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Our guest today is Virginia Barlow, author of the paranormal romance, The Witch of Rathborne Castle.

“I love being an author,” she says. “It’s all about where your characters lead you. I start with a general idea. As the story unfolds, I type as fast as I can in hopes I keep up with my characters. They have had me jotting on napkins, making notes while I’m waiting in a line, and waking me up in the middle of the night. The hard part is always the ending. My characters live with me and when I reach the end of the story, it is hard to say goodbye. Sometimes, I let the story sit for a few days to make sure I’m okay with them leaving home to get published. Kind of like when you kids move out. LOL

“I enjoy my grandchildren, and the time I share with them. They make me smile with their antics. I like to quilt, crochet, knit and sew. Cooking and baking are occasional itches I scratch. The rest of the time, they are necessary evils. LOL.

“My greatest support comes from my husband. He has been my sounding board for all my stories. My daughters are also a great support to me. I couldn’t do it without my family.”

You can visit Virginia’s website at https://www.virginia-barlow.com or connect with her on TwitterGoodreads and Facebook.

Would you call yourself a born writer? Yes, I think so. I love language, composition, spelling, English and literature.

What was your inspiration for The Witch of Rathborne Castle? I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of clairvoyance and wanted to do a story about a girl with a voice in her head. One she didn’t always agree with and sometimes argued with. The Witch of Rathborne Castle was a fun story to write.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? It depends on the novel. A normal eighty-thousand-word book takes about two months in between being a mom and grandma.

What do you feel is one of the most exciting parts of your book? The most exciting part of a book is the end. That’s where all the questions are answered.

What other genres have you thought about writing? What genres would you personally never consider writing? I don’t do memoirs, young adult, horror, or historical. Yuck.

What do you love most about being an author? I love the part where your new book is delivered, you open the shipping box, and pull one out to hold it for the first time. It’s a feeling that will never grow old.

What’s next for you? I have a new mini book coming out this summer for the One Scoop or Two series of the Wild Rose Press. It’s called Key Lime Coconut Curse and is a paranormal romance.

Title: THE MAN WHO TRANSFORMED AFRICA: THE REBIRTH OF A CONTINENT
Author: Peter D. Cimini
Publisher: Halo Publishing International
Pages: 488
Genre: Fiction

BOOK BLURB:

The novel opens with Vatican intrigue between liberal and conservative cardinals, which leads to the unlikely selection of an Indonesian pope. Seizing the opportunity, the new pope uses his ex-cathedra (papal infallibility) to declare poverty to be an immoral human condition. The pope decides to lead by example, taking the provocative step of selling Vatican treasures to fund a long-term plan to build a strong middle-class society in Africa.

The novel follows the pope, an ex-president of the United States, and an African nationalist during the first two years of an estimated twelve-year project to build a strong African middle-class society.

After a year-and-a-half of steady progress, the ex-president and the African nationalist realize they have miscalculated the costs of irrigating the African tropical savannas, and the project stalls. A brilliant, young, autistic project employee, originally hired to oversee the use of Africa’s natural resources, solves the irrigation problem, allowing the plan to continue moving forward. The autistic project employee later comes to the rescue once again when he clears the name of the ex-president, who had been falsely accused of bribery.

The author believes the fictional narrative of this unique story will show the need to stabilize Africa’s social order, infrastructure, and land use, which would result in an economic rejuvenation of the continent, eventually turning Africa into an agricultural giant.

Giancarlo Barzinni was born in 1938, the only child of Leopoldo and Anna Barzinni. The Barzinni family lived in Piedmont, south of the mighty Alps in the northwestern region of Italy. Giancarlo’s parents were domestic workers for a wealthy family who owned a villa overlooking Lake Maggiore. His father tended the villa’s grounds and his mother worked as a house cleaner.

When Giancarlo learned to walk, he accompanied his mother to morning Mass. By five years of age, Giancarlo became deeply influenced by his mother’s devotion to her Catholic religion. When Giancarlo began his schooling, he also started playing European football and soon became the dominant player among his peers. People from the Piedmont region of Italy heard of a young talented footballer from Lake Maggiore, and many traveled to watch the ten-year-old soccer phenom. At fifteen years of age, Giancarlo became the youngest player invited to Italy’s national team tryouts. Coaches from the national team had been impressed with his exceptional football skills. During the final week of tryouts, Giancarlo seriously injured his hip in a collision with another player. The injured young player returned home without qualifying for a spot on the national team, with the assurance that he would receive an invitation to the national team’s 1965 trials.

Giancarlo, now twenty years of age, received his invitation to the Italian national football teams 1965 try-outs. The coaches once again were impressed with Giancarlo’s skills and noticed an improved maturity in his approach to game of football. During the third week of trials, Giancarlo was participating in a kick on goal drill against a defensive player, he cut sharply to his right to avoid a defensive team member, and suddenly fell to the ground in severe pain. The team medical trainer accompanied Giancarlo to the medical facility for an ankle x-ray. The x-ray showed a broken anklebone. That evening during a coaches’ meeting, it was decided to exclude Giancarlo from further competition with Italy’s national team. The coaches were unwilling to hold a spot on the team roster, for an injury prone player, no matter how skillful he was. Giancarlo was sent home and informed that he would not be considered in the future.

BUYING INFORMATION

is available at:

Author Peter Cimini was born in New York City, in the borough of the Bronx. He attended both a Catholic elementary and high school. Mr. Cimini holds bachelor and masters degrees from New York University. He was a teacher both in New York and Connecticut, and served students twenty years as a curriculum specialist, overseeing and writing curricula. He is also the author of The Secret Sin of Opi, on the topic of missing and exploited children. His favorite novel is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Author Cimini admires the works of writers Kristin Hannah and Nicolas Sparks. He lives in Connecticut.

The Man Who Transformed Africa is his latest novel.

Visit Peter’s blog at www.peterdcimini.wordpress.com or connect with him on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Sponsored By:

THIS IS HOW I SPELL GRIEF

Self-Help

Jeffrey Park Press

126 pp.

Erik Lewin shares how he turned the profound loss of his mother and father into life-changing growth, with intimacy, warmth and humor. He offers a no-nonsense, commonsense way to create your personal path to acceptance of your loss.
Lewin became an expert in his grief experience twice over, encouraging readers to find their own way, as no two lives or losses are the same. He eschews expert opinions and general analyses of grieving in favor of common sense, letting you know you are not alone in how you’re feeling. He shares how he turned his loss into an impetus to personal change. A former criminal defense lawyer, Lewin is now a full time writer and standup comedian.
This Is How I Spell Grief takes a counter-intuitive approach to self-help; there are no eight simple exercises to get over it. Instead, you gradually learn to address grief on your own terms, to make true and lasting peace with your loss.

