Review -Walking Out the Other Side

Walking Out the Other Side –
An Addict’s Journey From Loneliness to Life

Author: Alan S. Charles
SJC Publishing
2015
ISBN #978-0-9968306-1-9

Walking Out the Other Side - Alan S. Charles

“Walking Out the Other Side” tells a very coherent story of drug and alcohol addiction, and how it affects not only the addict, but those around them. Alan Charles speaks with a strong voice – he is a talented, intelligent, successful individual that came from talented, intelligent, successful parents. Another quality that he shared with his parents was that of having a fatal flaw that kept any of them from sustaining their success.

Charles’ father died when he was nine – a death that he was not to fully understand until he was an adult, after his mother died. Once a successful model, Charles’ mother lost herself after her husband’s death, and was unable to handle his brother, who was moving deeper and deeper into mental illness. The home atmosphere was dysfunctional to an unbelievable extent – Charles chose to stay away from home as much as possible. With the help of male figures from within his community, he became involved in sports, and began working multiple jobs.

He attended college, working his way through, playing baseball and becoming involved with the coeds. There was no home to go back to, as his mentally disturbed brother refused to allow his mother to let him in the house.

Charles played professional baseball in the Dominican Republic, and then came back to the states, where he trained to become a harness racing trainer and driver. At this time. His cocaine addiction began to take over his life. From racing he moved on to sales positions, where he was a rock star! However, all this did was fuel his addiction. He went in and out of rehab several times, trying to save his relationships (he never actually thought that he was at risk or needed help). His wife left him, with their two daughters, because of his addiction. This was a turning point for him – that, and the fact that he literally hit rock bottom physically and mentally.

I have known addicts in my life – co-workers, but people that I knew fairly well. What I saw in their lives is what Charles talks about in this book. These were educated people that could not sustain everyday life. Multiple stays in rehab, people around them being affected, lots of “come backs”. One suicide, one individual being the cause of having another individual fired (and they were in denial about this), and one individual trying very hard to do the right thing in their life (their addiction had already cost them a marriage and multiple good jobs).

Charles has been sober for several years now, focusing on his daughters, and taking things one day at a time. I definitely admire him for being willing to book speaking engagements to talk about addiction and the road to recovery. He has seen huge success in sports, harness racing, and the business world, and he lost it all, only to come back multiple times.

Addiction affects not only the addict, but those around them. Denial is a big part of their lives. What they are addicted to is not the problem – the problem is whatever in their lives is too dark for them to handle. Charles makes this very evident – and that makes this a very important book.

© February 2016 Bonnie Cehovet

Ofri Cnaani: Card Reading as Performance Art

Incredible!

Tarot Heritage

Artist Ofri Cnaani turned a New York Chelsea gallery into a card reading emporium and used her readings to generate unique works of art for her clients. According to a review in the December 2015 issue of Art News, Cnaani used her own custom-made, over-sized cards.

The client picked a card at random, handed Ms. Cnaani a personal item, then selected two more items from a stash of odds and ends hanging on the wall. Cnaani then created a collage using the card and the selected items, plus fabric scraps and beads. A surveillance camera photographed the collage and projected it onto a screen in the shop window.

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Review -Hi, God

Hi, God

Author: Father Jack Frerker
Illustrator: Gary Bilodeaux
Pax Publications
2015

Hi, God cover

In his acknowledgments, Father Frerker notes that children’s prayers tend to be “spontaneous and heartfelt in their innocence”. It is his hope that this book of children’s prayers will encourage prayerful spontaneity in both adults and children. In my eyes, he has succeeded in presenting a wonderful tool for everyone to access prayer in a meaningful way.

The prayers here are presented as letters to God from children. Being from a child’s point of view, they come from the heart, and express what the child is feeling. Each prayer is only a few sentences, and is signed with the child’s first name.

Illustrator Gary Bilodeaux has gifted us with gentle, basic illustrations that add a sense of whimsy, including a kitten, a horse, a top, an ice cream stand, a church, an ocean scene, and more.

From the book:

Hi, God.

