Book Review, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance Book Review


Book Review:

I was not sure what to expect with this book, but it was a fun read and educational.

I like how the author, Catherine Harrison linked ballroom dance to life in general; a confidence boost, stress reducer, sociable activity, weight-loss activity, mental health boost.

She shares good tips on which studio to choose; franchised or independent or should one want an independent instructor and the importance of “clicking.”

Good information was shared on groups lessons vs. private lessons along with the potential benefits for using a coach. For someone wanting to know what to expect from ballroom dancing or someone who has an interest, this is a good descriptive book to assist in the decision making.

Humor is used, personal stories of her own dance lesson and competition experiences. She shares and gives practical advice.

Book Description:

Why didn’t anyone tell me? Ballroom dancing is fun, magical and, most of all, life-changing. When I first started learning ballroom though, I fumbled around awkwardly and sometimes painfully, figuring things out as I went along. Certain things weren’t explained or just never came up in conversation. From what to expect in class to how to find the right teacher or dance partner to how much ballroom really costs, Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance covers the things that I wish I had known when I first started learning ballroom. This quick read is your cheat sheet to help you get the most out of your ballroom experience.

Buy the Book:  BookBaby  ~  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Author’s Bio:

Katie is known as the Girl with the Tree Tattoo because of the tree of life tattoo that covers her entire back. She has been taking ballroom dancing lessons since December 2012 and competing in pro-am ballroom competitions since April 2014. It was through ballroom dance that Katie started to discover who she really was and what she was capable of, despite the demons of fear, self-doubt, and anxiety that live in her head. Through sharing her own experiences, Katie hopes to lead others to experience the amazing effect ballroom dancing can have on a life.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook


Author Interview:

1) What made you write a book about ballroom dancing?

I’ve always liked writing, but true inspiration was hard for me to come by. I would write, but it always felt “just ok.” I couldn’t find something that lit a fire inside me and made the words just pour out. Ballroom dancing turned out to be my source of inspiration.

2) How did you do research for your books?

I lived them! The books were born out of my own personal experiences plus a few stories I heard from other ballroom dancers. Ballroom Budgeting in particular is straight out of my life, as it includes everything I do to manage my finances so I can keep dancing.

3) There are many books out there about ballroom dancing. What makes yours different? 

A book written by a professional ballroom dancer might cover similar topics to the Dance Diaries series, such as what to expect on your first private lesson or how student costs are broken down, but it will be from their perspective, as a professional and a teacher. I provide the perspective of a student who has been around long enough to understand how things work, but not so long that I’ve forgotten what it was like when I first started. As a freshman, you go through the school-provided orientation but then you go to the students who have been there at least a year to find out how things really work. I’m straight forward about uncomfortable topics like the physical contact and emotional attachments that come with learning ballroom dance and how much things really cost.

4) Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it? 

Oh man, yes! Is there a writer who hasn’t? Usually, I have to do something else to give my brain a break. The most effective activity seems to be taking my dogs for a walk. The mild physical activity and fresh air help kick start the word flow.

5) Where do you write?

I usually have my laptop set up on the kitchen island in my apartment. Luckily, there is a lot of counter space so I don’t annoy my roommate by taking up all of the space! Sometimes I need a “change of scenery” and I’ll move to my bedroom. For one particularly challenging article, I went from sitting at the kitchen counter to sitting on the couch to lying in bed with my laptop on my stomach! Wherever the words flow is where I go.

6) Do you snack while writing? Favorite snack?

I try to avoid snacking too much while I’m writing, but when I do, I try to keep it healthy. Carrots dipped in hummus or fruit like blueberries or strawberries are yummy choices! My roommate loves to bake, so I often sample her creations on the weekends while I’m working away. Sunday afternoon writing sessions are almost always accompanied by some sort of bubbly!


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Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Spot Light Tour & Author Interview- A Drop of Water: A Spiritual Journey by Yvonne Williams Casaus


Book Description:

In this extraordinary book, Yvonne reflects upon her past experiences, grief, and losses to find her way back to her spirituality and strength. She bares her soul, yet is able to use water as a lighthearted, uninhibited, and fun way to express how we are all connected. It is a spiritually inspired book about healing, grief, and personal growth.

It becomes a beautiful poetic journey as she discovers her love of water as part of what led her towards her spiritual path. Through her writing she expresses how she found her way through several tremendous losses, including the loss of her husband. In her ability to endure, she found a strength she never knew she had.

This book is for anyone that has ever struggled with depression, grief, or loss of any kind. It is for anyone interested in personal growth and healing. By sharing her personal story she is able to remind us that we are never truly alone. Water connects us all.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Author’s Bio:

Yvonne Williams Casaus is a Mom, Wife, Author, Counselor, and Play Therapist. She is an independently licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC), a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), and is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. She specializes in Depression, Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She has a private practice in New Mexico and has been helping adults, children, adolescents, and families for over eleven years.

Yvonne’s areas of expertise include Depression, Anxiety, Divorce, Panic Attacks, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Sexual Abuse, Rape, Physical Abuse, Grief, ADHD and other issues. She also specializes in treating traumatized children with issues such as PTSD, Sexual abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect, Adoption, and Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~ Instagram



Author Interview:

1- Do you have another profession besides writing?

