Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview CRAFT YOUR OWN HAPPY: A COLLECTION OF 25 CREATIVE PROJECTS TO CRAFT YOUR WAY TO MINDFULNESS by Becci Mai Ford (@beccimai27) (@penswordbooks) Inspiring, positive, a great gift #crafts

Hi all:

I bring you something a bit different today. I hadn’t realised Pen & Sword also published crafts books, and when I mentioned it in relation to a crocheting book (more on that to come), Rosie Croft suggested I had a look at this book. I realise it won’t be available until the end of the month, but as I know some of you like to plan their gifts, I thought I’d bring it to you now.

Craft Your Own Happy A collection of 25 creative projects to craft your way to mindfulness by Becci Mai Ford

Craft Your Own Happy: A collection of 25 creative projects to craft your way to mindfulness by Becci Mai Ford

Craft Your Own Happy is a collection of mindful craft projects to make you smile! Perfect for those moments when you need a bit of self-care and relaxation time.

Do you ever feel like you spend too much of your day staring at screens, feeling anxious or stressed out? If the answer is yes – then you need this book! The cute colorful projects have all been designed with the feel-good-factor in mind. Crafting can help to take you away from the worries and pressures of your daily life, and give you back those moments of slowness and focus which can help to reduce anxiety.

Unlike other craft books, this is a book that you can dip into and find projects based upon how you are feeling. So you can craft to suit your mood! There are 25 beginner friendly projects to choose from including cross stitching, embroidery, paper craft and more… Why worry when you can craft happy!

Author and craft specialist Becci Mai Ford

About the author:

Becci Mai Ford is a smiley maker who loves color. A keen crafter who enjoys making a mess, Becci started crafting at a young age and hasn’t stopped since! She is now the founder of Ellbie Co. a mindfulness craft kit company that aims to spread happiness through making!

Inspired by all things cute and a desire to combat anxiety by crafting. Becci currently works in Brighton out of her tiny rainbow filled office space (The make happy corner!). Where she designs new crafty projects, blogs and tries her best to brighten as many peoples days as possible. She is making life up as she goes along – and so far it’s been a lot of fun!



My review:

I thank NetGalley and Pen & Sword books for providing me an ARC e-book copy of this book (and thank Rosie Croft for recommending it to me).

I am not a great expert in crafting. Quite the opposite. Although I love crafted and hand-made objects, I have very little skill, and I am quite clumsy (I can do very basic knitting, and I am not too bad at crocheting, but that’s about it), so it is not something I pursue often. These days, though, with the forced lockdown due to the pandemic, many people have turned to doing craft projects at home, either on their own or with their children, and as I have been interested in Mindfulness (and meditate regularly) since I attended a workshop six years ago, this book seemed to tick several boxes.

The author of the books sells craft kits, has appeared on TV, and has been interviewed by many well-known UK magazines, and she explains that she saw this book as an extension of her craft kits.

The book is divided into a number of chapters: Basics (where she gives basic instruction on embroidery for absolute beginners); Chapter 1. Anxiety makes, which includes: daily ritual embroidery, flower wall decoration, needle felted unicorn keyring, relaxing rainbow cross stitch); Chapter 2. Get outside, including: clay leaf ring dish, gratitude stones, ocean scene resin necklace, pressed flower phone case; Chapter 3. Happy home: kawaii concrete planter, pompom footstool, resin art clock, yarn wall hanging; Chapter 4. Gratitude makes: the grateful game, clay diorama, kawaii felt card, origami lucky paper stars, peg prompts; Chapter 5. Tidy mind makes: macramé jewellery organiser, kawaii taco felt headphone organiser, kawaii toast make-up bag; Chapter 6. Self-care crafting: embroidery patch, ‘you are enough’ felt banner, kawaii tassel necklace; Chapter 7. Hibernate: heated hand warmers, honeycomb quilted cushion, eye-mask; and a section with the templates of the projects included in the book.

