Posted in Book Reviews, Questions for an Author

Questions for an Author: June Whittle author of Deep Within My Soul…


ask-the-author-answers-edition

Hello World, this is the first of what I hope to often do: Profile & Interview and help promote New memoir authors! Why Memoirs? Because that’s the genre I write and it’s still a ‘shy’ genre especially, in my corner of the globe – Africa. My first author to be interviewed and profiled happens to be a dear friend and sister in Christ. I fell in love with the first of her blog posts I stumbled across – yes on the very night I was fumbling around trying to start my own blog! Her post titled «Am I a blogger or a … almost made me give up before I even started; and to think she’d been into blogging a good while? But then, that post ended on a note of so much hope – yes she was – yes I could become one too if I wanted and kept at it with faith.

This is what I have also gathered from reading her maiden but oh so soul searching memoir: shared from deep within her soul and titled just that. Without much ado, I’ll interview her for your reading pleasure and let her tell us more about herself and her journey to become this published author today. It ain’t easy I can tell, been there and still go through there, but she will agree it’s worth ever step of the journey…

Note: The post is way longer than my usual posts, I didn’t want to leave any area out and didn’t want to do a P1 & P2… I think whoever reads through the end will love it. 

june-whittle
Deep within her eyes… can we see?

1) The Profile

  1. Let’s Start with a brief introduction of yourself – your background – and a tiny bit about your Childhood:
  • My name is June Whittle. I was born in Jamaica and relocated to the UK to join my parents when I was a teenager. It was tough leaving my grandmother (who raised me) and my sisters behind. I had to readjust to the climate – it was very cold – and the way of life. The culture in Jamaica was very different to that in the UK. Jamaicans are bubbly, carefree, happy-go-lucky people. I was used to sunshine, loud car horns, a variety of colours, fresh home grown food and other cultural activities. The day I arrived in the UK, it was grey, quiet and everyone looked moody. I was sad.

Anyway, I continued with my education in the UK, started relationships, (some were abusive) worked in various fields and gave birth to my daughters. I became a mature student in 2007 and went to university to complete a PGCE teacher training course to become a teacher. Afterwards, I taught in further education colleges and met some wonderful people along the way. In 2012 God told me to quit my teaching job and write books. I gave up teaching in 2013, stepped out in faith and started a freelance writing career.

  1. About your Memoir, how did you come up with the title?
  • Well, I knew I wanted to write about my life, but coming up with a title was hard. Then one day “Deep Within my Soul” popped into my head. I knew straight away it was the right title for my book. You could call it divine inspiration.

2) The Soul Journey

  1. I heard Oprah Winfrey say Love doesn’t hurt; what’s your take on that?
  • Love is a beautiful thing. It’s not meant to hurt, but it does hurt if you end up with the wrong person. I believe it depends on what we mean by love. Although my partners and I thought we loved each other, it was a dysfunctional kind of love because we didn’t love ourselves. Therefore, our love wasn’t whole. It’s hard to give 100% of what you haven’t got. So, instead of the joys of love, I mostly experienced the pains of love.

  1. Did the love in your relationships hurt from the start or something happened down the road?
  • In the beginning, it was absolutely wonderful. When you first meet a man or woman you go through the honeymoon period where everything is beautiful. During that period, they can’t do anything wrong. In other words, you don’t see their faults because you’re on cloud nine and consumed by the love feelings. That’s how it was for me too. But, after a few months (when the honeymoon period wears off) he started to look at other women and became obsessed with them. That’s when he started cheating and our relationship changed. From then on problems crept in.

  1. Can you tell who was to blame and what you felt about all this then?
  • I think he was to blame for the fact that he couldn’t keep himself away from other women. But I also blame myself because I was shy, naïve, insecure and didn’t know how to satisfy him. Looking back now, I see myself as very immature and I didn’t know anything about relationships. However, some people might say that’s no excuse for him to cheat on me. He took it far, and chatted up my friends in front of me. This led to verbal and physical abuse, plus lack of trust and many heartaches.

