The World’s Embrace – A Poem + I Won a LIT PRIZE! + Goodies for Your Heart

The World’s Embrace

You can listen to this poem here and download it for on-the-go listening here.

by Rebecca Villarreal

All I want to do is stick my face in a blueberry

or a toothpick with a sail

and shrink to meet the fae 

as they navigate the frothy waters

or perhaps I’ll slice a garden tomato

marking the circumference

like a kitchen timer

pomodoro raft

reclining and licking

the Maldon salt

in all its pyramid popping

defying the laws of the courts of saline

perhaps I’ll drift onto land

bouyed by sourdough

lightly toasted

and begging for Irish butter

for now, I send you a poem of produce and dough

to save you from despair

you see just when the world seems masked by indifference

or perhaps so much difference

you’ll ask for a poem when

you didn’t know your heart yearned for one

 

The clay of our ancestors knows

your feet once had roots

your navel was the hollow of a tree

where wrens nested

and eggs hatched

waiting

waiting

waiting

for the cosmic mother

ancient and complete

to send you a blueberry sailboat

a tomato raft

and an island of sourdough

to assure you that you are loved

the soil is your succor

the earthworms your symphony

and the ink of my pen

a love letter to remind you 

that your heart is full

your soul is waiting

and you deserve 

the world’s embrace

I hope you felt lifted by the poem and took the time to listen to the audio version so that you could feel the world’s embrace.

I WON A PRIZE!

I’ve posted links to 88 Cups of Tea, founded by Yin Chang before. Yin has built the most amazing, supportive, loving, boundaried and NON-COMPETITIVE writing community I have ever witnessed. Consider supporting her Patreon account.

You can hear my name announced at the 1:08 mark in this podcast. I am so honored to be one of three people out of 151 submissions selected for our community’s 5-Year Anniversary Celebration. I had to fill out an application including the first pages of my first chapter of the sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship as well as a synopsis and the goals of the book among other questions. I won a conversation with Holly Root, of Root Literary Agency. You want to see tears of joy on that one? I came running over to my husband and he was all, “What happened?” And I kept saying, “I won! I won! I won!” and then I played him that moment when my name was announced.

Being a part of the 88 Cups of Tea community has been transformative for my writing. We gather several times a month and write together. And one of my fellow writers told me about Heather Demetrios’ Flow Lab. After completing it, I now write an average of one hour a day, 5 days per week! I just printed my manuscript yesterday and I have forty chapters either started, midway or completed! And the podcasts and articles are like having an M.F.A. for free!

I am sending a HUGE thank you to everyone who has read my first novel, and reviewed it, purchased it and requested it at your local book store or library. I was thrilled to learn that Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon had 20 copies in stock! Recently, I received the most beautiful request from a family based on Oregon. They donated their copy to the fire relief fund in their community, and asked for the best place to purchase a copy so that I would get most of the profit because they needed to have one handy for rainy days! These kinds of stories really keep me going. I can’t wait for you all to read book 2! Hurley has a much larger role and the magic is amazing! And of course we get to travel to Italy and Morocco among other adventures in Chicago.

Goodies for Your Heart

And in other news, this morning I passed the time celebrating life, drinking mint and yarrow tea from my garden, and thinking of Mama Chelo, my grandmother who passed away several years ago at age 105. If you’re a long-time reader, you may remember this poem I wrote after her passing, her 5 Life Lessons post and her Guacamole recipe. This past week I did a cooking demo of that recipe here. A downloadable PDF of the recipe is here.

As I was pouring the tea in the glasses below, I remembered when Mama Chelo was visiting me in Washington, D.C. and we went to Dean and Deluca. She bought me a small basket and two glass tea cups. The cups have been broken for years now. When I got the glasses in the photo below as a free gift for purchasing tea, I jumped at the chance to recreate that special experience with my grandmother again. This morning, I kept pouring the tea as I thought of her. I spilled it all over the table and didn’t care as it was all part of visiting with her in my heart and mind.

The vision I had as I began cleaning up the tea was “The Affliction of Joy.” It’s this feeling that there is so much delight inside of me and it is inextricably tied to the fact that I’ve also experienced great sorrow. It’s almost as if my appreciation for joy, ecstasy and little moments of happiness has been enhanced by the dark times in my life.

As I’ve navigated the drowning grief from the loss of my brother in August and prior to that, my uncle and Godfather in May, I’ve learned some valuable lessons, not only in resilience, but in navigating joy and sorrow and embracing impermanence.

First, take good care of your adrenals, folks. I’m including a photo of some adrenal support snacks from my doctor. (Yes, it’s been on my fridge for months so it’s worn!) What that means for me is concentrating on good sleep and enjoying my caffeine in the morning. What happens if I overdo the afternoon caffeine is that I experience an enormous high that inevitably attracts a big low or dramatic drop in energy. That crash becomes fertile ground for a STUG. What’s a STUG? It’s a Sudden Temporary Upsurge of Grief. You can read about it here. And frankly, it sucks. I had four days of STUGs in September and I literally felt like I was drowning in tears. I called a helpline and spoke to a counselor and, as per my usual, listed the twelve thousands things I do for self-care and my experience navigating trauma and resilience. And though she didn’t tell me anything new, it was helpful to speak to a compassionate professional and focus on myself–not empathy for another person’s experience.

