Layla has overcome a multitude of hardships. It is almost impossible to comprehend how much her life has changed over the years and how strong one woman can actually be when push comes to shove. From abuse endured at a tender age to failed relationships with men who repeatedly took advantage of both her and her family, Layla has seen and survived it all. As a young mother herself, Layla understands the importance of protecting her children and the impact their environment will have on their futures. It is at all costs that Layla looks onward and upward when life’s curveballs never cease coming her way.
Despite My Odds: A Memoir, by Denise Monique, is the true story of the author’s tumultuous upbringing, the difficult path that led her to true love, and her second shot at success. Monique’s life story is completely captivating. The descriptions of her childhood and her mother’s neglectful manner pulls at the reader’s heartstrings. The author’s life, unfortunately, is one with which many readers will relate. The amount of bravery it has taken for Monique to tell her story is immense, and her candor is, at times, chilling in its raw truth.
It is not often that I read a book cover-to-cover in a sitting, but Monique’s begs to be one of those books worthy of a one-and-done session. I immediately found myself lost in the tragedy that was her childhood and rooting for every one of her relationships to finally be the one that took her life in a positive direction. I was invested from the first page–completely. Her frustrations and losses became, if for a moment in time, mine. Monique has a way of making the reader feel as if they are lifelong friends. She writes in a way this open, honest, engaging, and, most of all, freeing. This is a gripping work of the author’s heart from beginning to end.
Despite My Odds: A Memoir is a must-read for anyone who has survived abuse and is looking for inspiration and the encouragement to keep looking forward. Monique’s willingness to examine her past and share it is a gift to readers everywhere. It is through stories like hers that we find purpose in our pain and real hope for healing. Though any reader stands to gain from Monique’s story, I highly recommend her book to social service workers and guidance counselors. There is a level of empathy that can be reached by absorbing Monique’s story they will find nowhere else. It is through the eyes of survivors we can find answers.
Pages: 95 | ASIN: B0854CZ6HH
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If we said 2020 was anything less than an incredible strain on all of our lives, we would be deemed as liars of the worst possible kind. Parenting in 2020 changed in what, quite literally, felt like an instant. Overnight, parents across the world were suddenly tasked with educating their children, finding ways to provide social interactions for them, and explaining to them why their world had turned upside down. Life during the pandemic of 2020 has impacted parents everywhere in ways most cannot sufficiently put into words. Despite the mania created by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are ways for families to cope and move forward with life–ways to create a new, and hopefully, temporary normal.
Liz Bayardelle, author of Parenting in a Pandemic: A Parent’s Guide to All the Roles We Have to Play in the Era of Covid-19, takes a closer look at the impact the pandemic of 2020 has had on parents with school-aged children and the multiple roles they have assumed. While providing examples along with hints for successfully addressing their children’s many needs, the author uses well-intentioned and appropriately proportioned humor to lighten an otherwise somber mood and dense subject matter.
As a teacher and parent of a 2020 high school graduate, I more than appreciate Bayardelle’s candor. From the practical advice for staying healthy and following suggested health guidelines to ideas for time management, the author covers all necessary bases and provides solid, easy-to-follow advice that can be instantly applied in the home.
Not enough can be said for Bayardelle’s use of humor. There has been very little opportunity for smiles and laughter over the last year. It has been difficult to find moments of levity when trying to balance fear with daily routines and the barrage of changes with a craving for normalcy. Bayardelle’s willingness and efficiency with lighthearted moments placed strategically throughout the text helps readers face the challenges of our new reality with a little less grimness.
Parenting in a Pandemic is the book we all needed and for which we never dreamed we would have to search. Bayardelle breaks down a tremendous amount of information in a short, well-organized, and engaging read. I highly recommend Bayardelelle’s guide to any parent looking to navigate the waters of parenting in this pandemic while waiting patiently on a return to what may be our new normal.
