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My philosophy in doing book reviews is that it is my duty to express an honest opinion, even when it is not a positive reflection of the work. As well, being human, I have a deep dislike for most self-help "steps and secrets" books (the Steven Covey books, for example) because they make very complicated situations seem easily solved. These books advertise ‘secrets revealed,’ but they usually end up repeating common sense behaviors. So, I took 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women fully expecting to write a negative review.

 

This book is delightful! It is joyous and rich with a wealth of useful, uplifting and. exciting stories of women who found ways in their lives to fulfill their dreams. Divided into three sections, the interviews with artists, best-selling authors, businesswomen and scholars will inspire you. It truly does act as a kind of portable mentor.

 

In the first section the reader is encouraged to engage her creativity, through practical suggestions and guidance coming primarily through interviews with an eclectic collection of women. Gail Sheehy (writer) tells us that, "creativity can be described as letting go of certainties" in a chapter on honoring our inspirations, through sacred play, creating sacred space, opening to the playful creativity of the universe, and heeding our hearts' knowledge. For those of us who are perfection-chal1enged, Katherine Graham (publisher) reminds us that, "a mistake is simply another way of doing things."

 

The second gateway (to use Ms. McMeekin's term) challenges us to overcome obstacles to expressing our creativity. I do not use the term "challenges" lightly in this case. The first secret here is to commit to self-focus. If you read no other portion of this book, read this chapter. How many of us can actually say that we are our number one priority in life? This chapter explores the difficulties we face in making ourselves a priority: from being thought of as "selfish," setting realistic boundaries, and supporting the self-focus of other women. I think a quote from Marianne Williamson (writer) expresses it neatly when she says, "As the feminine spirit seeks to rise, there are numerous forces seeking to push her back down." The next secret is to become aware of the saboteurs to creativity (including self-criticism and self-valuation). This gateway ends with a wise chapter on transcending rejections and roadblocks, summed up by Beverly Sills (opera singer), "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try." Tough stuff!

 

The last gateway gives the reader a set of tools that support women in manifesting that creative impulse within the world. These tools include living in abundance with positive priorities, subtracting serenity stealers, and (last, but not least) planning to achieve your goals. As with the rest of the book, these are not platitudes and homilies, but powerfully written chapters of inspiration and feminine exultation.

 

The women of my family are highly creative in the verbal, written and tactile arts (I am the least creative of the bunch, truth be told). I know they will love this book as much (or more) than I do, and I have already purchased extra copies to give to them. I am pleased to be working with this book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

 

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Gail McMeekin

Conari Press 2000

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