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Review of “A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my favorite kid’s books. It combines a cool message about health and individuality with a creative story, beautiful illustrations, and humor. I found this book at a school book fair years ago, and now I can read it to my kids who can’t look away. Camilla Cream is the lead character, and she has developed a case of stripes out of nowhere. Everyone seems to have an answer ready about how she can get rid of them, but who really knows the underlying root of her strange ailment? What ultimately helps her feel better? This book will entertain kids and parents, and it reminds us that real medicine is often hidden in plain sight and something that we are innately connected to.

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Review of “Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life” by Joshua Becker

Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life by Joshua Becker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is neat, tidy, uncluttered, and pure in its message. With two babies, clutter can become a bigger problem by the day. I found this book and immediately went to work with the author’s easy techniques. Namely, 1) everything at home should have a home; 2) if an area such as a cupboard or a drawer is already jam packed with stuff, that’s a problem and that space needs help; 3) if we’re just staring at a possession and know deep down we’ll never touch it again, it should probably move out somehow (by selling it, donating it, etc.). I love how the author tells you to calm down, and handle decluttering in manageable, even enjoyable chunks. My whole family, minus the babies unfortunately, have gotten into the action. The babies are on an opposite mission, but they’ll learn sometime… far down the road. I like the stress relieving feeling of enjoying a house with visible floors, walls, counters, and space. I also like being able to find stuff when I need it. Stuff isn’t bad, but too much useless and irrelevant stuff can be.

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Review of “Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault” by Bunmi Laditan

Toddlers Are A**holes: It’s Not Your Fault by Bunmi Laditan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the parenting book I’ve been looking for! There are vulgarities throughout Bunmi’s humorous book, but that’s okay because being bad is challenging for parents to do and we need more of it. We’re so hard on ourselves and we tend to invite impossible expectations that pile on top of us day-to-day. The author is expert at pointing out how our kids don’t actually care about most of what we fret over. If you’ve thought your toddler is strange for seeking out recycled containers to play with over the toys you buy them, you’re not alone. This book tells it like it is when it comes to kids, rather than painting the parenting experience as the smooth, enlightened, peaceful, perpetually enriching, and lovely ride that we may hear about through social media or from other parents we interact with. If you have friends who are new to parenting a toddler, and who don’t mind vulgar language, give them this book as a gift. Tell them to keep it in a drawer until they’re ready to pull their hair out, and then to read it for some instant therapy. It’s a short and easy read, and I laughed a lot. I also gained some wisdom from the book; read through to the end and you’ll find it too on the last page. If your kid is en route to earning the Nobel Peace Prize or writing a bestseller at the age of 3 or 4, I’m not sure whether you’ll enjoy this book or not. It’s worth a try.

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Review of “You Exhaust Me, A Clueless Guy’s Guide to Marriage” by Bob Marsocci

You Exhaust Me, A Clueless Guy’s Guide to Marriage by Bob Marsocci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If women’s clothing stores would listen to Bob and set up an area where husbands could kick back, watch sports, and even take a nap while their wives shop, they would see a spike in profits. This book is humorous and lighthearted in an area that can become so formulaic, pressure-filled, and therefore heavy in today’s society: marriage and relationships. Bob knows how to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing, which can help through challenges and growing pains that come up. Both men and women will enjoy the book and be able to laugh at themselves a little more, and maybe even blame themselves a little less for the idiosyncrasies that can come up in any relationship. There should be a part two of this book, the You Exhaust Me: Kids Edition! It’s healthy to recognize that interacting with others can be both exhausting and rewarding.

