We are honored to share in the wisdom, love, hope, and creativity
that flow from our Award-Winning Books.
January 2021 Feature Focus:
Sometimes, we are called, or rather, catapulted into action. It may be a quiet niggle or it may be giant nudge of some sort. Something is calling forth our focused attention and fierce intention to tackle, whether for a personal challenge, relationships, extended community, or a global crisis of need. As we rise to respond from our heart with passion and resolve, personal and collective power is magnified and miracles unfold.
We are pleased to share excerpts from some of our 2019 Nautilus Award Winners that demonstrate the many aspects of Impassioned Action!
This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism
Gold Award: Aging Consciously
Author: Ashton Applewhite
Publisher: Celadon Books
From childhood on, we’re barraged by messages that it’s sad to be old. That wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people useless. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite believed these messages too, until she realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does.
Lively, funny, and deeply researched, This Chair Rocks traces Applewhite’s journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about later life. The book explains the roots of ageism in history and how it divides and debases; examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function; looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom; exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence; critiques the portrayal of olders as burdens to society; describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like; and concludes with an arousing call to action.
It’s time to create a world of age equality by making discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as any other kind of bias. Whether you’re older or hoping to get there, this book will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life.
Aim for “Agefulness”
Becoming an Old Person in Training also makes it easier to think critically about what age means in this society, and the forces at work behind depictions of older people as useless and pathetic. Shame can damage self-esteem and quality of life as much as externally imposed stereotyping. Becoming an Old Person in Training is a political act, because it derails this shame and self-loathing. It undoes the “otherness” that powers ageism (and racism, and nationalism). It makes room for empathy, and action. It robs the caricatures of crone or geezer of their power and frees us to become our full—our ageful—selves.
I may be jumping onto podiums instead of out of airplanes—I have a long way to go on the “being over doing” front—but I’m not running away from aging. That sets me apart from the aspirational supergeezers, as well as from an awful lot of other “aging experts” who are invested either in a deficit model of aging (helping the frail and needy age) or its misleading opposite (successful aging!). I hope to set an example of radical aging: acknowledging my mortality; embracing aging as a natural process; wrestling with the countless paradoxes this involves (for a while my working title for this project was Both Are True); and rustling up companions along the way. We’re all old people in training, whether we know it yet or not, and our numbers will swell as we reject demeaning stereotypes and claim our aging selves.
Your Heart, My Hands: An Immigrant’s Remarkable Journey to Become One of America’s Preeminent Cardiac Surgeons
Gold Award: Heroic Journeys
Author: Arun K. Singh, with John Hanc
Publisher: Center Street /Hachette Book Group
Awe-inspiring life stories from one of America’s most preeminent surgeons, from his rural Indian upbringing to his most memorable patient encounters.
On an August night in 1967, a young doctor from India arrived in Massachusetts with just five dollars and the desire to claim his American dream. Leaving a life marked by crippling setbacks and his father’s doubt, he still faced a journey that would be more arduous and beautiful then he could have imagined. Now, having performed over fifteen thousand open heart surgeries—more than nearly every surgeon in US history—Dr. Arun K. Singh reveals the power of perseverance.
Yet he persisted, and here with heartwarming personal stories and breathtaking accounts of his most memorable patients and what they taught him, he reflects on his multi-award-winning career in which he impacted thousands of lives. Intimate and inspiring, Your Heart, My Hands celebrates the enduring determination of the human spirit.
I have probably done more open heart procedures on both children and adults than any cardiac surgeon in America.
Believe me, I have the arthritic hips and creaky knees to prove it. As the standing surgeon, I have remained on my feet for ten hours straight at some points, working and watching my patients come back to life. I once performed four complex operations in thirty-six hours. Aside from short breaks between procedures, I was standing the whole time.
I have tried to stand for something else, too: compassion for my patients—
sensitivity to the emotions they experience when it becomes clear that the only way they will stay alive is for me and my team to crack open their chests and descend upon their vital organs with an assortment of strange-looking instruments. Some look like the products of an advanced robotics lab, others of a nineteenth-century sewing circle.
In my opinion, the families of my patients are the real heroes. They entrusted me with an enormous responsibility and on the day of the operation could do little but sit in a waiting room and pray that I would be successful. Usually I was. But no matter how routine surgery becomes to those of us who’ve done it, I tried never to lose sight of how terrifying it all must appear from the patient’s point of view.
I have also stood for—or should I say as—a symbol of something very different from surgical prowess. Call me the surgical patron saint of those who were once referred to as wayward boys or troubled youths. I was such a boy, in a far-off place and a culture vastly removed from the one I live in now.
Gravity & Grace: How to Awaken Your Subtle Body and the Healing Power of Yoga
Gold Award: Health & Healing, Wellness & Vitality
Author: Peter Sterios
Publisher: Sounds True
Resistance as Your Inner Teacher
One of the hardest things to sell as a teacher is the fact that meeting discomfort in body and mind is an essential part of yoga. Who in their right mind would buy into that, especially a beginner? It takes a certain level of maturity and life experience to understand the value in such an idea: that inevitable in life are circumstances in which expectations fall short, obstacles appear unexpectedly, and we hit dead ends and are forced to retreat, with no one there to help.
