Saturday, February 28, 2015

                             For details on CONTEST scroll down to February 27th post.

As you already know if you’ve read my blogs I’ve been reading a lot of positive psychology. One of the theories is the application of the terms adaptation and habituation to happiness. Good sized words to say happiness doesn’t last. You’ll get used to the good life and then it will lose its power to thrill you.

I’ve had experiences of enduring happiness. Before the real estate crisis in 2008 I lived in a home that was a cross between charming and elegant. I loved my house. Every day I woke up happy, padding into the kitchen for tea and chocolate chip cookies, looking forward to a sweaty yoga class before the work of the day began.

Late afternoon watching light filter through the gnarled trunk and faded flowers of the Smoke tree outside the master bedroom was a pleasure. I put in a fire pit down a little slope outside the master. I created ceremonies feeding the fire with the pains of the past. I constructed prayer arrows. Each one banded together with my promises and positive intentions. I planted them at the base of the tree. I asked the power of the sun the moon the wind and rain, the stars to carry my prayers. Each time I walked into the bedroom I checked to see how the tree was feeling or I just stood taking in her beauty.

Early morning and at twilight the coyotes crossed through the open space behind the house. Blackie barked telling them to keep their distance. They stood and watched unimpressed.

When real estate collapsed and the banks stopped loaning money at the price point of my income rentals I couldn’t rent the properties. I loved all my homes. Giving them up, selling them felt wrong. I thought I could wait it out. Surely after the economy adjusted the rental market would resume. Right??

One year turned into two years. I burned through capitol. At the end of the second year things were getting desperate. There is a line spoken by the main character in the movie The Fault in my Stars, based on John Green's book, goes something like this, “I’m a grenade. Any minute I could explode. I have to do damage control the best I can to minimize the destruction….”

I probably didn’t get the quote exactly right. I hope you’ll forgive the error in service to the point I’m making. My life had turned into a time bomb waiting to go off and on the horizon it didn’t look like the collapsed rental market would change in the foreseeable future…..I mean years into the foreseeable future.

In my efforts to save the money invested in my homes I’d spent my capital; spending money to save money? Hmmm….

But back to habituation and adaptation and the idea that happiness will disintegrate. These are scientific sounding words applicable to scientific phenomenon but don’t necessarily translate into the destruction of authentic happiness. Positive Psychology is powerful, evolving ways to describe living in order to maximize the positive and buffer you from the negative.

That said, in my experience theories of adaptation and habituation do not apply to genuine happiness. What is genuine happiness? How do you know when you have it? Look to the moments and environments where you engage in your signature strengths. Where does beauty inhabit your life? Don’t have any beauty? Make some. Make habits out of utilizing your strengths in service to something greater than yourself.

I lived in my house for years. My goal was for my home to nourish and inspire everyone who crossed the threshold of my front door. I knew I’d hit the mark when friends, family, and even repair technicians walked through the door and let out a sigh. “Ahhhhhhh……”

My home was filled with light, both natural and spiritual. I never tired of the simple things; the sound of my shoes on the travertine tile, walking into the laundry room, with its island and cupboards providing spacious organization and utility. The chime of the grandfather clock, the desert air after the rain, walking to the mailbox on cobblestones I appreciated every minute.

I hope each of you reading this will find your everlasting happiness.

Follow these clues. My theory is adaptation and habituation happen when life is not grounded in authentic ties to beauty, meaning and purpose. Authenticity, engaging personal strengths in service to greater purpose; meaning and beauty, these are the keys to enduring happiness.

Friday, February 27, 2015

                             REDEMPTION'S WARRIOR                                         

                               blending mystical realities with the ordinary

                                           PRIZE! CONTEST!

           First to name five characters and their power animal in Redemption's Warrior.
Email your answers to The contest ends May 1, 2015. We will identify the winner on the blog.

             Name the 5 characters and their power animals and win a new Kindle .

FREE ebook download offers running on Smashwords and

     Fun fun. FREE ebook and FREE Kindle. GOOD LUCK AND GOOD READING

Monday, February 23, 2015

Do you ever feel unworthy? I have struggled with unworthiness much of my life. The antidote I use to keep unworthiness at a distance is positive goals. They are my glue. How do you glue your life together? In psychology the glue of life is called autobiographical coherence.

