Piloting Your Life by Terri Hanson Mead

This book was written just for me. After having had my first hot flash a few weeks ago, I suddenly and dramatically realized how unprepared I was for this next stage of life. I vaguely understood that I belong to Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) but hadn’t even considered that I was already in midlife at 46 (which begins at 40 and ends at 65). That’s how clueless I was. 

But here I am, and I’m so glad I found this little gem of a book Piloting Your Life by Terri Hanson Mead.

Not only did this book have factual information about what I can expect as I bumble, crash and burn, (Who really sails serenely through any life stage?), this later adulthood phase, but there were life stories from other women who have successfully transitioned. Additionally, there was a “Taking the Controls” section in each chapter with questions for me to ponder as well as a template for my own personal Flight Plan for me to work through. 

If I was in any doubt that somehow the author knew what I needed to hear, then there was that quote from my all-time favorite movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that cinched it for me. Other phrases that resonated with me were “Midlife is a time to recalibrate, not surrender.” and “There are many versions of you, and they are all right.”

There were chapters on the physical changes I can expect, and the mindset I should strive to develop. There were sections on self-care and finding financial freedom. The author shared her experiences and thoughts (some were quite eye-opening) on everything from social value to sex. 

After reading this book, I’ve come to realize how much I can do with this stage of my life. It’s time for me to get started on all those things I’ve been putting off, like finding my superpower, indulging in my guilty pleasures, and even some death planning.  Let’s get started, shall we?

So, if you are flying blind into midlife, like me, then it’s time to join the crew and pick up your own copy of Piloting Your Life by Terri Hanson Mead.

I received an advanced review copy from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review here.

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Why Life Stories Change: As You Look at Your Own Life Story, You See Yourself Differently by Brent M. Jones

I admit, the title of this little book was what first attracted me. I wanted to know why life stories change and how I see myself differently as I have aged. I’m not sure that this book gave me a concrete answer to this question though. 

The author shared a few samples of his life story rhetoric as examples of how looking back he has reevaluated the importance of a particular event. He has a little more experience than most in retelling his life story as a member of a men’s church group focused on bonding. Mr. Jones first noticed that the stories of members in the group shared changed with the retelling over time which led to the thoughts contained in this book.

I would have enjoyed more personal stories and more development of the topic of why life stories changed in the book. The book was finished before I had time to mull things over. I was left with the question of what I was supposed to do with this idea of retelling life stories. Was the author encouraging me to just reflect on these events? Was I supposed to write my life story paying particular attention to how I saw events as I was writing? I felt at loose ends at the end of the book. 

The text was well edited, except for the words Little League which were not capitalized when used. Having been born a mere stone’s throw from the capital of the Little League World Series stadium, this was a glaring issue for me. Other than that, there were no major errors that I found.

I enjoyed the quotes from book characters, authors and celebrities that were sprinkled throughout the book. I also enjoyed reading the segments of Mr. Jones life story he chose to include. His About the Author was very well written, so much so that I would have enjoyed hearing more about some of those events in the book itself.

Overall, Why Life Stories Change: As You Look at Your Own Life Story, You See Yourself Differently by Brent M. Jones was a quick and simple read with quite of things I felt were worth highlighting. 

I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery. You can read my review at Reedsy here.

Become a Book Reviewer for Reedsy Discovery

Reedsy Discovery is looking for book reviewers! I’ve been reviewing books for this company since the book reviewer program went live in March 2019. Now, the floodgates have opened and they are looking for more readers to critically review the hundreds of self-published books they have received. 

You can help authors become better wordsmiths with your reviews. Here are some comments I have received from grateful writers.

“Many thanks for your insightful review of my book. I believe you caught the spirit of the adventure. Much gratitude!”

“Thank you for the amazing review of my book. I am so glad that it resonated with you and that you found it helpful. I had the chills as I read your review and was near tears because you got it!”

