Posts Categorized: Life Well Lived

9 Lessons from The Whole Health Life

January 29, 2017 Book Review, Life Well Lived, reviews 7

9 Lessons from The Whole Health LifeThe Whole Health Life by Shannon Harvey
Published by The Whole Health Life Publishing on November 17th 2016
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 320
Source: complimentary review copy

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and is in no way influenced by the company.

At the beginning of January I shared my nutrition experiment of giving up sugar.  I’m now through an entire month of little to no sugar and still no migraine! I’ve had a couple of days of a low-grade headache that didn’t want to go away, but nothing like the daily migraines that were crippling me. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Goodness knows going from being a sugar-aholic to no sugar has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The trick is in telling myself this is an experiment – an experiment to see if all those health and nutrition books I’ve read are right, or just a fad.

The latest book I’ve read, and probably the best overall with regards to health, nutrition, and exercise, is The Whole Health Life.  Written by Australian journalist, Shannon Harvey, The Whole Health Life is an in-depth look at the scientifically-proven connection between mind, body, and health. The book covers a range of possibilities affecting our health, from stress and emotions to food, environment, and even our sleep patterns. The more I read about health and wellness, the more I realize how interrelated/interconnected everything is.

9 Lessons from The Whole Health Life

  1.   We must find healthy outlets to relieve stress. It is literally taking years off our lives. A few recommended stress-relieving activities include listening to music, dancing, walking through nature, even wood-working – whatever helps you to get out of your head and into the moment.
  1. We can invoke a “relaxation response” to counteract the bad stress by simply including prayer and/or meditation in our lives. The rituals of most major religions incorporate the meditative mindset we need to counteract cortisol damage or the flight or fight response.
  1. A surprising finding is that women who perceived themselves to have a great deal of stress in their lives had a greater rate of cellular aging. In fact, women who perceived themselves to have high stress had aged the equivalent of 9-17 additional years.
  1. Meditation makes our brains stronger, fitter, younger. “Meditating for only 20 minutes a day over three days results in a significant decrease in sensitivity to pain.” I’m on day 15 of a daily meditation regimen. I’ve only worked up to 10 minutes/day but I can tell a difference in my overall wellbeing.
  1. The power of the placebo is scientifically proven to be valid! Did I mention worrying makes us sick? Literally! Our minds are powerful tools.
  1. Consider a mindset reset. “ Thinking things like ‘This task is exciting,’ rather than ‘this task is scary’ can help change how you perceive the situation.
  1. Exercise in spite of obstacles. Something my MS doctor has been telling me for years. The more I can exercise my muscles the more I will be able to use my muscles.
  1. Not only is exercise important but a variety of movement is also critical. For example, if running is your jam, add some yoga and strength training into the mix.

9. Make technology work for you rather than against you. Set hourly reminders to stand up and move, roll your shoulders, stretch. Your body will thank you.


Sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour. Zen Proverb


Final Thoughts

As I was reading the book a second time, I was amazed again at the wealth of information covered in The Whole Health Life. Not only that, but the scientific papers the author had to read (and decipher) were numerous. I kept thinking why have we not been told this stuff before?

At the end of each chapter the key takeaways are noted, but more importantly, tips on how to get started making the small changes in your life based on the science and information shared in the respective chapter. AND, for a bookworm this is probably the best – each chapter ends with additional recommended books to read!

As an additional resource, the author created a documentary making this information even more accessible. Plus, there are in-depth interviews with many of the scientists who have made breakthroughs with their mind, body and health studies. The information Shannon Harvey has made available through the book, the documentary and her blog, broken down into bite-sized chunks in non-scientific speak, is resourceful and invaluable. If you are looking to improve your overall health, The Whole Health Life is the book for you. I know I will continue to work through the recommended changes to see if I can not only knock out the migraines but also throw the MS into a permanent remission!

To view the first fifteen minutes of the documentary, visit The Connection here. Purchase The Whole Health Life from Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Indiebound.

To learn more about Shannon Harvey or to follow her blog and podcast, visit The Whole Health Life. You can also connect with Shannon Harvey on Twitter | Facebook.




January Focus Goals

January 12, 2017 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 16

Word for the Year is FOCUS. This year, I'm concentrating on being more organized and sharing my focus goals each month.


My Word for the Year is FOCUS and though we are only 11 days into January, I’m feeling really good about it. These are not resolutions but a focus on the goals I have for each month.

One thing I am focusing on this year is being more organized and focused on accomplishing my goals. For a few years now I’ve seen several blogs list their goals on the first of the month with a wrap-up of the accomplishments from the previous month. I’ve also seen some very cool monthly blogging income reports and WOW! If only, right!

Please note the links with an asterisk* are affiliate links. Should you make a purchase using one of these links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you. If you do use one of these affiliate links, please accept my most sincere thanks.

