Joyce Shafer is a life coach and a weekly columnist for United Press International’s Religion and Spirituality Forum. She is also regularly published at VisionsMetro, Success.com, iPEC’s iNSPIRE Newsletter (Institute for Professional Empowerment Coaching), Selfgrowth.com, and Potential2Success. Besides her book “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say,” she has a second book available, “How to Have What You REALLY Want: An Easy Guide That Can Take You to the Next Level in Every Area of Your Life.” Joyce also contributed to the content and editing of Leeya Brooke Thompson’s 2006 book “The Wisdom of Sound and Number: Phonetic Chaldean Numerology—Reclaiming an Ancient Oracle.”
Tyler: Thank you for joining me, today, Joyce. I understand “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say” has been compared to such fables as “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” and “The Little Prince.” To begin, how would you best define your book and will you tell us a little bit about the frame or structure of the book?
Joyce: Thank you, Tyler. It’s my pleasure to have this opportunity. “Guru” presents non-fiction, that is, real-life matters in a fictional format so that readers are invited to “overhear” a conversation and give the content consideration as opposed to being told “This is the way.” One humorous note about this format is that when someone wants to categorize it and asks, “Is it fiction or non-fiction?”—my answer is Yes.
When we contemplate something and allow our inner truth about it to emerge—what is appropriate for us—it has far more meaning for us as individuals. This process allows us to integrate what we learn about ourselves into our day-to-day lives. Doing so can create a stronger foundation to manage our lives rather than let our lives manage us. It’s true Self empowerment. It takes “To thine own self be true” to the next level, which is precisely the purpose of the book.
Tyler: Joyce, how did you come up with the idea to write “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say?”
Joyce: First, I want to say the title came to me while having dinner with a friend. He asked me what it was that I wanted to accomplish and I responded, “I don’t want to be anyone’s guru, but I do have something to say.” The Why is that I’ve always been something of a philosophical and practical analyst of behaviors and dynamics—those of others, but especially of my own. Everything is cause and effect, choice and outcome. I had one of those moments where I contemplated something I observed and the thought occurred that a book that touched on this process might be good to share. And, I wanted it to be reader-friendly so it flowed for readers. I wanted to avoid sounding academic or cause readers to have a “Huh?” bubble hovering in their minds about what was being said.
Over a two-year period, I made various attempts to get the book started. There was so much I wanted to include, but to arrive at how to organize and present it was a challenge. I finally got frustrated and decided that until I knew exactly how to do this, I wouldn’t give it another thought.
Two months went by before I woke one morning and knew what the format had to be. Due to my schedule, my writing time was limited to the first 30 to 45 minutes after waking on weekdays. I also was inclined at that time, to write it long-hand into a notebook. It arrived pretty much as it is over a two-month period, meaning I didn’t edit the story, edits were matters of punctuation.
Tyler: Our reviewer at Reader Views, Narissa Johnson, commented that the character A.J. could be a male or female. Would you give us a little insight into what A.J. represents. Do those initials mean anything?
Joyce: The names of the characters emerged as the content did; though I realized when A.J. appeared, that I should leave gender non-specific so readers could assign it for themselves. My thought was that readers might see themselves through A.J.’s eyes, so no pronoun ever appears in the book regarding that character. Initially, it was a source of curiosity and amusement for me to ask readers what gender they believe A.J. to be, and they had interesting reasons why A.J. was female or male. A.J. represents us as beings who sometimes move through life too fast or even sometimes as sleepwalkers, rather than participants in our own inner and outer journeys, as well as those whose deeper innate thought processes can be stimulated.
A funny thing about Bill was that when he arrived and started to speak, he looked and sounded like the actor Robert Duvall. I suppose many authors envision their books becoming movies, especially now that venues such as Spiritual Cinema Circle and Indies exist; but I was surprised when this happened. However, if anyone could convey the proper vocal inflection and twinkle of the eyes of Bill, Duvall could.
