BOOK BEAT Naples Sun Times August 22-28, 2007
by Philip K. Jason
At a certain point in her life, Laurie Martin needed to find her way out of a downward spiral that had affected her self-worth and her physical and spiritual health. What Martin discovered in the process of transforming her own life she has been able to refine and share, both in workshops and in her new book “Smile Across Your Heart: The Process of Building Self Love.” The book enables the active, responsive reader to participate in his or her own rebalancing of attitudes and behaviors.
Martin, who moved to Naples to be near family at the end of 2004, has offered a book in a crowded segment of the marketplace. The broad concepts offered here are not too different from what can be found elsewhere. What makes Martin’s treatment stand out has to do with the design of the book and the voice that reaches the reader.
Design operates on many levels to make “Smile Across Your Heart” an effective self-help publication. The chaptering provides relatively self-contained, effective steps toward self-discovery and change. Each focuses an issue: “Remembering Your Natural State” leads us to recover the natural joy of childhood, while “Staying True to Yourself” encourages a proper balance between recognizing and using personal power and responding to the views and needs of others. “Co-creating Your Life” urges collaboration with the universe and with divinity. “Finding Humor in Your Life,” one of my favorite chapters, celebrates the fun that we can find in our imperfections and coaches us to relieve the stress of taking ourselves too seriously. The other chapters are “Balancing Your Everyday Life,” “Relaxing with Your Heart,” and “Relating with Your Heart.”
Each chapter has several subsections, allowing resting places for contemplation or for performing the suggested activities.
Design is also reflected in the shape of each chapter and the contribution of graphic design techniques to hi-light exercises. Martin offers suggestions for journal-keeping, for visualizing successful outcomes, and for expressing gratitude and request experiences. She also provides strategies for personal problem-solving.
The design of the book, and of the program that it represents, does involve repetition: advice and exercises and issues overlap somewhat as the reader moves from chapter to chapter. But that repetition is part of the design, reinforcing key concepts and thereby enhancing the possibilities of changes in outlook and behavior.
The book has a pulse. There is a rhythm to the construction of insights and activities and a compelling rhythm as well to the coach’s voice. One can’t help but want to follow her lead.
It is that engaging, friendly, and supportive voice that makes the book an effective stand-in for personal coaching sessions. Without getting sugary or euphorically enthusiastic, Laurie Martin insists that we are all part of a perfect design, that we have what takes to thrive in all aspects of our lives, and that with guidance and committed effort we can release our thwarted energies and take responsibility for our life’s journey.
Martin advocates a healthy self love. Though most readers will understand that this kind of self love is not to be confused with excessive pride or conceit, I do wish Martin had given attention to the distinction.
This is not the kind of book that I would have been drawn to on my own. In fact, I almost resisted exploring it. But I’m glad I took the chance. The message and method of “Smile Across Your Heart” can help all of us some of the time, and many of us all of the time. The book, five years in the making, represents Martin’s goal of helping people go into their own hearts to embrace their own divinity. Her credo is “living in love feels better than living in fear.”
A year ago, she hired an editor to help her refine the manuscript. When she was ready, Martin prepared the usual proposals and circulated them to many publishers. The second nibble quickly led to a book contract, though the publisher insisted that another hundred pages be cut, in order to streamline and focus the presentation of the book’s message. Martin signed the contract last fall and the book came out last month from Yes International Publishers.. A second book and a video lie in the future.
On Sunday September 9, Laurie Martin will be leading a workshop at the Unity Church in Bonita, at noon, based in principles in the book. You can also meet her at her
book signing at the Naples Borders on Saturday September 15 from 2-4pm. Meanwhile, you can find out more about Laurie Martin and her book at smileacrossyourheart.com.
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference and Authors & Books Festival presented by the Naples Press Club.