January Focus Goals

In blogging

  • Continue to learn about SEO and Sticky Blogging from *Kelly of Sticky Blogging – LOVE HER! Of all the courses I’ve ever taken, both Sticky Blogging and Sticky Blogging SEO were by far the most informative and helpful. Plus Kelly is incredibly gracious, responsive and truly a wonderful person. I would take any course she offers, and have! 1. For January, I plan to create my Trophy Case of posts. and 2. Begin process of organizing old posts/reviews into better accessible lists.
  • 3. Update 20 old book reviews with SEO and the *Ultimate Book Blogging app {I’m embarrassed to say my first 2 years of book blogging are still not on the UBB app and not showing up on my book review lists}

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. ~Zig Zigler

In reading

  • I’ve avoided challenges in the past because I never stick it out or if I do, it’s only by accident. Then I forget to update. Aargh! So this year I’m using a spreadsheet from BookRiot that incorporates the Reading Hard Challenge, Litsy A-to-Z Challenge and I’ve added the Travel the World in Books Challenge from Mom’s Small Victories, Fictional 100 and Guiltless Reading. Proud to say my first book of the year went on all 3 lists: *Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante! 4. Continue to update the spreadsheet at a minimum of once/week, preferably immediately as I begin reading a new book.
  • In the past I’ve been a finicky reader, reading only what I’m in the mood to read at any given time. This year my reading is much more deliberate and, yes, focused. 5. For January, I plan to read a nonfiction book written by an Australian author, *Whole Health Life; and a fiction book by a POC – *Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah.

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. ~Melody Beattie

In my life

  • 6. Exercise 4-5 days/week by walking or yoga.
  • I started the *Hormone Reset Diet is December 26th and have just a few more days left in the 21-day cycle. 7. continue eliminating sugar and gluten. So NOT easy, but since I’ve been following the 21-day reset by Dr. Sara Gottfried I have not had a migraine. I want to shout from the rooftops how incredible it has been having 16 days migraine-free! I haven’t experienced that since before my brain injury 20 years ago! You’ll probably see more healthy eating posts on here this year as I revamp my eating from typical southern home cooking to a more health-focused fare. If you have cookbook suggestions I can use all the help I can get!

There’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A. ~Will Smith

Wishing you a most wonderful January!

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13 Amazing Author TED Talks

Word of the Year: FOCUS

A New Year. . .A New Word. . .A New Focus


Word of the Year

January 1, 2017 Life Well Lived 7

happy new year 2017

I am so ready for a new year, how about you?

Last year was the first time I chose a Word of the Year and it’s ironic how true it became – ‘take action’ was my 2016 word and boy, oh boy, was it a self-fulfilling prophecy!

My sweetheart took a promotion which has upended our lives completely. Now we commute between Arizona and Georgia every month and while it may sound glamorous at first – believe me, it’s not. It took me about four months to get our apartment set up – my goal was to buy everything used/refurbished so the cost would not be so astronomical. We’re pretty darn proud of the result and love having family and friends visit!

Next ‘take action’ was the launch of my new business created with fellow blogger, Helen from My Novel Opinion: The Novel Connection ~ Where Readers and Authors Connect. If you haven’t visited our site yet, please do! Let us know what you think!

So many small actions taken to do both of the above. It’s been a bit overwhelming at times but an incredible adventure all along the way.

Let us make today’s dreams tomorrow’s reality. - Malala Yousafzai Click To Tweet

Though, it will be nice for a new word for 2017.



This word came to me in early December in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep and felt compelled to read Galatians. When compulsions/God’s whisper compels me like this, I usually try listen, even at 2 am. The Bible I use has an extensive life application commentary for most verses. When I read “If you feel guilty and inadequate, check your focus. Are you living by faith in Christ or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?” Hmmm, do I have to answer that one out loud? 😉 I knew then that focus was my word for 2017. It was like Paul had written Galatians just for me. Funny how that works, right!

For 2017 I plan to focus. In all its connotations.

Have you chosen a word of the year?


13 Amazing Author TED Talks

December 3, 2016 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 4

13 amazing author talks on ted


If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook then you know my sweetheart and I are going back and forth between Georgia and Arizona for his job. We’re fortunate that most of my work can be done remotely, and I’m not waiting weeks at a time for him to come in from traveling.

When we are in Arizona, the sunshine and perfect weather beckon me outside, a lot. I like to skip the gym and walk to the park to get in my daily steps, and what better way to stay up to date with the world than to listen to TED Talks?

Are you familiar with TED? Such a tremendous and varied resource. There is not a single talk I have listened to that I haven’t gleaned some valuable nugget. The following list of 13 Author TED Talks will inspire you with their passion, honesty and creativity. Let me know if there’s an author talk I’ve missed! I need more talks for my walks ~ hey that rhymed!

First though, a disclaimer. The links below are affiliate links. This means that should you make a purchase using one of these links, I may make a very small commission. Please know I will only recommend products and services that I use and love.

