Friday, November 26, 2021

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: SPIRITUALITY FOR BADASSES: HOW TO FIND INNER PEACE AND HAPPINESS WITHOUT LOSING YOUR COOL


Title
: SPIRITUALITY FOR BADASSES

Author: J. Stewart Dixon
Publisher: PIE Publishing
Pages: 268
Genre: Nonfiction / Self-Help / Humor

Stewart Dixon, award-winning, best-selling humor and self-help author of Spirituality for Badasses has a bone to pick with conventional therapy and pharmaceutical companies concerning our collective bounce back and healing from the stress, anxiety and depression of Covid-19.

Asserts Mr. Dixon in the introduction to his book: “So you see…I really do get it. I used to be depressed, anxious, too smart for my own good, opinionated and unhappy…a real loveless, badass-hole. But now I’m just a spiritual badass.   Spirituality removed the hole. I transformed. I changed. I grew up. I learned some hard lessons. And I did all this without ever losing my cool, integrity, smarts, libido, sense of humor or soul. And that’s just what this book is going to help you do. “

Kirkus Reviews – the prestigious book review media outlet wrote this about the book: “A motivational work blazes a spiritual path for those who consider themselves too cool for such things. A jokey yet earnest and useful guide to enlightenment for badass readers.”

On a whirl-wind virtual tour of radio station and podcast interviews J. Stewart Dixon has been offering his “calm island in the middle of the hurricane” solution to eager hosts such as celebrity chef Pete Evans from Perth, Australia and sportscaster i-Heart radio-DJ Ken Broo from Cincinnati, Ohio“It’s about noticing that part of you, which hasn’t changed your whole life. If you can notice and nurture this inner badass part, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its’ ability to heal, help and restore.”

Mr. Dixon knows first-hand about finding an inner badass, as he suffered from years of depression during his early adulthood. “I didn’t throw myself into spirituality to become a saint or a purist– I did it because I was hurting and in pain.  I did drugs and alcohol.  I tried therapy and Prozac. None of it worked.  I was dragged kicking and screaming into spirituality and mindfulness practices and what I found was that, lo’ and behold, this sh%# works.”

A common question Mr. Dixon receives is, of course – Why all the swear words and humor? “I love the title Spirituality for Badasses because it instantly disarms any preconceived notions about spirituality and renders it friendly, approachable and down-to-earth. I think many of us are burned out by absolute truths, cures and opinions right now. So– I’m simply offering an alternative non-pharmaceutical “cure” that worked for me.  As a bonus, I’ve thrown in some humor, and to keep it real, a few swear words.”

Mr. Dixon’s background as an engineer and business owner has also shaped his opinion about spirituality and mental health. “As an engineer most of my adult life, I’ve been hired to reduce complex systems into bite-sized, manageable portions.  In Spirituality for Badasses I do the same: Mental health and spirituality is, to say the least, complex. I spent decades sifting through and integrating it, and what I came up with – which I’m proud of and grateful for today- was a process that worked both for myself and the thousands of readers who are now finding their own inner badasses.”

PRAISE

“In his new book, Spirituality for Badasses, J.Stewart Dixon has written an irreverent, exuberant, free-wheeling, stream-of-consciousness saga that chronicles the spiritual journey in ways that are unique, humorous, challenging and a hell of a lot of fun.  Gone are the heavy-handed, esoteric pontifications so often included in books about “living like a spiritual warrior” and, instead, J.  focuses more on de-mystifying this eternal quest by successfully normalizing its ordinariness. So, buckle up and be prepared for a wild ride that’s readable, accessible and eminently  relatable. Two enthusiastic thumbs up! Highly recommended!”
-Chuck Hillig,  Licensed Psychotherapist, Spiritual Teacher& Author of Enlightenment for Beginners, The Way IT Is, Seeds for the Soul, Looking for God, and The Magic King 

“Spirituality for Badasses is The Way of the Peaceful Warrior for the rebels among us who are tired of sickly-sweet approaches to spirituality and have a sincere need to laugh out loud on the regular.  J. Stewart Dixon is a true original … He’s your irreverent, potty-mouthed best friend and big brother, but don’t let the humor fool you: the teachings offered here are profoundly liberating, important pointers to awakened awareness. Dixon teaches us all to en-LIGHTEN-UP with his special blend of hilarious, profound, crazy-ass wisdom.”
-Erin Reese, M.S., Spiritual Counselor & Teacher & Author of Truth Seeker: A Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Liberation & The Adventures of Bindi Girl: Diving Deep Into the Heart of India 
 
