Women's Perspective

Currency of the Heart

Reading Room

Everyday Kindness

Stephanie Dowrick
Jeremy Tarcher/Penguin

The internationally renowned author of Choosing Happiness shows how a little bit of everyday kindness can help us tackle the pressures of the modern world—providing the insights, reassurance, and the means to worry far less and enjoy life more.

Change your life with Everyday Kindness. Virtually every moment of our greatest well-being reflects the giving and receiving of kindness. At home, work, and in the wider world, there are countless opportunities when a moment of consideration or kindness—given or received—will transform your day. Whether it is a hard time to be endured or a wonderful time to be shared and celebrated, it's our willingness to think well of ourselves and act kindly toward others that makes all the difference.

Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance

Helen LaKelley Hunt
Atria Books

Why do so many women of faith have such a strong aversion to feminism? And why do so many feminists have an ardent mistrust of religion? These questions are at the heart of Helen LaKelly Hunt's illuminating look at the alliance between spiritual conviction and social action. Intelligent and heartfelt, Faith and Feminism offers a perceptive look at the lives of five spirited and spiritual women of history, women who combined their undying faith with feminist beliefs and who made the world a better place by doing so. • St. Teresa of Ávila, a woman whose bravery in confronting her shadows gave her the strength to connect with the world and live a life of divine action.

  • Lucretia Mott, a Quaker minister, who rose from her quiet upbringing to become a passionate speaker and activist working tirelessly on behalf of justice and peace.
  • Sojourner Truth, a Christian slave, who spoke out with unwavering courage to claim her God-given rightful place as an African American and a woman.
  • Emily Dickinson, an extraordinary poet, who touched the world with her ability to capture and transform the experience of suffering.
  • Dorothy Day, a radical journalist, who lived a life of voluntary poverty as a way of expressing her passion for the Christian faith and care for those in need.

A remarkable book that focuses on the idea that spirituality and feminism are really different expressions of the same impulse to make life more whole, Faith and Feminism offers a powerful catalyst for reflecting on our sense of self -- and for living and loving according to our deepest values.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDun
Alfred A. Knopf

I waited six months on the library's hold list for this book, and having finally read it, I can understand now why it is so popular. Many of the stories about women facing violence, mutilation, discrimination in other parts of the globe are horrifying and haunting, and it almost numbs the mind to realize that these stories are not unique but are being repeated again and again villages and cities and farmlands all over the world.

It could have been tempting to set the book aside as too hard, too graphic, too disturbing to read in the comfort of my rocking chair, and if the point of the book had been the horror of it all, I would have done just that. But the suffering is only one aspect of the stories. The real point of this book is that we can make a difference in the lives of individual women and in the unfolding of the world story. I was inspired by the stories of women (and men) in every chapter who are changing the world by relentless efforts to right one wrong, acting on visions of a world where women are truly valued as fully human beings. The final chapter is "What You Can Do", perhaps most inspiring of all, as we each are challenged to take steps to make a difference.

Money and the Meaning of Life

Jacob Needleman

We never gave ourselves the task of really attending to the material world. We never understood that conscious attention to the material world is precisely what frees us from it, separates us from it, gives us the space and time we long for.”

This is among one of the many theses Jacob Needleman argues for in his bestseller Money and the Meaning of Life. Throughout, he strives to marshal wisdom from a wide array of traditions and connect them to his personal experience. Much of the book is occupied by his recounting the experience of teaching a single course based on the book's title. Hence to read Needleman is to struggle along with him and his students as they attempt to understand the way in which money has evolved throughout history to occupy its current cultural role as mediator of almost all human interaction and human ego. Together, they conclude that a simple distancing oneself from the material, from money, never helps us truly improve either our spiritual or physical lives: only by cultivating an awareness of the way money links us to others, along with a consciousness of the inherent role of giving and receiving in human life, can we understand money and its connection or separation from meaning.

There is an audacity to Needleman, that some may find abrasive. This is in part representative of his context and history: he is clearly a San Francisco philosopher heavily influenced by the 1960s, captivated not only with the idea of a single truth connecting all religion but with his ability as a spiritual teacher to present that truth. His focus on the history of man, especially, and man's spiritual journey, will undoubtedly feel anachronistic to some Women's Perspective members. Nonetheless, his observations and questions remain useful and challenging in considering what place money does, and should, play in society today.

Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude

Alan Jones and John O'Neil
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Gratitude, Cicero observed, is more than just a virtue; it is the parent of all the other virtues. In Seasons of Grace: The Life-Giving Practice of Gratitude, Alan Jones and John O'Neil explore the spiritual practice of gratitude, which can be expressed in acts as simple as writing a thank-you note, cleaning the house or meditating in the garden. Although the authors do not draw explicitly on Naikan Buddhism, their approach is astoundingly similar to Naikan, which emphasizes gratitude as the key to compassionate living.

