Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Read an excerpt from 'The Breakthrough' by Fredric C. Hartman, Ph.D

Non-Fiction / Self Help
Date Published: Originally 2007 - Revised 2015


Dr. Hartman tells the story about our vulnerability to painful emotions, which flare up from the depths of our minds, casting spells over us. As the book unfolds, he develops two powerful ways to strengthen our consciousness enough to break these spells: one, by recognizing and grappling with the two surprisingly simple thoughts that lie at the heart—and generate the pain—in each of our negative emotions, and two, by learning to stay focused on the present moment—the single moment we spend our entire lives in—whose mysterious, unexpected nature he describes in vivid detail.

Read an excerpt:
From the Introduction:

This is a story about time, and the time travel that goes on inside our minds. It’s the story about the way our consciousness lives its life, the way it falls through the time inside our minds back into the past, helplessly, and sometimes dangerously. And it’s about the way it undertakes the heroic journey back again into this present moment, where it does its greatest work and experiences its most profound wisdom and peace. 
I’ve dreamed of creating a kind of experience which might help bring a reader, an audience, to see what’s at the flash point of a major personal transformation. And I don’t mean just a feeling of hope or inspiration. I want for people to see—to really see—what I believe the mind looks like inside: what astounding things it’s made of, how the past lives right there inside it, and how to decipher and break the hypnotic spell we call emotional pain, which comes from that past. And I also want to convey some things I’ve learned about the nature of this present moment we’re in, and how to mobilize new strength in order to feel steady, serene, resilient, and newly alive to it. And by doing this, I wanted to create something that might shorten how long it would take to reach a lasting breakthrough... 
I can claim no ownership of the ideas I express here. I discovered them the way people find minerals in the ground. They’re all old ideas I’ve rediscovered firsthand in my private practice. They’ve already been expressed in numerous ways by numberless people throughout human history. Beyond the native intelligence I possess, I know I have no great charisma to speak of, nor any extraordinary verbal gifts. But I do love human minds, and I love traveling them. And I’m blessed to have been invited for so many years by so many people into these private, most sacred of all places. Beyond all of the illusions, stigma, and glamour about therapy, it is enigmatic, hallowed work to experience all of the sounds, images, and music in people’s lives, and to spend my days working to mobilize the potential in them. 
Working on this book felt like I was preparing a gift. It contains the essence of the interaction—a kind of pheromone exchange that occurs—in a place called an office (that looks more like a living room) between some- one who wants so much to give help and someone who wants so much to receive it. And most urgently of all, for these times we live in, I wanted to set down in words the simple chant of ideas that can ignite the wonder in us. And from the wonder, inspiration. And from the inspiration, the surging will to break the oppressive grip of pain from the past and move more freely into the teeming and sacred immensity of the present moment—the only moment we ever really have in life. 
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About Fredric C. Hartman, Ph. D.

I'm a clinical psychologist in private practice and make my home on Long Island, New York.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

'Reconciled for Easter (Willow Park #4)' by Noelle Adams


by Noelle Adams



Abigail has been separated from her husband for almost two years. After a marriage that brought her only insecurity, she seeks a life now of peace and independence with their six-year-old daughter. Thomas wants to put their marriage back together, because he liked the wife he used to have, but she never wants to be that person again.

She might need his help with their daughter and start to enjoy his company again, but she just can't trust him with her heart. Even when she discovers that her heart still wants him for a husband.

Read an excerpt:
She looked perfectly respectable for dinner and the symphony for a work function—and nothing like the plain, shy girl she used to be—so she grabbed her purse and headed to the living room.

“Ooh!” Mia squealed at her arrival. “Mommy looks beautiful!”

“Thank you, sweetie.” Abigail ran her hands down her skirt absently, feeling suddenly self-conscious at Thomas’s steady gaze. His face showed no expression, but she knew he missed no detail of her appearance.

“Just in time,” Thomas said, glancing at his watch. “Seven o’clock. I didn’t know you took such long showers.”

Abigail felt her cheeks burning, but she managed not to react in any other way. There was absolutely no way Thomas could know what she’d been thinking about in the shower. “Thanks for coming over early to sit with Mia while I got ready,” she said, pleased when her voice sounded natural.

“Of course.”

“I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but it will be late since we’re going to Dalton.” She glanced outside and saw headlights turning into the driveway of her little bungalow. “That’s Jim. He’s picking me up, and then we’ll pick up the Seymours.”

“I see.” Thomas’s voice was strange, but she didn’t know why.

“All right,” Abigail said in a rush, feeling anxious and self-conscious and at loose ends. “You be good, Mia. Obey your Daddy and go to bed when he says. Eight o’clock.” She said the words with a certain significance to remind Thomas of the girl’s bedtime. “And you can read until nine.”

“I know, Mommy.”

“There are snacks in the kitchen,” Abigail went on. “And I’ll have my phone on vibrate the whole time, so just call me any time if you need me.”

“I know, Abigail,” Thomas said, his mouth twitching up a little.

“Okay.” She glanced down at herself to make sure she had everything she needed. Then she told Mia, “I’ll give you your goodnight kiss now, since you’ll be asleep when I get back.”

She leaned down to kiss Mia, and she was about to leave when Mia said, “You didn’t give Baxter his kiss!”

Abigail hurried back over, flustered by the way Thomas’s eyes never left her face. She kissed Baxter. “All right. You be good and have fun.”