PRAISE

“Generous, intimate and deeply personal, even funny at times. I believe this book will help readers work with their own grief.” – NOAH BRUCE, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director, Salinas Valley Medical Clinic

Outstanding work. Everything I felt about my father’s recent death and my best friend’s death 14 years ago was articulated in this writing. It truly is a wonderful tome on helping one to manage their grief after the death of a loved one.” – Philip Peredo

“This is the book that I wished I had many years ago when first confronting the passing of my father. The author expertly navigates all of the issues that one encounters when grieving. It’s a remarkable book in that even for those who think we have a handle on their grief, the author helps us understand new ways to engage with grief. It’s definitely not a self-help book, but I found it much more profound and valuable.” – AKF


CHAPTER 5

The World Goes on But You’re Still Grieving

5.1 PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND

One of the worst aspects of grief is it can feel like nobody knows what you’re talking about. This can make you feel emotionally alienated, and therefore reluctant to share your feelings with others.

Since losing my mom and dad, I’ve tried to share with family my feelings of alienation, but I suspect they’re convinced I’m something ofan alien; as if the emotional frequency I am tuned into is like dog ears—one they cannot hear at all.

Hey, I’m now alone in the universe. “Oh okay,” they reply, “want to get a hot dog?”

Or silence. They’ll just ignore the subject. It’s flabbergasting! Especially when it’s an anniversary of loss, and the person is aware of this, it hangs in the air real thick and gloomy; they treat it as no more important to discuss than the weather, something far in the distance, passing us by. The longer the absence of their acknowledgment of the loss, the gloomier and thicker the air becomes, until it’s suffocating to not say something. It’s up to me to bring it up! As if it wouldn’t exist otherwise! I’m sorry to have made them feel uncomfortable.

I understand that no one wants to talk about death. In the first place it’s depressing, and its finality is just plain hard for a human mind to comprehend. It’s baffling, overwhelming, heartbreaking, traumatizing, debilitating, anxiety-inducing, and this list goes on.

But the irony is laughable! Everybody on the planet dies, so presumably, many people have lost someone close already, and you would therefore think many could relate. The truth is somewhere in between; a lot of people still have not lost a parent, or child, or brother or spouse, someone integral to their life, and this often renders them incapable of meaningfully empathizing, or even sympathizing, with your experience. Likewise, certain people are simply incapable of dealing with the discomfort of the subject. In the end, there’s effectively not too much difference between the two, and so it just becomes too exhausting to examine the reasons why any particular individual doesn’t feel really “there for you.”

Nevertheless, as I grapple with the enormity of loss, I still do bristle at those who express scant empathy. I visited with a close relative, (whom I still love in spite of the following) shortly after my mom’s passing. I felt fragile and vulnerable, yet eager to commiserate with someone who knew my mother well. It felt like an opportunity to help with my healing process, and of course, listen to anything grief related my relative might have to share. When I arrived, to my shock, over the course of an entire day, he didn’t ask a single question, or say a single word regarding my mom’s passing.

We were outside his apartment later in the day already, and he looked at me with a certain intention. I figured this would finally be the opening salvo into the subject. He spoke.

 “Hey Erik, wanna smoke some weed?”

“No man, I’m good.”

“Drink?”

“Nope.”

“How about a little boxing?”

“Okay.” We plugged in the video game. My head swam with confusion. When is he going to say something? Then he suggested we go out for a burger. I thought I’d give him a head start.

“So how’re things with you?” I said.

“Pretty good, but tough sometimes, y’know.”

Okay, here comes the first mention of my mom’s passing.

“This place is a lot of fun on the weekend. . .”

OMG!!! At this point I paid little attention to whatever he talked about, none of which had anything at all to do with my mother. We hung out all day without so much as one solitary word on the matter. That my mom had just died. Not one question about it, not one question about how I was holding up. Nothing. We parted ways afterward, and as I drove off, the chance of any talk of it now gone, I was pissed.

I guess he was. . . unsure, uncomfortable, weirded out about how I’d react—

He maybe thought: So. . .  I guess I might as well say nothing. Yeah, ‘cuz if A, B & C options all mean saying something, and I’m not sure which one is right, then, uh, yeah, let’s go with D—say nothing. Can’t go wrong then. Besides, Erik’s here to get away, escape, have a little fun—what kind of dick would I be if I reminded him that his mom just died?

I promise you I haven’t forgotten that my mom has died! I also love when people say this sort of thing, like—I didn’t want to bring it up, I mean maybe you wouldn’t want to talk about it, and I’d be rude to put you on the spot like that, it’d be thoughtless and disrespectful of me to cause you pain like that.

Here’s a message to all humans who have said something like the above to someone in grief—THE PAIN IS NOT FROM YOU BRINGING IT UP. IT’S FROM THE FACT THAT MY LOVED ONE HAS DIED.

I say this emphatically, but with less anger and bitterness as my process of recovery deepens. In other words, it’s important to convert one’s frustration into an understanding that is cathartic. The message here is these feelings of dissatisfaction are perfectly acceptable and normal, though that doesn’t mean you have to hold them close to your heart. You can observe the reactions of people, as well as your own feelings, accept them and let go. 

There are friends who have gone so far as to have questioned what was wrong with me. Why am I not the same person? How I disappointed them. And from one point of view, who can blame them? They’re not the ones suddenly crying at a bar during a night out. It’s ME. That kind of behavior doesn’t scream fun to be with. I’d go out with friends and they’d be upbeat, living their normal lives, and I’d just kind of stare at them for long silences. After a while of that, I didn’t have to worry about turning down too many invites.

I didn’t mean to be dead weight. It’s just that whether or not your friend should switch to Dial soap to better moisturize their skin rash didn’t hold quite the same sway over my attention. All these mundane parts of life that everyone is so caught up with. How serious can I take any of it?

It’s even harder when some friends and family continue to wonder why I haven’t “moved on.” It’s been so many years already, how come you still seem so burdened? How come you’re still not back to “normal”? I’d love to send a message to people everywhere who have made any bereaved person feel this way: MY FAMILY IS STILL GONE. As in, not coming back to life. How could I not continue to be deeply impacted by this irreversible fact? I am doing the best I can.

These frustrations are commonly felt by those of us who have lost a loved one. I hope other sufferers have the good fortune to benefit from support that is healthy, responsive and supportive. It is also certainly possible to make new connections and to develop friendships that can be quite nurturing. Unfortunately, if you’re bereft of such help, a certain sense of estrangement can arise.  

