Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kirkus: 20 Great Indie Books Worth Your Time!

I'm very excited to share that Half Faerie is on the Kirkus list: "20 Great Indie Books Worth Your time"! You can read the full Kirkus Review here.

So why is Half Faerie worth your time? It's different (not formulaic!) The foundation of the world building is based in quantum theory. It's fun. Quirky. A little bit whimsical. Because it's a love story; but it's not just a romance, it's about all the people and things we come to love in life. And even though there's plenty of magic, it's about transformation, inner transformation, the kind we have to dig deep for, not snap-your-fingers overnight change.

Did I say it's fun?!?

Plus, War & Grace will be out in early Spring of 2018. And it's awesome. Really;) So, while you're waiting for the release of the final installment of Daughter of Light, which will tie up all the loose ends, you can begin reading Half Faerie ...
As a half-faerie, Melia is an outcast in the enchanted world where she lives with her two sisters and full-blood faerie mother. The girls' father has been exiled to the mortal world for breaking his faerie troth. When a tragic accident destroys what's left of Melia's fractured family, her mother is unforgiving. The punishment she metes out will leave her daughter torn between guilt and ecstasy, challenge the bonds between three sisters, and complicate Melia's relationship with a young priest who’s come to the Realm of Faerie on a mission of his own.

Whimsical and edgy, Daughter of Light is an epic fantasy with an intriguing cosmology and well-developed characters for readers of all ages.

Buy the eBook
Amazon  |  Amazon (UK)  |  Amazon (Canada)  |  Apple  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google play  |  kobo
Buy the Paperback

Want more history about the Whole? Pick up Isolt's Enchantment. (It's free at most on-line distributers!)
Isolt of the Waters is an ancient water elemental whose betrayal and enchantment has forever changed the Whole. When a young scholar in Idonne discovers her story, along with tales of dwarf magic and the birth of Umbra—a malevolent entity dwelling in the Void—he dreams of a life filled with adventure and heroism.

Free eBook
Amazon  |  Amazon (UK)  |  Amazon (Canada)  |  Apple  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google play  |   kobo
Buy the Paperback
Then you'll be ready for...
Energies in the enchanted world are shifting and new alliances are forming: The battle between Dark and Light has begun. Melia is desperate to make things right with Ryder, the young priest from Idonne, but first she must warn the half-bloods in the mortal world that Umbra is coming for them—and face the powerful dragonwitch and her spectacular Dragon Carnivale.

The stakes are raised as Melia grasps just how far she will have to go to save the people and world she loves.

Buy the eBook
Amazon  |  Amazon (UK)  |  Amazon (Canada)  |  Apple  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google play  |  kobo
Buy the Paperback


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Melania Trump and Her Dignified Silence

I have a long history of "studying" and, as a female, "living" women's issues. I suppose you could say I was "radicalized" in my early/mid-twenties. After I graduated from college with an accounting degree and landed in the cubicle of a major oil company, I found myself bored to death and was BOMBARDED on a moment-by-moment basis with the question: "Is this all there is?" You see, I was not interested, at all, in getting married or in having children, i.e. another brick in the wall, another cog in the machine, another consumer ... In those days, I was considered a bit on the fringe ... (No longer, lol.) (Also, please note that among the many supposed contradictory aspects of my evolving understandings, while I've never had children, I totally honor those brave enough to take on the role of mothering!)
Stumbling on the works of the old school feminists, Friedan's Feminine Mystique, Millett's Sexual Politics, and, of course, Beauvoir's Second Sex was quite an AWAKENING, but not more so than the art installation on A Woman's Period I viewed on the last day I spent on the campus of the West Texas university I graduated from. Throw in Alice Milller's For Your Own Good, a diatribe against pedagogy in general, and I had a personal revolution in the works. I went on to read Woolf's A Room of Her Own, Chopin's Awakening, Wharton's House of Mirth and became much enamored of Atwood's works, including, yes, The Handmaid's Tale. Then I signed up for the first Women's Studies class at the first majority-minority university in Texas. Cool, huh? (Remember this was all decades ago... ) I continued thinking and writing and reading on the subject of women's place in the world: from Wolf's The Beauty Myth to Dworkin's Women Hating. Dworkin was both intriguing and disturbing. By the time I finished Intercouse, I felt like I was going to have to become a lesbian if I was ever going to be able to count myself a bonafide passenger on the Feminist Bandwagon in the direction it was rolling. And though all my relationships with men and males at the time were troubled, I had to face the fact that on the sexuality continuum I'm simply on the left if left is heterosexual and right is homosexual. SIGH.
The Feminine Mystique, Sexual Politics, the Second Sex, The Beauty Myth, A room of One's Own, the House of Wrath, Kate Chopin
My next big shift occurred when I realized that "all man are not oppressors" and "all women are not saints." Another big SIGH. I know, when you're in the process of being indoctrinated, nuances and reality are the first things that must go! What a blessing, relief, breath of fresh air when snippets of the truth and real life experience begin to seep back into the mental box/metal ideological container you find yourself trapped in. Because, yes, all dogma ... political, psychological, religious, social ... builds boxes and containers, metaphorical prisons and cells: Essentially cages, and of course we're "whipped" by obliging dominatrices when we stray. Is that why S&M is breaking into the mainstream? So many of us living as SUBS to the ideological DOMS of the day?
sadomasochism, fifty shades of gray, bondage
I finally began choosing my own books to delve into. I loved Mary Daly's Beyond God the Father and salivated over Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Run With the Wolves was her breakout hit but I treasured one of her audio recordings, The Red Shoes: On Torment and the Recovery of Soul Life. (Whose specular influence I wrote about in the short story The Girl Who Dreamed of Red Shoes—the second story in The Girl Who Believed in Fairy Tales). So, I became tired of being a victim—just got sick of everything being about my own personal grievances—broke out of my Dogma Dungeon and began seeing myself as an individual who lives on a globe with billions of other individuals.
global population, world population
Since then, I've continued to grow and change, transform and transcend, have troubles and triumphs, and, basically, live my life with (more) joy. (Maybe it's just "with joy" not "with more joy" because when you're living in the DOGMA DUNGEON, you're so focused on not getting whipped, and policing, and interrogating, etc. well, not much time left for joy ... or beauty... )