Tyler: I also understand this is a new edition of the book. What has changed from the previous edition, and why did you feel a need for a new edition?
Joyce: The changes were unrelated to the content. What started the new edition process was I considered entering “Guru” in a competition and saw that the cover was part of the evaluation. The original cover was generic and functional, but I knew it would benefit from a facelift. I’m delighted with this new one since apples are included in the story. I changed my mind about entering the competition because it became obvious that Point A didn’t lead to Point B, it led to Point C. My mantra is, “Commit, but be flexible.” Pricing was also a consideration and primary motivator for the new edition. A global distribution situation created an automatic price hike for the original version and I wasn’t able to change that. The new edition allowed me to put the price of print copies and downloads to ones I felt were more appropriate.
Tyler: That’s all really interesting, Joyce. First of all, let me say I love the cover and laughed when I saw how it fit the story so perfectly. But I’m interested in what you say about pricing. Authors often feel like a book is a blessing and a curse—you love your story and want the world to enjoy your book, but at the same time, you have to be careful that the book will sell without losing your shirt, so to speak. Do you have any advice for writers about the financial aspect of the business? Especially in your case, where your book’s goal is more spiritual, how do you balance the material side of being a writer?
Joyce: The first thing I want to suggest to authors is that they check out the various Print-On-Demand services available online. The publishing world has changed dramatically in the last several decades. Thankfully, because of the electronic age and those who recognized a needed service and created a way to provide it, new authors can find budget-friendly ways to get into print in a very short amount of time and avoid years of rejection letters that may or may not have anything to do with book quality, as well as avoid an initial cash layout and boxes of books taking up space.
Second, it’s easy to forget that money is a man-made concept that represents an exchange of energy for a product or service. People agree to such an exchange if they perceive there is value to having a particular something in their lives whether it serves them short- or long-term. People involved in more spiritually-based endeavors hesitate to properly value what they offer because there’s an intangible quality present even if something tangible is provided. Yet in reality, this is true about every purchase. Someone who sells a product is able to factor in cost of materials and labor to arrive at a selling price. It isn’t feasible for an author to factor in education costs that come from higher learning, books, workshops, life experiences, hours of contemplation, or writing and editing time and dollars involved in creating a book from concept to print form. But if a book changes a person’s life for the better, even to a small degree, what price do you put on that? What value? It’s priceless—to the person and the author. Undervaluing ourselves and what we offer does not empower us, others, or the collective we are all a part of. In fact, it weakens us. However, I add that in certain situations that feel appropriate to me, I give the book away.
The topic of denying or limiting abundance in our lives, whatever that looks like to us as individuals, is an entire dialogue on its own. Nothing about the universe we live in stipulates lack or limitation is the way. We make such a decision on our own. We can seek a point of balance; and, everyone’s point of balance is different and changes with time.
Tyler: Thanks for that explanation, Joyce. I think it’s true that money can’t always be the dominant concern. Many authors decide to publish, whether profitable or not, because it’s more important for them to share their story with others. I understand part of the lesson of the book focuses on how we view ourselves. Would you give us an example of such a lesson?
Joyce: One example is that much dialogue came about regarding how to heal or address the inner child, or as Carolyn Myss once referred to it, the inner brat. Phrases are used to say we are the children of the Universe or other wording to the same effect. One segment in “Guru” poses the question, What if considering ourselves children is part of the problem in our lives and world today? What might happen if we consider ourselves responsible adults instead? How might we behave differently about our individual and global experiences?
Tyler: In relation to viewing ourselves as adults, I was struck by the passage on page 25 where you said, “I’m not sayin that someone who’s had something negative happen doesn’t deserve compassion and whatever help can be given. What I’m sayin is some folks get stuck” and you go on to say we have to accept things are over and it is past tense. I think a lot of people use therapy today to ask others to look at all the terrible things that happened in their childhood so they deserve sympathy. How does someone like that move from feeling sorry for himself to behaving like a responsible adult?