Yes, I love working as a Counselor and Play Therapist. I have a private practice, and I have been working with adults, adolescents, and families for over eleven years. I am a certified EMDR therapist and I specialize in Depression, Anxiety, and Trauma. I have a bumper sticker that says “MY WORK IS CHILD’S PLAY” which I absolutely love.

2- In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

I wrote the first half of my book on paper. I used an unlined drawing pad and wrote from the heart in longhand. When the words started flowing faster than I could write, I switched to the computer and wrote with my eyes closed. I feel this really helped me stay focused and let my Divine Author Within come through.  Technology is great, but it can stunt the creative flow if you notice every error as you are writing.

3- What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Despite sky diving and snorkeling with sharks, I would have to say putting my personal story out there for the world to read has been the most terrifying thing I have ever done. Therefore, that must be the most courageous thing as well. I tend to be a very private person, so sharing the loss of my husband to suicide was not easy.

4- Favorite travel spot?

I have always been drawn to the ocean. I love to be near the water. One of my favorite places to visit is Florida because I crave the warm water of the Atlantic Ocean. Out in the ocean is where I feel most connected to my spirituality.

5- Any hobbies? or Name a quirky thing you like to do.  

I love music. Going to Rock Concerts is one of my most favorite things to do. I play the guitar and love to paint. When I was young I played the violin. I have always been crazy about anything with leopard print. It must be the wild side in me. I have so many things with leopard print, from clothes, to purses, to phone cases, and shoes. Finally, I have always loved the water. I swear I was a mermaid before.

6- If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

I believe in quality time vs. quantity time. So when I am with my children I try to be truly present with them. I write and edit when they are busy at school or while waiting in the car during gymnastics practice. I would take an hour in between volunteering in a kindergarten classroom and seeing a client in my private practice. Prioritizing is important. I would get up early to write before the weekend got busy with practices and birthday parties.  Sometimes I had to make a choice. Do I finish my book or do the dishes? It’s not always easy.

7- If there is one thing you want readers to remember, what would it be?

Of the 8 billion species on earth, there are 7.24 billion people of different cultures, ages, and genders. What is the universal link that connects us all?  Water. A drop of water, an ocean of water, they are the same. We are never alone. There is always love and encouragement that we choose not to see. But, you have never been alone, you can never feel alone again. Water connects us all.


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Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

There’s Been a Change of Plans: A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents in Mid-Life; Book Review

Book Review:

As one who is going through divorce, I found Amy Koko’s book refreshing.

Everybody’s story and journey is different and hers is very different than mine. It is a great book full of wisdom, humour, sorrow, anger, despair, but hope and love too!

Amy finds herself caught surprised thinking her husband is finally going to take them on a trip to Italy-her dream…… to I met someone else……and she is younger…..and I have been having an affair. What? She was forty-seven when he told her this.

After twenty-seven years of marriage and four children, one assumes all is going well, right? She gets a mid-face lift, although her husband states: “It better not be on my account,”  purchases thong undies from Victoria Secret and they begin Marriage Counseling. She describes herself as becoming June Cleaver being polite, using loving words. It doesn’t work. In the middle of all this, some of her kids are having some issues.

She meets with a lawyer and begins the divorce process. She starts reinventing herself with volunteering and eventually paid work as she has 4 kids to look after of various ages and bills to pay. After all is said and done she joins an online dating site and begins a new stage of her life. The whole dating era is pretty funny and awkward at times, but turns out well in the end.

Book Description:

Blogger Amy Koko bears her soul in her witty, bittersweet memoir, There’s Been A Change of Plans: Divorce, Dating & Delinquents in Mid-life. Expecting a trip to Italy, Koko is blind-sided by her husband’s confession that he’s been putting his shoes under a much younger and prettier woman’s bed. After twenty-seven years of marriage and four children, she faces the unimaginable: her life as she knows it is unraveling around her and her family’s future is anything but certain.

In the literary tradition of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Koko’s memoir details her journey from hearing the news that her husband is in love with a blonde, thirty-something Swiss pastry chef to trying everything from thong underwear to a mini-facelift to save her marriage, only to see it die in the parking lot of gas station.

With incredible honesty and humor, Koko takes the reader on a wild ride through the tough, emotional times of starting over through divorce, mid-life, finding a job, and Internet dating, all the while trying to keep her four teenagers out of jail.

There’s been a change of plans, and that’s just the beginning.

Buy the Book:

Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble

Author’s Bio:

After 27 years of marriage, Amy Koko went into divorce, kicking, screaming, stalking and drunk texting but lived to tell about it. She is the creator of the popular blog Exwifenewlife and a contributor to Huffington Post Divorce as well as Huffington Post Women. Amy lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where she begins each day with a freshly ground cup of good coffee and ends it with a good glass of pinot noir. Or chardonnay. Or a dirty martini. Whatever’s handy.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook



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Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Shared via Rea L. Ginsberg – Why is anticipatory grief so powerful? | The Caregiver Space — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Harriet Hodgson, who wrote a book on the subject, explores the many ways anticipatory grief shows up in our lives. Here are some ways it reveals its power. Source: Why is anticipatory grief so powerful? | The Caregiver Space

via Shared via Rea L. Ginsberg – Why is anticipatory grief so powerful? | The Caregiver Space — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library