Our October Titles Are Here!

Our October titles are here!


Swimming with Elephants

Sarah Seidelmann

“A fascinating, amusing, and wise account of how someone born with a shaman’s predilections, raised in a rationalist culture, finds her way back to her true self.” —Martha BeckNew York Times bestselling author of Expecting Adam

“From the lakes of Minnesota to the Ganges River in India, Sarah Seidelmann’s transformative journey from MD to shamanic healer is a refreshingly honest and very funny tale of spiritual growth.” —Matt Adrian, author of The Guide to Troubled Birds

“This is an exceedingly vulnerable, beautifully written book and the most genuine spiritual memoir I have ever read. It is also–in many hilarious moments–laugh out loud funny.” —Maria Bamford, Comedian and star of Netflix Original Series Lady Dynamite

“I LOVED THIS BOOK. Sarah takes us on an intimate tour of the hero’s journey. She’s a brilliant storyteller…making sense of the baffling journey from the ordinary world into the mystical and back again. I didn’t want it to end.” —MeiMei FoxNew York Times bestselling author

Swimming with Elephants tells the eccentric, sometimes poignant, and occasionally hilarious experience of a working mother undergoing a bewildering vocational shift from physician to shamanic healer. During that tumultuous time of answering her call, Seidelmann took a variety of pilgrimages, both metaphysical and real, to ultimately discover an entirely different way of helping people heal—one she had longed for.

(Conari Press)


Attitudes of Gratitude

M.J. Ryan

“I’m thankful to Mary Jane Ryan because her candid and story-filled book reminds me to return to my heart-the home of gratitude- and consequently, enhances my connection with all that is wonderful and wise around and within me.” —Sue Patton Thoele, bestselling author of Woman’s Book of Courage and Courage to be Yourself

“Exquisitely reconnects us to the wonder and satisfaction which can be found in our daily lives….A delightful book for anyone who wants to focus on the joy and satisfaction in their everyday life.” —Judy Ford, author of Wonderful Ways to Love a Child

Gratitude is a simple, life-changing practice. Taking time to notice and reflect upon the good things restores us to the place where we see what’s right instead of wrong, opening our hearts to happiness. In a series of brief essays, M.J. Ryan illuminates the many gifts that gratitude bestows on us and offers a number of ways to practice it.

(Conari Press)

 


The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives

Edited and Introduced by Judika Illes

“Timely and elegant; spooky and intriguing; and highly recommended for both readers and writers interested in the great beyond, The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives is an amazing collection of stories, sure to delight any reader interested in mysteries in general, and the supernatural and occult in particular. But writers of such fiction have much to learn here as well. This compilation will be your go to read for excellence in occult mysteries for years to come.” —J.T. EllisonNew York Times bestselling author of Field of Graves and Lie To Me

“Judika Illes has compiled an amazing collection of occult detective stories, mining some of the best paranormal mysteries the early twentieth century had to offer. Whether you are new to the genre or a lifelong fan, The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives: 13 Stories of Supernatural Sleuthing is a collection you absolutely cannot do without.” —Bob Freeman, The Occult Detective, author of Shadows Over Somerset, Keepers of the Dead, and The Liber Monstrorum series

“Read The Weiser Book of Occult Detectives when you find yourself slumped over your own desk, your typewriter teeth glaring at you and your lamplight flickering in disgust at your writer’s block. Not only will you find inspiration, you will get so lost in the pages that you will forget all about your own dying novel and instead try your hand at solving a mystery by any means possible. Any. Means. Necessary.” —Varla Ventura, author of Fairies, Pookas & Changelings

“Settle in for a riveting read!” —Rosemary Ellen Guiley, author of The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits

This is a compilation of vintage occult detective stories, written by masters of the genre including Arthur Conan Doyle, Algernon Blackwood, Dion Fortune, Helena Blavatsky, and more. The stories star both female and male sleuths exploring mysteries or using their own supernatural gifts to solve crimes.  The mysteries they tackle include murder, missing funds, demons, ghosts, vampires, and more.

