I'm keeping it simply today. This month is self improvement month and while I find the term "self improvement" kind of yucky. I don't know why. Anytime I think about that term, I think about some of the slimy ones from back in the day that have always given self help and self improvement a bad name.

Anyway, since I'm on the "self-improvement" journey, I figured I would share a few books with you that have made a difference in either my life or the way I view things. I literally got a picture of the book and copied the description from Amazon. Real Pulitzer type writing today, however, I have found a few key nuggets from each of these that have helped me for the better.

Hope you find something useful!

Girl, Stop Apologizing ~ Rachel Hollis

“I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”

Book Synopsis:

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

Longing for Paris ~ Sarah Mae

For anyone who has ever daydreamed of another life . . .

Most days, you wouldn't trade what you have for the world. You love your husband and your kids, and you are grateful to God for your life. But there are days when you feel as though life is rolling over you in waves and you are just going through the motions. You find yourself aching for something more, something that is calling to depths of who you are, maybe for something you can't even name. For Sarah Mae, it was Paris, a place that is known for breathtaking beauty, inspiring art, and exquisite food. But as she searched her heart, she found there was more to her longings than she anticipated. Join Sarah Mae in Longing for Paris, a soul-searching, light-filled journey for the woman who knows she can't uproot her life to discover herself and her longings, but who desperately wants to uncover them so she can get unstuck and choose a life that is filled with beauty, adventure, and deep joy . . . right where she is.

Dancing With a Porcupine ~ Jennie Owens

Parenting is hard. So what do you do when you’re parenting a child who has experienced trauma or has extra challenges? You often feel alone and inadequate. You want so much to help your child, but you are at the end of your own rope. You feel guilty that sometimes you want to just quit. What can you do — how can you make it through the day — how can you help your child while also taking care of yourself?  

Maybe someone you love is parenting a traumatized child. Or perhaps you are a social worker, counselor, or other professional who sees families like these every day. You want to know how to better help them.

In Dancing with a Porcupine, Jennie Owens shares with humor and raw honesty the compelling story of her struggle to save her own life while caring for three children she and her husband adopted from foster care. How could she stay loving, giving, and forgiving in the midst of a daily battle with children acting out the rage, resentment, and pain of their own traumatic pasts?

When faith, endurance, and creativity are not enough, what’s next?

Simplicity Parenting ~ Kim John Payne M.Ed

Today’s busier, faster society is waging an undeclared war on childhood. With too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time, children can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that allkids need for their attention to deepen and their individuality to flourish. Simplicity Parenting offers inspiration, ideas, and a blueprint for change:

• Streamline your home environment. Reduce the amount of toys, books, and clutter—as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload.

• Establish rhythms and rituals. Discover ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed. 

• Schedule a break in the schedule. Establish intervals of calm and connection in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing.

• Scale back on media and parental involvement. Manage your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless deluge of information and stimulation. 

A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood, Simplicity Parenting is an eloquent guide to bringing new rhythms to bear on the lifelong art of raising children.

Present Over Perfect ~ Shauna Niequist

In these pages, New York Times bestselling author Shauna Niequist invites you to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.

As she puts it: "A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

"I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I've learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it's changing everything.

"Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth."

Written in Shauna's warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

Hello Beautiful: Yes, You. ~ Keryl Pesce

When was the last time you felt good about yourself, worthy, and capable of achieving what it is you want out of life? If it's been so long you can't remember, Keryl Pesce has a few bits of insight for you.

Hello Beautiful is for women of all ages who deal with:

-self doubt or low self esteem


-regret over a past that cannot be changed

In this eye-opening, heart-warming book, you will discover the source of your inner critic and why the popular advice to "Just crush it," is bad advice. How can you win a war with yourself? Keryl helps you see that your inner critic is part of you and rather than fighting against it (and yourself,) she shows you how to develop a relationship with this part of you and get it working for you, not against you.

In Chapter 1, "Real is the New Black," Keryl makes a convincing case that a big part of our negative voice and anxiety is that we show up to ourselves and the world filtered and incomplete, and that the most powerful and beautiful version of you is the whole one . . . the sum of all you think, feel, are, and have experienced. If you deal with never quite feeling like enough, this chapter helps you understand why and more important, what to do about it.

In Chapter 2, "It's Okay to Not Be Okay," you will see how the positive-thinking movement has been taken to an extreme, where we fear telling others the truth of what we feel inside. This disconnect between the version of us we present to others and the real one inside creates anxiety and weakens our ability to achieve what we desire. In our belief that we shouldn't think or feel sad, angry, or afraid, we feel we are somehow failing at life and create a pressure-cooker type of situation as we continuously shove valid human emotions down. Keryl will show you that by allowing yourself permission and space to be human and experience these emotions without attaching the added pressure of judging them, they actually move through and out of you more quickly.

Imagine if all the energy you've been spending hiding your true feelings, wishing away or trying to forget your past, or change the you that you think isn't good enough was suddenly redirected to liberate, support, and guide you to a sense of peace for what is, excitement for the future, and love and appreciation for the miracle that is you.

Perhaps now is the time for you to discover the truth of who you are, to feel whole and complete, and comfortable again in your own skin. Hello Beautiful.

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