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Review of “How to Be an Imperfectionist” by Stephen Guise

How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Fearlessness, Confidence, and Freedom from Perfectionism by Stephen Guise
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The premise of this book was good and some of the tips are helpful, but overall the message seemed unrealistic and somewhat self-righteous. I really liked Mini Habits, by the same author, as it described a practical, loose-fitting, and even fun way to develop habits in areas you’re not used to taking consistent action in. The Imperfectionist book felt like an opposite approach: an over-thought-out series of steps on how to think, relate to others, and feel on a daily basis. I agree with the idea that perfectionism often causes a lot of woes for people and stifles their potential and creativity. What was hard to read about was the suggestion of a confident, happy, and socially savvy “Imperfectionist” group that is juxtaposed with a supposed “Perfectionist” group of people who lack confidence, seek approval from others, feel relatively unhappy overall, and are at the bottom of the totem pole in socializing with others. Seeking approval from others? Gauging from reality T.V. shows, social media, and even politics, seeking approval is a nation-wide obsession and not just a shortcoming of perfectionists. The book seems to say, “Join our team and you’ll discover what living really is!” Now buy all this stuff marketed at the end of the book too. The advice is just too seamless and chipper for me. There is a suggestion to wear a fanny pack to show you don’t care what others think about you. The book also included a comment about Kurt Cobain’s perfectionism that I didn’t like, because no one knows what he went through and can’t perfectly assume things about him. Finally, all the lists of advice are repeated again and again in the last part of the book. I’d recommend reading Mini Habits, and skipping the Imperfectionist book.

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Review of “When We Were Five: The Diary of an American Family” by Derek Gray

When We Were Five: The Diary of an American Family by Derek Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Derek’s memoir of his life is like watching a “Rocky” movie, as he describes in his book. Much like Rocky, you see him deal with difficult punches being thrown his way left and right. The opponent in the ring is a family history of heart disease that dramatically changes his life as well as his whole family’s. As I read the book, I wondered what the outcomes would be as I watched him ride all the highs and lows he openly shared. It really was like watching a movie, especially with all the photos included in the book. I would never have been able to predict the shocking events that unfolded. I’m so happy I found this book, as it truly is an account of how precious life is and how easy it is to forget this sometimes. It’s about doing it your way, and Derek shows how he found a way to make his life and health his own. His book is heart-wrenching, but also very inspiring and well worth the read.

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Reclaiming the Words Health Care

Health care is a right we all have and can exercise at any point we choose. It’s a lifelong practice that can move and shift with whatever we’re going through. It’s ultimately in our hands, and it hinges on how we treat these bodies we’re born with that are inherently intelligent enough to seek out health.

Yet these days, the words “health care” call to mind a system, a medical authority, and a place we wrap our concerns in heavily for the future of our well being. The word ‘care’ starts suggesting that we don’t know how to engage in this action ourselves without outside intervention. The word ‘health’ takes on the reputation of being scary, regimented, and outside our control. Put together, what could be a couple of words that are empowering toward a vital and self-supportive life become instead a possession of society and mainstream medicine.

Do you feel like it’s time to reclaim these words for ourselves? Health care isn’t just an institution we go to, or legislation that we and politicians endlessly vote on and argue over. It happens, or doesn’t happen at home, from the moment we open our eyes to wake up each morning.

Personal health care has also become focused on a boot camp-style practice of eating and exercising perfectly, constantly swayed by advice from fitness gurus and gluten-free recipe blogs. Not everyone relates to this way of getting healthy, but it’s all the rage in bestselling books and among celebrity fitness experts. Slowly, the idea of health care can get crowded out of people’s lives by what society and mainstream opinion defines as health.

Health, simply put, is treating yourself well and being there for yourself—no matter what you go through. Unlike society’s message to just paste a smile on it, even when you’re feeling anything but happy, true health care is about allowing other reactions and emotions to exist when they come up. It’s about letting yourself be who you are no matter who’s around. And it isn’t fueled by guilt, fear, or the drive for perfection.

When you open your ears to the health advice being given out there in a casual and nonchalant manner, underneath the matter of fact tone you may find a message that is demeaning. It is one that points out your supposed deficiencies and demands of you perfection and perpetually high and unmet expectations. Is that real health care?

If the words “health care” are too loaded for you, just remember this simple phrase for better health: Less is more. We are constantly told to do and be more more more, when we can use our innate potential for health by keeping it low key, relaxed, and easy.

Most of all, health is a skill you already have. So you can reclaim health care for yourself. It belongs to the individual who wants to live his or her own life. It’s something you deserve and can take ownership of.

