Frances 0. Thomas

National Certified Counselor

Archive for the category “bookreview”

Give it a Rest

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I venture a guess that no woman in America will be surprised by the results of research done by Cornell University, the University of Minnesota, and Minnesota Population Center. They studied time diaries from 12,000 parents and concluded dads are happier when parenting than moms are. It seems moms do more of the work tasks while dads do more fun tasks. Ya think?

Moms were often alone with their kids, but dads often spent time with their kids in social situations with other adults around to give support. Moms were also more likely to be on call 24/7, so dads got more uninterrupted sleep.

For a fictional look at how this can play out, I recommend Leave Me, a novel by Gayle Forman. The mom in this book suffers a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery only to return home to whining, demanding children and a husband who thinks she can make a full recovery in a week so as not to inconvenience him.

Having facts from a study like this one to back up fiction and anecdotal evidence is good, but when will this situation change? I don’t have children, but I do find myself jumping in to do things that others could and should do for themselves and then feeling resentful. I need to learn to back off, set better boundaries, and ask for help instead of playing martyr. Do you?

Propel yourself to marketing success

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I am no stranger to marketing; I’ve done it in both the for-profit and non-profit arenas. Yet even this old dog learned a few tricks in Propel: Five Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and Accelerate Business by Whitney Keyes. If you, on the other hand, are a newcomer to the field, her five marketing principles lay out everything you need to know very clearly. They apply equally to big business, small business, and even personal branding.

Keyes breaks it all into five sections aspects: strategy, story, strength, simplicity, and speed.

A lot of thinking goes into marketing before you ever take any actions. The Strategy section thoroughly defines the basics: mission, vision, values, and SMART goals and objectives. Keyes also covers SWOT analysis, how to do market research, and what to do with the information you discover.

Keyes talks about the process of branding and finding target audiences in her Story section.

Strength comes through developing and then leveraging authentic relationships with customers as well as collaboration and alliances with other businesses and with the media.

Simplicity is the result of focus on priorities and setting action plans to avoid wasting time and money.

Speed is not only about being able to move quickly to take advantage of opportunities but also being able to judge quickly whether your actions are getting the right results.

What I particularly liked about Propel are the numerous examples all along the way from Keyes’ own career and clients. These clarify the concepts she offers and demonstrate how they work in real life.

If you need a crash course in marketing or just a refresher, you will find it in Propel.

 

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Over the past 20 years, Whitney Keyes has worked as a senior Microsoft manager, strategic adviser for American Express and a marketing consultant to thousands of individuals and organizations around the world. She is a member of the National Women’s Business Council, a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. Whitney was a winner of the Small Business Administration’s Women in Business Champion of the Year Award for Washington State.

Whitney serves as a professor and fellow for the Center for Strategic Communications at Seattle University and guest lectures for the University of Washington and other academic institutions. She teaches Global Reputation Management and related marketing communication courses. She also manages a consulting practice, delivers keynotes and facilitates workshops for organizations including the Small Business Administration and Port of Seattle.

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way book review

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The Bible story about sisters Mary and Martha always troubled me a bit. I knew if I were in that situation, I’d be the sister fussing with refreshments, not the sister listening to Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong. While I am not a bad cook, housekeeping is so not my thing. Still, I have that conscientious older sister thing going on. I hoped that reading Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul by Sarah Mae would help me see my way to both increased domesticity and spirituality. It did.

The author points out that homemaking is a way to express love for one’s family and guests. When our home is a mess, we have what she calls chaos in our souls. If we rid ourselves of that chaos, we have more energy and capacity to love. What a concept.

Each of the 31 days has both a Mary and a Martha challenge. The Mary challenges start with an appropriate Bible verse and are designed to get our heart in the right place. Then the Martha challenges give practical, bite-size instructions on how to clean and organize room by room.

The book has a lot of humor and encouragement for those who, like me, are not natural born cleaners. The takeaway for me: Good enough is good enough.

 

About the book:
Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself―yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts.
 
Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart―and your home―at the same time?
 
Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/sarahmae15

I’m Sarah Mae, a woman saved and loved by Jesus Christ. Because oh my yes, how I was lost and in need of some saving. And I still need saving, every day, because I am so fully human, so breakable, and so mess-up prone. I am also perfect according to heaven because of Jesus, so I walk free.

