Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

Archive for the ‘Inspirational Book Review’ Category

Become Who You Truly Are: YOU CAN TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


You Can Transform Full Cover FINALrevWhat is your plan for transforming 2018 into your best year ever? Have you thought about it? Do you have a plan?

Imagine if you could have a year of inspiration mapped out for you. Well, Darity Wesley, a Modern Day Oracle™, has done just that for you. You Can Transform Your Life was written as a guide to support your personal and spiritual growth over the course of 52 weeks… so it’s a perfect time to start using it at the beginning of a new year. Of course, you can start at any time, go at your own pace, or even open the book at random for an Oracle message to answer a question on your mind in the moment.

The first Oracle message relates to Creating a New Way of Life, with the affirmation mantra: “I AM releasing the old so I can build the new…And so it is!!!” There’s also a circle for you to draw your goal or intention as a simple symbol.

Each Oracle message is followed by space for you to answer four questions of self-inquiry – to explore what the message means to you, to create your own personal mantra, to plan how to integrate the message into your life, and to direct your attention to any messages from your own inner voice.

The book’s design is so well thought out – I found that answering the questions and using this space to journal my emotions and thoughts on the Oracle message made it so much more powerful for me than just reading the message. This personal writing is therapeutic, helping you let go of the things that are holding you down, inviting you to freely express how you feel – which will make you feel better.

Spinx Darity with copyright

Love and Trust, my dear ones … Love and Trust! ~ Darity Wesley, Modern Day Oracle™

At the end of the 52 Oracle messages, there is a guided Personal Transformation Journal template that takes you even further, offering inspirational prompts for your writing. I think you will be amazed at how far you’ve come on your personal journey by the time you reach the last journal page, which prompts, “Free yourself from what is holding you back! Be who you truly are!”

For those seeking to go even further on their journey of transformation, Darity Wesley has designed a Companion Workbook for You Can Transform Your Life, that provides more in-depth questions for each of the 52 Oracle messages, bonus exercises to help increase intuition, spiritual strength and inner balance by exploring such topics as Tuning In, Gratitude, and Forgiveness, as well as practical advice on how to apply these tools of transformation to all areas of your life. It will be available on December 26.

What a great way to start 2018 with one or both of these books in hand or gifted to others!

Many thanks to author Darity Wesley for answering my many questions about her work here…

Can you explain what Oracle messages are?

I feel that the Oracle messages are communications written to stimulate and encourage thoughts and feelings that will support and assist us in our personal and spiritual development. I think of the Oracle messages as signposts. They point the way for our own consciousness, our own Soul self to discover, guide and change our behavior, our way of thinking, our way of feeling. Everything is possible and Oracle messages support whatever resonates with the heart of its reader.

What inspired you to become an “Oracle?”

In the late 1980s early 1990s I enjoyed a book by Shakti Gawain entitled Reflections in the Light. This book contained inspirational messages for every day of the calendar year. It felt good to think about or contemplate whatever she had written for that day. I liked it very much and thought it may be of value to others.

In 2006, I heard of the social media site called MySpace which was gaining in popularity in the tech industry I was working in. I put up a profile on MySpace and began posting what I called ~The Daily Oracle~: Inspirational messages by Shakti Gawain, Louise Hay, Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass and many others. I allowed my spirit to be my guide in picking what to post for each day. At some point in the postings, someone asked if they could receive the messages by email and I said “Sure” and began the email subscription service. I stopped posting on MySpace somewhere along the way but continued with the email subscription service sending the messages of others.

In August of 2012, my treasured friend of many years, Cristina Smith, suggested I might like to write the Oracle messages from my own spirit as opposed to using the work of others. I was flabbergasted and immediately rejected the idea that I do that on my own. “Who, me?”

That “suggestion” was a seed that grew and blossomed, so I faced my fears and decided to do exactly that. Well, to at least give it a try! So, on September 5, 2012, I launched Oracles from the Spirit of Darity. While that space was always there, within me, it was my friend Cristina who inspired me to become a Modern Day Oracle™.

How do you access these messages or divinations?

Having been on the path of self-discovery and inquiry for over 50 years, I have experienced much support from my angels, guides and Spirit. Because I have “tuned in” for so long and “turned up the volume,” I feel I recognize and, therefore, trust, the voice within me. So what I do is just tap into that place where I hear Spirit and say “What?” “What are the energies and directions for …?” I then write or type the words or directions that come through.

How can the reader best use your Oracle messages?

Each Oracle message focuses on some area of self and/or spiritual discovery. Since inner work is very personal, the Oracle message will simply help the reader’s own intuition look at what they need to look at in that area or what they can focus on as a tool, a process, a step to work on, integrate or a practice to include in their life to support them along the way. As I said earlier, Oracle messages stimulate thoughts and feelings for us to investigate or assimilate or even relegate to another time if it causes us any resistance when we are reading it.

That is what the companion workbook: You Can Transform Your Life – Go Deeper (available on Amazon on December 26) will add to the process. It is intended to help us navigate these changing times and facilitate our journey to becoming our True Authentic Selves.

What are the benefits of using the affirmation mantras?

Affirmation mantras are the seeds of our intentions. We use them to support us. The main benefit of an affirmation mantra is its ability to bypass the “monkey mind,” the “ego,” the “personality” … that part of ourselves that is “rational” and “controlling” and caught up in the illusion of the way it really is. That part of us which will surely tell us why it won’t work or why it is something other than “love and trust,” for instance, or “I firmly stand in my determination to …” or “I am kind to others and myself.”

