[Book review] How to survive the Turkey and other family gatherings

A family is a system itself. It has its own scale of values and management “procedure”. Communication is an important key and the reviewed book reveals this aspect with plenitude.

How to survive the turkey is a book written around the Christmas holiday habits, but the principles the book is built on are worth giving it at least 1 read. And the lessons in it will help you see things differently, from various standpoints. Written by 2 magnificent women (a systemic coach – Karen van Hout and a NLP guide – Sylvie Mellenbergh), this book also reveals the power within the female brain.

On the other hand, the book empowers everyone to pay a closer attention to their family, analyze its structure and find the pain-points of it. Once found, these can be worked on – if there is enough willingness – and hardships can become history.

I enjoyed reading this book from a very personal perspective: the first debate you will find there is about the old and the new. What if we merges the 2 trends? Can they actually be brought together, on the same page of our thinking process?

As I’ve been analyzing both of these perspectives myself for a pretty long time now, this book has definitely spoken my language. And, having 2 kids myself, now it’s easier to understand where friendship should stop, in order to establish a healthy relationship.

Another interesting aspect: learning about the difference between relationship-oriented people and the task-oriented ones gave me an insight about why I can’t connect with a certain type of  people. Not to mention the importance of the 4 communication styles! But did I mention the 15 assertive fundamental rights? They’re all in this book. I know I should print the latter and stick it somewhere, so that I can easily see this list every day!

Additionally, you may enjoy the practical exercises, smoothly inserted within the pages of this thought-provoking piece of writing.

If you still need valid points, maybe you should consider reading this book for the “Conflicts management” section. It’s an eye opener!

The authors wrote it in an “easy to read” manner of approach, which makes it even more valuable. Therefore – by all means – I will describe it as a personal development book, which will earn its place on your shelf, without a doubt!

Here are some interesting quotes from the book:

“By receiving, you give the other person an opportunity to do something for you. Therefore, you make someone else happy.”

“If you change, your family will change.”

“Behavior is not who you are, but how you express yourself.”

” You don’t have a relationship, you create one.” – Karen van Hout

“While juggling, everything is considered equally important.”

Make sure you check out the English version (initially published in Dutch, in September 2017). You can purchase it from Amazon. Be kind and leave the authors a review there, so that everyone finds out about the value within these pages.

Happy reading!


Article originally published on LinkedIn, on December 11, 2018.

[Book review] “The Upbringing that Encircles Me: A memoir”

“The Upbringing that Encircles Me: A memoir”, a book categorized as non-fiction, written by Victoria Brewster (a former violin orchestra player), is a piece of writing which clearly breaks any boundaries of the conventional.

The first 2 paragraphs of the book will represent the delight of old-fashioned critics, as they will find plenty of reasons to misinterpret the actual message within this book. The author uses several terms that “should not be debated”, according to certain cultures and beliefs.

Nevertheless, the original, unconventional style of writing, in a raw and very open manner, is exactly why one should purchase this book. The writer takes the reader from some very dear memories of teenage years to the hardships life has thrown at her. She clearly voices her mind about standing against discrimination, as well as about her marital challenges and the struggles of raising her children by herself. From car accidents she survived without a scratch, to moving out several times, to attempting a “direction shift” to witnessing many (various) cases of death.

Her life experiences, both on personal and professional levels (she works mostly with elders over the age of 65), have taught her not to fear death or to avoid talking about it. In fact, nowadays, Victoria Brewster envisions bringing together groups of people who can openly talk about this topic, share their fears and learn how to overcome the inherited ideas that death is a taboo subject.

Additionally, Victoria is a member of the Service Professionals Network (SPN) Group on LinkedIn and Facebook social networks, has an End of Life Specialist Certification from Doing Death Differently and she is part of the End of Life Doula Network.

“The Upbringing that Encircles Me” is the second book Victoria has written, the first one being co-authored with Julie Saeger Nierenberg and entitled Journey’s End: Death, Dying and the End of Life (released in July 2017). The two ladies are planning a continuation of their collaboration and they are currently working on a second book on the same topic, that will be called Journey’s End: Cultural, Ethnic, and Religious Perspectives on Death and Dying.

The present memoir of the author covers a plethora of subjects many of us witness, on a daily basis, yet few of us find a voice to speak about, due to the stigma society places on our shoulders. Main subjects: converting from a religion to another, creating inter-cultural families, co-parenting with an ex-spouse, miscarriages and many more.

By the end of the book, the reader will also find a series of happenings that changed the author’s life for good, as well as her plans for the near future.

As a plus to the above mentioned reasons, this book should be purchased due to its pretty good degree of uplifting content, a readability score of 5 (on a scale from 1 to 5 – not too lengthy, but concise, with easy to understand terms and a clear structure).

