Blog Archives

This or Something Better

While tracking the rural environment of Placerville, Sacramento, Glenn Ellen, and California’s rural foothills, This or Something Better by Elisa Stancil Levine presents an alternate shift from childhood reminiscence to dark, intense memories laced with perseverance and adaptability. The memoir begins in 2017, with a fire scorching acres of land in Sonoma Country, including the residential area of the author. It then shifts back and forth between adolescence and maturity, following the author’s frantic journey from self-containment to the never-ending pursuit of truth.

When the decorative artist leaves the fire land without informing any of her neighbors, the firestorm not only causes havoc with the natural animals and property but also prompts a series of introspective questions in her mind. Her story of estrangement and persistence takes readers on a journey through her eventful and incredible life. Having grown up in a reproachable neighborhood, lost her first child as a teenage mother, and having been labeled a murderer by her grandmother, the author takes readers on a roller-coaster journey through her past and present. It is at the end of the story that she discovers how to forgive herself for many of her self-proclaimed acts of accusation and discover the ultimate question that nudges her curiously from childhood- ‘what it means to be a human?’

The narrative is full of genuine viewpoints and a critical analysis of the numerous issues that plague a child’s head after experiencing sexual abuse, as well as their parents’ disapproval of their dreams and viewpoints. In addition to the spiritual inquiry, the fact that nature has a vital hold on the human psyche manifests itself in the reflections of the author, a nature girl. This or Something Better takes readers on a spiritual quest that comes with the inevitable questioning of who we are as human beings. 

Beginning in 1953 in Northern California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, every memory and experience from childhood is dusted off the memory attic in the memoir, complete with nostalgia, anguish, and ambition. It’s a terrific prescription for women of the times, as it aids in the healing of wounds created by uncertain relationships, child loss, adolescent parenthood, and the relentless efforts to silence the passionate and compelling voice of an assertive and insistent woman. It’s also a motivational read, with the uplifting message at the end of each chapter: “It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This or Something Better: A Memoir of Resilience takes readers on an introspective journey as they listen to the author’s stories. Sometimes, a biography is just the history of one person’s life; this is more, it is a book of hope, perseverance, and healing.

Pages: 253 | ASIN : B09CYPNNP2

Buy Now From Amazon

Look Inside Yourself for Healing

Ashley Bernardi  Author Interview

Authentic Power: Give Yourself Permission to Feel offers science-based facts and solutions that help readers start their personal journey towards healing. Why was this an important book for you to write?

This is the book I wish I had when I was going through my health crisis of Lyme disease and postpartum depression. I also felt called to write this in the early days of the pandemic when I found myself faced with familiar feelings: Anxiety, grief, confusion, despair, and more. Yet this time around, I gave myself permission to feel all of those messy critters, and felt called to write about my healing journey in hopes to inspire others to move through and process their feelings in healthy ways. The pandemic was a collective trauma for our world, and we as humans need to give ourselves permission to feel all of the feelings from these past two years because that is where healing and transformation will happen.

I appreciated all the references and research that went into this book. Was there anything that surprised you during your own research?

I interviewed several experts about the science behind stress and how chronic stress takes a toll on the body. Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum, an ayurvedic practitioner, discussed that stress particularly takes a toll on the immune system. Stress was a constant element in my life as a journalist, and when I look back now, it’s no surprise that the stress on my body from my career and previous life circumstances such as witnessing my father’s death later continued to my impacting my immune system, leaving my body unable to fight Lyme disease.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There are so many important themes that the book explored, including grief, connection, feelings, spirituality, empathy, and more.

The theme of grief was a very important subject for me to explore because I had spent most of my life burying the loss from my father at the young age of eleven years old. In chapter 6, I interviewed renowned grief therapist Edy Nathan, discussed how we can lean into the power of grief. When Lyme disease hit me on the head and death felt near, I began to revisit losing my father in a way I never had before. Instead of ignoring my feelings of grief as I had done so for more than twenty years, this was the first time I allowed myself to feel, process, and move through my grief. What I discovered was profound healing, peace, and discovery of a way to have a relationship with my father, even in death.

