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Medal of Honor Winner Captain Ed Freeman Died Last Wednesday. Did the media tell us about his passing?

Captain Ed Freeman, Medal of Honor Winner

Captain Ed Freeman, Medal of Honor Winner

Every once in a while something comes across my desk that deserves to be read and passed on. This posting is one of those things. It still is, even after I checked urbanlegends.com Urban Legends rates this story as true, but there’s a kicker at the end. Here’s the tale:

You’re a 19 year old kid.

You’re critically wounded and dying in
The jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam  . . .

It’s November 11, 1967.
LZ (landing zone) X-ray.

Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the MedEvac helicopters to stop coming in.

You’re lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you’re not getting out.

Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you’ll never see them again.

As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then––over the machine gun noise––you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.
You look up to see a Huey coming in. But . . . it doesn’t seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.

He’s not MedEvac, so it’s not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he’s flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.

Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come. He’s coming anyway.

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load three of you at a time on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.

And, he kept coming back––thirteen more times–until all the wounded were out. He took twenty-nine of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

Until the mission was over, no one knew that the Captain had been hit four times in the legs and left arm.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho

May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

I bet you didn’t hear about this hero’s passing, but we’ve sure heard a whole bunch  about Lindsay Lohan, Dr. Murray, that sicko Sandusky, and a 72- day sham marriage.

Shame on the media !!!

Now . . . YOU pass this along. Honor this real hero.

Please.

President Bush Honoring Captain Freeman

OK. Here’s the kicker:  Vietnam War hero and Medal of Honor recipient Ed Freeman died at the age of 80 in Boise, Idaho on August 20, 2008. The end of the narrative makes it sound like it happened last week and no one noted his passing. Not so.

The media did not ignore the courageous life and quiet death of retired Army Captain and Medal of Honor recipient Ed W. Freeman, as the partial list of news sources you can reach through this link shows. It may not have made front-page news, but Freeman’s passing on August 20, 2008 was commemorated in a special segment on the NBC Nightly News, an AP national wire story, and obituaries published in newspapers across the country.

In 2001, Captain Freeman received the nation’s highest military honor  36 years after his heroic actions. President George W. Bush commemorated Freeman’s heroism, with a citation which reads as follows:

Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November, 1965, while serving with Company A, 229th, Assault Helicopter Battalion, First Cavalry Division Air Mobil (ph).

As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at landing zone X-ray in the Idrang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The infantry unit was almost out of ammunition, after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force.

When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone, due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire, time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the Paceeds (ph) battalion.

His flights had a direct impact on the battle’s outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival without which they would almost surely have experienced a much greater loss of life. After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area, due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing life- saving evacuation of an estimates 30 seriously wounded soldiers, some of whom would not have survived, had he not acted.

All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements. Captain Freeman’s selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers.

Captain Freeman’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army

He was a hero, and he was acknowledged. And I acknowledge him. His courage is awe-inspiring.

But what does this urban legend show? Well, when I first got an email with the initial story, I passed it on to my entire mailing list and sat down to write a scathing idictment of the news media.

“Let’s Occupy the News! Tell our media that we want news worth hearing,” I wrote in the first draft of this post. I wanted to believe the worst of the media, and maybe humanity. What kind of values do we have? I threw in a big dose of ain’t it awful?

How could this travesty occur?

It didn’t.

We may have reason to hate the garbage our media feeds in the guise of truth, but in this case, we fed it to ourselves.

I guess the moral is: Watch what you swallow.

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

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link to the left for more information. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
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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I’M ON THE SPIRITED WOMAN TOP 12 VALENTINE’S DAY BOOK PICKS!

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

It’s an honor for my new book THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY to be included on THE SPIRITED WOMAN’S  list of romantic books perfect for Valentine’s Day. Many thanks to Nancy Mills & The Spirited Woman. The Spirited Woman is a leading (& growing) women’s empowerment community, founded by Nancy Mills. The Spirited Woman’s belief: YOU ARE ENOUGH AS YOU ARE. YES!

THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY is a sci-fi, fantasy, thriller set on the planet earth’s last day. It presents a dark and doomed planet with secrets hidden everywhere. It’s characters are an amazing crew that will haunt you.  One reviewer called it, “A future world only heartbeats from our own.”

While THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY has this science fiction/fantasy aspect, it is also the story of a troubled young man’s coming to grips with his family, which has to be the most dysfunctional in  the world’s history. He has hours to do it before the nuclear Armageddon.

Most of all, THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY is a love story between Eliana, the angelic dancer who came to earth to save her own planet, and Jeremy, the tech genius, revolutionary, and heir to a fortune. Their love flames in this novel. It’s one of the great love stories, with love reaching through time and space.

I hope you enjoy it on Valentine’s Day or any other.

Sandy Nathan

THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY Trade Paperback Edition

THE ANGEL & THE BROWN-EYED BOY Kindle Edition

HERE’S  VIDEO SHOWING THE BOOK’S LOOK AND FEEL:

HERE’S A VIDEO GIVING MY IDEAS OF WHAT THE BOOK’S PEOPLE AND PLACES LOOK LIKE. Ever want to cast a movie? That’s what I do here.

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The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy –– What are readers saying?

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is available! What are readers saying?

“The most splendid part of the day just happened… and I am sad and happy… I just finished reading your novel. It was such a wild ride… so clever and perfectly timed. I am astonished by your imagination. It worked so well… and it was so out there!

“When can I get my hands on the sequel?”
A reader from California

Captivating from the first page onward, this entertaining tale will draw readers in and keep them riveted. Highly recommended.
L.C. Evans, author of Talented Horsewoman

A good book elicits an emotional response while being read; Nathan’s book haunts the reader long after the final page is turned. In The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy two dying worlds fight for survival, their futures dependent on a revolutionary and an angelic otherworldly dancer. It is world not that many heartbeats away from our own, making the premise chilling.
Todd A. Fonseca, award-winning author of The Time Cavern

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Are you sick of people trying to fix you?

I'M ON THE WARPATH!

I'M ON THE WARPATH!

I’m on a bazillion e-mail lists––I swear, they must reproduce in the night. Every day, I get ecstatic emails about some new system or formula that will FIX ME. Or MAKE ME HAPPIER, MORE FULFILLED. A MAGIC BULLET THAT WILL  BRING ME THE SECRET OF MY DREAMS, the dreams I haven’t DARED TO DREAM BEFORE.

All I have to do is listen to a free teleseminar, where I will be seduced into signing up and plunk down big bucks.

Thing is, I ain’t broke. I’m happy, fine, doing well, I don’t need anybody’s friggin’ system to fix me––and I resent these self-appointed gurus assuming they have the right to make the offer. (I have a real guru, and she doesn’t sound like that at all.)

There’s more. I have an MA in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Santa Clara University. I worked had getting that degree and did very well. I began my meditation practice in 1975 and have worked hard in the inner and outer worlds to make my spiritual self the one that runs things. I’ve had three or four professional careers that taught me to exercise my brain and will, and personal skills. The challenges I’ve dealt with myself––cancer and my leg falling apart, for a couple––and in my family have strengthened and tempered my soul.

I know both from a professional, theoretical standpoint and from the work I’ve done on my self that the so called miracle transformation in 30 days or less doesn’t exist.

I know for a fact how hard it is to change, barring acts of God and grace, and how stupid these Get Enlightened Fast schemes are.

There’s no easy way, folks. No fast track to a magic life. You slog through in the trenches, day by day. That’s where the breakthroughs occur, as St. Teresa of Avila pointed out. Daily life is the ground of spiritual transformation.

Read St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Rumi, Mirabai. No easy, sign up now and be free trip will take you where you want to go.

Here’s my promise: I WILL NEVER ATTEMPT TO FIX YOU. You’re fine right where you are, just as you are. And so am I. I’m going to get off all those stupid mailing lists starting now.

This is the first Sandy Nathan discussion post from my Amazon Author Page.

You can read the original on Amazon through either of the links above.

COMING SOON: LOWERED EXPECTATIONS!

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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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Father’s Day Tribute to Andy Oddstad, my Dad

Andy Oddstad skiing in the SF Bay 1960s

Andy Oddstad water-skiing in the SF Bay 1960s

Okay, so it’s a little after Father’s Day––the thought was there. One of the terrific things about the Internet is that it brings people together. People you didn’t even know introduce themselves. About a year ago, I heard from the daughter of the folks who bought my family home in Atherton CA about 35 years ago.

