Review of Comfortably Uncomfortable: The Road To Happiness Isn’t Always Paved by Jacquelyn Phillips.

Raw, real and honest.

A book that guides you to face off with your fears and issues and gets into the dark places inside of you, shining a light for you on your journey of self-discovery.

Jacquelyn Phillips has ripped open her soul for all to see in this wonderfully written book. She delves into ALL OF HER ISSUES, showing us how they had crept upon her, how she had avoided owning them, and then how she faced them and finally started working through them.

Jacquelyn discusses the various treatments she has undergone over the years, detailing her opinion on whether they are effective or not. This, for me, was very refreshing. Many books of this genre will suggest a certain treatment, but rarely do you hear if the treatment is a waste of time. Obviously this is the author’s viewpoint and will not reflect everyone, but for me, I think her honesty is much needed in this field.

Throughout the book Jacquelyn references her relationship with her Mom. This pulled-back the curtain view into their personal lives is heartbreaking at times, but also offers hope to people who struggle with toxic family relationships.

The book is in three parts. The first part is all about Jacquelyn opening up Pandora’s Box getting all of her troubles and issues out into the open. This section may be uncomfortable reading, but it is absolutely necessary for us to understand how the next two parts work.

Part Two is all about the clean up phase. Here she shares the letters she wrote to her parents as part of her healing process. Those letters are raw and emotive, and they certainly don’t make for easy reading. But there is something beautiful in her words that leave you feeling the release and relief.

Part Three is all about turning pain into power. As someone who has a chronic illness, Jacquelyn has not only used her emotional pain to push her on, but her physical pain too. This is not the sort of book that preaches, it’s aimed at guiding the reader to find their self worth.

Given the difficult topics discussed in this book, I wasn’t sure if I would actually enjoy reading it. But I was surprised to find that this was a book I actually did enjoy reading.

I found this book inspirational and would recommend it.

https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/comfortably-uncomfortable-jacquelyn-phillips

Review of From Venice With Love by Rosanna Ley.

I received this book from the publisher for review to coincide with publication day. Then I got sick and everything got put on the back burner. Anyway, review is here now.

The title is a bit misleading, you do expect the story to be set in Venice, but only about a third of the story is set there. That said, this does not detract from the storyline.

Joanna is on the brink of divorce and returns home to her sister, Harriet, and their Mum. They live on a farm in Dorset and despite its rundown appearance, Harriet is determined to handle everything on her own. She is suspicious when Joanna turns up, but also relieved.

Their Mum has lost her way since their Dad died, she is a shadow of her former self and is hard work for Harriet alone. She has a tendency to ring tradesmen up and have them come up to the farm with a view to doing work that badly needs doing. Between the two sisters they just about manage to stop their Mum from ringing around the area, trying to get work done on the rundown farmhouse and surrounding area.

One evening Joanna discovers some old letters in the attic. The letters are from a young woman who may or may not be related to Joanna and her family. Joanna becomes entangled with the Emmy story and this leads her to Venice, Lisbon, and then onto Prague.

She also gains an admirer when her visits to the three cities from Emmy’s letters are a chance for her to create three travel guides. Nicholas becomes intrigued by the walks that Joanna has created, and by Joanna herself. The pair start emailing one another, discussing the walks, as well as flights of fancy.

Harriet, meanwhile, has been exploring the world of online dating. Joanna’s return gives her the chance to go out and meet some of the men she has been chatting to on a dating site. She’s also discovered a prowler, this leads to an alarming discovery. She enlists the help of their faithful neighbour, Owen, who is in love with her -unbeknownst to her of course!

This book would make a good holiday read – even staycations need a good book for us to get into. It has just the right blend of humour, intrigue, and realism to keep you entertained, whether you’re staycationing, or need a good book to read, this book has it all.

Definitely recommend.

Review of Before We Get Carried Away by M. Jane Early.

Before We Get Carried Away

As soon as I started reading this book I knew it was going to be something special. I began reading it on the morning of one day and finished it the following morning. I think I would have had it read sooner, but real life kept me away from it.

The main characters, Jordan and Daniel, are great. Often with this calibre of character – a superstar – there can be an element of conceitedness in that particular character, but Daniel was down to earth and this makes him oh so endearing! Jordan is a lovely character too. Although she is very stubborn, she has good reason to be so and this helps to endear her to the reader.

The author put so much detail into all of the characters, this really came through in the narrative. The same can be said about the area in which the story is based. The author has researched everything superbly and this really adds to the calibre of the characters and their surroundings.

The story is very in-depth, both of the main characters are explored in great detail and this adds so much to the storyline. The way they act, how they react, all of this makes sense because the author has put so much detail into this story.