The other day I blogged about writing: my goal is to write a blend of action and mysticism that reaches into the reader’s life and inspires health and well-being. Think Paulo Coehlo's book The Alchemist.

How does this dream play out in my life? Goals, yes positive goals, in manageable portions. But where do I find the seeds of autobiographical coherence? Wait! Are goals, my special version of goals, autobiographical coherence? Not everyone uses positive goals as their glue. But I do. Hhmmmm…..

I begin my search delineating each positive goal in my prayers as I went to sleep last night. Bill has the flu. He’s sleeping in the downstairs master. I’m alone in our room and lonely. Into the loneliness I began my prayers.

I pray all detrimental influences in my life be transmuted by God’s Supernatural Best. First things first, you have to get rid of the garbage that clutters your mind and heart. How do I write a mystical adventure story? I need to educate myself about mysticism. But have you ever tried to learn sailing by reading an instruction booklet?

Right! I’m going to have to practice mysticism. So much fun! Happily I’ve practiced mysticism for thirty years. Prayer, meditation, yoga, ceremony, shamanic journeys, acts of power, designing workshops for awakening the power of the four directions these have been my daily practices. These simple but powerful practices were all utilized in writing of Redemption’s Warrior.

I hope this next book will be more potent. And this is my prayer, help me Great Spirit. Permeate each written word with your transcendent function. Let each reader hear in the story the message most compelling for them. This is the magical purpose and meaning within your Supernatural Best.

I turn my prayers toward closing. I’ve asked the Divine to guide my journey writing a mystical adventure. Now I ask the sacred void at the center of creation, and the emptiness created by clearing out personal junk be filled with Divine Love, Will, Direction and Protection. Can you hear the yearning in these prayers? What does this have to do with autobiographical coherence?

Too often we try to muscle our way through our goals and forget to be open to the buoyant stillness, the sacred witness, spacious and infinitesimally small voice of booming truth. We forget to seek the divinity in the ordinary and in the most important moments of our life.

When I said Amen, the gas log in the fireplace burst into flame. Whoa! Positive goals mixed with prayer are a potent combination.

My life’s search has been for unity within the ordinary and boring and the sacred. My longing is bigger than the proverbial search for meaning. It is bigger than a quest for wisdom. I seek the conventional and divine woven together by a bridge of harmony and strength, wisdom and truth; reflected in my writing and life made manifest in beauty, wealth and well-being. As my life touches other’s lives so too will they be blessed. It’s huge.

Well, no wonder I feel unworthy! What does an ambition like this require? Vision and grit? Purification? Humility, fluid and unyielding? These sanctified goals are my teachers. They hold up reflections of my least appealing behaviors. Their fun house reflection questions, do you have the courage to look and clean up this mess? No, you cannot gather the tangle up and throw it all away. You must grasp the radiance and grace within these images as well.

What is your autobiographical coherence?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Two years ago when my son turned twenty-one, the relief racing across his face sent flutters of dismay down my spine. My troubled and painful spine: I was on the surgeon’s table two months after Scott’s birthday. First they cut open my stomach to install titanium discs. Then flipped me over and put Lego style cages around my backbone. I survived.

Hiking, actually just walking, post-surgery, I fell once a week. Where did my yoga midline go?

Back to my point: Scott was twenty-one years old. Would I ever see him? Did my life still have meaning? Are my best years behind me? It was a crisis. Have you ever felt your best years are behind you? Has your future looked bleak?

You might be surprised to know reliable research tells us the last half of life is more pleasant. Think Clint Eastwood. Yep, people in the last half of life stress less. Priorities keep them engaged with family. The motto for the last half of life could be borrowed from my yoga classes: It’s all good.

What is the path to happiness when the future looks dreary? Positive Psychology tells us to look for positive goals! Positive goals have ties to purpose and meaning. They engage our personal strengths. The synthesis of personal strengths, meaning and purpose lined up with goals produces one of the components of happiness: positive emotion. Dreary life? Solution? Positive goals.