Certain things are TIMELESS. They really are. TRUTH. BEAUTY. Oh, and SILENCE. Which would—could—entail knowing when to Shut Up, Stop Talking ...
timeless universe
I'm a fan of Melania Trump. I love her SILENCE. When she talks—in any one of those five or six languages!—she actually says fabulous things, but her SILENCE in a world where everyone else is competing for more and more oxygen, well, her silence is ... Stunning, welcomed, and inspiring.
Because, in the end, life is not about women—or anyone—being a certain way as opposed to being ANOTHER certain way, whatever those ways are; it's about everyone fully realizing their Self as they see fit. Where America does that, where her constitution protects the rights of her citizens to be their True Selves, that's where America becomes "that city shining on a hill". Because LIFE creates novelty and variety to evolve, thus we're in harmony with LIFE—as an individual and as a culture and a nation—whenever and wherever we allow novelty and variety to flourish in all their marvelous and unpredictable ways. 
first lady of the united states, melania trump


Friday, September 1, 2017

Join Us in Reading the Hobbit!

Me and my good friend Rachmi created the J.R.R. Tolkien Epic Reads Goodreads group in January 2016. Since then, we've read The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin getting all the scoop on Middle Earth. Now, finally, we're ready to begin reading The Hobbit! We read a couple of chapters a month, so if you're a Tolkien fan—or not, if you've read these beloved books many times—or not, please join us in this epic reading of The Hobbit beginning on September 1, 2017.

Our group also has an epic and awesome art thread for The Silmarillion. Truly inspiring!


J.R.R. Tolkien Epic Reads
J.R.R. Tolkien Epic Reads 51 members We're reading it all: The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, The Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings ... slowly, deeply, thoughtfully, two chapters each month for most books. All Tolkien fans are welcome!!! Yes, it will take years, but we intend to enjoy the journey!!!

Books we've read

The Silmarillion The Silmarillion
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Start date: January 1, 2016

The Children of Húrin The Children of Húrin
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Start date: June 1, 2017



View this group on Goodreads »

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Isolt's Enchantment has a Beautiful New Cover!

Isolt's Enchantment has a beautiful new cover. I love it because the artwork captures the essence of Isolt and her story.

In the beginning Earth was called Una, and Azyllai is the home of the gods and the goddesses ...

One day Una gave birth to a daughter, beautiful, vivacious and flowing. “I shall name you Isolt of the Waters, for you have brought with you all the springs, rivers, lakes, and oceans.”

Isolt giggled as Una’s noble garden blossomed.

Somewhere between Azyllai and the borders of Una’s dark and light, a new world dawned. Born of pure energy and imagination, the Realm of Faerie came into being. Faeries, elves, pixies and brownies drew their first breaths.

The bounty of Isolt’s waters overflowed from her mother’s world into the Realm of Faerie, binding the worlds in symbiotic union.

In Faerie, the Great White Sea swelled, pouring itself into the mouth of the Nyssalei River, which flowed through Illialei until it filled the bottomless pool of Lake Vivientiana. Forever, there would be a doorway between the worlds.

As Isolt’s waters spread, the love of all creation grew for her.—Isolt's Enchantment

Isolt of the Waters is an ancient water elemental and her story, her betrayal, and her enchantment will change the Whole forever.

I love water: all the oceans, lakes and rivers. For most of my life, I've chosen to live near either a coastline, river or a lake.

I'll leave you with this beautiful ode to the waters of our world and a man who dearly loved them:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wildflower Garden Update #2


I mentioned during the video my concern about using Roundup ...

Well, I did an online search, and here are a few links:





Ugh! I will not be buying anymore Roundup!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Girl Who Couldn't Sing: Videos!

From, oh, let's see, 1989 to 2006, I wrote songs and performed in coffee shops. Although it was not a lucrative endeavor by any means, it was a fun and fabulous experience. I grew and healed soooooo much ... which was the point of the short story "The Girl Who Couldn't Sing" ... Anyway ...



Over and over friends have told me to write my story. The closest I've come to that and the closest I will ever come to that is in the collection of three short stories in: The Girl Who Believed in Fairy Tales ... which is FREE! (BTW The Girl Who Couldn't Sing is the third and final story in that collection ...)

Free eBook
Buy the Paperback

So why did BMI pay me? I actually produced a CD and DVD between 1998 and 2006. The CD was titled The Faith of a Crucified Child. And the DVD was titled My Name is Heather Baker, Welcome to My World. (Heidi Garrett is the name I write under because ... Heidi was the name my mother was going to name me until my paternal grandmother said it sounded like a german milk cow! But I fell in love with the story Heidi when I was a girl ... and Garrett is my mother's maiden name, thus ...)

