Book Review – Mind Over Medicine

I had two thoughts when I first read Mind Over Medicine: Proof That You Can Heal  Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D.  My first thought – “I really like this”.  My second thought – “This is a lot of work.”

I waited a while after finishing this book before event attempting to write a review.  There is a lot of information in this book.  Some of it, quite frankly, really annoyed me.  This wasn’t because I think Dr. Rankin is wrong, but because I didn’t want to hear it.

The beginning of the book is about the placebo and nocebo theories.  I understand what she was trying to communicate and I think the inclusion of this information adds credibility to what came later in the book. There is a negative connotation associated with the word placebo in the medical facilities in which I have worked. Therefore, each time she mentioned any CAM treatments and labeled the effect as placebo, I felt my energy shift and I was aware of strong defensiveness. Again, not necessarily a bad thing – but quite uncomfortable.

The other sections of the book in which she gets into the prescription for healing were wonderful and helped to restore my energy. Warning: if you want to get the most out of this book you have to really do the exercises, and they are not easy. You will learn some things about yourself that might just blow your mind.

For me, this won’t be a read it and you are done type of book. I expect to go back and read it several more times.  I highly recommend it to you too.

Book Review – People of the Blue Water: A Record of Life Among the Walapai and Havasupai Indians

I had this book on my shelf for many years before actually reading it.  As I was packing to move to the southwest I found it and decided that it was the perfect time to put it at the top of my to read list.  I’m very glad that I did.  My primary complaint with the book is that it was too short.  I wanted to know so much more – about the Native American people and customs and about the author and her motivations and experiences.  The author’s abiity to evoke that sense of wonder and curiosity is a testament to both the subject and her writing style.

There were times when I was horrified by some of the customs and found it difficult to keep reading.  I almost quit several times.  If you are an animal lover – beware.  While episodes of what I would call extreme cruelty were explained within the culture and zeitgeist, it didn’t make it any more palatable.  On the other hand, there are certainly positive lessons to be learned as well.

 

The book was highly readable and is really a compilation of events that were shared in letters with the author’s family.  I could imagine these tales being retold in social gatherings and probably gaining a life of their own.  I can only imagine what a mother far away must have thought about her daughter’s adventures.  I am sure I would have been both proud and horrified.

The description of the location made me remember fondly my own trips to the Grand Canyon and to yearn for another trip.  Now that I live closer, that might happen more often.

Live vicariously – read People of the Blue Water by Flora Gregg Iliff.

Book Review – Presenting To Win

Presenting To Win: The Art Of Telling Your Story by Jerry Weissman is a fantastic book.  I’m not sure what drew me to it since I am not necessarily in a position where I give formal presentations very often and frankly avoid using audiovisual aids if at all possible. Prior to reading this book I also couldn’t have told you what an IPO was and I’m not in an industry where I’m likely to give presentations to investors from multimillion dollar corporations. (At least not yet.)

I have given presentations though and they haven’t always gone the way I wanted them to. Now I know why.  I’ve committed almost every one of the “cardinal sins” of presentation, both with and without A/V assistance.  After reading this book, I feel much better prepared should I be called upon to give a presentation in the future. In fact, I’m almost hoping that a chance to put these principles into action presents itself.

I could also see many applications for the same information in other aspects of my personal and professional life.  We are all “selling”, whether it be a product, an idea or concept, or a relationship. We want others to get it, to understand us, and we really want them to agree with us or take a desired action. The way that we communicate that is critically important to whether we achieve our goal. All of these corporate-tested presentation techniques have useful applications in many life areas if applied creatively.

The author practiced what he preached, and the use of the techniques was evident in the way he crafted the text, diagrams, and captions. Since I was reading on an older Kindle, some of the formatting wasn’t the best, but even with that said, the attention to detail and the use of great communication techniques was evident. I learned a lot – about presentations, about writing, about communication, and about myself.

Book Review – Gifts From Eykis: A Story of Self-Discovery

Gifts From Eykis is another magnificent book from Wayne Dyer. This is a bit different than most of his other books because it is written in the form of a novel, rather than a typical self-help book.

Eykis is a visitor from the planet Uranus. First, the main character from Earth visits the planet Uranus and observes many oddities that seem to resemble Earthly emotions. While on Uranus, Ekyis introduces the Earth traveler to anxiety attacks, worry, guilt, fear, dependency, and other emotions. The difference on Uranus is that these emotions exist only for a purpose, never just as a perception or neurosis. That wouldn’t make sense and everything on Uranus makes sense.

Later in the book Ekysis visits Earth and is quite troubled by the suffering the inhabitants of Earth inflict on themselves and others with these emotional states. In the end, Ekysis shares some “gifts” for all mankind. These words of wisdom include:

 

  • Learn to cultivate your own garden
  • If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
  • These are the good old days.
  • There is no way to happiness; Happiness is the way!

To receive more of your “gifts” from Eyksis, pick up the fascinating book and take a humble look at the ways in which we create our own suffering. I bet you will be soon wishing for a guilt-prodder or a worry-ware.

 

Book Review – The Song of Annie Moses

I loved this book. I already was in love with the Annie Moses Band, having attended one of their concerts in Ohio. I knew a little of their story before, but this book made me fall in love with them all over again. The writing is captivating, the story compelling, and the wisdom is priceless. I believe this book deserves a spot on the top shelf of all parenting books.

Robin Donica Wolaver is the author. She writes books with the same mastery and clarity as her song lyrics. By the end I felt as though I really knew these strong and inspired women through the generations. I was impressed by the congruence between their beliefs and their actions.  I felt challenged by the depth of their spiritual lives. As the book ended, I wanted more.

