

I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay is a delightful read, as well as a book full of hefty life changing wisdom on many levels.

by Author Carolyn Molica
http://www.amazon.com/Im-Not-Perfect-Its-Okay-ebook/dp/B00EGPIZS4/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

Book Reviews ~ I’m Not Perfect And It’s Okay

“I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay” by Dolores Ayotte feels like an intimate conversation with a wise friend over a cup of tea. Her informal style, her kind sense of humor, her practical advice, and a light-hearted attitude to life (despite or, perhaps, because of her own struggles with depression earlier in life) make this book especially appealing.

Unlike many self-help books who promise instant solutions to our complicated problems but never deliver, this book is very realistic. Right in the first chapter, Dolores Ayotte quotes Tolstoy (one of my favorite writers!) and tells the readers that “it is easier to produce ten volumes on philosophical writing than to put one principle in practice.” That point alone made this book and all the advice in it so much more credible to me. There are no easy solutions and, as Dolores writes, “it takes a lifetime to master the art of living wisely, and it must be learned one step at a time.”

What follows in the thirteen chapters, the baker’s dozen, are just that: specific steps we can all take to improve our lives. Some of my favorite suggestions are these ones:

1. “Learn to love yourself as you are.” – The reason this advice is especially appealing to me because I work with a lot of college-age and adult students who seem to never have learned that principle, and who tend to be overly critical of themselves. While I am not an advocate of praise for the sake of praise (and neither is Dolores Ayotte, not at all!), accepting ourselves for who we are is the only way to move forward in life and to succeed.

2. “Take time to listen to the simple genius and the gentle philosopher that lives within you.” – In this chapter, like in many others, Dolores uses personal stories to illustrate her advice. I believe that stories are one of the best ways for us to learn from someone else’s experience because they allow us to vicariously experience life events. The story that spoke to me in this chapter is that about a teacher who decided to use the theme of simplicity for a school celebration and forego all decorations, choosing instead to focus on human connections and the celebration of the moment. What a wise idea. I’ve seen too many of my friends ruin their wedding day, family Christmas celebrations, or other important events because their napkins did not match the flowers or the color of the walls did not go with the wrapping paper. If only they had followed this simplicity principle and focused on the meaning of the occasion, they would have been much more content and much happier, enjoying the moment, instead of worrying about irrelevant details.

As I write this review, I’m realizing that I enjoyed all the advice so much that I may end up listing all the points here as my favorite, and that would spoil the experience for other readers. So, instead, I will comment on something else. This book is written from a strong Christian perspective but it is written from the heart and it is not intended only for the readers of the same faith. It is not judgmental and not dogmatic. No matter what your faith is, you will enjoy this book and benefit from it. I know I did. On a more personal note to Dolores: that turkey stuffing experience was hilarious and eerily familiar, but I’m not going to explain why right here to avoid embarrassing a certain member of my own family. Thank you for this wonderful book!

By Author Julia Gousseva
http://www.amazon.com/Im-Not-Perfect-Its-Okay-ebook/dp/B00EGPIZS4/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY ~ AND THE WINNER IS…..Not Me! ~ September 1, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

Several months ago, my husband persuaded to enter a book writing contest.  My initial response was “no way”.  First of all, I never realized that you had to pay to enter such contests. There was a submission entry fee.  It may not be this way in all book contests but it was in this particular one. I was naïve enough to think that people nominated you after they read your book.  Also, this was my very first book, and I knew that there was a lot of room for improvement.  My husband rationalized that if I didn’t enter than for sure I wouldn’t win. Therefore, even if it was a long shot I entered the contest against my better judgement.

You guessed it!  I lost.  Since then, I have heard and read several comments to the effect that merely having written a book makes us all winners. It has been said that there were no losers in this contest because we have accomplished a great feat by having the courage to enter our books in the contest.

Well, yes and no. This rationalization does not totally make sense to me. It sounds more like an appeasement.  Why enter a contest in the first place if there is no honor or reward in winning?  If we are all winners even if we lose, than maybe the reverse is true and the winners are losers just like the rest of us.

“I’m Not Perfect And It’s Okay” is written in an imperfect way much like its author, me.  I’m sorry to admit that there are a few typos in it that my editor, my proofreaders and I missed.  Oops…I guess they are not perfect either.  I heard an expression just the other day.  It was about being “beautifully imperfect”.  That’s my goal, to be beautiful despite my imperfections.

However, in the end, it is my name on the book and I am ultimately responsible for its content and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes, maybe it is not as well written or as polished as some other books, but what the heck; I gave it my best shot.  The negative consequence of not winning the contest will not deter me.  It will only suffice to make me more determined.  I’m like a dog with a bone and I’m not going to give up that easy. 