(Weiser Books)


Santa Muerte

Tracey Rollin

“Tracey Rollin’s very well written book Santa Muerte: The History, Rituals, and Magic of Our Lady of the Holy Death avoids a dogmatic approach to Santa Muerte. The author, who hails from New Mexico, where Doña Sebastiana, Lady Death, presaged Santa Muerte, incorporates more research on Santa Muerte than other books aimed at devotees.” –Professor R. Andrew Chesnut, author of Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint

“Rollin does an amazing, non-judgmental job of relating the stories of Santa Muerte, but also gives the reader the practical goods on how to work with this powerful folk saint combining both traditional and modern ways of working with her.” ─Andrieh Vitimus, author of Hands-On Chaos Magic and podcast host of Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole

“This book brings together two important perspectives of both a historical and magico-religious worldview without alienating either one. A valuable contribution to this area of study.” ─Tony Kail, author of Santa Muerte: Mexico’s Mysterious Saint of Death and A Secret History of Memphis Hoodoo: Rootworkers, Conjurers, and Spirituals

“Tracey Rollin does an excellent job of laying out and explaining Santa Muerte. If you want the authoritative book on Santa Muerte, this is the book to read.” ─Taylor Ellwood, author of Pop Culture Magic Systems

Considered the female personification of death and matron saint of the marginalized, Santa Muerte is associated with protection and safe passage to the afterlife. Santa Muerte is a complete ritual guide to working with this famous—and infamous!—Mexican folk saint. It takes readers beyond the sensational headlines to reveal why Santa Muerte is so beloved by so many.

(Weiser Books)


Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart

Jon M. Sweeney and Mark S. Burrows

“In reading Meister Eckhart’s Little Book of the Heart, it again came to mind why I am so drawn to the poetry of Rumi, Hafiz, and Kabir. There is revelation in this book by Burrows and Sweeney. I sincerely feel it will help one look deeper into the eyes of the Christ and know more of God’s knowledge and love.” —Daniel Ladinsky, international bestselling author of I Heard God Laughing, A Year with Hafiz, Love Poems from God, and other books of poetry

“In the ecstatic spirit of Rumi and Hafiz, Meister Eckhart’s words dance and invite the reader into an intimate encounter with the divine. Reading these poems sets the heart ablaze and the spirit soaring.” –Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, author of The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

“I think Mark Burrows and Jon Sweeney achieve something quite rare and wonderful here. They make Eckhart clear, concise, and very compelling!” —Richard Rohr, OFM, bestselling author of Falling Upward, Breathing Under Water, and many other books

“If for many of us a dose of Meister Eckhart is like a morning pot of coffee, this concentrated and poetic reduction is like a book full of double espresso shots — each is about as much as you can take in and metabolize in a day.” —Brother Paul Quenon, Abbey of Gethsemani, author of Unquiet Vigil

Here is a stunning and fresh rendering of one of Christianity’s greatest poetic and spiritual voices.  This book conveys the heart of Eckhart’s teachings on what it means to love God and embark on an authentic spiritual journey; a journey characterized by mystery, paradox, and an embrace of the unknown.  Its message will resonate with spiritual seekers of many traditions.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


Tarot, Plain & Simple

Leanna Greenaway

Tarot has been a popular form of divination for centuries. This guide brings tarot into the 21st century, making the card meanings relevant and easy to understand and follow for contemporary seekers. Mastering the art of reading the cards has never been easier or more accessible. Included are various card groups for interpretation, focusing mainly on the Celtic cross spread.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags

Elhoim Leafar

 “The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags is well resourced with easy to follow instructions. I will keep it as a companion and I suggest you do the same. It’s a must-have for all practitioners of the magickal arts. I love it.” – Lady Rhea, author of The Enchanted Candle and The Enchanted Formulary.

“The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags blends multiple cultures into a working system of magical potency. It is a useful grimoire and reference for any magical practitioner. Within its pages, you can learn to put magic in the palm of your hand.” – Adam Sartwell, co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft and award-winning author of Twenty-one Days of Reiki and The Blessing Cord.

Elhoim Leafar has created a beautiful, empowering, and immensely accessible manual for crafting charm bags.  I enjoyed using charm bags before, but after reading The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags, I absolutely adore them!” –  Michael Butler Smith, shamanic witch and author of Embracing Isis: A Witch’s Guide to the Great Goddess.

