Book Review: Mrs D is Going Within, by Lotta Dann

Available from bookshops nationwide.

cv_mrs_dann_is_going_within.jpgLotta Dann is the wife of TV One’s political commentator Corin Dann. She came out publicly 3 years ago about her drinking problem. Her first book – Mrs D is Going Without was a personal journey of her struggle with alcoholism. This second book – Mrs D is Going Within, examines her personal struggle three years sober with life’s balance. Trying to manage a busy life of a husband, three boys, writing and monitoring two blogs with her mind and body often coming off second best. I loved her comment that her mind whirls around at the speed of a Ferrari – trying to process “stuff”.

Lotta explores the idea of mindfulness and how to still her whirring brain – just to sit and clear the brain – not the easiest thing to do when you lead a busy life. The concept of mindfulness reminded me of the trend of transcendental meditation that swept the country (and the world) in the 1970s and 80s – it always intrigued me, but not enough to make me try it! I think mindfulness is the new millennium’s answer to trying to get your head around everyday stress that life tends to chuck at us with gay abandon.

I laughed out loud about Lotta’s attempts at yoga. Exercise is not everybody’s cup of tea and going along with friends to get them off your case is often a hard thing to refuse but the ballsy attempt bought back memories of my rather weak attempts at so called “easy” classes. Finding the right class makes life so much better with like-minded people – Lotta finds one that takes her to a happy place.

Whether you are a recovering alcoholic or just struggling with everyday life’s balance this is a great read from a very funny lady.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Mrs D is Going Within
by Lotta Dann
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781877505867

Book Review: 101 Ways to Live Well, by Victoria Joy and Karla Zimmerman

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_101_ways_to_live_wellDoes the world need another little self-care book? I’m not entirely convinced, although if you’d like something positive to dip into during somewhat turbulent times (Quakes! Deadlines! Trump!) this book might appeal.

The authors suggest that these bite-size tips are perfect for commute time, a lunch break, or even the checkout queue. There’s a tiny wee clock on each page indicating how long each activity is likely to take. Times range from 30 seconds – to take a deep mindful breath and refocus – to 2 hours to ‘watch a mindful movie’. Mix it up a bit: take 1 minute (to wash your hands and ‘win the germ war’!), 20 minutes, for a Sun Salutation yoga practice to ‘get the blood flowing…and awaken the whole body’, or a leisurely 30 minutes to listen to music to ‘improve your mood and confidence’. Most activities take around 5 minutes: realistic and manageable. My favourite tip? How to ease a headache by a gentle hair-pulling technique that reduces tension.

The page layout takes you straight to the point – a snappy title at the top of each page, followed by a summary of the activity or tip, within a circle. Below, a single paragraph telling you everything else you need to know. If you’d like to learn more about a particular topic, some pages have web links. Simple line drawings provide additional information about activities such as the yoga poses. (I wasn’t quite supple enough to master the Camel…)

There are several simple recipes (eg for smoothies, fruit and herb infusions, and ‘low-cal’ hot chocolate), as well as affirmations, encouragement, and acupressure advice. There are suggestions for improving posture, easing neck pain and even feigning self-confidence – and many other topics too.

However, although the pages are numbered, there is no index. This may frustrate readers looking for a particular exercise or activity. And the Table of Contents is sparse – offering only a choice of Home, Work, Play, Relationships and Travel.

My impression is that the book is primarily aimed at office-based women in paid work. But not all readers will sit at desks all day, or need alternatives to ‘weekly office cupcake runs’. (Nor will everyone need tips claiming to ease menstrual pain and reduce PMS symptoms – or want to engage in a tickle battle.)

The cover is a tranquil aqua colour. It has folds at either side that could be used for bookmarking favourite pages.

The book would, perhaps, be a useful gift for a colleague, a recuperating friend, or a new parent – someone who’s time-poor but motivated to make small incremental changes to set them on a path to improved wellbeing.

Reviewed  by Anne Kerslake-Hendricks

101 Ways to Live Well: Mindfulness, Yoga and nutrition tips for busy people
by Victoria Joy and Karla Zimmerman
Published by Lonely Planet, 2016
ISBN 9781786572127