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

Monday, May 29, 2017

Carlyn Montes de Oca on How a Dog Can Be Your Doctor & a Cat Be Your Nurse

Carlyn Montes de Oca talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse: An Animal Lover's Guide to a Healthy, Happy and Extraordinary Life.



“All animals, really, can help us.” ~Carlyn Montes de Oca

Carlyn had grown up amongst dogs as a child, and had always wanted to be an author since then. She might have worked in the film industry for a time, and even then she felt pulled to do something that was more meaningful to her. She eventually went into Chinese medicine and holistic healing, and it was while she was developing herself in these that she heard stories from people about how their animals helped them. Carlyn realized then that there was a connection between health and how people related with animals, something which she, herself, had experienced after going through a divorce, as her cats and dogs helped her out during that time. This connection, Carlyn opines, is important for humans, as people die from chronic illnesses nowadays, with one in four people dying of heart disease, which is preventable through lifestyle choices, and a relationship with an animal can enable that kind of a healthy lifestyle.

Carlyn remarks that Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse is all about the beneficial effects that dogs and cats have on human beings, which includes decrease in stress and blood pressure, boost to the immune system, emotional wellness as well as a wide range of other positive health benefits. Carlyn mentioned that she has 103 references in her book which scientifically back up the benefits health have on people. Although the book has been somewhat long in coming, Carlyn remarked that the kicker was when, while she was walking with her dogs, the words “dog as my doctor” hit her, which she thought would be a good title for her book. After she got home, the cat leaped on her back while she was relaxing, and “cat as my nurse” then came to her as a good title.

Carlyn became interested in cats when she lived on her own, in an apartment that was too small for dogs, which was why she got cats, and it was from them that she realized that all animals have the capacity to love and interact with human beings, pointing out that pot bellied pigs and horses are also pets. She opines that cats have become popular because the places people live in don’t allow for dogs, and that cats don’t need that much companionship compared to dogs and might be easier to take care of. She notes that a pet can be any animal, that the benefits are particularly pronounced when the person had a deep relationship with the animal involved, and that this is most likely due to pets being a manifestation of unconditional love.

The book has a lot of stories in it, and one of the cat-related stories Carlyn mentioned is a couple where the husband has Parkinson’s disease. The wife liked taking walks with him, and she was saddened when they could no longer do so. During one such solo walk, she discovered that one of their two rescue cats was walking with her, and the cat went on walks with her after that, which helped her out greatly. The two cats they had also seemed to sense when the husband wanted to be alone and when he wanted to interact, and when they sensed the latter they began playing and essentially entertaining him.

One of the dog-related stories Carlyn mentioned was that of a widower who had lost his wife after a long struggle with disease. The man intended to kill himself, as he was depressed, but before he could do so he had a dream where he saw their dog waiting for him outside their house, and when he woke up he realized that, if he had killed himself, the dog would most likely have waited for him until the day she died. The man then packed up and took a long walk to California, taking the dog with him, and after that walk Carlyn said that he was a changed man, particularly since he credited his dog with helping him save his life along the way.

Carlyn remarked that she had a “six pack” of dogs and cats, but at present only two old dogs remain from that pack, as the other four had passed away during the five years she took to write the book.

To those who would have a cat or a dog as a pet, Carlyn recommends that they go to a local shelter or rescue and tell the personnel there their concerns, and then go with their instincts when it came to adopting an animal, as it is often the animal who chooses the human.

Purchase from Amazon: Dog as My Doctor, Cat as My Nurse: An Animal Lover's Guide to a Healthy, Happy and Extraordinary Life by Carlyn Montes de Oca


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Joe Navarro on the Worst Espionage Breach in US History

Joe Navarro talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor and the Worst Espionage Breach in US History.



“You don’t have a responsibility to be victimized at any time.” ~Joe Navarro

Joe and his parents were refugees from Cuba, and he grew up in Miami. He spent twenty-five years in the FBI working for counterintelligence and is presently sharing his insights in human behavior, and notes that, as an immigrant kid growing up, he needed to hone his skills at reading nonverbal cues because he initially didn’t know any English, which he further honed as he entered the FBI. Joe has written other books, but when he realized what was going on with Russia and current events he decided to write Three Minutes to Doomsday, as he pointed out that the present crop of leaders in Russia today were grown in the KGB during the Cold War and apparently still maintain their attitude of the West being “the enemy.”

