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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 14, 2010
There's nothing better, in my opinion, than spending a leisurely evening with new friends and hearing their story; not just their experiences but also how they responded and what they learned. If you feel the same, then grab this book and spend a few evenings with Scott Stevenson and his wife and family. Get comfortable and open your mind. Prepare to let your other plans slide, because you'll be brushing your teeth with this book in one hand and staying up late to read just one more chapter, oh, maybe just one more after that ...

Scott Stevenson worked hard as an architect in Southern California, saved his money, and at age forty-six married Susan and retired. His plan was to design and build their home in the Cuyamaca Mountains east of San Diego. Scott's personal philosophy underpins the book: what he calls seeing the Big Picture of Life, the Magic. He believes that we "choose" our experiences because we have something to learn from them, and that our goal in life is to learn and grow until we understand the Oneness of all things. Scott closed his business and entered a new phase of life with energy and got ready to build.

Looks easy enough so far, right?

The first and most devastating challenge was his wife Susan's breast cancer. Next on the bumpy path, Scott's sister Beth went through a harrowing divorce, with Scott and Susan deeply involved in helping Beth and her children through the ordeal. During these hectic four years Scott and Susan were also watching their retirement investment dwindle and eventually vanish in the downturn of the NASDAQ. And of course they were building a house--actually building it themselves, with the help of the Family Crew: Scott's 78-year-old mother, sister Beth, and her two pre-teen daughters.

Again and again, things that "look easy enough" turn out to be full of trouble; but Scott and Susan handle it all with love, calling on their belief in the Big Picture to see them through. When their new house is threatened by the 2003 firestorms tearing through Southern California, it seems like the last straw. Who could possibly "choose" that experience?

Looks Easy Enough: A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster is full of love, laughter and inspiration. Scott and Susan don't just survive all the adversity, they embrace it and come through smiling. You'll smile too at the house-building adventures, the details of Susan's treatment and triumphant return to full health, and through it all Scott's buoyant belief that it's all about learning and growing. The easy conversational style delivers an exceptionally well-structured story--Scott makes writing a book "look easy enough!" Reading this memoir is like spending a few evenings with warm and wise new friends. Highly recommended.

Linda Bulger, 2010
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I found this 451-page book from 2009 a very enjoyable read! It was also very hard to put down. While the cover states it is "A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster," which is certainly true, the explanation just does not even begin to do the book justice. This is the story of a couple, Scott and Susan Stevenson, including their family, friends, and many new friends they made along the way of a four-year period (1999-2003). It is informative, funny, and motivational. From the very first sentence, "It's amazing what a guy will do for a little sex," I knew I would appreciate the sincerity and the down-to-earth writing style of this author.

The opening sentence refers to an early relationship that did not last. As Scott explains, Cynthia and he had nothing in common except "the bed". But through that experience, he met a psychic and became interested in spirituality, later referred to as "The Magic".

During his 25 years as an architect, Scott had worked hard and socked away some money. At forty-six, he met Susan and they decided to marry, retire, and build their dream house in the Cuyamaca mountains in northern San Diego, California. Finding a beautiful piece of property deep in nature's rhythms, they began using Scott's expertise as an architect to plan to design and build their very own "from scratch" house. (What a cool idea!)

But during this four-year period, a series of events happened that would change many lives. Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer. Facing the fears that go with the diagnosis, you walk with her through the process and through her choices. The details are sufficient to provide an education along the way, including her choice to opt out of chemotherapy and use alternative healing methods instead.

Scott's sister Beth admits her spouse "Tree" has anger and control issues that she can no longer tolerate. She is afraid for herself and the children and seeks a divorce. Walk with Beth as Tree seeks to intimidate her and manipulate the legal process, and as she is faced with foreclosure while taking care of 4 children. And, of course, everyone else who knows Tree thinks he is the nicest guy in the world, because he keeps his other side hidden.

Watch what happens as Scott's investment savings dwindle as the NASDAQ drops. Will the market revive in time to save his retirement money?

