Bookshelf Additions – Fall 2019

Waking the Tiger:  Healing Trauma, Peter Levine

My copy is full of underlines, and I’m actively looking for ways to go deeper into this work.  Great book for anyone impacted by trauma.

Synopsis:  “Waking the Tiger offers a new and hopeful vision of trauma. It views the human animal as a unique being, endowed with an instinctual capacity. It asks and answers an intriguing question: why are animals in the wild, though threatened routinely, rarely traumatized? By understanding the dynamics that make wild animals virtually immune to traumatic symptoms, the mystery of human trauma is revealed.

Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them. People are often traumatized by seemingly ordinary experiences. The reader is taken on a guided tour of the subtle, yet powerful impulses that govern our responses to overwhelming life events. To do this, it employs a series of exercises that help us focus on bodily sensations. Through heightened awareness of these sensations trauma can be healed.”


The Awakened Family, Shefali Tsabary

Inspiring and enjoyable to read, aimed to help parents engage with their children in a conscious and present way.  The four main parts are:  A New Awakening, Our Parenting Myths, Understanding our Reactivity, and Transforming Parenting Skills.  I appreciate any structure that helps parents with self-examination and intentionally shedding things that are not serving them or their children well.

Some parts shined on a light on my blind spots:  “Our insatiable need to direct, encourage, improve, and manage ruins wonderful moments of potential closeness.”  Ouch.  And:  “I will transform each challenge into a question that asks, ‘what does this say about me?’ ”

And a couple of the poems made my heart swell:

Our Children, Our Awakeners

In my illusion I thought I was going to raise you

To be whole, complete, and worthy,

To be educated, kind, and wise,

To be a leader, empowered, and free.

I was deluded to think I knew it all,

Fooled by my age and might.

I thought I had it all together,

Ready to teach, inspire, and change you.

Only now, after so many moments

With you

Do I realize how foolish these ideas were,

How baseless and grandiose.

I now understand….

That it is you who is here to teach me,

To guide, lead, shift, and elevate,

To transform, awaken, and inspire Me.

I now realize how I had it all wrong,

Upside down and outside in,

It is you who are this perfectly designed clarion

To wake me up to my true self.


The Gift

May you be blessed with a child…

Who defies you

So you learn to release control,

With one who doesn’t listen

So you learn to tune in,

With one who loves to procrastinate

So you learn the beauty of stillness,

With one who forgets things

So you learn to let go of attachments,

With one who is extra-sensitive

So you learn to be grounded,

With one who is inattentive

So you learn to be focused,

With one who dares to rebel

So you learn to think outside of the box,

With one who feels afraid

So you learn to trust the universe.

May you be blessed with a child…

Who teaches you

That it is never about them 

And all about you.


“Do you see me?” This is the big question your child is asking every day. “Can you recognize me for who I am, different from your dreams and expectations for me, separate from your agenda for me?”

“They need us to affirm their intrinsic goodness, regardless of the ugly things they may say or do at times. This is how their natural inborn belief in themselves becomes solidly grounded instead of masked by ego. A sense of our children’s worth flourishes when the way we look at them, the way we listen to them, and the way we speak to them reflect just how lovable they are. This is how we empower them—how we draw out in them their innately powerful sense of self, which is what will carry them successfully through life. Only when we can separate our fantasies concerning who our children should be from who they actually are can we do justice to their original essence and craft our parenting to allow for this essence to flourish.”


Letter to My Daughter, Maya Angelou

This book was gifted to me by a dear friend and I devoured all the lessons as told by Maya Angelou.  With chapter titles such as Giving Birth, To Tell the Truth, Mother’s Long View, and In the Valley of Humility, I will be sharing this wisdom with my kids and other loved ones.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

“Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”

“The charitable say in effect, ‘I seem to have more than I need and you seem to have less than you need. I would like to share my excess with you.’ Fine, if my excess is tangible, money or goods, and fine if not, for I learned that to be charitable with gestures and words can bring enormous joy and repair injured feelings.”

“All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us all that we are more alike than we are unalike.”

Bookshelf Additions – Summer 2019

Dare to Lead, Brene Brown

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Brene Brown’s research and methodology.  Dare to Lead takes concepts from Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong and applies it to work and leadership.

“If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts—so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people—we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.”


The Dance of Anger, Harriet Lerner

“Anger is inevitable when our lives consist of giving in and going along; when we assume responsibility for other people’s feelings and reactions; when we relinquish our primary responsibility to proceed with our own growth and ensure the quality of our own lives; when we behave as if having a relationship is more important than having a self.”

“We cannot make another person change his or her steps to an old dance, but if we change our own steps, the dance no longer can continue in the same predictable pattern.”