At odds with this is a predominantly Western notion of progress being a mostly straight line, moving forward at all times, using whatever means necessary—willpower, positive thinking, intentionality—to make it happen. Anything else is perceived as failure, though the masters of any vocation or art know the contrary. To begin or renew a more intimate type of relationship with yourself requires a new attitude toward resistance: perceiving it as the gift it truly is. With that realization, you can move a little closer to a true, authentic relationship with all of who you are.
Two of the most powerful approaches to the practice of yoga in the face of resistance are patience and kindness toward yourself—the recognition and acknowledgement that where you are in this very moment is exactly where you are meant to be. No matter what circumstances took you into your current situation, especially when you are experiencing challenges or pain of some kind in your life, there is a gift hidden in the predicament—something that is there to propel you into the next phase of your life (intended or unintended), requiring an open attitude and the best possible effort, with empathy toward yourself, no matter what shows up.
The experience of compassion for yourself while accepting life as it is can help you develop a childlike curiosity, free from results, about what kindness and patience can produce, leading you to discover something unknown about yourself.
Ultimately, the test for whether this approach to physical yoga is a good match for you is how well this practice supports your willingness and ability to touch discomfort softly and unveil the shadow of your existence— the part of your life where you lack or avoid connection or the subconscious or “undesirable” parts of yourself, your community, or the world you live in. Sometimes you need look no further than the relationships in your life. Is your practice of yoga supporting you to be kinder and more open toward the people close to you? Are you moving toward or away from more intimacy and connection? At its core, yoga is bonding. Yoga is union. Yoga is one.
Reframing Poverty: New Thinking and Feeling About Humanity’s Greatest Challenge
Silver Award: Social Change & Social Justice
Author: Eric Meade
Publisher: Canyon House Press
Thus, poverty is not just a technical challenge. In the words of Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey… poverty is an “adaptive challenge.” It requires us to change not just what we do but also who we are. It requires us to change how we think and how we feel, and to work through the emotions we carry forward from our personal and familial experiences of poverty. Only then can we shift the focus from the unresolved needs of our own pasts to what the world needs from us right now.
After we work through our emotions about poverty, however, we become more potent leaders of change. In our dealings with others, we embrace multiple perspectives to build collaborative partnerships with those we previously may have avoided. In our dealings with the poor, we respond to their most pressing needs rather than making them foils for our own challenges. In our dealings with ourselves, we recognize that the emotions poverty evokes in us may actually raise issues we need to address in our own lives.
These benefits accrue not only to those who address poverty on a professional or volunteer basis, but also to all who are concerned about the state of their own communities.
It (poverty reduction) can happen in every interaction we have with any other human being.
We give a compliment. We show respect. We mention a recent job opening. We talk to someone we might normally avoid. We put someone in touch with the help they need. We let people stay in our house until they get back on their feet. These actions and many others offer a path to the better world we all desire, and we can walk that path every day.
I wrote this book not to answer the question, How do we eradicate poverty? but rather, What am I, as a human being, to do, living as I do in a world where poverty exists? This is my answer: To accept the world as it is and to uphold the dignity of the human experience and of all those with whom I share it. To give readily of what I have in time, talent, and treasure. To look in every interaction for how I might put my gifts in the service of others. To look deeply at my emotions to hear their messages for my own life and for my work in the world, and to know the difference between the two. To act from joy, to experience awe, and to nurture a deep faith that one day we shall attain the object of our longing.
Deep Creativity: Seven Ways to Spark Your Creative Spirit
Gold Award: Creativity & Innovation
Author: Deborah Anne Quibell, Jennifer Leigh Selig, & Dennis Patrick Slattery
Publisher: Shambhala Publications
Along the creative’s path, the smallest things demand our gasp, our loving attention, our fixed gaze, and our compassionate noticing. To gasp is to take in or breathe in the world around us. In depth psychological language, this is known as the primary aesthetic response of the heart. Within this primary response, beauty or aesthetics is not defined by what is pleasing to the physical eye, taste or form. Beauty is found in the particularity of things. In one of my favorite books, The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, James Hillman defined this as “the luster of each particular event— its clarity, its particular brightness: that particular things appear at all and in the form in which they appear.” Being fiercely open to this notion of beauty, I believe, holds a major key to unlocking the creative potential hidden within the heart of the true artist. As artists, we cannot forget how to gasp. Awe and wonder are our comrades, our closest companions to keep ever alive. Even amidst a modern world that is barely breathing. The famous Sufi poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi writes about two ways of breathing. One is constricted and shameful. The other takes you all the way to infinity. This is the breath of love.
The sense of wonder that springs from the heart—this breath of love that takes us all the way to infinity—allows each thing or figure we encounter in the world around us to reveal itself further.
(Excerpts pages 20-25)
It seems also important to note, here, that the attentiveness of the heart is courageous, willing to pay attention to the shadows, as much as to the light. The attention of the heart loves to find beauty in the particularity of things—in faces, shapes, scents, sounds, and movements. All of them peculiar and beautiful, in their own particular way. It looks for the details that make something ordinary all of a sudden extraordinary.
Within the attention of the heart, we are called to notice each particular detail of an experience, to expose ourselves to whatever (or whomever) is around us and cultivate a burning curiosity and desire to know as much as we can about whatever (or whomever) we encounter each day.
