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Are You My Guru?: How Medicine, Meditation & Madonna Saved My Life Paperback – September 7, 2010
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Author Shanker has written a hilariously upbeat and inspirational memoir/self-help book about her struggle with a) body image and b) her health and c) both.
While I was expecting alot of humor in this book, I was also amazed at how honestly and POSITIVELY Shanker talks about her situation and, in fact, manages to turn a scary event into one of opportunity - to discover and to grow - to invest some serious time in the "me" and figure out just what works and doesn't and more importantly how you relate to your own life.
I have long been fascinated by "alternative therapies" and the healing powers that lay within them. Shanker uses this premise and goes one step further - she incorporates these practices into her life - coupled with western medicine in order to get better both physically and mentally.
I have always believed that if your mind is ill - then it will manifest itself in your body - and this book has proven me right. It has also proven to me that we are all searching for something that, for the most part, remains elusive - until we are open enough to truly appreciate it.
I loved the writing - it was touching in its optimism and "never give up" attitude. I loved that Shanker admits that while her health was a concern - so was her body image - that good old body image that none of use can ever seem to shake :(
She chronicles her career and weight ups and downs, which are balanced against the blunt drama of her illness; her nose starts to literally fall off, she can't smell, and her body is extremely compromised. To try to understand what's happening to her, she reads and researches but is also willing to try almost anything--except putting pigeons on her body to absorb her illness, which is suggested by her father and a rabbi. Through this episode, in all its outrageousness, Shanker also shows that when she was in the depths of, basically, bodily hell, she didn't stoop to something like this, but in the back of her mind there is at least the shadow of a question of whether it could have worked.
Shanker doesn't make light of her illness at all; in fact, I put this book down a few times because I had trouble with how terrible her life seemed at times, not because of her storytelling but because of the starkness of Wagener's granulomatosis. There is, however, both humor and an immense amount of heart as she navigates various philosophies regarding treatment. She rightly counters the healers who say that if you only wish hard enough, your illness will go away, but sends up and stumps one of her doctors when she manages to make her liver problems dissipate using Eastern methods. Shanker also offers advice to family and friends who are trying to help someone with a prolonged illness, and while she doesn't offer false hope, like her idol, she does offer a ray of light (and I do hope Madonna reads about the concert Shanker attends that makes that phrase truly come alive).
Wendy shares her story of chronic illness (in her case Wegener's) and how she went from being this extremely active type A personality, working a million hours a week for a tv studio and doing freelance jobs, to fighting this disease that was tearing her apart. This is her story of how she was forced to learn to accept her new reality. So many times while reading this book, I thought "thank you", "thank you for sharing the reality of chronic illness, of how we feel about fighting that illness, about how many times we want to just give up, about how willing we are to really try anything". Her story shares the ups and downs, there's no happy ending where she suddenly gets better and stays that way for the rest of her life. This is an honest portrayal and really just a story of acceptance.
The book is well written, funny, and honest. I love that she doesn't try to make everything wine and roses, or give off this idea that there is a perfect answer. The real truth of the book is that we are own Guru. No one knows our body like we do. The drs may be the experts in the disease we are dealing with, but we are the experts of our own bodies, and the best results will come when the experts work together.
I wish I could get to the point of acceptance that Wendy found, and maybe one day I will find it. In the meantime, this book will stay with me and I will read it again and again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Perhaps I have a warped sense of humor, but parts of this book made me laugh out loud. As the book blurb explains "When she ran out of medical options, Wendy found herself... Read morePublished 1 month ago by An Unfashionable Woman
I thought the Author would be more forthcoming about what helped her heal. Like which foods and supplements. Read morePublished 21 months ago by susan taylor
Very insightful, good read,Bought used and to my surprise was just like a brand new one. Thank you for the great service.Published on July 15, 2013 by MG
The book has some humor in it but it ultimately did not provide me the information or inspiration I was looking for. Read morePublished on October 22, 2012 by Lexsmarie
This non-fiction book is the reason I don't like to read fiction. Truth, when well-told, is so much more engrossing and insightful. Read morePublished on January 16, 2011 by Daphne Hildebolt
With wonderful aplomb, humor and charm, Wendy Shanker recounts with vivid detail and perspective the ordeals she's had to face over the past several years. Read morePublished on November 20, 2010 by Tobias Wright
My best advice for reading this book is to start in the morning on a weekend because you won't be able to put it down. Great book, touching and funny.Published on November 1, 2010 by Martin R.
Witty, insightful, wise, smart-ass and fabulous. Armored with humor, brains, guts, fiercely loving family & friends and MAC Russian Red lipstick, Shanker takes us with her on the... Read morePublished on October 11, 2010 by Linda Robinson