The Measure Of My Powers: A Memoir Of Food, Misery, And Paris by Jackie Kai EllisThe Measure Of My Powers: A Memoir Of Food, Misery, And Paris by Jackie Kai Ellissticker-burst

The Measure Of My Powers: A Memoir Of Food, Misery, And Paris

byJackie Kai Ellis

Paperback | March 6, 2018

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INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER. For fans of Eat Pray Love, Wild, and H is for Hawk, The Measure of My Powers is the story of one woman's search for self-love, experienced through food and travel.

"With searing vulnerability and unflinching honesty, Jackie Kai Ellis takes us on an intense and immersive journey from her darkest moments to the redemption she finds through her love of food, Paris, and ultimately, herself."
--Jen Waite, bestselling author of A Beautiful, Terrible Thing


On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that she and every woman wanted. She was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, and she had a beautiful home. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she'd wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded every moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between strangers--unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In the darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. It was the place where Jackie escaped, finding peace, comfort, and acceptance.

This is the story of one woman's journey to find herself. Armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of the 20th-century food writer M.F.K. Fisher, she travels from France to Italy, then the Congo, and back again. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon, and, ultimately, finds a path to life and joy.

Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humor, The Measure of My Powers is an inspiring memoir, and an unforgettable experience of the senses.
JACKIE KAI ELLIS is the founder of Vancouver's Beaucoup Bakery, the owner of The Paris Tours, and a travel and lifestyle writer. She lives in Vancouver and Paris.
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Title:The Measure Of My Powers: A Memoir Of Food, Misery, And ParisFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.51 × 5.6 × 0.74 inPublished:March 6, 2018Publisher:Appetite by Random HouseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147530393

