Musings and Reviews of Metaphysical, New Age and Meaningful Writings

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A Glimpse of Heaven: #BookReview of DANCING AT ANGEL ABBEY with #AuthorInterview


9781504353311_COVER.inddDancing at Angel Abbey is an entertaining, whimsical, light-hearted novel that also offers deep, thoughtful messages about life and the miracle of it. The story revolves around Kate, a woman who loses her self and her purpose in life, then gets angelic help to bring her back to her divine purpose. She’s a partner in a Wall Street law firm who loses her job and her father all in 24 hours, only to discover options she had never considered.

Kate goes home to Angel Falls to see her estranged father the night before he dies and falls into despair at not repairing her relationship with him, while destroying her law career at the same time.

Author Lauren M. Bloom offers a simple recipe for healing: 

“…healing comes in the simplest things — good, plain food, a favorite story, a comfortable place to sleep, the loving attention of familiar friends.”

I was captivated by the protagonist and the problems she faced, and inspired by the angelic help she received.

In fact, one of the most interesting aspect of the novel is the introduction to the archangels in heaven, and their commentary at the end of every chapter — giving us another view of what Kate just experienced. They also sprinkle their messages with advice we can all use.

“You are good enough. Just get out there and do some good.” ~ Archangel Michael

I found myself entranced by the imagery used by the author, as well as the story and the many inspirational messages woven throughout. In addition to the angels communicating with Kate through dreams, visions, visitations in disguise, and even actual physical notes, Kate also gets advice from the Lady of Angel Abbey, where she donates her time after returning to Angel Falls:

“…interpreting your memories of the past in the best way rather than the worst is a very good strategy. It can save you a lot of resentment and regret.”

I do believe, I do believe, I do believe in angels, and am not above asking them for help. They certainly helped Bloom write a perfect book to read this summer or any time of year — it’s a good read for the beach or during a quiet weekend at home. Either way, it will be hard to put down.

It’s easy to see why Dancing at Angel Abbey won the New Age Fiction category in the 2017 International Book Awards.

Here is my interview with Lauren M. Bloom, an attorney, interfaith minister, and award-winning author who believes that listening to the voices of angels can help us discover our best destinies and become our finest selves:

Is there a message you would like readers to take away from your novel?

Life is meant to be a magical, magnificent adventure. We were meant to live in loving collaboration with the Divine, to care for one another and our shared world, and to savor the incredible experiences that come from just being alive. Scary as it gets sometimes, I believe that we’re always beloved, and that help and comfort are always there if we remember to ask for them.  

Your bio says that you are an attorney and an interfaith minister. Is any of Kate’s story modeled on your own experiences?

It is, although I haven’t had the kind of direct encounters with archangels that Kate experiences (at least, not yet). However, I know the kind of soul-crushing damage that a hard-charging professional career can inflict. I’m all too familiar with Kate’s sense of never being good enough, and of longing for a gentler, more meaningful life. Like Kate, I get tremendous satisfaction out of giving practical help to people who need it, but I can be stubborn about accepting help. And, like Kate, I’ve had the privilege of being owned and loved by several Siamese cats. All of those experiences contributed to Kate’s character and the choices she made throughout the book.   

You describe Kate and modern women in general as self-loathing. Why do you think that is, and what is the remedy?

We hold women to ridiculously high and narrow standards in our society. Unless you look like a fashion model, have a successful career, are in an ideal relationship, raise flawless children, live in an immaculate home, and devote your spare time to community service, you’re not accomplishing as much as you “should.” That message is everywhere in popular culture, and it’s positively brutal. 

The remedy, I think, is for women to recognize that “perfection” is the last thing we can, or should, strive toward. Rushing around trying to juggle all of those demands is a wretched way to live. Learning to appreciate our “imperfections” as the things that make us uniquely precious isn’t always easy, but it allows for a much more comfortable and happy life. It’s also better from a spiritual perspective. Perfectionism strangles gratitude, and being genuinely grateful for our imperfectly beautiful selves is a huge first step toward entering into a loving relationship with the Divine.         

In your plot, Kate loses her job over a seemingly small lie. Why do you think lying is so pervasive among people when, as one of the archangels says, “…it always gets them into so much trouble?”

People most often lie because they’re terrified of the consequences of telling the truth. A lot of the time, there’s reason for that fear. Going back to the perfectionism that poisons so much of our society, I’m concerned that we’ve reached the point where even a minor mistake can ruin a person’s life. Kate’s lie was relatively insignificant, but I’ve seen people lose jobs over less. If we want people to stop lying, we have to make it safer for them to tell the truth. Yes, hold people accountable for their mistakes, but keep those mistakes in perspective and make sure that the consequences don’t become too severe.