Another theme I felt very important to address was the importance of the power of connection to heal our lives. When I was in the throes of my health crisis, I was isolated and alone, and preferred to stay that way. But something called me to reach out to my loved ones and friends and get vulnerable about what I was experiencing. What happened next will forever be with me: I was met with open arms of compassion, love, and understanding. My connections with people deepened. I found that when you get honest and vulnerable with what you are experiencing and how you are feeling in your life, you open yourself up to deeper and more powerful connections with others.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

As a society and culture, we are taught to look outside of ourselves for answers, especially when it comes to healing. Yet my hope is that by reading Authentic Power, readers will feel empowered and inspired to discover that we already hold those answers inside of us. We are the experts of our own lives, and when we get quiet and still, and turn off the outside noise, therein lies our Authentic Power, which is the wisdom we have within each of us. We need to learn to trust that wisdom and once we do, profound healing and transformation happens. My story and journey is a testament to that.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

WHAT IF YOU ALLOWED YOURSELF TO TRULY FEEL?

Whether it’s grief, despair, or anxiety, society will always find a way to label feelings as “messy.” But burying these reactions only leads to greater emotional turmoil. In the past, we have looked to self-help gurus like Gary Zukav, whose Seat of the Soul inspired Oprah Winfrey to help America process trauma. So why did that book resonate with her, and what does everyone still love about Oprah? It’s not that she’s rich or that she’s successful…it’s her authenticity. She taps into what she has described in her SuperSoul Sundays as Authentic Power: uniting all the pieces of herself so that she’s always bringing her whole self to everything she does. Oprah didn’t ignore her messy feelings: she shared them with America, and she processed and integrated them in order to tap into her own authentic power. She became her authentic self, which exudes from her in every second that you see her.

In Authentic Power: Give Yourself Permission to Feel, accomplished entrepreneur, journalist, publicist, and award-winning podcaster Ashley Bernardi continues the brave work of these great thought leaders by teaching you that your darkest hours are disguised opportunities to uncover and process, feel, heal, and grow.

Bernardi’s personal journey began when she witnessed her father’s sudden death at age eleven. Years later, a mysterious illness began a personal quest toward healing and taught her that trauma and adversity can be sources of strength and self-discovery. Through daily affirmations and writing prompts, you will discover Ashley Bernardi’s F.E.E.L. Framework:

Focus
Enter
Experience
Learn

You will explore chapters such as:

Embrace the Waves of Emotions

Lift the Emotional Fog

Make Space for the Brave Conversations

The F.E.E.L. Framework

Balanced Body, Balanced Heart

Discover Your Deeper, Powerful, Self

Exercise Your Empathy


As the founder of a national media relations and publicity firm, Ashley has the privilege of access to many of the world’s leading experts in health and wellness who offered healing and hope with her personal challenges—a rich collection of top doctors, neurologists, psychologists, nutritionists, coaches, spiritualists, and others. She shares their profound wisdom so that you can build hope during your times of struggle.

Bernardi searched for true healing and growth for more than twenty years; Authentic Power equips you with the tools to ignite your own journey now.

Authentic Power

Authentic Power: Give Yourself Permission to Feel, is a thought-provoking self-help book by author Ashley Bernardi. This inspirational collection of anecdotes and affirmations is compiled in a book that is part journal and part self-help, providing information on how to handle trauma and the overwhelming emotions that go with it.

The author draws on her hurtful past experiences of witnessing her father lose his life to a fulminating heart attack when she was nine years old. She also opens up about the long process of searching for a diagnosis for a mysterious chronic illness that left her severely debilitated. Bernardi offers readers different insights and strategies that they can use to navigate stress and trauma in their lives.

This helpful book is a unique work that is different from traditional self-help books. The layout is in the form of a journal, where each chapter begins with a small introductory text and includes a paragraph with a positive affirmation to be said aloud, a quote, and a blank space where the reader is encouraged to put into practice the proposed exercise. Some examples of the exercises included are to make a list of objects for a self-care kit or to express their thoughts after their first attempts at meditation. This organization and structure makes for a safe environment where anyone can express their emotions freely, away from third-party judgments.

It should be noted that the author’s strategies and tips are validated with evidence-based data, and she makes sure to cite the sources in between pages. This makes her work stand out from other self-help books that might rely more on religious doctrine and be as adamant about following scientific guidelines.

The book includes approaches to challenges that have arisen amidst COVID-19. This updated work is another differential that will lend a hand to those struggling with social distancing and losing loved ones during the pandemic.

Authentic Power: Give Yourself Permission to Feel is a secular, science-based self-help book for those that are looking for a fresh approach to dealing with grief and trauma. Readers will learn how to build emotional wellness through the steps set forth in this well-researched book.

Pages: 195 | ASIN : B09FTLLSLM

Buy Now From Amazon

Many Stories to Tell

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

Mary L Schmidt Author Interview

When Angels Fly is a gripping retelling of one woman’s personal and painful experience with life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write down the experiences from your life?

