Man, They’re Not Makin’ It Easy! Sandy Kvetches as Contest Results Trickle In

Lady Grace, Book II of Tales from Earth's End

I wasn’t going to enter any book contests this year. Lady Gracemy new sci-fi, fantasy, visionary fiction novel, dribbled out of the publisher’s arms when most of the contests were within minutes of closing. But, like a compulsive gambler, I couldn’t leave book contests alone. I got the Lady in the IPPYs (Independent Press) Awards, sliding in just under their “drop dead date”.

The IPPYs are the oldest and largest book contest open to independent publishers and authors. It’s a great contest, and very prestigious. I’ve entered it many times and done well.

Never at the last minute, though. The management offers  nice discounts on entry fees if you get your entry in early. Unfortunately, I didn’t get mine in early. My husband growled at me as I put the book package together. “How many awards are enough?  How much are you going to spend this year?”

Answer: There is no “enough.” Ever. Anywhere. In anything. You spend what you need to go the distance. I mean, did they tell Secretariat his saddle cost too much or he ate too many oats?

Since the early-bird special had come and gone and my husband was still snarling about how much contests cost, I put Lady Grace in one class in the IPPYs––I didn’t hedge my bets entering two or three. The category I entered was Visionary Fiction.

Jenkins Group, sponsor of the IPPYs began announcing winners on April 27, six days ago. They seem to be announcing awards when the judging of a batch of categories is finished. As of this sitting, Wednesday, May 2 at 1:03 PST,  Visionary Fiction is practically the only category NOT announced.

Six days is a long time to hold your breath.

Talk about stretching my neurotic tendencies to the max. In the last six days, I’ve learned it’s as bad to go into something from a strong position as it is a weak one. My 2011 novel, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, WON the Gold Medal in Visionary Fiction at the IPPYs last year. YAY! Talk about a feel good moment. I’ve won Bronze and Silver Medals before, but never a Gold.

So I should feel confident, right? No. My inner self-talk goes like: “They probably will give it to someone else to spread the awards around. Also, you’ve done a bunch of touch ups to the cover since you sent the book––the ink was barely dry when you mailed it. It probably isn’t good enough. You don’t know what the other books in the category are like. They may be FAN-SUPER-TASTIC. Can I stand it if Lady Grace “only” gets a Bronze or Silver? What if it don’t get nada?  AHHHH!

This skillful manipulation of my inner state by repeated negative thoughts might be considered The Anti-Secret. This is the antidote to Rhonda Byrnes’ famous Secret.  Rhonda’s book goes like:  “If you wish for it hard enough, something will come.” Maybe not what you wanted, but something.

I do not consider myself particularly neurotic. I think of my self as the female, West Coast, Protestant version of Woody Allen.

I’m going to sit at my computer, fully experiencing my pain and heart palpitations (really) until the Jenkins Group posts those wins. Or losses.

Sayonara! I will let you know what happens, win or lose.

THE RESULTS JUST CAME IN: SOMETIMES YOU WIN, AND  SOMETIMES YOU LOSE.

THIS TIME I LOST.

Sandy Nathan, Award-winning Author

Sandy Nathan is the winner of twenty-one national awards for her writing. She’s won 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 on each book. All links below go to Kindle sale pages.)
Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love
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

 

 

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

In Memory of September 11, 2001

Dirge Without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscrimnate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, – but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, –
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious is the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Lilies at Rancho Vilasa

Lilies at Rancho Vilasa


Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy Wins the 2011 IPPY Award Gold Medal!

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy

A future world only heartbeats from our own

WAAAA-HOOO! Just received notification that my new sci-fi /fantasy / visionary fiction novel, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy has won the 2011 IPPY (Independent Publisher) GOLD MEDAL FOR VISIONARY FICTION! (Category 20) This is such a thrill! The IPPY Award Contest is one of the largest and oldest competitions for independent presses––in fact, it may be the oldest and largest. Winning is a big deal, and I’m thrilled and honored and excited. I’m going to tell you about it and then go out and crank up the rock ‘n’ roll!

This award feels very good. It marks almost four years of work by myself and my publishing team at Vilasa Press. I want to thank my content editor, Melanie Rigney; my book designer, Lewis Agell; and Kathy Grow and Kathryn Agrell for copy editing and proofreading assistance. Many thanks also to my husband, Barry Nathan for keeping Vilasa Press organized and moving forward.

This is a crazy day. I have been grieving deeply that last few weeks. We had to put my horse down yesterday. His heart was failing and nothing the veterinarians could do could stop it. I tell you, I thought my heart would fail when I lost that beautiful buckskin horse. Here’s his story, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could. Teco’s story has already won a the 2011 Silver Nautilus Award for Children’s Nonfiction (grade 1-6) in its own right.

And today, I won a national award. I guess that God’s just telling me that it’s not over until it’s over. And that happiness and sadness can exist together.

“If you haven’t read The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, I invite you to do so. It’s available in a number of formats.”

AMAZON:
Trade Paperback
Kindle 99 cents. Such a deal!