With help from many angels, Kate leaves the practice of law and discovers her divine destiny. Do you believe we all have a destiny that is mapped out for us? 

I don’t believe that anyone has a predetermined “divine destiny,” because that would make us nothing more than pieces on a game board. As beings with free will, we make choices that are more or less consistent with our better selves, and the choices that bring out the best in us are, in my opinion, the choices that lead us to our best destinies. It can be very tempting to pursue things like power, money and fame just to have them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those things, but it’s important to remember that we literally pay for them with our lives. If we’re miserable, they just aren’t worth the price.   

Your protagonist gets a lot of angelic help in finding her true life’s work. How do you think one can best find meaning and purpose in their lives?

It starts, I think, with recognizing that meaning and purpose can come from many sources. What makes you genuinely happy? Anything you do that leaves you feeling as though your time was well spent is a step in the right direction, whether it’s building a skyscraper, reading to a child, singing a song, petting an animal, saying a prayer, writing to your Congress member, or calling your grandmother. Maybe you want to make the world a better place, or maybe you just want to enjoy some time alone or with someone you love. Maybe it’s what you do for a living, or maybe it’s what you do when you’re not at your “day job.” Each of us only has so much time in this life. Spending it in a way that seems meaningful to you is important enough that it’s worth devoting enough time to figuring out how you really want to spend the rest of it.

If someone wants help from the angelic realm, how would you recommend they ask for it?

Just ask. Don’t worry about choosing the perfect words, don’t worry about things you’ve done that you wish you hadn’t, don’t fret about not being good enough. Just ask, keep asking, and keep an eye out for miracles. The angelic realm doesn’t always answer right away or exactly as expected, but an answer always comes, and it’s always to the good. There have been times in my own life where it’s taken me years to realize just how important it was for me not to get exactly what I wanted. Once that realization finally dawns, however, I’m always grateful that the angels took better care of me than I would have taken of myself.

You mention that self-forgiveness may be the ticket to heaven. Do you believe most people are too hard on themselves?

Heavens, yes! And I think the people who struggle hardest to be “good” are the ones who tend to punish themselves the most. There’s nothing wrong with having dreams, and ambition can be a wonderful thing if it arises out of a happy excitement about life’s possibilities. But even the highest achievers among us fail at least as often as they succeed. I also believe that it can be very difficult to forgive anyone else if you’re unable to forgive yourself. Time spent agonizing over mistakes, whether they’re your own or someone else’s, is time wasted. It’s better to forgive, and to devote that time to something more productive and pleasant.    

You write that miracles happen every day. Can you explain that?

In my opinion, it’s a mistake to think that miracles have to be huge and flashy. The fact that each of us is here at all, that we’re surrounded by beauty if we stop and look for it, that love exists, that there are an infinite number of things we can do, to care for Creation and each other, all of those are inherently miraculous. Here’s a simple example. Think of a piece of music, a painting, a book you like that was created by someone you never met. Even though you don’t know that person, you immediately recognize the work as belonging to its creator and, if you thought for a minute or two, you could probably explain exactly what it is about that work that makes it his or hers. Nobody else could have created exactly that song, painting or book. Each of us is that unique. If that’s not miraculous, what is?

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read as much as you can of what you love, and write what comes to you. If it surprises you, so much the better. (I’m normally a non-fiction writer and would never have imagined writing Dancing at Angel Abbey. Once the idea for the book came to me, though, it wouldn’t leave me alone. Then, the characters started saying and doing things I didn’t expect. That got a little nerve-wracking, but it ultimately made the story a whole lot more interesting than it would have been if I’d stuck with my original plot.) Only give early drafts to people whom you trust to be both honest and kind, and get a good editor. Finally, don’t handcuff yourself by believing that your story has to be “big” or “important.”  If it speaks to you, write it down, and trust that it will speak to other people, too.       

How can readers learn more about your work or connect with you?

Come visit me dancingatangelabbey.com, or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorlaurenmbloom/ and Twitter at @authorlaurenbloom. Let’s talk about angels!  

Dancing at Angel Abbey is 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

 

A Deeper Meaning Behind Colors – The Color of Cold and Ice #BookReview and #Author Interview


 

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 9.21.42 AMThe Color of Cold and Ice is exceptionally creative, weaving the many facets of colors and their chakra associations into the story. Author J. Schlenker beautifully writes of intriguing characters who cross paths throughout the novel, and in the end, become important bridges to balance, passion, health and love for each other.

