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June 24, 2023

3 Books to Help You Tackle Your New Year's Resolutions

by MK French

Did you make any New Year's Resolutions? We are halfway through 2023 - how are you doing with them? Here are a few self-help books to get you back on track or motivate you too keep working on your resolution.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Sisterhood Heals by Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D.

book cover of self-help book Sisterhood Heals by Joy Harden Bradford
June 2023; Ballantine Books; 978-0593497241
audio, ebook, print (256 pages); self-help

Building healthy friendships takes a lot of work, and truly wonderful friends can become a sisterhood. What this looks like changes over time as women's needs change, and as the world changes. Dr. Joy Harden Bradford has helped Black women heal together for more than twenty years. Her work enables Black women to prioritize their mental health and become the best possible versions of themselves.

This is a book specifically about community healing and group therapy for Black women, but I think there are important takeaways for all women. As a therapist, Dr. Bradford introduces attachment theory, stages of development, the hierarchy of needs, and cognitive restructuring into this book. With this in mind, there are mini quizzes and questions to ponder scattered throughout the text, making it thought-provoking in the best way.

Suggestions for approaching the complicated emotions at transition points of life, changing friendships, and even navigating professional lives is invaluable. It is very gently discussed and validated; emotions are what they are, and it's how we deal with them that potentially builds or destroys friendships. The book is practical and straightforward and can help build a better life. 

Buy Sisterhood Heals at Amazon

The Field by Victoria Garza

book cover of self help memoir The Field by Victoria Garza
November 2022; Jackleg Press; 978-1737513490
ebook, print (176 pages); self-help

This memoir touches on memories and grief in response to the author's sister dying. Garza deals with survivor's guilt, dissociation, and spirituality along the way as she reconstructed her identity. We also see how her family dealt with loss. Garza dove into various sources of literature and religion, including Rebecca Solnit, the words of Saint Teresa of Ávila, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. This journey helped her learn to accept death.

Opening with the stark facts about where her sister is buried, and the statement that she "just wiped [the months after her death] off the map of time" is a very simple but poetic and profound statement. Dissociation and denial became the cornerstone of this child's grief, especially with other deaths in the family. What would have been ordinary accidents and injuries of childhood struck surviving family members with that much more intensity. The memoir weaves in and out of time, starting with Virginia's grave and then talking about September 11, other family members dying, her own difficulty with time and emotion. We can see it in the present tense grammar of the writing; everything is now, and her admission chapters later that she can't remember anything in detail makes sense. Memory fractures in the face of trauma, and it was never really resolved.

Her simple statement "Life is not a solid fact" hit me like a gut punch. Because too often we weigh our choices in what we know is true. But is it? Redefining herself without her sister meant that what she had known in early childhood was no longer true. Her very sense of self shifted, and it's not like people could easily create a new platform to define herself with. "It’s the daily absence that creates a gulf inside you, a space that is filled with emptiness." Filling that space with emotions, with activities, with being is what helps to move beyond grief, and the movement of her memories and activities in the years since her sister's death gradually fills that space. It's not an easy, straightforward journey at all. It zigs and zags, and Victoria Garza gives us that unflinching look at what it meant to her. Hopefully, this will bring comfort to others, and they will realize that they're not alone.

Buy The Field at Amazon

If You Love Them Leave Them Lists by Catherine Rahal

book cover of If You Love Them Leave Them Lists
September 2022; Indie; 978-1778198809
ebook, print (100 pages); self-help

This book is subtitled "A Guide to Navigate Difficult Conversations and Organize Your Affairs" and it definitely is. This is a deceptively slim volume that outlines all of the things necessary for getting someone's affairs in order. While most people would think of bank statements and credit cards, there are lists for all kinds of identifying documents, online identities, passwords, medical interactions, financial records, and physical goods that would be left to people.

No one plans to discuss death, but it sneaks up on you. Because this book is a workbook with pages to fill out with information, it's a very straightforward path to tracking down all the data people would need. This also forces you to consider what you'd like to do with your belongings and digital footprint, and what should happen after you die. Everyone has a different idea and different wants; because this isn't a topic that most people are comfortable with, having it laid out is that much more important and will leave your loved ones with a little less stress to deal with on top of their grief. Catherine Rahal learned this the hard way so you don't have to.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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