Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anna Gatmon on Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World

Anna Gatmon talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World: 4 Keys to Fulfillment and Balance.



“Living our calling and purpose is how we humans can live in spiritual and material balance.” ~Anna Gatmon

Anna lived in Paris in her twenties, where she worked as an international fashion model, and while she was fulfilled materially, she felt something missing. This feeling stayed with her when she went to the United States, where she got a doctoral degree, married, and raised a family, and she realized that she had to find a middle ground between spiritual fulfillment and material gratification.

Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World is intended for people who are looking for more purpose and meaning, be they spiritual people who feel an emptiness due to a lack of appreciation for the material or people who are gratified materially but who are spiritually empty. Anna intends for this book to be a road map that anyone can follow, whatever their culture or spiritual upbringing, or whatever their lifestyle, be one an office person or a guru, and remarked that her book provides an unusual approach to spirituality and materialism.

Anna points out that people create “amazing things,” and that there is a common misconception that spiritual people don’t lead lives of material abundance and gratification. She notes that people, as part of being spiritual, need to appreciate the material creation of others and gave the example of appreciating a chef’s work as an example of balance between a spiritual aspiration of the chef and the material gratification on the part of the diner. She notes that humans’ preference for either the material or the spiritual is due to seeing the world in duality of either/or, and that both the material and the spiritual both need to be expressed in order to create balance. Anna opines that being very spiritual in the context of balance with materialism doesn’t necessarily mean being rich, and gave an experience of hers as an example where, one morning, when she was concerned with her family’s financial situation, she became present to the abundance of what she had, with the six dollars in her account being merely one of the things she was blessed with.

The four keys that Anna notes in her book are:
  1. Expansive Presence - an expanded perception of reality
  2. Attentive Listening - becoming aware of the information present when one’s perception of reality is expanded
  3. Inspired Action - putting into action any prompting that became present during attentive listening
  4. Faith-filled Knowing - becoming aware that the Universe is a co-creator of one’s expression
The genesis of the book came about when Anna was in a meeting with the Dalai Lama and another woman asked the same thing Anna was asking herself: how does one integrate the spiritual teachings that one has learned into one’s daily life? She remarked that the four keys came to her in a flash while she was identifying spiritual experiences in her life, and that the research into these keys took three years, remarking that this is similar to the way scientists make their breakthroughs.

Anna advises people to live their highest calling, as doing so enables one to be in balance and unity with one’s spiritual aspirations and material expression.

Anna’s website is annagatmon.com, where one can download her workbook, 7 Practices for More Prosperity, Peace and Purpose for free.

Purchase from Amazon: Living a Spiritual Life in a Material World: 4 Keys to Fulfillment and Balance by Anna Gatmon

Friday, September 8, 2017

Gurutej Khalsa on The Moon She Rocks You: Revealing the Secrets of Women's Inner Emotions

Gurutej Khalsa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, The Moon She Rocks You: Revealing the Secrets of Women's Inner Emotions.



“The more that we can get our internal rhythms slowed down, the more that we can be present with each other.” ~Gurutej Khalsa

Gurutej Kaur, otherwise known as Gurutej Khalsa (“Kaur” is her middle name, so “Gurutej Kaur” and “Gurutej Khalsa” are both her.) built spiritual communities all over Canada in the 1970s and the 1980s, and some of the things she learned was that, when one has challenges in one’s life, one either practices the things that sustains one or gets involved with bad habits. She notes that, when one is in a leadership role, one can’t tell people to do things that one doesn’t do oneself, and along the way, through her life’s journey, she learned how to remain empowered and alive though the challenges that arose. The Moon She Rocks You is intended primarily for women, but men can also get something out of it as well.

Gurutej notes that women are ruled by the moon, which operates on a 28-day cycle, and that women have eleven moon centers, which alternate within that 28-day cycle. The summary of these moon centers, and some of the things that will come up in a woman’s life during that part of the cycle where a particular moon center is dominant, are:

Hairline
Positive: very connected with visions
Challenged: paranoia, self-doubt
Neutral: immovable, vast; knowingness is huge

Eyebrows - act as shields for the eyes; healing dreams; understanding
Positive: capacity to know what one is doing
Challenged: move into fantasy
Neutral: can share these dreams with others

Cheeks
Positive: promotion queen
Challenged: out-of-control flirting (get someone else to tell you that you are good)
Neutral: radiant and beautiful

Lips
Positive: excellent communication
Challenged: sharp-toned

Earlobes
Positive: sharing own values
Challenged: self-deprecating; down on oneself
Neutral: empowered by values

Nape of Neck
Positive: susceptible to sound and voices
Challenged: unable to communicate
Neutral: can speak from the heart

Nipples
Positive: over-giving
Negative: feel like a victim; exhausted
Neutral: unconditional love

Navel - power center to the world
Positive: physical energy
Challenged: unstable; have no energy
Neutral: unstoppability

Inner Thighs
Positive: organized, loving, connected
Challenged: feel disorganized
Neutral: creative strength and possibility

Clitoris
Positive: excel in social situations
Challenged: insecure; need to be around people you know and love
Neutral: charming, in control

Membranes of the Vagina
Positive: being energetic and connective
Challenged: total zero
Neutral: beginnings and endings are the same

Gurutej notes that there are more to these moon centers as described in the book, and that there are meditations and breathing exercises available for each of these moon centers, designed to bring one to the positive aspect. She notes that it takes three minutes before the breath enters the brain, and that this can change the brain’s cellular structure, and that there are lots of options available for each of the moon centers.

Gurutej notes that the moon centers don’t move in the cycle as noted above, but that charting the moon centers for three months will give an accurate feel of how these rotate. She also notes that, because the cycle revolves around the moon, even women whose periods are irregular will get something from the exercises in the book.

Purchase from Amazon: The Moon She Rocks You: Revealing the Secrets of Women's Inner Emotions by Gurutej Khalsa


Friday, September 1, 2017

Jenny Johnston on Claiming Your Past Life Inheritance and Being Free from Emotional Traumas

Jenny Johnston talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Your Past Life Inheritance: Tapping into the Wisdom Within to Create Your Future Now.



“The things that we’re struggling with in this lifetime, they wouldn’t be there if we hadn’t already stepped through them in another lifetime.” ~Jenny Johnston

Jenny was an occupational therapist working with veterans who used relaxation therapy and she became interested in spirituality and past lives after her mother’s sudden death. It was while she had “a lot of time” while recovering from a spine injury that she told her Reiki healer that she wanted to become a past life therapist, a course on which, as it turned out, the healer’s sister had already done. Jenny then took the hypnotherapy course, where she also learned about Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), which is commonly called “tapping,” as it is a form of energy psychology that can be thought of as acupuncture without the needles which works to clear any blockages in one’s energy that are identified with particular memories. It was during her investigations into these that she came in contact with Kryon, which is a conglomeration of beings who speak through a channel and whose purpose is to aid humans find who they really are. Her contact introduced her to the Akash, which is essentially a library of one’s past lives, and she then combined what she learned in EFT with working with guides to work with clients on such issues as fears, self-sabotage and unfinished business in previous lives to release these and create a better life for themselves.

