Are you looking to make some major changes in your life? Do you want to move beyond the past into a bright future? You could find a motivating series of workshops or classes to attend. Or – you could accomplish the same thing by reading Wake Up!, the second in the Up! Trilogy of inspirational books by Suzanne Ross. Ross has long been involved in fitness, as a trainer and also a motivator in the areas of mind, body and spirit. “We are spiritual beings having a physical experience,” she says. Part of the spiritual input in the book comes from Janet Myatt, a spiritual counselor and associate of Ross’s. There are many self-help or “make your life better” books on the market, but this one really is different. It’s presented as though it is part of a 10-day workshop led by Ross, and it definitely feels like the reader becomes an attendee. This makes it easy to progress as fast or as slow as desired. The book covers such topics as transformation, transition, closure, new beginnings, harmony, healing, reawakening, synchronicity, suffering and death and dying. The basis of the book is that we must look at our past – in all its glory or heartbreak – and then move away from it, in a sense, so as not to dwell there or repeat our mistakes time and again. For example, to experience happiness, the author says, we have to have known sadness. To appreciate health, we must have experienced sickness. Indeed, the biggest challenges in our lives, and the most difficult people we encounter are not actually mistakes, but were placed in our lives to help us grow and progress. This, she says, teaches us the most about life and about ourselves. Some of this may sound familiar to those deeply into spiritual and motivational works. But even so, a good jolt of recognition of these simple and obvious truths may really be necessary now and then. Ross makes the learning process move very smoothly, using her own experiences as examples, and then getting into interactive, almost “workbook” style areas for her readers to participate in. The message is that we need to identify major stages that transformed our lives thus far, and use them to build toward a future that only gets better. Readers are asked what they most want in life, and to then decide why they don’t already have those things. Following the steps the author outlines can help achieve these goals. Simple meditation, visualization and movement techniques also play a key role in the process, including a “fantasy reality visualization” called The Golden Dream, which is sure to be a favorite with readers. The book is written in a friendly, supportive way, yet it doesn’t shy away from asking readers to look back not only at good moments but at some painful events as well. It’s not always fun, but it becomes apparent that you really do have to “go there” in order to unravel patterns of the past and prevent them in the future. It’s well worth a read.