ISBN - 13:9780147530394

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Read I really enjoyed reading this book. Inspiring, gives you hope. Shows you that you can grow from the challenges that life throws at you.
Date published: 2018-10-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay It was pretty interesting, I like the way she writes but compared to others this was not the best. But I loved the recipes!
Date published: 2018-09-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Beautiful book I liked this book. But not as much as i had hoped. I didn't like how the author bounced back & forth between when she & her husband were together and apart. That being said, I would still recommend this book. I like how she doesn't sugar coat her darkest moments. And her love of food was well represented in her words. The physical book itself is beautiful as well.
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A new favourite! I got this book because I loved "Eat, Pray, Love," and from reading the short synopsis I was intrigued. Long story short, I was very pleased with this book and enjoyed every second of reading it. After reading, I wouldn't compare this book to "Eat, Pray, Love" because it dives so much deeper into the emotions and struggles of trying to find yourself after living through despair. I truly applaud Jackie Kai Ellis' honesty and courage that she showcases in this book. Truly inspiring!
Date published: 2018-07-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wouldn't Recommend While Jackie seemed to have a very sweet soul, the book being written out of context (constantly flitting between her and her husband being together, being split, being together, etc.) I found it was like constantly going through a traumatic or stressful experience with her. The lack of continuity ultimately meant I slogged through the book just to do it, and not because I enjoyed it.
Date published: 2018-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful What a beautiful book; I think this will be one of my favourite reads of 2018. Beautifully written, so descriptive, and I love the added recipes and photos. Really puts you into the author's shoes, highly recommend.
Date published: 2018-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Good Read I really enjoyed this book. I fund it to be a very good read, just life in life this book had moments that were duller, frustrating and wonderful to read. I followed the author throughout the entire book and reading this book had me feeling so many different emotions. Plus the recipes are so tasty, you definitely have to try making one recipe.
Date published: 2018-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! I actually got this as a gift and was shocked to enjoy every single page. There were so many components of the story that must have been difficult to write, they make you feel for the author. I absolutely loved the writing style as well as the content. I am going to purchase a book for each of my friends for their birthdays so that they can read through this amazing memoir and fall in love with Paris as much as I did.
Date published: 2018-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful, easy read! A very easy and inspiring read that makes you question what the measure of your own powers are.
Date published: 2018-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Okay book Glad I read it but nothing to write home about, still good and would recommend to others, especially if interested int he plot.
Date published: 2018-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful this is a beautifully written memoir of jackie kai ellis' experiences with vivid photography. i went to her bakery in vancouver last summer and the croissants were to die for!
Date published: 2018-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written and thought-provoking I don’t typically seek out books about food, but something about this one made me pick it up, and I’m so glad that I did. Besides the fact that each chapter is punctuated with a tempting recipe, I would argue that this book isn't so much about food as about a woman's search to find something to live for, to allow passion into her life, and she happens to find it in creating delicious food to share with others. She finally wakes up and begins to listen to her own heart after ignoring it for most of her life. Some compare this book to "Eat, Pray, Love," but Jackie Kai Ellis dives way deeper into the dark parts of herself. Her honestly is astonishing, powerful, and at times gut wrenching, but above all things, courageous. Kudos!
Date published: 2018-04-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Sad but Good This book made me both hideously depressed and entertained at the same time... Not sure how i feel overall
Date published: 2018-04-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not what I expected This was an easy read and several parts of it struck a cord with me. I like the recipe for clarity. I still think about it.
Date published: 2018-04-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from horrendously depressing Sorry, the subtitle alone is true. The book does live up to its billing.
Date published: 2018-04-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not a fan of this book. I bought it in the hopes of reading something similar to Eat, Pray, Love however the pacing of the novel I didn't enjoy. It kept jumping back and forward in time and the events felt very non-chronological, I would've preferred if things had been in order as the pacing used was hard to follow and the story felt all over the place. It was nice that she included recipes throughout the book however I often found myself skipping through parts as the writing style (and aforementioned pacing) wasn't resonating with me. In the end I didn't enjoy the book at all, unfortunately. I felt as though she could've went more in detail of her journey in Paris however it was only featured in a small portion of the novel. I'm also surprised that she stayed so long in her marriage considering that the way her husband (who sounds insufferable) was written made it sound like a very loveless relationship.
Date published: 2018-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from similar very similar to a book i loved but i don't remember the name
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEAUTIFUL!!! This was such a lovely read...and just LOVED the recipes along the way! Has an "Eat, Pray, Love" vibe and style....Such a good memoir! In awe at this writers style.
Date published: 2018-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautify Written!! A beautifully written memoir that left me wanting more. Just finished and now trying to reflect and absorb everything - which tells how thought-providing it was. Vulnerable. Raw. Not to mention causing a major craving for croissants.
Date published: 2018-03-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! This book made me hungry! An inspiring and fun read
Date published: 2018-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read If you read/enjoyed 'Eat, Pray, Love' then you will like this book. You will be engaged by the journey and inspired by her courage. Plus, as an added bonus, you will probably love the recipes as well.
Date published: 2018-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring Read! I was a little hesitant but it was great read. My new favourite read.
Date published: 2018-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it Big fan of Eat Pray Love, this is a similar story and just as good
Date published: 2018-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a good memoir! In awe at the style. I personally found it very relate able since travel helps me understand the ways of the world, and understand myself more which I'm sure a lot of other will relate to as well. What I like most about this book is that almost every chapter is associated with a specific food and at the end of that chapter, she gives a recipe on how to make it. It is such a cool concept because you can actually learn to make the things that she made that helped her so much, in turn hopefully it'll help someone else in the same way. I have never read a memoir/cookbook (if you want to call it hat) but the way it was displayed and written out was absolutely amazing. I was truly in awe. This is a wonderfully written memoir that I believe everybody can learn something from. It is about a woman who feels lost in the world and in herself and through food and travel, eventually ends up finding herself again. I would definitely recommend this to anybody who loves cooking, traveling, or wanting to get to knwo themselves and the world on a better and deeper level.
Date published: 2018-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a breathtaking and different memoir and cookbook in one. This is a wonderfully written memoir that I believe everybody can learn something from. It is about a woman who feels lost in the world and in herself and through food and travel, eventually ends up finding herself again. I personally found it very relate able since travel helps me understand the ways of the world, and understand myself more which I'm sure a lot of other will relate to as well. What I like most about this book is that almost every chapter is associated with a specific food and at the end of that chapter, she gives a recipe on how to make it. It is such a cool concept because you can actually learn to make the things that she made that helped her so much, in turn hopefully it'll help someone else in the same way. I have never read a memoir/cookbook (if you want to call it hat) but the way it was displayed and written out was absolutely amazing. I was truly in awe. I would definitely recommend this to anybody who loves cooking, traveling, or wanting to get to know themselves and the world on a better and deeper level.
Date published: 2018-02-01