Joe remarks that “war by other means” is a tactic which is familiar with those in counterintelligence, which deals with identifying and countering the efforts of enemies to gather information that has a benefit of tactical or strategic purpose - the definition of “intelligence” - to the United States. He notes that those who would release sensitive information aren’t necessarily spies, and that whether or not people like Julian Assange are spies should be determined by the courts. Joe notes that FBI agents are essentially paid by the public to become paid observers for criminal activity and decipher the information which could lead to prosecutions.

Joe remarked that it took him, on the average, two or three days to prepare for his interviews with Ramsay, and the interviews lasted anywhere between two to twelve hours. Joe had to play this very carefully, as he couldn’t afford to make a single mistake and Ramsay had genius-level IQ with photographic memory and could talk on a lot of topics and, even more importantly, was not under custody and could thus bolt at any time. Joe points out that Ramsay was just one of many different personality types that he encountered over the course of his career, and he points out that the information that Ramsay passed to the Soviet Union not only included a large quantity of documents but which, if war broke out between the Soviets and the West, would have caused hundreds of thousands of Western casualties and would have enabled the Soviets to gain a swift victory. Joe also remarked that, after the damage assessment was done, the breach was so significant that this was the only time in American history that such potential damage could have been inflicted.

Joe notes that the question of whom to trust, where sensitive information is concerned, has been around since ancient times. Joe notes that people who would do great harm, in the form of leaking sensitive information to the enemy is concerned, won’t be easily spotted, pointing out that mass murderers have functioned in the societies they lived in and that, when their identities were revealed, the people around them were caught by surprise. Joe also points out that the Internet has made handling sensitive information more challenging as, prior to the Internet, it was relatively easy to keep people away with locked doors and patrols, whereas, at the moment, someone with know-how can hack into a computer to stalk a person or to down a nation’s entire system, such as traffic or emergency services.

Where individual security is concerned, Joe remarks that one should take whatever security measures are necessary to protect oneself, or pretend that there are no threats out in the world.

Purchase from Amazon: Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor and the Worst Espionage Breach in US History by Joe Navarro

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mark Zupan on The Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest

Mark Zupan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest.



“Government by the people doesn’t necessarily mean government for the people.” ~Mark Zupan

Mark is the son of immigrants who grew up in Rochester, New York and has embarked on a career in the academe, specializing in economics, and is presently the president of Alfred University in Alfred, New York. He began looking into politics from the point of view of an economist - supply and demand, in other words - in the 1980s, with another professor. Mark points out that the demand side of government interactions has been the focus of a lot of literature and blame, but looking at the supply side - the insiders in the government, such as a monarch or those in government - hasn’t been done, for the most part, and this is what Inside Job brings out.

Mark notes that autocracy was the norm throughout the world two centuries ago, and that democratic governments are now more commonplace, and the book shows that democracies are superior to autocracies when it comes to integrity in the public sector, pointing out the work of Transparency International, which shows that democracies, on the average, outperform autocracies where integrity in the public sector is concerned. Mark, also notes that there are around a dozen autocratic governments which rate high in this kind of integrity, as well as that, in some democratic governments, some people still have to pay bribes to get things done.

Mark points out that democracies have checks and balances within their systems that help maintain such integrity, and that there is a symbiosis between the supply side and the demand side. Mark gave an example of sugar lobbying, where the cost to the average American family is $50 a year due to import restrictions on sugar from other countries. The United States and its consumers thus lose anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion a year, and the reason this goes on is that the average family isn’t much concerned about losing $50 a year, and the sugar interests in the United States thus have more pull with the government.

Mark notes that, on the average, autocratic governments last nine times longer than democratic governments, yet produce poor results where prosperity and government cleanliness is concerned. Mark contrasts this with private enterprise, where good sales result from good products, and that power is the currency of governments. Some of the checks and balances that enable democratic governments to do better than autocracies are term limits and electoral competition, as well as a lower likelihood of “golden parachutes” and a greater confidence that anything that was created during the term of one government will be supported by the courts in being carried on into the term of another government.

