Review: I’m Staying At Richard’s – Bernadette Agius

I’m Staying at Richard’s: Raising the Exceptional Son I Never Expected
Bernadette Agius
Atria Books
ISBN: 9781501174568

 

Description:
This inspiring, heartfelt, and powerful memoir by a mother of a child with Down syndrome explores the incredible blessings and challenges of raising a child with disabilities.

When Bernadette Agius—an ambitious career-focused woman—became pregnant, she imagined her unborn child attending the best schools and dazzling everyone with his impressive wit, charm, and intelligence. But when the doctors placed her baby boy in her arms and told Bernadette he had Down syndrome, those dreams instantly disappeared.

While her first impulse was to fight against this new reality, she soon found the strength to become the champion her son, Richard, would need and deserved. With the help of her husband and a newfound village of professionals, Bernadette forged a new life, discovering along the way that everyone has a different version of normal. Ultimately Richard, now thirty, was able to defy expectation and become an independent adult.

Grounded in love, offering a message of hope, and told with humor and honesty, I’m Staying at Richard’s shines a light on the fierce, unwavering love of a mother for her son.

 

My View:
This is a very powerful story of unconditional love. Reading this memoir felt a lot like stepping into somebody else’s shoes and for that insight I am grateful.

If you want a powerful, heartening, optimistic and joyful (mostly) story about finding your path and yourself when life throws the totally unexpected at you, read this poignant story.

Review: Phosphorescence – Julia Baird

Phosphorescence
Julia Baird
Harper Collins Australia
Fourth Estate
ISBN: 9781460710890

Description:
A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ that Julia Baird calls ‘phosphorescence’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.

Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them?

And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we’re overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most – finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?

Absorbing, achingly beautiful, inspiring and deeply moving, Julia Baird has written exactly the book we need for these times.

My View:

A deeply personal yet universal message of optimism and self-reflection on what is important in our busy modern lives. Trauma is something that the author has experienced first-hand – loss, and her recent health issues have awakened a desire to reconnect with her community and nature; the beach, swimming, the comradery of her fellow swimmers, those enjoying a coffee together afterwards, chatting…the connection of a shared experience and her personal mission to explore what brings her awe and joy.

Awe and joy – what a wonderful state to be in and what sublime timing – in this world of Corona Virus pandemic never has the power of awe been more necessary. Julia Baird is in awe of the natural phenomena, phosphorescence. Have you ever experienced/observed it it? “Living Light…glow worms, ghost mushrooms, fireflies, flashlight fish, vampire squid…glowing missionaries of wonder, emissaries of awe.”
(prelude) What do you find awe inspiring?

Phosphorescence, discover this read and reignite your own passion and joy of life.

 

PS I love the cover art.

 

 

Review: The M Word – Dr Ginni Mansberg

The M Word
How to Thrive in Menopause
Dr Ginni Mansberg
Murdoch Books
ISBN: 9781760524876
RRP $32.99

Description:
A handbook for understanding, embracing and (even) enjoying the rite of passage that is peri-menopause and menopause; outlines the experience, the medical science, treatment options and home remedies; written by a practicing GP and media doctor who has just turned 50 herself.
Night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, itchy skin, low libido, painful sex … Ninety per cent of women experience these symptoms some time between the ages of 40 and 60.
Menopause and perimenopause (the hormonal rollercoaster years leading up to a woman’s last period) are among our last taboo subjects. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – once widely prescribed as the magical secret of youth – has been shunned by women and their doctors for two decades. Dr Ginni Mansberg, one of Australia’s most trusted health and wellbeing experts, is here to work through the evidence and bust the taboos out of the water. The M Word is all about you and your choices. Are you being offered the best solutions for your menopause issues? Because there are great solutions to help you thrive in this new stage of life.

Author bio:
Dr Ginni Mansberg has been a GP for nearly 30 years, specialising in women’s and children’s health. She is a sought-after speaker and an authority on everything from sleep to wellness, life balance to beating stress. Dr Ginni is host of SBS’s eight-part show Medicine or Myth? and Foxtel’s Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, as well as the resident GP on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. She is mother to a blended family of six children and lives and works in Sydney. drginni.com.au (https://www.murdochbooks.com.au/browse/books/health-fitness/health-fitness-1/The-M-Word-Dr-Ginni-Mansberg-9781760524876)

 

My View:
“Menopause is a first world problem” said one female GP that I will l never go back to again. I was at my local doctors’ surgery for something inconsequential and unmemorable…maybe a check-up…and I asked my GP “what can I expect from menopause? How will it affect me? How will I know I am in menopause (silly me – I now realise that this question is obsolete – you WILL know) 😊

I cannot understand this reaction.