Watch the 2003 fires burn through parts of San Diego and approach Scott's home. You can all but smell the smoke as Susan and Scott try to safeguard their home as much as possible and wait it out, hoping for a miracle.

This book is written remarkably well, in that Scott takes you by the hand and brings you right in on everything. I felt like I was part of the family, walking with them through the entire book. I experienced Susan's and Beth's fears and frustrations. I even felt like I helped Scott and the family build the house in the woods and marveled over the sunsets and the lights of downtown San Diego in the distance. I actually learned a lot about building a house along the way. For instance, mortar is a one-four-twelve ratio of lime to cement to sand. Scott really goes into just the right amount of detail explaining everything, so you can really understand what he is talking about and how he did it. I enjoyed Scott's explanations. I think the guys will enjoy this book too.

Another aspect of the book I thoroughly enjoyed is what Scott refers to as "The Magic". A really simplistic explanation is looking at the concept of synchronicity--how we are put with certain experiences and certain folks to learn certain things, so that we can spiritually advance "move along the Game Board of Life". (This concept is something that I very much believe in.) Throughout the story, Scott touches on a few other concepts that I also believe in, such as alternative healing, energy movement, and related topics. Scott's wonderfully dry humor and sometimes child-like inquisitiveness will have you smirking (like the time he was trying to peek at a doctor's hair plugs).

I appreciated Scott and Susan's CAN-DO attitude. Regardless of the hurdle, they dug in to books to learn about what they didn't know and proceeded to GO FORWARD. Scott is especially wonderful with this. His attitude seems to be pretty consistent - "It Looks Easy Enough" - then he reads, visualizes, and does it. And while Susan has had many a bad moment worrying about her cancer (and who wouldn't?), she ultimately cries it out and gets moving forward. You've got to respect the perseverance!

This book is a good read for anyone, because it clearly demonstrates WE CAN do a lot more than we often think we can. Fear paralyzes many people, but "FEAR" is a reaction we ALLOW ourselves to have. We CHOOSE how we will react to any situation. This book may also be encouragement for the many women today who have been suffering from breast cancer (or anyone else with cancer worries). As Susan learns, put your fears behind you and put your focus on LIVING instead of worrying about dying.

This WONDERFUL BOOK is inspirational and looks at life-challenges by mentally breaking them down into small manageable pieces! You see the power of attitude and gratitude, once you step away and realize "It (really) Looks Easy Enough"! I HIGHLY recommend it.

BTW--If you are in the San Diego area and need an architect, consider Scott. He has some pretty cool ideas, as you can see throughout this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Memoirs are one of my favorite genres to read. I love a good story about someone else's life, experiences, and learning moments. My favorite definition of wisdom is the ability to learn from other people's experiences without having to go through it yourself. In the case of this book, I feel like I learned a lot and had a great time doing it !

Scott Stevenson is 46 years old when he decides to retire from his career as an architect, get married for the first time, and build their new home largely without outside help. Within months of his marriage, his new wife is diagnosed with breast cancer and they begin dealing with all that entails. In addition, his sister finally decides she can no longer stay married to her abusive husband and begins divorce proceedings. To top it all off, during the time period covered by the book, the stock market crash occurs and the California fires threaten their just-completed dream home.

This book has an incredible story to tell of the challenges someone can go through and (largely) keep their equilibrium and optimism. Any one of these events by itself would be upsetting, but the combination would lead many folks to throw up their hands and run away as fast as they could. Scott Stevenson and his wife Susan manage through all of this with a huge amount of grace and style and his life philosophy has a lot to do with that success.

I enjoyed the memoir from beginning to end because I really, really, really wanted to know how everything turned out (I'm not going to tell you and spoil it) plus it is written so very well. A first-time author, Mr. Stevenson has a style that works well for this genre. I almost felt like my favorite uncle or close friend was sharing his story with me -- it has a folksy, honest tone that makes it seem very personal for the reader. I also have to complement everyone involved in allowing this story to be told with such openness and honesty. His wife, Susan, has her story told in such a way as to be so human and shows us the raw emotion of dealing with cancer and the sometimes totally irrational reaction that she had. I loved the fact she wasn't portrayed as a saint who handled everything perfectly and maintained her emotional balance through it all - she was who she was, warts and all, and he loved her regardless.

