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Naomi's Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life

Naomi's Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life

by Naomi Judd


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Naomi Judd is affectionately called the Star Next Door, but she's also a survivor. In Naomi's Breakthrough Guide she shares her hard-won wisdom and outlines twenty important choices that will help readers improve their relationships, family life, career, and even their health. Blending candid personal stories, the science of happiness, and practical exercises with anecdotes about well-known friends and family, Naomi's Breakthrough Guide is an essential companion and guide for anyone seeking to turn potential breakdowns into life-altering breakthroughs.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743236638
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 01/03/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 909,733
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Naomi Judd, a country music superstar as well as one of the most admired women in the entertainment industry, has sold more than twenty million albums and won six Grammys and American Music Awards. She's received three honorary doctorates in the arts and nursing and is a highly sought after speaker. As a humanitarian and social advocate, she is the spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation. Author of two bestsellers, Naomi's Breakthrough Guide and Love Can Build a Bridge, she has also written three children's books and Naomi's Home Companion, a collection of recipes and kitchen-table wisdom. Her skin care line Esteem can be found at

Naomi is also the host of her own TV show, Naomi's New Morning, which airs on Sundays on the Hallmark Channel.

She lives with her husband, Larry Strickland, outside of Nashville, Tennessee, on a farm called Peaceful Valley, which she shares with her daughters Wynonna and Ashley and their families.

Visit her website at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Peace of Mind Is the Goal

Welcome to a fantastic voyage of self-discovery! Fasten your seat belt, because we're going to explore the greatest frontier: our inner space. We're going to take a good look at ourselves, the only place where we have the power to change. We're going to focus on twenty breakthrough choices. These hard-won discoveries transformed my life for the better. I believe they can help you become happier too. Choice #1 is PEACE OF MIND IS THE GOAL. That's the destination of this journey of self-awareness.

If you know anything about me, you know that my life's taken a few unexpected curves and crashes along the way. But hey, at least I can say I took the scenic route! I'm living proof of the saying "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." But because of these experiences, I've discovered a lot about the body-mind-spirit connection. Understanding how these interact and impact health and happiness may surprise you.

You may know that in 1964, at age eighteen, back in the small town of Ashland, Kentucky, I missed my high school graduation to give birth to Wynonna. Then, in my twenties, I had an unhappy first marriage. It did, however, produce my darling Ashley. The inevitable divorce forced me to become a single, working mom struggling alone with my two girls. Without skills or an education, I was relegated to minimum-wage jobs, like clerk, receptionist, and waitress. I even had to resort to welfare and food stamps. It was desperate and demeaning. So I put myself through college in my thirties and got an RN degree.

In 1979, I took a giant risk chasing a preposterous dream. I arrived in Nashville in an old, beat-up car with two young, high-spirited girls in the backseat. At age thirty-seven, I turned Wy's and my preposterous fantasy of becoming recording artists into reality. In my forties and fifties, I've proven medical authorities wrong after they coldly handed me a death sentence because of hepatitis C.

Today I'm radiantly healthy and happier than ever, and I'm using my restored energy to help others learn about themselves. Folks like you frequently come up to me on the street, in restaurants and airports, or at the grocery checkout counter and ask: how in the world have I survived all my broken-heart attacks, whacks, and setbacks? You wonder how my husband, Larry, and I have managed to stay in love since 1979. You wonder how Wynonna and Ashley have both achieved phenomenal success as artists — and how in the world, despite everyone's hectic schedule, we maintain our all-important familial bond.

It has been unbelievably frustrating for me not to have the time or the place to respond with answers to these questions and concerns, which are so obviously important to you and me. I've learned so much about how easy it is to make smarter choices and achieve greater peace of mind. That's why I'm both relieved and excited to have finally written this book for you.

You know me only through the media, as I am now, so which is harder for you to imagine: (1) that I was once lonely, broke, aimless, and desperate, or (2) that you can discover your own latent talent, enjoy a happy marriage and family life, be financially secure, and even beat your disease?