Jenny describes Your Past Life Inheritance as being a self-help tool that empowers its readers to be able to do the work, as it includes links to videos and other material so that people can learn and do themselves. The book includes transcriptions of sessions conducted by Jenny with clients who have given permissions to have their experiences included in the book. Jenny included these transcriptions so that readers can see, word for word, how this the session was conducted. Her technique is essentially that of what she calls “waking hypnosis,” as the brainwaves go into the subconscious range while the client is still conscious and awake, and deal with the totality of a person, including the soul and one’s Higher Self. Jenny notes that past life events sometimes come to a client - even ones who don’t believe in past lives - when she is conducting a normal EFT session, and that the realization often surprises the person concerned. During the first sessions, she asks her clients to go to their Akash and its Crystal Cave to help identify those memories in one’s past lives which are holding us back in the present, likening these to outdated background programs in a computer that are running and taking up space. Later on, she takes her client to places of higher learning for them to get why that incident was chosen by the soul and the lesson behind it, after which she takes her client back to the present with that learning, which takes away the feeling that one is a victim and enter a state of wonder and creation.

Jenny notes that, while we call previous lives “past lives,” this isn’t entirely true, as when one is in a past life, that past life is in the present and real, as the energy present in humans today enables humans to access their past lives. She takes into account information given by spirit guides such as Kryon, whose channelers are often accompanied by scientists who back up what Kryon describes with scientific evidence. Jenny notes that she creates the space for people to clear their blockages at a soul level, also noting that intention plays a big part in her work. She notes that the case studies in the book are a good representation of the regressions she does with other clients, and that a common thread in these regressions is the feeling that we humans are not alone, as well as that of connection to guides and Higher Self as well as of empowerment, particularly in the cases of people who, in their past lives, have suffered trauma for standing in their truths.

Jenny remarked that she’s training Quantum EFT practitioners to eventually do the work, as she admits that she won’t be around forever and she wants this to be available to the world at large. She notes that fear is behind people’s feelings of being judged, persecuted and humiliated, and that this affects people physically, and then gave the example of a client whose son, at the present, was blind because the client was guillotined in a previous life and the son in this lifetime was the son in that previous lifetime, who saw his father being killed. She notes that the effects of such traumas are there to protect us, and that releasing these includes acknowledging it for the protection offered and recognizing that it no longer serves us.

Purchase from Amazon: Your Past Life Inheritance: Tapping into the Wisdom Within to Create Your Future Now by Jenny Johnston 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Alena Chapman on How to Break Free from Unhappiness and Have Abundance & Joy in Life

Alena Chapman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, The Prison Effect: Discover How You Are Blocking Your Own Happiness and Break Free to Abundance and Joy in Life.



“You never, ever know the awesome life you can have if you don’t try to have an awesome life, and all it takes is trying.” ~Alena Chapman

People have coined Alena as “the Master Manifester,” as a reflection of her ability to manifest things in her life, and she admits that she wasn’t always a master manifester, as she had been in her own prison. It got to the point where she stopped at a country road and told the Universe that she wanted a happy life and wanted it now, with the intention to have just that, and things started happening from there, with people coming in whom she needed at the time. She became so involved with manifesting that she taught everyone she could, initially in her hometown, and she remarked that those whom she taught began having happier lives. This made her realize that she needed to get her message out into the greater public, hence her writing the book.

Alena remarked that The Prison Effect contains the tools she used to create her life, and at the beginning of the book is included a chart which people can use to pinpoint where they are in their lives, where happiness or unhappiness is concerned. She then noted that people, once they know where they are, now have a choice whether to stay where they are or move on to the happiness that they are bound to be seeking. Alena then gave the example of, after dropping her kids off at school, meeting with other mothers to complain, which then carried into her day and showed up as her not feeling excited or being present to such things as the beauty of the day. She then remarked that it takes a wake-up call, when one truly notices that there is nothing positive in one’s day, for people to actually get moving towards happiness.

Alena notes that people aren’t happy because they are “just spinning around” in their comfort zones, and also notes that it is hard to step out of one’s comfort zone and into unknown territory. She also comments that a lot of people are not used to being happy and mentioned Earl Nightingale’s quote, “Conformity is a disease,” pointing out that the conforming nature of one’s life - work, school and the like - has been inculcated into people since childhood. Alena then remarks that, when people suddenly have the opportunity to create their own lives, they want to get back to the comfort of conformity without figuring out what it is that they really want to do, which could lead to something better for them. She then remarked that, yes, going outside of one’s comfort zone might be scary, but it’s better than living with boredom and unhappiness and regret over things not done.

Alena commented that people don’t have to take a huge step out of their comfort zone right away, but can start with small steps, such as creating a list of ten things to be grateful for every day and then feeling positive things about each item on the list. Doing so, she notes, raises one’s vibration and enables one to move into one’s day in a positive state, and she then described how to further this by asking for guidance or peace from the Universe, then sending loving light into any situation or person bothering one. Alena then recommends doing three things, every day, which one likes to keep the momentum going, as well as looking up at the sky, which is ever changing, and being present to it. She notes that this results in one opening one’s mind to the goodness in the world, regardless of one’s circumstances, after which the opportunities to move on to happier circumstances will appear and get noticed.

Alena remarked that the tools she practiced in the book gave her clarity and enabled her to deal with the worst parts of her life by enabling her to differentiate what is “smoke” and what is real - the important things in one’s life and who one wants to be and where one wants to go. She noted that what goes on inside one’s self is how one perceives the world and comments that, where one’s journey to happiness is concerned, there is a tipping point when one’s life changes, when things start happening in one’s life due to being tuned to the frequencies at which such opportunities can come into one’s life. Alena then recommended an experiment by going into one’s work or day with a negative attitude and observe what happens, then going into one’s work or day the following day with a positive attitude and observe what happens.

Alena remarks that she has studied with some of the best and went full bore into being happy, and has applied this in the writing of her book, which not only gives its readers a starting point of where they are in their lives but which also shows why one’s mind works the way it does and how to change old beliefs, in a way that is easy to read and understand. To those who are in their prisons, Alena recommends that they take responsibility for making their day beautiful and then going from there to change their lives.

Alena’s landing page for her book is theprisoneffect.com, and she can be reached at alenachapmanlife.com.

