Preparing for the new year

"Spiritual Vitamins" -

by Mary Ellen Psaltis

and Maureen Kiefert

The Possibilities Group -

208 pages - $16.95

If you're like me, you've had it with this lowland cold spell and you're ready to start looking ahead to lengthening days, warmer temperatures and the possibilities of a new year.

To get in the right frame of mind, I checked out a book called "Spiritual Vitamins" this week. This book isn't about the nutritional value of food, although it still could help people who are planning to start a new diet. And while the book is subtitled "12 Essential Nutrients for Women," there's plenty of good advice that could work well for either gender as we all gear up for 2009.

The appealing thing about this book is that it helps you to look at things from the inside out. Instead of investing in a rowing machine or laying out money for a makeover, you are encouraged first and foremost to tap into your own mental and emotional resources.

Olympia authors Mary Ellen Psaltis and Maureen Kiefert, who between them have degrees and training in counseling, nutrition, anger management and guided imagery, suggest that the resources they're writing about already exist within us.

"Our mind is a powerful mechanism. In fact, many believe that we are who we think we are," they write. But Kiefert and Psaltis also note that our self-image often can be shaped by outside forces as well - by what teachers, parents, siblings, spouses and friends have said to us over the years, and even by the way society regards people in our particular economic, social and ethnic groups. This happens insidiously, without our even realizing it. But when we accept what other people think about us, we limit ourselves to their visions instead of following our own.

This makes perfect sense and it helps to be reminded of it every once in a while. "Spiritual Vitamins" spells it out in straightforward fashion.

Methodically, the authors list and discuss a dozen qualities that they assert will nourish your outlook on life - I particularly liked the "vitamins" called imagination, understanding and zeal.

For each quality, the book provides a set of exercises that will help you examine how you define that essence in yourself. The exercises also help pinpoint any unthinking or bad habits you might have that could hamper your full enjoyment and employment of that quality.

The authors candidly share their own trials and tribulations and show how these 12 "essential nutrients" have helped them to break chains of fear, victimization and apathy, allowing them to move on to pursue their dreams and goals, some of them little, some of them big.

"Spiritual Vitamins" is not perfect. It is a locally-produced book that has its share of typographical errors. And by relying on the same exercise format for all 12 of the qualities it discusses, the book becomes a mite predictable.

Nonetheless, this book brims with positive energy and urges us to see challenges as opportunities. In the year ahead, I think we're going to need that kind of attitude!

The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at

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