Life After Loss, Intuitive Art, Recovery Memoirs, Building Resiliency | Self-Help Reviews

Take a Break, Breathe, and Help Others Except for a few books, this column reviews the newest works dealing with the most challenging aspects of life. Three titles aim to help readers cope with the unexpected loss of a loved one, affirming that while people can never truly “get over” a death, they can learn to live happy, productive lives. To heal from trauma, ­Sandra Marinella suggests writing The Story You Need To Tell, while ­Joseph Gallenberger’s Heaven Is for Healing discusses the concept of the afterlife. Other volumes cover the topic of addiction and present information and strategies for recovery. Yet another explores the subject of childhood abuse and its long-term ramifications. On the more positive side, readers will be encouraged to take a break and Just Breathe, which, as Dan Brulé explains is one path to achieving the good life. A particularly humorous entry by noted comedian Andy Boyle instructs young people in the ways of competent adulthood.

Archelaus, Rachel. Intuitive Art: How To Have a Two-Way Conversation with Your Higher Self. Sephyrus. May 2017. 146p. ISBN 9780983013754. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780983013778. creativity/psych

According to Archelaus (founder, Intuitive Art Academy), intuitive art (in particular, the Archelaus Method) is a tool for channeling one’s higher wisdom and solving problems. To reach these goals, a person connects with a situation, brings it down from the ether, into the body, and onto paper, repeating these steps until the answer is apparent. Essentially, one sketches, doodles, or draws emotions or energy, transforming their intuition into artistic language. The author proposes three easy steps: connect, draw, and decode. The last step can be tricky, but the author teaches readers how colors and varying levels of creative intensity convey meaning. VERDICT Visualizing one’s issues through illustration is an attractive concept that will appeal to anyone interested in new methods of self-discovery.

redstarBoucher, Lisa. Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture. She Writes. Jun. 2017. 256p. bibliog. ISBN 9781631522147. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631522154. addiction & recovery

Boucher’s (Revelation) latest challenges women to ask themselves if they’re drinking too much. Following up this question with her own story of recovery, as well as other women’s experiences, the author demonstrates that alcoholism is a disease that doesn’t discriminate by income level, education, or gender. Throughout the narratives, Boucher weaves in facts about drug and alcohol abuse as well as the day-to-day challenges of early sobriety. Contrary to the thinking that women have to lose it all before making changes, she hopes that, by reading her book, women can recognize and deal with their potential alcoholism early on. VERDICT Boucher offers recognition, empathy, and hope for family and friends and all women who have struggled with addiction. Highly recommended.

Boyle, Andy. Adulthood for Beginners: All the Life Secrets Nobody Bothered To Tell You. TarcherPerigee. May 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780143130512. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781524704117. SELF-HELP

According to writer, comedian, and web developer Boyle, adult life can be strange and unpredictable for young adults because they don’t know what to expect. Here, he tells them all about work, dating, their bodies, and how to behave in the world. He imparts humorous advice on dealing with roommates, sleeping with coworkers, developing a reputation, and how to get good at “damn” near anything. Boyle’s guidance can be simple, as in “get a dentist” or more avuncular, such as “failing isn’t failure.” ­VERDICT Boyle’s book is hard to put down and full of solid advice. It’s the perfect gift for a high school or college graduate.

Brulé, Dan. Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business, and Beyond. Enliven: Atria. Mar. 2017. 224p. ISBN 9781501134388. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781501134395. mindfulness/meditation

Brulé, leader of the global Spiritual Breathing Movement, posits that people can control certain life outcomes by managing their breath. He outlines exercises, techniques, and meditations, and relates personal stories that help readers develop a transformational practice that will aid them in getting through difficult circumstances as well as perform at a high level. Methods include detoxing body and mind, letting go of life-limiting thoughts, and communing with nature. The author makes a compelling case for therapeutic breathwork and presents clear and concrete instructions for mastering that skill. VERDICT A worthwhile resource for achieving wellness, particularly for those who wish to destress naturally.