I was wondering if Jesus had a pet dog. I heard his people thought pigs and dogs were dirty and didn’t want to have them. I’m asking because I would like a pet dog. Is that okay? I hope so. I’d like a little brown one, but not if it’s a sin or anything. I can’t imagine Jesus not having some kind of pet.

Jimmy

Hi, God.

I just want to tell you how much I really like snow. It’s so pretty and you can do fun things like making snow men and snow angels. But I’m also glad when you make it go away ’cuz I really like summer too, although I’m not sure which time I like better.

Peggy

“Hi, God” is a very empowering tool for the encouragement of prayer for all ages.

© November 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written consent of the author.

Review – I Was Born Into A Den Of Wolves

I Was Born Into A Den Of Wolves

Author: Clifton Davis
Xlibris
2011
ASIN #B00639HH4O

Den of Wolves Cover

Life sometimes happens in very strange ways. While waiting in line at the DMV I had to very good luck to meet Mr. Clifton Davis and his wife. That chance meeting led to my reading Mr. Davis’ book. He has so much to say, on so many different levels, that I would like to share this book with you.

Mr. Davis was born in Alabama in 1932. This book, on one level, is his life story. On another level, it speaks of his spiritual center, and of the importance of family. On yet another level, it speaks of the inequalities and atrocities that occur in daily life, especially to black people, and which are swept under the rug. It is about those who allow themselves to take on the entity of a wolf, through becoming obsessed with material possessions, violence, greed, racism, hatred, and deceit.

I appreciate the fact that Mr. Davis is well spoken, and his book well reasoned. He talks about things that many of us don’t want to talk about, such as the fact that those who write our history write it in their own words, and reflect their own perception of events (or blatantly paint their own picture of history). He also talks about the five things that families in America pass on to their children … things that keep them from accomplishing their goals. These five things are violence, hatred, greed, racism, and the quest for individual power.

Mr. Davis takes us through the span of his life, sharing stories that pertain to specific people, in specific situations, and how this affected him. One very strong story was that of one of his teachers from his younger years, a lady who was clearly biased towards lighter skinned blacks, and who carried the thread through her teaching that the students ancestors were all slaves (this was an all black school), and that none of the students would ever make a meaningful contribution to this country – ever.

Through choice, Mr. Davis spent many years in Europe with the military. He found that he felt accepted in Europe, while in America he experienced both overt and covert racism.

“I Was Born Into A Den Of Wolves” is a thought provoking book – one that many people may not like, but one that I feel presents an accurate picture of America, good and bad. My hope is that many people will read this book, and will assimilate its lessons into their lives, so that real change can be made in this world.

© November 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

Review – The Sacred Ego: Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World

The Sacred Ego –
Making Peace with Ourselves and Our World

Author: Jalaja Bonheim, PhD.
North Atlantic Books 2015
ISBN #978-1-58394-943-6

The Sacred Ego cover

Jalaja Bonheim is a teacher, public speaker, author, counselor, and circle leader, with formal study in the art of classical temple dance in India. It is from this background, and from years of work with women leaders, activists, and spiritual seekers from around the world, that she speaks. Another part of her background is that she is a German Jew who struggled to understand the Holocaust.

It is truly all about making peace with ourselves, and with our world. It is all about heart-thinking, and how this involves our body, emotions, mind, and spirit. As a physical practice, we listen to what our body has to tell us. As an emotional practice, we allow ourselves to fully experience our feelings in a conscious manner. As a mental practice, heart-thinking transforms our process of thinking, allowing us to discard limiting beliefs. As a spiritual practice, heart-thinking allows us to move towards the acceptance of oneness as an experience, rather than a mental idea.

The whole idea with the Sacred Ego is to facilitate a more peaceful world. Bonheim has facilitated circles globally in places which carry histories of long-term conflict. From this work, she offers personal stories and insights into what is at the root of conflict, and how we can change those roots by awakening our neglected hearts and souls, allowing us to create the inner and outer peace that we all long for.

