Coming January 2023!

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on Bookshop, TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Dancing Without Music is Now Available

When major depressive disorder, seizures, and an eating disorder leads to hopelessness, lack of interest, loss of pleasure, and worse: alcohol abuse, self-mutilation, isolation, anxiety, panic attacks, physical illness, and suicidal feelings, seventeen-year-olds Mia Callan and Milo Chatham who only recently began dating find this brutal array of dangers overwhelming, and possibly even deadly.

Bullying on and off social media, spiked drinks at first parties, stalking, and sexual assault are just some of the obstacles they have to face as burgeoning young adults.

What happens when they try to get out of danger? Will it follow them anyway and wreak havoc upon their lives and those of their loved ones. Will they find the correct medications that will allow them to live normal lives full of success, satisfaction, and sobriety? Can a first true love win in the end?

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on Bookshop, TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: How to Know God by Deepak Chopra

The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries

This is another book in that same first class in Spirituality & Resilience about which I had to lead a discussion. The book was rather intimidating at first because I questioned the existence of a God. Despite growing up catholic, I strayed from religion and sought something more intellectual. So, this book challenged me.

The author begins by going into telling us that our search to find God is narrowed down to a response of the brain which Chopra calls the “God response.” It falls into seven definite events taking place inside the brain and are much more basic than your beliefs, but they give rise to beliefs that bridge from our world to an invisible domain where matter dissolves and spirit emerges:

  1. Fight-or-flight response: we turn to God when we need to survive. You fulfill your life through family, a sense of belonging like to a community, and material comforts.
  2. Reactive response (this is the brain’s creation of a personal identity): we turn to God because we need to achieve, accomplish, and compete. You fulfill your life through success, status, and other ego satisfactions.
  3. Restfulness awareness response: we turn to God because we need to feel that the outer world isn’t going to swallow us up in its endless turmoil. You fulfill your response through peace, centeredness, self-acceptance, and inner silence.
  4. Intuitive response (the brain looks for information both inside and out): we turn to God for him to validate that our inner world is good. Outer knowledge is objective; but inner knowledge is intuitive. The God that matches this response is understanding and forgiving. You full your life though insight, empathy, tolerance, and forgiveness.
  5. Creative response (the human brain can invent new things and discover new facts): we turn to him out of our wonder at the beauty and formal complexity of nature. We call this inspiration, and its mirror is a Creator who made the whole world from nothing. You fulfill your life through inspiration, expanded creativity in art or science, and unlimited discovery.
  6. Visionary response (a form of pure awareness that feels joyful and blessed): we need such a God to explain why magic an exist side by side with ordinary mundane reality. This contact can be bewildering because it has no roots in the material world. You fulfill your life through reverence, compassion, devoted service, and universal love.
  7. Sacred response: we need him because without a source, our existence has no foundation at all. You fulfill your life through wholeness and unity with the divine.

These seven responses form the basis of religion whether the God is absent or non-existent or one of pure love and light. Each religion projects a different view of reality with a matching God. Only the brain can deliver the vast range of deities that exist in human experience. We select a deity based on interpretation of reality, and that interpretation is rooted in biology.

I enjoyed how the book went into the power of intention and what makes life spiritual. Also diverting was how the author explored the mysteries and complexities and wove them together to open new doors for us to ruminate. If you want to read it in its entirety, get it here.

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven C. Hayes

This book encourages you to detach from the causes of suffering, embrace your psychological pain, identify your values, and take action towards those values. It is all based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which focuses on mindfulness techniques, acceptance, and value-centric living. The author pretty much outlines the path out of suffering and towards full engagement of life.

When people believe their negative thoughts and incorporate them into their personal identity, their perspective becomes severely limited, and suffering becomes twofold. There is pain of the presence like anxiety and depression. When focusing on such negative states, a secondary type of agitation emerges: the pain of absence, which refers to the inability to move forward in life and the opportunities missed as a result.

Mindfulness techniques are very effective in catching negative thoughts before they become an ingrained part of one’s identity or self-concept. A daily practice of meditation and other contemplative practices can create a healthy distance between negative thoughts and one’s sense of self as external to those thoughts. Practicing acceptance, or the willingness to experience the situation and self exactly as they are in the present moment is the next step. The third step is to identify values, which are not life goals or specific outcomes but rather directions in life that people make the conscious decision to move toward. Once values are identified, incorporating practices of mindfulness and acceptance paves the way to values-driven living.

Key insights of this book are:

  1. There are two faces of human suffering: present pain, which refers to an undesirable condition, and the pain of absence which results from not living a full life.
  2. Human beings think relationally, creating temporal, causal, and comparative links between various subjects.
  3. Running away from pain only makes it more palpable.
  4. Avoidance can be counteracted by the belief that it’s possible to respond in a new way to old problems.
  5. Acceptance means letting go of trying to control thoughts and feelings.
  6. Creating distance between the self and negative thoughts is the first step in reducing emotional pain.
  7. Identifying with the consciousness that holds pain is preferable to identifying with the pain itself.
  8. Mindfulness practices heighten the ability to be flexible and access a wide range of reactions.
  9. Pain offers meaningful guidance to identify values.

I really enjoyed this methodically and thoughtfully written book which made the philosophical underpinnings of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) accessible. I strongly suggest reading it in its entirety. Get it here.