BARNES & NOBLE.COM
Trade Paperback
Nook Book 99 cents. Such a deal!

SONY READER BOOK
I’m told by my distributor that the book is available, but I couldn’t find it. Please keep checking. It should be 99 cents.

iBook
iBook store for the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad  99 cents. Yet another great deal for an award-winning book!

Here’s some information about The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, if the book is new to you:

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy is Sandy Nathan’s new science fiction/fantasy novel. Of the special genre of books and films that include 1984, A Brave New World, and The Prisoner Series,  The Angel takes the reader to a dark future world that’s not so different from our own. In the late 22nd century, people are continually watched, disappearing off the streets and from their homes. A shadowy but all-powerful government calls the shots; war rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.

All is not bad in this fictional realm, for the angelic extraterrestrial, Eliana, appears on the streets on New York City on a mission to save her planet.  As radiant and pure as the world around her is tarnished, Eliana must find the Golden Boy. He turns out to be Jeremy Edgarton, a tech genius on a planet where technology is outlawed, a revolutionary, and the FBI’s most wanted. They find themselves caught up in an explosive adventure when Jeremy decodes new transmissions and discovers that a nuclear holocaust will take place the next morning.

The themes of The Angel read like pure sci-fi, but author Sandy Nathan explains, “I’m a former economist. While the love story between Jeremy and Eliana enchants, the back-story––the hideous world around them––is the product of my economist’s mind interacting with current events. We’re in the worst economic melt-down since the 1930’s, with no end in sight. Some events in  The Angel are based directly upon history. For instance, Germany’s economic distress during the Great Depression is one factor contributing to the rise of Adolf Hitler. Could a totalitarian government arise from our current conditions? Maybe.  The Angel’s world is just a heartbeat from our own. In writing  The Angel, I wanted to entertain my readers and challenge them to discover solutions.”

 

So the book has a vision, a powerful vision, and a dark vision. And it’s also got a love story that will melt your heart. And the sequel is well into production. I’ve been told it’s even better than The Angel.  Whoa. Something to look forward to.

What’s the rest of the news? It ain’t over yet. The 2011 IPPY AWARDS haven’t announced all of their winners, and the 2011 Indie Excellence Awards announce May 15th. The Best Books of 2011 by USA Book News doesn’t announce until September 2011.

So I may have more good news!

Sandy Nathan Ridin' High!

 

All the best,
Sandy Nathan

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

Is The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy a Political Book?

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy cover

My new fantasy, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, takes place on the eve of nuclear Armageddon near the end of the 22nd century.  The setting is a dark world, in which a ruined United States barely survives on a ruined planet, which is soon to become really ruined.  Early readers have commented on how believable my imaginary world is. For instance, award-wining author Todd A. Fonseca said, “It is a world not that many heartbeats away from our own, making the premise chilling.”

I did not intend to write a political book. At the end of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, I write about the book’s inception. My brother died unexpectedly and tragically three years ago. Two months after he died, I had a transcendent dream in which the character of the Angel emerged. In the days following my dream, the plot and characters of The Angel came to me. The book’s themes have particular and personal meaning to my brother and me. Essentially, my grief wrote The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy,

But what about the world of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy? It seems about as political as you can get. Yes, it is. The book hinges on a fictitious second Russian Revolution which occurs in 2097. The former president of Russia  proclaims himself Tsar, establishes a totalitarian monarchy, and almost takes over the world. Russia becomes the planet’s major power, with the United States sinking to  a third rate entity. (Please note that I picked Russia out of a hat. Could be any big power.) Is this possible? Beats me, I write fiction.

However, historical precedent does exist. The stock market crash of 1929 destroyed the financial markets of that era, ushering in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Desperate economic conditions in Germany supported the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. An aggressive totalitarian state arose from an economic disaster and created world war.

In The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, the second Russian revolution of 2097 occurs because the world economy never pulls out of the slump created by the financial meltdown of 2008. The Great Recession we’re floundering through becomes the Really Big Depression. The world economy spirals downward, creating the same desperate conditions that allowed Hitler to rise to power, resulting in my book’s Second Russian Revolution. The worldwide police state in The Angel is fueled by inept political and economic leadership, intellectual laziness and lack of integrity in the people and politicians, fault finding, blaming others, and a massive preference for force over reason.

The whole planet wimps out and lets the bad guys have control.

Some people may find this similar to our current situation. It could be. When I was writing The Angel, not all of me was consumed by grief for my brother. A bunch of things that have been happening to our world and society were rattling around in my subconscious. We’re in a really bad situation economically. The Great Recession that we’re in is the worst economic meltdown since the Depression of the 1930s. We’ve had the mega collapse of our banking and financial systems. Our housing industry is shot. Foreclosures are through the roof (though put “on hold” at this writing). The economy has not responded to monetary policy––i.e., the interest rate cruises around zero and businesses aren’t investing. Corporations are cash rich, but not spending. Fiscal policy (the correct response when monetary policy fails, and which is also currently known as the stimulus program) hasn’t produced the increased economic growth we’ve wanted. Jobs have not increased to the level needed  to reduce unemployment. Our citizens face downsizing, layoffs, outsourcing and who knows what else. We make bankruptcy for individuals harder and more punitive, while corporations are bailed out.