All this is to say that I have also been focusing on the idea of impermanence. My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh has helped me to understand the idea of no being. In his book, No Death, No Fear, he focuses on the ideal conditions for something or someone to manifest. When I think about the people I’ve lost, whether my grandmother at 105 years old or my brother at 39 years old, I’m getting to a point where I understand that the conditions of their lives existed to support them in their human form for their lifespans on earth. I believe and feel them inside of me now. And I feel them everywhere. In the mint tea I spilled on the table, and in the good fortune I had to win a literary prize. Thich Nhat Hanh compares this to a cloud, which can manifest as rain or as snow. When the rain comes, if you’re looking for the cloud and mourning its passing, you miss the beauty of the rain and the nourishment of the plants and food all around you. Speaking of food, I have learned so much from gardening these last years (Gardener was my word of the year in 2019) and the Cherokee Purple tomato and Jacob’s Cattle Beans in the photos above are grown from the seeds I purchased from Slow Food.

Another very valuable coping strategy from Thich Nhat Hanh can be found on page 101 of his book No Mud, No Lotus. I am including a photo of it below. Of course, I love the very clear connection to trees!

Finally, I recorded the video below for you because I decided that I was going to launch my personal #4monthsoffun where I focused on the inner and outer health of my body (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), my book and my money! I recorded it on September 8, and you can join at any time and make it your own. I linked it to my Mystic Athlete approach. October 8 would make it three months of fun for you, so we can celebrate together on January 8, 2021–that’s the day I officially return to social media.

Continue reading

Rebecca’s Magical Mondays #12 – Feed the Love

Greetings to the whole human race,

We’ve come to see each other again, haven’t we? We now deeply know what it is to break bread together side by side. And we are finding new pathways to nourishing community as well as reconnecting to mother nature. This week’s Magical Mondays is themed “Feed the Love” — just the way you feed sourdough starter. Let’s offer hope and take back our individual and collective power by supporting each other. 

Here are resources for this week:

  1. Chapters 2 + 3 Reading in the Woods of my novel The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship. As I write the sequel, it is important for me to go back and read my own book to make sure that I don’t confuse even the most minor details. So I figured, why not read it aloud to you? You can view the “live” reading of Chapter 1 here.

  2. Brené Brown’s new podcast Unlocking Us features a wonderful concept: FFTs – trust me and listen. It’s perfect for these times.
  3. Journey into the world of Jackie M. Wood, self-proclaimed messy painter: Jackie and I are in a monthly mastermind together which I co-facilitate. She offers some inspiring and affordable abstract mini art prints here.  I got to follow along with her recent cross-country trip via Instagram as she captured landscapes on her journey. Enjoy the gentle beauty of her work!

  4. Free Wellness Classes and Connections: Check out Creative Live’s Free Health and Wellness Classes here. Or join me every weekday with Ho’omalamalama Brown as she offers a 5-minute morning burst of exercise daily at 6:30am-ish PT to get you going. I don’t always catch them live but I do them when I wake up and it’s just the encouragement I need. You can sign up for more info here and then you’ll get the link to the private Facebook group where she streams every weekday.Then I move into my home yoga practice or have some fun with Tabata

  5. Music – Follow D-Nice and Quest Love on IG or YouTube for some amazing music during this time at home. Check out a glimpse here. Musicians like Nahko have also offered concerts where each view leads to a non-profit donation.
  6. Get Some Yummy + Support Small a Small Business: My favorite Italian Bakery in Chicago is Scafuri Bakery. I am thrilled to let you know that they are still shipping online orders of their amazing cookies and loaves. Get a discount with the code SMILE2020 for the rest of March. Pictured below is the Cuccidati, Pignoli and Chocolate Orange Ricotta Pound Cake Loaf. Say that last one fast three times with your mouth full of cake. I dare ya!
  7. Free Slow Food Live Webinars: Learn to Plant a Seed on Thursday, March 26 at 11am PT/2pm ET by registering here.You can register for the Zero Waste Minestrone webinar on March 27th at the same time here.
  8. Bethany Webster’s 3P Method: She is the world’s leading expert on The Mother Wound, author of the forthcoming book, Discovering the Inner Mother, and wrote a very helpful post called, “The Holy Simplicity of Sitting with Our Pain.” She also recently shared the following approach in her newsletter:

Here is a quick process to help you feel safer and less anxious during this time of uncertainty.

I call it the 3P Method:

Pause, Pivot, Provide tender holding.

1) Pause:

Stop in the moment and notice what is happening for your inner child. You may notice an underlying panicky feeling, a negative inner narrative, or a feeling of being trapped or unsafe.

2) Pivot:

After you pause, turn to the distressed inner child. Here you become the inner mother self, bringing a sincere, loving curiosity to her and what she’s feeling in the moment.

3) Provide tender holding:

How is the little one within you?

I invite you to consciously bring her or him lots of nurturing, reassurance, tenderness and gentle calm.

You can simply say:

“I’m here with you Little One. I can see you’re scared right now, which is natural and normal, given what you’ve been through. I’m here with you to keep you safe. All is well.”