The author explains in the introduction her personal experience with stress and anxiety and how, after trying more standard forms of mindfulness, she realised that to stop her mind from racing and making her anxious what really worked for her was to keep herself busy doing something that was not only not too taxing for her brain, but also something that she enjoyed and made her and others happy. That’s how she started crafting and this book has projects that would suit all levels of skill, although she breaks them down into easy-to-follow steps, so even I would dare to try some of the most complex ones.

She uses a big variety of materials (resin, cement, paints, wood, buttons, shells, sand, tree leaves, cotton, and wool…) and as you can see from the list, creates a large variety of objects, some very simple, and some more elaborate. I particularly liked the fact that she provides practical advice (she warns readers of messy projects, tells us how long they might take, and also explains which ones can be done over a long period of time and are suitable to just work on for a few minutes a day), and she includes projects that are fast and easy to complete, and some that might take a long time to finish, so readers can find something that suits their mood at any given time. She includes a list of materials at the beginning, breaks down each activity into individual steps, illustrating each step with its own image. I am sure those readers who are creative and imaginative when it comes to crafting would find plenty to inspire them here. And many of the projects are eminently suitable for team working, so if you run out of ideas of what to do when you are looking after children or stuck in the house with your nearest and dearest, I’d recommend picking this book up.

The author is full of encouragement and positive advice, that although common-sense and not new or ground-breaking we often forget in the whirlwind of our daily lives. I particularly enjoyed the way she emphasises that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to crafting, home decoration, or even happiness, and how little things can make a big difference.

Just a couple of quotes from the book:

For me, I think a happy home is a home that doesn’t live in the pages of interior design magazines. A happy home is where you have made your own mark on the environment. A happy home is a place where you can look around and see the love and meaning in the objects surrounding you and a place that actively connects with your personality.

Self-care consists of all the things you do to take care of yourself, to protect your mental well-being. It isn’t about doing specific activities; it is about doing what is right for you in order to ensure your mental wellness.

In sum, this is a book for people who like crafting, or who’d like to try it but don’t feel confident enough, for those looking for something different to keep their minds occupied, and it would make a great gift to people who might benefit from these kinds of activities, even if they have never given it a thought. No degree of expertise is required, and I found it inspiring and full of positive energy as well. Although I read it in e-book format, due to the nature of the projects and to the section of templates, I recommend getting a paperback copy if possible. Don’t forget to visit the author’s website for more information and to check some other projects.

Thanks to the author, to NetGalley, and to the publisher for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and keep reading, reviewing, smiling, and always to stay safe.


Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity by Dr. Ronald Epstein M.D. A must read for doctors, care professionals and health and social care institutions. And anybody else #mindfulness #caringprofessions

Hi all:

This review is particularly pertinent to me (or at least to the me who was working as a psychiatrist) but I hope many of you might find useful things in it. A wonderful book.

Attending. Medicine, Mindfulness and Humanity by Ronald Epstein, M.D.
Attending. Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity by Ronald Epstein, M.D.

Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity by Dr. Ronald Epstein M.D.

The first book for the general public about mindfulness and medical practice, a groundbreaking, intimate exploration of how doctors think and what matters most—safe, effective, patient-centered, compassionate care—from the foremost expert in the field.

As a third-year Harvard Medical School student doing a clinical rotation in surgery, Ronald Epstein watched an error unfold: an experienced surgeon failed to notice his patient’s kidney turning an ominous shade of blue. In that same rotation, Epstein was awestruck by another surgeon’s ability to avert an impending disaster, slowing down from autopilot to intentionality. The difference between these two doctors left a lasting impression on Epstein and set the stage for his life’s work—to identify the qualities and habits that distinguish masterful doctors from those who are merely competent. The secret, he learned, was mindfulness.

In Attending, his first book, Dr. Epstein builds on his world-renowned, innovative programs in mindful practice and uses gripping and deeply human clinical stories to give patients a language to describe what they value most in health care and to outline a road map for doctors and other health care professionals to refocus their approach to medicine. Drawing on his clinical experiences and current research, and exploring four foundations of mindfulness—Attention, Curiosity, Beginner’s Mind, and Presence—Dr. Epstein introduces a revolutionary concept: by looking inward, health care practitioners can grow their capacity to provide high-quality care and the resilience to be there when their patients need them.