It is a special house. Built in six weeks (that’s right, 6 weeks) in the middle of a carpenter’s strike (you got that right, too), the house was destined to be memorable. Not because it was a McMansion of the type littering our hillsides today. The home my parents, Andy and Clara Oddstad, built in the 1950s was a comfortable rancher on an acre. It had a pool, but it wasn’t a showy house. Atherton always has been a pretty fancy address, a bit more restrained in those days.

The move from San Francisco was a huge leap for my folks, both of whom had grown up on the rough side of the Great Depression. “If we can’t afford it, Honey Chum, we can always sell it,” my dad told my mom, thinking positively. (He called her Honey Chum, typical of those goofy ’50s nicknames.)

My dad was Andy Oddstad, President of Oddstad Homes, which was at that time closing in on being the largest residential developer in northern California. He started out as a carpenter, which is why the guys built his house during a strike. He had been––maybe still was––an AFL/CIO Carpenters’ Union member.

The house was built, we moved into it and spent many happy years living there–-my folks didn’t have to sell it after all. Oddstad Homes became the biggest home builder in northern California by a long stretch.

In 1964, my dad was killed by a negligent and possibly drunk driver. Everything changed. After a few years, my mom found the house was too big and too laden with memories. She sold it and moved on––regretting the sale almost immediately, actually.

The house passed from our hands but continued to glow in our memories.

What a surprise when I heard from Stephanie, the daughter of the people who bought our house! She found me searching online. We hit it off by email right away. The house continued to charm: Her family lived there for years, kids growing up with memories as glowing as mine. She told me stories of the house––including a real ghost story! I was so glad that our old home had been so cherished.

Recently, Stephanie emailed me again to say that her parents had sold the house. It was time for them to leave. But they didn’t want to move. None of the solutions Stephanie showed them felt like their nest of so many years. Other houses just weren’t the same.

“I found one house for them, and just felt ‘This is the one.’ I cut through all the ‘We don’t like it’ and got them to move.” When she was moving her parents into their new home, she found something in a kitchen drawer. It was a brochure by the developer, pointing out a philosophy of building. The brochure dated from the 1960s and was signed by the builder, Andy Oddstad.

From the minute Stephanie’s folks knew they were living in an Oddstad Home, they settled down and felt they were in the right place.

An amazing story, yes? It brought tears to my eyes. I hope the new owner of our families’ home at 69 Catalpa Drive in Atherton hears it. I hope the simple and comfortable home that we knew doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.

What did the brochure say that prompts me to post it here? The text of the message is below. It’s a clarion call of an era based on true value, not show and appearance. Listen to my dad’s words:

The brochure’s title:
FARM HILL
ODDSTAD HOMES
MEDALLION SERIES

“WE FIRMLY BELIEVE that every home buyer should select a home with an eye on investment, as well as a place to live. We firmly believe that every builder has a responsibility for the kind of homes he creates. We accept this responsibility. As local builders, not here for a day on a quick investment, standing behind the 8,000 homes we have already constructed in the bay area, we realize that keeping an eye on the investment value of your home is a solid, responsible way to do business.

“We have carefully selected conservative designs because experience tells us this is the surest way to keep property values high––for the individual owner and for the community. Fads come and go; we’re here to stay.

“We purchase land in the thriving Bay Area communities, easily accessible to work centers, and because we are a big outfit, we buy big––we develop the land ourselves put in the improvements: roads, sidewalks, and sewers; no middle men [implying] no hidden costs when you buy one of our homes.

“Our production is enormous. Each working hour, a new foundation is poured; each working week, 40 new homes are completed.  Skilled crews go from job to job without wasted motion or lost time; ready made forms, jigs, scaffolding and labor saving equipment go with them to save time and expense––so we can deliver a better home, better built, at a lower price.

“The executives in our organization came up from the ranks. I myself was a carpenter. I still am. I take pride in the materials and the workmanship that go into each of our homes––from the foundations to the trim. You are invited to come out and watch us build––to see for yourself why our homes cost less when you buy … are worth more if you sell.”