- When in your life have you been emotionally and physically arrested by something so beautiful, or terrible, that it stopped you in your tracks? Did you pay homage to this moment by creating something? Might you now?
- When has love required great courage from you, the courage to stay present, to not look away?
- What moments in your life have you experienced the greatest openness of your heart? Have any of these moments shown up in your art?
Can you create something from these reflections?
A Year of Belonging: Fifty-Two Reflections and Practices for Educators
Silver Award: Relationships & Communication
Author: David Levine
Publisher: Teaching Empathy Press
"When soul is present in education, attention shifts. As the quality of attention shifts, we listen with great care not only to what people say but to the messages between the words— tones, gestures, the flicker of feeling across the face. And then we concentrate on what has heart and meaning.” Rachael Kessler, Founder, Passage Works Institute & Author
Soulful skills are skills we use to explore our inner nature. They allow us to look at what is in our heart, to celebrate what we find there, and to express our life purpose through action. We can refine the soulful skills of our students by integrating the practices of kindness and compassionate decision-making as critical components of the classroom culture.
Some classroom soulful skills to incorporate into daily classroom practice include:
- Free writing
- Partner sharing
- Student storytelling
- Conducting lessons outdoors
- Poetry writing
- Student sharing of musical talent
- Class dialoguing about compassion and gratitude
Managing Conflict and Misunderstanding
Explain to students that mediation is a technique that people who are stuck in a conflict can use to get unstuck.
Ask students to give examples of times when a person might feel stuck.
Then describe the following mediation framework.
- Illumination, “my side”: Each person takes a turn telling their side of the story.
- Understanding, “your side”: Each person summarizes the other person’s side of the story.
- Exploration, “our side”: Both students brainstorm about how to resolve the conflict and agree on a plan.
- Wisdom, “next time”: Both students talk about how they can deal more positively with similar situations in the future
The Quality World
The Quality World exists within emotionally coded moments marked by pleasure, safety, and love. These moments can occur during tasks, in situations in specific places, or during interactions with people. Significant adults in the lives of students might adopt the following mantra about the Quality World: “This moment with this student might be one they never forget.” When such a mindset is part of daily awareness, you become the facilitator of joyful learning experiences for your students. When this happens, your classroom will be a place where students feel emotionally safe to express their authentic selves.
December 2020 Feature Focus:
"Give a Child a Gift of Hope"
Gift Of Being
WAYS TO BE FROM A TO Z
BE KIND: You can make the World a Happier Place!
GUAN YIN: THE BUDDHA’S HELPER
Gift Of Nature
MIGRATION: Incredible Animal Journeys
SUPER NAVIGATORS: Exploring the Wonders of How Animals Find Their Way
Gift Of Imagination
DORJE THE YAK
THE WIZENARD SERIES: Training Camp
OUR FUTURE: How Kids Are Taking Action
Gift Of Heart
WHEN GOD MADE LIGHT
THE HEART OF A BOY: Celebrating the Strength & Spirit of Boyhood
THE BEAUTY OF THE MOMENT
November 2020 Feature Focus:
"Give a Gift of Hope"
Gift An Uplift
THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX & THE HORSE
CREATIVITY TAKES COURAGE: Dare to Think Differently
AFOOT AND LIGHTHEARTED: A Journal for Mindful Walking
FOR LOVE OF ORCAS: An Anthology
Give A Deep Journey
SIGNS: THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF THE UNIVERSE
WHEN GOD WAS A BIRD: Christianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World
NIGHT THREADS: A Weaving of Soul Stories from the Dreamtime
Gift a Compelling Story
WHEN A TOY DOG BECAME A WOLF & THE MOON BROKE CURFEW
Gold Award: Memoir/Large Publisher
Hendrika de Vries
She Writes Press
September 2020 Feature Focus:
"A Harvest of Wisdom"
Now, perhaps more than ever, wisdom is crucial to navigate any number of the challenges we face, individually and collectively. The following six Nautilus Award-winning books from our 2019 season offer deep food for thought — on topics from finding optimism, protecting democracy, engaging truth-speaking, and fostering active wonder and awe from childhood education through our very last breath — an abundance of sweet manna to feed your Mind, Body and Soul.
The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age
Author: Bina Venkataraman
Publisher: Riverhead Books (Penguin RH) - Large publisher
Gold Award: Science & Cosmology (cat. 25)
Instant gratification is the norm today—in our lives, our culture, our economy, and our politics. Many of us have forgotten (if we ever learned) how to make smart decisions for the long run. Whether it comes to our finances, our health, our communities, or our planet, it’s easy to avoid thinking ahead.
Bina Venkataraman sees the way forward. A former journalist and adviser in the Obama administration, she helped communities and businesses prepare for climate change, and she learned first hand why people don’t think ahead— and what can be done to change that. In The Optimist’s Telescope, she draws from stories she has reported around the world and new research in biology, psychology, and economics to explain how we can make decisions that benefit us over time. With examples from ancient Pompeii to modern-day Fukushima, she dispels the myth that human nature is impossibly reckless, and highlights the surprising practices each of us can adopt in our own lives— and the ones we must fight for as a society. The result is a book brimming with ideas and insights all of us need in order to forge a better future.