Consider signing up for her newsletter if you like her work. She even offers a free e-book called What is the Mother Wound?

Okey dokey, I have more, but I’ll stop before Monday turns into Tuesday!  Here’s how you can help this week:

  1. Leave a note of encouragement outside a neighbor’s door.
  2. Stay hydrated with water and warm liquids.
  3. Try a new class online.
  4. Rest.
  5. Give yourself and everyone around you a break. Assume a well of good intentions as people navigate the new normal for now.

And remember, look for the magic in the everyday! There are clues everywhere!

Photo Adventure Winners!

Thank you to my wonderful readers and supporters for submitting photos in honor of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon’s 2nd Birthday!

We have winners from VA, CA, Rome and London!

And the special creative photo at the bottom is from Philadelphia thanks to my cousin. It’s my Mama Chelo who passed at age 105 before Selma was published, but there she is with a copy magically on her lap!

Winners will be contacted in the next 72 hours with their prizes.

Cucalacas!

Fun Gifts for Selma’s 2nd Birthday!

Let’s celebrate and also here’s another video I made in Italy just for Selma readers!

It’s 8-8-2017–it’s a magical day for many reasons!

Happy, happy 2nd Birthday to my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship!

I am so excited to share a fun celebration that starts today:

We’re hosting a photo adventure! I’m inviting you to take photos of your copies of Selma (e-books too!) with you, friends and family, your pets, yummy food and more!

Winners announced Sunday, August 13.

You can enter as many times as you’d like! You can either:

  1. Post to Facebook and tag me and include #cucalacas
  2. Post to Instagram and include the hashtag #cucalacas
  3. Email the photo to rebeccainspiresnow@gmail.com

Please note that when you enter, you’re granting me rights to share the photographs as I celebrate and promote Selma with others.

Prizes are:

Gift cards;

75-minute Dream Maker Session with me. You can learn more about that in my last blog post;

A spot in Carrie Hensley’s Ayurveda 101 course (valued at $97);

30-minute Oracle card reading with me;

Thanks for being so supportive over the last two years.  If you want a blast from the past, check out this post when I celebrated 100 copies sold.

And if you want a blast from the future, I made this video for you while in Italy staying at the beautiful agriturismo La Torre Rossa with details about the sequel! It shares how I do my research, get inspiration and document scenes and details to be written later.

But wait, there’s more! Today is #istandforlove day, the brainchild of Sarah Love Hanna McCoy. It’s a special day to declare love.  Anyone can participate–check out the details here.

Sending you love and magic!

Cucalacas!

Rebecca

Ideas on doing what’s most important to you – plus my birthday celebration!


Oh happy day! How are you doing?  The land here is filled with wildflowers. I have a quick heads-up about my awesome magical birthday:

Bottom line: The Kindle version of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship will be $8 and you can order a signed copy from me for $8 (plus discounted $2 shipping in the U.S.)

**If you’re new to my book, check out this article in The Huffington Post. Or listen to the first few chapters here and here.  I also have a recent radio interview here and here. (Skip the first two minutes to get to the conversation.)**

Please share this with someone who may enjoy the book!

Here are the details:

8 is my lucky number. On April 18, my 48th Birthday, you can get an $8 Kindle copy here for 48 hours. You can order an $8 signed copy by emailing me at rebeccainspiresnow@gmail.com.

In the video below I:

1. Take you on a walk through the field above on my favorite trail by the Pacific Ocean;

2. Lean against a gorgeous tree and almost fall down, and offer my trademark snort;

3. And talk about our different roles in life and how to create the best environment to do what’s most important to you.

In that video, I promised you a nature video and that can be viewed here and below:

In other very exciting news, I finished the rough cut of my documentary from my stay at Drop Out on Orcas writer’s retreat! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to write a book alone in the woods without cell or Internet, this film takes you through some very intimate moments of one of the most transformative experiences of my life. It even includes exciting preview scenes from the sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon. Here’s the trailer:

If you want to be the first to see the rough cut, sign up for my newsletter at RebeccaVillarreal.com which will be coming soon! (I’ll only send out about 4-6 newsletters per year.)

In my video at the top of this post, I mentioned the short time management TED talk. It’s called “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time”. You can view it here:

Also, if you’re looking for a refresh on your approach to planning, I’m really enjoying the Panda Planner, which you can find here. You can start the planner at any point in the year. There’s a discount code you can use PANDAFAM at checkout for 10% off. (I don’t receive anything for sharing this–I just believe in the product!) You can learn more about the making of the planner (after its founder had a traumatic brain injury, he really went back to basics) in his welcome video. 

Thank you for cheering me on and supporting me in so many ways. Remember your magic, every day. Cucalacas!

Have a great rest of your day!

Some Sunshine for Your Week – radio recording, new poem & more!

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Hello Beautiful People!

It’s such a thrill to share the recording from my recent fun and inspiring interview on KCSB 91.9 FM with LP on her Writers Almanac West program. If you didn’t get a chance to listen, and you want a dose of inspiration and a break from the negative news cycle, click here to listen on Soundcloud and here to listen on Podmatic. Both are downloadable! (Note: Jump to the 2 minute mark to skip the intro reading of Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence.)

