#SmartCookiePR: My first time attending the Tampa Indie Author Book Convention…. — One Girl Revolution

It happened. The dreaded moment in an author’s book launch when social media was no longer pushing sales.. so i took a page out of the book I always use for my clients as their publicist and said: you need to be out in the open and meet people in real life. So I found […]

My first time attending the Tampa Indie Author Book Convention…. — One Girl Revolution

#MentalHealthMonth Playing With Enlightenment

Playing with Enlightenment

-Excerpt from “Life As Play!” by Mark Johnson

It is difficult to discuss enlightenment in general because enlightenment means something different to everyone and because it is paradoxical. Most people think enlightenment is a peaceful, blissful, formless realm beyond the manifest world and outside of space and time. This is only partially correct because it is a paradox.

It is paradoxical because enlightenment includes duality and is simultaneously beyond it.

A lot of people who study Eastern religions are busily quieting their minds and emotions and are waiting for “enlightening” to strike. This is what the Buddha and Shankara taught and what I meditated on for almost 20 years. I have friends who are professional meditators. They can sit without a single thought appearing in their minds for hours at a time. However, I have rocks in my backyard that can do the same thing. Is this the apex of life on this planet? The Oneness as Emptiness is only part of the story. The manifest realm is also an expression of the great Oneness. Our task now is to figure out how best to manifest that ground of being in the evolving, material world. We must merge the transcendent with the immanent.

The analogy of the Ocean with its waves is the best way I know to describe the paradox of being both at the same time. Waves provide a good analogy for people because each wave has a discernible, separate existence. Each has a unique size, direction, speed, and shape – and they make a lot of noise, just as I do! There is also no real separation between them and the totality of the Ocean.

So, imagine yourself as an average wave rolling along, minding your own business, and some guru wave tells you, “You are the entirety of the ocean, and you can experience yourself as such.” All you have to do is meditate your ass off, become a vegetarian, and take up Tai Ji, or, if you are the trusting, devotional type, you can surrender to Yahweh, Jesus, or Allah.

So now they become a seeker with a mission! A wave in search of wetness! Nothing like a little meaning in life to actually get a person to do something other than consume stuff to compensate for that endless dark pit of need in the middle of one’s chest. The fanatic edge that sometimes comes with a little meaning in one’s life can drive a seeker for several thousand lifetimes; in spite of a few setbacks such as exhaustion, depression, and the sneaky feeling you are wasting a lot of time.

Some people start wave hopping to find the wetness, and others start perfecting their own wave to get wetter than the other waves. What keeps that cycle going is the fact that every time someone gets weary, another spiritual teacher comes along with the perfect technique for experiencing wetness, and off they go again until they finally drop. And then, “POW,” a moment of unity consciousness.

If you stop striving for wetness in order to succeed in experiencing it, it will not work. You have to stop everything, which includes stopping everything. That is why not too many people actually do it. It is scary to surrender everything you think you are and allow the great Oneness to continue running the show.

Some of the best “strivers” I have ever met are the Zen folks. They tirelessly scale that “enlightenment” mountain going straight up the slopes, while most people meander around the well-worn paths, smelling the flowers and eating the strawberries at every turn.

You would expect the Buddhist religion to turn out a lot of enlightened individuals every year, wouldn’t you? I didn’t find that to be the case. So, what is wrong with this picture? The more a wave pursues its own wetness as a goal, the further away the wave gets from being its wetness.

As I mentioned before, the tendency to take up spirituality as a cure for your psychological problems is called “spiritual bypassing.” You try to bypass all your problems with the magic bullet of meditation. It sounds good and looks good and actually works to some degree, but without doing the foundational psychological work along the way, nothing much is going to change, in my opinion.

Too many people and meditation teachers in particular, honestly think every problem can be solved with meditation. If you are out of work and depressed, and your guru tells you to meditate more, it is probably time to get another teacher and to find a job.

On the other hand (there is always another “on the other hand” when dealing with paradox), I often see people busying themselves by digging into their childhood traumas in self-help workshops or with their psychiatrist or therapist. Those “archeological digs” can sometimes lead to greater insight into why we do what we do, but far too often, it is simply another expression of narcissism.

I had a client who washed her hands a hundred times a day and knew exactly why she did it, but she still could not stop. I sometimes think some folks would be a lot better off if they spent their day helping people in a homeless shelter instead of incessantly talking about their problems.