“…feeling angry signals a problem, venting anger does not solve it. Venting anger may serve to maintain, and even rigidify, the old rules and patterns in a relationship, thus ensuring that change does not occur. When emotional intensity is high, many of us engage in nonproductive efforts to change the other person, and in so doing, fail to exercise our power to clarify and change our own selves. The old anger-in/anger-out theory, which states that letting it all hang out offers protection from the psychological hazards of keeping it all pent up, is simply not true. Feelings of depression, low self-esteem, self-betrayal, and even self-hatred are inevitable when we fight but continue to submit to unfair circumstances, when we complain but live in a way that betrays our hopes, values and potentials, or when we find ourselves fulfilling society’s stereotype of the bitchy, nagging, bitter, or destructive woman. Those of us who are locked into ineffective expressions of anger suffer as deeply as those of us who dare not get angry at all.”

“Nothing, but nothing, will block the awareness of anger so effectively as guilt and self-doubt. Our society cultivates guilt feelings in women such that many of us still feel guilty if we are anything less than an emotional service station to others.”


Grit, Angela Duckworth

I absolutely love this book, and found myself following my kids around the house with several captivating quotes and grit-stories found in the book.

“I won’t just have a job; I’ll have a calling. I’ll challenge myself every day. When I get knocked down, I’ll get back up. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I’ll strive to be the grittiest.”

“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.”

“Yes, but the main thing is that greatness is doable. Greatness is many, many individual feats, and each of them is doable.”

“most dazzling human achievements are, in fact, the aggregate of countless individual elements, each of which is, in a sense, ordinary.”

“Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.”

“A fixed mindset about ability leads to pessimistic explanations of adversity, and that, in turn, leads to both giving up on challenges and avoiding them in the first place. In contrast, a growth mindset leads to optimistic ways of explaining adversity, and that, in turn, leads to perseverance and seeking out new challenges that will ultimately make you even stronger.”

Bookshelf Additions – Spring 2019

I haven’t been making as much time to read as I’d like, but I’m at least keeping some momentum going during a busy season of transition.  I especially loved 2 of the 4 books- The Alchemist and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.  I think they both found their way to me at precisely the right time.  Two of the 4 I completed on Mother’s Day, one of which was aptly Mom & Me & Mom.  And again, 2 of the 4 were gifts from friends who knew just what I needed.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.

‘Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?’  ‘Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet.  Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you’re thinking about life and about the world.’

The boy and his heart had become friends, and neither was capable now of betraying the other.


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb

This was a beautiful depiction of therapy, from both sides of the “couch.”  As a therapist, and as a human being, I adored it.

A therapist will hold up the mirror in the most compassionate way possible, but it’s up to the patient to take a good look at that reflection, to stare back at it and say, ‘Oh, isn’t that interesting! Now what?’ instead of turning away.

Therapists are always weighing the balance between forming a trusting alliance and getting to the real work so the patient doesn’t have to continue suffering.  From the outset, we move both slowly and quickly, slowing the content down, speeding up the relationship, planting seeds strategically along the way.  As in nature, if you plant the seeds too early, they won’t sprout.  If you plant too late, they might make progress, but you’ve missed the most fertile ground.  If you plant at just the right time, though, they’ll soak up the nutrients and grow.  Our work is an intricate dance between support and confrontation.

Everyone wages this internal battle to some degree:  child or adult?  Safety or freedom?  But no matter where people fall on those continuums, every decision they make is based on two things:  fear and love.  Therapy strives to teach you how to tell the two apart.

He’d given me permission to feel and also a reminder that, like so many people, I’d been mistaking feeling less for feeling better.

Of course, the story a patient comes into therapy with may not be the story she leaves with.  What was included in the telling at first might now be written out, and what was left out might become a central plot point.  Some major characters might become minor ones, and some minor characters might go on to receive star billing.  The patient’s own role might change too- from bit player to protagonist, from victim to hero.

We grow in connection with others.  Everyone needs to hear that other person’s voice saying, I believe in you.  I can see possibilities that you might now see quite yet.  I imagine that something different can happen, in some form or another.  In therapy we say, Let’s edit your story.  

In the best goodbyes, there’s always the feeling that there’s something more to say.


Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou

She had my back, supported me.  This is the role of the mother, and in that visit I really saw clearly, and for the first time, why a mother is really important.  Not just because she feeds and also love sand cuddles and even mollycoddles a child, but because in an interesting and maybe eerie and unworldly way, she stands in the gap.  She stands between the unknown and the known.

My mother’s gifts of courage to me were both large and small.  The latter are woven so subtly into the fabric of my psyche that I can hardly distinguish where she stops and I begin.

Bookshelf Additions- Summer & Fall 2018

Due to too many things on my plate, this bookshelf addition comes terribly late and probably incomplete.  But in the spirit of good-enough, here is what I’ve read the 2nd half of 2018.

