Title: Open Heart, Open Mind
Author: Clara Hughes
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In 2006, when Clara Hughes stepped onto the Olympic podium in Torino, Italy, she became the first and only athlete ever to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games. Four years later, she was proud to carry the Canadian flag at the head of the Canadian team as they participated in the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. But there’s another story behind her celebrated career as an athlete, behind her signature billboard smile. While most professional athletes devote their entire lives to training, Clara spent her teenage years using drugs and drinking to escape the stifling home life her alcoholic father had created in Elmwood, Winnipeg. Told with honesty and passion, Open Heart, Open Mind is Clara’s personal journey through physical and mental pain to a life where love and understanding can thrive. This revelatory and inspiring story will touch the hearts of readers everywhere.
Hughes’ autobiography has to be one of the most inspiring personal stories that I’ve read in a long time. As a runner, I understand Clara’s struggle with physical pain. As a woman, I related to Clara’s struggle with self-image. As a person, I empathized with her struggle with self-esteem. Hughes’ describes her uphill and inward battle with depression and anxiety, while on the outside, she was Canadian representative on the world stage again and again.
I think any Canadian can benefit from reading a story like Hughes’. Her story of growing up in a household with an alcoholic, and much emotional abuse, is sadly a reality for many people. But Hughes shows the power of perseverance and facing one’s demons. It takes her a long time to confront her depression and to seek out the root cause. She often slogs through the pain and negativity, pushing herself to the brink. Throughout her lifetime, she comes to acknowledge the darkness that she struggles with and faces it head on. Clara finds inspiration in the people in her own life who help her to achieve her goals and to reach her personal best. She grows as a person into someone who has created a supportive team of people who are there to see her through the challenges.
By sharing her story with Canadian (and international) readers, Hughes’ unveils the life of the Olympic athlete and it’s not all glorious. Clara finds strength in this gruelling world. She finds purpose in giving back to the world that supports her. She rising from the ashes to become a Canadian success story. Open Heart, Open Mind is a wonderful read.