Book Review — Maps, Frogs, Artists: What’s Right for You?

As a new feature on Anne on Fire, I am now reviewing books from Hay House authors.  www.hayhouse.com   I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of our Life
Colette Baron-Reid

 The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life

“We change the world from the inside out, and that’s why I’ve written this book,” explains Colette Baron-Reid in the introduction to her book, The Map:  Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life.  It’s a theme that has resonated with me since the early 1980s when my sister Susie gave me a copy of Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming by Richard Bandler (Paperback – June 1979).  The theme reappeared in the 1990s when I began reading Sonia Choquette’s (www.soniachoquette.com) work about spirit and the way we can consciously raise our vibrations. The theme returned to my desk again a couple of years ago when I finally read and followed the daily writing instructions in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (www.theartistsway.com). 

That the confluence of all the thoughts and theories from these other books flowed forward while reading The Map made it a truly integrated and enjoyable experience, even if I doubt I’ll follow the exercises to the letter of the law like I did with The Artist’s Way.  The beauty of books like Baron-Reid’s for me is partly in gaining a peek inside someone else’s creativity and ways of coping.

In The Map, Baron-Reid suggests we become our own oracles and traverse through a metaphorical map of life’s archetypical characters and situations to find personal peace and meaning.  Her magic lands, wands and companions remind me that there is no one best way to do anything; but that finding a talisman that works to put life in context at the different points of our lives is something valuable.  

Neuro-linguistic programming co-founders, Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder, believed that NLP would be useful in “finding ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives.  They advocated the potential for self-determination through overcoming learned limitations and emphasized well-being and healthy functioning. Artist’s Way author Julia Camera challenged the label of being a called creativity expert, explaining, “My books are not creative theory,” she explains. “They spring straight out of my own creative practice. In a sense, I am the floor sample of my own tool kit. When we are unblocked we can have remarkable and diverse adventures.”

In the same way, Baron-Reid is her own magic wand, sharing how the techniques in the book brought together the threads of her own story and gave them meaning.  An addict, the daughter of a closet Holocaust survivor, a bulimic and an intuitive, she says she sought out her own way to heal her life.  Her hybrid approach to doing so is The Map and by her own words, it was a process that transformed her.

Both Cameron and Baron-Reid are alcoholics and I was struck by how they both have created worlds of somewhat strict context for themselves and for the price of the books, for others.  Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has sold more than 2 million copies so certainly her disciplined approach to bringing out the artist within can work.  While I agree that creating a framework is useful, I personally like to hop between approaches and try out any number of them, not getting too fixed on any one for too long.  I prefer being more of a self-awareness dabbler and that is why I liked Baron-Reid’s book.  It seemed that she too has dabbled and in The Map, brings together her favored outcomes to guide her life.

For any student of self-awareness, that is the challenge:  How to find the kernels of both structure and meaning so that you feel good in your own skin and confident on your journey.  To my way of thinking, it doesn’t matter whether you follow a map or NLP or an artist’s way – and they may actually be the same things just packaged in different ways.  What matters is the self-awareness and for that, The Map may just be your key.

The Map is available for purchase on the Hay House website http://www.hayhouse.com/details.php?id=5286 as well as at www.amazon.com  and www.barnesandnoble.com.

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Authors and Numbers

Downtown Chicago Illinois Nov05 stb 2461

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Yesterday, I went to an discussion-and-book-signing event at Summit Executive Centre (www.summitchicago.com)  for author Norb Vonnegut (www.norbvonnegut.com), who is releasing his second financial thriller, The Gods of Greenwich.  I’d finished my business meetings early and headed over to the event, which gave me some uninterrupted time to talk with Norb, who had been a stock broker in New York with several name-brand companies before starting his second act as a full-time author.  His is an inspiring transition, especially his ability to use the “characters” from his business life as fodder for his novels.