Parenting From the Inside Out, How a Deeper Self-Understanding can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive-  Daniel Siegel

A must-read for parents.  Dr. Siegel makes a compelling case for parents doing their own “work” for the benefit of themselves, their children, and the parent-child relationship.  He has some great reflection questions and action steps for how to do this, and how to repair relationship ruptures when parents miss the mark (as we all do!).

“The amazing finding that the most powerful predictor of a child’s attachment is the coherence of the parent’s life narrative allows us to understand how to strengthen our children’s attachment to us.  We are not destined to repeat that patterns of the past because we can earn our security as an adult by making sense of our life experiences.  In this way, those of us who have had difficult early life experiences can create coherence by making sense of the past and understanding its impact on the present and how it shapes our interactions with our children.  Making sense of our life stories enables us to have deeper connections with our children, and to live a more joyful and coherent life.”

Hands Free Life, 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More- Rachel Macy Stafford

I turned to this book after weeks of feeling the pull to slow down and be more present.  It has some good strategies and some gentle encouragement to do just that.

Savor, Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are-  Shauna Niequist

This devotional book went hand-in-hand with the Hands Free book (above)-  filled with grace and reminders about what is truly important.

Five Minutes’ Peace- Jill Murphy

A dear friend sent me this adorable kids’ book, and I chuckled all the way through as the Mama Elephant’s daily life mirrors my own.

Together is Better, A Little Book of Inspiration-  Simon Sinek

Cute.  I enjoyed talking it through with my kiddos.

Girl Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis

I didn’t find this book as inspiring as I had hoped based on others’ recommendations, but I do love people’s stories and reading about their lives.  I have yet to read a memoir that I didn’t like.

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery-  Ian Cron

I think at this point I have to admit to being near-obsessed with the Enneagram, thanks in part to this book and some interesting conversations about it.

It’s such a potentially-powerful tool to understand ourselves and each other, not in a pathologizing way but in a way that encourages continued growth and healing.

“The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box. It shows you the box you’re already in and how to get out of it.”

It can help us remember who we were, before the world told us who we have to be.

“Human beings are wired for survival. As little kids we instinctually place a mask called personality over parts of our authentic self to protect us from harm and make our way in the world. Made up of innate qualities, coping strategies, conditioned reflexes and defense mechanisms, among lots of other things, our personality helps us know and do what we sense is required to please our parents, to fit in and relate well to our friends, to satisfy the expectations of our culture and to get our basic needs met.”

I’ve got more Enneagram books on the way, and am looking forward to going even deeper.

The Miracle on Voodoo Mountain, A Young Woman’s Remarkable Story of Pushing Back the Darkness for the Children of Haiti- Meghan Boudreaux

I have a dear friend in the long, arduous process of adopting a child from Haiti and she gave me this beautiful and inspiring story.  Reminds me of Kisses from Katie from several years back, and I know for sure that we need more people in the world like the author.

Inspired, Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again-  Rachel Held Evans

A beautiful faith read… I appreciate the author’s transparent account of her faith and doubts and trying to make sense of it all, and ending up with more questions than answers.  Her wrestling with God in the wilderness gives permission for, and even encourages, others to do the same.  Underlines throughout the book as I learned through her research and related to her questions.



Journal prompt:  What veils have been laid over your soul?  Think about the ones added in childhood, that told you who you are, who you aren’t, what the world requires of you? …what are you doing to do the lifelong, sacred work of removing those veils from over your soul?

Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk. Antonio Machaclo

Journal prompt:  What path are you forging right now?  What feelings come up as you picture yourself forging it on your own?

Self Care Menu

I love the idea of menus-  you get to choose what you want, what you need, in that particular moment.  So I often work with people to create their own menu for self-care-  options that they can look to a choose from when they’re overwhelmed by anxiety or other emotions.

Self Care Menus should include options that involve all 5 senses, things you can do alone as well as ways to connect, items appropriate to each time of day or weather conditions.  Make it versatile so that no matter when your negative emotions threaten to overtake you, there’s always something you can try from your menu.

Your menu can be scribbled onto a post-it note, typed into the notes function in your phone, pinned up to your wall, or whatever works for you!  It can be as simple as you like, or as complex and beautiful as this example:


Mine would include some of these options:

  • Take the dog on a walk.
  • Light a candle.
  • Do yoga, in a class or at home.
  • Call a friend (go ahead and write the name & number on your menu!).
  • Box breathing.
  • Put on pajamas and cozy socks.
  • Diffuse essential oils.
  • Have a piece of dark chocolate.
  • Look at old pictures.
  • Listen to favorite songs.
  • 20 minute reading break.
  • Go to bed early.

Homework item:  Create your own menu!  Where can you put it so that you remember and can access your menu when you need it?