Review: The Productivity Habit – A 10-Week Journal To Become More Productive

The Productivity Habit
A 10-Week Journal to Become More Productive

 

Author: Cathy Sexton
Rockridge Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-902-0

I think we are all looking for ways to boost our productivity – whether we work for someone else, or for ourselves. In “The Productivity Habit” Sexton combines the elements of a guided journal with the format of a planner. I have worked with both journaling and planners for a very long time now, so this was very appealing to me. I also tend to take on more than one project at a time, to productivity is important.

The aim of this book is to help the reader create good habits that will help them reach their goals. It is generally accepted that it takes 21 days to change a habit/routine, so working with this journal gives the reader more than a good chance to achieve their goals, and in doing so make the best use of their time – every single day.

Each week there are a series of five Daily Prompts that act to get the reader thinking about any roadblock that there may be to their success, along with the space to write them out. Upon completion of the daily prompt, there is a corresponding goal setting page (a new goal can be set daily). On the sixth day there is a weekly Habit Tracker page where the reader is encouraged to reflect on their insights and progress from the previous week. Also included is a Power-Up! tip to boost the readers efforts and reward them for their week’s work. The seventh day is an “off” day – a day to rest. Throughout the journal Make It A Habit tips are added in – they can be placed in the reader’s life at any time to help with productivity.

I found the formatting of the book to be easy to follow, and fun to work with. At the beginning of the book are listed five roadblocks to productivity: mindset, planning, prioritization, focus, and energy. Reviewing these is a good way to start this journey. I loved that goal setting included the goal itself, the date that you want to reach it by,daily/weekly/monthly action that can be taken, action steps, and what will remind the reader to keep moving forward. Each week has a theme: Week 1 is “The Importance of Being Honest – A Place To Start”, Week 5 is “What’s Working And What’s Not”, and Week 8 is “The Art Of Scheduling Time”.

At the end of the book is a resource section including books, blogs, and apps.

For anyone who wants to work in a more productive manner, and understand their own thinking process, this is an excellent book. I have a real aversion to writing in books, so I took the format of this book and put it into an e-file. Whatever works for the reader, works!

© December 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Last Merry Go Round

The Last Merry Go Round

 

Author: C.L. Charlesworth
Mirador Publishing
2019
ISBN #978-1-913264-23-9

Diane Fletcher has a lot of issues. Married right out of high school, into a family of great wealth, she loves her husband and her daughters. She is also afraid every minute of her life. She relies on alcohol, sedatives, and a psychiatrist that may or may not be helping her. Richard, her husband, has his own coping mechanisms.

There is more than one secret in this family, and those secrets in end will make them or break them. Does Diane have the courage of her convictions? What about Helen, her mother-in-law? What secrets does she hold? What about Diane’s daughters, and the secrets that tear them apart, moment by moment?

What is real, and what is fiction? When is it best not to keep a secret? Is there ever a “happily ever after”? This book is not for the faint hearted. It is open to the point of abrasiveness in tearing back the façade shown to society, and letting the real “self” of Diane and her family show. It is in many ways a difficult read because of the raw, emotional content.

I have one quibble with this book, and it is essentially a minor one. It is not divided into chapters, but into beginning, middle, and end. This makes it difficult to find a natural stopping point in reading.

The plot flows well – not predictable, but with many twists and turns. The characters are well developed, and fit well together. Most of the  story is believable, but there are parts that simply are not. This is not a book that is gentle in any way, shape, or form. It is something that you may have to read a bit of, put down, and come back to it later. It is all about life’s lessons, and how to deal with them.

© November 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 

 

Review: Feng Shui For Healing

Feng Shui For Healing
A Step-by-Step Guide To Improving Wellness
In Your Home Sanctuary

 

Author: Rodika Tchi
Rockridge Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-854-7

Rodika Tchi first came under my radar on Twitter. When I had the chance to review this book, I snapped it up. In her introduction, Tchi calls the creation of a powerful and supportive home sanctuary the essence of Feng Shui. She also notes that while we are creating a harmonious home is not only healing for ourselves and our family, but one that extends that healing energy out into the world.