The commodification of health care has shifted doctors’ focus away from the healing of patients to the bottom line. Clinician burnout is at an all-time high. Attending is the antidote. With compassion and intelligence, Epstein offers a crucial, timely book that shows us how we can restore humanity to medicine, guides us toward a better overall quality of care, and reminds us of what matters most.

Editorial Reviews


“This book is phenomenal, and will be phenomenally useful to physicians and to all of us who are desperately in need of true health care and caring. It is hard for me to imagine a doctor reading it and not immediately recognizing, taking to heart, and implementing its messages in any number of different ways, being so commonsensical, clear, innately transformative, and healing. And it is equally hard for me to imagine that it will not energize all of us, when we find ourselves in the role of ‘the patient,’ to demand greater mindfulness from our care-givers across the board, and know what we mean by that.”—Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living and Mindfulness for Beginners 

“As a student admissions committee member reviewing Ron Epstein’s application to medical school, I knew he was special, a view surpassed by his visionary achievements illuminating the important nature of how physicians care for their patients, and how they can best care for themselves. Attending is the book every medical caregiver needs to strengthen their minds and harness their resilience to care for others—and every patient needs to understand how doctors think. This is a work of heart and head, a beautiful synthesis of inner wisdom and hard earned scientific empirical findings that point the way to proven methods for improving the lives of both giver and receiver of medical care.  With clear explanations, captivating stories, and well-described challenges and approaches to their solutions, this book is exactly what the field of medicine needs.”—Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of Mind and The Mindful Brain and Executive Director, Mindsight Institute Founding Co-Director, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center 

“I recommend Attending for anyone interested in health. In a most accessible way, Epstein makes a very convincing case for how doctors and patients would prosper from doctors becoming more mindful.”—Ellen Langer, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of Mindfulness and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility

“This powerful and inspiring book opens the pathway to bringing care, wisdom, and mindfulness into practice of medicine. A must-read for all clinicians and for lay readers as well.”–Joan Halifax, PhD, author of Being With Dying

“Ronald Epstein cuts through the cacophony and illuminates the heart of the medical enterprise—the attentive and compassionate connection between doctor and patient. In a world awash with medical error, patient dissatisfaction, and burned-out doctors, this attention to mindfulness is much needed balm.  Attending is at once penetrating, counterintuitive, and profoundly humbling.”–Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear

Attending got my attention from the opening paragraphs. Beautiful, compelling, and wise stories of how medicine and care-taking can be, (should be) when approached with common sense, a fierce sense of what is best for both the doctor and patient, and a compassionate heart.  A timely and important book!”–Marc Lesser, CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) and author of Know Yourself, Forget Yourself and LESS: Accomplishing More By Doing Less

“Ronald Epstein truthfully and powerfully describes the challenging and changing worlds of both the physician and and the patient.  Attending will encourage the recognition that mindfulness and compassion training contribute to effective medicine. The book clearly demonstrates how these contemplative practices can help enrich the lives of everyone involved in health care.”–Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness

“Epstein presents for general readers a concise guide to his view of what mindfulness is, its value, and how it is a skill that anyone can work to acquire.”–Library Journal

“A deeply informed and compassionate book…[Dr. Epstein] tells us that it is a ‘moral imperative’ to do right by our patients. And he shows why and how.”--Lloyd Sederer, New York Journal of Books

“Vivid… Epstein’s candor and courage…that makes the book so compelling.”–Pharos

“Among the best books about how to teach the humanistic aspects of doctoring. Epstein weaves together an insightful collection of experiences that examine the clinician’s situation starting from inside her own mind and ending at the system in which she practices.”–Gold Foundation

“Thoughtful company in times when we’ve never needed thoughtful company more.”–Harvard Medicine


Author, Ronald Epstein M. D.

