The main title of the book, This is Not the Life I Ordered, expresses an exasperation that most of us have likely exclaimed at one time or another. With such a stunning title, I was eager to see how well the book addresses this emotion, and I was not disappointed. In fact, the more I read, the more amazed I became at the depth of hope and inspiration being taught by the four authors of the book, Deborah Collins Stephens, Jackie Speier, Jan Yanehiro and Michealene Cristini Risley.
The idea for This is not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down came from these four friends who had each been through unimaginable tragedy and adversity. Wanting to find a way to support and encourage each other, they started Kitchen Table Friends which are monthly meetings literally held around the kitchen table. They build the idea of women being able to meet and talk, sharing their greatest challenges and triumphs in the safe and comfortable setting of the kitchen into their book. The authors include opportunities for women who are reading it together to use as a resource for their own discussions by providing thought provoking questions and suggestions to use in their gatherings.
4 Amazing Women
This is not the Life I Ordered draws you in and keeps your constant attention, cover to cover. The authors string the stories together in such a way that they bring hope and provide insights into overcoming challenges. These women lived through what might seem to be impossible adversities, such as divorce, widowhood, miscarriages, failed adoption, being left penniless and even being shot! Through their storytelling, we see how they were able to move from one challenge to the next, sometimes without even a break between the tragedies, while never giving up hope or happiness. These powerful stories will help readers believe that if these women can successfully overcome so many difficulties, they can face their own as well. By honestly sharing their stories, in all their darkness and glory, detailing the realities of the experiences, the authors show us how to find resiliency and have faith that great success can come out of horrific challenges.
All four of these women are down to earth, relatable, and highly accomplished, making them both approachable and admirable. Deborah Collins Stephens has authored three bestselling books; Jackie Speier works as a lawyer, California State Senator and survived the Jonestown shooting; Michealene Cristini Risley has produced award-winning documentaries, and Jan Yanehiro hosts Appraise It! on HGTV and has won three Emmys. For each of these women to reach such heights of accomplishments after all they have been through makes this book that much more effective in teaching that we can survive and thrive after great hardship… and plain old bad luck! Their collective talent also makes this a well-written book, as each of the authors possess skills in the art of storytelling.
Besides serving as a personal inspiration and resource, one of the best uses of this book is to share it with friends when they need a boost. I use it now as a go-to gift when a friend is having a hard time and I am struggling with how to help them. And if I see more than one struggling at once, it just might inspire the formation of my own Kitchen Table Friends club!