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Life Coach, Shaman Monahan’s “Moment” (conclusion)

Jennifer’s first home in Guatemala ; a one room hut.

My plan was to stay in El Remate for three months, visit several Mayan sites, and write my second book. In that time, I was “adopted” by a local family, made a bunch of friends, connected with Guatemalan shamans (and participated in several traditional ceremonies) and began sponsoring the education of a couple of the local girls. El Remate quickly became more “home” than “vacation spot.” I extended my rental by another two months, and, just as I was getting ready to leave, bought a piece of land, drew out plans on graph paper, and gave them to one of my new Guatemalan friends to build my house.

While my house was being built, I traveled to Japan, Cambodia, and Thailand, and then loaded all my belongings on a cargo ship and moved to Guatemala. I had taken a few trips to Guatemala during the construction process to pick out materials and see how the house was coming along, but it was an entirely different experience walking into my completed house for the first time. I felt as if I were truly home since every aspect of the house is a reflection of me. Unlike most houses in this area of Guatemala, my house was a two-story home with lots of windows. Painted off-white, it had a terra cotta red Spanish-style roof and a small, secluded patio in front. A handmade wooden door painted slate blue with black iron decorations

Participating in a Mayan shamanic ceremony for rain in Chuarrancho.

opened up into a small foyer from which you could see the entire first floor – kitchen, dining room, living room and an office that was defined by some half walls to give it structure. Tucked in the back corner off the kitchen was a half bath. The Spanish feel continued in the house, with terra cotta ceramic tiles in the kitchen and bathroom and ceramic wood tiles in the other spaces. I had selected a sage-green color for the kitchen cabinets and black concrete for the countertops and island that separated the kitchen from the dining room.

Jennifer at a Mayan archeological site.

The floating staircase with a metal railing that mimicked a tree with branches and leaves that I had drawn out for the builders was a new concept for them, but they had stepped up to the challenge. Each concrete step with a hardwood top was anchored to the wall, giving the impression that each step was lightly floating above the other. The master builder also happened to be a metal worker, and he crafted the railing himself. At the top of the stairs was a meditation space, and then a short walkway to the master bedroom suite – which took up the rest of the second floor. A large sliding door in the bedroom led to a second-floor balcony that ran the entire length of the back of the house.

Visiting a shop in Lake Atitlan.

Set in an undeveloped area of the jungle, the house was remote enough from the village that I had complete privacy but was close enough that I could easily visit friends or go to the lake. It was also remote enough that there wasn’t any electricity available, although running water was. Solar panels on the roof, connected to storage batteries that were housed in my bodega, provided all of the energy I needed to run my house. I loved that my house was powered by the sun, and therefore green and caring for the jungle that I was living in.

My yard was filled with trees, plants and flowers, and hummed with the energy of the jungle – toucans, parrots and hummingbirds were easily spotted, as was the family of howler monkeys that used the trees as part of their “food highway” through the jungle. A whole host of other animals also made the area their home. One day an ocelot even ran through my yard! Relaxing in my hammock on the second floor balcony off my bedroom quickly became a favorite pastime, since I was at tree-level with the birds and monkeys and could not only watch them, but also feel as if I were part of the jungle.

Jennifer with other shamans after Spring Equinox ceremony at Uaxactun.

I quickly got into a routine and filled my days with consulting and shamanic work; writing; planning for and hosting an online radio show; volunteering at the local library and children’s center; and spending time with friends. To this day, my home in Guatemala is my sanctuary and fills me with peace.
If someone had told me that I would quit my job, build a house, and move to Guatemala prior to my accident, I would have laughed at them. But that’s how these life-changing moments work: they throw you for a loop so that you look at everything differently, and they put you on a different trajectory than you could have imagined. In retrospect, my accident was a gift. It allowed me to truly get to know myself and what I am capable of and gave me the opportunity to experience life in a more authentic way than I ever had before. Oh, and do it while wearing six-inch heels!

What’s your moment?

Did you miss Part 1 of this fascinating article? 