The novel opens with Sybil, a wife, sister, the owner of a New York City coffee shop, having another of her prophetic dreams. A dream she could not analyze easily, but at least not one like the nightmares that she had seen come true… like the one in which her sister Em’s husband was hit by an object hurtling down from a crane while he and his young son were walking down the street. But this latest dream was pleasant… strange, but pleasant. Nothing foreboding, but indecipherable. She’s standing next to a canal on a bright summer day with her sister, both in orange t-shirts and jeans, then there’s a shift in the weather to a wintry day with chunks of ice floating down the canal, and a man immune to the cold jumping out of the water to kiss her sister.

As The Color of Cold and Ice progresses, we see Sybil’s dream(s) come true and wonder if our own dreams should be paid more attention, to see into the future or just into our selves.

Between the narrative chapters in which we become connected to the characters, Schlenker interweaves short chapters titled from black to white, with all the colors of the rainbow, and the chakras, in between. And the characters then exemplify some of the traits of those chakras, so we learn how they affect our day-to-day lives. What better way to learn about the chakras than to hear them speak for themselves? Here is a sampling of the intriguing way Schlenker helps us leap into the world of color and chakras:

RED: “I am the subdued light that makes the flesh appealing, an urban area of brothels… a district in Amsterdam. A narrow piece of silk, that says ‘power, strength, wealth – with this you can’t go wrong,’ the over enthusiastic salesman, clearly fueled by commission, says. I am life itself, pulsing, oozing, erupting from inside the womb…. I am the base chakra. It all starts with me. I govern the material world, the physical body, and the social position in life. If I’m balanced, I will radiate good health and high levels of energy.”

ORANGE: “You can find me crackling and popping inside a hearth…. Hollywood tries to add romance to my situation and calls me the new black. It couldn’t be further from the truth…. I am a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am a scary jack-o-lantern. I am both yin and yang. I am the ten thousand straws of the Tao…. I am the sacral chakra. I am both sensual and sexual. When I’m balanced, I give grace to movement and pleasure without guilt.”

YELLOW: “I am optimism, spontaneity…. I am happiness. I can be cowardly, envious and jealous. I am a character flaw, the trait of Judas Iscariot, the lion in the Wizard of Oz…. I am the third chakra and can be found in the solar plexus. I deal with many issues: self-esteem, confidence, energy, and inner power. When balanced, I am sunny and bright, exuding confidence, a bright ray of joy, the light in the room. When I’m lacking, I’m passive and meek, seeing myself as a victim and easily manipulated.”

GREEN: “I am the fourth chakra, radiating from the chest… I am the heart, compassionate and loving, empathetic and altruistic, peaceful and balanced. Deplete me and I will be critical and judgmental. I may be depressed or withdrawn Too much of me may cause clinging and a co-dependence. I am the breath. Breathe. Take me in fully.”

BLUE: “I encompass the earth, above and below. I splash, crest, fall, and recede, turn windy and violent, throw pellets of water, and become calm once again…. I symbolize wisdom and truth. I am the celestial. I’m a stone called lapis. I am scarabs, pendants and jewelry, the rich inlay of the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen. And yet, I’m practical, stimulating good judgment and intellect…. I am the fifth chakra, that of the throat. I am communicative and creative. When in balance, I speak with a resonant voice and clear communication. I can listen as well.”

INDIGO: “I am the mind’s eye, your guide to deeper consciousness. Behold me above. I hold the stars in place. Behold me within. Travel on a magic carpet through the corridors of your mind. I am intuition, imagination, your dreams and insights…. I am the sixth chakra. I am visualization, the forte of artists. I reside in your brow. My imagination is endless…. I am vision, your sight. Guard me well…. I am your dreams. Dare to dream big. I am your intuition at its highest.”

VIOLET: “I’m the union of body and soul. I am the link between heaven and earth, the purple irises of Van Gogh. I am the end of the rainbow, the personification of the rainbow. I am royal, imperial…. I am the seventh chakra. I rule understanding. I am the connection with God and the divine. When in balance, I have an open mind, an open heart. I am both thoughtful and wise. I am connected to spirit.”

Throughout the drama of the novel, we see the doctor who attended Em’s child after the crane accident lose his passion for both his profession and his wife, then find it again through cold therapy and then other alternative, holistic practices that he integrates into his Internal Medicine practice.

No more spoilers as to the novel’s ending, as I think you should read it for yourself. But I will end my review with words spoken by Sybil: “I don’t know that life is so strange. I think the universe has a plan for us. It works out better when we listen. We’re on a divine trek.”