“Thank you for pointing out those few things in your review, it was definitely helpful, especially the part about a missing section. I had two different documents and somehow that section wasn’t transferred over. So thank you for pointing that out. I’m surprised no one else mentioned it. Good eye!”

If you’ve always wanted to combine reading and writing into one enjoyable activity, then it’s time for you to sign up to be a book reviewer! You can learn more about becoming a book reviewer for Reedsy Discovery here.

The Ideal Mexican Lifestyle Challenge Workbook

Are you thinking of making the move to Mexico? Have you done your homework? Not yet? Well, then the The Ideal Mexican Lifestyle Challenge Workbook by Jennifer Robin Lee is what you need!

Although it’s designed to complement the eCourse with the same name, it can be used entirely independently. I should know. I was a contributor and editor!

Included in the workbook are the activities Getting Clear on What You Want to Achieve, Creating your Conditions of Satisfaction, Your Project Plan and The Next Steps which are all designed to help you create a plan for finding your dream life in Mexico.

Now only that, but you’ll find featured interviews from Judy King, Meg Moulton, Daniel Gair, and Krish Yadav to provide just the inspiration you need to start your plan to move to Mexico today!

So if you are even toying with the idea of moving to Mexico, then be sure to pick up your copy of The Ideal Mexican Lifestyle Challenge Workbook and get busy planning your new life!

Wow! You look fantastic: Your Journey to a Happier, Healthier Life by Nancy N. Wilson

If you are looking for some practical encouragement to create a healthy way of life, then Wow! You look fantastic: Your Journey to a Happier, Healthier Life by Nancy N. Wilson is the book for you. While the author acknowledges the temporary power of fad diets, she emphasized that real weight loss will only occur when you make consistent lifestyle adjustments. 

With suggestions for apps to use, methods that have been proven to work and a list of questions for self-analysis, this book goes far beyond most diet books. I thought the introspective evaluation was especially useful in crafting an eating and activity plan that will benefit each individual the most. 

I would have liked to see these questions at the end of each chapter, however, instead of tucked away at the end in an addendum. While grouping all the questions together in one section might make sense in a printed book, on an e-book it was cumbersome to jump back and forth between the text and the questions. 

The author placed a lot of emphasis on the health benefits of the Medittearan diet as she summarized various eating plans. It would have been nice to have a little more information about this diet and others such as the flexitarian. Instead, the author suggested the reader look into these diets more on his or her own. A comparison of the eating plans might have been useful to distinguish the differences. Perhaps a sample menu for one day for each diet plan could have been included. 

In general, I found the book a good overview of healthy living habits that everyone can realistically incorporate into their lives. I thought the ideas that the author discussed about manifesting your own success to be an important aspect of healthy living and one that is often overlooked in diet and exercise regimens. 

So if you are ready to start healthier habits, pick up your copy of Wow! You look fantastic: Your Journey to a Happier, Healthier Life by Nancy N. Wilson today.  I received an ARC copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery. You can ready my review here.

Feral: Returning to the Wild by Kyle Cooper Shrivastava

The concept of Feral: Returning to the Wild by Kyle Cooper Shrivastava is that we have become too domesticated to be truly happy. Numerous comparisons were made throughout the text between animal and human behavior. This book is a call to action to escape from existential suffering that civilized societies inflict upon their members or rather individuals in civilized society inflict upon themselves.

Delightful parables introduce each section of the book. The Runner and The River Turtle set the stage to talk about mindfulness. The Author and the Ants broaches the topic of connection. Distant Family and Deep-Water Fish shows us the truth about adventure. And Finally, The Caged Accountant illustrates the concept of freedom. 

I found the section on bias especially illuminating. Because I live in an area populated by my own culture, I find I get frustrated with the closed society that surrounds me. By taking a moment to examine the biases I have and those of my neighbors, I was able to see that prejudice is a natural, but limiting mindset. Becoming “feral” in this context would mean learning how to accept the presence of other “species” in my environment as a potentially beneficial relationship. 