“. Easy to understand and full of interesting details, The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags is a great guide for the beginner, but will also provide the seasoned practitioner with new perspectives on the art of making one of the most beloved forms of spells that folk-magic has to offer.” –—Storm Faerywolf, author of Betwixt and Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft

“If you are looking for ways to improve and expand your magick this is the book for you” —Lilith Dorsey, author of Love Magic.

Charm bags may be the most popular style of amulet or talisman in the world today, but the strongest amulets are those you make yourself.  In this clear, focused book of practical magic are over 100 formulas to create bags intended for various purposes including love, luck, success, happiness, health, wealth, protection, prosperity, and the attainment of goals and desires.

(Weiser Books)


The After Death Chronicles

Annie Mattingley

“Annie Mattingley is the author of a wonderful new book I recommend highly called The After Death Chronicles. Her work offers a collection of different types of personal accounts from people who have experienced convincing communication of one kind or another with deceased loved ones. It is a terrific contribution to the growing body of increasingly credible evidence that our consciousness does indeed continue after death.” – Raymond Moody, MD, PhD, author of Life After Life

“This book is a real treasure, one that will surely bring comfort and reassurance to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, those facing terminal illness, those seeking greater spiritual insight and people everywhere who yearn for more insight about the transcendent meaning of death.” – John R. Audette, MS, CEO & Co-Founder, Eternea.org and Founder of The International Association for Near-Death Studies

The After Death Chronicles is a must read for anyone who has lost a loved one. And quite frankly, that’s nearly all of us. The information in this book provides solace and a great deal of hope. It’s medicine for the soul.” – Christiane Northrup, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Goddesses Never Age

“You don’t read this book, you savor it: every morsel of it, every tear, every laugh, every pulse-pounding story from people so real you feel yourself akin to them.” – P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D. Near-Death Researcher and experiencer, author of A Manuel for Developing Humans, Future Memory, Near-Death Experiences: The Rest of the Story and Dying to Know You: Proof of God in the Near-Death Experiences

The After Death Chronicles reminds us that our task is simply to be present for these encounters and allow ourselves to harvest countless gifts from beyond the veil.” – Mirabai Starr, translator of Dark Night of the Soul: John of the Cross and author of Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir

The book begins with the story of Annie’s dead daughter appearing to her in the early morning hours. The experience was so transformative, Annie began to share it with others and discovered she was not alone. Featuring over 80 accounts from people across the country who have received communication from deceased loved ones, this book inspires reassurance, courage, and healing.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)


Inhale, Exhale, Repeat

Emma Mills

We’re living faster, working harder, and often so busy we forget to sit back, close our eyes, and just breathe. Inspired by meditation and mindfulness, neuroscience, and insights from literature, Mills guides the reader through the course of a single day, with easy tips, meditations, recipes, literary recommendations, and practical takeaways easily completed within minutes to restore calm and focus.

(Conari Press)

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Soul DNA

What is your Soul DNA?

Like your body’s DNA, your Soul DNA contains strands of information that become you—and only you.

On your Soul DNA are strands of:

  • your soul’s sacred longing
  • your soul’s divine purpose
  • all your gifts and talents
  • sacred purpose of your shadows
  • your ancestry in, and beyond, history
  • your invisible divine teacher
  • memory of who you really are
  • memory of consciously choosing life
  • deepest memory of being pure light
  • ability to see as the divine sees
  • memory of being one with The One

Just like human DNA, your Soul DNA is a thing of complex beauty and grace. And, just like human DNA, it unfolds in a spiral.

Ah! The Spiral!

I explored this sacred geometric form in depth for Find Your Soul’s Purpose. It is the mystical form that generates all life forms on earth. Francene Hart, the great artist of Sacred Geometry, describes the spiral as the “accelerator of consciousness.”

So what happens when you walk that accelerator back in time to birth and beyond to remember your essence, your core, your foundation–your Soul’s DNA?

You’ll find out for yourself as you walk the sacred spiral, but here are a few things you can look forward to:

  • feel more awake, alert, alive
  • heightened awareness that everything is alive, conscious, and sacred
  • heightened ability to focus on what is yours to do and relinquish the rest
  • constantly see connections, everything fits
  • synchronicities abound
  • intimate relationship with the Mystery
  • subtle changes as life opens spaces for your soul’s full expression
  • long forgotten talents and gifts come to life
  • shadows morph from problems to invitations
  • see our wounded world through eyes of love
  • life overflows with meaning, purpose, joy
  • your heart overflows with love

In the end, all those delicious strands weave together into one braid, and it’s name is LOVE.

