We are honored to share in the wisdom, love, hope, and creativity
that flow from our Award-Winning Books.
January 2022 Feature Focus:
Fresh New Breeze
It's a New Year! A perfect time to fling the windows open wide and be immersed in fresh ways of thinking, being and moving through this world; expanding edges and borders in new and wondrous ways, cultivating connectivity and compassion, and bringing inspired solutions that generate hope on the horizon ahead. These Nautilus Award-winning books offer a stimulating breeze of new thoughts and actions in relationship to gender, race, food security, animals & nature, and religion —providing fresh, new awareness. Happy Fresh New Year to us all!
OUR WILD CALLING: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives – and Save Theirs
Gold Award: Animals & Nature
Author: Richard Louv
Publisher: Algonquin Books
“To recognize our membership in the family of animals is the calling of our generation.” – Richard Louv
Our Wild Calling is a blend of reportage, personal stories, and cutting-edge science. Louv spent four years talking with researchers, theologians, wildlife experts, indigenous healers, psychologists, and others to show how people are communicating with animals in ancient and new ways; how dogs can teach children ethical behavior; how animal-assisted therapy may yet transform the mental health field; and what role the human-animal relationship plays in our spiritual health. He reports on wildlife relocation and on how the growing populations of wild species in urban areas are blurring the lines between domestic and wild animals.
In today’s Anthropocene epoch, we are threatened by environmental disruption and neglect. Our Wild Calling makes the case for protecting, promoting, and creating sustainable and shared habitat of all creatures – not out of fear, but out of love. This is what Louv calls the “habitat of the heart.” Transformative and inspiring, this book points us toward what we all long for in the age of technology: real connection.
To fully protect anything, we must know it, love it, act in mindful reciprocity – giving back to animals as they give to us. Engaging with animals and then telling our stories of these encounters can be beautiful acts. Our future with other animals and each other, as individuals and within society, are in fact shaped by the stories we tell. They can offer redemption and hope if the heart is generous. In our everyday lives and in our organizational and civic policies, we can choose empathy over separation or superiority. We can take strange comfort in the knowledge that zebra finches experience REM sleep, that dolphins recognize themselves in mirrors, that our early ancestors may have been domesticated by wolves.
Through critical anthropomorphism, a process explored in more detail in chapter 5, we can become the bear from that wild world. We can be mindful in every experience with animals, even in the most densely populated cities, and by doing so begin to imagine a different future for the children of all species. We can learn from the wisdom of our pets and the languages of birds and be touched by the mystery of the wild animals that pass through our neighborhoods at twilight; we can choose to go forward to nature while combining new technologies, “biophilic design” (which incorporates natural elements into our built environment), and the rest of contemporary science with ways of knowing that are older than humankind. We can create places of healing for our own and other species. We can share all this with the young and with children who might otherwise never hear the profound near-silence of an owl’s wings in flight.
Through these beautiful acts and stories we tell, each of us can experience a deeper connection to our own lives and then give thanks.
RADICAL BELONGING: How to Survive + Thrive in an Unjust World (While Transforming It for the Better)
Silver Award: Rising to the Moment 2020
Author: Lindo Bacon PhD
Publisher: BenBella Books
Othering and Belonging (excerpts pp 7-10)
Belonging is an urgent, fundamental, and universal human need. My parents, by naming me Linda, wanted me to have the tools they thought I needed to belong –in this case, feminine beauty. They knew, as we all do, that the quality of our lives is often defined by our relationships with others and how valued we feel. That’s why it hurts so much when I get misgendered, as I was by my parents, as I was in the bathroom at the conference, and as I am in much of my life.
Misgendering is a reminder that I’m not seen or accepted for who I am – and, in a world organized along a strict gender binary, a declaration that I don’t belong. When we are not seen for who we truly are, we never feel that we belong. I carry this lifelong legacy. At times it can be crushing, dehumanizing, and very, very lonely.
My feeling of not belonging is not unique, Many of us experience that feeling of unbelonging – not being seen for our full humanity – whether we’re not white enough, or young enough, or pretty enough, or slim enough, or are marked by an accent.
“Othering” is the problem of our times – and has been the central problem for much of our history. It refers to the process of designating someone as “not one of us.” This makes it easier to see them as less worthy of respect and dignity. Whether that means body-based bias, different ethnic groups warring for territorial dominance, walls constructed to exclude immigrants, laws that limit the freedom of certain groups, institutional and social constructs that afford opportunities to some while excluding others, or basic inequities like who gets food, water, housing, and employment, identity-based differences feed oppression.
Our bodies are the primary signifiers of our identities. Every time we enter a room, our body precedes us, affecting how others perceive us and treat us, and how they mete out opportunities or roadblocks. The focus in this book is the challenge of inhabiting our physical bodies in a culture that privileges some bodies over others: how we get disconnected, the damages that result, and how we can heal and do better, both as a community and as individuals.
If you’re immersed in self-help circles or follow mainstream magazines, sometimes it seems as if we're being recruited into the cult of authenticity. At every turn, we’re encouraged to be ourselves, to show up authentically.
Yet what doesn’t get articulated is the backstory, that a call to authenticity is politically laden and the path heavily influenced by privilege and disadvantage. It is a lot easier to be your authentic self when the world tells you a story that your authentic self has value.
Many of us become estranged from our authentic selves because we learn that those authentic selves aren’t valued. We’re forced to perform acceptable selves or hide pieces of ourselves (when possible) in order not to be punished, scorned, laughed at, rejected, bullied, or discriminated against. Inauthenticity becomes a survival tactic, a war waged on our true selves that generates shame and disconnection. We direct the pain at ourselves, sometimes taking the form of depression, anxiety, self-harm, substance abuse, even diabetes. We never truly know if the people we’re interacting with actually care about us, which can be soul-assassinating. It’s like gaslighting ourselves. We're then engaged in pseudo-intimacy, which is laborious rather than nourishing.
True intimacy, on the other hand, flourishes when we come together as our authentic selves. True intimacy is life-giving and energy boosting. It is where empathy, compassion, and care blossom.
UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN
Gold Award: Social Change & Social Justice
Author: Emmanuel Acho
Publisher: Flatiron Books /Macmillan
Emmanuel Acho believes the only way to cure our nation’s oldest disease – racism – starts with a profound, revolutionary idea: actually talking to one another. No, seriously. Until it gets uncomfortable… and then some.
In Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, Acho connects his own experience with race and racism – including his majority-white prep school education juxtaposed with his time in majority-black NFL locker rooms – with the lessons of history, culture, and the wisdom of other black voices. The result is an essential guide to the conversations we should all be having to increase our understanding and join the anti-racist fight.
Filled with honest reflections and actionable conclusions, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand and eradicate racism. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It’s time to listen, learn, and speak.
The False Start: White Privilege (p 33)
While the term existed before she did, Peggy McIntosh is credited with igniting a broad conversation around white privilege in her groundbreaking 1988 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” McIntosh defines white privilege as “an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.”