  1. I read a lot of poems about Love in your memoir, and yet you were going through so much pain! So how did you find it writing about love while living pain?
  • Although I was hurting, the only way for me to find peace in my heart was to write about the love I yearned for. I wrote a lot of poems about my broken heart. Those poems came from deep within my soul. I suppose I was trying to touch their hearts with my words, although I didn’t show them the poems. It’s like I was living in a make-belief world. I knew what I wanted, I couldn’t get it so, I created my own world where I was safe to write what I wanted. Writing poems kept me sane. It was my lifeline as I poured out my painful feelings on the pages in my notepad.

  1. Do you think there is an ideal time frame to wait before moving from one abusive relationship into another relationship we hope not to turn out as sour?
  • It’s extremely important to heal from an abusive relationship before going into another relationship. Otherwise, you will carry the toxic junk with you. The toxic junk is a combination of anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and sometimes hate. When you carry those negative things in your heart, sooner or later they will surface and mess up your new relationship.

Imagine buying an old car that hasn’t been serviced or taken care of. It’s got lots of faults but you can’t see them. Eventually, the car will start to give you problems. On the other hand, if you buy a well looked after serviced car, it’s less likely to break down on you. Plus, you will get a smooth drive and it will last you longer than the one that wasn’t maintained properly. Likewise, not servicing your heart, mind and soul after an abusive relationship will have disastrous consequences on a new relationship.

  1. What’s forgiveness got to do with healing?
  • Forgiveness and healing go hand-in-hand. It’s difficult to heal properly if you hold unforgiveness in your heart. Unforgiveness is like a chain around your heart. It squeezes it tight and tighter till it drains your emotional and physical energy. As long as it’s living in you, real healing cannot take place. This includes healing of sicknesses as well as your mind.

A friend did a project with some primary school children recently about forgiveness. She gave them a heavy rucksack each, to carry on their backs. Some said they didn’t mind as the rucksacks were quite light. However, after carrying them on their backs for a while, they became heavy and weighted the children down, causing them to feel uncomfortable and unable to walk properly. That’s what unforgiveness does. It drags you down and affects all areas of your life. Nonetheless, when you forgive, you let go of all toxins and your body will feel light and live again. Painful memories may linger, but will no longer be a problem. That’s when you know that healing has taken place.

3) The Writing

  1. Did any books/memoirs influence your writing (style, presentation, content)?
  • No. Although this is my first memoir, I didn’t base it on style, presentation or content of other writers. This is mostly because mine has poems so it’s different to other memoirs I read. I went with my gut feelings when writing. But, formatted it correctly to meet the requirements for uploading to Kindle for the eBook, and Create Space for the paperback. I followed their guidelines.

  1. Did you have a writing mentor?
  • No, I’ve never had a writing mentor. I took two creative writing courses, many years ago and a copywriting course in 2012. That helped develop my writing skills, along with reading books about writing.

  1. Which was the most difficult chapter to write in your memoir and why?
  • It was the first chapter where I summarized a little about my story. While writing, old painful memories came back and made me tearful and sad. I also felt negative emotions such as anger, resentment and unforgiveness. I was surprised because I thought I had dealt with those emotions. Clearly, they were still alive in my heart. I wrote about it in chapter 11 – “Finding Hope, my Testimony of Healing”. It’s amazing how we can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve done something, when we haven’t.

  1. How did you deal with that?
  • Well, first I talked to God about it and asked Him to take away those feelings. I felt better afterwards. However, I still had more work to do in that area. So, I repented and prayed from my heart to forgive my abusers for deep healing to take place.

  1. Which was your favourite poem and why?
  • It’s False Love. It was one of the hardest poems to write because it was written out of an extremely painful experience. Nevertheless, it was my favourite because that poem started off my writing experiences. From that poem, other poems followed which helped the healing process of writing to release toxic emotions.

