Book Reviews

Book Review: “At The Broken Places” by Mary Collins and Donald Collins

This is a powerful book. It’s not violent, not exciting, but powerful. I really enjoy books about the queer experience and this one was no exception. At The Broken Places by Mary Collins and Donald Collins is written by a mother and her son who is trans.  They share their painful experience of transformation that started when Donald was a teenager. 
 This book opened me up to a new perspective on being the parent of a trans kid. Mary shares how she grieved and felt unsupported in her grief for the daughter she had birthed and raised for fifteen years. The idea that a parent loses a child when that child transitions has never crossed my mind. But wow does it make sense. I know grief from many experiences. It is an emotion we should talk more about. It appears so differently for each individual, but has a power that can be overwhelming and exhausting. It can be a weight lifted or a devastating blow that deathly sorrow.
I highly recommend this book if you are interested in Trans issues, grief, and the relationships between parents and children.

You deserve to love yourself completely, totally, fully as much as anyone does. Keep healing and I will hold your heart in my heart. If you desire extra support to stay on top of your self-care practice, check out my 30 day challenge Dive Deeper Into Self-Care.

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Book Reviews

Book Review “Awkwardly Awesome” by Jason Freeman

 “Life presents us with opportunities to love ourselves breath by breath, hour by hour, day by day.” Jason Freeman.

This quote resonated with me so much.  After years of hating myself because I thought I was simply a flawed, broken being with no hope of being different, practicing self-love saved my life.

Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best, by Jason W. Freeman is worth a read. There don’t seem to be many books that encourage men to practice self-love. At least I haven’t seen any. Usually I see books for men on topics of succeeding in terms of money, careers or romance. It is refreshing to read about Jason’s experience with learning to love himself, find his passion in life, take risks, transform his life and not see his disabilities as bad. Instead he embraces his imperfections so much they have become his strengths.

I bought Jason’s book at his book launch last summer. But I didn’t read it until this summer because I was traveling for the last 9 months. I didn’t have room in my backpack for books which was a painful decision since I can easily read a few books each month. I was pleasantly surprised to see his book when I returned home and unpacked my box of books.

It is an easy read with journal questions and pages with each chapter. I recommend this for any man who feels awkward, unloved, apathetic and ready for a transformation. If you know a man who is searching for more from life, this might be the best gift you can give him. Personally, I am saving this for my nephew, when he graduates high school.

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Book Reviews, Travel

Book Review: “Gender Outlaws – The Next Generation”

Outlaws have always piqued my interest. Moving constantly as a child caused me to often feel like an outlaw. Also, my family was certainly different than any of the families I knew. I’m very grateful that one of those ways, was having an attitude of love towards the parts of our family that are interracial and homosexual. If only we could all grow up with that acceptance.

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“Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation” by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman “essays, commentary, comic art, and conversation from a diverse group of trans-spectrum people who live and believe in barrier-breaking lives.”

I really enjoyed the variety of stories in the book. Almost every essay had me either laughing, feeling loved or downright stymied by the unhealthy negatives which continue to plague our society in regards to being trans. Each story is so different so I’ve chosen to keep this short and share a few quotes from the book that really stand out to me.

“And what’s coming is only you and I can create. So let’s make it with mercy and compassion and kindness and beauty and amor. We’re all of us going to need it” – Sam Peterson.

“To me being transgender is so much about the hope of change, of transformation” – Micha Cardenas.

“It’s no wonder eating disorders are rampant among women. Women are conditioned to take up as little space as possible in the world.” –Kyle Lukoff

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys outlaws, for anthropologists and all who want to learn more about living trans.  You can buy a copy of the book at or check it out from your local library like I did. If you’re library doesn’t have it, request them to order a copy!

If you read this book, what is your favorite quote or essay?

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“D.I.Y. Therapy: Healing Depression” is available as an e-book on Amazon.

If you’re suffering from depression I strongly encourage you to seek help. If you can’t afford a therapist find a supportive mentor, teacher or healer who can help you discover inner peace. Healing is possible IF you are open and willing to commit to a self-care plan.

Empowering Discussions

Book Review: “The Road To Transition” by Bree Record

 I love to read and write reviews of my favorite books. I will choose a book over a movie almost any day and I want more people to read because books are an experience all to their own! Usually I know what to expect from a book, but some books are not so easy to understand. “The Road to Transition” by Bree Record is slightly poetic and wild, which is what I love most in literature. It is also about an experience in life that I can’t relate to, as I’m not Transgender. In the beginning of the book I felt a little lost, no doubt like the author has felt at points in their life. As the story progressed and I had a clearer understanding of the protagonist, I couldn’t wait to get to the finale! I could feel the struggle and pain they felt as if I was there. Sometimes I felt sad, scared and doubtful. Other times I felt brave, hopeful and happy.