What bothers me most about our current economic and political situation? If you watch the news or any political debate, you’ll see a blame game. “He did it.” “No, she did it.” We live as though our current crisis doesn’t have serious, long term consequences for the well-being of everyone in this country and the world. What is the solution?

WE NEED TO ACT LIKE GROWN UPS.

That’s my prescription for the economic/social/personal/moral issues before us. We need to get that we have problems and must work TOGETHER to solve them. We need to realize deeply and fully that COMPLICATED PROBLEMS DO NOT HAVE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS. We should run like crazy from any politician purporting to solve our nation’s problems with solutions that sound like they came off BUMPER STICKERS. We also need to really take in the fact that PROBLEMS THAT HAVE DEVELOPED OVER DECADES AND MANY PRESIDENCIES CANNOT BE SOLVED IN TWO YEARS. We need to grow up, stop whining, and get to work.

As I reflected on these issues, I realized that large groups of people  may be incapable of setting their differences aside and recognizing that really smart, educated, good hearted people may have points of view that are different than their own.  Masses of people may not be able to solve problems in an effective and nonjudgmental way. Whining and finger pointing, creating “us” vs. “them,” indulging in hatred and hierarchical thinking may be endemic to humanity. I’m talking about both major political parties, “both sides of the aisle.”

Individuals may become enlightened, cooperative, loving, and effective people, but maybe people in large groups just aren’t capable of it.

Where might this lead? Quite possibly to the world of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, The story’s final solution may be what we’re cruising toward as fast as we can. Check it out.

Is The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy political? No more than life.

It’s actually a story of personal reconciliation at earth’s end. And it’s a love story.

Sandy Nathan MA
former Economic Analyst, Santa Clara County CA

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

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!

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

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.

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

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

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

NUMENON WINS THE 2009 IPPY SILVER MEDAL IN VISIONARY FICTION!

Independent Publisher Book Awards

Independent Publisher Book Awards

JUST ANNOUNCED: NUMENON by Sandy Nathan won the 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards’ Silver Medal in Visionary Fiction. The “IPPY” Award is one of the oldest and largest book contests for independent presses, with more than 4,000 books competing this year.

A press release from Independent Publishers provides more information about the contest in their news release:

======================
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
======================

May 21, 2009 — New York, NY — Organizers of the 13th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards, conducted to honor the year’s best independently published books, have announced the results for the 2009 competition.

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. Launched in 1996 as the first unaffiliated awards program open exclusively to independent, university, and self-published titles, the 2009 IPPY Awards will be presented to winners at a gala celebration during BookExpo America in New York on Friday, May 29th. Winners receive gold, silver and bronze medals and can place foil seals of the medal image on their book covers.

“Today’s readers are seeking diverse perspectives on hot-button issues,” said awards director Jim Barnes. “This year’s list represents a mix of established independents and bold new voices, and their messages echo the call for change and a straightforward approach to dealing with the world’s social, political and economic problems.”

The IPPY Awards are presented by IndependentPublisher.com, the online “voice of independent publishing” operated by publishing services firm Jenkins Group of Traverse City, Michigan. The annual IPPY Awards celebration on Friday night during BookExpo America is a highlight of the weekend and publishing media are welcome to attend.

For more details about the Awards, to attend the event, or to interview recipients, please contact:

Jim Barnes, Managing Editor & Awards Director
Independent Publisher Online/Jenkins Group
www.IndependentPublisher.com
Ph: 1.231.933.4954 x1011
jimb@bookpublishing.com

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

A FATHER’S DAY TRIBUTE TO MY DAD, ANDY ODDSTAD

I was looking through old family albums recently and came upon the following article about my father. It contained information that I thought worth sharing––some of it was new to me. Father’s Day is about acknowledging our fathers for what they’ve done and honoring who they are or were. That’s what I’m doing here.

For all his accomplishments, some of which are laid out below, my dad died at age 45. No, he didn’t die of a heart attack. He was in perfect health. Someone who turned the wrong way onto a freeway off-ramp killed him. The old guy might have been drunk––he did have an opened bottle of wine on the seat next to him–-or he might have been confused. He could have been trying to end his own life. He did end his life, along with my father’s.

Here’s the article from an old newspaper. I’m going to post it in its entirety.

From the DAILY COMMERCIAL NEWS, “OLDEST BUSINESS NEWSPAPER ON THE PACIFIC COAST––SINCE 1875,” Thursday, January 15, 1959, by Hugh Russell Fraser

Today’s Bay Area Profile of Andy Oddstad is another in a DAILY COMMERCIAL NEWS series which appears each Thursday to give you an intimate portrayal of prominent Bay Area executives. The author, Hugh Russell Fraser, is recognized as among the top book reviewers and biographical writers of our time. ––Editor.

When I heard that down in Redwood City there is a man, only 40 years old, who has built 10,000 houses in the Bay Area in the last 10 years, I decided to go down and see what he was like.