Book Review: Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl

This was a surprising read for me. Why? Because I had preconceived ideas about the content of the book.  I expected to find a story of severe allergies (I did) and a belief that everyone should chage their lives to accommodate the person with allergies (I didn’t).  This book had balance.

Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an allergice life by Sandra Beasley expanded my knowledge of allergy research and gave me food for thought (pun intended).  I haven’t always known that I had food allergies and mine are generally not as life-threatening as Sandra’s.  It seems that mind have had a more subtle and cumulative effect on my health.  Nonetheless, my food allergies significantly impact the way I live.

Her writing style is engaging, even in the more technical descriptions of allergy and medicine.  I found myself laughing at the descriptions I recognized all too well and deeply pondering the more challenging viewpoints.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that even thinks they may have food sensitivities and it is a must-read for anyone that loves or lives with someone with life threatening allergies.

Book Review – Mars and Venus in the Bedroom

SEX. Now that’s a word that gets your attention. Men and women spend great amounts of time thinking about sex, wishing for sex, having sex, and complaining about sex. Few couples have the skills to discuss, request, or negotiate sex successfully.  Couples also don’t appear to understand why sexual expression is so problematic.

Would you like to learn about sex and passion, increase your sexual confidence, rekindle passion, and keep romance alive?  If so, consider reading Mars and Venus in the Bedroom by John Gray.  This is an older book but continues to be relevant today.  Dr. Gray’s books are easy to read, but be forewarned, he writes about sex, sexuality, and intimacy with the same candor that you would expect of a weather report.  Perhaps that is the important first lesson of this book.

Book Review – The Too Precious Child: Letting Go of the Super-Parent Syndrome

The Too Precious Child was written by Dr. Lynne Williams, Dr. Henry Berman, and Louisa Rose. It has been a mainstay in my tool kit for helping parents with a variety of issues.  I consider it to be one of the most important books busy parents in our culture can read, particularly if they are striving for strong parenting skills. If you answer yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

  • As a parent, have you vowed never to let your child lack for anything?
  • Did you have your first child at or beyond the age of thirty?
  • Were there obstacles to conceiving your child?
  • Was your child adopted or premature?
  • Does it bother you when your child is bored, messy, or less than an A student?
  • Are you a single parent?
  • Is your child artistically, athletically, or intellectually gifted?
  • Do you always put your children’s needs first? Before your mate’s? Before your own?

It looks like this book is only available through second hand retailers, but is worth the search.

Book Review: Dreamsong of the Eagle

Dreamsong of the Eagle was written by the late Ted Andrews and illustrated by Deborah Hayner. I had the great fortune of hearing this book recited by the author at a local gathering.  I was tremendously excited when he took the stage and then was even more enthralled when I realized that he was going to tell this story.

It was written in the form of a fairy tale about two children in a small village who are challenged in various ways.  Each turned to the woods as a place of safety. The animals made them feel accepted and whole.

One day they found an injured eagle and their lives changed forever.  The eagle said, “From this day forth your home will be among the woods and streams. Your family will be the creatures that abound within the world. Never more will you be outcast.”

This is a story of inclusion, acceptance, and love and a much needed lesson for our world today.

Book Review – Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism

While traveling through Arizona many years ago I read Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D. As the secondary title indicates, this is a first-hand account of autism. The author offers a vivid and insightful account of autism.

She was diagnosed rather late in her life, after a childhood punctuated by misunderstanding and isolation. Fortunately, she was able to learn about human socialization and relationships through her keen observation of gorilla communities. She writes, “This is a book about autism. Specifically, it is about my autism, which is both like and unlike other people’s autism. But just as much, it is a story about how I emerged from the darkness of it into the beauty of it. It is about how I moved full circle from being a wild thing out of context as a child, to being a wild thing in context with a family of gorillas, who taught me how to be civilized. They taught me the beauty of being wild and gentle together and as one.”

While there are many excellent texts about Asperger’s Syndrome and autism, this was the first book I read that described it from the inside. Dr. Prince-Hughes is eloquent in her poetry and prose. She describes confusion, rage, fear, and joyful discovery in a way that touches the reader’s heart and heightens understanding. Instead of lists of characteristics or clinical observations, this book placed the experience into context. My understanding has certainly been expanded by this book. I am hopeful that it will change my acceptance of the more “annoying” behaviors often associated with autism. It is harder to remain annoyed when I remember that the strong need for repetition exhibited by persons with autism can be the result of anxiety or panic. Dr. Prince-Hughes had this to say, “Most autistic people need order and ritual and will find ways to make order where they feel chaos. So much stimulation streams in, rushing into one’s body without ever being processed: the filters that other people have simply aren’t there. Swimming through the din of the fractured and the unexpected, one feels as if one were drowning in an ocean without predictability, without markers, without a shore. It is like being blinded

There are also examples of wonderful and intricate coping mechanisms. She used a formula to get along with people in the workplace. This included talking about her skills a third of the time, talking with colleagues about how their interests mergered for a third of the time, and talking about current events and “softened” opinions about them a third of the time. This had to be approached consciously. She also counted seconds to know how long to look into another person’s eyes and when to look away. Each of these required deliberate practice and application.

This book is a great source of information, but is also an incredibly engaging autobiography. Dr. Prince-Hughes has a wonderful command of language. Consider this self description, “I am an individual. I am different, for reasons germane to the phenomenon of autism and reasons mundane. All that is in between and at both ends have made my life. Within these pages, an archaeology cleared of dust and fear, I talk about this life. It is the archaeology of a culture of one.”