I became sick and I felt the need to take my journals and digitize them. I knew I would write a book eventually back in 1990. That year was a rough one for me and my family personally and I’ve kept journals most of my life. I had many stories to tell but I wasn’t quite ready mentally or emotionally in going headlong into a 300 plus page book. When 2013 rolled around, I knew then that I was going to put words and stories from my journals into digital format.

You do a wonderful job of capturing your emotions in every retelling. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest and most difficult part initially was actually going into and reading my journals from 1989 – 1990 as my first book is a memoir. I knew my book had to be written and I knew the many messages in my book needed to be published, so that hopefully I could help others through difficult times in their lives or the lives of others they knew. The timing was right as I had left nursing in December 2012. My first book was extremely difficult since the stories were real. Some days I could write one sentence and then I was done for the day. Other days I could write more.

On really tough days I wanted to just stop and sometimes I did for a week or so. Yet I knew in my mind that I needed to finish my book and get it out to the public. I knew all along what the beginning, middle and end would be and I wondered about publishing my book as well. Now that my book is published, I feel a deep sense of peace within myself.

You touch on topics like abuse, suicide and domestic violence. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

My book reaches a wide group from teenage on up to geriatrics and many facets of humanity itself. I know that my book will help others in dealing with such a wide variety of life’s issues, and that no one needs to feel alone in their own situation. My aim isn’t to convey only sadness and family dysfunction but to convey to others who have been in my situation (or similar) that strength and courage can be attained, and that there are options available. Women and men, too, can get out of abusive situations and the cycle of violence can stop. Losing two boys to Heaven changed my life forever. I want to encourage others who have suffered the King of Loss that anger at God is normal, and that faith in God will come back to them. I want those parents to know they are not alone. If a parent loses a child to a horrid illness, I want those parents not to feel misguided gilt. I want to encourage parents on how to be an advocate for their child and how to reach out for help when the pain overcomes them.

This book is a carefully crafted retelling of some of the most private moments of your past. But what about your future? What do you look forward to and how has your outlook on life changed?

I have made peace with the wrongs in my past. This doesn’t mean that those things never happened, the hurt is still there, but one must forgive others in order to move on in their life on this beautiful blue sphere called Earth. With my health so poor, I just take things day by day, and I try to spend as much quality time with immediate family as I can.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsiteGalleryIMDbPRO

When Angels Fly by [Jackson, S, Raymond,A]

We often find ourselves daydreaming about what our futures will be like. This may be especially true if one lives in an environment most would consider less than desirable. Some are lucky to find their futures much like their childhood dreams. Others find the paths to their dreams strewn with hurdles.

Growing up, Sarah dodged her mother’s blows. She often hid in her room crying about her life. Still, she believes in her future and the happiness it can bring. In their book When Angels Fly, authors S. Stevens and A. Raymond tell Sarah’s story–their stories. The authors use their journals to describe Sarah’s experiences of family dysfunction, strength, courage, faith, abuse, grief, and so much more. You’ll read how, like many, she attempts to escape from her mother’s abuse through marriage. And like many, she learns it is not a viable alternative. Then Sarah experiences a parent’s ultimate tragedy twice, the deaths of her sons, Joshua and Eli.

When Angels Fly is about much more than the telling of a family’s tragedy. It is also the story of finding faith after it has wavered. Most of all, it’s a story of love lost and found.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Delving a Little Deeper

Dr. Chenee' Gilbert Author Interview

Dr. Chenee’ Gilbert Author Interview

It’s Okay, I’m Watching follows LaTrell Wiggins, a caring young girl who loses her mother to cancer and is left to raise her family. What was the inspiration to write this heartfelt novel of love and strength?

It’s Okay, I’m Watching is the second book I’ve published, but the first of the Dear Grief Series. I lost my mother to cancer when I was nineteen. I was a sophomore in college. I was on the cusp of adulthood. Yet, I felt like a small child lost at a mall. Instead of verbally communicating, I wrote my thought and feelings in a journal. Years later during my stint as a classroom teacher in urban city schools, I encountered students who struggled with emotional and social issues. After delving a little deeper into those situations, I found that they all shared one thing in common, grief. They either lost their loved one to death or through absence. Having gone through a life changing experience of losing my mother I could relate to the different characteristics displayed by these students. This prompted me to turn my journal into my first children’s book entitled, “Mama, Did You Mean To Leave So Soon?It’s Okay, I’m Watching is the sequel. It goes into more detail with describing the family dynamics and the perspective of parenting as a single father.

It’s Okay, I’m Watching opens the door to conversation with those experiencing all forms of grief. What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your novel?