To paint the future in new ways, however, will not be enough to secure a better future. We also need to know how to make decisions in light of uncertain threats and opportunities that lie ahead.
Here we can draw on the insights of those who have exercised foresight against the odds to post the path forward. …
- Look Beyond the New-Term Targets. We can avoid being distracted by short-term noise and cultivate patience by measuring more than immediate results. As individuals, we can avoid single data points as measures of our progress of success in life or work, and instead adopt rituals of reflection on long-range goals.
- Stoke the Imagination. We can boost our ability to envision the range of possibilities that lie ahead. As individuals, we can create more anchors to the future that allow us to imagine it.
- Create Immediate Rewards for Future Goals. We can find ways to make what’s best for us over time pay off in the present.
- Direct Attention Away from Immediate Urges. We can reengineer cultural and environmental cues that condition us for urgency and instant gratification.
- Demand and Design Better Institutions. We can create practices, laws, and institutions that foster foresight. As individuals, we can vote and advocate for rules and policies that encourage looking ahead rather than reckless decisions.
While we can take some of these actions today in our personal lives without much trouble, others will require us to exercise our power as investors, voters, business leaders, teachers, consumers, community members, and beyond. Not all of it, of course, will be easy. But none of it is beyond our reach.
The DNA of Democracy
Author: Richard C. Lyons
Publisher: Lylea Creative Resources - Self published
Silver Award: World Cultures' Conscious Growth & Development (cat. 28)
What a rare jewel exists in our midst: one that we see before our eyes, that we hold in our hands, that we sense in our very souls! Our democracy is as singular as the Earth itself: to our knowledge, the sole inhabitable life-bearing sphere throughout the dark of countless light-years. Our democracy, since its beginnings, has been a light for all to see. It is the most self-consciously created form of government in human history, its rights and freedoms founded so as to produce living fountains of creativity in all the arts, the sciences, the crafts and trades and industries that together comprise the pathways of human aspiration and achievement.
Our American history is a chronicle worthy of celebration. Our nation’s fruits, in their kind and number, are unprecedented— and they proceed, each and all, from our system of individual liberties. Our liberties have indeed earned the characterization of sacred and are supremely worthy of saving.
Democracy need not fall visibly, noisily and dramatically; it may crumble, by imperceptible degrees, before disappearing. Democracy need not be crushed by foreign foes; it may collapse under many slight assaults, given and received by its own citizens, whose acts serve an end of societal implosion.
Democracy can end. Liberty can be lost. The most remarkable system of government that this most remarkable world has ever wrought—this jewel—may return to dust.
If you are as interested as I in exploring the brilliance and assuring the continued vigor of democracy, I invite you to join me in a not-overlong literary journey.
Come along as we travel the currents of history, examining the seeds and roots of our democracy in ancient Israel and Athens, observing their flower in the republican era of Rome and watching their powerful pull “toward explicit liberty under England’s monarchy.” And then we travel to a novel world, where established European perceptions were turned upside down by the witness of councils governing the Iroquois and Cherokee tribes. In this moment of history we will sample the writings of philosophers and poets on both sides of the Atlantic who found echoes in these Amerindian councils of the glory of Athens. Then we will visit the greatest, most rebellious generation of Americans who ever drew breath in defiance; who devoted their lands and their liberties, their fortunes and their labors, their honor and their lives, to fight for and forge a new system of governance, founded on individual liberty for the welfare of all, which they intended to survive for the benefit of all future generations on this continent, and to form an example for the benefit of the world.
from the Conclusion
If the works of tyranny have become familiar to the reader, so should be those elements which are the essential foundations of democracy. First among these are the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings that value each distinct life within a nation equally, where no one assumes arbitrary power over another.
As necessary is the resolve to stand up for the common good through the creation and defense of a common liberty. As necessary are all the housings of the democratic idea, as found in the various declarations and constitutions this work has presented.
As necessary is an independent judiciary that defends common laws and the common rights of all citizens who live by those laws. As necessary is a system of elections whereby a people choose those persons who make the laws for all to live by.
As necessary is a balanced system of diffused governance that maintains the freedoms of the individual at the maximum.
Last, and most necessary, is each citizen having a vivid awareness of the difference between democracy and every species of tyranny. As this work makes plain—it’s in the DNA.
The Call of the Wild & Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your child's Education
Author: Ainsley Arment
Publisher: HarperOne (HarperCollins)
Gold Award: Social Sciences & Education (cat. 26)
There’s a growing movement of parents who are out to save childhood. Where our culture tells kids to achieve more, these mothers whisper: Slow down. Where schools push for performance through standardized testing, these parents whisper: Chase wonder. Where entertainment beckons kids to screens, the rivers and forests whisper: Come be wild and free.
Ainsley Arment heard the whisper, and in an effort to bring back the love of learning that she saw slipping away from her son, she decided to homeschool him. Slowly, she watched him come alive again, and the experience led her to start Wild & Free, a community of mothers who are disrupting the preconceived notions of what it means to raise and educate children at home. Wild & Free focuses on cultivating a love of nature, reading great books, and nurturing kids’ sense of curiosity, joy, and awe— the essence of a positive childhood.
Using these values as her guide, The Call of the Wild & Free shows parents how to make the world their classroom and implement the Wild & Free method in their homes, creating a fertile seedbed for each kid’s uniqueness and creativity.