Here, Author J. Schlenker answers my questions about The Color of Cold and Ice:

1) Is there an underlying message you’d like readers to take away from reading your novel?

I want people to take away whatever message will most help them. Everyone brings their own stuff into play when they read a book. Maybe my muse is directing me to write just one individual sentence that might resonate with someone. I try to stick with what I get myself from writing it and hope those reading it will get what is intended for them. Writing is cathartic. I figure whatever I’m working on is some kind of life lesson that I’m working through.

2) Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I wrote poems in high school. Then forty years later my husband finds the poems I’ve written and says why don’t you write? That was in 2008. The writing becomes more intense with each year. And, I meet more writers and hopefully learn more as I go. And, I learn from my readers.

Also, my intention when I began this endeavor was to write about Sally, a woman I met when I was eight. She was born in 1858 into slavery. She was 103 when I met her. And, now, I’m finally, after three books, writing about Sally. It will be fictional, but is based on my research on her. I think I needed the three books I’ve done for practice in getting to Sally. This project is keeping me really busy.

3) What did you consider the most challenging part of writing this novel?

The most challenging part might have been writing the higher chakra colors. Maybe I’m not there, yet. And also, the workshop (on Cold Therapy), as I’ve only taken the Wim Hof  online course and haven’t been to Poland.

4) I love how you gave voice to colors… what inspired this?

I was taking a writing course and we were given an assignment to write as if we were a color. I chose orange. Having an art degree, I loved this assignment. Then when NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) rolled around, I thought why not incorporate this into a book.

5) What sparked your interest in the chakras and holistic healing (delved into by the doctor in the book)?

I know it was in my twenties that I started devouring everything about Edgar Cayce. Perhaps it stemmed from a past life. Hard to say. But I believe in anything natural. I just heard a podcast on the healing of nature. I grew up playing in the woods. I got away from it for a long time, but in the last decade I’ve returned. I love doing yoga barefoot on the grass. Too, I think overall, the medical establish doesn’t take the emotions of the individual into account. I’m a strong believer in we can heal ourselves in most instances.

6) The chakra colors correspond to challenges your characters are facing in the first half of the book… then it’s just the story until you reach white. Do you see the resolution of their problems as a result of a balance of their chakras?

The short answer would be yes. I tried to keep the colors relevant to the characters, but at the same time, a person is all of the colors. If not, we would be so unbalanced. Maybe one more than another, or maybe a person is working on a particular problem at a point in their life represented by a color. There was a time when all the walls in my house were white. My house was basically bland. Yet, I mostly wore red. That was the color that looked the best on me. Then I went through a change. My house is a salmon color on the outside. The inside walls with the exception of one bedroom which is green, are all stucco orange. And, there is a lot of red, rugs, couch, etc. There is no longer any red in my closet. It’s more varied, but mostly deep blues. I feel colors can really influence us. And as we change, our colors change.

7) What advice would you give to new indie authors?

I don’t know if I’m one to be giving advice, but I would say:  Write from your heart!

8) What ways can readers connect with you?

My Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/J.SchlenkerAuthor/

Blog:  https://athursdayschild.wordpress.com/

The Color of Cold and Ice and J. Schlenker’s other books are available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Namaste!

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

The Chakra Blog

 

 

FILL THE SKY #BookReview and #AuthorInterview


A JOURNEY EVERYONE WILL WANT TO TAKE WITH KATHERINE SHERBROOKE

Have you ever taken ayahuasca? Danced a chakra meditation? Stepped into the unknown to uncover your true self? Been a faithful friend despite perceived betrayal? Worked with shamans and healers foreign to your understanding?

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-1-43-31-pmFill the Sky is a totally engaging novel that dramatically pulls you into these situations, and has you right in there, experiencing these new realities with the characters, feeling what they’re feeling, testing your own reactions.

Author Katherine Sherbrooke encourages readers to think and feel in new and refreshing ways. Her tale is one of  facts vs. intuition, mind vs. heart, action vs. being, a safe persona vs. self-discovery, Big Pharma vs. ancestral medicine and, above all, the healing power of love.

We journey to Ecuador with Ellie, who is left without hope of recovering from cancer by the medical establishment, and the two friends who accompany her for shamanic healing, which seems like her last option.

These two friends are polar opposites. The trip is planned by Joline, a life coach who looks to spiritual or ancient solutions for health and wellbeing and believes that the shamans will heal Ellie…

“I’m trying to help her find life again. Find a way back to life. Nature will support.” ~ Joline

Ellie’s other best friend, Tess, a biomedical businesswoman who is all about control and planning, has nothing but doubts about shamanic healing. She goes along just to support her friend, her only hope that the “placebo effect” may come into play.

