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My Favorite Illustrated Book –– Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

RedRoom, the site for readers and authors, had a contest this week. We were to blog about our favorite illustrated book. My choice is a highly personal one. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is a book I wrote about a remarkable horse. Tecolote was born prematurely on a freezing night. There was no reason for him to survive–but he did. The book tells and shows what happened as Teco (as we called him) grew into a strong, mature horse.

Tecolote and his Mother, Rosie–
This was taken when he got on his feet.

Although the book is illustrated with photographs that show Teco from his birth all the way to an adult riding horse, the story focuses on his tricky first year. We didn’t know if he would live five days. People from our neighborhood gathered outside the corral where he and his mother lived, praying for him and crying. He looked beyond terrible. Even so, he brought people together from the very start.

Later, when Teco was out of the woods, his mother died. She was an older mare with health problems. Teco faced life as a preemie, then a young horse without a mother. The book centers around how we as his caretakers used the other horses of the ranch and its facilities to give the youngster a secure and normal start. It’s about how he found his place in the herd and made dear friends in the horse and human worlds.

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is a beautiful tale for children, especially those with disabilities or facing loss. Teco’s story shows people––kids and adults–that those with problems can make it and have good lives. It’s is a kids’ book, 44 pages long.

Why did I stop writing at the end of Teco’s first year? We ran out of photos. Once Teco got his feet under him, he took off. The rest of his life was so normal that there wasn’t anything to photograph. He went under saddle so easily it was laughable, and then just headed down the road.

I cover Teco’s early days in the book, but I’ve never written about what follows here, the final part of Teco’s life.

Sandy & Tecolote–My author picture shows
just my face and a bit of Teco’s cheek.
This is the REAL photo. Teco’s giving me a hug.

Tecolote ended up being my horse. I’m an older rider with so many things wrong with me that I don’t know if I should be riding. Actually, I didn’t ride for several years. Due to an improperly set broken leg from a skiing accident, I developed severe arthritis in my knee and ankle. I had to have my knee replaced and my ankle fused. I also have a bad back. Plus I’m a cancer survivor and pretty chopped up because of that. After all that pain and surgery, I lost my nerve. After a lifetime with horses, I became afraid to ride even the calmest horse.

But my husband wanted me to ride with him again. He cajoled me into trying Teco, who had turned out to be the mellowest horse in the world. My husband’s coaxing worked.

Teco took care of me. I needed a special horse like him––gentle and kind and unspookable––to keep me safe. We became a pair as he took me on many safe, smooth rides up the trail.

One of the things that people who don’t ride don’t know about is the bond between horse and rider. Teco and I became as bonded as an equine/human pair can be.

I loved him. And he loved me back. He did a special thing that no other horse has done with me. I’d approach him, scratching his shoulder and neck the way another horse would if grooming him. He’d wrap his head and neck around me, encircling my body. It was the only way a horse could give a hug. (They don’t have arms, afterall.) He gave me a hug every time I approached him.

The book Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could came out and I entered it in a few contests. Life went on. When my grand kids came to visit, Teco amazed me. He’d never seen kids before, yet he packed them around like a trooper. They fell in love.

Sandy & Tecolote –– He’s my boy,
the horse that got me back into riding

After the kids went home, I got back to writing. I was working on manuscripts for two books. I didn’t go down to the barn for about a week. Finally my husband called and said, “I’ve got Teco saddled. Come and ride.”

I was high as a kite, euphoric. The book contests I’d entered were announcing their winners. I’d found out the night before that Teco’s book had won 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (Gr. 1-6).  The Nautilus Award recognizes books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living and positive social change. Previous winners include Thich Nhat Hanh and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was overjoyed–Teco’s book belonged in that company.

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could
Won the Silver Nautilus Award

My joy lasted less than 24 hours. I went down to the barn. My husband had Teco saddled and ready. There he was, resplendent in his golden coat with its black trim. I found it impossible to look at Teco without feeling happy. He was a buckskin; his body was golden palomino color. His mane, tail, and legs were black. I could run my eyes over him and appreciate his straight legs and how his shoulder angled back the way that a gaited horse’s should. He had a short back and long hip, an adorable face. All of Tecolote was beautiful.

But not that day. He stood in the barn, head down, mucous pouring from his nostrils. He coughed. I didn’t like the look of him at all.

On the other hand, he was saddled. Show me a horse person who can resist getting on a saddled horse and I’ll show you someone who isn’t really a horse person.

I decided to ride him to the arena and see how he did. He walked slowly, head almost touching the ground. He coughed and had no energy. In fact, he acted as though he might fall down.

