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.

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I See Peace.

by Karen Casey

One of the glories of making a commitment to the practice of peaceful behavior is that it feels good. It feels honorable, respectful and kind. And I’m convinced it adds benefit to the universe we share with 7 billion other souls. I’ve heard this phenomenon explained as the “Butterfly Effect.” The idea that we add positive or negative ions to the atmosphere each time we make a gesture to a person, react to a situation or even simply think an unkind or harmful thought is a mighty idea. Making the commitment to be a purveyor of peaceful ripples is a worthy “assignment,” indeed.

Over the last few years I have made more than a concerted effort to impart “tools” for peaceful living through the books I have written and the workshops I have facilitated. And even though I share these ideas joyfully and sincerely, my own ego fails to adhere to that which “I preach” far too often. Embarrassingly often, in fact. Woe is me.

And yet, I know, each day offers me another collection of moments in which to practice what I know to be true. I’d like to include a handful of these “tools” here for your consideration. I know they will effectively change people and relationships. I also know that nothing changes if nothing changes.

I See Peace

Embrace powerlessness.

Practice the thought, “I can choose peace instead of this.”

Choose carefully between the two voices in your mind. One is wrong.

Every person we encounter is “a messenger.” Honor him and the message.

Our “learning partners” are intentional, not accidental.

Sidestep chaos.

Sidestep angry people. They are simply afraid. Love them.

Choose love, regardless.

Seek reasons to be grateful.

Ask: what can I bring to my relationships today?

Forgiveness is our primary lesson.

The Holy Spirit is a “gift” from God. Rely on him.

Change happens when it is time for us to grow, to move forward.

Nothing happens by accident.

Surrender does not mean defeat. It means love.

I am here only to be truly helpful. . .

This list of tools have completely changed my life, for the better. I know, from deep within me, that if I can manage to practice these tools on a pretty consistent basis, you can too. No one of us can do something that no one else can. What’s possible for me is absolutely possible for you.

The planet needs us to step up to the challenge to make this a better world for all 7 billion of us. i am excited about being part of this challenge. I hope you are too. There is no time like today for picking up the challenge and moving forward.

And I thank you for all 7 billion of us.


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.

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Other Titles by Karen Casey

A Q&A with Karen Casey about 52 Ways to Live the Course in Miracles

Why did you decide to write this book, at this time?

I have been a long time student of the course and find I “talk the course” in nearly all of the writing I do these days. My first book that dealt directly with the course was published in 1995. It was Daily Meditations for Practicing the Course. Nearly every book I have written since then has “a touch” of the course wisdom in them because that wisdom has been infused in my life. Writing a book of practical course essays is one way of making the course accessible to others, and that is near and dear to my heart.

What is it about the course that has captured your attention?

Immediately upon reading the first few pages of A Course in Miracles. More than thirty years ago, I knew my life was going to change. Even though I didn’t fully grasp all that I was reading at that time, I knew the time would come. I firmly believe that what we have been readied for calls to us. That’s how I felt about the course. I simply knew I was ready for a deeper experience of the Holy Spirit.

Why do you want to introduce others to the spiritual pathway?
I have never experienced so many moments of true peace and joy before I became a devoted student of the course. I simply want others to know peace too. There are far too many distractions in this chaotic world and I want to help others be able to see past the distractions and see the peace that I have discovered.

What areas of your life have been most affected by becoming a student of A Course in Miracles?

My relationships have improved significantly, and my recovery in the Twelve Step fellowship has been positively affected too. Each and every day feels more joyful and hopeful because I know I have a choice regarding which “voice” I will listen to. That choice has changed everything.

Can you give the newcomer to the course a short overview of what he or she is about to experience?

One of the first tenets of the course is that every expression voiced or action taken in any encounter is coming from a place of love or a place of fear. That bit of short hand helps me to meet whatever I experience with a willingness to accept and be loving. Another beautifully simple tenet is this: every loving thought is true, everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes. And finally, a miracle, according to the course, is simply a shift in perception. All three of these ideas, when embraced, can change the trajectory of one’s life.

How will your book positively change the lives of readers?
I honestly believe that living less chaotic lives is possible and that making the choice to see our experiences differently is possible. Choosing to listen to the quieter voice of the Holy Spirit in our minds will become habit with practice, and when that has happened, nothing about our lives will be the same, ever again. 52 Way to Live the Course in Miracles can ensure all of this is possible.

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Red Wheel Weiser Staff Picks: Holiday Gift Guide

Publishers love books, but we also love to read them! And it’s not just the editors who do all the reading. We’ve scoured our library shelves to bring you staff picks from our back and front list, from the people who make them!

