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Quest is filled with everything from the sensible aspects of conducting your journey ("how much water should I take?") to Native American traditions like casting a medicine wheel. I was most touched by the compelling personal stories from former participants. Page after page, people detail the emotional breakthroughs they encountered, even among the most mundane tasks. You wouldn’t think a simple request like asking for water could trigger a turnaround, but it does. Students identify life-long patterns in some of the most humble moments. Those realizations provide the fuel to make permanent changes.
I was a little concerned about what I might take away from the book; I’m probably the last person to brave the outdoors for days on end (unless there’s a Hilton nearby). I loved the flexible options suggested. For example, Denise encourages readers to create a garden quest, taking time in a local garden or park if they cannot attend a traditional wilderness quest. You can even treat a day or weekend of silence as a quest.
I especially appreciated the “Life Evaluation Questions” in Chapter 4. Although the concept of spending time alone to reimagine your world may be appealing, she demonstrates the benefit of having structure and also working with a leader. You may not want to process all the questions at once due to their depth, but even reviewing subsets is a provocative tool. You can return to this chapter again and again as your life issues change over time.
Denise puts appropriate emphasis on the results of a quest. Throughout the book, she mentions how to integrate your experiences once you return home. Some teachers focus solely on the time you spend with them, and somehow a disconnect quickly occurs between your spiritual moments and real life. Denise invites her daughter, Meadow, to write candidly about her own quest taken at age 17 and its results. Meadow brings a fresh and charming voice to the book. You may see a bit of your own spiritual walk in her story. She discusses everything from her hopes for her future to struggling through every teenager’s mantra – “I’m bored!”
I encourage you to read Quest and incorporate its themes. As Denise reminds us, “You have taken a sacred inner journey, and now you’re returning to your everyday life to give something of what you gained from your experience to each individual you meet and to the world at large. This is the power of the Quest.”
FTC disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hay House for review purposes.
“Grace, Guidance and Gifts” is broken by theme into three sections. Each chapter is anchored with a Message From Spirit, Morning Affirmation, Today’s Mantra and Your Personal Blessing. As I fast reader, I found myself quickly turning the pages. After just a few chapters, however, I began to slow down and take breaks. While the chapters are not lengthy, they are rich. I wanted to give myself time to revel in each concept, and you will, too.
My favorite section was Guidance. I loved how Sonia used each Message From Spirit to explain spiritual principles. Many people are interested in knowing more about intuition, or want to rely on it as part of their daily life. Sonia illustrates the nuances of each theme in a gentle, warm and inviting way. You’ll find yourself easily explaining what these ideas are, even to the skeptics in your life.
I was also touched how Sonia used her personal experiences to open the book. It was reassuring to hear from someone who has been on a spiritual path for years that using the techniques neutralized her struggles. Sonia describes, “Soul drama does not possess and control me as it once did. Instead, I am able to see and dismantle the dramas I face and create.”
As an alternate to reading the chapters sequentially, you may want to try isolating some of the elements. For example, I read and re-read many of the Your Personal Blessing segments. Blessing others is an art, and unfortunately kind of a lost one. If you’ve ever had someone pray a blessing over you, you know what a moving and humbling experience it can be. I was reminded of the holiness and intensity of this compassionate ritual.
If you do nothing else, read and practice Today’s Mantra. Each mantra is an easy way to take the Message From Spirit with you for the day.
I also appreciated the beautiful guided meditations on the bonus CD. Like most people, I spend my day in front of a computer screen, so using the CD will be a relaxing way to continue learning.
My only criticism is that the book does not contain a detailed index. Since I’m planning to work with it over time, an index would be helpful to focus on specific ideas.
I encourage you to add this positive, comforting book to your library. Until you do, I’ll leave you with one of Sonia’s mantras for your week: Grant me the grace to accept life as it unfolds today.
FTC disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hay House for review purposes.
I had many favorites in the large array of topics, starting with the first chapter, “Enough Already.” Alan presents a bold yet simple statement: Sufficiency is an attitude. This concept is beyond radical contentment; it’s almost heretical in our over-marketed American society. However, readjusting our focus can show types of abundance we may not have considered – the person who lets us through in traffic, a task which may not take as much time as you thought, and an unexpectedly mild day in the heat of Summer. He challenges us to accept whatever circumstances are currently in our life and declare them Good.
I also loved Alan’s thoughts about the importance of prayer, and different techniques of prayer. As Kathianne Lewis at the Center for Spiritual Living likes to say, “Prayer can change a situation, but more importantly, it changes us.” Alan provides several practical ways to deepen this part of your spiritual journey, including focusing on the emotional qualities you’d like to experience, rather than praying for a particular outcome. If you’d like to find out more on this topic, I’d highly recommend “Handle with Prayer.” In his prior work, Alan provides comforting and compelling prayer samples at the end of each chapter.
I’m excited about implementing the ideas in “Enough Already”. As Alan reminds us via Isaac Bashevis Singer, “Life is God’s novel. Let Him write it.”