They call him Andy Oddstad, but his real name is Icelandic in origin––Andres Fjeldsted Oddstad.

He is a stocky, blond type, built like a wrestler (which he was at college, and still is), decidedly affable and friendly in his manner.

There is nothing ostentatious about his office a 1718 Broadway. There he presides over the destinies of 10 construction and building companies, the best known of which is Oddstad Homes.

With a signal to his secretary to cut off the phone, so as to give me his uninterrupted attention (How I hate these tycoons who take a dozen calls while pretending to talk to a visitor!), he talked in a low-pitched, well-modulated voice.

Naturally, I wanted to find out what made the man tick; I first questioned him about how he got into the home-building business.

Born in British Columbia, Oddstad’s forbearers were all from Iceland. He was 9 years old when his father, a carpenter and builder, moved to San Francisco. Here he worked for his brothers-in-law, the famous builders Ellis and Henry Stoneson. Young Andy went to Sunnyside Grammar School.

At the age of 10 he knew he was going into the building business. Never was there any doubt of it.

FASCINATED

Not because his uncles were builders in a big way, the founders of Stonestown, but because everything about building, from sweeping out the floors of new houses to constructing walls and roofs, fascinated him.

Every daylight hour that he did not have to spend in school, he spent around building projects; in fact, he worked after school cleaning up trash on building sites, sweeping floors, helping make repairs. He discovered he would rather do that than play.

Meanwhile, Andy kept on going to school––first to Aptos Junior High, then two years at San Francisco college and finally two years at the University of California [at Berkeley] from which he graduated with honors and an engineering degree in 1941.

Despite the financial status of his uncles, he worked his way through college, always in building and construction work.

It was while at college that he stumbled onto something that made him think of business in more precise terms. He took as his graduate thesis a study of low-cost housing in California!

ALMOST HALF

He went all over the state, and in San Diego he ran into an eye opener. Mind you, this was in 1941 when government construction of low-cost housing was at its high point. He discovered to his amazement that Uncle Sam was putting out $9000 for a unit that was little more than a three-room apartment, while in San Francisco, private enterprise was building five-room houses with a garage underneath, definitely superior to the San Diego Government-subsidized project, for about $4250! In other words, for less than half the subsidized amount!

That was his first acquaintance with the waste inherent in bureaucracy. He could hardly believe his eyes, but slowly he came to realize that he was looking at a simple and inescapable fact.

His interesting and carefully documented thesis went to waste, however, although the University of California gave him a pat on the back for it.

Hardly had he completed this study when the approach of World War II brought him into the Navy. There he became a “frogman,” an undersea demolition expert. He saw combat duty in Okinawa, winning a raft of medals, including the Bronze Star Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, and the Pacific Theater Ribbon with five battle stars.

On getting out of the Navy, with the rank of Lieutenant [Actually, Ensign  SN], he returned to the Bay Area. Then he decided to go into business for himself. [The initial business was funded with $500 or thereabouts that my mother, Clara Oddstad, saved from her wartime wages. SN] He teamed up with another Icelander, Chris Finson, who hailed from Seattle, and together they formed the Sterling Building Company.

GREAT TRIO

It was at this point that his famous uncles, Henry and Ellis Stoneson, came in with help and guidance. A third man, to whom Oddstad gives great credit, was Parker Maddux, one-time president of the San Francisco Bank. This great trio, all three of whom helped Andres Oddstad on the road to a spectacular success, have all passed on, Henry Stoneson only recently.

Andres Oddstad doesn’t think much of the co-called “self-made men” who insist they did it all, that nobody helped them.

“When you come to analyze it,” he said, “that is nonsense. Nobody makes it alone. Sooner or later, they get cooperation and/or assistance. I am proud of the help and expert guidance that I got from my uncles and from Parker Maddux, and if you writing anything about me, don’t forget to mention their names!”

I like this about the man. No boasting, no phony claims. In fact, I think he underestimated, rather than overestimated, his own ability, which I soon recognized was considerable. It is plain he is a hard and unremitting worker; that he thinks problems through and believes in doing a through and careful job.

But he also has imagination! This was apparent in his keen interest in economics and architecture. Perhaps a better word is enthusiasm, although I do not usually associated the word “enthusiasm” with a man who always talks in a low-pitched voice, never once raising it to an excited pitch.

It was obvious he has been fascinated by two men, the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and J. Kenneth Galbraith, author of The Affluent Society. Wright he regards as a great architect, the like of which American has never known. “He thinks and designs in three dimensions,” says Oddstad. “In addition, he is a showman and super salesman. Take this training ground he operates for young architects on the desert near Phoenix, Arizona. [Taliesin West] There he takes young men out of college, puts them to work drafting––carrying out his ideas, and the result is he has a far-reaching influence on the rising generation of architects.

“Wright sees things in their relation to their environment. Many orthodox architects––and Wright is anything but orthodox––remind me of the fellow who polishes a pebble in a mosaic. Write has helped me think in depth––you have to do it in any kind of business, but especially in the building business.”

