Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Michael Mathieu on Foundational Health Methods and Low-Oxalate Dieting


In this interview, Michael Mathieu talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his work on improving people’s health.



“We don’t have to think so hard, if we give the body the right foods it needs.” ~Michael Mathieu

Michael Mathieu
Michael started off getting interested in health and healthy diets during high school, when his sister began educating his family about such things as too much sugar being consumed. It was, however, when his lower back “gave out” on him when he was already working after college that he became really curious about diet. It was then that Michael went on a vegetarian diet, and it was during the five years he was working for Eastman Kodak that his health fell apart. He then spent the next few years figuring things out where food was concerned, and it was only from around 2019 or so that he truly began figuring out what did and didn’t work, where food was concerned.

Foundational health, according to Michael, is the idea that, if the basic building blocks for health are put in place, and that if easy-to-digest, high-density foods which have all the nutrients needed is consumed, then the human body knows what to do with this to maintain and heal itself. (“We don’t have to think so hard, if we give the body the right foods it needs,” he maintains.) He notes that people with chronic health issues need to have these investigated, but the foundational pieces of having the right diet need to be in place. Where people who are seeking to prevent issues are concerned, Michael notes that diet is all that needs to be focused on, but for somewhat more serious issues, supplements are important. These approaches, he remarks, are intended to ensure that resolving issues doesn’t happen “by chance.”

One of the big problems with today’s diet in the United States, Michael notes, is the present trend towards vegetarianism and veganism, which causes the health of a lot of those who follow such diets to fall apart. “There can be multiple reasons for why,” he admits, “and this is where the story becomes a little bit complex.” Michael noted the example of dentist Dr. Weston Price, a dentist who, in the 1930s and 1940s, traveled around the world and noted that the healthiest people in the world had, in their diet, high amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2. These vitamins, he notes, have several different functions in the human body, one of which is telling other minerals where to go, making these crucial in creating flexible and dense bones. Michael remarks that such vitamins, in the modern diet, are diminishing in amount consumed, due to the focus nowadays on consuming lean meat. The latter is due to the belief that animal saturated fats cause cardiovascular disease, a review of the research showing these findings indicating that the research methodology was bad, as egos were involved. He remarks that such a belief isn’t “holding up” to the data presently available.

Michael also that the basis for people going fully carnivorous - that is, eating only meat - is presently based on incomplete or nonexistent research. That said, he gives the example of the Inuit people, who have apparently existed on a carnivorous diet for thousands of years, as a group of humans which have “robust” health and which indicates that plants aren’t as important to health as popularly believed. Michael also notes that adding animal meat to one’s diet has, in his practice, been shown to improve his clients’ health.

Michael and others like him are thus now focused on re-educating people, given all the bad information on nutrition that is present. He explains that, as an electrical engineer, he delves into research with an open mind and goes to where the data and results lead him, as engineers are trained to be unemotional where getting results are concerned. In his practice as a health coach, he works to keep adapting the diets he has given to his clients so that they can achieve their goals.

Michael also notes that a lot of people are becoming “citizen scientists,” who do not have the biases that medical professionals have, are driving the paving the way where nutrition is concerned. He points out that medical professionals get no training in nutrition and that they are “overwhelmed” with their practices that they don’t get into the research available, which leads to medical professionals relying on what was taught to them in medical school. Michael also remarks that critical thinking is somewhat missing in today’s medical training, and that is something that he brings to the table.

Michael notes that there are chemicals in plants which are actually toxic to us, which makes sense, given that plants produce toxins and anti-nutrients - compounds which are typically found in crop plants which interfere with the absorption of nutrients by the human body - as a way to defend themselves from being consumed by animals. One example of this is oxalic acid, which is produced so a plant can store calcium as well as to defend itself. Oxalic acid, in the human body, crystallizes by binding with such positive-charge minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. Not only do these minerals become unavailable to the body, as the body has no way to break the bonds of the minerals from oxalic acid, but the oxalic acid can also rob the body of such minerals. These crystals, which are as sharp as glass particles and can range from nanomolecular sized (which can then cause damage to a cell it enters) to those seen with the naked eye (such as kidney stones). Only a certain amount of these crystals can only be eliminated per day, which means that what is left will accumulate and become toxic to the body. Where his practice is concerned, Michael notes that reducing oxalic acid can help even those who don’t have kidney stones.

(In a conversation conducted after the interview, Michael identified the following foods as being high in oxalates:

Rhubarb, beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, beet roots, celery, carrots, yams, tomato sauce, parsnips.

Nuts, seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, tahini, almonds, cashews, peanuts.
Unripe avocado, blackberries, figs, guava, kiwi, olives, plantain, pomegranate, star fruit.

Most beans, Black beans, soy flour, soy milk, soy protein, pinto beans.

Most grains, wheat germ, rice bran, potato flour, whole grain bread, corn grits, green banana flour, buckwheat barley, amaranth, quinoa.

Black tea, green tea, chocolate milk, almond beverages, rice milk.

Black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, curry, onion powder, parsley, poppy, turmeric.

Michael also recommends a gradual tapering of consumption of such foods over time, rather than stopping consuming these all at once, as suddenly dumping oxalates from one’s diet could prove to be intense.)

As an example of a client who successfully changed her life is a young woman, Sarah, who was 20 years old when she consulted with Michael. Sarah, all her life, has had such health issues as low energy and chronic constipation, and she consulted Michael after being diagnosed with celiac disease, which is one where the small intestines of people will get damaged when they consume gluten. Sarah later on discovered that she has osteopenia, which could lead to osteoporosis, and a bit later she experienced pain, nausea and vomiting whenever she ate, due to her spleen being so oversized that doctors considered that it might need to be removed. Michael also remarks that, until she was diagnosed with celiac, none of Sarah’s doctors asked her what she was eating.

Sarah kept a diet diary, so Michael got a sense of what she was eating, and after asking a lot of questions and reading her many medical tests, Michael suggested moving her diet from that of the typical American to one where she ate more meat and fat and cut back on plants to reduce oxalates, as well as cutting back on carbohydrates. (As he is not a medical practitioner, Michael can only suggest, rather than directly tell, a client what to do and what not to do, where their bodies and health is concerned.) Because of her condition, where her vitamin D levels were low, Michael recommended supplements to boost her levels of vitamin D, as well as levels of vitamins A and K2. Where vitamin A supplements are concerned, Michael did his research on the right kind of vitamin A supplement to recommend, as he is leery of fish foods, given the amount of heavy metals and microplastics in the ocean, and is concerned that some vitamin A supplements use a form of that vitamin which is not easily absorbed by the human body. In less than a week, the nausea and pain when eating was gone, and two weeks later Sarah felt so rested after waking up that she stopped drinking coffee (she had been drinking coffee for years to get her energy level up after waking up). Sarah then told Michael, after around a month and a half of being on the foundational diet she was on, that she felt healthier and more energetic than she had felt all her life.

