Meet the Author: Soul Murmurs by Anita Neilson

Today we travel to the beautiful west coast of Scotland to chat with Anita Neilson. We’ll talk about how knowing 3 modern languages, losing all sense of purpose in life, a pair of buzzards, and a visualization holiday create the flow of Anita’s past and current life. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Anita Neilson and I live in my native Scotland near the beautiful west coast. If you like, why not watch this short video I’ve produced, called My Scotland! I graduated from University (more than a few decades ago!) with 3 modern languages and this allowed me to work and travel a fair bit in Europe before settling down in Scotland to careers in commerce and education.

Here’s a photo of me with my faithful companion Amber, my Labrador retriever, taken in our local park. She follows me absolutely everywhere and is the sweetest soul. I have Fibromyalgia and M.E. (chronic fatigue syndrome) and need to spend most of my time at home due to pain and fatigue.

But this next image is the view from my window and it’s something I never ever tire of. It’s beautiful, right? Most days I see deer, horses and a plethora of dogs taking their owners for walks! It’s so peaceful and a balm for the soul. Living here absolutely helps to heal me – body, mind and soul.

In which genre do you write? How many published books do you have? 

I write mind, body, spirit books. My third book, Soul Murmurs, was released July 26th, 2019 and I think it’s my best one yet. It has a richness and depth to it that develops the more you write. And I love the cover, it’s just perfect. I discovered the artist (Ken Eaton @ Natureworks) online and he was thrilled to have his image on the cover! You can find more of his work here.

My first book, Acts of Kindness from your Armchair, was written during the initial months and years of illness. I had to give up work and had lost all sense of purpose in life. Yet changing focus away from myself and my worries and onto how I might help other people gave me that new purpose. This book is very precious to me and gives lots of practical advice on how we can all do acts of kindness for ourselves and others, regardless of our circumstances. You can find out more, read reviews and purchase Acts of Kindness from your Armchair from your preferred online retailer.

My second book, Rose Petals Floating Downstream is a compilation of spiritual poetry exploring finding the Divine in all aspects of the natural world and within ourselves. It’s beautiful and I often read one of these poems before settling down to meditate!

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography? 

An interesting quirk about how I write is that I often receive what I call “incoming”. This happened especially when I was writing Soul Murmurs. I would be ‘interrupted’ during meditation with words just flowing out of me, repeating over and over, that I knew I had to write down or they would disappear. At other times, I would be dropping off to sleep and the same thing would happen. I would be woken up in the night with words just rushing to come out and be written down! I did grumble a bit about being woken up, but I had a notebook, pen and little torch by my bedside so that I wouldn’t disturb my husband. I can chuckle about this now when I see the scene in my head. And I always, always thanked whatever Source provided these particular nuggets of inspiration.

A couple of years ago, hubby and I were heading up north to the Scottish Highlands for a few days holiday. It was springtime and as I sat taking in the scenery as he drove, I suddenly shouted to him, “Wait, slow down. I’ve got incoming!” The words of the poem Winding Roads were flooding into my mind. Inspiration can strike at any time! You can read the poem here.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why? 

My spirit animal would be the buzzard. Firstly, because I’m fascinated by birds. I love watching them soar and swoop. They have such freedom. And they provide me with moments of fun as I watch their interactions at the bird feeder in our garden. Secondly, because in the beautiful meadow which frames my view from the house, we have a pair of buzzards who call this their domain. I often see them and hear their eerie calls as they circle far above us.

When I was researching power animals, I was blown away by what was written about the buzzard because it seemed to resonate so strongly with me. The buzzard apparently symbolises the cycle of death and rebirth. It aids in the purification of mind, body and spirit and comes at times of change and transformation, helping you to awaken to your higher possibilities. Wow!

Now here’s what’s spooky about that. My latest book, Soul Murmurs, is arranged around the seasons to echo the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth. It also tracks my spiritual development throughout the passage of the year and has helped me to realise my higher potential in all areas of my life (as a writer and in all my relationships, including with the Divine). The Buzzard features in the short story in the book, but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll just have to read it for yourselves!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing? 

The most surprising thing I’ve learned about myself through writing is that “I AM GOOD ENOUGH!”. If I could give advice to my younger self (please see my short video, 5 Simple Things) it would be to say ,“You are amazing. You are more than good enough. You don’t have to be perfect so don’t waste your life trying to be.”

What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? 