“This horse is sick,” I said to myself, heading slowly back to the barn. When I got off of Teco, he lowered his head. Liquid poured from his nostrils, splattering on the barn floor.

He had pneumonia. It didn’t respond to the massive doses of antibiotics the vet gave him. I was mystified; I’ve had horses for 55 years and have never seen one with pneumonia. Our part of California is too mild.

Teco kept getting sicker. We took him to the hospital. We have one of the best equine hospitals in the country in our valley. Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center is a wonderful resource. They’ve saved the lives of many of our horses.

They’d save Tecolote, too. When he unloaded the horse from our trailer, my husband said a  half dozen bright young vets swarmed around him.

“They climbed all over him for hours, discussing what might be wrong and doing tests,” my husband told me. They’d fix our horse.

Tecolote: Always Elegant

A day later, we went in for a conference. The vet who was coordinating Teco’s case said, “If we can stabilize him well enough to go home, he can hang out in pasture with his buddies the rest of his life. But you can never ride him again.”

We sat there, stunned. “What do you mean?”

“He’s too dangerous to ride,” the vet explained.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“He’s in heart failure.” He drew a diagram of Teco’s heart, showing how part was greatly enlarged. Their ultrasounds had given them a clear picture.

“But how did this happen?” I couldn’t believe it. “Is it because he was premature?”

“It has nothing to do with his prematurity. It’s been happening over the last two or three years.”

In shock, I realized that no one had ridden him during those years. My husband likes rip-roaring horses with tons of spirit. I wasn’t riding, being too traumatized by all my surgery. Teco stood in pasture, apparently fine, enjoying life with his friends.

And dying. We brought him home and gave him all the zillions of meds the clinic prescribed. Twice a day, my husband ground maybe thirty human pills with a mortar and pestle. He mixed their dust with molasses and water, and loaded the mess into a syringe with the end cut off, which allowed him to squirt the meds into Teco’s mouth. The horse raised his head as high as he could; he did not make it easy.

When the heart begins to fail, it enlarges, trying to make up for it’s decreased strength. It can’t pump enough blood to the animal’s body, and it can’t recirculate fluids. They begin to build up. On a horse, fluids collect along the animal’s belly––the lowest point on his body. Fluid gathers between his front and back legs as well. Teco looked he had a blanket of gigantic kitchen sponges stuffed under his skin from his the front of his chest through his hind legs. The meds did nothing.

Teco’s book kept winning awards. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could was a finalist in two categories of the 2011 National Indie Excellence Contest:  Animals/Pets General and Juvenile Non-fiction.

I was in this crazy world where the awards kept coming in and Teco got worse. I’d go down to see him in his pasture. He’d be standing there, head down, in a corner by himself. He was leaving this world. He was leaving me.

Tecolote–– Making a Full Circle

The vet said he had only a day or two to live when we put him down. If we hadn’t, the end would have been horrible. Just before I left the field so the vet could do his job, I scratched Teco’s neck the way I always did. Sick as he was, he turned his head and neck around and embraced me. A final hug, and he was gone.

I ended up in the hospital in the midst of all this. I started getting chest pains as Teco deteriorated. If you call up your doctor––and my internist was pretty far away––and say, “I’m having chest pains,” that doctor will say, “Go to the Emergency Room right away.”

If you walk into an Emergency Room, a haggard-looking lady in your mid-sixties, those medicos will JUMP. They did every test you can imagine. I was scared stiff, not knowing what was happening with my body.

It boiled down to: My heart was breaking. Tecolote was being ripped from my soul.

* * * * *

Tecolote died May 1, 2011, four days before his tenth birthday. He was a miracle when he was born and a joy all his life. He brought horses and riding back when I thought that part of my life was over. I loved him for the obstacles he overcame in his life, and what he helped me overcome.

Here’s Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could’s Amazon page. You can loook inside the book and see Teco. I put up some photos of him and our other horses on the page, too. At the end of 2011, the book garnered two more prizes. It was a winner in Children’s Nonfiction and a finalist in Children’s Picture Book Softcover Non-fiction of the USA BOOK NEWS “USA BEST BOOKS OF 2011” AWARD.

* * * * *

That’s why Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is my favorite illustrated book. It’s all I’ve got left of him. I’m glad I’ve got the awards and the book.

I’d rather have the horse.

Tecolote –– He’s free now.

 

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Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could Wins the 2011 Silver Nautilus Award!

 

Press Release. April 25, 2011:

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could by Sandy Nathan has won the  2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (Grades 1-6).

