Myth, Mischief, and Magic, Oct. 11-31

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Sometimes fantasy is funny, sometimes not, but wherever magic is part of it, its unpredictability can cause mischief.

That’s why I was very glad when The Dragon Who Didn’t Fly was accepted for this group giveaway. The band of mischievous cats in this fantasy novel now get to meet a new audience.

And you get the chance to look at a host of books by authors you may not know.

Visit the giveaway site to find out more.

Week 3: Eco-lit Giveaway

eco-litThis eco-lit giveaway is now in its third week.

Here are quotes describing some of the books:

The Long, The Short, and the Tall: Life with Rescue Dogs: “Happy Stories, Funny Stories, Sad Stories – But Always True Stories about Life with Rescue Dogs.”

The Awe of Nature: Why We Should Seek It Out: “The Awe of Nature is a thoughtful narrative that takes readers on an extraordinary journey from the wonders of the Amazon rainforest to the terror of forest fires in northern Saskatchewan.”

Unicorn Magic: “Feyland: a new computer game that allows Scottish teenager Corinne MacArthur to escape the sadness haunting her everyday life after losing a loved one. It’s a game where legends come to life, the lines between reality and fantasy become blurred, and the impossible becomes—probable?”

I intend to download many of these free books, and I hope you will, too. To see them, please go to the giveaway page.

Animals, Nature, Ecology, and the Great Outdoors

eco-litThis eco-lit giveaway, which is taking place from August 1 to August 31, is well underway. Because I believe in promoting books that help to support our ecological awareness, I am part of it.

Here are some quotes describing some of the books:

Junction, Utah: “A nomadic river guide discovers what there is to love and lose in an undiscovered corner of the West.” I read and reviewed this book and highly recommend it.

Wildly Simple: “Written by an experienced integral coach, Wildly Simple: Free Your Happiness through the Power of Nature offers you tried-and-true nature connection practices you can start today, no matter what you’re struggling with in your life. All you need is dash of willingness and an organized guide at the ready. Here’s your guide…now are you willing?”

Riding Out the Devil: “Jack is only interested in helping horses. Period. Human owners irritate him.

He’s working with an anxious gelding when a mystery woman calls his cell phone. As she does once each year, she makes the same short statement before hanging up.

Already rattled, that evening he receives bad news which sends him back to his native England for the first time in 17 years.”

I intend to download many of these free books, and I hope you will, too. To see them, please go to the giveaway page.

The Fixers

I’m thinking today about the idea of “self-improvement.” So many courses are available that promise to improve your self-esteem, your ability to market, to clear out issues from the past, and many other tempting possibilities.

In many (not all) of these offerings lurks the suggestion that something in you is broken and that if you take this course, you’ll get fixed. All you have to do is buy the “Inner Mechanic’s Guide.”

This approach resembles the basic concept of Western medicine: that the body is a machine in need of repair. In contrast, holistic approaches to health propose a system of mind-body integration.

Because I, like many of you, grew up going to Western medicine doctors, I’ve been trained in the mechanical approach to the body and have translated it to the emotions and mind. I often find myself thinking I have to fix something about myself. Today, when I caught myself thinking that, I suddenly heard a very definite “No.” And it felt good.

I don’t need to be fixed. And neither do you. Everyone has areas in their lives—thoughts, beliefs, and habits—that may keep them from living the lives they want to experience, but that doesn’t mean we’re broken. We developed the thoughts and behaviors that now seem to be malfunctioning because we thought we needed them to be happy and/or safe.

Once we realize this, we don’t have to blame ourselves for having them. When we discover that we no longer need them, we can thank them for doing their best, thank ourselves for doing our best for ourselves, and move on.

This is much easier to do when we know that we’re not broken.

I’m not.

Neither are you.

Green Merchant Promotion: Part 2

Last week I wrote about the group giveaway in which I’m involved. It means a lot to me to be able to promote positive environmental ideals with other politically and spiritually committed authors. You can download as many as you want.

The giveaway is from June 1 to June 15. Go to http://wildpolitics.co/20authors for more information and to download.

Here are some examples:

Wild Roots: Coming Alive in the French Amazon/Donna Mulvenna

This memoir will make you want to reclaim your life and live out your wildest dreams.

Against the Grain: Phil M. Williams

A tyrannical high school principal. A young anarchist with nothing left to lose. One way or another, this place is goin’ down.

The Heart of a Mouse Mandy Pang
With themes of friendship, and family, this woodland adventure story encourages readers to work through their fears, and find the courage within themselves to follow their dreams.