But it was the imaginative Galbraith I wanted to question him about. The Affluent Society has dynamite in it, and I was curious our the third largest builder in the San Francisco area reacted to the top U.S. economist.

“Let me say one thing,” said Oddstad, “I like to solve any problem by reducing the variables––in other words, simplifying the assumptions. But by no means do I disregard the variables. Some economists––in fact all of them but Galbraith, disregard factors they don’t understand.”

“Meaning what?” I demanded. “Let’s get specific.”

“Well, just this: The usual run of economists pay no attention to such factors as human greed, the ego, etc. Because they do not understand these, they ignore what they can’t understand. Galbraith does not. He tries to reckon with all the variables. In other worlds, he sets the whole problem of economics against against a background of common sense. Do I make myself clear?”

“Exactly, ” I said. “In fact, you have converted me, as never before, to the value of Galbraith. My previous acquaintance with him was wholly superficial. In other words, if I may add, it is your view that most economists are lacking in fundamental common sense?”

ALL BUSINESS

“Right!” he said in that low, even voice of his. Then he added slowly: “Of course, you can ask how all this helps me in my business? Well, an understanding of economics helps toward an understanding of the reference frame of all business, not just the building business.”

“And speaking of business,” I said, “what do you think of the future of the building business in California?”

“Just this:” he replied, “first, our population is going to double by 1975. They are coming in here at a great rate now. It is becoming a trend. And it will accelerate. Not only that, we will double our production units. I mean––and let me make myself clear––for every apartment house or building you see now, there will be another apartment house or building by 1975. For every home you see now, there will be another home in 16 years.

“You mean,” I said, “for every house and building we see know, we are going to see double that by 1975?”

“Yes. This is one part of the country where values are going to be on the increase, steadily and persistently. In fact, right now California has the only semi-permanent wealth in the nation.”

When I left this rather extraordinary man, whose profession is building and whose hobby is economics, I suspected he was telling me the truth. The surprising thing is that 1975 is only a relatively short time off!”

End

ANDY ODDSTAD WATER SKIING IN THE SF BAY 1960s
Andy Oddstad getting ready to water ski in the SF Bay, early 1960s

• • • • • • • • •

AFTERWORD: Well, we all know that 1975 came and went. I’m sure my father’s predictions were far lower than actual levels of development in California. I’m also certain that he could not comprehend the explosion in housing prices from the 1970s on. For a guy born in 1918, contemporary housing prices would sound like fantasy.

These days [I originally posted this in 2008.), some of his most modest homes that sold for about $9,000 in the 1950s are going for $1 million. (I wish he hadn’t sold them!) [They’re down to a mere $800K due to the recession of the 2000s.]

Andy Oddstad was a guy who came up in the Great Depression. The article above mentions him working for his uncles after school. He did it because he needed to work if his family was to eat––and the rest of the Oddstad family worked, too. Sweeping out jobs after school wasn’t a hobby. Nor were his two paper routes before school just for fun. He constructed the bicycle he rode to deliver those papers out of scrap from the junkyard. And raised rabbits behind the family home for meat for the table.

Those were hard times.

Oddstad Homes had built over 14,000 homes at the time of my father’s death. Oddstad Homes was the #1 builder of residential housing in Northern California by a wide margin, and #10 in the US at its hey-day.

What was it like having a dad like that? Like growing up in the Marines. Tough, and fair. He really did read Galbraith. He had––and read–-volumes by the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Baruch Spinoza on his bedside table. When he helped me with my homework, I had to have razor sharp pencils, several pens, a pad of scratch paper, good paper for the answers, a straight edge, and a compass at the table before he would sit down with me. I got one explanation, that was it. [Pocket calculators didn’t exist.]

Brisk.

I majored in economics for my first two college degrees, due in part to his influence. I’m glad I have that knowledge, though it’s taken me a lifetime to start “listening to my heart” as the New Agers say. I still feel guilty about being a writer and author, though I know it’s what I was born to do. (My dad could not have fathomed the New Age, either. Or free love or the 1960s.)

I owe Andy Oddstad a very great deal. I’ve never seen a person who lived at 100% and demanded that those around him do the same. He shaped me and my life.

What are some of the most important words my father said to me?

First off, he said, “Sandy, there’s no reason a girl can’t do everything a boy can do.” So I took physics and calculus in high school. “And I know how smart you are, so don’t try and tell me you can’t get good grades.” I got good grades.

He held me to a high standard, and I’ve kept it. That’s the most valuable thing I got from my dad. He was the most disciplined person I’ve met. He moved through life at hyper-speed, like he was skating on the edge of a razor blade.

It’s a shame he’s been all but forgotten. He gave a great deal to the San Francisco Bay Area.

But that’s what happens when you die.

I know that housing tracts built by one of his competitors, Joseph Eichler, have been named Historical Neighborhoods. There’s an very glossy, slick magazine put out for owners and fans of Eichler homes. I think that’s great. Eichler’s designs were spectacular examples of low cost, good design.