Another benefit of affirmation mantras is their support of the transformational energies of self and spiritual discoveries. They help us access higher levels of awareness. No matter how you use them, affirmation mantras have the ability to bring the seed of your intention into full bloom to support what it is you are wanting to do, be or have.

What are the different ways readers can use your book?

A reader can use the Oracle messages in the book however they feel drawn to use them. The book, and its companion workbook, is structured as a 52-week program beginning any time you want, however, they can be used and applied randomly, you can skip around, and let your very own spirit be the guide. Mix and match or go in order. It is all up to the reader.

You write of the New Reality – can you explain that and offer an example of that in action?

The New Reality is a term that comes up a lot in the Oracle messages. Quite simply, it is a shift in focus. This shift is from an external focus, which has been the way of life on this Planet for a very long time, to an internal focus that is a new way of life. The New Reality is a focus on an internal, higher level of consciousness. That “higher level of consciousness” may be your own creative sovereignty or that of a higher power or energy or just All That Is, the Universe, God, depending on your particular belief structure. When we step into consciously allowing that creative power to move through us, rather than resist it or not acknowledge it, we find such things as fulfillment, balance, happiness. What you need, what you want, comes from within, not “out there.”

As more and more of us step into the New Reality, as often as we can, we will feel there is more to be discovered about ourselves and our world. That can bring a calm joyousness and excitement to our lives.

An example of that would be my personal experience when I came to the realization that nothing “out there” was really responsible for my happiness. Not money, not things, not relationships. No. Nothing outside of me. I realized I was responsible for making me happy. I am the creator of my own reality and I choose, from inside, my happiness. That is stepping, a wee step for sure, into the New Reality.

What brought you to the decision you say you made, “to wear my heart on my sleeve and the world can just get over it?”

I will never forget the experience so many, many years ago. I was 33 years old. At that time I was a person who wanted everyone to love her. Mostly because I felt so unlovable. I had no real sense of myself. My need for love and approval was so great that I was like a chameleon. I had no opinions of my own. I would assume the likes and dislikes of whomever I was with. I was a Republican with Republicans and a Democrat with Democrats. I went along with whatever was happening. God forbid I would say what I thought or felt in a social setting.

Having been exploring myself and growing spiritually for many years prior to this, I was not totally devoid of self-inquiry, self-discovery and spiritual growth and so this was, evidentially, my next step.

At that time in my Buddha year, 33, I had a life changing experience at the foot of Mt. Shasta in California. Part of that life changing experience was “I am going to wear my heart on my sleeve, allow myself to be vulnerable, people will like me or not like me but they will like me or not like me as I am.” No more pretending, no more affectation, no more not saying what I think or feel. Nope! I began to step more and more into my True Authentic Self.

What would you most like readers to take away from this book?

Whether someone desires a complete life makeover or just wants to learn new ways to feel more in harmony with themselves and their world, this book and the companion Workbook, provide processes, tools and practices to take your life to a new level. Self-discovery and self-awareness are critical tools for these changing times and absolutely support our evolution as conscious beings.

As we evolve as conscious beings, we not only change ourselves, we change the lives of those around us and as that change energy moves out to world, it changes the world. That is my desire for my readers. To grow and change. To feel better, to feel more alive, to feel more at peace with themselves and all that is going on in the world. To become more self aware and to grow spiritually. To become more and more who you really are.

How can one subscribe to your Modern Day Oracle™ messages?

If someone would like to subscribe to ~The Weekly Oracle~™ they can email me at Darity@DarityWesley.com. Simply put “Subscribe” in the Subject Line or go to our website www.DarityWesley.com and subscribe there.

You Can Transform Your Life is available now on Amazon, and the You Can Transform Your Life – Go Deeper Workbook will be available on December 26.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forgiveness is the Way Out of Pain: ALL THESE THINGS: Maya Invictus #Book Review and #AuthorNote


All these Things coverALL THESE THINGS: Maya Invictus is both an engrossing and inspirational novel of the life of public defender Maya Lee and the enlightened master who changes her life… who also just so happens to be charged with murder. 

This is the second in the Soul Invictus series from Mark Tiro. His first book, IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus, which I reviewed here, is the epic sweep of Maya’s journey through time and lifetimes, from beginning to end, until she decides that forgiving is less painful than continuing to carry around all her soul’s unconscious guilt.

In ALL THESE THINGS, we meet Maya as a young trial attorney who cannot escape her feelings of “a drifting emptiness,” and the pain her own thinking and anger are causing. She meets an enigmatic client, David, who is charged with the murder of his young daughter in a car crash. Why the District Attorney claims it is murder is just as much of a puzzle to Maya as why David is so stoic and calm, saying, “Don’t worry, she’s not gone. No thought of love is ever lost.”

David teaches Maya how he learned to watch his thoughts without judging them, and as each one would come up, he’d practice letting them go. He realized his problems didn’t come from the outside world, but his inner thoughts and reactions.

“…when he would recognize that he had gotten angry, when he would find that he had become anxious—he would consciously look at those thoughts, and then choose to overlook them. To forgive them. The result of this practice had been that he rarely found himself with anything but a quiet, peaceful mind…”

In another scene in his jail cell, David explains:

“Maybe we can’t change the world. But I can tell you, even in here, we are always free to change our minds about the world.”

