Inspiration and Motivation From My Bookshelves

In 1977, I purchased my first self-help book, Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Since that time, I have devoured hundreds (possibly thousands) of self-help books. Some I’ve purchased…others I’ve borrowed…some I’ve reviewed…many I’ve given away.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


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Happy Peace Day!

Established in 1981 by a unanimous United Nations resolution, International Peace Day (Peace Day) provides a globally shared date for humanity to rise above all differences and contribute to a building a culture of peace.

I’m sharing the lyrics and music of “Imagine,’ a song written and performed by John Lennon. The best-selling song of his solo career, its lyrics encourage us to imagine a world at peace.




Encountering Two Tigers

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

When I first read the following Zen parable, I found the situation too difficult–even bizarre–to even imagine. It gives new meaning to the expression: “Embrace the present moment.”

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!


James Frey Visits Kitchener

Friday evening, I attended “An Evening with James Frey” at the central branch of the Kitchener Public Library.

This Premiere Series event was well-attended by fans of the best-selling author of A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning, and The Final Testament of the Holy Bible.

His latest book, Katerina, was released last week.

Before starting to read, James warned us that parts of Katerina were extremely dirty and the book contained tons of profanity. In an interesting twist, he asked members of the audience, to suggest excerpts.

Afterward, Michael Patterson, Drugs Strategy Specialist for Waterloo Region, engaged James in conversation. It didn’t take too long before the conversation veered toward the controversy that had surrounded (and still surrounds) A Million Little Pieces.

A bit of history…

2003 – Random House released A Million Little Pieces, a memoir of drug abuse and redemption.

2005 – Oprah selected the book for her monthly book club. Over two million copies were sold within months of the announcement.

January 2006The Smoking Gun released a report discrediting James Frey and the book. The investigative website reported that much of the book had been fabricated, including critical details about Frey’s criminal record and rehab experiences.

At first, Frey defended the book, but as the accusations mounted, he was forced to make a televised apology on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Nan Talese of Random House admitted that the company failed to fact-check the manuscript. You can watch the entire show here.

February 2006 – Random House published and included a note from James Frey, apologizing for fabricating portions of the book, in later editions.

September 2006 – James Frey and Random House reached a tentative legal settlement. Readers who felt they had been defrauded by the book would be offered a refund.

Friday evening, James admitted that a brief unpleasant period followed the telecast of the Oprah show. He faced 17 class action suits and five lawsuits. After receiving death threats and dealing with constant harassment from the media, he left the country with his wife and one-year-old daughter.

In spite of the controversy and scandal, James has no regrets and wouldn’t do anything differently. A Million Little Pieces has changed many lives and given hope to addicts. Two audience members publically thanked James for writing the book.

During the Q & A period…

• James was inspired by Henry Miller’s controversial novel, Tropic of Cancer. After reading, James set himself the goal of becoming the most notorious author on the planet.

A Million Little Pieces was not an overnight success story. It took twelve years to write.

• James doesn’t fear failure. If something doesn’t work, he tries a different approach.

• While he finds much of contemporary literature boring, he did enjoy reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. He also reads thrillers.

• He believes that authors don’t take enough risks. Too many of them attend writing school (something that didn’t happen thirty years ago) and write what he calls “homogenized literature.”

• James advice to writers (and all creatives): “If you work hard and believe deeply enough, you can pull it off.”

• He gave the following advice to an audience member struggling with her memoir: “Call it a novel or hire a lawyer.”

• While James wasn’t involved in the filming of A Million Little Pieces, he thought it was awesome when he saw it last week at TIFF. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, and Odessa Young.


You are Special – Don’t Ever Forget It!

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

After a disappointing experience, I like to reread this modern-day parable. It’s a great pick-me-upper!

A popular speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. A crowd of 200 had gathered to hear him speak. He asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”

All 200 hands went up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” He crumpled the bill up.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

All 200 hands were still raised.

“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” Then he dropped the bill on the ground and stomped on it with his shoes.

He picked it up, and showed it to the crowd. The bill was all crumpled and dirty.

“Now who still wants it?”

All the hands still went up.

“My friends, I have just showed you a very important lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, life crumples us and grinds us into the dirt. We make bad decisions or deal with poor circumstances. We feel worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special – Don’t ever forget it!

Source: Livin3 Blog


Movie Review: God Bless the Broken Road

Inspired by the Rascal Flatts song, “God Bless the Broken Road,” this film follows Amber (Lindsay Pulsipher), a young war widow struggling with her husband’s untimely death in Afghanistan. A second storyline focuses on Cody (Andrew W. Walker), a headstrong NASCAR driver who has been forced into coaching and community service with a local racer (Gary Grubbs).

