Book Review: Open Heart by Akil Taher, MD

02 May

I love to read. It wasn't always that way for me. I don't remember enjoying books until I became an adult. In my youth, I had too much to do and reading would only slow me down. I also did not see myself as a good reader compared to others my age. Luckily I realized it didn't matter if I was a good reader or not...there was a whole new world out there to consume when I did read regardless of how well I do it. 

 I love to be reading three books at a time. I usually have one book for career development, one book for health and personal development, and one book for motivation and inspiration. I found Dr. Tahers's book while scrolling through LinkedIn. (Side note: LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for career development!) 

I had just finished a book on eating healthier, so I decided to purchase his book to fill this category. Improving my health. 

When I started reading it, I could tell his writing style was different from mine. He was very straight to the point without very much, what I call "fluff". It took me a few pages to get into the rhythm of the way he said things. I was surprised at how he described himself before his bypass surgery. Let's just say he would not have been invited in my circle of friends. I don't like to be around people who think their prestigious jobs or education is a reason to put themselves on a pedestal. I prefer down-to-earth humble human beings who want to make the world a better place. He was not that kind of person from what I read.

So after reading about his life view and choices, I wasn't for sure I would like this book, let alone him. I continued to read anyway. (I believe in giving people chances.)

His determination became clear when he wrote about being totally taken off guard by his heart disease diagnosis followed by the bypass surgery. Being a physician himself, it was quite the blow to his ego, but it opened his eyes to what is more important than money and prestige. Life. More specifically, QUALITY of life.

Prior to his diagnosis he had not really exercised. Post diagnosis he declared he would run a marathon. As the reader and former athlete, I was anxious about where this would go. Declaring to run a marathon when you've never been a runner seemed....well, I just knew his odds of completing one weren't good.  He wrote about his experience but, to be honest, I wanted more details. I wanted more" fluff" to his story. I love details! Yet, he kept it very factual. I thought about not continuing reading because at this point, though I admired the man's determination. I wanted him to take me on his journey a little more. I wasn't sure he was capable of that because I still wasn't a fan yet, but I decided to keep reading though slightly disappointed. I told myself he was a physician not a professional writer. In my gut I felt he had to have more to say.

I'm glad I made that decision. In retrospect, that race was simply a milestone for him. It was the beginning of his amazing journey. I continued reading chapter after chapter,  and I got to a point where I looked forward to reading what was next. He became more expressive and started giving more details. I was slowly becoming a fan. I felt he finally let me, the reader, in to more of the emotions to complement the facts. The book started transitioning from something I picked up to learn about health, to something that started to inspire me. The more I read the more inspired and reflective I became. 

My favorite part was about his experience climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. By this time I had fallen in love with his sprit and could feel the anguish in his journey, his human emotions, his physical limitations, and the deep love for his wife (that always gets bonus points in my mind).

Finally, the book ends with factual information about our diets. He is not selling a new diet fad where he's pushing his books and resources (or I would have rolled my eyes in disappointment). No, he addressed the impact of our eating choices on our bodies. I hung on every word. I have been slowly adjusting my own diet due to some medical issues. This gave me the motivation to continue down my own path of taking my eating habits seriously. 

So if you are still reading this (I know I write with quite a bit of fluff) and you want a book to read that potentially will inspire and educate you all at once, I strongly recommend you read this. You may ask what does this do with financial planning? Well, I believe there is more to life than money. Taking care of yourselves is important to give you the longevity for all the financial planning we have done. Plus, I care about each one of you and want you to live fulfilling lives while taking care of yourselves.

Lastly, I want to thank Dr. Akil for sharing his journey in life with us. In my profession, 61 is young. I know you are older now, but I'm so glad you opened your eyes to a meaningful life as soon as you did. Sadly, not everyone does. If we weren't in a pandemic and we were standing in the same room I would hug you (with your permission, of course.) I am grateful to have read your story, the entire story. You have my respect and adoration. It was what I needed exactly when I needed it. Thank you from the bottom of my "open" heart. ♥

"There is a sweetness that comes from delighting in someone else's wellbeing; it strengthens our capacity for joy." ~AmyAnn Cadwell 

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