I love to read, drink coffee (I’ll take it black), write, watch movies with my man, and homeschool my babes.

I’m the coauthor of Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe (written with the lovely Sally Clarkson), author of Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure…Right Where She Is, and Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to Clean House and a Satisfied Soul. I also have the privilege of being a cohost with Amy Smoker of an event for moms called, A Night to Breathe.

– See more at: http://sarahmae.com/about/#sthash.xuvB4VxO.dpuf

 

 

Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle book review

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P J Sharon’s book Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle offers to help couch potatoes. Yes, that’s me all right. She’s a massage therapist, personal trainer, and yoga teacher, so she has plenty of real life experience to draw from.

Fortunately for me, I don’t suffer from chronic pain or have existing medical issues that often go hand in hand with a sedentary lifestyle. If you do, Sharon gives helpful advice on how to choose both traditional and alternative healthcare providers.

What I do suffer from is chronic dieting. Sharon wants me to think weight management instead of weight loss. Makes sense. This has to be forever, not a one-time thing.

The statistics are sobering. More and more people fall into the “obese” category. And these people, on average, sit two and a half hours more per day than thinner people. Other contributing factors are heavily marketed processed food, stress, sleep deprivation, social pressures, and emotions. Some of these are easier to overcome than others. The emotional component is probably the hardest. Sharon provides tips to get started in the right direction, but you have to love yourself as you are first.

Separate chapters address the other challenges. Much of it you’ve seen before if you have read other self-help books; however, Sharon includes just enough science to prove her points without boring you to death. If you do nothing else, check out the pages of illustrated stretches and try them.

Above all, Sharon says you must figure out your own personal “why.” Hint: it should be bigger in scope than looking good at your high school reunion. Once you’re clear on your intrinsic motivation, all things are possible.

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In addition to authoring award winning young adult novels, PJ Sharon owns ABSolute Fitness and Therapeutic Bodywork, a private practice massage therapy and personal training business in East Granby, CT. With over twenty-five years in the health and fitness industry, Ms. Sharon offers a multidisciplinary approach to wellness. As a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA), Massage Therapist (LMT), Certified Personal Fitness Trainer (CPFT), and Yoga Instructor, Ms. Sharon brings a wealth of knowledge to her clients and workshops. A graduate of Springfield Technical Community College and the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy, Ms. Sharon also holds certifications as a trainer through the NFPT and teaches therapeutic yoga. A Black Belt in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate and former figure skating and power skating instructor, Ms. Sharon’s passion for holistic health and healing comes through in her writing—whether she is penning romantic and hopeful stories for teens or sharing her wisdom and experience with clients and workshop attendees. When she’s not writing or spreading the love through her practice, she can be found kayaking in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts and renovating an old farmhouse with the love of her life. Author contact info and social media sites: Website: http://www.pjsharon.com Follow PJ on Twitter: @pjsharon http://www.twitter.com/pjsharon “Like” PJ on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pjsharonbooks Signup for PJ’s Newsletter at her website: http://eepurl.com/bm7rj5

Million Dollar Women book review

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You may recognize the last name of author Julia Pimsleur. Her late father Dr. Paul Pimsleur created a method to learn foreign languages that is still widely used. I’ve seen his kits on the shelves of my small, hometown library.  For her to follow in his footsteps and start a company to teach languages to toddlers by using videos was pretty much a no-brainer. But having a great idea and knowing about languages and film making wasn’t quite enough. To grow a business, you need money.

Ms. Pimsleur has written a book called Million Dollar Women to explain how women can take their businesses beyond the kitchen table. Much of the material doesn’t apply to me. After all, I’m not the CEO of a large company or looking for investors. But there are plenty of suggestions here that even I can use.

Pimsleur points out that women often won’t attempt something unless they are 99% sure they won’t fail. Self-limiting beliefs like that have got to go. She uses the metaphor of putting them in a storage locker if you can’t part with them altogether. She also advises to add “yet” to the end of such a belief. For example, “I can’t understand financial statements…yet.”

It’s also important to surround yourself with like-minded people who will offer support. This is the principle behind Weight Watchers. The flip side is also true. You may have to distance yourself from people who turn out to be “frenemies.”

