Live It Great

Book Review by Mel Fernandez

This book is very much focused on a Filipino family’s migrant experience – to be more precise, how they became tourists, migrants, tourists and then migrants again – in Christchurch. “Crazy,” says Bo Sanchez in his forward to the book, when describing the tumultuous twists and turns the family encountered on their journey. “‘Live It Great’ is a fascinating read as it is filled with inspiring snapshots that will help you take charge of your life. By the way, there is a happy ending to this story.”

I recall that my situation was no different from that of many other university graduates venturing into the ‘real world’. Along the way we encountered speed bumps and potholes and might become totally dissatisfied with the direction our life is going in.

Fortunately for me, I stumbled across a human relations programme called ‘Adventures in Attitudes’, developed by Bob Conklin. Attending this fast paced personal development workshop proved to be a life changer.

Back then the course cost $580. But if it were offered today it would be priced well over $2,000 – and worth every cent of it. Sadly it is now only available for corporate clients – no public workshops.

A key takeaway from that program was: ‘Something has to change if you want to fulfil your goals in life.’

When I started reading Joyce Roa’s ‘Live It Great: 12 Real Life Lessons to Help You Live Your Own Happy and Meaningful Life as a Migrant’ there were flashbacks to the AIA program, as well as Earl Nightingale’s ‘Lead the Field’ workshop and the numerous motivational books I’ve read over the years.

What was different about Roa’s book? Well for a start it’s not a self- improvement book in the strictest sense of the definition. I found it to be more of an inspirational book. Thankfully it does not cover the common themes found in self-help books as the libraries are filled with motivational and self-improvement books. But there are some familiar golden threads from here and there that help to make Roa’s book special.

The book starts with their story – why the Roas decided to migrate to New Zealand in 2014. The trigger for the move it appears was the failure of a business they were involved in back home. They needed to get away to restart their careers and their life in greener pastures.

In Christchurch Roa’s first job was as a checkout operator in a supermarket. (“I learned more about the Kiwi culture through my interaction with customers and the staff,” says Roa.)

Two years later she became a caregiver. (“Part of me felt that all my education and experience were going down the drain.”)

She has been an activities coordinator in the health field for over two years. (This job relates to her previous experience as an event manager in the Philippines.)

As the title suggests the book  features snapshots of their journey and is interspersed with words of wisdom and inspirational tales or ‘real life lessons’ that Roa learned in the process of moving to and living in a new country.

The 12 lessons in the book show you how to deal with crossroads in your life. How trusting in God results in a meaningful and happy life. Why giving of yourself to others heals you. How to live for more than money. And lots more.

“For many immigrants life too often becomes a challenging cycle of adjusting to a new life in a new country, working hard to establish yourself, going up the career ladder and working even more hours,” says Roa.

“In the process, actual living gets left behind in search of the proverbial greener pastures. And guilt, regret and longing whisper in their painful voices more often than you want. You don’t have to go down that road.”

This is not a voluminous book – only about 100 pages in medium sized typeface, so you can get through it in a couple of hours. It is easy to read as it is written in an informal style. According to Roa, so far about 200-300 copies of this self-published book have been sold, mainly online via Amazon.

‘Live it great’ by Joyce Roa.

Self-published in Christchurch, 2018.

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