Wow! I wish there was only one take away. In fact, there are three. I want readers to know you don’t have to grieve alone, you can express your emotions without doing harm to yourself and others, and the importance of communicating feelings to trusted adults.

One of my favorite characters is Shajuan Martinez, LaTrell’s friend. Sassy and confident; she tolerates very little. What were the driving themes behind your characters as you were creating them?

I wanted to take realistic situations and based them off of real-life friends. There’s a lot of single parent homes and kids who have one or both parent’s enlisted in the service. I wanted this book to educate the reader on what Grief is. Grief doesn’t only relate to death. It’s simply a big reaction to a loss.

It’s Okay, I’m Watching is the first book in the Dear Grief series. In which direction does book 2 go in and when will that be available?

Book 2 will highlight LaTrell in her seventh grade year. She wants to test the waters a little bit with her self-image. She is trying to figure out how to fit in and be comfortable within her own skin. The readers will also get a chance to see the different issues Daryl and Luis (LaTrell’s brother & father) experience and how they are coping since the loss of Paulina. Communication will still be the highlight and the one thing that keeps the family bond intact. Book 2 will be released in September 2017.

Author Links: Amazon | Twitter

Growing up in Scott Park, Florida, ten-year-old LaTrell Wiggins lives a normal life. She has it all—two loving parents Luis and Paulina, her humorous younger brother Daryl, and ride-or-die childhood friends, Chandler and Shajuan. But this all changes when cancer takes LaTrell’s mother. The Wiggins are left to pick up the pieces and figure things out emotionally. If this isn’t enough, puberty introduces itself to LaTrell, causing her to reluctantly accept that her body is changing. During this adjustment period the Wiggins quickly learn that communicating is key. Can Luis handle the pressure of raising LaTrell and Daryl alone? Will LaTrell be expected to fulfill her mother’s shoes? It’s Okay, I’m Watching is a story of love, loss, and expected discovery of the strengths in each of us and our loved ones, whether they are with us or not.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

It’s Okay, I’m Watching

It's Okay, I'm Watching (Dear Grief Series Book 1)5 Stars

It’s Okay, I’m Watching, written by Chenee Gilbert, is a novel based around LaTrell Wiggins- a caring young girl who lives with her younger brother Daryl and her parents, Luis and Paulini. Tragedy strikes the family as Paulini’s life is taken by cancer. Grief-stricken, the family begins to process death in their own ways and learns that grief can appear in all shapes and forms. Meanwhile, LaTrell is beginning middle school which comes with the inevitable stage of life- puberty. During this confusing time, Luis, Daryl and LaTrell must come to terms with life without Paulini and the changing dynamics of their family environment.

It’s Okay, I’m Watching opens the door to conversation with those experiencing all forms of grief. LaTrell Wiggins, the main character, loses her mother to cancer whilst entering a vulnerable stage of her life- middle school and puberty. An easily relatable character, LaTrell’s journey shows how families can show strength in the face of terrible adversity.

It’s Okay I’m Watching discusses how our lives are enriched in traditions and questions the reader’s thoughts on what traditions they would pass on to others. It reminds the reader that time waits for no-one and unfortunately, circumstances are out of our control. Personally, it reminded me of the importance of holidays and the unique nuances that make my family my own and what traditions would be present in a memorial for my loved ones.

If you are looking for a companion after experiencing loss, look no further. It’s Okay, I’m Watching will help begin the healing processes and start the pathway to acceptance. This is done through discussion questions at the end of each chapter which helps the reader to reflect on their own circumstances.  It explores how grief is a reaction and a release of an array of emotions. Tragedy can strike anywhere at any time and you will be able to empathize with the characters and their journey.

One of my favorite characters is Shajuan Martinez, LaTrell’s friend. Sassy and confident; she tolerates very little. LaTrell discusses with her friends her grief counselling sessions and they begin to identify whether it is something they could benefit from. LaTrell’s other friend, Chandler, begins to acknowledge his own grief that he had been trying to mask. Her two friends shine a humorous side to LaTrell’s darkest days.

Teenagers experience loss and grief through death, break-ups and even loss of pets. Exposure to novels such as this will help them begin to understand the grieving process in an already confusing time of their life. It allowed me to normalize my own grieving processes and the impact these times had during my youth.

What I loved most about this novel is that it opens up the idea that grief isn’t restricted to those experiencing death and instead can be felt by those who are feeling alone, sad or missing someone. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to understand their own journey in regards to grief and loss.

Pages: 110 | ASIN: B01MXKCY8R

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: