Category Archives: Blog

Inspiration for Harmony Shop Closes

Wampum Trading CompanyThe Wampum Trading Post in Sam Simeon, California closed late in April 2016. Wampum Trading was the original inspiration for the “Gifts from the Sea” shop in my novel, Life in HarmonyWampum Trading with its seashell souvenirs, incense, and Native American jewelry and artifacts became Ruth’s shop in Harmony in my novel (minus the Native American items).

Wampum Trading had been a long-time staple just south of Hearst Castle along Highway 1 between Monterey and San Luis Obispo. I spoke with Nancy, the owner, early in the week that the store closed. She informed me that the building that houses Wampum and Castle Warehouse was being torn down for a new development by the land owner.

Wampum Trading like Gifts from the Sea was an easily missed treat to those speeding along Highway 1 up and down the coast. It was a quaint little gem for those who appreciated it. I invite you to read some of the Yelp! reviews for the store and it’s neighboring store Castle Warehouse (while there are two different businesses both share the same roof so it was really hard to tell the difference). Many of the reviews are similar stories to what happen to Kate and Michael in Life in Harmony.

Sometimes we stumble into a new adventure along life’s highway when and where we least expect it. Wampum Trading Post was that store for me and so many others. Sadly as Joni Mitchell said, “Don’t it always seem to go, You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

 

Sending Spirituality into a Secular World

Sunset at Santa Rosa CreekThe divide between a believer and a non-believer has never been greater in our lifetime. Faith communities are places for us to feel safe and secure among people who share our beliefs. They shelter us away from a world that takes pleasure in challenging our beliefs. What we end up with is isolated communities that separate us from the world we are commissioned to reach out to.

So how does a non-believer full of skepticism and distrust find a way into a relationship with God when our walls of safety prevent them from finding a way in? Can there be a bridge between what is secular and what is Christian safe? In writing Life in Harmony, I hoped it would help non-believers find a way to a relationship with God. One Christian publisher told me Life in Harmony wasn’t Christian enough to be considered Christian Fiction. The book was also seen as too spiritual by traditional publishers. It was caught somewhere in the middle and that is exactly where I am glad the book is.

Christian Fiction’s audience is solely Christian and doesn’t bridge the gap between believer and non-believer. There are certain elements in Christian Fiction that are necessary to satisfy its audience. For a secular world, those elements can be perceived as being sanitized versions of reality.

Life in Harmony, while being filled with spirituality, avoids exclusionary tactics. The couple at the heart of the story demonstrates very little in the way of Christian aspects in much of the book. They are non-believers and non-Christians. They use mild profanity and God’s name is taken in vain in at least once in the book. In addition, sex plays a very important part in the book yet still within the confines of marriage.

These details were included because they are typical aspects of what occurs in our world. I wanted the book to be interesting to the most people possible. When editing the book, we looked for the balance to be as non-offensive to the widest number of people as possible. In making those decisions, wording for religious discussions in the book were specifically selected to be as non-threatening to denominational differences and non-believers as possible.

What I wanted the reader to focus on is the imperfection of the main characters. Kate and Michael are filled with lacking self-worth, skepticism, they frequently argue and show some very unflattering characteristics. I wanted the two of them to feel real and to do that they needed to sound real, talk about real things and do things that real people do. Things that Christian Publishers didn’t think matched what their audience was looking for.

I believe Life in Harmony encourages non-believers to a spiritual life. The book, I hope, demonstrates a God-filled story without hitting the reader over the head with religion. My goal with it is to send spirituality into a secular world and hopefully show a path to God in a non-judgment, non-threatening way.

If you have an avid reader in your life who hasn’t found a relationship with God in their life yet, I encourage you to share Life in Harmony with them.


LIH Cover 2015

Living in the smallest of towns with an array of hippies, farmers and artists, who are as different as they are close, can be taxing enough without the realization that some of Harmony’s residents may not be what they appear. When Michael and Kate uproot their lives in LA after a miscarriage and move to Harmony, CA (Population 18), they had no idea they’d be sharing their home with a spiritual apparition of a four-year-old girl named Ruby. “Life in Harmony” entertains the thought that the trials we face happen for a reason, and sometimes it takes supernatural intervention for us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Life in Harmony is available now from Pangloss Sea. Click one of the links below to purchase the book today!