All Things Breathe Alike: A Wildlife Anthology

Donna Mulvenna, Jessica Groenendijk, and Margi Prideaux
Some believe the natural world is our real home. Could the eternal pull we feel toward the golden warmth of a rising sun, the tumbling waves of the ocean, or the soothing sound of birdsong, be nature’s way of calling us back? One wildlife anthology. Three passionate nature writers. Nine evocative stories.

Junction, Utah: Rebecca Lawton

This WILLA award-winning novel is “A fresh female voice and a bold take on environmental awareness–great read!”

In the coming days, I will list other books.

The giveaway is from June 1 to June 15. Go to http://wildpolitics.co/20authors for more information.

Love Your Planet: 20 Environmental Authors Explore the Natural World

GreenMerchants_NEWSLETTER

Dear reader, I’m not what you’d call an ace promoter. I barely know how to tweet, and the idea of self-promotion makes me want to crawl beneath my desk.

That’s why I was so excited about the idea of joining a group promotion with authors of fiction and nonfiction who explore our relationship with the natural world. Political events of this year are teaching us that defending the natural world means defending ourselves and future generations of all species. To be involved in a group promoting writing that supports these values inspires me.

After visiting the Florida Everglades and falling in love with it, I decided to write about a water dragon who lived in a swamp whose existence was endangered. That’s how The Dragon Who Didn’t Fly, the first book of A Dragon’s Guide to Destiny, began.

All of the books represented in the giveaway are free, and you can download as many as you want.

The giveaway is from June 1 to June 15. Go to http://wildpolitics.co/20authors for more information.

60-second Meditation

We have to start somewhere. And on those days when focusing on anything for as long as 60 seconds seems challenging, this very mini-meditation may help you shift gears.

Even if you meditate regularly and for much longer periods of time, sometimes derailing a runaway train of negative thoughts is the best thing you can do in the moment.

And a moment may or may not be 60 seconds long.

I found that after after doing this meditation, I felt more focused, and in fact I wrote this blog with more ease than usually happens.

So why not visit the url below? It’ll only take 60 seconds.

60-second Meditation

Lambs Do It

The other morning I saw a flock of sheep and lambs. The lambs ranged in age from recently born ones who followed their mothers on very shaky legs to some slightly older ones.

The older lambs were learning that legs were perfect for leaping and bouncing and frolicking through the meadow. They expressed their joy at being alive in bodies with every careless kick of their heels.

Later on, when I was thinking about what I’d seen, I thought, “The magic is that they are whole and perfect. They don’t doubt themselves or lack self-esteem. They don’t hear voices telling them they should be cleaning or writing worrying about the future. They will never know guilt.”

And I wondered why I couldn’t be like that. That question turned out to have its own magic because it sliced away the layers of guilt and “should” and self-doubt and the long list of things I should change about myself. At my core, I’m as whole and as perfect as the lambs—but most of the time, I forget that.

What’s the difference between me—and you—and the dancing lamb or the fawns who raced through my former back yard or the bright-eyed curiosity of baby raccoons? It could be those big brains that humans take pride in. Anyone who has ever upgraded their operating systems knows that each new upgrade creates many chances for error.

Imagination, for example, is a great human gift, and I count it as a priceless upgrade, but it doesn’t discriminate between imagining the best and imagining the worst.

Maybe the biggest problem is that the initial user’s manual we get to go with our big brains is the long set of instructions we get from our parents. Animal parents also instruct their children but mostly about real dangers—like humans. Our parents teach us about dangers that may or may not ever come to pass.

This leads to the unique human mental/emotional state called anxiety. It’s difficult to kick up your heels when you’re worried about what might happen in thirty years.

If I want to experience that I’m perfect, I need to live less in the past, where I learned all the things I should worry about and all the things for which I should judge myself. I also need to stop taking all those worries and judgments and expecting more of them in the future.

That’s called living in the present. That’s what lambs do. We can do it, too.

Photo credit: Keven Law, Los Angeles, USA

Songs That Inspire Me

As a writer, I often find myself in awe at the gift of poets and songwriters to say in a few words what may take me pages.

This week I’m sharing two songs that have recently inspired me.

The first many of you will know: “Dear Prudence,” by the Beatles (from the White Album). The song was inspired by Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence, who was with the Beatles in India at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s weeks-long retreat in Rishikesh, India. Prudence was intent on learning Transcendental Meditation well enough to teach it and stayed in her room most of the time. The Beatles were worried about her and tried to draw her out. Though they didn’t succeed, they wrote the song. (For more detailed information, see this article.

For me, the song is a hymn to being in the present moment.
You can listen to it here.

The second song, “You’ll Never Be the Sun,” was written by Irish songwriter Donagh Long. This version is sung by Irish singer Delores Keane and American singer Emmylou Harris. Many other versions are around, but this is my favorite. “Life is tough, but you’ll get through it” has rarely been expressed so poetically. You can listen to it here.