Monday, June 30, 2014

Consultations with the Internet Fairy


This morning I mentioned to my husband, what a wonderful thing it would be if internet fairies existed. I know various types of social media consultants and advisers are out there but this person would be more like a financial adviser. You would go to her once or twice a year, hopefully under the cover of trees, and learn more about tailored opportunities online for you, perhaps a nudge to change your passwords, check in on your privacy settings, see what policies have changed on sites you use, and either update or delete parts of your web presence no longer the way you want it. Perhaps such fairies exist but I've not heard of them.

Over the past few months, after my email account was broken into and then spoofed, I decided to become much more mindful of my activities online. I also began doing some monitoring of my accounts and putting up fire walls. I consider all this a digital spring cleaning. We all need to delete, add, change, revise, rethink and depending on your purposes, extend what we are involved in on the internet. Whereas millennials seem to think of these issues regularly, those of my generation for the most part do not.

I have what I call enthusiasms. Once swept up in one, it is a constant source of curiosity and inspiration. That is all well and good but sometimes I fall asleep at the wheel on the myriad other things going on. Writers need to multitask. There is so much that we should constantly be doing, in addition to writing that some of our ways of participating in group discussions, meetups, forums and membership sites online, fall by the wayside.The internet affords the opportunity to develop a different type of community. We may or may not meet in person but we can still cultivate online relationships, which for the most part, can flourish over the years.

When I speak about falling asleep at the wheel, I am referring to neglecting my numerous groups, discussion forums, Facebook posts, twitter tweets, websites, blogs and so on. With no such magical fairy person to give me the nudges needed to stay focused on all of these things and my writing, to say nothing of my art, I think I am going to set up a calendar for myself to schedule my participation in the places and spaces where I have committed. Bookmarks are helpful but only if you look at them regularly. Mine is like a laundry list, perhaps that is one of those things that needs to be weeded out through editing.



I'm getting better at the juggling act. I'm not sure if that schedule/calendar idea is actually for me. I enjoy being spontaneous and going with the flow. Still, I have decided to carve out bits of planned time, engage in my various projects and activities, online and off. This grew out of necessity, with three books in development simultaneously and invitations to blog on various tours and websites, there needs to be some sort of organization.

I am about to leave defunct groups. That is on my to-do list for today, as well as deleting some of my lengthy bookmarked websites. I have also started going back to my author website, sprucing it up, adding new pages and fresh information...ah but, where is the internet fairy when I need her? Spring cleaning? I guess late is better than never.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Heart of Mind



Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kathryn Davis on PRN in New York on the Heart of Mind Radio Show. I quickly learned that she is an engaging conversationalist, truly interested in the subjects she features on her show. She has been called "a seeker of truth and beauty through the exploration of life, love, energy and cosmic consciousness." She is known as a vibrational healer, artist and mystic, among other things such as being a Reiki healer and doula. The two of us have a lot in common and really hit it off, as you'll hear.

PRN stands for Progressive Radio Network and many of the shows, which are archived as podcasts on the internet, center around mind, body, spirit, healing and self-help. There is also support for inspirational topics, art and politics. PRN is known as the "thinking person's radio station" and it is noncommercial. I thought it was very cool to be featured on there.

As artists and authors, where we choose to share our work is important to the process of developing a meaningful career while seeking out a receptive audience. I suggest you bookmark the radio's webpage, if these sorts of topics of are interest, and I imagine that they are if you are visiting this blog. There are many fascinating authors, healers, artists and speakers featured every day that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

The interview aired live in New York City and was designed to raise awareness of my upcoming herbal workshop there. I also had the opportunity to share the themes of my nonfiction published books, as well as the soon-to-be released, "No Barren Life" novel.

In about 45 minutes, Kathyrn and I discussed the meaning, theory, practice and history of African American herbal healing. We chatted about the relevance of these practices to a cross-cultural audience, as well as my motivation for sharing these traditions in my books and workshops.

Click here to listen to the Heart of Mind Radio Interview.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Weeding

Lately my head has been very full--full to the brim to be more descriptive. There is the new book deal for my novel, "No Barren Life," which I shared about a few posts ago. That is exciting but with an abundance of excitement I tend to get over-stimulated. There is so much to do, from the editing and revisions to marketing and then planning a book launch.

Then there was the nonfiction book deal that I had to walk away from. With that, my mind goes back and forth. Mostly I know I did the right thing but then other opportunities have come over the horizon that lead to further questions. I had a second contract in hand last week but then that deal fizzled. Our ideas for the book and vision for it just didn't match up. Now, several new possibilities have presented themselves. Still, the future of "Mama Nature's Spiritual Guide to Weight Loss," remains uncertain.


Then too, I have a critique of my second novel, "Out of the Blue," coming up in July. In preparation for that I have edited and revised until I am blue in the face. Today I decided enough is enough. I'm going to leave that excerpt alone and let it speak for itself.