“A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit” is a well written book covering a broad range of topics. Congressman Ryan discusses everything from introducing meditation in schools to the outdated medical practice model. His interviews with veterans and their families are especially poignant. Although heartbreaking at times, they only reiterate how useful mindfulness can be in training the whole person – both in preparation for war and civilian life after service.
No matter how familiar you are with this topic, Mr. Ryan gives you quick “What You Can Do” lists at the end of each chapter and plenty of practical “how’s”:
•How to spark mindfulness (pg. 17)
•How to get started (page 42)
•How to disengage from negative situations (page 69)
One caution: don’t overlook this book by thinking, “Well, I’m not a political person” or “Sitting still is so boring – I could never do that.” You will have insights into your actions and the environment around you even if you only select certain chapters.
I was especially interested in his observations about ways stress affects the body, and the transformative effect of using intention. Listen to his description of his old morning routine. Sound familiar? “Mindfulness helped me become aware of how my body and mind reacted to the stress of daily life, to get in touch with how my built-in survival mechanism could go into high gear when it had no valid reason to. I could feel myself tense up if someone told me something I didn’t want to hear. I would lose focus during a conversation because I was fretting about something that happened hours before. I looked at my BlackBerry messages first thing in the morning and got thrown into a tailspin before I even got out of bed.”
Imagine growing up with awareness of your actions and their effect on others. In this book, Fred Rogers (a/k/a “Mr. Rogers”) inspired me to envision a world where these ideas are commonplace. “If we can teach children that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.”
Love, God and the Art of French Cooking is the painful story of author James Twyman's dysfunctional love life, with some conversations with chef Roger Dufau, the owner of bed and breakfast, Drew House, included. It is those conversations which are the most appealing and heart-warming parts of the book. Roger casually imparts his outlook on life with depth, humor and a quiet authenticity. He reminded me of the best of European culture: sophisticated yet earthy, with a wonderful appreciation of simple pleasures.
I couldn't wait to spend time with Roger. He had so many gems:
*On love: Love usually doesn't go in neat steps - it's rarely so well organized.
*On spirituality: I learned so much from that man <renowned chef Alain Dutournier>, and to me, he is a great example of what it means to be spiritual without being pious.
*On living a life of service, and living life with purpose (my favorite): When God gives us something to do for the world, it's vital that we pay attention.
If you're looking for something which tells a personal story with more than few culinary adventures thrown in, I highly recommend any of Ruth Reichl's books. If you happened to see Woody Allen's darling "Midnight in Paris" this Fall and would like to create your own homage to French cooking, try some of the recipes in Ina Garten's wonderful "Barefoot in Paris: French Food You Can Make At Home". Cooking while listening to "Ma Vie En Rose" is optional...
You might think with my long history that there couldn’t be much more to learn in “You Can Create an Exceptional Life,” but I’m happy to say that that’s incorrect. While the book isn’t long, it’s filled with pivotal new ideas, as well as some old favorites. If you are new to either author, or to New Thought in general, this warm, informally written book is just for you.
I began to see several themes as I worked through the pages. I was caught by the concept that so much of what we do can be seen simply as habits. Habits that no longer work for us, and can be dissolved to create a better life.
Another theme was divine timing. Even long-time readers of Louise Hay may be struck by how much time Louise invested in her journey. She diligently practices what she teaches, and yet never rushes the process (several steps of which take years at a time, unheard of in our on-demand society).
Last, their dynamic relationship reinforces the power of partnering; an especially important idea in our divisive and competitive world.
If you think you’ve heard it all before, I encourage you to get the book simply for the affirmations. They’re included in each chapter, but broken out into their own section at the end. I suspect your life may change for the better simply by reading through the “Collected Affirmations” each day.
Cheryl Richardson has suggested, “Be the power of example in your relationships.” I cannot think of a more appropriate way to describe these two outstanding women. “You Can Create an Exceptional Life” is filled with serious life lessons, but also authentic joy. It can be a step on the path Rita Emmett described, “I am no longer waiting for some stress to end, or a busy time to be over, or a crisis to be solved so that I can finally be happy. I’ve stopped putting off happiness “till later”, and am loving and living life to its fullest right now.”
Last year I attended Sonia Choquette’s workshop at the Hay House “I Can Do It” conference in San Diego. What an incredible two hours – insightful, informational, and most of all, fun. I was excited to hear that Sonia had a new book coming out, and requested a copy of “The Power of Your Spirit“ from Hay House as part of their blogger program.
Reverend Kathianne Lewis from the Center for Spiritual Living in Seattle likes to joke that many people in the New Thought movement are “over-read and underdone.” If this might be you, this book will immediately get you moving in the right direction. It is filled with thoughtful and manageable exercises at the end of each chapter. Sonia politely, but firmly, calls out a litany of excuses we’ve all made and heard from friends and family. No time to connect? Traditional meditation doesn’t work for you? Don’t like to journal? Stuck in a spiritual rut? You will find concrete actions to take for each of these experiences to reconnect with your Spirit in an authentic and passionate way.