These are people I actually came to care about during the days that I read this and this is a jewel that I hope others will be lucky enough to find.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Book club members and others, buy this book. It will give you umpteen million themes to discuss, to argue about, to laugh at, cry about, and ultimately to learn from. No wonder it's the Book Bundz book club pick for 2010. It's impossible to read Looks Easy Enough without being inspired by the courage, grit, faith, and honesty of writer Scott Stevenson and his wife Susan. All of us have endured hardships, but the Stevensons, by any account, have had more than their share of problems. In his "Notes from the Author" section at the beginning of the book, writer-architect Scott Stevenson tells his readers what the book will be about: his falling in love with Susan and marrying for the first time at age forty-six, his soul-mate's breast cancer diagnosis five months after their wedding, her agonizing fears and choice to pursue non-conventional treatments, his sister's messy divorce from an abusive husband, the destruction of the Stevenson's dream house in a horrific forest fire, and the loss of their savings during "the largest market crash since the Great Depression."

So it's not WHAT happens in this book that mesmerizes readers, but HOW Stevenson and his wife cope and overcome myriad challenges. Stevenson's highly personal account is brutally honest. He supports his wife throughout her fearsome ordeal with cancer and all the decisions she makes. When she chooses alternative medical therapy, he backs her and encourages her to follow her heart even when her choices take her to New York City and across the border. But, in spite of his support, he takes responsibility for not experiencing her magical turn-around:

"For the last 2 years, whenever Susan tried to share with me what she was experiencing in her sessions with Dr. Stephanie Merritt, I more or less ignored her; not because I didn't feel what Susan was doing was important. I ignored her because I was too wrapped up in my own issues . . . . "

Stevenson paints the picture of a real marriage, one with problems, outbursts, LOVING, screaming, crying, working together and LOVING even more. Sitting amid the charred remains of their dream house, Susan breaks down:

"I'M ANGRY AT THAT STUPID HUNTER FOR STARTING THE FIRE AND FOR BURNING OUR HOUSE DOWN! I'M ANGRY AT THE FIRE DEPARTMENT FOR NOT BEING HERE TO PROTECT US! I'M ANGRY THAT WE WORKED SO HARD BUILDING OUR HOUSE AND NOW IT'S GONE. I'M ANGRY THAT OUR BEAUTIFUL FOREST IS GONE! AND I'M ANGRY AT YOU FOR LOSING OUR MONEY."

When you finish this book, you will have lived life with the Stevensons and learned a terrific amount about cancer treatments, building a house, dealing with divorce, and investing in the stock market. You will also have lots to think about: Do we, in fact, choose our own circumstances, even our own illnesses, in order to learn and progress along the "Game Board of Life " and, if so, how can we learn to keep the "Big Picture" of life, what Stevenson calls the "Magic," foremost in our minds instead of dwelling on isolated issues and problems.

In the end, when you finish Looks Easy Enough, you will feel hopeful and good. As Stevenson says: "In actuality this book is a love story, an adventure story, a do-it-yourself story, a comedy, and yes, also a spiritual story all rolled into one . . ."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Every once in awhile a book comes along that inspires me to jump out of bed early just so I can read it. Looks Easy Enough, A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster is one of those rare gems! I just couldn't wait to enter the world of Scott and Susan Stevenson. This book is an easy, fast read with short chapters that keeps you entertained, laughing, crying, and leaning wisdom while wondering what is going to happen next. Would the fire destroy their dream house which they built themselves by reading do-it-yourself manuals that made it look easy enough? Would Scott's estranged brother-in-law stop stalking his sister and finally agree to a divorce? Would Scott and his wife Susan lose their retirement in the great crash of NASDAQ? Most importantly, would Susan heal from breast cancer?