Amazon Print Edition

Amazon Digital Edition

 


If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

What are You “In Search Of”

In search of...I’ve always been fascinated by life’s unidentified phenomenon…ghosts, Bigfoot, aliens, angels, you name it. As a kid, I loved the Leonard Nimoy TV series “In Search Of” that explored the world of the unknown weekly. The series with its strange topics and eerie music conjured up fears about the mysteries of this life.

They say there are just two motivations in this world – love and fear. When pressed for one, fear wins out. It was fear of growing up and becoming a phony that had Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye unnerved about life. He wanted nothing but to keep himself and all children held back from growing up in much of the book. He feared the unknowns of hollow adult life.

Too many people suffer from feeling insignificant in today’s media-hyped world. They fear their lives matter little to anyone. So they search. They are in search of that unknown in their life that will fill that hollow center. Often it gets filled with hollow happiness in insignificant pleasures and vices. After all, it’s easy to get caught up in those hollow things and feelings because they burn quickly, and gratification and satisfaction are instant.

The problem becomes that these vices become our center and the hollowness needs more and more to fill the void. So we continue in search of that hope and connection to something greater. What can easily be dismissed as an unknown phenomenon that can satisfy both the void and vice isn’t really all that mysterious. We have a connection greater than this world that can end the fears of hollowness and dissatisfaction.

In my book, Life in Harmony, Kate and Michael are aimlessly looking for answers to their problems. They are out of hope and feeling out of options. Neither of them had placed any value on the Creator in their lives and the result is unhappiness. It isn’t until a kindly old lady in a town of 18 and the ghost of 4-year-old girl connect them to their past, present and future (After all, God is timeless) and show them that life is more than just what they see. There is a bigger purpose to our lives if we focus on the right things.

If you are in search of unknown answers, I invite you to pick up Life in Harmony and hopefully you will find something you can use to find what you are looking for in your life. Click this link to buy the book!


 

LIH Cover 2015

Living in the smallest of towns with an array of hippies, farmers and artists, who are as different as they are close, can be taxing enough without the realization that some of Harmony’s residents may not be what they appear. When Michael and Kate uproot their lives in LA after a miscarriage and move to Harmony, CA (Population 18), they had no idea they’d be sharing their home with a spiritual apparition of a four-year-old girl named Ruby. “Life in Harmony” entertains the thought that the trials we face happen for a reason, and sometimes it takes supernatural intervention for us to understand ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Life in Harmony is available now from Pangloss Sea. Click one of the links below to purchase the book today!

Amazon Print Edition

Amazon Digital Edition

 


If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

Lessons from Dr. Seuss this Christmas

whovilleIs Christmas solely about the decorations and the term “Merry Christmas”? Haven’t those insisting there be a “War on Christmas” learned anything from Dr. Seuss? Whether it is the Grinch or Scrooge, you shouldn’t allow those who wish to hurt you do so. Why give them the power over what makes yours a merry Christmas or not?

In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Whos of Whoville didn’t need the Christmas tree, stockings, presents, food or decorations to celebrate Christmas. In their song “Welcome Christmas,” they sing “Christmas Day will always be. Just as long as we have we.” In the midst of having their entire holiday celebration stolen from them, they still woke up and celebrated with warmth in their hearts. What the Grinch hoped to rob from them, he couldn’t. Getting angry over the secularization of the holidays is allowing others to get inside your head. By giving them the fight they are looking for, you’re giving them what they want for Christmas.

After all, it was seeing the warmth and happiness of the Whos that melted the Grinch’s ice-cold heart in the end. That’s the lesson the Grinch learned. It’s also the lesson we should be teaching our kids, the Grinches and Scrooges in our lives. They can tear down our Christmas trees and replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” but they can’t take away the warmth the season brings to those who celebrate it. Make them see they are missing something  just like the Whos did for the Grinch.

Remember Christmas isn’t about the things or even red holiday cups – it’s about the spirit of Christmas you have in your heart and no one can take that away from you unless you allow them to.

If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

If you’re looking for a good book with an uplifting story, check out my novel, Life in Harmony. Click this link to buy the book!

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Cures for Unhappiness on WebMD?

happiness-next-exitYes, believe it or not, the site where you check out what your symptoms mean, has articles on treatments for the “medical condition” known as unhappiness.

For you skeptics out there, check out this link (I know seeing is believing).

Anne Stuart wrote an article with cooperation from Dr. Brunilda Nazario on happiness for WebMD.com titled “Why You’re Not Happy.”