Two years after her husband’s death, Amber reaches the end of her rope. Her job at the diner barely covers the essentials, her house is on the verge of foreclosure, and her overbearing mother-in-law (Kim Delaney) doesn’t hesitate to criticize Amber’s parenting of her daughter, Bree (Makenzie Moss). Amber becomes increasingly angry at God and refuses to attend church. Frustrated and desperate, she pawns her engagement ring and takes out a 38-percent loan to make house payments.

Cody winds up helping Bree and the other children in the church community build their own go-karts. Eventually, Amber and Cody meet and start dating.

Unfortunately, their respective situations worsen.

Unwilling to curb his recklessness on the track, Cody crashes but manages to emerge unscathed. Shocked by his near-fatal accident, Amber takes distance and forbids Bree to participate in the upcoming go-kart races.

As Amber loses her home to foreclosure, she faces more criticism from her mother-in-law and growing rebellion from Bree, who is determined to race her go-kart and live with her grandmother.

Bree’s disappearance brings all the characters together in an emotional finale, culminating with the singing of the title song. Remember to bring tissues!


Inspired by Jann Arden

Yesterday afternoon, I joined over 600 people at War Memorial Hall in Guelph for “In Conversation with Jann Arden,” one of several special events taking place as part of the 30th edition of the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival.

A beloved Canadian icon, Jann has distinguished herself in the music industry, releasing 13 albums, 19 Top 10 singles, and receiving numerous awards, among them 8 Juno Awards and 3 Prairie Music Awards. She is also the accomplished author of four books.

After a short introduction from University of Guelph president, Dr. Franco Vaccarino, and Guelph Public Library CEO, Steven Kraft, Jann read from her best-selling memoir, Feed My Mother, an entertaining and inspirational account of her experiences as primary “parent” to her mother, who is in the grip of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Jann then shared her life experiences in a talk, aptly titled: “How Good Things Come Out of Bad Things.”

While I have listened to many of her songs, I was not familiar with her extraordinary journey. Here are some highlights:

Growing up in Springback, Alberta with an alcoholic father and a mother who “gave up” was difficult. Jan’s older brother turned to alcohol and was later convicted of first-degree murder. He is currently serving a life sentence. The younger brother emerged, for the most part, unscathed. As for Jann, she retreated to the basement, determined to avoid her father at all costs.

While in the basement, Jann discovered an old guitar that had belonged to her mother. She started playing and got the bug. To his day, she still plays by ear, never having learned to read music. At age 11, she started writing songs. By age 18, she had written 300 “terrible” songs that she kept a secret from her parents. She did, however, find the courage to sing at her high school graduation.

For ten years after graduation, she joined bands and sang in bars throughout northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the B.C. interior. While she did accumulate over 600 songs on cassette, she also developed a drinking problem. She has many regrets from that dark period.

When she partnered with Dave Hart, a keyboard player who was twenty years her senior, she learned much about music and life. Dave encouraged Jann to include her original songs in the show. She also started searching for representation. Unfortunately, she met with rejection after rejection; recruiters claimed her music was too personal and too depressing.

Jann’s big break came unexpectedly.

Allan Reid, a young recruiter at A & M, initially rejected her cassette. A week later, his fiancée decided to call off the wedding. Heartbroken, Allan went for a drive and turned on the cassette player. Jann’s song, “I Just Don’t Love You Anymore,” started playing. He finally “got” her music and agreed to represent her. She’s been with A & M for over twenty years and continues to play to sold-out venues.

Jann’s personal life took a dramatic turn when her mother started losing her memory. After the diagnosis, Jan became her mother’s primary caregiver. Determined to keep her mother at home, Jann hired four full-time and four part-time workers to help provide around-the-clock care. While she was fortunate to have the financial resources, it did cost $140,000 a year for the care.

Her partner of ten years issued an ultimatum: It’s either me or your parents. The relationship crumbled.

To release pent-up emotion, Jann decided to share her experiences online. The response was mind-blogging; her first post received over one million views. Those posts and a collection of recipes became the basis for Feed My Mother.

Jann will star in a sitcom loosely based on her experiences with her mother’s Alzheimer journey. It is scheduled to be released by CTV in March 2019.

Jann’s Advice for Caregivers…

Give in. Give up. Go where they go. Surrender.

Don’t correct them.

Be brave. Be easy on yourself.

Let the world do what it’s going to do.

Insights from Jann’s Mother…

You don’t need to remember things to be happy.

You forget to be afraid.

Jann’s latest song…