So what is all this backpack junk? For many white people, white privilege is the power of feeling normal. It’s the silent reinforcement of being able to walk into a store and see its main displays show products that cater to you. It’s the ability to turn on the TV and see people who look like you represented in all walks of life. It’s passing the corner office at work and seeing someone who could have been you once upon a time, and maybe finding mentors who “see themselves in you.” It’s never wondering whether the name on your résume is “too white”; it’s talking the way your local news anchor talks, the way the authorities say is “standard” or “proper.” It’s something as simple as having a Band-Aid, or a foundation color, match your skin. It’s never having been the one the Photos app thinks is a gorilla.
White privilege is a hard conversation because we all want to believe in the American dream. We want to believe that America is both a democracy and a meritocracy, where all of our lives are the result of our own hard work and ambitions. I believed exactly that, all the way until I was getting my master’s degree and took a class called Social Determinants of Health. Only then did I realize that not only do some people not start from zero, a lot of black people start in the negatives. And that’s just not fair.
I’m guessing that if you’re white and have been reading and even halfway paying attention up to this point, then you realize that the excuse of ignorance is becoming less viable by the page. My friends, don't panic. That’s a good thing.
SITOPIA: How Food Can Save the World
Sĭtō' pĭa n. foodplace (f. Gk sitos food + topos place)
Gold Award: Green, Restorative Practices
Authors: Carolyn Steel
Publisher: Chatto & Windus, Vintage /PRH UK
Food shapes our lives, so it can help us think. We may not be aware of its influence, but it is everywhere: even in the parts of our brain that can’t stop wondering about the meaning of life. Food’s effects are so ubiquitous that they can be hard to spot, which is why learning to see through the lens of food can be so revelatory. One perceives a remarkable connectivity: an energy that flows through our bodies and world, linking and animating everything as it goes. As we have seen, I call this food-shaped world sitopia. Unlike utopia, which is ideal and therefore can’t exist, sitopia is very real. Indeed, we already live in it: just not in a very good one, since we don’t value the stuff from which it is made.
Sitopia is essentially a way of viewing the world. Food can help us to understand complexity, since it represents life, yet is material and graspable. Whether or not we think about it, we all intuitively comprehend food: Descartes might just as well have said, ‘I eat, therefore I am.’ This instinct is hugely powerful, since it links us directly to our past: Our ancestors lived very different lives to us, yet they too had to eat. People’s efforts to feed themselves have shaped every human society and thus represent a vast repertory of ideas, thoughts and practices from which we can draw. We can use the lens of food as a conceptual time machine, to help us view our past and perceive our present, and thus imagine a future in which we know food will remain pivotal.
It’s clear that we need a new economy geared towards helping us flourish within our ecological means, one that we might therefore usefully base on food. As the one substance that we must all consume every day, food occupies a unique place in our world. Consisting of living things from nature that we consume in order to stay alive, it has intrinsic sacred value of the sort Schumacher described. Food, quite literally, is life. If we don’t value it, we deserve to be doomed.
You might think that we already value food – an organic chicken, after all, costs at least double the price of its industrial cousin. Yet the price disparity reflects far more that just the different ways in which the birds were raised. When we buy hand-reared organic produce, it seems expensive because it reflects the true cost of producing food. This is good in every sense: nutritious and tasty as well as ethically and ecologically produced. The trouble is that this is the only sort of food that reflects its true cost. The other sort – the industrial food that supplies more than 95 per cent of our diet – is artificially cheap due to the systematic externalisation (often through government subsidy) of the true cost of producing it.
In reality, ‘cheap food’ is an oxymoron – an illusion created by industrial producers and governments keen to disguise the true cost of living. While externalities such as deforestation, pollution, and climate change are accounted for elsewhere, industrial farmers who would otherwise struggle to make a living from the low prices we pay for food are subsidized by the state. So what might the world look like if, instead, we were to internalize the true cost of our food? The answer is that industrial farming would rapidly become unaffordable, while ecologically produced organic food would emerge as the bargain it has always been. Buying food would become the virtuous circle, in which the market would favour foods that nurtured nature, animals and people. Ethical, ecological producers would sell more produce, so gaining some of the economies of scale now reserved for industrial agri-food giants.
THE BEARDED LADY PROJECT: Challenging the Face of Science
Gold Award: Social Sciences & Education
Edited by Lexi Jamieson Marsh and Ellen Currano
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press
During a discussion of how women are treated in traditionally male-dominated fields, paleobotanist Ellen Currano lamented to filmmaker Lexi Jamieson Marsh that, as the only young and female faculty member in her department, she was not taken seriously by her colleagues. If only she had the right amount of facial hair, she joked, maybe they would recognize her expertise. The next morning she saw a message from Lexi saying: “Let’s do this. Let’s get beards.” That simple remark was the beginning of The Bearded Lady Project.
Challenging persistent gender biases in the sciences, the project puts the spotlight on underrepresented geoscientists in the field and in the lab. The book pairs portraits of the scientists after donning fake beards with personal essays in which they tell their stories. The beautiful photography by Kesley Vance and Draper White – shot with a vintage large-format camera and often in the field, in deserts, mountains, badlands, and mudflats – recalls the early days of paleontological expeditions more than a century ago. With just a simple prop, fake facial hair, the pictures dismantle the stereotype of the burly, bearded white man that has dominated ideas of field scientists for far too long. Using a healthy dose of humor, The Bearded Lady Project celebrates the achievements of the women who study the history of life on Earth, revealing the obstacles they’ve faced because of their gender as well as how they push back.
Since the late nineteenth century, sex, science, and beards have often been discussed in terms of one another. Scientists have argued that men were the only ones capable of scientific research and that in some way this scientific acumen was linked to an inherent quality of manliness, often represented historically by a beard. Women have responded by helping to create the scientific method, by discrediting biological determinism, and by challenging the cultural significance of beards on both men and women.
In the twenty-first century, The Bearded Lady Project invites us to confront these gendered contradictions and also think about what it means for women, then and now, to be scientists when the very foundations of science have been constructed in masculine terms.
The Bearded Lady Project reveals the extent to which we associate science with masculinity, consciously or not, and introduces many female paleontologists who have dedicated their lives to helping us better understand the earth and our place on it. By disrupting our assumptions about science and the history of science, The Bearded Lady Project also helps us visualize a more egalitarian and a more scientific future.
(p 36 - Dr. Catherine Badgley)
While putting on the beard for my portrait, I felt amused, surprised, and puzzled. I was the same person as minutes before, only now wearing a theater prop. On the other hand, this change in appearance transformed us into symbols of women in science. …
Our experiences becoming bearded ladies in the twenty-first century have caused us to reflect on the challenges that women face in securing a job and establishing a scientific identity. Although we have more opportunities and better support than even a generation ago, many legacies of the past remain. It is still important to raise and discuss the contradictions that the bearded ladies present to us. The rich portraits of all the bearded ladies link the legacies of the nineteenth century – social and technical – to the contradictions and changing faces of women in science today. A brilliant idea!