Victoria Brewster

The author is also available for providing trainings and/ or consultations and attending speaking events. She can be reached, by email, at mswwrites.vbrewster@gmail.com or contacted via her LinkedIn profile page. Her blog posts, writing activity and details about current and future projects can be viewed by visiting mswwrites.com


Article originally posted on LinkedIn on November 8, 2018.

[Book Review] “Siddhartha”

This book is the core of my writing. Is the spark of my belief in a better world and is the book that took me to the peak of my personal development search. This book was recommended to me by a very dear friend of mine, in times of deep troubles of mind. He said: “Read this. You may find your way”.

I read it breathless… Every day, on my way to work, with my headsets on, I would lose myself in the world of the young seeker, just to learn more of his adventures.

Even from the first paragraphs of chapter 1, the reader discovers the depth of our hero’s mind and his thirst for knowledge. I was intrigued by the life of an Indian young man who, from early ages, knew that something greater was waiting for him. He was not pleased with the life he had; there was always something missing; even though “He already knew how to speak the Om silently, the word of words, to speak it silently into himself while inhaling, to speak it silently out of himself while exhaling, with all the concentration of his soul (..) one with the universe”.

With all the practices and wise men around him, Siddharta started questioning the nature of gods and the purpose of life.

Consequently, he left his parents’ home and started the journey of self-discovery, accompanied by his best friend – Govinda.

As you may be able to tell, that was the exact moment I let myself entangled by the story; the moment I said the first:”A-ha!”; and the moment I knew that book was, indeed, meant for me to read. And the timing was perfect!

So, here he is, a young man that could have had everything in life (as the son of a Brahman), leaving everything behind, in search of a higher purpose. In search of answers the wise men could not have provided. In search for… himself.

He goes from giving up everything he has for living in the forests – with the Samanas – to becoming a very wealthy businessman, to meeting the wise ferryman. A life journey, that happens within the span of just a few years.    

When someone asked him: “What can you do?” he answered: “I can think. I can wait. I can fast. (…) I also know magic spells, but I do not want to speak them any more. I have read the scriptures (…)”. What a magnificent answer! Some may think it is shallow, yet – digging below the surface – some great amount of wisdom may be revealed within these words.

When he met the ferryman for the second time and had the chance of telling his tale to the old man, Siddhartha was astonished by his new companion’s silence.

Cartoon created by the author of this review

When he finished the story of his life, he said to the ferryman: “And I also thank you for this, Vasudeva, for listening to me so well! These people are rare who know how to listen. And I did not meet a single one who knew it as well as you did. I will also learn in this respect from you.”

Siddhartha” was written by the German-Swiss multi-talented novelist, poet and painter Hermann Hesse and first published in 1922. The quotes in this review are from the free on-line version of the book I was fortunate to find and read here. There is also a beautifully narrated audio-book version, here.

By the time I finished reading it, I knew why my friend told me those words. And I knew something different was ahead of me. As a result, I am now writing this, in hopes someone will get curious enough to visit the links above and learn what I learned.

This book has, literally, changed my life. And I hope it will change many more !


Article originally posted on LinkedIn, on July 31st, 2018

[Book Review] “My revenge on life”

My revenge on life (originally written in French – “Ma revanche sur la vie” – and afterwards translated in English), by Virginie Lemay-Vriesde, is a real life story. I’m sure it will be an inspiration to many people, as this is the reason it was written for.

It is literally the author’s life, exposed in the most transparent of ways. And Virginie’s story goes from a normal life to a tragic accident, to turning up as an uplifting story…

One moment and her life took an unwanted turn. During several months of tremendous pain, she was still happy to be alive. She was strong and so determined to go on with her existence, that she fought against all odds. And she managed not to lose her faith, despite all this.

Moreover, the author has ever since changed her mindset completely. She managed to understand that this painful experience was meant to teach her a valuable lesson (or several – to be discovered), with the exact purpose of turning her into the person she is today.

Nowadays, if you connect/ talk to Virginie, you will never guess what she went through. She is so full of life, joyful and grateful for everything her life has become, that learning her past is somehow shocking.

I know I am grateful to have been so fortunate to meet her! She is an extraordinary coach, who helps expats and professionals working in international environments to overcome their challenges and optimize their potential. Her natural way of being and ability to speak 6 languages lead to an excellent capacity of building relationships.


After learning her story, the reader will admire the author’s perseverance and willing of living, as well as understanding how she found the strength to “rebuild herself”.

My revenge on life is an inspirational story that should find a place in every home.

If you’d like to find out more about the author and how you can also overcome your stormy times, you can purchase the book in both languages (French and English) from ALL Amazon marketplaces (amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it, amazon.in, amazon.com.au, amazon.com.mx, amazon.jp). They are available both in e-book/Kindle version and paperback format.


Article originally posted on Linkedin, on July 30, 2018.

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