Here are 3 excerpts from the DVD:







I was working on a second CD, Deep Blue Sea, when I retired my singer/songwriter efforts. Sometimes I regret that I didn't complete that album. I was getting better at learning my voice, playing the keyboard, and I'd met more musicians in the San Diego community where I lived at the time and had them on board to collaborate on the CD. It might have been awesome (hehe), but after my Grandma died, everything seemed to rearrange inside me, and I just didn't have the will to continue. SIGH.  BUT I did "receive" Daughter of Light and it feels like this was the work I was destined (?) to contribute to the world consciousness ...  And I simply CANNOT WAIT until the release of the final installment in the trilogy: War & Grace. I think—HOPE—it's going to be AWESOME!!!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Let's Play

Another book I read last year was Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, & the Secret of Games by Ian Bogost. Bogost is a professor of interactive computing and a founding partner of Persuasive Games and his book is really refreshing.
playground equipment, spirituality definition
It got my attention for two reasons:
  1. The word play. Although I have an ambivalent relationship with astrology, its mythical archetypes are rich sources for exploring depth psychology (pant! pant! something I love) while the cheesy cookie-cutter personality analyses and forecasts make me cringe (or is it whinge, lol!) And … yet … I do know my North Node is in Leo which at the most basic level suggests that for me, learning to play could be a helpful thing … hehe.
  2. The word limits. In my twenties I studied the I Ching. My introduction to Carol Anthony’s Guide to the I Ching was a huge, door-opening into the cosmos experience for me, probably the seed which planted the spiritual arc upon which I’ve journeyed for the past three decades. Why? Amidst all its intricacies, its bedrock was the concept of our internal world and the power of spending time there. Now when I went to the most reputable English translation of the I Ching or Book of Changes by Wilhem/Baynes, I found a mix of concepts which left me quite ambivalent and eventually led me to discard the book. Overlayed—shellacked—with Confucianism (which I don’t like because it promotes misogyny and rigidly hierarchical social structures which are antithetical to the whole concept of diversity, multiplicity, and variety inherent in life) there are liberal sprinklings of Taoism in its birth (which I love) and much poetry in: The Judgements, Images, and Lines, of the hexagrams. (If you’re unfamiliar with the I Ching it’s a collection of 64 hexagrams, images of 6 broken and unbroken lines to which text has been appended; the hexagrams purportedly represent the varying pathways (sequences) of change upon which Life is apt to meander.) Hexagram 61 is: Limitation, its Judgement: Limitation. Success. Galling Limitation must not be persevered in. Those 7 words capture the treachery of both indulgence and tyranny. In his book, Bogost makes a playful and much more wordy pitch for how limits are a key ingredient to success. 
But the overall theme of Play Anything is really about: Engaging with the FINITE, i.e. the material world as we see it and experience it. A theme very much appreciated by me as one who’s sick of our species attempts to discount and/or minimize the miracle around us as an “illusion” or our commitment to focus on its worst aspects and soothe our perspective with a future “afterlife”.
If the FINITE IS the DIVINE’S CREATION … why are we always so committed to an exit? WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR US TO BE HERE … on this planet, in this moment, alive, attending, cherishing … playing …
characteristics of a spiritual person, how would you define spirituality
If attitude/perspective is everything …

Then Bogost’s first chapter, Everywhere, Playgrounds, is a great start in upending the apple cart …

He begins by telling a story of rushing through the mall with his daughter. He describes a game she played along the way with the lines created by the floor tiling. Her win: “She made the most of a mundane situation. She turned misery into fun.”

“…children are constantly compromising, constantly adjusting to an environment that is clearly not theirs, not yet. That’s wisdom, not innocence … we are fools to think we can control the universe. Children are right to allow the humility of their smallness to rule the day.”

“… misery gives way to fun when you take an object, event, situation, or scenario that wasn’t designed for you, that isn’t invested in you, that isn’t concerned in the slightest for your experience of it, and then treat it as if it were … this is what play means. Play isn’t doing what we want, but doing what we can with the materials we find along the way. And fun isn’t the experience of pleasure, but the outcome of tinkering with a small part of the world in a surprising way.”

“… play invites and even requires greater attention, generosity, respect, and investment than its supposedly more serious alternatives do.”

Then Bogost pounds on The Boredom … of daily life, of routine, of all the things we’ve done and seen before. Refreshingly, he transforms boredom to the pointer where we can play … be more attentive, more involved, and more surprised by novelty: novel insights, novel experiences, novel emotions. .. “Joy and pleasure live beyond boredom. Under it, not before nor atop it … once the familiarity of something ordinary is finally, totally, utterly spent, then the novelty of facing it anew can finally start.”
spirituality vs religion, what is spirituality
Next he takes interesting and thoughtful swipes at the currently trendy Mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is the practice of accepting our own thought and feelings, but what good is it if we accept only ourselves? We need a means to accept other things. A worldfulness to complement—or even replace—the trend of mindfulness.”

“Instead of taking things in stride, instead of transforming them from insufferable to agreeable, our default approach tends toward frustration, overwhelm, anger, and disgust. Rather than accepting the invitation to play, we reject the call as insufficiently compatible with our predetermined needs and wishes.”

Then he confronts the idea set forth by the writer David Foster Wallace that a way to cope with boredom, routine, tedium of adult life is to project “worst-case-scenarios” on all those you encounter to help you shift from a mental self-centeredness to “an equally soul-destroying, utterly boundless hypothetical empathy” … thus retreating “further into the self” because after all, we’re still bound up in our narrative, and what we tell ourselves. “Wallace’s standard—assuming everyone has ‘harder, more tedious or painful lives’—goes … beyond … inventing meaning, our burdened skulls apparently must invoke the most drastic situation in order to subordinate our private feelings to the circumstances we encounter. A rat-race of worst-case scenarios.