Mark remarked, as an example of misuse of power on the supply side of politics, on the situation of the Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire, which started out as an attempt at a meritocracy, and which was egalitarian for one generation, which ended up seizing the power of the Empire to the point of being able to murder two sultans who were attempting to reform the Empire. Mark also gave the example of the sultans and the scribes losing power due to the printing press, which resulted in only 2% of the Ottoman Empire’s population being able to read at a time when literacy in Europe was 50%.

Mark notes that supply side power misuse is present in both China (the world’s largest autocracy) and in the United States (the world’s most economically developed democracy). Mark remarks that one in seven of the wealthiest men in China are political figures, which means that the party in power is unlikely to want to foster competition, as this would reduce the money they would get. Where the United States is concerned, Mark points out to the growth of public sector unionization, which has grown from 6% in the 1970s to 37% at present. This creates a large voting block which can exert electoral influence but also an imposition of power that can affect public trust and integrity. He points out the impact of such in the educational system, where the number of college-ready graduates have not improved despite increased spending, as well as unfunded pensions, which total close to $5 trillion, which makes this the second largest fiscal challenge of the United States.

Mark notes that the average person, in a democracy, has the power to affect the interplay between supply and demand sides of government, and that people have to be involved with the checks and balances to ensure that things don’t get out of hand.

Purchase from Amazon: Inside Job: How Government Insiders Subvert the Public Interest by Mark Zupan.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ian Roberts: How to Make Noises & Influence People - The Wonders of Language

Ian Roberts talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, The Wonders of Language or How to Make Noises and Influence People.



“We are mostly very unaware of the complexity and the potential of language.” ~Ian Roberts

Ian is presently a professor of linguistics in Cambridge University in England since 2000, and prior to that he taught in Geneva, Germany and Wales. The inspiration for his book actually came from his then-seventeen-year-old son, who had taken a course in English language that he really liked and thought about continuing on studying that after his graduation from high school. His son suggested that he write a book on linguistics “for people like me,” and while Ian initially just laughed it off the seed was nevertheless planted, and he then wrote The Wonders of Language, which focuses on verbal communication.

The Wonders of Language is intended for a general audience and gives an understandable introduction to all the ideas that linguists have speculated about or worked on, where language is concerned, to date. Ian admitted that writing in such a way that the concepts were accessible without “dumbing down” the ideas was challenging, giving the example of the chapter on semantics - meaning - being one of the more challenging ones.

Ian remarks that language has most likely been around since humans walked the Earth, but because language leaves no fossils, it is difficult to date exactly when language started, although the figure of language starting around 100,000 years ago is a generally accepted estimate. Ian also notes that other human species, such as the Neanderthals, might have had a language of their own, but due to lack of records such will remain speculation.

Ian remarks that languages are being created all the time, and by human babies and toddlers, as they always invent their own languages all the time. For adults to learn a language, Ian recommends immersing oneself totally in the language after getting the basics, and avoiding using one’s own native language during that immersion.

Ian remarks that there is a debate about how language creates the reality of a people, but opines that language channels, but not constrains, one’s thinking, as it is so open-ended that it enables people to create new ideas. He also notes that the main purpose of language might be to influence others, but also serves other purposes, such as to help people organize things for themselves.

Ian has two favorite concepts in the book, one which is how to find lost languages and the other is about how to learn and lose a language, with the latter being how babies learn languages. Where dead languages - languages which are no longer spoken - are concerned, Ian notes that there are two kinds: one for which written records exist, and the second being where no written records exist. Figuring out how the words are pronounced is a challenge, and Ian remarks that there is a technique where dead languages can be iterated based on the languages that were descended from that dead language, as the forms of the dead language can be inferred from its existing descendants.

Ian remarks that the present form of English sprang from the Anglo-Saxons, and the first texts were noted in around 700 A.D. Because a part of English was brought to England from northern Europe, it is related to German, which is descended from a language called “proto-Germanic,” which is also the ancestor of other languages such as Dutch and Scandinavian. Proto-Germanic, in turn, is related to Latin, ancient Greek and Sanskrit and other Indian languages, as all of these languages sprang from a language called “Indo-European,” which existed around five to eight thousand years ago; and as no written records exist of either proto-Germanic and Indo-European, it has to be noted that such time estimates of when these were spoken aren’t accurate.

