A Strange Path to Freedom by Holly Pasut
The Reality of Your Greatness by Michael Love
Author: Michael G. Love
Publisher: SPARK Publications
Basic Description: There are many ways to leave the old dogmas behind and embrace the new understanding of who we are and how we relate to this universe. In author, Mike Love’s personal experience with this has been facilitated by the Twelve Rays. In The Reality of Your Greatness he shares with you a new understanding of the way he now thinks things are. Mike shares with you the information about the Rays. He offers practical ways to use the Rays in your everyday life. He invites you to follow along with him as he experienced the Rays.
Arden’s Thoughts: Finding peace in our busy lives is so hard. To me, anything that can help me find some clarity and serenity sounds lovely. I know taking time to meditate is important to my overall health, but goodness… being still. Y’all want me to be still?!? Luckily, I discovered The Reality of Your Greatness full of meditations transcribed by Mike Love. Mike gives readers guided meditations around each of the 12 rays of light. I got to spend some time with Mike and learned more about the 12 rays. Check out this interview…
Arden: What is your goal with writing your book?
Mike: The message of this book is simple. You are more than you think you are. You are Greatness. Now I’m not saying you can aspire to greatness. I’m saying you already are Greatness. I think that might be hard for some people to believe. I know it was hard for me to believe at first.
I’m probably a lot like some of your readers. I used to think that the person that I saw in the mirror every morning was the only me I really knew. I wasn’t sure what comes after this lifetime and I didn’t know what came before this lifetime. And I think a lot of people are OK with not knowing for sure. But as you get older, I find the answers to these questions become of more interest to you.
I became convinced of the reality of my greatness by working with the Twelve Rays. I am a big fan of meditation, although I resisted it for a long time. You know I thought it wasn’t for me. But then I tried it, and I realized the benefit I got from it. So, when I connect with the Rays I do so mostly by using meditations. There are many guided meditations in the book.
I was encouraged to let my light shine and that’s what I hope this book does. I hope it encourages people to let their light shine. And what I mean by that is I believe we all have special gifts to share. And when you get the opportunity to share them in your own way, you are letting your light shine and your example encourages others to do the same.
I also think that the book presents what I call a new spiritual metaphor. In this digital age, many of the old institutions and dogmas are just not working for people. I mean, just take a look around. This new spiritual metaphor will hopefully provide a framework for understanding that helps people to find their own answers to life’s important questions.
Arden: Wow. That’s really beautiful. So, what was the process like for you to write this book?
Mike: The process probably started around 2002 when I decided to open a wellness center in Charlotte that I named Phoenix Rising. My intention was to promote alternative healing modalities like Reiki. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t even spell Reiki at the time. I was also interested in exploring other avenues of communication to get answers to some of my personal questions.
One day a woman came into the center and told me she had a message for me from somewhere beyond. I was curious so we pursued it. We did a number of sessions together and one day the information about the Rays started to be delivered. It turns out that the information was delivered over a period of several months. But even before the Ray information was received, I was encouraged to write a book.
You know how life has a way of happening? Well, that’s what happened for me. I closed the center in 2005 and spent a lot of time and energy on keeping things going. I eventually got the information about the Rays together and started to share it with people in workshops and seminars. That is how I developed many of the guided meditations that are in the book today. About twelve years after I received the information about the Rays, I finally sat down and wrote the first draft of the book. Then I let it sit on my bookshelf for about 18 months.
About a year ago, I joined a small business development group. We meet every two weeks, still to this day. One of the participants is a gifted astrologer and she was very interested in knowing more about the Rays and how they fit into her work. I told her that I had written a manuscript and she asked if she could read it. So I gave it to her. At our next meeting, the group held an “intervention”. She had read the book in a single day and then gave it to one of the other members of the group and she read it in two days. They wouldn’t let me leave the meeting until I promised to publish the book.
That’s when the fun began. I knew who was going to publish the book for me (I had an existing relationship with Fabi Preslar at SPARK Publications) and so we sat down and her team took me through the process. It isn’t easy to let go of something that is so personal with the intent of sharing it with the world. I’m still getting over that.
I am so happy with the way the book turned out. My publisher did a really great job of leading me through the process, making really insightful suggestions, and keeping me on track.
Arden: That’s so cool and a real testimony to what it looks like to work with great people. I’m curious… Do you have a favorite ray or meditation?
Mike: My favorite Ray is the Third Ray, The Ray of Active Intelligence, or as I call it the “Get ‘er Done” Ray. The Law of Attraction became very popular with the success of the book, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. My understanding is that the Law of Attraction is just part of the Third Ray.
The “Get ‘er Done” Ray is the energy that allows us here in this dimension to manifest our thoughts into reality. It helps us to put a plan together that really gives us the understanding on how to make our thoughts become real.