Pimsleur gives some tips on where to find those supporters, what she calls “flying buttresses” after the architectural features of Notre Dame. One is to join a professional association or a shared work space. Another is to start your own accountability group. The U.S. Small Business Administration can provide resources too.

Pimsleur quotes Carla Harris, Chair of the National Women’s Business Council, that while how well you do your job matters is your twenties and thirties, as you progress in your career or in your business, your ability to network becomes more important. Networking should be strategic and deliberate. Know why you are going to an event and whom you intend to meet. Then don’t drop the ball. Plan how you will follow up to keep your new contacts engaged.

Remember, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate. Pimsleur has an assistant, a virtual assistant, and is already delegating small home tasks to her young children.

It is not at all necessary to give up your personal life to be a million dollar woman or attain whatever your version of success is, but you have to prioritize and get into motion.

Pimsleur offers quite a few resources and exercises from the book on her website.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book review

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Now that I have read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I see why it became a best seller. She spells out very specifically just what to do to rid yourself of clutter. Forever. I really believe I desperately want that, but I also confess that there is no way I would be willing to follow her directions, excellent though they are. My guess is most of the 2 million people who bought the book won’t take her advice either. Her clients who have used her methods, however, have thrown or given away an average of 20 to 30 45-liter bags of “stuff.”

I used to pay attention to feng shui once upon a time, and some of what Kondo recommends hearkens back to those theories. It is not enough to look at items of clothing hanging in your closet or books on shelves. You have to spread them out and touch them to absorb whether or not they give you sufficient joy to make them worth keeping. And that means all of them. Yes, every single piece of clothing you own spread over the floor. Every book.

On the other hand, much of what she says is intensely practical. You really don’t need to keep all those operating manuals. Nobody ever reads them, and even if you did, you’d be better off talking to a person at the store where you bought the appliance when a problem arises.

One big takeaway is to keep storage as simple as possible. No putting off season items in a covered bin. That’s how we accumulate so much stuff. Complicated storage lets us forget what or how much we have. Store all similar items together, not spread all over the house, for the same reason. Her categories are clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous, and mementos. Or you can divide by similarities in materials: cloth-like, paper-like, or electrical. Store all items for one person together if possible. Everything should have an assigned spot.

One piece of advice I have already implemented is to store purses inside each other with the straps hanging out so you remember what is where. It does help them hold their shape. It remains to be seen if I will have trouble finding what I want when the time comes.

Kondo’s approach may seem woo-woo to some although I found it charming. For example, every day when she gets home from work she thanks her home for sheltering her. She treats the items she keeps with respect and thanks them for their service to her.

Kondo says human beings can only cherish a limited amount of things at a time. Through the process of paring down to only the items you love, you may remember things about yourself you had forgotten and have a better idea of who you truly are. You are content and your mind is free to pursue your purpose.

Magic.

 

Designate a place for each thing
This is the routine I follow every day when I return from work. First, I unlock the door and announce to my house, “I’m home!” Picking up the pair of shoes I wore yesterday and left out in the entranceway, I say, “Thank you very much for your hard work,” and put them away in the shoe cupboard. Then I take off the shoes I wore today and place them neatly in the entranceway.Heading to the kitchen, I put the kettle on and go to my bedroom. There I lay my handbag gently on the softsheepskin rug and take off my outdoor clothes. I putmy jacket and dress on a hanger, say “Good job!” and hang them temporarily from the closet doorknob. I put my tights in a laundry basket that fits into the bottom right corner of my closet, open a drawer, select the clothes I feel like wearing inside, and get dressed. I greet the waist-high potted plant by the window and stroke its leaves.My next task is to empty the contents of my handbag on the rug and put each item away in its place. First I remove all the receipts. Then I put my purse in its designated box in a drawer under my bed with a word of gratitude. I place my train pass and my business card holder beside it. I put my wristwatch in a pink antique case in the same drawer and place my necklace and earrings on the accessory tray beside it. Before closing the drawer, I say, “Thanks for all you did for me today.”

