Thank You Dr. Jamison & The Unknown Angels

 

Dear Friends, 

Last year, I wrote about Anthony William’s book Medical Medium

William explained how praying to a group called the “Unknown Angels” helped him a great deal. At first, I was quite skeptical. However, the thought of asking those mysterious-sounding Unknown Angels appealed to me so I went for it and I started talking to them.

Every day for the past six months I asked the Unknown Angels out loud (per Mr. Williams’ instructions) to help me in specific ways.

I spoke to them at least once a day, preferably where no one could see me! 

My requests were pragmatic and focused on safety and happiness for my kids and my husband. I prayed before walking my dog Lucy in the forest and asked that we wouldn’t encounter mountain lions. (So far, so good.)

At some point during each prayer, I asked that my “dream author” (clinical psychologist/bestselling author Kay Redfield Jamison) endorse my book. 

 

I knew Dr. Jamison’s endorsement wasn’t likely to happen, but I sent a letter to her staff anyway. If I didn’t take a chance, the phrase “nothing ventured, nothing gained” would haunt me forever.

Dr. Jamison wasn’t known to endorse books very often; in fact, I hadn’t seen any book endorsed by her except for the outstanding The Midnight Disease written by her friend Dr. Alice W. Flaherty.

Why would Dr. Jamison endorse a first-time author like me? (Well, I had some good reasons, but I was doubtful she’d agree with them!)

On Monday around 7:30 a.m., I found out that Dr. Jamison will supply my book’s cover blurb. My neighbors found out too — I screamed and sang obnoxiously loud for five minutes. Lucy, alarmed to see me act like such a freak, chimed in with her cacophonous howls.

Now, I don’t have Dr. Jamison’s exact words yet.

She could change her mind. 

Maybe I should’ve waited to share my happy news with you until I had her endorsement in hand, but I can’t help it.

I only wish I could tell my father about this wonderful honor.

In any case, I want you to remember my story when you’re on the fence about pursuing something you consider a major longshot.

I want you to go for it.

And even if you’re a skeptical agnostic like I am, take a look at my blog post about the Unknown Angels, or if you believe in something else, focus on connecting more with it.

If you talk to the Unknown Angels, you might get flak from family & friends. I sure did! At least it’s a positive focus, right?

You might even be happily surprised with what comes your way….

Have a good weekend, and thanks so much for reading & commenting!

Love,

Dyane

 

p.s. Remember the interview I was fretting about? It went absolutely ***fine**** & it was 100% drama free. When the link is up, I’ll share it with you here.

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. It’s available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales; Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.

 

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Stoked I Didn’t Pass Out During My 2nd Toastmasters Talk!

 

 

 

Hi there, my friends!

I hope you’re doing well…

So yes, I survived presenting my Toastmasters “Thought of the Day” to my Redwood Ramblers group yesterday.  

Once again, I was nervous as hell.

 

At least my head-to-toe shakiness wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been during my Icebreaker speech. I was less freaked-out this time, but don’t get me wrong, it was scary!!! It probably didn’t help that I forgot to, um, breathe much.

Each meeting has a different theme chosen by the member assigned the “Toastmaster” role. The Toastmaster serves as the host of the meeting. All roles, both speaking and non-speaking, rotate weekly so everyone experiences each role. Roles include the Ah-Counter (the person who counts the filler words in every person’s speech), the Grammarian (guess!) and the Timer. Yes, every speech gets timed. It’s very precise. I like it!

Yesterday’s theme was Clutter.

(Ha! It could’ve easily been re-named Dyane’s House.)

My speaking role, the Thought of the Day, needed to relate to the theme and last one-to-two minutes.

I decided upon the topic of “Clearing Mind Clutter.” I thought it would be cool to share something that actually helps clear my befuddled brain. 

The following paragraph is what I wrote on my practice notecards. When I spoke to my group, I surprised myself and didn’t use the cards, although it would’ve been fine to refer to them. Instead, I paraphrased my notes and I did silly things like the scrubbing move! (Watch the video for that one…) Oh well. I have no problem making a fool of myself – I have a PhD in tomfoolery!

 

Without further adieu….

