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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Books I Love

Note – I will add to this list on occasion by putting the newest recommendations at the top. Eventually, they will be edited into the proper categories, as new books get added to the top of the list. Each category heading is in all caps.

Barking to the Choir, by Father Gregory Boyle. Another heartbreaking, soul-searching book about the need for compassion and the triumph of love. 

Some of these books are older, but if you can get your hands on a copy, you won’t regret the effort it might take to get them. The first one is so good and helpful that it was recently re-released for the 25th Anniversary. You won’t have any trouble finding it! I have read many other books about disabilities, but these are the best.

Sensory Integration and the Child, by A. Jean Ayers, Ph.D.
Reading this book was like reading about my child. Some parts of this book described him perfectly. It showed me why he had certain behaviors and gave me ways to help him. It taught me why they did certain things with him in therapy. Reading this book was like opening his mind and looking inside. It gave me empathy for him because it helped me to understand how he was feeling.

The Whole-Brain Child, by Daniel J. Seigel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.
This book can teach you how to help your child use their whole brain to become kind, compassionate, mentally stable, and thrive in this world. Bonus – It will teach you how to do that for yourself, too!

Thinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin
This book puts you inside the mind of a person with autism. It taught me how Temple thinks and how she relates to the world around her. It gave me insight as to how my son might be seeing the world.

Emergence: Labeled Autistic, by Temple Grandin and Margaret M. Scariano
This book is about the life of Temple Grandin. It also gave me insight into things my son may be experiencing and helped me to better understand how to help him. Reading about someone who has autism, from their own perspective, and reading about her mother’s experiences, were tremendously helpful to me.

Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

This book shows how Temple Grandin could relate to animals and the insights autism gave her about animals. She says people with autism can think like animals, that their thinking is very similar in some respects, and that both have a difficult time seeing “the forest for the trees” because they are so tuned into details – much more so than average people. I highly recommend this book to give you knowledge about autism and the wonderful world of animals. You will learn a lot! Side note – well, more of a brag really! – my copy is signed by Temple Grandin! I got to meet her in Dixon, Illinois at a conference where she was speaking. Unfortunately, I was tongue-tied in her presence. She is awesome! 

Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters, by Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D.
When you read it, have a notebook handy and do the work. You will be amazed at what you discover about yourself, your life, and the people you have known.

Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
This is the book I read right before I read A New Earth and it caused me to get to the bookstore as soon as I could to buy A New Earth.

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle
The subtitle of this book is Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, but to me, it was simply Awakening to My Life. I did eventually awaken to my purpose, but first it changed my consciousness in such a way that I could see EVERYTHING in a new way. I began to understand human beings in a new way. I understood myself in a new way. This understanding changed my life in ways I can’t explain in a few sentences. Both books by Tolle are powerful and insightful. 

The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer
This book is just as awesome as A New Earth and Power of Now, but may be more relatable to some people. Michael Singer perfectly describes “the voice in your head” and teaches you how to get control of it. He teaches how to let your emotions flow right through you so they don’t get stuck.

The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz and The Five Levels of Attachment, by don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. These two books blew my mind! They give you concrete ways to challenge your thinking and beliefs that no longer work for you. They show you how to analyze your thinking and beliefs to see if they work for you and then give you permission to change. It sounds strange that we need permission to change our mind about things, but once you’ve read these books, you’ll see why we need permission! You will understand how you got to believe the things you believe, why you are attached to certain beliefs or attitudes, and why it is okay to start living differently.

The Gift of Fear, by Gavin DeBecker
This book taught me about listening to my instinct and not talking myself out of it. As I read it, I remembered different ways in my life that I talked myself out of listening to that “feeling” inside of me and ended up in situations I could have avoided if I had listened to the “feeling”. He explains what the feeling is like and how we easily talk ourselves out of following our instinct. He empowers us to do what we need to do by understanding what the consequences may be if we don’t.  

Daring Greatly, by Brenè Brown, Ph.D., LMSW
This book shows us how to be vulnerable and the power we gain from allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable. It sounds absurd that being vulnerable can empower someone, but BrenĂ© gives numerous examples of why this is true. It is all based on her lifetime of research. 

Tattoos on the Heart, by Father Gregory Boyle
Grab your tissues before you start to read this heartwarming, inspiring, transforming book. You will see gang members in a whole new light after reading Father G’s stories and experiences with these awesome people.

Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars, by Jenny Phillips
Just as Father Boyle’s book will give you a new way to see gang members, this book will give you a new way to see prison inmates. No person is ever beyond change. This book shows how the power of meditation can free people even while they are still incarcerated.