Pick 1: Death Poems

death poems

Death Poems
Classic, Contemporary, Witty, Serious, Tear-Jerking, Wise, Profound, Angry, Funny, Spiritual, Atheistic, Uncertain, Personal, Political, Mythic, Earthy, and Only Occasionally Morbid
Edited by Russ Kick
Disinformation Books. Paperback, $21.95.

Death Poems seems an odd choice for a holiday gift, eh?  Not really.  Though it offers a vast survey of death (320 poems by 200 poets) including the death of children, funeral rites for serial killers, war, elegies for famous people, and more death-ish-ness, it is actually life affirming!  Readers will find Walt Whitman celebrating death as an important part of the richness of life.  Lord Byron pens a beautiful epitaph for his beloved dog.  Emily Dickinson goes for a carriage ride with Death, and Dylan Thomas pleads with his father to go gentle into that good night.  Kick offers a “finely wrought kaleidoscope of ideas, attitudes, and experiences.” Celebrate the season (and life) with Death Poems!

~ Bonni Hamilton, Director of Marketing & Digital Content

Pick 2:  The Showings of Julian of Norwichthe showings julian of norwich

The Showings of Julian of Norwich
A New Translation

Mirabai Starr
Hampton Roads. Paperback, $18.95

Julian was a fourteenth century mystic who was an anchoress at the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England.  She is called Julian after the church where she served; her real name is lost to us.  An anchoress literally lived in a very small addition to the church she served at.  Her function was to pray, and the only human contact she had was through a small window to the outside world.  Her only other point of contact was either with the priest  assigned to the church or her cat, which she kept with her.

What makes Julian remarkable to me are her visions of Christ, set at a very patriarchal time, which fairly sing with love, peace, optimism, compassion, and most of all, of motherhood.  Julian proclaimed the motherhood of God at a time when doing so could result in a quick trip to the nearest stake with a match.

She was insistent in proclaiming God’s tender love for all people; she looked deep into God and said there was no punishment, only understanding and love.  She identified “sins” as mistakes and urged all to simply get up, not waste time on guilt, but throw themselves into the arms of a God who loves with a tender mother’s love for healing and grace.

If that’s not an appropriate holiday message, I don’t know what is.

~Meg Richardson, Sales Manager

Pick 3: Everyday Energy Boosters

365 energy boostersEveryday Energy Boosters
365 Tips and Tricks to Help You Feel Like a Million Bucks
Sondra Kornblatt and Susannah Seton
Conari. Paperback. $17.95

With the constant running around, over-scheduling, overworking, and undersleeping who couldn’t use an energy boost? This book offers easy ways to make the most of your day and find that second wind. There are far too many things to see and do and not enough time to waste.

~Kimberly Ehart, Publishing Associate

Pick 4: The Museum of Lost Wonder

J030023 Jacket.pdf, page 1 @ NormalizeThe Museum of Lost Wonder
Jeff Hoke
Weiser. Hardcover w/ paper model kits, full color throughout. $49.95

This book is a real trip. A trip in the sense that it takes visitors through a series of mysteries for which there can be no absolute answers, but leaves them understanding more than when they set out. It’s an adventure through various wonder-full ideas which reside at the base of human questioning. The Museum of Lost Wonder is one of those rare books which provides a lesson as an object, not just within the text. This lovely, oversize, full-color illustrated and illuminated book is perfect for delving into, parts at a time. Pull-out card stock models provide activity which stimulates the hands as much as the mind. It doesn’t so much explain what Wonder is as directly engage readers in Wonder, inviting us to re-experience and treasure Wonder in our lives.

Careful readers of this recommendation will note that there are not too many specifics given. This is a difficult book to summarize in a pithy gift-book review, but an easy pick to recommend as a gift book. It’s a Big-Picture (and illustrated!) kind of book, exploring eternal questions of humanity through a lens of mystery and awe. This is one of those gifts where a recipient will look at it–and you–quizzically, but may very well launch late night discussions about Big Issues months down the road, or remain a true coffee table curiosity object for visitors to peruse.

Over-the-top production values, truly unique and thought-provoking content, and a presentation which makes this a book which can be read at any point for however long a visitor wishes to remain in The Museum make it a perfect gift, especially for those who have everything: who couldn’t stand a bit more Wonder in their lives…?