The most common expression of narcissistic behavior I see is the incessant striving for enlightenment. The deep reason you don’t make much progress even after decades of meditation and self-help workshops is that you are doing it for yourself. When people take the focus off themselves for even a short time, they find their personal problems miraculously dissolving. That’s due to their no longer giving little obsessions the energy needed to perpetuate. Try it. Don’t think about yourself for an entire day and see what happens.

Let’s say that while indulging in narcissistic pursuits, a person accidentally experiences a spiritual awakening. After all, even a blind squirrel will find an acorn occasionally. It is like a wave briefly glimpsing itself as the entirety of the Ocean. You think you have arrived! But then, the memory fades, and you are back identifying with your old familiar ego/wave again – warts and all.

What good is a spiritual awakening if the wave that experienced it is distorted after experiencing itself as the Ocean? This is often what happens. This means the person must continue to work hard on psychological evolution in order to sustain the awakening. Your personal evolution will continue smoothly if you allow it to happen naturally and don’t force anything with your obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

This means:

It is more important to be integrated and authentic at whatever stage you find yourself than to hotly pursue enlightenment with a distorted and desperate psyche.

Few Westerners have training in the multitude of Chinese disciplines that Mark Johnson has. In addition to Tai Chi instruction, Mark specializes in Qigong (which is self-healing through moving high frequency energies throughout the body.) He also taught three styles of Feng Shui (which is the study of the energies of an area) and he was also involved in writing one of the most popular versions of the E Jing (which is China’s ancient classic on how things change). He also teaches Chinese calligraphy to his students on his many trips to China. Mark has integrated these disciplines in creative ways for over fifty years. He has also founded Integral Tao Centers in Taos New Mexico, Tulsa Oklahoma, New York, and California where he now resides. 

Mark Johnson’s decades-long global spiritual journey culminated with his book, “Life As Play”

Live Compassionately, Intuitively, Spontaneously, and Miracles Will Happen!,“ an initiation into a life of Play. Mark encourages you to take the plunge into the unknown and mystery of your own life where every action becomes an effortless, appropriate response to whatever life brings you.

Life As Play” is available for purchase at Amazon. Audiobook coming soon to Audible.

You can find out about Mark Johnson by finding him on Facebook (@lifeatplaybook).

This post was shared to bring awareness to the prevalence of mental health and it’s importance to any person’s overall health. It was also shared to help end the stigma on Mental Health in collaboration with Farrow Communications @FARROWCOMMS.

#MentalHealthMonth The Problem: Stress Kills

An Excerpt From

“The JOY of LIVING: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy”

By Barry Shore the “Ambassador of Joy”

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The Problem: STRESS…Kills!

Not directly. More like death by a thousand sighs.

It’s insidious. Invidious, invasive, and, if continuous and not stopped, will ruin Your physical, mental, and spiritual being.

Stress is a common occurrence. While You can’t remove every stressor from Your life, it’s possible to manage and reduce stress and maintain your health. This is important because chronic stress can cause mental fatigue, irritability, sleeplessness, obesity, skin ailments, heart issues, anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal problems.

Yes, that list of symptoms observed across the population tells You that You’re not alone in this battle.

But even when You know the physical and mental effects of stress, You may be unaware of the different stages of stress, known as general adaptation syndrome (GAS). When You understand the different stages of stress and how the body responds in these stages, it’s easier to identify signs of chronic stress in Yourself.

I’m writing this in the year 2020. The world is beset with panic, disease, and economic and societal ruin.

Right now, the most searched word in the world after Covid (and its related causes/cures) is STRESS. It’s affecting everyone.

STRESS is an acronym that I use to describe how to deal with the effects of untoward circumstances. Essentially there are three factors that cause STRESS.

These are and have always been:

• Money

• Work

• Home

Yes, these are universal and constant. Even in the best of times.

There are however two divergent ways to deal with STRESS, both revealed in my insights.

STRESS can stand for: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Sabotage.

There is little need to go into depth regarding each of the three stressors above. It is self-evident that money issues can and do cause tremendous pressures. The same for work. And, certainly, for home/family. Often in times of recession and disaster, these factors are intertwined and exacerbate one another. They truly cause a stomach-turning reality.

STRESS can also mean: Stomach-Turning Reality…Enabling Self-Success.