We talked about all of my favorite things: food, poetry (I read a new poem at the end!), my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón and the plans for the sequel. We also talk about staying in love, faith and hope for all humanity. If you find yourself curious about the many resources and books I mention during the show, I’ve added links to just about every topic mentioned at the bottom of this post.

Also below is a short “Broadcast from the Beach” expressing my gratitude for your support. I recorded it for you right after I wrote the poem “Birdfight” in the previous post.

In the video, I mention a luxurious time binge-reading the poet Mary Oliver, at my friend’s house. Here’s a poem I wrote about that experience:

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On Reading Mary Oliver in Bed

I eat your poems

between bites of fig-filled cakes

or are they cookies?

forgetting to chew

because your words make me hungrier

for solace and weeping

for herons

suns

moose faces

and querying the soul

 

the chicory and hot milk

burn my throat

but I can’t stop devouring line

after line

fearful my gluttony

will spill on the white down comfortor

of my momentary retreat

 

how do you take a Sunday morning and make it urgent?

Volumes One and Two

and Felicity

again I want to be haunted by

all the space

on the page

your succinct seventy-seven year old

plunge into Cobb Creek

and your truth-telling of a girl raging

in dark corners

or the soul stolen from the blue Iris

I must go now,

for this pen is distracting

from my voracious consumption

If you’ve never read Oliver, here’s a link to some of her poems. There’s also a rare interview with her on the NPR program, On Being.

For those of you interested in writing or any other seemingly dreamy, yet filled with reality, kind of pursuit, this interview with the writer Cheryl Strayed was very inspiring to me. She’s so honest about the fact that she doesn’t write every day and also about her struggles with money. I have watched or listened to it at least 7 ½ times.

Links I mentioned in the Writer’s Almanac West radio interview

My website for The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship is rebeccavillarreal.com.  We have a page with links from the topics in the book and an area where you can sign up to receive the free Tribe and Family Book Club Guide via email. The book is available via Teaching For Change (they get 5% of net profits), Amazon, Independent Book Stores, iTunes and Barnes and Noble.

You can read and listen to the opening poem Bound here and The Slowdown—a parenting poem, here.

The Slow Food movement can be found here.

Those fish-shaped crackers and why they are not great to eat–more info can be found here. What I mentioned about the way wheat is treated with pesticides in the U.S. is covered here. And there’s more from Robyn O’Brien about the 2.6 Billion pounds of Monsanto’s Glysophate (which is linked to Cancer) sprayed on American farmlands.

CarrieHensley.com and info about her Sacred Sangha is here.

LindsayPera.com and The Mystic’s Society is here.

Brené Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability and shame are here and here.

There’s an NPR interview with Mario Martinez about his book The Mind Body Code and the concept of tribal shame here.

Whatever you do, try to find a way to watch Trevor Noah’s special “Afraid of the Dark” on Netflix. (Note: this is meant for adult audiences.) The official trailer is here.

One of my chosen teachers is the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. The first book I was every exposed to by him is Living Buddha, Living Christ. I reference a number of his other books in “aisle 4” of this previous blog post.

Here’s the post where I did a round-up of all of my recorded meditations.

I mention my connection to Jennifer Lee’s Right-Brainers in Business and an interview she did with SARK. We talked about creating inner characters to help deal with uncomfortable emotions. Here’s a post I did about Matilda, one of my characters and another about My Noisy Neighbor, Fear.

I also mention Drop Out on Orcas by the poet, Jennifer Brennock which I’m not sure it exists in the same form, but just in case, here’s the site.

Well, my friends, that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed hanging out with me. I’m sending you love and some delicious food and time in nature for this week! Nourish yourself, you deserve it!

Aunt Peggy’s Sweet Potatoes & Busting through Fear, Italian-Style

My aunt Peggy used to say, “Are you a ghost?” every time one of us stood in front of the big wooden television at my Pop Pop’s house. And then she’d say, “because I can’t see through you.”

And now my nine-year-old says it to me.

It’s got me thinking about all the things we pass down, like Aunt Peggy’s sweet potato recipe.*

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For my readers who want the bottom line(s), I include great books throughout this post as well as the following:

  1. Steps to get clear on your life purpose – why are you here?
  2. Identifying the two kinds of fear  – the one that is imagined and the one that lets you know you’re on to something big…maybe even connected to your life purpose.
  3. Major plans for the Sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship.
  4. The most inspiring cookbook called The Tiny Mess which is a great last minute gift for someone who loves photography, food and adventure. There’s only 4 days left to support the Kickstarter campaign.
  5. The Miracle Angle: How a tiny miracle named Jaxon turns three and the Alabama Prayer Warriors tipped the scales; how to turn your own tough experiences into skill sets.

I. LIFE PURPOSE

Whether you have children or not, do you think about what you want to pass on to others? Prized family recipes? Modeling kindness? How about living your best life possible? How about demonstrating how to dream and DO?

Recently, one of the people I love most in the world spent his birthday thanking me for all that I’ve been for him. He gave me a gift: it was a belief that in choosing my happiness, I was showing him how to do the same. This is in sharp contrast to the pangs of guilt I felt in the past over creating this happy life. And also, with the way I’ve worked hard at it (in the face of some internal and external demons), I embodied possibility. That’s helping him hold on to some of his dreams.

