First Chapter Reveal: My Death: A Personal Guidebook by Jeremy Kagan

My-Death-A-Personal-GuidebookTitle: My Death: A Personal Guidebook
Genre: Spiritual/Self-Help
Author: Jeremy Kagan
Publisher: Balboa Press
Pages: 124
Language: English
Format: eBook

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This is a powerful memoir of a near-death experience. After a Native American sweat lodge, the author loses control of his body and then his life. He begins a passage that leads to a personal hell. He discovers a way to escape and emerges into an amazing exploration of the soul’s journey. In this intense adventure, there are insights into stages of consciousness and encounters of blissful perfection. This spiritual, inspirational book is meant to be an aid to removing the universal fear of the final journey we are all taking.

First Chapter:

I was with a high school buddy who told me that his greatest fear is dying and death. I wanted to comfort him. I thought if I shared my personal experience to that ‘undiscovered country,’ it could relieve some of his anxiety. And that is what I want to do for all those who read this. I’d like to make it easier to navigate where we all are headed.

***** Death is not the end of being.*****

It was the evening of a cold Sunday on the thirteenth day of December in Los Angeles, California, The United States of America, planet earth, the Milky Way. It was the day before my birthday.

My whole body was sweating. Every pore was oozing. I had never been this hot. I could barely breathe. Would I survive?

I was in a sweat lodge. These ‘sweats’ are purification rituals where you join a group of people, often strangers, and you all enter a dark enclosed space that gets very hot.

I had done sweats before. In the darkness I had shared wishes, confronted issues of life and death, and I had sweat. A lot. In these previous sweats, I had been able to deal with the discomfort. Later I learned about an infamous case where people died in a sweat that was improperly prepared, poorly led and overcrowded. I wonder if I would have gone to this particular sweat had I known people died in that one. But you can die anywhere.

Sweats were always a test for me. A lot of my life has been about passing tests.

The test of a sweat is to be present. In the heat. To be honest. In the heat.

I was in one of those transitional phases in life where I figured I might learn something from this kind of uncomfortable encounter. It seemed like a good way to sort some things out. Join in a circle of other humans in the dark. In the heat.

I had been working in the film world as a director and I had a fairly successful career up to then. But I was troubled about my future. Earlier that afternoon, I had attended a party in Topanga Canyon with a friendly crowd of Hollywood movie co-workers and ‘wannabes’ and a number of ‘has-beens.’ It was Christmas time in Los Angeles and it was all good cheer, jingle bells and twinkling palm trees.

At the party I talked about the film project I was working on and others talked about theirs. As the sun started to cast shadows, I knew it was time to move on. I made a circuit through the rooms, saying my goodbyes and thanking my hostess. She wrote a feature I had directed some years back. We liked each other, even though we rarely stayed in contact. That was the way of things for me in the movie business. I would get close to my crew and cast when working on a film. We would become a family; but after the film was done, the relationships would dissolve. If I ran into someone years later, there might be a hug and a few shared memories, and then we would drift away to our separate lives.

I climbed into my white 1981 Avanti and drove off. I liked this car. It was a classic coupe with a sleek design and red interior upholstery. Now I wasn’t a car person and could barely fix a flat tire, but when I saw my first Studebaker, I became a fan. This handsome vehicle was its last iteration. It got a lot of attention on the street. I liked to tell the story of how it was made.

The great industrial designer Raymond Loewy had his associates conceive the car in two weeks. He isolated them in a desert town where they were denied drink and women. The result was an auto that has feminine curves. It was also a car that had saved my life once. A torrential rain had turned Los Angeles streets slippery. I was driving a curved road in Beverly Hills, and suddenly the Avanti went into a 360 degree spin sliding toward a telephone pole on the driver’s side.

This was going to be bad. But to my surprise, the car stopped inches short of crashing. I breathed easier and was very grateful. Whatever and whoever was watching over me had decided not to kill me then. I had heard that you have a number of close calls before your actual death. This was one of mine. There were others.

So here I was now, in my Avanti, driving fast along the Pacific Coast Highway. I was heading into the Malibu Mountains. The route was lonely, full of curves, and sparsely inhabited. I was already late. It was a bad habit of mine back then.

My mind wandered and worried. The other sweats I had done had been strenuous and unpredictable. I’d seen things in the blackness.

Often the heat had been so heavy, I had wanted to leave before the ceremonies were over. In the past I had stayed to avoid the embarrassment of what I thought would be seen as failure. How would I handle this next sweat? Another test.

Thoughts of what might occur in this sweat pre-occupied me. I suddenly realized I was lost.

I had passed the junction for the turn off and gone way too far up the road. I pulled over and switched directions. I headed back down the mountain more slowly, paying attention to where I was.

Would I find the way in? Around the next corner, a small signpost pointed to a narrow dirt road. It read The Wright Land. This was where I was supposed to go.

The Avanti, somewhat of a low rider, wasn’t meant for rough roads. It bumped over the pits and rocks through a narrow passageway that led up a hill. Enormous red boulders threatened to scrape the doors. I bounced around until reaching a crest, which opened up to a large plateau below. In the distance was a dramatic cliff that dropped off into the ocean.