What can we do to clear out the clutter, the confusion, and the disorder in our minds?

I found something that’s easy, enjoyable, and free that everyone in this room can do. Plus we’re in the perfect area to do it! It’s called Shinrin Yoku*** in Japanese, and in English, it’s known as forest bathing. 

I didn’t even know forest bathing even existed until I read about it last year in  Good Times. Forest bathing is a leisurely stroll in the woods for fifteen to twenty minutes. Every now and then, you stop and take extra notice of your surroundings, and during your walk, you take deep breaths…making sure you don’t hyperventilate, of course!

Deep breathing allows you to inhale organic compounds given off by the trees. The amazing benefits include lower stress, lower blood pressure, increased energy, better sleep, better focus, and an increase in the NK cells (your natural killer cells) which fight cancer — all this from a leisurely stroll!

Doing this has helped me feel better and manage the clutter in my head. I encourage all of you to take a stroll in the redwoods over the next few weeks, notice how you feel, and let me know about it.

***I encourage you to check out this forest bathing site for more info. – it’s a cool resource!

At the close of the meeting, all talks are evaluated either briefly or in depth. There’s much more scrutiny given to the “Project Talks” (Thought of the Day isn’t one) so I only got a couple comments: the speech was “well-developed and demonstrated planning,” and “giving a call to action was effective.”

At one point I walked down the aisle and back to the podium, exposing the group to my rear. (Good times!) The president advised me to consider walking slowly backward so the group saw my front and I could utilize those moments, LOL!  

Slick move, eh?

See you next week when I’ll reveal some juicy details about my upcoming interview. 

Lots of love,

Dyane 

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. It’s available on Amazon for paperback pre-sales; Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.

 

My Life-Affirming Alternative to “13 Reasons Why”



The novella Brooklyn’s Song by Alexis Zinkerman


A few weeks ago I published the post Stunned by Alexis Zinkerman’s Metronome – my post title says it all. Please read it if you haven’t had a chance yet.

After I read Metronome, I bought Alexis’ novella Brooklyn’s Song and I wrote a review that doesn’t begin to do it justice, especially since I was repeatedly interrupted by my girls while attempting to focus.

Their crisis? They were in need of a special medicine called ice cream. (I need to fix the broken lock on my door!) At least I can always improve the review later on. In the meantime, I’ve included it in this post.

Here’s a sidenote:  I haven’t watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix nor have I read Jay Asher’s book, and I have no plans to do so. I rarely read or watch anything about suicide because I’m too triggered. While my intuition told me to steer clear of 13 Reasons Why I sensed Alexis would create a work that wouldn’t trigger me, and I was right. 

Brookyln’s Song –A novella by Alexis Zinkerman/5 star review

The heartwrenching topic of teen suicide has recently been covered in film, television, and young adult fiction more than it ever has before. Some of these endeavors are sensitively produced. However, other productions are harmful – they sensationalize teen suicide, depriving young people of realistic role models and situations.

Alexis Zinkerman’s outstanding novella Brooklyn’s Song was ahead of its time when it was first published in 2012 under the title Crazy Tragic Magic Life. Few books have ever addressed teenage suicide in such an insightful, wise manner.

The novella’s unique literary style is ideal for conveying the gravity of the subject matter without overwhelming the reader. At just eighty-eight pages, Brooklyn’s Song is the perfect length for depicting the journey of a teen’s grief over a great loss.

In concise, moving poetic stanzas, fifteen-year-old protagonist Brooklyn shares her shock of losing her best friend to suicide.

The reader is immediately drawn into the narrative from the first page. Brooklyn’s best friend Emily is still alive, and she reveals a secret to Brooklyn while the girls are attending a special event. The scenario quickly changes into one of tragedy.

As Brooklyn begins to move through the stages of grief, she’s resistant to therapy, but she gradually learns that counseling can help her a great deal. In a refreshingly unexpected way, Brooklyn utilizes the creative expression of writing to help her heal. Ultimately, Brooklyn begins to feel hopeful about the future again.

In each intriguingly titled chapter, Brooklyn reveals different sides of her personality. She describes her vulnerability, her loneliness as a high school student, and her burgeoning confidence in her writing. After some time has passed, she chronicles her exciting relationship with her first boyfriend.

