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The Woman’s Field Guide to Exceptional Living

ISBN: 978-1-60037-395-4

By Corrie Woods
Review by: Grace Tierney

January 2009

Self-help books are one of those things in life that you either love or loathe. Some will devour each new publication of that type seeking fresh insight on improving their lives, while others will mock the very existence of that shelf in the bookstore. If you count yourself amongst the mockers, stop reading this review now.

Still with me? Good. Corrie Woods wants to guide you to an exceptional life, which sounds like fun to me. Looking inside the book and spotting a chapter entitled “Making Mud Pies” re-enforced that initial impression.

Unlike many self-help authors, Woods boasts an impressive pedigree of practical work experience as a life-coach, women’s retreat leader, change facilitator, and personality-analyst. Luckily she’s used that varied experience to create a short self-help book. Yes, you read that correctly. It is short, only 179 pages long, and blissfully free of long-winded case histories and ponderous introductions to basic concepts.

The clue is in the title, Field Guide. Just as a good field-guide to bird-watching, for example, has at most two pages for each bird with just enough information to enable you to identify the winged creature you spotted during your walk, this pared-down guide provides just enough detail to allow you to develop various aspects of an exceptional woman’s life. Chapters are concise, easy to read, well planned, and most of all inviting.

I’ve tried a few guides on this topic before but although most included practical exercises for readers, I never bothered doing them. Thankfully Corrie Woods’ enticing ideas shout out to be tried.

For example, when she wants the reader to expand the creativity in their lives she gives a selection of ways to achieve this which I suspect would tempt almost any woman;

“You choose…
A handful of words can make a poem
A doodle on the edge of a scrap of paper can make a drawing
A twirl in the sunlight can make a dance
A hum while you fold clothes can be music
…You choose”

With the plethora of self-help books it is hard to find any genuinely new wisdom, and this book falls into that trap, yet sometimes the wisdom is in how the teaching is delivered. How many times have you read that women need to learn how to say “No”? Woods merely points out that “saying Yes to someone else means saying No to yourself.” Clever, eh?

Each of the 15 chapters gives a brief, and often amusing, description of how it seeks to aid you in your quest for an exceptional life – learning to love yourself, how to step into the spotlight, how to do a self-retreat, dealing with change, learning from your past, etc. Then Corrie provides easy practical suggestions to inspire you to make that improvement in your life and the chapter concludes with two text-free illustrated pages for you to record your triumphs with this challenge.

The elegant grey pointillist style illustrations by Caren Frost Olmsted lend a meditative look to this beautifully produced book, which thanks to its brevity, really would fit in your pocket for a field trip.

So, if the thought of ploughing through yet another self-help tome overweighed with quotations, long-winded stories, and no practical help drags you down, this is the book for you. It’s short, upbeat, easy to use, and most of all, will make you want to use it to enhance your life.

To read extensive extracts from this book and watch interviews with inspiring women, check out the accompanying Web site www.womansfieldguide.com.


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