Although, I will say this, no matter how hard anyone may try to flower up the facts, along with many other authors, I lost and some other authors won. There were far more losers than winners. I will not take that away from the winners by saying there were no losers in this book writing contest because I am one of them. I lost, I know it, and I’m not afraid to admit it.  I’m not afraid to admit this either.  It mattered…in fact, it mattered a lot more than I thought it would.  I have a competitive spirit and it’s no fun to lose. I’m sure that it mattered to the winners too!

Therefore, on that note I would like to congratulate all the winners.  It feels so wonderful to win, don’t you think? Bravo to you all!

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INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES AND ANECDOTES

Achievement is not always success, while reputed failure often is.  It is honest endeavor, persistent effort to do the best possible under any and all circumstances.” (Orison Swett Marden)

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I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps To A Happier Self ~ Chapter 5 ~ July 29, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

CHAPTER FIVE ~ He Who Laughs, Lasts!

Over the last several years, my husband and I have had a neat arrangement. He usually is not a man of many words. I am a morning person, and he is not. When we walk in the morning, he says very little. On many occasions he has told me to just keep talking and says that he will let me know when he doesn’t agree with me. So he must be agreeing with me in most instances because he usually just keeps moving along in silence. According to Wilma Askinas, “Sometimes you have to be silent in order to be heard.”[i] Publius Syrus recommends, however, to “let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.”[ii] Either way you look at it, I must admit that I already know what he does or doesn’t agree with. If I want to get him to talk, I just press one of his buttons, but most of the time I hear his silence and know exactly what it means…


[i] “Wilma Askinas quotes,”
Thinkexist.com, http://thinkexist.com/quotes/wima_askinas/.

[ii] “Publius Syrus quotes,”
QuotationsBook, http://quotationbook.com/quotes/36269/.

Once again my dear readers, I thank you for taking some time out of your busy lives to spend some of it with me. Take gentle care and may God grant you His choicest blessings!

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I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps To A Happier Self ~ Chapter 4 ~ July 28, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

CHAPTER FOUR ~ More F Words!

My goodness, where in the world could I be going now? F words! Admit it, you thought of the unmentionable word. No need to worry about that. First, we learned about deciding whether to be our own friend or foe. Obviously, they both start with an “F.” Now the other two “F” words we are going to discuss are about forgiving and being forgiven.

Once again, I will tell a little story. This is actually a true story. I usually try to let you know which ones are real and which ones aren’t. In most cases, it doesn’t make much difference, because I tell the story to make a point. I will continue to use either format as the need arises to get any given point across. This story revolves around some information told to me by my father shortly before his death. My dad was only sixty-nine years old when he passed away, but he had suffered quite a lot from ill-health over the years. He had his first heart attack in his early forties, followed by a stroke in his fifties. Diabetes and some depression also exacerbated his condition. Needless to say, there were times when my dad didn’t have a lot of fun, especially in his mid to late sixties. He was a man who spent quite a bit of time in his rocking chair and did a lot of thinking in those last few years of his life…

I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps To A Happier Self ~ Chapter 3 ~ July 27, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

CHAPTER THREE ~ Listen Up Some More!

Well, friend or foe…what’s it going to be?

For fear of sounding like a broken record, I will try not to sound too repetitive. It’s just that some things need to be said more than once in order to realize their full importance. I realize that I am using the word “listen” in both this chapter and the last one to stress what I want to say.  To me there is a subtle difference between hearing and actually listening. We can hear all kinds of words, music, sounds, noise, and so in our everyday lives. Our ears pick up sound waves all day long. In my opinion, listening is a totally different thing than hearing. It is more about the process of deciphering what has been heard and really listening for the message and what it may mean to you. For example, the sound of music can be very enjoyable, but choosing to listen to and interpret the lyrics can bring even greater joy. I think it is possible to hear all kinds of sounds without delving deeper to find out more. Listening is more of a desire to understand some of the sounds or voices that we hear in order to get a better appreciation for what is being said or heard…

I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps To A Happier Self ~ Chapter 2 ~ July 26, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

CHAPTER TWO ~ A Simple Genius, a Gentle Philosopher

Well…did you take that look in the mirror?

Maybe I should have suggested that you do it figuratively rather than literally. I know how hard it is to do such a thing; however, I do believe it is very important. I call it getting to the root of the problem, and I believe it is a problem because there wouldn’t be such a need for all the self-help books if it weren’t.