Pages: 148 | ISBN: 1950328813
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Reign: A Guide to Ruling Your Inner Kingdom of Self with Grace, Power, and Authenticity provides readers with insights and tools they can use to live a balanced and joyous life. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I believe small changes in our patterns of living can have a profound, positive impact. I saw a clear example of this while on vacation. As a family we love to travel and have taken two separate, weeklong bus tours that highlight different cities and sights. One of these trips was a small tour group of about twenty fellow tourists, all of whom were complete strangers to us. The first day we boarded the bus, everyone took a seat and introduced themselves to those around them. As the trip progressed, the same seating routine continued, and everyone sat in the same seat that they had the first day. By the end of the trip, we had become good friends with those seated around us. We shared meals, looked out for one another on excursions, and exchanged contact information to keep in touch. However, there was a part of our group that sat farther from us on the bus that we didn’t get to know.
The other trip we took was with twice the number of tourists and therefore a much larger bus. The first day we boarded with our travel companions (again all complete strangers), we took seats that were open. The second day, like the other trip, everyone sat in the same spot as they had the day before. This time, however, our tour group leader announced that we were to change up our seats each time we boarded by moving in a clockwise direction (if seated on the left side of the bus you moved up one row from your previous seat, and if seated on the right side of the bus you moved your seat back one row). After his announcement, there was a moment of quiet, stunned silence as people digested his request. There was some whispered grumbling as people collected their things and changed seats. Once we were settled, he asked that we introduce ourselves to those new faces around us. As this trip continued, we followed this seating rotation and met every person in our group. By the end of the trip, we knew everyone’s names, where they were from, had shared laughs, told stories, and enjoyed at least one meal with each of them. On this trip contact information was exchanged with all of our fellow bus passengers as everyone wanted to keep in touch. I greatly enjoyed both bus trips but found that the second trip, even though it was twice the group size as the first, was a much warmer inclusive one by virtue of the simple act of changing seats.
Like taking the same seat on a bus or in a classroom, we can easily find ourselves following a particular pattern out of habit. It can be uncomfortable to change that pattern. The ancient Chinese observed however that life is change. I think that there is a huge opportunity in that teaching. Small changes can create greater ease and a more enriching life. I wrote this book to offer an exploration of our power to change.
In the book you describe the five elemental realms. What is a key aspect you feel is important to learn when studying these realms?
The five elemental realms represent the changing seasons on earth as seen by the ancient Chinese (winter, spring, summer, late summer, autumn) and the emotions that they associated with each of those seasons (fear, anger, joy, sympathy, grief). Just like the seasons follow a continuous loop of change, we should also keep moving forward in life. For example, a cozy parka may be a favorite item of clothing on a freezing, winter day but would be uncomfortable to wear and look silly if worn on a hot, sandy beach. It is important to live each moment fully but then surrender it to the past as an opportunity for growth and learning. Trying to stay in a particular moment in time, habitual pattern or emotion, can hold you back from your life’s journey. This is like holding on to anger that eventually leads to a grudge, which over time, ends up hurting you more than the person who may or may not know they have wronged you. The five realms represent emotions and actions that are available to each of us on our human journey. To live our lives fully, we should experience and visit all five realms (emotions) but keep moving through them so as not stay stuck in one place.
What is your professional experience in the clinical field and how has that helped you write this book?
I have treated many patients in a variety of clinical settings. My greatest learning from both my studies and treating patients is that our bodies are wise, and they never lie to us. When there is discomfort, it is important to tune in and respect what our bodies may be telling us. At times, the cause of our discomfort is within our control. It may be lifestyle choices (diet, exercise etc.) or it may be thought choices. Often, I would hear similar stories from my patients (Ex. my mother-in-law is mean). Stories that we tell ourselves can trap us in like a box and limit our life experience. If we have the courage to learn a different story it can alleviate a lot of stress (Ex. my mother-in-law is mean because she is unhappy with her life choices and that has nothing to do with me). Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but I think that there is space in each person’s life for small shifts that can foster greater ease and contentment.
Do you have plans to write other books on this same topic?
I don’t have plans at this time to write another book but have toyed with the idea of a podcast. I think we all have beautiful soul stories to tell of how change has impacted our lives. I’d like to offer a forum to hear from those who have had the courage to change something for the better and the difference it has made for them. I think we can all learn from those teachers.