“If Ellie believes going to Ecuador will help, maybe it will…” but “How could ‘nature’ possibly justify any of this? Ellie simply didn’t deserve to be sick.” ~ Tess

What promises to be a peaceful week in a beautiful mountain retreat turns into a dramatic,  difficult transformation for the three women as the shamans work on them all in their mysterious ways. Each woman is in the midst of personal conflicts and is in need of a return to peace that may actually be found with the shamans in the “sacred mountains.”

Can a group of medicine people, with no visible medicine, help all three women heal? What is true healing in the end? Share in their unique, magical experiences and insights as they reconnect with Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and their authentic selves.

Author Katherine Sherbrooke, answers my questions about FILL THE SKY:

What message you would like readers to take away from Fill the Sky?

Each of my three main characters in the book grapples with a complex question in her life that has arisen because of the choices she has made in the past and some level of confusion about the path she has before her. As someone approaching fifty myself, I think we too often live under the misconception that we should have everything figured out by this time in our lives. But actually I think our middle years is a poignant time to stop and ask ourselves very basic questions about the labels we have been wearing (wife, mother, business person, lover) and who we want to be in the next act. I hope women who read the book will find a bit of themselves in one or more of these characters and perhaps be a little more gentle with themselves for not having charted the perfect course, and for not having all the answers going forward. In the end, self-discovery is a wonderfully hopeful exercise. We need not be stuck in old patterns that don’t serve us well. I truly believe we all have the internal wisdom, even though it is sometimes buried very deeply, to heal old wounds and find the joy in what comes next.

What spoke to on your travels to Ecuador there that you needed to share in this novel?

I was in transition in my life at the time. Having recently left the company I had co-founded, I was struggling with whether or not I should continue down an entrepreneurial path or devote more time to writing.I was simultaneously struggling with the process of losing my mother to Alzheimer’s. The opportunity to spend a week way outside of my daily routine, including working with shamans, which was something I knew nothing about in advance, weirdly just felt like something I needed to do. What I didn’t expect was the constant presence of and reverence for Pachamama, or mother earth, that informs the work of the shamans and the culture of the people we visited. I gained an almost immediate appreciation for her very powerful and feminine gifts. It was like the opening of a lens I had never looked through before, and changed my orientation to the world around me. I wanted to share that sensation by writing a story told through the eyes of three (very different) American women who are forced to get off the treadmill of their various lives for a week and listen to nature, and by association, to themselves, to better understand the most important issues of their lives. It was a powerful experience for me, and one that I hoped would translate well into a dramatic situation for my characters.

What inspired you to move from the memoir genre of your first book to a fiction genre?

My first and longest held dream, since I was a child, has always been to write fiction. But I started with a family memoir because my parents happened to have a wonderful, turbulent love story that had long intrigued me. I was gifted a cast of characters and a great plot in that story and wanted to capture all the detail and nuance of it while I still had my father, who has an impeccable memory, as a source. That experience reignited my long-held passion for writing, and so I knew the time was write to finally tackle a work of long-form fiction.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given as a writer?

To write every day, if even for thirty or sixty minutes to keep the subconscious thread of a story intact. In attempting to approach my writing like a job, I had mistakenly been taking weekends off. It made the work much harder than it needed to be. As soon as I started writing seven days a week, the writing was easier and the result was much better.

Can you tell us more about the work of GrubStreet, the literary arts organization you work with?

GrubStreet is a creative writing organization in Boston that welcomes writers at all levels, offering classes for beginners up through master classes for experienced and published authors. It joins the rigor of craft with a wonderful community of writers who are incredibly supportive of each other’s work. In making the transition from business to writing, GrubStreet quickly became my life line. Any kind of art can feel solitary and terrifying at times. GrubStreet gave me the tools I needed to improve my craft and the confidence to even consider sharing it with the world.

Many thanks to Katherine Sherbrooke for her beautiful storytelling and insights into her writing process. Fill the Sky is available now on Amazon and is a perfect read for the New Year and an inspiration for new ways of thinking. For more information, please see http://www.kasherbrooke.com.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

Chakra Blog

Millions are suffering from this after #CyberMonday and don’t realize it…


shoppingAfter a weekend starting with Black Friday and ending with Cyber Monday, we may all have consumerism addiction. Yes, corporations and their ad campaigns find it easy to lead us like lemmings to the sales. Which leads me to this book recommendation for both adults and their teenagers… Snowflake River, a mystical thriller in which a world blinded by greed and the constant bombardment of advertising is at odds with the Great Spirit and threatens the survival of humanity.