About Jennifer B. Monahan
Jennifer is a business strategy consultant, shaman and coach who helps people all over the world live purposeful lives that not only bring them more joy and freedom, but also help them make the impact they want on the world. Her first book, “This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit

Jaguar

Evolution,” chronicles her experiences meeting and training with a Mayan shaman in Mexico and has won six literary awards, including two first-place Body, Mind, Spirit Book Awards and a 2017 National Indie Excellence Award. Her second book, “Where To? How I Shed My Baggage and Learned to Live Free,” describers Jennifer’s time living in a thatched-roof hut in Guatemala and then travelling to Cambodia, Thailand and Japan. It has won seven literary awards, including Winner in the 2019 Beverly Hills Books Awards and Silver Winner in the 2019 Nautilus Book Awards.

She is a regular contributor to Medium.com and Sivana East, has had articles published on Inc.com and MindBodyGreen.com and has a podcast, Living A Courageously Authentic Life, on BlogTalkRadio.com. She is in the process of writing her third book, a handbook for people looking to define, create and live their courageously authentic life. When not traveling, Jennifer splits her time between Guatemala and the United States. You can find Jennifer at SpiritEvolution.co.

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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Shaman, Author, Jennifer Monahan shares ‘a moment’….

  What’s Your Moment?

I’m a firm believer that each one of us has specific moments during our lives that shape us. Usually uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful, these moments move us in a direction that we might never have gone in. For me, one of those moments happened on November 2, 2014.
It was a gorgeous, clear Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, one of those days where you just feel alive because everything is so bright and sunny. I was at an intersection in the Financial District, walking to the downtown area to do some errands. Even though the Financial District was virtually deserted, I waited for the “Walk” signal before crossing the street. I was about halfway across when something blue caught the corner of my eye…a split-second before a man hit me at 25 miles an hour with his blue minivan.

I don’t remember much after that. Eyewitnesses said that I rode on the hood of the minivan for about half a block until the driver slammed on the brakes to stop. (I later found out that the driver got confused and stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake.) I have no memory of riding on the hood, but I do remember falling. I landed on the pavement on my hands, knees and face and knew immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to move.
At the emergency room, all the doctors and technicians said that they had never seen a “human vs. minivan” outcome look as good as I did. “Good,” of course, is relative, as I later learned, and basically meant that I wasn’t dead. I had plenty of time to think about that during the six months I was laid up on my couch and the subsequent months of physical therapy.

The most difficult day of my healing process was when my doctors told me I wouldn’t walk again and that I would need to use both crutches and a brace for the rest of my life. I cried that day and then woke up the next morning filled with resolve. At my next appointment, I brought a pair of 6-inch heels into the doctor’s office, told the doctors my goal was to wear them, and suggested that they get on board because I was going to walk again.
I still remember the sense of pride I felt as I accomplished what in the past had been mindless simple activities: being able to curl my toes and pick up a facecloth was one of my first successes and gave me the confidence to continue to push myself to re-learn how to walk. I celebrated the day that I graduated to a walking cast and took my first steps without crutches. Friends cheered me on the first time that I walked (slowly) in a brace down a short flight of stairs. The day I walked a few steps without crutches, cast or a brace was the day I knew I had proved the doctors wrong. I was exhausted, covered in sweat and shaking, but was, in my doctor’s words, “a miracle.” It took fourteen months.
But the point the doctors had made about how “good” I looked after the accident kept swirling around in my head. There was no doubt in my mind that I had been lucky: had I fallen under the wheels of the minivan instead of going up on the hood, I would have died.

That moment and realization changed my life completely. I began looking at every aspect of my life and realized that while my life had been a good life, I had played by the rules and hadn’t taken many chances.  I realized that I didn’t want to play it safe anymore; I wanted to follow my heart and truly live life.

Tikal in Guatemala

Lake Peten Itza

And so, I did what at the time was one of the scariest things I had ever done: I quit my job and walked away from the security that it represented. Once I had given my notice, the next change was a lot easier: I gave up my rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco (a big deal, given how crazy rents are in San Francisco). I sold and donated a lot of my belongings and put the rest in storage. I had decided to travel.
I’m a nomad at heart, a gypsy. My work as a consultant suits me well, since I’m typically on a plane every week, going somewhere different. But that travel was for work and didn’t give me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do: really immerse myself in different cultures and locations.
First on my list of places to visit was Guatemala. I had become fascinated with Mayan archaeological ruins two years prior and had explored over a dozen sites in Mexico. Everyone told me that I needed to see Tikal in Guatemala. So, once I finished my book tour for my first book, I packed my carry-on bag and headed to Guatemala.