So in the video below, I’m showing up. I’m sharing a dream I have…related to staying in beautiful Italy! There’s a backstory to how I got there in my post on the book, The Four Desires. Author Rod Stryker provides an overview of the book here and which includes a short meditation at the end.

I’m reading Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr which is a game-changer for me. And I also started Steven Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life which breaks down the Bhagavad Gita (a 2,000 year old spiritual text) while illuminating the stories of regular people and famous ones like Harriet Tubman, Mohandas Ghandi, Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall.  These authors offer different views of the same story: what do you want to do with this life? It doesn’t have to involve things that are so big that you have to risk it all. All three books help illuminate how to suss out the small and big steps to stay connected to what truly lights you up.

Truth-telling moment: It has taken me a month to share this video because I’ve been too scared of my own dream. I’ve hesitated and hemmed and hawed and discussed with friends. I’ve experienced self-doubt. I’ve quite simply been afraid. But I learned in Playing Big that there are two biblical Hebrew words for fear according to Rabbi Alan Lew: Pachad and Yirah. (I love sharing this on the first night of Hanukkah!)

II. TWO KINDS OF FEAR

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Mohr explaining the difference between the two types of fear titled, “What You Need to Know About Fear” explaining the difference:

Pachad is “projected or imagined fear,” the “fear whose objects are imagined.” In contemporary terms, that is what we might think of as overreactive, irrational, lizard-brain fear: the fear of horrible rejection that will destroy us or the fear that we will simply combust if we step out of our comfort zones.

There is a second Hebrew word for fear, yirah. Rabbi Lew describes yirah as “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting.” It is also the feeling we feel when we are on sacred ground.

If you’ve felt a calling in your heart, or uncovered an authentic dream for your life, or felt a mysterious sense of inner inspiration around a project or idea, you recognize this description.

We often conflate or confuse the two types of fear and simply call what we are experiencing “fear.” But we can discern them more closely, and in doing so, more effectively manage fear so it doesn’t get in our way.

III. THE SEQUEL

How I’m Geeking Out over the Sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón

So guess what!?! I’m practicing my Italian with the Duo Lingo app for free. I’ve told everyone I know that we’re planning a trip to Italy. As a result, I’ve studied the fascinating Slow Food movement which began in Rome. You can read about how the movement started and “How Grandma’s Pasta Changed the World” here. Yesterday while buying some gorgeous bread (the sliced one) and these delicious oranges from our local Farm Cart Organics, Jason told me all about Italy’s amazing organic farming techniques. And I started researching agroturismo in Italy (tourism on farms where you learn, work and eat fresh food.) And this morning at 6:10am, I finally figured out why Selma is going to Italy. It’s connected to what I’ve been uncovering about Slow Food Presidium foods like the pearl white corn at Ca’ de Memi.

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IV. THE TINY MESS

Oh and from the Farm Cart’s Instagram Account, I also found out about this amazing cookbook called The Tiny Mess. I can’t wait to get mine! These local adventurers have traveled up and down the west coast of the U.S. cooking and visiting with people living in small spaces like campers with tiny kitchens making delicious fresh and gorgeous food. And the photography is breathtaking! There’s only four days left to support their Kickstarter account and get yours. Check out their Intsagram pics and this video — they will strum at your hungry heartstrings!

Please #TellTwo 

A big giant THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me through another year of sharing my novel with the world. As I mentioned in the video, if you feel so moved, please help spread the word about The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship

Many of you have already done me the favor of telling two friends how you’ve enjoyed the book. Or maybe you’ll get a chance to read it over the holidays and share it on social media. Here’s a handy short link: http://bit.ly/BuySelma

And check out this cool graphic we used in the Chicago Latino Network’s newsletter:

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There are a bunch of 5-star reviews here. The Huffington Post article is here.If you want to share more about the book, here’s the link to my website and includes links to all the different ways folks can buy it. Also, 5% of net proceeds go to Teaching For Change. And if you’re looking for inspiration and with a nice dose of vulnerability, here’s the video interview I did with yogini Carrie Hensley last year.

My novel is also on page 11 of Lindsay Pera’s Mystic Gift Guide in case you’re looking for some cool gifts for some of the magical folks in your life. You can also email me at rebeccainspiresnow@gmail.com if you would like to order signed copies for $12 each plus shipping.

V. THE MIRACLE ANGLE

Well, I’ve taken you through life purpose, fear, food, magic and my own dreams of taking Selma and my family to Italy. What’s left on Christmas Eve and the first night of the Festival of Lights? I’d say: A Miracle! The Miracle Angle links back to The Four Desires.

In the article titled, “Let Go and Find Your Miracle Angle,” Stryker shares an overview of this concept which is highlighted in the book:

History is full of remarkable individuals who — although they endured extremely hurtful and potentially debilitating things like the loss of loved ones, war, prejudice, abuse, disease and severe poverty — did not allow circumstance to prevent them from living inspiring and even extraordinary lives. The lives of Anne Frank, Victor Frankel, and Nelson Mandela, for example, remind us that we are each capable of creating productive and even glorious lives despite having to live through dire events.