There are mourners who may momentarily have an attitude of well one day you’ll understand, but I’m confident no one actually wishes grief on anyone. But the truth is, wished or not, everyone will be next in line at some point. The time will come when everyone will lose a loved one and be overwhelmed with grief.  I think it’s an instructive question to pose: What kind of support would you hope for?

Erik Lewin is the author of three books – This is How I Spell GriefAnimal Endurance, and Son of Influence – as well as numerous essays published in Ponder Review, GNU Journal, David Magazine, Real Vegas Magazine &Literate Ape. Erik is also a stand-up comedian who performs in clubs and venues around the country. He formerly practiced law as a criminal defense attorney in New York City and Los Angeles. He is at work on a new one-man show loosely based on This is How I Spell Grief.

Erik lives in Las Vegas with his wife and their furry pets.

Visit his website at www.eriklewincomedy.com or connect with him on Facebook and Goodreads.

Title: YOUR MID-CAREER GPS: FOUR STEPS TO FIGURING OUT WHAT’S NEXT
Author: John Neral
Publisher: LLH Publishing
Pages: 281
Genre: Job Hunting/Business Mentoring and Coaching

BOOK BLURB:

Are you considering a career change but doubt yourself or get easily overwhelmed by the entire process?

Are you a mid-career professional ready to level-up, but unsure of what steps to take?

What if there was an easy and supportive way to plan your next career destination?

Your Mid-Career GPS will guide you to create your own professional roadmap so you can find the job you love or love the job have. John Neral, Certified Professional Coach, will help you strategically position yourself in the marketplace while teaching you how to leverage your unique skills from a place of value and service for any organization.

Learn how to prepare, position, and promote yourself as you create a tactical and strategic plan by building Your Mid-Career GPS. Let this book be your guide to answer many of the current questions you have about creating your next advancement opportunity.

PRAISE

“This book is for those of you who feel like you know everything and nothing about what’s next, you can’t fathom writing yet another cover letter, and you wonder “why bother” when it comes to updating your résumé. If you are feeling alone on this journey, bring this book, and all of the insight and tools it contains, along with you. You will have John’s company along the path and you will be one step closer to finding your way!”–Natalie Siston, Best-selling author of Let Her Out: Reclaim Who You Have Always Been and Founder, Small Town Leadership

“John expertly guides readers through the trials, tribulations, and common pitfalls of mid-career professionals and managers. He also provides information on the effective career strategies and mindset needed to be successful. This book is a must read if you are looking for professional support and could use a career GPS! — Porschia Parker Griffin
Founder and CEO of Fly-High Coaching Millennial Coaching Institute

“LinkedIn is the most powerful tool to help you network, build professional relationships, learn, search for jobs, and much more. I always say if you are not on LinkedIn you might be left out. Your Mid-Career GPS provides valuable tips and guidance to help you navigate LinkedIn and start growing your network and create your next advancement opportunity.”— Rhonda L. SherLinkedIn Specialist, Author, Speaker

“I picked up this latest book after enjoying John Neral’s previous book, SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career. In Your Mid-Career GPS, John Neral provides clear, actionable steps to put his six strategies into play quickly and effectively. I really enjoyed his conversational writing style as well. As a mid-career professional, I love that my cohort is the focus of his attention and expertise. He demonstrates throughout the book that he knows the benefits mid-career professionals bring to an organization and his thoughtful observations and exercises will help anyone define their professional value and market not only their skills but themselves. Reading and employing the strategies in this book can position you to be a more valuable resource to your current employer or challenge you to spread your wings and find your next, great career opportunity. The underlying message is one of empowerment and encouragement and that’s a message everyone can benefit from.”Victoria A. Bourgeois

Your Mid-Career GPS 7

MEET THE AUTHOR

John Neral

John Neral, MA, CPC reawakens, energizes, galvanizes, and innovates the mind think of employees, corporations, associations, and systems. A celebrated executive/career and professional development coach and in-demand, mindset-shifting public speaker, John’s professional walk included a 25-year career in education and a longstanding corporate consultant for Fortune 500 giant, Casio America, Inc. He now leads John Neral Coaching, LLC, one of the most progressive, mindset-shifting professional and organizational coaching and public speaking firms in the U.S. He is the author of Your Mid-Career GPS – Four Steps to Figuring Out What’s Next and SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career and the host of “The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.”

As a Master Practitioner in the Energy Leadership Index, John’s experience has made him an impactful and valuable coach to his one-on-one and group coaching clients and organizations. With Energy Leadership™, John identifies where people perform at their optimal levels and when they are under stress. Combining the Energy Leadership™ principles, a client’s workplace strengths, and their “unique professional value,” John helps his clients create their career GPS so they can take action toward achieving their professional and personal goals.

A former church organ prodigy, John is an avid traveler–having sojourned to 5 of the 7 continents, a professional bowler and the winner of a Professional Bowlers’ Association Regional Title (2010), and a game-show fan, having appeared on previous episodes of GSN’s Chain Reaction and Make My Day. John is happily married and lives with his spouse and their rescue cat, Amy Farrah Meowler (named after the Big Bang Theory character), in the heart of Washington DC’s Dulles Technology Corridor, Tysons Corner, VA.

You can visit his website at https://johnneral.com or follow him at TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

Our guest today is J. Stewart Dixon, author of the irreverent self-help book, Spirituality for Badasses. Spirituality for Badasses and 21 Days blossomed out J. Stewart’s life as a spiritual seeker, finder and teacher. He teaches based on his direct experience, twenty-nine years of interaction with numerous nonduality-advaita-zen-unorthodox teachers, his ongoing education / certification in modern mindfulness and a degree in communications / engineering from Syracuse University.

He has been interviewed by Rick Archer on Buddha at the Gas Pump, was the meditation editor of the mind/body/spirit blog All Things Healing, was a board member of Sevenoaks Retreat Center (a nondenominational spiritual retreat center in Madison, VA) and is the owner/founder of a tech design -install firm called Charlottesville Audio Visual Services.

J. Stewart Dixon has been a very creative individual for most of his life. In addition to two self-published books, he has written and produced a rock musical, has two professionally produced and recorded CDs with his former band Alchemy and has dabbled in abstract art.

He lives in central Virginia with his family. When he’s not working or creating he can be found cavorting with the fish, bears, and bald eagles on the local rivers with a fly rod in his hand.

Visit his website at http://www.spiritualityforbadasses.com or connect with him on Facebook.

What made you decide to become a published author?

