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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Toss the Guilt and Catch the Joy by Merrilee Boyack

I’ve found my New Year’s resolution book. Toss the Guilt and Catch the Joy: A Woman’s Guide to a Better Life by Merrilee Boyack seems to have much that I needed to hear right now. It addresses one of the biggest issues we as women face: guilt. What it is and isn’t, what it’s place in our lives should be, and what to do about the fact that so many of us have simply lost the joy in life that is meant to be ours.

I found myself relating to almost everything Ms. Boyack had to say. She’s very down to earth and practical. She opened by telling a story about a Saturday following a series of very stressful days. Her husband insisted that she needed a day to recharge and must leave the house and go “play”. Uh huh. If you’re a normal living breathing female your first thoughts were probably similar to mine. “I wish I could spend a day playing.” But take it a step further. Merrilee says she liked the idea, but when she thought about it the only things she could think to do were “should dos”: catch up the grocery shopping, finish her visiting teaching, take the car for an oil change. No where on her list of initial thoughts was something that could be considered “playing”. She thought harder. She admits that she honestly had no idea any more what brought her joy, what interested her outside of have-tos and to-do lists. What’s worse? She tried calling some of her friends to come out and play and help her find something to do. Every single woman turned her down because they had too much else going on in their lives.

Somehow I think Heavenly Father watches us women as we scurry about being anxious about being “anxiously engaged in a good cause” and would like to shake some sense in to the lot of us. Merrilee Boyack thinks that might be the case as well. So, the whole of Toss the Guilt and Catch the Joy addresses the weird and warped sense of reality that many women put upon themselves. She talks about finding out what really matters and how to make the most of who we are, not who we think we should be.

Title chapters include:

  • Women of Joy, Not Guilt
  • Women of Being, Not Comparison
  • Women of Faith, Not Fear
  • Women of Peace, Not Worry
  • Women of Obedience, Not Defiance
  • Women of Strength, Not Weakness
  • Women of Eternity, Not Mortality

Yep. I found myself in every chapter. The good thing though was that I didn’t feel bad or rejected. I felt accepted and enlightened as I read Ms. Boyack’s thoughts on each subject. Yes, she wants us to be better, but better at being happy not better at everything we ever thought we should be. It was a good experience for me to read Toss the Guilt and Catch the Joy. I needed its warm and loving encouragement to see my life in a very different light than what I had been. I hadn’t realized how many ways I’d let Satan and his negative influences overtake things in my life that should be beautiful and fulfilling until I could sit back and read a little bit more about Heavenly Father’s plan of Happiness. Believe it or not, that does include women.

Now that I’ve read it through once, I plan to keep it close during the coming year. It really will be my New Year’s resolution book. See, I don’t normally make resolutions; they inevitably turn out to be one more thing to feel bad about in a month time. But I’d like to try an experiment this year. One chapter a month. That’s all I’m requiring of myself. I will re-read one chapter each month and work only on that attribute in my life. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, but I’d like to try. I’d really like to learn how to play again by this time next year.

Care to join me? Reading Toss the Guilt is a great place to start.

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