I hope you will learn more about your potential as I share with you just how I did it. I'm going to explain how I learned to make the choices that allowed me not only to survive but to thrive — to be more happy, healthy, and content than I have ever been before. I've done it against great odds — and I'm confident you can too.

0 When I come to your neighborhood, I hope we can get together to discuss where the choices I describe in this book have led you emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Ideas get even stronger when shared.

I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I've found myself, my work and my God. — Helen Keller

A Dead End Is Just a Good Place to Turn Around

As you sit there reading this page, how happy, peaceful, and fulfilled are you, on a scale of one to ten? Are you outside the door of the life you always thought you should have, desperately banging on it to get in? How about your relationships? Are you, as comedian Caroline Rhea put it, "one bad relationship from becoming one of those women who has thirty cats"? Is there some discrepancy between what you think you are worthy of and how other people are currently treating you? Is your job as satisfying as it can be? Do you get recognized and rewarded? Do you look forward to your day? Or do you feel like you're stuck in a rut? Are you able to handle any crisis, small or large, that broadsides you? Are you feeling lost, listless, restless, or bored? Are you battling an illness?

News flash: There's so much more out there waiting for you, my friend!

I define happiness as a state of well-being, full of the joy that comes from being satisfied with whatever you have and enjoying every day to the utmost. Health, happy marriage, good friends, well-rounded kids, financial security, comfortable lifestyle, and a purpose that allows you to express your talent and pay your bills — that's my definition of success. What's yours? One way to identify it is to ask yourself: If I won the lottery, what would I change in my life? What would I keep the same?

The concepts in this book will help you find your own unique path through the issues you're facing and make the choices that will bring greater satisfaction. Within these covers are questions to increase your awareness of the answers that are locked inside you. Hopefully you will come to understand just why you act and react the way you do — and why you aren't quite living the kind of life you'd like. You'll recognize people around you who are traveling the same path. You'll also begin spotting others in your life who are going off in completely different directions. You'll learn how to say to them, "Bless you as you go."

As we set out together, let me go on the record now and say that there is nothing different or special about Naomi Judd. I'm not an expert. An expert is just somebody from out of town with slides. I don't do slides or flowcharts. If anything, I've been an expert at making mistakes. I've lived out there on life's highways for twenty years as a touring entertainer. I am a "Road" scholar with a Ph.D. from the School of Hard Knocks. I majored in crisis management. This entire country's my research lab. You could say that I'm a student of human nature. I go wherever my questions lead. I'm always learning whatever I'm trying to teach.

I'll reveal some of my own personal mistakes and calamities to show you, by example, how a dead end is just a good place to turn around. I'll report cutting-edge research on health and the psychology of happiness. There's also commonsense wisdom I've absorbed over the years from everyday folks as I've traveled coast to coast. To quote Woodrow Wilson, "I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow."

I'll be revealing stories of famous people throughout this book since I know them personally and you know about them. I'll give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how they've been able to evolve on their voyages of self-discovery. I'm convinced you'll see how much alike we all truly are. Also, I want to prove to you that no one's born with their destiny stamped on their forehead. Nobody's born a great anything. We make the choices to fulfill our destiny.

The lowest ebb is the turn in the tide. — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Crisis Means Danger and Opportunity

It has been a decade now since I wrote my candid autobiography, Love Can Build a Bridge. Since then, as difficult as these last ten years have been, I'm satisfied that every obstacle I've faced has been part of a much bigger plan. Suffering makes sense if you can step back and view it in a larger context. Everything in your life and mine is exactly the way it's supposed to be. This was a huge revelation for me! Discovering this lets me breathe a lot easier, gives me greater peace of mind, and allows me to expand instead of contract.