Spirituality for Badasses is my second book.  The first was written ten years ago.  I’ve had multiple false starts on a second book over the years.  I’d write a chapter or two and then resign it to the dust bin. Spirituality for Badasses came about after a frustrating attempt to make a more conventional version of my work fly. It didn’t fly. It flopped. So, in frustration, I said fuck it, and wrote the first few chapters of Spirituality for Badasses in one sitting. (Including the title)  I gave those chapters away for free and it immediately flew. 

Would you consider your latest book, Spirituality for Badasses, to be a one of a kind?  How so?

Well, maybe not one of a kind- but rare.  It’s a self-help adventure book where you – the reader- are actually in and a part of the book.  I speak to the reader both from the POV of book in hand and then as if the reader is with me on the adventure. 

Actually, I can make this can one-of-a-kind guarantee:  It’s the only self-help book ever written with a chapter about getting mindfully drunk off of tequila in a biker bar.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

My office computer in the basement.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

I’m self-published and wouldn’t have it any other way. More control. More creativity. More profits. Screw the big 5 major publishers – they only publish people who are already famous with reality TV shows and who are related to the Kardashians. Yuck.

What inspires you?

Underdog creatives hitting it big.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

It appeals to tons of people who would never have bought or read a conventional self-help book.

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book.  What’s the first ingredient?

The cover and title

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

Lenny, the iguana in the book, is in reality my muse and a metaphor for being aware and happy.  I don’t actually own an iguana.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

A ton. My book wouldn’t fly without reference to my own experiences.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

Fly-fishing. 

What’s next for you?

I’m writing the workbook version.


Based on a true story!


Frazier, the Very Special Cat is a sweet, heart-warming story for young children! It teaches love for animals, counting, the senses, and encourages discussion and problem-solving.

Frazier is a stray blond tabby not doing very well on his own, but things get worse when he gets hurt. Fortunately, the author is able to trap him and bring him to the vet. Now, all he needs is a permanent happy home…but who will want to take a chance on a one-eyed cat? Not to despair, for a fully happy ending awaits this sweet kitty!

Frazier, the Very Special Cat is Book 3 in the Stray Cat Stories series, and it is the perfect tale to read at bedtime or discuss with an adult in a home or school environment. The rhythm and repetition make it a fun read-aloud picture book. A charming addition to any child’s cat bookshelf!

The book is available in Kindle, paperback and hardcover. Find out more and get your copy on Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Faye Rapoport DesPres is the author of the memoir-in-essays Message From a Blue Jay (Buddhapuss Ink, 2014) and the Stray Cat Stories Children’s Books Series (Writer’s Coffee Bar Press). She earned her MFA at the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College and has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. A life-long advocate for animals, wildlife, and the environment, Faye donates a portion of the proceeds from her children’s books to non-profit animal rescue organizations. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Jean-Paul Des Pres, and their rescued cats.

Connect with Faye on the Web:

Websitewww.fayerapoportdespres.com 

Twitter: @FayeRapoDesPres

Instagram: FayeInBoston

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100058817963789 

Follow the author on Amazon and receive updates of her new books in this series. 

Title: SPIRITUALITY FOR BADASSES
Author: J. Stewart Dixon
Publisher: PIE Publishing
Pages: 268
Genre: Nonfiction / Self-Help / Humor

Stewart Dixon, award-winning, best-selling humor and self-help author of Spirituality for Badasses has a bone to pick with conventional therapy and pharmaceutical companies concerning our collective bounce back and healing from the stress, anxiety and depression of Covid-19.

Asserts Mr. Dixon in the introduction to his book: “So you see…I really do get it. I used to be depressed, anxious, too smart for my own good, opinionated and unhappy…a real loveless, badass-hole. But now I’m just a spiritual badass.   Spirituality removed the hole. I transformed. I changed. I grew up. I learned some hard lessons. And I did all this without ever losing my cool, integrity, smarts, libido, sense of humor or soul. And that’s just what this book is going to help you do. “

Kirkus Reviews – the prestigious book review media outlet wrote this about the book: “A motivational work blazes a spiritual path for those who consider themselves too cool for such things. A jokey yet earnest and useful guide to enlightenment for badass readers.”

On a whirl-wind virtual tour of radio station and podcast interviews J. Stewart Dixon has been offering his “calm island in the middle of the hurricane” solution to eager hosts such as celebrity chef Pete Evans from Perth, Australia and sportscaster i-Heart radio-DJ Ken Broo from Cincinnati, Ohio“It’s about noticing that part of you, which hasn’t changed your whole life. If you can notice and nurture this inner badass part, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its’ ability to heal, help and restore.”

Mr. Dixon knows first-hand about finding an inner badass, as he suffered from years of depression during his early adulthood. “I didn’t throw myself into spirituality to become a saint or a purist– I did it because I was hurting and in pain.  I did drugs and alcohol.  I tried therapy and Prozac. None of it worked.  I was dragged kicking and screaming into spirituality and mindfulness practices and what I found was that, lo’ and behold, this sh%# works.”

A common question Mr. Dixon receives is, of course – Why all the swear words and humor? “I love the title Spirituality for Badasses because it instantly disarms any preconceived notions about spirituality and renders it friendly, approachable and down-to-earth. I think many of us are burned out by absolute truths, cures and opinions right now. So– I’m simply offering an alternative non-pharmaceutical “cure” that worked for me.  As a bonus, I’ve thrown in some humor, and to keep it real, a few swear words.”

Mr. Dixon’s background as an engineer and business owner has also shaped his opinion about spirituality and mental health. “As an engineer most of my adult life, I’ve been hired to reduce complex systems into bite-sized, manageable portions.  In Spirituality for Badasses I do the same: Mental health and spirituality is, to say the least, complex. I spent decades sifting through and integrating it, and what I came up with – which I’m proud of and grateful for today- was a process that worked both for myself and the thousands of readers who are now finding their own inner badasses.”