Maya may not be ready to hear David’s philosophy that “The entire world is a projection,” but her interaction with him leads to radical changes in her life as she practices the willingness to forgive.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON ALL THESE THINGS: Maya Invictus

Mark Tiro: After reading the book, many people have asked if Maya or David were real people. Sadly, the answer is no to both, although I’ve wondered more than once how I might react if an enlightened master showed up in my life at 2:00 pm on a random Tuesday.

The name of the book—All These Things—started with Augustine of Hippo. Before he was known as the great thinker he would later become, he may have been more famous—or as we might say today, infamous—for an impassioned prayer of his youth.

“Lord, make me chaste—but please not today!”

At some point after that promising start, he settled down, eventually coming full circle to this:

“If I ever know and see God in the way in which God can be seen, then all these things will disappear from my thoughts; even now, because of my love for God, they hardly enter my mind.”

The bookend to that comes from a Course in Miracles.

“I will forgive, and this will disappear.”

From these two book-ended ideas, the name and a fair amount of the concept behind All These Things as well, flowed relatively unimpeded onto the cover and into the pages within.

‘Relatively’—because it is always dangerous to underestimate my uncanny ability to complicate even the most straightforward of ideas.

A name, of course, does not make a novel.

And so I hope I’ve given Maya the room to breathe and stretch her wings, and above all—to be herself and fly free.

For now, Maya and David don’t come by anymore.

Late at night though, every so often, others stop by where they once did, to share their thoughts and their stories. I stay awake, here, listening, waiting, thinking…

Still… I would be lying if I didn’t say that some small part of me holds just the smallest hope that one quiet night, Maya or David might just decide to drop by unannounced.

To spend some time catching up over a late night cup of coffee, or a glass of wine…

Occasionally the sound of a far-away cricket will drift in to interrupt my reverie.

This is when the words come.

This is when, if I stop talking and listen just so, the faintest of melodies is carried in on the gentle breeze.

This is the time I sit with my wine, quietly off to the side. Just listening. Quietly listening as the winds carry their stories in from times and places far away.

I have the easy job. It’s one simple thing.

It’s just to get out of the way.

To listen.

Listen, and then—to write, as faithfully and thoughtfully as I am capable.

WHAT’S NEXT IN THE SPIRIT INVICTUS SERIES?

Mark Tiro: Book 3 of the Spirit Invictus series should be finished by the beginning of next year. It might be the last one in the series (after all, Maya’s already died however many life-times over in Implicit… so she needs a chance to finally relax). Although, as they say… you never know. Maya can be quite strong-minded—and persuasive—like that sometimes.

ALL THESE THINGS: Maya Invictus is available at the launch price of $.99 on Amazon through December 10, when the Kindle goes to the regular price of $4.99.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

The Chakra Blog

 

 

Mind and Soul Satisfying Puzzles: The Word Search Sage, Yoga for the Brain #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 10.32.21 AMThe Word Search Sage is the second book in the series of word puzzles, known as Yoga for the Brain, that offer a creative, fun, meditative respite from the busy chatter of the mind… while flexing your brain.

You can read my review of The Word Search Oracle, which won the 2017 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, and download a sample puzzle here.

The Word Search Sage takes you a little deeper into your thoughts and spirit, as the solutions to these word puzzles are called Meta-Thoughts, providing insights and deep wisdom.

I like to open the pages at random, and undoubtedly, Cristina Smith’s introductory comments on the topic of the puzzle and mystic Ingrid Coffin’s Meta-Thoughts are always relevant to my life at that moment in time. In fact, each word in each of the clever puzzles put together by Rick Smith relate to the Meta-Thought and help you discover your own truth, your own purpose in life.

For example, the puzzle on Love is introduced with a note that includes:

“Affirm your love for yourself. Shed all of the self-negatives that life has draped over you. When we fear criticism, we are not free to be ourselves. If we feel less than, our lives reflect that.”

The Love puzzle on page 30 is a little harder than those in the beginning of the book. You’ll see that after you’ve found all the applicable words in the puzzle, the letters remaining make up this Meta-Thought:

“Be thankful for being yourself.”

These puzzles sound magical and mystical and they are. I’m amazed at how they are both relaxing and good exercise for the mind, while providing inspiration and profound introspection for the soul.

MT Puzzle
Strewn throughout the book are also beautiful photos with words of wisdom from Ingrid Coffin, like the one above, “You are the finest puzzle in your life…. Enjoy putting yourself together.”

Enjoy this book whenever you need a little time to yourself, a break from work, to keep entertained while waiting for someone or something, or as a daily ritual to give you food for thought and inspiration.

INTERVIEW with Ingrid Coffin, author of the inspirational Meta-Thoughts you reach at the end of each puzzle in The Word Search Sage

The solutions to the word searches in these puzzles are called Meta-Thoughts. Can you explain that term?

Meta-Thoughts are broader, more abstract thoughts that address life from a higher level than the thoughts we might have about what to have for lunch.  They are intended to be a bit cheeky.  Kind of like a sassy Jiminy Cricket reminding us that we create our own world and that much of what we create begins with our thoughts.

Where do you get the inspiration for the Meta-Thoughts?

I communicate a lot and hear myself saying Meta-Thoughts almost every day while working with other people. The trick is to catch them before they float away. I’m finally getting pretty good at that after more than 15 years of practice.

How can the reader best use these Meta-Thoughts?

I use Meta-Thoughts in a variety of ways.  Often I write them in my journal. Sometimes I just print them from my computer and post them in strategic places in my home and office. Of course, they are also there every Monday waiting for me on my phone.  The secret is to place them as a constant reminder of what I am working on.