It may have been a case of preaching to the choir, but I found myself drifting off in certain sections. I definitely wasn’t present and needed to take some time away from the book. Maybe some of the information was a bit repetitive or maybe I had already incorporated some of the lifestyle and attitude changes and didn’t need to be convinced. 

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Feral: Returning to the Wild by Kyle Cooper Shrivastava. It was a great reminder that we are meant to live life a bit on the edge, focus on connectedness, and be mindful in our actions to be truly alive.

I received an ARC of this book. You can read my review at Reedsy Discovery here.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

I went into reading this book believing I had been hardened by history, Hollywood dramatizations, and my own studies to not be affected by the tales from yet one more survivor of the Holocast. I was mistaken. While the book does not dwell on the horror that imprisoning a human for an indefinite period of time with the threat of death looming constantly, it could not peel away the layers that we wrap ourselves protectively in without this setting. 

The concept of logotherapy, while new in terminology, was not a new concept to me. Humans have made it nearly a pastime these days to seek out happiness these days. Life coaches have taken the place of psychologists in an effort to help their clients find meaning in their existence. And yet, the truth is lost to them. We aren’t meant to “find” happiness but to be endlessly striving for it. A purpose, rather than a completed action. 

Logotherapy says the meaning can be uncovered by:

  • Creating a work or doing a deed
  • Experiencing something or encountering someone
  • The attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering 

The actualy work, deed, experience or attitude is left to the individual to discover.

The author shares his own experiences as a concentration camp survivor, experiences of others he met while he was imprisoned, and examples of people he came in contact with whose lives were changed by logotherapy. Although originally written in 1922, the problems we have finding meaning have not changed one iota. There is still a headlong tumble into new experiences, new loves, distractions, and numbing through meaningless work or substance abuse, that keep so many from finding true purpose. 

There was much to ponder in Man’s Search for Meaning, so much so that I believe I’ll give it another read through. As should you.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

An incredible amount of research went to the writing of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. The intricate description of the Akha people of China, their traditional beliefs, clothing and the tea harvest made this novel come alive.   

The story revolves around the traditional saying “No coincidence, no story.” Li-yen’s life in the remote mountain village in the Yunnan Province of China is changed by the arrival of a stranger and his son. Three generations of women are forever changed by the coincidences that create the story told in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.

Without giving away the ending, in my opinion, the book capitalizes on the coincidences that become a little too convenient for a happily every after tale. Despite this, it’s a riveting story, full of sorrow, triumphs, loss and love.

You are sure to enjoy The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See !

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee

Growing up, Hyeonseo and her family could look across the river into China and could not even imagine what life was like on the other side. It might as well have been another planet, so different were the two countries. 

What began as a simple act of teenage defiance set her feet on a journey she never expected to take through China, Laos and finally as a refugee to South Korea. Each leg of her travels forced Hyeonseo to assume a new identity. The name she has chosen for herself in the end, Hyeon (sunshine) and seo (good fortune) is the woman she discovered she was after facing such insurmountable odds.

Hyeonseo Lee presented a TED talk about her experience which you can find here. She also spoke at the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York in 2014 about human rights violations that happen as a matter of course in North Korea. She did an interview with Time in 2015 entitled Freedom, Sanctions and North Korean Ice Cream as well. 

I found The Girl with Seven Names a little difficult to read, not that it was complex, but there seemed to be an emotional reserve in the writing that made it challenging to connect with the author on a personal level. However, given all that this poor girl went through, it is only natural that the retelling is repressed emotionally. How else could she have gotten through it?

The author’s descriptions about the insidious government regulation that rewarded informing on your neighbors, coworkers and family members was detailed. The stories of other refugees she met along the way was eye-opening. I had never before considered North Korea in that light and can never return to ignorance again. The Girl with Seven Names was a powerful story that everyone should read in order to understand the complexity of North Korea just a little bit.