It also, and this is where the Law of Attraction comes in, draws toward us the resources to get the job done. People may think that this applies mainly to money, but it doesn’t. Remember resources can mean just about anything that it takes to finish the project, people, materials, expertise, you name it.
When you understand how this Ray works, you quickly come to the conclusion that the universe is on your side and is supporting you all the time. The important thing to remember is that the universe makes no judgment. It doesn’t decide if what you want to manifest is good or bad for you. That is your responsibility.
Arden: I’m pretty sure every single person reading this wants to know more. How could my readers use your book?
Mike: I think the best use would be to feel better about yourself, knowing that you are more than you think you are and you are capable of achieving what you set your mind to.
We all have limiting beliefs about ourselves, our abilities, and our availability of resources. See yourself as a child of God, or Spirit, or All That Is, or whatever other name you may use to describe that one Source. Then realize you have a Divine Heritage. Just as an acorn has the heritage of the oak tree, we have the Divine Heritage of our Creator. Didn’t let anyone tell you that you are less than anyone else.
Arden: Where can they find you to learn more about this work?
Mike: I’m right here inside their computer. I have a Facebook page where I am constantly posting things. It is 12rays. I even do Facebook live events. And my website that has a lot of information and all the book meditations is www.twelverays.com. Of course they can buy the book at www.realityofyourgreatness.com or Amazon.com.
Arden: Perfect! Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know?
Mike: Yes. I’m so glad you asked. We haven’t spoken about the music! There is an accompanying 2 Disc CD that is composed and played by Richard Shulman which features music infused with the energy of the Ray. There is a really interesting story here, but in the interest of keeping things brief, I’ll leave it for now. This is the first music that I am aware of that has the energy of the Rays blended into it.
As I said, it is a 2 Disc recording, and I like to say CD but it is of course also available in MP3 format to download. You can hear some lovely samples of it on the www.realityofyourgreatness.com website.
This is melodic keyboard music. There is one track for each Ray and they are relatively short, generally between 5 to 8 minutes each. I think you will find that it really helps you to tune into the vibration of the Ray energy.
Mike will be hosting Facebook Live sessions weekly starting August 8, 2018 at 8 p.m. EST on the 12rays Page. He will speak on discovering the reality of your greatness through the 12 rays and the meditations. Like his page to stay up-to-date on all he is doing!
Author: Holly Pasut
Publisher: SPARK Publications
Basic Description: Have you ever said yes when you should have said no, especially in your workplace and to someone you thought was trustworthy? Holly Pasut, widow and single mother of three children, was a nationally recognized real estate agent in a booming market. Then she said yes to something that landed her in federal prison. A Strange Path to Freedom shares slices of Holly’s prison life through her quirky and often spiritual lens, as well as the wisdom she gained from the experience. Holly spent time in a literal, physical prison. But people erect figurative, mental prisons around themselves all the time. Her stories offer a guide for others to free themselves from negative thoughts and emotions that lock them in. And they offer a cautionary tale for navigating ethical choices in the workplace.
Arden’s Thoughts: I’ve always believed most of us are one to two steps away from tragedy. One misstep and we’re in for it. In fact, just today, I was riding my bike, hit a curb, and took a 6 feet spill. I miraculously ended up on my two wheels without a scratch on me. Legit miraculously. But, what happens when the miracle doesn’t come through and we have to deal with some really tough stuff?
Well, we deal with it. And, if you’re like author Holly Pasut, you make the most of it. In her book, Holly shares insights of how she made a mistake, tried to rectify it, and still ended up in federal prison. The beauty of Holly and her writing comes through so simply: She’s not bitter. She’s gracious and wants to share her experience so others don’t have to experience the loss she did. I recently got to interview Holly. Check it out…
Arden: Why would you write a book about such a vulnerable and heart-breaking topic?
Holly: I never set out to write a book. Actually, I felt silly calling myself a writer, plus I didn’t think I had the skills or drive to complete a book. While I lived in [prison] cube 44, I journaled daily. It was healing and therapeutic for me, it was my truest self, sharing with my most trusted friend. Sometimes, I wrote from my heart, my personal sadness and other times I wrote about the craziest things that happened in prison. When you put 1200 women together, you’re going to get some pretty wild things! When I returned home, I went through those journals and found myself laughing and crying. For some oddball reason, I began blogging about the difference between women on the outside and women on the inside. When I met Fabi Preslar, with SPARK Publications, she seemed fascinated with my experience and planted the idea of turning my blogs into a book. Again, I resisted, but over time and support I decided it was my chance to do something with what I had learned and hopefully others would find themselves in my story.
Arden: Well, I think a lot of people will benefit from what you have written. Do you fear judgement on other people’s parts about what you have experienced? If so, how do you counteract this judgement?