 One part of the book really resonated with me. “I know that I will always be the child of Sarah and Steven. Everybody is the sum of their parts. My goal is to live a truthful blending of the two. I want no more false parts. In that I hope to find true peace and ultimately happiness and joy. I hopefully think that peace is the gateway to joy. On that day Bree will be truly free.” – Bree Record

I grew up in a racially diverse family and spent a good deal of my life philosophizing and obsessing over who exactly I am and with whom do I actually belong. As a human being it’s comforting to know that despite our unique experiences in who we are, we can each find a commonality in our struggles and our successes. We only have to listen.

 I recommend this book for those who have ever felt confusion over who they are or fought hard to be something they were not. Those who enjoy reading about the multitude of different experiences felt through out humanity would also enjoy this.

 I accepted a request to review this book because of the topic. My community includes family, friends and many acquaintances in the LGBTQ community and I see the hate that those who are Transgender face on a regular basis. I want more people to read this book and similar books so we can all be more knowledgeable and empathetic the unnecessary challenges in a cultures so obsessed with being “normal”. Knowledge leads to empathy which leads to acceptance.

Request this book from your local library or buy a copy of the book here: 

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Book Reviews

Book Review “Szen Zone” by Gary Szenderski

There are two main reasons I read a book, either for escape or knowledge. On this blog I only review non-fiction books that help with personal development so I was happy to be gifted the “Szen Zone” by Gary Szenderski. It’s one of those books that you can start wherever you like. I would pick it up, read, set down and repeat the next day or a week later. I started reading it in March and am just now finishing it.

I’ll share a few of my favorite quotes, “szenippets”, from the book and let you decide if this books is right for you.

-“Reboot – When things get so piled up that nothing seems to be getting done, that’s the time to do nothing. We all need to reboot from time to time – to do nothing.”

-“Wherever we are now, we can start to move toward or dream and remember it’s never too late, once we understand “why” we want it.”

-“Seems that change can be difficult especially when what was working fine, at least in our view, is suddenly not an option. How we face new choices often determines if the new choice will work at all….Creating something new begins with thinking something new.”

-“Our world works from the inside out. This means that whatever notion we have bout our world is filtered through our belief system, which is lodged in our deepest thoughts, feelings and experience….Examine these beliefs.”

-“We cannot change anyone that doesn’t want to change. They alone have the power. No one can change us if we don’t want to. Same reason.”

So there you have my opinion and favorite parts of the book. Have you read it? What did you think?

Who should read this? Are you looking for guidance on how to create balance in your life? Read this! Do you need reminders of what you’ve learned to keep your balance? Read this. Do you want an engaging coffee table book? Buy this. Learn more at or purchase it directly through Amazon at


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Book Reviews

Book Review “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

After years of being stuck in depression for over a decade I finally feel happiness once again. It is THE most magnificent feeling and I’m grateful to have it growing inside of me. It’s taken a lot of painful and not so painful work. I must be careful not to slide backwards into depression so it’s good to be reminded of the importance of happiness and learn about the various ways we can discover and keep it.

Gretchen was already happy, but felt like she “lost her temper” too often, “felt dejected after even a minor professional setback” and “suffered from bouts of melancholy, insecurity, listlessness and free-floating guilt”. She committed to creating a year-long project to discover a more sustainable happiness. Through research, advice from friends and strangers, and personal experiences she discovers many paths to increased happiness.

Here are my favorite highlights of the book.

-She sets a theme with specific actions to take each month and created a progress/reward chart to keep on track. A progress/reward chart is very helpful. I’ve learned that creating a To-Do List is only good if I follow through. So I do three things with my task list,  send it in an email, write it on the notepad in my purse and add it to my calendar

-We stick to our goals better when we receive intrinsic motivation from ourselves as opposed to external punishments. We are also more likely to see results if we create or join a supportive “goals group”

-By decluttering our homes we receive more mental clarity since we are no longer bombarded with the stress of a constant mess.

-Being present and fully participating in each moment brings joy immediately as opposed to the hope of waiting for something. Once we reach our goals our happiness can fade as we wait for happiness from more challenging goals. By being in the present we enjoy both!

-Happiness is not selfish. When we feel good we are more likely to help others. When we feel bad we usually are focused solely on making ourselves better.

-Negative moods are contagious and constant criticism or petty arguments take a toll on us and others. “I didn’t want to be fake, but I could make an effort to be less critical.”

