Living with Stress by Judy Murphy

living with stress
I don't like your fashion business, mister
And I don't like those drugs that keep you thin
I don't like what happened to my sisters
- Leonard Cohen, First We Take Manhattan

It's prep time for Storytents, and I've been spending like a sailor. (Or, at least trying to - I have to go see my Credit Union Monday morning to talk about who owns my money, me or them... but that's for a different post.) This year, our spending includes lower-level books for adult readers - part of an interweaving of QLNB's storytent, neighbourhood libraries, and adult literacy work.

I had a budget, of course, and wanted to spend it all - to spend what our proposal said we'd spend. And, of course, I had to work in shipping costs and taxes and such... you how it is.

So, there was a bunch of back and forth on the Grass Roots Press website. A bunch of adding to and taking from, until I reached some kind of budgetary state of zen.

But, I'll tell you. Right off the bat, I knew one book I absolutely had to have: Living with Stress by Judy Murphy.

Grass Roots advertises it as "the first of four books in the Easy-to-Read Health Series" with a readability level of 4 - 5, and that's not far off (though some sections are a bit more challenging). But don't pigeon-hole it. Besides being accessible, it's useful. I've had learners who assessed at a much higher reading level read and then return to the book as they sought ways and language for restoring wellness in their lives.

From the catalogue:

The first two chapters provide interactive activities for identifying the stressors in our lives and the ways we respond to stress. The next three chapters deal with strategies for calming our minds, bodies, and breath. The author also discusses how to identify and deal with panic, anxiety, burnout, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Parents will appreciate the final chapter, which is “Helping Our Children Deal with Stress.”

I also ordered Murphy's Living with Healthy Relationships, which I haven't used yet, and so can't rave about. And, I ordered the FYI title Staying Well by New Readers Press (readability 6ish) which is okay, if a little narrowly tied to the medical model.

By the way, Judy Murphy sometimes works with Mary Norton through the Windsound Leaning Society, offering research, information, workshops and such around topics like "movement, singing and art-making to prompt reflection" and, with Jenny Horsman, issues like "the impacts of violence on learning."

They say, "Our own work has included participating in and developing skills in yoga, singing, dance and art therapy."

They don't say if they much time with Lenny Cohen tunes. Actually, I'm not sure he's the best guide to healthy relationships. It's just that that verse often runs through my head when I'm listening to a learner talk about her health problems, or a relationship breakdown, or just not being able to stop crying.

But, like I say, that's just me. If you're looking for information or direction around the links between literacy and wellness, these women offer a good place to start.

Judy Murphy

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