They are not spectacular examples of low cost, good construction. I’ve lived in an Eichler. I know all about huge single-paned windows that leak all the heat in the room and radiant (under floor) heating that that doesn’t keep rooms warm and can lead to big repair bills when it breaks. My cousin worked as a carpenter building Eichlers. I will not repeat what he said about the quality of their construction. I don’t know if the old saw about how fast they burn down is true. Do Eichlers really burn down in three minutes?

Enough carping. I expected that Frank Lloyd Wright would approve more of Eichler’s work than my fathers. I do wish that some of the folks living in Farm Hill, Linda Mar, Crestmont, Rollingwood and the rest of the communities built by Oddstad Homes might throw together a blog or something.

My dad was an engineer. He was interested in straight lines and economy and that’s what he built. He wanted everyone to have a good, well-built house over his or her head. He was a political liberal, a strong Kennedy man, a man who cared about everyone, not just the rich.

Now is the time to remember our fathers, whoever they were and whatever they did, even if they weren’t perfect and contributed to our personal difficulties. We’re here because of them, whoever they were or are.

My best wishes, fathers. And all the best to you, Andy Oddstad, whom I knew as Daddy. There’s so much you didn’t get to see, Daddy. You have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. You missed the Beatles.

And you didn’t get to read my books! I think you would have liked them.

Sandy

Andy Oddstad & Ray Stern
Ray Stern and Andy Oddstad getting ready to water ski in the SF Bay, early 1960s.
Ray was a great buddy of my dad’s. He was a professional wrestler and entrepreneur. The caption next to this photo in our family album is, “Ray floats at last.” That is written in my dad’s handwriting and refers to the fact that Ray was a block of solid muscle. He had so little fat mass that he couldn’t float at all without his wet suit. I think he was the hardest to teach of the many people my dad taught to ski. By-gone times: The Bay is too polluted for skiing now. Ray and my dad are gone.

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit

WHAT TO DO WHEN A DEAR FRIEND HURTS YOU

The Gathering retreat inspired Sandy Nathan's award winning book, Stepping Off the Edge. Stepping has extreme relevance for this article.

Okay––here’s the situation. We’ve all experienced something like it: You haven’t spoken to Shelly recently. Actually, your “speaking” is done by email these days––you live on opposite ends of the continent.

But you were very good friends years ago and have gotten close again through emails. You feel like you’re sisters . . . Her emails have slowed down in the last six months; you figure she’s busy. Or something.

And then you get an email from her about something you wrote six months ago. You were feeling scared about something, and told her all about it. It didn’t seem like a big deal, and you were sisters, after all.

Your words have festered in her brain for six months. She’s been silently building a case against you. And not about your behavior––about you. She’d used your not-well-thought-out words as evidence proving you’re pond scum. All these months, she’s been judging your personal worth and frying you in a metaphysical trial that you knew nothing about.

You write back, explaining what you meant, the circumstances, how you’re irrationally fearful about somethings and why. You say you’re sorry, if this happens again, tell you sooner so you can work on it.

What comes back is a “well, so what”––and a stronger, more black and white indictment of your character. You’re bad. You’re wrong, you’re no good in a very fundamental way. She doesn’t respect you or what you did/are.

You write back, defending yourself, your temper up this time.

The answer is still another black and white statement about your personal worth. You feel like she wants you to say––and will only stop the barrage––when you say, “Yeah, you’re right; I’m bad.”

And then she demands all the gifts she’s given you over the years back, things that meant a lot to both of you once.

So you say to yourself, “Do I want a friend like this? Is this a friend?” And terminate the relationship.

Or, you give in and say, “Shelly, you’re right. I did a bad thing. I am a bad person.” And then try to negotiate a relationship and peace with this difficult person . . . until you finally realize it can’t be done.

Whichever way you handle it, you’re hurt. (Please change the “Shelly and emails” story to fit your experience with Shelly-type people.)

Some personal development-type folks say, “Another person can’t hurt you. Your feelings are your own. You ALLOW the other person to hurt you. Change your thoughts, attitudes, and reactions, and the pain will go away.”

I SAY: HOOEY! BALONEY! The above may be true for a meditation master at the height of his or her powers. But a civilian? Yeah, right.

I’ve done more psychological/spiritual/metaphysical work on myself than almost anybody I know. A betrayal hurts.

What you can do about the pain is limit how much and how long you hurt.

LET’S GO TO WORK:

Communion, by Lily Nathan. Isn't it nice when life is like this?

The sudden end of a friendship hurts. This is what I have done to handle it:

1. I ASK MYSELF: Do I want this person as a friend regardless of what happened? Because we almost always make amends and give it another try. It may take a while, but most of the time, we can pick a relationship up and try again. (Unless the other person stonewalls and refuses to respond to your calls, letters, emails, etc. This is even more painful and a nasty, crazy-making way of dealing with other people and a big reason for asking: Do I want this person for my friend?)

