Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2014

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Page 30 of 43

art & soul BOOKS Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting By Brian Leaf P arents have become increasingly dependent on books, celebrity doctors, dogma and the Internet for reassurance and direction, but author Brian Leaf redirects them to their most powerful tools: love, trust and intuition. In a nod to William Sears' Attachment Parenting, Leaf recalls his own early struggles when he felt "a call to wake up to my instinctive par- enting wisdom: being alert to each moment, assessing what is needed with clear eyes and an open heart. Intuition. Flexibility. Mindfulness. If nothing else," he notes, "it's an excuse to keep doing yoga and meditation, now that there's really no time for it." Indeed, parents can struggle to fi nd time even to read a book, but as in his earlier Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, Leaf's mix of earnestness and humor permeates his work so that it is both entertaining and useful. His bibliography is particularly helpful, as he neatly summarizes the approaches that formed the cornerstones of his own parenting style and advice, reduc- ing whole books to one or two pages with anecdotes of their (mostly) successful applica- tion. His summary of Ayurve- da, in particular, is concise, engaging and illuminating. Leaf's humility and opti- mism is contagious, inevita- bly leaving the reader with hope that there is a way out of every sticky situation. Following his model of simply breath- ing and staying connected with your child in the moment has proven quite successful in this reviewer's own challenge to maintain equilibrium with an energetic and determined two- year-old. More than a few times I've paused in the heat of a battle of wills and broken the spell with an extra question or even just an extra hug. Getting down on the fl oor and lock- ing eyes and hearts can move the energy in unexpected ways. (New World Library) —Jeremy Gordon D id you know that a low-lying plant commonly found in a swamp yields 4,900 IU of vitamin A per half-cup? That's watercress, for you—just one of 71 wild plants neatly pro- fi led by the director of L.A.'s School of Self-Reliance. From Aga- ve to Yucca, each entry lists the most prominent characteristics, benefi cial and detrimental properties, where it's found, growth cycle and any folklore. Readers will learn the intricacies of bark and buds, fl owers and fruits, seeds and stalks and leaves, includ- ing their properties in different seasons. Other helpful elements are a pictorial guide to fruits, seeds and leaf shapes; glossary; index that catalogues plant species and the ailments they alleviate; recipes; nutritional breakdowns and two appendices: "Safe Families" and "Why Eat Wild Food?" (Some highlights of the latter are that wild food often offers more nutrients than those cultivated on mineral-defi cient farmland, and that foraging allows eaters to both avoid genetically mod- ifi ed organisms and divert dollars from the agribusinesses that manufacture them.) This second edition is timed perfectly for the food revolution; more thorough indexing might be appreciated in the next edi- tion. For example, "Diuretic" doesn't reference watercress, and "Sore throat" doesn't point to eucalyptus as a remedy. "Herbicide" could also be indexed, to promote black sage, and so on. Nyerges's book reminds us that the wonder of the natural world lies not only in its beauty and power, but with its sheer usefulness. Take eucalyptus: small capsules of powdered stamen heal cuts quickly enough that they are included in fi rst aid kits, and the scented leaves are so repellent that they make an effec- tive fl ea collar for pets. As for agave, although it is well known as the fount of "sweet water" and tequila, it is also a source for paper and twine. Overall, this book is highly recommended to enjoy cov- er-to-cover, then use as a fi eld guide. (Chicago Review Press) —Vanessa Finney Christopher Nyerges Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants october/november 2014 31

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