DANCING IN GOD’S EARTHQUAKE: The Coming Transformation of Religion
Gold Award: Religion/Spirituality of Western Thought
Author: Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow
Publisher: Orbis Books
(excerpts pp xix-xxv)
So my own inner earthquake did not send me into joining the Judaism of my childhood, the Judaism of the last two thousand years, or the Judaism I could see all around me. My earthquake did not drive me into hanging on to some immovable past. Instead, I began to connect to the broken fragments of the old Tablets of Certainty as the fragments began to glow and glimmer with new thoughts, new patterns.
I began dancing my way into a new version of Judaism. And I learned how to do that and in the same breath, the same dance, to swoop and turn with other traditions, other symbols, other festivals.
Along the way, the continuing shaking of America and of the world, even the biological Earth, also brought me dancing to a new way of understanding God. Not “Lord,” “King,” up there lording it over us poor shleppers here beneath. Rather, the Interbreathing Spirit of all life. The Great Name in which is woven all the names of all the beings in the universe.
“What is the world?” asked the Rebbe of Chernobyl, one of the great Hassidic teachers. “The world is God, wrapped in robes of God so as to appear to be material. And who are we? We are God, wrapped in the robes of God, and our task is to unwrap the robes, discover – uncover – that we and all the world are God.”
It is in that sense that I see our earthquake as God’s earthquake. The Breathing Spirit of all life has become not just a Breath, not only the Wind of Change, but the Hurricane of Transformation. The Transformation, the Earthquake, is what we make, what we live, what we are.
For me, the writing and rewriting of this book, the living and reliving of an activist politics rooted in the Bible and the Spirit, have brought me to clarifying a new theology as well as a new politics. The new theology is ecological rather than hierarchical. I do not mean only a theology far more infused with Earth, but one that sees all life – the interweaving of organs to make a whole body-mind – the interweaving of cultures to make a whole Humanity –
Connecting with each other in this way is the social and political equivalent of an ecosystem, in which all our cultures interbreathe in joyful diversity in order to transform the world into a joyful home for human beings and all other life-forms.
May all who gather anywhere on Earth in any language to breathe together words that aim toward wisdom, and may we who have gathered just now to breathe together words that aim toward wisdom, as we finish reading this book and open our own hearts and memories to all we have learned and all we have taught, open ourselves as well to –
- the blessing of loving kindness as we listen to each other’s diverse voices;
- the blessing of shalom, wholeness, as we begin to integrate what is new to us with what we have known before;
- the blessing of time to work for a decent, honorable livelihood made not from working on Earth’s back or the backs of other human beings but as part of Earth and part of the human community;
- the blessing of time to pause from work, from Doing and Making, to reflect, to sing, to dance, to love, to Be; and
- the blessing of joining every breath and all our words in the great Breath of Life that is the Holy ONE.
December 2021 Feature Focus:
Gift A Child A Better World
Celebrate this season of caring and sharing with the young people in your life by gifting them a Better Book for a Better World! This year’s Nautilus Award-winners offer an extensive range of exciting, empowering topics in both fiction and non-fiction books, specifically crafted for the Youngest Readers all the way through Middle-grade and Young Adults. These inspiring books will surely be treasured for years to come, enriching the unfolding journey of their lives … a gift that will keep on giving in so many wondrous ways!
Can You Hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest
The Screaming Hairy Armadillo, & 76 Other Animals with Weird, Wild Names
GIFT OF EMPOWERMENT
You Can Change the World
Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It
Generation Brave: The Gen Z Kids Who Are Changing the World
UPLIFT A GIFT
I Believe in You
Safe In Starry Arms
GIFT OF IMAGINATION
Undina’s Spell: A Sparkle Fairy Tale
The Soluna’s Way
A Song Below Water
November 2021 Feature Focus:
Give a Gift of Insight & Inspiration
Our Nautilus Award-Winning books offer an abundance of Gift Ideas that carry thoughtful Insight and Inspiration for everyone on your list! These Better Books for a Better World present a multitude of ways to see and be more deeply connected and caring with ourselves, each other, the natural world, and the global community. These are gifts that will keep on giving in so many wondrous ways. Enjoy this season of caring and sharing!
Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace
REFUGE: America’s Wildest Places
Ian Shive, Photographer; Jim Kurth, Intro to America’s National Wildlife Refuge System
Between the Rocks and the Stars: Narratives in Natural History
Vanderbilt Univ. Press
gift an Uplift
Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted
The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters
St Martin’s Essentials /MacMillan
The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices
Casper ter Kuile
threads of connection
Conscious Nature: The Art and Neuroscience of Meditating in Nature
Conscious Nature LLC
In Bibi’s Kitchen
Hawa Hassan, & Julia Turshen
Ten Speed Press
Resonate: Zen and the Way of Making a Difference
gift a deeper journey
The Wisdom Codes: Ancient words to rewire our brains and heal our hearts
Hay House Publishing
The Illuminated Hafiz: Love Poems for the Journey to Light
Nancy Owen Barton, Editor;
Michael & Sally Green, Illustrators
Sounds True Publishing
Journey to the Ancestral Self: Remembering What It Is to Be Human
Snow Wolf Publishing
This Is One Way to Dance
Univ. Georgia Press
A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America’s First All-Black High School Rowing Team
Every Penguin in the World
September 2021 Feature Focus: Nurturing Wholeness
Feature Focus: NURTURING WHOLENESS
Because challenges in life press upon us in so many different ways, we clearly need to embrace effective ways to nurture, strengthen, and sustain ourselves - inside and out. These six Nautilus Award Winning books from our 2020 season present resources of wisdom and restorative insights. They can help us cultivate many levels of wellness and wholeness. Then, when we are filled up, the abundance ripples out, nourishing others and enriching many layers of our lives, relationships and work in the world.
This One Wild and Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World
Gold Award: Psychology
Author: Sarah Wilson
Publisher: Dey Street /Harper Collins
We live in truly overwhelming times. The climate crisis, political polarization, racial injustice and coronavirus have left many of us in a state of spiritual PTSD. We have retreated, morally and psychologically. We are experiencing a crisis of disconnection - from one another, from our true values, from joy, and from life as we feel we are meant to be living it.
Sarah Wilson proposes that this sense of despair and disconnection is ironically what unites us - that deep down, we are all feeling that same itch for a new way of living. This One Wild and Precious Life opens our eyes to how we got here and offers a radically hopeful path forward. Drawing on science, literature, philosophy, the wisdom of some of the world's leading experts, and her personal journey, Wilson weaves a one-of-a-kind narrative that lights the way back to the life we love. En route, she leads us through a series of 'wildly awake' and joyful practices for reconnecting again…
Ask of others, how is your heart? (P. 118)
This is a particularly divine technique to practice.
The Arabic version of “How are you?” is Kayf haal-ik? In Persian it’s Haal-e shomaa chetoreh?
Both of which roughly translate as, “How is the state of your heart, in this breath?”
When we ask, “How are you?” we are generally met with the equally flat “Not too bad.” The whole thing becomes a go-nowhere connection-lite interaction.
The Arabic and Persian versions, however, lift everyone to a bigger, kinder place in the mere asking.
