Stumbling Toward the Buddha - A Sure-footed Debut

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Dawn Downey's memoir, Stumbling Toward the Buddha, Tripping Over my Principles on the Road to Transformation, is a lovely collection of linked essays that explore her search for meaning in her life. What is enlightenment anyway? Dawn asks, as she sits meditation on retreat and struggles with her fears and doubts. Fears of driving and getting lost (a perfect metaphor perhaps). Doubts about who her parents were and whether she can trust her own muddled memories of growing up amid family violence and neglect.

I am proud to have worked with Dawn as she perfected this exquisite memoir.

Anyone who has ever sought to understand him- or herself will find Stumbling Toward the Buddha both familiar and enlightening.


A little Lust for after Valentine's Day

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My friend Diana Raab’s latest poetry collection, Lust, is a veritable cornucopia of luscious, lusty, “whoa baby!” poems that give erotica a good name. Tantalizing and sexy, this collection oozes with sensuality, love, desire, fear and regret – all the emotions that come with loving someone, figuratively and literally.

Raab has never wavered from sharing herself in her poetry and her nonfiction, but this book goes deeper, expressing in words what many of us only feel physically.

Warning: Do not leave Lust around for the cleaning folks – or your children – to find. Keep it tucked in a sacred spot in the boudoir, where you can share it with an appreciative lover.

Here's one of my favorites from the collection:

The First Time

The moment after we met

and seconds after your smile,

beside me on the old cross-country jet,

I knew that inside a dream, our bodies

would one day twist around each other.


And I would lose track of where

yours began and mine ended

and so many other things in my life,

such as my beliefs

or even what happened between us.


I would not recount anything,

not a feeling, a touch or a visual

or the voice you used

to toss me on the bed

and remove my over-the-knee boots

worn during our loving act --


All I will remember is a deep sense

of euphoria transcending every part

of my essence, every hair follicle,

missing breast and scar which makes

me what I am and the idea

and how I will never

walk down the same path again.

Review - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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In John Green’s lovely and poignant 2012 novel, The Fault in Our Stars, (soon to be a major motion picture) two teens with cancer meet at a cancer support group. Hazel Grace Lancaster, 16, has been battling a particularly nasty thyroid and lung cancer for several years, but has been kept alive by an experimental drug. Augustus Waters, 17, is a former basketball player who is in remission after losing one of his legs to an osteosarcoma. They are introduced by mutual friend Isaac, who has already lost one eye to cancer and is about to lose his other.

Hazel and Augustus fall in love, and end up going to Amsterdam under the auspices of a Make a Wish Foundation-type organization to meet the reclusive author of a book the two of them love. The only problem is Augustus’ cancer has roared back with a vengeance, and Hazel, who thought she would be the first to die, is confronted with her feelings for Augustus in light of the fact that he will soon leave her.

Green captures all the angst of being a teenager and expertly layers on the sadness, anger and fear that accompany fighting a life-threatening disease. Hazel, Augustus and Isaac are as real as your next-door neighbor’s son or daughter, or your niece or nephew, and the reader is drawn into the heart-rending struggle all three kids experience with cancer and with death.

This is not an easy read, but it is ultimately a life-affirming one, full of all the emotions – love, sorrow, disappointment, anger – attendant to life itself. I highly recommend this book, even for those who typically would not be drawn to a young adult novel. It is well worth the read.


A Valentine's Day Meditation - Fear Love Playfulness

There is no fear in possibility. And there is no possibility in fear.


I let go of fear and all its limitations. I open to love and light and, yes, playfulness – in my writing, my love life, with my friends, and in all my relationships. Open to experiences that accompany that love. Open to the new relationships upon my path and journey.

I open to a playfulness that allows for lightness of being, lightness of heart and spirit. Allows for creative expression, movement, sound, moment. Allows for spirit to move in and stay awhile.

I will discard all fear. I will embrace all love and playfulness, and guide others, as many as will join me, to the place I inhabit.

Come and play.

New Books from Willow Rock Authors

Two of Willow Rock’s authors have new books coming out, and a third is writing a sequel to his successful nonfiction book on investing.

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Just out from Moodbooks Publishing is Michael Scott Hanrahan’s environmental thriller The Last Extinction. Biologist Christina Larson finds herself pulled into a mythic and epic journey to save the last of six sacred animal species denoted in an ancient relic unearthed in the Amazonian jungle. If she doesn't, it will mean the end of humanity as we know it. The Last Extinction is available as both an e-book and as Moodbooks’ brand-new enhanced e-book, which features beautifully animated illustrations and sound. You’ve never seen another book like it!

Michele Wolfe has been offered a contract to publish her novel, The Three Graces. College juniors Jessie, Isabel and Sara become linked in friendship by visits to hidden places only they can see. Together on a trip to Hearst Castle in California, an earth-shaking encounter with a stunning statue in the gardens binds them to the spirits of the Three Graces, Brilliance, Joy and Bloom. Under the weight of school and family problems, the girls grow to be fast friends as they struggle with who they are and what direction they should go in life. Through the gift of pendants, The Graces seem to be guiding them. But will they be able to help the girls overcome all the roadblocks along the way? You can read more about The Three Graces and Michele here. And watch for more news about the book in coming months.

Meanwhile, Kevin Bourke is working on a sequel to his 2012 book, Make Your Money Last a Lifetime, which is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. Using stories from his own experiences as a financial planner, Kevin provides excellent advice on everything from asset allocation to how to deal with the fluctuations in the stock market to handling your grown children’s requests for money. Kirkus Reviews called it “An eminently readable, authoritative little book that offers sensible advice about major financial decisions.” See what others say about this great how-to book on making your resources last as long as you do.  Kevin’s sequel will be titled Make Your Money Last a Lifetime – for Divorcees.

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I am proud to have worked with all three of these exceptional authors. Check out their books today.

Pelicans - Being in the Moment

I walked at Santa Barbara's breakwater today, and took this image of a flock of pelicans perched on the deck of an old dredger that is always there, hauling sands out of the harbor's mouth so the boats can come and go. I never tire of watching the pelicans. They are so gangly and yet so graceful in flight and when they dive for fish. Their tremendous bills seem fitting metaphors for capturing an abundance of whatever life offers, and sorting through that which serves you, then letting the rest go. A fitting metaphor for us, perhaps.