#Book Review and and Interview with the Author of Snowflake River

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-3-38-52-pmSnowflake River: A voyage into the Great Spirit by Ben-Ami Eliahu begins with a Minister of Health investigating Body Cooling Phenomenon (BCP), a deadly disease marked by a decline in body temperature plus hallucinations, a compulsion to buy, buy, buy, and eventual death. The affected population? Mostly young people in financially powerful countries.

The heroes? Two teenagers who are assigned a school project that takes them on an out-of-this-world adventure to find the cause of BCP. It’s inspiring that the teens are the ones to take on the corruption and greed in the world and learn how things mysteriously interconnect.

The villain? The evil corporate power who is raping the spiritual realm of “spiritglow,” causing harm to the Great Spirit, using this powerful force in commercials to make those watching TV become dramatically attached to the object shown. But this misuse of “spiritglow” also causes BCP and may lead to the destruction of humanity.

Aided by professors, the two teens, neurotic, fearful Omer (who has contracted BCP) and Noa, a disabled but striking, red-headed girl, unravel the secrets of an ancient tablet engraved with a symbol of spiral lines that leads to the source of all consciousness. Omer bravely risks his life, entering an alternate universe to battle those stealing “spiritglow,” descending into a river of collective awareness and “snowflakes” that are memories of all of existence. Through the loving aid of ancient nature spirits and Noa, he survives and returns to a better world.

The story has many fantastical elements and will be a page-turner for anyone into science fiction or the metaphysical.

Spellbinding fiction with a message – a warning and a glimmer of hope in a time when power, money and technology are at odds with the survival of humanity, I recommend downloading a Kindle of this book to your own and your children’s electronic devices, maybe the new ones bought on Cyber Monday.

Here, Ben-Ami Eliahu answers my questions about Snowflake River:

What inspired you to write Snowflake River?

When I started working on the first draft of Snowflake River, its main theme was the Great Spirit, and the base for my writing was my years-long thoughts about our existence, life and death, and the hidden connections between all people. I was also inspired by the work of Carlos Castaneda in The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.

In later drafts I added other themes, like consumerism and its unknown connections to the Great Spirit, and here I was inspired by people’s response, mainly children’s, to subliminal advertising.

What message(s) would you like readers to take away from your book?

I hope it would be the understanding that people are not separate individuals as it may seem, but that we all share and have access to the huge pool of consciousness of our entire humanity. And I would like them to pay extra attention to the hidden reasoning behind seemingly innocent commercials.

I just read an article that scientists have proven the possibility of dream telepathy, something that occurs in your book. Are the fantasy elements in your book based in what you feel is true or possible?

Absolutely. Many researchers indicate that our thoughts are not limited to the sphere of our heads – they can be traced by sensors. Recent research has shown our thoughts can activate physical equipment, like prosthetic hands for handicapped people. So, if we know that our thoughts are not locked within us and that they are actually surrounding us, then we are only missing the part of how the thoughts interconnect – between people – and that, I believe, will also be understood in the future.

What is your writing process like? Do you do much research or mostly use your imagination?

It is the combination of imagination and research. Once I have ideas for elements that I think should be implemented in the story, I start researching them (sometimes too deeply, which slows the writing process) and only when I feel that they make sense, I use them. In addition, I always write down, in a notebook, interesting bits of information that I run across in my daily life.

Snowflake River is available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback. The author welcomes readers to share their thoughts and views on the themes of the book at eliahubooks@gmail.com.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BigMagic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert


This blog originally appeared:

January 11, 2016 by Claire ‘Word by Word’

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 9.09.05 AMElizabeth Gilbert, author of the best seller Eat Pray Love and more recently in 2013, the historical, botanical novel The Signature of All Things has thought a lot about Creativity, so much so that she gave a TED Talk on the subject.

Tapping into one’s creative life can often be referred to as a sea of obstacles, fears, procrastinations and can tend to focus on what one lacks, rather than the small steps we can take in pursuit of it.

In Big Magic, Gilbert writes a lot about how we get in the way of our own creativity, covering a multitude of sins, some that we may find relevant, others not, depending where we are on the path to pursuing it.

The book is separated into six sections, Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity where she discusses many aspects of e creative process, her own experiences and many anecdotes from well-known personalities.