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Review of “The Sky’s Eyes” by Brian Macrae

The Sky’s Eyes by Brian Macrae
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This tech-style mystery takes place in a world that resembles our own, yet is taken to a whole new level. You’ll learn about an imagined ranking system called karma, which affects the main character’s life and work. Though karma in the book means something different than how you or I define it, it does exist in today’s world in a frenzied and somewhat nefarious way. The main character has to solve a mystery along with a new friend he’s made, all the while watching his own back in the tricky world of karma. The book bravely questions whether this type of karma, which coincides with a constant striving to “make a difference in the world,” is always worth it. Does it come at a cost to individuals who just want to live life on a more natural and simple wavelength? Considering that many commercials we see on T.V. question us to make a difference each and every second of life, this book’s message is very relevant. At times, I got lost in the plot during scenes focused on parkour or technology. Overall though, I enjoyed the book and the social commentary it makes using a creative story line.
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Review of “The Sinking of the Angie Piper” by Chris Riley

The Sinking of the Angie Piper by Chris Riley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is still yet to be published, but I received an Advance Review Copy from the author. I enjoyed the beginning of this book and learning about Alaska and the culture of crab fishing. It was also exciting to meet the characters and get involved in the unique challenge each one was facing by stepping on board the Angie Piper. The characters’ personalities played well off one another. When the going got tough though, and the Angie Piper was en route to sinking (that’s not a spoiler, it’s actually part of the title), the gritty edge of the story wore off for me and what should have been suspenseful and climactic felt almost like an ordinary series of events. The words were there describing a life threatening situation, but the tone of the book and emotions of the characters didn’t match the feel of one. At the end of the book, I also felt like the main character’s internal conflict didn’t get resolved for the reader. There was something he always regretted in his past, which at the end we still didn’t get to see him resolve though he had the opportunity. The book is well written for sure, but the reveal of the book’s main event in its title gets in the way of the story somewhat.

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Review of “Mini Habits” by Stephen Guise

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book Mini Habits by Stephen Guise was a new find for me, sponsored by Amazon. I hadn’t ever clicked on a sponsored item before, and I’m not sure why I did that day. I have a push pull feeling toward self-help books, even though I’ve written one myself. This genre of books can hurt as much as it can help sometimes, and you always have to take the information with a grain of salt. But mini habits…I had to know what made these special and why the book had sold so many copies and garnered great reviews.

The point of the whole book is, in seven words: Doing something is better than doing nothing. The message is not too good to be true, and is therefore actionable. Whether you read the original book or the specialized one for weight loss (which I’m doing toward my naturopathic practice), you’ll see why the “motivate yourself now, or you’re a bad person” message of society is driving everyone bonkers. We’re seeing motivation being turned into an expensive yet unattainable drug, and the companion message with it says “fake it until you make it.” For once, it was refreshing to find a self-help book that points out how unrealistic it is to get motivated on demand. Wouldn’t that be a strange business to walk into? Come in today and get your motivation recharged in 10 minutes or less for only $99!

Anyway, in my opinion and the author’s, there are too many self-help books out there that claim to do just that, and when you buy them all you may end up spending way more than a hundred dollars. I’m going to try and steer clear of all that and instead do mini actions here and there that can add up to real forward momentum. In Stephen’s book, he shares plenty of clinical and psychological research, cool metaphors, humor, and common sense to express why mini habits work well for anyone. By the way, what is a mini habit? It’s a habit that you start and do everyday that is nearly impossible to fail. You have practically no excuse not to do it, and then you’ll most likely do more than just the minimum because you’ve already gotten going.

Society bombards us with motivation strategies instead of practical inspiration. Maybe society doesn’t want forward motion for individuals. Why would it? Would any of what society is trying to sell us still be interesting if we were more invested in tackling the challenges in front of us. Rhetorical question mark.

Anyways. Time to keep going. Whether you do one pushup as the author Stephen Guise chose to do, or start out writing just 50 words, or go on a 10-minute walk, or shut off all screens for an hour—its less about self improvement and more about paving the way for life to exist. There’s no better indication that you’re helping yourself.

My experience: For a few weeks, I’ve kept up with three mini habits related to fitness, writing, and career. And I have an eight-month-old baby and a toddler at home! Yay me 🙂 Time for my reward.

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