What harried woman could read the title A POSITIVE PLAN FOR CREATING MORE CALM, LESS STRESS and not want to start flipping through the pages? From the author of THE POWER OF A POSITIVE MOM comes this more wide-ranging book, which promises solutions to the top ten stress points mothers face and offers five steps toward creating "calm" in your life (in no particular order). This is a solid, cheerleading pep talk for weary moms.
As mothers, we set the tone for our homes, says Karol Ladd. "Perspective is everything! It's also a choice. Will we choose to see the humor, delight, and joy in life, or will we only look at the difficulties, frustrations, and failures?" Ladd, appropriately dubbed "The Positive Lady," urges women to consider their families as uniquely created by God, and to ditch the desire to compare themselves to others. Admirably confessing that she is a fellow struggler in the topics she writes about, she shares just enough personal vulnerability to help women feel encouraged that the challenges they face are normal and surmountable.
Ladd frames her book around five steps for inviting calm into your life: Create a Calm Environment, Refresh Your Spirit, Renew Your Body, Roll with the Punches, and Strengthen Family Relationships. This is a good holistic approach to stress, recognizing that a mother's own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are crucial to setting the tone for families. Among the top ten "mom stressors" she tackles are keeping the house clean, wanting kids to maintain the perfect family image, too-high expectations, and financial struggles. She gives each of the ten a page or two of recommended action tips. Already-overloaded moms will find manageable, bite-sized ideas for addressing the problems. There's plenty of humor sprinkled throughout the pages and lots of motivational language (moms are "Positive Attitude Coordinators" and "Positive Atmosphere Coordinators").
Some readers may find that Ladd is a little tepid on the need for medication for depression and anxiety. Although she laudably notes, "God may indeed lead us to seek the help of medication…" she urges readers not to side-step the real issues that medication may mask. Good advice. However: "Let's choose to go to God and find our healing in Him first" and first "going to the root" of the problem as she advises ignores the terrible, paralyzing effects of deep depression and anxiety. For many women who are depressed, medication may be needed first, to stabilize them enough to have the energy and wherewithal to be able to "get to the root" of their deeper troubles or to come before the Lord with them. All of these are crucial to the healing process. She also suggests a biblically-based counselor, but doesn't note that it should be one who can prescribe medication, if needed. This distinction may seem picky, but it is an important one for hurting women, as many biblically-based counselors believe medication is wrong, or are not credentialed to prescribe needed medications.
One of the best points Ladd makes is when she cautions readers that God doesn't promise us a simple life --- in fact, it is in the challenges we face that our families will grow in maturity and faith and reliance on God. "Our goal is not to do away with stress completely," she writes. "Rather, it's to manage stress and work around it in a healthy and positive way, so that we don't emotionally annihilate every person living in our homes."
Although the ideas shared are not particularly unique, they are solid and thought-provoking. The book is chock-full of tried-and-true wisdom gleaned from a variety of sources, from Zig Ziglar to Teresa of Avila to Dr. Phil to women Ladd meets in her speaking gigs. Everything Ladd advises is well-grounded in a hefty dose of scripture. Although tips seem most applicable to stay-at-home moms, with a little fine-tuning working mothers also will find plenty of good information here for developing a little oasis of calm in the stressful everyday hassles of family life.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on November 13, 2011