And you thought you had stress in your life. Scott Stevenson faced all these challenges within a four-year period! (I wonder what score he would have received on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale?)

In this remarkable memoir, Scott shares how he maintains a joyful disposition through it all by keeping his eye on the Big Picture, not getting lost in the small one. Though he lost almost all his lifetime savings (about a million when you count the money he earned from NASDAQ), he notes, "I am here on Earth to learn from my chosen experiences, and the only value of money is what I can learn from it, not what I can purchase with it." He feels that the only thing that really matters is how far we advance on the Game Board of Life and we even chose our battles before we were born so that we could advance more spiritually. "Seeing these experiences as events I chose to have in order to learn from (the Big Picture view), rather than as unpleasant experiences that just happened to me out of the blue (the small picture view), allowed me to avoid being caught up in the pain, worries, and fears of the moment. ..The Magic is quite simple. Learn as much as you can from each experience. That's it. Just learn. And, as you learn, you will grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually; you will be moving along your path."

About his house (which by the way, was not insured!), Scott remarks, "If it takes having our house burn down to move further along the Board, then I'm happy to have it burn down. It's a small price to pay to accelerate us toward our ultimate goal."

The inspirational book is a must-read for those facing cancer in their family, as it details the healing of his wife Susan from breast cancer while using alternative therapies. Rarely does anything I read bring tears to my eyes, but the passage in which Susan knew she was finally rid of cancer in her subconscious (as well as her body) was very moving.

Most amazing, through all this tumultuous time, the couple remain loving and respectful to each other, and they never run out of pet names for one another. Though this book has been called the Eat, Pray, Love for guys (since it comes from the male perspective), it includes plenty of romance for women. I read parts of it to my husband, since we are going through a stressful transition right now. Scott and Susan make a great role model as a couple not wavering in their commitment and love.

The book is filled with humor and fun. Insights and tips for emotional and spiritual well-being are weaved into this true story. I usually read 4 or 5 books at a time. But not with this one: it got my full attention!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 12, 2010
Looks Easy Enough is a very entertaining memoir. The message of this book is to try to learn from every experience in my life, whether that experience is either positive or negative. Scott describes the hard work involved in building his dream house with his wife Susan and members of his family. I could not help but admire their hard work and dedication to this project as I read this book. It is fun visualizing what this house looks like in my mind. Stevenson devotes an entire chapter on each individual step. I really like the chapter about laying bricks to make the wall of his house.

I have never been to the Cuyamaca mountains in San Diego, but Scott makes living in the woods sound like the best place to live. He is an animal lover. He spends a whole chapter about his fascination about an owl.

Scott Stevenson is the kind of writer that makes me care about the people in his family. His wife Susan is a breast cancer survivor. Her courageous fight to beat breast cancer is one of the appealing themes about the book. I love reading about the alternative treatments and therapies she goes through to beat the disease. Scott Stevenson is a caring brother who gives his time and money to help his sister Beth through a long and painful divorce.

Looks Easy Enough is a memoir that will help anyone going through some kind of loss or adversity. I am inspired by Scott and Susan Stevenson's level of resilience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
As Director of Breast Cancer Choices and moderator of Breast Cancer Think Tank, I've heard many stories of how patients face the crisis of diagnosis. But none of the patients or their family members ever get around to recording their stories in detail so that others may share and learn from the experience. Scott has created a moving, challenging memoir which questioning breast cancer patients will treasure. The personal details bring the story alive and make the reader relate to their struggles.

How does a patient make decisions about treatment? Scott and Susan describe their journey, all the while, trying to cope with life going on around them. The best part of Scott's and Susan's story is the we-can-do-this attitude they bring to every challenge. Susan sets up a cancer fighting system and removes anything in her life which doesn't support that system.