“Our home environment reflects the state of our energy. It
mirrors back to us our fears, desires, insecurities, hopes
and dreams.” ~ Rodika Tchi

Tchi regards the home as the foundation for our health and happiness – on all levels. She starts out by explaining what Qi is (universal energy), and how it flows through the world around us. She moves on to explaining Feng Shui, and how it can be used for healing and vitality.

Throughout the book Tchi has included stories about individual experiences with Feng Shui, and tools such as the 4-square breath meditation, affirmations, signs of happy home Qi, signs of stagnant or blocked Qi, the 4-7-8 yoga breath, the use of plants and crystals, a chart of observations about what can be found in a house (and how to view it from a Feng Shui perspective), working with the Bagua (energy map) of the home, working with the elements (fire, water, wood, earth, and metal), working with plants, decluttering, and more. At the end of each chapter is a section termed “mindful pause”, which is a short breathing exercise, followed by an affirmation pertinent to that chapter.

At the end of the book there is a resources section that includes websites and books, followed by an index.

This is an interactive book that helps the reader align the energy of their home with their energy, as well as showing the reader how to nurture themselves. It is a wonderful resource that is much more than a one time read.

Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

© October 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction without written approval from the author.

Review: The 21-Day Revival – A Whole Food and Nutrition Program For A Healthy Body

The 21-Day Revival –
A Whole Food and Nutrition Program
For A Heathy Body

 

Author: Dr. Joshua Levitt
UpWellness LLC
2019
ISBN #978-1-944462-14-7

“The 21-Day Revival” is a well thought out program developed by naturopathic hysician Dr. Joshua Levitt that addresses specifically chronic inflammation in the body. It gives the reader the tools that they need to keep inflammation under control. Some of the results that you can expect to see when following this program include weight loss, an improved energy level, improvement in skin, mood, and digestion. (As an older female with IBS, all of this is important.)

The book is divided into three main sections: (1) The 21-Day Revival and Nutrition Guide, (2) The 21-Day Revival Program Manual (this section is the day by day guide to moving through the program), and (3) daily lessons.

The program is divided into three phases: Phase One (days 1-7) – phasing out junk food and junk drinks, eliminating white carbohydrate sources and replacing them with whole grains, along with some simple lifestyle changes; Phase Two (days 8-14) – adding more plant based superfoods, decreasing animal protein and sugar; and Phase Three (days 15-21) – focusing on optimized nutrition and maximal anti-inflammatory eating.

The book is chock-fill of very calm (serene) black and white pictures of what is being talked about in each section.  The commentary is to the point, and at a level that everyone can understand. Note: The sections should be followed as they are presented. Eat what is suggested, eliminate from your diet what is suggested, and see how your body reacts.

This book is what I consider to be a tool of empowerment in taking control over my health. I think that you will see it that way too.

© October 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction is prohibited without written permission from the author.

Review: Learning To Thrive – An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Workbook

Learning to Thrive –
An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Workbook

Author: Giulia Suro, PhD.
Rockridge Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-563-3

“Learning to Thrive –  An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Workbook” is meant to act as a platform to simplify self-acceptance therapy through intuitive exercises. It is literally meant to help the reader learn to relate to their thoughts, feelings and emotions in a more positive manner.

Note: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is referred to as ACT in this book.

I appreciate the way in which this book is organized – there are separate sections devoted to specific life areas: family and personal life; health and wellness; community and social life; work, hobbies, and vocation; personal growth, and spirituality.

This system helps individuals to change their life into what they want it to be. (Note: At the beginning of the book reference contacts are given for help lines that deal with emergency mental health situations.) Throughout the book various exercises are presented to help the reader determine what it is that they really want. The chapters are very specific, so the reader can head straight to the life area that they want to work on at any time. Core values are discussed, and real life personal stories are presented in a way that the reader can easily connect with them. At the beginning of each chapter is a listing of what that chapter can help the reader with, at end of each chapter highlights are given for that chapter.