Vehicles were lined up on the grassy field below. Clearly, the other participants had already arrived. I drove down the hill and parked. I got out and hurriedly grabbed some towels from my back seat. The sun had not completely set, so even though late, I knew there was still some time before the ritual would actually begin.

I decided to walk up a little mound next to an unfinished home on the cliff. The structure was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and belonged to his grandchildren who owned the property, hence The Wright Land. On this knoll, the ground was marked out with white stones in the shape of a prayer wheel with its spokes extending in the cardinal directions. I stepped into the circle and sat on the cool ground. I was trying to center and calm myself.

The sun was creating a golden red sky. I tried to slow my breathing. Get peaceful. It didn’t work. I was still a little anxious. I stood up.

I turned, walked down the hill, and passed a lily pond with croaking frogs. I hiked up an incline through red tan sandstone outcropping. Behind these rocks was the sweat lodge.

The structure looked like a sphere cut in half. Created by bending and interweaving branches, it was about six feet high in the center. It was covered with a variety of faded quilts, so that it looked like a big colorful upside down teacup. The coverings are used to keep in the heat and the dark.

In front of the lodge was an open round fire pit filled with logs and thirty-six football-sized volcanic rocks. A shallow dirt channel led from this fire pit to the lodge. It’s called the ‘spirit pathway.’ You are not supposed to step over this channel which is as a sacred space for the heated rocks to enter the lodge. You avoid crossing the path to keep the energy flowing. That’s how I understood it. No human interference.

Like many lodges, this one had a small entrance flap. In front of it was a collection of various totems including a carved whale bone, eagle and owl feathers, an indigenous medicine pipe, a Yaqui Indian rosario which is a beaded paper flower necklace, and a reindeer horn from Russia.

Many of these symbols resonated with me. Some recalled my Russian ancestors. I had learned the language while in high school. Much of the culture appealed to me including the authors Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol, the music of Tchaikovsky, balalaikas, icons, vodka, lacquer boxes, the revolution and the genius film director and writer Sergei Eisenstein.

He was my inspiration to become a filmmaker. Of course, there were the negative Russian associations as well, like the slaughtering Cossacks and the pogroms persecuting the Jews. This was one of the reasons my grandparents left that country.

The owl feathers also resonated. This bird had been a totem animal for me. An image of an owl had appeared during a previous sweat. My eyes had been open in the darkness of that sweat, and though the space was pitch black, I saw this owl clearly. Later I looked up the owl’s significance in other cultures. In one tradition, it is a messenger from unknown worlds, including the world of the dead, whatever that was.

The totem of a whale bone reminded me of the stunning songs of humpback whales I had heard on a vinyl record back in New York when I was a graduate film student. Their otherworldly deep ocean sounds suggested a hidden knowledge. These giants possessed a long distance communication ability way beyond our comprehension.

All these items – the whale bone, the feathers – had been brought to the sweat by my friend Michael. He had introduced me to these Native American traditions.

I met Michael when I was approached to be the director of an ill-fated movie about a clown who was imprisoned with children in a Nazi concentration camp.

As we exchanged histories, it turned out that a month before, unknown to each other, we had been at the same Yaqui Easter Indian ceremony outside of Tucson where participants wore masks and mixed Catholicism with Indian myths. The theme of that ritual was death and resurrection. We were among the few white people in attendance.




Pursue Your Dreams Wholeheartedly by Jordan Maylea Ramirez

Pursue Your Dreams Wholeheartedly

By Jordan Maylea Ramirez

These are just a few thoughts based on some things I have witnessed lately:Lifetime of Achievement

  • A goal or dream worth having will not be without its obstacles. Refuse to be stopped by them. Go under them, over them, around them or knock them down — but whatever you do, REFUSE to remain stuck behind them.
  • Sometimes success requires a big push to get you going. I’ve been taught that this push can be referred to as priming the pump… it takes extraordinary effort in the beginning, but once the water is flowing and you are enjoying the results of your hard work, it is well worth it.
  • Become dogged in your pursuit of success. Oftentimes success will require you to get creative. Focus on the WHAT and let your subconscious mind go to work on the HOW. If you know in your mind that the WHAT is inevitable, the HOW will work itself out nearly every time.
  • Seek the help of others through research and advisement. Rome was not built in a day, nor was it built by a single individual. Seek the help of those who are more wise than you — form a mastermind group and work off of the strengths of each individual. While one person alone may not possess all of the skills and resources necessary for your success, you can almost always possess them in a group.
  • Finally, refuse to be discouraged. When you are forced to use creativity to conquer obstacles, remain positive and focused on your goal. Success happens in the mind before it happens in reality. When you know that you know that you know that success is inevitable for you, obstacles will not discourage you. If you feel you are being brought down by obstacles, strengthen your belief.


Jordan Maylea Ramirez 2Jordan Maylea Ramirez lives with her husband Robert in Lubbock, Texas with their 3 dogs and two horses. Because both her parents have always been self-employed, she had an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age and began her first business at the age of 17. It was at that time that she first became fascinated with the subject of personal development and the impact a personal education can have on a person’s life. She grew up riding horses and competing in Dressage shows all across Texas and New Mexico. The sport continues to be one of the primary passions in her life and if she is not working or spending time with her family you can usually find her at the barn. Jordan has two younger siblings, Clayton and Paige, whom she is very close to, and she greatly enjoys spending time with her family. She and Robert enjoy entertaining friends at their home (especially during football season – Go Red Raiders!) and they love to travel the world and experience new countries and cultures together.