Purchase from Amazon: The Prison Effect: Discover How You Are Blocking Your Own Happiness and Break Free to Abundance and Joy in Life by Alena Chapman

Friday, August 25, 2017

Mia Tomikawa of Happy Science Reveals the Cause and Answer to The Unhappiness Syndrome

Mia Tomikawa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about Master Ryuho Okawa’s book, The Unhappiness Syndrome: 28 Habits of Unhappy People (and How to Change Them).



 “Your words often reflect your thoughts.” ~Mia Tomikawa

Master Ryuho Okawa is a spiritual leader and international bestselling author whose goal is to help people find happiness and create a better world and has spent the past thirty years creating the Happy Science movement, which now has members all over the world. Mia herself became involved with Happy Science while she was living in Los Angeles, when she read some of Okawa’s books. She became a member of the movement then became a staff member, and among her present responsibilities are editing and publicizing Happy Science books. The Unhappiness Syndrome is for people who are unhappy, who unknowingly choose actions and thoughts that make them unhappy, but who still want to become happy themselves.

Unhappiness, according to Mia, is based on being unhappy with oneself and with everyone and everything in the world. She notes that attempting to to become happy by seeking this from other people or the environment does not make one truly happy, as one is not happy in the first place, and one of the major signs that indicate how unhappy someone is, is when he or she constantly blames others or the environment for the bad things that happen to them. Mia notes that unhappiness can be invited into one’s life, and that one who invites it can spread unhappiness to others. Events that can cause suffering does not necessarily cause unhappiness but can enable one to progress to enlightenment in the way that one handles that event.

Mia notes that the term “syndrome” refers more to one’s mental attitude and spiritual state, than referring to any disease itself. One method Mia recommends for changing one’s attitude is to see and assess oneself objectively, to become aware of the patterns of unhappiness, and gives a guideline for reviewing and writing down one’s thoughts and actions throughout the day, which would enable one to see the negative thoughts and actions throughout the day. Once these are recognized, one must then practice to replace these with more positive thoughts and actions, and Mia admits that this takes time, as doing so takes practice.


Mia notes that unhappy thoughts come from the desire to protect oneself from any hurtful events that have happened in one’s life and also notes that such unhappy thoughts actually wind up repeating the same pattern of hurt throughout one’s life. She notes that the first step in getting out of the rut is to spend less time immersed in negative thoughts, and the second step is to fill one’s mind with positive thoughts and be thankful for all the good that happens to oneself. She also recommends sitting and waiting for the bad times to pass and flow, to help oneself let go of any unhappiness - something which also takes practice.

Mia notes that The Unhappiness Syndrome, like other books of Ryuho Okawa, talks about spirituality rather than just deals with self-improvement, and this is what makes the book different from other self-help books. She also recommends that people rediscover their purpose in their life, the one they set for themselves before they were born, she says, to help guide them in achieving happiness.

Purchase from Amazon: The Unhappiness Syndrome: 28 Habits of Unhappy People (and How to Change Them) by Master Ryuho Okawa

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Steve Kardian on Teaching The New Superpower for Women (Trusting Their Intuition, Predicting Dangerous Situations and Defending Themselves from the Unthinkable)

Steve Kardian talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, The New Superpower for Women: Trust Your Intuition, Predict Dangerous Situations and Defend Yourself from the Unthinkable.



“Educate yourself, empower yourself.” ~Steve Kardian

Steve has had a career in law enforcement for thirty years, covering such beats as homicide, investigation, bribery, fraud and organized crime and has been teaching safety and personal defense as well. Steve’s main emphasis with self-defense and safety is to create instructors, traveling around the world and to various organizations, both civilian and military, to do so, and the book is based on his teachings on personal defense to women. Steve points out that self-defense is the last resort, and he works to empower women with the knowledge necessary to empower themselves, with such knowledge including social situations and creating a blueprint to react to crises.

Steve notes that, in the United States, one in five women will be violated during her lifetime, and while this statistic holds in colleges, he notes that less than five percent of the women who are so violated in college will ever report the incident to the police, because the college they attend prefer to protect their brand rather than their students.

Steve refers to the Grayston-Stein study of 1981, when cameras took footage of people on a New York city street over a period of time, and when the footage was shown to incarcerated criminals the latter consistently picked the same people as soft targets by taking note of such things as the latter’s gait, stride and posture, amongst others. He remarks that situational awareness is necessary to helping avert an attack, with intuition playing a big part. He also notes that walking properly is a deterrent, and that putting the potential attacker on notice, sometimes by simply almost looking right at him, reduces the chances of being attacked by around 70%. And if a criminal accosts a woman, her best option is to hold her hands up while stepping back and shout “Back off!” to attract the attention of everyone else around, thus raising the concern, in the criminal’s mind, of either getting hurt or getting caught, both of which are things he wants to avoid. He also notes that one should scan, giving the example of looking left and right when entering and leaving a building, as well as immediately ascertaining where the exits of a particular place are. He also recommends that people believe their eyes and ears to help them stay out of trouble, and avoid being in large crowds.

Stalking is a major concern, and Steve notes that, ten years ago, there were around a million incidents of stalking, whereas today there are seven to eight million stalking incidents, with the increase being due to the availability of the Internet. He notes that a lot of popular apps reveal the location of the owner of the smartphone, which enables such stalking, and to counter this Steve recommends turning off the location services in apps as well as the location services in photos, as these can be geo-tagged.

Steve remarks that a “blitz” is an attack that comes out of nowhere, and that it takes a half second to four seconds to figure out what is going on. Steve remarks that, when one’s heartbeat reaches 115 beats a minute, the fine motor skills diminish, and that a lot of techniques taught in martial arts break down at a range between 115 to 145 beats per minute. Above 145 beats per minute, only gross motor skills are left functioning, and it would be best to employ these during the time of actual conflict. Taking control of one’s responses relies upon creating and following a blueprint, which is a plan of action that can be put immediately in effect, as Steve notes that the adrenaline rush lasts only ten seconds, and after this an adrenal dump takes place and the person is then exhausted.

Steve remarks that there is only one chapter on self-defense in The New Superpower for Women, as he focuses on enabling women to deal with the predator and the survivor, which is something a lot of self-defense instructors have little practical knowledge of - practical knowledge which Steve, after thirty years of experience, has a lot of.

Steve remarks that creating a blueprint is key to surviving a crisis situation. The blueprint is essentially thinking through the steps one would need to take if one encountered a crisis situation, and the example Steve gave was that of someone alone in their apartment or dormitory, with someone trying to break in. He remarks that that person needs to take the time to visualize oneself taking the actions necessary, such as grabbing a cell phone, calling the police, getting to a safe place and physically securing it and giving out all of the detailed and specific instructions necessary for the police to get to one’s place.

Where weapons are concerned, Steve remarks that, if these are carried, one must become familiar with handling and using it.