Read from the Book

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao-Tzu These were the two moments in my day I dreaded—no, I think “feared” is a better word—most: the moment just before sleep and the precise moment I woke up. The unnerving silence of those times. There were no busy sounds to distract me, and nothing to occupy my mind. They were the moments I would be forced to face my own tangled and disfigured mind, even though I wanted desperately to look away. At night I would lie awake sometimes until the dark sky lightened into paler shades of dawn. My insides crawled and vibrated, panic hijacking hours that, for others, were filled with easy rest. Even when I did find sleep, usually on the couch with the artificial noises of late-night TV lulling me, it was never for very long. In the morning my chest would clench and yearn for uncon­sciousness. I kept my eyes closed and my body still, like a corpse, in hopes that my fragile sleep wouldn’t leave me completely. I tried to remember the last lingering image, any residue of a dream, wanting it to pull me back for another moment or two, but I was always out of luck and would quickly realize the effort was in vain. I hadn’t dreamt in months. In the past, my dreams had been wild and vivid: full of colors, conversations, places, the feel of fabric between my fingertips, or even the faces of people I had long forgotten. I would dream of a friend’s hazel eyes speckled with rust, or of the fine hairs at the back of their neck that formed a V. But these dreams had stopped, and so had sleep, with rest­lessness replacing both almost entirely. I was abandoned and forced to be alive for another day, so I would relent and slowly open my eyes to my dark, damp bedroom. Inhale. Exhale. “I can do this. Just get through today . . . and then after today . . .” I paused to imagine what came next. There was only a repeating image of a lifeless routine that made me feel nauseated. “Tomorrow it starts all over again.” Dread filled me. I closed my eyes again, sinking into myself, wishing I could cry, but mostly, that ability had abandoned me too. “I have to do this over and over again, and again, and again,” I thought to myself, G sprawled to my left, the sheets, humid from his sweat, covering me like thick, cold skin. “When does this end?” Inhale. Exhale. Light was so unbearable to G that he had dark blinds installed on every window in our two-bedroom apartment. Greater than his dislike for light, though, was his loathing of materialism and superfluous “things.” So there was no artwork on the walls of our room, there weren’t any family photos or night tables for them to sit on, only a bed and a generic Swedish floor lamp in the corner. And every single morning, I awoke in this beige room, with bare beige walls and carpets that were an ever-so-slightly lighter shade of beige. I opened my eyes to nothing but emptiness in an empty room, numb with only the feeling of moist blankets cradling me. I pleaded silently to God, to anything that might help me. “All I need is one thing, one thing to focus on, one thing that will help me get through today. Anything. Please.” I scanned through my day for something that might give me relief. Waking up. Showering. Getting dressed. Driving to work. Saying good morning to coworkers. Starting a new design account. Meetings. Lunch . . . maybe. I decided on one of the few things that still made me smile: “I’ll eat a chocolate chip cookie.” I sat up and headed to the shower. I dressed myself in opaque black tights and a baggy tweed skirt suit I bought from a store I frequented that catered to affluent seniors. I tied my black hair in a tight bun at the nape of my neck and put on my wire-framed glasses and a pair of pearl earrings I had received as a wedding gift from an uncle. I was careful to look polished so no one would suspect that I was actually breaking apart, but I was also purpose­fully unobtrusive so as not to draw too much attention. I drove to work in my reliable silver sedan, and after lunch, I sat at a café table while I savored each sweet bite of my chocolate chip cookie, taking time to sip black coffee between each morsel. For those minutes, there was nothing else, no one to please, nothing to prove, just a cookie and me.   