2. PRINT OUT THE EMAILS AND SEE WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED AND WHO SAID WHAT. One of the miracles of the electronic age is that we can print out emails and evaluate our words out of the heat of passion. (Another miracle of the electronic age is that our emails can find themselves plastered all over the Net, including blogs, MySpace, you name it. I have friends who write one line emails. Anything with any content that could come back and bite them is communicated via phone or face to face. Old fashioned, but safe.)

But, having a transcript can change things. You may find that you got as nasty as Shelly did, and just as fast. Maybe it wasn’t all her fault. Or, you may see how much you tried to make things right, how you apologized and explained. And how it didn’t matter to her.

In that case, Do you want Shelly as a friend? The facts should help soothe the pain.

3. REVIEW THE HISTORY OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP AND SHELLY’S LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT. You were buddies years ago. Why did that end? Did she do some arbitrary and judgmental thing before? Hurt you? Betray you? Write it down. (You’ll need a journal to get the most from my blog, readers.) Why did the friendship end before? How is that similar to now?

And how’s Shelly doing in her life? She’s told you in her emails; really look at it what she’s said, outside the forgiving glaze of friendship. Has her life been a succession of failed marriages, relationships that don’t last, unfinished goals, and job problems? Does she describe her bosses and the people who run her company as jerks? Did she just get demoted, or fired, but it wasn’t her fault? If this has been going since you knew each other years ago, your ears should prick up. Notice these patterns.

Which is not to say dump friends if they’re having a run of bad luck. Everybody, EVERYBODY, can have bad years, and successions of bad years. We all can have loved ones leave us or die. Our employers can go broke so that we end up jobless. We can get fired, downsized or dumped. We can have horrible accidents. (The self-help people say these are really opportunities for great spiritual growth, if used properly. They are opportunities for character development, but that doesn’t make them fun.)

When a run of bad luck goes on for most of a lifetime, it’s a problem that needs attention. Is Shelly like that? If our lives are long term disasters and or most of our friend’s lives are the same, we need to look at that, too. Along with our own life histories.

The Secret is a popular book & and DVD talking about the Law of Attraction. Which basically means, you attract that which is like you.

Or: Your life is your mind on a big screen.

Simplistic, but true. Everything in our lives reflects our state of mind/psyche. Upgrade your state of mind, and you’ll upgrade your experience.

One way to do that is eliminate the negative. Sayonara, Shelly-baby.

4. STILL HURTS, DOESN’T IT? Because you didn’t see it coming and thought you were friends. You wish it didn’t happen. Review steps 1. to 3. above. Do you want this person for a friend? You can go back and plead for mercy.

5. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO FILL THE HOLE IN YOUR LIFE POST-SHELLY? Do you have other friends who can give you what Shelly did without the possible betrayal? Spend time with them.

And what did you write about in your emails with Shelly, anyway? Gossip? Talk about your spouse, boss, family? What’s wrong with the world?

If you don’t change the parts of your mind that attracted a person like Shelly, you will quickly fill the Shelly-void with other Shellys. They may look different, but their effect on you will be the same.

Get busy. Start a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Exercise. Join a gym. If you’re online too much, try the REAL WORLD! It’s so exciting.

Work on your life goals. Don’t have any?

6. FIND YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO ACHIEVE IT. THEN DO IT, STEP BY STEP. My book, Stepping Off the Edge, acts like a depth charge in getting your inner MOJO going so you discover your life’s purpose and start working toward it. It blasts through the crust of cynicism, laziness and fear that coats daily life.

If you can’t get yourself going to find your highest goals, you could read Stepping, or get cancer or something to motivate yourself. (But why? I already did––it helped a lot in giving birth to Stepping Off the Edge.)

When you’re living your life’s purpose, whatever the Shellys of the world do to you will hurt less. Guaranteed.

7. GO TO A THERAPIST OR PROFESSIONAL HEALER. The Shelly situation is still going to hurt, even if you do all this. Sorry, but I hope you’re down to the little dregs of pain at the bottom of the carafe by now.

If you’re not, and you’re still hurting like crazy after going through all these steps, this may point to a deep seated pattern or abuse in the past. Go to a licensed psychotherapist with your pain. I’m big on professional help. If the Universe intended us to handle all our problems alone, the Universe would have created just one person. There’s lots of us humans–-we need to rely on each other.

You can talk to your friends or spouse about what happened––but, remember, Shelly was a friend. She might have even been a therapist or member of the healing professions herself. (A license to practice isn’t a certificate of mental health––though it does have professional standards behind it.)

And here’s a true story about telling your problems to friends: Back in the 1980s, my husband and I were best friends with another couple. They were so fun and lively, and they had little kids the ages of ours. Our two families did something together almost every weekend; we spent holidays and birthdays together. We talked about everything; after all, we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, birthplace of est and the human potential movement. Talking about feelings was good, telling the truth was wonderful.

Okay, life being as it is, problems arose. Our business was going belly up, slowly, then fast, then slowly again as we slaved to resuscitate it. Our business could have been an episode on ER, if dramas carried out in financial data were fun. And there were other problems on our side. We were really down, my husband and I.

Of course, we told our dear friends about it; they loved us, yes? We saw them all the time.