Her latest book is Lifetime of Achievement.




Book Excerpt: Lifetime of Achievement by Jordan Maylea Ramirez

Lifetime of AchievementTitle: Lifetime of Achievement
Author: Jordan Maylea Ramirez
Genre: Self-Help
Pages: 106
Publisher: Createspace
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1480274399
ISBN-13: 978-1480274396

There are too many people going through life content with mediocrity.  People going to jobs they hate, to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like. People who are dreading Monday, looking forward to hump day and praying for Friday; and let’s not even talk about those two weeks of paid vacation… those are gold!

How long have we been this way? Is this really what life is all about? I don’t believe we were created to be content with a mediocre lifestyle we never wanted in the first place. What happened to being a rock star, an astronaut, or an actor? What happened to the hopes and dreams we each had as children? Perhaps, over time, our dreams have changed… but our propensity for dreaming is still inside us.

Lifetime of Achievement outlines seven goal-setting strategies to help get you from where you are to where you want to be. In its chapters you will find knowledge from some of the worlds most popular personal development masterpieces, taken down to a level that is easy to read and simple to understand.

Learn the steps to discovering who you truly are, creating goals in perfect alignment with that discovery and implementing an action plan that, when followed, has been proven to produce results. Learn how to conquer fear, to activate the powers of the human mind and discover two of the most important factors shared by virtually every successful individual throughout history.

This book takes proven strategies and puts them into an easy-to-read, easy-to-implement format that can be read in as little as a few hours. Discover the steps, put them to work, and become prepared for a Lifetime of Achievement!



Time has a funny way of passing whether we are prepared for it or not. The sun continues to rise and set, signaling the beginning and the end of another day; what we do with the time that passes is up to us.

Fate. Chance. Luck. We live in a time where these words are passed around like a “get out of jail free” card; relieving people of the burden of personal responsibility. Instead of believing our choices shape our future, we turn a blind eye and believe the common thread connecting those successful people in our world is nothing more than some lucky gene one is either born with, or not.

What a horrible way to live!

People skirt the idea of personal responsibility because it frightens them. The idea of owning each and every one of our mistakes can be a tough one. What people miss though is the unexplainable freedom, joy and liberation that can come with the simple act of becoming responsible for your life!

It was right at 5 years before writing this book that the idea of personal responsibility took hold of my psyche. At that point, I had dabbled in personal development for several years, begun my own business and experienced very little real success. The idea began with a seed planted by my therapist (yeah, I’m not kidding.) when he said to me, “You are responsible for your own happiness. You must become your own secure base in this world.”

The idea confounded me. It took hold and, before long, began to grow rapidly as a result of the books I began reading and the philosophy I began to adopt into my life. Do you hear the freedom in those words? YOU are responsible for your own happiness. YOU ARE! Not your family, not your friends. Not your circumstances, not your environment. You! You are responsible!

Now, don’t get me wrong… as the story goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Adopting the belief that we alone are responsible for the results in our life means facing up to the fact that if your current situation is not all sunshine and roses you have only one person to blame – and you can find them by looking in the mirror. Much like a recovering addict forced to face the reality of the chaos they have created, adopting the philosophy of personal responsibility takes courage, perseverance and faith. Courage to face your problems, perseverance to push past them and faith that there is freedom waiting on the other side.

I am here to tell you from personal experience that freedom is there. The liberation that comes from owning up to your choices is unparalleled, and the good news is once you have become aware of this power you can begin to write a new script… word by word, page by page, until you have composed the masterpiece that is your life; created by design and not by chance.

My life over the past 5 years has been incredible! Not every day, not even every week, but overall incredible. It started out slow, but day-by-day I began to see a little bit more of the life I was choosing to live, and became a little less victim to my circumstances. That freedom can be yours as well, if you have the courage to step up and take it!

The best part is even after 5 years the freedom of personal responsibility is just beginning. Many of the goals and aspirations I have for myself have not even been tapped yet… the thought is exhilarating!

I imagine a time not too far in the future, when I will step out onto the balcony that leads from the master suite of my and my husband’s dream home, ready to watch the sun set on another day gone by. I will think back over the years we have been married and smile at the life we have because I will know it was built by design, not left to chance. I will think of our children, tucked safely away in their beds, and the life they will have as a result of the choices we have made. I will be satisfied because in my heart I will know I have achieved the goals I set out to accomplish for myself and my family.

That story WILL be my future and a similar story can be yours too, but we have to begin today.

Take a moment to think about your life – not as it is now, but how it can be if you make the decision to take control of your future. What does “A Day in the Life of You” look like? What does it feel like, smell like, sound like? Close your eyes and imagine your ideal life. Imagine a perfect day and the components that come together to make it so.

The art of goal setting is a powerful component in living your life by design and has been one of my passions for several years now. I call it an art because the act of setting and achieving goals is so much more than thinking about the things you want in life. It’s a process not to be taken lightly, but if you will commit to it wholeheartedly over time you CAN create the life you desire.