Purchase from Amazon: The New Superpower for Women: Trust Your Intuition, Predict Dangerous Situations and Defend Yourself from the Unthinkable by Steve Kardian

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Michelle Janning Teaches Living Life in Neither Extreme

Michelle Janning talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Between: Living Life in Neither Extreme.



“Humor helps a lot.” ~Michelle Janning

Michelle is a professor of sociology who has been writing on topics related to sociology for some 20 years. Between is a collection of essays, which usually started out as blogs, which reflected her sociological observations of events in everyday life. The genesis of her book was in 2013, when she found herself in a challenging situation that she realized was actually interesting. She sat down, during the spring of that year, to write out the titles of some 50 blog posts which she wanted to write, and she later did write out some of these, some of which also became included into Between. Her constraints was that she could only do five minutes’ worth of research on each essay and that the essay would be written out in one sitting.

Michelle notes that her essays are easy reads, with the longest of her essays is around a thousand words. She thus jokingly refers to her book as “a daily devotional, but without the Bible.” Her book speaks about the various boundaries that roles play in life as well as the complexities in what can be viewed as extreme viewpoints, so it could appeal to different kinds of people, particularly given that various sections of the book deal with different aspects of life. Her favorite topic is family, as that is where the core of her passion lies, while politics was the topic she found the most challenging to write about, particularly as it is a challenging issue at the present time.

Michelle notes that extremes can be states that people can oscillate between or not being sure about something, or as vantage points which are both visible to the person, who takes a middle path. Extremes can thus be a misrepresentation of how our minds might work, with the example given being that of a working mother, where being a mother and being a paid employee are regarded as being on the opposite ends of the same spectrum, as managing both at the same time is challenging. Michelle also gave the example of childhood and adulthood, in that these are seen as two totally different aspects, whereas there is actually some overlapping between these states of life. She notes that the information people presently receive from news and social media feeds limit people’s views due to oversimplification.

Where the human tendency to simplify and classify is concerned, Michelle notes that sociologists need to define groups to to get to an understanding of where inequalities might lie, as well as to enable individuals to understand that they are not alone, as there are others who think like them or who have undergone the same experiences as they did. She then remarked that the downside is overgeneralization, where individual stories are missed because of the focus on the group. Michelle also notes that some people don’t fit entirely into a single category, such as those who don’t consider themselves to be entirely of one gender over the other.

Michelle notes that sociology doesn’t just describe what goes on but also looks to the future, so that whatever needs to be remedied can be remedied so that a particular problem doesn’t remain as such in the future. She remarks that sociologists take the very mundane and “make it weird,” going into detail about the why of those mundane activities, and that sociology is more needed than ever, as people are misunderstanding other groups of people and the world, making claims based on misinformation and snap judgements. Michelle emphasizes that understanding others and other groups builds empathy, which is lacking at present, and sociology can help with that.

Michelle notes that she’s still growing as a sociologist, and that she, like everyone else, is a work in progress.

Purchase from Amazon: Between: Living Life in Neither Extreme by Michelle Janning

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sarah Perry on Releasing the Essex Serpent Legend and Book

Sarah Perry talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, The Essex Serpent.



“I had a lot of rejection and I had a lot of failure, but I carried on.” ~Sarah Perry

Sarah was born in Essex, which is a county around thirty miles from London and which is a place is full of myths, legends and history. While she wanted to become a novelist, her path to becoming one wasn’t a short or easy one, as she first became a civil servant after graduation. She got “miserable” after a time and returned to school to get her degree in Master of Arts, during which time she wrote out her first novel. She then went on to get a Ph.D, and her first novel, After Me Comes the Flood, came out in 2014, with The Essex Serpent, her second novel, coming out two years later.

Sarah admits that she didn’t know what she was doing when she wrote After Me Comes the Flood, comparing the experience to having one’s teeth pulled out and returned again. Her experience with writing The Essex Serpent was a lot easier, as she was able to get three or four of the main characters and the main plotline set out during 45 minutes of a car ride with her husband. The novel is based on a legend of a mysterious beast / monstrous serpent which terrorized Essex villages, and she decided to place it in the Victorian era, as this was a time of scientific discovery and social turbulence.

Sarah noted that people today tend to think of the Victorian Age as being ancient and quaint, but in reality, by the 1890s, England was already modern, with the London Underground already having been in operation for thirty years, anaesthesia was given for dental work and to pregnant women for delivering babies, the Embankment in London was lit up with electric lights and there was a lot of social and intellectual ideas that were coming into play, such as feminism and the ideas of Marx and Engels. Sarah wanted to show the Victorians to be as progressive as they were, instead of the image that is commonly attributed to them. She already had some grounding of the Victorian Era and researched to ensure the correctness of the ideas she had on the era, and made sure that she researched only enough to make sure the characters and era rang true, one example of which was watching YouTube videos of surgery to make the doctor character come true.

Sarah acknowledges that her characters come to mind as strongly as if she knew them very well, and that the relationships amongst the characters is something that she is more involved in creating, as she is interested in the nature of intimacy, friendship and attachment. She created the character of Francis, which is the son of the main female character, would be characterized as autistic today, to see how people would react to him before a time when autism was a recognized condition as well as for people to think about their own behavior. Sarah also wrote her main female characters, Cora and Martha, to correct the misconceptions people today have about women in the Victorian era, pointing out that women were active in politics and social justice, math, science and medicine by the time of the novel’s period setting. She pointed out that Victorian age lots of women were interested in Marx and Engels because the philosophies of the latter two attempted to create equality in society, which women subscribed to, as they weren’t socially equal to men.

The village in The Essex Serpent is a fictional amalgamation of several Essex locations, and Sarah created it to be a character on its own, with a sense of eeriness to it. Sarah also wanted to highlight the interaction between conventional religious and scientific beliefs, and the conflict between the two is something that is still going on today. That said, she created the character of the religious vicar not as a two-dimensional caricature but as a real person who is aware of what is going on in the larger world.

Sarah acknowledges that she is interested in a lot of things and that she puts some of these in her books, and that people who are interested in these same things - such as medical science, socialism, the natural world, relationships, the Victorian age - can find these in The Essex Serpent. She remarks that her first novel was rejected by 19 publishers, which goes against the impression that successful novelists have always been successful novelists. As she tells audiences in literary festivals, “If you’re a writer and you’re getting knocked back, told you’re not good enough, well, so was I.”

Purchase from Amazon: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Monday, July 17, 2017

Heath Fogg Davis Asks: Does Gender Matter?

Heath Fogg Davis talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?



“I think everybody has a right to self-determination, including sex identity.” ~Heath Fogg Davis

Heath is a professor who teaches at Temple University in Philadelphia who teaches courses related to social identity and anti-discrimination law, looking into policies intended to counter discrimination. Lately, he has been focusing on gender identity and how this relates with racial and class identity. He considers himself to be an activist who works on gender and civil rights in Philadelphia as well as throughout the United States and also does consulting work with businesses and other organizations, helping the latter frame their gender policies to make them inclusive for all gender identities. Heath also remarks that he is a trans man, which makes him somewhat invested in these issues.

For Heath, the question, “Does gender matter?” isn’t a rhetorical one. He notes that the assumption that gender matters is incorporated into everything from gender markers in legal documents to the way rest rooms are designed. While Heath remarks that gender does matter socially, based on his research, Heath’s answer to that question is “No,” where administrative policies are concerned. Heath notes that writing the book was fun to write, particularly when it came to the concerns raised by the subject matter as well as how to write the book in a way that it would be accessible to the average person. He remarks that a lot of people do want to do right by others, such as trans people, and thus hopes that his book opens up a discussion on, and provides some answers to, transgender issues.

LGBT, according to Heath, stands for “Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender,” and sometimes, at present, Q for “Queer” and I for “Intersex” are sometimes added at the end of that term. LGBTQ is thus an umbrella term designed to cover a wide spectrum of individuals who don’t identify under the classic genders of male and female. Transsexuals are individuals who identify differently from the gender noted to them at birth, such as male-assigned individuals who identify as female and vice versa. He notes that the physiological features by which gender is defined don’t always necessarily fit in with the standard definitions, and that carries into the way these individuals carry themselves in society. Heath admits that he isn’t an expert on biology, but remarks that he views sexuality as a scale, rather than two entirely separate categories.

Heath uses the use of public bathrooms as an example that most people are likely to relate to, where impact is concerned. He notes that those who do not conform to the usual standards of male or female get hassled when using, or attempting to use, such facilities, with potentially embarrassing consequences for the person involved. Heath thus argues that public bathrooms should be designed in a way that protects people’s privacy while avoiding gender identity discrimination. He notes that people who view such issues and scenarios dismiss these as trivial matters can say that because they haven’t experienced discrimination in that way. Heath mentions that there are various organizations presently working to expand gender identity so that sex-discrimination laws don’t just cover women being discriminated against by men or vice versa.

Heath remarks that thinking about these kinds of discrimination can negatively affect the great majority, those who identify with the traditional gender models. One example is a man changing his infant daughter’s diapers in the men’s public restroom, which presently violates the rules of the use of such facilities, while another example would be a female teacher needing to bring her male charge into the women’s public restroom so he could relieve himself. The same issues also apply, Heath notes, to caretakers of the elderly or the disabled.

Heath remarks that, with the companies he works with, he first creates a gender audit using the same worksheets and questions that he includes in the book. Some of the issues covered are the corporate dress code policy, which is based on traditional gender models, and while Heath admits that, while some of these changes might appear radical, in the end, nobody gets disadvantaged and everybody benefits.

To someone who is inquiring into gender issues, Heath says for them to not assume what an individual’s gender identity is or what the gender pronoun to use on them is. He also recommends that people ask about the relevance of gender and how important it really is during the point of contact. Heath acknowledges that he is an optimist with regards to these issues, saying that he wants to demystify some of these through the book, which he hopes would be would open up a conversation on gender issues.

Purchase from Amazon: Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? by Heath Fogg Davis

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Onoso Imoagene Reveals How Second-Generation Nigerians Find Their Identity in the U.S. and Britain


Onoso Imoagene talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Beyond Expectations: Second-Generation Nigerians in the United States and Britain.



“There is more that unites us than divides us.” ~Onoso Imoagene

Onoso is a Nigerian who emigrated to the United States in 2001, when she won the Diversity Visa Lottery Program and the green card that went with that. She went to the United Kingdom for about a year to pursue her studies, and got her Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard. Beyond Expectations is about the adult children of Nigerian immigrants, and is intended to highlight how diverse the black population is in the United States and Great Britain, as those outside that population regard the black population as homogenous in nature. The book also covers the interplay of the various black groups amongst each other, and while the research was academic in nature it is readable to the average person.

Onoso admits that it took her around nine years to publish the book, and some of the impetus came from her realization that non-black researchers regarded certain groups of the black population, such as Caribbeans, as suitable substitutes for other groups of the black population, such as those from Africa. The true impetus came when she came across a study that compared how well white children and black immigrant children did, economically and socially, compared to their parents, which made Onoso think of seeing how well second-generation Nigerian immigrants did compared to their parents.

Nigeria, located in Africa, is the most populous black nation in the world, with 180 million people, and its best resources are petroleum. There are three major ethnic groups and over two hundred forty minority ethnic groups, each with their own languages, and to ensure commonality the official language is English. Onoso remarks that Nigerians who live in Nigeria identify more with their ethnic and religious group than with their nation, but Nigerians who emigrate subsequently identify with their nation more.

Onoso remarked that first-generation Nigerian immigrants (on which she is doing research) face the challenge of what it is to be regarded as a “black person,” with the discrimination attendant to such a label thereof. She noted that everyone from where the immigrants come from come is black, which is why they refer to each other in terms of ethnic membership, and culture shock is likewise a challenge they face.

With regard to second-generation Nigerians, Onoso notes that these “choose ethnicity while negotiating race,” which means that they hold a Nigerian-centered identity and values while realizing that they aren’t as competent in the mother language or as steeped in the cultural practices of their parents. Second-generation Nigerians are thus “ethnic hybrids” who borrow from the cultures they have inherited and now live in, but as they are integrated into the societies their parents emigrated to, this is more of a choice rather than a resistance to the culture and society of the land they were born in. They also don’t tend to distance themselves from others of African descent, but they do face the challenge of being discriminated against because they are black.

Onoso remarked that second-generation Nigerians in the United States reported being discriminated against by other African-Americans whose families had lived in the United States for generations, having slurs thrown at them by these. She also noted that second-generation Nigerians in Great Britain received the same kind of discrimination from Jamaicans, and that this kind of discrimination made second-generation Nigerians create their own particular identity, one different from other black societies. Onoso also noted that relations with Caribbeans were warmer, because of their people’s commonality of experiencing immigration and diaspora. Onoso also noted a difference in outlook between second-generation Nigerians in Great Britain and those in the United States, as those in Great Britain, for the most part, don’t regard themselves as British, while those in the United States regard themselves as Americans.

Onoso remarks that the conflict experienced by immigrants, where reconciling the culture of their parents and the culture of their adoptive homeland are concerned, is common to all. She also advises that the children of such immigrants should be exposed to the culture of their grandparents and notes that the different sectors of the black population have their own strengths.

Purchase from Amazon: Beyond Expectations: Second-Generation Nigerians in the United States and Britain by Onoso Imoagene


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Michelle Deen on Rethinking Family Values, Moral Politics and the Culture War (Saving America's Grace)

Michelle Deen talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Saving America’s Grace: Rethinking Family Values, Moral Politics and the Culture War.



