I used to think it was funny when people called books “lifesavers.” I’d enjoyed many books, but never to the point where they’d actually improved my life in observable ways.

Now, it would probably be fair to say that each book I read changes my life. I read to see through others’ eyes, to learn a fraction of what they’ve learned and to understand the ways they’re reasoning. Each book I read helps my roots grow deeper.

That being said, there are a few books that have changed my life for the much, much better.

The first was Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear. It affirmed that instincts are a powerful force for good, no matter who mocks or belittles them; indeed, those who belittle often have something to gain by another person’s instincts being overridden.

Even more importantly, one of my sisters might not have survived an abusive relationship but for wisdom I gleaned from The Gift of Fear. It gave me the words to communicate my concerns to her. Now, a few years later, she’s not only alive, but kicking (, punching, blocking, and all other things martial arts/boxing).

The second was Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing. A friend recommended it to me about five years ago, suggesting it would help me retrain my brain to be less stressed. Thanks to this book, I learned (1) about the principle of neuroplasticity and (2) how to apply these principles to become less stressed. I’m coming back to this again, having come to understand that destressing isn’t work you do one time and call done. It’s work that must be undertaken ongoing for best results!

The third was It Starts with Food, which taught me how to ease inflammation at a point where I was scarily inflamed. After a couple of months eating as recommended by the book, my bloodwork looked great and I felt great. I ate mostly according to its principles until this time last year, when I became overwhelmed by political readings and lost all equilibrium. I’m getting back into the swing of things now, and am so grateful to know exactly where to fall.

This list will probably grow with time, but for now: These are three books that have changed my life for the better.


those who are searching

A little more than four years ago, a carpet changed my life. 

I came into my office one Monday and found myself choking on fumes. The building’s carpets had been replaced over the weekend, and they were noxious. My colleagues and I coughed and wheezed through our first days.

The carpet vendor, saying they got this complaint a lot with this carpet, came in and did a steam cleaning. This took some of the edge off the smell, but I continued to struggle with all kinds of reactions to what lingered.

While my colleagues adapted within a couple of weeks, my reaction worsened by the day. The strictly physical pain was bad enough, but what really terrified me was when I started losing mental ground.

I called my sister ranting and rambling one evening. I was trying to figure out what to do; I had a family to feed, and so feared the consequences of either staying or going. Stay and hurt myself further, or leave and struggle financially?

I was so incoherent in my agitation that my sister was terrified. She told me the next day, “You sounded just like Mom.”

Our mom suffered years of mental illness before she died of cancer in 2010. To hear I sounded like Mom was jarring.

I did not want to follow that path.

I found a new job, and left pronto.

What is this doing on my book blog, though? Continue reading “those who are searching”