Coincidentally, about the time I started this blog was about the time my life would be on a non-stop transformation.  Some avenues ended up being dead end streets and others were massive trajectories on the cleanest and fastest highways I’ve ever encountered.  To keep any tools I’ve used to help me on my journey seems rather selfish so I wanted a place to share them with you.  The books listed are not ranked as each one has helped me in a different and unique way.  I pray that you may be encouraged to read one (or some) of these yourself.

  • secrets of your family treeAt the suggestion of one of my mentors, I read this book and I couldn’t recommend it enough to everyone.  Even if you believe your family somehow escaped dysfunction, you’ll read this and tilt your head with “ah-ha” moments after moments.  This book forced me to turn over stones and look at my life and upbringing with a magnifying glass.  The reason we do this is not to turn on our families and blame them for any character defects we possess, but to better understand why we are the way we are and attempt to uproot and change the things that need changing.  … And if you are a parent, or just interact with humans at all throughout your day, everyone will benefit by you looking at your neuroses (we all have them) instead of hiding from them.
  • loving him without losing you By happenstance I picked this book and I was amazed at what I uncovered.  So many women LOSE themselves to their men.  They think they have to un-become themselves to keep a man around.  They become sports fanatics when they didn’t really care before.  They get passionate about grilling meats, when they preferred baking before.  While it is very important to share hobbies together, it’s equally important to maintain your own sense of identity.  We see this especially in younger teenage girls who go crazy when a boy is interested in them.  Why are girls wired like this?  This book helps us see when we have allowed our marriage to develop unhealthy patterns due to inability to keep good boundaries (in order to maintain our identity, or in dealing with pre-existing dysfunctions).  I purchased this book to reread, highlight and give to my daughter when she starts dating…  at 40.
  • just between us It seems like I blinked my eyes and my first born baby is a walking, talking, thinking, intuitive elementary school kid.  As I think most people do, I looked at other mother-daughter relationships and wondered how I could make my relationship with my daughter even better than what I had with my mom.  I came across this mother/daughter journal and it has been a sweet exercise that I hope we continue to do throughout our lives.  My daughter is an artist by passion and loves writing, drawing, and expressing herself by putting pen to paper.  This seemed like a really natural idea, and it’s been an organic and natural execution.  For those of us moms with little girls that desire to have that bond with our daughters, to have them come to us when things are rough – even those things that we’d rather not discuss but know that it’s best if we did, maybe this is a start to get us there.
  • trusting god even when life hurtsIn 2014, I found myself looking at God with a tear-stained face and hollering, “WHY ME!?” so often.  As I dealt with my grief, my “why me” turned into a short season of distrust and pouting.  I couldn’t understand why my Father would have allowed something so painful to happen to me… after I had chosen to endure, to grin and bear other things in my life.  This book was the first in the rekindling of my spiritual journey, and I haven’t turned back.  This book helped me put logic to trusting Him again, and my heart soon followed.  If there is any kind of grief in your life (it doesn’t have to be a death.  People grieve many things – strained relationships, careers that aren’t working out, the list goes on…), this book will help put it into perspective.  It did for me.
  •  After watching “Eat, Pray, Love” I was a Liz Gilbert fan.  I’m reminded often to read the book yet I don’t, I have no idea why since I’m such a fan of memoirs.  At any rate, when this book came out I gathered up an online book club with other creatives and away we went.  Listening to the podcast that accompanied the book was equally amazing.  At any rate, if you’re a creative (we all are, by the way) that is kept from creative living because of fear of failure, this book is definitely for you.  After reading it my cousin got back to her art and had an art show (two, actually) and I finished my first memoir (and decided later that it was not for publishing).  This was a great read.
  • It took nearly a year of dealing with immediate issues at hand before my counselor and I dove into this topic.  I knew that I wasn’t feeling too hot about myself, we firmly established I was a chronic people pleaser, but I had no idea that it was a self-esteem issue.  This book spent a lot of time focusing on the “inner child” and “inner critic” dialogue.  It was not met without a lot of tears but was worth every ounce of effort.  In the land of the books that profoundly helped me these past few years, this one is at the top, the first being “Secrets of Your Family Tree.”  Without a doubt, the child Jamie was healed profoundly by me taking her seriously and deciding to take care of her for a change.
  • After I told my counselor the struggles I kept having to jumpstart my health and fitness desires, she pointed to a book on her coffee table (“Ed” being an acronym for “Eating Disorder”).  In true fashion, because I don’t pay this woman to blow smoke, I rushed out and purchased the book.  It spoke to me so profoundly that I read all 187 pages of it in two days.  As I read the book I felt sick most of the time and more tears fell with this book than any other book I have read these past few years…  not because I have Ed in my life but I do believe that I HAD Ed.  I had no idea how mentally unhealthy the process I used to get in the best shape of my life was.  In reading this book and following some of the exercises the author’s therapist suggested for the author, and doing some suggested by my own, I am approaching my health in a new and gentle way with a bunch of awesome ladies.
  • Speaking of my cousin’s art show, it was there that someone recommended that I read this book.  The authors, by the way, also contributed to “Secrets of Your Family Tree.”  I, like a lot of people, had a hard time separating “being nice” from “people pleasing.”  Before I read this book I had already learned the importance of putting God first (we should fear no one’s opinion more than we fear God’s) but it was further emphasized.  I really didn’t understand the depth and problems with my “people pleasing” until I read this book and leaned on it’s wisdom.  Coincidentally, on this topic I would also recommend Joyce Meyer’s book “Approval Addiction.”  While I sometimes find Joyce Meyer a bit off-putting on screen with her rather forward and (at times) abrasive demeanor, she cut to my heart on this topic (I read it before “Boundaries”) and I really needed it.  She writes about people’s addiction to being liked taking over their ability to make strong decisions, decisions that God would even want us to take.  The book will obviously point you to the truth that you first need to focus on God’s approval before worrying about anyone else.  Not coincidentally, people pleasing problems and self-esteem issues go hand-in-hand so it’s no wonder books on those topics spoke to me at just the right time.