It’s insane to think we’d have to make up fake stories when the world is so replete with real stuff waiting for us to notice it—stuff like rectilinear shopping-mall floor tiles, Gibson Les Paul studio guitars, the knobby stem-necks of tangelos, cans of Pringles machine-formed potato chips, the formal constraints of a tweet or a sonnet … To treat things with respect and intrigue, we don’t need to understand the motivations and inner lives—whatever know the inner life of a tangelo or floor tile would mean. We just need to pay enough attention to discover what they do and how they work—to discover what they obviously and truly are—and then to make use of them in gratifyingly novel ways …

The great tragedy of Wallace’s life—a lifelong sufferer of depression, he committed suicide at age forty-six—isn’t only that he killed himself: it was also that he was unable to invent tolerable, lasting mode of living during the years he eked out of the universe, a mode of living that truly allowed the selfish mind to live amidst the great outdoors.”

Interesting, yeah?

Bogost’s attacks on irony are equally fruitful.

“Irony keeps reality at a distance. It has become our primary method for combating the external world’s incompatibility with our own desires. Today’s irony uses increasingly desperate efforts to hold everything in between welcome embrace and sneering mockery. Irony is the great affliction of our age, worthy of it’s own disorder.”

“Irony is the risk management strategy that accompanies selfishness, whether in commercial form as materialism or in spiritual form as mindfulness. By holding everything at a distance, we trap ourselves in our imperfect minds. … To pretend that the world only exists in one’s head is a madness condemned to reproduce itself forever. The error mistakes the big, weird, world outside our heads for a world built to be housed inside that head, inside our comparatively tiny minds … the mania of selfish irony: the world can never fully satisfy me, so I will hold it at arm’s length forever. Wouldn’t it be easier and more productive to work with the objects, people, and situations we encounter? To use, understand, and appreciate them for what they are rather than how they make us feel about ourselves?”

“Irony is the opposite of playground. Rather than embracing, creating, or otherwise accepting the ultimate existential preposterousness of the world and working with it nevertheless, irony takes the first step—drawing the boundary, encircling the materials with which one might then produce novel experience—and then it stops … with a chuckle and a sneer.”

How to play:
nature and spirituality, finding spirituality in nature
“First, pay close, foolish, even absurd attention to things. Then allow their structure, form, and nature to set the limits for the experiences you derive from them. By refusing to ask what could be different, and instead allowing what is present to guide us, we create a new space. A magic circle, a circumscribed, imaginary playground in which the limitation of the things we encounter—of anything we encounter—can produce meaningful experiences.”

Our world is jam-packed full of splendor and mystery, most of which we never notice as we ply the demands and dissatisfactions of our selfish lives. And even when we find mechanisms for relief—Buddhist mindfulness or libertarian objectivism, sermonic asceticism or unbridled consumerism—they turn our attention inward rather than outward. They tell us stories about the bodies and minds we wish we occupied rather than offering us tactics to live amidst the world as it really is. Playgrounds aren’t things we create so much as structures we discover. They are particular configurations of materials that otherwise go unnoticed, unseen, unloved, and unappreciated. They’re scattered everywhere, stacked, overlapping, exerting their machinations without us, but available for our address and manipulation, if we draw a magic circle around their parts and render them real.”

Wow. Contemplate that!

In closing, I’ll leave you with a few more choice quotes from Play Anything:

“What if we have so little fun not because the world is so unpleasurable, but because we’ve gotten fun so wrong?”

What if “… real fun isn’t in you; it’s in the world. Or better: it’s in the confluence of you-and-the-world that a playground helps you create and see.”
spirituality and psychology, spirituality and healing, spirituality and wellness
Can/Could “… you accept that meaning can come from outside of you rather than from within. Perhaps even that it must.”

Consider “Physical therapy means better connecting to the world outside ourselves …” and that, perhaps, the ability to “incorporate external things into internal experience” is the key to evolution and consciousness.

Personally, I believe we’re here to change. If “The things to which we attend and the way we do so change us”, what does that say about the things we choose?

In conclusion, what if “Fun isn’t a distraction or an escape from the world, but an ever deeper and more committed engagement with it.”

All quotes are from Play Anything: The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, & the Secret of Games by Ian Bogost.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wildflower Garden: Video Update #1

This video is about the wildflower Garden I'm creating as part of the celebration of the November 2017 release of War & Grace. War & Grace is the final installment in my epic fantasy trilogy, Daughter of Light. Daughter of Light was inspired by my beloved Grandma who was a gardener.



More about Grandma: Over a decade ago, when I was a singer/songwriter I produced a quirky CD. Here is an excerpt from that CD where I talk and sing about the time we spend with the ones we love and ... Broken Dolls ...



Broken Dolls Lyrics (Copyright 1998 Heather Baker)

Something borrowed blue
Why not sacrifice the truth
I spent all my time with you
All my time with you ...
Being someone that I’m not
Being something that I’m not
Someone … something …
Being someone that I’m not

I hide all secrets
I hide all my pain
I hide all my secrets
I will never ever fall in love again

I watch a crippled man
I watch him with his cane
I see his crooked body
Inside I’m just the same
Inside I’m just the same
Inside …
Inside I’m just the same

I hide all my secrets
I hide all my pain
I hide all my secrets
I will never ever fall in love again

Broken dolls are only loved
By those who knew them when
I was broken very young
So very young …
You didn’t know me then
You didn’t know me then
I know don’t me now …
You didn’t know me then

I hide all my secrets
I hide all my pain
I hide all my secrets
I will never ever fall in love again

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Is the Divine Within You?