The Nautilus Award recognizes books, audio books, and e-books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living & positive social change. In addition to its awards for adult literature, the Nautilus Awards recognize distinguished contributions to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults. Previous winners include: Echart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and . . . Sandy Nathan . Author Sandy Nathan also won the 2009 Silver Nautilus in the Indigenous/Multicultural category with her novel Numenon. (Once on the link, scroll down to find Numenon.)

“I’m terribly excited about this win,” says author Sandy Nathan. “The Nautilus Award means so much to me. It’s purpose––recognizing life-enhancing, life-changing literature and spoken art––aligns with my life’s purpose––producing books that enhance and change the lives of those around me. I couldn’t be happier.

Tecolote’s win is especially meaningful. The little premature and soon-orphaned horse in the book grew up to be my horse. He’s the only horse we own who is reliable enough for me to ride. I’ve got a replaced knee, fused ankle and a couple of other physical dings that make me very cautious about getting on a horse. Tecolote is my boy. He takes care of me.

“One of the things about horses that makes them so special is the way they bond with human beings. Or maybe it’s the way we bond with them. Whatever. Teco and I are bonded. That’s a sweet experience.

“We thought Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could was a natural for the Nautilus Awards. Tecolote’s been inspiring us since he showed us his will to live after being born prematurely and then losing his mother when he was so young. His sweet story of trouble and triumph inspires children and adults.”

 

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

What are the reviewers saying about Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could?

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could has a five star average (as high as it can go) on its Amazon reviews. Here are a few words reviewers have said about the book:

Rebecca Johnson, Amazon Top Ten Reviewer: “Sandy Nathan is such a good story teller you will be captivated from the first word until the last. She has included adorable pictures which make the story come alive. This is such a warm and amusing tale it made me laugh out loud a few times. I loved how Sandy Nathan explains how horses grow up and need special attention to be well mannered and tame. This is not just a children’s book, it will be enjoyed by people of all ages. What a lovely book.”

L.C. Evans, author Talented Horsewoman: “The book is beautifully illustrated with photos of Tecolote and the other horses on the farm. It would be a great gift book for horse lovers of all ages. Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is written simply enough so children can read it themselves, but it will also appeal to adults.”

Zippora Karz, author The Sugarless Plum: I absolutely loved this book! Through Tecolote’s journey we feel the love of a mother for her child, (horse for filly and colt), how to find friends, play with them, and create mischief as well. This is a story for any age. I cried and laughed and marveled at all the ways love can be expressed in our lives.


* * *

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could is available on Sandy Nathan’s Web Site and on Amazon in print and Kindle forms.

Tecolote as a paperback book.

Tecolote as a Kindle book.

Tecolote is an adult horse.

From Sandy Nathan: “My preference is the paperback book. It’s color, inside and out. The book is beautiful. In addition to all the photos, the print book has a header and footer on each page. The header––a long strip across the top––is clouds and blue sky. The footer is green grass. They emphasize the country feeling of the book.”

“On the other hand, you can download the Kindle version in a minute and be reading it. You can’t beat the price: 99 cents. I was very pleased at how the pictures came out in the Kindle book. Very clear, though black and white.

“We’re working on getting Nook, Sony, and iPad versions ready.”

 

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Monster Houses and Eating Crow

One of the really great things about being on a spiritual path is that you get to eat crow really often. A few days ago, I wrote and published a scathing article talking about monster houses and other things, my dad, Andy Oddstad among them. (My dad built houses, but not monster houses.)

How scathing? I spoke of the “McMansions littering our hillsides” and hoped that the home in which I grew up “doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.” I closed with an indictment of modern capitalism: “Today, companies are about marketing position and branding, about the “USPs”–unique selling propositions––magic words to charm the consumer into buying an illusion that she can’t afford and doesn’t need.”

Those words scathe effectively.

The Palace at Versailles: A true monster house

A TRUE MONSTER HOUSE: The Palace of Versailles was home to Actual Royalty. I’m illustrating this post with photos the prototypical Monster House, elegant in every way, full of pretension––I mean, if you think you’re God, you could live in this house with a straight face––and the best of everything. It differs from modern monster houses in that its real, way upscale, and conforms to the principles of design, listed down below.

Only a few hours after posting my position statement on large houses and the contemporary practice of flashing every dime you’ve got, I went to a social function at a home that can be described as plu-perfect, and huge. A monster house, by size, anyways. Oops.

I wandered around the edifice, marveling at the workmanship, the 3 ” thick marble counters, wood floors, plaster finishes, gorgeous fenestration (windows), views of the Pacific Ocean from every window. Sweeping panoramas of the City of Santa Barbara, offshore islands, gardens. Everything.