Everyone who has ever overcome hardship or adversity has done so in large part because he or she has chosen, consciously or unconsciously, to “let go” of their past hardship and pain by embracing, what I call, a Miracle Angle — a way of seeing their circumstances that allowed them to transform their circumstances into a spark for positive change.

How is this possible? How, for example, was Nelson Mandela able to transcend apartheid and three decades of imprisonment when some of us struggle to forgive someone who cut us off in traffic?

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I have shared personal challenges whether from childhood, or facing postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome or my most recent (as Brené Brown calls it) breakdown/breakthrough. What you know is that I believe that with faith (in yourself, in God, in any approach that fits you) + action, you can live an amazing life. What you may not know, is that when one of my loved ones had three consecutive operations, we had people all over praying for us. One group of prayer warriors based in Alabama have always had my back. And I, in turn, have always offered up my prayers for those in need–most of whom I do not know. Well, let me introduce you to Jaxon, who in January will be 3 years old. It was touch and go when Jaxon was born. I do know his grandmother. Just imagine a premature baby with all of the requisite tubes and the fear of the unknown. I’m sharing his picture as a big ray of hope to serve as a visual anchor. When you are swimming in doubt, depression, despair or a simple sadness, think of little Jaxon. We all had faith that he could make it.  And I’d dare say his parents and grandparents learned a lot about how to turn those terrible moments into gifts, that’s the Miracle Angle.

Because just like my obstacles have helped me to anticipate and scenario plan–like figuring out the logistics of how to move my family to California, how to project plan at my job and how to chunk out this enormously long blog post, your struggles can be the source of your greatest gifts including the compassion and joy of living in this very moment.

Thank you, my dear amazing open-hearted readers for reading and listening and believing in me!*

I believe in you.

Do you?

With peace, big-hearted love and Aunt Peggy’s sweet potatoes**,

Rebecca

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*This post is dedicated to my Selma readers and to Carrie Hensley and the members of my Sacred Sangha for believing in me every single day.

**Aunt Peggy’s Sweet Potatoes Recipe: Boil, then peel sweet potatoes. Use an electric mixer and add a stick of butter, orange juice, brown sugar and cinnamon, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top is browned. The top of course is covered in globs of butter and brown sugar.

 

 

Nourish Yourself – Granola alert and Book Two Sneak Peek!

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Friends, as I mentioned in the last post, I managed to nourish myself during the previous week even in the face of a high level of stress. I have received requests for my granola recipe, so I did a demonstration video here. First and foremost, this is not my recipe! It is from Mayi Carles magnificent and delightful Life is Messy Kitchen cookbook. It’s Gluten-free, vegan and the version you see in my video is 99.9% organic. I have adapted Mayi’s recipe to suit what’s in my pantry. I am also occasionally allergic to following instructions so you’ll see in the video that I went back and tweaked a few things. I hope it entertains and instructs! Regardless, I’m sharing this to remind you that if you work a Monday through Friday schedule, today is a great day to think about what you want to eat this week.

Click here for Mayi’s Heartmade Granola recipe. And dang it! I’m glad I just glanced at her recipe again because I realize that I forgot to add dates to my granola. Well, good thing it’s all still sitting on the counter. There’s a lot to be said about not cleaning up right away. And if you’re interested in Mayi’s Life is Messy cookbook, check out purchase info and her awesome 39-second video here.

See the instructional video below, remember to also add raisins, or dates or some kind of dried fruit like cherries!

I won’t use the term “meal planning” because that can feel overwhelming when today is a day of rest for many. My meal planning often consists of looking in the pantry and inside the fridge. Last week I said, “Oh I need to use that cauliflower,” so I happened to receive a nice email from Cookie and Kate in my inbox with 4 different easy recipes for roasting cauliflower. This meant that one day this week when I was on a 7-hour videoconference with a 30-minute lunch break during which I had 3 different phone calls, I could throw the cut and washed pieces in a bowl with some spices and coconut oil and then stick them in the toaster over to roast while I finished those calls and made my quesadilla with a side of avocado. This week, I’m thinking about tuna melts, chickpeas with indian spices and some quinoa. I don’t actually like quinoa but I’m trying to experiment with it so that I can gain the benefits of the protein and the fact that it keeps me full for a long time. There was one quinoa bowl I used to get in Chicago that included veggies and a ginger peanut sauce so I’m also thinking of making a ginger peanut sauce to have on hand for the leftover quinoa. The other thing I’m making is the Minimalist Baker’s Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles which are mind-blowlingly easy if you have a food processor. I’m experimenting with not eating white sugar so these satisfy my sweet tooth in a big way.

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In other news related to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon – A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship: I am participating in #NaNoWriMo which is National Novel Writing Month. It’s another way to encourage myself to continue working on Book 2! I spent this morning (after making and eating the granola), doing my own version of nature magic, researching, writing and singing. I’m very excited about the scene I created.  I share my process in the video below. If you want to get more inside scoop on Book 2 as well as some recipes and spells, sign up for my newsletter at http://rebeccavillarreal.com.  We will send out the first one by the end of the year. You’ll also get a preview of the documentary from my writer’s retreat on Orcas Island. In case you missed it, the trailer for the documentary is here and below my sneak peek.