People can get in touch with Michael at michaelmathieu.com. He also has a YouTube channel called Michael Mathieu Foundational Health, the content of which is presently in the process of being expanded. His Instagram account is CarnivoreQuad.

Experience the magic! Where ever you are, I bring my 25+ years of experience healing bodies directly to you. Highly skilled, finely tuned, efficient and effective! By combining osteopathic and energetic bodywork, diet, nutrition, fasting strategies and other modalities, I can help you design a customized foundational health program to optimize your true potential. Feel free to book some time with me here. michaelmathieu.com

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Dr. BS Ajaikumar and How He Created a World Class Cancer Hospital Chain


In this interview, Dr. B. S. Ajaikumar talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Excellence Has No Borders: How A Doctorpreneur Created A World-Class Cancer Hospital Chain.



“Anybody can be good. It depends who you are and what kind of passion you have.” ~Dr. BS Ajaikumar

Dr. Ajaikumar’s father was the dean of a law school who had a passion for medicine. Dr. Ajaikumar’s older brother then went into medicine, which was a “gateway” for him to get into medicine, which he had always had a passion for and felt he could make a difference in that field. He had a vision of serving people in the rural areas of India, and while he was one of the top graduates in cardiology he wanted to learn more about the “high end” aspects of cardiology. Since India didn’t offer him that kind of opportunity, he emigrated to the United States, where he became interested in, and challenged by, oncology while undertaking his rotating internship. He thus transferred from the hospital he was then working at, at the University of Virginia, to MD Anderson Hospital in Texas. He made the long trip to the hospital, and despite no opening being immediately available, he impressed the higher-ups enough that they offered him a position, which he took.

Oncology in the 1970s, according to Dr. Ajaikumar, focused on palliative care and wasn’t that well understood, compared to cardiology. He wanted to understand what oncology was all about and improve the methodologies of the field, particularly as few doctors didn’t want to go into the field, due to the mortality rate associated with it. Dr. Ajaikumar liked challenges, and he took this on and met patients from several countries. Practicing oncology in the United States was an enlightening experience for him, and the biggest learning for him was the reflective mindset he learned, and what true friendship was all about, while treating his patients, giving the example of a patient who consoled him before she passed away.

While practicing in the United States, Anderson wanted Dr. Ajaikumar to run the lung cancer program. While that was okay with him, he realized he would remain in academia. As he already wanted to set up cancer centers in India by that time, he went out and set up a center from scratch, and within a few months he was “overloaded” with seeing 150 patients a month - an indication of his success.

Dr. Ajaikumar had long wanted to return to India, during his years practicing in the United States, as he understood what the situation was where cancer treatment was in that nation. By the time he moved back to India, in 2003, shortly after he suffered losses from his stock market investments and after he had set up women’s empowerment programs in India, he had enough technical knowledge as well as experience with setting up a medical center to work on creating medical facilities that gave world-class treatment to cancer patients. (Also driving him to do so, despite his financial situation, was his desire to meet and surmount challenges, a trait which he has had all his life.) He was able to use some of his earnings as seed capital for his first cancer center, which was located in Mysore, and he realized that setting up the center as a non-profit center wasn’t sustainable, so it was then that he looked around for investors.

The investment climate in India in the early 2000s wasn’t “good,” according to Dr. Ajaikumar, with high interest rates and high customs duties. He needed to provide results as an entrepreneur before he could get good investors, and one of the ways he did this was by going to big companies and negotiating for good rates for the equipment he would get. He first made sure his center was running efficiently before looking for investors, and while he received a lot of rejections, he eventually managed to get some investors onboard. Dr. Ajaikumar is up front about returns not being guaranteed, to the point of once turning down a potential investor who wanted 25% return on investment.

Dr. Ajaikumar notes that he never took a grant from the Indian government, as he wants his company, HealthCare Global Enterprises (HCG), to succeed on its own. He works to keep his organization operating in a transparent and legal manner and focuses on doing the right thing for the patient. Where treating people is concerned, he doesn’t deny treatment to anyone, pointing out the cost of a particular service is a fraction of that same service which is offered in the United States and Singapore - a helpful boon in a country where medical insurance isn’t commonplace, which means that people pay for the treatment out of their own pockets. One of the ways he does so is by utilizing the available equipment as much as possible, such as giving treatments late at night, when things aren’t busy. As Dr. Ajaikumar noted, the equipment is already there, so might as well use it, adding that balancing technology, finances and keeping things “patient-centric” are the hallmark of his organization.

At the moment, Dr. Ajaikumar’s unique business model is one which Harvard has taken note of, and has created a case study for. “All the money we generate is put back into the system to bring in more technology and train doctors,” he remarks of his organization’s policy of not giving dividends - a style of management which has enabled HCG to presently create 24 centers in India and Africa.

The experiences and challenges he faced throughout his life, as well as those with his son (who has lived for thirty years despite not being expected to live beyond 15 years of age due to muscular dystrophy) were what made him think about writing a book about his experiences. The title, Excellence Has No Borders, was suggested by his son-in-law, who said that, “Where excellence is concerned, there should be no borders.”

He believes that doctors should look upon their patients the way they would a close relative, and that that attitude can carry on where relating to the world is concerned. “If we can contribute, we can make a world of a difference,” he notes, adding that, one should be reflective and be conscious of oneself, as well as have positive vibrations, which aid greatly with interacting with the world and others in a positive way.

Purchase from Amazon: Excellence Has No Borders: How A Doctorpreneur Created A World-Class Cancer Hospital Chain by Dr. BS Ajaikumar

Friday, June 12, 2020

Susie George on Sustainability, Sustainable Business, and Sustainable Living | Branching Together & Chew on That


In this interview, Susie George talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her YouTube channel, Chew on That and Branching Together, her online project to reconnect to one another and the earth.



