Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review: Falling Together

By Denise Keliuotis

This was one of those times where the title of the book truly summed it all up.

When I began reading Falling Together: How to Find Balance, Joy, and Meaningful Change When Your Life Seems to be Falling Apart, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Donna Wilk Cardillo’s work has been classified under the “self-help” genre, so I suppose I expected some life tips, but Falling Together offers so much more. Cardillo has crafted a thoughtful work of – yes – advice, but she has done so in a personal, heartfelt, and relatable way.

Without a doubt, Falling Together could easily be set among the memoirs, as Cardillo spends a good portion of the book sharing stories from her own life, stories from which she learned important and truly life-changing lessons. Working through these experiences, Cardillo found the way to greater happiness and serenity, even in the face of immense stress and self-doubt.

Cardillo’s story begins in the middle, but also at the beginning. She is on the cusp of turning forty when she finds herself stuck in what she labels a “spiritual crisis.” She was in a loving marriage and had a solid career in the nursing field, and yet she truly was not happy. Cardillo faced a choice: she could give in to her existential malaise and keep the status quo, or she could attempt to make a change. She chose the latter, setting out to start her own business as a professional speaker. Taking action worked, and she felt her cloud lift as she began to head down this new path.

But life is funny, and it held other plans for Cardillo. And the curveball it threw – an illness affecting Cardillo’s husband – underlies many of the lessons contained in Falling Together.

With great heart, honesty, and courage, Cardillo shares her journey down her own winding path, one full of life’s ups and downs, one that could have led her to a dark, depressive dead-end but which instead brought her to a place of light, peace, and contentment. Refusing to turn inward, she opted to travel the world and talk about her experiences and the valuable lessons she’s taken away. As she did so, Cardillo met dozens of women who told her how easily they related to her words. It was this discovery that led to Falling Together. Cardillo explains it best:

Over the years I have learned that every woman has a warrior within her, along with unique gifts to bring forward into the world. But often we get derailed on our journey to live an authentic life, one where we come to know ourselves and be true to who we are. My sincere hope is that this book will help you find courage, inspiration, balance, happiness, and meaningful change in your own life, even when it seems to be falling apart, to continue that journey and light up the world in the process.

Cardillo – now a blogger at and lovingly known as The Inspirational Nurse – has divided Falling Together into themed chapters with titles including "Losing Self" and "Making Friends with Fear." My favorite chapter is "Caring for My Most Important Asset – Me," a well-written reminder to women to take care of themselves as they are immersed in caring for others. Each chapter ends with a "Lessons Learned" section, as well as "Recommended Reading and Resources."  Readers will see themselves and their stories within those shared by Cardillo because even though her experiences belong to her, in many ways, they are truly universal.

Falling Together guides the way to finding the good among the bad, the upside of the downside, the opportunity often hidden behind the challenge. Inspiring, it will remind you that it is never too late to be true to yourself, that change is often both scary and exhilarating, that we really do control our own destinies, even at those moments we feel like we are falling apart.

Thanks to BookSparks for the book in exchange for an honest review.