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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Winning Balance" (Shawn Johnson)

TITLE: Winning Balance: What I've Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams
AUTHOR: Shawn Johnson
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2012, (258 pages).

There are three big reasons to read this book. Firstly, it gives readers a fascinating insight into the world of gymnastics, the intensity of training, and the disciplined lifestyle needed of every gymnast. From the hard and tough support of world-class coaches, to the soft touch of family and friends, one sees how much the sport takes out of anyone desiring to be a gymnast. There are behind the scenes leading up to the Olympic medal performances. There are details about how tense each gymnast becomes before each crucial event. There are also many insights into the highs and lows of gymnastics training and performances.

Secondly, the book gives readers a warm look into the personal life of "America's sweetheart" of 2008. Johnson writes openly about her younger years as a quiet and reserved little girl, and how her foray into gymnastics develops her as a person. She shares intimate details of her love life, and brief romances with Taylor, and her friendship with good buddies. More importantly, it shows us that behind every medal winning performance, and all the showmanship, there is an ordinary person, just trying to be the best version of herself.

Thirdly, the book is educational. There are many snippets of wisdom gleaned over the years. I am impressed by the level of maturity Johnson has written at. Each chapter begins with a thoughtful quotation, and ends with a "Lessons I've Learned." Interspersed throughout the book are some personal poetry and reflections written by the author first hand. By sharing her life's stories and the lessons learned, readers will find the book very heartwarming and enlightening as well. I believe many readers will learn to appreciate more of what it means to live ordinary lives that are authentic, instead of classy Hollywood styles that appear more cosmetic than realistic. I appreciate the way Johnson compares her life as a gymnast versus her life as a dancer in Dancing with the Stars. Her love for the former spurs her comeback. Unfortunately, a skiing accident forces her to change her original plans. Learning to deal with it is a mark of maturity. Johnson's ability to accept change is a role model for many.

The book is a delightful read and I savour every page. It is also an appropriate read right now, especially when the London 2012 games are going on right this very moment. I learn to appreciate the sweat and hard work put into the practice sessions of each gymnast. Surely, I learned to see that behind every jump, behind every fall, behind each performance, there has been years of solid practice and sacrifice that most of us do not see. There is more work than meets the eye. Put into perspective, we all need to learn about a "winning balance" for our own lives. Life is more than just winning. Life is a combination of acceptance, excellence, and perfection. Knowing which is which at different phases of our lives is wisdom and discernment.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Tyndale House Publishers and Tyndale Momentum without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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