Holly: Yes, I absolutely do. But it isn’t fatal. I know I am judged by others, but I am not responsible for their judgement or what they choose to believe. It is however hurtful. Since I cannot change what happened to me, I accept it and use it to weed out the people I want to spend time with. I call it “my filter.” Those that judge, are not the ones I want to spend time with anyway. I probably would have been one of those judgmental people too. Now, I find an admiration for people I meet who are not and those are the folks I am fascinated with.
Arden: That’s quite gracious of you and a good lesson for all of us! You know, you write about prison in a way most people do not. There is almost an appreciation for it. Did you appreciate it?
Holly: That is a great question, and I get it. In a strange way, I see that too. It definitely is the thorn in my side! If I had been locked up for a long time, I might feel differently, but I had an end in sight and tried to make the most of my time. Thankfully, my sense of humor helped. I don’t think I ever felt lower, than when I entered the prison gates. I not only was physically incarcerated but became mentally locked up as well. I couldn’t change the physical part and it wasn’t as if I decided to free myself mentally, it was as if something in my head unlocked itself. Spending endless hours reading, praying, meditating I began to see the world a little differently than I had experienced and I liked what I saw. I like to say, I was beginning to live a new way of thinking. I never want to go back to prison, yet in way I am grateful for the trip. Mental freedom is being true to who you are and that is real freedom.
Arden: Hmmm… Mental freedom is being true to who you are. That’s really beautiful. With that quote in mind, what has been your favorite thing to do since being released from prison?
Holly: LOL, the first thing I asked for was a cup of hot brewed coffee, in a ceramic mug, with half and half and I wanted to hear the sound of a metal spoon as I stirred my coffee. It was actually a struggle coming home, because I was lost. My career and reputation were gone, I didn’t know where to go or what to do. My new pain was soothed by my favorite thing, being able to touch my kids, kiss their cheeks and hear their voices, along with little things. Having a hand towel to dry my hands instead of toilet paper. The convenience of having a bathroom, a few steps away instead of down a dark hallway. Today I have lots of favorite things and feel grateful for all I do have. I continue to get up at 5 am (sometimes 6:30 instead, LOL) and pray, journal and meditate, it’s one of my favorites of favorite things.
Arden: So, Holly, what is next for you?
Holly: Who knows? I do know I cannot control what life throws a me, I can only control how I will react to it. I would like to continue speaking to white collar professionals as a cautionary tale and university students as a preparation tool. My attitude is to go through the doors God opens for me. If the doors close, I will be redirected. I like the idea of maybe writing another book too, perhaps the focus will be about living beyond a stigma.
Arden: Very cool. Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know?
Holly: Hmmmm. A question often asked is why I get up in front of audiences and speak. I will try to explain my own personal, why. The pain I caused my family and especially my kids was not the kind of pain that goes away with a Band-Aid or an apology. Speaking to adults gives me an opportunity to protect their kids and or the ones that love them. They suffer greatly. Sometimes I tell audiences I don’t really care about them personally (in a funny way) because I don’t know them, but I feel a personal attachment to their kids and their family and standing up before audiences as a reminder that sometimes knowledge is not always enough motivation to do the right thing. Critical thinking errors, fear of disappointing others, people pleasing the list goes on, can land you in prison. The decisions we make today will affect others, and that is why I made my decision to speak to audiences, not because I want to share my critical thinking errors, but because we all share critical thinking errors, mine took me Federal Prison.
As far as reading the book, it is a quick read, not a victim book, sprinkled with suffering, hope, humor and lessons learned. I would love to speak to readers who too have pulled themselves out of their own personal muck and found ways to buckle on their boot straps and move forward. Those are the kinds of people I want in my next book.
Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce by Cathia Friou
The On-Purpose Person: Making Your Life Make Sense by Kevin W. McCarthy
Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans by Wendy Pope
Author: Cathia Friou
Publisher: SPARK Publications
Genre: Memoir, Relationship/Divorce, Self Help/Divorce
Basic Description: Sometimes divorce happens. Sometimes it’s not the end. In Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce, Cathia Friou takes readers through an intimate series of vignettes from her marriage, separation, divorce, co-parenting, and re-entry into the dating world. Each chapter stands alone as a piece of clarity, as an appreciation for the good, the bad, and sometimes the absurdity of life. Together, these pieces offer readers hope that a family can remain whole and beautiful despite divorce.
Arden’s Thoughts: Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce is a beautiful book written from the soul. We venture along the author’s different memory points throughout the book and reach a simple conclusion: life is messy; it’s how we handle the mess that makes us who we are.
She doesn’t sugar coat the hard moments but there’s a grace within her writing that lets the reader know things do get easier with time. I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking about a divorce, in the early stages, or wanting to know how to support a friend going through a divorce.