Let’s answer the call.
Preparing for the Future
We don’t know what path our children will take. No matter how strongly we are for or against college, our children will ultimately decide what they’ll do. We can only help prepare them for whichever direction they choose. This doesn’t mean piling up work for areas in which they don’t have strengths, but giving them time and space to become experts in their own interests.
“There has never been a generation when children have so desperately needed their parents’ time, thoughtful creativity, and friendship.” —Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
Susan Wise Bauer spoke at our Wild & Free conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. As a homeschool graduate and now a homeschooling parent and college professor, she talked about the gift of time her parents gave her and her siblings to explore their interests: “They let us do the bare minimum in some subjects so that we could develop our interests in other areas. And for every single one of us, this led us into the career that we now have.”
The abundance of time we give our children is a fertile seedbed for the individuals they will one day become. You can’t possible imagine how much this gift will impact them.
We all have our own set of quirks, blind spots, and weaknesses. The good news is that our children’s futures do not rise and fall on our failures. We are raising children who have intelligent minds, creative passions and limitless potential. They are resilient, amazing kids.
Renewal: How Nature Awakens Our Creativity, Compassion and Joy
Author: Andres R. Edwards
Publisher: New Society Publishers (NSP)
Gold Award: Green Values & Sustainability (cat. 10)
Reinstilling Awe and Beauty
How do we reinstill awe and beauty in our everyday experiences? We may begin by slowing down, by taking a moment to be still and “smell the roses.” We can encourage children and adult friends and colleagues to take a breath and reexamine the miracles that occur every day in our own neighborhoods: the intricate pattern of a robin’s nest, the daffodil sprouting in spring, the ladybug crawling on a native bunchgrass. And beyond the natural world, we can admire an act of kindness between a mother and son, a compassionate gesture between strangers or an awe-inspiring work of public art. These are the little moments that bring joy and gratitude into everyday experiences. They make us feel alive and enhance our health and well-being.
Awe opens the door to finding ingenious solutions to the problems we face. Marveling at the awe-inspiring characteristics of nature often propels our curiosity to delve deeper into the “how” rather than the “what” of situations. Investigating photosynthesis, for example, whereby plants take sunlight and convert it into chemical energy and produce oxygen, brings forth the mystery of a process that happens every minute of every day on Earth. Peeling back the layers of this ecological “onion” and understanding this process in depth allows us to imagine solutions to problems we may never have thought of. It may spur us to develop more efficient photovoltaic cells or devise a new method for storing energy from the sun or wind or tides. Staying in a state of awe fosters the conditions for creativity and solutions to emerge.
An Integral Perspective
It’s time to reimagine our relationship with nature from the inside out, incorporating emotional, social and biological perspectives. The emotional perspective calls us to cultivate self-care by tuning in to our body, emotions, mind and spirit. By paying close attention to how we feel in a natural setting, we nourish our care for nature. We can be transformed when our senses experience the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of nature. Such experiences can help us become more caring about other species and the health of their habitats. When we realize we are not alone and that we share with other species what sustains us all, such as air, water and food, we see our impact on nature from a new holistic perspective that leads us to take action to alleviate the suffering of others. …
From a social perspective, we see that at our core we are social beings with a range of emotions, desires and motivations. As the world population grows and our cities rapidly expand, the equitable distribution of food, energy, education and healthcare is becoming paramount. The solutions to these pressing challenges require a collaborative approach that recognizes that in order for me to thrive my neighbor must thrive as well. …
The biological perspective expands the view that we are interconnected to encompass our interdependence with the natural world. To find viable solutions to the complex problems we are confronting such as climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity, we need to work together using a systems approach. This approach sees what systems theorist Fritjof Capra describes as the “connectedness, relationships, patterns and context” in nature. “According to the systems view the essential properties of an organism, or living system, are properties of the whole, which none of the parts have. They arise from the interactions and relationships between the parts.” Instead of focusing on the individual parts of an ecosystem, such as the soil, plants or species, we view the connections and relationships among these parts. The same applies to human-built systems, such as business, healthcare and education.
Truthspeaking: Ancestral Ways to Hear and Speak the Voice of the Heart
Author: Tamarack Song
Publisher: Snow Wolf Publishing
2019 Special Honors for Best of Small Press
Silver Award: Relationships & Communication (cat. 23)
As soon as we give our Truth an opening, it will begin pouring forth like a bubbling spring that has just been cleaned of choking debris. The free and spontaneous flow of our Truth is cleansing and uplifting: it reflects how we take care of ourselves, how we eat, and even our self-esteem. Truthspeaking is the simplest, most direct, and effective path to total well-being that I know of.
Much of the debris that inhibits the flow of Truth comes from the very words we use to convey it. …
Thus along with the gift of speech comes sacred responsibility:
- First to understand its power.
- Second, to learn to use it wisely.
- Third, to encourage it in others.
Words are like sticky Spider silk: We often weave them into a web, then walk into it and become entangled. Another option is to step back and take note of the striking, intricate pattern that our word-silks have formed, then look through it to the clarity beyond, rather than getting snared in it. This book is a guide to realizing the power of our word-web, and to using this power to free our thoughts and feelings rather than being victimized by them.