I read God’s Ecstasy by Beatrice Bruteau last year (I think!) It’s a short book (172 pp.) but I read it very slowly because there is simply so much packed into each paragraph.
spiritual reads, good spiritual reads, books about spirituality
The book was written in 1997, but 20 years later it’s still a fascinating read. Dr. Bruteau had degrees in mathematics and philosophy, and she was a contemplative Christian. The book represents her effort to bridge the new insights quantum mechanics has provided about our Cosmos and her religion. I don't think her bridge fully crosses the gorge, but it’s a thought-provoking work.

She relies on three essential Christian religious symbols as the foundation for her thesis: the Incarnation, the Theokotos, and the Trinity. The Incarnation and the Theokotos work well for me as symbolical representations of potent spiritual/metaphysical reality but I confess, whenever she dove into the Trinity, everything became convoluted for me.

The book’s first three chapters discuss her broad views of the universe as “the creation of a self-creating world.”

“the Godmade universe is made as a self-making universe” and “to share in the divine life I must accept the vocation of consciously living in the self-creating universe”

“Joining in the creative work is really central to the whole contemplative enterprise”

“What Earth and the other heavenly bodies are manifesting is the glory, the overflowing creativity activity, that necessarily expresses and thus images the Creator.”

“When we are conscious and knowing the universe is conscious and knowing.”

The final quote is an idea I myself have been pondering for over two decades, that through each of us, through the experience of our lives, the universe and the Infinite become more knowing which would mean that each and every one of the moments of our existence is recorded—felt? received?—by this massive consciousness …

If that’s the case, nothing is meaningless … or static … because everything is constantly in flux as more becomes known.
evolution of man, all about evolution
In Chapters 4 through 7, Bruteau traces the evolution of the universe and some of the potential spiritual implications of that history. In her march through time, Bruteau discuses:

The Big Bang, the Inflation Scenario, Phase Transitions (“it may be that the idea of phase transition is an excellent way to see the whole picture: the universe evolves and ‘self-creates’ by passing through a period of phase transitions."), the stars, astrophysicists, quantum mechanics, the earth’s molten beginnings, symbiotic chemistry and bond formation, molecules of life: sugars, nucleic acids, and proteins, enzymes, catalysts, DNA, RNA, autocatalytic circles, hypercycles, emergents, the first cells, bacteria rule the world (“Bacteria are the ultimate in promiscuity. They engage in gene-swapping all the time.”), oxygen and the eukaryotic cell, diploid nuclei and meiosis, gametes, selection and adaptation, gene wars, and junk DNA, consciousness, language, and memes.


Whew. Makes your head spin! Here are some of her conclusions:

“The interactions are complicated. Organisms have to struggle with the environment, yet the environment is what sustains them. They often fight with members of their own kind, yet they also care for own kind, in some circumstance’s at the individual’s considerable expense. They may be in a predatory/prey relationship with other species, or again they may be in a symbiotic relationship of mutualism, in which each helps the other. The struggles against each other usually lead to discovering better ways to succeed in the struggle, first by one side, then the other. Even better ways to find better ways are developed, better ways to evolve are evolved.

It is one long fascinating story of the creation of novelty.
novelty and the brain, reasons for valuing diversity
“[Nature] is constantly renewing itself and constantly giving rise to forms that never existed before. And the most exciting thing about this novelty is that it is unpredictable. A theology that imagines that the whole history of the world from start to finish is already known is no longer a source of meaningfulness for us. It is not true to our experience.”

“Everywhere there is multiplicity organized into unity, the unity being strongly dependent on the multiplicity and even the diversity … And this is exactly what we see in the world on every level or scale of organization. Galaxies, molecules, organisms, societies—they are all examples of unity supporting and implying multiplicity, and multiplicity sustaining and implying unity.”

“Akin to the conjunction of diversity and unity is the balance of variation and stability…under the conditions of finitude … Randomness and determinism provide for novelty [variety] and stability.”

What’s going on here? Novelty, unpredictability, multiplicity unity, variation … all these words are exciting, inspiring, motivating … and then there is stability. Life needs that too. If we were born and our beings dissolved, i.e. there was no stability, continuity, or constancy of self, how much meaning would be lost? To ourselves? To the universe?

Along with this idea of the need for stability, not a stability that precludes evolution, but a stability of existence, she brings in another interesting concept: Severance.

In a discussion of parenting as the gifting of life as a mirror of the Divine gifting of life, she states:

“One gives being but does not control how it is expressed, one does not know what form it will take, what will happen next, how it will turn out. To pass on the gift of life is to pass on the ability to give the gift of life, and what happens past that point is out of one’s hands. This is that truly makes it a gift of love.”

Ahem. In this particular post I'm not going to discuss those parents—or those children!—who refuse to let go ... we're talking about ideals here!

“Severance is where development starts … and that inevitability involves hurt and failure, but overall, despite, and more often by means of hurts and failure, the whole process becomes more … The closed boundary … is the beginning of selfhood in the finite order … the figure is ‘discrete’, set off, separated … This is the universe’s general tendency to … be discrete and then clump, that’s the basic way of making a universe … when you have … several (from ‘severed)’ discrete bodies, you can have various clumping patterns, and your on your way to variety and creativity … If the universe were just an evenly distributed homogenous continuum of energy there would be no structure: no differences, and hence no creative unions … The great marvel, the great beauty, the great delight of the creative unions to come are dependent on those strange requirements of severance.

Again, this amazing Cosmos we live in, partake in, is a vast flow of paradoxical elements, we change, grow and evolve in the context of stability, we unite and combine in the context of separation.