The most amusing/embarrassing thing to ever happen to me was epic. I had just started my first job, after graduating, as Bilingual Secretary to the European Sales Director of a consumer electronics company. Now they liked to splash the cash a little and the Chairman had decided to rent out a whole castle to celebrate his son’s 21st birthday. All of his employees were invited. I was young, jumpy and nervous, anxious to make a good impression of myself. So first things first, I needed to visit the Ladies (restroom). As I entered, the air was thick with excitement and lots of women were crowding around another woman and excitedly chatting away to her. Of course, I wanted to be part of this excitement so I joined in with the group. Looking down at her swollen belly, I chirped, “Oh, how lovely. When are you due?”

A hush, heavier than an approaching storm, descended on the room, a ‘pregnant’ pause if you like.

“I’m not,” replied the woman, “I’m just fat.” And with this she swept from the Ladies with as much dignity as she could muster. Oh my, the naivety of youth. Boy was I embarrassed as I shuffled into a stall to hide. When I returned to the function room a few minutes later, my boss pulled me aside and said, “Do you know that was the Chairman’s wife you insulted?”

Oh no, I wished the ground would open up and swallow me. Thoughts darted frantically through my mind, “Would I be fired?”, “What would the Chairman say or do?”, “How would I live this down?” The next day the Chairman came up to me at work and with a bellowing laugh, slapped me on the shoulder, exclaiming, “Anita, my wife is going on a diet now thanks to you.” And with that, he left as briskly as he had come. We learn from our mistakes, don’t we, that’s for sure! My motto nowadays is, “If in doubt, keep shut your mouth!”.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

I LOVE this question Camilla. Well, it’s got to be Mr Benn, my favourite children’s animated programme of the 1970s. Mr Benn was an ordinary English gentleman, dressed in pin-stripe suite and bowler hat. He lived at No. 52 Festive Road. However, Mr Benn had a very surprising ‘other life’ in which he would often visit the Costume Shop in his town. There, he would try on a different costume each time before walking through the second door in the changing room, “the door that always led to adventures”. As he did so, he became the person from the costume and would have an adventure. So, for example, when he tried on the space suit, he became a spaceman; when he tried on the Safari costume, he became a big-game hunter on safari and so on.

I loved this as a child. How rich is the world of our imagination! And for the writer that I am now, I can see why it entranced me so much back then. For isn’t this what we do when we write or read? Each time we open the cover of a book, it is leading us on an adventure, isn’t it? And with each page that we turn, we enter a different world, another life. We can be the characters in the book and live through their experiences with them. There are plenty of episodes of Mr Benn on YouTube. One of my favourites is Mr Benn Spaceman.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this? 

I do believe things happen for a reason. I also believe that we have been given free will to make our own choices. There’s quite a tussle going on inside me between pre- and self-determination! I’ve been trying to improve myself spiritually for 5 years, meditating each day, tackling my bad habits and helping others where I can.

Was it pre-determined that I would become chronically ill? I don’t know. Did I cause it myself with my bad habits and living a life too much in the fast lane of adrenaline? I don’t know that either.

What I do know is that illness has been a wonderful blessing for me. It’s given me much more understanding and compassion for other people. It’s stopped me from judging others just by the evidence of my own eyes. It’s made me a kinder person. It’s made me just let go, surrender to God’s will (this is still a work in progress I have to add!). There’s a short extract from the book, called Surrender to the Flow, which sums this up nicely.

Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc. 

Let me describe my perfect solo date. It would be a visualization holiday. The idea behind this is that if you are not able to travel for whatever reason, with a little imagination and willpower, you can still give yourself a break. For example, you could take a visualization excursion: look through photographs of a favourite holiday. Then with eyes closed, bring to mind the sights, sounds, smells, places you visited and who you went with. Look back with gratitude and contentment. I often do this if I’m feeling stressed. Try it for yourself! Just taking a few minutes’ out of your day to take yourself on a calming adventure of the imagination or memory will have such a beneficial effect on your physical, emotional and spiritual life. Read my article on just this subject: The Ultimate Staycation.

Tell us about your most recent book. 

Camilla, my latest book is called Soul Murmurs: seasonal words of spiritual wisdom to enlighten the soul.

It was wonderful to learn more about you Anita! Thank you for being a part of MTA! All the best and much love to you! – Camilla

Book Blurb:

“From the author of Acts of Kindness from your Armchair and the uplifting Healing Words blog, comes this new offering for those seeking deeper meaning to life. Soul Murmurs is a must-have collection of poetry and prose imbued with spiritual wisdom from east and west. Each page, resonating with peace and calm, offers comfort and moments of reflection in a fast-moving world.

