November was vacation, but it wasn't a sitting around on the beach sort of vacation, so I didn't get as much read as one might do on vacation.
The first book I finished was called The Fringe Hours: Making Tme for You by Jessica N. Turner. On the airplane safety instructions, parents are told that if a loss of cabin pressure occurs they should place their own oxygen mask before helping their children with theirs. In the same way in other aspects of life, we are less likely to be good carers of those around us if we don't take care of ourselves.
But who has time for caring for themselves? Jessica Turner helps us find ways to identify "fringe hours" to use for self-care. At first I thought the book would be all about me, me, me, but she keeps things quite balanced between caring for one's self and serving others. She does a great job of showing how women spend so much time comparing themselves to others that they waste time doing things they don't even care about just so they can be like others. One of the first ways to find "fringe time" is to quit doing things out of a feeling of guilt or false expectations. She also reminds us to spend time with our Father, though she did seem a little weak in this area. She also brought out how we should be more pro-active in asking for help and in making sure we rest well.
One thing I didn't really like is that she tries to encourage us to not have to be super moms, but she comes across as one. I honestly don't know how she does everything she does. And I think her examples from her life are meant to be examples, not the way it has to be done. But for those of us who don't have her energy level, this book can make us feel inadequate. Still, as she says, you do find time for what you want to do.
I think this would be a helpful book for anybody who needs to to eliminate some activities and spend that time caring for themselves. I personally was helped to find some things I could cut back on or eliminate or manage better.
The second book was called Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. Our admin team has been reading this book together and it's extremely helpful! If you've ever found yourself in a conversation where opinions vary, stakes are high, and emotions run strong, this book is for you! Some difficult conversations are not that hard to have because you can stay detached and don't have strong emotions about the subject, or you're not friends with the person anyway so if they end up hating you it's not such a big deal. But more often than not conversations come up at home, among friends, or in the workplace where opinions vary (strongly!), stakes are high, and emotions run strong.
Each of us tends to react in these situations in one of two ways: silence or violence. In silence, we may stay in the room, but we're done contributing to the conversation or we may even leave the room. In violence, we begin to make snide remarks, to lose our temper, to slam doors, and maybe even go so far as the use of actual physical violence. The authors show how to recognize your default reaction, how to recognize when others are moving into their default reaction, and how to rescue the conversation so that all involved can continue to contribute to the pool of meaning.
There is a lot of information in this book and it would be nice to be able to flip through the book and find the right tools to use when having a crucial conversation. Of course, in the middle of a crucial conversation it doesn't really work to say, "Wait until I figure out what I'm supposed to do next." But as the authors say at the end of the book even if you only remember a few things and learn to use them you will have become a better communicator. I highly recommend this book!
The final book I actually finished on December 2, but I'm throwing it in with the November books. And this way you'll know I don't read only serious books. :) The third book was called And Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock.
The story is told from the point of view of a young girl. Her mother had escaped an abusive relationship with the girl's father. She also had an older step brother and a baby sister. Roz is crushed by her parent's separation. She recognizes that her father is abusive, but she also knows he loves her. I'll not tell you more about the story as I don't want to give it away.
Ann Tatlock is one of my favorite authors. She makes her characters feel real -- nobody is impossibly beautiful or perfect. They lose their tempers with each other, they hurt each other, they love each other, and they figure out how to work things out. As Roz says, "If I was going to survive in this world, I had to understand that not everything I wanted to be true was true, and not everything that looked good was good." Ms. Tatlock has written several books that involve cross-cultural or cross-racial relationships and this book is no exception.