May 2014

Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map

The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorteYou know when you keep hearing a name, or a book keeps getting mentioned? That’s been happening a lot to me in the last several months with Danielle LaPorte. Motivational speaker and “guru” of sorts, but she’s got sass. Her message is on point with a lot of healers and spiritual folk, but her voice is distinct, and I find that appealing.

So anyway, I’m reading (and working through) her book The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul“, upon recommendation (also available in a Kindle version). The premise is refreshing and simple: how do you want to feel? Discarding rigid goal lists and intentions can be liberating if you focus instead on the feeling you’re seeking. In other words, you might be setting yourself up for failure if you’re setting restrictive KPIs to the Universe. And, of course, you know what they say: be careful what you wish for.

So lots of nodding and post-it noting as I go through it. The interesting thing for me is how affirmative a read it is. I feel like much of what she says isn’t at all new to me but, rather, confirming many of the lessons I’ve been accumulating over the years (particularly the last three or four).

Other things I like:

  • Conversational tone and easy to read – not to diminish the writing at all, because LaPorte writes beautifully – she brings to her writing heart, experience, self-deprecation and brutal, painful honesty
  • Some zinger quotes – “Desire hurts so good”.
  • Messaging is strong, purposeful and useful. She talks about life-affirming discipline. Divine purpose. Inner versus outer attunement.

While I’m yet to reach the actual workbook part of The Desire Map (yes, there’s homework), I feel confident recommending this book to people who are feeling like they shouldn’t be feeling a certain way. This book is about freedom and connection to yourself, in a very practical yet spiritual way.

Available through the above links in Kindle or print versions

My podcast pilot

Here I am again talking about a project I’ve been working on. This one is a podcast series, which has been birthed with a pilot episode featuring three Muslim women sharing personal experiences to do with marriage, divorce, love and faith. The series is called Extra(ordinary) People, and the first episode was kindly sponsored by the amazing people at Aquila Style, of which I was a regular contributor for a about three years.
It’s free to download on iTunes, and can also be listened to on my Extra(ordinary) People website. Enjoy and please feel free to send me your thoughts!

My next book

So I’ve taken a bit of a break from … things. Namely, social media. Writing columns about stuff that many other writers are capable of handling. And just in general, I’ve taken the time to simplify and work out some creative goals. It’s one thing to want to be(come) a good writer, the kind who produces stories that people willingly lose themselves in for two nights straight; it’s another to get lost in the idea of it, and not really do anything.

So. I took my attention off the more public writing I do at times, and went into novel-writing overdrive. The result is that I’ve (finally) finished a couple of drafts of my sequel to Courting Samira and am now in that squirmy, heart-wrenching phase where I can’t bear to look at the manuscript in case I decide it’s all rubbish and decide I have to start again.

I published Samira without an editor to guide me throughout the process. I certainly benefitted from the advice given to me by knowledgeable people (see the acknowledgments), and in particular, being my own editor had its rewards. I don’t worry about being too attached to my stories. If anything, I worry more about being too hard on myself and junking everything.

So I’m trying to figure out a few things, given the sequel – This is How You Get Better – will be self-published again. I’ve learned a LOT from publishing two books. I’ll be far better prepared this time, and am giving myself ample time to do things right. But, the editing process is the thing that’s gnawing at me right now.

Finally, the issue of cost. Unfortunately, getting funding can be tricksy for self-published authors, even if they’re full-time writers. I won’t launch into a discussion on the system of grants, but suffice to say that having a publisher certainly has its benefits on that front.

Feel free to drop me a line if you want to share your own thoughts on self-publishing/editing/being-your-own-worst-critic.

And here’s a nice success story for the self-publishing naysayers.

Q&A with Rita Balshaw

It’s been a while, but my second novel (due out in October) has been taking up most of my non-work time. But not to abandon things completely, here’s a great interview with Rita Balshaw, life coach, aromatherapy expert and author of Hippies in the City. I met her at a workshop at Perfect Potion and found her to be thoroughly engaging and in love with her work. Make sure you read to the end for a very cool giveaway!

Rita Balshaw

Rita Balshaw

In five words, how would you describe yourself?

Creative – Calm – Curious – Caring – Complacent

Have you always been an earth- and health-conscious person?

Yeah, I truly have. Natural therapies, cooking and conscious living has deeply touched my heart ever since I can remember. I feel that I was born into the subject matter, and as a young girl I always found peace spending time in nature and pursuing creative projects. My passion for holistic living only continues to grow…

You live your message, evident in the way you eat, cook and work. Do you ever find it to be challenging the way so many of us do? Or is that healthy living is just your reality? (I.e. you don’t need to convince yourself not to eat junk food, because you actually don’t want it!)