This was the most beautiful home I’d ever seen, and a monster house. I’d never want to own it: I couldn’t afford the gardener, much less the utility bills. But, wow. And what a spiritual feeling about the place.

Plus the owners were really nice, humble, kind people.

0versaille

Never underestimate the value of nice landscaping in increasing property values. Look what it did for Versailles!

My cheeks burned and I felt that inevitable, “I blew it,” walking around that beautiful place. So what’s wrong with this picture? First off, my original mind set was that big equals evil. Big is just big. And wealth is OK. Better than OK. Where’s the wisdom in this experience?

I immediately thought of the four goals of life. You know them:

  • Dharma: righteousness
  • Artha: wealth
  • Kama: pleasure
  • Moksha: liberation

These are straight from the Guru Gita, an ancient Vedic text. Other philosophic systems will have different goals, but I like the simplicity of the four above.

Dharma refers to living a spotless life by whatever moral system you espouse.

Artha––well, we all know what wealth means. Pile it on. My mom had a great poster in her house: A southern mansion with the line, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” That’s easy.

Kama––kama as in kama sutra. Pleasure. Better far better life goal than pain. Pain comes on its own.

And Moksha––liberation. Means liberation from the wheel of life, attainable by union with God.

3versailleskingsbedroom

The King’s Bedroom at Versailles: With the right karma, you could sleep here. Of course, it didn’t do much for Louis XVI.

The magnificent edifice I wandered into after my rant about monster houses was the fruit of a life well lived. The individuals owning the house had all four goals, in spades. The wealth one, artha, very obviously. And humility.

3versailleinterior

Versailles, Beautiful, Ornate, Over the Top. Sparked a revolution.

The difference between a monster house and a very large and beautiful house rests in the five principles of design:

  • Balance
  • Proportion
  • Scale
  • Harmony
  • And one other, which I forget. Let’s call it taste, or beauty.
  • Oh––rhythm. Remembered it.

I’ll discuss those principles in a later post. Here’s a link to an article about the importance of beauty in book cover design. Says it very well: Lewis Agrell’s Article About Book Covers.

Here I am, ready for Versailles.
Here I am, ready for Versailles.

Sandy Nathan is the winner of seventeen national awards, in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Her books are: (Click link for more information)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with a late (very late) 2011 publication date, or early 2012. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

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NUMENON: WINNER OF FOUR NATIONAL AWARDS––SO FAR!

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

NUMENON (Book 1 of the Bloodsong Series) is an astonishing spiritual adventure. Critically acclaimed and beloved by readers, Numenon has now won FOUR NATIONAL AWARDS. (You can read about them below.)

ISN’T IT TIME THAT YOU READ NUMENON?

You can also buy Numenon directly from Sandy Nathan’s website, and get great deals:

A message from Sandy Nathan:

“I’ve been thrilled and shocked and grateful this spring as the book contests announced their winners. Numenon won two more national awards in prestigious contests. All the information about Numenon’s wins is below. I’d like to invite you to read my book. I spent years writing it and fine-tuning it until it said what it was supposed to say. More years getting it published. Now you can reap the fruit of my work and read my book at your leisure.

“I’m hard at work rewriting, re-visioning, Mogollon, Numenon’s sequel. I think you’ll agree that the promise of Numenon is more than delivered in its sequel.

“I appreciate all of you who have purchased Numenon and given me such wonderful reviews. Please let your friends know about Numenon if you’re so moved. We authors need a boost, too!

“All the best on your journey,

Sandy Nathan

NUMENON’S BOOK CONTEST WINS:

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

In May 2009, Numenon won the 2009 SILVER NAUTILUS AWARD for INDIGENOUS/MULTICULTURAL FICTION. The Nautilus Award was established to “change the world one book at a time.” It is devoted to “Recognizing Books and Audio Books that Promote Spiritual Growth, Conscious Living, and Positive Social Change and stimulate the ‘imagination’ and inspire the reader to ‘new possibilities’ for a better world.” Previous Nautilus winners include: Deepak Chopra, M.D., Thich Nnat Hanh, Jean Houston, PhD., Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Andrew Weil, M.D.

(The bestselling book, The Shack, was also a 2009 Silver Nautilus Award winner.)


INDEPENDENT PRESS SILVER MEDAL

INDEPENDENT PRESS SILVER MEDAL

NUMENON has just received a Silver Medal in the 2009 IPPY Awards, claiming its fourth national award. The “IPPY” Award is one of the oldest and largest book contests for independent presses. This year’s awards attracted 4,090 entries from throughout the U.S. and Canada, plus most English-speaking countries worldwide. Medal-winning books came from 44 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, eight Canadian provinces, and six countries overseas.

