Book of the Month for January 2018

I just finished up a book that was bubbling to the top of my to-read pile as the Holidays passed by me at warp speed. The subject of stress does occupy many minds during the winter months and the up and coming income tax season. But as I began reading the following book I found that this book is a welcome read for any time of the year since stress comes in many forms.

Title: The Upside of Stress

By Kelly McGonigal, PhD

File Size: 1321 KB

Print Length: 301 pages

Publisher: Avery (May 5, 2015)

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Language: English


ISBN-10: 1101982934

ISBN-13: 978-1101982938

Rating 5/5  

For most of our lives, we have been told that stress is harmful to our health. What if someone were able to prove this to be otherwise? How would you feel if you found that there are more health benefits to stress then health risks? All it takes is a change in your mindset.

Kelly McGonigal argues in her book The Upside of Stress that psychologists have been telling people for years that stress is bad for you but she has discovered through research that this is not indeed the case. With her research, she can prove the benefits of stress can outweigh the harmful effects of stress that revolves around changing the mindset about stress. If one can believe that stress is beneficial than the coping mechanisms associated with stressful events can cause personal growth which will improve the health of that individual.

“Mindsets are beliefs that shape your reality, including objective physical reactions (like the strength of my arm as Crum pushed on it), and even long-term health, happiness, and success. More important, the new field of mindset science shows that a single brief intervention, designed to change how you think about something, can improve your health, happiness, and success, even years into the future.” (McGonigal 2016, 4)

Kelly McGonigal, Phd., is a lecturer and psychologist at Stanford University and an expert on mind-body relationship. She is a senior teacher/consultant at Stanford for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and also teaches for the School of Medicine’s Health Improvement Program. Her work validates the claims of psychological science to personal health and happiness, as well as organizational success and social change.

I understand what McGonigal means when she makes the statement, “When you face difficulties head-on, instead of trying to avoid or deny them, you build your resources for dealing with stressful experiences.” (McGonigal 2016, 18) We all face difficulties over the course of our lives. It is not a matter of what those challenges are but how we handle them that matters most in life. If we don’t manage them well, then we tend to repeat those problems until we can overcome them.

This book explains the reasoning behind why McGonigal believes that stress can be healthy for personal growth. Her research she shares verify why the probability this is correct and she describes this well in the book.

I did not find anything in this book that I would disagree with which is why I have rated this book with five stars.

I highly recommend everyone to read this book, and hopefully, it will change your outlook on stress and help you handle those dreadful times with personal growth and resilience.


McGonigal, Kelly. The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It (p. 4). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

McGonigal, Kelly. The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It (p. 18). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


McGonigal, Kelly. The Upside of Stress. New York: Avery, 2016.


Book of the Month for October 2017

The book that made my read pile for October is The First-Time Manager by Loren B. Belker, Jim McCormick, Gary S. Topchik. Many times, new managers, supervisors, and lead-persons are thrown into a leadership position with no idea of how they are supposed to manage. According to The First-Time Manager that is known as the sink or swim approach which makes this book an excellent selection for that newbie manager.

Title: The First-Time Manager

By Loren B. Belker, Jim McCormick, Gary S. Topchik

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: AMACOM; 6 edition (January 3, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0814417833

ISBN-13: 978-0814417836

Rating: 4/5

Wouldn’t you like to know how to manage people without being that Boss?

Come-on, we’ve all had one of those, that Boss in our lifetime. You know the one who never has anything good to say about your work performance and never seems to appreciate how hard you try to please the Boss. Is there more to managing people besides cracking the whip in hopes of getting a couple of extra completed orders out of them?

According to Belker, McCormick, and Topchik, there is more to managing people then telling them to move their hands faster than their mouths.

Loren B. Belker who is now deceased was an executive for a Midwestern insurance company for 30 some odd years.

Gary S. Topchik is a managing partner for SilverStar Enterprises, Inc. which is a consulting firm that specializes in management development. Topchick is also the author of The Accidental Manager and Managing Workplace Negativity.

Jim McCormick is not only an author, but he is also a speaker and a professional skydiver that is known for being an expert in intelligent risk-taking and innovation. He is also the founder of The Research Institute for Risk Intelligence.

Many leadership topics are covered in this book such as how best to respond to team members appropriately. Don’t be one of those bosses that correct their workers in front of everyone. Take them aside and explain in private without making a show of the incident. You will build more trust with your team members and not hurt department morale. Without spoiling the book, the information found in this book is well worth the read.