Andy Oddstad
President
ODDSTAD HOMES

We’re in the middle of the Great Recession now. I read my dad’s words and thought, “If our society had continued to be base itself on the solid reality and true financial conservatism that this brochure demonstrates, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in.”

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.

My dad’s words on a forgotten brochure reminded me of who he was. I could almost hear his voice. Growing up around Andy Oddstad was a lot like growing up in the Marines––he was very demanding. He required excellence of everyone around him. But he had something very valuable to say and a product to offer. Mostly, the way he lived––athlete, body builder, community member, husband, father, philosopher––was his message.

Andy Oddstad & Triff Trifeletti

Andy Oddstad & Triff Trifeletti

Thank you, dad, and many thanks to all those who worked for Oddstad Homes and with him. I remember Triff Trifelletti, Gordon Hanson, John O’Malley, Chuck Jonas and so many others who worked with and for Oddstad Homes. And of course, I love and remember my dear auntie Elma Mendola, who worked with my dad from the beginning, along with my mom, Clara Oddstad.

As of 1964 when my dad was killed, Oddstad Homes had completed over 14,000 homes, 2,500 apartment units, three shopping centers, a youth center, and a couple of churches in the San Francisco Bay Area. An incredible legacy of achievement.

I often wonder what my dad would think of the world today if he could see it. He died before the Beatles became popular, when a really nice house could be purchased in the SF Bay Area for $36,000, when cars had fins and so did guys’ hair styles. He would not be able to believe housing prices or the consumer lifestyle of today.

Sometimes networking on the Net isn’t about wasting time, it’s about remembering what’s important.

All the best,
Sandy Nathan

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In God We Trust – Or Do We?

This Lightning-blasted Tree Reminds Me of God's Power.

This Lightning-blasted Tree Reminds Me of God's Power.

“In God we trust” appears on our currency. These words are controversial. They prompt some people to fight for their removal, while others insist that they belong on our money and everywhere else.

I ask: Do we trust God? If so, which one? I’ll explain.

I recently had a flamboyant lesson in paying attention. Paying attention to what I thought and believed–and what I worshiped. And also in paying attention to where I put my feet.

By May 2009, I was a mess. In 2008, I wrote manuscripts for three sci-fi books, got the first book of the Bloodsong Series, Numenon, into print and launched, and charged ahead with marketing activities.

In my spare time, I had major surgery on my ankle. My surgeon fused the foot bone to the leg bone, the only thing possible to fix the arthritis in the joint. (Yes, it hurt. Recovery has been slow.)

I added on-line book marketing to the mix in 2009-and began obsessing about my Amazon sales figures, posting on writers’ and marketers’ blogs, writing four of blogs of my own, and bringing out Kindle editions of my books. And Twittering! It worked: People learned my name. Kindle sales soared.

But I had to keep at it, working hard every day. If I relaxed, I’d fall behind the hordes of authors more dedicated to tweaking the system than me.

* * *

I was ready for a meltdown and knew it. I’m a long time observer of my inner state, or spirit. The first definition of spirit on my computer is “a vital force that characterizes a living being as being alive.” Being alive interests me.

Riding or walking through our Santa Ynez hills is a balm to my soul.

Riding or walking through our Santa Ynez hills is a balm to my soul.

Things weren’t all bad. When my fused ankle healed enough for me to walk, I had resumed (slowly and carefully) a ritual of many years. A circular path meanders around our ranch. I’ve walked that path every day, contemplating the world and the state of my soul. This walk is a form of prayer.

When I’m in good shape inside, I look at the golden hills around me, feel the breezes, and hear the birds’ cheerful calls. My heart opens and a blast of light and love bursts forth. I become a clear lens, open to the will of the unfathomable power that created and sustains the universe.

In this state, I can write words worth reading.

As May 2009 approached, my walks reflected my soul’s condition. Exhausted and trying to keep going, I tottered along, piling through every mental “to do” list I’d ever made.

Far from being a clear explosion of energy, my heart’s well was like some of the koi ponds I’ve seen: a scummy, turgid hole that no self-respecting fish would enter voluntarily. I swam in a nasty soup created by my thoughts and obsessive actions.

One day, I heard an an inner voice as I walked. It said,  “I believe in a shiftless god.”

I stopped on the path and laughed. What a great book title! But that was it: I was worshiping a supreme power that was unreliable, uncaring, and prone to quit when needed It most.