PRAISE

“In his new book, Spirituality for Badasses, J.Stewart Dixon has written an irreverent, exuberant, free-wheeling, stream-of-consciousness saga that chronicles the spiritual journey in ways that are unique, humorous, challenging and a hell of a lot of fun.  Gone are the heavy-handed, esoteric pontifications so often included in books about “living like a spiritual warrior” and, instead, J.  focuses more on de-mystifying this eternal quest by successfully normalizing its ordinariness. So, buckle up and be prepared for a wild ride that’s readable, accessible and eminently  relatable. Two enthusiastic thumbs up! Highly recommended!”
-Chuck Hillig,  Licensed Psychotherapist, Spiritual Teacher& Author of Enlightenment for Beginners, The Way IT Is, Seeds for the Soul, Looking for God, and The Magic King 

“Spirituality for Badasses is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior for the rebels among us who are tired of sickly-sweet approaches to spirituality and have a sincere need to laugh out loud on the regular.  J. Stewart Dixon is a true original … He’s your irreverent, potty-mouthed best friend and big brother, but don’t let the humor fool you: the teachings offered here are profoundly liberating, important pointers to awakened awareness. Dixon teaches us all to en-LIGHTEN-UP with his special blend of hilarious, profound, crazy-ass wisdom.”
-Erin Reese, M.S., Spiritual Counselor & Teacher & Author of Truth Seeker: A Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Liberation & The Adventures of Bindi Girl: Diving Deep Into the Heart of India 
 
“Accessible. Compulsive. Irreverent. Fun. Practical- All the while lacking nothing in richness or depth.  Take an adventure with J – a spiritual guide that comes off more Han Solo than Obi Wan Kenobi on the surface – as you journey along with the R-rated spiritual everyman with a lizard draped over his shoulders on a path that winds inside and out, through valleys and up mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, as you make your way toward becoming more your badass true aware self.   This book is rich!”
-Zac Cannon, Pastor

Book Information

Release Date: January 21, 2021

Publisher:  PIE Publishing / Awakening Resource Center, LLC;

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0-9858579-9-8; 329 pages; $15.99; E-Book, $5.99

Book Website: www.spiritualityforbadasses.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B08SMP9982


I get it. I really do.
You’re a badass.Cool, hip, down-to-earth, together, sane, practical, tough, smart, confident, fringe, alternative, creative, funny, athletic. However, you want to quantify your badass-ness.You’ve been this way your whole life, or maybe it took a couple of decades for you to cultivate it, or maybe it just kicked in yesterday at 3:09 p.m. Who knows…and who cares, right?Because something is missing.It seems that being a badass just isn’t – enough.Is it?Let me make this easy for you. I’m also a badass……except that for most of my adult life I’ve been involved with spirituality. And maybe you can relate here – this badass has always had…um, a slight issue: He doesn’t really love spirituality, being spiritual or hanging out in spiritual circles.No thank you.This badass…well, eh…he loves beer.

Amazon →  www.amazon.com/dp/B08SMP9982

Spirituality for Badasses and 21 Days blossomed out J. Stewart’s life as a spiritual seeker, finder and teacher. He teaches based on his direct experience, twenty-nine years of interaction with numerous nonduality-advaita-zen-unorthodox teachers, his ongoing education / certification in modern mindfulness and a degree in communications / engineering from Syracuse University.

He has been interviewed by Rick Archer on Buddha at the Gas Pump, was the meditation editor of the mind/body/spirit blog All Things Healing, was a board member of Sevenoaks Retreat Center (a nondenominational spiritual retreat center in Madison, VA) and is the owner/founder of a tech design -install firm called Charlottesville Audio Visual Services.

J. Stewart Dixon has been a very creative individual for most of his life. In addition to two self-published books, he has written and produced a rock musical, has two professionally produced and recorded CDs with his former band Alchemy and has dabbled in abstract art.

He lives in central Virginia with his family. When he’s not working or creating he can be found cavorting with the fish, bears, and bald eagles on the local rivers with a fly rod in his hand.

Visit his website at http://www.spiritualityforbadasses.com or connect with him on Facebook.

Sponsored By:

The authors of The Bronze Scroll are excited to announce the publication of their first book in the Knights of the Lost Temple adventure-romance series. This groundbreaking novel, co-authored by Paul Donsbach and Alia Sina, tells the story of Sam Romero, an investigative attorney who has uncovered and solved hundreds of high-profile corporate crimes and scandals. But nothing has prepared Sam for the mysteries of his latest investigation—an ancient treasure map stolen by corporate thieves, an Israeli land-permitting official murdered, and a local reporter kidnapped and held hostage by a rogue executive, Roy Griffin III. Racing against the clock to rescue the beautiful reporter, Rebecca Schreiber, Sam has only hours to prove that he can solve the mysteries of an ancient bronze scroll and find the Temple treasures hidden during a time of war.

“We want to surprise our readers with stories of making the ‘impossible’ become real,” said co-author Mr.  Donsbach.  “The world is truly ours to remake with a vision of unity, diversity, and inclusion. Through our fictional characters, we will work to show that “ordinary” people can accomplish seemingly miraculous feats through friendship, inspiration, and love. In fact, history teaches that this is the only way that positive change happens. “

Remarked co-author Alia Sina on creating their book: “While on our own separate journeys, we found ourselves working on a story that flowed with ease given each of our strengths that complimented one another in the world of fiction. We each were working on our own novel and, at the suggestion of our moderator for our writers’ workshop, we began working with each other. What was intended to simply be an “experiment/project/let’s see what happens” turned into a commitment we both developed to the characters and their story. As a fan of supernatural suspense novels, and now as an author, it never ceases to amaze me how real the characters could become. Having written my first novel with Paul, I feel the characters waiting to continue their story.”

A New-Age Journey of Discovery: For their first novel in the Knights of the Lost Temple series, co-authors Paul and Alia chose the so-called Copper Scroll (which is actually made of bronze) as a central element in the characters’ story. One of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in a desert cave in the 1950s, this artifact is a treasure map listing tons of gold and silver hidden at vaguely described locations that scholars had given up on deciphering. As a supposedly “unsolvable” mystery, the Copper Scroll would serve a symbol of the discontents of modern life, in which the great, achievable dreams seem to have already been accomplished.

There was just one problem. The Copper Scroll wasn’t unsolvable after all. As Sam and his friends work to decipher this ancient treasure map, its mysteries unravel one by one. By searching for the listed treasure descriptions in the e-book version of the ancient historian Flavius Josephus’ writings, Sam and his friends discover that most of the treasure sites involve metaphors or legends important to the leaders of the Judean provisional government at the outbreak of the Great Revolt in 66 CE. They realize that this treasure map must have been made for a peace speech before the Bronze Gate to the Jerusalem Temple in May of that year, in which one of the leaders (probably the chief high priest) urged negotiations with the Romans to end the revolt.

The high priest’s speech would have begun with treasure site 1—seventeen talents (about 900 pounds) of gold and silver hidden in the Valley of Achor. This matches the seventeen talents of gold and silver that Josephus recorded as being stolen from the Temple by the Roman governor, triggering the revolt. As the high priest would explain to his audience, the Valley of Achor was a biblical location where a thief was executed for stealing gold and silver from the Temple. Having condemned the Roman governor in this manner at the beginning of his speech, the high priest would move on to the other metaphors in the treasure sites listed on the Copper Scroll, including the 900 talents (sites 3, 56 and 58) that Josephus identified as the annual taxes paid to Rome by Judea and the other Jewish client states, and the 300 talents of gold (site 47) that Josephus described as being allocated by King David for his son Solomon’s use in building and furnishing the inner sanctuary of the Temple.