There is no Truthspeaking without Truthlistening. We can speak our Truths until we are blue in the face, yet if nobody listens—or knows how to listen—we might as well save our breaths. In effect, nothing was spoken. A voice needs an open and accepting ear to receive it. Traditional Hawaiians express it this way: He lohe ke ola, he kuli ka make—To hear is life, to turn a deaf ear is death.
If we cannot hear our Truths, we cannot voice them. And if we cannot hear the Truths of others, we cannot honor them.
We take a risk by opening our Hearts and extending trust every time we Truthlisten. This takes courage. Keeping our Hearts open to Truth and detached from outcome—thus takes even more courage.
Yet, there is no other way, as an open Heart without daring to keep it open is lake a bird without wings. The Truthlistening journey asks that we embrace the bitter as well as the sweet of what Truth brings. To pick and choose would be to live in a False Truth.
This requires trust with risk: adventuring from the security of knowing to the frontier of the unknown. It is having faith that we are capable of communicating in a better way. It is having the self-love to believe that we are worthy of being happy and content with life.
For many of us, it takes not only courage, but tremendous courage, to open the door and step out into these nebulous winds—into our personal frontier.
When we do, we strip away habit, pretense, and illusion. We occupy the place that encourages us to be fully present and aware, to be finely attuned and sensitized. Our personal frontier is where we find our Truth. It takes courage to get there, yet once we arrive, this vibrant, unfettered state of being renews our will to keep going.
Dandelions Blooming in the Cracks of Sidewalks: Stories from the Bedside of the Dying
Author: Amita Lhamo
Publisher: Mandorla Publications - Small Press
Gold Award: Death & Dying | Grief &Loss (cat. 11)
We cannot avoid death, but we can gaze deeply into its eyes, ask our questions, and walk with one another. This, of course, is what we’re most afraid of. To dance with death sheers away all the good ideas, rips off scabs and masks, unties all our neatly packaged stories and impermanent defenses, and leaves us naked with the rest of humanity, with all sentient life.
This is also the beauty. We cannot escape. Death surges through the very center of our being, tearing off all the fig leaves. We can comfort the pain, the anxiety, the suffering. We can also gaze through the cracking shells to see what else lives in such places. What shines through the brokenness? What remains?
To look for the beauty is to recognize that we are not our suffering. Within the intimacy of kindness, we learn to stay just long enough to grow minds that can hold the paradox of living and dying simultaneously. No matter which way we turn, we find one garden, one ground.
Each soul is a wondrous flower. To gaze into the face of any one of us is to see it all. Namaste—the God in me sees the God in you.
Perhaps this is why we need stories. We look for language that can invite us into the invisible landscapes with the courage of one who’s gone before. We find our place within the necessity of a path only we can walk.
Yet at the heart of midwifery one human being sits with another. The word midwife translates as, “Be with…be-with woman.” Together we explore the malleable truths through the labyrinth of the heart. We lead and follow, follow and lead, and within the dialogue, we become present to presence.
This book is a collection of such stories, gleaned from thousands of conversations around the deathbed. Each one reflects a quality of beauty, of soulness—the ways any one of us reflects the profundity of existence.
“Beauty is the harvest of presence,” wrote David Whyte. “The evanescent moment of seeing or hearing on the outside what already lives far inside us.”
Before death, our greatest strengths and vulnerabilities arise. We grapple with every hope and fear imaginable. It is my wish that these stories can offer wisdom, reassurance, solace, encouragement, and confidence for anyone standing before the mirror of finitude. Perhaps they can offer guidance while we remember what already lives within. Perhaps they can point to the presence of beauty.
June 2020 Feature Focus:
We are glad to have the opportunity to introduce to you some of our new harvest of Award Winning books. Unprecedented challenges call for unprecedented options to meet the moment.
Salient and succinct, the books we celebrate with you today invite us all to catch a deep breath -- and to arise with renewed clarity and grace. Whether our new commitment is to convey greater kindness to self and others, engage a fresh perspective, or discover a new way to tap deep personal expression, these times call for a bold step to catch the current, find uplift, and rise.
Kintsugi: Finding Strength in Imperfection
Author: Celine Santini
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Gold Award: Inner Prosperity
Experiment (page 9)
Kintsugi is the art of exalting past injuries. The Way of Kintsugi can be understood as a kind of art therapy, inviting you to transcend your struggles and transform your personal hardship into gold. It reminds you that your scars, visible or invisible, are proof that you’ve overcome your difficulties. By marking your history, they demonstrate you’ve survived and they enrich your soul.
Even more beautiful,
Even more resilient,
Even more precious,
Even more … present!
Decide (page 31)
Make the choice to give the object a second chance, rather than throwing it away.
Convince yourself that you can be like the broken object repaired by kintsugi technique. You are a valuable jewel that deserves to be healed with gold, one of the most precious metals on the planet. You are invaluable and are worth the best. In deciding to repair what has been broken, you not only simply recognize its value, but add sentiment to the object. As in the art of kintsugi, in deciding to take control of your life in spite of the sufferings experienced, you give yourself an invaluable gift: your self-esteem!
Feel (page 221)
As the lacquer hardened while drying, feel how the object is even more solid than before.