Here’s the simple-6 part treatment for the cure:

  1. Simplify (pare down)
  2. Slow Down (pause)
  3. Let Go! (mindful meditation)
  4. Feel the Real (feel emotions, express feelings)
  5. Stay Hopeful
  6. Connect with Others

Sounds simple enough but we know real life can be messy, hard to navigate and not easy to overcome. Most of our resistance to finding a cure to our ailment is because we often feel like our issues are more complicated than can be cured with simple answers.

That’s our problem. In the modern, technology-driven world, we complicate things. When in reality, life is simple: breathe, eat, sleep, excrete. Everything else is gravy or heartache or inessential however you want to describe it.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her tome about life (Gift from the Seawrote much about the six principles of happiness that Ms. Stuart writes as her “medical” cure for unhappiness.  Interesting enough, these principles also unfold in my book, Life in Harmony.

The main characters, Kate and Michael, are facing complicated modern problems: infertility, in vitro fertilization, LIH Cover 2015bankruptcy, cancer and modern jobs (data collection and advertising). Life for them is involved and overwhelming as the book opens. They are at a crossroads in their lives. And what does it take for them to find their way back to their happiness?

The “prescribed” dose of simplicity, slowing down, letting go, real feelings, hope and connecting with others helps guide Kate and Michael to hopeful resolutions. Pairing and slowing down are the start to curing what ails them. The rest unfolds as the book goes along. Life is a journey and finding the cure for a happy life is simple if you let it be. 

If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

If you’re looking for a good book with an uplifting story, check out my novel, Life in Harmony. Click this link to buy the book!

 

 

Humble Yourself in the Splendor of it all!

In the E.B. White book Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte spelled out the word “Humble” in her last web about Wilbur the pig. While Wilbur was becoming semi-famous, Charlotte reminded him and his onlookers that regardless of his state in life he was still a humble pig.humble-charlotte-s-web

Being humble also means “realizing your place in the grand scheme of things (life) and being humbled by the greatness of it all.” Sometimes our problems consume us so deeply that we miss the fact that our individual problems aren’t as consuming as we allow them to be. There are greater forces at work and our contributions here aren’t as significant as we may think.

In the movie Grand Canyon (1991), tow-truck driver, Simon, tells lawyer, Mack, to get himself out to the Grand Canyon. Simon (played by Danny Glover) continues, “It’s pretty, all right, but that’s not the thing of it…When you sit on the edge of that thing, you just realize what a joke we people are. What big heads we got thinking that what we do is gonna matter all that much. Thinking our time here means diddly to those rocks. It’s a split second we been here, the whole lot of us. Yeah, those rocks are laughing at me, I could tell. Me and my worries, it’s real humorous to that Grand Canyon.”

grandcanyon3The movie wraps up with Simon and Mack’s families out at the Grand Canyon and, with James Newton Howard’s sweeping score, we witness the majesty of the creation of the Canyon in vivid color. It reminds us that no matter what we have going on in our lives, there is something greater at work here. Our problems don’t amount to a spec of sand in the larger picture. We are to be humbled by the greatest at work.

This idea is explored in my book, Life in HarmonyAs the book opens, Kate and Michael are at a stressful crossroads in their life as they take off for a weekend getaway. The journey of their drive from the congested Los Angeles to California’s pristine Central Coast is written as a metaphor of the cleansing we can witness when surrounded in a natural setting.

Later in the book, Kate is encouraged to go and spend some time at the beach in solitude. There is no question Kate has been through a lot with both a miscarriage and the death of her mother. Kate is needing clarity and her new friend in Harmony encourages her to seek that clarity at the beach.

“I can’t tell you all the hours I have sat and thought things over at the beach just taking in the inspiring landscape. Sunset at Santa Rosa CreekThe beach is a gift. A gift to be taken in over long periods of time. Time alone. Time to think. Time to appreciate…Go down to the beach. Go and experience it for yourself. Connect with that spirit inside yourself that is yearning to come out. There is power and peace in moving beyond our own reality to a power greater than ourselves. Go now! The beach is calling.”

We all need to  take some time to take in the splendor if for no other reason but to humble ourselves and our problems. Taking in the serenity of a natural environment like the ocean or Grand Canyon helps put our life in perspective. It should also connect us with a power that is greater than ourselves.

LIH Cover 2015If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, please do so (at the top right). My blog focuses on stories and ideas to inspire. If you are looking for positive reminders and inspirational stories, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click this link for social media connections.

If you’re looking for a good book with an uplifting story, check out my novel, Life in Harmony. Click this link to buy the book!