A Sacred Relic of the Exodus from Egypt: As they decipher this ancient treasure map, Sam and his friends realize that the 300 talents of gold that site 47 says were hidden underground on the west side of the Pool of Siloam match another legend of hidden Temple treasures being recorded on a bronze scroll. They learn of a legendary account in the so-called Treatise of the Vessels of a bronze scroll being made during a time of crisis, as a permanent record of King Hezekiah, or one of the other listed leaders, hiding the Ark and the gold from Solomon’s Temple in an underground cistern near the Gihon Spring (the water source adjoining the Pool of Siloam), to be revealed at the time of the Messiah, son of David.

But, the characters wonder, is this what treasure site 60 means when it says that the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is the “deciphering scroll” explaining each of the hidden treasures? After all, its famously enigmatic epilogue (chapter 12) cryptically refers to the Exodus story (almond blossoms and locusts), the Tabernacle (a silver cord and a golden pitcher), a spring and a cistern, and “every hidden thing,” to be revealed at the time of judgment. Could this be a secret biblical code recording that the lost Ark and the gold from Solomon’s Temple were hidden in a underground cistern by the Pool of Siloam near the Gihon Spring?

A Time for Peace: As the adventurous Bronze Scroll novel moves toward its surprise ending, the characters decipher more of the Copper Scroll’s metaphorical treasure descriptions (including the cursed son of King David at site 48, the Samaritans’ version of the lost Ark legend at site 57, and the bronze sacrificial altar at site 59). Using mysterious spiritual powers that he has long resisted, and the protection of a secret knighthood that he discovers, Sam must learn the scroll’s remaining mysteries before Roy makes good on his threats. He must learn the explosive truth needed to save Rebecca and, in the process, uncover the true spiritual meaning of this ancient bronze scroll.

But what could that be? Is it Kohelet’s message about a “time for peace”? Or does an ancient scroll found soon after modern Israel’s independence tell us something about the time of judgment? As the Knights of the Lost Temple series begins with this first novel, Sam and his friends start an exciting journey of discovery in search of this hidden truth.

The authors of this new adventure-romance series invite you to join them on this voyage. Currently working on the second book in the series, the authors believe that the world’s diverse spiritual traditions hold answers for our troubled times. Paul, who identifies as “spiritual but not religious,” and Alia, a “new-age Muslim” from an Afghan American family (writing under her pen name), believe that greater understanding among the world’s different faiths and beliefs is essential to solving the world’s current problems. Recognizing that even the smallest miracles—like an ancient treasure map found in a desert cave—can make a big difference, the authors welcome you to share this journey together.

For More Information:

Publication date: August 11, 2021, 291 pages; an independent publication of Knights of the Lost Temple, LLC.

E-book:     $9.99; 978-1-7373978-0-9

Paperback:          $19.99; 978-1-7373978-1-6

Hardback: $29.99; 978-1-7373978-2-3

Book website: https://www.knightsofthelosttemple.com/

Rebecca’s blog (under pen name): https://veilsofdesire.com/

Amazon Selling Page: https://amzn.to/3BcelQr

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Knights-of-the-Lost-Temple-105963305136800

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/knightsofthelosttemple/


Note from author: One of our favorite excerpts comes from page 9. The protagonist, Sam Romero, has just explained the “unsolvable” Copper Scroll to the old man sitting next to him on the flight to Rome. He told the old stranger that the scroll is an ancient treasure map that has been written off as undecipherable.  Then Sam explains that he thinks he can solve it:

“Now, here’s what I think,” Sam said, leaning toward Solomon. “It’s a story. It always is.””What do you mean?” asked the old man. “It’s like you said in your poem,” Sam said, patting the old man’s shoulder. “Gold and silver aren’t really treasures. It’s in the eye of the beholder. A treasure is something you’d die for. An idea, a person, a moment. The scent of a lover,” he went on, noticing Elena walking back up the aisle toward the galley. “Gold and silver are like chasing the wind. Or whatever your poem said. Nice to have, but you can’t take them with you. I just have to figure out the story. This scroll – copper, bronze, or whatever – has a story to tell. I just need to know how to decipher it.

Amazon →  https://amzn.to/3BcelQr

Co-author Paul Donsbach is a Texas native and a lawyer. Raised in an era when those working for social progress were rooted in religious faith, he believes that many of today’s problems likewise require a renewed commitment to spiritual ideals.

Co-author Alia Sina was born and educated in the greater San Francisco Bay area. She was raised in a first-generation, close-knit Afghan American family. Some of her formative experiences  involved her interactions with people who embrace cultural diversity, as well as those who are hostile to families from a different background.

For More Information:

Book website: https://www.knightsofthelosttemple.com/

Rebecca’s blog (under pen name): https://veilsofdesire.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Knights-of-the-Lost-Temple-105963305136800

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/knightsofthelosttemple/

It’s hard work, even when you’re writing a children’s book.

Faye Rapoport DesPres earned her MFA from the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College and has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. Faye’s first book, Message From a Blue Jay, is a personal essay collection published by Buddhapuss Ink in 2014. A lifelong wildlife advocate and animal lover, Faye donates a portion of the proceeds from her children’s books, the Stray Cat Stories series, to non-profit animal rescue organizations. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband Jean-Paul Des Pres.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Frazier: The Very Special Cat. What was your inspiration for it?

A: Frazier is a real cat, as is (or was) the subject of each of my children’s books. I wanted to write his story because he is indeed a very special cat. I knew his story would both delight children and inspire compassion.

Q: When did your passion for children’s books begin? Did you have a favorite book when you were a child?

A: I began writing children’s books several years ago because I wanted to share the stories of some of the cats I’ve helped rescue. I thought the stories would both entertain children and teach them about animal rescue.

I remember reading the Beatrix Potter books when I was a child and feeling very inspired by them. I borrowed every Beatrix Potter book from our small, local library in upstate New York.

Q: Did you take any workshops or courses before you started writing?

A: I took several classes in poetry writing earlier in my life before earning my MFA in Creative Writing in 2010, focusing on creative nonfiction. I also studied and worked in journalism earlier in my career.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any difficulties along the way?

A: This is my third children’s book, so I was prepared for the process in a way I wasn’t with the first book in the series. My process was to draft the story itself and then create my own rudimentary layout, imagining the illustrations. My editor and I then went back and forth with the text a number of times. Then, the illustrator began her work based on the text and the preliminary layout plan. The entire process from beginning to publication took a little over a year. Working as part of a team (author, editor, illustrator, publisher) has its challenges when you all live in different states and are working on different projects at the same time — never mind the life challenges everyone was facing during the pandemic.