I did give this book a four-star rating only because some of the information sounded repetitive. However, that may have been the writers’ purpose since much of what is written in this book is helpful to all new managers and even some leads who have been in their position for some time would find this book useful if they want to learn to motivate their workers.

If you are looking at becoming a manager, supervisor, or lead-person soon, I highly recommend reading this book. Even if you have been in your position for some time, there is probably at least one chapter that would benefit your leadership role making this book well worth the time and effort for your next book to read.

Book of the Month for September 2017

The latest book to make my read pile is The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People written by Gary Chapman and Paul White. Many times I’ve heard my co-workers complain that they don’t feel appreciated in the workplace which is why this particular book caught my eye and became my next to read selection and it offered a strong insight to why they were probably feeling this way for some time.

Title: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

Author: Gary Chapman and Paul White

Pages: 222

Publisher: Northfield Publishing; Reprint edition (September 1, 2012)

Publication Date: September 1, 2012

ASIN: B00887P9L2

Rating: 5/5.0

The title says it all. There are 5 languages identified for giving appreciation in the workplace. Employees need to be appreciated to be encouraged to perform at a productive pace. When they don’t feel appreciated production falls communication falters and the organization loses sales and profits.
Dr. Gary Chapman, one of the authors of the book, has a BA and an MA degree in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University. He also has an MRE and a Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. His expertise is in marriage counseling which led him to write his first book in the Love Language series, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. The series is a huge success leading him to write many others.
Dr. Paul White is a psychologist that graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wheaton College majoring in Christian Education. He then earned a Masters in Counseling at Arizona State University and went on to earn his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University. He is not only a psychologist but also a speaker and “consultant who “makes work relationships work””.
The explanations of what the five languages of appreciation are and why they are so important is the greatest takeaway from this book. If you are like me, as you get deeper into reading this book you will begin to notice the different languages of appreciation your co-workers speak every day whether they are aware of it or not. Dr. White indicates that 75 percent of the population will use their main language of appreciation when giving appreciation to others. Many people, even when they are complaining will complain about not receiving appreciation will indicate in the complaint their main appreciation language.
The information given in the book makes sense after working in a positive workplace many years ago this sort of appreciation in the workplace was exhibited. Many toxic workplaces don’t provide any form of appreciation to their workers. Wage increases and bonuses only work short term to give employees a boost to their work productivity. But, when they feel they are appreciated in their workplace there is less bicker among employees, attitudes become positive, loyalty is created, workers are retained, and productivity increases across the board.
No one likes to be employed where they don’t feel they matter. No one likes to be just another number. We call employees resources when in fact they are more than just resources without them the company wouldn’t be able to function. No work would be done. No profits made. No sales taken.
When was the last time you felt appreciated at your workplace?
Do you know what your main language of appreciation is?
Mine is quality time!

My Sociological Adventure continues – Part II

Chapter 2


Ethnocentrism – judgment of others ways against our own.

Cultural relativism – trying to understand a culture on its terms.

Everyone has the tendency to judge other cultures against what he or she considers to be the norm. The way life engraves into our being from early childhood and when those things begin to change we naturally try to resist them, not many people like change. However, the change should be embraced. It is how we evolve not only as human beings but also as individuals. I once heard that there is no such thing as perfection. Perfection means to be at the end with no change in sight, but life continues to evolve in infinite ways.

“I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.”

However, always evolving.

Heaven is perfection or is it?

There are so many different cultures in our world it would be a shame not to experience at least just one. I would love to experience them all. Each one would provide a learning experience that could change me as a person and evolve me as an individual.

Imagine what it would be like to merge all the cultures of the world into one.

Would that be confusion, conflict, or absolution?

Language Barriers

The United States is behind those cultures of other nations when it comes to language barriers. Did you know that most countries teach English as a second language when a child enters early grade school? Many cultures not only teach English but also the languages of the border countries. It is not uncommon for those cultures to speak up to four different languages. Why doesn’t the United States follow suit?

Public education only teaches English during grade school. Our country can teach multiple languages to children at an early age because of the diversity of the social background that makes up our nation. We have African, Middle-Eastern, Japanese, European, Chinese, and Spanish speaking individuals are constantly immigrating to our country. There is no reason our nation should be a one language nation.

