In the year 1630, in Hangzhou, China, two families were getting set to join with the marriage of Li Bing and Xiaoyun Wang. Marriage is taken very seriously and there are many traditions that must be observed in order to ensure a prosperous marriage to the couple. Li Bing is the city’s celebrity of sorts as he prepares to take the exams to become an important civil servant for the city. This causes his father to receive many gifts and accolades, as well as resentment. Vice-perfect Wang Zhengqian, father of Xiaoyun, plots to ruin Li Bing’s father, the other vice-perfect Li Gao. Wang is power hungry and wants nothing more than to gain all he can, and cares little who he hurts in the process, his own family included.
Mandarin Ducks is the second book in a trilogy by Robert Campbell. The first novel gives you more background of this community and some the characters so I recommend reading that first, but it’s not required as this book can stand on it’s own. Taking place in the 1600’s of China, it talks about how some of the inhabitants have roots in Jewish culture, and how they have to keep that hidden away. Li Bing has a deep interest in discovering his heritage and Jewish roots but must go in secret to learn more about his past. His grandfather helps him some but is growing old quickly and Li Bing is worried all the past knowledge will be lost. There is a lot of focus on class and the nuances that each rung of society has to observe. I enjoyed reading about how the different classes interacted, and as the story line developed I grew more invested as things become more intricate and layered. The novel has a slow start and builds at a steady pace that never feels rushed and allows you to grow attached to the main characters involved in the plot. The side story of Li Bing learning about his Jewish roots mixed into the scandal between the vice-perfects was well placed and fit seamlessly into things, nothing felt like added filler, everything seemed important to the progression of the story.
I really enjoyed Robert Campbell’s style of writing. The prose is clean and the story is focused. The story expertly builds suspense and develops the characters in a way that you either love or hate them. There is real history encased in the story, making things more believable, and adding extra depth to the plot. I look forward to reading the next installment of this series.
Pages: 133 | ASIN: B07G7GV256
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The Golden Cage is an inspirational book that shares your life experiences to help people break out of their personal cages. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This book was really important for me to write because I want to change the world for the better. I want to motivate and inspire others to really go for their hearts’ dreams instead of settling in their lives. I know that the world would be a more joyful and compassionate place if we were all following our hearts.
You use the golden cage metaphor throughout the book. How did this idea start and develop while writing?
I had a vision of the cage when I thought about writing the book. I really did not fully understand what it meant. When I started writing it, the entire meaning unfolded. I wrote 35,000 words of the book in two days. It was a download more than anything else.
I found this book to be uplifting. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I would like my readers to know that they have the ability to escape their Golden Cages, and that they can do this by following some of the steps I outlined. I want them to know that they do not have to settle, but can really go for what they want and deserve in their lives.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a book about pushing your edges and allowing fear to guide you into the unknown in a healthy way. It should be completed by the Fall.
Discover how to break free of life’s cages and follow your heart’s calling. Do you feel trapped in a relationship or career, going through the motions of life with little excitement or passion? Are you spending time dreaming about doing something different with your life? If this sounds like you, you may be living in a Golden Cage that brings you some measure of comfort and security, yet it does not fulfill your heart’s desires. The Golden Cage is a spiritual self-help book that will help you gain the necessary courage and skills to break free of life’s Cages and lead an empowered life in alignment with your heart’s true longing.
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Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals, by Timi O’Malley, is a fascinating journey through the author’s life. O’Malley brings her readers to her table where she fulfills their need to be nourished in more ways than one, and it is at that table where the author invites her readers into more diverse chapters of her life.
Connecting her love of culinary traditions with her belief that we are all connected through our purest and most basic needs, O’Malley makes it very easy to understand just how easy it is to achieve true happiness. Consuming Love sends a message of love and togetherness, but more importantly, it teaches us how we can find genuine satisfaction and fulfillment by just noticing the world around us, and by being consciously present within it. O’Malley masterfully intertwines her love of food with her experience to paint a wonderfully meaningful picture for her readers.