“Democracy requires a high level of moral character.” ~Michelle Deen

Michelle is a marriage and family therapist who specializes in human development and family relations, as she was interested in how families influence emotional and psychological development. The book discusses the breakdown of character in families, culture and politics as well as how to turn this breakdown around, which Michelle notes will likely take generations. She had initially thought about writing the book during the George W. Bush campaign run against John Kerry, in 2004, when “family values” rhetoric was used to make families fearful about where America’s culture and country were heading, rhetoric which Michelle found to be misleading. She didn’t write it then, but when the US presidential campaign of 2016 rolled around, Michelle realized that a conversation about culture and morality was still relevant, hence her eventually writing the book.

Michelle’s viewpoint comes from decades of working with families for nearly three decades, where she saw that the image a family projected had no correlation with how healthy the relationships were amongst its members and how sound the environment was for raising children. She had interacted with troubled teenagers who came from families which projected an image of traditional stability, teenagers who were, by their actions, essentially screaming for help, and when the family was brought together Michelle realized that the problems weren’t with the children alone but ran through the family. This made her realize that there was a lot of focus on how a family was supposed to look, and this made her inquire into the function of the family, which included the quality of the interpersonal relationships within it.

Michelle notes that “family values” is associated with a family comprised of a mother, a father and the children, with the father in charge, where children obey and everything is black and white - the so-called “Biblical” type of family which, Michelle notes, wasn’t the norm even during Biblical times. She remarks that patriarchal values have fallen “by the wayside” over the past decades, with some positive results being women being able to own their own credit cards and to live their lives the way they choose, spousal abuse being recognized as a concern and divorce becoming acceptable.

Michelle remarks that the “traditional” family is no longer the norm, and the values that should be adhered to in a family should be reassessed, with the objective of raising children who are self-sufficient, solid in who they are, of good character and capable of becoming good citizens. In this vein, Michelle remarks that, rather than raise “obedient” children, families should raise children who have are cooperative and who have a solid enough sense of themselves and their own internal moral compass to stand up to what they see as not being right, as “obedient” children do what they’re told to stay out of trouble. She notes that children fundamentally desire love, acknowledgement and appreciation from their parents, and gives an example of an authoritative parent being able to set the rules and consequences without needing to whip out a belt to enforce obedience, rather than being a parent who attempts to become the child’s friend as a way to compensate for any real or imagined wrongs the parent might have committed against the child.

Michelle remarks that the present situation in politics doesn’t just stem from Donald Trump, whose behavior on the campaign trail she found “shocking.” She opined that politics has been lacking in moral character for a long time and that money and backdoor agreements have essentially undermined morality in that realm. Michelle notes that politicians should be examples of morality, making decisions that are in the best interest of their people and their country, but this falls by the wayside because of the need to get reelected. She points out that, in order to self-govern (which is the essence of a democracy), people need a sense of doing right by others, which is called “virtue,” which is something that Michelle believes has been lost.

The phrase “Culture War” began as rhetoric in the mid-1980s, which came from the Republican Party and the religious right and which was an attempt to “straighten out” American culture by legislating Biblical principles to keep everyone and everything in place. Michelle notes that America is a democracy, rather than a theocracy, and such wouldn’t work. In response to “cultural war,” Michelle states that a “cultural evolution” is needed, so that people can evolve spiritually, by focusing on religion as tool intended to enable a person to become a better human being.

Michelle notes that a lot of cultural norms are abnormal but are so widespread they seem normal, and gives the example that most Americans are presently more interested in the brand of bag owned by well-known social media celebrities than they are with the people who are killed in the wars that the United States fights. She notes that people have lost track about what’s right and what’s not.

Michelle’s website is michelledeen.com.

Purchase from Amazon: Saving America’s Grace: Rethinking Family Values, Moral Politics and the Culture War by Michelle Deen


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Adrian Owen on The Gray Zone, the Boundary Between Life & Death

Adrian Owen talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death.



“We know you’re there.” ~Adrian Owen

Adrian Owen is a professor of neuroscience who is involved in cognitive neuroscience, which deals with brain scanning technology. He got his start in exploring what he called “the Gray Zone” when a former partner of his had a brain aneurysm which turned her into a mental vegetable. This started him on the decades-long journey of exploring a mental area that is between full awareness and total lack of awareness - the so-called “Gray Zone” - using the brain scanning technology. Going under anesthesia is another example of someone entering the gray zone, and such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke or being deprived of oxygen could result in people staying in the gray zone.

Adrian remarks that exploration of what it’s like to be in the gray zone is still ongoing, but he gave some examples of patients who had been in the gray zone. He notes that such people were aware of what had been going on around them while they were lying down on their beds, trapped in their unmoving bodies, and also mentioned that some patients who are in the gray zone were “satisfied” with their lives and didn’t want to die. Adrian also gave the additional example of people who went under anaesthesia reporting about being aware of what was being done. He also remarked that, while patients can experience frustration at being ignored, some of those who have come out of the gray zone report having experiences that they liked while they were in such a state.

Magnetic resonance imagery is a tool Adrian uses to communicate with patients in the gray zone, by reading the patient’s brain as it reacts to questions, using predetermined responses. If, for example, a patient is told to wave his arms, a part of the brain will activate, and if the patient is told to do another activity another part of the brain will activate. These signals, which are checked again and again to make sure these are intentional instead of random, are then used as signals which can be used to communicate. The main method of getting information is essentially asking the patient to answer “yes” or “no,” and then drilling down into more detail with more “yes” or “no” questions.

Adrian notes that understanding that people in the gray zone may have more awareness than had been previously thought, and that, as such, we have a responsibility to understand what is going on. The level of awareness patients have while in the gray zone raises some potential ethical concerns, as they will have their opinions which must be taken note of, just like with any conscious patient, including whether or not they wanted to live or die. As his former partner said, after she got out of the gray zone: “The day you scanned me, I went from being a body to a person again.”

Adrian intends the book for everyone and is full of stories of people who are or were in the Gray Zone who have revealed their experience while in it. He describes Into the Gray Zone as a “scientific adventure story,” where it’s about the process of doing science and its impact on people’s lives. Adrian’s website, intothegrayzone.com, has more information on the gray zone as well as contains some videos done about the research Adrian has done over the past twenty years.

Purchase from Amazon: Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death by Adrian Owen

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Kari Wagner-Peck on Learning from An Unusual Parenting Journey

Kari Wagner-Peck talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey.



