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

Guest Review: The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

 

The War of Art:

Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Steven Pressfield

Robert McKee (Foreword)

ISBN: 9780446691437

Description:
Internationally bestselling author of Last of the Amazons, Gates of Fire, and Tides of War, Steven Pressfield delivers a guide to inspire and support those who struggle to express their creativity. Pressfield believes that “resistance” is the greatest enemy, and he offers many unique and helpful ways to overcome it.

 

 

The War of Art – A review by Andy Macleod

I’m not only a reader, I’m a writer. I’m an advertising copywriter and that’s how I make my living.

But I’m also a creative writer, and that’s where I get stuck. As a copywriter I write radio commercials, brochures and web page content. These are usually short, bite sized pieces, easily digested. Novels are not, and I have about 5 unfinished, well, barely started ones to prove it.

That’s where The War of Art (2002), by Steven Pressfield comes in.

I read a lot of books about writing, it’s how I procrastinate, and, frustratingly, how I stop myself from writing. Yes, I read books designed to overcome procrastination as a devious way to procrastinate. But not anymore, because Mr Pressman has just given me a huge kick up the bottom.

The War of Art is broken into 3 parts, Resistance, Combating Resistance and Beyond Resistance, and Pressfield pulls no punches, and he punches hard.

As a pragmatist, this is just what I needed. I recognised myself in almost every point he made. His withering description of me hurt to my very core. But he was right. There’s an old saying, ‘If you can’t piss, get off the pot’, and that’s exactly what he’s saying.

If you’re having trouble writing you have two options, stop, or get professional about it, but whatever you do, don’t be an amateur.

The book is easy to read, speaks to rather than down to its readers, and has lots of real-life examples, some of which are outdated, like a reference to Lance Armstrong before his drug taking revelations.

If you’re a writer like me, and have tried everything to get your writing moving, The War of Art might be right up your alley. Its words might be a bitter pill to take, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need.