I got the pleasure of interviewing Cathia recently. I hope you’ll enjoy what she had to share with you.
Arden: Thanks for agreeing to chat with me a little today, Cathia. I’ll start with my most pressing question I had as I read Rock Paper Scissors: Scenes from a Charmed Divorce… Why did you choose to write this book, about this subject matter, at this time?
Cathia: About a year before I turned 50, I decided I wanted to write a book. I wasn’t totally clear about the subject, though I imagined it was going to be about my adventures walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, as I’d been trying to write about that for the last five years. The one thing I knew for sure was that it was not going to be about my divorce. Ha! Fast forward a few months into the writing process and all that was coming out was about the divorce. Eventually I quit fighting and “let” the book be about my divorce.
While I was committed to a finished product, a real book I could hold in my hands, I wasn’t sure I was going to actually publish it. I originally thought of it as a legacy project, primarily as a gift to my children. But the deeper I got into it, the more I felt compelled to share it. And I began hearing from other people who read parts of it that I should seriously consider sharing it with a wider audience. I was scared to death to put myself out there like that and decided to do it anyway.
Arden: You know, a lot of people fear putting out their story and very few actually share it. From the many who will benefit from this book, I’ll say, “Thank you for being willing.” Since you started with one idea for a book in mind and it transpired into something totally different, I have to ask what was the writing process like for you, especially considering how personal the story is for you?
Cathia: Honestly, it was gut-wrenching. I’m a sentimentalist, so to write and re-write about my divorce for all those months was pretty grueling. And after a year or so, and remarkably close to my 50th birthday, I had an insight (in the shower, no less) that I was finished. I said out loud and to several people later, “I’m done. I don’t know if the book’s done or not, but I’m done.” I didn’t have any more blood, sweat or tears-tears-tears to give it.
That said, there were fun parts to the writing process too. Recounting some of my dating escapades, even ones that were painful or troubling at the time, were great fun to write. Reflecting on and laughing about the absurdity of life can be its own form of healing.
As hard as it was to tell the story, it felt necessary. I felt like I had to both make sense of my divorce journey and pay homage to it. Deciding which stories to include and in which order to tell them, trying to weave a cohesive but decidedly non-linear narrative, it was all very challenging. And I loved it.
Arden: And I loved reading it! Now, your title includes “scenes from a charmed divorce”. Is there really such a thing as a charmed divorce?
Cathia: In a word, no, but there are charmed circumstances surrounding a divorce and we certainly had those. And, it doesn’t inoculate one against the absolute shattering that is any divorce. I got to walk my divorce path with an easy-going ex, in material comfort, and without the added pain and complication of a third party (to name but a few of the “charms,”) but I was still gutted by the whole experience. Divorce is horribly painful, no matter the circumstances. And the grief journey is longer than I could have ever imagined.
Arden: That makes sense and I appreciate your honesty. So, on a lighter note, what was your favorite scene to write? Why?
Cathia: At the risk of sounding morbid, my favorite scene is the imaginary funeral of my ex-husband. Not because I want him dead, certainly not, but because it allowed me to time travel into the future or into a different kind of present. It really encapsulates the bond of a long-term marriage and the illusion of divorce. And because he’s a man with a lot of friends and a robust social life, it was fun to muse about that side of him. The chapter kicks off with the two of us matching on a dating website post-divorce, so it’s lighter than you might think.
Arden: Interesting choice… a good one, indeed. So, I’ve got readers in all walks of life reading this now, and in the future. If you could say anything to someone contemplating divorce, what would it be?
Cathia: First, I’d say you’re normal. Many people think about it and I think that’s okay. I think it’s a great chance to take inventory of your marriage; to tell yourself the truth about things. And, I’d say spend as much time researching and soul-searching as you possibly can. This is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make in life, and not typically reversible. Divorce is as flawed as marriage, in my opinion, and somewhat illusory – especially with kids in the mix.
The book offers people thinking about divorce a chance to try it on from afar and reflect. The message is neither “Come on over, divorce is awesome,” nor is it “Don’t even think about it, you will destroy your life and the lives of your children.” While there are no easy or clear answers, I think our story offers both hope and a model for a healthy divorce if splitting up is the path you choose.
Arden: As an objective reader and reviewer, I totally agree with you. Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like Arden’s Book Club readers to know?
Cathia: I’m not an advocate of divorce. But if you find yourself in the midst of it, do as much research as you can to help embrace the model of a healthy divorce. I believe it to be a mindset that people can adopt, though nothing about it is easy. And if you’re on the cusp of divorce or in the midst of it, please check out The Art of Co-Parenting on my website. It’s a 25-page guidebook that outlines the six principles of shared parenting during divorce and straight talk about how to put them into practice.