Patiently, layer after layer, the kintsugi master has covered the cracks of the broken object with a thin film of lacquer. This natural balm from the resin of the lacquer tree progressively covered the scars of the object, fusing the broken pieces. Drying, it has prodigiously hardened. There is no turning back: They cannot be separated any longer; they have become one and the same. …
My ordeals have also made me stronger. Now I feel that I have great inner strength. I survived, and I know I will be able to survive the next injury. It’s almost like nothing can happen to me anymore. Or, better yet, like nothing can really hurt me. The cycle of life has its ups and downs, so it is impossible to be certain what the future might bring. But I have the impression that, no matter what happens, I have been reinforced, cured and that I now know how to better manage the next challenge... Now, vigilant and experienced, you are the living proof that one can survive the toughest ordeals. You have been cured. You do, however, have to pay attention not to isolate yourself behind a thick shell: Leave yourself open to experience life.
A Year of Living Kindly: Choices that will Change Your Life and the World Around You
Author: Donna Cameron
Publisher: She Writes Press
Gold Award: Personal Growth ~Large Publisher
(excerpts from Chapter 48)
Strategies for Bringing Kindness into Your Life
Choosing to live a life of kindness requires that we become activists in our own lives in a variety of ways. We need to take initiative to extend kindness—even if we don’t feel like it.
We need to speak up when we see unkindness or injustice. We need to look for opportunities to be kind and recognize kindness when we witness it. Contrary to the old adage, kindness is not necessarily one of the good things that come to those who wait. We need to actively pursue it.
Cultivating Feelings of Kindness
The first category of kindness practices deals with cultivating feelings of kindness.
- Feeling Connected: This practice asks us to think about a time when we felt strongly connected to another person— perhaps by a shared experience or profound conversation.
- Feeling Supported: This one involves thinking about a time when you were comforted or supported by others, and the qualities and actions of those people who supported you.
- Take an Awe Walk: An awe walk is a stroll to a place that makes us feel “connected to something greater than ourselves.”
- Compassion Meditation: This is often referred to as lovingkindness meditation. It is a practice of combining breathing with extending feelings of goodwill toward oneself, one’s loved ones, acquaintances and strangers, and even people we dislike.
Inspiring Kindness in Others
The next set of practices contains ways to help others see the value of kindness and engage in kind actions.
- Reminders of Connectedness: This is simply examining our surroundings and looking for ways to create reminders of the importance of kindness and connectedness.
- Putting a Face on Human Suffering: Sometimes kindness requires a kick in the pants— to help us overcome that powerful inertia that keeps us from acting. Sharing pictures or stories of people in need often lights a fire of action and involvement— motivating people to help.
- Shared Identity: This practice asks us to explore ways of forging a sense of our common humanity across group boundaries.
- Encouraging Kindness in Kids: If we can instill kindness at an early age, we can change the world.
As I review this list of strategies and behaviors that promote kindness, I’m struck by the fact that none of them are difficult; they simply require practice. Like anything we want to do well— from public speaking to Ping-Pong, to piano playing—we get good at it by practicing. I can’t think of anything more worthwhile to practice than kindness. Can you?
When Bad Lands: How Not to Numb Out, Freak Out, or Bottom Out ~ Buddhist Style
Author: Alan Kent Anderson
Gold Award: Religion/Spirituality of Eastern Thought
Is it possible to tap into this gentleness and fearlessness when we are way beyond challenged— when we feel totally broken? Absolutely. We could begin right now…right on this very dot. Our miraculous sense perceptions and minds are already plugged into the world that surrounds us. This powerful conduit is already humming with all manner of information, clues and perceptions, placing us in full-blown vivid contact with everything that is pulsating, mysterious and alive.
We don’t have to make a dramatic shift in our life to see the possibilities that exist. It might only require a slight cock of the head—a mental squint of sorts— for it is said that we are just a little bit off, not 180(degrees) off. Our awakeness is already happening; it’s just running on a hidden screen that is blocked by fear and habitual patterns. We are only a couple of milliseconds off from experiencing our life as it is, free from our projections.
The path of healing and sanity is as rugged as it is brilliant— that’s how you will recognize it, because you’re going to get dirty and it’s going to require humility and daring. With his clarion call for honesty and overcoming self-deception, Trungpa shows us that the only way to step out from feeling lost or broken is to start by accepting who we are before we try to remodel ourselves. Accepting who we are does not mean that we give ourselves a pass because it’s too much of a drag to challenge ourselves. Accepting ourselves does not mean, “This is who I am; take it or leave it!” That is not fearlessness; that is cowardice. Accepting ourselves means that we will no longer deny our inherent brilliant sanity, nor will we overreact when our karmic entanglements undo us.
Even if our path is not the saintliest— even if we are feeling crushed or hopeless when bad lands with all its force and fury— it is tremendous good news to know we have surrendered to how things truly are, not pretending things are otherwise. We will surely find ourselves embarrassed as we struggle to rise out of the muck, but if we can unlock what we ordinarily keep hidden about ourselves, our journey will be a profound one. I would go so far as to say that if shattering our illusions, facing ourselves and beginning anew, free from pretense, is not the essence of spirituality, I don’t know what is.