If I reached out and asked you right now, “How is the state of your heart, in this breath?” I’m already connected to you. In the asking, I find myself genuinely engaged with whether your heart might be aching for more love, or whether it’s heavy with the burden of being so mortal, or whether there’s a lightness of possibility fluttering in you. And that I go there, and that you go there, too, necessarily injects kindness and throws a bomb under the blah-ness that keeps us from being meaningfully connected.
The “in this breath” part brings us into nowness. When I have asked friends, “How is the state of your heart, in this breath?” I’ve been aware that both of us come into the moment. I listen fully. So does the other person, so their answer is always wonderfully heartfelt and generous. We both get kind together.
Ask yourself, do you want to be right or to love? (Pp. 120-121)
Our disconnected culture deals in polarities - in right and wrong. Every individual must assert their right, and anything in their way is wrong... We are programmed to fight for our right to be right, because it is deemed…right. But rarely has anyone ever felt right from fighting such a fight. Mostly we are left feeling empty and alone.
I was in a “But, I’m right” loggerhead a while back. It was a horrible professional scenario in which I felt a work peer who had become a friend had hung me out to dry in a swirl of contingencies and psychological interplay.
My meditation teacher Tim asked me this astonishingly beautiful question when I talked him through it: "Do you want to be right or to love?”
The swirl abated immediately. In just asking the question, the answer became very clear: I want to love. I will always want to love. Once again, it takes us to Rumi’s field…
Again, I wonder if it can’t be practiced as broadly as possible now - as our leaders negotiate policies that must operate beyond ideas of borders and trade agreements. We start with ourselves, then we take the approach to boardrooms, community meetings and it spreads exponentially.
When I first started cultivating this approach, it felt tenuous. Sometimes you have to wait in Rumi’s field on your own for a very long time before the other person meets you there. Sometimes they stand at the fence slinging arrows and you have to wait even longer, holding the space in that field on your own.
Why would we do it? Because we want love. We always will.
BLISS BRAIN: The Neuroscience of Remodeling Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity, and Joy
Gold Award: Science and Cosmology
Author: Dawson Church
Publisher: Hay House
A Traveler's Guide to Bliss Brain (Pp. 47-49 excerpts)
What is the experience of Bliss Brain like?
As I sit here in meditation this morning, I’m going to attempt to describe it, like a traveler reporting back to his friends from a distant country.
First, I close my eyes and go through the seven steps of EcoMeditation listed in the Extended Play Resources of Chapter 1. I use acupressure tapping to release any stress in my body, and any mental or emotional obstacles to complete inner peace. I relax my tongue on the floor of my mouth. I breathe through my heart, and slow my breathing down to 6-second inbreaths and outbreaths. I imagine my favorite beach and my favorite people playing on it, and I send a beam of heart energy to the scene. I picture a big empty space between my eyes.
I can feel my body, and I am dimly aware of my surroundings. But most of my consciousness is focused on the experience I am having at the level of pure awareness.
… It is easy to slip out of this place. Just one stray thought will do it.
… But I know what the bliss station feels like. I know the music it plays and how my body feels when I am absorbed in it. Because I’ve been to the center so many times, I can usually find that station just a few minutes after I close my eyes.
So I tune in there again now. I feel an immediate expansiveness in my consciousness, a sense of connection with the entire universe. I feel a sense of welcome, as though I’ve come home. I’m living at the address in consciousness where perfect well-being is the only reality.
Making Bliss Brain a Habit (Pp. 295-299 excerpts)
I want Bliss Brain to become a habit for you. Once you experience the neurochemicals of bliss I describe in Chapter 5, and they start to condition your brain, you will be hooked for life. Within 8 weeks, you will build the neural circuits to regulate your negative emotions and control your attention, as we saw in Chapter 6. You’ll turn on the Enlightenment Circuit and downgrade the suffering of Selfing. Within a few months you will have created the brain hardware of resilience, creativity and joy.
You’ll transform feeling good from a state to a trait. Then, Bliss Brain isn’t just how you feel. Bliss Brain is who you are. Bliss Brain has become your nature, hardwired into the circuits of the four lobes of your brain. It has become your possession, and one so precious that you would never give it up. No one can ever take it away from you.
… Expect your life to become different. Now that you’ve raised your hand, expect Bliss Brain to take you far beyond where you begin today. Expect your love life, your career, your family relationships, your physical body, your money, your friendships, your spiritual path, and your sense of well-being to be utterly transformed.
Expect your potential to be unleashed. Expect yourself to taste ecstasy every day. expect flow states to become your new normal. Expect elevated emotions to course through your heart while inspired thoughts flood your mind. Expect adversity to strengthen rather than crush you. Expect your days to begin and end with bliss. Expect to be a happy person. Expect to do things you never believed possible...
The Soul’s Twins: Emancipate Your Feminine and Masculine Archetypes
Silver Award: Inner Prosperity
Author: Jean Benedict Raffa
Publisher: Red Feather /Schiffer
Humanity today is plagued by a loss of meaning and alienation from self and others. The result is unprecedented levels of divorce, depression, anxiety, addictions, suicide, and crime. Because societal institutions have failed to resolve these and other everyday problems, it is now the task of each individual to heal and unite their divided self: body and spirit, conscious and unconscious, feminine and masculine. Drawing on Jungian psychology and wisdom traditions from world religions, Dr. Raffa offers a self-guided journey to heightened self-awareness and compassion to oneself and others. A self-assessment tool called the Partnership Profile gives readers a personalized status report on their inner forces, including the maturity of four feminine archetypes, four masculine archetypes, and a newly emerging archetype of egalitarian partnership. This awareness, combined with suggested practices, empowers readers to address their imbalances and create the lives for which they yearn.
Introduction (P. 13)
Regardless of which gender you identify with, psychologically speaking you have a masculine and a feminine side. These are your soul’s twins, the parents of all life. Most people are willing to acknowledge some qualities associated with both, but nobody knows their full selves, masculine or feminine, and everyone disowns certain qualities of both that they consider inappropriate or undesirable. It really helps if you can see and accept the unknown parts of your masculine and feminine sides, because they affect every aspect of your life.
In fact, Jung concluded a woman’s unconscious masculine side and a man’s unconscious feminine side hold the key to individuation and spiritual enlightenment... He believed that only by integrating your inner opposites—the divine feminine and divine masculine— into an inner partnership, traditionally called the sacred marriage, can you grow into your complete, unified Self.
The Self is Jung’s term for the archetype of wholeness. Not to be equated with your ego, which is your “point of reference for consciousness,” Jung defined the Self as “the totality of the psyche altogether, i.e. conscious and unconscious.” He also called it your God-image because it is your portal to the pleroma, and the source of your spirituality. It is composed of all pairs of opposites, which have been represented by the masculine and feminine principles throughout history. The evolutionary goal of attaining the level of integrated consciousness they stand for— your divine nature— is the reason for your existence and the subject of this book.
Conclusion (P. 197)
The Journey to your soul’s twin is a grand adventure, like being an explorer on a quest to discover the unknown.