Jaguar-About to depart on another worldwide trip

I ended up in the small village of El Remate, in Peten, about 30 minutes away from Tikal. The village is in the jungle and home to a couple hundred families. The main road through town is the only fully paved road in the village and is dotted with tiny shops, restaurants and churches and runs alongside Lake Peten Itza. Chickens, dogs, and pigs wander around freely, holding up traffic when they decide to sleep in the middle of the road.
I rented a one-room thatched-roof hut, near the lake and village cemetery and about a 20-minute walk to the center of town. It had a covered outside patio with a couch and chair. The front door opened to the sleeping area. To the left of the sleeping area was the bathroom – with running water. To the right was the kitchen and eating area. But what really made the hut was the thatched roof. It rose about two and a half stories high, with a bamboo framework and dried palm leaves making a water-tight roof.

Join us next week for the conclusion of this fascinating journey! 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

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One Candle Can Light Another

Gary Swindell
1961-2020

One day a good friend called me; Gary was  a very accomplished pianist, guitarist and musical director. He was reading my book of poetry, Butterflies and Bullets. He went on to say that while reading my work he kept hearing music in his head. And could I give him permission to use my poetry for lyrics. What a compliment! He said he was especially taken with, “Hair-cut…Two Bits”, about a down-and-out cellist, gambler and barber in New Orleans.

Gary  had previously written a song based on my play, Scent of Magnolia (Billie Holiday).  The world lost a beautiful musician and friend this past December. 

We artists, regardless of what we do or what we write, should lift each other up whenever or wherever we can.  When I review a book I make certain that my review (if bad) lists helpful and constructive criticism and is never cruel. 

It is my hope that my posts relating to writing helps a new writer begin their journey in writing….and helps experienced writers learn something new. My hope is to light someone else’s candle of creativity.

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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Interview with Author, Susan Wiggs (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

SW. It wasn’t an inspiration but a suspiration. Seriously, I thought everyone thought in stories and to me, it was as natural as breathing. I know this is true because I had a very patient mom who would write down my stories as I dictated them to her, because I was too young to read or write.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

SW. This varies from book to book. For The Oysterville Sewing Circle, the characters and situation are so entwined that they appeared concurrently on the page. Caroline, an aspiring designer, is not inherently interesting until we see her confronted with a situation of epic proportions—a shocking tragedy and the need to protect two small children. That sets the story in motion. I’m a sucker for stories about an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances he or she never expected.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Susan’s first novel

SW. I love when that happens! When the world of the story and the characters feel as real as life itself. The downside is, there are situations and characters that break my heart, as in The Oysterville Sewing Circle. I have to confess; I experienced a lot of anger when I was researching and writing this book. I hope I did justice to the women who shared their stories with me.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

SW. I’m desperately trying to finish The Lost and Found Bookshop (Summer 2020), set in a vintage bookshop in historic San Francisco. The main character finds hidden artifacts in the old building that turn out to be clues to her family’s past.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SW. I wrote my first novel while studying for my master’s degree at Harvard. I wrote it on a typewriter and it was probably awful but the experience was completely exhilarating, and I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

SW. A few years. I sold my first book in 1986 and it was published in 1987. My very first editor was Wendy McCurdy and we’re still friends to this day.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

SW. No.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

SW. It’s like holding up a distorted mirror. A character might reflect an old memory of mine (Caroline’s first love in The Oysterville Sewing Circle or the first time I learned to surf…) More importantly, my world view and heart are reflected in my writing. I believe in the fundamental kindness of humanity, the power of following your passion, and the absolute necessity of opening our hearts to one another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SW. Reading. And more writing. I also enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing. Spending time with my mom and granddaughter. They’re both named Clara, and my daughter Elizabeth.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

SW. Sure! I want to learn the craft of screenwriting, for sure. I keep wanting to write a mystery or thriller, but I’m too squeamish.

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

SW. Probably one of the biggest life lessons came from The Oysterville Sewing Circle! Believe women. Believe your gut. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it’s not right. And if something’s not right, speak up. For some women, this takes enormous courage—but the rewards are boundless.

Did you miss Part I? Click here 

 My Review of The Oysterville Sewing Circle

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August:  My interview with Susan Wiggs and September: Alan Foster (sci-fi)
 
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What Other Writers are Saying…

TS. I am currently developing a new journal for creative writers who are or want to be writing plays. If my fans and readers are familiar with my journals, it is traditional for me to embed quotes from other writers, authors, actors, directors, etc., into the blank pages of the journal. These are meant to inspire the owner of the journal with their own story writing.