This shiftless god required ceaseless appeasing. I had to slave for every crumb of success, every review, radio appearance, and book sale. Nothing came from the bounty of an all-knowing being that loved me and wished me well.

I was worshiping a “god” reflecting my own state of mind.

* * *

I felt lousy, but knew what to do. I needed to make my way back to the real God, the benevolent Creator of heaven and earth, the fountain of love and mercy that I’ve experienced so often in my life. I also had to put the right Sandy in control of my life. The deepest Sandy, my own true Self.

I knew exactly how to accomplish the transformation: Go to New Mexico. The area around the City of Santa Fe is like spiritual catnip to me. A couple of weeks there, meditating and doing spiritual practice, and I’d be ready to hit Amazon and Twitterland like a linebacker. I’d be able to break the writer’s block that had me completely foiled in my attempts to work on Numenon’s sequel.

NOT. What we think is going to happen and what happens can be very different.

My husband and I headed off to our place near Santa Fe in early May. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu a few days before we left. The symptoms were so bad that I looked up Swine Flu on the Net. My flu lacked the high fever, but had all the other attributes of that nasty porcine virus.

The kidney infection that I got on top of the flu turned my body into a torture chamber.

No one gets a kidney infection and the flu. No one goes on vacation in the condition I was in.

* * *

The flu ran its course and the tons of antibiotics my doctor prescribed did the trick. Days after arriving in New Mexico, I was able to wobble around on my I-thought-healed, fused ankle. I felt better; the Santa Fe magic was working. A smile lit my face.

Until I stepped in the hole.

Actually, it wasn’t a hole; it was a rut. Not a big rut, such as a large truck might make. More of a slight incline from the tire of a small car. A patch of not too level dirt that I stepped on with my bad leg without noticing it.

All I felt was a little crunch on the outside of the fused ankle, not even a sound or a pain. Just a little sensation of doom. Having a bad back, I know all about such sensations. If I had felt that little twinge in my back, I knew I’d be flat on my back in agony for three weeks.

As it was, a purple, cucumber-shaped swelling lodged under the anklebone on each side of my foot. The swelling ran up my leg. When it got to my (previously totally replaced) knee, that joint ballooned, quickly resembling a cantaloupe. Hard, firm, and definitely not ripe, my knee bulged into a form I’d never seen.

All I wanted was my surgeon in Los Angeles, but I knew that I’d never make it through the airports to get to him. I hurt so much that I wasn’t capable of calling his office to ask for advice. I did what I knew he would say, “Rest, ice, keep your ankle above your heart.”

After a week I’d improved enough to call the doctor’s office. “Did you get it X rayed? The bruising sounds like you chipped a bone,” his nurse said.

* * *

I’m spilling all this not as a ploy for sympathy, but to tell you about my life. Physical illness and injury have been a large part of the challenges I’ve faced in this incarnation. Maybe I’m trying to get it all done so I don’t have to go through this stuff again in a future go-round. (This explanation serves if you believe in reincarnation. I’m not sure that I do.)

For whatever reason, I’ve had lots of really rotten physical stuff happen to me. It’s the learning I must process in this life. Your task is undoubtedly different, but I’m sharing “our vacation in Santa Fe” to illustrate the fact that dinner at your mother-in-law’s, or whatever bedevils you, may not be so bad.

The thing about the ankle cucumbers and cantaloupe knee is that they stopped me dead. I’m a work-o-holic. If possible, I would work 24 hours a day. But there I was, flat on my back, unable to move. In too much discomfort to do anything. That included obsessing about Amazon sales.

My experience is that God will do anything necessary to get you to listen. This case pulled out the stops: He/She/It had me powerless.

The meditation retreat portion of our vacation began in earnest.

And it worked.

Hitting bottom is the essence of spiritual healing as I have experienced it. As a burned out young mother and graduate student, a burned out doctoral student, a burned out author, and finally a burned out lady with vegetables for leg joints–all the times in my life I’ve wiped myself out–I found getting to a dead stop is the key to turning around.