Q: What do you find most challenging about writing for children?

A: For me, understanding how the text has to flow with the illustrations was sometimes a challenge, along with letting go of some of my own preferences for the text in order to make everything work well together and for kids. Sometimes my preference for a more “poetic” text didn’t quite work, so edits had to be made.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I usually write early in the mornings. That makes it easier to complete my writing work before the pressures of teaching and the rest of my life starts taking over.

Q: Tell us about your publisher and how you found it.

A: My publisher for the picture books is Writer’s Coffee Bar Press. It is a small imprint owned by the former owner of Buddhapuss Ink, the independent press out of New Jersey that published Message From a Blue Jay. Buddhapuss Ink is sadly no longer in business, but owner and publishing pro MaryChris Bradley continues with the new imprint.

Q: What was it like working with an illustrator and how much control did you have over the artwork?

A: I have known my illustrator, Laurel McKinstry Petersen, since we were in high school. She is a really talented artist, and I love her work. I had almost no control over the artwork — Laurel and the publisher handled that side of things. I did have an opportunity to look at the illustrations and make comments or suggestions, and if something was really important to me I was able to say so.

Q: Do you think that becoming an author entails sacrifices?

A: Yes, absolutely. You have to sacrifice some time and freedom if you want to dedicate time to writing on a daily basis. Some people wouldn’t consider that a sacrifice if you love writing and you’re doing what you love. However, writing isn’t easy — at least not for me. It’s hard work, even when you’re writing a children’s book.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers? Do you know of any helpful resources you’d like to share?

A: I would advise them to learn as much about children’s books as possible — to read a lot of children’s books and talk to those who have written or published them. I know there are a lot of online resources, and some organizations can help writers.

Q:  What’s on the horizon for you?

A: I am working on a number of writing projects at the moment. I have to wait to see what comes together and works! I am also currently teaching online writing classes for children I might expand to writing workshops for adults, as I taught college writing for five years.

Connect with the author on the web:

Website: www.fayerapoportdespres.com

Twitter: @FayeRapoDesPres

Instagram: FayeInBoston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100058817963789

INTENTIONAL: HOW TO LIVE, LOVE, WORK AND PLAY MEANINGFULLY

Nonfiction

NewLine Books

218 pp.

Live your life the way you want to. Manage stress better. Be more resilient and enjoy meaningful relationships and better health. We all want that. Such life leads to better choices, better jobs, loving romantic partners, more rewarding careers and decisions that are fully aligned with our aims.

What stops us from getting all that is the complexity of our brain and the complicated way in which the external world comes together. The misalignment between the internal states we experience and the external circumstances we encounter often leads to confusion, a lack of clarity in our thinking and actions that are not consistent with our professed values.

Intentional is a gameplan. It helps us connect the pieces of our mind to the pieces of our life. It shows us how to map what we feel to what has caused those feelings. It helps us understand what affects us and what effects it has on us. It makes it possible for us to determine what we want, why we want it and what we need to do to get it.

When we know what to do, we know how to behave. When we know how to behave we know how to act. When we know how to act, we know how to live. Our actions, each day, become our lives. Drawn from the latest research from the fields of neuroscience, behavioral and social psychology and evolutionary anthropology, Intentional shows how to add meaning to our actions and lead a meaningful, happier, more fulfilling life on our terms.

Here is the first truth in a book of truths: you can’t be everything to everyone. At some point you need to make a choice of what truly matters to you and why. Fair warning: it’s an approach that will lose you a lot of ‘friends’.

There is little point in trying to define what ‘life’ is. Philosophers and, surprisingly, even some biologists, have never agreed on it.

Biology however tells us that life is: “defined as any system capable of performing functions such as eating, metabolizing, excreting, breathing, moving, growing, reproducing, and responding to external stimuli.”

The moment you think about this definition you know that there is little point in trying to adapt it to concepts such as “living a good life” or “a life well-lived”, yet it is by those that most of us intuitively try to measure and understand what it is we mean when we mention “life”.

As it happens I will give you a much better definition but before I do I will start with an obvious truth: we all struggle with the exact same thing that is, knowing how to behave.

In trying to live a life, good or bad, we all seek to find, discover or accept a set of rules that basically tell us how to behave in any given situation. When we accept social mores, religion, the law, tradition, culture, a code of conduct, a belief or an ideal what we basically engage in is a direct attempt to find our personal rule book that tells us exactly what to do when we need it.

I am a sucker for mindless action flicks that spike my adrenaline levels and shower me with eye-candy special effects. If you’ve never seen Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman, then I strongly recommend it, not least because in one of his over-the- top cinematic speeches delivered with that all-too-familiar authoritative deep, tonal voice Freeman’s character declares:

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being shat on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and a key to release it.”

He goes on to give the requited spiel about a fraternity of super- assassins that take it upon themselves to guide history by killing selected people “for the greater good” and he finishes it with the memorable line: “This is what has been missing from your life Wesley: Purpose.” I did say it’s over-the-top. At the same time the speech has a point. A life lived without a purpose is a life mostly wasted. And purpose is frequently defined by knowing what we should do and being actively engaged in doing it.

Whether we realize it or not, we all feel the need for this kind of guidance that gives us a deep sense of purpose. Because we are born physically helpless we have evolved to latch onto and work hard to understand our immediate environment and the people around us. This makes us, as we grow older, intensely pro-social. At the same time it provides us with a ready-made set of expectations, rules and guidelines to guide our behavior that arise from the collective behavior of those around us.

That behavior is the culture we experience and the traditions we abide by. The problem with this is that rather than defining for ourselves what is important to us we accept that which is given to us. That which is given to us is rarely what we want, but it can very easily become what we settle for.

Settling is an evolutionary-programmed trait. Let me explain: Life is hard. It really is. Even if we happen to have the extraordinary luck to be born into a very rich family whose legacy gives us everything we need to live comfortably for the rest of our life, maintaining that fortune and navigating through life is going to be fraught with risks, traps and constant upheavals.

We need other people. Other people need us. That is a truth. But the reasons for this mutual need are usually contradictory or, at the very least, sufficiently at odds with each other to make trust an issue and turn cooperation into a risk-assessment exercise.

All of this takes inner resources. It takes attention, thinking, planning, mental and psychological effort, perhaps some introspection. It frequently is emotionally painful and psychologically costly. We are programmed to avoid it because it adds to the intrinsic difficulty that is life.