Louis L’Amour

So I am always looking for new quotes as I hand pick every one when considering them for my journals. Here are what other writers have said about the joys (and heartbreak) of being a writer.

 

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Ernest Hemingway 

Mary Y-Arr

“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?” Mary Y-Arr

 

“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“The desire to write grows with writing.” Desiderius Erasmus

“I must write it all out at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

“As a writer you try to listen to what others aren’t saying…and write about the silence.” N.R. Hart 

MJ Bush

“Step into a scene and let it drip from your fingertips.” MJ Bush 

“We write to taste life twice. In the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin

Anais Nin

“I think new writers are too worried that it has all been said before. Sure it has but not by you.” Asha Dornfest 

“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” Stephen King

Stephen King

“Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.” Holley Gerth

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde.  August: My interview with Susan Wiggs and in September: Alan Dean Foster (sci-fi)
 
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Celebrating Our Veterans on Their Day, 2019!

          Members of the military impacted my life in many ways. My life  was certainly changed by members of my family serving in the armed forces.  So what better time than on this Memorial Day to honor them….those who keep us SAFE and FREE!  And to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us and their country.

                                                    ****

Gerald Guyer (cousin)   US Marines**WWI – gave his life in Normandy, France ** Son of Gladys; nephew of Violet, about whom I have written many stories.

W. Jay Woods

William Jay Woods (father)  US Navy ** WWII –   South Pacific – PTSD.  He met my mother in San Francisco, where she owned a bar and grill.  He returned from war  an alcoholic, experienced rages and had a parrot named Butch.

John Cable, ‘Dad’

Johnny Cable (step-father)  US Army/Infantry ** WWII Southern Pacific. Lost an eye, suffered from jungle rot and PTSD.  At five years of age I remember not being able to run in and jump on the bed in the mornings to wake up Daddy.  He would wake up ready to fight the ‘Japs’ and in those first few seconds he was back in the jungle.   He was a wonderful father but the horrors of the South Pacific battles were never far from the surface.
He later served on a ship in the Korean War as a meat cutter.  He was instrumental in serving the troops a HOT Thanksgiving dinner on the beach that year.

family histories, family secrets, story telling, writers

my mother, Violet

Violet Guyer (mother) US Armed Forces ** Wife, sister, and mother of members in the military.
My mother, who I write about, was auntie to Gerald.  She married Jay (active Navy) and Johnny (active Army) and was a military wife for two decades. She was mother to Jack (US Air Force) and Doris, (US Marines).

Brother Jack

Jack Borden (brother)  US Air Force ** Loaded B52 bombers – hot spots around the world – 20+ years of service.  My brother would come home from far away places like Germany, Iceland, Africa, Panama and because he  didn’t have a hometown girl, he would take me, his teenage sister, ballroom dancing.

Jack Henderson.  (first husband) US Air Force * While in the military, he was on a ship in the Pacific and

Robert.Berry

Robert Berry, Navy Seal

witnessed one of the first A-Bomb test explosions off Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  

Robert Berry (second husband)   US Navy Seals, US Coast Guard ** 20+ years of service.  Robert was a Navy Seal, underwater demolition during the Viet Nam years.  He later served as a warrant officer aboard an icebreaker and was certified to scuba dive under the Arctic ice.

 

john.Viet.Nam

John Sugarek, Viet Nam

John Sugarek (husband)  US Marines ** Viet Nam –   John was my husband for 30 years. He was kind-hearted and funny and everyone loved him.  I witnessed two of his  flashbacks from battle in Viet Nam (twenty years later)  and he suffered, untreated, from PTSD. Partially due to the PTSD (I believe) he died at his own hand in 2006.  His fellow wounded warriors celebrate at the Whiskey Battery Reunion, once a year.marines

 

We are all grateful to our military for their unswerving bravery, service, and loyalty and we honor those who have come home, battered but alive.

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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Happy Father’s Day…..

Dear Dads and Grandads,

As you sit with your children or grandchildren today, eating Bar-B-Q or enjoying a picnic or having a traditional Sunday dinner with all the fixin’s….