The people you will meet along O’Malley’s journey are incredible, but it is in O’Malley’s reaction to the personalities around her that seem even more so. She has deep respect for the people that have had an impact on her life, whether those people created positive experiences or negative. In fact, her reaction to everyone that she has shared meals with have one thing in common, and that commonality is a large part of what makes Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals so special. Everyone, it would seem, is a teacher, and over a plate of delicious cuisine is one of the best ways to be truly present with the people who pass through our lives.
For anyone who wonders about the nature of happiness and why some people are better at maintaining it than others, this book is a must read. Those interested in hearing of adventures across the country and into the far reaches of the globe would also be interested in this book. And for anyone who would like to gain a better understanding of the value of presence in our lives, Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals might just be the book you’ve been looking for. Timi O’Malley certainly deserves the full five stars for her offering to the table of life.
Pages: 150 | ASIN: B07L3Q91CG
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Free Yourself is a collection of intimate and engaging poetry written by Juliana Garcell. The poems are written in various styles and in various formats which helps to keep things interesting. The poetry sometimes hits on current social and political topics, but there is an overall focus on love, loss, and identity. Especially the struggle with identity in the face of love and loss; but having to define it in this way is somewhat limiting as I feel the poems are about much more.
I enjoyed this collection and found the poems to be lyrical, as if written for a song. Each poem has its own focus, although they area about slightly similar topics. The emotions expressed are often raw and painted in vivid detail with colorful connections and allusions to nature and culture.
Each poem is impactful, if not relatable, and I was able to understand each one. Understanding a poem is important for me, as I feel that poets often go off on some abstract ideas. But this collection is down to earth, and simple to follow, which makes the message ring clearly.
I appreciated the poems that left me with singular emotions at the end, but I really enjoyed the poems that were able to do the same work with just one or two lines. ‘Free My Expression’ is one of my favorite of the shorter poems, with the line “want you to stay but I always run away”. And the very last poem, which I believe is untitled, is probably my favorite of the collection because it manages the same emotional impact as one of the longer poems with only four lines.
I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys poetry that is emotive yet easy to understand. The collection is short, but I suggest you give yourself some time to stop and ponder the thoughts, concepts, and ideas conveyed in each of these poems as this is an engaging assortment of passionate poetry.
Pages: 56 | ISBN: 1483622444
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An Indian Goes Around the World – II recounts your travels through Europe and shares the amazing experiences you had along the way. When you first set out on your journey were you expecting to encounter so many interesting people?
No. It was those “amazing experiences,” as you put it, which I had in the early stage, that made decide that I must travel to as many countries as I can before I kick the bucket.
You come from a teaching an journalism background. How has your professional background helped you write this book?
My thirst for learning is attributable to the two professions I straddled. Whatever writing skill I have is attributable to my background in journalism. English is not my mother tongue. So to survive in journalism in the English language, I had to put in extra efforts to learn the finer points in English. I realize that I will have to continue those efforts until my dying day.
You state in the book that traveling has opened your mind. Do you think that everyone should undertake such traveling?
Yes, it opens your mind to many things you were blissfully ignorant of until then. When you travel to a new place and interact with the people there, you learn to your surprise that many of the notions you had about both were false. So traveling is not anly a learning experience, bout also a correcting process, in life.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
It is a collection of some of the political and social commentaries I published on the online monthly I edit. It is expected to be out in about six months. Side by side, I am also working on my third book in the “An Indian Goes Around the World” series.
This is the second book by M.P. Prabhakaran on his world-trotting experience. The first one, Capitalism Comes to Maos Mausoleum, was published three years ago. This book is devoted exclusively to the 30-day tour he undertook through 10 countries of Europe in the summer of 2009.
If academic qualifications are a measure of ones learning experience, Prabhakaran says in the Preface to the fi rst book, he has a string of them, including a Ph.D. in Political Science from The New School for Social Research, New York. But, he hastens to add, what I learned from this prestigious American institution and, before that, from various academic institutions in India is no match for what I did from my travels around the world.
In describing what he felt at the end of the 2009 European tour, he goes a step further. The more I travel, he says, the more I discover my ignorance. He admits that his description is a
mangled version of poet Shelleys immortal words: The more we study, the more we discover our ignorance. But, he adds, he could not find a better way to express his enlightening experience.