This is not fun. One of the things that I realized as I lay with my leg propped up on pillows is that my days of riding horses are probably over. If I could hurt myself as badly as I did stepping on a tiny ridge of dirt, what would happen if my mare got silly going through a gate and whacked my foot into a fence post? What if she fell and landed on my injured leg? Doesn’t require much imagination to figure out the consequences.

I also realized that I probably can’t go to the Gathering, the Native American spiritual retreat that inspired my first book, Stepping off the Edge. The retreat is in Tennessee and I can’t see myself able to negotiate the plane changes of the cross-country flight, picking up a rental car, and finding my way out into the Cherokee National Forest to the retreat grounds. This almost killed me. I spent some time boo-hooing.

Sharing one’s insights with another person is key in healing. I told my husband what I’d realized and he was relieved. I’m a hard dog to make heel, and he was afraid of what might happen to me if I continued my bull-headed ways.

I’m not going to write a book on spiritual practice and how to heal your soul. I already have: Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice. I recommend this book to you. It’s got every trick I’ve learned earning my two Master’s degrees, my 34 year meditation practice, and lots of personal growth. This book shows you what happens in spiritual healing and how to do it.

After you bottom out, the real God can finally get through. Healing is a matter of listening to what’s presented to you. It may seem trivial as it happens.

For instance, I belong to a book club. The meeting was set for two days after we got back from Santa Fe. By purest happenstance, the book for that month was Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. I downloaded it onto by beloved Kindle and began to read. It’s the story of the author’s experience hiding in a 3 foot by 5 foot bathroom with seven other women. They were there for 3 months as rampaging Hutus stalked them just outside.

I feared that the book would be a nightmare of proselytizing and genocide. Forget my fear: This book is a miracle, the finest example of contemporary Christian mysticism I have read. Ilibagiza is Catholic and her faith shines in this book, as well at the living presence of Jesus Christ. She outlines miraculous experiences occurring time after time after time, as she prayed to God for physical as well as spiritual protection. She came out of her ordeal whole and inspired, stepping into a life she loves.

Flat on my back, with no resistance to anything, I cried through the whole thing. Left to Tell’s words kindled the flame of my own spiritual roots. By the time I finished, my soul was blazing. I was in touch with the real God, my Christian roots, and the power of prayer and meditation. My transforming journey began with reading Left to Tell.

Healing is about collapse of what doesn’t work, surrender to a greater reality (God, a Higher Power, Whatever), acceptance of one’s errors and a turning to a new way. That’s pretty well known and straightforward.

What’s not so well know is that healing and spiritual practice is a blast. The hallmark of spirit is bliss. Don’t buy anybody’s words if you can’t feel the bliss behind them.

Also–did you know that the Asian concept of chakras, those invisible energy centers aligned up your spine that spin when you’re inspired, is absolutely true? So is kundalini–the uncoiling spiritual energy that starts at the base of the spine and moves upward, striking the charkas as it goes.

Providing the original and ultimate meaning of “ring my chimes.”

Yep, once I got past the hard stuff like swollen ankles and exhaustion, the good times rolled. Spiritual energy started to flow and my charkas shone and spun in vivid colors. A spiritual seeker can lights, hear bells, and have visions, getting ripped out of his or her mind. This one sure did.

The trip ended up a glorious success. I’m home, feeling no pressure to do anything but write this blog piece. This is first on the agenda, then we’ll see what’s next.

I feel like a giant and very trustworthy hand has reached into my life and changed my direction. I don’t feel any compulsion or worry. I’m not concerned about my book sales. Certainly not Twitter or go on-line.

This will come in time, I’m sure, but I won’t act until told to by the real God, the one you can trust.

Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"

Sandy Nathan: "It's about the good times! May they all be good times!"

All the best,

Sandy Nathan

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The Gathering 2009: Bill Miller Leads the Holston Conference Gathering

Bill Miller gives a Saturday night concert at the Gathering.

Bill Miller gives a Saturday night concert at the Gathering.

Dear Friends,

The Holston Conference Gathering 2009 will be held September 19th & 20th 2009 at Coker Creek Village. The Gathering is sponsored by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Native American Ministries Team. This year marks the Gathering’s 10th anniversary!