“Remembering that everything is connected is key to living a sustainable lifestyle.” ~Susie George

Chew on That is a channel that Susie started as a capstone project for her Master’s degree in Sustainable Business, and for that project she highlighted restaurants which were undertaking sustainable practices. Susie points out that sustainability isn’t seen as “relevant” for most people, and she hopes her channel will challenge the viewpoint that sustainability is accessible rather than far-fetched, and to highlight that sustainability and, thus, care for the environment, can be integrated into one’s life as a logical practice. Her degree is actually called a “Sustainable MBA,” which is a standard MBA which focuses on integrating sustainability and environmental awareness into business practices while still maintaining business value. The “triple bottom line” that sustainable businesses aim to strive for are, according to her, “people, planet and profit,” which is different from the standard view of profit coming first and the impact of the planet comes last. A sustainable business, Susie remarks, should be as potentially long-lasting as present-day businesses running on the conventional, profit-based model. Apart from her YouTube channel, Susie also has a website called Branching Together, whose mission is to empower people through education, inspiration, and products to become stewards of the earth and of each other.

Ever since she was young, Susie has practiced sustainability, such as when her mother practiced curbside recycling, so much so that she was amazed when she saw her friends tossing recyclables in the trash. She also spent a lot of time outdoors, connecting with Nature, and this, she admits, grew her “protective” nature where the environment is concerned. “Waste is a big concern, and always has been,” she remarks, and the linkage between this, human actions and what we see in the world around is one of the things that interests her. “The research is already there, “Susie notes; “the disconnect is with our actions.”

Susie points out that the actions of large corporations and agricultural systems have severely impacted the world’s climate, and if changes can be done on a large scale, then an improvement in the world’s climate will be noticeable. There are many ways in which people live unsustainably, and one of these is single-use packaging, be it chip bags to laundry soap packaging, which are tossed out after these are used. Individually, such waste isn’t much, but cumulatively such will have an impact. Using such, however, is “indicative of a mindset of putting convenience first,” she notes, and long-term solutions need to be implemented with the environment first and convenience second. “This concept, in our human history, is relatively new,” Susie points out, and this will need to change, along with other unsustainable practices. Bringing one’s own containers to a bulk store would be the best solution for single-use containers, Susie notes; and she likewise notes that society is already starting to lean away from single-use containers as well as find other solutions which have yet to be created. As another example, Susie gives the practice of making one’s own snacks and storing it for later use; and for this practice to become widespread, a “cultural shift” is necessary, given today’s presently busy workplace practices. 

Sustainability, according to Susie, is a holistic mindset about existing long-term on and with the Earth and its systems, at its heart, noting that the term has taken on a different meaning in the environmental sphere. “Business that adopt environmentally sustainable practices are going to be able to exist long-term,” she notes, “because that’s where the priority is.” Susie notes that the impact of changes to creating sustainability will not be felt by the present generation but by future ones, which means that a lot of investment must be made over time.

“Individual action is extremely important,” Susie notes, “but climate change is seen on a larger scale than individual.” That said, those individuals who adopt sustainable practices will eventually ripple out to leadership, as well as to companies and politics, which is why the focus on individual action is important. Susie gives the example of mass meat production being unsustainable, as farming animals in tight quarters releases vast amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, which contributes to the changing climate. Reducing meat consumption, or a consumer purchasing meat from a small farm, which is likely to have more sustainable practices than large farms, is a way to create sustainability. “People are really embracing individual responsibility,” Susie remarks, noting that the shift is taking place.

On the topic of sustainability in skin care, Susie points out that people can create their own products made of natural, organic ingredients, and that these are actually better for one’s body. Where effects are concerned, the results aren’t instant, but are longer-lasting and healthier, as one creates a relationship with one’s skin, as well as reducing the consumption of single-use packaging.

To those who would want to start off on a journey into sustainable practices, Susie recommends that people read up even an article from an environmental professional or a documentary about the environment or nature and human interaction with it. This is due to the need to create the kind of mindset from which sustainable practices spring. “Connection is the bottom line of sustainability,” she adds.

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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Elizabeth K. Englander Reveals the Myths of Bullying and Cyberbullying

In this interview, Dr. Elizabeth K. Englander talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, 25 Myths About Bullying and Cyberbullying.



“Myths can really hold you back.” ~Dr. Elizabeth K. Englander

Dr. Englander is a researcher, trainer and college professor who has been studying children and violence for some 25 years. She applied for a fellowship in 2004 to found the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, a center which presently works with schools around the world, creating programs designed to deal with bullying and cyberbullying, which enables the center to reach some 200,000 children a year. Dr. Englander noted that a lot of violence that, while most of the violence students experienced was violence in the school, compared to violence in the streets, for example, cyberbullying really began to pick up in 2005, due to the increasing prevalence of social media. She had always been interested in technology and how people worked with it, and she combined these two interests into her present research into cyberbullying.

Dr. Englander differentiates being mean from bullying, as being mean is an occasional or unintentional act, whereas bullying is when a more powerful individual or group targets someone who can’t defend themselves, in a continuous campaign of repeated targeting. Such campaigns are destructive and difference from mean things that happen just once, and Dr. Englander points out that what is done is less important than how it’s done and how often and how consistently it’s done, citing the example of consistent staring as one such method. She also remarks that, when a child complains about such non-physical acts, adults tend to brush off this off without asking the child the context in which such acts took place, which leads to a lack of understanding about what is going on and what the impact is on the child.

Children always give signs when they struggle with something, such as changes in their eating or sleeping patterns, or change the people they interact with, and the lack of information on what’s causing this can confuse parents, Dr. Englander notes, which means that parents need to talk to children to find out what is going on. She also remarks that this is particularly confusing with teenagers, who don’t want to talk to their parents about what goes on in their lives, but while this is so, teenagers also appreciate it when parents try to keep the lines of communication open. “You get credit, just for asking,” Dr. Englander comments, giving the example of one of her kids.

Bullying, Dr. Englander remarks, might not be rare, but it’s also not commonplace, adding that, while all kids experience meanness at some point in their lives, one in four children will be affected by bullying at some point in their lives. This is “exacerbated” by the way parents raise children nowadays, she notes. Where a parent being told that their child is being bullied is concerned, Dr. Englander remarks that the parent should stay calm and talk to the child to get the details of what is going on. The way to move forward becomes clear once such details are known, particularly since the circumstances of bullying differ from one child to another. Such details need to include where and when and how often such acts occur, as well as who is involved, and who are those who know what’s going on. Letting the school know about cyberbullying can also enable the school to help out, even if they don’t have total control over the situation, and letting the child know one can handle the situation, and creating a plan to work on, gives the child more confidence that they can be supported. “The number one reason children don’t tell their parents,” Dr. Englander says about her research, “is that their parents run around and get hysterical.”