About the Author

Dr. Ronald Epstein is a practicing family physician, is a professor of family medicine, psychiatry, and oncology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where he directs the Center for Communication and Disparities Research and codirects Mindful Practice programs. He is an internationally recognized educator, writer, and researcher whose landmark article, “Mindful Practice,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999, has revolutionized physicians’ view of their work. Dr. Epstein has been named one of America’s Best Doctors every year since 1998 by U.S. News & World Report. Visit Dr Epstein at

Article about the author’s Gold Humanism Award:

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Scribner for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

If they asked me to provide a single word review of this book, I would write AMEN.

Ronald Epstein, the author and practising doctor with his own clinic, after years of studying a variety of disciplines (including music, meditation, Philosophy, Zen, Medicine…) and of trying to find the best way to maintain a practice sensitive to the needs of patients, compassionate, focused on well-being and avoiding suffering, rather than on billing, money and the business-side of things, published an article called ‘Mindful Practice’ in 1999. The article was very well received and resulted in the author becoming a speaker and offering training to other health professionals, emphasising the important of being mindful of one’s practice. In this book, the author shares his insight and knowledge to help other physicians avoid errors, burnout, and remember what Medicine should really be about. He offers plenty of background research and information (with abundant notes that take up more than a third of the book and a useful bibliography for those who want to check the original sources) interspersed with case stories that illustrate the topics. These include cases Dr Epstein had personal experience of (both as a physician and as a patient) and others that he’s accumulated over years of educating other professionals and talking to friends and colleagues. These cases not only reinforce the theoretical points but also add a practical and personal touch that can be lost in purely theoretical texts.

The book is written in a fluid and clear style, accessible and interesting also to those who might not work in healthcare, although it is particularly geared towards health professionals.  Due to the themes and subjects touched upon, this book would be useful to individuals and institutions heavily invested in helping people and dealing with the public, in particular, those offering care. Although many of the reflections are particularly pertinent to individuals, the emphasis on education and the fact that many of the qualities discussed, like compassion and resilience can be taught, are particularly important for organisations and institutions that manage human resources. As Dr Epstein explains, they would go a long way to help avoid professional burnout.

Although Attending mentions Zen, neurocognitive studies, philosophers’ books, mindfulness and meditation, the overall message does not require an in-depth knowledge of any of those subjects and I cannot imagine anybody who would not find something useful in this volume.

As a doctor and one who left the job a few years back less than enamoured with the way health care is organised, I kept nodding all the way through. I highlighted so many sentences and quotes that I cannot share them all, but I will choose a few ones that I felt were particularly pertinent:

Medicine is in crisis. Physicians and patients are disillusioned, frustrated by the fragmentation of the health care system. Patients cannot help but notice that I spend more and more time looking at computer screens and less time face-to-face. They experience the consequences of the commodification of medicine that has forced clinicians’ focus from the healing of patients to the mechanics of health care —productivity pressures, insurance regulations, actuarial tasks, and demoralizing metrics that measure what can be counted and not what really counts, sometimes ironically in the name of evidence-based and patient-centered care.

Maslach found that burnout consisted of three factors: emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation (treating people as objects), and a feeling of low personal accomplishment.

But now, in the age of the corporatization and widgetization of medicine, there is a new kind of burnout, a slow, relentless “deterioration of values, dignity, spirit and will” that comes from the structure of health care itself.

The problem is not only overwork; it’s a crisis of meaning, resilience, and community.

As I said, I think this book should be required reading for medical students, qualified doctors and also for other professionals working in healthcare and those who manage staff and organise the educational programmes of institutions, not only those providing healthcare but also any that deal with the public and its problems on a regular basis.

If I were to make a suggestion, it would be that the book could easily be made even more relevant to other disciplines by adding examples pertaining to other professions (not only nurses or paramedics but also social workers, counsellors, teachers…). It is clear from the content that although the principles can be applied individually, organisations would also do well adopting the ideals and attitudes highlighted by the research. Becoming attentive, compassionate, curious and mindful would help patients and staff increase their wellbeing and avoid burnout and complaints.

I recommend this book to all healthcare professionals, and those interested in how to improve healthcare and increase the resilience and wellbeing of staff. I think that anybody could potentially benefit from this book, and I’d recommend checking the sample if you think it might help you. I will definitely recommend it to some of my previous work colleagues.