Stay tuned for info on purchasing signed copies of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon for the holidays! In the meantime, you can purchase it everywhere.

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The Fun Starts Here!

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I’m so happy today I could not wait to write to you. I woke at 5:55am which was really 4:55am and today feels like New Year! In fact, for many of us, it is!

Today some very fun creative explosions start! It’s Art Every Day Month and it’s National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo! Both are free!

You can read about Art Every Day month started by Leah Piken Kolidas’ here. She started it a decade ago inspired by NaNoWriMo! There are even rules which are made to be broken! Those are my kind of rules. You can write, draw, take photos on your phone, color, sculpt, just create.

I’m starting Book 2 of Selma’s Truth and Magic Series today for National Novel Writing Month! You can sign up here if you’d like to join me: http://nanowrimo.org.

There are of course, fun ways to share your progress in social media and in other places, but if you are introvert (like me, yes, yes I have the Myers-Briggs results to prove it), you may want to do this on your own or with one or two friends.

Spread the word because there’s real research demonstrating the importance of creativity to our own vitality and life. It’s central to making us tick. Before some of you tell me, “I’m not creative like that,” listen to this interview between Brené Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert. (If kids are around, put in headphones due to some adult language.) I know I’ve shared this one before, it’s that good.

I also want to share some exciting news about my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón, A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship:

  1. Discounted Signed Copies for Teacher Gifts and the Holidays: Individual copies are $12, but if you want to gift signed copies of the book to 20 or more people, it’s $10 each plus shipping. And 10-19 signed copies are $11 each plus shipping. I have one mom who ordered the 20 copies in the photo below and she is including a printed copy of my recent Huffington Post interview. It’s easy to order! Just send an email to team@rebeccavillarreal.com with the number of books and the mailing address and we’ll take it from there!

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  1. Teaching For Change to receive 5% of the proceeds from Selma: I’m so excited that we announced my commitment to donate 5% of the net profits from Selma to Teaching for Change through 2016. And I’ll keep giving back to organizations benefitting youth in perpetuity, as in forever! Read the news story here and the official press release here. If you know of any media outlets, blogs, newsletter or websites that might be interested in this story, please share. I would love to inspire more authors to do the same. The novel is available everywhere, and I’m thrilled to share that you can purchase it directly from Teaching for Change’s online catalogue as well. It’s an honor to be included!

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  1. Dharma Blazers Interview: Wowie Zowie! The amazing motorcyle-riding yogini Carrie Hensley interviewed me for her Dharma Blazers interview series. She published it last night and sent the interview to her community around the world. “Dharma” means life purpose. Carrie illuminated things for me about my own life purpose that were completely new to me. We laughed a lot. I shared in ways, I’ve never done in a recorded interview. I hope you brew a cup of something delicious, sit down and join us. You can view the interview here. She also included a link to a recorded meditation I shared on this blog to help you start your day with a playful heart (as opposed to a racing heart thanks to your to-do list). I got to know Carrie when I participated in her 30 Day Yoga Un-challenge. After more than twenty years of doing yoga at home, she is the best teacher I’ve ever had—kind, gentle and yet just the right amount of helping me stretch literally and figuratively! She offers a free 20 minute AM and PM yoga classes when you sign up for her newsletter in case you want to check her out.

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  1. Huffington Post interview: Sometimes there’s a pebble in the water that creates ripples. For me, this interview was it. Dr. Brandi Megan Granett, a fellow author, asked such insightful questions. And my favorite part: there’s a focus on my grandmother, Mama Chelo, who was born Consuelo Calderón. She lived until age 105 which is why my novel is for ages 10-105. You can read the interview here. (And I also have to thank my sister-in-law who struck up a conversation with Brandi at her delectable restaurant, Thai Tida, and handed over her personal copy!) Kindness and magic abound!

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Mama Chelo

  1. Recipes, Magic and Fun: We are gearing up to share recipes, ways to bring magic into your every day life and more inspiring content for readers. I’d love to invite you over to play at: rebeccavilarreal.com. You can sign up for my e-newsletter which I’ll send out every couple of weeks.

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Finally, today is the birthday of one of my best friends in the world: Amheric! I wrote this 1 minute and 43 second video poem, New Month, for him a few years ago. I thought you might use it to help you kick off an amazing month!

Thanks for visiting with me this Sunday. And a special thanks for sharing so much Selma love! I’d be grateful if you would add Selma’s magical word #cucalacas to your posts. I want to remember to do the same!

I’m going to make some breakfast now. Remember how much I love you because there is only ONE you and the world needs your smile, your gifts and your big golden heart!

Making Your Dreams Real & 100 Thank Yous!

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Readers and beautiful ones! I want to say thank you for buying more than 100 copies of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship! Since we published the book on August 8, I set a goal of selling 100 books by September 30. Whether you bought one, told someone about it or shared it on social media, thank you! You can read all about why I wrote the book on my new website here. If you want to know the answer to “What if you could travel the world, go back in time, and eat your favorite foods along the way, all the while unraveling the mystery of your missing parents?” click here.