-Be adventurous! Try new things, learn a new skill, be silly and do things that you enjoy without focusing only on results.

-Be aware of what you are creating. From Buddhism she learned “The most important was mindfulness the cultivation of consciousness, non-judgemental awareness. For example she had the habit of “mindlessly picking  snacks”. Each time she “felt uncomfortable twinges of self-reproach, because I knew that kind of food wasn’t healthy. Once I stopped that habit, that relentless source of bad feeling vanished”

-My favorite quote of hers is about how easy it is to get caught up in the negative. “…when I was angry or resentful, I searched for excuses to feel even more angry and resentful.” I’ve experienced this same awareness and it’s not pretty. However the great thing about awareness is we have the power to take charge and change habits that hurt us in the long run.

So there you have my opinion of the book. Have you read it? What did you think?  Please leave a comment!

Who should read this? If you’re looking for ways to be happier, if you’re struggling with depression, are stuck in a rut or curious about various forms of happiness I recommend this book.  Learn more at


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Book Reviews

Book Review “Oh Flux How did I get Here” by Patricia Rundblade

“Oh Flux How did I get Here: 8 Simple Strategies to Begin Transforming Your Life Today” by Patricia Rundblade.

What really stood out to me in “Oh Flux” by Patricia Rundblade was the authors honesty. So many books in the self-help genre are so impersonal that I don’t connect with the message, lose interest and feel as if I wasted my time and money. In this book the author talks about how her fears scare her, “My own fears would require a separate book all in itself! But my fears are just like yours, and they truly scare the crap out of me most days.” She opens up about divorce, gaining weight, crying, struggling financially and feeling as if she had no real reason or purpose for her life. In the beginning of the book she says, “So here I am, approaching fifty, and in the process of re-creating my life.”

The parts of the book that resonated with me were issues I have experienced.
-Freedom from the common addiction to material wealth and the difficulties of letting go.
-Feeling that moment when I knew that my life was changing, “I felt a shift happen in my world, and in my heart.”
-Realizing that I need to build healthier and stronger friendships, “When we look for friends we should be cognizant of what they add to our lives.”

I appreciated the ponder points exercises at the end of each chapter. My favorite was from chapter 6: The Study of Self Mastery. See the excerpt below.

“My five key strengths are…
• My most meaningful experience has been…
• What drains my energy?
• The relationships that have influenced my sense of destiny are… (explain how)
• My top three weaknesses/areas for improvement are…
• My Personal Purpose in life is defined as…”

Chapter 10 especially caught my attention with her message of forgiveness, compassion and self-love. “As I begin applying more self-loving methods, I notice something else happening: I am attracting positive attention. I know this sounds strange, but as I began to forgive myself, I also stopped passing judgment on my looks, weight, and other things in/out of my control. I am more present, and comfortable in my own skin—a feat that has eluded me for quite some time.” from chapter 10.

And finally in chapter 11 she talks about rebooting our lives. We need to ask ourselves, “is my comfort zone serving me, or not serving me in living the life I desire?”

I recommend this book for those who feel as if there is nothing new to experience and those who are on the brink of giving up and settling for less than they’re worth. Once we start the process of individual empowerment it’s important that we pay attention. An important lesson I’ve learned is that what we give through our thoughts, words and actions is exactly what we receive from the universe. I’m at a point in my personal growth where I know that’s an undeniable truth and it felt comforting reading a similar experience from the author.

“As I trusted more and more the process of change and revelation, I was open to more meaning and fulfilment in how I viewed and participated in the world around me.” Patricia Rundblade

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Some (Amazing) People I Know” by Keith Maginn

Chances are you know some amazing people, people who despite the odds have overcome tragedy or worked diligently to improve their communities. Theirs are not exciting stories of exceptional danger, but still inspire. That is the premise in the book. “Some (Amazing) People I Know” by Keith Maginn.

The author Keith Maginn created this book because so many people he knew were struggling and wanted to “..highlight feel-good stories to give them hope.” From the seven stories in this book, two really stood out!

The first was about Joy and how she left her longtime and secure career for adventure, because that has been the story of my life. She overcame her fear of the great beyond, “I had little fears, but I told myself hey weren’t real. Things started falling into place and I kept getting signs and reassurance from things that happened.” On my own quest for individual empowerment I observed how once I commit to a decision, no matter what there are many “signs” that show I am indeed on the right path. I loved the part of her story where she went sledding down a volcano in Nicaragua. Her experience inspired her to become a flight attendant and travel the world.