Joyce: First, to borrow again from Carolyn Myss since she said it perfectly, when we lead with our wounds we, in fact, inform others as to how we’ll manipulate situations and people in our lives. When we lead with our wounds, we position ourselves as victims with no or little personal power to move the self from that stuck place and often believe others need to do whatever we ask of them so we can feel better. This places responsibility for our feeling good about ourselves on others rather than where it belongs—inside us. When we do this, who holds the power?
Therapy is sometimes needed, depending on what the situation or condition is. What I appreciate about life coaching is that you may touch on past events for the purpose of getting a bit of information, but you never let a client stay there—because it isn’t happening in the present. The only thing happening in the present is the person’s perceptions about the past. Dragging the past behind us is like dragging heavy boulders. We move forward much faster if we put that load down, assess where we are, and choose where we want to go now. Or as Bruce D. Schneider, Ph.D. and founder of iPEC coined, “Where do we grow from here?” We do at times need to be self-nurturing or nurtured by others when something emotionally or physically painful happens; but if we move into self-pity, nothing changes—at least nothing that leads to positive outcomes. There’s a perfect phrase for this: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” We suffer when we resist what is rather than find a way to move forward. Locking into self-pity leaves us unable to properly respond, which is the root of what being responsible is about. We may not be able to change everything about our lives, but we can change our attitudes. When we truly grasp that what we focus on attracts more of the same to us, we would, hopefully, be more mindful about this.
Tyler: Joyce, would you tell our readers a little bit about how being a life coach may have influenced your book?
Joyce: Actually, the original version was published about a year prior to my training as a life coach. Since I also function as editor for the Dr. Bill’s Health and Wellness Series, my time doesn’t currently include life coach clients. The degree I’m involved in coaching at this time is that my coach and I coach each other. Of course, life offers many opportunities to act as a coach. Many. However, one thing is true about trained coaches—they were always a coach in one fashion or another; so, you could easily say my life as an untrained coach did influence the content.
What the training directly affected was “How to Have What You REALLY Want,” which I created over ten years ago for a workshop I conducted. After the training, and a decade of additional life experiences, I modified it and realized it could easily be offered as a book for people who want to look at their lives in a way they, perhaps, never have. It also deals with the concept of what it is we really want, which we usually believe to be something other than what that ultimately is. This new book is an excellent companion to “Guru,” which would be beneficial to read first so certain thoughts are stimulated, though it’s not absolutely necessary to do so. Each book is a “stand-alone.” The underlying theme of both books is that right answers are great, but the ability to ask ourselves the right questions is even more empowering.
Tyler: Joyce, how do you feel your book stands out from all the self-help books on the market today?
Joyce: One reader who posted a review at the primary seller’s site said it best: It doesn’t preach or direct, it invites contemplation. People evolve at their own paces and I honor that. And, I understand that individuals best know what is appropriate for them. Also, the book consolidates quite a bit into a small space rather than pages and pages or volumes. It’s succinct.
Tyler: I would agree with that. I’ve heard several of the ideas you express before in books ranging from Buddhism to quantum physics, but I felt your book was easy to read. I want to go back to the beginning when you said the format came to you after you did nothing for two months. The book is written as a dialogue between Bill and A.J. and in that way, it is both very contemporary and as you said earlier, reader-friendly, while also recalling classical dialogues, like Plato’s. But what I really liked was that it took place in a diner while eating apple pie. Why did you decide on that setting, or if it “just came” to you, what do you feel makes that setting successful for achieving the book’s overall goals?
Joyce: Yes, many of the concepts in the book are familiar because they are as old as we are. Sometimes, we grasp an idea as a matter of hearing it stated differently or seeing it worded in a way that allows us to understand how it relates to us directly. Timing can play a role, as well. We may have been aware of the dots, but a pivotal moment occurs to connect them and we see a bigger picture.