“Accessible. Compulsive. Irreverent. Fun. Practical- All the while lacking nothing in richness or depth.  Take an adventure with J – a spiritual guide that comes off more Han Solo than Obi Wan Kenobi on the surface – as you journey along with the R-rated spiritual everyman with a lizard draped over his shoulders on a path that winds inside and out, through valleys and up mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, as you make your way toward becoming more your badass true aware self.   This book is rich!”
-Zac Cannon, Pastor

Book Information

Release Date: January 21, 2021

Publisher:  PIE Publishing / Awakening Resource Center, LLC;

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-0-9858579-9-8; 329 pages; $15.99; E-Book, $5.99

Book Website: www.spiritualityforbadasses.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B08SMP9982

Book Excerpt:'

I get it. I really do.

You're a badass.

Cool, hip, down-to-earth, together, sane, practical, tough, smart, confident, fringe, alternative, creative, funny, athletic. However, you want to quantify your badass-ness.

You've been this way your whole life, or maybe it took a couple of decades for you to cultivate it, or maybe it just kicked in yesterday at 3:09 p.m. Who knows...and who cares, right?

Because something is missing.

It seems that being a badass just isn't - enough.

Is it?

Let me make this easy for you. I'm also a badass...

...except that for most of my adult life I've been involved with spirituality. And maybe you can relate here - this badass has always had...um, a slight issue: He doesn't really love spirituality, being spiritual or hanging out in spiritual circles.

No thank you.

This badass...well, eh...he loves beer.


About the Author:


Spirituality for Badasses and 21 Days blossomed out J. Stewart’s life as a spiritual seeker, finder and teacher. He teaches based on his direct experience, twenty-nine years of interaction with numerous nonduality-advaita-zen-unorthodox teachers, his ongoing education / certification in modern mindfulness and a degree in communications / engineering from Syracuse University.

He has been interviewed by Rick Archer on Buddha at the Gas Pump, was the meditation editor of the mind/body/spirit blog All Things Healing, was a board member of Sevenoaks Retreat Center (a nondenominational spiritual retreat center in Madison, VA) and is the owner/founder of a tech design -install firm called Charlottesville Audio Visual Services.

J. Stewart Dixon has been a very creative individual for most of his life. In addition to two self-published books, he has written and produced a rock musical, has two professionally produced and recorded CDs with his former band Alchemy and has dabbled in abstract art.

He lives in central Virginia with his family. When he’s not working or creating he can be found cavorting with the fish, bears, and bald eagles on the local rivers with a fly rod in his hand.

Visit his website at http://www.spiritualityforbadasses.com or connect with him on Facebook.

 

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: NO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE BY CT LIOTTA

 


NO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE, CT Liotta YA/LGBT, Rot Gut Pulp, 308 pp.

Fifteen-year-old Ian Racalmuto’s life is in ruins after an embassy raid in Algiers. His mother, a vodka-drunk spy, is dead. His brother, a diplomat, has vanished. And, he’s lost a cremation urn containing a smartphone that could destroy the world.

Forced to live with his cantankerous grandfather in Philadelphia, Ian has seven days to find his brother and secure the phone—all while adjusting to life in a troubled urban school and dodging assassins sent to kill him.

Ian finds an ally in William Xiang, an undocumented immigrant grappling with poverty, a strict family, and abusive classmates. They make a formidable team, but when Ian’s feelings toward Will grow, bombs, bullets and crazed bounty hunters don’t hold a candle to his fear of his friend finding out. Will it wreck their relationship, roll up their mission, and derail a heist they’ve planned at the State Department?

Like a dime store pulp adventure of the past, No Good About Goodbye is an incautious, funny, coming-of-age tale for mature teens and adult readers. 308p.

PRAISE

“So many treats are in store for the discerning reader of CT Liotta’s brilliant YA novel NO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE. There’s a diverse array of multi-racial/cultural characters, organized criminals with complex political goals underway, and keystone-cop humor/blunders often sparking from the evergreen enchantment of a push-pull romance between two young people, neither of whom have yet decided to identify as ‘gay.’ Rich with often realistically crude boy lingo, NO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE is an utterly charming teenage LGBTQ falling-in-love adventure while simultaneously rocking an international crime storyline.” – C.S. Holmes, IndieReader

★★★★★ “Sharply observed and sarcastic as hell, CT Liotta’s debut is the gay teenage spy thriller we have long needed.” -Matt Harry, author of Superkid and Sorcery for Beginners.