That‘s who you are.
That‘s what you’re here to remember.
That‘s your soul’s essential DNA.


Janet Conner is a writer, speaker, teacher, retreat guide, and radio show host of The Soul-Directed Life radio show for Unity Online Radio. Each year she teaches five global telecourses in her trademark series Your Soul Wants Five Things, which offers spiritual tools and practices that help people meet their soul’s primary needs. She lives and writes in Ozona, Florida. Visit her online at www.janetconner.com.

Happiness Purpose

by Janet Conner

Happiness was the hot spiritual topic for years. A daily tsunami of blogs and books and coaches offered path after path, each guaranteed to carry us to that elusive magical golden ring called Happiness.

Then came the American election. And overnight, the call to happiness disappeared.

This makes sense because happiness is weak medicine for the chaos and fear swirling around us. Happiness doesn’t help with sleepless nights. It isn’t an antidote to blowups with family, friends, and workmates. It doesn’t make a dent it racial, gender, or religious fear or persecution. Worried about spying and hacking? Happiness won’t help you.

Happiness even disappeared on Facebook! All those cute pictures of cats morphed into a barrage of memes to contact your representatives.

It’s wild out there.                               
It’s wild out there because it’s wild in here.

So, is there an antidote to chaos? To fear? Is there medicine for anger? Is there a medicine stranger than the pursuit of happiness? Yes, there is.

And it’s also the word of the hour. PURPOSE.

Everybody is talking purpose. Creativity teachers. Writing teachers. Women’s empowerment leaders. Retreat centers. Yoga gurus. Spiritual teachers. Not a day goes by that I don’t get an email with a course or blog or book on purpose.

And, surprise-of-surprises, I’m one of them.

This is a new experience for me!

  • When the world was tumbling into the meltdown of 2009, I was introducing deep soul writing.
  • When the world was obsessing over the law of attraction in 2012, I was teaching the radically different teachings of Jesus and Buddha.
  • While the world was enthralled with happiness in 2015, I was talking about gathering the living presence of the divine in your soul vows.

I’ve never been a hot topic before.

Mind you, my crystal ball did not tell me that the hot subject in 2017 would be purpose.

I knew my next book in Your Soul Wants Five Things would be on soul purpose, but I expected to write it this year and see it published in 2019.

When I got the call from Conari Press in March 2015 to write Find Your Soul’s Purpose for a 2017 pub date, I was so startled, I turned to the angels for guidance.

At the time, I didn’t understand their answer:

Dear one, your world is in a crisis now, and each that does their purpose will shift the alignment of what is happening, and so, you have been brought to this place of writing again faster than you expected, but in divine timing.

In early 2015, did you think our world was in crisis? Sure, there were problems aplenty, but crisis?

Now, there are so many crises, you can’t respond fast enough. You can’t focus, you can’t think, you can’t prioritize. We are distracted and we are exhausted.

So, what’s the antidote to crisis?

It clearly isn’t the pursuit of happiness.

But nor is it purpose in the standard-issue, self-help sense of life purpose or mission statement or goal setting. This is not figuring out how to be more focused and successful at work or in your relationships.

Soul purpose is more sacred than that.

The angels were right. We are feeling a call—a visceral call—to help shift the alignment of our world. Not just our lives. Our families. Our jobs. Our neighborhoods.

There’s a collective call to make a bigger difference. A call to heal. To serve. To support. And to sow love.

The global shift is possible. It has to be, because we are so hungry for it. And it begins with you. With me. With each one of us.

As we remember who we really are–one of the most astonishing discoveries on the sacred spiral, and begin to embody the unique divine purpose only we can serve, we literally infuse our earth with purpose, Divine Purpose. 


Janet Conner is a writer, speaker, teacher, retreat guide, and radio show host of The Soul-Directed Life radio show for Unity Online Radio. Each year she teaches five global telecourses in her trademark series Your Soul Wants Five Things, which offers spiritual tools and practices that help people meet their soul’s primary needs. She lives and writes in Ozona, Florida. Visit her online at www.janetconner.com.

