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The Art of Non-Conformity

30 Dec

I’m really blown away by Chris Guillebeau’s book and website called “The Art of Non-Comformity.” This guy is all about living on your own terms and not being sucked into the way society feels you should be living your life. This makes me want to shut down my computer for a few hours and take a walk in nature or make five dozen cookies, wrap them up and drive downtown and give them away. We need to enjoy life, people. Just take matters into your own hands. You can do it.

Dear, Anne Rice

13 Aug

Dear Anne,

Thank you for being a voice of reason. I’m with you. As far as being Catholic, I’m out too. To be clear, my decision was a long time coming. I’ve been in and out of the church so often and for so many years, I was never quite certain what my place was or where my faith was hiding. I was looking for it like a lottery ticket or a valuable heirloom earring. But the reality is that I can not be a part of it any more. I was mystified, confused and downright pissed off about so many things the Catholic Church was involved in and “up to.” I would listen to Catholic radio and be inspired and enchanted by the mesmerizing reciting of the rosary. I would nod my head in agreement when a priest talked about the evils of war. I would feel in my right mind when I listened to the saving grace that prayer provided to someone who was ready to end it all. I would think fondly, even romantically about the gorgeous cathedrals in Venice and how I openly wept in that church of St. Francis in Assisi when I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit push through me like life-giving air. I recall a moment of grace in a cathedral in San Miguel surrounded by old women on their knees with the sweetest smiles on their sunworn faces. I recall the intimate conversations with the Virgin Mary after my mother passed away. I would find a church in every city I visited just to light a candle for her. I recall the overwhelming moment of joy when my son, only four months old, was raised high above the head of an Irish priest after the moment of his baptism. I recall the smell of burning votives and incense and the taste of the Eucharist. I remember lying flat before a hanging crucifix and Jesus in an empty church pleading with him to help me understand myself and what my purpose here on earth really is. I was twelve. I did again when I was 18. Again when I was 26. I would watch “A Nun’s Story” and “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” over and over fantasizing of a life devoted to God and prayer, but knowing in my heart that writing was my truer calling.

My home is full of crosses, sacred hearts and pictures of Mary and little statues of my mother’s favorite saints. When John Paul II died, I cried for days recalling a moment during midnight mass on Dec. 31, 1998 when our eyes met briefly as he slowly walked to the magnificent altar in St. Peter’s Cathedral. I felt changed and came to the church after a long departure. And in the last three years, I have learned more about the presence of angels and the divine guidance and intervention of the heavens than I ever dreamed possible. There are so many things to love about the mystery, magic, artistry and ancient wisdoms of the Catholic Church. And knowing that I could be in Dublin, Rome, Mexico City or Boston and have access to my dearest spiritual tools by just rounding a street corner was extremely comforting to me for many years.But it’s not enough. Not even close.

I think Christ is real. But what the Catholic Church is doing now is destructive. I have not self-identified as a Christian for some time, and I was never quite sure why. But it has become clear that they are not delivering news from God. They are firmly implanted in the world of man under the guise of spirit. And to me, that is wrong. Perhaps that’s why I have felt so disconnected. I went to church to hear God. But all I kept hearing was man’s feeble interpretation with an ever-increasing emphasis on politics. The bottom line is that I can not be a part of a religion that treats women, gays and lesbians with such unapologetic disdain and cruelty. I do not believe anyone, in good conscience, can participate in a religion that systematically denounces condoms in Africa. It’s ridiculous . I can not condone a religion that puts saving face over the safety and gentle care of children. I can not be a member of a church who indoctrinates its most devoted messengers — priests and nuns who have holy callings— and tells the spiritually dedicated that sex, marriage and children are obstacles to living a spiritually awakened existence.

I wish I could tell you how difficult my spiritual journey has been. But in all honesty, I must admit that being Catholic at least gave me an awareness and a language for understanding the universe and cosmic laws in a way that was rich and beautiful and memorable. I believe in God with my whole heart. I believe in powerful human messengers that have delivered some of these universal truths designed, essentially, to save us from ourselves. I believe in divinely-inspired music that can lift my soul out of my chest and helps me to meet the angels halfway. I believe in sincere contemplation, stillness, meditation and prayer. I believe that humans sometimes need artifacts and rituals and a common history to absorb and understand spiritual truths. But I believe, above all, that love is the answer to everything. So, Anne, I feel your pain. I understand your confusion and how pissed off you’ve been. I get it. I just want you to know that you can take the girl out of the cathedral, but you can’t take God out of the girl.

Take care and God Bless.

Love,

Jennifer

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with Varla Ventura, author of “The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories”

2 Jul

bizarreJust had a fun conversation with author Varla Ventura on Soul Lab Radio about The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories which has thirteen chapters including Something Wicked: Mysterious Objects & Haunted Homes and Morbid Writers and Tortured Artists: From Edgar Allan Poe to Vincent Van Gogh.  Other topics in the book range from Strange Rock and Roll Stories, Medical Maladies, Conspiracy Theories, Superstitions, Hexes and even UFOs.