Oh, did I mention my life yet? Apart from the goings-on with my writing, there is the rest of my life, filled with its own ups,downs and dramas. Altogether, it's as though I've been on a crazy merry-go-round. This thing and that fills my mind's eye but only for a few moments just like being on an amusement park ride as a child.


Enter, the herbs. I have a wide variety of herbs at my disposal and the knowledge of how to use them. I have been taking calming and tension taming herbs, some of which are so strong they put you right to sleep. Then I wake up, and still have the same things left on my plate to sort out, only I can't deal with them. I'm too groggy.


Through all this, I have found something to offer escape and peace--gardening. For the first time in years, I have planted vegetables. Typically the squirrels wait just until they are ripe then take a big bite and leave the fruit or vegetable to die on the vine. For some inexplicable reason I'm optimist that won't happen this year. I haven't planted seeds either in years. I have a well-established perennial and bulb garden so I didn't see the need. With all the stuff swirling around in my head in the house, the garden outside was being overtaken by weeds and tall grass. I've spent several weeks outside digging and then double digging the soil with a fork to get rid of all the grass and weeds. Then I planted wildflower and sunflower seeds.

Just this morning I was outside, pulling out the baby weeds and tiny grasses. I am so inspired and awe-stricken that my seedlings have taken beautifully. Being close to the earth, through gardening works wonders in many ways. It completely occupies the busy mind because it is so engaging. Gardening, at least of the type I've been doing, burns excess energy and calories at the same time. Planting seeds gives you something to both nurture and to look forward to.

Okay--so I'm unplugging again. Time to do some more gardening!

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Almost Here



I blog and write about herbs a lot as an author. Writing about nature and its gifts is pleasurable, however, sharing about them in person is even more exciting. A while back I blogged about my invitation to go to New York to present a workshop on African American Herbalism at New York Open Center. Now, there is less than a month before the all day workshop and I want to invite you to come join me.

Together we will make several different teas, a luxurious whipped body butter, incense, a floor wash and a love draw sachet. During the hands-on workshop we will work in a communal atmosphere to encourage the herbs to yield their medicinal qualities.

I haven't been to the East Coast in ages and do not come often. This is a wonderful opportunity for those of you that live nearby or in the tri-state area, to learn in person what I have shared in my books, in an inspired creative environment. At this workshop you can ask questions, learn through doing, and have fun crafting with herbs.

The workshop is July 19th from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with a break for lunch in the afternoon. My books will also be available and I will be happy to sign them.

Hoping to see you in NY next month. If you would like to learn more or register click here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Celebrating Litha

It has been a long, exceedingly cold, long winter. If I never hear the words polar vortex it will be too soon. The spring in this area was nothing to write home about either. I haven't completely packed away my winter sweaters because they still come in handy from time to time. But alas, Litha has ushered in summer with the longest day of the year, our wonderful solstice yesterday.

Today, I celebrated Litha inspired by these:


Thinking I was an awesome athlete:



I set out in the morning, doing what I've done to celebrate the arrival of summer since my earliest memories...I returned to the water, and it was awesome! Meditative and quiet, I was left feeling connected to nature around me and to my innermost self. My soul felt contented and complete.

Summer comes on swiftly with heat and testy storms in the Midwest. With its warmth there also comes the opportunity to delight and to retreat in pure unadulterated joy and the sweet memories this season invokes.

Though it was yesterday, my spirit continues to celebrate and welcome the gifts of Litha!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Sharing Good News


I've been away from this blog for a little while because I've been busy working on "Out of the Blue" my second novel. I made a commitment to finish this book in a year by joining a workshop called Novel in a Year. In it, we are expected to write between 30 and 45 pages a month. Needless to say, with all the blogging I did for the A to Z challenge during April, I fell short of that goal.

I did have a breakthrough though around Mother's Day when I unplugged and took a retreat in Michigan, which I blogged about here.

So what news do I have, you may be wondering? Well, after a year of trying, finally I have found a publisher for my debut novel, "No Barren Life." I never thought I'd see this day, to tell you the truth. I am really happy about it.

I have heard some mixed reviews about this publisher. It is John Hunt Publishing, out of England. At first I was opposed to publishing with them. They are called a vanity/subsidy publisher on some websites. I decided to be open-minded and to read everything I could about them and their imprints. I eventually found that they do offer traditional contracts for some of their authors. I am so thrilled that I am one of those authors.

It goes to show that perseverance pays off. There were many times I felt like giving up entirely on this book and just investing my energy in the second book. At first I tried really hard to find an agent or publisher then after a while I just about gave up I only tried every now and then.

This book deal also demonstrates that you have to do your research and to read everything and I do mean everything you can about a publisher before you make a decision.