My favorite parts of the book were the personal anecdotes Sonia shared. Early on, she writes about a powerful urge to follow Divine Guidance, and its unexpected and painful consequences with her boyfriend at the time. Anyone who has ever undertaken a similar leap of faith will relate to her decision, and also celebrate its long-reaching effects.
Since I am fond of Sonia’s work, “Trust Your Vibes at Work”, I enjoyed how she built on its themes in her new book by discussing the effect of Ego trying to overrule Spirit. On page 121 she states, “Ego wants things to be quick, predictable and easy.” That certainly explained a few interactions I had at work last week!
I highly recommend this short and impactful guide for your Summer book bag. Also, if you’re starting on some vision boards or tuning up ideas that are already percolating, add a few of Sonia’s “Trust Your Vibes” cards. They are a colorful way to anchor the ideas from “The Power of Your Spirit”. As Sonia encourages, “Whatever it is…begin the process.”
I had never heard of Victor Villasenor before I picked up Beyond Rain of Gold, the suspenseful and complicated story of publishing his bestseller, Rain of Gold. The book description seemed really interesting, so I requested a complimentary copy from Hay House as part of their blogger program. My Mother’s side of the family is Latino, and the themes seemed so familiar: love of family, spiritual connections, and pride in the Hispanic heritage. I enjoyed Beyond Rain of Gold, but let me say upfront that it may not be everyone’s taste.
A couple of editorial notes: Like The Milagro Beanfield War, Villasenor uses magical realism. This literary style combines the natural and supernatural in a romantic, often whimsical way. You may find Villasenor’s stories about persistently connecting with Heaven and his dead ancestors for Divine Guidance the fanatical ravings of someone who is “crazyloco” (as Victor often jokes about himself), but I can attest that this type of connection is both common and revered in the Mexican culture.
Throughout the book, Villasenor frequently puts words in capital letters, which he explains in the “Keys For Understanding”. It is important to appreciate this stylistic tool; without it, I can see how a reader could be irritated. Communication is key to Latinos. My Grandmother had the habit of constantly checking in during a conversation to ensure that you were following along, or that you were in agreement. Freely mixing English and Spanish, as well as emphasizing particular words or certain parts of a sentence, are part of this passionate style.
When I think of Victor Villasenor’s zest for life, ardent connection to family, and obsessive protection of his creative expression, I am reminded of this quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “I hope you go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
I was a little skeptical when I received a complimentary copy of Married to Bhutan from Hay House as part of their blogger program. The book description looked interesting, but I was one of the few people who put “Eat Pray Love” down without finishing it. Even as a lover of biographies, I thought, “Does the world really need another story about a United States citizen finding a deeper meaning in life halfway around the world?” I’m happy to say I was absolutely wrong; Married to Bhutan is enchanting.
Linda Leaming honestly and compassionately builds a beautiful bridge to another culture. She relates her experiences in a self-deprecating, often funny, way, and yet always holds a sensitivity for her surroundings. Her curiosity and reverence are contagious. I normally finish books very quickly, but I made myself read slowly, in my own nod to the pace of Bhutan.
I also loved her observations about Western culture. She gracefully avoids the easy temptation of making Western life intrinsically bad and her new life in the East automatically good. Instead, her different circumstances bring perspective to her prior life. At one point she embraces her new connection to nature by stating, “To truly see something, we don’t need to rely on senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing. For clear perception, we need to rely more on natural, not reasoned, impulses.”
I encourage you to pick up Married to Bhutan. It is an insightful celebration of life, love and travel. Like me, you may find yourself swept away by this quietly magical book.
From time to time I’ve had a chance to listen to nurse practitioner, Marcelle Pick, on her weekly radio show on Hay House Radio. She’s just started talking about her new book, “Are You Tired and Wired? Your Proven 30-Day Program for Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue and Feeling Fantastic Again”. As someone who has worked high stress, high-wire jobs my entire career, I was interested to hear her viewpoint about adrenal fatigue. When I received an advance copy from Hay House as part of their blogger program, I couldn’t put it down.
For anyone who is persistently run down, overwhelmed, or frequently suffering from minor illnesses like colds, you may have found your answer. Are You Tired and Wired? is very easy to read. Like Christiane Northrup, Marcelle explains the medical data in detail, and then anchors it with wonderful case studies. It’s hard to believe any woman would not find herself, at some point in her life, within the examples.
If you’re a slower reader, don’t let the “30 day program” reference intimidate you. Each chapter uses short quizzes and tables to identify the key concepts. (Curious how to navigate the herbal supplement aisle at your favorite health food store? Check out “The Herbal Pharmacy: Digestive Issues” table on page 91.) The month may fly by while you’re reading each chapter in depth, but these tools will allow you to understand the main themes and start using them immediately.
Chapter 6 provides a detailed adrenal-friendly eating plan, along with many easy recipes. I loved the use of pantry ingredients rather than a lot of specialty items. A small, but meaningful, element I noticed was the portion sizes. What a relief! (Am I the only one that thinks that most online recipe portions are huge?)
The book closes with a fantastic resource and “further reading” section. These lists alone are worth the price of admission. I’m excited about implementing the ideas Marcelle presents. I’m rubbing my earlobes right now…