Book contest judges noticed Numenon before it was published. As an Advance Reading Copy (ARC or galley), Numenon WON in two contests:

THE BEST BOOKS OF 2007 AWARD in VISIONARY FICTION, USA Book News. The Best Book Award is a large, prestigious contest entered by the major publishers as well as independent presses.

THE 2007 NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD in RELIGIOUS FICTION. The Indie Excellence contest stresses true excellence produced by independent presses.

THE NUMENON VIDEO:



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Buy Stepping Off the Edge for 99 cents! Kindle version is less than a buck!

Stepping Off the Edge is a wild ride to sacred places.

Stepping Off the Edge is a wild ride to sacred places. Includes an exclusive interview with Bill Miller, award winning Native musician, artist, & speaker.

Now you can buy the Kindle edition of Sandy Nathan’s award-winning book, Stepping Off the Edge, for 99 cents! Vilasa Press offers the book at this great price for a limited time only. Click here and go to the Kindle store.

The Kindle edition of Stepping Off the Edge is absolutely gorgeous: The Native American themed interior and cover converted to the Kindle format better than we hoped. All of Sandy Nathan’s pen and ink drawings are included and look beautiful.

This is the book that proves spiritual studies do not have to be boring. Stepping Off the Edge is part memoir, part self help, part riding lesson (horses play a big part), and all amazing. This book was written duing a period of author Sandy Nathan’s life “that I’m glad is over. Though it provided great material and a way of illustrating everything useful I learned earning 2 master’s degrees and a life of spiritual practice.”

Join Sandy as she finds her roots in Missouri’s Ozarks, travels to Tennessee to a Native American retreat, and meets Bill Miller, multi-Grammy winning musician and artist. Lots more, including the meaning of the word “fault” to people from California.

Come on a spiritual journey with an award winning author!

STEPPING OFF THE EDGE WON SIX NATIONAL AWARDS!
* 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award Finalist in New Age (Spirituality/Metaphysics)
* Bronze Medal Winner in Self Help, 2007 IPPY Awards
* National Indie Excellence Awards 2007: Finalist in THREE Categories: Memoir, Self Help, & Spirituality.

FROM THE BACK OF THE BOOK:
When Sandy Nathan set out to write a book about her profound experience at the Gathering, a Native American spiritual retreat, little did she know it would guide her to chronicle a life of stepping off the edge. Again and again , she takes the risks needed for her soul’s growth and vividly presents her personal journey––one of growing into the courageous spiritual being she is. Sandy reminds us we all possess spiritual greatness: It is our birthright.

By walking with Sandy along her path we get more than a glimpse of a person. We get a revealing and inspiring view of her life. Her adventure and the understanding she adds as she writes help us use her experience to enhance out own development. This book does much more than tell about a life: It takes us by the hand (or sometimes by the nose) and leads us to the opportunity afforded by spiritual practice. And practice is the key word.

Stepping Off the Edge is alive with information and inspiration. It is a book about doing. It’s more than a book that describes chocolate cake or even one that tells you how to make chocolate cake. It is a book that gets your mouth watering for chocolate cake and then lets you loose in the kitchen stocked with recipes and everything you need to make your own chocolate cake. With fudge frosting. And chocolate chips if you want them.

In this fascinating narrative you will encounter the basics of prayer, meditation, worship, spiritual retreat, and how a life can become dedicated to the pursuit of experiencing the divine. You will even find how to domesticate your mind and make it an ally in your quest for inner knowledge.

It is said that the path to self-awareness is a solitary one. Stepping Off the Edge opens you to the possibility that it can be fun, challenging and rewarding.

Sandy Nathan & Bill Miller at the Gathering Book Signing

Sandy Nathan & Bill Miller at the Gathering Book Signing

WHAT DO THE CRITICS SAY?

“This is a dynamic book. It’s alive with Ms. Nathan’s passion, and her presence is in every line, teaching and learning with you, helping you when you stumble, because she’s stumbled too. It’s rich with energy and meaning.”
– Gerald DiPego, Screenwriter, Phenomenon

“Sandy’s book has got to be one of the most fun to read books about spirituality ever written. She takes the reader along on her adventures with a down to earth approach and style that keeps the reader in touch–with both reality and spirituality. Informative, entertaining, and enlightening.”
Natural Horse Magazine, Volume 8 Issue 5

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