“All communities have disability. It is a natural part of our human experience.” ~Kari Wagner-Peck

Kari with Thorin.
Kari and her husband had agreed, when they were looking for a child to adopt, to get one without a major disability, but while they were looking for a child, their foster care worker, in January 2009, left a voice mail that described a child and added casually that he had Down syndrome, and it was when they were told that when Kari and her husband felt a sense of calm and they decided to get the child in question. They didn’t see Thorin until April 2009, and in all that time Kari described Thorin’s presence as an ache within herself and her husband. Thorin’s conditions didn’t add to any of the requirements asked of Kari and her husband, and the pair eventually adopted the child, who was named Thorin, and Kari and her husband then decided to raise Thorin the same way they would any child.

Kari started writing about her family in 2010, on blogs, the day she and her husband adopted her son, Thorin, which she points out that she couldn’t do so until then because Thorin was a ward of the state. Kari noted that she is a storyteller and seeks a response from people, and she wrote her blogs accordingly. Thorin had Down syndrome, and Kari and her husband quickly realized that Thorin’s main disability was what people thought of him, rather than his actual disability, itself. It was after six years of writing the blog that Kari realized that she was making an impact on her blogs’ readers, a third of whom aren’t parents and most of whom weren’t raising children with Down syndrome, and she eventually decided to write the book. She got an agent who helped her find a publisher for whom her family’s story resonated and from there she wrote her book, one of the reasons for writing which was her avocation that people include those whose neurological conditions are different from the norm. Writing the book was a learning curve for her, as her blog posts had an arc, and she found that she could go deeper into her stories, including her emotions and the emotions of people involved, as well as subsequent impact, in a way that she couldn’t within the short confines of her blog. She wanted to make a reader feel like Kari was telling her a story face-to-face, making her stories immediate and involving, which she was successful in doing, as her husband remarked that she had captured the person and the feelings involved in the stories she told.

While writing the stories were easy and fun for her, Kari admitted that writing an incident, when Thorin was two-and-a-half years old and she had had Thorin for only two months, and she went to Thorin’s pre-school to find him strapped to a chair, hysterical, while a teacher sat beside him and read a book calmly, claiming that she was doing speech therapy on Thorin, was one of the hardest things for her to write. Kari then noted that restraint and seclusion are things that people with disabilities know well, as the illegal use of restraint was inflicted on children with disabilities is commonplace.

Kari remarked that raising Thorin is like that of any other parent, in that he’s a typical boy and that there is nothing wrong with his essential intelligence. He likes learning, as he likes reading and math, and Kari remarks that the concern with Thorin is with how quickly he processes information. Thorin apparently doesn’t know what to focus on because so much information is given, and it takes time for Thorin to process and reply to a question, with Kari noting that it takes Thorin around thirty seconds to formulate a reply. Kari analogized that, for Thorin, it’s like having a whole bunch of stuff swirling around which can only go through a straw, and pointed out that Thorin’s problem isn’t intelligence but intelligibility. She differentiates that intelligence is the capacity to learn, understand and integrate information, while intelligibility is about being understood, which is a shared communication concern between the speaker and the listener, and that both need to be responsible for the proper communication to be conducted.

Kari noted that a holistic approach to a human being is the space where she comes from, where a human being is about having the ability to understand and to be understood. She remarks that Thorin lives with Down syndrome, and that he is not Down syndrome, which means that Down syndrome is a part of Thorin’s experience, rather than defining who he is as a person.

To those who are thinking of adopting a child with special needs, or parents who have children with special needs, Kari advises that they see their child holistically, rather than as their diagnosis, and that they should keep the bar high, allowing their children to grow into their own futures rather than one decided by the parents.

Kari’s website is kariwagnerpeck.com

Purchase from Amazon: Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey by Kari Wagner-Peck

Friday, June 9, 2017

Gurutej Khalsa & Her Yoga for Couples Book, A Slice of the Beloved

Gurutej Khalsa talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, A Slice of the Beloved: Yoga for Couples.



“Nobody else can fill that void. It’s a huge void, and nobody can fill it for you.” ~Gurutej Khalsa

Gurutej’s journey into yoga began when, in college, she went over to the place of a man who was courting her friend when he invited the two young women over for dinner, and when the man mentioned that he was a vegetarian and did yoga, Gurutej was puzzled, as these weren’t commonplace in the late 1960s. She then did a speech assignment on yoga, and while doing research on the subject realized that she could do the poses that she had seen. Later on, she joined a yoga group in a nearby park, where she just got what yoga was all about, particularly how useful the body was to achieving well-being, as opposed to the teaching that the body was bad, and it was from there that she embarked on a decades-long journey into practicing and teaching yoga, studying under Yogi Bhajan and familiarizing herself with various types of yoga as well as investigating other types of meditation. Gurutej then went on to become a yoga teacher herself, applying the principles of yoga to everyday life, building yoga communities in Canada and building a community in the United States.

Gurutej mentioned that there are many different types of yoga, and the Asuna part of yoga focuses on the physical experience, while Kundalini yoga, which is the kind of yoga behind A Slice of the Beloved, focuses on chakras and the body’s systems, such as the nervous system. She also mentioned that breathing is a very important part of life, and that there are also many kinds of breathing, such as what she called the “Four Part Sipping Breath,” where one inhales in four parts and exhales in four parts.

A Slice of the Beloved: Yoga for Couples, is intended for anyone who is in a relationship or is ready to attract a relationship, and she points out that people say that they want a relationship but don’t define that which they long for and might not be able to meet the other person at that place of longing. Gurutej wrote the book out of her experience of counseling couples and hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again, she realized that she had a tool kit that others could make use of. The book also contains the lessons she has learned over the course of her life and all of the challenges she had experienced.

A Slice of the Beloved has four parts to it. The first is enabling oneself to connect with oneself, while the second is one connecting with others. The third is about building the soul of the relationship between the two, while the last part is about how the two in that partnership can serve the world, as one cannot serve when one is empty. Gurutej points out that, most of the time, people talk at each other rather than talking to each other, and it is to address this that Gurutej has included several exercises, meditation as well as talking, designed to enable the connection between the two people as well as to enable one to realize the subconscious driver of the other person, with the latter being the “beloved” in the book’s title.

Gurutej points out that the essence of a good relationship is when both are in the same place so that both talk to each other, rather than at each other. This enables people to live for each other, which Gurutej points out is not about losing oneself but about living for the soul of the relationship, and thus honoring the other person. She notes that, while there are certain relationships which are not workable, people, in general, are in a relationship not for ease but to grow, which requires people to bump up against each other. Gurutej points out that people who “fall out of love” actually “fall out of connection,” and that cheating actually begins well before the actual physical act of cheating itself, when one doesn’t show up in the relationship. She then mentioned that ignoring a relationship is like ignoring a plant – both will die when that happens, and that showing a partner that one cares is important.