I shared the first chapter I wrote with one of my daughters, and she told me what she liked best about it. She said that she liked the simplicity and the fact that it was easy to digest.Thanks to her input, I’ve decided to write this chapter next. I remember a cute story that took place many years ago when I started teaching school. Every year, our school would have an annual tea held sometime in the spring. It was a large school, and all the teachers were involved, as well as a lot of parents.The teachers either volunteered to do different tasks or the principal would often assign some. It was a lot of work. Of course, there usually was a theme to these teas, with all the decorations to go with it. It was quite a grand affair. The teacher chosen to select the theme did something I found very amusing at the time, although I must admit the principal did not find it nearly as amusing…..

I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps to a Happier Self ~ Chapter One (continued) July 25, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

….continued from yesterday ~ conclusion

CHAPTER ONE ~ The Greatest Of These Is LOVE

I have come to the conclusion that it is from this well of understanding that we find empathy and compassion for  the world around us. Our own world is a microcosm of the whole world. If we cannot find peace in this small world where we live, there will never be world peace. How can we expect such a thing if we cannot make it work on such a small-scale?

So let’s get back to looking in the mirror. If you don’t like yourself, ask yourself why. If the reason is because  of the way that you were taught, acknowledge and embrace that fact. However, there can be many reasons for not liking ourselves. Possibly we lack education and feel inadequate. We can feel inferior for a number of reasons, including a poor self-image due to body weight, shape, or size. Sometimes we don’t feel smart enough, regardless of our education. Some of us may feel that we have been born on the wrong side of the tracks, while others may feel that their skin is the wrong color or they are lesser because of their sex. Others may not be proud of their heritage or their own personal backgrounds and family history.

If a person has nagging feelings of inferiority that affect his/her quality of life, that person is the only one that can answer the questions about what is causing their own personal situation. In most instances, the remedy or solution to the problem can be the same, because in the end, the goal is to overcome the feelings of inferiority or inadequacy by developing better life coping skills. After you have done this, though, there is plenty of work to be done. This is not about blame, but more about understanding ourselves.

Remember, the better we understand ourselves and accept ourselves for what we are, the more we will understand and accept others for who they are. One very important fact to remember is that in most instances, our parents, educators, and mentors actually taught us the very things that they were taught and in much the same way. Education is a process that evolves and slowly changes with time. The key to life and what love is all about lies in accepting this. Education comes in a variety of forms. Not all education is formal, but we are constantly on the learning curve by observing, learning, and being influenced by others.

Love really is very simple. In fact, it needs no words or language at all. It can be a special feeling, look, touch, or act of charity, humility, or generosity. God lives in each and every one of us. God is perfect love. If you strive for perfect love, you will learn to see the face of God in your spouse, your children, and your fellow human. This should be our goal as humankind. If and when we do this, a lot of our problems will be solved. However, charity really does begin at home, so once again start with the face in the mirror. I encourage everyone to go have a really good look at yourself. Look right into your own eyes and into the depth of your own soul. It’s not as easy as you think!

Learn to love yourself as you are…that’s the first step.

I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading the first chapter of I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Steps to a Happier Self

If you would like to read more, please click on one of the following links to order a copy….Thanks! If you are still undecided, over the next few days, I will post the title and first paragraph of a few more chapters.  Down the road, I will also post some excerpts from my second book, “Growing Up & Liking It” ~ More Steps To A Happier Self  

Have a most enjoyable day and whether you purchase a book or not, I thank you for spending some time with me. Bright blessings to you all!

Amazon USA

Amazon CANADA

Tate Publishing & Enterprises

Barnes and Noble

I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY ~ Thirteen Steps to a Happier Self ~ Chapter One (continued) July 24, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

…continued from yesterday

CHAPTER ONE ~ The Greatest Of These Is LOVE

Six months into the job, much to my  dismay, I had a relapse. I pulled myself up again and returned to work after six weeks. Once I regained my self-esteem and self-respect, I was able to use some of my teaching skills in my new job. I enrolled in some courses being offered and made every effort to re-educate myself. Several people in my new place of employment saw the benefits of my previous teaching experience, and they helped me utilize them in a totally different situation. I will be forever grateful to all those people who helped me along the way. In most instances, they had absolutely no idea of what had happened or the point of reference I was coming from. Although they knew I had been on sick leave, they had no idea I suffered from depression or my previous history with it.

This is just my story, but each and every one of us has one. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with depression.

For me, by going back in time, looking at myself, and striving to better myself, I learned so much more. It not only gave me personal insight, it also gave me a better understanding of others. The more I saw and understood my own shortcomings and virtues, the more I understood and accepted others.

As difficult and as negative as the above experience was for me, in retrospect I would not have wanted it any other way. When I was in the midst of it, I prayed and wished it away. After much soul-searching and hard work, I accepted myself and realized that it is human to fail, and I could get up again. I also learned that life can consist of many failures, but each and every time, you just have to keep getting up. For me, it was easier to fall down and get up rather than just lay there and suffer with bouts of depression.