The author has done a brilliant job at capturing the attention of the reader with her very real and loveable main characters, plus a sprinkling of secondary characters who are a delight also. Naturally there are one or two unsavoury characters that cause mischief and mayhem, but they are very much background characters – that said, they also have as much depth and dimension as the main characters.

The storyline fits in really well with the modern-day, again, so much attention to detail really brings this story alive. The sights, the sounds, the pace of life in this particular city. How life works in Los Angeles, all the details have been interwoven with the story giving the reader a clear view of the lives of Jordan and Daniel.

In a nutshell, this is a perfect feel-good read, highly recommended for anyone who loves this genre. It is very well written and highly researched, the attention to detail is second to none.

This book is rated as a five-star read and an absolute MUST for all romance novel readers.

SUPERB!

Reedsy link – https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/before-we-get-carried-away-m-jane-early

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Thursday’s Thought. 03/08/20.

I’ve been doing a lot of inner work during this pandemic. In fact, I dedicated this whole year to loving myself.

Love for yourself is not about being conceited, or about “bigging” yourself up whilst putting others down. It’s about learning how to love you. Learning how to respect yourself. Learning how to have self love and bolster your self esteem.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself these past few months, it’s not about apportioning blame to aspects of myself I didn’t like; it’s been about acknowledging aspects that I’m less than happy with and improving what needing working on.

I’m now in a better mindset. I choose to be positive. I set that intention for myself everyday. Sometimes the demons rear their ugly heads and it’s a real struggle, other days I breeze through the day, achieving what I need to get done.

I had an interesting conversation with someone I know a few days back. She has noticed the change in me and wanted to know if I had “got better.” She was referring to my relapse with PTSD over the last couple of years.

I honestly haven’t done anything other than get medication. I believe the medication stabilised my mood enough for me to take steps to work through the flashbacks and triggers. I’m not really having flashbacks, but I am feeling very anxious.

This pandemic has really messed with my head in so much as it has made the hyper vigilance really bad. Night time is the worst. Some nights I’m a nervous wreck, jumping and hyperventilating at the slightest noise. My sleep has been really badly affected too, I’m convinced “that person” is in my house, obviously I know he’s not.

Medication has helped me to work through stuff. It’s helped me to manage my condition using the tools and techniques my therapist taught me.

I’m not “cured” from my PTSD. I am managing it. I get frustrated at people who claim they can cure PTSD. My therapist taught me that you don’t cure it, you manage it. You can heal the wounds (often emotional) that trauma inflicted upon you, but the scars will still be there. The scars will “itch and sting” from time to time, that’s the flare up of the PTSD. And just like you would with a physical scar, you soothe it the best way you can.

This pandemic has affected so many people in so many different ways. There’s no shame in hollering for help. That’s why I made a conscious decision to greet each day with as positive a mindset as possible. It’s helped me tackle a hell of a lot of blocks and for that I’m grateful.

PTSD is a mental illness and can be very debilitating. You can be going through an active episode and still appear as though you’ve got your shit together. That, for me, signifies an improvement in my journey and that’s what I’ve been striving for over so many years.

Wednesday Wisdom.

Card drawn from Daily Guidance from Your Angels Oracle Cards.

Whether or not you believe in angels, this is a lovely card for today. The days before, on, and after the full moon can be tense and highly charged. This card is indicating we need to ground ourselves. Grounding yourself is something we should do regularly, but I find after highly emotive times grounding is a must.

There are many ways to ground yourself, you probably have a favourite way to do so. But for anyone not sure, here are some suggestions:

1. Concentrate on your breathing. Take some deep breaths and exhale fully.

2. Place your feet firmly on the floor/ground and imagine roots growing out of them. Imagine those roots burrowing down into the earth below you, holding you firmly in place. Take some deep, steadying breaths, exhale and feel yourself connected to the earth. Grounded.

3. Splash some cold water on your face.

4. Sip cold water.

5. Focus your attention on your surroundings, noticing where you are, who you are with – that’s if you’re not alone, what sounds you can hear, smells you can smell etc.

6. Clap and rub your hands together, paying attention to the noise and how it feels.

7. Do some stretches.

8. Stroke your pet.

9. Eat some food.

10. Listen to some music.

Tarot Tuesday.

Card drawn from The Labyrinth Tarot.

Keywords: Giving, receiving, sharing wealth, generosity, charity.

This card indicates abundance, whether you’re giving it or receiving it. Abundance comes in many forms, not just financial abundance. What this card is telling us is that abundance is showing up in our lives.