The setting did just come to me, as did the dialogue. Every word flowed through the pen to the paper so fast, it was sometimes a challenge to keep up. I learned from that experience and now use my computer. I imagine the reason a diner presented itself is because nearly everyone relaxes when they sit down in such a setting. It’s far more casual than, say, a four-star restaurant. Considering the location where the story takes place, it’s also more realistic. Most of us enjoy a diner experience since it’s conducive to conversation—the one we engage in and those we overhear. We love to linger over a meal or coffee and interesting, stimulating conversation.
Tyler: The book is a very slim volume of 54 pages. Do you envision people reading it in one sitting, or reading a little bit each day What do you think is the best way for the reader to apply its lessons?
Joyce: I love learning how they chose to read it, whether in one sitting or in several. It’s really about what works best for them. And because of its size, many read it more than once. Quite a few people have shared that nearly every page is written on as thoughts occur to them while reading the book. One of the most affirming comments I’ve received from many readers is that a great deal is accomplished in just 54 pages.
Since the premise of the book is to inspire consideration, my hope is that readers apply what’s offered in ways that are appropriate for them, through actions that come from head and heart alignment about particular matters. This alignment is more often than not, the result of inner reflection and determining how to make feelings, beliefs, and personal truths congruent with outer actions—how we live in the world. If we look around, we notice a great deal of challenges and conflicts stem from incongruities.
Tyler: For readers who haven’t read the book, could you give us an example of such a challenge or conflict that stems from an incongruity, so they can better understand what you are trying to achieve?
Joyce: We’re not always aware that what we criticize exists in us, or once did, on some level. As an example, years back, I visited a psychic fair where members of one of the stricter religions picketed outside. The coordinator of the fair said to me, “I cannot tolerate intolerant people,” then walked away, oblivious to what he’d just said.
We could expand this a bit and say if he had paused to consider his own level of tolerance, he might have had a simple fleeting thought about the picketers like, “How interesting,” then let it go. Had the picketers felt tolerant, they may have noticed some discomfort and gathered to meditate on the wish that they and everyone attending the fair connected to their spirituality in a meaningful way. We might achieve better outcomes in such situations if we admit we don’t always feel tolerant. Certainly, abuse of any kind should not be tolerated; but we can’t enforce tolerance. We can only re-evaluate it and our relationship to it on a consistent basis.
We criticize when we feel restricted. What usually happens in such cases is that instead of placing focus on why we feel restricted and what we can do to effect a productive change within ourselves—even if that means we move on or away—we focus on what’s wrong with the others and on how we can make them behave in ways that make us feel better. We’re all mirrors for each other. Incongruities occur when we fail to notice that what we don’t like in another is a reflection of something we don’t like or want to deny it exists within us. We’re not homogenous, nor will we ever be; but, we can choose to determine what is appropriate for us to become our best selves and allow others to travel their own path, giving them the same respect we desire. And, we have to determine the balance point within society for such respect and tolerance, though it’s an ongoing see-saw type of experience. Incongruity appears when we believe there should only be one way and that everyone should agree on it. That’s unrealistic when we consider nearly seven billion individuals are having individual experiences on the planet at one time.
A first thought about this for some may be, What about extremists? If you consider the overall population of the planet, extremists are the minority despite what news reports suggest. The majority of us just want to live a life of purpose and feel fulfilled about our experiences. If we think for ourselves and don’t agree to be incited to different behavior, we are basically kind-hearted as a whole.
Tyler: Thank you, Joyce, I think that’s well said, and I think your book will help people understand this better. Thank you so much for joining us today, Joyce. Would you let our readers know your web site address and how they can find out more information about “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say”?
Joyce: Thank you, Tyler. The website is [http://www.joyceshafer.com]. People interested in what others have to say about their experience of reading “Guru” can go to http://www.lulu.com and read the reviews. Their comments have more worth and impact than anything I might add about the book at this time.
Tyler: And finally, do you have anything else to say before we release you from your guru position here?