The tour of 10 European countries, he says in the Preface to this book, opened his mind to various aspects of European cultures he had been quite ignorant of. Through the subsequent pages of the book, he shares with readers the knowledge he gained from conversations with people and from events and objects he got exposed to during that tour.
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Initially this book seemed to be about what the 11 11 awakening code is about and how it shows up in life. At first the author talks about her son and how his birth and death, along with that of his cousin, are all impacted by the synchronicities of 11 11. After a discussion of how she came to see this pattern in life, the book turns political while also stating that there is no desire to make this book political. While names of politicians are omitted, keen observers will be able to understand who is being discussed. This book covers topics such as: socialism, war, farming, legalization of pot, secret societies and even alien lifeforms.
The book is written in a stream of conscious style of writing, with no chapters or dividing sections, and jumps from one topic to another and back again with little to no segue. The topics discussed are varied and interesting. If you are into conspiracy theories, like aliens, secret societies and new wave thoughts of how you consume energy, then you would definitely find this book intriguing.
Star Light uses this book to convey thoughts and opinions about today’s society. These views do tie into the idea of the awakening code and the ideas expressed push readers to awaken their mind and not be sheep just following the status quo news that we are fed. This is an idea I like and I think many people would benefit from. The author encourages people to think more about their actions and how they live their life. 11 11 The Awakening Code is and interesting read, although it would benefit greatly from an editor and some structure. The views expressed are more idealistic rather than evidence based, but the ideas are genuine, interesting and are used as a justification to prove the existence of the 11 11 synchronicities.
Pages: 70 | ASIN: B07964M478
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The Twisted Crown is a fascinating story about a free black woman from the North searching for her mother in the post-Civil War South. What served as your inspiration while writing this novel?
My father’s family is from Moncks Corner, SC, and we still own property there. I was born in Ohio and grew up in the North. I have always been fascinated by stories about our land in Moncks Corner, called Bryan Tract, and how it was acquired, as well as our family’s unusual genealogy. My great-grandfather was a white man from Iowa, who went to South Carolina during Reconstruction, and eventually became a wealthy state senator. I have always felt that period in American history was not well documented from the female, Afro-centric point of view. So, I decided to focus on that time period. Once I began to acquire primary source documents that provided details of my great-grandfather’s life, I wanted to pen the novel from the point of view of a woman from the North who travels into the South during Reconstruction.
This is an entertaining novel that is high in social commentary. What were some themes you wanted focus on in this book?
Romance: My family’s mixed race background demonstrates the crossing of racial lines at that time, as is really evident throughout history. I wanted to present this aspect of society through characters who could see past the racial, cultural, and societal barriers that existed during this time period. Political: I wanted to better define what Reconstruction actually was. It was not rebuilding bridges and constructing new buildings, but an effort to establish a solid political structure and an economic base to replace the defeated Confederate government. Societal: My goal was to showcase the work of the Freedman’s Bureau and underscore its importance in helping freed slaves establish new lives in freedom after the Civil War.
Eva is an intriguing character that continued to develop as the story progressed. How did you capture the thoughts and emotions of a young black woman during this tumultuous time in history?
As a novelist of historical fiction, I have always focused on examining a period in history through the eyes of an African-American woman. My own family experiences, coupled with years of researching the role of black women throughout pivotal periods in history helped me shape Eva.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
Writing historical fiction takes time, detailed research, and inspiration. I always spend time traveling to the geographic locations that I plan to use in my books I’m mulling time periods, traveling, and pulling my next story together without any release date in mind.
The Twisted Crown takes readers from the bustling streets of Boston at the height of the Abolitionist movement to the war-ravaged landscape of Reconstruction-era South Carolina.
In 1867, Eva Phillips, who was born a slave yet lived in freedom, travels across the chaotic landscape of South Carolina in search of the mother who gave her away. During her journey, she is befriended by a black political activist promoting the rights of the newly freed slaves, a wealthy northern Carpetbagger, and a gutsy lady gambler who teaches Eva how to survive in the tumultuous Post-war environment.
When the spirited young widow’s quest draws her into a dangerous web of theft, lies, and murder, she becomes the target of a long-awaited confrontation that forces her into a fight for her life.
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American River: Tributaries follows three immigrant families struggling to pursue their dreams during the turbulent 1960’s. What served as your inspiration while writing this book?