Thank you for joining me on this journey! It is my wish that the principles I share with you throughout the pages of this book will be as life-changing for you as they have been and continue to be for me. The sky really is the limit! The future really is yours for the taking! It can begin today, and it begins with YOU!

Enjoy, and here’s to your future!


Author Interview: Kevin Burk & ANGER MASTERY

Kevin B. Burk has been helping people around the world to improve their lives and relationships since 1996 through his astrological counseling and relationship coaching practice. His humor, wisdom and compassion are always present, in his books (ten so far, including Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart, The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life, and his newest book, Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy), his classes and workshops, and his interactions with his clients and students. Kevin’s focus is always on the practical, exploring how we can actually use astrology and spiritual practice on a daily basis to transform our lives.

In the astrology world, he is best known for making Classical Astrology accessible to everyone, taking complex and abstract concepts and showing how they can be used to create concrete, specific and practical interpretations. Kevin’s website, The Real Astrology with Kevin B. Burk is one of the premiere astrology resources on the Internet. His book, Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart is a textbook used at Kepler University in their Undergraduate Astrology Degree program, and has been translated into Russian, and is currently being translated into Bulgarian. Kevin’s articles have appeared in The Mountain Astrologer, the Australian publication,Well Being Astrology, and in Llewellyn’s Moon Sign books.

In the non-astrology world, Kevin is best known for his unique approach to understanding and improving all human relationships through The Relationship Handbook andThe Relationship Workshops.

Kevin has released a series of DVDs of his Law of Attraction workshops: the self-contained Prosperity & The Law of Attraction, and Astrology & The Law of Attraction, a series of 7 DVDs recorded live in Houston, TX at a weekend workshop for the Gulf Coast Chapter of NCGR.

Kevin has developed a revolutionary program for spiritual growth called Archetypal Astrology: The Hero’s Journey. This intensive program guides participants through the process of meeting and moving into Right Relationship with each of the seven Astrological Archetypes (you may know them as the seven personal planets).

Kevin is currently synthesizing astrology and spirituality into his next series of books: Astrology & The Law of Attraction, Prosperity & The Law of Attraction andRelationships & The Law of Attraction.

You can visit Kevin’s website at

To get your paperback copy of  ANGER MASTERY by Kevin Burk:

To purchase a copy of ANGER MASTERY at Barnes & Noble:

Buy the book directly from the author at

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Welcome to Between the Covers, Kevin.  In my experience, the world just seems like an angry place.  Do you find that to be true?

 Kevin: Without a doubt. In fact, that’s what prompted me to write Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy.

I can’t speak for the rest of the world (because I don’t have any experience of it), but Americans are angry. The amount of anger in this country today is unprecedented. The most visible way that it was manifesting at the time I was writing Anger Mastery, was through the Tea Party. Whatever your opinions of the Tea Party’s agenda, or of the Americans who have chosen to participate in this movement, what fuels the Tea Party is anger. It doesn’t matter what the members of the Tea Party think they’re angry about. All that matters is that because the Tea Party operates entirely from the consciousness of Anger, they will never improve any of the conditions they’re fighting to change; in fact, they will only succeed in making them worse.

A more recent expression of the level of anger in this country is the “Occupy” movement. Because this movement doesn’t have a set agenda, it hasn’t yet been co-opted; however, it’s no longer news, either.

I look at the political landscape, and see an unprecedented lack of civility, fueled by anger.

As much despair (and anger) as I felt about the conditions in America, I also had to face up to a difficult truth: None of this was any of my business. I have no interest in politics or government, and I’m not an elected official, so there’s absolutely nothing I can do, personally, to change the tone of the political landscape.

Still, I was inspired to take some kind of action. I just had to find a way to act that came from integrity, and stayed within the limits of “My Business.”

I can’t do anything to get other people to change their behavior; however, I can at least make it possible for others to move out of Victim Consciousness if they choose to do so. One of my particular talents is taking extremely complex, difficult concepts and making them accessible to a much greater audience. So, I wrote Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy.

Why are people in denial when it comes to admitting they have an anger problem?

Kevin: I’m not sure I’d call it denial; it’s more a question of ignorance. Our entire culture has a problem with anger: it’s considered to be unacceptable. From this perspective, people that have problems with anger are the ones who act out from anger, and are unable to control their rage. The general assumption is that if you don’t get angry, you don’t have a problem with anger.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anger isn’t inherently bad, or inherently destructive. Anger is a powerful source of energy, like fire. And like fire, unchecked, uncontrolled, and unharnessed anger is dangerous and destructive. However, when you learn how to master your anger, you are able to use that energy in ways that are powerful, transformative and constructive. Mastering your Anger is the key to becoming truly happy.

The people who believe they don’t have a problem with anger because they never get angry need this process (and this book) most of all. What they’ve done is turned down the volume, so they don’t notice their anger, and then they invite other people to steal their energy, because they can’t use it. The problem is that you can’t just turn down the volume on the bad feelings. If you can’t feel your anger, you also can’t feel happy. And the more you suppress these feelings, and let other people steal your energy, the less happy you will become. And the worst part is that over time, you’ll forget that life could be any different than it is. Even the possibility of happiness won’t be a part of your reality anymore.

Why is reality subjective?

