Living an Alive Life — A Review

by Rebecca A. Watson on October 20, 2015

in Art, change, goals, women

I generally leave my book recommendations for my weekend reading suggestions, but when Tara Schiller asked me to check out her book, Living an Alive Life, I was totally up for it.

I’d worked with Tara over at Think Simple Now and I loved her thinking behind her post 5 Reasons to Stop Ignoring Negative Emotions. I was sure I’d enjoy more of her writing. I was right.

This book was written with a lot of love, and it shows. It encourages the reader to love her or himself enough to take the time to actually go through the exercises and fill out the worksheets.


When I read the about the author section at the end, it just solidified what I thought from the beginning. Reading this book and getting something out of it takes time.

If there is one thing I can stress in my review of Tara’s book, it’s that, like many good personal-development books, it’s not a weekend read or a page turner. This is something to be read slowly and kept on your nightstand for months — referred to again and again.

She’s been working on herself, living her alive life, for more than 10 years now. I am in my eighth year. If spending that sort of time on yourself sounds overwhelming or selfish to you, I get it. It did to me at one point too.

Tara puts it best though when she writes, “Living an alive life is not a one time event or haphazard attempt at feeling good, it is a complete overhaul of your life and a path to freedom for your heart.”

So for those of you out there who feel like spending that kind of time on yourself is too much, Tara asks, “Do you want to keep pretending?”

Courage Fueled by a Plan

This resonated with me on a deep level. It was a question I asked myself when I was married and completely unhappy so many years ago. At what point would pretending cost me too much? When is selflessness just self-abuse? Will change seem less overwhelming a few years from now?

Pretending would have brought me to a very dark place I think. Or just had me checked out of my own life. It takes time to do these things and serious courage, but it is so worth it.

Living an Alive Life is an excellent place to start for those of you who:

  • Have even a little inkling that what’s in your hearts is worth exploring
  • Want more and think maybe, just maybe, there is more
  • Feel like you’re meant to do more than what you’ve been doing

This book can help give you the courage and the audacity as well as a plan to step forward.

Although Tara and I have had different life paths, we do hold a lot of the same values, like being honest with ourselves and others as well as living our truths. This is a big reason I wanted to read and review her book.

The more I read, the more excited I became. This is a book for people who want big change, who want to make leaps and bounds in their self-awareness as well as their external surroundings.

Tools for Every Stage of Self-Awareness

The exercises in the book are eye-opening. One in particular I liked, even though I did it “wrong,” was the Good/Bad master list. I wrote down everything I thought to be good and bad that I was taught as a kid and worked up to present day.

It was then I read the end of the directions (I was always that kid who was too excited to begin to actually listen to all the instructions) where it said this: “Not what you’re supposed to think, but what you really think.”

Huh, OK. I thought. And I went back to remove some of the ones I didn’t have anymore – things like religious and pious weren’t really on my Good list as an adult.

It was then that I realized the ones I couldn’t remove were the ones that fueled my inner critic and were mostly on my Bad list – things like angry, lazy, messy. It made me wonder:

  • So am I holding in my angry emotions for me?
  • Who am I really cleaning the house for?
  • Do I really think it’s lazy to read all day?

Self-awareness comes in stages, and the Universe provides us with all the tools we need if we just open ourselves to them. Not dusting for three weeks didn’t hurt anyone, actually, and it didn’t really bother me either. Tara’s book helped make real change in just a few weeks for me.

Take What You Need — Leave the Rest

There was one point I didn’t really agree with, and that’s the idea of saying one thing (our truth) is our greatest ally and another (lies) is our greatest enemy. I don’t think it can be so black-and-white.

Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves can protect us from things until we’re ready to deal with them (like when a child denies his parents abuse him). Life is far too gray for me to subscribe to that logic.

One thing I’ve learned about personal development books is that a great part of reading them is having your own ideas; sometimes disagreeing with something is the start of that.

When I first started reading self-help, I would take everything someone wrote as gospel, and if I disagreed then I was wrong. Not so, my friends.

I think it’s important to mention this, not only because I believe it’s important to give an unbiased review, but also to remind all of us that personal development is just that – personal. If it doesn’t resonate, it’s OK. Take what works and move on.

One thing I think could be a good complement to Tara’s book is a list of emotions, especially those of us who are just developing our emotional intelligence. These are very helpful. Here’s a good list, and if you’re into illustrations, these are cool.

I’d also love some exercises or outlines of exercises for the second part of the book, aptly named, How to Escape Theory and Move Into Reality.

Of course, I realize the idea is that life isn’t about doing exercises and writing things down, but the first part of the book is filled with lovely worksheets and questions to get your mind going. The last chapters have some of those suggestions and questions, but they’re not spelled out and not as much a directive.

Personal Development as an Art Form

Tara writes with a lot of beauty as well. She includes some poetry and metaphors that moved me. One part in particular I found gorgeous:

The most beautiful creature Id ever beheld
stood tall and glorious before my very eyes.
Breathless. I was breathless.
She stole the very life from me as I stood in awe
of her beauty.
Perfection. Perfection as Id never known
perfection could exist!
But she did exist. She was more real than
anything Id ever known.
And she was me.

There are also some things I’m looking enjoying incorporating in my life. When I listed them off, it occurred to me that not only would I spoil a lot of the book, it was also just too much to put in one post.

I think that’s the sign of something worth reading. Just to give you a taste:

  • I’ve found an awesome new mantra to deal with my anxiety – I trust in the sanctity of my own mind.
  • I realized that it’s not only normal to have conflicting emotions but that it’s actually OK.
  • Every day has its triumphs, even the ones when I’m so depressed I can’t get out of bed. YAY me for not being numb! I can actually can feel deep emotions.

I like how Tara writes personal stories and observations from her own heart and mind that are raw and vulnerable. My first thought when she wrote “I hate my children,” was OMG what if her children read this?

My second thought was Geez, finally someone who writes honestly about thoughts I know people have about their kids. This is only one example of the kind of thoughts and emotions she exposes, letting us know that it’s OK to feel and think these things and also that we’re not terrible humans, AND we’re not alone.

Anyone who is looking for encouragement and big change, please check out this book. (If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you can borrow it for free!)

feeling alive

And regardless of whether you’re thinking of reading it, I definitely suggest checking out Tara’s blog, which is all sorts of awesome. It’s not always heavy topics like life change, it’s food, travel and general fun. I’m a fan of her homemade fruit rollup recipe and this post on how faces in your mind affect you more than you realize.

A big thanks to Tara for sharing her book with me, and best wishes on her journey!

Photo Credits: Carli Jean Miller

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara Schiller October 20, 2015 at 7:11 am

Wow! I am so touched by this review Rebecca. And I LOVE that you disagreed with me on a point. That’s the whole idea of the book, to release the “supposed to’s” and live out of your own heart. Thank you for your kind words and recommendation. They truly moved me.



Rebecca A. Watson October 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

No problem Tara 🙂 I’m glad my words resonated. You deserve accolades. You did an excellent job!


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