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Look across the table at the little ones….now picture them torn away from your family/parents and segregated (by gender) and placed in concentration camps.  YOU don’t know where they are, you may not able to find them…ever.  Picture your six year-old daughter or granddaughter in a cage, alone, with 100 other little girls. Hard to imagine, huh?

Put ethnicity, skin color, legality aside for a moment. LOOK at your kids and picture them in concentration camps, locked up, defenseless…..alone. 

How does that feel?  What would your precious children be thinking? Feeling?  What level is their terror?

 

One news report stated that in order to get the children away from their parents, ICE told them the kids were being taken for ‘showers’.  That sent a chill up my back….at the German Camps the human line that was to be exterminated were told that was the line to go to the showers. But instead of water coming out of the nozzles, deadly gas was released.

Getty image

Read your history….this is how it all started in 1938 in Nazi Germany.

‘Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. (Sound familiar??) He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the constitution that permitted the suspension of individual freedoms of press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces — the Gestapo, the Storm Troopers (SA), and the SS — murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (Communists, socialists, and liberals).’
(credit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/1933-1939-early-stages-of-persecution/)

Who’s next?  Your Jewish children? Your Asian children? Your Muslim children? Your Catholic kids?

My purpose, with this post, is to make the food STICK in YOUR THROAT!

 Is this our America?  A country built on the backs of Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, Africans, Germans, Jews….all immigrants. With the exception of the Native Americans, there isn’t a person who lives in this country today who cannot trace their lineage back to ‘the old country’. We are all immigrants! Even our Beloved Leader, Herr Trump.

(I thought to myself: Gee, maybe I should apologize to my followers for digressing so far off my mission…to write about writing. But, no, I can’t. The idea of little precious children being placed in camps with an excellent possibility of never seeing their parents or siblings again STICKS in MY THROAT.)    

Motivational Moments…for Writers and their Partners #38

 

This was just tooo good not to share! As a writer, I will tell you that it’s good, no, great advice if you are involved with a writer.

Okay, all laughs aside….seriously….if you are the significant other to a writer you are one of my HEROES!!   When we are writing and you try to talk to us,  we are not being rude by not answering you, we don’t mean to be neglectful, we don’t mean to hurt your feelings.  We simply don’t hear you.….when we are deep into the zone we aren’t even in the same room or house with you…we are in the world of our story, if we are lucky.

writer
This, in fact, is one of the questions I ask the authors that I interview. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long? And they have all reported back that yes they get lost in the story and in their characters.

So if you give the writer in your life some slack, bring them a cup of coffee but don’t speak, quietly close the door to their ‘writing space’  you are a true supporter to that writer.

 

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”– Sidney Sheldon

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”
– Anton Chekhov

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe

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Did you like this tip?  See all 37 tips for writers in the book, How to Write Creatively

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Honoring All Veterans, Fallen and Still Fighting!

Our politicians could take a page from the young men and women who are, TODAY, fighting for our country or defending smaller, weaker spots around the globe. Brave, honorable, honest, with integrity, they are making the world a better place.  Giving selflessly of their time, dedication to country, and sometimes their lives. 

I would like to honor and name the people in my family who have served.

Gerald Guyer  (WW1 Normandy)
William J. Woods (WW2, South Pacific)
John W. Cable (WW2, South Pacific)
Jack D. Borden (B52 Bombers/23 years USAF)
Doris B. Gill (US Marines) 
Jack Henderson (USAF Enowitach Bomb testing)
Robert Berry (Navy Seal. Korea, Vietnam)
  John W. Sugarek (US Marines, Vietnam)

 

 

 

 

 

For more stories

Just Published! I WANNA BE a WRITER, Journal and Handbook

‘A stunning new journal with more instruction and extra tips about writing fiction, stage plays, and poetry.’ Midwest Book Review

The newest in a series of Journals/Handbooks. For new and experienced writers alike, this Journal offers more instruction,
tips and more hand-picked quotes by other authors, actors, playwrights, philosophers, and poets. Meant to inspire the creative mind.  A handy size that will fit in a backpack or tote.  

 

WHAT TO EXPECT:   
How To Begin
How To Develop Exciting Characters
How To Tell A Story
How To Write a Stage Play
How To Write Poetry
How To Write Haiku Poetry

 

To purchase: click here 
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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. In December we will be saying hello to English mystery writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!
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 To Purchase