 Kevin: No matter what you experience, it always feels real to you. When you’re dreaming, the dream is completely real. When you wake up, that feels completely real. You can’t compare two experiences and say that one feels more real than the other. Reality is subjective, because your experience of reality is defined by what you’re experiencing at any given moment.

In fact, there are two types of reality. There’s the “little r” reality, which includes everything that exists in your world. And then there’s the “Big R” Reality, which includes everything that exists, period. Your “little r” reality is a very, very, very small part of the “Big R” Reality.

The “Big R” Reality includes things like war and famine. I know that these things exist in the world; however, they don’t exist in my world. They’re not a part of my “little r” reality.

Happiness also exists in the “Big R” Reality. If happiness isn’t currently a part of your “little r” reality, then all you need to do is to change your “little r” reality, so you’re experiencing the part of the “Big R” Reality that includes happiness.

The Anger Mastery Process shows you how to do this.

How is your approach to anger unique?

Kevin: First, this approach has absolutely nothing to do with anger management. As popular as “anger management” is, it doesn’t do very much. When you manage your anger, you still experience it in painful, negative ways. The purpose of anger management is to teach you how to keep your anger to yourself, so it doesn’t bother other people. Anger management doesn’t help you to take back your power, it doesn’t help you to move out of Victim Consciousness. But most importantly, managing your anger won’t help you to get happy.

And besides—anyone who’s ever worked in an office knows first-hand that “management” is a colossal waste of time and energy.

When you master your anger, however, you take back your power. You’re no longer at the mercy of your anger. In fact, when you master your anger, you make anger your bitch. The surface results are the same as with anger management—others see you as nicer, less aggressive, and less prone to inappropriate expressions of frustration and rage. That’s all on the outside. On the inside, you’re no longer miserable. You feel empowered, you feel energized, and you feel infinitely happier than you did before.

Second, I address the true nature of Anger. Anger isn’t just an emotion; Anger is also a specific, calibrated level of consciousness. I introduce readers to the work of Dr. David R. Hawkins, the foremost researcher into human consciousness. This distinction is critical, and among other things, allows you to fully understand the difference between being angry (living in the “little r” reality of Anger) and feeling angry (experiencing the energy of anger, but not being limited by the consciousness of Anger).

And third, my approach incorporates a liberal dose of humor. Seriously. Anger Mastery: Get Angry, Get Happy is laugh-out-loud funny.

After writing the book did you come away with an even better understanding of people’s anger issues?

Kevin: Aha! A trick question! After writing the book, I came away with an even deeper understanding that other people’s anger issues are none of my business.

That’s the fine line that I had to walk through this entire process. I absolutely know how powerful the Anger Mastery Process is, both from personal experience, and from observing the transformations in my clients and students who have embraced these techniques. But the most fundamental and important component of the Anger Mastery Process is integrity, which requires that I stay completely within the boundaries of “My Business.”

It’s a rather delicate balance. It means that I can write a book about anger, and make available simple, practical techniques that will absolutely help anyone to move out of Victim Consciousness and become Happy; however, it also means that it’s none of my business if anyone follows my advice or not.

What this experience has done is deepen my compassion for other people. I can recognize how much pain they’re in, because that was my “little r” reality ten years ago. Compassion is not pity, however (pity comes from Victim Consciousness). It’s not my business to get you to change your life. But if you would like my support in that process, I’m both willing and able to give it.

Can you provide us with an excerpt?

Kevin: Sure. This is from Chapter 5: The Lure of Victim Consciousness

Now that you know how to get out of Victim Consciousness, let’s explore why you would want to go there in the first place.

The appeal of Victim Consciousness is all in the marketing. First of all, they never call it Victim Consciousness; they call it First Kingdom, which tested much better in the focus groups. It sounds exclusive and lavish, and it’s first, so it must be the best.

It’s no wonder that the sales pitch for Victim Consciousness is so compelling: Desire lives in the heart of First Kingdom. The ads and billboards and commercials all promise such wonderful experiences, and in such big, easy-to-read print. You find yourself wanting these experiences so badly that you don’t bother to read the fine print. But beware: the big print giveth, but the fine print taketh away. Consider this chapter to be a magnifying glass. It’s time for you to read the fine print.

The Sales Pitch: No Pressure, No Responsibility, and No Blame

Are you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Is your life filled with obligations and duties that you’d rather avoid? Does it seem like no matter how often you eat all of your vegetables, you never get dessert?

Well, take a vacation from all of the pressure and responsibility of your life and spend some time in First Kingdom! Leave your cares and obligations at the door. When you come to First Kingdom, your life is no longer your problem. You don’t have to worry about deadlines or promises, or obligations. In First Kingdom, you get to focus on you.

You know what else you don’t have to worry about in First Kingdom? Consequences! If things start to fall apart (and rest assured, they will), it won’t be your fault. How could it be your fault? It wasn’t your responsibility! Sure, there will be a lot of finger-pointing and trying to place the blame, but none of the blame will ever stick to you. Because nothing is your fault, you can’t be punished or held accountable.

Isn’t it time to let someone else do the work and be responsible? Aren’t you entitled to a break? Come back to First Kingdom! We’re waiting for you!

The Fine Print

When you give up responsibility, you must also give up your power.

