Juliana (Jill) Muehrcke is the award-winning author of many books and articles. Founder and editor of the international magazine Nonprofit World (snpo.org), she has studied at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and has a BA degree, specializing in English and psychology, from the University of Washington. Jill is listed in Who’s Who (MarquisWhoswho.com). In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and eating ethnic food. For many years, in several cities, including Seattle, Honolulu, and Madison, she has written restaurant reviews.
Her latest book is Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope.
You can visit her website at www.WakingUpHappyBook.com.
Listen to Jill on the Joy Cardin Show at http://wpr.org/search/ideas_program_search.cfm?StartYear=3&keyword=muehrcke&x=0&y=0.
1. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
My life has revolved around reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Editing is also a passion of mine. Some of my friends gave me the moniker “the goddess of editing” because I talked with such enthusiasm about how much I loved to edit. I’m the editor of the magazine NONPROFIT WORLD (www.snpo.org), which I founded 30 years ago, and that’s a labor of love. I’ve been a freelance writer and editor since about 1973. I’ve had dozens of books, articles, and monographs published over the years, mostly in the nonprofit and educational fields. My most recent book, WAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE is a complete departure for me, and it’s also by far the most personal thing I’ve ever written.
2. Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
WAKING UP HAPPY is a combination of memoirs and self-enhancement exercises. Readers tell me the combination is very powerful and has helped them change their lives when nothing else has worked for them. They say that, first, they’re inspired by the true stories of others who have prevailed. And, then, the exercises and to-do lists spur them in the right direction toward transformative change. I wrote the book because it’s exactly what I was looking for when I decided to change my own life for the better. WAKING UP HAPPY includes my own memoir, as well as the memoirs of my daughter, granddaughter, and over 30 others who have made dramatic changes in their lives. When one of the storytellers learns a lesson in their life, I’ve added activities readers can do to put that same lesson to use.
3. Did your book require a lot of research?
Some of the research was already done, since I’ve been collecting exercises, tips, and tactics for change for many years in order to create a fulfilling life for myself. When I started writing WAKING UP HAPPY, I began interviewing other people who, like me, had experimented with many methods of change. So then it was a matter of telling their stories – not only what they did to transform their lives but how they did it – and adding exercises that would help readers make similar changes in their own lives.
4. What was your goal when writing this book?
My aim was to help as many people as possible learn the keys to waking up happy every day. One of the suggestions in the book is to ask someone to be your Waking Up Happy Buddy. That person can be a friend or family member – or just someone you think would enjoy the process of self-discovery as much as you. If you don’t know the person well, that’s OK. You’ll soon become extremely close as you both do the exercises, then get together on a regular basis to discuss your results and insights. I think that’s the best way to use WAKING UP HAPPY and the best way to create life-enhancing change.
5. Who is your target audience?
Anyone who is ready to change their life for the better! While the memoirists who tell their stories in WAKING UP HAPPY are all recovering from addictions, harmful habits, and intolerable situations, you don’t have to be in despair to benefit from making life changes. Growth is constant and lifelong if you’re doing it right. We all have our gaps that need work. Even those who are successful high-achievers, who consider themselves winners, often need to alter their lives. They may be working so hard that they risk destroying their relationships and letting stress ruin their health. Stress is a killer, so it’s life-saving to replace overwork with calming, self-sustaining habits. So, when I say the audience for WAKING UP HAPPY is anyone who wants or needs to make changes in their lives, I guess I’m saying that there’s no one who isn’t part of the target audience!
6. What will the reader learn after reading your book?
WAKING UP HAPPY is an encyclopedia of ways to make changes – both small and large – in your life every day. In addition to the exercises that appear each time a memoirist learns a life lesson, every chapter ends with “Things to Do Today.” At the end of WAKING UP HAPPY are chapters called “What Works and What Doesn’t” and “365 Steps on Your Journey.” So, even after you finish reading the book, there’s a helpful exercise for every day of the next year to keep you on your path. The memoirs will have made it crystal-clear that revolutionary change is possible. The exercises will show you how to do it. There’s even an index so you can look up exercises on a particular part of your life you’d like to improve. Everything is at hand to make your spirit sing! And you will also learn this: You are not alone. Others have been where you are, and they have triumphed. You can, too, All the need do is take one small step today. Then take another one tomorrow. In time, these tiny steps will evolve into profound change.
7. Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I’m putting together a workshop which may end up being an all-day or all-weekend event. Participants can do the exercises in WAKING UP HAPPY and then spend time in reflection and discussion. I’m also urging book clubs to choose WAKING UP HAPPY as their selection of the month so that I can come to their book discussion (either in person or virtually). Again, we can do some of the exercises together at that time and explore our discoveries. I think doing the exercises, writing down your results, pondering them, and then sharing them with others is the core secret to creating meaningful, lasting change.
8. Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Yes. Please come visit us at www.WakingUpHappyBook.com. I would love to have you share your own stories, ideas, and insights there and connect with other readers who are on the same journey with you.
9 As an author, what is your greatest reward?
My greatest reward is hearing from readers that they’ve forged fulfilling, joyous lives as a result of reading what I’ve written. It makes everything worth it!
10. Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
I’m donating half the proceeds from WAKING UP HAPPY to the Recovery Foundation (www.recoveryfoundation.net) – a wonderful group that provides scholarships for people who want counseling but can’t afford it. So when you buy a copy of WAKING UP HAPPY, you won’t just be transforming your own life! You’ll also be transforming the life of someone else!