Menopause is not often spoken about, why? Surely information/knowledge is power? Dr Ginni Mansberg in her book The M Word – How to Thrive in Menopause – has undone all the harm my ex GP exacted. This book is full of really helpful information in a language that is to digest, that empowers you to take control of your own health and I highly recommend it.

Dr Mansberg: “This is a book that is all about you and your choices.
I have written a book to give you access to the best information we have available today; to answer as many questions as possible, to give you agency over your menopause journey, including the options of HRT. I am not saying you have to take it: I have covered the lifestyle, mind-based, complementary and home remedies out there and a whole lot else, too. Many of these have terrific evidence, and others have a good amount of anecdotal evidence. Some are shockers.” (p.5)

A book for all adults to read.

Read, absorb, take agency of your own health.

 

Best Reads of 2019 – Non Fiction

Most of the books in this category will shock your with their honesty, their rawness, their personal story of struggles and sometimes, their successes. I hope you find something here that will stimulate your mind and tug at your heart.

 

The Little Girl on the Ice Floe

Adélaïde Bon

Maclehose Press

Hachette Australia

 

Imperfect

Lee Kofman

Affirm Press

ISBN: 9781925584813

 

Bowraville

Dan Box

Penguin Random House Australia

Viking

ISBN: 9780143784395

 

 

The Hormone Diaries

The Bloody Truth About Our Periods

Hannah Witton

Wren & Rook

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781526361462

Review: The Hormone Diaries – Hannah Witton

The Hormone Diaries

The Bloody Truth About Our Periods

Hannah Witton

Wren & Rook

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781526361462

 

Description:

An honest, funny and feminist take on living with your period (and hormones!), by the award-winning sex and relationships vlogger, and author of Doing It!, Hannah Witton.

 

When Hannah Witton started documenting her journey coming off the pill and re-getting her period, she wasn’t anticipating the reaction, from people of all ages, that talking about it would bring. It exposed a glaring gap – the resources and the spaces to talk honestly about periods just aren’t there. And with more and more research showing that your period and your hormones can affect literally every area of your life, this is a problem.

 

Inspired by her YouTube series of the same name, The Hormone Diaries draws on Hannah’s own experiences and, through crowdsourcing on her social media platforms, those of her fans too. With her trademark honesty and humour, Hannah explores and demystifies topics surrounding periods, hormones and contraception, to offer readers support, information and advice.

 

The definitive period self-help book 50% of the world has been waiting for!

 

My View:

This is a fabulous read! This is an open, honest, and at times humorous and easy to read exploration of a subject that needs to be talked about and a book that needs to be shared.  I wish it had been available when I was a teenager. It has answers to probably most questions that any young person may have about their periods or lack of them. It is a resource I hope that you will find in libraries and schools and is the perfect gift for those on the cusp of puberty.

 

And I think 100% of the population would benefit from reading this informative book.

#MeatFreeMonday : Cashew and Quinoa Stir Fry – Eat Drink and Still Shrink – Michele Chevalley Hedge

Eat, Drink and Still Shrink by Michele Chevalley Hedge,

Published by Plum, RRP $34.99,

Photography by Cath Muscat.

 

C A S H E W & Q U I N O A  S T I R – F R Y  p200

“There’s more to protein than steaks and chicken breasts. This recipe uses high-quality vegetarian forms of protein – cashews and quinoa – but believe me, it’s the kind of meal you can serve to even the most passionate of meat lovers. Don’t skip the coconut milk, or be tempted to use a low-fat version: coconut milk helps strengthen immunity through its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It also boosts metabolism, reduces sugar cravings and soothes the digestive system. To protect against cancer, we use turmeric, ginger, onion, bok choy and broccoli; these foods also assist with inflammation. But best of all, this dish is really, really, really tasty. Dig in! A big thanks to Simone on my team at A Healthy View for creating this for hungry vegetarians.

SERVES 4 PREPARATION TIME: 15 MINS C OOKING TIME: 15 MINS
²⁄3cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 brown onions, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped sweet potato
¹⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 cups finely chopped broccoli
sea salt
¹⁄2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon tamari
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1¹/2 cups roughly chopped bok choy
3 tablespoons roughly chopped basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper

Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions (you’ll need 2 cups cooked quinoa for the stir-fry).

Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2–3 minutes or until golden.

Add the sweet potato to the wok and stir-fry for 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in the turmeric, ginger, broccoli and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the coconut milk, stock or water, tamari and cashews and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the bok choy and basil and season with pepper, then stir-fry for another 3 minutes.

Toss through the quinoa, season to taste with salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

SPICE IT UP: Chop a bird’s eye chilli and add before serving.

CHANGE UP THE CARBS: If quinoa’s not for you, try brown
or basmati rice.

GO NUTS: Any kind of nut will work here – use your favourite.
SWAP THE HERBS: Try coriander or lemon thyme in place of basil.

Micro Changes: Eat, Drink and Still Shrink – Michele Chevalley Hedge

Eat, Drink and Still Shrink by Michele Chevalley Hedge,

Published by Plum, RRP $34.99,

Photography by Cath Muscat.

“Embrace the beauty of micro habits In order to live well – in good health, with adequate energy and vitality to live our best lives, and to be able to eat, drink and still shrink – there are some things we cannot compromise on. Some things we just need to do, every single day. We need sufficient rest. We need to drink water to stay hydrated. We need to consume nourishing foods to fuel our brain and body. We need to move. We need to look after our mental health and sense of connectedness.

Some people would simply call these things ‘self care’, and I see how that label fits. I call them my ‘non-negotiables’: micro habits I need to pay attention to, so that I can get on with the job of being me.

The great thing is, these micro habits are not difficult to do, but the difference they’ll make to your life can be enormous. You can fit them into your daily life almost immediately – and, even better, they will help support your overall health goals,which means you can still enjoy those little indulgences that make life so pleasurable: good coffee, chocolate, wine, champagne, a bit of pizza every now and then.

Sound good? Then let’s get started.” p75

Here are a few examples of the micro habits Michele shares in her book:

 

Micro habits for good sleep p78
• Restructure your bedtime. Start going to bed a little earlier every night, but make this change slowly. If you normally fall asleep at 11.30 pm, don’t try to get into bed tonight at 9 pm. Gradually move your bedtime earlier by 15 minutes until you’re in bed by 10 pm. If you know you need more sleep than this (like me!), try to eventually be in bed by 9.30 pm.

• No blue light after dinner. No computer, no phone, no laptop – or as little as possible, anyway (nobody’s perfect). Make your bedroom a sanctuary: keep it clean, tidy, cool and dark, and you’ll find you sleep so much better.

• Eat good ‘sleep food’. Too much sugar creates ‘monkey chatter’ in our mind and leads to poor sleep. Keep added sugar to a minimum, and eat protein at each meal to keep hunger and sugar cravings at bay. Protein also breaks down to an amino acid called tryptophan, which is the precursor to melatonin, the hormone which promotes sleep.

• Stay hydrated. Good hydration begins when you wake up in the morning, before you even go to the toilet. Hydrating all day long is important for your bowels, your skin, and so you don’t confuse hunger for thirst. It also keeps you energised during the day, and helps you sleep well at night. However, try not to drink too much after 6 pm so a full bladder won’t disturb your sleep.

 

Practice Gratitude p 89
The simple notion of gratitude can seem a little contrived, old-fashioned
or ‘self-helpy’. But, actually, there’s a lot of research on the benefits of
expressing gratitude. When you start to practice gratitude every day,
you will feel your mood lifting, and the flow-on wellness effects this brings. So quash your inner cynic and give it a go.

Numerous studies over many years have found that the act of expressing gratitude leads to greater happiness and fewer incidences of depression. While the field of psychology is often about ‘fixing’, this model of positive psychology is about amplifying wellness. Think of it as preventive health for
your mind.

I firmly believe that gratitude can also benefit our physical health. In our busy world, I’m constantly looking for solutions that are not too taxing for my clients, yet yield great results. Since it’s scientifically proven that
people who are happier and less depressed are better able to nourish themselves with food, sleep and exercise, and since we know
that happy people practise gratitude regularly, I want you to develop a gratitude micro habit.

 

Micro habits for gratitude p90

Write in a journal. Every day, write down three things you are grateful for and why. You can keep an old-fashioned journal, or simply write them in the Notes app on your phone. Keep the points specific. I like to do
this in the middle of a busy day when I’m eating lunch: it gives me pause, and because I’m thinking happy thoughts, my cortisol is naturally lowered. Honestly, it can be as simple as this. Here are my three things from
the other day.