Posted in Interviews
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Over the last year, we have been met with more challenges than any of us could have dreamed. Leadership and structure within our families provides us with comfort, stability, and direction. Families grounded in faith living lives in which they reflect on that faith are able to overcome any challenge thrown their way.
Frantz Lamour’s Family Leadership in Times of Crisis lays out the framework of a family based in faith and all of the steps necessary in maintaining a strong spiritual connectedness. Included in Lamour’s guide is an in-depth look at the foundation of a spiritual family along with ways to cope with crises as a family. The author also provides readers with scenarios and ways to deal with each. I was especially touched and pleased to see that the author includes specific prayers and questions of reflection for the various scenarios. The reflection questions are incredibly helpful in fully analyzing the different crises and the family’s way of coping with each.
Lamour’s work is a real comfort in times of such hardship. We all need reminders to keep the faith and could all use tried-and-true advice from others struggling with family crises. Parents of teenagers will truly appreciate the forthrightness shown in Lamour’s writing. He cuts straight to the heart of the matter and directs readers to scripture appropriate to their situation. Raising teenagers is a full-time job all on its own, and a direct connection to scripture will put many a mind at ease.
There aren’t many among us who have not experienced financial woes. Lamour breaks down the way in which a family of faith deals with financial stresses and how to attack the situation with both logic and open lines of communication. Commitment is a huge part of Lamour’s advice–commitment not just to one another but also to their faith as a family.
I found Lamour’s words incredibly helpful and comforting. In the middle of many of my own hardships, his work is more than welcome and leads me back to a faith to which I feel I have lost connection over the last few years. A short and powerful read, I highly recommend Family Leadership in Times of Crisis to anyone seeking words of inspiration in these difficult times.
Pages: 85 | ASIN: B08QNHBJHX
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Clean Your Plate! is a fantastic parenting guide that helps well-intentioned parents avoid troublesome mannerisms. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I think that every parent has had that “oh crap, I just became my mr” moment when something comes out of our mouth we swore we’d never say. There’s a reason for parent-isms like “clean your plate”, “get straight A’s”, or “go give your aunt a hug”, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have negative side-effects. (Kind of like how your headache medicine may get rid of your headache, but it could also cause nausea, vomiting, or spontaneous combustion.) This book goes over 13 common parent-isms and gives a research-based look at what negative side effects they could be causing and how to get the intended message across in a more positive way.
What is a common misconception you feel people have about parenting?
I think people believe there is a Don’t mistake my meaning here, there are plenty of clearly and obviously wrong ways to parent, but the only right way is the right way for you and your kids. So many parents try to parent “by the book” only to unnecessarily force themselves into something that feels unnatural and makes either them or their kids (or both) unnecessarily stressed.
What is your paring experience and how has that helped you write this book?
I’m the step-mom of a teenage girl and the bio-mom of a 5-year-old Navy Seal trainee in an Elsa dress, and a 1-year-old raccoon noise impersonator. Our household also features a cumulative 200 pounds of dog and a rabbit of unusual size.
When I was first attempting to “learn how to parent” (as if such a feat is really possible) I kept finding so-called parenting books that were so full of information yet little-to-no practical help. I knew what meconium was, but I had no idea how to bond with my baby. I could tell you all about teen hormones, but I didn’t have any clue how to handle it when my step-daughter went into her room for days at a time. I happened to be working on my PhD in business psychology at the time and realized that the most helpful information for my day-to-day parenting issues was actually coming from my PhD research rather than the parenting books I was reading.
This book is an attempt to bridge that gap.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
The three main take-home messages from this book are to parent for the long term (not the short term), to parent for skills (not results), and to parent like you and your kids are on the same team (because you are…no matter what it feels like in the moment).
Posted in Interviews
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Preparing our children for their inevitable independence as self-sufficient adults is a full-time job that begins long before our kids ever realize the complexities that lie ahead of them. From managing money to teaching them how to treat others, parents have a never-ending list of skills on which to instruct children and numerous opportunities throughout each day to do so. Parenting never gets easier, but listening to and learning from others who are living the same struggles helps.