My love of Northern California, the place where I grew up, and the wonderful history of the area. I was also inspired by my love of art and music and my passion for social justice issues. Immigration and ethnic diversity are the cornerstones of the story.
This book has so many fascinating characters that are well developed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in your characters?
Basically, the story focuses on the creative search for meaning, knowledge, compassion and understanding in a tumultuous world filled with prejudice, obstacles, jealousy, and betrayal. As my characters encounter these obstacles, they discover their own strengths and weaknesses and grow beyond their self-centered ambitions.
I thoroughly enjoyed the historical backdrop to the story and how well researched it was. What historical milestones were important for you to highlight in this book?
The Gold Rush had a tremendous impact on the population and culture of California. Before the Gold Rush, the population consisted mainly of Native Californians and Californios (settlers and landowners of mixed Spanish, Native Californian, and African descent). But gold fever brought people to California from all over the country and the world. The Anglo Americans (of English, Irish, or Scots descent), other Europeans (including Italians, Russians, Greeks and East Europeans), Chinese, Japanese, African Americans, and many more who came and stayed. This changed the makeup of the state’s population making it one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. So, this cultural diversity sets the scene for later entanglements.
Most of the story takes place in the 1960s, that decade that Time Magazine recently termed “The decade that changed a generation.” So, I take the reader down memory lane as my characters encounter the major issues of the time: immigration, racial prejudice, migrant workers, gay rights, women’s rights and the Vietnam War.
This is book one in the American River Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two, American River: Currents?
In Book Two, American River: Currents, a cavalcade of disasters—both personal and public—threatens to overwhelm the scattered members of the McPhalan, Ashida, and Morales clans. Alliances fray, relationships dissolve, divisive secrets are revealed, and promises are broken as the members of three California families struggle to salvage their shattered dreams. The story follows the character’s journeys to places as distant as Cleveland, Ohio, Venice, Italy, and Kyoto, Japan. From the concert halls of Europe to the artist’s lofts of Manhattan, American River: Currents is filled with passionate and resolute characters who refuse to let go of their unique visions of success—even as life’s tumultuous currents threaten to sweep them all away.
Owen McPhalans Mockingbird Valley Ranch is still a thriving family business in 1959. But when his wife, Marian, leaves Mockingbird to follow her dream of becoming a successful artist, she ignites a firestorm that impacts the descendants of all three families. As artists, musicians, writers, and politicians inherit their immigrant parents hopes, they are torn apart by ambition, prejudice, and deception while struggling through the turbulent 1960s. From the concert halls of Europe to Kyotos ancient avenues, and Manhattans artists lofts to San Franciscos North Beach, they each learn the price they must pay in order to realize their dreams. But just as the river is drawn to the sea, they eventually find themselves pulled back to the place that forged the original link between their destiniesa place called Mockingbird.
American River: Tributaries follows three California families as the descendants of Irish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants embark on unique journeys to pursue their dreams amid an unsettled 1960s world.
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The Philosophical Future discusses the social and psychological challenges facing people in the 21st century. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Man is of course a creature of needs, which are easily misunderstood and in a confrontational world often taken by the individual as absolute imperatives. Violent actions and reactions, and more broadly aggressive behavior in general, tend to satisfy only, and too often, wrongly perceived needs of an instant. Long-term consequences are imprudently ignored. But it is too late as a rule to correct the mistake.
To avoid this familiar trap, nothing avails save the self-aware use of individual will — a learned capability — to survey each situation as it arises, and then rationally decide on and carry out a plan of action (including non-action) suitable to the circumstances. In an overly crowded world, and given today’s climate of festering person-to person and group-against group hostility, however, nothing appears to succeed other than violence or a threat of it. Whatever deprives the “other” of his ability to remain a self-respecting combatant can be employed. This wholly negative world view leads down an unsustainable road — in fact to social chaos.
Calls for meaningful change fall on mostly deaf ears. They do not convince. Nonetheless, the burden for positive change rests with individual minds. Such social unanimity as does occur is forced, and unless or until enough self-discipline takes hold in individual minds, and without coercion, this millennial consummation seems just as probable as another..