Stop now and give this insight time to register with you. Every crisis offers a treasure trove of information about ourselves. (That's why they call it an emergency — you emerge and see.) A crisis prompts us to raise our consciousness and choose to open up to more of who we're meant to be. It also shows us just how many more dimensions there are to living. In the Chinese language, the word "crisis" is made up of two characters, depicting "danger" and "opportunity." It's always up to you and me to choose, at every crossroads, which path we take.

Consider your latest crisis. What was the nature of the impending threat, and what was the potential opportunity? What path did you go down? Why? What did you learn? How will you react next time?

During my crisis with hepatitis C, I chose the opportunity route. I made the choice to tap into a reserve strength that was deeper than I ever expected. Call it resilience, will, or moral fiber. In the process, I discovered what it takes to persevere in the face of the loss of what I hold dearest — and to stare death squarely in the eye. If I hadn't chosen to go for the opportunities to learn from my predicament, I'd probably be dead. Surviving isn't as complicated or mysterious as you're probably thinking. What it takes is (1) a great deal of faith in oneself, (2) an openness to taking in new information, and (3) a belief in a higher power.

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. — Otto Rank

Dare to Fulfill Your Birthright!

I was feeling terribly ill and, of course, mentally depressed when doctors announced there was no known cure for hepatitis C and I'd probably die within three years. The only available treatment was interferon, and my first round of interferon injections didn't have the desired effect. Instead of submitting to despair, I chose to step out in faith and trust in God. Hebrews 11:1 states, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I promised God, myself, and my family that I was going to learn everything I could about this mysterious disease. I vowed to figure out a way to beat it. I also made the decision that I would eventually share whatever I learned, to somehow help others.

I was one angry patient when I experienced firsthand the grim reality of what's wrong with our health care system. (I refer to it as the "wealth care system.") I naively expected managed care to manage to care! Rather than asking how I was feeling physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, the first question anyone asked was "Who's your insurance carrier?" Even though I'm a nurse, I was shocked. I'm now fully aware that our medical system needs healing. I want to be part of helping medicine treat the whole person and teach prevention and wellness.

You may not be facing a medical crisis. But whatever mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual challenges you are now facing, I'm offering information, hope, and comfort in these pages. I'm sentencing you to live.

If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it. — Jonathan Winters

You Are One — Body, Mind, and Spirit

I had already begun studying everything I could get my hands on about hepatitis C, this "silent killer" that will kill four times more Americans than AIDS in the next decade. But it was journalist Bill Moyers's groundbreaking 1990 PBS documentary series Healing and the Mind that launched me into an investigation that wound up saving my life and expanding my consciousness. Bedridden, I watched one expert after another talk about different paths to healing. This was TV at its finest — "tell-a-vision." The award-winning Moyers special encouraged me to search for a different path to healing.

It was one of the most fascinating learning experiences of my adventurous life. As I delved into understanding how we are whole beings with emotions, lifestyles, and spiritual needs, I learned how our lifestyles can cause all sorts of mental distress and disease, and that good health is much more than the absence of disease. I was shocked to discover that 85 percent of all illnesses are stress related. In fact the World Health Organization has proclaimed stress to be the number-one global epidemic.

As a result of choosing to be proactive in fighting my disease, I had a physical breakthrough instead of a breakdown. It was a bitter, frightening battle, but I've won! In 1995, Dr. Bruce Bacon, a leading liver specialist and former medical adviser for the American Liver Foundation, pronounced the hepatitis C virus completely gone from my body. I represent the "body of evidence" of what I've learned.

This book represents another phase of my insatiable curiosity. I no longer consider myself to be simply an entertainer who's miraculously survived a life-threatening disease. I've graduated. I'm an "infotainer." I have always been a communicator — whether writing or singing a song, acting, giving a lecture, chatting with a stranger, or writing a book. I'm living proof that your choice of how to respond to a situation constitutes your ultimate power. It's time for you to find that power and begin getting all you deserve.