Or try my strategy. Bring a goldendoodle home! Aidan is as cute as Scott was as a baby and almost as much work! Our days quickly filled with chores and our tribe of three is busy with walks, walks, and more walks.

Last summer we did a walk through on a rental property. (Yes, this is a little tangential.) Aidan jumped up on his hind legs, paws on the kitchen counter, he looked from us to our realtor, back and forth. His attitude was attentive, filled with interest. He seemed to be saying this is good business. What’s next?

Where do you find positive goals? Look to your dreams? Corny, I know. I spent the last two years writing my best version, of an adventure book, Redemption’s Warrior. The story is infiltrated with mysticism. Not just any mysticism. Practical mysticism. How do I know the mysticism written about in Redemption’s Warrior is practical and will get results in life? I’ve studied and practiced. I know first-hand these tools are relevant and will bring beauty and harmony to your life.

Let’s review. Stuck in a rut? Manifest positive goals, located in your dreams. Define the purpose and meaning reflected in your objective. Commit the time it takes to realize your ambition. Enjoy engaging personal strengths inherent in the process. Last of all: Seize the confidence, integrity, mastery a byproduct of fulfilling aspirations.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Goodreads recently asked me: What is Jennifer Morse reading right now?

I am two classes away from finishing my PhD in Positive Psychology. My last class text was Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson. It talks about the tipping point of positivity. If you can reach or exceed the ratio of 3:1 in favor of positivity you’ll initiate the cascade of events sweeping you into flourishing and thriving. A good experiment; I’m testing the theory right now, seeking the tipping point in my own life.

In John Gottman’s work delineating successful marriage he discovered the same tipping point. Malcom Gladwell wrote a book about the tipping point.

Books on my coffee table are the recently purchased The Book of Qualities and Notes on the Need for Beauty by J. Ruth Gendler. Ruth takes qualities and describes them. “Doubt is demanding and not very dangerous, but I appreciate his honesty.”

But my favorite description is anxiety: “Anxiety does not trust his friends worry, terror, doubt and panic….it takes a cunning to get rid of him…if you’re not near a bathtub wet your face with tears.” Check out The Book of Qualities by . So much fun. You’ll love it.

Sitting around me on the floor I have more books in my “to read” stack. Spy the Lie, The Secret Life of Pronouns, What Every Body Is Saying, The Definitive Book on Body Language. And Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. Whew! This is research.

On my Kindle I’m reading 30 Pieces of Silver and I just finished a trilogy by Robin Hobb. I’ve discovered my kindle goes everywhere. It finds the way into the bathtub with me or walking our goldendoodle Aidan. The other day walking Aidan around the block he tried to bump the Kindle out of my hand! I think if he could he’d steal it and hide it away I’d never see it again.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

We are preparing to write the second book in the Redemption Warrior series. The story beings with Juanita’s transfiguration with her swan in the midst of hurricane Olivia. Surviving the hurricane Juanita is plucked from the ocean by modern day pirates. It’s not the romantic stuff of story books. She is beaten and treated with contemptuous leers on good days.

On bad days she fears for her life. These men think nothing killing. Juanita uses all her skill, her training with La Currandera, to be invisible. She uses the strengths La Currandera has taught her to stand in her sacred witness, a place beyond the threats of violation to her body and mind.

The sacred witness is a timeless place filled with eons of celestial teachings. Juanita lives simultaneously within sacred witness and her time bound body. She exists on two planes of reality; the sacred and the ordinary. The pirates begin to fear her. Will their fear keep her safe or put her in more danger?

In this book readers experience with Juanita the temporal and mystical connections of redemption. Sacred dreams, mystical encounters, and ordinary sweat and guts may not be enough. As she asks one pirate, “Is it better to know you’re cursed? Or do you prefer to believe yourself the architect of strife and violence?”

Will Juanita forsake her apprenticeship under the weight of her cruel circumstance? Can she embody the teachings of La Caldera the womb of life? To claim freedom magical acts create her point of view. She must walk with a foot in the ordinary and a foot in the mystical, like the layers of a cake separate but whole.

Just when her life requires she fight to say alive, surrender will define, will outline, the silhouette of her redemptive beauty. Juanita surrenders to the force sculpting her escape. She must journey into the sacred dream to claim redemption and her love for Christopher.