Despite the harrowing storyline, I didn’t want to put it down – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Brooklyn!

Brooklyn’s Song is an artfully nuanced book. The novella reminded me of my favorite author Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Ring of Endless Light in significant ways. Each author writes vividly, powerfully, and in a pragmatic manner. The two books’ complex-yet-clear storylines appeal to teens and adults alike. Each work grapples with the theme of suicide, the death of a beloved, and how death affects a sensitive, inquisitive teenage girl. Hope is woven throughout Brooklyn’s Song and A Ring of Endless Light, making these books truly worthwhile reads.

Brooklyn’s Song is a book I want my two daughters to read. It is a book I wish I had read when I was a teenager before suicide touched my life firsthand. This book rings true; at age thirty-three, Zinkerman was affected by suicide when her best friend took her own life. Because of that heartbreaking experience, Zinkerman was galvanized to write Brooklyn’s story.

I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to read this beautifully written book. I highly recommend Brooklyn’s Song to anyone interested in how it’s possible to move forward in life after an a unimaginably painful loss takes place.

I’ll be back next week to share with you how my very first book interview turns out. I’m nervous, especially since I did a little virtual snooping homework on the journalist who has been assigned to interview me. Things were looking great until that changed. That’s all that’s fit for print…for now, that is. Stay tuned. 😉 

Purchase the paperback edition of Brookyln’s Song on Amazon at this link.

Author Alexis Zinkerman

Check out Alexis’ mental health website A Mile A Minute – Refreshing Takes on Mental Health here. (Great blog title, isn’t it?)

Take care, my wonderful kindred spirits!

Love,

Dyane

—————

All photos courtesy of Alexis Zinkerman

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017. It’s available now on Amazon for paperback pre-sales, Kindle pre-sales will be available this summer.

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I Broke the Ice at Toastmasters!

 

This isn’t me!!! It’s one example of a Toastmasters Icebreaker speech – you only need to watch the first minute to see her concept was clearly out of the box!  😉

 

 

During the last month, I posted here and here about my enormous fear of public speaking and my experience joining Toastmasters International.

A couple weeks ago I scheduled my first author talk. Setting that date motivated me to get used to public speaking by committing to Toastmasters for a minimum of six months. 

On Wednesday I gave my first Toastmasters Icebreaker speech. Those six minutes were some of the MOST nerve-wracking minutes of my life! After I spoke, I plopped down in my chair and felt vulnerable. I was incredibly embarrassed about my public speaking shortcomings, but I can’t deny I was proud as hell of myself!

I had come a long way from my psych unit hospitalizations.

I had practiced my speech “From the Darkness to the Light” close to thirty times without shaking. I spoke in front of my dog Lucy, in front of my family, and in front of my mentor, the President of our Toastmasters group.

During every practice run, I was still as a stone. But when I stood in front of the Toastmasters group on Wednesday, my body and voice shook like a freakin’ quaking Aspen tree the entire six minutes – even my face shook. My shakiness threw me off so much. I was totally humiliated, but at least I didn’t sprint for the exit!

Each speaker receives a few minutes of detailed oral feedback from the Evaluator immediately after the speech. In addition to that, she gets brief written comments from each group member to take home and review. Here are some of the following remarks that were given to me:

“I thought you had been doing this a long time, had I not met you first,”

“Excellent Icebreaker! Relax, enjoy, your story is compelling!”

“What an inspiration you are – I can’t wait to watch you growing in confidence as a speaker!”

“You are a natural speaker. You did not seem terribly nervous. Great material, and putting yourself into your speech. Relax! You are among friends!”

“No need to reflect on your nervousness when you’re on stage”

(At the end of my talk I apologized for being so nervous!)

I was going to post my speech here, but there was a glitch in the recording and it didn’t record. I’ll make sure I don’t have the same technical difficulties during my next speech so you can see if I shake like Elvis in his heyday…or not.

Here’s a sample from my practice session with my mentor…

Have you faced one of your profound fears lately? Do you plan to do so anytime soon? Please share! 

Have a great weekend!

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!