Getting Creative with Your Spirit Guides

by Debra Landwehr Engle

Have you ever wondered what creativity truly is?

What if we defined it as the art of living rather than the art of painting a portrait or writing a novel?

What if creativity isn’t an attribute that only certain people have, but a birthright of being human?

What if creativity isn’t something you do, but it’s who you are?

And what if your spirit guides are your creative partners every moment of your life?

When I was writing Let Your Spirit Guides Speak, my writing guide told me this:

“Creativity is not just a talent some people have. It is the intentional partnership between our world and yours, brought into human form by your willingness to listen.”

In other words, the more you listen, and the more you focus on spiritual guidance and act on it, the more you’ll be able to express your creativity in everything you do.

So when are you creative?

  • Any time there’s a problem and you manifest a solution, you’re creative.
  • Any time you help a friend see things a different way, you’re creative.
  • Every time you turn one thing into something else, you’re creative. (Case in point: transforming eggs, flour and sugar into a cake. It’s the alchemy of creation.)

Essentially, every time you breathe, you’re creative, since creativity is part of your DNA. So the question isn’t, “Am I creative?” Instead it’s, “How can I build an intentional partnership with my guides?”

There are endless ways to do that, but here’s one simple one to supersize your communication with your guides:

Do a vision board with your guides’ help. You may have created a vision board before, but it’s a more powerful exercise when you do it intentionally with your guides.

Get out a large piece of paper, several magazines, a pair of scissors and a glue stick. Now ask your guides what they’d suggest as a focus for your vision board.

Typically, a vision board is a way of visualizing what you’d like to manifest. But it could also be used to answer a question, help resolve an issue or point you in a clear direction.

So close your eyes, sit quietly for a few moments, take in three deep breaths, and ask your guides: “What is the focus of this vision board?” Pay attention to any sensations, images, words or feelings you receive, and trust their guidance for you.

Once you’re clear about the purpose of the vision board, set all expectations aside and ask your guides to lead you to the pictures and words you need most right now. Then simply start flipping through magazines.

Every time you see an image or a word that speaks to you, cut it out and set it aside. Do this for a set period of time—for instance, 10 minutes. Then spend another 10 minutes gluing the pieces at random to your sheet of paper.

Now it’s time to interpret your vision board. Ask your guides for help with this step, too, so you can understand the deeper meaning of the words and images you chose. It’s important not to judge or dismiss anything you put on your vision board. Instead, listen for the meaning.

For instance, if you’re married and you put a picture of a bride on your vision board, ask why. Maybe you’re going to feel newly married again. Maybe someone in your life is getting married and you don’t know it yet.

Ask other questions, too. For instance…

  • “Why did this particular image speak so strongly to me?”
  • “I have lots of white space on my vision board. What does that mean?” Or, in contrast, “My vision board is packed full. What does that mean?”
  • “What’s the connecting thread of the words and images?”
  • “What’s the one thing you want me to know right now?”

This is the beauty of the intentional partnership with your guides. It will reveal to you information and perspectives that you could not have thought of on your own.

So the next time you question your whether you’re a creative being, remember that partnership. Then let your creativity, and your spirit guides, speak.


Debra Engle is the author of the award-winning Let You Spirit Guides Speak and The Only Little Prayer You Need.

Spiritual Bandwidth

by Janet Conner

Have you noticed that the next big idea that sends your life into a whole new orbit always drops out of nowhere? You’re not looking for it, not asking for it, not expecting anything, when suddenly, wham, it lands in your heart. And the top of your head pops off like a champagne cork.

I had one of those moments recently.

I had just finished a delightful conversation with Kathleen Deignan on The Soul-Directed Life talking about Thomas Merton, prayer, and finding the natural rhythm of your life. We even sang to one another.

As we were saying goodbye, Kathleen blurte17d, “You are an ecstatic!”

This got my attention because it was the second time ecstasy came calling. The first time, a friend in book group interrupted me as I was describing the intense experience of writing Find Your Soul’s Purpose. She said, “You need more balance in your life.” Without thinking, I blurted, “I don’t want balance. I want ecstasy.”

Hmm. Ecstasy. Blurted. Twice. Time to investigate.

First stop. The dictionary:

  • rapturous delight
  • overpowering emotion or exaltation
  • state of sudden intense feeling
  • frenzy of poetic inspiration
  • mental transport of rapture from the contemplation of divine things

Well, now. These are what I like, what I want, what excites me.