“I am smitten with the joy and ebullience bubbling through on each page. And the poems! Oh the sweet poems – truly they brought me to That place. It reminds me of reading Rilke.” Mariah McKenzie, author of More.

In this compilation you will discover: meditative verses which speak to the heart and soul; silent cries for longing for meaning; joyful searching for the Divine within and in the wider world; autobiographical vignettes offering insight on aspects of human life that we all experience. Gathered under seasonal headings to echo the eternal cycle of life, each page reverbates with inspiration, spiritual encouragement and suggested action points to uplift the reader throughout the year.”

It published July 26th, 2019 and readers can purchase it from their preferred online retailer.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2oBVAG5

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IYpdZ7

Anita Neilson is an author, spiritual poet, blogger, podcaster and YouTube creator in her native Scotland. A graduate in 3 modern languages, she travelled, lived and worked in Europe before careers in business and education in Scotland. She is now a freelance writer, contributing to many mind, body, spirit and chronic illness publications. Her writings centre around the themes of kindness, compassion and leading a positive, spiritual life. She has published 3 books to date. Soul-Murmurs: Seasonal words of spiritual wisdom to enlighten the soul published July 26th, 2019.

Connect with Anita:

https://linktr.ee/healingwordsblog

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Meet the Author: Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, Courageous Life by Rev. Connie Habash

Today we’re traveling to Menlo Park, California to chat with Connie Habash. We’ll talk about how The Golden State Warriors, being a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, sitting in the garden, and Mount Shasta integrate into Connie’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Rev. Connie L. Habash – a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, yoga teacher, and interfaith minister based in Menlo Park, CA. My new book is Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, and Courageous Life. I lead workshops, trainings, and retreats around the San Francisco Bay Area, and online programs worldwide, in addition to my local counseling practice. Teaching and leading retreats that integrate body, mind, heart, spirit, and nature is my passion!

In which genre do you write?

Spirituality and Self-Help

How many published books do you have?

This is my first!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

It was in the late 1990’s that I had the urge to write – but I knew I wasn’t a great writer. I needed to learn more about how to convey my insights into compelling written word, even though I seemed to have a knack for speaking them. So I undertook a commitment to write every month by starting a monthly newsletter! Almost every month since September of 2000, I have written at least one article, which became my blog. All that practice, together with having a couple awesome writing coaches over the years has nurtured my craft into something I’m proud of.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

Most people would never guess that a “spiritual” person like me would enjoy (American) football and basketball – but I do! I find a lot of inspiration and insight from watching athletes and the cultural rituals of attending games and cheering for teams. In fact, I’m a Golden State Warriors fan, and wrote an article about several spiritual principles that I believe they exemplify.

I think attending sports meets a need we have – to have a common cause, to go through a challenging trial and see someone victorious, and to push past our limitations and allow something greater to emerge from within us. I don’t care for the violence in some of those sports, but I believe that can be changed and we can retain some of the cultural rituals that bring people together through athletics.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

I have written in many different spaces – cafés, my daughter’s dance studio, outside in my backyard, in my car, and of course, at my desk in my home office. That and sitting outdoors somewhere in nature are my favorite places for inspiration (but I much prefer when my desk is cleared off!). I like having things of beauty around me, which is part of why being outdoors fills me so much – for my writing, and on all levels.

What are you currently reading?

What the Robin Knows by Jon Young, and Ask and You Shall Receive by Abraham-Hicks

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Collapse into bed! Seriously, though, I love sitting outside in the garden. I watch the birds, listen to their calls, observe other animals, feel the breeze on my skin, and connect with the plants and trees. It renews me and makes me feel connected to the Everything.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

I’d put on Brave by Sara Bareilles. I love that song! It makes me feel joyful and empowered! But usually, I simply sit quietly, say a prayer, and align myself with the Divine. I ask that my thoughts, words, and actions support each person’s highest good, deepest healing, and greatest spiritual transformation. I do this before I see clients and lead groups, too.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Miss? I’m still a kid! 😉 I feel that our child-self is a vital part of who we are, the source of our joy, creativity, spontaneity, and aliveness. So I’m very much in touch with that part of myself. I think the only thing I miss is the lack of pressure, the ability to just play and not have to worry about promoting books or paying bills!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Hola, mi amiga! Have you gotten outside to play yet today? Come with me, and let’s slide on some icebergs!

