Foreword Reviews

Heart Centered Solutions to Life's Greatest Challenges

May/June 2017 Family & Relationships

Covering issues from childhood to old age, each of these books offers thoughtful, expert advice for developing greater self-awareness, compassion, peace, and harmony.

Mothering with Courage

The Mindful Approach to Becoming a Mom Who Listens More, Worries Less, and Loves Deeply

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Bonnie Compton
Softcover $16.99 (224pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Motherhood is not all cuddles and kisses. It is difficult, messy, and exhausting. Mothering with Courage, by Bonnie Compton, shares information and advice on how to make mothering a more rewarding job while raising happier, healthier children.

This book asks mothers to examine the relationship that they have with their children and discusses topics including hopes and dreams, teaching and learning from children, and behavior and discipline, as well as each mother’s unique history that guides and shapes how she interacts with her kids. Practices as simple as setting aside a few minutes each day to connect with the children begins the process of learning what is needed to nurture a more open, honest relationship. Central to this is the idea that a mother already knows what is best for her and her family, and that she must learn to trust and follow her intuition.

The organization of this book makes it an easy resource to refer to over and over again. There is a summary at the beginning of each chapter that is particularly helpful in understanding what is to come. Lists of thought-provoking journaling questions throughout the book help mothers to identify what really matters and will be worth revisiting: “When do you feel most connected with your children? When do you feel least connected?” Finally, an appendix at the end of the book is full of tips that serve as reminders of the lessons learned and will certainly be valuable throughout the child raising years.

It is easy to get lost in the daily tasks of motherhood. It is not so easy for a mother to navigate through parenthood staying aware of both her goals as a mother and her child’s true needs. This is exactly what Mothering with Courage teaches moms to do. Motherhood may not be easy, but Mothering with Courage may help to make it a far more rewarding experience.


An Invitation to Self-Care

Why Learning to Nurture Yourself Is the Key to the Life You’ve Always Wanted

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Tracey Cleantis
Hazelden Publishing
Softcover $15.95 (200pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

An Invitation to Self-Care, by Tracey Cleantis, LMFT, explores the true meaning of taking care of oneself. Going well beyond the idea that self-care involves simply indulgences and rewards, the book offers seven principles to guide self-care and asserts that only through regular and sustained self-care can one hope to achieve self-actualization.
The seven principles that the book asserts are the foundation of self-care include recognizing that it is a lifelong practice, self-love, taking personal responsibility for one’s actions, noticing what matters most, attention and responsiveness, realistic expectations and practices, and finally, recognizing that self-care must happen before self-fulfillment is possible. Combining quizzes, personal stories and interviews into the text, the book offers insight into both self-care and self-sabotage and helps individuals explore their own beliefs and behaviors and how these can be viewed in terms of self-care.

This is not only an informative book, but one that is easy to read and relate to. The author makes use of familiar references, such as the food-guide pyramid and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, to illustrate her points. Her writing is generally down-to-earth and honest, with just a touch of humor. For example, in a chapter about taking care of one’s body, she writes, “I’m not going to impart a lot of Thou shalts and Thou shalt nots to live by, especially in regard to eating low-carb, Paleo, wheat-free, meatless, or whatnot.”

The message of Invitation to Self-Care is a powerful one. The idea that not only is it okay to prioritize taking care of oneself but that it is absolutely necessary in order to care for one’s responsibilities and to lead a fulfilled life is liberating. The information and guidance the book offers will help many to start on a healthier, happier life journey.


Feminine Genius

The Provocative Path to Waking Up and Turning On the Wisdom of Being a Woman

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LiYana Silver
Sounds True
Softcover $17.95 (296pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Mixing religion, philosophy, science, and metaphysics, Feminine Genius: The Provocative Path to Waking Up and Turning On the Wisdom of Being a Woman explores the innate power of female energy. Author LiYana Silver, a dancer and life coach, draws on her own experiences and those of her clients to examine the role women are expected to play in society and how to free oneself from those expectations. The book asserts that through embracing their female physicality and sexuality, and accepting their own divinity, women can begin the process of self-actualization, and discover their inner light.