Bonheim discusses some of the obstacles to peace, such as tribal conditioning, our need to control and judge, how we hold back our emotions, how we are not educated in the area of relationship skills, and how we neglect our physical and emotional selves. She shows how we can use the simple practices – rest, silence, stilling the mind, opening the heart, and really listening to our core to create beauty in our lives, to connect in community (especially in circles), leading us to create the peace that we desire.

There are exercises in each chapter that allow the reader to apply the ideas that have been discussed.

This is a feminist guide for conscious living and personal, as well as collective transformation. I highly recommend it.

© August 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission.

Review – “Mindfulness For Teachers – Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity in the Classroom”

Mindfulness for Teachers –
Simple Skills for Peace and Productivity
in the Classroom

Author: Patricia A. Jennings, MEd, PhD.
Foreword: Daniel J. Siegel, MD.
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
2015
ISBN #978-0-393-70807-3

Mindfulness For Teachers cover

“Mindfulness For Teachers” is quite literally a book on mindfulness written by a former teacher, and current associate professor of education at the University of Virginia. In his foreword Siegel defines mindfulness as being aware of what is happening within us and around us with a clear focus on the current moment, which enables us to be fully present for life. In short, at the same time we are living our experience, we are stepping outside of ourselves and observing it. This concept applies to all of us, no matter what our vocation. In my opinion, this book is a must read for all people, of all backgrounds and cultures. There is no better way to be the best person that you can be than to live your life in a mindful manner.

Note: This book is part of a new Norton education series that builds on the interdisciplinary approach of interpersonal neurobiology.

This book reflects Jenning’s personal experience in a classroom, and as a researcher. We have all been in classroom situations, albeit most of us as the student, and not the teacher.  But we can put ourselves in the teacher’s place, and understand the situations being presented. And we can take that wisdom into our own professional fields, to make ourselves better people.

In her preface, Jennings notes that this book is a direct reflection of her forty year journey as a mindfulness practitioner, an educator, and a scientist. One of the first things that she learned was that mindful awareness has the power to heal.

In her introduction, Jennings talks about the challenging situations that teachers are facing, including the fact that teachers are not really prepared for the social and emotional demands of the classroom. Students are coming to school less prepared, yet at the same time new levels of accountability demand that academic improvement be demonstrated. She notes that the aim of “Mindfulness For Teachers”   is to help teachers cultivate the skills that they need to promote a calm, relaxed but enlivened learning environment.

In this book, Jennings covers an overview of what mindfulness is, understanding the emotional nature of teaching, understanding negative emotions, understanding the power of positive emotions, self-care in teaching, dealing with classroom dynamics, and transforming our schools through mindfulness. As you can see, a great deal of this information can be applied to any vocation.

Bottom line – mindfulness is present moment, non-judgmental awareness.  Sounds easy, but it is a concept that needs to be worked at to work. Jennings gives us specific examples, and solutions to those examples. Each chapter talks about behaviors that need to be developed. And how we can use our senses to our advantage. Skill sets are presented, as well as information on how to develop them. Each chapter is a stand-alone, yet it builds on the chapters before it.

At the end of the book is an extensive set of resources, including a listing of books on mindfulness, education, parenting, emotions, and children’s books; mindfulness-based programs; and an extensive reference section.

“Mindfulness For Teachers” is written in a manner that is in depth, yet easy to understand and apply. While directed at teachers, it applies to all of us. It is a book that one can use as a reference whenever experiencing difficulty. If you want to grow, if you want to make a difference,  become a mindful person!

© July 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

Madenié Meets Mother Goose

Tarot Heritage

The Pierre Madenié deck (1709) and The Tales of Mother Goose (1696) emerged from the same cultural milieu at nearly the same time. A small archive of letters has recently come to light showing that Cinderella, Bluebeard and their friends frequented a fortuneteller who read cards with the Madenié deck. Here’s the transcript of a reading that was delivered by post to a rather cautious prince.

The Question: While on a hunting trip, I discovered an ancient, crumbling castle in a forest at the edge of my father’s kingdom. It was so overgrown with brambles and brush I couldn’t get near it. Some villagers said the castle is haunted by ghosts. Others told me that witches hold coven meetings in the grand ballroom on the full moon. Then there were stories about ogres who drag children into the castle to eat them.

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