One of the best is from Richard Ford, author of Canada; he gave this response to an audience member who recounted all the things that he and Ford had in common; age, background, themes, the fact they’d both been writing all their life.
The big difference being this person had never been published, they were heartbroken, a “spirit crushed by all the rejection and disappointment”. He added that he did not want to be told to persevere, that’s all he ever from anyone.

Ford told him he should quit.

The audience froze: What kind of encouragement was this?

Ford went on: “I say this to you only because writing is clearly bringing you no pleasure. It is only bringing you pain. our time on earth is short and should be enjoyed. You should leave this dream behind and go find something else to do with your life. Travel, take up new hobbies, spend time with your family and friends, relax. but don’t write anymore, because it’s obviously killing you.”

There was a long silence.

Then Ford smiled and added, almost as an afterthought:

“However, I will say this. If you happen to discover, after a few years away from writing, that you have found nothing that takes its place in your life – nothing that fascinates you, or moves you, or inspires you to the same degree that writing once did…well, then, sir, I’m afraid you will have no choice but to persevere.”

She writes about her theory that ideas are a separate entity to ourselves and if we do not pursue them when they come knocking in the form of inspiration, we risk them leaving us altogether and being passed on to someone else. it is a little like when the momentum and inspiration has left us, which can also happen if we put something’s aside for too long, it becomes difficult if not impossible to renter the zone to complete it.

She gives an example of a novel she was very passionate and inspired about, an Amazonian novel, which she mentioned to her friend Ann Patchett, who curious, as she was at the time writing a novel set in the same location, asked her what it was about.

Gilbert gave her a brief outline and asked Patchett what her novel was about and she repeated almost word for word, the same idea – fitting into her theory that the idea had visited her and because she had put it aside for a couple of years, it left and was passed on to Patchett and became State of Wonder.

It’s necessary to read her quaint theories with an open mind, Big Magic itself is the label she applies to all those instances of coincidence, luck, the unexplained, it is a form of belief in universal guidance or positive thinking, one conveniently packaged as Big Magic and it is a helpful philosophy certainly.

Fortunately, we need not put all out faith in it, she pulls back on the inclination of some to advise us to seek out our passion, especially when many struggle to find or identify such a thing. She favours curiosity over passion.

Forget about passion, pursue curiosity. Curiosity is accessible to everyone, while passion can seem intimidating and out of reach.

‘…curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming and democratic entity…curiosity only ever asks one simple question of you:

“Is there anything you’re interested in?”

Anything?

Even a tiny bit?

No matter how mundane or small?

Curiosity is like a clue, you follow it, see where it takes you and continue along that train of thought or research. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, it doesn’t matter, momentum is what’s important. She gives the example of following an interest in gardening, that lead to researching and eventually writing that much inspired historical novel The Signature of All Things.

She also acknowledges that the necessity to achieving a creative life of note takes discipline, luck and talent and puts more faith in the former, than the latter.

She doesn’t regard herself as being endowed with greater than average talent, she is not a perfectionist – admitting to flaws in here work she knew were there, but that weren’t worth the effort to pursue in the grand scheme of things. An interesting observation, as one of those flaws was the one under-developed character in her last novel, something I noted in my review, that she admits beta readers warned her of, but that she deliberately did not pursue,in some cases the effort required to fix something is greater than the reward it will bring.

Overall, a fast, easy read, that can act as a reminders and a motivator to us in relation to any creative endeavour, it’s one of those books to be read with a filter, let some of it pass and take the gems for what they’re worth to you now.

“Possessing a creative mind is like having a border collie for a pet. it needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble. Give your mind a job to do, or else it will find a job to do, and you might not like the job it invents.”

Thanks to Claire McAlpine for this insightful review.

Namaste!
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

 

Don’t Die with Your Music Still in You: Review and Interview


Serena Dyer book cover imageDon’t Die with Your Music Still in You: My Experience Growing Up with Spiritual Parents is a fascinating read from Serena J. Dyer, in which she shares her experience practicing her father’s 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace. In his best-selling book from 2002, self-help expert Wayne W. Dyer offered tips designed to help everyone find peace and happiness during their life journey. Serena, who is the sixth of Wayne Dyer’s eight children, embraces the secret, Don’t Die with Your Music Still in You, the title of the first chapter as well as the book, in which she does what she loves most, “which is telling stories – and to feel that I may be adding a little good to the world in the process.”