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield
I have been writing and rewriting the same book for five or six years now. The War of Art taught me why I have not finished it and gets me closer to finishing it. It’s all about resistance and how we easily fall into it every day.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants;

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference;

Outliers: The Story of Success
All by Malcolm Gladwell. All will make you think and give you a better understanding of how both society and achievement work. Really good and really easy to read. He has a terrific podcast called Revisionist History, too. Check it out!

The Biology of Belief, by Bruce H. Lipton
This amazing book taught me the how powerful our beliefs are in influencing our lives and our biology. It powerfully illustrates the mind / body connection.

My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
This book will show you what it’s like to have a stroke – as it’s actually happening – and the after effects of Jill Bolte Taylor’s experience. She gained wonderful insights as a brain researcher and as a human being. It will not be above your ability to understand, as she explains everything in a way regular people can understand.

Healing Words: The Power of Prayer in the Practice of Medicine, by Larry Dossey, M.D.
Whether you believe in the power of prayer or not, you will understand how it works after reading this book. You just might begin to pray more, too!

The Extra-Ordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things, by Larry Dossey, M.D.
This is another wonderful, insightful book by Dr. Larry Dossey. He helps us see ordinary things in a fresh, new, healing way.

Power vs. Force, by Dr. David R. Hawkins
This is a heavy read, but oh, so worth the effort! It is about the power of our bodies to know truth from falsehood, disease from health, and good from evil.

Wishes Fulfilled, by Dr. Wayne Dyer, may he rest in peace.
This book teaches us the power of intention, the power of the language we use, and the power of the words “I am”. He shows us how to change our mindset and language to get everything we want out of life.

Everyday Grace, by Marianne Williamson
If you want your heart to open wide, read any book by Marianne Williamson. I read Everyday Grace right after the shooting at Sandyhook. I was immensely grateful for her words. The children and teachers who died were at the forefront of my thoughts as I read this book. The shooter was there, too. Everyday Grace helped me grieve, understand, and forgive.

Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith;

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived;

What We Talk About When We Talk About God;

What Is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything

All of those are by Rob Bell. He pulls love right out of the Bible and tickles you with it. He gives us a way to drop the things we learned as children – the fear, the judgment, hell – and he uses humor to give us a deeper understanding of Christianity through context. He explains how people lived back in Jesus’ day so we can understand why these weird things and violence are in the Bible and what we can learn from it all. You will gain a new perspective of the holy book and you will fall in love with it! All these books by Rob are fantastic, but What Is the Bible? should be required reading in every church! I’m not joking. He even explains those lists of names! Rob also has a terrific podcast called The Robcast. It is awesome!

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian D. McLaren
If you want to understand different religions, or if you want to understand why people are stuck in their fears and judgments of other religions, read this book. Read it even if you don’t want to know all that because this book is awesome!

Sufism: The Transformation of the Heart, by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee:
This gem is simply filled with love. You will read about a religion of love and how it transforms the heart, just as the title says.

The Dalai Lama's Little Book of Wisdom, His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Gain wisdom beyond measure as you recognize echoes of the teachings of Jesus, through the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. That may sound weird, but this was my experience.

Anything Richard Rohr has written. I have read Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, and Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer. Absolutely, beautiful books!

Heart and Mind: The Four Gospel Journey, by Alexander John Shaia
See the gospels in a fresh new way and use them to help yourself heal.

The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels, by Thomas Cahill
Just like Rob Bell’s books and Alexander Shaia’s book, this one will help you understand the Bible stories a whole lot better!

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan
Discover the beauty of the Islamic Faith, along with the troubles and their origins. This book will help you see Muslims in a new light.

A Man Without Words, by Susan Schaller
Oliver Sacks describes this book much better than I when he says, “A beautiful and meticulous study of a languageless man and of Schaller’s patient, dedicated and brilliantly conceived efforts to make contact with him and to introduce him to language.”

Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism, by Ron Suskind
As the mother of a non-verbal adult, this book had me bawling just a few pages in. The shared experiences and feelings did it, and the wishes and dreams not accomplished by my own child did it. This book reveals the inner wisdom of a person who found a way to communicate. You will be profoundly moved when you read the wisdom of a boy locked inside himself for so long.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
This book tells the story of a woman and her family. This woman’s cells have helped every human being on this planet in one way or another. They continue to this very day! They revolutionized the understanding and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

The People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn – may he rest in peace
This is not your classroom history lesson! It is a long book, but you will learn a LOT!

I hope this blog helps you to create a more peaceful life. Keep in touch by the following methods: Use the links under the archive menu to subscribe or follow by e-mail. Help me get this message out by sharing it with your friends on social media! If you enjoyed it and were helped by it, they will, too! Write to me with your comments and questions at mindchange4all@gmail.com  I look forward to hearing from you.

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