  1. I read two real life excerpts in your memoir, was this to add to the veracity of abuse as a phenomenon or to show the resilience of the human spirit?
  • Those real life excerpts were to demonstrate the power of forgiveness. The abuse these two women suffered were extreme, although diverse. The first example was a vicious form of domestic abuse. The second example was of a teenager being raped by her uncle plus other cruel types of abuse. However, both women decided to forgive their abusers for the sake of their mental health, peace in their lives and more.

  1. Did you learn anything from writing your memoir and what was it?
  • While writing, I did research about forgiveness and discovered there is a connection between unforgiveness and sickness such as cancer, arthritis, heart problems and other stress related illness. I also learnt that extra healing was taking place for me as I was writing my memoir. By the time I finished the last chapter, I felt free of any excess burdens that may have been clinging to my heart.

  1. How long did it take you to write and get the memoir published?
  • It took me nearly one year to write because I kept starting and stopping. I changed my mind a few times because I was nervous about telling my story to the world. But my daughters and close friends encouraged me to do it. Also, because God told me to write it in the first place, I didn’t want to disobey Him. The self-publishing process took me nearly a week. The technical formatting part of it was rather challenging.

4) The Message

  1. Do you have any advice for other memoir writers?
  • Yes, I think if your story can help others from the lessons you learnt, you should share it. Life is full of pitfalls, some good and some good. There are many lessons along the way. However, not everyone learns from their experiences. But those who learn have gold nuggets to share with others in the form of memoirs. If you can help even a handful of people struggling with the issues you came out of, it’s worth writing your stories. Your story can change another person’s life for the better. Another word of advice, make sure you have supportive people around you. It’s important to get as much encouragement as possible to boost your confidence while you write.

  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
  • I want to give you the information you need to add value to your lives. My blogs and memoir are not just about me. They are to inspire, encourage, educate and motivate you. I love when you contact me by email or leave comments on my blogs advising me what I can do for you in future blog posts. Or, how you take away something positive from my writing. This is always my aim. Feedback is extremely important to me. So, please, always tell me whether I’m providing value or not.

  1. Any other writing projects, blogging etc?
  • I plan to open up my two blogs, Miraculous Ladies and Arise Single Christian Mummies for guest blogging in 2017. It’s time I share my platforms with other aspiring or professional writers out there. I also intend to hold workshops related to my memoir. I included writing prompts in the last chapter. I want to take it further and hold small groups or one-to-one workshops to help women write away toxic emotions that’s keeping them captive. In addition, “Deep Within my Soul” is book one of a series of inspirational memoirs based on exclusive and beneficial relationship life-lessons.

  1. Where can your memoir be found?

Thank you very much for answering our questions June. We hope to stay informed of any updates with your projects.

Dear readers, please feel free to drop any questions/remarks/observations you may have in the comments section, thank you for reading along.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mental Health Advocacy

Book Review: Taking the Mask Off: Destroying the Stigmatic Barriers of Mental Health and Addiction Using a Spiritual Solution by Cortland Pfeffer, Irwin Ozborne


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This memoir was on my wish list as soon as I read that it was to be published. I follow the author’s blog and he has inspired me a lot, I got that soulful telepathic motivation to take and keep my own mask off… Frankly speaken, this book may not be on the spectre of the Four Agreements – well the author read and was inspired by that one too… but this book is another big bam revolutionary book not definitely for the chicken hearted. Truth be told, the authors did an incredible job especially with all the research in the book. And using his personal, amazing, and life impacting story – to all extent and with no reservation, gets me 5/5 PERIOD.