Except that stopped abruptly: They dumped us. Didn’t call, didn’t return our calls. We had no idea why. No explanation, no recourse. You think that hurt?

Only twenty five years later did I have the enormous insight that maybe we weren’t fun any more, in our truth-telling. Maybe the other couple would rather spend their time off with people who were enjoying life and didn’t remind them of how grim it can be.

We’ll never know––that friendship is kaput. Gone. There was no post-game feedback session. But the episode left me with a healthy respect for the limits of friendship. Some relationships are built on unspoken rules: We hang out together as long as we’re having fun. We don’t care about your troubles.

The other thing about telling your problems to your friends is they aren’t trained psychotherapists. I learned a lot getting my MA in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling. I learned a lot in the supervised hours of counseling I did in pursuit of my license. And I ended up having two kids instead of getting licensed to practice––but I learned how important all those hours of supervision the state requires for a license are.

Your friends can’t do what a therapist can; they’re not skilled enough. And the nature of friendship precludes saying some of the stuff your therapist may need to say to you, and you to her/him.

So, if you’ve tried all the self-help routes to get over the pain of betrayal, take your anguish to a professional therapist and work on it. You’ve got to go to a good therapist.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’VE GOT A GOOD THERAPIST? This is a very good question. A friend who is an excellent therapist answered it. She said:

“If you’ve been in therapy for two or three months and can’t see a distinct improvement in whatever got you there, change therapists.”

You’ll get better with a good therapist. With a bad one, you may get better––or worse. Or stay the same. You want to get better, yes?

A good therapist has a productive balance of empathy––”Oh, poor baby . . . “––and truth telling––”So that was the seventh time you’ve gotten in a relationship with someone who treated you like slime. Can you see a pattern? What’s in it for you that you keep doing this?” Not much fun, but better than ending up married to Shelly.

8. THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION: This is the technique I used to heal the searing pain of my kids abandoning me by growing up and leaving home. It still works, years later:

Your dog will always love you. Your dog will NEVER leave you. Or send mean emails.

Sandy Nathan’s Dogs

Get dogs! Your dog will never leave you. They’ll never conduct an email campaign to destroy your sense of self, either. You can have many joyful sessions teaching them to behave exactly as you want. They will love you unconditionally, just like all the books say your friends are supposed to, and Shelly said she did. You can write about them, photograph them, and sit with them at night. I’ve got a book inside that I need to write about my little rescue dogs and what they did for me. The link above takes you to what I’ve got written so far. (Note that dogs can be rough on the landscaping and your cat. You may have to do some cat/dog relationship reconciliation.)

 

 

9. GET NEW FRIENDS!

Emerson and Linda at the Gathering's Pow-wow. You can always find more interesting friends!

These are great friends of mine. Jenny and Emerson are at the Gathering in Tennessee. This is the Native American spiritual retreat that inspired my book Stepping Off the Edge, winner of six national awards so far. See, go to the Gathering. You’ll forget about Shelly! Maybe you’ll write a book . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. LAUGH A LOT!

Jamis MacNiven's Terribly Funny/Touching Book

Read funny books, and see funny movies! This is my friend, Jamis MacNiven’s book, Breakfast at Buck’s. Buck’s Restaurant is the zanny, whacko, and very good restaurant in the heart of Woodside, CA, which is the wooded, upscale, residential heart of Silicon Valley. If you’ve been to Buck’s for breakfast, you will know how the book got its title. The CEOs and big-wigs of the hi-tech companies eat oatmeal there between 7 and 9 AM. Deals go down. You could fry eggs on the intellectual/emotional intensity. It’s a trip. So, go to Woodside and Buck’s Restaurant and have a good time. Or read Jamis’ book.

You can also watch his son TYLER’S movie about walking the length of Japan in an attempt to find his father’s birthplace. Tyler had a small sketch of rock formations made by his grandmother while she was there (with his grandfather) as a missionary in the 1940s. Notice that this hysterically funny, warm and very interesting movie comes to you on the same computer that carried Shelly’s horrific messages.

And go to Scott Kalechstein Grace’s website. He’s so funny, you’ll fall over laughing. If you get on his mailing list, he’ll send you songs he wrote just for YOU!

Where you look is what you see.

 

11. FINALLY, DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING!

This Lightning-blasted Tree Reminds Me of God's Power. It's even better when you see the picture full sized! Or the tree!

THE GOD TREE. This photo was taken by my daughter, Zoe, when she drove across the country with her cousin. This is an actual tree which captures the immensity of life and how dead we can look if hit by lightning repeatedly. It carries a message:

Even the big stuff is small stuff, eventually.

Don’t worry about Shelly. She’s already being handled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandy Nathan, award winning author. I'm 46 years old here. No nips, no tucks, no fancy lenses. I write about shelf life.

 

Sandy Nathan, multi-award winning author of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice (This blog article is sort of like a sample of Stepping Off the Edge.) and Numenon. Sandy holds Master’s degrees in Marriage, Family & Child Counseling and Economics. Her books have won twelve national awards, in fields from self help to spirituality and religious fiction.

Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit