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Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Freedom to be You

As a therapist, life coach and author/speaker, I help individuals confront their past, challenge irrational thinking patterns and replace negative beliefs with possibilities. In the process, they are able to let go of the pain, heal and take personal charge of their life.

Therapy is a tiny microcosm of freedom. When we feel there are no options, we strike out, hang on to resentments and anger and blame others for our problems. Remaining in that mindset, however, takes away our personal power.

It is so easy to buy into the idea that we are entitled to a happy life and that somehow others are responsible for that. But when we buy into that belief system, we relinquish our freedom. We are no longer In charge of our lives – someone else is.

In December 2012 I wrote a review of a new book written by Michael Duncan entitled, Shadow Remnant, available on Amazon.com. (See below for links). It is a captivating and riveting novel that takes us a hundred years into the future. This is a copy of that review.

“Shoe Dog”

I believe in setting goals, hard work, and having a never give up attitude. I love to read stories about people who have applied these attributes to their life.

I was just finishing the new book, “Shoe Dog”, written by Phil Knight when the funeral of Mohammed Ali was held. People who spoke at his funeral, talked about Ali’s determination, persistence and never give up attitude. Despite setbacks and unfriendly circumstances he never gave up.

I was surprised at how similar the two men, Phil Knight and Ali were.

Neither man let obstacles and circumstances keep them from accomplishing their goals. They both fought with their last breath of energy, succeeded and then gave back to others.

21 Days of Joy – A book Review

Sunday is Mother’s Day and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor the Mother’s of this world than by sharing a book review I did for Kathy Ide entitled “21 Days of Joy”.

Kathy was one of those many wonderful people I met at the Mt Hermon Writer’s Conference, who were ready to assist and help us become better writers. They shared their talent and expertise with those of us who were still novices and struggling with the ins and outs of writing, publishing and marketing.

So when she extended the invitation to write a review for her latest book in her “21 Days” series in exchange for a free book, I was eager to do it. And I was not disappointed. Kathy has taken the genre of fiction to depict wonderful narratives about mothers that are as real as if were experiencing it.

“21 days of Joy” is a compilation of stories written by different authors about our journey through life around the theme “Celebrating Moms”.

Book Review: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

There are a lot of books out there to help any marriage that might be in trouble, excellent books that describe how we form attachments, how we love and different love languages we use with our mates.

However, I am particularly biased toward Gottman’s books because of his extensive work with clients and research study on the habits of marriage couples through The Gottman Institute.

While he has written a number of books, two of my favorites are “Couples Communication” and “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”

Each chapter describes one of the principles and includes many user friendly exercises for better understanding and application to your own marriage. Here is his blueprint to make your marriage long-lasting.

The seven important principles according to Gottman

Book feature – Tales of Two Sisters

As we reflect on the families we grew up in, we read stories and novels about siblings that perhaps remind us of our own experiences.

Sisters.

If you grew up with a sister you may remember the fights, the tears, the camaraderie, the secrets, and competition. You may have looked up to or felt inferior by the other. Perhaps you felt you were treated unfairly and when you left home, you took with you long-standing quarrels that were never resolved; both going their separate ways, hoping their paths would never cross.

Darlene Dubay is a first time Northwest author who has published her first novel about two sisters, their estrangement, setbacks and personal tragedies. Over the years, the sisters went their separate ways, married and had families. Separated geographically, they live two different lives that are full of tragedies, losses and re-discoveries.

Death, betrayal, troubled liaisons, and new loves and relationships are woven into this story of two sisters who are trying to find themselves amidst the fateful events that have touched their lives in different ways.

Book Feature: Anger – Deal with it, Heal with it, Stop it from Killing You

I am a supporter of self-help. I am also an advocate of therapy. Both are needed. Even when we recognize that a good counselor may be needed to help sort through the tangles of emotions, behaviors, thoughts and experiences, there is a lot we can do both beforehand and during therapy such as reading credible literature available to us.