Same exact situation/s dealt with in a different way/s. Your response to the stomach-turning reality makes all the difference. Struggling is the continual and real test of life. And it’s something we all face every single day.

How You deal with the reality of these issues determines how Your physical and mental wellbeing will be affected. Certainly, You can’t be cavalier. Yet You can utilize practices, tips, and tools to enable You to direct Your mind and guide Your body to avoid falling prey to a pity party which can lead to the use/abuse of medications, alcohol, or to other aberrant behavior.

Mind is the master. Once You grasp this fundamental fact and leverage this powerful tool, You can and will achieve success under all circumstances and vicissitudes.

How do You maintain inner strength during stressful periods?

Consider a submarine. As the ship goes down, the pressure (strength) inside needs to increase to counterbalance the pressure outside. Likewise, when we are in stressful situations, we must make sure our internal strength is adequate to offset the external forces pushing against us.

Anger also produces stress. Have You ever known people whose lives seemed to have a thin veneer of civility and calm, yet once the surface was scratched, anger bubbled up like a volcano? Stress and anger go hand-in-glove.

We also know that there are two types of stress: vertical and horizontal. The vertical is healthy because it pulls You up. Think of a flower on a stem. Without turgor pressure, the stem droops. Without the fluids pushing through the cells, the flower dies. We can grow limp as well. A useful example of the sort of pressure that pulls us up is the sense of awe or reverence of God.

Horizontal stresses pull us apart and create damage. Designing our lives to meet others’ demands and standards is horizontal. All the current talk about self-image leads to horizontal stress. I do not mean that we should have no concept of self-worth. But we want to have a clear definition of self-worth that comes from knowing we were brought into this world for a purpose. That knowledge is a settled knowledge and doesn’t change just because of what others think or say.

In our competitive society there is another prevailing stress—the fear of losing. The specter of losing by our choosing stresses us. When we make one decision, we give up other options. These are the “Y” points. Marriage and career are two of the biggest examples. One of the pitfalls of our current day is buyer’s remorse. “If I choose the left fork and it grows dull, I opt out and choose another road.” This is a mistake. The stress of always looking around for the better option steals the joy of commitment.

The true test of life is never in what happens to us.

It is always in how we choose to respond to situations.

As we’ll learn later in the 11 Strategies, the six most important words You can learn and internalize are:

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

Repeat this. Often. Think about it. Internalize and utilize.

Choice, not chance, determines Your destiny.

Barry Shore, the Ambassador of Joy hosts

“The JOY of Living: How to Slay Stress and Be Happy” by Barry Shore is available on Amazon and Apple Books. For more information, check out Barry’s website and follow him @barryeshore on Facebook, or Instagram.

This post was shared to bring awareness to the prevalence of mental health and it’s importance to any person’s overall health. It was also shared to help end the stigma on Mental Health in collaboration with Farrow Communications @FARROWCOMMS.

Want to support Ending the Stigma on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention? Consider purchasing an End The Stigma backpack from The Smart Cookie Philes caused-based merchandise shop Cookies For a Cause here. 100% of the proceeds go to Project Semicolon, a mental health non-profit surrounded on suicide prevention and ending the stigma on talking about one’s own struggle with mental health.

#BookishMuses: Bluett’s Bright Yellow Sunshine is a ‘notes to self’ for the modern age

I see you right now.
Yes, you reading this.

Rain clouds dark and ominous reign your outlook and have fogged up your life.

Yet, if you need a lift, some water for your dry and desolate human soul, read Bright Yellow Sunshine by Cheyenne Bluett.

It is a beautiful collection of poetry written like notes to self and it has shaken me to my core.

There are poems throughout this collection that will light up your darkness, lift your chin, cause you to smile, or maybe even tear up like me.

This is Bluett’s second collection and it is everything you could ever need to read, and that much more.

Like this review? Consider supporting the work of the Smart Cookie Philes with a cup of strong espresso.

#FromTheTube: Mental Health on Booktube Tag

Since I have no new reviews for you, I am trying to get some booktube videos done and up so you aren’t just consuming Music based content. Overall, I found this tag to be so wonderful as it helps to end the stigma about talking about mental health and also has anyone who does the tag openly talking about books that feature mental health storylines or helped in some way with mental health discussions in the readers life.

It was started by Beautiful Chaos of Books and you can check out the original tag in the description box.

#SuicidePreventionMonth: Four Reasons You Should Vote For Jen Ervig for Book of the Year!