The second was of Beth and her powerful grasp of not allowing anger to hold her back after a harrowing loss that shook her family to the core. Despite the overwhelming grief of losing her 3-year-old son in an accident caused by a  distracted driver she says, “I never saw the point of being angry…The only thing I have control of is me – my choices and what I say and do.”  That is THE most important lesson in the quest for individual empowerment. Once we realize that we can’t control life, but we can control our reaction we can become our best selves. The tragedy Beth endured inspired her to create the Jacks Forever 3 Foundation, which educates teens about distracted driving. Learn more at

If you need a little everyday inspiration, like to read stories about overcoming the odds or are looking for an inspirational gift, this book would be a good choice. Learn more on and buy the book at


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Book Reviews, Grief

Book Review: “Not in the Pink” by Tina Martel

Not In The Pink” by Tina Martel

Although I am no Snow White I am living with the seven chemo dwarves. Itchy, Weepy, Weary, Drippy, Achy, Queasy, Bitchy. They bring a friend, Wimpy.” -Tina Martel

Are you looking for a book about dealing with cancer that isn’t bent toward the heroic, and cheerful? As an artist, Tina Martel does an amazing job of recording her battle with cancer with poignant imagery and words that sting. This is a mixture of darkness and fear, hope and humor, love and letting go of eyelashes.

Her book takes you through the realities of a cancer diagnosis without shying away from the painful treatment, nausea, mood swings, the loss of independence and balance, the confused stares, wayward words, uncomfortable silences and the fear of not knowing if you will survive.

Her journey includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, homeopathic and prescription drugs and attempts by herself and others to alleviate the dark clouds that overhang a possibility of looming death.

I laughed and cried while reading this book. It brought back my own memories of when my mother battled cancer. A battle she eventually lost. Reading this book was therapeutic in that it reminded me that we really have no clue where our lives will lead, but we are in control of how we react to the journey.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works” by Michelle Minero – This isn’t a traditional “”diet” book!

The Self Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works” is not a book about losing physical weight or how to diet better. It is an opportunity to lose the mental weight of our issues that chain us to eating disorders.

Author Michelle Minero, a licensed therapist, shares invaluable lessons and therapies that any of us can use to create a healthier life which doesn’t involve obsessing over our pant size. Her book may be that extra tool you need to retrieve your inner strength and heal from an eating disorder. As she says in the book, “We need to be able to tap into the potency of the power that comes from loving ourselves.” She cautions that though it is “tricky”, it is absolutely possible.

diet book, self love, michelle minero, eating disorder bookSome of the points I really enjoyed were about the damaging effects of becoming malnourished from eating poorly, the effects of family, religious and ethnic beliefs which can cause hate or love toward our bodies and learning how to see our bodies as instruments vs. ornaments.

She also writes about the science of mirror neurons which are a relatively new discovery that explain how we learn by watching others and absorbing ideas. Have you ever tried the exercise of looking into a mirror and telling yourself “I love you”? The first time I tried this I felt silly, but over time I’ve noticed that it does make me feel good to see myself saying I love you. It’s similar to when a family or friend tells me they love me. Self-love is indeed as important as receiving and giving love to others.

Each chapter offers action steps and loving exercises you can take to heal or help someone heal. My favorite action to take is starting a self-love journal. For most of my life I’ve used writing to help me with issues and heal from trauma. Starting a journal can feel daunting so I recommend you personalize your journal and make it fun. In my journal I write inspiring quotes to myself and decorate each page with colors and illustrations.

While I don’t personally have an eating disorder, this book is a great reminder to love my own body after the many years I spent degrading myself in a vain attempt to look as beautiful as an airbrushed model.

I highly recommend reading this book if :

-You are dealing with an eating disorder.

-You have a loved one, or even a co-worker, who is dealing with an eating disorder.

-You have a poor body image.

-You want to learn more about eating disorders.

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*Be aware the author does mention God, however it is not to push a specific religion down your throat, but as a spiritual resource. If it was religious I wouldn’t be reading it.

Michelle E. Minero is a Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist who has dedicated her work to helping people recover from eating disorders and body-hatred. Michelle graduated from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in psychology in 1976 and a master in counseling in 1988. She created the Quest Program, an intensive outpatient eating disorder program for PsychStrategies Inc. in 2000. She brought the ANAD support group to Petaluma and founded Eating Disorders Recovery Support Inc. in 2005. Learn more at and

What do you love about yourself? What parts of yourself could you learn to love more?


Intrigued? Read these similar posts:

Ending Eating Disorders: Meet the Nominees for the 2014 Self Love Diet Award

D.I.Y. Therapy Silencing the Self Hate

Show Love For Yourself in the January Self-Love Challenge


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