Redemption’s Apprentice asks Juanita the questions we all face. Will she live trapped in the pains of the past? Can she cross the great divide, leaving childhood and death behind? Does she have the power to externalize her grief and let it live in the place of death on her alter? Countless readers will find their way to Juanita’s story as they have found in Amanda Hocking's stories.

The question for us all; can we become Redemption’s Apprentice? Does Juanita have enough knowledge to align her mystical body with her temporal body and walk with freedom into the future? This is Juanita’s story, Redemption’s Apprentice.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I am two papers away from completing my doctorate in Positive Psychology! What’s Positive Psychology? Is it important to the story of Redemption’s Warrior? Will Positive Psychology help our main character Christopher, stranded on a prison island, sixty miles southwest from Mazatlan, find his freedom? One thing is for sure, despite Christopher’s training in martial arts he will not be able to fight his way out of prison. He will have to find another way.

How will Positive Psychology help Christopher? Positive Psychology asks the questions: What is right with your world? What are your personal strengths? How can you build on your strengths to create well-being? Positive Psychology is the science of well-being.

Three kinds of behavior will design your version of happiness. The first behavior is fun; hanging out with friends, dancing, going to a party and having the time of your life. It’s a simple as noticing, savoring, your good times. Even in tough times we have good moments to savor.

The next strand in the braid of happiness identifies your personal strengths. How do you find personal strengths? You know, the times when you are lost in your task and time flies by. Think Jennifer Lopez. Last year she had tough times but she used her strengths, dancing and singing, and went on a world tour. It changed a bad time into good.

For me, I lose myself under the spell of writing and when I look up the entire morning has disappeared, or I look up and it’s 3AM. Before my back surgery I lost myself in gut wrenching, wring your hair out with sweat, yoga. I walked the razors edge between what I knew I could do and what was beyond my abilities. After twelve years of daily practice it was fantastic fun. You might find these spells, these moments, in a variety of activities. In sports it’s called ‘the zone.’ Part of happiness is figuring out what personal strengths put you in the zone. Do it every day.

Lastly Positive Psychology says you are not really happy without making efforts to please the important people in your life. Think Jennifer Lopez again. Every time she goes out on stage she inspires millions. Fans say she inspires them to live their dreams. Try it. It will be fun. You’ll find savoring, getting in the zone, and sharing yourself in a way that benefits others is good for you too.

Will you find Positive Psychology embedded in the story of Redemption’s Warrior? You bet. Our main character, Christopher, survives the nightmare of prison, in part, using his personal strengths. He finds chickens, makes a farm, and sells eggs. This is just one way to stay out of trouble and earn money. Money he needs to fund his escape.

He finds ways to make life better for everyone. He barbeques chickens, food that nourishes inmates. The prison zombie look flees with Christopher’s good food. Yes, you’ll find Positive Psychology embedded in Christopher’s plans to escape. It is the foundation of practical mysticism. Want to know more? Read Redemption's Warrior.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

When Bill asked “Who are the readers of Redemption’s Warrior?” I said, “All ages enjoy Redemption’s Warrior. It’s the hero’s journey. Adventure filled with mysticism.”

The story itself hums with mysticism. A shimmer makes the story come alive. Think of one of Katy Perry’s songs”

So what is mysticism?” Bill asks again. Despite writing our book together he is still trying to understand. I understand his confusion.

Mysticism? Mysticism wears many faces. Practices people use to build lives of well-being…” I squeeze my face in concentration. These conversations always fall short of describing mysticism. I take a deep breath to try again.

Mysticism is bigger than wellness. It brings the sacred dimension into the ordinary.” Bill nods his head. Bill spent months researching the settings of Redemption’s Warrior. He designed the plot and knows each twist of the story.

I added layers of sacred into the story. Inspired by our conversation I continue, “Mysticism is the golden thread of hope. Combined with our personal strengths it can lead us to success, flourishing.”

I’m onto something with this description. My body feels light and free. “Mysticism is synergistic, inexplicable magic. The fusion of our efforts leads us into wellness. Readers of Redemption’s Warrior will know the ordinary effects of mysticism.”