I’ve written this post with so much love and a desire to visit with you via video. That’s why I’ve compiled moments in the journey all together in this post. More than anything I hope this inspires you to go for your own dreams. No desire is too big or too small! That’s why I included a never-before-seen video of my own vision wall at the end. Here’s an appreciation video I made for you during my lunch break.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this beautiful story took me ten years to finish. To take you back to the moment we published the book, I’m sharing a video of me popping the cork to celebrate.

Here’s another video we created the weekend of publication which includes a delicious sweet potato pancake cooking lesson thanks to my favorite Life is Messy Kitchen cookbook by the amazing entrepreneur Mayi Carles.

It’s been so rewarding to read a mom’s Facebook post telling me that her daughter is staying up wait too late because she can’t stop reading Selma. And for a reader to send me this picture saying that she made a date night just for herself alone to read the book.

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The reviews have been amazing! Here are some excerpts:

As soon as I started reading about Selma, I was hooked! — KC

I have fallen in love with Selma, her friends, family and adventures. Each page of this wonderful story takes you on a magical journey filled with love. This is a story you will want to share with the entire family. I can’t wait to find out where Selma takes us next. — Margaret S. Edwards

You will be swept away in a magical tale…Selma will inspire you to dream and believe in magic. Rebecca Villarreal creates a world where anything is possible-both good and bad-and how patience, understanding, love, and belief in oneself can truly be transformative…she teaches us to approach life with an open mind and with gusto. – John C. Kazmierczak

Thoughtful, engaging and delightful–your entire family will enjoy this page-turner! – Jaqueline M. Crocetta

I set aside an evening to dive into this delectable book and fell in love immediately with the cast of characters. Selma’s got a big heart and a mischievous streak that lands her in a spot of bother more often than not. I loved being on this journey with Selma, Guadey, and Hurley & Uli. And I honestly can’t wait for more. I think kids of ALL ages will enjoy this magical journey! –Linda Stockton

I was transported near and far, and imagined myself taking all of these adventures with Selma and her family & friends. It made me laugh a lot, it made me cry a little and it definitely left me wanting for a sequel. –J. Sullivan

Selma and her companions will be in several Christmas stockings this year. Hopefully, we will not have to wait long for a sequel! –Juliann Uritus

Signed copies!

And speaking of stockings or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or any holiday, we now have a team ready to send you signed copies! Please send an email to team@rebeccavillarreal.com and we’ll send you a form. The book is $12 and U.S. shipping rates for one copy are as follows: Media Mail $4; First Class: $5; Priority Mail: $8.50. Once we get your order, we’ll calculate shipping one or multiple copies to you and your loved ones.

I’m a HUGE supporter of independent book stores. You can purchase Selma through your local independent books store by searching and ordering here.

It’s also available on: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Nook.

Stay tuned in the coming months, we’ll be announcing which organization shall receive 5% of all net profits from Selma!

Creating Your Own Vision and Making Your Dreams Real

And here’s the treat I promised at the top of this post. Remember how I moved across country from Chicago to California? That was part of a very big and beautiful dream I held for 20 years. I kept wishing for it and working toward it.

A key step in getting me closer to how I wanted my life to look was to forgive others and myself any and all hurts and disappointments. It sounds simple and we know it’s not but it clears the way for so much yes in your life. I wrote a post about forgiveness here and shared resources related to forgiveness here.

The other way was to constantly declare my intentions either to my loved ones or to my broader family here on this blog. You saw me apply for a scholarship and very nervously and excitedly declare that I’d finish the book. The other thing I did was surround myself with images that supported my dream. Here is an intimate tour of my giant vision wall while which was built over time at my home in Chicago.

Everyone has a recommended approach to visualizing your best future. You are the best judge of that. Monday, October 12 is the new moon. No matter what you believe in the world, we all live in the same one. Here’s what I’d like to share about this moment: You are worthy. As we move into a new phase, take a moment to sit with that. You deserve joy, happiness and a rich life. Think about how you want to feel.*

One recent interview I enjoyed which helped me break through some of my own fears, is this “Big Strong Magic” interview by author Elizabeth Gilbert of researcher and storyteller Brené Brown. If you have little ones, put on your headphones because there is some adult language in it. There’s an entire podcast series on this available on iTunes and Soundcloud. You can listen to the interview here.**

I love learning about and creating my own rituals alone and with my family. Tonight’s a great night to do that. Or tomorrow night with the new moon. What if you took some time to write down a few old hurts rip them up and toss them in the trash then write some new gratitude lists or wishes for your new beginning? I’m on Day 53 of a #yearofgratitude. You can follow my journey on Instagram and start your own journey!

Please keep sharing your Selma love with her magical hashtag #cucalacas!

Thank you again for your generosity in helping my dreams come true. I hope my vision wall and these words open up a bright space for you to reflect and set some intentions for your best life ever!

With love and gratitude,

Rebecca

*P.S. A fun free tool to help you visualize how you want to feel is the Desire Map Core Desired Feelings library and graphic maker. I used the latter for my vision wall.

**P.P.S. I can’t help but encourage you to read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Rising Strong by Brené Brown. If you visit Brené’s site, watch her brief book trailer video including the Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted. And I can’t help sharing her interview on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. I broke through some MAJOR fear when I watched it. Enjoy!