But what is an ecstatic? 

I wrote to Kathleen. You might want to read her answer slowly:

“By ecstatic I mean vibrating at a very high and insightful frequency as a way of being in this world. Most of us do not use hardly ANY of the spiritual band-width we have as gift, never really let ourselves move into these more spacious, expansive realms.

You feel like a woman who lives in the power-state of joy and surprise and wonder and gratitude—all of that.

That is what I meant when I said you are an ecstatic being.”

I was tickled by how she described me, but it was Spiritual Band-width that sent my champagne cork flying.

In all my interspiritual reading (over 100 books a year), I’ve never seen anyone use that term.

So what is this?
In a word: Transparent.
Spiritual band-width is the measure of your transparency to the Transcendent.

Every tradition points to becoming so transparent that you merge into the divine in sacred union.

  • Jesus is transparent when he says, “The Father and I are One.”
  • The ultimate Vedic truth is, “You are That.”
  • Li Po in 8th century China wrote, “We sit together the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.”

The spiritual band-width of these souls is so vast it encompasses the width and depth of the cosmos.

Which is great for them, but what about you and me?
We’re not there yet.

But, as we explore the fields of the soul, embodying the living presence of the Divine in our mystical prayer practices, we become a wee bit more transparent.

Bit by bit, prayer by prayer, silence by silence, our spiritual band-width expands and expands and expands.

Thanks to Kathleen Deignan, I see that I have been slowly expanding my spiritual band-width for years. And everything I write and every course I lead helps you expand your band-width, too.

I’m in awe. I’m in wonder. I’m in love.

And it’s only taken me 10 years, 7 books, 220 radio shows, countless hours of deep soul writing, deep soul reading, and deep soul mystical prayer practice to see what is happening when we explore the fields of the soul: we are expanding our spiritual band-width!

So the question that’s probably bubbling up right now is “How do I expand my spiritual band-width?

I took this inquiry into soul writing. This surfaced:

  • Sacred Desire
    Acknowledge and express your sacred desire to become more transparent to the Transcendent
  • Big Questions
    Ask big questions, quest-inducing questions, and follow where they lead
  • Mystical Prayer
    Develop mystical prayers that you love with your whole being
  • Show Up
    Live your prayer practices and your prayer practices will transform your life
  • White Space
    Give yourself silence and emptiness in which to hear the voice of the Transcendent
  • Big Ideas
    Spend time with the mystics; chew over ideas that astonish you
  • Soul Community
    Explore the fields of the soul in community. Spend time with real soul friends
  • Serve the Divine
    Be the presence of the divine in and through and as you–this is the essence of transparency
  • Unknowing
    Open to what you don’t know, don’t understand, can’t figure out
  • Trust
    Release the need for safety. Pursue love. In perfect paradox, you’ll find true safety

Looking at my list, I realized we do all that and more in my deep soul exploration books and courses. And the result, as Kathleen recognized, is gratitude, wonder, and joy–even ecstasy!


Janet Conner is a writer, speaker, teacher, retreat guide, and radio show host of The Soul-Directed Life radio show for Unity Online Radio. Each year she teaches five global telecourses in her trademark series Your Soul Wants Five Things, which offers spiritual tools and practices that help people meet their soul’s primary needs. She lives and writes in Ozona, Florida. Visit her online at www.janetconner.com.

Imagine

by Marion Forgatch, PhD, Gerald Patterson, PhD and Tim Friend

As parents, we shape our children’s behavior from the day they are born. Their behaviors—desirable and undesirable alike— become established as we reinforce them through our own actions, reactions, and inactions. In this chapter, we’ll discuss how you can encourage cooperation in your children and help you to become aware of behaviors that may innocently send the wrong messages. As Jerry studied families in their homes, he developed what has become known as “coercion theory.” Coercion starts out as a vital, natural survival instinct that can be found in infants as well as baby birds. Before children develop language, they communicate their needs to be fed, held, or have their diapers changed by crying. Unattended infants can fly into little fits of apparent rage. It’s their only way of telling you that they need something, and they need it now. As they begin to develop language, we have to teach children to ask for what they need. If we don’t, that coercive behavior can allow toddlers to control their parents. To see unadulterated coercion in action, watch a three-year-old throw a temper tantrum in a grocery store. See how the parent and child react to each other. Observe the escalation in the intensity of emotions during the exchange. This is a battle of wills between a little kid and a grown-up. Watch how it ends, who wins, and why.