While Ian notes that getting a map of the relationships amongst the languages of the world is a task too huge for one person, he does note that a study is ongoing which can be accessed at the World Atlas of Language Structures, which can be searched using “WALS.” Ian also remarks that, at present, the study covers 2,000 languages, which is around a third of all the languages presently being spoken in the world today.

Ian remarks that general readers will be attracted to The Wonders of Language because it is short and gives a quick and easy way to get a handle on some topics. He also noted that he is presently thinking of writing, with some colleagues, a book describing the sixty most important languages in world history.

Purchase from Amazon: The Wonders of Language or How to Make Noises and Influence People by Ian Roberts.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Julia Sloan on Learning to Think Strategically

Julia Sloan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, Learning to Think Strategically (3rd Edition).




“You begin to see the problem so differently the minute you take pen to paper and start to draw your problem.” ~Julia Sloan


Julia’s area of expertise is on the learning aspect of strategic thinking, and in addition to being on the faculties of Columbia University and the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, she has worked with senior managers of companies, international agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout the world, primarily in Asia, the Middle East and Africa on how to strengthen their strategic thinking. She has been working on the research for twelve years and has worked in the field of strategic thinking for eighteen years. She decided to write Learning to Think Strategically after realizing that people were making no distinction between strategic thinking, strategic planning and other, similar concepts that had become merely buzzwords, rather than concepts to be assimilated.

Julia notes that there is a difference between strategic thinking and strategic planning. Strategic thinking focuses on the problem at hand, and the purpose here is not to think of solutions to the problem but to go deep and get to the real problem concerned. She also notes that strategic thinking is informal, intuitive and emotional, highly reliant on what she calls “arational” thinking, which makes it rather messy. Strategic planning, on the other hand, is more linear and the topic of what most strategy literature deals with. Strategic planning is also formalized, rational and structured, and Julia notes that, once people differentiate between strategic thinking and strategic planning they do well.

Where strategic thinking is concerned, the underlying structure consists of divergent thinking, creative thinking, conceptual thinking, polarity thinking and critical reflective processes, which include critical dialogue, critical reflection and critical inquiry which questions underlying assumptions and beliefs to get at an issue’s premise, which is usually invisible. Julia also points out that these are not taught in business environments, and she mentioned the case of a medical technology company which was able to use strategic thinking to change course from the strategic plan they had created to close a plant in one area and open another in another country as well as purchase a company, which enabled them to be the top three companies in their particular industry.

Julia notes that strategic thinking is needed in corporations because of globalization, and that those organizations who aren’t aware of strategic thinking tend to force others to think the way the people where the company came from think, and when things go bad fingers get pointed about who is to blame for a failure in innovation and strategy. She points out that strategic thinking is a learnable human activity, rather than a cultural concern, and that anyone can thus learn how to think strategically. That said, Julia admits that culture teaches people what to pay attention to, how to identify patterns and how to make decisions, and that, once these cultural traits are gotten past, the learning process is the same anywhere.

Julia notes that “strategic thinking” has become a confusing, blanket term, and gives an example of what is really desired from someone who is essentially told, “I’d like to promote you but you need to show more strategic thinking.”

Julia envisions the teaching of strategic thinking all the way from elementary to graduate school by paying attention to the domain of arational thinking, which includes polarity thinking and metaphors. She points out that these are not easily measurable the way rational thinking methodologies are, and are thus not convenient to teach. Drawing is an activity that she highly recommends as a way to access strategic thinking, as Julia points out that she has used this method for senior managers and that children can use these as well, and the methods can be taught at all levels.

Julia points out that Learning to Think Strategically focuses on the learning aspect of strategic thinking, and how the latter is differentiated from other types of strategic tools, and that those who imbibe its lessons enhance their mental agility. The third edition includes some new concepts and matter that weren’t included in the previous editions, such as the triangle model as well as the two cognitive clusters that support both strategic thinking and strategic planning.

Purchase from Amazon: Learning to Think Strategically (3rd Edition) by Julia Sloan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Winifred Reilly on Saving Your Marriage with Almost No Help from Your Spouse

Winifred Reilly talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about her book, It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse - and How You Can, Too.



“We step into marriage fully unprepared.” ~Winifred Reilly

Winifred has been a writer all her life, writing poetry when she was a little girl. She has been a marriage and family therapist for nearly forty years, getting into the field because her own marriage wasn’t doing so well and she wanted to know everything she could about marriage. Over the course of that time she heard from several clients that they had no books that they could refer to where their particular challenges were concerned, and this was one of the reasons she wrote the book.