The book is beautifully organized into sections around the four seasons: spring is a time to appreciate the gift of a renewed creation; summer a season of frolicking in nature and enjoying some rest; autumn a contemplative period of introspection; and winter an interval of gathering with loved ones. Each chapter closes with "gratitude practices," offering concrete ideas of ways to cultivate and express gratitude.

The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life

Lynne Twist with Teresa Baker
W.W. Norton & Co. Magazine

This unique and fundamentally liberating book shows us that examining our attitudes toward money—earning it, spending it, and giving it away—can offer surprising insight into our lives, our values, and the essence of prosperity.

Lynne Twist, a global activist and fundraiser, has raised more than $150 million for charitable causes. Through personal stories and practical advice, she demonstrates how we can replace feelings of scarcity, guilt, and burden with experiences of sufficiency, freedom, and purpose. In this Nautilus Award-winning book, Twist shares from her own life, a journey illuminated by remarkable encounters with the richest and poorest, from the famous (Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama) to the anonymous but unforgettable heroes of everyday life.

The Woman’s Book of Money & Spiritual Vision

Rosemary Williams with Joanne Kabak

Money and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. There is a spiritual dimension to money that can be tapped for your benefit—and for the wider world as well.This is a book about awareness, acceptance, and action. It starts with understanding your personal financial facts and uncovering the feelings that these facts bring up. It continues by focusing on how to create alignment between your personal financial picture and your core values. Whether your funds are significant or minimal, reading The Woman’s Book of Money & Spiritual Vision can be a transformative experience.

Money enters into our deepest relationships: those between spouses, lovers, and life-long friends, between siblings, or parents and children. Money is part and parcel of family and communal life, and hence many of us know well the strain that financial difficulties, and even financial success, can put on our relationships. So how do we make both the big and little decisions that connect our finances and family? Moreover, how do we do so in ways that are all at once good financially, good for our relationships, and good for ourselves?

What Kids Really Want That Money Can't Buy: Tips for Parenting in a Commercial World

Betsy Taylor
Warner Books

With parents today worried that they are raising the I want generation, WHAT KIDS REALLY WANT THAT MONEY CAN'T BUY arrives at just the right moment. Betsy Taylor's advice ranges from simple, everyday things parents can do to more sophisticated approaches, such as teaching media literacy and financial skills to their children to fight this problem. Along the way, she enlists the voices and stories of parents and educators on the front line in this war against consumerism.

She also promotes the philosophy of how to have more fun with less stuff by returning to simple and meaningful rituals like dinner conversation and nature outings. Striving toward a life in which the hand, heart, and homemade is highly valued, this inspirational guide from Betsy Taylor offers a much needed helping hand.

Your Money or Your Life

Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez with Monique Tilford
Penguin Books

An updated classic is reviewed by the next generation of readers

Your Money or Your Life is an immensely practical book. But its usefulness, and its continued popularity since its original 1992 release, surely exist largely because this practicality is rooted in a deep and discerning analysis of our society's current economic and cultural systems, and in careful observation of human behavior and character. Authors Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, and Monique Tilford wisely see personal growth not as a matter only of individual will, but as a matter of reconceptualizing the frameworks that shape how we perceive the world, both individually and collectively. Change thus comes from new understandings of the world we live in, and of how that world shapes us; new realizations about our own needs and wants, and new visions of how to fulfill those in transformative ways; and ultimately, in connecting our new understanding to habits and practices that can instill in us financial intelligence and help us to become financially independent.

One of the best examples of this is the way in which Robin and her coauthors help readers to reconceptualize the idea of 'work' and the notion that a job – especially the high-powered jobs that fit common, modern notions of success – is the best available method to provide for ourselves. They offer revealing exercises that help us to understand how much of our personal resources – both financial, emotional, physical, and others – go into maintaining our job, rather than into ourselves, our families, and the many other things which we value, and to see new ways in which we might meet our basic needs. These exercises and tools help readers to draw useful comparisons between financial and non-financial resources, empowering us to see new possibilities for action, and new solutions to old problems.

If you are a skeptic of self-help books (and the book's subtitle, “9 steps to transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial independence,” surely marks it as such), Your Money or Your Life is worth setting aside your preconceptions to experience what it has to offer. With humor and optimism, the authors have crafted a unique toolkit for helping all of us draw the connections between our personal lives and the larger financial crises happening around us, and for taking meaningful action in response. Now “updated for the 21st century,” it is an important book for the times in which we live.

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