Why hello there!

If this is your first time on my site, I welcome and offer you a virtual yet warm chocolate chip cookie welcome. 🙂

In case you didn’t hear, Jen Ervig’s amazing book When My Mind Winds Up is up to win Book of the Year!

Here are four reasons why

Vote now HERE and make sure after you vote you check your email and verify otherwise that vote you just placed does not count toward Jen’s rank in the contest.

Feel free to save this graphic and share it on your favorite social network!

Jennifer Ervig’s When My Mind Winds Up Will Help You Conquer Your Anxiety #EndTheStigma #BookReview

FB_IMG_1575832681128.jpgAs someone who has battled anxiety and depression knowingly since the age of twelve, and who also tried to commit suicide at that age, I can tell you that this book was like a cold blast of a Bahamian breeze, an utter rest for my soul. When My Mind Winds Up is written in short devotional style so it is an easy and quick read and a great companion to your daily bible reading/study.

I liked the quoteable wisdom I found throughout especially when she quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who happens to be my go-to guy to quote in times of crisis or distress, but overall, Ervig offers real-time solutions and walking each sufferer through their thoughts and helping them process, heal, and evolve.

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Check out our amazing Affiliates!

#GivingTuesdaySeries: Why I Chose Project Semicolon (New Merch Product Reveal) #EndTheStigma

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)

Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)

There is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. (CDC)

Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)

Suicide takes the lives of over 44,965 Americans every year. (CDC)

The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)

80% -90% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TADS study)

An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).

There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)

There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)FB_IMG_1574286804756

I was recently diagnosed with anxiety and depression but have battled it my entire life. At the age of 12, I attempted suicide, and have had recurring episodes of suicidal thoughts since. I also battle symptoms of anxiety and have suffered multiple panic attacks. It can be crippling and you almost feel as if you can’t discuss it.

Most sick days I’ve ever called out of work have been mental health days.

Yet, it’s not yet globally accepted to use a sick day for your mental health.

One thing people don’t know about me is I suffer with social anxiety. In public places, I hate calling attention to myself. And if I have to address groups of people it makes me anxious. I believe I have always suffered this since I was young but started noticing it while in college which makes sense because I actually had a lot of people emotionally abuse me and socially reject me in some sense while I attended school there.

We should end the stigma.

Every purchase of this backpack will benefit Project Semicolon which is a great cause that uses a semi colon to show that your story has not come to an end…you can keep fighting.
We have to help people everywhere understand that help is available, mental health is vital for well-being, and suicide is never the answer.

You can purchase a backpack here and 100% of profit goes to Project Semicolon.

I am also running a Facebookfundraiser that you can donate to and all money raised will be donated by Facebook to Project Semicolon.

#MusicMonday: William’s personal struggle with depression brings themes of the realities of adulthood with ‘After Laughter’

Paramore has been one of my favorite bands since high school. I would ride to school listening to “Misery Business,” and relating to everything on Riot! I also found it entirely bold and daring of Williams who was only 16 when the band got it’s start wore bright orange hair. Williams songwriting spoke to me as an angsty teenager who felt misunderstood, undermined, and never ever good enough, it helped me cope through all those feelings and become a writer myself, and later a teenage author at only 15.

Released on May 12, 2017 as follow-up to their 2013 self-titled album comes a huge change for the band both sonically and lyrically.

The album contains dark lyrics over fun and poppy melodies Williams has been very open about her struggles with depression: “It means that look on a person’s face when they laugh really hard and then there’s this moment when they come back to reality.”

Drummer Zac Farro rejoined the band in 2017. After Laughter debuted at number six on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Song by Song Review

Hard Times: A playful eighties vibe contrast hard hitting lyrics showcasing growing up and Williams’ personal struggle with depression.

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Rose-Colored Boy: A song about feeling pressure to look at the world with blind optimism when you actually feel very hopeless about the world and your part in it. There is so much social pressure to be “happy” that we can actually feel shame when we aren’t.

Told You So: With a central theme is built around the common phrase, “Hate to say I told you so” which is typically said in a condescending disapproving manner. A track about struggles faced when people watching your every move waiting for you to make a mistake.

Forgiveness: Throughout “Forgiveness” Hayley talks about forgiveness and redemption between her and the other band members and troublesome moments with her partner at the time.