Winifred felt she needed to write the book, and noted that she initially started the book as a collection of her clients’ stories, but after traveling down this particular path for a time she realized that it was very boring. Winifred then realized that writing her book as a personal story would be more effective, and so wove in the story of her own marriage as one of the book’s themes, with the other two being the story of her training and the stories of her clients.

Winifred notes that, where marriage is concerned, everyone is in the same boat, so therapists couldn’t hide behind the curtain of authority to be effective. She also notes that the skills necessary to maintain a marriage long-term are learned along the way, rather than learned prior to marriage.

Winifred remarked that people try to agree, to create consensus, rather than figure out what to do when they disagree. Agreeing to disagree means that people can’t come to any conclusion, and while this might be okay for relatively minor things, this doesn’t work with deeper issues, such as having another child or moving out into the country. Winifred notes that partners need to tolerate one’s spouse disagreeing with one, and that staying connected with oneself while remaining open to the other is a fine art.

Winifred notes that there is no formula for how people take a stand. She does, however, point to a developmental model of marriage which was devised by psychotherapists Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson, who run the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, California, which has five stages of marriage:

  1. Courtship, where the couples agree on everything;
  2. Difference, where the couple assert their preferences which are different from their partners, which then results in conflict;
  3. Couple can express their feelings and handle conflicts with each other;
  4. More separateness, such as doing activities without their partner;
  5. Moving back to each other with a mutual sense of longing for reconnection, this time being on a deeper level.

Winifred points out that the things that couples fight over are actually trivial things that are actually smokescreens for deeper issues, which she calls “the big picture.” People actually fight about whether or not they are valued and thought highly of by their partner, she notes, as well as whether or not they can trust the other person, and power and control issues also come into play. The real issues behind fights, Winifred remarks, are actually about selfhood.

Purchase from Amazon: It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse - and How You Can, Too by Winifred Reilly.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bob Imai and How The Laws of Success of Ryuho Okawa Bring Happiness

Bob Imai talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about Master Ryuho Okawa’s book, The Laws of Success: A Spiritual Guide to Turning Your Hopes Into Reality.



“If your success is not good for your soul, then achieving success doesn’t mean anything.” ~Bob Imai

Master Okawa is the spiritual leader who founded Happy Science in 1986, which is a movement which started in Japan, whose purpose is to enable people to find fulfilment and success through the principles of love, wisdom, self-reflection and progress. The movement now has some ten million members scattered throughout 160 countries, and Bob himself is a minister in Atlanta, Georgia. He came across Happy Science in 1990 while still an engineer researching on self-driving cars and experiencing some discontent in his life. He became a monk as a result of investigating into the teachings of Happy Science and has been connected with the movement since then.

The Laws of Success contains principles that both people and organizations need to achieve success. Bob notes that, in order to find true success, one has to know the meaning, purpose and mission of one’s life, as it is believed that we are spiritual beings who live several lives on this physical plane over and over again, in order to improve and nourish our souls, as this is the context in which the book exists. In this context, it is believed that we choose the kind of lives we will lead in the physical realm before we enter it, and that our mind enables us to access all the wisdom and knowledge we need to attain our success. That said, Bob notes that one does not necessarily have to believe in life after death in order to get something from The Laws of Success, as the book  also comes from the context of harnessing the power of the mind, which has been behind successes, historically.

The pillars of success that support success are originality (we have our own, individual measures for success), shared joy (success is accompanied by joy) and a sense of unique contribution (true success contributes to society), and Bob shared Thomas Edison as an example who showed examples of all of these pillars in his life. Bob notes that success isn’t an outcome or a result, but that it is a process designed to improve ourselves. Self-realization is the basis of success, with visualizing one’s goal being the first thing to do. A positive attitude is also necessary to achieving one’s goal, after which one should then act on it. Bob notes that the path isn’t easy, so making habits to support success, as well as breaking down the tasks into small, easily achievable parts.

The Laws of Success might be thirty years old, and Bob points out that the principles within enabled Happy Science to grow from the small numbers in its movement that long ago to its present size. He remarks that The Laws of Success is similar to such books related to the Law of Attraction, such as The Secret, but that there is nothing in the latter that talks about the basis of such concepts, which is a belief in the spiritual realm.