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear book review

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Unlike most of the women in America, I wasn’t particularly interested in reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-seller Eat Pray Love. What little I knew of it just didn’t grab me. But I found in her latest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear a new way of looking at creativity. Gilbert talks about inspiration as she would about a friend. When inspiration comes a-calling, it is incumbent upon a creative person to welcome it. And do whatever it takes to bring the idea to fruition.

Gilbert divides her book into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.

Gilbert relates that as a child she was afraid of virtually everything. At age 15, she discovered that fear was, well, boring. She cautions that creativity does not, however, require fearlessness. We need fear, but we also need to be brave enough to overcome it.

Gilbert sees ideas as a life form that have a will to become manifest. For that to happen, they need a human collaborator. An idea may try to attract your attention, but you may miss its arrival or circumstances may not be right for you to embrace it. Embracing it does not involve suffering. Instead, Gilbert says, cooperate with both joyfulness and discipline.

Don’t bother asking permission from anyone. Do what you want to do. We make things because we want to make things; humans always have. The arts don’t belong to just a chosen few. Live the most vivid life you can. Declare your intent. You are entitled. Your art doesn’t have to save the world.

Whatever you practice, you will get better at. And it’s never too late to start that practice. Gilbert says the question to ask yourself is: “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?” But keep your day job too. For ages, people have taken care of themselves and their creativity.

Being an artist does not mean you have to be an addict, an alcoholic, or otherwise messed up. The persona of a Tortured Artist is often used to excuse bad behavior. Trust love over suffering. Believe that your work loves you as much as you love it. If you don’t know what your passion is, follow your curiosity.

In the end, creativity is a paradox. It is sacred and not sacred. It matters and it doesn’t. It is a chore and a privilege. Make space for these paradoxes, Gilbert assures us, and we can make anything.

 

 

Become You book review

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If you read much self-help literature, Become You: A Transformational Blueprint for Your Mind, Body and Soul  by Toneka Etienne, Ph.D. doesn’t cover a lot of new ground. What the author does an excellent job of, however, is providing an honest look into her own life to illustrate her points in a clear, concise way.

Etienne moved to a new city, had two small children, worked full time, and was finishing her doctorate. As you can imagine, she faced a multitude of challenges. Over the course of the next six years, she managed to find ways to look at life differently. Then just when she thought she had the stressors licked, she was diagnosed with diabetes. That motivated her to share her ideas with readers.

Etienne’s first chapter is Believe, and it is obvious she has a deep faith in God. From belief comes a sense of worthiness. Envying what others have just means that you don’t feel worthy of having your dreams come true. Etienne discusses the work of psychologist Carol Dweck on fixed and growth mindsets. If your mindset is fixed, you perceive a challenge as a risk. You refuse to face obstacles and just give up. If you have a growth mindset, you look at challenges as opportunities to improve or develop.

Chapter Two is Evaluate. Etienne talks about how to do a life audit to determine what your strengths are. She also asks readers to rank satisfaction with their spirituality, career, relationships, wellness, personal development, and finances. Then pick the one area most out of balance between real and ideal. Etienne gives some good questions to ask to figure out how to get closer to the desired outcome.

The next chapter is Create. She says it is discipline and structure that give us the freedom to create. Develop systems and routines.

Obstacles come next. Fear can be the catalyst to move us forward. This might be fear of failure or fear of success, fear of rejection or fear of change.

The author then comes to Manifest. She talks about the Law of Attraction contrasted with the Law of Action, the Law of Expectation versus the Law of Resistance, and visualization.

The final chapter is Execute. Etienne warns that trying to improve your own life may not sit well with all of your family and friends. If that is the case, seek out supportive people and don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

Most importantly, remember to play. I can certainly relate to that. I’m a self-improvement junkie from way back, but I sometimes forget to just be.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION 

Toneka R. Etienne will be awarding a signed copy of Become You to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


AUTHOR Bio 

Toneka R. Etienne, Ph.D., is a Psychologist, wife, mother, Huffington Post contributor, and creator at www.tonekaetienne.com. Toneka is a self-love advocate encouraging women to balance their daily lives with the ambition to continually pursue their dreams. Her calling is to fully support women as they call soulful purpose and intention into their life and business connected to their deepest and most authentic selves. When she’s not holding sacred space for women’s transformation, Toneka can be found doing her favorite things: spending time with her husband and two daughters, traveling, reading, connecting with like-minded visionaries, and looking for divine inspiration.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tonekaretienne
Instagram: instagram.com/tonekaetienne
Twitter: twitter.com/tonekaetienne

Mind over matter

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Caroline Greene started early in life to be an overachiever.  In eighth grade she won all the academic awards. Then she headed off to Philips Exeter academy, followed by Yale and law school.

