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24160411aAnd now for something totally different . . .

Actress Connie Bowman has written a wonderful new book. Flowing from the unfathomable grief of the loss of her first child, Meghan, to a congenital heart and lung condition at age six, it is a story filled with insight, advice and inspiration for women and mothers, especially, on how to navigate the tragedies that affect us all and find the way “Back to Happy.” The book as you might guess came to me in an unusual way.

Connie, her future husband Rob, and I attended a sleepy, small liberal arts college in the hills of Western Maryland in the seventies. Although I cannot recall a single intelligible word I ever said to her, I remember her well as the impossibly beautiful brunette whose photograph could have appeared in the dictionary beside the definition of the term, “out of my league.” For thirty years, I had no idea nor any reason to wonder what happened to Connie, but through the weird miracle of Facebook, I have come to admire her career and that of her famous second child, Caroline Bowman, a Broadway star known for her performances in Kinky Boots and as Eva Perone in Evita. Just last fall, Caroline, who is the image of her mother as a young girl, was cast as one of the two sisters leading the Broadway production of Wicked.

Back to Happy, A Journey of Hope, Healing, and Waking Up, sounds a number of themes familiar to women’s self-help literature but does so with an endearing freshness and authenticity born of Connie’s and Rob’s remarkable, personal story. At just 72 pages, it is a quick read in which the author imparts, in nine “lessons” divided into chapters, what she learned going through her own “dark night of the soul.” Meghan’s story is woven through these lessons as the author reveals the sources of a mother’s strength in coping with her daughter’s illness and death, including prayer, twelve-step recovery philosophy, yoga, Reiki, meditation, the experiences of friends, and a Christian view of the world as one in which God is in control. With these tools, she encourages those in suffering to practice acceptance as a path to peace.

The text is annotated with links to the author’s online podcasts and other helpful references. Although I was not able to access these on my Kindle Paperwhite, they are available on the author’s website. There, next to the author’s name, you will find her personal motto, “peaceful exuberance,” which well summarizes her central message. Back to Happy is a thoughtful and well-written book that will bring comfort and understanding to those in suffering. The author makes good on her promise to offer the reader tried and true methods to travel through life’s ups and downs “with more grace and ease.” It’s clear by the end of the book that Connie has done exactly that.

Available on Amazon in Kindle format, paperback, and audiobook.