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Book Review: ‘The Sugar Jar’ Reminds Us There Is Enough Sweetness to Go Around

Book Review: ‘The Sugar Jar’ Reminds Us There Is Enough Sweetness to Go Around

With each new year, we set new goals and make plans to foster change in our lives. One of the ways most of us do that is to start reading new books — ones that help support and guide us through what we’d like to achieve.

There’s surely enough sweetness to go around, and in her debut book, The Sugar Jar: Create Boundaries, Embrace Self-Healing, and Enjoy the Sweet Things in Life, wellness expert Yasmine Cheyenne helps readers consider their own sugar reserves. Sugar is “all the sweet parts of you — your time, your energy, your attention, your money, your expertise/education, and every single part of you that can be given or exchanged.”

Paying attention to your own sugar jar involves thinking carefully about where the sugar is going and how you might better guard it in order to enjoy life.

While working as a victim advocate in the United States Air Force and caring for her daughter, Cheyenne “felt like sugar was recklessly taken out of a jar and spilled all over the place.” She realized that her pain stemmed from her inability to create boundaries, which left her metaphorical sugar jar “completely open” for the taking.

Cheyenne’s guiding metaphor, the sugar jar, is immediately understandable. Some jars might have cracks. Other jars might not have lids and are therefore susceptible to anyone just helping themselves. Oftentimes, you may attempt to refill your jar through self-care, but because there is no protection, you can’t control how much of your vital life force is being drained out.

Cheyenne shows how a lack of boundaries may be holding you back from understanding and pursuing what really matters to you, and she offers many questions to transform idle observations into deeper reflection and action.

Setting boundaries might mean letting go of harmful relationships or setting guidelines for the behaviors you will tolerate from others, but she warns readers to not let boundaries become “barriers” that limit oneself. For example, you might be deeply hurt in a relationship and then vow never to date again.

Several chapters are devoted to how aspects of our identity — race, class and family structure — impact our sugar jars. In the chapter “Black Healing,” Cheyenne offers insights specifically for Black readers, noting that the wellness space is often not welcoming for us. In the chapter “Healing as the Parent and as the Child,” she acknowledges that parents are, in a sense, continually monitoring the sugar jars of their children, which can be a unique and draining job.

She devotes a chapter to how Black women can perform self-care and criticizes proponents of “manifestation” for underestimating the institutional obstacles that Black women face. I found this interesting, as I am a big proponent of this practice. It caused me to reevaluate those things that I am actively manifesting and to look more closely at how those forces may be holding me back. Cheyenne herself has felt unwelcome as a Black woman in predominantly white wellness groups and retreats. Her inclusive message speaks to the needs of BIPOC readers and accepts them where they are.

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Throughout the book, she offers personal stories to bring principles to life and connect with the reader. In all, The Sugar Jar is an accessible and thoughtful discussion of boundaries from a wellness advocate who has done the work that she talks about.

I took away relatable stories, tips, and exercises. I particularly appreciated the chapter on the experiences of Black people within the wellness community. It’s always unfortunate to hear when people have not received the support they deserve when tying racial experiences into their process.

Although the sugar jar metaphor was great and helpful, perhaps it was a bit to the extreme. At times, it was difficult to grasp the lessons because of the heavy sugar references. However, I have the imagery fixed in my mind now and will continue to incorporate the principles into my life.

One of the chapters that resonated with me the most was “The Strong One.” It is the reminder to check on your strong friends. This narrative gets used a lot on social media, especially with the pandemic raging and isolation increasing. Mental health is at the forefront of many conversations, so I found this chapter important. The Sugar Jar is a manual on how to practice self-love and love for others.

Cheyenne has a compassionate tone that is reassuring, and I appreciated how she didn’t provide too much concrete guidance. Instead, she offers supportive guidance in the fact that we don’t have to follow a one-two-three type of regimen. This normalizes the fact that we are unique and it’s not a one size fits all journey.

Cheyenne’s writing is heartfelt and honest. Her perspective is powerful; each chapter is a practical and gentle guide for choosing ourselves and living the life we want. This is one of the best books on boundaries that I have read in a while. I really appreciated her thoughtfulness in the selection of examples, especially for Black women.

I highly recommend this book for readers who are looking for an easy and relatable approach to setting boundaries.

The Sugar Jar: Create Boundaries, Embrace Self-Healing, and Enjoy the Sweet Things in Life is available now on Amazon.

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