The reason that nothing is ever your fault is that no matter the situation, you are the victim: impotent, marginalized, abused and weak. No one expects you to succeed at anything.

When you give up your power, responsibility, and accountability, you forfeit your ability to express yourself creatively.

When you give up the risk, you also give up the reward. Being immune to blame means you are ineligible to receive credit, validation, or appreciation.

Thanks for stopping by!  What’s next for you?

Kevin: I’m working on a video and planning a social media campaign to make people aware of the Anger Mastery Book Study Facilitation Guide. This is a free resource (available at that allows anyone to facilitate a six-week class/book study on Anger Mastery. I think this is the sort of thing that many spiritual communities and churches would find extremely valuable. Plus, it’s a great way to sell more books.

Author Interview: Thomas Laresca & I Want to Help

Tom Laresca lives in New York with his wife and three children. Currently working as a foreign stock trader, he attended college at St. John’s University. Laresca enjoys playing sports and weightlifting.

I Want to Help: My Story About Cancer, Depression and God is his first book.

You can visit his website at

Welcome to Between the Covers, Thomas. Why was writing I Want to Help so important to you?

Writing this book was extremely important to me for two reasons, first I believe I can help others because of what I went through with cancer and depression. I believe what I did to get through my trails and tribulations can be used to get others through any difficulties they are facing. Secondly I tell about a night I was in intensive care fighting for my life and how that night I experienced death. It is a very bizarre event, which came at the hands of the police right in front of my own home. I have 3500 dollars worth of bills from that night and I took a lie detector test to help prove what I say is true. I also tell how it was God who helped me get through it all and is right they’re waiting to help you.

What was the experience like writing I Want to Help?  Was it healing for you?

Writing I Want to Help was very satisfying to me knowing it would one day help others. It was also a bit unsettling because it is tough to bring up that night with the police due the reminder of the pain and torture I suffered.

What came first – the title or the story?

The story came first when I started writing I didn’t know where I was going with it. At first I sat down to just write about the cancer about depression then I realized the part about the police had to come out I needed closure.

To your knowledge, has your book helped anyone in particular?

Yes in fact I do know my book has helped others. Parents have told me they have given it to their children whom they suspected were depressed and unwilling to talk about it. It has helped them open a line of communication and let them know they don’t have to go through things alone. Also I have had others come to me after reading it and tell me they have suffered from anxiety or other types of illnesses. There is unfortunately shame that comes with these disorders and like I did they suffer alone.

When you first was diagnosed with cancer and given 3 months to live, what thoughts were running through your head?

My first feeling was one of being crushed all that I had hoped to do in my life at age 37 seemed to be gone. I felt hopeless and afraid to dye but that lasted only a short time I then knew this was not the attitude that would help me to survive. I then turned to God for strength I began to read the Bible more and pray more. That gave me great peace I still wasn’t sure if I would live but I felt I was in Gods hands and all would be okay.

Can you give us a short excerpt?

“Three months” He said it as though he were reading the weather. It was again another numb moment, but brief. I defiantly said, no not gonna happen. I wonder was he thinking okay but don’t make any long-term plans? However I already did. My plan was I was going to be okay. Ill show you. Ill show everyone. I had to; failure was not an option, or at least not a good one.

Now that I Want to Help has been published, what’s your next project?

I really don’t know what lies ahead or what is my next project. I will continue to try to follow the Lord one step at a time knowing where he leads me will be best.

Thanks, Thomas, for this wonderful interview. Do you have anything you’d like to tell our readers that haven’t been discussed?

Yes I would like to say I hope this book helps you and also to help prove what I said about the police is true I will be offering proceeds from my book to SergeantKlaus if he will take and pass a lie detector test about the night I was dead. This way when I prove what I say is true people will know I know what death was like and then they will also believe I know what God is like. Thank you


Book Excerpt: Do You Dare To Be Yourself? by Andreas Dudas

Title: Do You Dare To Be Yourself?
Author: Andreas Dudas
Genre: Leadership/self-improvement
Pages: 260
Publisher: BE SHiRO Excellence
Language: English
ISBN: Paperback version: 978-3-033-03255-2
ISBN: E-book version : 978-3-033-03254-5

Bestselling author Andreas Dudas has solutions for those facing a career or life change in his new book, Do You Dare To Be Yourself? Developing Power in Life and Leadership Through Authenticity. The book can be described as Who Moved My Cheese? meets If Life is a Game, These are the Rules. Based on the author’s real experience gained from all over the world as project director, life coach and manager in top executive positions , the book offers frank thoughts, vivid examples, concrete advice and mental techniques all designed to inspire people in transition to find their true calling. According to Dudas, “It is an empowering resource for those willing to step beyond fear and create the real destiny that they want. It is a master plan for living a successful authentic life.”

Do You Dare To Be Yourself? goes beyond standard how-to books. It engages the reader by placing them on a journey to self-authenticity in an allegory format—making it easy to understand complex principles that have the potential to liberate a person from living an unfulfilled life. The book provides elements of leadership, self-help and spiritual wisdom all designed to compel the reader to leave their comfort zone and make the transition to a rewarding life and fulfilling career. “I want to help people find inner peace by living authentically. I want them to find clarity and purpose for life,” says Dudas, who holds a diploma in Mental Training and Coaching, along with a host of other degrees in civil engineering, leadership, and conflict management.