Kahn, Laurie. Baffled by Love: Stories of the Lasting Impact of Childhood Trauma Inflicted by Loved Ones. She Writes. Jun. 2017. 280p. ISBN 9781631522260. pap. $16.95. childhood abuse & recovery

Psychotherapist Kahn (founder, Womencare Counseling & Training Ctr.), who specializes in the treatment of survivors of childhood abuse, relates the stories of her clients whose understanding of love was twisted by the mistreatment of those who were supposed to love and protect them. The ­narratives range from a daughter whose father served as her pimp to a woman who grew up in a cult where women’s role was solely to service men to an athlete who was preyed upon by her coach. Kahn also weaves in her own personal story as well as the often lasting effects of abuse—absence of trust, traumatic flashbacks, and the ability to see danger in relationships. She demonstrates how her clients grew and found solidarity with one another throughout a therapeutic experience and that hope and resources exist for survivors. VERDICT An unsettling yet compelling work on the issue of childhood sexual abuse that will be valuable for survivors and their loved ones as well as health-care professionals.

Kiloby, Scott. Natural Rest for Addiction: A Radical Approach to Recovery Through Mindfulness and Awareness. New Harbinger. May 2017. 224p. ISBN 9781626258860. pap. $16.95. addiction & recovery

Kiloby (CEO, Kiloby Ctr. for Recovery, Rancho Mirage, CA) has found that mindfulness training can help anyone struggling with addiction to kick their habit by teaching them how to stay in the present moment. He explains that by naturally resting in a state of presence, one stops looking to the future for ultimate satisfaction. The author offers strategies and exercises that can help combat cravings, encourage positive feelings, and listen fully to what others are saying. Kiloby delves into dissolving physical body contractions, or blockages of energy/repressed emotions, so that true transformation may be achieved and there’s no possibility of falling back into the addictive cycle. VERDICT Kiloby’s practical and innovative skills will undoubtedly benefit anyone caught in a cycle of addiction, anxiety, or depression. Recommended.

Kukk, Christopher L. The Compassionate Achiever: How Helping Others Fuels Success. HarperOne. Mar. 2017. 256p. bibliog. ISBN 9780062457899. $26.99. personal growth

Opposed to the idea that the key to prosperity is to look out for number one, Kukk (political & social science, Western Connecticut State Univ.) maintains that compassion and a commitment to helping others actually leads to more constructive relationships, improved intelligence, and increased resiliency. The author proposes a four-step program to cultivate such qualities: listen to learn; understand to know; connect to capabilities; and act to solve. Within each of these steps, Kukk teaches such skills as believing in win-win solutions, empathizing with other perspectives, and sharing responsibility. ­VERDICT Kukk’s message and steps can provide effective tools to promote more productive workplaces and healthier communities.

Lamia, Mary. What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions, and Success. Rowman & Littlefield. Jul. 2017. 164p. bibliog. ISBN 9781442203815. $32; ebk. ISBN 9781442203822. SELF-HELP

Interestingly enough, both procrastinators and nonprocrastinators are successful in their endeavors, though each respond to motivation in different ways. Lamia, clinical psychologist and faculty chair (Wright Inst., Berkeley, CA) has made a lifetime study of human emotions. She explains that people are moved to complete a task by not only positive but also negative emotions such as anxiety, fear of failure, and shame. Through her descriptions of personality types and motivators, readers learn to optimize their own style of action, respond to intense feelings, and be committed to meeting goals. The “troubleshooting guide” at the end of the book outlines various ways to handle life’s glitches as they come along. VERDICT This motivating self-help guide will have wide appeal, but it is primarily geared ­toward the college-educated reader.

Marinella, Sandra. The Story You Need To Tell: Writing To Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss. New World Library. May 2017. 272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781608684830. pap. $16.95. personal growth

One way to handle trying life events, says writing instructor Marinella, is through expressing your pain, dreams, and aspirations through narrative. For this book, the author interviewed hundreds of people, from veterans and cancer patients to students and grieving parents, all of whom have found that writing helped to lay out a broken experience and allowed them to begin to piece it back together again. Prompts provided at the end of each chapter serve to jump-start one’s thinking to make sense of one’s story. Other suggestions include describing difficulty from a different viewpoint and exploring tales of hope and possibility. VERDICT Although one does not have to be a writer to gain insight from this book, it will be especially relevant for those who are inclined toward journaling and putting their feelings on the page.

O’Meara, Rachael. Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break. TarcherPerigee. Apr. 2017. 256p. index. ISBN 9780143129240. pap. $15; ebk. ISBN 9781101993149.