Ten years later, she had a husband and kids. But the career she expected to have instead materialized for her husband, not her. She had become a stay-at-home-mom while her husband became a partner in his law firm. She felt like she no longer mattered.

In her book Matter: How to Find Meaningful Work That’s Right for You and Your Family (The Well-Educated Mom’s Guide Book 1) , Greene walks us through the process of how to find meaningful work while remaining present for one’s family.

First came a grieving process as she looked at where she was in all aspects of her life compared to where she thought she’d be. I can really relate to this. I’m going through a compare and contrast process for the second time in my life right now.

Greene next talks about the need to seek validation from others versus the ability to self-validate.  This one rings all too true with me too.  She started by nurturing herself in four areas: rest, nourishment, movement, and touch. She started paying attention and feeling her emotions. bad and good.

Greene’s chapter Get Connected was another that resonated with me. Going it alone means being isolated from others. Greene realized she needed three kinds of friends. What she calls mommy friends are those who are in the same stage of life as you are. Professional friends share your educational or career background. Soul friends are the people with whom you just “click.” I had never thought of friendship in these terms, but they make a lot of sense.  I might add one more category, those with whom you grew up, who share your history, or who knew you when.

Building relationships, she says, requires the ability to accept help.

Of course, obstacles arise. Two of these are guilt and shame. Greene defines guilt as feeling you did something bad while shame is feeling you are a bad person. But loving others doesn’t mean we have to put everyone’s needs ahead of our own. That’s not love; it’s martyrdom.

Only after all this introspection should you begin to list the characteristics of your ideal job. Focus on how you want to feel. Then start exploring possibilities. Be willing to make mistakes and to ask for help.

In the end, it is the work of being more of who we really are that matters.

The Upside of Stress book review

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Another book that touches on post-traumatic growth is The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It by Kelly McGonigal, Ph. D.  We’ve all heard how much of a toll stress takes. We’re supposed to avoid it as much as possible. If we can’t, and who can, we need to have an arsenal of methods to cope with it. But there is more to the story.

While McGonigal doesn’t exactly expect us to seek out stress, she has the research to prove that good can and does come out of stressful events. She even teaches a course at Stanford University called The New Science of Stress. Her definition is “stress is what arises when something you care about is at stake.”

McGonigal offers some studies on how a simple change of mindset can influence the outcome of a stressful situation. The first step is to acknowledge the stress when you experience it. Allow yourself to notice how it affects you, particularly your body. The second step is to welcome stress because it is a response to something you care about. Think about what is at stake and why it matters to you? The third step is to make use of the energy that stress gives you instead of wasting that energy trying to manage your stress. What can you do that reflects your goals and values? People who learn to do this report less anxiety and depression and better physical health. They feel more focused, creative, and engaged.

McGonigal also describes two stress reactions beside the fight-or-flight we’re familiar with.  She calls one response tend-and-befriend. Earlier studies that focused on fight-or-flight were done mostly on men. Women, however, tend to have the tend-and-befriend response more often. This motivates you to protect the people and communities you care about. It seems not only adrenaline but also oxytocin is released during stress. This has been called the “cuddle hormone.” It helps build social connections and also builds courage.

A third reaction is growth. During the recovery period from stress, hormones also increase activity in the brain that supports learning and memory. In other words, past stress teaches the body how to handle future stress.

One major takeaway from McGonigal’s book is that the worst response to stress is to isolate yourself and think nobody else has experienced what you are facing. Helping others is a highly effective way to handle stress. Having a bigger-than-self goal is important. What do you want to contribute to your community?

Do you have a goal that is bigger than yourself?  Do you have a strong social support network?

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Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, and a leading expert on the mind-body relationship. She teaches for the School of Medicine’s Health Improvement Program and is a senior teacher/consultant for the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Her work demonstrates the applications of psychological science to personal health and happiness, as well as organizational success and social change.

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