★★★★★ I found this YA spy novel to be an utter delight! Fast-paced and witty, we traverse the globe with Ian, who just lost his mother and is charged with stopping a war with China. All the while he’s 15, enrolled in a High School from hell in Philadelphia and struggling with his identity. The author offers his own particular take on the importance of friendship and found family. He also very cleverly features different viewpoints, so the reading experience never feels stale. Honestly, I did not know what to expect going into this story – I however finished it converted into a fan! – Thomas S., Netgalley







______________________

______________________





CT Liotta
 was born and raised in West Virginia before moving to Ohio for college, where he majored in Biology. He now uses Philadelphia as his base of operations. You can find him backpacking all over the world.

Liotta takes interest in writing, travel, personal finance, and sociology. He likes vintage airlines and aircraft, politics, news, foreign affairs, '40s pulp and film noir. He doesn't fear math or science, and is always up for Indian food. His favorite candy bar used to be Snickers, but lately it's been 3 Musketeers. He isn't sure why.

He is author of Relic of the Damned!Death in the City of Dreams and Treason on the Barbary Coast!

No Good About Goodbye is his latest book.

Visit him on the web at https://www.ctliotta.com.

Sign up for Liotta’s newsletter at https://ctliotta.substack.com.


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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Nonfiction Book Spotlight: Your Mid-Career GPS: Four Steps to Figuring Out What's Next by John Neral


 Are you considering a career change but doubt yourself or get easily overwhelmed by the entire process?

Are you a mid-career professional ready to level-up, but unsure of what steps to take?

What if there was an easy and supportive way to plan your next career destination?

Your Mid-Career GPS will guide you to create your own professional roadmap so you can find the job you love or love the job have. John Neral, Certified Professional Coach, will help you strategically position yourself in the marketplace while teaching you how to leverage your unique skills from a place of value and service for any organization.

Learn how to prepare, position, and promote yourself as you create a tactical and strategic plan by building Your Mid-Career GPS. Let this book be your guide to answer many of the current questions you have about creating your next advancement opportunity.

PRAISE

“This book is for those of you who feel like you know everything and nothing about what's next, you can't fathom writing yet another cover letter, and you wonder "why bother" when it comes to updating your résumé. If you are feeling alone on this journey, bring this book, and all of the insight and tools it contains, along with you. You will have John's company along the path and you will be one step closer to finding your way!”--Natalie Siston, Best-selling author of Let Her Out: Reclaim Who You Have Always Been and Founder, Small Town Leadership

“John expertly guides readers through the trials, tribulations, and common pitfalls of mid-career professionals and managers. He also provides information on the effective career strategies and mindset needed to be successful. This book is a must read if you are looking for professional support and could use a career GPS! -- Porschia Parker Griffin
Founder and CEO of Fly-High Coaching Millennial Coaching Institute

“LinkedIn is the most powerful tool to help you network, build professional relationships, learn, search for jobs, and much more. I always say if you are not on LinkedIn you might be left out. Your Mid-Career GPS provides valuable tips and guidance to help you navigate LinkedIn and start growing your network and create your next advancement opportunity.”-- Rhonda L. SherLinkedIn Specialist, Author, Speaker

“I picked up this latest book after enjoying John Neral's previous book, SHOW UP - Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career. In Your Mid-Career GPS, John Neral provides clear, actionable steps to put his six strategies into play quickly and effectively. I really enjoyed his conversational writing style as well. As a mid-career professional, I love that my cohort is the focus of his attention and expertise. He demonstrates throughout the book that he knows the benefits mid-career professionals bring to an organization and his thoughtful observations and exercises will help anyone define their professional value and market not only their skills but themselves. Reading and employing the strategies in this book can position you to be a more valuable resource to your current employer or challenge you to spread your wings and find your next, great career opportunity. The underlying message is one of empowerment and encouragement and that's a message everyone can benefit from.”-Victoria A. Bourgeois

Book Excerpt

In this book, I will ask you to define certain moments of your career. One of the most defining moments in my career happened in my 11th year as a middle school mathematics teacher. I loved where I was working, the people I was working with, and I certainly had a fantastic time with the students I got to teach every year. One day, as I was beginning to teach a lesson on multiplying fractions, I looked at 25 students' faces staring back at me, and the voice in my head said, "You can't do this anymore." It was as if that voice came out of nowhere, but it was loud, and I needed to listen to it. I felt happy. I enjoyed what I was doing. But I wasn't satisfied knowing that this could be it for the rest of my career. I wasn't ready to settle. As I continued to deliver the lesson, I gave myself permission to question what I was doing with my career and why I wanted more from it. Have you ever had one of those moments?