For instance, if I am starting a new venture, I might post “First Feet. Then Wings” to encourage myself to start at the beginning and carefully navigate my way to successful completion.  Or I might choose “Have I left myself out of my schedule?” to remind me of my priorities.

The way you can use them is limited only by your imagination.

What do you think is the most important benefit of the Yoga for the Brain puzzle books?

Keeping your brain sharp and active is crucial to enjoying a long life.

Exercising the mind is the way to do that, and Yoga for the Brain provides the exercise it needs.

Personally, I use the word puzzles to help me relax at night and get to sleep, to keep me occupied in waiting rooms and on airplanes and just generally to enjoy a pause that refreshes.

Cristina Smith, author of The Word Search Sage, describes you as a “mystic.” What does the description mean to you?

Everyone is part mystical and part magical. The right-brained people are more mystical. The left-brained more magical. I am a right-brained, mystical person, which means I create the image of the result I desire in my own imagination, using my intuition as a drawing board.

Fortunately, I have been trained to work magically as well as mystically. I am able to take the vision from within my imagination and craft it in the physical world. In my opinion, a cooperative relationship between mystical and magical is what works best for everyone in all aspects of life. This is what I teach to those who work with me.

How can readers learn more about Meta-Thoughts?

It’s easy to subscribe to my weekly Meta-Thoughts.  Just go to http://www.Meta-Thoughts.com and provide your name and email address.

What other ways can readers connect with you and learn about your work?

In addition to my love of Meta-Thoughts and The Word Search Sage, I am an evolutionary astrologer, a teacher in the western esoteric tradition and the founding director of Blue Sky Ranch in Lakeside, California.  More information is available at http://www.ingridcoffin.com.

The Word Search Sage and The Word Search Oracle are both available on Amazon.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

The Chakra Blog

 

Replacing Stress and Depression with Joy! Joy! Joy!: #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 7.34.25 AMThe subtitle of Joy! Joy! Joy! says it all. Read this book and you’ll discover 7 Mind Body Spirit Self-Help Practices to Relieve Stress, Reverse Memory Loss and Live Happy – I Did It! You Too Can Bust the Blues.

Ellen Wood, author of the award-winning Think and Grow Young, now shares how she transformed her many physical and emotional problems to remain peaceful and joyous by making these practices into daily habits: observing your thoughts, releasing toxic emotions, using affirmations, power posing, dry brushing your skin, meditating and doing something good for someone.

Her gripping memoir of depression, Alzheimer symptoms, cancer and other distressing situations are interwoven with how she coped, and then miraculously freed herself of chronic stress and the blues.

Ellen cites many experts and clinical studies that show how these quick and simple Mind-Body-Spirit practices help people remain calm, productive and joyful no matter what is happening in the world around them.

She also sprinkles words of wisdom throughout her story:

“When something bad happens, say ‘Something good will come of this,’ then expect something good and watch for it.”

You can take charge of your thoughts and emotions, says the author, for example…

“Stress doesn’t come from what’s happening to us, but from our response to what’s happening.”

The book is entitled Joy! Joy! Joy! because if you put these techniques into practice, you’ll find yourself, like Ellen Wood, filled with joy for no reason, with a closer connection to your inner knowing and to spirit.

“Love is often an action first, then a feeling. You love yourself by taking actions in the direction of your wellbeing.”

Ellen Wood, at 80, is an inspirational speaker and writer, and I encourage readers of Joy! Joy! Joy! to follow her blueprint, using the bonus Daily Practice Checklists in the back of the book to help you anchor new habits that will transform your life too.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Ellen Wood, author of Joy! Joy! Joy!:

What would you like readers to take away from your new book?

 In just minutes a day, by making these 7 mind/body/spirit practices into habits, you can change your life forever. If you’re stressed out and have the blues, and it seems like the whole world is going crazy, these habits can calm your mind and help you access inner peace and joy. If you are experiencing mild memory loss (and perhaps worrying about Alzheimer’s because a parent died of it), take heart: through these practices I was able to reverse early Alzheimer’s – even though I have the Alzheimer’s gene, APO-e4. Meditation alone has been proven in scientific studies to reverse memory loss, in addition to reducing stress, anxiety and depression, among other benefits. Some of these studies are cited in my book.

You write of reconnecting to your true nature. How does one do that?

By practicing Meditation (Daily Practice #6) and by experiencing “life” in the present moment through our senses (as explained in Daily Practice #7) – inviting our divine nature to see through our eyes, hear through our ears, taste with our mouth, smell with our nose and feel through our skin or fingertips – we can reconnect to our true nature. Observing our thoughts (Daily Practice #1), Releasing Toxic Emotions (Daily Practice #2) and Affirmations (Daily Practice #3), especially surrendering control and allowing our Inner Self to lead, are also techniques for reconnecting.

How can a person have joy – no matter what?

Our essential nature is JOY and we have access to that joy when we stay rooted in the present moment. Joy and love are innate. (On the other hand, HAPPINESS is dependent upon a situation or circumstance – often fleeting – that delights our human nature.) We suffer when we dwell on something terrible or regretful that happened in the past or we fear something that might happen in the future. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist and author of the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, survived and even experienced BLISS in the concentration camps of the Holocaust.

 Why is it so important to be in the present moment?

There is POWER in the present moment. And we can access that power when we still our mind and experience the NOW moment.

Can you summarize how we can love ourselves just as we are, when we want to be better people?