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

I first read this book ten years ago for a Spirituality & Resilience class. It’s pretty straightforward in that whatever has happened to you, it has already happened. Now how are you going to handle it? Don’t lose touch with yourself and fall into a robot-like way of seeing and thinking and doing where you break contact with your deepest self because if not careful, those moments can stretch out and last a lifetime. Don’t be preoccupied with the past, with what has already happened, or with a future that hasn’t arrived yet because you may fall quite unawares into assuming is the truth about what is out there in the world and in here in our minds because much of the time, it just isn’t so.

The author goes on to say that we may pay a high price for this mistaken and unexamined assumption by willfully ignoring the richness of our present moments. The fallout accumulates silently, coloring our lives without our knowing it or being able to do something about it. Instead, we lock ourselves into a personal fiction that is enshrouded in thoughts, fantasies, and impulses mostly about the past and the future that veil our direction and the very ground we stand on. This book tells you how to wake up from such dreams and the nightmares they turn into. Go from ignorance—our mindlessness, to being in touch with the not knowing which is mindfulness, by using meditation, and wakefulness which is present moment awareness.

It is important to note that meditation is not some cryptic activity, and does not involve becoming a zombie, cultist, devotee, or mystic. It is simply about being yourself, coming to realize that you are on a path that is your life, see that this path has direction that is always unfolding moment by moment and that what happens in this moment influences what happens next.

Reading this book in its entirety helps get out of the fog-enshrouded, slippery slope that we get into and that we may follow right into our grave or that fog-dispelling clarity at the moment before death where we realize that all the thought we placed on past and future was based on ignorance and fear. Instead shed those life-limiting ideas that aren’t the truth or the way our life has to be at all. When I first read this book, it seemed too straightforward in saying that “it is what it is.” But considering I had to lead a discussion on it the following day, I reread it and really got into it and got the message. It was one of the books that started me on this journey of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, as well as spirituality and resilience seeking. Get it here.

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Book review: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff—And It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over your Life

This book is similar to the last book on Zen philosophy that I reviewed which was The Art of Simple Living. It consists of 100 suggestions to simplify your life and starts by noting things about our volatile world such as entertainment is more attractive than education, personal gain rates higher than personal growth, and being selfless is less attractive than taking selfies. We’re in an age where we are immobilized by little things that get in the way of what we want. So, when it seems to many of us that society has lost its way, this book is here to bring you back to your simplified higher self and core values of kindness.

Some of the 100 points touched on in this brief, honest, pure and simple little self-help book are:

  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff—instead of focusing on little problems and concerns and blow them out of proportion, focus on the magic and beauty of life.
  • Make Peace with Imperfection—in the absence of judgment and seeking perfection, you’ll then discover the perfection in life itself.
  • Beware of the Snowball Effect of Your Thinking—notice how negative and insecure thinking spirals out of control and becomes a thought tornado.
  • Develop Your Compassion—nothing helps us build our perspective more than empathy of what others experience. It develops our sense of gratitude for the miracle of life.
  • Learn to Live in the Present Moment—don’t allow past problems and future concerns to make us anxious or depressed. Now is the only time we have and the only time that we have any control over.
  • Ask Yourself the Question, “Will This Matter a Year from Now?”—play time warp and ask if this “will be one more irrelevant detail in your life?” Don’t allow a mental fork in the road let you get uptight about mini crisis in life.
  • Practice Humility—humility and inner peace go hand-in-hand. The less compelled you are to prove yourself to others, the more peace inside yourself.
  • Practice Being in the Eye of the Storm—stay in the specific spot of the center of life’s metaphorical tornadoes or hurricanes that is calm and isolated from the frenzy of stressed or dramatized activity. Be serene in the midst of chaos.
  • Live This Day as if it Were Your Last. It Might Be—Spend time doing things that you can’t bear to let go unfinished should this moment be your last.

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.

William James

This book definitely does give the reader the tools to choose not to sweat the small stuff and to live the big stuff with greater happiness, peace, and big joy. To read this wonderful book, get it here.

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

What Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
  • They don’t accept that each feeling they have implies something
  • They aren’t undermined by not being correct
  • They don’t utilize rationale to deny their feelings
  • They don’t extend significance onto all that they see
  • They don’t have to demonstrate their force
  • They don’t keep away from torment, regardless of whether they fear it
  • They don’t search out others’ imperfections with an end goal to reduce their qualities
  • They don’t say anything negative
  • They don’t sift through specific parts of and encounter to catastrophize it
  • They don’t keep a rundown of things individuals “ought to” or “shouldn’t do”
  • They don’t see themselves as adjudicator of what’s correct
  • They don’t make general determinations from their own encounters
  • They don’t change their character dependent on who they’re near
  • They can tolerate upping for themselves without being forceful or cautious
  • They don’t accept that his is consistently the manner in which their life will be

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Cognitive Biases that Create the Way You Experience Life

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  1. Projection—our preferences are projected towards what we see and interpret accordingly.
  2. Extrapolation—when we use our present circumstances to analyze our entire life
  3. Anchoring—the first information we hear tends to influence the way we perceive things
  4. Negativity—selective attention makes us pay attention to bad news
  5. Conservatism—when you rely on information you had earlier
  6. Clustering illusion—when your subconscious mind starts seeing patterns in random events
  7. Confirmation—occurs when the information we listen to supports or encourages our ideas
  8. Choice-supportive—the way we make choices towards things we see as beneficial and disregarding the flaws that come with it

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, novel in verse, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

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