What transpired over the next few months was an opportunity to honestly evaluate where my career was going and what I wanted. I had a fantastic consulting relationship with a Fortune 500 company along with a successful tutoring business outside of my teaching duties. I was learning that I wanted to shift my focus from teaching students to working with teachers. This would look like some kind of administrative position or an opportunity to level up, but I was unsure of what that was.

I talked to my closest friends and colleagues and told them I was considering making a significant career change. I had my résumé professionally written. I updated my LinkedIn profile. I started networking, looking for jobs, and sharpening my interviewing skills. And then the rejections came.

I got to several last-round interviews for a handful of positions that I not only wanted but also believed I would've been great at, only to learn I wasn't the selected candidate. If someone were kind enough to give me some honest feedback, I would hear things like, "You made it a difficult decision for us, but we went with someone who had more experience." These are comforting words amid disappointment and perhaps something you also have experienced recently.

My opportunity to make such a change came three years later, when I was 40. I accepted a position as a Professional Development Specialist for the District of Columbia Public Schools. In this role, I would work with and supervise 21 instructional coaches across 13 middle schools. I was going to help teachers be better teachers. I got the job I wanted and a fantastic opportunity to stretch and grow. While the job came with an advanced title, it also came with a pay cut. I relocated from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., for a professional and personal opportunity. My husband and I had been dating long distance for two years, and because he was happy with his job, I decided I would be the one to make a move since I was looking for a new job. Yes, you could say I made a move for love, but it was not only for the love of my husband but also for the love of my career. Relocating wasn't part of my plan, but it was a welcomed detour and new destination for my Mid-Career GPS.

That move over 10 years ago accelerated my career. It gave me opportunities I would have never had if I decided to stay in my previous position. I had an opportunity to work as an administrator in a larger and high-profile district. From there, I went to go work at the State Superintendent's Office. From that position, I leveled up to take a job at an educational nonprofit as a Training and Staffing Director. And then, I took an even bigger leap into entrepreneurship. I have never regretted any of these moves, and I continue to have an exciting career. I get to go to work every day. I get to coach amazing clients and help them figure out what's next for them professionally by helping them create their mid-career roadmap to find a job they love or love the job they have. I've launched two podcasts. The first is called #SHOWUP2020 and highlighted everyday people who do extraordinary things because of how they choose to SHOW UP. My second podcast is "The Mid-Career GPS Podcast," and it's an extension of this book. You can listen to it wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.


John Neral, MA, CPC reawakens, energizes, galvanizes, and innovates the mind think of employees, corporations, associations, and systems. A celebrated executive/career and professional development coach and in-demand, mindset-shifting public speaker, John's professional walk included a 25-year career in education and a longstanding corporate consultant for Fortune 500 giant, Casio America, Inc. He now leads John Neral Coaching, LLC, one of the most progressive, mindset-shifting professional and organizational coaching and public speaking firms in the U.S. He is the author of Your Mid-Career GPS – Four Steps to Figuring Out What's Next and SHOW UP – Six Strategies to Lead a More Energetic and Impactful Career and the host of “The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.”

As a Master Practitioner in the Energy Leadership Index, John's experience has made him an impactful and valuable coach to his one-on-one and group coaching clients and organizations. With Energy Leadership™, John identifies where people perform at their optimal levels and when they are under stress. Combining the Energy Leadership™ principles, a client's workplace strengths, and their "unique professional value," John helps his clients create their career GPS so they can take action toward achieving their professional and personal goals.

A former church organ prodigy, John is an avid traveler--having sojourned to 5 of the 7 continents, a professional bowler and the winner of a Professional Bowlers' Association Regional Title (2010), and a game-show fan, having appeared on previous episodes of GSN's Chain Reaction and Make My Day. John is happily married and lives with his spouse and their rescue cat, Amy Farrah Meowler (named after the Big Bang Theory character), in the heart of Washington DC's Dulles Technology Corridor, Tysons Corner, VA.