This is a very practical workbook that gives the reader useful tools with which to make changes in their life that have a positive impact, that allow the reader to see themselves, and their life, in a whole new context. It can be applied to very specific issues and areas of life, and is presented in a very clear, straightforward manner that allows anyone, even those new to ACT. The final chapter shows the reader how to bring it all together in their own life. At the end of the book are bonus work sheets, references, and an index. I give this book two thumbs up!

Please note: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.

© October 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review: The Vegan Spiralizer Cookbook

The Vegan Spiralizer Cookbook –
Creative, Delicious, Easy Recipes For Every Meal

Author: Barb Musick
Rockridge Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-817-7

What an amazing book! In this book Musick covers what a spiralizer is, which vegetables (and fruits!) it works best with, and gifts the reader with 101 magical plant based recipes that are visually appealing and taste wonderful! It makes cooking fun, and allows the individual doing the cooking to “sneak in” both fruits and vegetables that they may be having a hard time getting their family to eat. Sneaky fact: spiralized food cooks faster!

While Musick is focused on vegan cooking, it is very easy to convert the recipes to either vegetarian (that’s me!) or traditional style cooking. The spiralizer itself is very easy to use, and requires no special skills or experience are required. Both types of spiralizers (hand crank and hourglass) are discussed. I use the hourglass spiralizer, and we get along famously! Other “kitchen gadgets” mentioned are quality knives, wooden cutting boards, small bristle brushes, and a powerful blender.

There are separate sections for breakfast, snacks & sides, sandwiches and wraps, soups and salads, main dishes, deserts, drinks, staples & sauces. The reader will recipes for apple-cinnamon pancakes, green chile hash browns, zucchini fritters, veggie frittata, barbecue tofu bowl, crispy tofu squash bowl, baked cinnamon-apple curls, wasabi potato salad, potatoes au gratin, hummus veggie lettuce wraps, roasted butternut squash wraps, double potato cheddar chowder, tangy cucumber salad, roasted beet pizza, cheesy cauliflower and broccoli salad, fried apple fritters, pumpkin spiced apple parfait, fruity iced tea, cucumber mojitos, alfredo sauce, ranch dressing, and coconut whipped cream.

At the end of the book is a conversion chart for oven temperatures, volume equivalents (liquid), volume equivalents (dry), and weight equivalents. There is also a listing of resources, and an index.

The writing is clear, the recipes easy to follow, and beautiful photographs are scattered throughout the book. This book makes cooking a magical activity!

Note: I received this book from the publisher.

© October 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Review: The Dream Interpretation Handbook

The Dream Interpretation Handbook –
A Guide & Dictionary To Unlock
The Meanings Of Your Dreams

 

Author: Karen Frazier
Althea Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-286-7

We all dream – whether we remember those dreams or not, we all dream. In this 120 page book Frazier shares the system that she has developed to interpret dreams. She also discusses why we dream, the types of dreams that we have, and why we should pay attention to them (especially recurring dreams). The biggest take-away here: there is no wrong way to interpret a dream, and there is no wrong way to use this book.

“Part 1 – Interpreting Dreams” talks about both the spiritual and the scientific basis for interpreting dreams. From a spiritual perspective, our dreams are a product of our Subconscious, or Higher Self, our Spiritual Self. From a scientific point of view, our dreams are part of our memory processing, and enhance our creative lives.

Throughout the book Frazier presents what she terms “detailing” for dreams – interpreting dreams that have been sent to her. This is a fascinating way to look at the environment of the dream, and the symbols in the dream.

Types of dreams that Frazier defines are recurring dreams, psychological processing dreams, daily processing dreams, nightmares, prophetic dreams, lucid dreams, and inspirational dreams.