~Mike Conlon, Production Manager

Pick 5: The Upgrade

the upgrade coverThe Upgrade
A Cautionary Tale of Life Without Reservations
Disinformation. Paperback, $18.95

The holidays can be a busy time, although the commercials lead you to believe that it will be a time filled with sweaters and hot chocolate, in all reality it is filled with stress and frustration. So what is the best way to relax after the most reeling time of the year? Well to laugh of course. The Upgrade by Paul Carr will make you do just that. Paul Carr takes you through his self entitled “ridiculous adventure” of living out of luxury hotels and giving up all commitments. Working out that it is actually cheaper to live this way, then in his small London apartment Carr takes his readers on a hilarious adventure across the world. Although this book will make the reader laugh, Carr’s behavior tends to escalate towards the destructive, teaching a valuable lesson on what is really important in this life. This is the perfect gift to give anyone on your list, especially someone who has had an especially stressful time hanging the stockings.

~Grace Goodman, Editorial Intern

Pick 6: Darkside Zodiac

darkside zodiac coverDarkside Zodiac
Stella Hyde
Weiser. Paperback, $24.95.

Sometimes, in a world where everyone is posting adorable little memes on facebook telling you to “shine bright” it’s refreshing to have someone tell you like it is: you suck. I laughed out loud, like LOL, when I read this line about my own sign, Taurus,  “Alright, being soul-sappingly boring isn’t the most stygian you can get on the Darkside (although tell that to your desperate family, mouthing ‘kill me now’ through the windowpane at passersby as you get out the Monopoly board for your biweekly game.)” You may not like what you read about your own Zodiac sign, but you’ll get a real good laugh to see what this book has to say about the signs of your family and friends.

~Hillary Peacock, Operations Manager

Pick 7: Steampunk Magic

Steampunk magic

Steampunk Magic
Working Magic Aboard the Airship
Gypsey Elaine Teague
Weiser. Paperback. $16.95

Even for the Scroogiest of us all, the holidays are the most Victorian season of the year, from Yule logs to plum puddings. Why not revel in the mood with Steampunk Magic, the only book that tells you how to invoke Queen Victoria for good fortune, celebrate your coming of age among the crew of your very own airship, and gaze into the Aether through consecrated brass goggles? It’s a little pagan, a little Dickensian, completely adorable, and the only magick system that’s just as at home with Ada Lovelace as it is with tarot divination.

~Michael Alexander, Assistant Production Editor

Pick 8: Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires and Other Creatures of the Night

banshees, werewolves, vampires

Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night
Facts, Fictions, and First-Hand Accounts
Varla Ventura
Weiser. Flapped paperback. $16.95

Ventura’s little book is packed with vintage charm, full of stories of olden days, modern-day horror stories, true and terrifying tales. It’s just creepy enough to please any fan of horror, magical creatures, vampires, werewolves, monsters, fairies, and odd history. It’s good for tweens and as well as the decrepit, and holds a special charm for anyone who feels most comfortable at midnight. The package itself is perfect for a stocking-stuffer, it’s 5 x 7 with lots of charming spot art. Fans of Ventura’s other works will appreciate her inside-jokes and puns, and those new to this author will surely be charmed into wanting more. It’s one part Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, one part Bram Stoker, and three parts “sh*t, did I remember to lock the door?”

~Amber Guetebier, Editor

Pick 9: The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family

the good stuff

The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family
How to Survive and Then Thrive Karen Casey
Conari. Paperback. $16.95

I’m thinking people might like to check out Karen Casey’s latest, The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family, because pretty much, no matter how old you are and how much “work” you’ve done, if you grew up in a dysfunctional family, things can get pretty hairy at the holiday time. This book will help restore balance and peace. So maybe multiple copies are in order—one for everybody.

~Jan Johnson, Publisher

Pick 10: 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women

12 secrets of creative women

The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
A Portable Mentor
Gail McMeekin
Conari. Paperback. $17.95

My pick is an oldie but a really, really goodie. Every time I open the book I get another shot of inspiration, whether I read just a few lines or curl up on the sofa with it for a rejuvenating break (we have this wonderful red leather sofa in the office, and when I’ve had enough computer time I sometimes change the scenery and sit there for reading and contemplation). Sometimes I just like to open the book to a random page and see what’s in store for me at that moment. Today’s “random” hit was this quote from poet Minnie Richard Smith: Diamonds are only chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs, you see.” Perfect for writers and editors and publishers and, well, pretty much everyone else who is trying to leave the world a bit better, a bit more beautiful, than they way they found it. I love how Gail draws wisdom from women from so many different fields and creative endeavors and finds these 12 themes—from Following Your Fascinations to Conquering Saboteurs to Surrendering to Cycles. We originally published the book back in 2000, which just goes to show that most good reads never go out of style. The book continues to touch so many creative women, and I just love that. And the new cover we added last year is so pretty to look at, too.

~Caroline Pincus, Associate Publisher

What’s on your holiday must-read/must-buy list?