You can visit his website at https://johnneral.com or follow him at TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

 

 


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Monday, October 25, 2021

In the Spotlight: INTENTIONAL: HOW TO LIVE, LOVE, WORK AND PLAY MEANINGFULLY by David Amerland

  



Intentional is a gameplan... 


By David Amerland

INTENTIONAL: HOW TO LIVE, LOVE, WORK AND PLAY MEANINGFULLY, Nonfiction, NewLine Books, 218 pp.




Live your life the way you want to. Manage stress better. Be more resilient and enjoy meaningful relationships and better health. We all want that. Such life leads to better choices, better jobs, loving romantic partners, more rewarding careers and decisions that are fully aligned with our aims.

What stops us from getting all that is the complexity of our brain and the complicated way in which the external world comes together. The misalignment between the internal states we experience and the external circumstances we encounter often leads to confusion, a lack of clarity in our thinking and actions that are not consistent with our professed values.

Intentional is a gameplan. It helps us connect the pieces of our mind to the pieces of our life. It shows us how to map what we feel to what has caused those feelings. It helps us understand what affects us and what effects it has on us. It makes it possible for us to determine what we want, why we want it and what we need to do to get it.

When we know what to do, we know how to behave. When we know how to behave we know how to act. When we know how to act, we know how to live. Our actions, each day, become our lives. Drawn from the latest research from the fields of neuroscience, behavioral and social psychology and evolutionary anthropology, Intentional shows how to add meaning to our actions and lead a meaningful, happier, more fulfilling life on our terms.







Here is the first truth in a book of truths: you can't be everything to everyone. At some point you need to make a choice of what truly matters to you and why. Fair warning: it’s an approach that will lose you a lot of 'friends'.

There is little point in trying to define what ‘life’ is. Philosophers and, surprisingly, even some biologists, have never agreed on it.

Biology however tells us that life is: “defined as any system capable of performing functions such as eating, metabolizing, excreting, breathing, moving, growing, reproducing, and responding to external stimuli.”

The moment you think about this definition you know that there is little point in trying to adapt it to concepts such as “living a good life” or “a life well-lived”, yet it is by those that most of us intuitively try to measure and understand what it is we mean when we mention “life”.

As it happens I will give you a much better definition but before I do I will start with an obvious truth: we all struggle with the exact same thing that is, knowing how to behave.

In trying to live a life, good or bad, we all seek to find, discover or accept a set of rules that basically tell us how to behave in any given situation. When we accept social mores, religion, the law, tradition, culture, a code of conduct, a belief or an ideal what we basically engage in is a direct attempt to find our personal rule book that tells us exactly what to do when we need it.

I am a sucker for mindless action flicks that spike my adrenaline levels and shower me with eye-candy special effects. If you’ve never seen Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman, then I strongly recommend it, not least because in one of his over-the- top cinematic speeches delivered with that all-too-familiar authoritative deep, tonal voice Freeman’s character declares:

“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being shat on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and a key to release it.”

He goes on to give the requited spiel about a fraternity of super- assassins that take it upon themselves to guide history by killing selected people “for the greater good” and he finishes it with the memorable line: “This is what has been missing from your life Wesley: Purpose.” I did say it’s over-the-top. At the same time the speech has a point. A life lived without a purpose is a life mostly wasted. And purpose is frequently defined by knowing what we should do and being actively engaged in doing it.

Whether we realize it or not, we all feel the need for this kind of guidance that gives us a deep sense of purpose. Because we are born physically helpless we have evolved to latch onto and work hard to understand our immediate environment and the people around us. This makes us, as we grow older, intensely pro-social. At the same time it provides us with a ready-made set of expectations, rules and guidelines to guide our behavior that arise from the collective behavior of those around us.

That behavior is the culture we experience and the traditions we abide by. The problem with this is that rather than defining for ourselves what is important to us we accept that which is given to us. That which is given to us is rarely what we want, but it can very easily become what we settle for.

Settling is an evolutionary-programmed trait. Let me explain: Life is hard. It really is. Even if we happen to have the extraordinary luck to be born into a very rich family whose legacy gives us everything we need to live comfortably for the rest of our life, maintaining that fortune and navigating through life is going to be fraught with risks, traps and constant upheavals.