After a pleasant chat with Norb and a sincere agreement to keep in touch on writing matters, I spotted Ginger across the room.  Of all the people who read my blog, Ginger is seemingly one of the most supportive via “liking” and posting comments.  “One of my favorite things about your blog is how you write about the spiritual journey you are on,” she commented to my utter relief (since you never really know what people might say about your inner thoughts and public posts).  Then Ginger told me about numbers — she sees the same numbers all the time.  She grew up in a house number 212 and finds that she sees 212 all the time.  “What do you think it means?” she asked, after sharing that her father had passed away some time before.

I wanted to say that it means whatever you wish it to mean, when out popped, “I think it is your father’s way of saying, keep going, keep the faith.  I don’t think every sign is a watershed, maybe just a little encouragement so you know someone is out there and on your side.”  Ginger agreed and it was nice to see eye to eye and for the time we talked, soul to soul.

It me think about the numbers I see — 519 and 601.  My address growing up was 519.  The number 601 is the first three numbers in my talent agent‘s phone number.  Maybe like Ginger, the numbers I see are my own encouragement — that my parents who’ve passed are giving me subtle encouragement to keep telling my story (519) by using my talents (601).  I’m not sure if that’s the right interpretation but it feels that way.  It’s a lot like finding pennies.

What numbers are in your life?

Swim Suit Secrets

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

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Renee and I had taken our daughters to the Magic Kingdom and after two action-packed days at the Disney Parks, we chose Sunday to lounge by the pool while the girls swam.  She knows my story well and so my scars were nothing new even in bathing suit format.  But hers, well, she had never told me about them and the plot thickened.

Renee was 12 and boiling water to make hot dogs.  Somewhere in the transfer to the counter, hot dogs still boiling away, she jiggled the pot.  Hot oily water gushed on to her thigh.  Renee watched as the boiling water seared her skin, sealing her tights to her upper leg.   The times being the times, Renee tried to self treat second-degree burns.  “More than anything else, I remember the pain.  I had to peel the fabric of the tights off my leg,” she said.  Over time, the skin on her thigh turned an unsightly black.  Horrified she peeled it back time and time again.  It took a year to heal.  She used home remedies to speed the healing because her family didn’t take her to the hospital for treatment.

Now, the scars on her thigh healed to a faded pattern of reddish blotches. Renee needed to point them out to me.   I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

As we lay by the pool, I couldn’t get Renee’s story out of my mind.  It consumed me for hours.  Was it better to remember the searing pain so vividly as she did?  Was it worse to remember peeling blackened skin from your leg?  Was it more common than not that families in the 70s didn’t rush to hospitals for home accidents?

Much as I have tried, I have yet to find anyone who can tell me the blow-by-blow details of my accident.  I don’t remember the pain of the majority of the surgeries, only the one I had when I was 18.  I don’t remember blackened skin but surely it was there.  My burns were third degree, a notch up from Renee’s.  It amazed me to see how her burns had healed, how they were all but hidden.

It seems to me that everyone has at least one vivid childhood story.  An accident.  An incident.  A hurt that may not have yet healed.

It feels good to hear someone else’s story, in this case a poolside secret, a swim suit story.  Do you have a secret to share?

Meaning in the Limbs

Depending on your spiritual orientation, you might see meaning in everything, nothing or a smattering of things of your choosing.  I tend to see meaning in nearly everything.  That doesn’t mean I agree with everything whole cloth however.  You have to take what works for you and discard the rest.  As I thought about this, Louise Hay‘s Heal Your Life yellow book caught my eye perched on the bookshelf as it was.  Ah yes, I thought, Louise Hay believes that dis-ease is the result of our mental patterns.  “I believe we live in a ‘yes’ Universe.  No matter what we choose to believe or think, the Universe always says ‘yes’ to us.  If we think poverty, the Universe says yes to that.  If we think prosperity, the Universe says yes to that,” she writes, explaining how we are co-creators of our own reality.  I thumbed through the book again, drawn toward her list of life’s problems and their probable mental cause.  “Leg(s),” it read.  “Probably Cause:  Carries us through life.  New Thought Pattern:  Life is for me.”

I never thought life was against me at any time.  But I could certainly affirm more often I guess that “life is for me.”  Simple. 