Bob also advises that people meditate - by which he means people should just take a little time each day to sit in total silence - to access the wisdom that comes from one’s mind.

Purchase from Amazon: The Laws of Success: A Spiritual Guide to Turning Your Hopes Into Reality by Master Ryuho Okawa

Friday, April 14, 2017

Siphiwe Baleka and His 4-Minute Fit Book to Enhance Metabolism

Siphiwe Baleka talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com about his book, 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out.

 

“We can’t make America great again unless we make America fit again.” ~Siphiwe Baleka

Siphiwe was a world-class swimmer in college, and had been an athlete since he was young. He took a job as a trucker, and within two months of taking the job, he gained fifteen pounds, which was over ten percent of his body weight, which scared him. He realized then that he needed to take responsibility for his weight, and then went on to try out various fitness programs and diets. He realized that there was no such program specifically designed for long-haul truck drivers and their particular environment, and so went out and developed his own. Siphiwe then studied metabolic endocrinology and used digital sports equipment to help his progress, and it was through these that he discovered that his metabolism was so low when he was driving trucks that he needed to find a way to keep it up while driving.

Siphiwe noted that truck drivers actually have an unhealthy profession, as they have highest rates of obesity, the highest rates of metabolic syndrome, and has the lowest life expectancy, and this is due to the nature of their work and on the impact on their bodies. He notes that truck drivers don’t have access to kitchens, have no refrigerators in their trucks to store food in, and drive mostly on the main interstates and highways, which makes such things as getting to a local farmer’s market, or even the gym, impractical, and remarks that, for all intents and purposes, truck drivers “might as well be astronauts living in outer space.” Truck drivers are also subjected to changes in schedule, depending on what they haul, and this disrupts the body’s internal rhythms and hormonal releases, as truck drivers thus train themselves to override these internal rhythms and the hormones that regulate metabolism. This often results in such things as truck drivers not getting hungry, and as they don’t eat their metabolisms turn off. Siphiwe points out that the average truck driver eats only once or twice a day, and while they may overeat during those times, their bodies are, overall, starving, which makes their body store fat.

4-Minute Fit is based on the work Siphiwe has done since 2012, working with truck drivers to improve their physical wellness. It is a program that shows how to turn one’s metabolism on at the start of the day in four minutes’ time, and then how to keep it on throughout the day, with minimal effort. The idea for the book came from an editor for Sports Illustrated who had done an article for what he was doing, and Siphiwe figured, if truck drivers can do it, anyone can. According to him, one in three Americans is obese, and this costs 150 billion dollars a year, and he also points out that the main reason that seven out of ten applicants to the United States Armed Forces are rejected because they were obese or physically unfit.

Siphiwe notes that losing weight is easy; keeping it off is the true challenge, as this requires a change of behavior, which then requires one to get into one’s values and emotions, as the source of behavior is usually subconscious programming. Siphiwe thus wants to get to a person’s motivation behind their desire to change, and while he admits that this can be emotional, he notes that emotion is also energy which can be harnessed. Siphiwe then starts by knowing where a person is nutritionally at the present, identifying the food which the person presently eats which does the most damage and then eliminating that during one week, and then doing the same with another food the following week, which makes for a gradual change rather than a fast overhaul.

Siphiwe notes that he has cases of drivers who have lost weight and kept it off for years, as well as others whose health has greatly improved over a long period of time, and since his program is the least disruptive one around it can be used by anyone. He notes that the science behind his system has been around for three decades, and what he adds to that is turning on metabolism at the start of the day and then keeping it up by giving it what it needs when it needs it.

Siphiwe notes that there is a direct relationship between what one gets out of life and one’s health; and the more one can do what they want to do when they want to do it (which is his definition of fitness) the more one can do and experience, which enables one to learn, grow and receive from the Universe. He notes that all motivational speakers always ask: “What’s your ‘why’?” and the “why” needs to be so big that it gives one enough energy to do the necessary and inconvenient things needed to achieve one’s goals.

Siphiwe noted that he has partnered with Progressive Commercial Insurance to create free content which people could use to get started at truckerterritory.com.

Purchase from Amazon: 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator for the Time Crunched, Deskbound, and Stressed Out by Siphiwe Baleka and Jon Wertheim