Clean Your Plate! 13 Things Good Parents Say that Ruin Kids’ Lives, by Liz Bayardelle, lays out the most commonly uttered phrases we, as parents, say to our children as they grow. Bayardelle provides sound advice for how to make some of life’s most challenging struggles go more smoothly. Many times, just stating the phrases we have been told by our parents is far from sufficient. The author gives readers wonderful how-tos in order to meet the changing needs of their children.
My own two children are grown, but I can say I would have greatly appreciated the advice on chore charts. I haven’t been as on top of chores over the years as I should have–of that I am well aware. Bayardelle’s common sense approach to the chore chart is an excellent take-away parents can put to immediate use.
I love the breakdown the author gives in each chapter. She doesn’t simply tell us the bit of advice; she analyzes the psychology behind why we say what we do to our children. In addition, Bayardelle explains what the research reveals our kids actually hear when we utter those famous words over and over. It’s a fantastic approach to parental reading. One of the most spot-on aspects of Bayardelle’s writing is the parenting-versus-reality tone she takes. Both the writing and scenarios are incredibly relatable and will be appreciated by readers in all stages of parenting.
I highly recommend Clean Your Plate! 13 Things Good Parents Say that Ruin Kids’ Lives, by Liz Bayardelle to any parent interested in stepping up their game or to anyone interested in understanding the science behind our kids’ reasoning–it’s a fascinating read, indeed. Peppered with humor any parent will appreciate, Bayardelle’s book is a must-have.
Pages: 160 | ISBN: 1950328791
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Leaders have one thing in common: they come from a family. Family leadership is one of the most important concepts of life because family is the source of human ingenuity. With good family leadership, we can push for greater justice and racial equality in the United States and around the world, and maintain a more just and loving humanity. Family leadership is even more essential during times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic when this book was written. When difficult situations threaten to weaken the strength of your family, you need a solid structural foundation of leadership. Family Leadership in Times of Crisis provides this foundation through five practical principles, relevant scriptures, counseling skills/techniques, and biblical teaching to equip you and your family with the skills to successfully navigate any crisis.
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The Path Taken recounts your compelling father-son journey to Santiago de Compostella. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I felt it was important to recount the story for my son Simon. My hope is that he will one day look back on our trip with good memories. I hope he sees how human we all are and that we all go through life as best we can. The Camino is a strong metaphor for life. Once you complete the walk, you realize your journey has not ended, it continues. Everyday we complete short journeys as best we can. If we can help people along the way, guide some to find happiness, safety, friendship or love, then our journey has been a good one. It has been said we are all connected to everything. We are the sum of all our experiences through all time. I think the Camino helps one see the symmetry of life. I hope this story captures some of that and encourages people to seek challenging adventures. I hope those adventures enable spiritual growth and subsequently understanding and acceptance of each other, regardless of our differences.
What is one memory that you find yourself often going back to about this trip?
I find myself going back to the solitude when walking alone. I think it was a time of great reflection, self-realization and peacefulness. Silence can be so rewarding. One can find one-self when you give yourself the time.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?
I hope people will find inspiration to challenge themselves to take risks and indulge themselves in uncommon adventures. I would want people to muster up the courage to go and do things that can change their perspective on society and what is truly valuable. I think family is one of the most valuable things we have. Family does not have to be by blood. It can be the people you meet along your Camino of life.
Do you have any future trips planned?
Yes! I find myself going on adventures all the time. I do a lot of bike riding and hiking. I started a trip across the US from San Diego to St. Augustine FL. last March. Then Covid became an obstacle. I hit Del Rio, Texas (1600 miles) and decided to postpone the completion. I plan to continue the ride in March. Then I plan to take passage on a freighter ship to the east. I want to go to outer Mongolia by foot. I’ll keep you posted on that adventure. I typically travel alone…but I am open to like minded travelers. I like to travel lite!
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