Favorite TED Talks

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time you know Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, is somewhat of a hero to me. I love her book. And both her TED Talk and book reveal the benefits and power of being an introvert. I’m a true introvert and raised one introvert and two extroverts. If you are or know an introvert Susan Cain’s TED Talk will give you great insight.

Then there’s Brené Brown, author of, most recently, Rising Strong {review here}. A shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené has profound insights into how we can overcome our self-talk of guilt and shame. She’s also pretty darned hilarious, a great storyteller and incredibly relatable.

Shonda Rhymes. Oh how I am a glutton for her shows. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder are all queued and ready to binge watch at any given moment. Her book, The Power of Yes, had me nodding along and feeling like Shonda’s bestie. Her TED talk only enhanced those feelings!

There’s J.K. Rowling‘s talk about failure. We’ve probably all read, at least a few times, about J.K. Rowling’s path to success. And even after her Harry Potter success, J.K. Rowling still had trouble getting published when she used the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. This talk will encourage you to keep striving for your goals. Don’t give up.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie author of Americanah, We Should all be Feminists. Yes. We. Should. Need I say more?

13 author TED Talks on inspiration, overcoming fear and creativity. Click To Tweet

Mac Barnett, children’s author on why a good book is a secret door. I love reading stories to my grandson and Mac Barnett has so many great ones like Extra Yarn! and How This Book Was Made. His talk is like going through that secret door us readers are all familiar with – that of opening a book.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and most recently, Big Magic, on creative genius. Another favorite TED Talks. A bit of brutal honesty on the creative process. Gives just the right amount of kick in the pants to get up and get busy!

Author of The World Between Two Covers, Ann Morgan, completed the self-challenge of reading a book from each of the 196 countries around the world in one year. She has since had her first thriller published and given quite the TED Talk on cultural differences and how we are the same.

Amy Tan on where creativity hides. Another talk on creativity – can you see where my focus has been lately!

Karen Thompson Walker on the age of miracles and the connection between fear and the imagination. Creativity and fear seem to be close cousins, at least in my mind. Karen’s talk is as beautiful as her first novel, The Age of Miracles.

Author, poet and publisher Chris Abani on Africa and humanity. Still relevant over ten years later, Abani’s talk will move you to tears.

Angela Lee Duckworth from her popular book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to study resilience in children – what makes some kids overcome overwhelming odds, abuse or neglect and go on to be successful adults while other children can never seem to move past the pain. Grit goes further than resilience delving into commitments we make and can keep for years to come. It’s a brilliant talk that will have you reconsidering all you thought you understood about showing up.

Amy Cuddy author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges gives a motivating talk on “You’re Body Language Shapes Who You Are” – she taught me how helpful it is to do the Superwoman stance before any important meeting. A must listen to TED Talk for women!

Do you have a favorite TED Talk? Share in the comments!



Nonfiction November: Reading for Health and Wellness

November 23, 2016 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 8

This post contains affiliate links which means I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase. I only recommend and link to books I love myself!  Thanks for supporting The Novel Life.

nonfiction november


Final week of Nonfiction November, hosted this week by JulzReads. This week’s prompt is probably my favorite topic ~ what books have you read that make you the expert? Not that I profess to be an expert by any means, but I do enjoy learning. And what better way to learn than by reading lots and lots of books on a subject?!?

Having lived with multiple sclerosis for sixteen years and chronic migraines for over twenty-five years, I’ve given almost every fad wellness plan a go. Whether it’s yoga, acupuncture, paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, reiki, and more plus all the medical procedures that can be done, I’ve experienced. Just call me the human guinea pig!

Through it all, I’ve learned a few things from reading books that have helped: stay away from sugar and processed foods, stretch and walk daily, and eat as many vegetables as possible {you can ask my family – this one is probably the most difficult one for me!}.

Between Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Diet Way to Lose Weight and 100 Days of Real Eating: Fast and Fabulous, I’ve created meal plans that make a tremendous difference in the way I feel. The brain fog is lifted, the pain in my legs and back is greatly reduced and oh my gosh, the migraines are down from 17 a month to less than 10!

When I read Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps over a year ago I was inspired to actually do the steps. Then I listened to the audio of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain and committed to a walking and yoga schedule for overall health + brain health.  While I don’t see myself becoming a marathon runner, I am consistently walking and feeling so much better!

I already knew sleep was important when I read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder but reading it validated and gave permission for a sacred sleep schedule.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business helped me to figure out how best to create a habit for my personality, my needs and my values. I read Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives on habits but it got so confusing. Listening to her podcast has helped clarify some of the finer points from her book so wanted to at least mention it.

These six books + an honorable mention, have been game-changers for me. Do you have any you can add to the list? Leave me a comment with your favorite health or wellness book!


6 books on wellness for a happy healthy life