Book Review: Naomi’s Breakthrough Guide
a chance to be a participatory reader
In the world of self-help, I don't often think of an entertainer, a singer, as being the person of choice to turn to when I'm looking for guidance. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find a wonderful book penned by singer and songwriter Naomi Judd. Her book, "Naomi's Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life" is just what it says it is: transforming.
The beauty of this book is in the transparency of Naomi Judd; of the frank sharing she does about her life experiences and the lessons she learned. Her honest appraisal of her own choices is an encouragement to the reader. The details of her challenges and struggles with her health show her courage and the descriptions are themselves encouraging. Her writing is immediate and easily understood. Readers who seek help with their own life challenges truly can find enlightenment from the words of Naomi Judd in this book.
In her foreword Naomi says "...In our current culture where some know more about celebrities than they know about family members, the revealing exercises in this book are helping to create greater intimacy in our most important relationships...." What's true about this self-help book is that it may be part the story of Naomi Judd's personal journey, but it is also a guidebook and lifeline for the reader to join her on the journey. This is a book you purchase not just to read, but also to write in. There are things to think about, lists to write and thoughts to put down. This is a book that once owned, won't be loaned.
This book is laid out in twenty chapters that Naomi has identified as "20 Choices to transform your life." Choice one, Peace of Mind is the Goal, is, in her words, "...the destination of this journey of self-awareness." She writes of coming to grips with the choices we've made in the past, taking responsibility for them. She writes of the possibility of learning what our potential truly is and then experiencing that.
One of the little things I like so much about the book itself are the many quotes she scatters throughout the text. Quotes from famous folk like Helen Keller where, on page 3 in chapter one, Naomi quotes Miss Keller: I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I've found myself, my work and my God. Or the quote on page 60 by Aldous Huxley: Experience is not what happens to a person. It is what a person does with what happens to them.
My favorite quotes that are sprinkled through her book, however, come from her own songs; When we stand together, It's our finest hour. We can do anything If we keep believing in the power. - from her "Love Can Build A Bridge" - quote on page 9. And another from the same song, on page 41: I believe in the power of love And I believe there is always HOPE.
Naomi Judd's book is more than just a self-help book, it is a book filled with hope. She gives the reader so much to do beyond just reading. Some of the chapter titles, or 20 Choices, are commands to do something - commands like:
- Choice #6 - Become a detective and investigate your past - in this chapter she talks much about her own life, gives some good counsel then follows up on pages 76-78 with excellent questions for the reader to answer and give self-reflection on. Great questions such as: What big news happened within your family that stands out?
- Choice #16 - Resign as General Manager of the Universe - Naomi Judd has a marvelous sense of humor and it is reflected in her writing style. This chapter begins in her straightforward, humorous way, "...Hear me out before you want to slug me: illness or other challenges can actually be a blessing as well as a curse. They allow us to take stock of our lives and adapt to new ways...." And to introduce the "Your Turn Now" reader participation section, she writes, "...Next time you're carefully backing out of a room you've just vacuumed so you don't leave footprints....stop! How about resigning as general manager of the universe? Come join me in dancing to the music of life!..."
Of all the 20 Choices that Naomi Judd gives in this book for transforming your life, by far the most meaningful to me, one reader, was #19: Develop the Eight Characteristics of a Survivor Personality. These eight are:
- A strong spiritual belief
- a strong support system
- a sense of humor
- a connection to nature
- goals and a purpose to work toward
- good nutrition
- regular exercise and rest
- an open belief system
Naomi quotes Dr. O. Carl Simonton towards the end of this chapter: The purpose of healing is to be in harmony within ourselves. As a reader, I believe that one of the outcomes of being a participatory reader in this book is that you not only can transform the areas of your life that need such, but also that you can take the steps necessary towards healing and becoming, as Dr. Simonton says, in harmony with yourself.