Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: TURN YOUR PAIN INTO ART by Ariel Bloomer

Rating: 5/5 stars

I’m a big Icon for Hire fan, so when I found out lead singer Ariel Bloomer wrote a memoir, I immediately ordered myself a copy. And her book is so wonderful.

I didn’t know very much about Ariel before reading Turn Your Pain Into Art, but now I feel like I know her on a personal level, and I definitely know a lot more about her band, too. She starts out talking about her childhood and background of how she got to where she’s at today. Ariel always wanted to be a singer and lyricist, and many of her lyrics have come about from experiences in her life. I think that’s kind of the point of her book’s title: make all the events in your life count for something. Even the bad memories can turn out to be positive in the end: use the bad events as the basis for something positive, like killer song lyrics. And that’s exactly how Ariel approached songwriting, by using moments from her life as the basis for her lyrics. I especially enjoyed learning about the meaning behind “Rock and Roll Thugs,” which turned out to be more shocking than I had ever imagined. I loved seeing how so many of her experiences translated themselves into lyrics I can relate to.

I realized I wanted to be happy.

Ariel’s memoir is honest and full of raw emotion. She shares her fears and failures as well as her joys and successes. She tells us what held her back for many years and how she overcame her struggles to become who she wanted to be, someone happier. What’s great, though, is that she shares stories of her depression in a way that the reader can immediately connect with her but also want to get better. And she wants you to get better. This book doesn’t look down on anyone struggling with the same miserable circumstances that she did, but it provides a support one can use to recognize their problem and work through it and come out on top, just like Ariel did.

“My voice matters. I don’t have to mindlessly do what everybody asks of me,” says Ariel about playing in the Christian music genre. I had no idea that Icon for Hire, and especially Ariel, didn’t want to be in the Christian music genre. Ariel herself grew up a Christian, but she doesn’t want to be defined by that type of music nor confined to that label’s limitations. That’s interesting because I originally discovered her band through a sampler of new artists from Tooth and Nail Records, a Christian music label. I’m glad they were able to become independent so they can produce the kind of music they want and share the messages that are important to them. I love that we learn about the band’s history simultaneously with Ariel’s personal history. It shows how much Icon for Hire has always been a part of her life and how devoted she is to it.

Ariel’s voice and style are very pronounced, and it makes the book so engaging to read. I felt like I was having a nice chat with her instead of a formal presentation (which is sometimes how memoirs/biographies turn out). She describes a refreshing approach to self-help. I wouldn’t initially call this a self-help book because half of it is her memoir, but the other half is about how to live intentionally and love yourself. Her whole book is focused on loving yourself and finding creating happiness for yourself. She suggests the “outside-in” approach, in which you change what’s on the outside of you, your surroundings, and consequently feel better on the inside.

Turn Your Pain Into Art is a highly motivational book, and not in a way that’s like, “Oh that’s nice, I should do that someday.” In part two, Ariel includes questions and lines to write your answers at the end of every chapter, and it has been an eye-opening experience for me on a personal level. I’ve become really introspective and begun reevaluating my life, my dreams, and my hopes. The questions have helped me realize what I want out of life and where I find true joy. I’ve realized what’s holding me back and what I’m afraid of, and I’ve set tangible goals to help me achieve my dreams. It is a great feeling to realize you are finally making progress in life.

It's okay to stop doing something that's too hard or makes you no money or just isn’t fun anymore.

This book is recommended to anyone who’s a big fan of Icon for Hire or a fan of Ariel’s web series, The REL Show. Or for anyone struggling with depression and a feeling of being stunted in self-expression, like being caged in a box but wanting to come out on the other side. I have gained so much from reading her book, and it’s one that I know I will read again and again when I need the reminders to love myself.

I came to understand that if I stopped creating so much room for my pain, it would stop screaming at me so loudly.

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