How Heather got her HAT’ness back
Written and illustrated by Heather Costaras
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
This reader impression was written and sent to LitNet on the writer's own initiative.
I simply adore this quirky treat of a book with its hugely profound and life-changing message. Every woman should have this self-published book on her bedside table. The foreword aptly sports the following quote from the Mad Hatter to Alice: “You used to be much more ... muchier. You’ve lost your MUCHness ...” The book ends with this poignant question from Danielle LaPorte: “Can you remember who you were ... before the world told you who you should be?”
Heather was called Hat when she was young. She used to be “carefree, creative and crazy and fun” – a tomboy who got up to all sorts of mischief and adventures. Hat was happy and loved being her mad self. She drew pictures and composed tunes on the piano. She climbed trees and wore peacock feathers in her hair. Hat was wild and free and thought life beautiful.
Then, others started to tell her how she ought to behave. She needed to grow out of her “silly girl phase” and be “cultured, refined and mature ... and dutiful, dainty, discreet and demure”. Hat thought she needed to “fix” herself and “all will be well”. She had to be “normal”, “be like the others” and “conform-to-the-norm”. Hat “banished her dreams” and became “Heather who packed all her Hat’ness away ’cause she cared way too much about what others might say”. She dutifully “obeyed the rules of this life”.
But, “in spite of her trying to fit and comply, she felt like a fraud who was living a lie”. She got divorced and married a guy who “saw through her cover and recognised ... Hat”. Then, “as was the-done-thing”, they settled into suburban bliss and accumulated stuff – a house, a flat-screen TV and a car. Soon, they were indebted and had to work ever harder at their life-sucking jobs “to ensure obligations were met”.
Finally, Heather had to look in the mirror and ask herself: “How did I let all my dreams slip away?” and “Is life just a duty ... a thing we survive ...?” When did she become “a shadow”, “a fly-on-the-wall”? She immediately quit her dull job, set new and exciting happy-goals and decided to leave behind burdensome baggage. She chose love and self-care. She dyed her hair pink, started to draw, wrote songs and felt something inside of her begin to thaw. She remembered who she used to be – she was Hat, a “mess-making artist” and a “risk-taking rebel”. She was the “person who colours outside of the lines”. Heather got her HAT’ness back, and her message is: Embrace who you are! Be the best you! Take off your fake “I’m-fine” mask, step out of the shadows – and be who you really are!
Heather Costaras, who describes herself as a multidimensional creative creature, beautifully self-illustrates her colourful life story, expertly told in rhyming verse with emotion-filled stanzas. How Heather got her HAT’ness back is a quick read, but its powerful message will stay with you long after you have put the book down. Eighty-three people generously donated to Heather’s book-printing crowdfunding campaign to get the book published. Order your copy from http://themadhat.co.za/want-my-book/, where you can also preview a few pages.
Louise Viljoen is a freelance reviewer.