We need other people. Other people need us. That is a truth. But the reasons for this mutual need are usually contradictory or, at the very least, sufficiently at odds with each other to make trust an issue and turn cooperation into a risk-assessment exercise.

All of this takes inner resources. It takes attention, thinking, planning, mental and psychological effort, perhaps some introspection. It frequently is emotionally painful and psychologically costly. We are programmed to avoid it because it adds to the intrinsic difficulty that is life.

If you want the definition of life here it is: It is a game plan that emerges from the collective activities for survival of everyone around you. That is, everyone. It is difficult because it is unpredictable. It is unpredictable because no one knows the rules. In an emergent game plan things change spontaneously according to the same principle that guides us to settle for what we are given: conservation of energy. When ‘witches’ threaten our communal beliefs, the stability of our governing institutions and the perceived natural order of the Cosmos it is required of us to hunt them down and publicly burn them.

The act, however, barbaric, painful and seemingly inhuman restores the perceived natural order of things, reinforces the power of our institutions to safeguard our way of life and impresses upon us the value and desirability of accepting what we are given. Life goes on much easier then.

When the public burning of witches however marks our way of life as brutal, our religious leaders as misguided, fanatical zealots whose actions endanger us all and our institutions as unbending, power- hungry instruments of control, we become more enlightened. More accepting. Our society becomes tolerant. Our horizons broader. Life goes on much easier then.

“Easier” is what we have been programmed to seek because it increases the chances of our survival. What made sense in pre-historic times when the outside world could easily kill us has, in our days, evolved into a complex dance of what we believe and what we reject, what we accept and what we actively seek. We have created a world that pretty much guarantees our survival. Yet, for most of us that is no longer enough.

We lack the deeper sense of purpose that makes us feel truly alive. We have the key to releasing the “lion” inside each of us but choose not to use it. This makes our life a complex weave of small advances and retreats. Victories and losses that are designed to keep us in place until we no longer care and it no longer matters.

I say “designed” when I describe the constant churn of victories and losses that are life, but that is a mislabel. Life is a system. Like any system it seeks stability in order to function. Stability demands conformity. Almost like a biological organism, the system that we call “life” rewards innovation and change (i.e. mutations) sufficiently to progress but makes it hard enough for them to become established so that it is never severely disrupted.

It is no accident that in our lifetime we shall each experience only one great innovation or upheaval. More than that and it may truly be the end of the line for the experiment called “Human life on Earth”.

This need to live by choosing “the path of least resistance” because it allows us to use the least amount of energy to coast through life leads to some pretty convoluted mental acrobatics. We are, for instance, perfectly at ease with a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde transformation where we present a different face (and maybe, even values) to those we work with and a completely different set of behaviors to those at home or our friends at the pub.

We can use ‘morality’ to ostracize and dehumanize fellow human beings who are different from us, because their existence creates perturbations in the social system we directly experience that require greater energy in order to deal with and may, even, challenge our own sense of right and wrong with our own life choices.

The ease with which we can turn on anyone not of our own religion, social caste, skin colour, ethnicity, neighbourhood or area is testament to this. History supplies a long list of such instances that range from the destruction of Carthage in pre-history to the genocides that took place in Rwanda and Bosnia in the closing years of the last century.

In each case the ingredients are the same incendiary mix of social stress, political polarization and a dehumanization of the ‘other’ that is different, strange, outside our own group and therefore the enemy who deserves to be eradicated.

The irony that this is the same game only with different players escapes its participants who had they been capable of such awareness would have behaved differently anyway. The irony is rich here because in order for this game of life called “division” and “ostracism” to work its players must be capable of exhibiting the same behavior when confronted with the same set of circumstances. The oppressed turn oppressors just as easily as the victims can turn into aggressors. Given similar circumstances and capabilities we are usually pretty good at coming up with justification of our behavior and if you need a living, breathing example of such role reversal look at the atrocities, injustice and demonization of the ‘other’ carried out by none others than the Israelis upon the Palestinians.

A case of role-reversal, where those who history has frequently ascribed the role of victims turn into aggressors and perpetrate on their neighbors the same type of persecution they have, historically, experienced themselves.