So what’s in the book? Did you know duck dander is hallucinogenic? Or that Katherine Hepburn had a phobia of dirty hair? Have you ever wondered about the Magickal Skull of Doom or contemplated the mysterious Transylvanian Tablets? Varla has gathered a veritable treasure trove of startling and stranger-than-fiction trivia that spans history, continents, even worlds.

We also got into some of the weird stories and I was particularly interested in a chapter called “Coincidences or Synchronicity?” Then we launched into a discussion about psychic awareness and children. Varla was introduced to the strange and unusual at a young age. Her first game was a Ouija board, and family picnics in cemeteries were common outings. She spent most of her formative years exploring graveyards, underground tunnels, and abandoned mansions in, around, and under Nevada City, California. She is the author of Sheroes and Wild Women Talk About Love. Varla currently lives in the attic of an 1890’s Victorian in the hills of San Francisco, with her cat Midnight. Of course, Halloween is her favorite holiday.

Soul Lab Radio: Scott Blum, Daily OM founder and author of “Waiting for Autumn”

25 Jun

ScottBlumSometimes when I do a radio interview, thirty minutes seems like just the right amount of time to get to the bottom of something. Today was not one of those days. I wish my interview with Scott Blum about his new novel Waiting for Autumn could have gone on for another hour. But alas, even in thirty minutes, I managed to learn a thing or two. Specifically, we got to the heart of why intuition should be relied upon for life’s big decisions, instead of intellect. We also dicussed the dynamics of shamanic soul retrieval and what inspired him to write this novel in the first place.

Scott is the co-founder of DailyOM– one of the premiere on-line destinations for non-denominational inspirational content, products and courses from some of today’s best-selling authors and luminaries. But before that, Scott was a pioneer in the interactive Internet entertainment industry where he was one of the first American Nintendo programmers and eventually entered the music business producing Peter Gabriel’s critically acclaimed “Eve” CD-ROM. He then founded and was president of iMusic in 1995 and has worked with bands including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, and Ben Harper.

In 2004 Scott and his wife Madisyn Taylor founded DailyOM (www.dailyom.com) after wanting to merge their personal interests in spirituality with their professional lives.

In “Waiting for Autumn” we follow the inquisitive main character, Scott, as he finds himself in a parking lot in Ashland, OR where he meets a cardboard sign-toting homeless man named Robert— who would soon become Scott’s spiritual navigator and guide. In the tradition of novels like The Alchemist and The Celestine Prophecy, “Waiting for Autumn” is about a man embarking on a spiritual awakening and attempting to heal his past by confronting the spirit of his dead fiancée, learning the power of nature, exploring the spirit plane, and discovering the power of universal laws.

Download the first three chapters for free…

Soul Lab Radio: Shelley Seale, author of “The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India”

24 Jun

Weight of SilenceI had an eye-opening conversation today on Soul Lab Radio with writer Shelley Shelley SealeSeale who just released her first book, The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India. In it, she chronicles her experiences visiting and getting to know a handful of the 25 million homeless children who live in slums, orphanages and on the streets. Many of the stories mirror those of the characters featured in the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.

Shelley is a freelance writer based out of Austin, Texas, but she has traveled around the world capturing stories of real people. Shelley has written for the Seattle Times, Washington Magazine, the Austin Business Journal, Intrepid Travel and Andrew Harper Traveler Magazine among others, and is the Sustainable Travel Columnist at The Examiner.

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with “The God Theory” author Bernard Haisch, PhD

18 Jun

bernardhaischI spoke with Bernard Haisch, Ph.D. this morning on Soul Lab Radio regarding his latest book, The God Theory. Haisch is an astrophysicist, author of over 130 scientific publications, and was a scientific editor of the Astrophysical Journal for ten years. His professional positions include staff scientist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, deputy director of the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and visitingGod Theory scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestial Physics in Garching, Germany. He was also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Prior to his career in astrophysics, Haisch attended the Latin School of Indianapolis and the St. Meinrad Seminary as a student for the Catholic priesthood.

He writes: “I offer a genuine insight into how you can, and should, be a rational, science-believing human being and at the same time know that you are also an immortal spiritual being, a spark of God. I propose a worldview that offers a way out of the hate and fear-driven violence engulfing the planet.”

Soul Lab Radio: Orion Foxwood, author of “The Tree of Enchantment: Ancient Wisdom and Magic Practices of the Faery Tradition

16 Jun

Tree of EnchantmentJust did a really fascinating interview with author Orion Foxwood. We covered Orion Foxwoodeverything from what faery seership is, to how connecting with nature can heal the world. Orion is an Elder in the Celtic and Romano Celtic Traditional Craft, a High Priest in Alexandrian tradition and is the Founding Elder of the Foxwood Temple of the Old Religion. He is co-director of the Moonridge Center, a land based nature sanctuary and mystical educational center located in Maryland. He holds a Master of Human Services degree and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He is a traditional Faery Seer and has taught these practices as well as psychic development, American Southern folk magic and traditional Craft for nearly 20 years. You’ll never think the same way about faeries ever again…

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