Book Reviews

Lipstick and Soul Book Reviews


AAMFT-CA  eNews Winter 2014   Peer Review

By  Nadia Brewart, Ph.D. The  Positive Psychology Way

Shaver’s evocative title captures a “truth”:  There is a certain mystique to integrating the mundane (lipstick/external world) with the esoteric (soul/internal sense of being) to touch the sublime (self-love/cardinal virtues/ “inner presence”).  Shaver’s experientially-based book invites female readers on a journey to uncover, elucidate and move into a space of presence which she calls the “mysterious” or “inner feminine.”  The mysterious feminine, Shaver declares, “…is a wonderful, warm, loving, all-embracing humane energy that resides within each one of us as well as all around us” (p.xiii).

To enter this space, Shaver offers a format in each chapter, which provides readers tools for reflection, transcendence/expansion of the boundaries of the rational mind, and experience to settle into a place of intuitive knowing through ongoing practice.  To this end, she effectively utilizes various voices (beauty advisor/intimate friend/facilitator-guide), poignant quotations (from celebrities to artists, to philosophers, to ordinary folk with wisdom), metaphors (mostly beauty-oriented), experiences (autobiographical/imaginative), writing activities (stream of consciousness/cognitively-focused); and, while not specifically identified as such, mindfulness-based concepts/approaches (non-judgmental awareness, centering with the breath, mini body scans, mindful eating, mindful activities), and “homework” for further integration, knowledge and guidance along the journey.

The journey itself is three-fold.  In part one, “Book One: Be Bold,” readers assess their current state of openness and their blocks.  In addition to the approaches noted above, through a self-assessment questionnaire, readers are able to identify their “blind spots” and recurrent patterns, which thwart the process of connecting to one’s inner, authentic core.  In this early stage, Shaver encourages readers to freely express their challenges, making room for new possibilities.

New possibilities are cultivated in “Book Two: Be Beautiful,” which embeds two phases.  In the first phase, the veneers (defense mechanisms, unconscious blocks) of the core self are identified and addressed, feelings are experienced and embraced.  Building upon phase one, phase two continues to lead readers to their inner core, experiencing feelings, identifying and confronting the “saboteurs” of the heart. With gentleness, vulnerability and receptivity, a natural beauty emerges.

This natural beauty, a pulchritudinous soul, is where Shaver finds the “mysterious/inner feminine.”  In the final stages of the journey, “Book Three: Be True To Yourself,” readers encounter the flexibility, strength and wholeness of shifting between what Shaver describes as “masculine and feminine presence.”  Here, there is attunement to cognitive and emotional states, rootedness and integration of various facets of self; thus, responses to self and others are grounded-as opposed to reactive. It is this place of the authentic core that beauty emanates, where the well-loved feelings cannot be sullied or compromised by life’s difficulties.

Therapists desiring to move their clients to this place can utilize activities from Shaver’s work.  Her book can also be offered in a women’s group format, which Shaver herself conducts.  As there is much process work, therapists and readers might reap the most benefits from approaching the work slowly, perhaps no more than a chapter a week.  And, clients must be receptive to writing/journaling activities as this tool is heavily focused.  Social constructivists and/or postmodern theorists/therapists for whom the language and gendering of experience and selves are culturally and historically situated, may still utilize the activities, while deconstructing-as Shaver does herself in some areas-the implications of gendered notions of the feminine.




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