Once again, we are blessed to have Bill Miller, the incredibly talented musician, artist, and speaker, as the Gathering’s spiritual leader. Among many other honors, Bill has won two Grammy Awards and a lifetime Nammy Award. This year, he traveled to Israel where he performed his symphony, The Last Stand, with the Israel Kibbutz Orchestra. The was the first time a Native American symphony was performed in Israel and it was a terrific success. An amazingly prolific and insightful man, I’m sure that Bill will have many new thoughts and feelings to share with us.

The cover of Stepping Off the Edge. Bill Miller's Portrait and dancer Stanley Bell at the Gathering are shown on this cover.

The cover of Stepping Off the Edge. Bill Miller's Portrait and dancer Stanley Bell at the Gathering are shown on this cover.

This is Sandy Nathan, a great friend of the Gathering. Years ago, when I first heard about the retreat, I packed my bag and headed to green Tennessee as fast as I could. The Gathering was such a powerful experience that it inspired me to write a book. Several chapters of the book, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning and Living Spiritual Practice, occur in the Gathering. The book went on to win six national awards.

I also volunteered to put up and maintain the Gathering’s web site. I think it’s a lovely site, but being a “web mistress” leads me to ask: Are computers our friends or enemies? My old computer died a month or so ago after a long illness. I got a new one. None of the programs from my old computer work with the new one, so we have to update and upgrade everything, including the program I use for the Gathering’s web site. At this point, I can’t even get onto the site or my old files. The upgrading process isn’t going as fast as I’d like.

Meanwhile, people are emailing me, wanting to know about the Gathering 2009’s dates and times. Argghh! It’s so frustrating.

I decided to write this blog article about the Gathering 2009 to give people the information they need in this interim period. I’ll have the “real” Gathering 2009 announcement and info up just as soon as we’ve overcome our programming problems. What’s on this blog post should give you what you need right now. Keep scrolling down: There’s lots of info after I sign off.

To get you in the mood: A SLIDE SHOW OF THE GATHERING If you’re new to the Gathering and wondering if you should go, or if you’re an old timer and wouldn’t miss a year, this show will prepare you for the Gathering 2009.

If you would like more information about the Gathering than is available on the Gathering’s web site, my book Stepping Off the Edge is available as a Kindle for a thrifty 99 cents. In addition to the chapters which occurred at the Gathering, the book contains my line drawings of the Gathering’s people, and an exclusive interview by Bill Miller. Click here to go to the Kindle store.

Here’s a video about Stepping Off the Edge.

All the best and hope to see you in Coker Creek this September,

Sandy Nathan

Head Lady Dancer, Siouxsan Robinson (Lakota Blackfoot), & Head Man Dancer, Charles Robinson (Choctaw) at the Gathering 2007.

Head Lady Dancer, Siouxsan Robinson (Lakota Blackfoot), & Head Man Dancer, Charles Robinson (Choctaw) at the Gathering 2007.

RELEVANT DATES:

  • The Gathering is September 19 & 20 at Coker Creek Village.
  • Registration Deadline is 9/5/09.
  • Refund Deadline is 9/5/09.
  • Deadline for Complimentary T Shirt: Your Registration must be received by 9/4/09.

REGISTRATION: Note that you have a long time before the registration deadline, so no need to worry at this date of 5/8/09. A downloadable registration form is available on the Gathering’s web site. The dates, etc., will be updated soon.

COSTS & DAILY SCHEDULE : The daily schedule for the retreat is the same as that shown on the Gathering’s web site. The costs for year’s registration are exactly the same as those shown on the web site. (Both have “strike over” lines through them, but they are correct for 2009.)

T SHIRTS: Those whose registrations are received by September 4, 2009 will receive a complimentary event T-shirt. This year’s shirt will feature a new design created by award-winning artist, Emerson Begay.

Refer to Registration Form for list of sizes. ONLY those whose registrations are received in time to be submitted with our order on Sep. 4th will receive complimentary shirts. A limited number will be available for purchase at the event for $15.

PLEASE REGISTER EARLY TO INSURE THAT YOU GET YOUR SIZE AT NO ADDITIONAL COST!!