• I am so appreciative of my husband, Steven, bringing me tea to the bathroom this morning when I was getting ready, without me asking. He knew I would love it, but he also knew I didn’t want to ask because I wouldn’t want to seem like a bossy boots!

• I am grateful that my hair is growing back. I lost a lot of hair when my brother, Greg, died. I always took my hair for granted, until it became super thin and I realised how much I like the thick, frizzy hair I had. Now that it’s growing back, I am grateful for every little strand.

• I’m thankful for my friend Libby. She is such a wonderful supporter of, and
advocate for, women working to find their purpose. When you’re working hard in your own business, you can often feel outside the friendship loop. Libby always takes the time to hook me in and make me feel welcome.

Write a thank-you note. Everyone loves thank-you notes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a text, email or the super-nice touch of a handwritten note. People love to be acknowledged and appreciated. And sending out your thank-you notes will make you feel good, too. It’s a win–win.” 

Review: Eat Drink and Still Shrink – Michele Chevalley Hedge

Eat Drink and Still Shrink
Michele Chevalley Hedge
Pan Macmillan Australia
Plum
ISBN: 9781760783358
RRP $34.99

Description:
Like you, Michele Chevalley Hedge wants to be able to eat delicious food, enjoy the odd glass of wine and still feel great.

In this book, Michele draws on all the latest research and her many years’ experience as a nutritionist to provide a solution that works for the average busy person who wants to be healthy.

The sheer amount of nutritional information available nowadays can be overwhelming. But if we’re not eating well, we feel the impact in every part of our lives. Not only can a poor diet lead to weight gain, the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it also adversely affects our moods, our ability to sleep well and our energy levels – in short, everything we need to function well in this modern age.

So, what’s the answer? Certainly not deprivation; all the science tells us that ‘diets’ (especially the extreme, yo-yo variety) don’t work. What the science does show is that eating a balanced diet of nourishing wholefoods – with the odd treat thrown in – is your ticket to ageing well, a lean healthy body, a sense of vitality, abundant energy and better brain function.

This book is not about yo-yo dieting or trying to fit into your jeans by Friday. It’s a joyful guide to life and a sustainable way of eating for long-term good health.

My View:
When did food start to be the enemy? Michele Chevalley Hedge’s shares “We need this book because, while staying healthy is not overly complicated, it often seems as though it is. What’s more there are so many competing messages, too many ways of framing nutrition and not enough evidence based scientific data that underpins health.”p10

So much of the information presented here resonates with me. In fact I think this book is such a gem I am reading it a second time – the first I read to reflect on Michele’s discussion and now to try and apply some of her strategies to my life style. I particularly like the “micro changes” and am already embarking of a couple of those…simple changes that benefit my health.

Here within is a strategy to put your health back on track. A great read.

#MeatFreeMonday Creamy Vegetable Soup: Eat Drink and Still Shrink – Michele Chevalley Hedge

Eat, Drink and Still Shrink by Michele Chevalley Hedge,

Published by Plum, RRP $34.99,

Photography by Cath Muscat.

 

C R E A M Y   V E G E T A B L E  S O U P 

“I love cream and I love veggies so when I can combine them both in a soup I do. But the tastebud explosion here is not cream at all … it is the creaminess of cashews, making it a lighter meal than you might expect, but still packed with protein and nutrients. Enjoy it just as it is, or sprinkle over your choice of fresh herbs.” p150  

SERVES 4  PREPARATION TIME: 15 MINS COOKING TIME: 30 MINS
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons coconut oil or
extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5 cups chopped broccoli,cauliflower and/or carrots
3–4 cups vegetable stock or water
2 teaspoons sea salt
1–2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (to taste)
coriander sprigs, to serve

Soak the cashews in water for 15 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the vegetables and enough stock or water to cover, then season with the
salt and cayenne pepper.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the drained cashews, then blend with a stick blender (or in an upright blender) until smooth.

Divide among four bowls and serve hot garnished
with coriander.

DITCH THE NUTS: If you don’t eat nuts, add 200 ml coconut milk
just before blending (heat it through at a simmer over low heat
otherwise it will separate).

BULK IT UP: Add a drained 400 g tin of chickpeas or legumes of your
choice after blending and simmer for 10 minutes. Remember legumes
are both a carb and a protein so go easy on them at dinner.

SPICE IT UP: Add a pinch of smoked paprika, chilli powder or
jalapeno pepper powder.