Dudas believes the road to living a fulfilling life involves overcoming fear, walking in personal integrity and credibility, living true to your values and being determined to get what you want out of life. He believes that the reason there is so much stress and unhappiness in life is because people do not place those values in high regard. They are afraid to move out and are stuck in a life crisis or career crisis. Do You Dare To Be Yourself? challenges readers to live their true values and step into a new destiny. “This will ultimately help people to achieve personal wellness, real power and mental stability.”


The rewards of authenticity:

The thick layer of powdery snow billowing over Agalom was unusual for this time of year. But in his stubborn way, Robin wearily trudged up a hill, the last hurdle before reaching his beloved hometown of Hamersflö. The polar bear had eaten little over the past few days, and sleep hadn’t crossed his mind. Adrenaline kept him awake, despite the exhaustion.

Robin’s seldom-flagging willpower and stubbornness gave him what he needed to make most of his dreams come true. His desire to tell people back home all about his grand adventures and profound insights drove him on through the swirling snow. Over the past few days, Robin had walked for miles over the ice—after a sudden squall at sea had blown him far off course, forcing him to abandon his raft in a fiord.

Even in snowstorms where temperatures dropped below freezing, and when surrounded by thick fog, Robin could find his way across the endless frozen desert. Being alone no longer bothered him. He’d learned to accept that he’d leave some friends behind if he followed his own path. Many had criticized and envied him simply because they didn’t understand why he had to follow his true calling, walking away from it all—including a secure job with excellent career opportunities.

“Be yourself!” his coach the eagle Alva reminded him, over and over again. “Don’t let anyone change you. Follow your inner compass! Then you’ll find the greatest treasure of all, the treasure everyone is searching for. But remember, you’ll have to pay a steep price: you’ll have to always do it alone.”

Alva, a loyal companion, seldom strayed far from Robin. This sleek bird with the distinctive white markings in the middle of her forehead hopped happily along, following in Robin’s large footsteps. A light and gentle breeze ruffled the feathers of her dark chocolate coat. The eagle took off, soaring high up into the sky, shooting back down to “whoosh” over her protégé’s head, enveloping Robin in a cloud of white snow. The polar bear listened as the soft sound of flapping wings faded in the distance.

Robin hunched over—plowing his way through the snow clouds. He didn’t want to lose Alva. As the flurry of snowflakes settled, Robin could make out the large rock that marked the highest point of the hill just ahead. He stopped to watch the eagle sitting on the rock, gracefully craning her neck. Something had captured Alva’s attention. Robin called out, but failed to get a reaction from the eagle. Even Robin’s mastery of animal communications and his extraordinary telepathic skills didn’t do him any good.
Robin reached the summit in a few short steps. When he finally caught up with Alva, he stroked the eagle’s soft feathery head. Both sets of eyes searched the wide plains of Agalom. Finally, Robin spied their hometown on the far horizon. His weary eyes filled with hot tears. He remembered how he’d sat in this very spot so many years ago, when he’d decided to set out on an exciting journey toward discovering his authentic self.

The last rays of the warm evening sun enveloped and caressed his gleaming, gold-tinged white fur. Over the past years, Robin had turned into a remarkably handsome bear. He felt particularly proud of his thick fur coat. Not only did it protect him from the harsh cold of the Arctic winter, it also helped him to build emotional strength, live authentically, and move toward self-fulfillment. His thick fur had given him the inner strength to cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Robin had learned that those who attain self-fulfillment also develop high self-esteem. By simply being a polar bear, he had everything that he needed to face any challenge that might push him off his path.

This hadn’t always been the case. Years ago, constant fear ruled Robin’s life. He was worried that he might never amount to anything, that others wouldn’t accept him. Coupled with that fear was the constant uncertainty. He agreed to anything and everything, trying to guess and satisfy the unspoken needs of others. “How crazy,” he thought. “So many creatures never question what they’re told.”

Robin’s fears had tormented him. He became prone to frequent violent outbursts, in which he snapped at others and threw temper tantrums. He constantly worried about what others expected of him. In those days, Robin had firmly believed that it was wrong to make your own decisions. He feared that the other animals thought him to be stubborn, or that his choices were wrong—and so his doubts urged him to abandon his true self.

He wondered why he’d acted that way. The answer was simple. He’d always received a reward for this behavior. For a fleeting moment, he felt needed and acknowledged. He’d valued praise and respect much more than listening to his true self. In retrospect, it seemed he’d needed to destroy everything that made him unique—for the sake of being popular—and that he had completely lost his self-respect.

Other animals became jealous and criticized him. Each time he took the tiniest step forward, complainers, show-offs, and hypocrites tried to derail him. They used money, career opportunities, and power to seduce him into giving into their desires. Luckily, all of that had passed by him already—they were no longer a concern.

Robin licked his beautiful white fur proudly. Many envied his thick coat, the sign of a true polar bar. Thanks to Alva, his life coach, Robin’s self-awareness had grown—he was finally living up to the reputation of his species. Today, all of the challenges he once faced, blocking his path to authenticity, rolled off his thick fur like the melting snow.