It is an exhilarating experience to dig through your unconscious and piece together the hidden mosaic of your psyche. Finding, loving, and being your true Self is your reason for living, your magnum opus, your gift to humanity, and your path to fulfillment. But you will not find what you are looking for overnight. Soul-making is a slow, step-by-step process, fraught with mysteries to unravel, disappointments to weather, phases to endure, and obstacles to overcome. You won’t get it right immediately. You’ll forget, stumble, fall into apathy and inertia, and lose your way again and again. It takes time to remove life’s debris from the masterpiece beneath the rubble.
Open the door of your heart. Step inside and light the candle of your soul. Heed your inner voice and observe with your inner eye. See the sacred beauty and mystery of the life and death within and around you. Know that yearning, love, and loss are catalysts to your creative transformation. Accept your myth and live it. Be part of the revolution. Practice love. In the end, you will welcome whatever comes next with the knowledge that you were made to be who you are and did your best to become the best you.
Welcome to the next phase of your story, a sacred journey to partnership between you, the miracle of life, and your soul’s twin.
The Art of Holding Space: A Practice of Love, Liberation, and Leadership
Silver Award: Relationships & Communication
Author: Heather Plett
Publisher: Page Two Books
(Pp. 18-21 excerpts)
Holding space is a gift we give and receive, again and again, throughout our lives. Sometimes we do it well, and sometimes we fail. Sometimes it requires much of us, and sometimes it requires only a simple phone call.
For the purpose of this book, we will define “holding space” this way: Holding space is what we do when we walk alongside a person or group on a journey through liminal space. We do this without making them feel inadequate, without trying to fix them, and without trying to impact the outcome. We open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgment and control.
Here… are some of the things we can do to hold space for people in our lives:
- Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom.
- Give people only as much information as they can handle.
- Don’t take their power away.
- Keep your own ego out of it.
- Help them feel safe enough to fail.
- Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness.
- Create a container for complex emotions, including fear, trauma.
- Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would.
Our work may not be as tangible or connected to the earth as sugaring maples or weaving baskets, but— no matter the form—it’s still part of the larger ecosystem and symbiosis of the universe. Each of us gives something to the greater good, both in gratitude for what we receive and in reciprocity and commitment to the cycle of life.
After we have made the journey to the centre of the spiral and back out again, we reach the point of authenticity, where we are in greater alignment with our desires, vocations, giftedness, and longing, and with ourselves. Our psychic membranes are strong; we are more genuinely expressing the blueprints of our DNA and existing in homeostatic balance, giving and receiving, nourishing and being nourished.
This is not the easy path, but the path with meaning, joy, and freedom. Along the way, we gain courage, resilience, and strength.
The place of authenticity is the place of more genuine safety and belonging than we ever knew before. It’s not rooted in a mirage, but in our own strength and authentic connection with Community and Mystery.
After a couple of years spent working with, and writing about holding space, it suddenly dawned on me that there was an important aspect of this concept that I had missed earlier. Everything that I wrote about, taught, and contemplated came down to one profound realization. The heart of holding space is this: freedom.
We hold space so that all may be free.
Free of judgment, free of fear, free of injustice, and free of discrimination, prejudice, and shame. Free to emerge from a liminal space journey with pure, powerful truth.
This is no small thing, holding space. Because no matter its size— for one person or for a group— we hold space to give each other the freedom to do hard and liberating soul work. To heal trauma. To feel deep emotions and express unspoken needs. To transform conflict and rewrite stories of abuse. We hold space to accommodate both light and shadow, agony and delight. To find our path in the world.
HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time
Gold Award: Personal Growth /Small Press
Author: Brad Aronson
Publisher: LifeTree Media
Brad Aronson’s life changed in an instant when his wife, Mia, was diagnosed with leukemia. … Amid the stress and despair of waiting for the treatment to ultimately work, Brad and Mia were met by an outpouring of kindness from family, friends and even complete strangers.
Inspired by this generosity of spirit, Brad began writing about the people who rescued his family from that dark time, often with the smallest gestures. But he didn’t stop there. Knowing that the world is full of moments when a simple act of kindness transforms a life, he sought out these stories and shares some of the best ones here.
What We Can Do
- Acknowledge the people in your life: Write ten to fifty things you love about someone. Put each reason on a separate piece of paper and put them in an envelope or a small jar. Tell the person to take one from the jar anytime they could use a boost.
- Send “You Matter” cards: Get your thirty free “You Matter” cards and give them out. And by the way, “free” is 100 percent free—no shipping or other charges. Visit the YouMatterMarathon(.com) website to claim yours.
- Write to people you don’t know: Support people you don’t know with cards and letters. In most cases, you send the letters to organizations that then forward them to the recipients. On page 213 in the Hall of Fame section, I list thirteen organizations that will deliver your letters of encouragement to kids in the hospital, women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, troops on the front lines, children in foster care, refugees and others who could benefit from your support.
- Celebrate to raise funds: Our friends Mark and Rachel think their kids have more than enough toys, so they told birthday party guests that instead of bringing gifts, they could donate to Philabundance to provide food for the hungry. The birthday party for their two girls raised enough money for nine hundred meals.
See the Positive (Pp. 156-157)
Studies show that when we see the positive more often, we’re happier and we are kinder to ourselves and to those around us. We’re also much more likely to see opportunities and solve problems creatively. Researchers have found, for example, that physicians, students, salespeople and toddlers perform better when they are more positive.
Luckily for us, we’re not locked into a way of viewing the world. We can choose to see things more positively. Here are some steps you can take to, among other things, teach yourself to look for the positive more often. Eventually, your brain gets into the habit of doing this and you won’t need any prodding— you’ll just do it naturally:
- Compliment at least one person every day. Maybe you begin the day by sending a short email or text telling someone why you appreciate them. “Just wanted to thank you for being a great friend.” Or “I appreciated your call yesterday. Thanks for being so thoughtful.” Besides reshaping how you see the world, you might make someone’s day.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Every night, write three things you’re grateful for. (By the way, researchers have also found that people who regularly write down what they’re grateful for are 25 percent happier.) You can also have a nightly family discussion about what happened that day that you’re thankful for.
- Perform a daily act of kindness. When you perform a kind act every day, you’ll start noticing other opportunities to be kind, creating a cycle of positivity in your mind. Think small—a thank-you note or letting someone cut in front of you in traffic. (Yet another way to make yourself and someone else happier.)
- Be mindful of who and what you expose yourself to. Who you spend time with and what you watch, listen to and read all send messages to your brain that influence how you see the world.
Training your brain for positivity takes time, but it is a priceless opportunity to change your perspective and become a happier person. Before long, you’ll see half-full glasses everywhere you look.
Sacred Landscapes of the Soul: Aligning with the Divine Wherever You Are
Gold Award: Religion/Spirituality of Other Traditions
Author: Karen Brailsford
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Introduction (P. 13)
It is my intention that Sacred Landscapes of the Soul, encompassing rushing rivers and mountainous peaks, barren wilds and wide-open vistas, verdant spaces and desert paths within the heart, will lead you into radiance, splendor, light. May your soul flow and grow deep like the river. May we flow into one another.