“Anger, Deal with It, Heal with It, Stop it from Killing You,” by Bill DeFoore, Ph.D., is one such book.

Whether you struggle with your own quick reaction to events with anger or know someone personally who continues to flash anger in your face, reading about a subject that we all come in contact with at some time, can give us both understanding and grace.

Bill DeFoore’s book is easy to read and gives us a good description of some of the many aspects of anger, such as:

Book Feature: “The Dance of Anger”

Anger is an emotion and like all emotions, it has a purpose.

It helps us survive and motivates us to take action and make important changes. It protects us when life threatens us psychologically or physically.

Left unchecked, however, it becomes toxic and corrosive. And when we react without restraint to its powerful rush of energy or without identifying the problem connected to it, we not only inflict pain on others, but on ourselves.

It is up to us to seek out the meaning behind the anger we may be experiencing and discover its underlying issue or problem.

There are many books I have acquired over my career written by professionals in the field about major issues we all face. The authors of today’s two featured books help us understand a very difficult problem we see all around us today. They help clarify the underlying causes of anger and rage so we can apply constructive and positive solutions.

The first book featured today, “The Dance of Anger, A woman’s guide to changing the patterns of intimate relationships” by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D., is one of those books written many years ago, but is timeless in its understanding of a major problem we all face.

Book Feature: “The Shack”

How do you see God?

Would you see Him as stern – unforgiving – waiting for you to screw up? How does your perception of God influence your relationship with Him? Does it bring you closer or keep you at a distance?

In “The Shack,” by Wm. Paul Young, the main character, Mack, receives a simple typewritten letter in the mail telling “Mackenzie” that he had been missed and if he wanted to get together, he “would be at the shack next weekend”. It was signed “Papa”.

On his quest to overcome the sadness Mack continued to experience after the death of his daughter, he decides to take a trip back to the scene of the crime where his daughter had been snatched by a predator during a family camping trip and was murdered. On the way he meets with an accident and Mack discovers himself at “the shack” where he comes face to face with God.

And the journey begins.

What would you do or say if you came face to face with God, especially if He was totally different than you had envisioned Him? What would you do if He greeted you with love, a hug, excited to see you and with an invitation to join Him for dinner? What if He laughed and saw His world with eyes of positive expectation? In fact, what if He was a She?

Featured book – “Man’s Search for Meaning”

What does humor or laughter have to do with concentration camps?

Could laughter and humor have any place within conditions where people were being annihilated because of their faith and race? Wouldn’t that be sacrilegious to the sacredness of life to even suggest such a thing?

Only someone who had been there, and who by the grace of God survived, could speak to such things.

As I watched a documentary on the death and unfathomable horror of those Nazi concentration camps, and saw the recorded footage of the death and torture of thousands and thousands of Jews during WWII, as recorded by the British, American and even the Nazi’s themselves, it was unimaginable that it could be real. How could any man do that to another man? And how could anyone find meaning in such circumstances.

In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl wrote about how he and others were able to discover meaning for life – even here. I was profoundly impact by his book during my graduate work.

It’s All in How you Look at it!

Stress is very subjective. Perception is both the creation of stress and what we will do with it. It is both personal and unique. What stresses you out may not stress me at all.

Any life event, major or minor, can become a cause of dis-stress. It can be an on-going source of irritation and even victimization. It can also be the beginning of an off-repeated humorous story. Can we take events and turn them into something we can laugh at for decades?

Years ago in a speech I gave on stress to a group of teachers in the U.K. I shared one of the stories my father-in-law told our kids about when he was a kid. Their much loved Grandpa Bert was an easy-going guy, with seemingly not a care in the world who drove my mother-in-law crazy. As a kid he attended a small, rural school.

Now Bert was not a student of academia – in fact he hated sitting in the classroom. During recess while other kids were busy jumping rope or throwing ball, he was busy exploring the tall grass around the little country school, looking for wonderful things such as bugs, worms, caterpillars, frogs – you name it.