Now that we’ve established, on these broad lines, that life is a game whose rules are the same everywhere and we have seen, again broadly, how similar circumstances allows us to behave in similar ways and even make the exact same behavioral mistakes we, ourselves, have condemned it’s fair to ask “what now?” Is this it? Will this chapter be enough to raise questions without providing much of an answer¬? Is everything always grey and in doubt? Is the rest of the book more of the same which would make it no more than a superfluous addition to this chapter required to provide what publishers call “spine value”?

Well, not quite. What follows are the elements, the modalities, if you like, required to make this game of life work. What follows is the prescription you need to live your life the way you want to. This chapter, however, is far from over.

Because all this is serious I can afford to be flippant, though as you will see even my flippancy has a very serious intent. So, I will add here that the one ‘rule’ we all need to keep in mind is that favourite of William S. Burroughs’ from his Naked Lunch “Nothing is true; everything is permitted”. Burrough, of course, borrowed this from Vladimir Bartol, who used it in his novel Alamut. Bartol, himself borrowed it, and slightly changed it in the process, from the teachings of Hassan-i Sabbah who was the founder of the Order of the Assassins, historically known as the Nizari Assassins. The tale, writings and doctrine of the Order was incorporated in the storyline of the popular video game Assassin’s Creed which is where I first came across it and filed it away for future reference which brings us to here and now. You reading what I’ve written.

What do we, what can we learn from this? That life is circuitous but the circuit has polygonal junctures with cultural jumps and bends that require an open mind and a thirst for cultural learning in order for the metaphorical dots to connect? Or, that nothing is truly original, that everything is borrowed from somewhere else and made to fit the moment and its time?

Both, I’d argue. If you are truly living and if you truly feel alive you are aware of both context and history. Moment and time. Alamut was written as an implied rebuke to Mussolini’s fascism. Naked Lunch is a chronicle of the messiness of life and its often unplanned trajectory where the brain makes sense of basically senseless moments of existence. This book is about learning to behave in ways that help you get more out of your life.

 














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David Amerland is a Chemical Engineer with an MSc. in quantum dynamics in laminar flow processes. He converted his knowledge of science and understanding of mathematics into a business writing career that’s helped him demystify, for his readers, the complexity of subjects such as search engine optimization (SEO), search marketing, social media, decision-making, communication and personal development. The diversity of the subjects is held together by the underlying fundamental of human behavior and the way this is expressed online and offline. Intentional: How to Live, Love, Work and Play Meaningfully is the latest addition to a thread that explores what to do in order to thrive. A lifelong martial arts practitioner, David Amerland is found punching and kicking sparring dummies and punch bags when he’s not behind his keyboard.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

⭐IN THE SPOTLIGHT⭐THE WILLING BY LINDSAY LEES⭐

 


Welcome to Ovoidia where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man…




By Lindsay Lees


Title: THE WILLING
Author: Lindsay Lees
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 299
Genre: Dystopian



In less than a year, fifteen-year-old Gypsy Capone will be considered a woman in Ovoidia, a “utopian” city-state where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man, where curving architecture adds weird whimsy, sporks are the only cutlery, and true intimacy between the genders is a sign of suspect subversion. After all, if a woman just plays along, she’ll also do her job and have children, with the reward of a fine home in the “Communities,” where she and the other “Mamas” live together in harmony with everything they need. Right?

The irony: Diam and Isis, the two leaders of Ovoidia, are themselves females. Fun, yes! And just below the surface, perversely sinister. They personally execute these precise sacrifices by women to establish their “happy,” absurdly totalitarian utopia, and are backed up by their chosen army of male “crusaders,” enforcing a crime-free, fully controlled society.

Men are relegated to work in the “City” where they may “enjoy”—right there on the street if they wish—any woman they want and are welcome to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs at establishments called Gaje Clubs where only the most “gifted” among women are chosen to work.

Not surprisingly, in Ovoidia women have evolved until they feel nothing of sexual pleasure. But in Gypsy’s deepest heart, she realizes her own dark secret: she is the exception. Next she discovers to her horror that her secret, if known, could result in the ultimate punishment—genital mutilation.

To save her body and even her soul, Gypsy chooses a dangerous path—to single-handedly confront this scary and absurd world. She has the support of her allegiant sister Sadie and Miles Devine, a rogue, secretly gay crusader, and also “Doctor,” a morally questionable physician to help her. But none of them fathom the levels of paradox, incongruity, and twisted evil they will soon face, and the ride becomes something even Gypsy could have never imaged.

