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Page Turner: Fey's 'Bossypants' enjoyable, also 'Full Catastrophe Living' a look at stress

Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 5:38 am

Editor's note: This week's Page Turner reader interview is with David Johnson, a professor of nursing at the University of Saint Francis.

“I have just finished 'Bossypants,' written by Tina Fey. I was not necessarily a fan of Tina Fey's. Of course, I had seen her 'Sarah Palin' on 'Saturday Night Live,' but the show always came on so late. Though when I did watch an occasional show, it was funny.

“I took a trip to Washington, D.C., and listened to the book while making the trip; I thought it would be good for a laugh. I was right. She brings humor with critical thinking to her trajectory of writing, directing and acting.

She's a female comedian and she's also a writer. Back in 1977 there was Phyllis Diller and there was Lucille Ball. Now with '30 Rock' we have another female breaking the glass ceiling with directing. I'm interested in diversity and like a witty, funny writer. She has a razor-sharp tongue and is a woman who can inspire others to take risks. I've seen her improvisations, which vary with her audiences; different places have different reactions. She is willing to flex. And I enjoyed the book.

“A favorite book of mine is 'Full Catastrophe Living,' by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Because of my nursing/social work background, I find people read a lot of self-help books; they need credible resources. Kabat-Zinn brings the science of mindfulness to them. People often suffer from depression and fear of the future. They get stuck as they ruminate about the past and the future. Kabat-Zinn and the practice of mindfulness help them be present in the now. It is helpful to come back to the present to break the cycle. It's very helpful to ease the stress.

“The author is listed in every major research study dealing with mindfulness. There's use of this book for bibliotherapy, which is an actual blueprint for an eight-week program at the University of Massachusetts, where he is now a professor emeritus. It teaches how to come to one's senses (all the senses – sight, touch, smell, etc.).

“Many people have been in brutal situations and have endured real suffering, and they get stuck there. He urges the reader to smell things, touch objects, spend time in the present. Stop and smell your coffee. Sit on a porch and watch the birds or leaves moving in a breeze - anything that breaks the cycle. It is restorative. Use your senses. We live in our heads; realize while we're enjoying,we're not worrying.

“And this is a wonderful tool, scientifically-based. I have read everything he's written.”