The Ultimate Triumph of the Human Spirit

Today a former student of mine reached out to me to say hi, thank me for introducing him to Steinbeck, and tell me East of Eden is still one of his favorite books. Although it has been over 16 years since I’ve read and taught the book, that correspondence got me thinking about how relevant it is today as one of the main themes of the book is the conflict between good and evil: Light verses Dark.

The book exemplifies that there is darkness in everyone. EVERYONE. I remember reading this book and feeling the darkness within me. It was jarring to say the least. And yet, the book also elicits great hope because human beings have the freedom to overcome evil by their own choices. And, we can always choose differently.

In our coutnry, we’ve been exposed to some major human displays of evil in the past week. I will remind myself that just like everyone else, I have the potential to get sucked into darkness, and just like everyone else, I can also chose to align with light. Because of this, there will always be HOPE. This dichotomy and the ability to choose light is the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

So, the ultimate question is: What will you choose?

Books That Changed My Life

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books. As a child and teen, there was nothing better than starting a new fiction book and seeing where the adventure of reading would take me. In 1997 my own life adventure included moving to a much larger town for college. This was my first time living on my own and navigating a new and different place, school experience, and job. It was a lot of change all at once. That year, I read Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff. This book began my love of nonfiction, self-development & growth books. I have read dozens and dozens of these types of books since, but this one, changed my life because it started me on my nonfiction journey. I picked it up at the exact right time. As I think about all the nonfiction books I’ve read over the years, there are so many good ones I could share, but I’ve narrowed it down to the ones that have made a HUGE impact on me. They have all, in some way, changed my life for the better, and they could possible do the same for you!

Prior to reading this book, everything felt like a big deal to me. I was a Type A, gett-er done, often anxious person. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff taught me to relax a little. I discovered yoga around the time that I read this book, and the combination of the two definitely made a magical shift in how I approached life. This book includes 100 simple short writings on life lessons~essentially ways to keep little things from taking over your life. Among other things, this book taught me that the to-do list is NEVER done, so holding your breath or waiting to do other things until everything is crossed off your list of things to do is a really bad idea. There are many great little take-aways from this book!

The Four Agreements continued my shift in how I approached life. These agreements are simple, yet profound: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. This book is a quick read filled with so much wisdom!

In 2005, I was working on my graduate degreee in counseling, got married, bought a house, moved, and started a new job as a school counselor. While all of these experiences were incredibly positive life happenings, it was A LOT all at once. My stress and anxiety levels that year were very high. Radical Acceptance Embracing Your Life with the heart of A Buddha was the book that saved me.

I was introduced to the work of Cheryl Richardson through watching Oprah, and I have really enjoyed many of her books. I chose to highlightThe art of Extreme Self-Care here because it is the one that stayed with me. In this book, she offers practical and sound advice for the importance of taking care of yourself. It is a book I come back to and reference regularly!

While Brene’ Brown is perhaps most notably known for her book Daring Greatly, her earlier written book, The Gifts of Imperfection is the one that created the most change in me. Prior to reading this book, I would profess the title of perfectionist with a proud badge of honor. It wasn’t until I read this book that I started to understand how toxic perfectionism is and how often it has stifled me and held me back. I now proudly say, I’m a recovering perfectionist.

If you know me well, you know The life-changing magic of tidying up was absolutely life-changing. I read this book in 2015, and I totally overhauled my life. It is amazing how much spaciousness and freedom one can feel in life when we aren’t energetically bogged down with too many things. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am no where close to a minimalist; however, I can say that I am very aware of what I own and what I choose to bring into my home and life, and most everything is something I use regularly or something that sparks joy. If you actually follow Marie’s process in this book for decluttering, I can almost guarantee your life will change, too. I will forever be grateful to Marie Kondo for helping me shift my relationship to stuff.

The untethered soul is a book that helped me change my relationship to my mind and thoughts. It is one that I cannot recommend highly enough. It taught me that while the mind’s job is to essentially create problems to be solved, I do not need to believe all of its problematic thoughts. It deepened my understanding and work with mindfulness and presence. It is one I read many years ago, but I’ve been feeling the pull to come back to it in the midst of the pandemic and uncertainty.

I hope that you will check out any of these book recommendations that spoke to you. Finding the right book at the right time can truly be life changing!

Life Lessons with Leslie

I’m beginning a series of short videos I’m calling “Life Lessons with Leslie.” These videos will be inspiration I share from authors and books I love. Words have energy. When words are spoken aloud they are even more powerful. Today I will read to you from Marianne Williamson’s book titled A Year In Miracles: Daily Devotions and Reflections. I hope this sparks thoughtful reflection and is in some way meaningful for you.

On Becoming Untamed

I am a tamed woman. For most of my life I would have held that declaration up with a badge of honor. Because tame women are well liked. Tame women are successful. Tame women do the “right” thing. Tame women smile. Tame women follow the rules and never make waves. I am Leslie Kersha. I am Tame.

After being sent home from school in March due to the pandemic, I knew I needed a good book, and I wanted to support a local bookstore, so I called Skylark Bookshop and placed my order. I’d already listened to many podcasts and interviews with the author, Glennon Doyle, about the her book, Untamed, and after listening to so many, a part of me wasn’t sure what additional information this book would have to offer me. I was wrong.

I LOVE this book, and six months later, I am only half way through reading it.

Why? Because this book makes me uncomfortable. This book holds a mirror up to my face and makes my eyes avert it. This book feels like hot coals in my hands with each page I turn creating the potential for a fire so hot I just might burn my nice comfortable life right up with it.

From, the author Glennon Doyle, herself: “I burned the memo that defined selflessness as the pinnacle of womanhood, but first I forgave myself for believing that lie for so long. I had abandoned myself out of love. They’d convinced me that the best way for a woman to love her partner, family, and community was to lose herself in service to them. In my desire to be of service, I did myself and the world a great disservice. I’ve seen what happens out in the world and inside our relationships when women stay numb, obedient, quiet, and small. Selfless women make for an efficient society but not a beautiful, true, or just one. When women lose themselves, the world loses its way. We do not need more selfless women. What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves. A women who is full of herself knows and trusts herself enough to say and do what must be done. She lets the rest burn.”

I LOVE this book, and six months later, I am only half way through reading it.

Why? I’m slowly devouring each page. Like savoring dark chocolate and a fine bottle of wine. It cannot be rushed. I want to take it in so slowly and thoroughly I can feel its truths coursing and tingling throughout my body.

You see, my taming process took a long time. Almost 44 years to be exact. I can’t just declare myself Untamed. I have to work for it. You do, too. Creating this website and blog is the beginning of my work. Letting my hair go back to its natural, wild curls is part of the work. Speaking my truth even if it makes others uncomfortable is part of the work. Taking actions that at times might make me feel uncomfortable is doing the work. I am here to do the work. Are you?

I will finish the book and continue to do the work of becoming

Untamed.