Raise your hand if “reading more” was one of your New Year’s resolutions. If yes, you’re in luck. If not, I’d reconsider it. I really committed to reading more in 2021 with my friend Dorothy – and yes, the audiobooks count too.
Shaw rebecca
Brand Manager / Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative
Rebecca Shaw is also the vice president of the Dairy Girl Network Board of Directors. She was for...

This year, I’ve made it my goal to share more about what I read through this book club series of blogs.

First up, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This novel, first published in 1988 and written in Portuguese, is now a best-seller all over the world. After being captivated by the audiobook, I knew I had to share this story with others.

The Alchemist follows a young shepherd boy named Santiago who has a vivid dream about treasure buried at the foot of the Egyptian pyramids. He goes searching for this treasure, and the treasure represents his personal legend. In my opinion, the book positions a personal legend as one’s journey to finding their true purpose or self in life. As you follow Santiago’s journey, you will:

  • Realize everyone has their own personal legend and can find it.
  • Start to question what part both fate and omens/choice play in reaching your own personal legend.
  • Be encouraged to learn the difference of listening to your head versus your heart.

I wanted to know how this resonated with other people in their own lives, so I reached out to a fellow book fan, Sarah Thomas, a master’s student in agricultural communication at Ohio State University. Below is our Q&A, which you can use after reading the book as well.


Do you believe fate plays a significant role in your own personal journey?

Thomas: I consider myself extremely lucky to have known I wanted to be a part of the dairy industry starting at such a young age. That was fate; however, things were not simply given to me. Any reader can resonate with Santiago’s personal journey. We must be willing to put in the work for the reward.

How about omens and/or choice?

Thomas: I do believe that omens and choice have played a significant role in who I am today. Learning to accept that things happen “the way they should” can be a tough concept to let settle (and by no means am I good at it). For example, if I haven’t won something like a scholarship or award, acknowledging that it wasn’t in my cards has been a process. On the other hand, I remember winning junior dairy jeopardy at the 2012 National Holstein Convention. That turned out to be an omen, and I made a choice to continue my dairy career journey.

‘Listen to your heart’ was a major theme in this book. How do you listen to your head versus your heart?

Thomas: I remember a quote from the book along the lines of “our heart being our compass.” That always stuck with me. As much heart as I’ve put into the industry, it was my head that enabled me to obtain my bachelor’s degree in dairy science along with other accolades. I think our heart inspires our head in many instances.

After finishing the book, do you feel inspired to find your own personal legend?

Thomas: Yes! Since I am still studying, I still have time to figure out what my personal legend is, but I am all about “trusting the process,” which I think the book does a phenomenal job of illustrating. I know I want to do something to tell the tale of our great industry. The survivability of dairy farms weighs a lot on my mind each day, so I am hoping I can do something to help in that realm along with inspiring the next generation of dairy enthusiasts.

As for me, I relate most to Santiago as he questions his personal legend along the way. Was it being a shepherd? Selling crystal? Falling in love? Finding the treasure? I haven’t quite determined my own personal legend yet, but I’m more conscious about the “omens” that are served to me on my journey and am focused on being more intentional about making choices that make my head, heart and gut feel good.

If you’d like to join the book club, you can find more questions like those Sarah answered online (borderlinemillennials.com/book-club). You can also share your thoughts with me on LinkedIn.

In a future issue, I’m going to review The Power of a Positive No by William Ury. This is the only development book I’ve read more than once (three times, to be exact). I’m excited to share it with you. Raise your hand if “reading more” was one of your New Year’s resolutions. If yes, you’re in luck. If not, I’d reconsider it.