The book offers a thoughtful examination of the difference between male and female energy and how that difference is reflected in social mores and beliefs. Masculine energy is the driving force, the active energy of completing tasks and accomplishing goals, and is generally highly valued. Feminine energy is more fluid and self-nurturing: “Feminine Genius starts with a fertile void, draws to it what it needs and creates all shades of life, whether a baby, a book, or a business.” Drawing on tantric wisdom, the book suggests that divinity is both male and female and that all life is a part of it.

There are a number of lessons and exercises designed to help women connect with the divine within. Guided meditations and sets of specific questions to be explored and answered help women recognize their own inner oracle and to understand and refine their greatest desires.

Feminine Genius is insightful, well written, and well organized. The author draws on multiple philosophical and religious traditions and presents a perspective on female energy and potential that is truly enlightening. The activities included offer a great opportunity for exploring one’s true identity and the scripts that each person subconsciously lives by. It is an unapologetically empowering book and will be useful to women from all walks of life who are searching for their passion.


Bearing the Unbearable

Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief

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Joanne Cacciatore
Wisdom Publications
Softcover $15.95 (248pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief, by Joanne Cacciatore, covers the incredibly difficult topic of grief. With the insight that only someone who has experienced deep personal grief can offer, the author shares wisdom and advice for dealing with the most painful losses.

The book is gentle but honest. It does not dismiss grief or offer useless platitudes. It does not teach skills or practices intended to overcome or move beyond grief. Instead, using specific examples from Cacciatore’s own life and from the lives of those whom she has counseled, the book embraces the idea that grief is the other side of love, and that it is necessary to truly experience it, to acknowledge and accept that it can occupy a permanent place in the heart and mind. The book focuses on living with grief and allows for the possibility that love and happiness, even beauty and joy, can exist in tandem with the kind of grief that never ends.

The book includes many helpful ideas for living with grief. The author states, “Grief, by its very nature, is labyrinthine and enigmatic; its implications are emotional, physical, social and interpersonal, economic, spiritual, and existential.” The techniques for living with grief are therefore as myriad as the ways it can affect one’s life. Examples include everything from simply making self-care a priority to keeping an emotional journal, observing cultural or religious rituals, and joining support groups and working to help others who are dealing with grief.

Bearing the Unbearable is an especially powerful book. It is not just for those who have suffered a loss. Anyone who’s trying to deal with a loss, or anyone who know someone dealing with a loss, (and in truth, isn’t that everyone?) will benefit from reading this amazing book.


Helping Your Angry Teen

How to Reduce Anger and Build Connection Using Mindfulness and Positive Psychology

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Mitch R. Abblett
New Harbinger Publications
Softcover $16.95 (176pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Dealing with an angry child is complex and often even scary. In Helping Your Angry Teen, Mitch R. Abblett, PhD, teaches parents to form new pathways of connectivity to their teens through mindfulness and positive thinking and acting. It offers specific techniques and brilliant insight into learning to help young people caught in often destructive cycles of anger.

Rather than trying to solve whatever problems are causing a teenager to be angry, the book focuses on what a parent can do to improve communication and respond to anger with presence, understanding, responsive leadership, and empowerment. The author calls this the PURE method of communication, and it is the central idea of this book. Once a parent develops the ability to stay mindful of their thoughts and actions when their teenager is angry, they will learn to see beyond that anger to the authentic issues that are driving it. They can then own any part they may have contributed to their child’s issues and demonstrate appropriate, respectful responses. Finally, they can help their teenager make whatever changes are needed.

The techniques described in this book include a great deal of meditation, self-exploration, and learning to look at problems in a new light. Each step of the PURE process is carefully explained, and the exercises are effective and even enlightening. There is no blame handed out and no judgement of parent or child. The author clearly has a great deal of compassion for troubled teens: “The kids who swear, kick, punch, refuse, and fail, are ‘empathy hard.’ What’s crucial to understand, however, is these ‘unruly’ kids are no less deserving of empathy.”

Helping Your Angry Teen is a useful resource for parents wanting to learn to improve their communication with their teenagers. The techniques and practices suggested in this book will undoubtedly help improve anyone’s ability to communicate effectively in the face of anger and may also improve their overall well-being.