And on where we are going …

“Edward Fredkin, an early computer genius, has said that the universe looks to him like a great computer with a program running it. [He also said] the program is so complex that there is no way to shorten it and jump to the final answer. The only way to find out the answer is to let the program run in real time.

So does any of this matter to us, to our daily lives, to our personal relationships? Does it have any impact on our goals and dreams whether they be for world peace or to create a family?
global peace, global peace mission
Consider Bruteau’s thoughts on Divine Intervention ….

“… The Infinite does not ‘intervene’ in the finite. The infinite as a whole is ‘exegeted’ in the whole of the finite, but the Infinite cannot be a participant in any interactions between the finite beings because that would finitize it. Only finite beings can be agents in finite interactions. The infinite can be ‘present’ in and even as the whole finite world, but it cannot be some particular part of the finite world or control some particular interaction in the finite world. All finite interactions are defined from particular points of view, and the Infinite cannot take one point of view rather than another. While this may be disappointing, it also relieves us of otherwise intractable problems, especially questions about why the Infinite doesn’t intervene in ways we (from our point of view) would like it to do.”

This strikes me as true. And so does this …

“The new things build on the old things. And as the better working ones crowd out the poorer ones, the population as a whole comes to be characterized by innovations. Those innovations then become part of the foundation on which the next round of innovations is built … But all this comes out of the dynamics, the process, the functions of the spontaneously assembling natural bodies. Nothing is imposed from the outside. There is no guiding hand. Each stage of organization leads naturally to the next on the basis of the way things are already happening. We are modeling a universe that makes itself, from the inside out, as an act of ecstasy, not one that is made from the outside by imposition.

Then there comes the procession of evil from the biological imperative to survive onward to a what might be considered a higher consciousness.

The protectionism, aggression, deception of the “selfish-gene” advances to alliances for mutual benefit then advances to a reciprocal altruism based on memory, i.e. I will likely have future interactions with you and that advances to the recognition of the “rights of others’” by way of acknowledging the Absolute/Infinite as a mutual Ground of Being. So that “the real basis for sin (I know, a word replete with a millennia of baggage; I would use a word more akin to suffering myself ) … is the failure to find the Absolute in oneself.”

Okay.

So the Theokotos, a Greek word meaning ‘God-bearer’ used traditionally for the Virgin Mary, makes me think of all our mothers as physical vessels giving birth to the infinite in finite form.
We all have the potential to “incarnate” divinity.

How do we do this? Well, folks have been trying to do this for aeons by praying, fasting, meditating, taking pilgrimages, studying sacred texts … Does any of it work? Seems like to a degree. Is it a worthy cause? Effort? Probably only if you believe it to be so. I just don’t think it’s a pursuit that one can be forced or shamed or otherwise coerced into. I also think the process of living itself evolves us, so how much focused effort is actually required?

I don’t know. Regardless, I emphatically do believe that:

“Divinity is within you: it is growing toward emergence.”

So here on this planet, there likely never will be any direct Divine Intervention … there is and will only ever be us and our thoughts and actions. The question is, by cultivating our inner connection to the Divine/Infinite how might our outer/finite world be transformed?

Will there ever come a day when everyone on the planet lives according to this state of being inwardly connected to the Divine? Is this where we're ultimately headed?

Honestly, I hope so.

In War & Grace, I call it Eryai;)

All quotes for this post are from: God's Ecstasy by Beatrice Bruteau

Thursday, May 18, 2017

On Writing War & Grace: Video Update #2

Enjoy this video update on War & Grace, the final release in my epic fantasy trilogy Daughter of Light. Notice the slip at 0:41 when I suggested my husband was an objective beta reader; I meant to say he might be subjective!

Half Faerie is on sale for $0.99 until May 31st!



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Silence Listens to Us

I promised closure to my thoughts on the book Silence by Shusaku Ends a while back.

And the Big Theme: In the face of horrific persecution, why does God remain silent? And how does that silence affect the faith and actions of Christians and/or followers of other organized religions?

That was um …. almost 7 weeks ago. So you can see I have taken some time with my response. In the book, silence is most often depicted as something horrifying, a devastating betrayal to the orthodox religious; if you to whom I pray to bow to seek approval from do not ANSWER me, SPEAK to me, INTERVENE on behalf: Then what is THE TRUTH—REALITY—PURPOSE—of it all?
prayers for divine intervention, prayers for peace, praying for divine intervention
Great questions.

My experience of silence—counterpoint to what I understand the experience of the characters in the story to be—is more like this:

Silence.
The Void.
The Quietest Thing Here.

God. Infinitude. Source. The Cosmos.

Does not speak in words.
Nor in intervention.
It converses in arcs. Nature. Time.
purpose of life, why do we need time
Our communication with the Divine is more like surfing, riding a wave. Clumsy and awkward, becoming absorbed with both success and defeat we lose our balance and flail into the depths.


It can be exhilarating devastating electric and engulfing all at the same time.

Wipe out. Or ride the pipeline. Swear off or never give up.

Static our journey through life is not.


Neither is it predictable, predetermined, or controllable.

How to perfect the art of the dance, achieve the nimble footsteps, sustain attunement to the thing that created us, but unlike us, does not communicate verbally.
align with meaning, the rhythm of life, live in harmony, live in harmony with nature, balanced life, balanced lifestyle
One can deny God, but no one can deny Life.

More powerful. More subtle. More profound. More intelligent than anything any one of us can conjure or dream up.

And yet we crave to create. Improve. Manifest. Self-determine. Keep on breathing.
breath of life meaning, deep breathing benefits, inspiration, inspiration breathing
Children of life yearning to harness the invisible force that animates their selves, that is beyond their selves, that sustain their selves.