This book was written with such global issues in mind. Its significance lies in the message which it conveys to minds honestly aspiring to achieve a personal knowledge of what they may expect to encounter in the way of social, psychological, and moral trials in years to come.
You have an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin and an Ed.D. from the University of California, and you taught at many different schools. How has this experience helped you write this book?
Teachers, much akin to dispensers of religious doctrine, today more than ever share a burden of communicating to students more than mere facts or supposed facts originating with cultural authority. The effective teacher has also himself both learned and understood the “material” of his lessons. Even so, automatic transfer from one mind to another is a misconception. Not all learning experiences can be summed up in this formula. Even the substance of what there is to be learned erodes in this migration.
The basics of language and social skills can of course never be taken for granted. This includes all knowledge that can be reduced to a common parlance, including number, letter, names, places, dates, and even some rules of interpersonal behavior. The tyro can usually master this domain with aid from a teacher who himself studied and retained not only the rote aspect but some of the life-value of its content. Still, more than ever beyond this one needs certain more fundamental elements to make his way in life.
Most individuals, sadly enough, while they do achieve a grasp of these lesser aspects of behavioral competence, fail to move past them. Even many teachers may not learn to question themselves, to seek beyond their already memorized data base to explore the deeper significance of being human. For all further, higher knowledge, the kind needed to live with meaning, though built on a firm foundation of “the basics,” requires a yet greater step, and the true teacher recognizes this. All such higher knowledge demands a learner, as well as his teacher, who together strive for genuine understanding — so that each of them in the web of his own experience questions both himself as well as the “why” of things, basic and abstract alike.
I think this book does a fantastic job of delivering complex ideas in an understandable and meaningful way. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
To those whose developing interests include a genuine curiosity about conditions of life over the longer tomorrow, and assuming they are looking for an unvarnished view of today’s global scene, with some adumbration of what lies ahead, this book aims to provide some, but not all, and never absolute, answers. It is not indeed a prediction but an advisory. It deals only with the possible, in an age of few if any certainties.
Most young people, but also readers in general, tend to live on two levels of thought: On one hand they have a vision of society as some kind of mechanical entity; its fundamental workings go on at a comfortable distance; unless one becomes caught in their legal entanglements, they can be ignored. On the other hand, when society calls on them as individuals to participate actively in its formal activities (such as jury duty), thought and intelligence must be brought to bear; even so, the passive state of mind dominates. Typically (even in the jury room) one follows the herd.
For this typical reader this book then cannot help but sound a wake-up call. Neither mechanistic nor presumably-more active approaches to life in society in fact suffice. Knowledge of the whole and of its salient moving parts and of one’s own capabilities for adaptation to the turmoil of future existence — these will be key to genuine success in the art of living.
Where do you think society is headed and what can an individual do to ensure they are successful in that future?
The question of where society is headed and how it is likely to get there cannot be answered without giving thought to the individual’s plasticity of character and his motivations as a moral being. If individuals en masse pay no heed to what serves the common good, then the way forward becomes rife with predictable social decline. But this view overemphasizes the dark side. Neither man’s overall world outlook nor his web of relations in a complex environment ever reduce to a simple unidirectional pattern, at least in the short run.
History reveals one singular truth: In its gradual development, and often without conscious control, society “fixes” some problems, analyzes others without acting on them, and simply ignores those it cannot deal with. So we cannot rationally envision either a future utopia or dystopia. There is no end-point. The real wild card remains the “average” individual’s capacity for directing his powers either to improve the common good along with his own sense of social stability, or to give way to mental and moral negation, with destructive results in society.
Men are not prisoners of history, as is often claimed. But there is just so much any generation can do in a practical sense to unleash itself from on-the-ground conditions and the relatively passive state of mind it inherits. Revolutions come and go, yet underlying capabilities cling to their natural limits. The process is slow, unseen, and does not involve conscious volition other than to a limited degree. So the likeliest condition of society a century hence, barring an atomic or planetary disaster, will represent in essence only a repetition in substance (though not in detail) of what have been the commonplace evils of our time: over-population and consequent mass poverty; ever increasing global hysterias; police-state governments; continued lack of education and subsequent bewilderment over how to live a meaningful individual life in a complex and demanding environment. The true individual may disappear as this process works itself out. Yet fortunately, his eventual reappearance cannot entirely be ruled impossible either. And how this unresolved dichotomy is then resolved will make all the difference.