Dr. Englander remarks that she wrote the book to help make clear what does and doesn’t work, where responding to bullying is concerned, citing the myth of bystanders stepping in to confront a bully as being effective, as such a strategy could backfire. (In that situation, Dr. Englander notes that bystanders helping the target and ignoring the bully would be far more effective.) Where cyberbullying is concerned, the concept that the school can’t do anything is a myth, particularly since, among teenagers, the target is very likely to be bullied by someone they know in school, rather than an anonymous person.

The most common way for the target of bullying to get through the situation is by getting social support - being around friends and family and people who can show that one is a likeable person - as well as pursuing one’s own interests, which help one feel good about oneself. “This is true for adults as well as for kids,” Dr. Englander also adds, remarking that such is a learned skill that needs to be taught to kids. She also remarks that these are “anxious” times for parents, and that focusing on human connections and getting away from screens really pays off where creating more resilient and more able children are concerned.

Purchase from Amazon: 
25 Myths About Bullying and Cyberbullying by Dr. Elizabeth K. Englander


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lisa Sniderman on How She Kept Shining & Thriving Even With Chronic Illness and Limited Energy (You can do it, too!)

In this interview, Lisa Sniderman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her virtual summit, Keep Shining: How to Thrive With Chronic Illness and Limited Energy.



“Where you are and who you are right now is enough.” ~Lisa Sniderman

Lisa, in 2019, collaborated with some 20 artists to help create an animated video and song about her illness and recovery, and during the same year, her book, A Light in the Darkness, had been converted to an audiobook with her as the narrator and had been considered for the Grammy awards, which she went to in January 2020. The awards were an experience, as she needed to rest between awards events – an experience which she remarked as feeling “surreal.” (Lisa implemented a “no hugs” policy during that event, due to her autoimmune condition, which she remarked was a forerunner for actions that need to be taken during the Covid-19 pandemic.) She had been honored with over 20 awards for both audiobook and video, and has been home-bound since early 2019 due to a flare-up of her condition. Although Lisa has been receiving infusions intended to moderate her symptoms, she has decided to discontinue these and use diet and activities such as yoga, due to the present Covid-19 pandemic and concerns arising from this.

Lisa has focused on creating and had been working on the free virtual summit since July 2019, which created a challenge where creating time and balance between work and self-care were concerned. She thus limited herself to conducting ten interviews a month, with a maximum of two interviews a day. Lisa is also creating a spoken-word album in collaboration with her Producer and an ensemble, which focuses on grief and thriving – a process which is challenging, given the present sheltering conditions around Covid-19. That said, she remarks that those with chronic illnesses might be more adapted to the present conditions of self-isolating, and could thus be in a better position to help others adapt.

Lisa has been living with dermatomyositis, a degenerative, inflammatory muscular disease whose symptoms include skin rashes and which causes muscular weakness and attacks the immune system, since April 2008, and in addition to helping manage this with medicine and therapy, has also been managing her condition with creativity. She realized that she presently has challenges creating and connecting with others while creating a community while at home and with a limited amount of energy, and this is the seed of her online seminar, along with the video and the book that she had helped create. Lisa intends to inspire others in a similar condition as herself to thrive, and this is the purpose of her two-week, 60-talk summit. The summit itself starts on July 10, 2020, which is Chronic Disease Awareness Day, and this also plays into seven out of ten people in the United States living with chronic illness (7/10).

The summit’s expert speakers consist of medical experts, artists who are battling illness, alternative practitioners, thought leaders, spiritual leaders, healers, creative therapists and members of online support networks. Lisa focused on speakers who can address familiar issues which face those living with chronic illness, such as how to address one’s emotional, spiritual and mental well-being – things which, she notes, “fall by the wayside,” given the emphasis on physical well-being. In addition to 60 interviews, two speaker panels will also be involved, where the questions asked by summit participants will be answered by experts, participants can interact with each other through Facebook, and drama therapy workshops will be conducted. Although the summit is intended primarily for those with chronic illness, Lisa believes that anyone interested in improving their health and well-being during these times of pandemic can get something out of this seminar, as the emphasis of the summit is how to thrive during challenges.

Some of the topics that Lisa is excited to present include holistic nutrition (which includes practical strategies on what to eat and how to reduce inflammation); using meditation to relax, heal and transform; and using expressive arts to heal and transform. She also noted the involvement of Amy Oestreicher, whose stomach had exploded; who, after coming out of a months-long coma, learned she could not eat or drink; and who gives practical advice on thriving, based on the lessons she learned from her experience. Lisa also notes that one of the topics in her seminar is on sex and intimacy while living with chronic illness, which isn’t much talked about but which is important to the relationships in one’s life.

To those who are impacted by chronic illness, Lisa recommends finding a trusted disease-related organization or a disease-focused support group, as well as a doctor who takes the situation seriously. “Don’t go at it alone,” she emphasizes. Lisa also remarks that one should grieve when one is suddenly confronted by the reality of chronic illness, as this is necessary to eventually keeping one’s dreams alive.

BUY on AMAZON: 
A Light in the Darkness: Transcending Chronic Illness through the Power of Art and Attitude Paperback by Lisa A. Sniderman





















Links from Lisa Sinderman:

Sign up for the Keep Shining virtual summit (July 10-24, 2020) and learn how to thrive with chronic illness and limited energy

Join the How to Thrive With Chronic Illness and Limited Energy Facebook Group 

View/download Lisa’s Life Lessons for Living Well With Chronic Illness 

Watch the Keep Shining summit trailer 

Watch Lisa Sniderman's Keep Shining Music Video which shares her personal story and struggle with illness, disability and her recovery   


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Isabella Michon: Wagging Tales: Changing Lives on Facebook One Tale at a Time

In this interview, Isabella Michon talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her Facebook column, Wagging Tales: Changing Lives One Tale at a Time.



“Never give up hope, always try to look at the positive. We’re all in this together.” ~Isabella Michon


Isabella feels “blessed” to have always held jobs which she liked, where she felt she can send a message and help people change their lives. She is particularly glad that she was able to use her Journalism degree to get work related to it, and as she has always liked anything to do with entertainment, as this offers the opportunity to inspire people. Isabella points out that a TV producer is essentially the person who conducts such activities as booking the guests, writing the introductions and working with the script and the host, while the director handles the technical aspects of the show, such as figuring which cameras would go live and so on. She has also, throughout the course of her career, met such people as Mickey Rooney, Jane Fonda and Oprah Winfrey.

Isabella remarked that, when she was with Harper San Francisco, she focused on religion and spirituality based books, although she was also exposed to other kinds of books. It was after she left Harper Collins, to look after her newly-born son, that she set up her own publicist business so she could spend more time and look after him. She points out that being a publicist was something that could be done from home, with the requirements, when she started out, essentially being a phone and a computer. Isabella counts herself to be fortunate, as her extensive contacts, built up over the years have enabled her to create the necessary connections – such as producers and reporters – to get her clients the bookings they need. She also mentions that, as passion and creativity are important for the work, being a publicist is “a great place to be,” as “publicity,” according to her, is another way of saying “public relations” and maintaining relationships, as it is a way to let the outside world know about whatever it is that one is promoting.

Isabella reflected that, as a producer, one of the first questions she asks is: “Do you have your own, personal story?” This comes into play with her being a publicist, as knowing what goes on with an author also makes it interesting for her. Isabella also remarks that, with novelists in particular, what they write about springs from their own lives, which is where the interest in the author’s personal story can be important. Being a good publicist, she notes, is about being curious, having an interest in, always asking questions about, finding the unusual about, and what the motivation is, for people.

Wagging Tales is a column that Isabella posts on her Facebook page, mostly because she was already familiar with that social media platform; that said, she will try different platforms in the future. The name comes from her dog, Joey, and she came up with the column after feeling down during the present time of shelter-in-place during the Covid-19 pandemic. She then researched on any good news she could find, was amazed with what she discovered and then decided to highlight some of these positive, good deeds and create a column out of that. The column honors popular people as well as those who have made an impact but who aren’t well-known throughout the world, such as her son’s music teacher, Emily Gates, and Lesley Bradley, CEO of W. Bradley Electric (the company was named after Leslie's father, according to Isabella), which spearheads a “Random Acts of Kindness” committee. As of this writing, she hopes to feature such people as Fr. Brian Costello, the pastor of Our Lady of Loretto Church in Novato, who has refused to retire early, despite his being diagnosed with terminal cancer, as well as Captain Thomas Moore, who is a British veteran who did 100 laps for his 100th birthday to raise money to support efforts to fight the present pandemic.

Isabella has looked into how doing positive things can affect one, and she notes that doing good deeds and being grateful are good for one’s health, according to all the articles and references she has researched. She remarks that her column not only covers her community, but also that of the world at large. Isabella also loves the flexibility that her column affords her, as she can highlight various kinds of good works conducted by different kinds of people, such as nine-year-old girl Aria Luna, Lady Gaga and the Sean Bonnette's AJJ band, which does a nightly complementary free online show, and she also honors members of the medical profession with all the work they are presently doing in her column.

Isabella points out that businesses are now working out different ways to make a difference in their industry, and for those who want to help out during the present pandemic, she points out that there are a lot of different organizations that one can volunteer for. She also remarks that monetary and blood donations are helpful, as is picking up a phone to call up a senior citizen to check up on them. “Think about the talents you have and what you can share,” she advises to those who think about what they can do. Isabella also remarks that, during this present pandemic, social media platforms can play a great part with keeping people connected. That said, Isabella remarks that one should take care of oneself first before being able to help others.

See the Facebook column: Wagging Tales: Changing Lives One Tale at a Time by Isabella Michon

BUY on AMAZON: 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Christine Brown-Quinn on Unlocking Your Career Success


In this interview, Christine Brown-Quinn talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Unlock Your Career Success: Knowing the Unwritten Rules Changes Everything.



“Take ownership of your career.” ~Christine Brown-Quinn

Christine Brown-Quinn has spent thirty years in the corporate world and has become a Managing Director in International Finance, moving from the United States to London to pursue her career, as part of a wave of people who were recruited to London to strengthen the financial industry there. It was in 2010 when the bank she was working for launched a Women’s Network, which Christine had no idea what was about, as she was used, by then, to being “the only woman in the room.” When Christine asked why she was being asked to give a talk at that summit, she was told that she had a successful career as well as a family, and women would be interested to know how she did it. It was from this that she realized that the skills she did at work were ones which she transferred to her home, and vice versa, remarking that people actually become better parents and partners because of the skills they can pick up at work. Where things brought from personal life are concerned, Christine remarks that it is the values that are taught at home are the things which one brings to work, and gives an example of when her children called her out on her not doing something which she said she did.

It was during the talk, however, that Christine realized that her work was now to coach other women about how to have both a career and a family life, given the framework of both aspects of one’s life supporting each other. It was during the summer after that talk, which took place during the financial crisis of 2010, that she left the banking industry and set up her own career consultancy business, then turned that into her first book. Unlock Your Career Success is her second book, and the seed of this was planted when several of her clients mentioned that she needed to write it. “I woke up in March 2019, and the whole book was in my head,” Christine confesses, adding that what the book’s subject matter covered was essentially what she had been talking about for the past ten years.

Christine admitted that, when she left the university, her idea of career progression was all about “doing a great job;” that said, she remarked that that is only what starts off one’s career, and that it is up to the person themselves to ensure that their careers progress, as a company’s HR or a person’s manager is not responsible for that.

Christine offers the following question for women who have both family and career: “As a parent, how am I at my best?” She notes that everyone is individual, and that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work, so people need to think about the ways by which they will be happy, remarking that her being at home with the children all the time isn’t something that she could do well. Having a career was thus very necessary for Christine, as work stimulated her and fulfilled her being a mother.

Where work is concerned, Christine notes that the issue is that of having a mismatch in culture, noting that, when women enter the workplace, they want to feel good about the value they’re bringing as well as feel good about their organizations, working in a way that “feels more natural” to them. She notes that a lot of women look for leadership role models in the corporate world, leaders who are willing to collaborate and bring the best out in others, and that this is more of the issue than anything else. Christine also remarks that people want their work to be meaningful in that, if one has children, one desires more that the time spent away from family counts.

Christine’s most targeted audience is women in corporate environments, as she helps women navigate the issues and leadership styles in such an environment – something she has had a lot of experience with, given her corporate career. She gave the case study of one of her clients, Candida, who worked for a technology company who had worked very hard but whose career stalled out. Christine was able to coach Candida into getting the kind of position she liked, by focusing on a digital start-up department that she was interested in getting into and by using her network of contacts to send the head of the department some suggestions. These suggestions interested the department head and, thanks to Christine’s coaching, Candida asked open-ended questions which gave her more insight into concerns within the department that she could help out with. As a result, Candida is now in a position, in that department, that fulfills her.

Christine notes that the rules in the book are intended to establish career-enhancing mindset and behaviors which are needed to achieve career progression, within the context of what makes one happy. She notes that one has to plan one’s career and nourish one’s network are critical to helping one’s career progress; and the latter is particularly important when getting a broader understanding of the challenges facing the company, as one can then provide suggestions which can address said concerns. The unwritten rules, Christine also remarks, resonates more with women than with men, as the way women navigate the world is different from the way men do so. That said, men can also pick something up from knowing these rules as, while they know those rules, it articulates those rules and gives an awareness of the way women think, as the viewpoint the rules show is an alternative one which they can use to help others.

“The best way to sell is to understand the need of the client, and then address it,” Christine notes. She also remarks that, in today’s environment, the challenges of technology and the pace of change is very fast. That said, the chaos that exists in today’s environment also creates opportunities, Christine believes, and this gives people an opportunity to align the needs of the organization with one’s own values and the value that one can add to the organization. “That’s what job security looks like, now and in the future,” she concludes.

Purchase from Amazon: 
Unlock Your Career Success: Knowing the Unwritten Rules Changes Everything by Christine Brown-Quinn

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Judy Bebelaar on Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown

In this interview, Judy Bebelaar talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his/her book, And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown.



“Trust your own perceptions.” ~Judy Bebelaar

Judy has a Master’s in creative writing who wrote her first book of poetry while in third grade, and it was largely because of the support of her teacher at the time that she decided to become a teacher, herself. She has taught creative writing for decades and has published books with her students’ poetry in it, some of which have won awards. “Literature is not only the voices of others but their own voices and their own stories,” Judy says about her students’ writing. Her classes included her sharing her own writings whenever her students did so, remarking that “it was only fair.” She also commented that sharing her feelings and thoughts with others was somewhat scary, but it was through such sharing that her classrooms became a community. Judy also remarks that it is by sharing their stories that children realize that others have undergone something that they, likewise, had undergone. It was under her guidance that the students under her produced literary and art calendars which contained their writings, calendars which garnered national awards and attention.

Ron Cabral, who had, like Judy, taught teenagers of the Peoples Temple at San Francisco’s Opportunity II High School, remarked that it would would be good to write a book about the teenagers from the Peoples Temple that they knew after watching a play in 2008 where the name was spelled as “The People’s Temple,” as a way to memorialize them. And Then They Were Gone is thus a story about the students, and while Judy and Ron didn’t initially really know what went on inside the Temple in detail until they did research on for the book, when they spoke with survivors and other sources who filled them in. Judy points out that teachers rarely lose a lot of their students all at once, and writing the book also helped her and Ron come to terms with their grief.

“Don’t drink the Kool-aid” is a phrase which has reached common currency, and Judy points out that using it without knowing the horrific circumstances behind the phrase. Where the killing was concerned, Judy notes that the babies were killed first, which was something that Marceline Jones, the wife of Jim Jones, would very likely have objected to.

Jones was charismatic and appealed to the idealism of young people to pull them in and also had people who assist him in the process. He recruited people by showing the beauty of Guyana and the paradise that they would live in, but didn’t mention such details as the nearest grocery being a 27-hour trip, including a leg by boat, from their camp, or that nobody would be allowed to leave. Jonestown, in Guyana, was essentially a jungle prison camp where Jones ruled through fear and terror. The community’s members were mostly good people who wanted world peace, but the place itself was overcrowded, where the elderly were kept in bunk beds in a single dormitory, and where horrific punishments were meted out. He would hold meetings which would last until the early hours of the morning, and no matter what one’s age, nobody was allowed to sleep, no matter how sleepy or tired they were, and those who did so were punished. Jones would also conduct fake suicide rituals, where people would knowingly drink a supposedly poisoned drink and find, afterwards, that what they drank was actually harmless. People from within the Peoples Temple escaped and attempted to get word out of what was going on, in an attempt to avoid some future tragedy, particularly since people they loved were living there without their permission. This eventually led to a congressman and some members of the press actually visiting Guyana to see what was going on. Jones also loved taping his speeches, and Judy notes that, in the available recording made during the night of the mass suicide/murders, Jones stopped the recording 32 times, likely so that the sounds of people screaming and protesting and suffering wouldn’t be recorded.

When Judy and Ron researched their book, they reached out to people who had known people there, and Judy mentions Steven Jones, who was Jim Jones’ sole biological child and who was particularly helpful with their research. Judy relates that Steven remarked that he was more likely to carry a rifle than a baby on his lap while at Jonestown, and that the event and its aftermath weren’t easy for the survivors. She also notes that people undertook acts of kindness, such as not even saying that one was homesick (which could be told to Jones by someone who wanted to get on his good side), or of a boy who grew food outside the compound which he traded with the local people (he got punished when he got found out), which Jones would have considered treason. Judy also mentioned that, despite Jones’ strict rules and consequent punishments against such, some Temple children, who weren’t allowed to ride such conveyances as motorcycles, eagerly did so when invited, and that non-Temple teenagers got involved romantically with Temple teenagers.

In the book, Judy included works from the Temple teenagers she and Ron taught, to give a sense of what kind of children the Temple teenagers were. She remarks that people are now wanting to know more about such things that happened in the 1970s, such as the war in Vietnam, and which was the decade when the Jonestown murder/suicides took place. To those who might be involved with organizations like the Peoples Temple, Judy refers to what Steven Jones refers to as the power of peer pressure where, if one sees that everyone is doing the same thing, even if it feels wrong, then they must be doing something right.

At the end of the interview, Judy repeated passages from the book’s foreword which, for her, gives the rationale for remembering such horrific events.

Purchase from Amazon: And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown by Judy Bebelaar and Ron Cabral

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Ellery Akers on Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance.in Poetry

In this interview, Ellery Akers talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his/her book, Swerve: Poems on Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance.



“If you love Nature, it’s really important to try to protect it.” ~Ellery Akers

Ellery was exposed to poetry early, as her mother would do so while working around the house, which made poetry a normal part of her life. She loves being in nature, and Nature has been her inspiration for all of her artistic endeavors. That said, she doesn’t hesitate about writing about such serious matters as child abuse, believing that Nature is the greatest healer; as she quotes, “Earth has no sorrow that Earth cannot heal.” She thus doesn’t shy from topics that people might not want to talk about, saying that Swerve is also about climate change, as she believes that talking about such things is the only way for people to make a difference.

Ellery spent twenty years camping while the weather was good, and it was while she was doing so that she wrote out her books and felt a sense of connection with Nature as a whole. She remarks that Nature is the original teacher of meditation, and remarks that studies have proven that those who are in touch with nature experience less stress. Ellery also remarks that getting in touch with nature also helps with such conditions as diabetes and ADHD, and that doctors are now issuing prescriptions for people to spend time in nature, adding that, in Japan, “forest bathing” is a system of medicine where those who participate in it have better immune systems.