Loving yourself just as you are is part of the PROCESS of creating a more magnificent you. I’ll give an example of why I say we can love ourselves just as we are AND want to do practices to CHANGE the way we are: Suppose you buy an old house – one that had been neglected and has a garden that is nothing but weeds. Shortly after fixing up the house and moving in, you go to the nursery and bring home flower seedlings. As you stand there for a moment and look at that garden full of weeds, if you’re like most people, you won’t think: Oh, I hate this garden. It’s so ugly.

No. You feel a thrill of creation as you decide which patch of earth to start on. Then you kneel down and pull out the weeds, turn over the soil, dig some holes, put the seedlings in, cover the roots with earth and pat around each one with both hands. And you love the feeling of creating your beautiful garden. In fact, you love your beautiful garden already even though most of it is still full of weeds.

Think of yourself as a garden you’re creating. Love yourself just as you are as you weed and till and plant the seeds of a more magnificent expression of you. Celebrate every sprout and the eventual flowers. Loving yourself just as you are is essential for creating happiness.

How would you recommend this book be best used?

Read it all the way through once or twice, then commit to making those 7 practices into habits. In the back of the book is a section that contains 12 weeks of daily checklists to prompt you as you go about each day. (Or request a Word doc of the checklists by writing to ellen@bookofjoyjoyjoy.com.) Start with just two practices. Choose the two you feel will be the easiest for you to do for 21 consecutive days. Then after three weeks with the first two practices, add two more for another 21 days and three weeks later add two more and when you start your tenth week, you’ll integrate all 7 practices into your daily routine. If it works better for you, aim for 5 days a week for three weeks instead of 21 consecutive days. Check the box to the left of each practice to indicate which practices you’re working on that week. This is the process I used for myself beginning 13 years ago. It totally changed my life. I no longer need the checklists or sticky notes or other reminders. Well, actually I still have sticky notes in my life, like the ones on my desk that say, “Something good will come of this” and “What marvelous things do you have for me today?” Here’s one I recently put by my TV, “Where my attention goes, energy flows. (Do I really want to be stuck in politics?)”

To sample Ellen’s inspiration, sign up for her free gifts, including Affirmations to Grow Younger, plus sample Chapters from Think and Grow Young and Joy! Joy! Joy! at http://bookofjoyjoyjoy.com/. Both her books are available at Amazon.com.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

The Chakra Blog

 

Surviving Undiagnosed Illness – A Few Minor Adjustments #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


A Few Minor Adjustments front coverA Few Minor Adjustments is the tongue-in-cheek title of Cherie Kephart’s memoir of surviving undiagnosed illness. Her beautifully written yet brutally honest story starts with her time as a young Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village of Zambia where she has to adjust to absolutely no sanitation (she’s sent there to help build community latrines) and where she contracts malaria as well as a variety of grotesque ailments.

After recovering back home in California, her adventurous spirit and desire to know more of the world and its people take her to graduate studies in New Zealand. Once back home in San Diego, she works as a technical writer until a severe, mysterious illness lays her at the door of death.

Her persistent health challenges (ranging from unrelenting neck pain, seizures and tachychardia) led to years of suffering, during which her symptoms were continually undiagnosed by medical doctors and alternative healers who were sometimes competent, sometimes careless, sometimes absurd, and always baffled.

She was cared for by faithful friends and a mother who showed her unconditional love and kept her from simply giving up and ending her life – although she came close. But, having lost so many people in her life at a young age, she wrote:

“I had to find a way to alleviate my mental anguish, and live, if not for me, for all of my friends who were no longer able to experience the wonders of this world.”

A Few Minor Adjustments is an astonishing story of how many of our modern diseases (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Epstein-Barr virus and Lyme disease) can easily go undiagnosed or disregarded.

Kephart’s account of her own incredible journey to find life-saving answers should inspire anyone to continue to fight on all levels – physical, mental and spiritual – to heal.

Here, Cherie Kephart answers questions about A Few Minor Adjustments

What transpired during your time in Africa, and how has your experience as a traveler influenced your personal journey on the road to better health?

When I traveled, I was forced to open my mind, to pay attention, and to be adventurous. I had to learn to be comfortable with my fear of the unknown. Living in Zambia taught me that. I stayed with a local Zambian family, ate dishes such as boiled millet and fried-caterpillars. I built makeshift wells and latrines near a crocodile-infested river close to the border of politically unstable Zaire. Each day was an adventure, especially when it came to my health. I had giardia, dysentery, a putzi fly infection resulting in maggots in my butt, and almost died from an uncommon case of malaria. Almost dying in Africa was a pivotal point for me. I realized I needed a fierce will to live if I was going to survive. Now all these years later, that has never changed. It’s the one constant that has kept me going.

After you returned to the United States from graduate school, you had to cope for several years with dramatic, mysterious health issues. What were some of the high and low points of that time when you were first struggling to figure out what might be causing your symptoms?

The worst part was the not knowing why I was so sick, if I would ever heal, or if I was going to die. Every day I woke with the same questions, and each night I went to bed with no answers. It was terrifying. And it went on for years. I saw hundreds of doctors, healers, and therapists: rheumatologists, cardiologists, integrative medicine specialists, neurologists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, and eccentric healers such as a Russian ex-physicist who waved fertile chicken-eggs over my chest to try to reset the rhythm of my heart.

I came close to committing suicide. But that’s the miraculous part. We don’t realize what we are capable of until we are faced with enormous challenges. I learned to respect my inner strength, to know how much I could endure and how much I could rise above. I kept finding ways to change myself and my situation, like changing my attitude, changing the foods I ate, trying new therapies and treatments, including an exploratory heart procedure. I stayed open and stopped looking back. What a magnificent lesson.

There are many individuals, including medical personnel, spiritual healers, therapists, family members and friends, who helped you along the way. What impact did these people have on your attempts to both live with and diagnose your illness?

That was one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever been given; to see how much people cared and feel their compassion and love. My family and friends never gave up on me. That kept me strong. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’m certain of that, especially with regard to my mother and my grandfather. Both of them helped me financially, since I lost the ability to work. They were also there for me emotionally. My boyfriend Alex, the one I dedicated the book to, was amazing. He went to doctor appointments, did research on my health, cared for me while I was bedridden and unable to walk unassisted. I will never forget it. People often tell me how strong I am. I always reply the same way, “I’m only as strong as my support system.” As horrendous as my physical health was, I always had love.

During the course of documenting what was happening with your health, you decided to turn your personal story into an inspirational memoir. What do you find the most fascinating about the memoir genre, and how has writing this book helped with your own healing?

I’ve always been fascinated with memoirs. Reading a memoir, I get to dive deep into someone else’s world, to understand their most intimate struggles and triumphs. I got to know them. It’s like I get to live another life for a little while. I also feel that memoirs connect us, bridging the gaps between different aspects of our humanity.

Writing a memoir is deeply cathartic. I believe we write a memoir twice. The first time we write it, we write it for ourselves. We write to release emotions and energy surrounding everything we have endured. Then, when it is at the point where we feel clarity around it, we re-write and fine tune it to make it accessible and ready to release to the world. We prepare the story in such a way that enables people to easily come along our inner and outer journeys and gain insights from them. Ernest Hemingway said it best, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” That’s what I did.

It’s difficult to explain how writing this memoir contributed to my healing. I certainly don’t think it made the process go any faster. But it made me go deeper into the crevices of pain where I didn’t necessarily want to go. So the healing I’ve experienced is more profound and lasting.

What would you like readers to remember most about your story?

We all have pain and suffering, but we all have joy and beauty. It’s really about perspective and choosing each day to show up in a positive way and to have more compassion for each other, and for ourselves. If we don’t understand something, like an undiagnosed illness, then it is our duty as human beings not to turn away, or reject the unknown, but offer compassion, even if it is something we don’t understand. Actually, especially if it’s something we don’t understand.

You’ve often said that you would like to give a voice to those who are also struggling with an undiagnosed illness. What would you say to those who are on a similar path as yours?

If I could survive all that I have, and it’s a lot for one person to endure, then anyone else can, too. Even when we feel like ending it all, we have to find a reason to live for just one more sunrise and then one more sunset. Because we never know what is around the corner. There were so many times I was ready to end it all. I was barely alive. Now, I look back, and I’m so glad I didn’t give up. As long as we have the will to live, you can heal.

Are you working on a new book and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

Absolutely! My next projects are companion books to the memoir: The Healing 100 and The Symptoms 100. The Healing 100 is the top one-hundred things I did to heal, and The Symptoms 100 is the top 100 symptoms I had and what helped me. I also have a collection of poetry, Poetry of Peace, which chronicles four stages of life, Seeing the World, Through Darkness, Into the Light, and With Peace. It’s really about the emotional and spiritual aspects of healing. Lastly, I am creating a cookbook filled with allergy-free recipes: The Cookbook for People Who Can’t Eat Anything. I’m excited about these projects since the goal is to provide insight, a touch of humor, and ideas on ways to heal. I believe people can learn from my experiences, be inspired, and have some tools for their own healing journey.

For more information on the author, see www.CherieKephart.com.

A Few Minor Adjustments is available on Amazon in Kindle, paperback and hardcover.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 

A Novel Look at Love and Forgiveness – IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


Implicit-10-16-17 CoverIMPLICIT: Soul Invictus contains both wildly imaginative stories of a woman’s many incarnations, worlds, and adventures, and a profound discussion on the meaning of life, love and forgiveness.

Maya Lee is a law professor holding a grudge, which we might all do if we were in the same situation – being unjustly fired. But as we follow her soul through many other incarnations in both ancient and modern times and places, a theme emerges – about forgiveness, about love, about what is real and what isn’t.

“It’s not what happens in life, but our opinions about what happens that trouble men… Or women,” she learns in one of her incarnations.

In another incarnation, as a lawyer in ancient Rome, the protagonist Marcus learns, “…try your best, right? But then just let it go. Stop thinking about it.”  

As the reader, we learn along with the characters – “Forgive, and only love remains.”

The life and death stories in this novel touch on everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking. We follow each incarnation of Maya into the afterlife and learn:

“Love is. Love doesn’t go anywhere or come from anywhere. No thought of love is ever lost. You take it with you. Love is all that there is. And love is everywhere.”

Thanks to author Mark Tiro for this inspirational novel, and for answering my questions here about IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Have you incorporated any of your own past into your writing?

A lot of people ask me after reading the book if the character of Maya Lee is real. Before I started to write, like Maya, I had worked as a public defender in Los Angeles. I’ve tried to incorporate snippets of a lot of things, personalities and places, that I’ve gotten to know – to see – close up… Once I was able to sit down and reflect on it all though, I realized just how deep and profound – how much of an impact – some of these things I’ve seen have had on me.

“Still waters run deep,” as Marianne Williamson used to say. And so, the closest thing I can say about Maya is that she’s arguably the best lawyer I’ve ever known… But of course, maybe that’s why I ended up a better writer than I ever had been a lawyer. Somewhere deep down, I’ve always known not to get in a fight with Maya because she’d probably win.

What inspired you to write IMPLICIT?

I used to work out at the gym, years ago, a lot more than I do now. One day, a friend of mine who lived within walking distance invited me over for lunch, after our workout. Well, on his bookshelf, he had all these books – some I’d heard of, some were new to me. Everything from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to Way of the Peaceful Warrior to Paolo Coehlo’s The Alchemist.

He also had a tattered, old paperback copy of Richard Bach’s Illusions. He lent it to me that day, and I took it home and read it. That book – the ideas in it, I think, was what really set me on my life path.

I then read The Celestine Prophecy, The Prophet, Man’s Search for Meaning… even Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s with Morrie. Eventually these all led me at some point, to a trip to Temecula and a quiet afternoon where I was able to meet Ken Wapnick. I really did come to appreciate his non-judgmental/forgiving take on A Course in Miracles.

What would you like readers to take away from the book?

I wanted to, above all, let readers get to know characters they would actually care about. So many spiritual parables seem to be so wooden. And so much spiritual non-fiction is just not as easy – at least for me – to read today as it used to be, years ago, before the internet.

Most of us now, because of the internet, Twitter, Facebook – being so interconnected – our attention span’s basically shot. The cardinal sin or maybe ‘cardinal rule’ now of anything, whether it’s a book, TV, a movie or a Facebook post, is just this: ‘Don’t be boring.’

And after years of ‘searching,’ I’d finally hit on something that helped lift the heaviness, the depression… something that helped me to just relax and not feel self-conscious when I was with people. As far back as I could remember, I’d always been on my own elusive search for the meaning of life, always trying to find an answer that just ‘felt right.’

I tried to show how this stuff actually looks in life – in this world we all seem to live in here.

Also, a lot of people don’t catch it the first time they read IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus, but I was curious how it would look in the real world, as someone goes through the stages of the ‘development of trust’ that A Course in Miracles describes. Maya’s journey takes her through all of it, and I was as surprised as anybody by the time I got to the end. It turned out that Maya’s journey didn’t look anything like I’d expected it would when I first sat down to begin writing.

In your Author’s Note, you say some of Maya’s lifetimes involve real people in history, such as the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus. Why did you want to include them?

One of the themes that runs through and permeates the book is that in reality, time is not linear. Epictetus taught what we call ‘stoic philosophy.’ But Epictetus’ stoicism was only about one step removed from the Freudian Vedanta of A Course in Miracles that we know today. It’s also quite in line with a lot of the Gnostic teachings, and had quite a lot more in common with the Gospel of Thomas and non-dualistic Buddhism, than with what we think of today as ‘stoic.’

Plus, here was this great teacher – he was a giant, even in his own time, who at the end of his life, settled down with a woman he didn’t marry, and whose name has been lost to history, in order to raise the child of a friend (one who’d presumably died or been sent off) so that the baby wouldn’t die or be sold off into slavery. It was such a human thing to do – it really embodied all his teachings. I was really excited when I discovered I’d have an opportunity to write about that.

And of course, it just so happens that I knew of someone [an incarnation of Maya], who by complete coincidence, happened to be on a ship sailing to just the right place, at just the right time…

How is IMPLICIT connected to the next book you’re publishing in December and what can you tell us about that book?

A lot of people don’t know this, but IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus is actually the second novel I’ve written about Maya Lee. The first one I wrote actually slots in perfectly right behind it. So while IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus really is the beginning of Maya’s story – of the entire Spirit Invictus Series for that matter – in December, Book Two, ALL THESE THINGS: Maya Invictus, comes out. That book will actually go even deeper into Maya’s younger (and slightly wilder) years.

That book will tell the story of Maya and David [a client and spiritual teacher], and how Maya’s toughest and most brilliant courtroom battle jettisoned her off on an unplanned detour into her own personal dark night of the soul. The favorite feedback I’ve heard from my early readers is this quote: “Inner peace with an attitude – could be called Way of the Peaceful Lawyer!”

I’m also giving away a free novella called ONE MORE THING: The Lost Interview. It’s a small little snippet of Maya’s life after the events of – and complimentary to – ALL THESE THINGS.

You can download the free novella and learn more about the Spirit Invictus Series at www.MarkTiro.com.

IMPLICIT: Soul Invictus is available on Amazon Kindle at the special price of just $.99 through November 4, so download it today.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

The Chakra Blog

 

 

 

 

 

Magic Realized: #BookReview of Poems on the Human Spirit and #AuthorInterview with Louis Alan Swartz


Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 7.50.09 AMHow can a book of poetry bring magic into your life? Louis Alan Swartz has done this, writing of life and death in a way that stirs your soul and makes your heart sing in Magic Realized and Other Poems on the Human Spirit.

Reading this volume from beginning to end, you feel like you’ve had a glimpse of a blessed life, as the author touches on Love and Marriage; Children; Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Mothers and Fathers; Human Sanctity; Aesthetics; Ideas, Images, and Places; and Death, the Spirit and Immortality.

Each section has an intriguing note under the title. For instance, Love and Marriage is subtitled, “I intend to make you ridiculously happy.” Under the section title Ideas, Images, and Places, are the words: “Living is the finest art.”