Cancer patients can learn that you don't just get onboard the breast cancer treatment track when you're diagnosed and step off when someone tells you're finished. You need to make a research plan, find out the best questions to ask and keep pushing on. Susan's and Scott's story is an example which shows patients they don't have to be overwhelmed, they just have to know how to find information and keep their options open. Information-gathering may take a little time, but acquiring the actual facts empowers patients ---as LOOKS EASY ENOUGH demonstrates.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2010
When I received this book I was in the middle of reading another book but thought I would just give my new book a quick glance. So much for quick glance. I sat down with it, began to read and could not stop. The method used by the author to describe a possible loss of his home in a fire, the legal terror involved with his sister's divorce, and the struggle with his wife to make informed choices during her battle with cancer was devised to keep you involved in all of their lives as he switched from one situation to another and back again. His description of the initial building of their peaceful retreat in the woods and all they encountered trying to keep building with mostly amateurs and family, while fighting cancer, and fighting the nearly meaningless struggle through the legal morass of a divorce kept you involved in their lives. Seldom does an author honestly give you an insight into such personal space as Scott Stevenson does, always with a sense of humor and the unbelievable ability to just keep on keeping on. The little glimpses of ordinary things that he throws in from time to time along with the asides he makes are delightful. Every time he or his wife are up against some new construction challenge, he says "Seems easy enough!" Not!

I look forward to another book by this author because his writing style is so easy and it invites you to just keep reading and reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Scott has brilliantly penned his first book and revealed himself as not only a great writer but as a magnificent metaphysician who is able to create from nothing and bring life lessons into being.The book will mean much to many different souls as they too journey through life's problems and challenges.

Scott is able to detach from personal emotion and see the big picture...as he weaves his love tome to his beautiful and courageous wife Susan...hey how many gals would like their guy to write a whole book to them expressing such deep love and commitment? Way to go Scott!

It surely is the journey not the destination which gives the juice to this book. From comedy of the "down-pants" type to tragedies - physical, material, mental, spiritual - this book runs the gamut of possibilities and the lessons therein are many-fold.

I read the book with ease and alacrity...something I cannot seem to do with many books. I asked Scott why this is so and he casually said, "I don't use too many big words!" As always Scott has the power of understatement. Gosh I could ramble on forever, but I am taking away your time to grab this book and devour it's inflammable content. Rush like a fire to get your own copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A few reviewers have described LOOKS EASY ENOUGH as "the EAT, PRAY, LOVE for guys." I haven't read that book and I probably won't anytime soon, nor will I see the movie. And, truth to tell, it took me a long time to get past page 12 of LOOKS EASY ENOUGH, mostly because I was having my own life adventures---the death of my father and two beloved pets in close time proximity, my mother's sudden illness, health problems of my own, the virtual evaporation of my twenty year old business and my savings in this economy, a long separation from my "partner in crime"---and much of it is still ongoing. So to sit and read a book about somebody's "joyful memoir" of personal disaster didn't really do it for me. Still, eventually, I soldiered on.

There's a lot I like about LOOKS EASY ENOUGH. It's a delightfully talky book, a positive tale, in which author Scott Stevenson recounts in exquisite detail the intimately intertwined stories of his midlife first marriage, his wife Susan's experience with breast cancer and healing, his sister Beth's seemingly-endless divorce from her abusive husband, Tree, the rollercoaster ride his nest egg took on the NASDAQ, the building of a country retirement home in the mountains near San Diego, the destructive California wildfires, and the aftermath of all of it. Scott and Susan come thriving through it all, though not quite in the way they expect.

I was relieved, however, to find that Scott was scared stiff of the consequences of his considerable financial losses. It made him more human. A person who can go trippingly down the forest road in the face of everything life can throw at you and then some is either a saint or a phony. I was happy to see that he is neither.