Coercion lies at the root of most of the battles we see between siblings and between parents and children. You can think of coercion as a dark side of human nature inside all of us. Understanding what coercion is and how it interferes with loving relationships can enable you to recognize it when it arises and do something about it. Because coercion is the cause of so much of the trouble between parents and young children, reducing it is a core component of our parenting techniques. When parents learn to reduce coercive actions in their children—and in themselves—cooperative behaviors have a better chance to grow and thrive. When we first become parents, many of us start out with vague dreams for ourselves, our individual children, and our families as a whole. You have probably had some kind of vision of the family you wanted ever since you were a child—though it is rare for anyone to sit down with us when we are young (and most receptive) and explain how to raise a happy family, let alone model how it is done. Your vision, however amorphous it may be, was likely influenced by the strengths and values that determined how you were raised—for better or worse.

Sit back and imagine the family you want. What you imagine is probably different from your partner’s ideal family. If one of you had a great childhood, you will surely follow in the footsteps of those amazing parents. If your childhood was rocky, you may be thinking of different ways to raise your children. Unfortunately, many of us are so busy that we don’t spend much time planning our parenting strategies. We live in a different world from the one in which we grew up. Raising children is more expensive than ever, employers demand more work, our relationships become loaded with stress, and we sacrifice our dreams to focus on the problems at hand. Now is the time to rekindle your dreams and get ready to create the changes you want for your family. Changing bad habits and teaching new skills require that you think carefully about your goals. We urge you to think big and reach high to create the family you have always wanted.

Dreams can lie dormant and may even die unless you awaken them and imagine ways to make them come true. Once you conceive your dreams, how do you give birth to them? It’s easy to say: “I want my children to get along with others or do well in school.” It is quite another thing to say: “Here’s how I will make it happen.” You start by setting goals. Begin with something feasible, and then break down the goal into steps using the Goldilocks rule—not too big, not too small, but just right. When you accomplish one goal, set a new one.

For instance, imagine teaching your children to get ready for bed on their own. Our approach is to first show them each tiny step; then we patiently teach them to put the steps together—take a bath, dress for bed, and brush their teeth. Gradually, your children learn to do it all themselves, and you can move on to another set of skills. Setting goals and planning the steps required to reach them is a kind of telescoping process—you look ahead to the future, you zoom back to the present, and you figure out how to get from here to that distant place. With practice, your skill at making long- and short-term goal statements will grow, and you will become a master of making dreams come true.

Excerpted from Raising Cooperative Kids by Marion Forgatch, PhD, Gerald Patterson, PhD, and Tim Friend


Marion S. Forgatch, PhD, is the senior scientist emerita at the Oregon Social Learning Center and a frequent lecturer at professional conferences. She is the coauthor with Dr. Patterson of Parents and AdolescentsGerald R. Patterson, PhD, was the founder of the Oregon Social Learning Center and was well known for his pioneering work in child psychology. His awards included the Distinguished Scientific Award from the American Psychological Association. Tim Friend has two decades of experience as a national reporter covering science and medicine.

Peace Begins with Me

by Karen Casey

I remember as though it were yesterday the first time I heard “The Peace Song.” It was at the close of a Sunday service at the Unity Church in Golden Valley, MN. I was just a few months sober and had gone to Unity at the suggestion of one of my new friends in AA. At the close of the service all the congregants stood and held hands. And then the singing began.

I was mesmerized. As the tears streamed down my face, I stood transfixed by the simple beauty of the words, the beauty of the voices that surrounded me and the quiet beauty of the truth of the message those words carried. I knew at that moment that my life was truly changing. I just didn’t have any idea of the extent of that change.

Fast forward 41 years. I am still sober, of course and still growing, still discovering transformation through the many encounters I have been privileged to experience since that Sunday so long ago. Over these many decades of sobriety and spiritual growth through recovery, I have come to cherish a certain few principles which I will share with you that have allowed me to walk more securely along the many pathways that brought me here, to this moment in time, with you.