Joyce: I’m smiling at you since, of course, the whole idea is that I’m not a guru nor aspire to be one. I just want to be mindful in my own life, as much as possible. If such attention to my life assists others to do the same for themselves, that’s what ultimately matters.
I did have one reader email an inquiry about why he should listen to anything I had to say in the book. I responded that he shouldn’t, that the point of the book was for him to listen to himself, but perhaps listen with “different” ears. Another shared that tears streamed down his face as he read it because it touched many inner issues at a deep level. One reader asked for my apple pie recipe.
Some interesting things happened since the first version came out, events that I did not initiate. One reader sent a copy to a head librarian which resulted in the Brooklyn Public Library’s board voting to include “Guru” on their shelves and in their computerized catalog. I’m still not certain how this happened, but an organization formed in Manhattan to assist those affected by 9/11, used it for their book-of-the-month discussion the same year the original was published. And, a person who retired from the military and decided to function as a coach to assist others retiring and returning to civilian life, gives a copy to each of her clients. On nearly a daily basis, I get a surprise or gift, if you will, by learning how this little book makes a big difference in someone’s life. Such moments are affirming for me as the writer of this book; but, to be of such service to a fellow being… Words I might use to express this would diminish how this feels.
One thing became immediately apparent: This book has a life of its own—beyond what even I imagined.
Tyler: I can certainly believe that, Joyce, and I hope it continues to touch many lives. Good luck to you and to the life of “I Don’t Want to Be Your Guru, but I have Something to Say.”
Joyce: Thank you, Tyler. I wish you, and everyone, a wonderful life and a life filled with wonders.
Reviewed by Narissa Johnson for Reader Views (6/07)
- Interview: Stephen Alter, author, Feral Dreams; Mowgli and his Mothers
- Scramble for customer acquisition passé, focus is on improving unit economics, says Swiggy COO Sunder
- Aparshakti Khurana Says It Would Be Problematic If He's Still Known As The ‘Dangal Guy’
- 'I was going to kill him. Like the scriptures say': New audio reveals 'cult mom' Lori Vallow 'confessed that she wanted to murder her third husband' six months after his death in 2018
- Exclusive! "Aishwarya's beauty is something that has never been seen in the post-Madhubala period” says ad-guru Prahlad Kakkar on her birthday
- Leta Powell Drake on Her Viral Twitter Clip, Interviewing Celebrities, and Johnny Carson
- Gwyneth Paltrow says her relationship with ex Chris Martin is now BETTER than their marriage was as she talks about owning her flaws: 'It takes radical accountability'
- Ford Says People Told Bronco Development Team ‘Don’t Eff It Up’
- MPs stopped discussion because of coronavirus vaccination. We don’t want it to be mandatory, hygienists say
- Greg Rutherford retires: ‘I just don’t want to be in pain every day of my life’
- 'The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds': Tributes paid to best-selling author Sir Terry Pratchett as he dies aged 66 after long battle with Alzheimer's
- Shortz is T20 version of thrillers: Author Ravi Subramanian on his latest work
- FDA wants two months of safety data before considering Covid-19 vaccine
- Don’t Want To Wait In Long Lines Outside New Jersey MVC Locations? This Teen Will Hold Your Spot — For A Price
- Anu Kumar’s train of thought: An interview with author Anuradha Kumar
- Russia Rejects Ultimatums, Threats Amid Situation With Navalny, Ambassador to Germany Says
- Brian May, 73, says wife Anita Dobson, 71, 'saved his life' after complications from his heart attack 'nearly killed' him with the Queen star blaming Covid for recent health scare
- Nobody thought Vienna attacker was capable of this, says his former lawyer
- You're never too old for fun! A quarter of middle-aged women say sex is still 'highly important' to them
- Author Usha Rajagopalan looks back at her childhood in the company of animals in ‘The Zoo in My Backyard’
Interview With Joyce Shafer, Author Of "I Don't Want To Be Your Guru, But I Have Something To Say" have 4446 words, post on ezinearticles.com at July 29, 2007. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.