Many years ago, I went to a psychic with a couple of girlfriends.  I didn’t have a burning question at the time but I did ask, “What lessons should I have learned from burning my leg?”  “There are some,” the psychic replied, “such as personal humility and compassion for others.  But have you come to understand that the accident did not happen for your purposes?  The accident was for your mother and the lessons she had to learn in her life.”

I was stunned.  In all the years since the accident, I had never thought there might be a message or learning for anyone else than me.

And that’s what I mean about meaning.  There are so many ways to look at nearly everything (if you are interested in the exploration of course).  What it has meant for me ever since that day is that I look for meaning in different ways and different levels.  More importantly, every time I think I’m just doing things for my independent self, I have to remember how inter-connected we all are.

I Find Pennies

A variety of the low-value coins, including an...

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I was researching an emotionally difficult issue when I retrieved a voicemail from Cousin Tom, official advisor to this blog.  “Anne, I’ve been reading the blog and it’s getting a little depressing,” he said.  “I mean, I read the John Mellencamp post and now that he’s dating Meg Ryan, maybe you can do a positive post on that.”  Heady stuff cousin Tom, heady stuff.   If you wondered at all, I have lots of positive things to share.  I mean, I find pennies.  I’ve been reluctant to share this because it seems sometimes pedantic, and I haven’t quite figured out why I find them.  So I talked to my work colleague Gloria about it, asking, “Hey Glow, am I making this up or do I find pennies a lot?”   She pondered a moment.  “Gallagher, I never find pennies except when I am with you.  You find them all the time.  I never do.”  Glow and I were walking out of our office the other day and there one sat.  “Where did that come from?” she asked.  “I just walked through here and there was no penny.”  I picked it up and smiled.  I find them all the time.  I’m not quite sure what they mean but I think they are a sign of some sort.  I interpret them to be signs telling me to continue on with things I am not always comfortable with, like writing this blog and working to complete the longer memoir on it.  “Glow, what do pennies mean to you?” I asked, hoping she had some insight I lacked.  She did.  Some people see finding pennies as good luck; others see a penny with the ‘tails’ side down and flip it over to the “heads” side so someone else will have good luck; we throw pennies on ponds and wish on them; they are a sign of something or other; and for some people, they mean absolutely nothing.  I find pennies and they encourage me though I’m not sure why.  Do you find pennies?  Do you find anything?  What do they mean to you?

Are You as Happy as You Make Your Mind Up to Be?

I read the following passage the other day and wondered, “Where did the author get this crazy idea?” and “What’s this wacky idea about resigning yourself to your fate? I disagree.” What do you think? Here it is:

Abe Lincoln once remarked that ‘most folks are about as happy as they make their minds to be’. He was right. I saw a vivid illustration of that truth as I was walking up the stairs of the Long Island Railroad station in New York. Directly in front of me thirty or forty crippled boys on canes and crutches were struggling up the stairs. One boy had to be carried up. I was astonished at their laughter and gaiety. I spoke about it to one of the men in charge of the boys. “Oh yes,” he said, “when a boy realizes that he is going to be a cripple for life, he is shocked at first; but after he gets over the shock, he usually resigns himself to his fate and then becomes as happy as normal boys.” I felt like taking my hat off to those boys. They taught me a lesson I hope I shall never forget.” Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, 1936. Reissued in 1964. 

    

Comaraderie Among the Right-Leg Injured

A number of years ago, I met Joe. Joe lost his right leg to cancer. When my kids started at their school, we all met John, who lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident. I of course, have my right leg intact though it is charred by burns. Wonder what it is like to realize someone else has a right leg injury? It’s kind of awesome. I became fast friends with both Joe and John, and though others may not always understand, we have 100% rights to joke about our injuries with each other, to share some dark-black humor and deep belly laughs. John regularly tells me, “Your leg is so ugly you should just cut it off.” And I laugh uproariously. Same with Joe. In many ways, I think their injuries are worse than mine. They grew up with their right legs and lost them as adults. For me, the way my leg is, is mostly all I’ve known since age 2.