There were obstacles along the way of course. There always are. They are the opportunities we have been gifted with to stretch us and push us to becoming the companions our many fellow travelers have needed to encounter so that they, too, could become who they were meant to be. I truly embrace the idea that we will always meet those individuals we need to encounter, not just for our own edification and growth, but their’s too. This is not an “accidental course” we are on. Indeed not. I am here as are you because of the divinity of the journey we have agreed to share.

To reiterate, choosing to live my life these many years being governed by a few very simple principles has given me the quiet well-being that I usually experience. However, those moments of quiet peace that slip out of my grasp are the result of my inattentiveness to here, now. But the introduction to a third pathway to peace has enhanced my awareness of “this moment.”

How very grateful I am that A Course in Miracles, my third pathway, blessed my life nearly thirty years ago. I had no idea I was searching for its particular message; I only knew that I needed something more. AA and Al-Anon were, and still are, the
cornerstones of my spiritual growth; cornerstones that I will never wander away from. But I continued to yearn for a closer sense of “the presence” of the Spirit that I had been assured accompanied me everywhere.

It was while reading the words so beautifully conveyed to Helen Schucman, the scribe of ACIM, that I heard the messages that God, through the Voice of Jesus, was intending for me to hear. And I was ready for them. I have remained ready for them. Not unlike 12 Step Programs, we aren’t really ever done with hearing and rehearing the messages that are meant for us in the many gatherings that invite us in, the many books that cry for rereading, the many moments of quiet reflection on all that we have come to know.

I have been a proponent of “the course,” coupled with the spiritual principles so embedded in 12 Step Philosophy since that very first moment that I knew I had been called to carry this message too, in my workshops, my books, my very being. Having received such a clear direction has allowed me to move forward confidently and purposefully, with the full intent of imparting that which I have gleaned from those many “voices” that have spoken to me.

I have been a proponent of “the course,” coupled with the spiritual principles so embedded in 12 Step Philosophy since that very first moment that I knew I had been called to carry this message too, in my workshops, my books, my very being. Having received such a clear direction has allowed me to move forward confidently and purposefully, with the full intent of imparting that which I have gleaned from those many “voices” that have spoken to me.

The message I herald is simple. And it’s not uncommon. It has been heard from the lips of Mother Teresa. In the writings of the Dalai Lama. Wayne Dyer too. AND MANY OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS WE SIT AMONG AT MEETINGS, DAY IN AND DAY OUT. It’s about being a messenger of peace, an expression of love, serving as a witness to the hearts and minds of all those men and women and children who have NOT WANDERED OUR WAY BY ACCIDENT.

It’s also about accepting that we are powerless over the lives of others but never powerless over how we acknowledge those others who pass us by. And it’s about forgiveness. Of all others and ourselves, particularly for our many judgments. As I read in the course so many years ago, “the ego speaks first; it speaks loudest, and it is always wrong.” It’s that very dominant voice in our minds that pushes us to be all that the Holy Spirit tries to steer us from being. With the ego in charge, we will never know peace.

The simple principles that continue calling to me also include these:
1. Detaching from the drama of others’ lives offers us peace of mind.
2. When others begin to bother you, change your focus.
3. Don’t let anyone else define who you are.
4. It’s a fact: we can not control any one else.
5. Letting go is an act that blesses everyone, everywhere.
6. Separation from others is an illusion.
7. We are joined in the Oneness of Spirit.
8. No experience is lacking in purpose. Seek to understand it.
9. Every encounter with another person is Holy.
10. Chance plays no part in God’s plan.

These are not the only principles that guide me, of course. There are dozens more. But I know after these many years on this spiritual path that any one of these principles, well honed, has the power to change the life we are living in the moment, and forever too. And any of these principles practiced any time by any one of us can impact the Universe that is the home of all of us. Seem farfetched? Think again. Every action, every thought emanates a vibration that moves beyond it. We do have the power to send forth whatever vibration we desire.

Why not make it a peaceful one?


Karen Casey is a writer and workshop facilitator for 12-step recovery. Her first book, Each Day a New Beginning, has sold more than 3 million copies. She has published 28 books since then including Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow, which was a finalist for the MS Society Books for a Better Life Awards. She has traveled throughout North America and Europe carrying her message of hope for others on the road to recovery.