Today we travel to Los Angeles, California to chat with Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley about how Stephen King, journal writing, volunteering with the Peace Corps, asking questions, and Bill Murray come together as part of Bridgitte’s past and current life.
In which genre do you write?
I write about spirituality and personal growth which often falls under self-help. My book is a memoir categorized under self-help and spirituality.
How many published books do you have?
This is my first published book!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
As an only child for 16 years, I loved to read beyond my skill level. I always carried a pocket dictionary while reading Stephen King books. I’ve been writing in journals since I was in the fourth grade and I still have every single one of them! Writing has always been my “go to response”. It remains my first choice of practice to reflect and give voice to what’s inside. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write a book. I just didn’t know about what I would write. And then came the crisis…which brought about an unintended literary gift.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
Although I love it so much, it’s hard! I always feel such ambivalence; like there is something in me that wants to be said, swirling around inside constantly reminding of its presence. I don’t always know what wants to be said, so I wait until it’s clear or until the swirling and pushing is too intense to ignore. At that point, I start writing until I feel like there has been a purge. When it’s out onto the paper I can relax…at least until the swirling begins again.
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
Neytiri from Avatar! She is all heart and means what she says. In short, Neytiri does not play around.
What are you currently reading?
I recently finished BEHOLD THE DREAMERS by Imbolo Mbue, which was an astoundingly profound and well-written read. “The novel is about the fragility of the American Dream as told through the experiences of two New York City families during the 2008 financial crisis: an immigrant family from Cameroon, the Jonga family, and their wealthy employers, the Edwards family.” This book resonated with me because Mbue lost her job in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, as did I, and was unemployed for a year and a half.
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras.
I speak Spanish.
I LOVE to dance.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
In 2005, during a disturbing turn of events, my husband was hospitalized due to the onset of symptoms for a stroke. He was 33 years-old. In every way imaginable we were unprepared to deal with the long term effects of the challenges that lie ahead. The financial distress, parental responsibility, unexamined emotional wounds, blame, resentment, fear and anger unearthed elements of our psyche that nearly destroyed us and our marriage.
The loss of his ability to work propelled us into the beginning stage of what became the most prolonged and difficult period of our lives. For the next several years, we experienced the devastating loss of our home through foreclosure, ruptured familial relationships, job loss and a steady decline of our marriage.
Throughout this period there were times when I believed myself to be the victim. It wasn’t until I turned to meditation, prayer and journaling to make it through each day and began sincere self-examination, that I was ready to understand the circumstances provided an invitation for growth.
For more than one year, I sat down in a meditative state to ask questions to help me mentally and emotionally navigate the difficult and uncertain times I faced.
During meditation, in addition to periods of silence after prayer, I began to ask questions to solicit clarity and guidance into my awareness. The more I posed questions during a meditative state, I began to notice answers would indeed come into my awareness. However, as soon as the meditation session was over, I forgot the guidance which came into my awareness.
The only way to remember was to write it down. It was at that time I decided to bring a journal to my meditation sessions.
In the midst of this silent struggle, I turned within for at least 20 minutes a day to be able to make it through each day. I continued to meditate and write in my journal. Meditation grew to become the most practical, accessible and effective way I found to calm myself of the anxiety-ridden thoughts that propelled me.
At the time, I had no idea the practice I created around journaling would become my first book almost seven years later.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
Writing is absolutely a skill that can be honed. I used to think writing was an innate talent, but I now see yes, you can have a propensity to be good at writing due to interest. However, with effort, patience, practice and the willingness to allow space for something new, you can absolutely take your writing to unexpected heights.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
Here is a little piece I wrote last year that sums up why I write:
There once was young girl who loved to write. It was all she thought of, day and night, how to tell stories, how she could tell stories. With her stories, she wanted to share her heart, her hopes, her dreams, what she learned, what she had seen and all she hoped to experience. This way – writing stories – is her way to connect, to go deeper within her feelings and her spiritual life. She yearned to talk, to tell, to communicate, not because she wanted to be seen, but because this was her heart’s desire – the impetus to be of service in this way. She understood the power of the written word, the way it influences the heart and mind, the way it creates shifts, movements, and awakenings. She understood this because she experienced this and nothing has given her greater comfort, joy and pull to act. Through the written word, she wanted to tell her story to help others create a new story – not just for themselves, but for everyone.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. How do you do to prepare yourself?
I wrote about this in an article for The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Here are questions of which I eagerly anticipate the responses at my book events:
Who traveled the farthest distance to attend the event? Select three members of the audience to share their favorite “word of mouth” recommendation for my book. How do they describe my book to someone who has not read it? Someone once described it as a ‘metaphysical thriller’!
Ask what was the unexpected or surprise take away they received from reading my book.
Every interview, conversation and presentation carries a different energy – an energy of its own. Sometimes I can prepare in advance and know what to expect and other times not. I find it refreshing and comforting to know regardless of what I am asked about my book, what needs to come through will come through. I don’t have to have it all figured out. Sometimes I’m compelled to say specific things and other times I’m not. I’ve learned to trust that what comes through is exactly what is needed and wanted to be said and heard in that moment.
What do you miss about being a kid?
Days with my grandmother.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I recently watched ‘What About Bob’ with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus for the hundredth time! I love this movie so much I almost have the entire movie dialogue committed to memory. “…come on, I’ve come so far. I’m baby-steppin’! I’m doing the work! I’m baby-steppin’! I’m not a slacker!…give me, give me, give me, I need I need I need…” This is by far one of the best comedies ever made.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently sitting with the idea for my next book. It’s “swirling” but hasn’t revealed itself; therefore, during the waiting period I’m working on a spiritual sci-fi script with my screenwriting partners, continuing with my blog on Medium and hosting an online video summit!
In The Gift of Crisis Video Summit, each featured guest is the quintessential example of transformation that can take place when you undergo tough times or difficult circumstances.
While the summit title mirrors that of my book, the focus of the summit will be on 10 authors who have also undergone a crisis and share their experience and insights through writing. Over the years I have benefited tremendously from the writing of authors who poignantly demonstrate the gifts we can find and cultivate in our darkest times. It is an ongoing intention of mine to pay-it-forward by highlighting spiritually uplifting and important stories of hope, resilience, and compassion for self and others.
It’s been a pleasure learning more about your journey to a published book, Bridgitte. Thank you for being a part of MTA! – Camilla
Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley was one of the 8.8 million people who lost their jobs and experienced foreclosure in The Great Recession. With her back against the wall, faced with challenges many of us would find hard to survive, Bridgitte realized the only place she could go was within – exactly where she needed to go. Here, for the first time, she reveals how to explore crisis as a tool for courageous change, regaining your self-esteem with self-love and self-compassion. The Gift of Crisis will show how repeated crises can serve as a catalyst to reveal the underlying purpose, and how questions posed during a meditative state can reveal answers that can redirect your life. Practical and deeply inspiring, this book shows you how meditation and prayer can assist during any type of crisis as a means to a calmer, clearer, more courageous and purposeful life.
Where to find the book:
THE GIFT OF CRISIS: HOW I USED MEDITATION TO GO FROM FINANCIAL FAILURE TO A LIFE OF PURPOSE can be found wherever books are sold AND in local libraries!
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