Onstad, Katrina. The Weekend Effect: The Life-Changing Benefits of Taking Time Off and Challenging the Cult of Overwork. HarperOne. May 2017. 304p. bibliog. ISBN 9780062440181. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062440204. time management/ workplace

The premise of both of these books is that overworking and being on call 24/7 is wreaking havoc with health, personal relationships, and productivity.

In Pause, transformation coach O’Meara offers the behavioral tool of “pausing”—taking a break and making an intentional shift to listen and align action with inner voice. A pause can be as simple as taking a five-minute walk outside or unplugging from digital devices for a day. O’Meara discusses the art of “mental flossing”—cleaning out mistaken beliefs—as well as practicing mindfulness and meditation throughout the day.

In The Weekend Effect, award-­winning journalist and author Onstad (E­verybody Has Everything) proposes using weekends to slow down and step out of the rush of modern life. She provides history about the concept of “weekend” and updates readers on what some successful companies are now doing to help or hinder their employees’ enjoyment of free time. Onstad details the many ways in which work such as caregiving, housecleaning, and entertaining may be integrated into “off time.” ­VERDICT O’Meara delivers practical, bite-sized suggestions for embracing mental vacations throughout the day, while Onstad elaborates upon the problems encountered in taking a period of time off. Both volumes are recommended for reducing stress and improving well-being.

Sakugawa, Yumi. The Little Book of Life Hacks: How To Make Your Life Happier, Healthier, and More Beautiful. Griffin: St. Martin’s. May 2017. 208p. ISBN 9781250092250. pap. $18.99. SELF-HELP

Noted comic book artist and author Sakugawa (I Think I Am in Friend Love with You) presents an illustrated book chock-full of superb tips for looking and feeling better, streamlining one’s home life, and creating fun DIY projects that can brighten any living space. Using a cartoon format, Sakugawa describes how to remove dark circles from under eyes, take the perfect afternoon power nap, and remember people’s names and faces. ­VERDICT Great advice on everyday matters, but the graphic form is valuable only for those who favor the use of illustrations to present information.

Life After Life

Gallenberger, Joseph. Heaven Is for Healing: A Soul’s Journey After Suicide. Rainbow Ridge. May 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781937907518. pap. $16.95. bereavement

Experiencing a loved one’s suicide causes a type of grief that author and psychotherapist Gallenberger (Inner Vegas; Liquid Luck) knows well, having lost his brother two decades earlier. In this book, he talks about conquering the sorrow that follows such a death and the worthlessness and guilt felt by survivors. In the first section, Gallenberger counters harsh and medieval attitudes about suicide by presenting his understanding of growth paths in the afterlife, which he argues are available to the spirit of a person who has committed suicide. The second part details his communications with his brother, who has received help on the other side and continues to grow along spiritual lines. VERDICT A supportive read full of hope and insight for those who have lost friends and family to suicide.

Hone, Lucy. Resilient Grieving: How To Live with Loss That Changes Everything. Experiment. Mar. 2017. 256p. bibliog. ISBN 9781615193752. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615193769. bereavement

Hone, a researcher in resilience/well-being psychology (Auckland Univ. of Technology, New Zealand) applied the sorrow she felt after her daughter’s death to the development of practical strategies that can help the bereaved work toward acceptance of their loss and return to experiencing a full life. She shares strength-building tools that include thinking flexibly, embracing a personal moral compass, finding a role model, and nurturing a caring social network. Hone adds that one should welcome and enjoy positive emotions, and that communicating them to others is good for the soul. VERDICT There is a wealth of empathetic information in this book that will undoubtedly be uplifting to all who are grieving or know of others in the process. Excellent.

redstarSandberg, Sheryl & Adam Grant. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Knopf. Apr. 2017. 240p. bibliog. ISBN 9781524732684. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781524732691. memoir

Best-selling author (Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead) and Facebook COO Sandberg teams with psychologist and writer Grant (Originals) to share her heartbreaking account of coping with husband Dave Goldberg’s unexpected death at age 48. While the authors concede that everyone’s story is different, they explore not only what they’ve learned about resilience but what others have gone through in order to find joy and strength after difficulty. Sandberg and Grant demonstrate how people can discover a new purpose in life by seeking meaning in tragedy and helping others escape the quagmire of despair. ­VERDICT This captivating memoir ­offers genuine hope. Highly ­recommended.

Deborah Bigelow is an Adult Services Librarian, Dexter District Library, MI

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