Many female reviewers have gushed over Scott as a sensitive, caring man, the kind of man a woman wants but can't find. Scott does seem like "a good man." Ladies, there are a lot more men like Scott out there than you think. But Scott is not just Scott. He's also one half of Scott and Susan, and so much of what makes Scott who he is is his relationship with Susan, a woman who did not find it odd that he wished to hand build a house in a near wilderness, a woman who had no objections to pouring concrete, hammering beams, or driving a trackhoe, a woman who did not object when Scott spent $50,000 funding his sister's divorce, and a woman who, despite her own terrifying illness, never became completely self-absorbed and unsupportive. Before you kvetch about "men," ladies, look at the kind of "woman" you yourself are. Cheers to Susan.

Scott fervently believes in life lessons and what he calls The Magic. Scott believes we choose to be in particular situations for the lessons they impart. This is pretty standard New Age fare.

As an aside, I have to render my own opinion on The Magic. Many people struggle with health problems like breast cancer. Many people face financial ruin at some point. Many people wrestle with divorce. Fewer people hand build their own home only to find it threatened by a conflagration. I am reminded of a New Age pundit who explained the Indian Ocean Tsunami in terms of a life lesson, that somehow the million survivors and the 250,000 dead generated "Tsunami Energy" in some kind of self-imposed mass extinction event because they needed the lessons of drowning and loss. This is a species of vapid claptrap that explains away wars, pestilences, Holocausts, and so on by putting all the onus on the victims of said incidents. The fact is that we DON'T choose everything that happens to us. Some things like wars and slaughters are caused by bad actors (Hitler, Pol Pot, George W. Bush and Stalin) or bad choices (the fire that consumed the forest near Scott's home began as a small rescue beacon set by a lost hiker: the Forest Service decided not to put it out because the fire 'copters could not fly after certain hours, and so it spread unchecked. The Dust Bowl Scott's mother grew up in was the result of poor farming practices on The Great Plains). Some things merely happen naturally (like tsunamis and earthquakes and floods), and we are left to learn what we can from them (or not). Nobody "needs" the experience of Auschwitz or 9/11 or a wildfire. Karma (for lack of a better term) is a complex three dimensional subject that involves personal, family, societal and worldwide factors, and there is a tendency to dangerously oversimplify it by saying that "we choose" to have various types of experiences.

There are a few stylistic problems with LOOKS EASY ENOUGH. It's tolerable, because he's so ebullient, but Scott, unfortunately, has what Zen Masters have called "the stink of Zen" about him, a tendency to gush on and on about The Magic and (especially in regard to his sister's divorce) The Board of The Game of Life, and how we choose to have these bad experiences, and oh boy, shouldn't we be thrilled about the opportunity to learn. Sorry, but that kind of prattle is annoying in the extreme, especially when you're suffering through it, and I was surprised that Beth didn't clonk him on the head with a frying pan after awhile.

Scott, a word of advice: Stop talking about The Magic and be IN The Magic. There's nothing worse than a kid who says, "I know something you don't know." Well, whoop-dee-doo, because there are a whole lot of things Beth knows and Susan knows, and I know, and Everybody Else knows that you don't know. That's life.

Sometimes the vignettes go off track. I had to wonder why Scott had to tell us literally everything that happened for the last seven years. LOOKS EASY ENOUGH had stretches that seemed interminable. Like Mies Van Der Rohe, less can be more. Scott loves details, but some details fall under the heading of TMI (Too Much Information). A chapter entitled "TYVEK and Diarrhea" speaks for itself. I'm still wondering where he came up with "Headley Turk" for the name of his ex-brother-in-law's Attorney. I know the real Hedley Turk, and he's an indie film producer in New York City.

Scott also has a tendency to be way too Cutesy-Poo with Susan. The profusion of pet names ("Sometimes Susan calls me/I call Susan..." Husband, Wife, Babe-O, Bub, Newt, Toot, Dute, Puddle, Monk, Mitt, Mutt, and Bean are just a few) made me think that maybe they just didn't remember each other's names too well. That happens when you hit your Fifties. As I can tell you.

But overall, this is an excellent book, especially for a first book, and despite its surface nicks deserves FIVE STARS and a good reading.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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