The desire to develop his individuality, to stay true to himself, to apply his talents and creative energies, to recognize the core of his being, and to live life to the fullest provided the keys to his self-fulfillment. “Only he who is himself and thus fully expresses the genius within lives authentically,” thought Robin out loud. “That’s the reward for our troubles. How can it be that authentic polar bears are so hard to find in today’s world?

“Where are the creatures courageously following their true paths? Where did those go who, in spite of their weaknesses, lack of competence or status, will take a righteous stand? Who has the courage to stay true to their own values, even when they don’t coincide with society’s ideas? Who can do this without any hope of reward or recognition? Are such noble creatures truly an endangered species? Or can they follow the path of authenticity?”

Robin now knew the answers to all of these questions. He felt confident, and hoped with all of his heart that soon, more creatures with a polar bear mentality would populate the Earth. These creatures would achieve true authenticity, regardless of whether other animals appreciated, respected, or agreed with them. Unfortunately, many had yet to find the great reward that would be theirs—absolute self-confidence—that, in its turn, creates an individual of fantastic mental strength.

Sighing, Robin slowly closed his eyes as he recalled his many adventures, and how interesting it had been to eventually find the path to his true self.

Blog Tour: Interview with Jill Muehrcke + Win $25 Amazon GC!

Waking Up Happy

~ ~ ~GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~

Pump Up Your Book & Jill Muehrcke are teaming up to bring you a great giveaway.  One lucky person who comments the most on her blog stops will receive a $25 gift certificate.  Comment and win!

Jill MuehrckeJuliana (Jill) Muehrcke is the award-winning author of many books and articles. Founder and editor of the international magazine Nonprofit World (, she has studied at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan and has a BA degree, specializing in English and psychology, from the University of Washington. Jill is listed in Who’s Who ( In her spare time, she enjoys teaching yoga and eating ethnic food. For many years, in several cities, including Seattle, Honolulu, and Madison, she has written restaurant reviews.

Her latest book is Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope.

You can visit her website at

Listen to Jill on the Joy Cardin Show at


Waking Up HappyWAKING UP HAPPY: A HANDBOOK OF CHANGE WITH MEMOIRS OF RECOVERY AND HOPE: Powerful, absorbing, and beautifully written, this first-of-its-kind book of transformation and healing includes memoirs of people who have recovered from addictions, harmful habits, and intolerable situations, along with exercises readers can do to make the same transformations in their own lives.

Half of the proceeds of this book will be donated to the Recovery Foundation helping people build new lives – so every time someone buys a book, they will be helping someone TRANSFORM THEIR LIFE!

Thanks for stopping off at Between the Covers, Jill. Can you give us the background story for why you wrote your book Waking Up Happy: A Handbook of Change with Memoirs of Recovery and Hope?

Jill: When I quit drinking in 1984, I discovered that quitting was only the first step in the journey to building a new life. I began collecting tools for change and realized that those same tools would be helpful to anyone who wanted to change their life. Waking Up Happy is the book I wish had been available then – a book of memoirs of people who have recovered from addictions and intolerable situations, along with exercises and to-do lists to help readers transform their own lives.

There are 30 storytellers in WAKING UP HAPPY, including me, my daughter, and my granddaughter. Each time one of these storytellers learns a lesson in their life, I have added exercises you can do to create those same changes in your own life. Each chapter ends with “Things to Do Today” and the book ends with “365 Steps on Your Journey” – an exercise for every day of the year – so that you will have something concrete to do each day to continue your journey of self-discovery and transformation.

How do you feel this book will change people’s lives?

Jill: People who have read the book tell me that the memoirs inspire them to change and the exercises give them the tools to do so. That’s what’s needed for any change – first, the motivation and belief that change is possible and, then, a set of concrete guidelines to pave the way. Then it’s just a matter of doing one small thing every day. In time, those tiny changes will add up to profound change.

Is this your only book?

Jill: I have written dozens of books in the educational field, including the best-selling book Map Use. But I’ve never before written or published anything as personal as Waking Up Happy.

What do you do for a living?

Jill: My “day job” is as the editor of Nonprofit World (, which provides management and leadership advice to those who work in the nonprofit sector. I founded Nonprofit World in 1983 and have been its editor ever since. In addition, I have my own company, JP Publications, and do freelance writing and editing.

Where do you go to find sanctuary?

Jill: My bed!

Are you married? Single? Children?

Jill: I have been married to a wonderful man for 43 years. I have a daughter, Andrea, and two grandkids, Shyloh and Zeke.

What genre have you not written yet but would love to?

Jill: I have actually written six mysteries that are unpublished. Someday I would like to try my hand at that genre again.

If you had one piece of writing advice to give to aspiring authors, what would that be?

Take time to read and write for yourself. It’s the most important thing you can do as a writer, editor, and person. Read the great writers. Pay attention to how they use words and how they get their points across. Keep a journal. Allow your writing to be a living, daily part of who you are. Hold on to the knowledge that you’re in the right place, doing the right thing. Doing what you love.

Thank you again for this interview, Jill. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Jill: Yes, I’m donating half the proceeds from Waking Up Happy to the Recovery Foundation (, which provides counseling for people who can’t afford to pay for it on their own. So when you buy a copy of Waking Up Happy, you are helping someone transform their life!