WAKE UP GRATEFUL by Kristi Nelson: A Review

At the beginning of the new year, I began an informal “study” of gratefulness. My experience with illness and recuperation this past summer has left me with extreme gratefulness for life and living. Each morning, I wake up and say, “Good morning, Lord; thank you for another day.” The mug for my first cup of coffee says, “Renew/Restore/Refresh,” so I repeat the little mantra I’ve made up: ” ‘Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me;’ Restore me to health, please; and refresh my mind to where it can handle anything that might come my way today.” Then, I am ready to start my day. I believe I read in something by Brene Brown that Happiness does not cause gratitude, but gratitude causes happiness.

Deb Nance, a blogging friend at Readerbuzz, sent me a whole list of books about gratitude available at our local library that she discovered in her recent study of happiness. Here is the first book from that list that I have read in 2022.

A serious and very helpful book

Nelson does not allow her reader to wistfully think, “I’ll be grateful when…,” but encourages her to be in the moment and grateful for what she already has. It is a “touching, powerful, real” read because she shares her own story as a survivor of Stage IV cancer. During her search for recovery, she met a Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast who helped found the Network for Grateful Living. This book articulates his teachings, which the author has put into practice in her daily life. Subtitled “The Transforming Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted, this book is full of inspiring quotes, which I often copied into my Quotes Notebook. I also began a gratitude journal during the time I read Wake Up.

Nelson tells the reader, “Grateful living offers a path and a promise” and explains both. The book is full of practical guidelines and specific practices for the reader to carry out. These practices are: Stop. Look. Go, and each is given for every section of the book. I was spurred to put these practices into action and to continue doing so for some time now.

To call Wake Up a self-help or self-improvement book is an understatement. it is a narrative by Nelson of her journey to a more positive, happy life, plus ways the reader can obtain this for herself.

I highly recommend this book.

Thanks to the Story Reading Ape blog for the use of this meme.

MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE by Lori Gottlieb: A Review

This is probably one of my best non-fiction reads this year, right up there with I’m Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come (see review on this blog). Note the subtitle under the box on the cover for an accurate description of what the book is about. “This is a book that asks, ‘How do we change?’ and it answers with ‘In relation to others.’ ” Gottlieb explores the relationship between patient and therapist with real-life anecdotes from her patients and from her own sessions with her therapist that make us laugh, cry, and smile.

Gottlieb is a psychotherapist who also writes an advice column for The Atlantic magazine. Her personal, sometimes breezy writing style kept me turning pages way past bedtime.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

A close friend gave me a wonderful Christmas present which I began to use on this first day of 2018.  It is a journal, but not a prayer journal or a day-by-day personal diary/journal that compels one to write every day of the whole year.  If you write on January first, second, and third, then fall by the wayside on the fourth, even if you attempt to get back on the wagon on the fifth, there is the big blank page labeled/titled January 4th staring the writer in the face. This Christmas gift journal is titled “One Question a Day” and has no dates.  Instead, each page presents a question with four blank lines to answer it. Not only that, but this is a five year journal.  One answers the question in 2018, then answers the same question the next year and again and again until with a glance at one page, the writer can see his/her answer to the question for the past five years and speculate on changes or alterations in the answer as the years progress.

For example, today’s question was appropriately enough, “What would you like to accomplish this year?” In an effort to keep things simple, I decided not to require myself to write complete sentences or to try to sound profound (after all, I am the target reader). Today I only used two of the four lines.  I wrote: “Draw closer to God.  Be nicer to my husband.” Those are the two New Year’s Resolutions I want to work toward this year. I have been so blessed by both God and My Better Half that they deserve attention and focus in 2018.  It sounds so simple, but I think I am taking on a mighty big job.

What did you resolve to do this coming year? What areas could you use improvement in, and what do you intend to do about them? Comment here and let us sign on as cheerleaders to encourage you in your efforts throughout the year.

Good luck keeping up with your goals and fulfilling your resolutions.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

DARING GREATLY by Brene’ Brown: A Review

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” Theodore Roosevelt

This is the quote which inspires twelve years of research on Brown’s part into vulnerability, trying, and daring greatly.  Brown, who is one of Houston’s own, holding a PhD and LMSW from University of Houston, and often teaching as well as researching there, hit number one on the NY Times Bestseller list when this book was published in 2012. It “hit a spot”/resonated with everyone who read it. Its anecdotes (often from the author’s own life) read easily and fast and leave an impression.

I first “met” Brown in a Ted Talk and was impressed at how the speaker was so open–so vulnerable.  My thoughts were, “I could never do that,” but perhaps the author’s message is that we should. One blurb says Bene Brown, “Transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead,” and indeed, this book is helpful in all these aspects of our lives.  It is and it isn’t a self-help book; it is one as far as the reader will let it be.  If nothing else its Manifesto for Parents and Manifesto for Leaders are memes we want to pass along and hang on our wall.