Drinking From the River of Light: The life of expression
Author: Mark Nepo
Publisher: Sounds True
Silver Award: Personal Growth ~Large Publisher
The sheen of the sun on the sea befriended me. But, being called into the world, I would forget about the sheen, and the enormity of the sea, and the endless dependability of the waves—until the noise and tumble of the world would send me back to the sea. Then, when exhausted, I’d walk along some patch of surf where the clouds would part and the sun would glitter up the sea again. And I’d remember, as someone waking from a long sleep, I’d remember all that is out of view, all that we stand on, all that hold us up. …
This morning, some forty years later, I’m again by the sea, and the sun is high, the clouds are few, and there the familiar sheen glittering up the sea—old guide, old friend. And still, after a lifetime, I can’t describe it or name it. I can only feel it.
I keep relearning that what matters is unsayable. And yet, every attempt to reveal it helps us live, the way every seed grows by reaching for a light it can’t see or name. God is such a sun. Truth is such a sun. Love is such a sun and each of these—God, Truth, and Love—is just a temporary name for something too big to be named.
I only know that to be alive and to gather meaning from living, we’re asked to throw our words and feelings and questions, like wood, onto the fire of all that’s unsayable—to keep the shimmer of what matters before us.
And whether you write poetry or stories, whether you write at all, we each have a need for placeholders that let us return to things too big to name but too important to forget. While the placeholders we discover and articulate are very personal, they help connect us to what we have in common. We all need to work with symbols so we can return to the larger order of things of which we are a part.
An Invitation to Discover an Image
In your journal, locate one aspect of life that defies being named and try to create an image that serves as a visual placeholder for it. On three different occasions during the next week, write and speak this image as a way to bring the ineffable aspect of life that it represents back into view. Spend more time with the original aspect of life and see how it touches you.
Dante’s Road: The Journey Home for the Modern Soul
Author: Marc Thomas Shaw
Publisher: Anamchara Books
Gold Award: Personal Growth ~Small Press
Our greater work is to open ourselves to the process of being transformed into wholeness and acting out of that wholeness in the world, facilitating the movement toward shalom, toward a sacred balance as taught by the great spiritual texts. This kind of health, order, and proportion requires that we recognize our interrelatedness. We seek peace, justice, righteousness and love, which are all relational terms; they only exist between people.
When we have a sense of inherent joy in work, or we perceive something beautiful in Nature or in art, we usually have a sense of right relationship, of timing and movement, of symmetry of shape, of form and content in proper proportion, of “just measure” in the music. The best work, whether on a canvas, in the boardroom, or on the operating table, has an inner quality of rightness, an appropriate and skillful use of the materials available in the given situation.
We train our minds, our bodies, our hands to become conduits through which this quality can manifest in the world, allowing it to be brought about in and through us. Through our work in the world we return to right relationship. Since we exist within nested systems— economic, social, political, environmental— both the work we do and our approach to that work influences the greater web. And all this is both the way home and home itself.
Scholars suggest that Homer’s Odysseus finds his way home through the Greek quality of metis— wisdom and craft. To exhibit metis is to be attentive and alert to the reality of the present moment, the opportunity for kairos to emerge into the chronos. Odysseus shows metis in his ability to craft stories, to use persuasive speech off the cuff in difficult situations. So does his wife Penelope in her nightly weaving and unweaving that keeps her ravenous suitors at bay. Metis creates cosmos out of chaos.
I’m suggesting that in order for us to manifest this quality. To be alive and alert to the requirements of the moment, to manifest wisdom and skill as we follow our journey, we have to lay down the False Self, its noise, its cravings, and be truly present. We have to learn humility, not just as a value we espouse but as a quality of being we embody. In Homer’s poem, the blind seer Tiresias instructs Odysseus to deny himself before he can find home. Then once Odysseus finally reaches Ithaca and his beloved Penelope, the symbol of reunion in the story is the marriage bed, crafted from an olive tree still planted in the ground, an image that points toward the skill and wisdom, including the virtue of humility, that brings Odysseus and Penelope together again. In the same way, these qualities realign us; they restore right relationship to the land itself, which becomes the very foundation for the family, central to the health and wholeness of the entire community.
(from the front flap)
You are the only you there ever has been or ever will be. You are unique. Just the odds of you being here at this exact place and this exact time are so great and so rare that they will never happen again.
This is a story for everything you will do and everything you could be. It’s for who you are right now, and it’s for all the magical, unbounded potential you hold inside.
Feature Focus 2019 Season:
A Harvest of Wisdom | Uplifting Currents | Give a Gift of Hope | Give a Child a Gift of Hope
Feature Focus 2018 Season:
Portals to new Perspectives | Gift a Child a Seed of Hope | Gift a Seed of Hope | Building Bridges | Outside In | Currents of ChangeFeature Focus 2017 Season:
Create a New Story | Spiritual Awakening in the 21st Century | Finding Home | Living Lightly, Deeply | Embracing Diversity
Guidelines for Entering
Award Winning Books from the 2020 Season will be announced to the Nautilus mailing list in April 2021.
For the 2020 Season: Entry packages postmarked from Sept. 21 through Oct. 31, 2020 will benefit from Early Entry Fees. Entries postmarked Nov. 1- Dec. 31, 2020 will have Regular Entry Fees. And Entries postmarked from Jan. 1 through Feb. 10, 2021 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.