WORKSHOPS: The 2009 Workshops are as follows:

WORKSHOP TITLE
PRESENTER
DESCRIPTION
A. CHEROKEE POTTERY
Mary T. Newman
Learn how pottery was made in the old days from potter  Mary T. Newman. This class will also include instruction and hands-on opportunities for working in clay. Of Cherokee descent. Mary T. resides in Ashland City, TN. with her family. She conducts pottery workshops and displays throughout the southeast and as far away as Alaska.
B.  SPIRIT OF THE DRUM Emerson Begay Learn the basics of pow wow singing and drumming, as well as the important role of the drum in Native culture from full-blood Navajo Emerson Begay.Originally from the Farmington NM area, Emerson, is currently living in Kingsport, TN.
C. POW WOW 101 Jonathon Feather This workshop is designed for newcomers to pow wows as well as those who have attended pow wows and had questions they were afraid to ask. This class will include pow wow etiquette, explanations of each dance style and the regalia associated with it, other pow wow customs such as giveaways, etc., and a discussion of common mistakes (offensive questions, etc.) often made by unknowing newcomers. Jonathon is Cherokee/Lakota. He grew up on the Qualla boundary in Cherokee,NC where he now lives. Jonathon has been involved in pow wows his entire life in every aspect from champion hoop dancer to MC and judge of dance competitions.
D. MEDICINE BAGS Linda Cash Learn to make your own medicine bag from accomplished beader Linda Cash. Linda will also discuss the meaning and purpose of medicine bags in Native culture. A native of Clinton, TN., Linda is Cherokee/Metis’.  Her exquisite beadwork is  museum quality and is treasured by those fortunate enough to own one of her pieces.
*THIS IS A TWO-PART CLASS. IF YOU CHOOSE THIS WORKSHOP, YOU WILL TAKE IT BOTH DAYS. PLEASE DO NOT CHOOSE A SECOND WORKSHOP.
E. MAKE YOUR OWN DRUM Lowery Begay
Construct your own drum in the traditional way as you learn about the importance of the drum from full-blood Navajo award winning dancer, artist, and performer Lowery Begay. Lowery grew up in the Farmington ,NM area and now resides in Jonesboro, TN.* THOSE TAKING THIS WORKSHOP WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY A MATERIALS FEE OF $30 . THIS WILL BE PAID DIRECTLY TO LOWERY AT THE CLASS. THIS WILL BE A TWO-DAY WORKSHOP. IF SIGNING UP FOR THIS WORKSHOP, DO NOT CHOOSE A SECOND ONE.
F. FOOD FOR SPIRIT Charles Robinson Charles will share his insights on the connection between Native spirituality and Christianity and how God reveals Himself to us through His creation. This workshop will enhance your relationship with our Creator, regardless of your personal beliefs. Charles (Choctaw) and his wife Siouxsan operate the Red Road Ministry in Franklin, TN.
G. BLACKFOOT CULTURE/COOKING Siouxsan Robinson Siouxsan (Blackfoot/Lakota) will share with us what life on a western reservation was like for past generations, how it has changed in the present day, and her vision for future generations. **This workshop will include some discussion of the treatment of Native American children in boarding schools which some may find disturbing.

Originally from the Rosebud Reservation, Siouxsan now resides in Franklin, TN with her husband Charles and their five children.

H. CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES Scott Crisp and Jamie Russell Children ages 12 and under will be educated and entertained with activities ranging from stickball to storytelling.  * If we have a wide range of ages, we will separate into appropriate groups.

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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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Award Winning Book Covers: Make Your Book’s Cover Sing!

"It May Be Forever" A beautiful cover by Lewis Agrell of The Agrell Group

"It May Be Forever" A beautiful cover by Lewis Agrell of The Agrell Group

I just posted an article about what makes book covers successful––i.e., so irresistible that the books inside them sell like crazy––on my blog for writers, YOUR SHELF LIFE. Lewis Agrell of The Agrell Group wrote the article and let me use his incredible cover designs to illustrate his points. Lewis designs custom book covers, interiors, and other materials (brochures, etc.) for publishers and self publishers.

The cover to the left is just one of the covers illustrating the article. Lewis writes about what makes a successful book cover offering concepts from psychology and human development. What makes a cover work––like sell the book it’s on? Beauty. Click the link and hop  over  to my other blog. Your Shelf Life: How Long Will You Last? Success & Sanity for Writers.

Just a head’s up for any of you looking for a book designer.

Sandy Nathan
Award winning author of Numenon and Stepping off the Edge.

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