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

I always believe that things happen for a reason. But not necessarily a reason ordained by some Being in the sky. I feel that everything in life is an opportunity – one that we chose to learn from or not. It’s up to us to decide the reasons why we experience what we do. What can I learn and how can I grow from this? It may not have happened specifically because of that, but I can bring meaning to whatever arises, and therefore life becomes transformative and beautiful.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

I have two favorite places here in the United States, where I live (although there are many others that I love!). One is Mount Shasta – a sacred place in northern California. It’s an extinct volcano with incredible beauty (pristine alpine lakes, springs, and meadows) and powerful spiritual energy. The other is Sedona, Arizona. The stunning red rock formations and the elevated energy also deeply move me. My husband and I recently took our daughter there for the first time in the spring, and she fell in love with it!

Tell us about your most recent book.

It’s very exciting to have my first book out in print! It’s called Awakening from Anxiety: A Spiritual Guide to Living a More Calm, Confident, Courageous Life. It’s for spiritual and highly-sensitive people who, despite all the yoga, prayer, or meditation they might do, still struggle with stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. Spiritual folks are more prone to anxiety and I share why – and more importantly, the 7 keys to releasing it and using stress and anxiety for spiritual awakening!  If you’re interested in my online program based on the book, you can find out more at https://www.AwakeningfromAnxiety.com

Where to find the book:

You can find it on Amazon, or order it at a bookstore near you.

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/33kyBhh

UK Amazon:  https://amzn.to/33vsdUL

Connect with Connie:

https://www.AwakeningSelf.com

https://www.facebook.com/AwakeningSelf

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Meet the Author: Becoming One With The Universe by Al Duncan

Today we welcome Al Duncan to Meeting the Authors as we travel to Dunedin, New Zealand and learn how a wolf, an owl, John Lennon, and The Himalayas align to inspire the story of Al Duncan. Grab your travel gear and let’s go ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Life has been a very colorful experience to date. I’ve amazed myself by fulfilling a dream of becoming a self-published author of a book that resonates with so many. Even if they haven’t purchased it, the comments I receive on my author page are amazing. https://www.facebook.com/alduncanauthor1/ 

Looking back life has been an incredible, yet challenging journey which has given me the gift of not only believing in myself but also the ability to write from the heart. Even to the extent that many believe my writings are divinely guided.

I love the beach and am blessed to live directly opposite a beautiful beach in a quaint little beach house in Dunedin, New Zealand. I have worked in a myriad of positions from managing bars to Mentoring Youth, to saving the World with Greenpeace. All of it has lead to a purposeful point in life of creating a fulfilling lifestyle.

In which genre do you write?

Nonfiction. Inspiration. Spiritual.

How many published books do you have?

One at this stage. “Becoming One with the Universe – Inspirational Reminders, Signs and a Story”

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I was blessed to cross paths with a very wise soul who truly taught of the magic of unconditional love. Unbeknown to me, my soul had enrolled me on a spiritual apprenticeship spanning 20 years. When my mentor tragically departed, a knowing spark eventually arose insisting the wisdom and knowledge be shared. It was like being handed a “baton of light”. It was up to me whether I chose or even had the courage to run with it.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I tend to become obsessed with my writing. It becomes 24/7 and everything I do revolves around it. Hence why it’s has been nice to have a break. I’m blessed to be able to write at the drop of a pen. Inspiration may flash through my mind at any time; hence my belief that there is no such thing as writer’s block. The flow comes and goes. When it goes, it’s simply time to rest and enjoy life in other ways.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

The wolf and the owl. The owl for its wisdom and the wolf for its incredible survival instincts.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My ideal working space is varied. A lot of my writing I have done in South East Asia and Western Australia. So anything from a beach setting with an iced coffee, or hidden away in a little guesthouse room typing, formatting and editing away to all hours.  Ideally, I’d like a cool comfy funky chair that I can spin around full circle in for fun. A desk would be handy. And a fantastic view of nature for inspiration or so I can happily procrastinate.

What are you currently reading?

Haha well, funny one. I’m reading my own book for the first time from the perspective of a reader. I want to check out what this Al Duncan dude has got to say!

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

In the last 5 years, I have traveled throughout South East Asia and Nepal. I love exploring new places and discovering and interacting with new cultures. Right now, I’m in recharge mode back in New Zealand. Deciding on my next move in life and trusting the process, as well as integrating all that I have experienced in the last few years. And lots of nature hits!