It is a “Known fact” that most children will learn anything from a peer faster than from an adult. Our school system could take advantage of this fact and promote acceptance of the new student immigrant by teaching our English to them while they teach their language to our students, which in turn would lower the language barrier that creates misgivings and isolation from a community.

I tried tirelessly to teach my children how to swim. However, when their friends came along and took over the swimming lessons they were swimming like pros in no time.


Belonging to Subcultures

I am a member of the romance writing subculture. We express our selves a bit more than most people in the form of writing while thinking about happy endings of love and romance. Some may consider romance writers to be a counterculture because they believe we write nothing but smut. No, we write stories that are about individuals that develop their characters into something other than what they were at the beginning of the story. Romance or love is an added element that requires the ending to be happy at the conclusion.

Many people, especially Americans, love to read Romances. They want to experience the success of the individual and the happiness associated with finding that one true love.


Chapter 3

The two agents of socialization that have influenced me most over the years were my high school years and the environment of my first employer – New England Business Service. The attitudes of North Middlesex taught me that education does matter. My education instilled strong beliefs and values that have remained with me to this day. The years of working for my first employer created the work ethics that I still follow which is that of respect, consciences attitude, and dependability.

“Proper” Relationships

My view of “proper” relationships of men and women are to each their own. Love knows no barriers and should not be discouraged. The original decree between men and women of the Bible was to populate the earth but, hello, we have enough people on our planet. We can stop populating anytime and still have enough people for the next 50 years. If our population grows too much, we might be reduced to eating each other to be able to provide food to sustain our species. Hmm – maybe that is how the zombie apocalypse starts.

Changing Life Course

My life course has changed multiple times over the years. I’ve been a student and a child; then I became an adult. When I became someone’s mom, my responsibility changed. I became responsible for someone other than me while earning a living. It appears that I have changed life course every ten or twenty years. Now that I am in my middle years I have once again changed my course toward bigger and better things that are looming on the horizon. Even the way I viewed my gender has changed multiple times. First just a girl and then a woman to a female and again a woman only this time a much stronger individual that is seeing equality for the first time in their life.

Introduced to Sociology – an adventure in my education

Part I

So begins my next topic adventure into that of Sociology. After week one I have decided that the topic does interest me more so than any of the other topics I have studied during my education.

I was a bit worried going into this class since I am using a Kindle version of the textbook to keep college costs down. In one sense, the book is easier to read because I can enlarge the text and change the font to my liking, but I am limited to reading the book on either my desktop or my kindle fire tablet.

Rating of the Kindle edition is at the moment a 4 star   


Please note: These are my views after completing chapters 1-3 of:


Sociologists do a great job of studying society. The need for them to bring about reform is not required. Society will reform itself all on its own with different cultures integrating themselves into each other through immigration the world continues to change and evolve.

The studies of sociologists will help reform problem areas such as drug addiction. Results of the studies provide ideas and solutions of how to help individuals overcome their addiction problems thus bringing about a change in society by forming a cultural movement among drug users.

There are three theoretical perspectives for sociology. Symbolic interactionism is views of society to be composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning and develop views of the world. Those symbols are used to communicate with each other through language and gestures. Functional analysis is composed of many parts with functions that contribute to society’s balance also known as functionalism and structural functionalism which would be how external events can change the way society functions. At a time in history, before industrialism, women remained in the home cooking, cleaning, being a mother to many children and raising families while the men and boys cared for the larger farm animals and worked outside the home. In today’s times, families, for the most part, are smaller and both men and women are working outside the home in equality positions. Men can be nurses and Women can be construction workers.

Conflict theory claims that society is composed of groups that are competing for scarce resources a struggle between the capitalists and the workers.

If I were a sociologist, I probably would want to study all three theories. I believe they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and each one holds a clue about the dynamics of society. Without symbolism, the language barrier would not create conflict between cultures. Functional analysis will explain how society will evolve with each new technological advancement. The conflict theory studies how different groups affect each other within a culture, such as the wealthy and the have-nots, or the capitalists and the politicians.

Micro-level approaches to sociology explain social life more so than on the macro-level. The macro-level is concerned about language barriers that trouble the communication abilities of society while the micro-level looks at how overall society fits together like puzzle pieces. Groups in society fight to control the power over others while communities as a whole will function together in either a harmonious manner or dysfunctional such as crime or community services or the coming together for the greater good. Maybe language barriers have become a common sense rule that may never go away anytime soon.