Fake Happy: A song showcasing how much we as humans can hide underneath our smiles. Despite being bright and bubbly at our best, there are some moments that you can’t fake the happiness.

26: About not losing hope and staying a dreamer, the musicality is acoustic and very authentically transparent.

Pool: 80’s new wave synth pop musicality creates a cool but dark love song about the highs and lows of loving someone

Grudges: A song about Zac Farro’s return to the band in 2017 after he left in 2010.

Grudges Paramore

Caught in the Middle: Williams confronts the concept of getting older. Combined with a contrasting light and danceable beat, Paramore shares the harsh feeling of seeing the years piling up. This song can also be seen as a fight with depression. Sometimes, the simple act of moving forward in life is a tedious task.

No Friend: An outro track to “Idle Worship” containing spoken word poetry from Aaron Weiss from MeWithoutYou.

Tell Me How: The final track about being at a crossroads in life. It’s a slow moving laiden track showing optimism toward the band’s future.

Paramore shows us that whether you are looking at the world with ‘Brand New Eyes’ or allowing the ‘Riot!’ within to speak up boldly. ‘After Laughter’ showcases a brand new maturity toward the realities and struggles of being a thirty-something adult in today’s world. And I am enamored by all that the band puts out both sonically and lyrically.

 

#MusicMonday: Lauren Daigle’s second album explores who God says you are and challenges the world to silence the voices that say otherwise

Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana and was influenced by Zydeco, blues and Cajun music in her environment from youth, Daigle was born to be a musician.

Her mother referred to her childhood home as “the music box” because she was always singing. She never considered music seriously until she contracted infectious  mononucleuosis. It kept her out of school for nearly two years.

Following finishing charter school with hopes of working in the medical field and do mission work, she took a year off from school to do mission work in Brazil before attending Louisiana State University for child and family studies.

She joined and soon led the choir at LSU.

With her family encouraging her to audition for American Idol in 2010 and 2012. She was cut before the Top 24 in 2010. In 2011, she did not make it to Hollywood. She made it to Hollywood in 2012 but was cut in the first Las Vegas round.

Her first full-length album (April 14, 2015) debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart. It broke Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 200.

Look Up, Child debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 200 with “You Say” staying at #1 for fifty three weeks on the Hot Christian songs chart and further won a 2019 Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music performance/song.

Look Up, Child was released on September 7,, 2018 via Centricity Music.

 

Song For Song Review

Still Rolling Stones: A song about how God’s power is both infinite and infallible. Daigle performed this song on The Ellen Show live.

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Rescue: Showcasing the aspect of God’s willingness to go to great lengths to rescue us, even when we think no one can hear us. It is performed from God’s perspective. The song was written for people that are experiencing the darkest of turmoil, and in that collision, a comfort comes.

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This Girl: A soulful song about wanting to let God know out of everything, she wants Him to know she is fully and completely offering her heart.

Your Wings: A song with multiple references to Psalm 91 about how God promises to cover those who trust in him. Daigle said the musicality and the beat are her favorite on the whole album.

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You Say: A song discussing the question and identity and how a believer’s foundational truth regarding their identity should come from who God says they are.

Everything: A song written for when you are overwhelmed in a time of deprivation and weariness.

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Love Like This: One of my favorites off the album for its musicality that, in my opinion, mimics a spiritual awakening and for its message about God’s unconditional yet unthinkable love.

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Look Up, Child: A fun Carribean style musicality makes up this upbeat track about looking to God always whatever the situation.

Losing My Religion

Losing My Religion: My favorite song on the entire album for its message about how when you truly know Christ, it becomes more about a faith relationship and less about religious ideology.

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Remember: Co-written with Chris Tomlin, this gospel-like anthem brings all miracles past and present into recollection so the believer can focus on God’s almighty power and know he works for the good of those that love him.

Rebel Heart: A declaration of faith to God saying that I’m ready to trust you completely and take this “rebel heart” and make it new.

Inevitable: A song about fighting doubts and unbelief with the truth, “God will always carry me.”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus: Lauren finishes the album with her own rendition of this Helen Holsworth song.

Whether you are struggling to see the good, focus on the present, or are being bombarded by a heavy and black sadness, whatever you are struggling and suffering with mentally, emotionally, and/or physically, Daigle’s second album offers a song for whatever it may be and as you begin to sing along, a spirit of praise will rise up within and the clouds will start to break, and the light will peak through slowly but surely.