Serena explains how applying this secret, staying aligned with your purpose in life, paying attention to what excites you and letting yourself be guided by your intuition, can be “gut-wrenchingly hard, but it is so worth it.” She then shares the profound impact on her life of the other 9 secrets, which each get their own chapter as well:

2)  Have a Mind That is Open to Everything and Attached to Nothing.
3)  You Can’t Give Away What You Don’t Have.
4)  Embrace Silence.
5)  Give Up Your Personal History.
6)  You Can’t Solve a Problem with the Same Mind that Created It.
7)  There Are No Justified Resentments.
8)  Treat Yourself as if You Already Are What You’d Like to Be.
9)  Treasure Your Divinity.
10) Wisdom is Avoiding All Thoughts that Weaken You.

Personally, I am always inspired by Wayne Dyer, but don’t always find it easy to take his advice and just live it, even when I totally agree, e.g., that negative thinking or resentment weaken you. I know that to be true, but oh, we are all so human and full of ego at times! So I was very interested to see if growing up in the household of this spiritual teacher made it that much easier.

Serena Dyer’s account of life with two spiritual parents was enlightening as well as very interesting… lifting the curtain on a family that had spirituality as its guiding light, but difficulties with relationships and health as well. She explains how she learned the 10 secrets as part of her daily life, how she failed at using these secrets at times, and examples of situations that helped her embrace them. Dr. Dyer sums up each chapter commenting on Serena’s writing and learning, adding additional food for thought on each of the topics.

The lessons shared in the book which most inspired me were trusting your own intuition, surrendering bad feelings and handing them over to God, manifesting your dreams, showing gratitude that everything is in Divine order, and knowing that God does not exist outside of us, but within us.

A big lesson that Serena says she learned as she doubted her path in the world, was that loving herself and accepting her life exactly as it was, led it to change for the better. No matter who you are, or who your parents are, you may need to be reminded to bless the present, trust yourself and expect the best. “I am trying to be more like my parents, but it’s not always easy for me,” she writes. We’re all on a journey to fulfill our life’s purpose, hopefully finding success and inner peace, and it’s not always easy. So, the guidance offered by Wayne Dyer, with its interpretation by Serena, makes it that much more accessible.

Here, Serena Dyer answers my questions:

BECCA: Despite the benefits, did you feel any particular pressure growing up as the daughter of a famous spiritual guru?

SERENA: When I was a child, I was not aware that my dad was famous, in fact, it still seems weird for me to write or acknowledge that he is to this day! Being one of 8 children, I was really unaware of any outside perception of myself or my family, I was mostly concerned with getting my siblings to laugh or be goofy with them. I write that because in terms of “pressure” I felt more pressure to get along with the pack of siblings that we were and really felt no pressure at all from my parents.

BECCA: Your own learning curve in embodying your father’s teaching gives us all hope that, with practice, we can achieve our goals. Did you find any one of the 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace hardest to apply?

SERENA: There were definitely a few secrets that have been more difficult for me and continue to be more difficult for me to this day. Embracing silence is one; I enjoy being distracted and constantly find myself having to battle with putting my phone down and not getting too caught up in social media. It is a struggle for me!

BECCA: In my experience, judgment and resentment are so very hard for people to relinquish. What did you learn about them that can help the reader the most?

SERENA: I heard a line about judgement and resentment and I think it so perfectly sums up the importance of relinquishing these feelings: hanging on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Judging people or staying attached to feelings of resentment only harms you, and keeps you more aligned with the energy of anger and resentment that you probably want to get away from. If you want to feel good, and who doesn’t, then you must abandon the thoughts you hold on to that make you feel bad! It is as simple as that!

BECCA: What suggestions do you have for other first-time writers who feel they have an important message to share?

SERENA: My suggestion is to write, write, write! I started with Facebook posts, then began a blog, then it turned into an online journal of sorts, and really evolved into a book through the process of constantly writing and blogging. The more you write, the more you find your voice, so write as much as you can and never delete it! One day you may look back and realize what a genius you were all along. 🙂

Serena shares more inspiration at www.serenadyer.com.

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, Balance Your Chakras-Balance Your Life, and The Chakra Energy Diet

www.theChakras.org

Supporting Your Author Friend


Laura Best

This post could have been written by my family and friends. It’s all about how to support your authorly friends out there, and since my friends and family have been awesome enough to support me through the publication of two books I wanted to let others in on their tips for supporting an author friend. (I bet most of them didn’t even know they had such tips!) Through the years my friends and family have come up with some ingenious ways to put the word about my books “out there.” I thought I would share these with everyone else out there who would like to know ways to support a certain author but are a bit uncertain about how to do that. Believe me there are plenty of ways, and my friends have done a super, stupendous job.

1. Buy the book-— A lot of my friends bought the…

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