Terrain of Gestation / Landscape of Birth: Garden (P. 156)
Soot into Soil
There will come a time when you realize that you have said enough, cajoled enough, denied enough, chastised enough, purged enough, cried enough, done enough— and all that is left is you. Not the you others think you should be or believe they know, but the true you: the embodiment of unadulterated essence and pure love. The you who has longed to come out from behind darkened thoughts and dimly lit falsehoods. The you who revels in scintillating surprises and joyful revelations about the moon, the sun, the stars and undiscovered planets. The you who can rest comfortably in the seat of your soul without fidgeting. The you who is brazen enough to simply declare “I am” without needing to say anything more.
You have come this far by faith, journeying over rock-hard truths and indiscriminate perils. You have stood at the base of the mountain without debasing your own majesty and have caught the vision of a dazzling tabernacle that houses your dreams. Now all you have to do is move in.
There is alchemy in the evolution of a soul. A natural process takes over when you dare to say yes to all of you, not just the likable parts. You wrap your many selves— all aspects of your being— into a singular creation you can inhabit and embrace with a deep, transcendent, incandescent love. It is as if the shuttered, shattered bits surrender and then give permission to baptize them into wholeness. Forgiveness ensues as these broken pieces submerge then re-emerge, drinking in sunlight, fusing into foliage, and entwining themselves up and down the landscape of your life. You have turned soot into soil into which you can plant a brave new consciousness. You are reclaimed, you are whole. You are ready to bloom.
Terrain of Expansion / Landscape of Surrender: Vastness (P. 228)
In This Skin
In that great gettin’ up morning, when you fly away into the Is-ness, the All-ness, the Nothingness, the Eternal, the Ephemeral, you will think on this particular journey in this life and in this skin, and count the many ways you loved yourself and were therefore able to love everyone else.
- You will draft a soul ledger and enumerate the times you nurtured yourself by responding, “Yes, I can help. Just not now” --as you secured your own oxygen mask.
- You will remember when you walked straight into the abyss, trusting that the gravity of gratitude would buoy you up and catapult you— reeling, retching, kvetching— into an experience or circumstance you could not dream for yourself but Spirit was co-creating for you and with you, even before time existed.
- You will relive those times you paused to take a breath and to actually feel the stillness of the silence and the energy in a hummingbird’s flutter.
- You will remember every single instance you birthed yourself. The sensation of floating in a liquid womb. The light that called you forth into the world once again, when all you really wanted to do was rest and hide. The notion that you had all that you needed within you as you looked upon your new life spread out before you like a Chinese fan with its creases and folds and brightly-colored designs.
Then, shedding every single incidence of not feeling you were enough, along with all the shoulda, woulda, coulda, and have-tos, you will soar higher and plummet deeper than you have ever done before.
June 2021 Feature Focus:
collaboration of voices
FEATURE FOCUS: Collaboration of Voices Presented in Several of Our Recent Award Winning Books
The challenges over the past couple years, both locally and globally, have illustrated so clearly that when we work together, we are stronger, more resilient, and more effective in forging forward. This is also keenly reflected in the recent surge Nautilus experienced in submissions of books created through collaborative efforts and varied voices. We have chosen to feature six of our recent Award-Winning books that demonstrate such collaborative efforts. Through the lens of different authors and editors, the reader is immersed in diverse facets and viewpoints of the book's theme.
May you receive illumination from the pages of these newest Better Books for a Better World!
New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent
Gold Award: Multicultural & Indigenous
Editor: Margaret Busby
Publisher: Amistad /Harpercollins
Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, a major international collection that celebrates their contribution to literature and international culture.
A glorious portrayal of the richness, magnitude, and range of these visionary writers, New Daughters of Africa spans centuries, and genres—autobiography, memoir, oral history, letters, diaries, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humor, politics, journalism, essays, and speeches. Bold and insightful, brilliant in its intimacy and universality, this essential volume honors the talents of African daughters and their inspiring legacy.
(pages 858-863 by Afua Hirsh)
What Does It Mean To Be African?
What does it mean to be African?
Some would define it, I think, as simply being someone who doesn’t feel the need to ask that question. Isn’t it a question only an outsider would ask? What kind of black person, I recalled being asked, in one of the lines in my book Brit(ish) that people seemed to find most entertaining, who writes a book about being black?
I am a black person who writes a book about being black. I am an African who agonises over what it means to be African. I quote Kwame Nkrumah— who as president of Ghana led the first black African country to win independence— because he tells me what I want to hear: that I am African because I choose to be.
I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because
Africa was born in me.
... Is being African to live in Africa?
I thought it was. And I returned to the idea, like a creature bound by homing, that to heal one’s identity was to journey to the place from which it springs. So one day, in my early thirties, bundling my then six-month-old daughter against the London snow, I packed up and moved to Ghana. My daughter would know this land first-hand, I decided, not as a narrative filtered through the British gaze, the stale mess of a hopeless continent, ahistorical and doomed. She would, unlike me, understand the Ghanaian seasons and festivals, the pattern of a week where the emptied streets pour into churches on Sunday, where offices hum to the clash of local prints on Friday, where cryptic hand movements indicate the destination of a tro-tro bus, and where the fading of the light and the rising spice of kelewele frying fall with the rhythmic certainty of sunset. Maybe this would make her African, and— whatever happens to me— I will have given her that gift.
... No one is waiting, breath bated, for what it means to be African. Yet still we search for a reason to ask the question, for hope that an answer exists. And for a sense of purpose. “Africa,” said John Henrik Clark, the Pan-African historian, “is our centre of gravity, our cultural and spiritual mother and father, our beating heart, no matter where we live on the face of this earth.” Being African is to believe it. At least that’s what being African means to me.
Afua Hirsh: A writer, journalist, and broadcaster, she was born in Norway, to a British father and a mother from Ghana, and was raised in Wimbledon, London.
Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History
Silver Award: Multicultural & Indigenous
Editors: Martha Black, Gavin Hanke, & Lorne Hammond, with Nikki Sanchez
Publisher: Royal BC Museum, Canada
Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in colonial cultures as “killer whales,” and respected and honored by indigenous cultures as friends, family or benefactors, orcas are complex social beings with culture and language of their own.
This collection brings together diverse voices, young and old, to explore the magic, myths and ecology of orcas. A literary and visual journey through past and possibility, Spirits of the Coast illustrates how these enigmatic animals have shaped us as much as our actions have impacted them, and provokes the reader to imagine the shape of our shared future.
Pages 180-181 (by ‘Cúagilákv Jess Housty)
I have immense privilege in my proximity to the ocean, to orcas and other beings, to the teachings they offer. And the framework of the Hailzaqv (Heitsuk) laws, principles, and values that informs my worldview helps me to locate myself within cycles and systems; from birth, I’ve been surrounded by people who model the difference between spectators and witnesses— the responsibilities of kinship. But if we want to create the conditions for orcas and all ocean relatives to survive and to thrive, all of us— no matter whether our experience is direct or indirect— need to forge a connection.
The way western society interacts with the world is often rooted in disconnection, in dissociation. We think we are architects of the order of the world, that our needs are the higher needs. This kind of thinking is so firmly embedded in my broader social context, and when it creeps into my thinking I have to remind myself: think like an ancestor. If disconnection is the root cause of what has made our world, and the orcas’ world so precarious— the antidote is connection. Building connection is building community.
