Reading prompt #39: A book about an interesting woman

Open Heart, Open Mind by Clara Hughes is the book I selected for this prompt. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 1996, you would recognize Clara as the face of Bell Let’s Talk Campaign and as the only Canadian athlete to win medals at both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. 

This woman is incredible. Her success has been the result of huge inner turmoil. A alcoholic father created an abusive and instable childhood which fueled destructive behaviours that at times were channeled into athletics and other times booze and food.  She describes the highs and lows of her emotional state through the chronology of her athletic career but the highs don’t predictably come with success in her career. 

I couldn’t put this book down. Hughes is an engaging writer and has had some incredible experiences. Her description of her bike tour up the Dempster Highway made me wish I had my bike packed and ready for a trip, rightthissecond. 

Landscapes and people speak to this woman through her bike. Since the bicycle is open, she is approachable and much closer to her surroundings than when riding in a car. Hughes seems to crave this openness, as a way to recharge herself but also to keep moving, often to ride away from her demons. This moving away from darkness felt familiar to me. When I’m struggling with something in my life I choose running to escape, and running until it hurts distracts me from mental pain. My husband’s stroke illicited this response. Rather than talking through my fears and worries, I chose to run. A lot. In the end, I had to face the impact of his health head on, rather than trying to run from it. Hughes has had to face her mental health issues head on, now that she is retired. I enjoyed reading about what she does to keep herself well and I think some of the strategies she uses would work for me too, in times of trouble. 

This book will be staying on my bookshelf.

Books read: 5/52

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