My imprint is for "No Barren Life" is one for YA novels and it is called Lodestone Books. This book should come out at the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015. I will keep you posted as things develop.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Healing Scene


Did my last installment from "No Barren Life", on the post called "Sharing No Barren Life" leave you wondering what happens next?

My bad.

Here is another little excerpt from the next chapter of my novel that I am trying to get published independently with the help of Pubslush.

Without further delay, here is the excerpt...enjoy it, and if you have it in your heart, contribute to this meaningful project today.


It is a short walk. First we passed by the turquoise Arafura and Timor Sea. We then headed inland, cutting through ghost gum trees and low growing ancient cycads. I took off my shoes to fit in and walked my tender feet through the underbrush.
“This is part of your dreaming. The ancestor beings residing here know and love you.  They’ve been watching and listening.” Nana tells me. 
I step into the billabong, letting the cool water caress my sore feet and aching calves.
            Betsy, one of the women in the group, strips off all of my clothing.  They provide a colorful contrast to the bluish-green water as they float.  Paula reaches for a large nautilus shell and pours water over my head, as the rest of the group chants softly to the sole accompaniment of the clap sticks.  For the first time in weeks I do not itch.  My skin radiates, soothed and cool.  Even if this is only temporary, it provides sweet relief.
Nana looks fierce and fearless. I wonder if she has dealt with this ailment in the past.  I imagine she has but can’t be sure. Before I can ponder for long, Paula pats me dry with a small cotton face cloth and collects my clothing from the water.  She then spreads what smells like a tea-tree and eucalyptus, lemony ointment over my body, and I do mean everywhere. I am too weak to be self-conscious. It burns.
The women are still singing what must be an age-old song to the ancestor and creator beings. Maybe they are conjuring my totem as well. They don’t miss a beat with those clap sticks.  The music from the sticks raises my energy, making my heartbeat quicken. We dance together; they in their dresses and I am greased up; naked for what seems like an eternity.
One of the women drops out of the action, lighting a bundle of herbs.  It is blown out and left to smolder.  She carries the fragrant bundle over to me. As the others sing and play the sticks at an increasing quick pace, she waves the smoldering herbal bundle over my entire body, lingering at each of my orifices.
Warm but not feverish I am energized by all of it.  But then things take a strange turn.  I am asked to insert a multi-leaved bush fruit into my vagina.  It reminds me of a tiny artichoke but as I insert it, it begins to unfold, probably from my body heat, reminding me of the thousand-leaved lotus Dhara spoke of in Sydney.
Nana had been making a potent brew.  She adds fermented kava kava to it; I recognize it because it is stored in a white sock that she squeezes into a bowl. I have seen the kava kava drinkers in the community.  They remind me of drug abusers, with their peeling, ashy skin and listless eyes. I don’t know what a trance-state feels like but it must be like this.  The women no longer look like themselves.  They shift back and forth between the beings everyone sees in day-to-day life, to lanky, luminous, hovering totemic beings that we usually only see in the bark paintings done in this area.  Under the influence of the brew I succumb to slumber.
Oblivious to what is going on around me I enter dream space.  While under the influence of Nana, the women and their bush medicine I have powerful dreams.  In them Nana tames my bear, rides her over to me, and we are reacquainted.  Immediately, I am filled with love and warmth.  How could I have forgotten her?  She was separated from me but her love was unmistakable.  I bath in her powerful, calm energy. I see what must have been my ancestors and they are brimming with love and concern too.  I have never seen them but I understand at my core who they are. 
I encounter Rainbow Snake.  Rainbow Snake has a special significance for many, including me. I had already been told of my affinity with Rainbow Snake. There was a parade of powerful spirits, orisha, ancestors and creator beings moving in harmony.
I felt a shift within.  The bush fruit unfolded further, filling me with its warming healing medicine.  It was also an anchor, rooting me to the earth and it served as a plug.  Mimi would not escape that way again. The unfolding sent a tingling sensation throughout my torso which spread down my legs.  On a gut level I understood, my temple was being restored.
Nana bent down over me and opens my mouth.   She blows a powerful breath into it. I feel my belly fill with her energy as she continues, filling me with healing breaths. Then each of the women sucks air from me as I exhale. I feel the upheaval you experience when about to vomit.  This time instead of vomiting the foul energy is expelled in a commanding breath I take with the aid of all the helpers at hand. Mimi, no worse for wear, is released; free to join its kind.
I hate to leave dream space, especially without knowing what she had done with the Mimi but that is what happened.  When I awaken the plug is gone and the smoldering herbal bundle was extinguished.  I was however, soaking wet with sweat. 

I no longer feel full or the foul presence of the misled spirit.  I am light, my heart soars and my soul is filled with gratitude. Rather than being filled with a mischievous spirit I am surrounded by loving guides. I know I am safe.