Ellery chose “Swerve” as the title of her book in recognition of our presently being in a “swerve” part of our history, albeit one which is catastrophic. (NB: This interview was conducted at the height of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.) She notes that there have been positive swerves in the past, such as the downfall of the Berlin wall, the deconstruction of apartheid. Ellery counts as one of her heroes the conservationist, Rachel Carson, whose work helped establish the importance of natural ecology.

Ellery admits she’s and “environmentalist, a feminist and an activist,” and she wrote about these themes as a way to recover feminine values, which recognize interdependence and cooperation, rather than the masculine values of competition and win-lose. She notes that such outstanding women as Wangari Malaathai (who created a movement which planted 51 million trees in Kenya) and Barbara McClintock (a scientist who discovered the secret of the corn genes, which all worked together rather than being controlled by a “top gene,” which was the masculine-oriented context of the day) are mentioned in her book, women who have made a positive difference in the world. She also remarks that, at the end of the day, action is what makes a difference. Her outlook on the need for a feminine outlook to be included in the mainstream came from her admiration from women who have made a difference, and this comes to bear on the present urgency to turn around the negative trend of climate change.

Ellery presented two of her poems, and she then remarked that poetry isn’t particularly mainstream. That said, she remarks that “poetry is the soul of the culture,” as it’s short and cuts to the core. She remarks that her process for poetry is the same as when she is creating a painting. When her subject is a tree, for example, she desires to know what it is like to be a tree “from the inside,” which means that she will spend hours with the tree, trying to connect with it. Doing so, Ellery admits, requires humility, as she wants to learn from the subject how to write about it or how to paint it. Such a process does take time, she admits, but it is worth it, as she wants to be a “voice for Nature.”

“I think that poetry can inspire people,” Ellery remarks, adding that poetry can inspire people to create change. She notes that people can feel overwhelmed about what to do to change the way things are going, and follows up with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” To those who want to make a difference, Ellery remarks that sending an e-mail or postcard to their representative, saying that they care about climate change and reforestation, to make a difference. “This is a dark time for the Earth,” Ellery notes, “but we have come through dark times before and come out victorious,” after which she gave the example of Rachel Carson, who worked against the large, polluting corporations of the day.

Ellery’s vision of the world is that of reforesting the world to buy humanity time to reverse climate change, as well as transforming cities to use sustainable energy. She would also like feminine values to become more front-and-center, and while she believes that such a future is possible, we should move now to achieve this. “We are not powerless,” she points out, adding that there is hope and that only 3.5% of the population is needed to effect a reversal of climate change.

Purchase from Amazon: Swerve: Poems on Environmentalism, Feminism, and Resistance by Ellery Akers

Friday, March 27, 2020

Wanda Swenson on Everyday Self-Care and the Art of Pain Relief

In this interview, Wanda Swenson talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, The How of Ow: Everyday Self Care and the Art of Pain Relief.




“Just take a deep breath.” ~Wanda Swenson

Wanda took up physical therapy in part to know about her own injuries, as she had some knee injuries from practicing judo for years as well as a back injury prior to even starting judo, as well as to know about how the body heals. Wanda eventually wound up in orthopedic therapy, after initially considering pediatrics, which became “a good occupation” for her to follow. That said, Wanda became a therapist at a time when pain science was being applied to how physical therapy was done. (Wanda points out that physical therapy was born out of the 1920s polio epidemic, as a way to help those who were afflicted with polio recover.) Wanda remarks that orthopedic physical therapy focuses on pain in the joints, while pain treatment is more about the nervous system and how thoughts and emotions affect the pain itself.

Pain, according to Wanda, is an unpleasant sensation which has an emotional experience and component associated with the actual tissue damage. Avoiding it is natural, but chronic pain is not about injured tissue but more about the fear of pain and anxiety associated with uncertainty. She notes it is important to respond to pain, rather than ignore it, and that it is also important for people to know what to do when pain hits. Wanda’s own injuries inspired her to investigate what to do when pain hits, and this enabled her to help out those who had chronic pain from injuries similar to her own.

Where injuries are concerned, Wanda remarks that some sort of weakness is always involved. According to Wanda, one of the misconceptions about pain is that a pill will make the pain go away; and this is false, in that all the pill does is make one not care about the pain as much. Another is that somebody other than oneself can fix one’s pain, as it is up to one to do what needs to be done - such as strengthen and move one’s muscles and body to ensure the proper coordination amongst all of these - to manage or eliminate the pain.

Emotions can make a pain feel worse or better, Wanda remarks. In the past, people believed that there was a “pain center” somewhere in the brain, but research has shown that there is no such thing. As pain is a subjective experience, Wanda notes that using pain scales for patients to describe pain might be important, but also using a scale which “catastrophizes” pain. The questions related to this scale are related along the lines of, “How often do you think about this pain?” and “How much has this pain changed your life?” This scale indicates how prone one is to chronic pain, with those who give higher rankings being the ones to most likely experience chronic pain. That said, having an emotional reaction is part of the process, but acknowledging and recognizing one’s thoughts and being present to these, as well as taking a few deep breaths, triggers a relaxation response, in contrast to the fight-or-flight response that pain automatically brings on. This can enable one to handle one’s perception of pain and enable one to do what needs to be done to recover.

The present opioid crisis in the United States was one of the inspirations for her writing her book. Wanda remarks that, up until the 1990s, pain was under-treated, and part of the impetus of that time was to make pain the fifth vital sign (in addition to heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and respiration rate) for physicians to take note of, even though, as she notes, “Pain will not kill you.” Oxycontin was given as a pill to relieve pain, as it was supposedly non-addictive, and from then it became socially okay to be on pain relief medication, which led to opiate-based drugs being increasingly used to manage pain. Opioids, however, make pain worse, as these affect one’s sleeping patterns and digestive system, in addition to one focusing more on one’s pain rather than on such other things as doing the things one loves.

Another inspiration for the book was the ageing population, as moving one’s body is just as useful and just as important in one’s old age. The book has a lot of exercises and advice on how to move one’s body and thus reduce pain. Prior to all her realizations that are the basis of her book, Wanda focused on the physical aspects of physical therapy, but over time, as the demands on physical therapists increased, she found she couldn’t spend as much time with her patients as she used to, so her practice shifted towards educating a patient and empowering them with what they can do for themselves. This meant that she did less manual therapy and still got good results.