Each time we squarely face and successfully handle a problem, we become aware of even more options. My hope is that somewhere in these pages you'll recognize just how broad your range of choices is. Psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, "When all you have is a hammer, you see everything as a nail." In these upcoming pages, you're going to assemble your very own personalized toolbox full of emotional, physical, and spiritual tools. That way you can reach for them anytime you desire to fix something in your mind, body, or spirit.

When we stand together

It's our finest hour.

We can do anything

If we keep believing in the power.

— "Love Can Build a Bridge," Naomi Judd

Winning the Peace Prize

You don't have to be going through a hard time to benefit from the messages in this book. You might just have a yearning to become even happier. As your guide, I'll recommend that you slow down and turn down the volume of background noise in your life. Also, get ready for an epiphany as you come to understand how your self-esteem affects everything. We'll be working primarily on your relationship with yourself since it predicts the kind of relationships you'll have with others.

And if we win, we win the grand prize, the peace prize. That's because peace of mind is the ultimate goal. I've met kings and queens, world leaders, presidents, movie stars, rock stars, Nobel laureates, sports figures, and every other kind of famous personage. I can tell you we all want the same thing — peace of mind. That is why it is Choice #1.

Peace of mind isn't the absence of problems; peace of mind comes from your ability to deal with them. Peace of mind is both the first and the ultimate choice we make through exercising the other nineteen choices in this book. The more we understand ourselves and what's standing in the way of our being as happy and healthy as we can, and the more eager we become to risk following our dreams and offering our gifts to others, the more worthy we feel, the more we choose peace of mind.

This doesn't mean we will ever have all the answers. As humans, we are always in the process of becoming. But when we trust ourselves and the process, we evolve. Once Wy was lying in my lap on our couch in the kitchen crying about her divorce. "Mom, am I ever going to have it all together?" She was hoping to hear a soothing "Of course you will, sweetheart." Instead, I responded, "No, 'cause that would be like saying you could breathe, eat, or sleep once and for all. Life is a process. Let's stick together and do the best we can. We either find a way or make a way, one day at a time." There was a long pause. Wy sighed, "Yeah, 'cause if it ain't one thing, it's your mother."

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is usually more than the outcome. — Arthur Ashe

Life Is Short, but It's Wide

Today is the first day of the rest of an altogether more peaceful and fulfilling life. You can consciously choose a better way of relating to yourself and others. You can attract more of what you desire and discover brand-new opportunities.

We get only one go-around in life, so let's get it right! Don't waste another single drop of your potential for happiness. If you've been sleepwalking through parts of your life, this is your wake-up call. Open your eyes now to the truth all around you. Open your heart and mind to what really matters to you. Begin to ask questions. Begin to think and behave like the person you want to be! I know you can do it.

Select a spot that is quiet and comfortable for you, as my kitchen table is for me. Designate that space your own sacred "growth place." Pretend that I have just made you your favorite comfort meal, and picture me sitting in an empty chair as your companion and support.

Here we grow...

Copyright © 2004 by Naomi Judd

Table of Contents


1 Peace of Mind Is the Goal

2 Change Your Mind, Change Your World

3 Life is a Series of Multiple-Choice Questions

4 You Can Reverse Any Curse

5 You can Be Anything You Want, but First You Have to UnderstandWhat's Standing in Your Way

6 Become a Detective and Investigate Your Past

7 Personality: It's all Relative

8 Know Forgiveness, Know Peace — No Forgiveness, No Peace

9 Your Strengths and Passions Are the Essence of Your Happiness

10 Intuition Is Your Secret Guidance System

11 Risk Allows you to Become Who You Were Meant to Be

12 You've Got to Love That Person in the Mirror

13 You Become Whatever You Think About All Day

14 Your Mind Is in Every Cell of Your Body

15 Worry and Fear are Dispensable Parasites on Your Brain

16 Resign as General Manager of the Universe

17 Find a New, Stronger Life Urge

18 You and I May Not Have It All Together, But Together We Can Have It All

19 Develop the Eight Characteristics of a Survivor Personality

20 Love Heals the Giver as Well as the Receiver

Parting Thoughts



What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Dean Ornish, M.D. Powerful, transformative, and healing. If you read only one book this year, this is it.

Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Healing and Eating Well for Optimum Health Naomi Judd is an inspiration. Combining native intelligence, the wisdom of experience, good humor, and the collected advice of a remarkable set of friends and colleagues, she explains what she has learned and gives sound and sensible advice about how to find health and happiness in life.

Cheryl Richardson, author of Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, and Stand Up for Your Life This book is filled with the wisdom of a woman who has survived and thrived from the experience of life's dramatic ups and downs. With the loving-kindness of a dear friend, Naomi shares what she's learned about making smart life choices. If you'd like a good dose of inspiration along with sound, practical advice about how to transform your life, I urge you to read this book!

Caroline Myss, author of Sacred Contracts and Anatomy of the Spirit Naomi¹s inspiring book is the result of living through her own life-threatening health crisis and discovering, through her passionate commitment to healing, a wisdom that deserves to be shared with others. Her rich contributions come from the depths of her wide-open, loving soul. She is a wondrous healer.

John Gray, Ph.D., author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus Naomi Judd is proof positive that you can turn heartbreak into happiness. This is an inspiring book for anyone who wants to achieve a personal breakthrough of their own.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide for:
Naomi's Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life

1) Think about why you decided to buy this book. Were you looking for help in dealing with difficult circumstances in your own life, or ways to live life to the fullest, or were you simply curious about Naomi's life? Take a minute to think about what effect the book had on you and what thoughts stand out the most.
2) Naomi's life has been full of dramatic ups and downs. As her fortune changed, she drew on different coping skills to help her deal with situations that she had never encountered before. For instance, when she was living as a single mom in L.A., she learned to nurture her spirit by forgiving herself and others. Later, dreaming of success in the music industry, she learned to bolster her own positive self-talk, since "believing makes it so." Think about the highs and lows in your own life. What lesson or skill did you learn from each that you have as an inner resource now?
3) Think about the 20 breakthroughs Naomi describes. Which seems to be the most important for you to make right now? What is standing in the way of your making that choice? Where can you find support for the changes you need to make?
4) Naomi sprinkles her book with wisdom from diverse authors. Everyone from Confucius to The Wizard of Oz's Dorothy is represented, along with several quotations from the Bible. Naomi even gives us quotes from some of her own songs! Did any of these wise words strike a chord with you? Which did you find most compelling?
5) Naomi's story of success despite the odds is a powerful one. In her book, she also relates the stories of other people who have lived through challenging or inspiring circumstances. From Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, to Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest," she shows us the strength of the human spirit. If Naomi had included you in her book, what would she have written? Imagine that it's five years from now: What would you like Naomi to be able to write about you then?

6) Each chapter ends with a section called "Your Turn." Did you try any of these exercises? Which did you find most helpful? Which would you recommend to your friends? Discuss what makes these exercises helpful or not.

7) Did this book give you the feeling that you know Naomi Judd? Would you like to meet her? Do you respect her ability to make life choices? Is she someone you would like to emulate? What other people in your life would you like to emulate? What is it that makes them inspiring role models?
8) Think about unhealthy choices you've made in the past and why you made them. What have you learned from reading this book that can help you make wiser choices in the future?
9) The connection between the mind and the body contributes to the effectiveness of many of Naomi's breakthroughs. She offers opinions from a number of researchers who believe that reducing stress, calming your fears, and even taking risks can benefit you physically. What do you think of this nontraditional approach to health and wellness? Have you ever used methods such as meditation, acupuncture, and affirmations?
10) The first chapter and the parting words focus on what it means to be at peace and why peace should be the goal for all of us. How do you think being at peace can change your life? How would it affect the choices you make, your stress level, the way you interact with others, or the enjoyment you get from life? Why do you think Naomi puts such a high premium on peace?

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