PRAISE

The Willing is stunning in its brutality as well as its sensitivity! Absolute must read. We all have a piece of Gypsy in us. We must consider our potential future as women now with eyes wide open.”–Amazon Reviewer

“The Willing is an unusually deep commentary on a malignant dysfunction in our society, dressed in fishnet utopian stockings. While the premise and its sensual details push the boundaries of belief, a community that is ostensibly focused on the greater good but is governed by fear and hypocrisy fits perfectly in the dystopian genre. Gypsy’s character is flawed and immature in many ways, but her shield-like honesty is refreshing among a sea of conformists. A rather feminist piece filled with satire on the state of equality, The Willing is weighty and serious in its message, and sad in its reflection of how women are treated in our modern world. For a change from the norm, Lindsay Lees provides a gripping story that will have you thinking deeply about the importance of the relationships in your life.”–Jennifer Jackson from IndiesToday.com






In a basement meeting room of the Head Gaje’s oval-spiral Headquarters, an arched doorway slid open. Doctor Gino’s tired, wrinkled eyes also bolted open; he had only been resting them. He’d practically been dragged from his bed, after all. Ovoidia’s Chief Crusader, Rigby Katz, entered the hermetical, bleach-white room holding his round helmet, nestled under his thick, toned arm. Eyes bright and vigilant—a caffeine glow—he must have only just finished his shift, Doctor thought. He had been a Crusader for over thirty years but had the good fortune of not appearing his age. Rigby scanned the room like a robot from Robocop or Terminator, one of the Pre-Ultimate Revolution movies. After completing a thorough assessment, he surveyed the white leather office chair where Doctor sat with his liver-spotted hands folded on the round table. 

"Oh good. I'm not the first to arrive." Crusader Katz clomped in wearing heavy black boots, clean as the day they were made. "Gives me anxiety waiting around, wondering if I'm at the right place. Easy to get lost down here."

A round clock above the arched doorway swept past the seconds. It was almost three A.M. Doctor hadn’t expected the tribunal meeting to take place so late.

"Do you know why we're having the meeting now?" Doctor asked, casually.

Rigby regarded Doctor with amusement, rather like the way a mama looks at her child when she asks where babies come from. "Yes, the Head Gajes had an inauguration party to attend.”

Doctor yawned. So much for not having time to get a coffee.

Crusader Katz removed a piece of spearmint gum and his cell phone from his utility belt. He owned the newest model, a razor-thin silver flip-phone with a peek window on the front. When he flipped it open, the interior buttons reflected electric blue on his milky eyes. Doctor didn't know why cell phones required upgrades. So long as they served their primary function who cared what they looked like?

Crusader Katz snapped the phone shut and shoved it back in his belt. "No service." He sighed.

"We're too far down," Doctor said, pleased with himself.

The steady hum of an air purifier oscillated from a corner. A few stray bubbles burped in a standing water cooler. Doctor eased a ballpoint pen from his lab coat and hovered it over the table, pinching the cap to make sure it was firmly secured. He was forever spilling ink or coffee on the ubiquitous white leather.

“I forgot my notepad,” Doctor said, surprised at his error. While most communications in Ovoidia were transcribed digitally, Doctor preferred to handwrite his notes for archival purposes.

He experienced nostalgia for the tactile fluidity the pen afforded the fingers. “Do you happen to have an extra pad or a piece of paper?” he asked Crusader Katz.

Just then, the meeting room door opened to the heady scent of a dozen steamed bouquets, as though the Head Gajes had bathed in the buckets of wilting flowers being sold on the streets in the mid-day heat. Diam, the eldest of the Head Gajes strolled, chin up, into the room. Her stilettos tapped like hail on glass as she walked across the marble floor. She wore a black satin skirt flared above her knee. Her skin shone, glossy and supple. Isis, the younger Head Gaje, teetered in behind her, gripping a round red lollipop on a white stick.
















Lindsay Lees is originally from Los Angeles and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and while growing up and later in college, she split her time between the two countries. Lindsay earned a B.A. in 2008 from Manchester Metropolitan University, and next an M.F.A.in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. 

The Willing is Lindsay’s debut novel. She currently lives a quiet Southern life with her husband and a houseful of pets. 

Visit her website or connect with her at FACEBOOK and GOODREADS.








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