Wanda notes that the book came out of her own deepening understanding of pain. Wanda’s writing of the book was the result of years of “brewing,” and grew out of her desire to tell her patients more about how to help themselves. The first person she mentioned the idea of the book to was a patient who was a writer, and the latter told her that writing the book was a good idea. Wanda later mentioned the idea of the book to several others, all of whom agreed that writing it out would be a good thing to do. She began working on the book after retiring in 2013, and finally wrote it out after years of work. She admits to being “surprised” by people who she hadn’t seen at all but who have read the book, people who have gotten something out of it to relieve the pain they feel.

One of the exercises that Wanda swears by is Postural Isometric Lengthening, which is for any problem with the spine, shoulders, neck and back and which can be done in any position. The intention of the exercise is for one to get as tall as one can. The essence of the exercise is for one to pull one’s belly in and then keeping one’s shoulders one and back while taking deep breaths. This exercise works the coordination amongst various muscles and is helpful for everyday activities.

Wanda notes that, no matter what one’s age, one can always strengthen one’s body, as our bodies have an innate ability to heal.

Purchase from Amazon: 
The How of Ow: Everyday Self Care and the Art of Pain Relief by Wanda Swenson

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Kari O'Driscoll on How Truth (of Caretaking) Has a Different Shape

In this interview, Kari O'Driscoll talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Truth Has a Different Shape.



“It’s all about showing up for people in the way that they need me.” ~Kari O'Driscoll

Given Kari’s background in healthcare, it would seem, on the surface, that her looking after her mother in the latter’s old age would not be much of a challenge, but this isn’t the case. In her childhood, Kari had to essentially become the mother to her younger sibling as well as to her own mom. At the start of her caring for her mother, Kari felt angry and resentful about doing so, but as time went by, Kari went on a journey which enabled her to deal with her mother with love and compassion. Kari also notes that some parents, once they become the one looked after, become resentful at the reversal of roles, even as the children wonder how to get their parents to do things.

For Kari, the definition of caretaking and being a caretaker evolved. Initially, caretaking for her was very much frantic and survival-based, having to do with everyday needs, such as food. Shedding that kind of fear-based caretaking became hard for her to do when she became a mother, and over time she realized that the most profound kind of caretaking is the one which comes from listening and accepting the person for who they are, so she can be with that person in that moment, compared to the previous paradigm of constantly trying to head off disaster.

Kari admits that the circumstances of her introduction to caretaking were “unique,” in that, in the space of three months, her family fell apart when she lost a brother, her parents got divorced, her father remarried and moved away and her mother fell into a deep depression and couldn’t function. Kari stepped up, at the age of eight, and became the primary caretaker for the entire family, influenced by the fear that, if things didn’t appear normal to everyone else, everyone would get taken away. “These expectations were internal,” Kari admits, and there was additional stress in that, as a child, she couldn’t let any adult know what was going on. She attempted to be the mother she thought mothers should be, as well as resented her mother for not being the mother she should have been. When Kari became a mother herself, she fell into the kind of rigid expectation of what a mother should be, one who provided three hot meals a day and stayed home with the children so they could be constantly stimulated and involved with various activities so they would develop properly.

Kari reflects that the expectations of mothers in today’s society are not reflected in the expectations of fathers today, and a lot of expectations laid on mothers aren’t sustainable - “a recipe for disaster,” she adds. Kari notes that she was initially “certain” she wasn’t going to have kids, and when she finally had her first child, she figured she had already “walled off” her experiences from childhood. This wasn’t true, and this insecurity manifested itself in the phrase she constantly heard in her head: “What makes you think you can do this?” It was a voice that she constantly ran away from until she “broke,” at a time when she felt exhausted and realizing she could no longer fight things, after which she went into depression to the point of feeling suicidal. This realization made her seek help and, eventually, therapy for her concern, particularly as she didn’t want her children to experience what she, herself, experienced when her mother went into depression. Seeking help took a lot of courage from her, as she didn’t want her children taken away from her in a repeat of when her brother was taken away from her while she was a child.

Kari’s present way of caretaking, she reflects, creates a relationship between the caretaker and the one being taken care of while enabling the latter to have a voice in what is going on. Doing so, she notes, enabled her mother to deal with the latter’s own grief about her loss of independence, which is reflective of a relationship. Kari also notes that, in the old paradigm of caretaking, those being taken care of aren’t given credit for what they actually might need, and in particular, where children are concerned, the latter don’t get the space they need to explore and learn and grow. Kari’s present style of caretaking is all about creating, with her daughters, for example, a foundation of a relationship where they know that she is there for them whenever they need her. She also notes that her guest room is open for kids who need a place to be, and that she also volunteers for community service and is on the board of an organization that provides employment for adults with mental illness, which are expressions of her present paradigm of caretaking.

Kari O’Driscoll, as a person when living in the old paradigm of caretaking, was a compulsive perfectionist, a Type-A personality whom others viewed as being “hyper-competent.” She ground her teeth and didn’t sleep a lot and made sure that the house was always clean and that every last detail was looked after. “Ninety percent of my decisions were made out of fear,” she points out.

Kari O’Driscoll now is someone who is more grounded, calmer and more likely to take a break. She’s now more likely to say that she doesn’t know the answer and is willing to help someone find the answers to their questions. She only takes on roles where she feels called to do and doesn’t really care about what other people think, knows that she doesn’t have to know, all the time, that things are going right, and trusts more that the Universe is holding her.

Where her book is concerned, Kari remarks that her story is unique and different. Also, she notes that a lot of kids in the 1970s were “latchkey kids,” who essentially raised themselves while their parents were out, and that kind of environment, when growing up, creates a lot of “baggage,” which is something that a lot of people, particularly those who were former latchkey kids, could relate to. In addition, her concern of raising children at the same time as looking after an elderly parent is something baby boomers is likely to be something the latter are presently undergoing, and as navigating this situation is tricky, Kari hopes that her memoir might have some information or perspective that might be able to help them.

To those who are overwhelmed with looking after someone, Kari recommends creating their “to do” list of all their activities that they should be doing, and then seeing what activities they can either outsource or eliminate. “We make assumptions that all of these needs to be done,” Kari notes, adding that eliminating some things enables people to have room to breathe and have time for themselves.

Truth Has a Different Shape from CavanKerry Press


Purchase from Amazon: 
Truth Has a Different Shape by Kari O'Driscoll


Links to Kari O'Driscoll's Previous AuthorStory Interview:

Kari O'Driscoll: Developing Self-Awareness and Critical Thinking in Adolescents (YouTube)

One Teenager at a Time: Developing Self-Awareness and Critical Thinking in Adolescents (AuthorStory Blog)

One Teenager at a Time: Developing Self-Awareness and Critical Thinking in Adolescents (AuthorStory Videos Blo)