I don’t find respecting my body a challenge, as each day I am rewarded by feeling physically and emotionally nourished! I actually find not living a healthy lifestyle a huge challenge, as it makes me feel miserable, uninspired and disconnected. Some days I feel out of balance, normally induced by lack of sleep or hormonal challenges, but I always observe myself and treat my body well.

You are a multi-talented guide to natural living. What first led you into such a natural, holistic approach to living?

I believe my life purpose is to inspire others to achieve a more happy and meaningful life though natural therapies and holistic living. I was defiantly lead to live this life by a source greater than myself, and for this I feel most grateful. When I left school I studied nutrition, this gave me a great foundation to understand food and the workings of the human body. I also believe that being diagnosed and treated with a melanoma when I was 23 years old had a lot to do with how I look at health and lifestyle.

Your book, Hippies in the city, is an encyclopedia on living your best life. From cheeky spells to nourishing winter recipes, as well as aromatherapy oil coverage, it’s clearly a blueprint for a healthy life. What was the process of discovery like for you? I.e. developing this guide to living?

An encyclopedia! I like that! It makes me feel happy to hear, as the book was very much a labor of love. I put everything I had into creating Hippies in the city and was desperate to share as much knowledge as I could with my readers. The process was organic and fluid. I wanted to formulate something unique that covered all things healthy living; food, aromatherapy, yoga and more. Inspiration is always available to me, and I was lucky that I was blessed with the drive, self belief and discipline to make the book come alive. And yes each day I learn so more about food chemistry, human behavior, plant biology and spirituality.

Hippies in the City by Rita Balshaw

Hippies in the City by Rita Balshaw

What do you think some of the misconceptions about aromatherapy are? I.e. do you think it gets lumped in with alternative treatments that aren’t scientifically validated?

People who haven’t regularly treated their health with natural therapies are often skeptical about the helping powers of plants, and will say things like, “does this really work?”. This for me is exciting, because you get to show them that “yes, nature is your most effective preventive treatment”.

As someone who gets to interact with consumers regularly, through your work at Perfect Potion, what do you think are the most common issues people face and want help with?

People come to us with an assortment of physical and emotional health concerns. Eczema, psoriasis, acne, anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue, insomnia, body weight and hormonal related issues are the most common. Perfect Potion has everything needed to assist with the body’s healing process, making my job super easy and very rewarding.

What do you consider to be the general benefits of essences, and do you think they should be combined with a holistic healthy life plan to be truly effective?

Essential oils affect us physically and emotionally, working on multiple levels to benefit the whole being. Yes, it is most certainly best to combine aromatherapy treatments in conjunction with other holistic healing methods. A clean whole foods diet, exercise and meditation will compliment a holistic living plan perfectly.

Rita Balshaw

Rita Balshaw enjoys retreats

It can be quite daunting to approach something as expansive as aromatherapy without the knowledge of what the essences do and their potency. What can beginners start with to get acquainted with oils, etc? What tips would you give to someone who is new to alternative methods of dealing with stress, physical and mental ailments, and poor diet?

Be open to the process of learning. If your intention is to start to feel healthier, happier and more connected to yourself then please trust that you will learn what you need to when you need to. The study of aromatherapy is indeed expansive, and little by little you can learn about this ancient and medicinal craft. Practical steps like attending our workshops at Perfect Potion and reading the Hippies in the City book is the best place to start. The beginning of my learning journey started with treating myself as the experiment as I explored all things holistic living. I do heaps of research and attend various yoga classes, workshops and seminars, simply because I enjoy it.

You do a lot of teaching, coaching and inspiring. What do you find most appealing about your work, and what’s next in terms of creating awareness?

My job is fundamentally to empower, educate and inspire others. I love the fact that each day I get to heal and nourish myself and help others. My professional and personal life is not at all separate from one another, it’s like I never clock off! It is nice to live a life each day of purpose and complete authenticity. What’s next? My second book, along with many workshops, wellness retreats and a Hippies In The City television series!

Finally, do you have a website and where can we buy your book?
At www.hippiesinthecity.com and #hippiesinthecity for some instagram fun!

Rita is kindly giving away a product from Perfect Potion (I think it’ll be a sleep one!). To enter, send me a message via this website’s contact form or like my Facebook page and send me a message there, and tell me what the secret to good sleep is!