The Stuff of Family Life

How our Homes Reflect our Lives

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Michelle Janning
Rowman & Littlefield
Hardcover $34.00 (238pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

The Stuff of Family Life, by Michelle Janning, is a fascinating sociological exploration of what material goods say about people and society. Examining both spaces and objects, the book looks at different life stages and the living spaces that people find themselves in. It offers a unique and brilliant perspective that may change the way people view their belongings.

The book looks at the various stages of life, beginning with young adulthood and progressing through dating, marriage, parenting, divorce, and aging, and studies the kinds of spaces people occupy and the material possessions that they fill that space with. Historical trends are examined along with economic and geographic differences to show how what people possess reflects on the time, place, and societal position they occupy.

The book is intelligent. It is also a relatable and entertaining read. In addition to academic studies that she and other sociologists have conducted, Janning draws examples from her own life, and those examples are things that many people will be intimately familiar with. For instance, the author talks about the LEGOs she has stepped on in her living room and what that toy in that place says about her: “First, I am part of a social class that can afford LEGO bricks; second, I adhere to a cultural belief that having them (and perhaps not swearing in front of my child) shows that I am a good parent; and third, my living room intermingles items from both kid and adult worlds.”

The Stuff of Family Life is an illuminating, well-researched and remarkable book. The insights it offers afford an opportunity to examine the personal effects every family surrounds themselves with and to perhaps find insight into who they are as individuals, as families, and as members of society.


As My Parents Age

Reflections on Life, Love, and Change

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Cynthia Ruchti
Hardcover $14.99 (224pp)
Buy: Local Bookstore (Bookshop), Amazon

Caring for aging parents is a reality for many people. It can be very difficult to watch our once strong and active parents decline and need more and more care, be it financial, physical, or emotional. As My Parents Age, by Cynthia Ruchti, award-winning Christian author and speaker, offers comfort to those who seek to find peace and meaning in this often heart-wrenching process.

Each of the forty brief chapters in the book discusses a different aspect of taking care of aging parents, from helping parents who do not welcome the help, to dealing with a parent who has changed into someone unrecognizable or even unlikable, to life after parents have passed on. Each chapter includes references to the Bible that are relevant for Christians trying to understand what their role should be and how they can best provide care. Each chapter ends with a prayer.

Though the book is over three hundred pages in length, it is a remarkably fast and easy read. The author has a clear voice and message. The love expressed in each of the stories the author has shared—stories from many different people dealing with many different situations—offers universal comfort and hope. There is also some very practical advice: “When aging parents change the family dynamic, the family that finds a way to talk it out respectfully and discovers a good balance of emotional and physical workload stays together.”

This book is going to appeal primarily to Christians, but anyone who has ever faced taking care of an aging loved one will find something familiar in this book. That familiarity is itself a comfort. Others have gone through the difficulties of taking care of someone else, and the message here is that with patience and love, anyone can get through it.



Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter, and the Science of Resilience

Book Cover
Michael J. Bradley
Softcover $17.95 (288pp)
Buy: Amazon

It takes a sense of humor and a great deal of determination to raise a teenager. Crazy-Stressed, by Dr. Michael J. Bradley, has an abundance of both.

Part one of the book discusses the environmental stressors that exist for modern teens, far more than existed for previous generations. It also provides information on how the brain is developing and explains why changes in mood or even personality can be so fast and unexpected. Part two begins the process of teaching parents to build strategies for helping their teen cope with this difficult time in life. Finally, part three looks at specific behavioral issues such as acting out, using drugs, and hating school, with the dos and don’ts of handling each issue.

Honesty is offered in generous doses along with a great deal of wisdom in this book: “In the best of times we’re never sure if we’re really doing the best of things. In the worst of times we’re positive that we’re doing the worst of things.” The author is a psychologist who has worked with teenagers, and is also a parent. The book strikes a good balance between academic theory, the practical advice of a seasoned therapist, and the sometimes painful reality of a parent who has been in the trenches. The content is laid out in a logical manner, starting with science and theory and moving through general parenting tactics and finally ending with how to handle unique situations. It is laced throughout with humor and offers a great deal of hope.

Crazy-Stressed is simply excellent. Those lucky enough to read it will likely find that they are able to use the information it contains to make the teen years less stressful for both teens and parents. It can help parents raise their teens to be resilient adults who can better handle life’s inevitable difficulties.


Catherine Reed-Thureson

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