If you’re on the receiving end of abundance then enjoy whatever bounty the universe is gifting you. If you’re the one being generous then this is a sure sign you are doing the right thing.

Monday Mooncards.

Card drawn from Moonology Oracle Cards by Yasmin Boland.

This card is all about emotions running high – and we also have a full moon today (Full Barley Moon in Aquarius) – this moon phase always brings high tension and emotions.

This card indicates that a situation in your life is either coming to a peak, or has just peaked. It’s all about super charged emotions, so if there’s something going on in your life and it’s just reached another level, well, now you know why.

This card can also be indicative of a battle of wills between you and someone else. The outcome isn’t final yet, but what you should do is ask yourself if you’ve handled this situation in a way that you can be proud of. Take a moment to check your own part in this situation and make sure you aren’t being too argumentative or aggressive in the way you are handling things.

Being assertive can be a good thing, but we should never ride roughshod over other people. A good idea right now to gain clarity and take some of the heat out of the situation is to meditate and see what you can do to move forward.

Self Care Sunday.

Card from The Sacred Self-Care Oracle.

Aromatherapy is a powerful tool to connect with plants, flowers, herbs, and the environment around you.

With all that is going on around us right now it’s been really difficult for many of us to relax. This card is a sure sign that relaxation is what is needed now.

Going for a walk in nature is a wonderful way for us to engage our senses. What scents can you smell? What feelings do these smells evoke?

Aromatherapy is a wonderful tool to use to calm our nerves. Find your favourite scent, if you haven’t already, and anoint yourself with it. A pleasant and relaxing smell will certainly help to bring anxiety levels down.

Shadow Work.

I was called to write this post after recent events in my life.

During the pandemic and lockdown my PTSD was triggered so badly that my GP has put me back on anti-depressants. This was a long thought out decision, one I resisted for so long.

But taking the meds has brought my hyper vigilance under some semblance of control, it’s also shifted my mood from dark and bleak to one of optimism. This has led me to doing a lot of inner/shadow work on myself.

Staring back at the dark side of yourself, when all that’s been presenting for the past three years is the dark side, is no bundle of fun. How I have acted, reacted, treat people, shunned people for reasons I cannot even fathom now, that is an ugly and dark place to be rooting around in.

This self reflection upon the dark side of myself has shown me how wounded I am inside. That’s not an excuse, it’s the truth of what shows up for people affected by trauma. Healing that part of me is my priority right now. I want to say how this feels, but I cannot find the right words to express this.

The up side of doing this shadow work is all of the tools I am being give access to. Tools I am able to use on myself to aide my recovery. Part of the work I am doing deals with my inner child. The results of this work have been amazing. The youngest part of me is all good. The seven year old part of me hurts because this was when my seemingly perfect life was shattered – my Dad had a heart attack. Being told this tore my perfect, innocent childhood down.

The pre teen part of me is all good, as is thirteen year old me. At fourteen I rebelled and fifteen year old me has issues. This is even before sixteen year old me is brutally attacked.

Fifteen year old me hurts. She hurts because people around her don’t treat her very well, but at the time I didn’t notice. So I carry this hurt around with me and then I get attacked and my inner child is hurt beyond belief.

This is very much a work in progress. It’s dark, it’s painful, it’s triggering and in the present I’m struggling to deal with rejection in any way. And I was rejected for something just recently. Being turned down when you’re dealing with grief stricken, traumatised, betrayed and hurt parts of yourself isn’t pleasant.

Job rejection. Friend requests denied. Overlooked for positions that I am probably more than qualified for. This is just a small sample of the recent rejections that are showing up and triggering my inner child. Present me understands rejection as being a normal process in life, it is what it is. Inner child me is hurting and screaming in pain. She isn’t seeing this as just a normal part of life, she’s seeing it as a massive kick in the teeth.

“What have I ever done to you” that’s the cry I hear over and over again from my wounded inner child.

Doing shadow work is really hard. It takes its toll on you and leaves you feeling tender hearted and heart sore. That said, I’m already seeing the benefits of it; the younger me, seven year old, she’s doing fine now. Doing that work really cleared so much inner turmoil and long-standing grief, and I feel more able to work on teenage me. This one is taking longer. She’s really hurting.

I can’t say how long this recovery process will take, it certainly isn’t going to be a quick process. The darkness inside is all consuming, but I have tools to shine light into this darkness. We will get there, me and my teenage self.

If you’re ever considering doing shadow work and have struggled with depression, or even another mental health issue, I recommend speaking to your care provider first. Prior to doing this work I had the blessing of both my GP and therapist. This work can lead you down a very dark path and you need to be prepared for what comes up.