We find in the Silence:


Despair.

Inspiration.
Truth.

Answers.
Fulfillment.
Devastation.
Solace.
Comfort.
Regeneration.

Not the words, but the experience.

And the Silence listens to our pulse, our neurons, our bodies, our breath.

Overwhelmed by the massive void of quiet, we drown ourselves in a tumult of noise, oblivious to the sacred exchange, missing it all, because we falsely assume, believe that what is subtle, gentle, not forced upon us, not grasping for our attention with branding, violent indoctrination, a tsunami of words is useless, insubstantial, unworthy of our oh-so-precious time.

Silence is the wellspring.

The trailhead.

Some of us begin the journey.

Because Silence, the Void, the Quietest Thing Here, God, Infinitude, Source, the Cosmos, doesn’t demand allegiance, command obedience, or deliver judgment. It only ever offers.

And for those of us who endeavor to receive, another dimension opens, a different landscape emerges.

The mystery the wonder the awe threads itself into our reality and we are never the same.

I think Endo left his missionaries at the trailhead.
journey meaning, journey inspiration, spiritual journey

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Mother Child Bond

Saturday morning I came across this story of a monkey grieving over the death of its mother.



I was particularly moved. Perhaps because the night before I’d been revising War & Grace.

Let me share an excerpt from the portion of the manuscript I’d been working on.

"We do well to support every child’s love for their mother, as we, the priestesses of Delphinus, love our mother, the Great White Sea.”

lack of attachment

“What about in cases where the mother dies in, say, childbirth. Is the child doomed?”

“There is no doubt the premature death of a child’s mother presents challenges. But if the child is allowed and encouraged to cultivate the memory of their mother it can go a long way in overcoming the rupture. There are many ways to achieve this. Images, stories, and simple discussions between those who remember the deceased are all quite effective.”

importance of mother child bond

“What if the mother dies — or the mother and child are separated prematurely through some other complication — and there is never any mention of her made to the child?”

“It would be much like a fish, when taken from the sea, gasps for air. While the sea will continue to thrive, the fish will flounder and die. The child will spend their life gasping for something which almost everyone they come in contact with takes for granted. They will be at a sore disadvantage.” — War & Grace by Heidi Garrett

lack of attachment

Again and again, animals — our relationships with them and their relationships with each other — provide the most direct and simple map to find our way home — to the home of the heart, to the place wherever it is that we love and are loved.

benefits of human animal bond

Friday, March 10, 2017

We Love.

We love.

Americans are at their best when we are loving.

Whether its our spouses, partners, children, pets, homes, states, country, freedom, constitution, bill of rights, we are a passionate people.

I saw a headline the other day claiming that “Americans don’t recognize their country anymore.” Supposedly because we’re divided.

Who in their right mind would expect 320 plus million diverse peoples to agree on most things?!?! Anything?!?!? (Oh, that's what all that nifty surveillance is far ... they're going to try to use our buying habits, reading habits, posting habits, watching habits to herd us like cats ... hehe!)

If you study our history, Americans have been “divided” since the birth of our nation. Politics has, since our country’s inception, been rife with nastiness and name-calling, i.e. the more things change the more things stay the same … So don’t let anyone hoodwink you into believing “these times are somehow different — more awful — so bad —blah blah blah blah blah blah blah”.

Years ago M. Scott Peck wrote a book titled The Road Less Traveled, the title a line from a Robert Frost poem. It was a bestseller. An analysis of why it was a best seller back in the day claimed it was because the first line of the book was: Life is difficult.

And those three words hooked millions of book buyers because it confirmed an innate truth that at the time, perhaps, was not readily acknowledged in public. Remember all those silly saccharine sitcoms they used to foist upon us …

See, we’re always hungry and scavenging for Truth. We really don’t want or need or thrive on sugar-coated, palliative make me-feel good solipsism.

We really want the Truth, even when it hurts. Even when it breaks our hearts.

This picture reminds me of that.

Bodza, air force dog, military dogs, dog emotional support
Photo credit The Mirror
It reminds me that to love is the most magnificent thing on this planet. And whether that love is for your precious child, your loyal dog, or the freedom to voice your Truth, that love is the only thing that tethers us to the Divine.

So love someone or something with everything you've got.

Unleash your passion.

And open your big mouth about that.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Violence in the Name of Religion is Depressing

I read Silence by Shusaku Endo for the first time in the last week of 2016 and wrote this blog post. However, I’d borrowed the book from the library and couldn’t make notes in it, so … I bought a copy so I could, yes, mark it up and take a deeper dive.

Today, it’s hard to understand why I wanted to do that … the first read took less than two days, the second read took over a month. I just didn’t want to pick the book up. It’s so depressing.

Why is it so depressing?

We’re used to hearing about the violence that Jews perpetrated against Gentiles back in the day, and the violence that Christians perpetrated in the Crusades, and the violence that Muslims have perpetrated against Infidels, but I’d never heard about the violence the Buddhists perpetrated against Christians in the 1600s. The four largest world religions have maimed, murdered, and tortured in the name of … umm … some higher good? Silence is story of Buddhists torturing, killing, and forcing Christians to apostatize. Depressing to realize none of the four largest organized religions are exempt form the darker side.
religion causing depression, depression and spirituality
Silence is also dense. Packed in its 212 pages are layers and layers of themes.