I found all of the poems uplifting, even when I skipped ahead to read about Death, as I mourned the loss of a dear friend. In Eulogy, I resonated with his words: “I do not mourn a loss. I protest an interruption.”

All of the poems gave me another way to look at things, “An idea of what living could be. A small inkling of infinity.” ~ from Claire at the Piano

The poems in Magic Realized are accessible, their meaning, their message, instantly clear and full of color and feeling. The author even provides definitions of words at the end of some poems to make sure they are not misconstrued. And the beautiful poetry is embellished with beautiful illustrations throughout the book by Diane Woods.

Here, Louis Alan Swartz answers my questions about Magic Realized:

What message would you like readers to take away from this book?

My overall intention in writing is to draw out the magnificence in individuals. It is my firm certainty that each person is an immortal spiritual being. I also believe that each human is possessed of abilities much greater than they have been permitted to believe. Their ability to perceive, understand, create, love, help, know and do good is for each one beyond our current earth imaginations. There is a Hindu myth about the god, Shiva and the goddess, Maya. In short, they had a loving relationship for 9000 years and then they ran into some trouble and things got a bit rocky. First of all, I believe that story is true and second of all, I believe that a “regular human being” here on this earth is capable of a love of that duration and magnitude. I won’t go into all the other legends and myths. Suffice it to say, it is very real to me that these things really did happen and that we can return to that level of intensity of life.

What I want the reader to take away from this book is that he is wiser, kinder, more loving, more creative, more useful and more beautiful than he ever imagined. I want to help him regain his capacity for amazement, astonishment and awe. My purpose in writing this book was to speak to the miracle each person reading it is.

Is your poetry based on your own life experiences?

Definitely. I have travelled widely to South America, Europe, The Middle East, Africa, India and back and forth across the U.S. countless times. I saw many things. I learned many things. I know that each individual, living being has great value because I observed them at their work and lives. I listened to them. I eagerly heard their stories. I witnessed their suffering and their elation. I tried to save a young boy from dying for no reason along the Nile in South Sudan. I saw a food riot in India. I ate with the farmers in Madhya Pradesh in India. I told them about the miracles of America. They brought a child to me and asked me to cure her of polio. I could not.

I have been married for 30 years. I have a joyous marriage. My children are walking miracles. It is all there in the writing.

Why did you select the title – Magic Realized?

It is my belief that there is vast magic in each individual. By magic I mean able to create things not explained by nature, even able to create miracles. I am talking about the outrageous expression of genius. I do not believe this is limited to a gifted few but that each person walking this earth has these abilities inherently. I use both definitions of realized in the title. The first one is to become aware of. I want them to become aware of their own personal magic, such as He realized he could sing. The second meaning is to accomplish or achieve as in He realized his goal to be a concert

pianist. I am looking to accomplish both meanings in the reader. I want him to become aware of his personal magic. Then I want him to accomplish magical things in his life. Thus – Magic Realized.

Why do you think people these days need to hear that “You matter.”?

I think that in the main people have lost belief in themselves. I found this by listening to people. I have been told too many times to count things like “I used to have a dream but I lost it and it’s too late now.” That is plain not true! And it pisses me off. They might as well tell me that they are dead and would I please close the coffin. Each individual on this earth does matter! You cannot tell them that too much. My tenth grade English teacher, Miss Helen Hilliard, got up in front of the class with a paper I had written and said, “This kid can write.” That changed my life forever.

Why did you select poetry as your means of expression?

I believe poetry is a concentrated, fine language with which, if you make yourself very understandable, you can communicate directly to the spiritual being.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get it by looking and listening. I look at wild flowers like the bright yellow California Poppy or the blue Mountain Lilac. I look at the Maple trees and Birch trees in the New England Fall. I listen to the old man from Italy in the restaurant telling me about the Second World War as if was yesterday. I devour what has been said and written whether it’s good or bad. I do not wait for inspiration. I go find it and eat it up.

How would you recommend someone read your poetry?

It doesn’t matter to me in which sequence they read my books. Sometimes they may have need of a poem about love or loss or death or immortality. I am thrilled if they find the one that helps them. It is important to me that they understand the words in the poems. I recommend having a dictionary at your side and using it.

Can we expect a Volume 3 of your Magic poetry?

Yes, there is a Volume III in the works. I am well into it and very excited about it. It goes deeper down into the themes of the first 2 volumes.

Do you have a favorite writer or poet who has influenced you?

The poet I most admire is Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet who lived at the end of the 19th Century, beginning of the 20th Century. My favorite work by him is The Duino Elegies. It was from this book that I got my first inkling that a spiritual world existed. By the way, the best translation I have read is by Stephen Spender and J. B. Leishman.

What advice do you offer to aspiring poets?

Write! Write a hell of a lot! Don’t worry if it’s good or bad to begin with. Just write, write tens of thousands of words, even 100,000 and more. Read, live, see, hear. If you’re going to be a poet read all kinds of poetry. See what you like, what you understand and most importantly what moves you. Listen to the people, children, old people, people of all ages.

What I feel is most important is to make your poetry very understandable. It is my personal viewpoint that cryptic, obscure, vague and esoteric poetry is garbage and has given poetry a bad name and turned people off to it. MAKE YOURSELF UNDERSTOOD!

Magic Realized and Swartz’ s first volume of poetry, Constructed of Magic and Other Poems on the Immortality of the Human Spirit, are both available on Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra DiariesChakra SecretsBalance Your Chakras-Balance Your Lifeand The Chakra Energy Diet
www.theChakras.org

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