Sunday, December 14, 2008

CL Talmadge - Before I Was Published

I decided to be a writer when I realized, in my late teens/early twenties, that I had no other discernible skill except writing. That pretty much narrows one's career focus. Also, since the age of 13, I had been
day-dreaming about this love story between in prince in peril from his father and the woman he loves who has mysterious healing skills and
abilities. I wanted very much to write the story.

My writing career began in 1976, when I was hired as associate editor for the oldest weekly newspaper on Long Island in New York, The Suffolk County

From there I went on to report and copyedit for several daily newspapers, including the Las Vegas Sun, the Orange County Register, and the Dallas
Times Herald
. I then became an editor for Adweek/Southwest, an advertising-marketing weekly trade publication. While at Adweek I picked up freelance assignments for Business Week, Forbes, and the business section of The New York Times, among other media.

I left fulltime journalism in 1989 to write a nonfiction book about a method of emotional and spiritual healing resolution that I ended up self-publishing in 1999. I did odd freelance writing gigs, but was not very good at developing a network of contacts to find more steady assignments.
Two years later I became a staff writer for a broker-/dealer, a job that lasted until I was laid off in 1994.

I returned to freelance writing and added freelance pr to my resume as well-all the while still thinking about the story from my teen years, which by this time had grown to include four generations of women. I finally started writing in earnest in 1998, and a decade later have published the first three novels in what grew to be the Green Stone of Healing(R) epic
fantasy series.

I am close to completing the fourth book, and hope to publish it in 2009 while working on Book Five.

Monday, December 8, 2008

CJ Scarlet Tells Us What Led to The Kindness Cure

It is said that each of us is fighting a heroic battle. My name is CJ Scarlet and this is my story. Since 1990, I have lived with Lupus and Scleroderma, both autoimmune diseases that left me with constant pain and debility. When I was told in 2002 that my disability had progressed into a life-threatening heart condition, life as I knew it ended with a sickening thud. My family quickly dove into denial, leaving me with no one to talk to about my fears. I was terrified!—of pain, of debility, of dying—and yet there was no one I could turn to for comfort and wisdom.

I spent the first year after my diagnosis completely freaking out, growing more isolated and angry as each day passed. Author Steven Levine says that most people die an “Oh, shit!” death—one of total shock and terror just before the car crashes or the heart attack turns deadly or the kidneys begin to fail. I was afraid that would be me. I went through the traditional stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, and depression, but couldn’t move past them to the acceptance phase.

Part of the problem was that I had a dark past, marred by a series of traumatic events and tragic mistakes, and my death sentence felt like an apt ending to an unfulfilled life. Desperately ill, I struggled to make the best of my remaining time, but my overwhelming fear and misery overrode my attempts to be happy and robbed me of hope.

Then I had the opportunity to meet with a Tibetan lama for advice. I poured out my tale of woe, expecting the lama to shower sympathy and compassion on my deserving shoulders. Instead, he told me with loving ferocity to stop feeling sorry for myself and start focusing on the happiness of others. I argued that I was too sick to help myself, let alone other people, but the lama insisted. Although I had been a victims’ advocate for years, I had been so focused on my own suffering, that I had become oblivious to the needs of others. So I began as I could, with small acts of kindness, such as saying a prayer when an ambulance passed by and letting people go ahead of me in the checkout line at the grocery store. I bought a tank of gas for a woman whose husband had lost his job so she could get to work the next day. I spent long hours on the phone with a friend who was going through a difficult time. I did everything I could within my limited abilities to think about and act for the happiness of others. I also began to practice an ancient prayer technique called Tonglen (that I teach my clients) that helped me to transform my fears and anger into gratitude and peace, and even decreased the pain I experienced.

Gradually, I noticed that every time I did something nice for someone else, I felt a small rush of happiness. At the physiological level, the “happy endorphins” my body created in response to each act lowered my blood pressure, regulated my breathing, and reduced the stress chemicals that were so deadly to me. I began to notice that I had less pain and more energy.

I graduated to larger acts of generosity—co-signing on a car loan for a young woman so she could secure a job and volunteering at the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina. I became even happier, and the happier I became, the better I felt, until I reached a state of such emotional healing that it no longer mattered whether I lived or died—I was happy regardless of the obstacles I encountered or how much time I had left. In fact, if someone had offered me one more day to live feeling as I did at this point or ten more years feeling as I did before my diagnosis, I would choose that one precious day. Finally, I had reached the stage of acceptance and I was loving my life, every precious moment of it.

Then the most amazing thing happened; my condition began to reverse itself and today I feel better than I have in 20 years! I still have periods when I am laid low by my illness and I experience some cognitive impairment, but my happiness point is set so high now that I am unfazed by them. I will still die one day, as we all will, but the “when” is less important to me than the “how.” I am determined to die with the words, “I love you” on my lips and with the glow of joy and gratitude on my face.

Reaching such a stage of joyful acceptance is not only possible for you, but even more likely than for a person who is not facing a life-challenging illness. The fact is, your illness can be the gift that sets you free to live a life—and die a death—overflowing with happiness and gratitude.

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