What themes? Here are a few:

  1. When one is dealing with organized religion, geopolitics is never far behind. The Portuguese and the Jesuits were the first to reach Japan. Initially they were welcomed along with the silk trade, but when the Spanish and then the English and the Dutch arrived … the seeds of conflict which led to the extermination of the Christian religion in Japan were sown.
    examples of religious violence, why does religion cause violence
  2. What does it mean to be a Christian priest/missionary/father? Why would you choose to be a missionary? Endo uses the character of Father Rodriques to pose some possible answers to that question. Does one become a missionary because one feels superior to the population whom you intend to convert? Does one become a missionary to become a martyr? Does one become a missionary to be useful? Is a missionary useful when he’s converting others to his belief system? Is a missionary useful when he’s conducting ritual sacraments and prayers? Is a missionary useful when he silently watches others martyr themselves/die for the cause?
  3. Who/what is the Christian God? Father Ferreira opines that “the Japanese cannot think of an existence that transcends the human”. He believes the God the Japanese Christians have faith in is not “the Church’s God” but “The Great Sun”. But throughout Silence, Father Rodrigues repeatedly sees/imagines his God as the “man whom he loved” (Christ) “a beautiful, exalted man.” So does Rodrigues's God transcend the human? And … does it really matter?
    are buddhists violent, major conflicts in buddhism
  4. In the face of torture and death: water punishment (being tied to a stake and slowly drowned as the tide rises) and the pit (being hung upside down with a slit behind your ears so that your blood drips drop by drop) (Really! These are the ghastly tactics used!) why would anyone become a Christian? The life of the Japanese who became Christians and practiced their faith in secrecy and isolation was limited and impoverished in the extreme. Like we can’t even imagine. They were slaves of the samurai. “The reason our religion has penetrated this territory like water flowing into dry earth is that it has given to this group of people a human warmth they never previously knew. For the first time, they have met men who treated them like human beings. It was the human kindness and charity of the fathers that touched their hearts.” That is the beautiful part of the story. Period.
    is religion the cause of most wars, wars started by religion
  5. And the Big Theme: In the face of horrific persecution, why does God remain silent? And how does that silence affect the faith and actions of Christians and/or followers of other organized religions? Good question.
    why is god silent, examples of god's silence, god's silence in the bible
    I think I’ll tackle it in my next blog post.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Jesus Story, a Japanese Christian and a Dominican Nun

I finally finished reading A Life of Jesus by Shusaku Endo ( a Japanese Christian). It was a slog, for me, but an interesting one. Endo’s analysis of the biblical texts and the verifiable /non-verifable truth in the Jesus story posits interesting questions and some possible answers.

But it didn’t convert me, i.e. the story about the Jesus story is interesting, but the fundamentals problems with the Jesus Story as a basis for a religion remain for me.

  1. Life is a forward, progressive movement. All traditional religions require us to spend much (the majority) of the time (trapped?) peering into an increasingly distant (irrelevant?) past. My personal experience has shown me the undefined present is where it’s at and cult-like figures, codified texts, and ecumenical hierarchies are where it is not. Although I will not deny rituals and sacred spaces can have inherent beauty and power. But, honestly, reading an analysis of the Jesus Story while interesting, was actually kind of depressing, and left me feeling dusty and stale.
    the incarnation of jesus christ; resurrection of jesus
  2. It’s really hard to believe that Jesus (the historical figure the Jesus Story was created around) did not manipulate the events of his end and his death to fit the prophesies regarding the Messiah, and this, not even very well. Kind of like direct plagiarism. It’s hard for me to read about Jesus’s trial and crucifixion without thinking: suicide ideation and/or death by cop. It’s like Jesus (the historical figure the Jesus Story was created around) gauged the forks in the road and saw increasing irrelevance or a shot at fulfilling this martyr role. Because it’s like he wanted to die. You know.
  3. Once you get over 35, you might begin to have other problems with the Jesus Story, i.e. living fast, dying young, and leaving a good-looking corpse (sorry!) isn’t so hard. Really, it’s not. What’s really challenging is the years that follow, and the years that follow those, and the years that continue to follow. If you’re 40 or older, you know you’re a lot wiser and have much more experience than you did at 30, 20 … etc. Which doesn’t mean if you’re under 40 you don’t matter. It’s just that …
    praying
  4. I’ve never been able to shake the belief that we all have a spark of the Divine within us, and it’s pretty much up to us whether or not, or how we choose to cultivate that spark. Flashes in the pan (and Jesus’s Story is a flash in the pan story) (not the enduring religion built around the story)(but the approximately 2 years of his ministry) just don’t have the same … umm … well, I’m always really impressed by those who survive aging with joyousness and light. Life, grief, from all those losses we eventually accumulate if we live long enough, can sculpt us into something gorgeous … umm … I just don’t see that that happened with Jesus (the historical figure the Jesus Story was created around.)
    enlightenment, prayer, consciousness, evolution
So. The first time I turned an objective eye upon the Jesus Story it failed me, as the basis for my life’s purpose, my life’s meaning, a religion, etc. And it still does.

I’m not saying it’s not a good story. It’s a great story! The themes of INCARNATION and RESURRECTION are exceedingly powerful. As is a spirituality of Love vs. a spirituality of Law. In fact, I don’t doubt that Jesus (the historical figure the Jesus Story was created around) experienced cosmic love to a degree that he received a vision of humanity who also experienced cosmic love and lived out of that. And that that was his message. But each of us can have that same experience. And it’s true we all suffer deeply in one way or another—all have our crosses to bear—so, yes, it’s a great story. Obviously, hehe, the religion it engendered, Christianity, remains one of the world’s largest.

But, honestly, I’m with the Dominican nun, Sister Lucia, I’m pretty sure Mary and Joseph were in love and they did it …
Spanish Nun Sparks outrage with suggestion that the Virgin Mary may have had sex