Frazier has developed a process for interpreting dreams, including (1) fully waking up from your dream, (2) writing the dream down, and (3) assigning meanings. It also helps to try and relate your dream to whatever is currently going on in your life.

“Part 2 – Dream Dictionary” presents a series of symbols frequently seen in dreams, including animals (dog, cat, fish, horse etc.), items   (dirt, food, clothing, ghosts/spirits, teeth etc.), and the plot/action of the dream (break in, driving, earthquakes, falling).

At the end of the book Frazier has a list of resources (websites, books, and dream dictionaries), references (material that she used in writing the book), and an index.

This is a book that is well written and easy to read, with several dream interpretations interspersed throughout. It is a good stepping stone for someone new to dream interpretation, as well as a good reference for someone schooled in dream interpretation.

 

© October 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Review: Wake Up – How To Practise Zen Buddhism

Wake Up –
How To Practice Zen Buddhism

Author: Bonnie Myotai Treace
Rockridge Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-390-5

I truly appreciate a work like this – one that allows the reader to understand Zen Buddhism as a daily practice of core teachings and simple practices, and implement them in their life. Beginners, as well as advanced practitioners, will feel at home with this very comprehensive work. It is wonderful to see the concept of mindfulness applied to one’s everyday life – to literally “wake up the mind”.

Bonnie Myotai Treace is the founder and spiritual director of Hermitage Heart Zen, is a Zen priest, a poet and a feminist. She formerly taught at Zen Mountain Monastery (as Vice Abbot), and at the Zen Center of New York City (as Abbot). In her introduction, she discusses consciously connecting with yourself, consciously relaxing into the “vast unknowing”. Here you experience life as part of a whole, as not being separate from everything around it. Bottom line – Zen can only be understood by practicing it.

Treace takes the reader on a journey that begins with a basic explanation of what the tradition of Zen is … and what it is not. She touches on karma (the universal law of cause and effect), zazen (sitting meditation), the four noble truths, and the eight fold path. The point is made that the practitioner needs to separate what they “know” about Zen from the practice of Zen.

Seated Zen (Zazen) is discussed as a way to both start and end the day. To start the day with awareness, and letting go as the day progresses. Zazen is also understood to be a state of mind that penetrates all of our activities. Very concise instructions are given the reader/practitioner on posture, breathing, and individual versus group practice. Treace then presents instructions for Moving Zen and Waking Up (Awakening).

At the end of the book Treace shares a Dharma Talk entitled Trusting Mind, a talk based on a Zen koan and given by Myotai Sensei. Following this we have a listing of resources, including books, meditation apps, online teaching/training, and group practice centers, as well as a comprehensive index.

I found this book to be very well written, easy to understand, and easy to follow. There was one thing that totally irritated me, and this would more than likely not affect other people. Interspersed throughout the book are individual pages with pertinent information – and all of these pages are mustard yellow. Very disconcerting. Other than that, I highly recommend this book.

© September 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review – Dare To Write: Creative Writing Prompts

Dare To Write –
Creative Writing Prompts

Author: Kristen Fogle
Rockridge Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-870=2

The cover of this book indicates that it is for young people and word rebels everywhere. My thought is that this is a vibrant book that has something for all ages, and all writing genres. At 165 pages, it is chockfull of advise, interesting writing prompts, and blank pages to write on. That would be the one area that the author and I part ways on – I will not write in a book. Period. I will use the prompts and keep an e-file. Others may choose to keep a handwritten journal. But I will not write in a book!

Fogle makes the suggestion that the reader use this book to get to know their own creative mind – and I second that motion! She suggests starting with Chapter 1: Writing Workshop, because it offers writers resources that will help the reader make the best of the rest of the book. Other than that, the book is organized by genre, and the reader can play around with whatever genre suits their fancy – whether it is one that they already write in, or one that they would like to dip their toes into.

