Thursday, 5 May 2016

Book Review: Rethinking Women's Health: A Guide for Wellness

When I first moved to Starkville, MS, there wasn't much here. A handful of restaurants, three grocery stores, none large. Certainly no health foods - I had to join a cooperative that bought from a business in the Ozarks. Slowly, resources for health and wellness are growing: a large health food and bulk section in Kroger, a summer farmer's market, a CSA buying club - and Alison Buehler.

Alison lives a couple of miles down the road from me, in the Homestead Education Center, where she and her family have founded a way of life they share with others. As well as offering classes in health and homesteading, she's worked hard to attract nationally-known figures such as Sandor Katz and Glennon Melton (of Momastery fame) to Starkvegas (local joke).  I don't get out to her programs as often as I would like, so, when I saw in her newsletter that she was offering a year's membership for those who pre-ordered her book, I thought I had nothing to lose and might just give myself the nudge I needed to take advantage of what's on offer almost on my doorstep. So any bribery involved in this review is by me to myself ;)

The book is divided into three main sections: maiden, mother, and wise elder. Each is part manifesto, part resource, and part memoir of Alison and her family's journey into health. Alison begins by setting out her passionate vision for how we as a society might better manage each stage of life. She then moves into a survey of current options for health issues related to these stages, with an extensive bibliography for further reading. Alison is trained as a qualitative researcher (among many talents!), and applies it to women's health, looking for places where data, stories, and observations point to the same solutions. Not only has she trawled the latest information to bring solutions to women's health problems, but she models a research process that everyone can use in their own health plan. All this aside, I find Alison's voice at her best when she is sharing her personal story, illustrating her belief that stories themselves have the power to heal.

Published by Mississippi press, Sartoris, the book has a regional feel, speaking to a state that badly needs to focus on health issues. [Side bar: as I found out when I was pregnant, there isn't a single birthing center in Mississippi.] Yet the message is national. If you're looking for resources, inspiration, or affirmation that you are not alone in your struggle to achieve wellness, Rethinking Women's Health is for you.

Looking for more? Connect with Alison on her site The Healing Wall or the Homestead Education Center.

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