Thanks to Scribner and to the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK! And don’t forget to leave a review if you read a book. 


¿Cómo empezáis el día? Los cinco ritos tibetanos de rejuvenecimiento.

Hola a todos:

Parece que he conseguido acumular varias actividades promocionales a finales de Abril y principios de Mayo así que no quería daros mucho la lata y decidí tomarme un descanso (y de paso dároslo a vosotros también).

Si lleváis tiempo siguiéndome quizás recordéis que hace tiempo (casi tres años ya, qué barbaridad) fue a un curso/retiro sobre Mindfulness y meditación y desde entonces empecé a meditar cada día. Nos recomendaron una App que se llama Insight que además de ser un temporizador, y ofrecer meditaciones guiadas, también tiene una serie de grupos a los que se puede unir uno. Lo cierto es que aparte de muy informativos e inspiracionales también los he encontrado muy solidarios. Especialmente el de mujeres, así que cuando puedo entro a ver qué hay de nuevo. Un día leí un post de una mujer que preguntaba lo que yo pregunto en este post, y las respuestas fueron de lo más interesantes. Mucha gente tiene mucha fé en tomar agua con limón (fría o caliente, parece que caliente es mejor aunque no soy una gran fan de bebidas calientes) y muchos mencionaron que hacían los cinco ritos tibetanos de rejuvenecimiento. Naturalmente, me picó la curiosidad, y como hacemos todos los que nos dedicamos a la investigación seria, fui a You Tube.

Si buscáis allí hay una gran variedad de videos, pero escogí este por donde está rodado:

Costa Rica tiene muy buena pinta, ¿verdad?

Yo llevo practicando los cinco ritos hace casi un año. No sé si estoy rejuvenecida o no (sigo aquí, que ya es mucho), pero es una buena forma de empezar el día, desde luego. Y no puedo evitar pensar que quizás Julie Andrews sabía algo que no nos contó…

Mujer con sombrero verde de Picasso
Mujer con sombrero verde de Picasso

Fui a un exposición en Barcelona (de algunos cuadros de la colección Phillips) y este cuadro de Picasso me hace sonreír. Me encanta.

Gracias a todos por leer, y no os olvidéis de, hagáis lo que hagáis por las mañanas, empezad el día con una sonrisa. Besos!


How do you start your day? The Five Tibetan rites of rejuvenation and other random thoughts.

Hi all:

I seem to have accumulated a few promotional activities in the end of April and beginning of May (I’ve told you about some and I’ll remind you again soon) so I decided this week I would give myself and everybody a break.

If you’ve been reading some of my posts for a while you might remember that after going on a Mindfulness course/retreat for psychiatrists some time ago (I was surprised to realised it’s coming up to three years) I took up Mindfulness. I use an App called Insight that apart from offering a timer and guided meditations also has the option of joining some groups. I’ve found them (especially the Women’s Group) very welcoming and supportive and whenever I have a chance I check the messages. One day somebody had posted a question, the one in the title of my post. And quite a few of the ladies replying to the question mentioned that first thing in the morning they’d do the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation. (OK, and drinking lemon water, hot or not was also a big winner).

Of course, with my rigorous research cap on, I decided to go to You Tube and find out what the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation where.  You’ll see if you try, that there are many videos about it. I share one here:

Costa Rica looks awesome too, doesn’t it?

I’ve been doing the Five Rites for almost a year. I’m not sure I’m any younger, but I think it’s a good way to start the day.

And I can’t help but wonder if Julie Andrews knew something that escaped me at the time….

So, friends, how do you start your day? I hope with a bit of time to yourselves and a smile, if nothing else.

Picasso's woman with a green hat
Picasso’s woman with a green hat

(OK, I went to an exhibition in Barcelona, of some of the paintings of the Phillips Collection, and for some reason, this painting makes me smile).

Thanks all for reading, and I hope, whatever you do in the mornings, it starts the day well for you. Smile, like, share, comment, do the rites, sing… whatever!

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