Then she kissed Mia again. “Mommy loves you.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

Rushed and thoughtless, Abigail moved to give Thomas a quick kiss on the lips in sequence. “I’ll be back after midnight probably.”

With a last wave, she left the living room. As she was reaching for the handle of the front door, she heard Mia’s giggle rippling out from the other room.

She paused, wondering what had prompted her daughter to laugh like that.

Then Abigail realized.

She’d just kissed Thomas. On the lips. Without even thinking about it.

With a gasp, Abigail whirled around and took a few steps back, with some sort of half-formed notion to try to explain.

But she caught sight of Thomas and Mia on the couch.

Mia was shaking with merriment, her hands covering her mouth. And Thomas had one finger to his lips as he smiled at his daughter, in the universal signal to keep quiet.

Overwhelmed with confusion, Abigail fled.

It was no big deal. She’d just been in a rush and hadn’t been thinking. Mia probably thought it was funny. She couldn’t let it bother her now.

It had been a really long time since kissing Thomas had been natural.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she teaches English, reads any book she can get her hands on, and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review of 'Harvest of Blessings' by Charlotte Hubbard


by Charlotte Hubbard



The tranquil little town of Willow Ridge is facing a startling challenge. Wealthy Nora Glick Landwehr is determined to make it her home again—and put her past to rest. Cast out by her own family, Nora can’t reconcile with Old Amish ways or her strict father. But she’ll do anything to help her community embrace the future . . . and make amends to the daughter she had to give up. She certainly has no time for her reckless new neighbor Luke Hooley. They disagree about almost everything. And how can she trust him if he always seems to believe the worst about her? Somehow, though, his unexpected support and passionate heart are helping her find her own way in faith. And Nora will discover that even in the face of insidious lies and unyielding judgment, God creates unexpected chances for forgiveness—and love.

Read an excerpt:
Nora focused on Miriam through her tears. “I’ve really, really made a mess of things, haven’t I?”

Miriam stepped forward to wrap her sturdy arms around Nora’s shoulders. “Now you’re talkin’ like the gentle, sweet Nora I remember,” she murmured. “You’re on the right path, but it’s not gonna be a walk in the park. When ya left, your dat insisted that none of us speak about ya ever again, and he’s maintainin’ that silence now. Your mamm, bless her heart, is out of bed for the first time in months, so excited that she saw ya.”

Nora eased away from the embrace that felt so heavenly, so welcoming. “She knew me?”

“For sure and for certain.” Miriam’s face creased with her smile. “You’ll always be her little girl, Nora. And your little girl is the spittin’ image of ya when ya went away.”

While that information formed a sweet, sentimental picture in her mind, it didn’t make her situation any easier. “What’ll I do?” Nora whispered. “How can I tell Millie about why I left her with Atlee and Lizzie? And what if she won’t have anything to do with me, or—”

“One thing at a time,” Miriam murmured. “If God has brought ya to this situation, He’ll get ya through it. Ya believe that, don’t ya?”

Nora sensed she was being tested, yet hadn’t she known she would have to deal with the Old Order faith if she was to reconcile with her family? “He’s about the only chance I’ve got left, ain’t so?”

The words sounded lame as they tumbled from her mouth, yet Miriam’s lips quirked. “Most of us find ourselves in that position at some time in our lives. But when you’ve landed at the bottom of the pit, the only way to go is up.” She glanced toward the back window. “Ben just went into the smithy. Let’s go introduce ya.”

Nora wasn’t all that comfortable with spilling her story to a total stranger, but she didn’t argue. “Ben’s your husband now—Luke and Ira’s brother, right?” she asked as they stepped out into the pale daylight. “Some of the stuff those guys told me yesterday might not have sunk in. I was pretty tired by the time the moving van pulled out.”

“That doesn’t mean Ben’ll have any control over what they’ll say this morning,” Miriam added with a short laugh. “He’s a gut man, though. He’s a preacher now, on account of how your dat’s retired because of his failin’ health—”

Nora sighed as they approached the small white smithy she remembered from her childhood. “I had no idea he and Mamma were doing so poorly,” she remarked. “I wondered about them and Millie the whole time I was away, but one thing and another kept me from getting here any sooner.”

**My thoughts**

I have a thing for Amish literature. There is something so raw and inspiring in their ordeals. While obviously far from being Plain, I can often find myself relating on some level to the characters. Most of my Amish reading has been Beverly Lewis, so it is nice to find another author to read.

Nora went through a traumatic ordeal as a teenager. As a result, she left the family and life that she knew, to start over again as an Englisher. Now, several years later, she finds her heart calling her home again. She longs for family and others she left behind. Her faith is also no longer satiated, so a spiritual need also pulls her back to her community. She is very different than she had been as a teenager, and brings a new worldliness about her. I admire her for listening to her heart and following it.

It is not easy to come home again. People have changed, but ideas have not. Nora has to prove to herself, and to her family, that her intentions are real. She has to find a way to become a part of them all again, while still remaining true to herself. She is very courageous, yet knows when to concede and to compromise. That demonstrates how strong she is as a woman. 

She is also able to find some romance in her life, something unexpected after the men she has dealt with in her past. The banter between her and Luke is refreshing and special. It's a great story of faith and redemption. I will have to read more by Charlotte Hubbard.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.


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