As I layer all these stories together— my own encounters with orcas, my Hailzaqv ancestral teachings, the mourning rituals of Tahlequah— what resonates in my body, like whale song rising up through the hull of my father’s skiff, is the belief that community building is the most important work before us. When we practice reciprocity, we spend our lives in service to our community, and we trust that our community’s acts of service will lift us up as well. We become accountable to one another— interdependent.
We need to be part of the pod. We need to be the companions who shoulder Tahlequah’s burden for awhile so she can rest in her grief and regain her strength. We need to be the collective that nourishes and protects all its constituent parts according to their needs. The planet needs us to be connected. The ocean needs us to be connected. The orcas need us to be connected. And through that sense of deep connection, we can build the trust that will help us bring the fullest of our capacity, creativity and compassion to addressing the complex and systemic challenges our world faces today. //
Our Moment of Choice: Evolutionary Visions and Hope for the Future
Gold Award: Rising to the Moment
Editors: Robert Atkinson, Kurt Johnson, & Deborah Moldow
Publisher: Atria /Beyond Words
(Pages 294-296 by Robert Atkinson, PhD and Kurt Johnson, PhD)
Connecting the Threads of a Call to Collective Action
The forty-three evolutionary leaders sharing our visions in this book, all threads of one flowing narrative, understand this very well. It will take more than a handful of committed leaders to bring these visions to fruition. It will require more than the already existing evolutionary community to act upon them and expand this field of love and healing. To generate the heart-centered future rooted in caring, respect, compassion, and cooperation that we seek, the entire human family will need to contribute all of our myriad gifts and act in a way that turns these visions into reality.
What matters most is the story we tell about ourselves, and the story we live by, as Gregg Braden so well points out in the introduction, since what we believe about our origin, our past and our destiny defines the way we see ourselves and others. Without a story, we are bereft. In this propitious moment, our choice is either to tell, and live by, a story that has the outcome we envision— one of wholeness, harmony, and peace that all the world’s sacred traditions foretell— or to tell and struggle in one that doesn’t end well.
...This is our vision, and our call to action as well. The threads woven throughout the seven circles of this book— though each is critical in its own right— are all of one cloth, and all of one goal, leading us to an understanding of our unity, our inherent wholeness, not only as a species but also as a part of Creation. These are all the common threads to our collective well-being. It is up to each of us to carry out our own individual call to action, which makes us all part of the collective action needed. We are all the weavers of one tapestry.
…We recently had the experience of being collectively swallowed into the unknown by a pandemic. This has given us a unique opportunity to reflect even more deeply on what we want for our shared future.
We experienced, as one human family at the same time, the universal archetype of leaving the familiar behind— retreating and reassessing everything we thought we knew. This is the universe’s way, through evolution’s inherent process of adaptation, of ensuring the collective transformation already underway will be successful and that the evolutionary impulse is consciously carried out.
Collectively, slowing down and turning inward has shown us more than ever that
- we can feel more empathy and compassion toward others
- we can appreciate more the things we have and give of them freely
- we are not only more connected than we thought, we are inseparable
- our collective strength is dependent upon our unified action
- we can trust— and live more by— our collective wisdom
- we can nurture a spirit of common endeavor
- we can place the sanctity of existence above all else; and
- we can foster a spiritual consciousness that embraces all of humanity.
Poems From the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages
Gold Award: Poetry
Editor: Chris McCabe
Publisher: Chambers /Hachette
One language is falling silent every two weeks. Half of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world today will be lost by the end of this century. With the loss of these languages, we also lose the unique poetic traditions of their speakers and writers.
Poems From the Edge of Extinction is a celebration of linguistic diversity and a reminder of our commonalities and the fundamental role verbal art plays in human life around the world. With poems in a wide range of languages by influential, award-winning poets such as US Poet laureate Joy Harjo, Hawad, Valzhyna Mort and Jackie Kay, this anthology offers a unique insight into both languages and poetry, taking the reader on an emotional, life-affirming journey into the cultures of these beautiful languages.
Joy Harjo (& translated by Rosemary McCombs Maxey)
Mvskoke - First Nation Creek tribe of North America
Beyond sunrise, there is a song we follow
Beyond clouds traveling with rain humped
On their backs, lightening in their fists
Hvsossv rentohpvrv, vholoce hvlwe fullat oske acekohyet
mon vtokyvhaten nokofticet hoyanecof pom yvhiketv
Beyond the blue horizon where our ancestors
Appear bearing gifts, wrapped in blankets woven
With sun and strands of scarlet time
Sutv ceskv holatten rentohpvrv, pom vculvke emkv oketv
mon vcetv herakat apvllapicet esyices.
Beyond the footpaths we walk everyday
From sunrise to kitchen, to work, to garden, to play
To sunset, to dark, and back
Nene vpaskuce rentopvrv, hvsossv oketv, hompetv-cuko,
vtotketv, cvpofv, ahkpvnkv, mon hvsaklatkv oketv, nocicet,
oketv hvtvm teropotaranes.
Beyond where the baby sleeps, her breath
A light mist of happiness making
A fine rainbow of becoming knowledge around us
Hopuewv nocat rentohpvrv, en hesaketv cvmpose afvcke
hayat, nak-kerrat pofeken celayes.
Beyond the children learning the alphabets
And numbers, bent over their sticks and dolls
As they play war and family, grow human paths
Hopuetake ponakv enyolvnk kerrakat rentohpvrv, ‘tolvcuce,
este-vhake sakopvnakes. Horre hayaket, cuko-hayaket,
ahkopvnakes. Em poyafekcv nen’oce oh-licakes.
Beyond the grandmothers and grandfathers
Their mothers and fathers, and in the marrow of their bones
To when that song was first sung we traveled on
Epuse, epuca, ecke, erke, mon fone enfolowv rentohpvrv,
enhvteceskv pom yvhiketv yvhikēt apeyēs.
Beyond sunset, can you hear it?
The shaking of shells, the drumming of feet, the singers
Singing, all of us, all at once?
Hvsaklatkv rentohpvrv nak makakat poheckv? Lucv
sopanvlke, opanvlke, yvhikvlke omvlkv etehvmkuse
How deep the voices of Earth and Sky
In the song of beyond, how deep we are—
Ekvnv mon sutv emopunvkv, enyvhiketv, sufketos. Yvhiketv
rentohpvrv, pomeu, sufke poniyēt, yvhikēs.
Joy Harjo (born 1951) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and studied at the University of New Mexico. Her work draws on the mythology and stories of her native Muscogee (Creek) Nation. As well as being one of America’s most celebrated poets she is also a performer, musician, and writer of prose.