I don’t even know how to conventionally review this book… I mean I heard Oprah Winfrey on youtube say how her knees trembled when she went to interview Michael Jakson the Legend. She has interviwed thousands of celebrities yet she has never felt ‘nervous’ going to interview anyone. Gosh she herself is celebrity… This anecdote is just to say that of all the hundreds and hundreds of books I have read, I never felt so ‘Soul Strained and Soul Searched’ like I felt while reading this book… even reading the Four Agreements which I presented recently, didn’t move me to my marrows like this one… I related to different extents no doubt, but I sure do… I learn just so much… I agree to just so much…

229 Highlights | 231 Notes (This is from kindle – you can tell what I take out of this book)… I’ll share a few of my notes and then leave you with the encouragement to add this to your reading list for the season … you wouldn’t regret it – you’ll look at the New Year different – You’ll plan it differently and hopefully Live it Out Differently…

Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Location 989
If I can push people away from me, there is no chance they can get close to me and hurt me. If my emotional learning stems from fear and mistrust, I am not going to let random hospital staff into my life.
wow (My note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Location 990
The Power of Empathy
does much (My note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Location 1107
they did everything with love. Ahh, there it is. The other motivating factor in life: love. As described by Jack Kornfield in A Wise Heart, “When you love anyone enough, they will share their secrets.”
true (My note)

Thank you Cortland Pfeffer, Irwin Ozborne…

About Cortland Pfeffer
Cortland Pfeffer spent years as a patient in psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, and jails before becoming a registered nurse and working in the same facilities. Based on his experience, this story is told from both sides of the desk. It offers a unique and valuable perspective into mental health and addiction, revealing the problems with the psychiatric industry while also providing the solution – one that brings together science, spirituality, philosophy, and personal experience.

Posted in Book Reviews, Marie's Garden

Book Presentation : The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz, Janet Mills


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This book I read has been seven years on the new york times bestseller list! Having read a lot of books and their ratings for the ‘American’ literatture world, being on the new york times bestseller list is the ultimate deal. In the four agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. The book is described as one based on ancient Toltec wisdom, and offers a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. This book did just that for me when I read it and re-read it. I am not worthy to review such a life transforming book – really that’s why I call this post a book presentation. I was introduced to this book by my dearest friend Pamela Wagner (and for those who think people living with a mental illness don’t know nothing, you are the loser)… I will just share the resume of the book and few of my highlights while reading this revolutionary book.

1) BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2) DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3) DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4) ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are tired as opposed to well-rested. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Some of my higlights (cause I did like 160 – just to say I almost highlighted the whole book):

Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Page 15
We keep searching and searching, when everything is already within us.
the truth (my note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Page 17
Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans.
vip (my note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Page 17
We especially try to please the ones who love us, like Mom and Dad, big brothers and sisters, the priests and the teacher. Trying to be good enough for them, we create an image of perfection, but we don’t fit this image. We create this image, but this image is not real. We are never going to be perfect from this point of view. Never! Not being perfect, we reject ourselves. And the level of self-rejection depends upon how effective the adults were in breaking our integrity.
VIP VIP (my note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Page 18
We dishonor ourselves just to please other people. We even do harm to our physical bodies just to be accepted by others.
oh my (my note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Page 19
They wish to be a certain way, but they are not, and for this they carry shame and guilt.
hmm (my note)
Highlight (Yellow) and Note | Page 20
In your whole life nobody has ever abused you more than you have abused yourself. And the limit of your self abuse is exactly the limit that you will tolerate from someone else. If someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person. But if someone abuses you a little less than you abuse yourself, you will probably stay in the relationship and tolerate it endlessly. If you abuse yourself very badly, you can even tolerate someone who beats you up, humiliates you, and treats you like dirt. Why? Because in your belief system you say, “I deserve it. This person is doing me a favor by being with me. I’m not worthy of love and respect. I’m not good enough.”
capital (my note) This was a wow wow wow so so so true for me

In summary, this book may not be one of the conventional ones but it is definitely one of those revolutionary and True to the Core ones. Maybe you’ll want to check this out and add to your Christmas ‘to read’ list?