I In the months that followed, I felt myself become more numb. There were muffled sounds of laughter and life bus­tling all around me, and yet it felt like I was submerged deep underwater, separated and hearing only the sound of my own breath and my heart slowly beating. I lived in this isolated world, sometimes comforted by the imaginary cocoon that solitude cre­ated, but mostly feeling anxious and restless for anything but the stillness. I was desperate to escape the feeling, and the longer it continued, the more I fantasized about a world where not only did I not exist, but where I had never existed at all. The first time this thought had crossed my mind was about seven years earlier. I was lying in bed on a sunny afternoon, having come home during summer break from art college across the country with an overwhelming sense of pressure closing in on me. I didn’t understand it completely—I didn’t know why I felt it at all. Perhaps I could sense that I had disappointed my parents with the career I had chosen, but I also knew that I hadn’t been something that I was told I was supposed to be. I simply didn’t know how. Feeling like a helpless failure, I toyed with the idea of death. But I didn’t want to disappoint my family even more than I felt I had already, and I imagined that suicide would be shame­ful and burdensome for them. I wanted to be eliminated from their memories entirely. I pulled and straightened the blanket over my head, hiding and imagining myself disappearing. “How perfect would it be if I never existed? I could escape all of this,” I whispered, the sheets resting lightly on my face. They smelled musty and comforting, like my parents’ home. Years later, these seemingly innocent daydreams were replaced with invasive, surprising, flickering images. Every time I crossed the street, changed lanes, or drove through an intersection, I would see Mack trucks demolishing me. As I soaked in the tub, the image of my dead body in a bath of blood would appear in my mind, along with scenes of G discovering it and then having to making agonizing calls to my family. When I was a young adult, my younger cousin C killed her­self. I overheard that when her parents had found her, in a base­ment room, there was blood everywhere. I caught a glimpse of the room later. The white linoleum floor was spotless, and I won­dered who had cleaned it. Over the years following, I continued to see the devastating impact on the entire family. I saw the light die in my uncle’s eyes, never to return. I understood that C didn’t foresee the pain she would cause in her family’s life by ending her own, but the memory of that time and the knowledge that I would hurt those I loved if I chose to leave it were the only things holding me to life, like a leash. But still, when the sadness was too paralyzing and all I could see and feel was my own incessant pain, I just wanted relief. “I think the best way is to take pills, painless and peaceful,” I jour­naled one evening. “But there is always the fear of waking up and things being worse, like brain damage, paralysis. Slitting my wrists is also an option, only because I hate the idea of suffocation. But that is messy (the blood, G would have to clean it up). Hanging: not pretty; they will have too much to regret when pulling me down. I heard C took painkillers. I heard there was blood, but she did it. She was decisive, resolute and spent time saying goodbye. I could too. I could write letters.” I resolved to make a better plan, one where my family wouldn’t have to find my dead body or clean up some morbid mess. My plan also needed to be foolproof; they couldn’t be burdened by the consequences of the plan backfiring. And, though I figured it wouldn’t be more than the pain I already felt, I didn’t want it to hurt a lot. I began my research there and Googled “painless ways to kill yourself.” Diagrams, including medieval, gothic imagery flooded my screen. I clicked on a link for a forum topic: “Carbon monox­ide is often not as effective as commonly believed.” I educated myself on how catalytic converters decreased the levels of poison in exhaust and the increasingly popular “death by hibachi.” But then I read a comment that made my body go cold. “Don’t do it, it’s not worth it.” It wasn’t the truth of the statement that caught me off-guard; it was the unexpectedly banal stereotype that snapped me into a different consciousness. It reminded me of all those movies where someone is trying to talk an unstable person off a building’s ledge. Then it dawned on me that, in this scenario, I was the one on the edge of the cliché, and it all seemed laughable and then incredibly frightening when contrasted to the reality of how close I was to killing myself. I had to tell G. “I looked up ways to kill myself today. I don’t think that’s normal.” “No. Maybe you should go talk to someone. I’m not sure I can help you.”

Editorial Reviews

“Open, raw and honest. . . . Tender and authentic tales of a woman coming into her own.” —The Globe and Mail“With searing vulnerability and unflinching honesty, Jackie Kai Ellis takes us on an intense and immersive journey from her darkest moments to the redemption she finds through her love of food, Paris, and, ultimately, herself.”—Jen Waite, Internationally Bestselling Author of A Beautiful, Terrible Thing“This inspiring memoir digs deep into one woman’s struggles to overcome her depression. A writer, baker, woman of the world—Jackie Kai Ellis stars in all these roles.” —Lucy Waverman, Award-Winning Author of The Flavour Principle“An uplifting memoir that’s taught me the importance of valuing yourself, and not being afraid to ask for the things you want in life.” —Joann Pai, Food and Travel Photographer, @sliceofpai