Black & Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation and Freedom
Gold Award: Religion/Spirituality of Eastern Thought
Editors: Cheryl A. Giles, & Pamela Ayo Yetunde
Publisher: Shambhala Publications
(Pages 20-21 by Pamela Ayo Yetunde & Cheryl A. Giles)
...The definition of No Self, for the purposes of this chapter, means soul and interdependence. We did not come into being by our own volition, we do not exist by our own volition, nor do we go out of existence by our own volition. In the cosmos, we are permeable, transmuting infinitesimal, and vulnerable particles, and when we understand ourselves as such, we can begin to release delusions about each one of us being rugged, self-reliant individuals able to change the world all by ourselves. Our grounded soul is grounded in a connected collective— and that is what makes it boundless. Groundedness and boundlessness are known and felt through meditation; meditation becomes a lifestyle. Meditation as a lifestyle contributes to remarkable relational resilience, and remarkable relational resilience is another expression of soul sustenance. Sound too good to be true?
Paradoxically, African American anti-racism activists who are in the fight for our lives, our dignity, and our world will have to stop fighting— for moments at a time, sometimes even long moments. We will have to trust that when we are not fighting, someone else is. We don’t always know who the warriors are, what their tactics are, or how long they will fight, but we do know that if we don’t cultivate peace of mind in the midst of external strife, we will do the opponent’s job for them. Nothing is better for the opponent than our own self destruction.
Why give them that satisfaction? Informed by black feminist lesbian poet Audre Lorde, we believe the act of self-preservation in the face of another’s attempt to annihilate us is one of the highest forms of spiritual practice there is. Mindfulness, meditation, and no self is self-preservation and contributes to remarkable relational resilience. Let us commit to cultivating peace of mind and peace of body as we struggle for liberation. Let us be refuges for each other so that our collective souls and collective selves may be nourished for generations of communities to come, and let our rest be used for the reparative work we know is ahead of us.
(Pages 80-81 by Sebene Selassie)
Turning Toward Myself
…Buddhism, too, taught me to embrace every part of myself. That’s what the dharma invites— a turning toward the truth of this body. Not often framed in the erotic (the patriarchal saga of world religions is for another volume), the dharma nonetheless also asks us to be in direct relationship with our sensory experience for the sake of freedom and joy. When the conditioning of the culture is cleared away, when I am not in contention with any part of my being, I encounter a deep self-love awaiting me. Only then am I able to embrace all that I am, which is all that I have been all along.
I used to judge myself for being disconnected from my own Ethiopian heritage. Now I see how my longing for meaning was stirred by my discontent. That dis-ease sparked a search that led to Buddhism and Blackness. I have been turning toward myself ever since, finding spaciousness that allows for all the parts of me to exist. Some years ago, on a meditation retreat, an image of a tumbleweed came to me. Broken from its roots, it was light and surrounded by the wind enveloping it, appearing like space moving through space. It rolled along picking up experiences of cultural debris and detritus, accumulating and losing and accumulating again. I understood that I was like a tumbleweed, my sense of self and accrual of sensations, memories, thoughts, opinions, stories, and values. All through life, I’ve picked up what was around me as the winds of life moved me along. Now, I allow myself to roll gently, let go of what burdens my path, and dance lightly across the expanse.
Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America
Gold Award: Middle Grades -Fiction
Editor: Nora Shalaway Carpenter
Publisher: Candlewick Press
For most of America’s history, rural people and culture have been casually mocked, stereotyped, and in general, deeply misunderstood. This array of short stories, personal essays, graphic short stories, and poetry— accompanied by anecdotes from the authors’ real lives— dives deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the people who call it home.
Fifteen extraordinary authors— diverse in ethnic background, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status— explore the challenges, beauty, and nuances of growing up in rural America. From a forest in Georgia to the tundra of Alaska, you’ll find yourself visiting parts of this country you never knew existed— and meet characters whose lives may be surprisingly similar to your own.
(Pages 93-94 by Nora Shalaway Carpenter)
…She didn’t know why she’d let it get to her. It wasn’t like being barefoot was an insult in itself. People went barefoot at the beach all the time. And she knew from a biology essay she’d written last year that “earthing” was scientifically proven to be beneficial for both mental and physical health.
But it was the way the guy said it, and the implications behind it: West Virginians were poor. Or backward. Or both. And wasn’t that something to laugh about?
Mori threw her hands up in air quotes, dissolving the memory. “You said, ‘Well, technically, I’m not West Virginian.’” Mori’s impression was borderline mockery, but Alina forced herself not to react. ”You’re embarrassed about it, aren’t you? West Virginia embarrasses you.”
“No!” Alina said automatically. She loved this place and its wild expansiveness. How it gave her space and solitude but also connected her intimately to the natural world. Her favorite people lived here. “The thing is…I…”
She closed her mouth. She’d never let herself think about it too much, but what if… maybe…
What if she was embarrassed?
Alina crossed her arms, shame radiating from the deepest part of herself. Could that really be true? And if it was, how had it happened? When had her brain stopped registering camo as just another type of clothing and filed it under a label, a way of marking a person? When had the place she lived, the gorgeous land she loved with every piece of her heart, become a place she didn’t want to own up to with strangers?
She felt suddenly very, very exposed. It wasn’t like she’d never heard West Virginia cracks before. She heard them constantly, in fact, almost every time she traveled with her dad, a retired, well-published economics professor who had traded teaching for a quiet but manageable living touring the country giving keynote speeches and lectures.
She always told herself it was no big deal, that her dad’s colleagues were just trying to make conversation. That the barista in Boston was probably actually trying to flirt with her when he quipped about Appalachia and rednecks and hillbillies, trying to make her laugh. And she had laughed at jokes like those. The first dozen times or so.
She thought she’d done a good job of letting the cracks slide over her. But maybe she hadn’t. What if she’d become like the rocks in the streambed below her house, worn down without even realizing it? What if she’d let them erode her sense of herself? Her sense of home.
Feature Focus 2022 Season:
Hope Is In Our Hands
Feature Focus 2021 Season:
Collaboration of Voices | Nurturing Wholeness | Give a Gift of Insight & Inspiration
FEATURE FOCUS 2020 SEASON:
A HARVEST OF WISDOM | UPLIFTING CURRENTS | GIVE A GIFT OF HOPE | GIVE A CHILD A GIFT OF HOPE
FEATURE FOCUS 2019 SEASON:
PORTALS TO NEW PERSPECTIVES | GIFT A CHILD A SEED OF HOPE | GIFT A SEED OF HOPE | BUILDING BRIDGES | OUTSIDE IN | CURRENTS OF CHANGE
FEATURE FOCUS 2018 SEASON:
CREATE A NEW STORY | SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IN THE 21ST CENTURY | FINDING HOME | LIVING LIGHTLY, DEEPLY | EMBRACING DIVERSITY
STAY IN TOUCH
Please direct inquiries to Mary Belknap, Director
GUIDELINES FOR ENTERING
Award Winning Books from the 2021 Season will be announced to the Nautilus mailing list in April 2022.
For the 2021 Season: Entry packages postmarked from Sept. 21 through Oct. 31, 2021 will benefit from Early Entry Fees. Entries postmarked Nov. 1- Dec. 31, 2021 will have Regular Entry Fees. And Entries postmarked from Jan. 1 through Feb. 11, 2022 will have Final Entry Fees.
See Entry Guidelines for specifics! When the new season opens, there is a link and details for the Entry Form.