Gurutej notes that people are geared to connect and relate with each other, and that one should connect with oneself before connecting with others, rather than seeking others to fill any voids that might be within oneself. She also notes that we “huemans” have our own inner light.

Gurutej points out that the book is a tool that is intended to be used, and that keeping it on the shelf or just in memory without doing the exercises in it make it pointless. She points out that the principles and the work espoused in the book work, and that there is no other book that like it in terms of depth and practical effectiveness. To couples, Gurutej recommends that they sit on a couch across from each other, hold hands, look into each others’ eyes, and take turns saying, “I love you, I love myself,” to oneself and to the other.

Gurutej’s website is gurutej.com.

Purchase from Amazon: A Slice of the Beloved: Yoga for Couples by Gurutej Khalsa

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ryan White on Writing Jimmy Buffet: A Good Life All the Way

Ryan White talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, book, Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way.



“It’s fun, and it should be fun, and if it’s not fun, you’re doing a disservice to the subject.” ~Ryan White

Ryan spent sixteen years at The Oregonian, a newspaper, which was something he always wanted to do. He spent ten years as a sports writer and covered music for five and a half, and in 2013 he was contacted to co-write the book which eventually became Springsteen: Album by Album. Ryan remarks that getting on the project enabled him to stay cool when, a month after he signed up to co-write Springsteen, he was laid off along with a third of the staff at The Oregonian, and writing out the book gave him valuable experience which he was able to apply with Jimmy Buffett.

Ryan had been thinking of writing the book that became Jimmy Buffett even as he worked on Springsteen, and he got to working on it after finishing the latter book. He got off to a bit of a false start when he wrote the book initially from his perspective, and after his friend Peter Carlin told him that he wasn’t that interesting, Ryan stripped himself out of the book and focused on the stories and the themes around Jimmy Buffett. Ryan remarked that, so far, people seem to enjoy Jimmy Buffett, and he noted that writing the book was similar to what he used to do as a reporter, although the notes were more copious, as were the number of drafts and the file sizes.

Ryan remarked that he used to drive with his family, as a child, to Florida, and his friends in college listened to Jimmy Buffett, so he was somewhat familiar with the man and the milieu around which the song “Margaritaville” was built. He became attracted to the song after he was laid off from the newspaper while listening to it on the radio while driving his daughter to daycare, and noted the message of the song as well as that getting it on the radio was a challenge and that it is now the basis of a two billion dollar fortune, despite the song being his only Top Ten hit.

Ryan gave a thumbnail sketch of Jimmy’s life, as well as those of his parents who were, themselves, intentional businesspeople, and remarked that Jimmy gained his sense of fun and worldliness from the experiences he gained in his life. Ryan also commented that Mobile, Alabama, had a Mardi Gras tradition that was older even than that of New Orleans, and this was also one of Jimmy Buffett’s likely influences. Ryan also remarked on the various items and brands associated with “Margaritaville,” all of which reflect his sense of fun and adventure. Ryan also remarked that Jimmy understands who he is and what he can provide and that people genuinely like him, pointing out that, after two years of interviewing people about Jimmy Buffett, he hadn’t come across even one person who spoke ill about Jimmy. He also noted that Jimmy’s organization is full of people who have been there for decades, as they enjoy doing their jobs, which enables Jimmy to do his job.

The biggest surprise Ryan got was that, while the stage character of Jimmy Buffett isn’t that much different from the Jimmy Buffett as a person, Jimmy the person always was able to step outside of his character and focus on what needed to be done, and that is a key to his longevity. He also noted that Jimmy had made his peace with being associated with a single song, and advises people to stick with what they’re doing, figure out the questions and search for the answers.

Purchase from Amazon: Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All the Way by Ryan White


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cheryl Krauter on Surviving the Storm of Cancer

Cheryl Krauter talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Surviving the Storm: A Workbook for Telling Your Cancer Story.



“Have a lot of compassion for yourself, because you deserve it.” ~Cheryl Krauter

Cheryl has been a Existential Humanistic psychotherapist for nearly forty years, and as such focuses on the whole of the person, particularly a person’s potential and drive for authenticity, when dealing with their concerns, rather than just parts of the person. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, and the cancer she had was very aggressive, as it infected her lymph nodes as well, which is are vital for the body’s immune system’s functioning. Cheryl noted that her diagnosis came as a complete shock to her, and as she had been practicing meditation for as long as she has been a psychotherapist, she acknowledged that both her training and her meditating helped her through the process.

Cheryl notes that the definition of “remission” depends on the source, but that her own survivorship began when her scan was clear of cancer, and she notes that a lot of people, even though they had been diagnostically cleared of cancer, don’t feel that they are in the clear for quite some time. Cheryl also notes that the most prevalent concern of cancer patients, based on surveys they complete, is that of living with uncertainty. She notes that there is a growing number of people who could be afflicted with the disease, particularly with the ageing baby boomer population, and that one out of two men and one out of three women will get a cancer diagnosis within their lives. Cheryl remarks that the methods of detecting and treating cancer have become more sophisticated, which improves the chances of survival, and that the most common types of cancer are prostate, breast and lung cancers. Where age is concerned, Cheryl notes that cancer is more easily managed when the person who is diagnosed with it is elderly, compared to those who get cancer when they are in their prime.

Cheryl remarked that, had someone told her, ten years ago, that she would be involved in treating cancer as a psychotherapist, or that she would have written a book around the topic, she would have doubted it very much. That said, she wrote Surviving the Storm out of her own experiences with cancer and the realization that not everybody who has cancer, had cancer or was close to someone who has or had cancer has a venue through which to express themselves and their stories about the impact the disease has on them, and thus discover who they are. The book came out of her own needs and wants, and offers a narrative structure to enable survivors and those in the community around the patient to express what they are going through. Surviving the Storm came out of both Cheryl’s realization for the need for such a book, and she also had to think long and hard about remaining involved with cancer, and the time came when she finally decided to write it. The writing process itself was challenging and also gratifying, and Cheryl remarked that she has an image of a pair of hands, other than hers, holding her book, which she takes to mean that the book is no longer hers and now belongs to others.

Cheryl remarks that giving up hope is one of the worst things one can do, and that someone diagnosed with cancer being told, “You have to fight or you’ll die” could create stress and pressure in that person which would exhaust that person and hinder the healing process. She notes that the best thing people can do is to be supported or to give support to the person who is diagnosed with cancer, as those who are totally isolated find the going to be difficult. Cheryl also remarks that just sitting right next to someone with cancer and asking them, “Tell me how you feel” is a big deal.

Cheryl remarks that people should give themselves room to feel what they feel, and that what is going on is just where they are, in a situation that is neither negative or positive. She also complements those who live with cancer for putting one step in front of the other,

Purchase from Amazon: Surviving the Storm: A Workbook for Telling Your Cancer Story by Cheryl Krauter