The chapter entitled Writing Workshop deals with things like how to use characters, setting, dialogue and conflict to build a story. This is not a chapter to just read and move on – there are exercises for the reader to begin expanding their abilities. (I love that the exercises throughout the book are entitled “Your Turn”!) For instances, under building a character, Fogle asks the reader to answer questions such as: “The most important things that happened to my character are …”, “My character’s favorite outfit is …”, and “When speaking, my character sounds like …”.

Other chapters focus on memoir and self-inquiry; crimes, misdemeanors and total mysteries; love (the reader gets to develop a character worksheet in this chapter!); fantasy and sci-fi (in this chapter the reader gets to develop a setting worksheet; and poetry. At the end of the book are helpful suggestions and resources. Each chapter includes writing prompts, and several blank pages to write on.

I love this book – it is high energy, easy to work with, and can be used by writers of all ages and backgrounds. The only limits to what the reader gains from this book are those imposed by the reader on themselves. A mind that is open to experience can fly with this book!

© September 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review: Mindfulness Meditations For Anxiety

Mindfulness Meditations For Anxiety –
100 Simple Practices To Find Peace Right Now

Author: Michael Smith, PhD.
Althea Press
2019
ISBN #978-1-64152-484-1

One thing that we do have to acknowledge is that there is a lot of anxiety running around in this world, and that each of us is greatly affected by it. In “Mindfulness Meditations For Anxiety” Michael Smith, PhD. presents 100 simple practices/meditations that can be done anywhere, anytime, to help us overcome anxiety and find peace within ourselves. Smith shares with the reader specific times of his life when he faced anxiety – as a child, through expectations in sports as he got older, and, more recently, through a severe and unexpected illness.

In his introduction Smith talks about his work as a psychotherapist, and a clinical and transpersonal psychologist. He discusses his training in different meditative practices, and how he views meditation as a strong healing tool. He also reinforces the thought that this book is about mindfulness meditation – something that will reduce your anxiety and help you to live a more joyous life.

In discussing what meditation is, Smith focuses on the fact that it is a process of getting to know our own mind and how it works, and to be able to maintain our attention where we place it. He also addresses a series of questions, including:

  • What is the best meditation position?
  • What do I do if my mind wanders?
  • Can I meditate while walking and running?

Part One is entitled “Calm The Mind”, and includes directions to such meditation exercises as “Basic Mindfulness Meditation”, “Observe Non-judgmentally”, “Redirect From Distraction”, and “Resting In The Open Awareness”.   Part Two is entitled “Calm The Body”, and includes directions to such meditation exercises as “Mindfully Link Diet And Anxiety”, “Body Scan”, “Breath Through It To Dissolve It”, and “Mindful Walking”. Par Three is entitled “Calm The Emotions”, and includes directions to such meditation exercises as “Get Close To Anxious Emotions To Heal Them”, “Quiet The Inner Critic”, “Finding Forgiveness”, and “Reduce Negative Thinking To Reduce Anxiety”. Part Four is entitled “Morning”, and includes such meditation exercises as “A Wake-up Meditation”, “Mindful Morning Stretch”, and “Finding What You Want And How To Get There”. Part Five is entitled “Evening”, and includes directions to such meditation exercises as “An Effective Evening Wind-down”, “The Day In Review”, and “Zero In On Tomorrow”.  Part Six is entitled “Moving”, and includes directions to such meditation exercises as “Mindful Movement”, “Mindful Cooking”, and “Mindful Driving”. Part Seven is entitled “5-Minute”, and includes directions to such meditation exercises as “Circular Breathing”, “Notice And Stop Negative Thinking”, and “Distraction Challenge”. Part Eight is entitled “Do Anywhere”, and includes directions to such meditation exercises as “Standing In Line”, “Accept Whatever Is Happening”, and “Encourage Yourself”.

At the back of the book is a list of resources (books and websites), and an index.

Smith writes in very plain language that can be understood by anyone, and his instructions are clear and concise. This book is a very “hands on” help for readers dealing with anxiety.

© September 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.