If you want the definition of life here it is: It is a game plan that emerges from the collective activities for survival of everyone around you. That is, everyone. It is difficult because it is unpredictable. It is unpredictable because no one knows the rules. In an emergent game plan things change spontaneously according to the same principle that guides us to settle for what we are given: conservation of energy. When ‘witches’ threaten our communal beliefs, the stability of our governing institutions and the perceived natural order of the Cosmos it is required of us to hunt them down and publicly burn them.

The act, however, barbaric, painful and seemingly inhuman restores the perceived natural order of things, reinforces the power of our institutions to safeguard our way of life and impresses upon us the value and desirability of accepting what we are given. Life goes on much easier then.

When the public burning of witches however marks our way of life as brutal, our religious leaders as misguided, fanatical zealots whose actions endanger us all and our institutions as unbending, power- hungry instruments of control, we become more enlightened. More accepting. Our society becomes tolerant. Our horizons broader. Life goes on much easier then.

“Easier” is what we have been programmed to seek because it increases the chances of our survival. What made sense in pre-historic times when the outside world could easily kill us has, in our days, evolved into a complex dance of what we believe and what we reject, what we accept and what we actively seek. We have created a world that pretty much guarantees our survival. Yet, for most of us that is no longer enough.

We lack the deeper sense of purpose that makes us feel truly alive. We have the key to releasing the “lion” inside each of us but choose not to use it. This makes our life a complex weave of small advances and retreats. Victories and losses that are designed to keep us in place until we no longer care and it no longer matters.

I say “designed” when I describe the constant churn of victories and losses that are life, but that is a mislabel. Life is a system. Like any system it seeks stability in order to function. Stability demands conformity. Almost like a biological organism, the system that we call “life” rewards innovation and change (i.e. mutations) sufficiently to progress but makes it hard enough for them to become established so that it is never severely disrupted.

It is no accident that in our lifetime we shall each experience only one great innovation or upheaval. More than that and it may truly be the end of the line for the experiment called “Human life on Earth”.

This need to live by choosing “the path of least resistance” because it allows us to use the least amount of energy to coast through life leads to some pretty convoluted mental acrobatics. We are, for instance, perfectly at ease with a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde transformation where we present a different face (and maybe, even values) to those we work with and a completely different set of behaviors to those at home or our friends at the pub.

We can use ‘morality’ to ostracize and dehumanize fellow human beings who are different from us, because their existence creates perturbations in the social system we directly experience that require greater energy in order to deal with and may, even, challenge our own sense of right and wrong with our own life choices.

The ease with which we can turn on anyone not of our own religion, social caste, skin colour, ethnicity, neighbourhood or area is testament to this. History supplies a long list of such instances that range from the destruction of Carthage in pre-history to the genocides that took place in Rwanda and Bosnia in the closing years of the last century.

In each case the ingredients are the same incendiary mix of social stress, political polarization and a dehumanization of the ‘other’ that is different, strange, outside our own group and therefore the enemy who deserves to be eradicated.

The irony that this is the same game only with different players escapes its participants who had they been capable of such awareness would have behaved differently anyway. The irony is rich here because in order for this game of life called “division” and “ostracism” to work its players must be capable of exhibiting the same behavior when confronted with the same set of circumstances. The oppressed turn oppressors just as easily as the victims can turn into aggressors. Given similar circumstances and capabilities we are usually pretty good at coming up with justification of our behavior and if you need a living, breathing example of such role reversal look at the atrocities, injustice and demonization of the ‘other’ carried out by none others than the Israelis upon the Palestinians.

A case of role-reversal, where those who history has frequently ascribed the role of victims turn into aggressors and perpetrate on their neighbors the same type of persecution they have, historically, experienced themselves.

Now that we’ve established, on these broad lines, that life is a game whose rules are the same everywhere and we have seen, again broadly, how similar circumstances allows us to behave in similar ways and even make the exact same behavioral mistakes we, ourselves, have condemned it’s fair to ask “what now?” Is this it? Will this chapter be enough to raise questions without providing much of an answer¬? Is everything always grey and in doubt? Is the rest of the book more of the same which would make it no more than a superfluous addition to this chapter required to provide what publishers call “spine value”?

Well, not quite. What follows are the elements, the modalities, if you like, required to make this game of life work. What follows is the prescription you need to live your life the way you want to. This chapter, however, is far from over.

Because all this is serious I can afford to be flippant, though as you will see even my flippancy has a very serious intent. So, I will add here that the one ‘rule’ we all need to keep in mind is that favourite of William S. Burroughs’ from his Naked Lunch “Nothing is true; everything is permitted”. Burrough, of course, borrowed this from Vladimir Bartol, who used it in his novel Alamut. Bartol, himself borrowed it, and slightly changed it in the process, from the teachings of Hassan-i Sabbah who was the founder of the Order of the Assassins, historically known as the Nizari Assassins. The tale, writings and doctrine of the Order was incorporated in the storyline of the popular video game Assassin’s Creed which is where I first came across it and filed it away for future reference which brings us to here and now. You reading what I’ve written.

What do we, what can we learn from this? That life is circuitous but the circuit has polygonal junctures with cultural jumps and bends that require an open mind and a thirst for cultural learning in order for the metaphorical dots to connect? Or, that nothing is truly original, that everything is borrowed from somewhere else and made to fit the moment and its time?

Both, I’d argue. If you are truly living and if you truly feel alive you are aware of both context and history. Moment and time. Alamut was written as an implied rebuke to Mussolini’s fascism. Naked Lunch is a chronicle of the messiness of life and its often unplanned trajectory where the brain makes sense of basically senseless moments of existence. This book is about learning to behave in ways that help you get more out of your life.

Amazon →  https://amzn.to/3kqx0C6

Bookshop.org → https://bit.ly/3ktTAtC 

Barnes &Noble → https://bit.ly/2YUNDxT

Target → https://bit.ly/2Z3sNfx 

Powell’s → https://bit.ly/3mVkfiU 

David Amerland is a Chemical Engineer with an MSc. in quantum dynamics in laminar flow processes. He converted his knowledge of science and understanding of mathematics into a business writing career that’s helped him demystify, for his readers, the complexity of subjects such as search engine optimization (SEO), search marketing, social media, decision-making, communication and personal development. The diversity of the subjects is held together by the underlying fundamental of human behavior and the way this is expressed online and offline. Intentional: How to Live, Love, Work and Play Meaningfully is the latest addition to a thread that explores what to do in order to thrive. A lifelong martial arts practitioner, David Amerland is found punching and kicking sparring dummies and punch bags when he’s not behind his keyboard.

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