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

Where to find the book:

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

US Amazon:

UK Amazon:

Connect with Connie:


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Meet the Author: Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Today we welcome Thomas Lloyd Qualls as we travel to Northern Nevada USA to learn how building bridges, gryphons, practicing law, and Calvin and Hobbes make the case to support Thomas in his writing life. Grab your paddleboard, let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer, a condition that is apparently incurable. I live in the high desert beauty of Northern Nevada, along with the children’s author Lynell Garfield and our son August. I am a former copywriter, a licensed attorney who has overturned two death sentences, and a one-time vagabond who regularly wandered the globe with a backpack and three changes of clothes.

I’m the author of two novels, the co-creator of several video storytelling projects, and the former owner of a music festival. I am also a sometimes painter and a contributor of essays to Rebelle Society, Wild Heart Writers, and Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine.

My debut novel Waking Up At Rembrandt’s received national critical acclaim. The Midwest Book Review called it, “an impressive debut novel showcasing an undeniably talented and imaginative author.”

My second novel Painted Oxen was awarded the 2018 Landmark Prize for Fiction and was published April 02, 2019 by Homebound Publications.

In writing, one of my goals is to bridge the worlds of literary and spiritual fiction, adding something new and valuable to the written landscape. With all my creative projects, I work to build bridges between people and to foster positive curiosity about each other and this beautiful crazy world. You can follow my trail of words and other misadventures at

In which genre do you write?

I write fiction (novels), poetry, and essays. And I sometimes collaborate with other local artists on things that defy category.

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

I don’t know exactly when the awareness came, but I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. Also, I realized pretty early on I probably wasn’t the type who could have a normal job.

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

My whole life is an interesting quirk.

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

A gryphon. Because, gryphons.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A cabin with a view, stocked with good food and coffee, a trail to run on nearby, preferably near water.

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

Run, ride my bike, paddleboard Lake Tahoe, practice law, research the next book, feel guilty about not writing.

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?

These “favorite” type questions are hard for me. But for contemporary writers I’d pick someone like Neil Gaiman or Jeanette Winterson. Historical figures, I’d pick Rumi or Rilke. I would not want to have preset questions, just an organic conversation.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

Any kind of consistent writing is helpful, whether it is journaling, morning pages, essays, or a blog. All of it keeps the gates open, the flow going.

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

Definitely Calvin and Hobbes. Because, Hobbes. And also because my life is a little like Calvinball, where I get to make it up as I go.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

In some ways I am all of my characters.

Modern lifestyle photographers

Thank you Thomas for being a part of MTA. It was wonderful to learn more about your background and writing life. I’m adding your book to my ‘to be read’ list, sounds wonderful! Plus, I learned something. Now I know about gryphons! HA! –Camilla

Book Blurb

Two men, three realms, one goal: to find the heart of the world.

Painted Oxen is a novel of transcendence, one that not only invites its readers into its story, but somehow enmeshes them in its alchemy, leaving them changed in unexpected ways at its journeys end. Bridging the worlds of ancient Tibet and modern-day India, Painted Oxen weaves a tale of two men—one young, one old—on parallel journeys. Their separate-but-connected pilgrimages are equal parts internal and external.

The old man, a Tibetan monk, is searching for a sacred hidden valley known to bring enlightenment to those who enter it. The young man is backpacking through India, searching for a guru or the love of his life; he doesn’t care which. A mysterious red-haired woman who resembles an ancient goddess appears in a series of dream chapters that tie the two journeys together.

The underlying theme of the novel is the transformation of the human heart, which is required to arrive at any true change in our lives. With its authentic voices, unforgettable characters, and well-crafted story, Painted Oxen successfully bridges the worlds of literary and spiritual fiction, adding something new and authentic to the literary landscape.

You can find Painted Oxen wherever books are sold.

US Amazon:

UK Amazon:

Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Book trailer:


social media links:

Reviews of Painted Oxen from other authors:

Reading Thomas Qualls’ ‘Painted Oxen’ I am reminded of a quote by T. E. Lawrence, ‘All men dream but not equally.’ Qualls’ multithreaded narrative explores the crisscrossed yet meshed realities of the senses, the spiritual quest and the dream realm. The reader is also a select disciple on this pilgrimage and reciting the alchemy contained in these pages is softly and inescapably transmuted at the end. – Poet J. K. McDowell, author of Night, Mystery & Light

Lit by ancient starlight, we follow Thomas Qualls along the sacred river through the heart of India. Reminiscent of Kerouac’s On the Road, we meet fellow travelers seeking transformative knowledge, mercy and grace. Painted Oxen entertains, informs, and delights. –Mark Daniel Seiler, Award Winning Author of River’s Child and Sighing Woman Tea.

Part lyrical prose, part musings of a wandering backpacker, part mystical quest, Painted Oxen is a story of many parts: becoming and unbecoming, seeking and finding, and ultimately, of leaning so far into mystery that falling through to the other side of a dream seems like it might not be so far out of reach. Thomas Lloyd Qualls’ words may be fiction, but they invited me to be more than the reader of a story – suddenly I was part of the story, intent on figuring out what all the layers might mean and accepting the invitation to hold truth and mystery close to the bone as one essential whole. Read it, and embark on a journey that will continue well after the last page. – Heidi Barr, author of Woodland Manitou

What would happen if Paulo Coelho and Alan Watts had a love child? It might look a lot like Thomas Qualls’s new book, Painted Oxen. I am rarely challenged by modern fiction: challenged to keep up, to stretch, to imagine, to feel. Somehow this writer weaves mystery, ancient wisdom, and one hell of a sexy story into a book that makes you wonder, makes you think. -Jacob Nordby, author of Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives

Part travelogue, part dream journal, part meditation, Thomas Lloyd Qualls’ Painted Oxen is less a work of literature than it is a work of alchemy. Dreams and reality mingle here until the reader does not know if they have dreamed the book or the book is dreaming them. – Jason Kirkey, author of The Taste of Water and Stone

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