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would love to sit, laugh and chat with the Dalai Lama. Cups of tea and biscuits shooting the breeze. Ahhh yes! I would ask him what his innermost thoughts were on the state of the world. What his beliefs are around humanities ability to turn it all around, and live the ultimate purpose of living as One. John Lennon would pop in to sing “Imagine”. And Bob Marley would sing “One Love” to end our time together.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

Hmmm, that’s a good one. Discipline. Wow yes, I’m a master of discipline now! Determination. Self-belief. And, how I overcame the many times I wanted to give up on it all. Also, as my numerology suggests I really do have inner gifts.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Inspiring …hmmm.  A 16-day expedition high into the Himalayas. 5100 meters. Stepping back in time to what the modern world has long forgotten. And the incredible experience of living one of the greatest analogies. The art of living life and fulfilling our dream one step at a time.

I experienced altitude sickness on the Larke Pass. The guide having observed our team for the last 9 days made the decision I had the inner strength to go the distance. I recall him taking a triumphant photo of me in front of Tibetan pray flags on the highest point. I was smiling; however, I was also well aware I had 9 hours of trekking through a snowy unforgiving wilderness. I could literally feel each step I took for the rest of that day. The insights were incredible in hindsight.

The absolutely amazing courage the human spirit has when faced with adversity is mind-blowing.  To the extent that when we recall these times, they are sometimes the greatest reminder that we are divine beings and capable of anything when we utilize our minds for its true purpose.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Well, firstly I get nervous, hehe Following this is a process of finding my mojo and being in the zone. I surprise myself as to how I come across. I was recently interviewed by Mike Dooley, live on Facebook. That was a first! Yes, one of the dudes that were featured in “The Secret”. I also woo-hoo and jump around a bit to get my energy levels up. And if possible, a stroll in nature works wonders.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Life was simpler. Yet being a grown-up is almost a blessing in that we become aware we are at choice in whatever we do with life. And, anyway, my inner kid is still alive. I was scuffing through autumn leaves the other day in the park and woohoo-ing on a swing. I’m still a big advocate of a simple life.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I can’t recall the name of the last one I watched. But a recent one was “A Dog’s Purpose”. The storyline was heart-warming, as well as tear evoking. I love inspiring movies. Put a dog in it, and it’s a must!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Yup Al, I chose you as I’ve learned not too many people would believe that penguins can talk. We in the penguin kingdom know you believe we can fly! Yes, one of our angelic penguins was the inspiration behind your children’s penguin book. The sombrero you ask Al? The Galapagos bro!

Tell us about your most recent book.

Becoming One with the Universe. Is just that. A process of becoming the most authentic version of ourselves. I would say for want of a better phrase it’s a self-development book with a difference. It has been referred to as what will become a reference book for years to come. My story of becoming is a part of the book. This is something I didn’t want to include, however, there was an intuitive insistence that this would offer the reader a more authentic and greater understanding of the content, concepts, insights, and inspiration shared.

A final word from Al …..

I am currently excitedly working on a new book. This book will have a different style but still packed full of inspiration, insights, fun, and intrigue. It’s an adventurous story of becoming, with an intriguing storyline based on a solo travelers insights with the intention to inspire people to go for their dreams. I also have a children’s book ready to go. I just need the right illustrator to cross paths with.

Thank you Al for joining us on MTA. It was beautiful learning more about your story and writing life. Al and I have known one another for more than a year and I’m so happy I was able to interview him. He is a deeply beautiful and kind human! Blessings to you Al! – Camilla

Extracts of a few key phrases from online reviews. (There are also many more on my author page.):

I found it a delightful read, thoughtful, entertaining, enlightening and REAL.

An amazing, amazing life transforming book. The best part of this book is the simplicity and ease with which Al ignites the readers’ minds. A must must read.

Within the pages of this beautifully written book, you will discover some of the most heart- warming and authentic words. Al will take you on a journey of self-discovery that is so comforting and puts your heart at peace.

This book has offered the best cognitive enlightenment I’ve received from the universe yet.

If you are on a spiritual journey, please read, re-read, reopen any page at any time and you will always find some very inspirational ideas, in such a depth, and with so much truth, that it all makes sense. This book, my bible, makes you think, question,realize, smile… and anything in between… such unique and beautiful writing!

Al’s humor shines in his writing, even with the darker subjects like death, I get a sense of peace.

Love it! It is one of the most inspirational books that I have read in a long time.

No matter what stage in life you are, this book will certainly be a keeper!

Beautiful and uplifting on so many levels. Comforting but at that same challenging. Familiar but giving depth and inviting the reader to ask the questions of oneself.

Where will you find “Becoming One with the Universe”?

Only a tap or seven away. Pretty much most online bookstores around the world. Shop around. Some have great discounts. Remember its 728 pages. Read it all or happily open any page for an answer to a question.

UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2jUsGhP

US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2jVUfaH

Australia Amazon: https://amzn.to/2llsDMv

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