This book surveys the breadth of mankind’s postmodern malaise, which is achieved through a discussion of the major challenges, social and psychological, which every individual faces in the effort to live fully in the twenty-first century. These challenges lay in broadly familiar domains: self- and group-consciousness; common man and his place in a future society in which mental activity dominates; work and leisure; knowledge and values accruing from it, both for self and others; possibilities in education; civilization, with its “Dark Age” phenomena and its dreams of progress; the role of the past in contemporary life; and power, both in society and within the sovereign individual who, though bound by physical and intellectual limits, functions as a seeker after the freedom and self-fulfillment which are so wholly integral to the human condition. And finally a serious question: What fate awaits the perpetual non-conformist, whose views, however unwelcome in his own time and in a contemporary environment, may in fact anticipate future living conditions?
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What’s Going On? How Can We Help? takes readers on a deep dive into the political, social, and economic challenges we face on a recurring basis. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I felt that our politicians and commentators often focus on the symptoms to our current challenges, I wanted to dive deeper and uncover root causes. I also felt that a lot of discussions around these topics seldom end with a single action item. I wanted to know what’s really going on, and more importantly, how could I help.
This book was well researched as well as expertly written. What is your experience in this field and how has that helped you write this book?
This is an area that I have studied all throughout my education and continued long after university. I read every book that I can get my hands on when it comes to social and environmental challenges. I also read a lot of history books in an attempt to identify our recurring mistakes.
What do you find is one common misconception people have about their role as a citizen and how can we overcome it?
I feel that many of what I would deem as poor citizen choices come from a disconnect. In my opinion this is a fundamental factor to unsustainable and unethical decisions.
I don’t think that the majority of people would eat unsustainable products if they saw the acres of rain forest that had to be cleared every second. I don’t think the majority of people would buy palm oil if they personally had to set fire to the trees, inhabited by the last family of orangutans. I don’t think the majority of people would buy designer clothing if they could see the textile factories poisoning the rivers in Bangladesh and subsequently poisoning the local communities and wildlife. Nor would we buy smartphones if we saw the four-year-old children working in the harmful and unregulated cobalt mines in southern Africa, nor coffee if we saw the child slave workers of the Ivory Coast, plastic bottles if we saw them inside a dying turtle’s stomach, the list goes on and on. The unpleasant truth is that the clothes we are wearing, the food we are about to eat, and the items that fill our homes, are likely to carry some form of suffering. I think one of the worst things we can do is to hide from the facts and bury emotions. I believe that the excuse of ignorance is no longer justifiable. Becoming connected again, seems to me, to be crucial – reconnecting with each other and reconnecting to the consequences of our actions. We may have to leave behind ‘comforts’ and re-design our lifestyles, but it is, to say the least, very worthwhile.
It can often be incredibly overwhelming to try to be a good citizen. Something that I find helpful is to focus on the present moment and to try and be as conscious as possible by asking myself questions. I often ask myself, am I helping this person, is this purchase sustainable, am I contributing to a better world? And, at the very least, am I not causing harm?
Am I acting in a certain way because I think it’s the right thing to do or am I doing it just to earn money, or because it’s comfortable?
Being conscious and compassionate in the present moment is a powerful antidote. Much like someone on a recovery program can achieve sobriety one day at a time, I believe that we can greatly improve our environments one action at a time, if we try to make the next decision a conscious and compassionate one. It’s also important to note that this isn’t about preaching nor judging others, but instead researching and taking ownership of our shared challenges, and as a result, inspiring others through positive direct action.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
There are a couple of really exciting projects in the pipeline at the moment. To keep up-to-date it’s best to check our Facebook page.
FREEQUILL dives deep to uncover the origins of our re-occurring challenges; exploring the murky waters of capitalism, consumerism, and our ancient monetary system. Key topics are carefully broken down along an approachable and entertaining journey, packed with fresh perspectives and real-world examples. The highly considered solutions range from a whole new political system to simple tricks and tips that you can implement today.
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