When I learned to look at myself this way, I also learned to look at others in the same light. At times it is hard to measure up to the goals we all set for each other or for ourselves. We all fail at one time or another. By seeing myself in a more human light and in a more humane way, I learned that the person I was had nothing to do with whether I failed at something. I could still be considered a good person, no matter what was going on in my life.

This is when I learned to separate the person from the action. Although I had not completely succeeded at classroom teaching, I was not being punished for not being good the way I had been taught. Being good at something and being a good person are two totally different things, but it is very hard to accept this fact if you have been taught otherwise. Oftentimes people associate suffering with punishment. It was ingrained in me that I would be punished if I stepped out of line. I have come to realize that there are many innocent people who do not deserve to suffer and therefore are not being punished.

After experiencing all that I did, I soon learned that I am not perfect and that failure is a fact of life. I was not being punished either. I also learned that when you look at your whole self and decide what you like or don’t like, you can alter your own behavior. I did this by looking back at what caused all my confused thinking, religious hang ups, and guilt. I knew that it didn’t start in my early thirties. It merely peaked there. It had a much earlier origin, and I needed to go all the way back to figure it out. I knew what brought me to my knees had to do with religion, but I needed to know why. The only solution was to go as far back in my memory bank that I could and get to the root of the problem. That’s exactly what I did. I had to start with the ABC’s of my original instruction and go from there. Once I did this, I understood myself a whole lot better. Once I understood myself better, I also had more understanding for human nature period. I just had to start with the human I needed to know better, namely, myself.

Conclusion tomorrow…

I’M NOT PERFECT AND IT’S OKAY~ Thirteen Steps to a Happier Self ~ Chapter One (continued) ~ July 23, 2011 by Dolores Ayotte

…continued from yesterday

CHAPTER ONE ~ The Greatest Of These Is LOVE

I feel the need to say that depression feels very different from other physical ailments, at least from my personal point of view. It is generally not well received, and not all people have empathy with the condition.Several people think that you can just “snap out of it,” and this only adds to the frustration of trying to live with it. In my instance, it felt that I was somehow responsible for my depressed state. Perhaps it happens and I am unaware of it, but I can’t image anyone suggesting that a person suffering from diabetes, cancer, or some other life altering illness “snap out” of what they are going through.

Getting angry and frustrated with a depressed person only further aggravates and exacerbates the condition. He/she is having enough trouble trying to cope with life as it is. I am not trying to criticize, condemn, or complain. This is not my goal, nor has it ever have been. I only want to share because I care. I am not looking for pity for such a crippling condition but rather for compassion for all those who suffer in silence. I am also seeking compassion for those who live with a depressed person and, last but not least, compassion for those who have added to the crippling effect of the condition by their innocence or their ignorance. My silence no longer feels golden. It is time to find the courage to share my healing circle with my family, my friends, and all of you who choose to embrace what I have written.

During a depressed state, you feel very alone  and isolated. As stated above, in most instances you will not find the compassion you might get when experiencing other illnesses. You, therefore, might try to cover up what you are experiencing, and you may become further depressed. As a result, you may feel even more isolated in this downward spiral until you reach the point when you can hardly get up in the morning to start your day. You can lose your zest for life, your sense of humor, and joy for the little things that once enhanced your life and brought you so much pleasure.

A bout with major depression is like living in a black pit. Each day you have to work very hard at climbing out of it in order to see the light of dawn. It is at this time, when you may feel the need draw from a Higher Power to give you the strength and courage to face each new day. I found that without my faith there would have been very little hope to ever rise above the depressed state, not only faith in God but learning to have a renewed faith in myself. This is the hardest task because a depressed person has usually lost faith and trust in himself/herself. It is almost impossible to draw strength from a well that has run so dry. Eventually, by taking small steps and being satisfied with small gains, you can make some deposits into this dry well. Due to the fact that there is so little left to draw from, the only choice you actually have is to try to replenish it so you can make your way back to a full and rewarding life.

I must admit that this was the most difficult period of my life thus far. I had left my teaching career in order to recuperate, and I could not get the courage to return. It felt like I had failed miserably. I felt so lost. I then decided that in order to continue pursuing work outside our home, I would have to make some major decisions about what I was going to do in this regard. I had to learn how to think outside the box.

I came to realize that I didn’t need a classroom to teach. Classrooms have walls, but teaching doesn’t only need to take place inside those walls. I decided to change careers, and I got hired by a major financial institution. I soon discovered that before I could teach again, I had to be a student and learn totally new information. It took some time, and it was no easy task.

To be continued…

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