Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Spotlight On: Author Tara LaDue

I first met author Tara LaDue on Instagram. She is a beautiful, positive soul, and watching her make her book come to life, has been incredibly inspiring. Came To Believe, A Journey of Trust, Faith and Perseverance is Tara's spiritual memoir and is currently our Book of the Week! Enjoy getting to know Tara with my interview below:

SG (Suitable Gifts): This is your first book, congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment! When did you first realize you wanted to write?  

Tara (Tara LaDue): I always loved writing back in school.  I talk about this in the book.  Writing was my outlet, and my escape. 

SG: Why did you decide to write this book?

Tara: I wrote to help me in my healing journey initially.  I wanted to tell my truth with no edits as a way to release pain and shame.  Then as I was writing it and telling people about it, I was made aware of how much this book will help others.

SG: Tell us about your book.

Tara: Came to Believe is a Journey of Trust, Faith and Perseverance.  It is my spiritual memoir of how I had a shift in perception about my life.  It is my healing journey from growing up in a fatherless home, being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, living with the disease of alcoholism, and the unconditional love between a mother and daughter.  By trusting in a power outside of myself, putting my faith in the Angels and the Universe I persevered.  This memoir is how I Came to Believe in the power of manifestation and miracles.

SG: Why did you decide to self publish?

Tara: Well, I didn’t win the Hay House writer’s course contract, but I didn’t want that to stop me.  I knew my story was important, and realized that publishing a book through a big publisher isn’t the only way.  Also, I have learned that through self-publishing you have more control.

SG: Tell us about you.

Tara: Where do I start?  I am a Kundalini Yoga Teacher, Sprit Junkie, the best dog mom ever, an Auntie, an awesome daughter, a wonderful friend, a go-getter and I love working on my spiritual development.

SG: Tell us about your social media business.

Tara: I coach spiritual entrepreneurs how to build their social media platforms with integrity and authenticity, I also manage accounts and I wrote a Social Media Guidebook for Spiritual Entrepreneurs of all my tips and tricks that is pretty inexpensive! It can be purchased at gum.co/kwRm

SG: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Tara: Kundalini Yoga, walking, Social Media, playing with Chester, my adorable shih tzu.

SG: What was one of the most surprising things you learned creating your book (about the writing process)? 

Tara: It brings up a lot of emotions.  Also, I learned that I needed to remove distractions!  I love to write, but my mind would often wander to other things.  

SG: What was one of the most surprising things you learned creating your book (about yourself)? 

Tara: I have accomplished a lot!  And, I should be very proud of myself.

SG: What is the writing process like?

Tara: I remember Doreen say to write at least 1 page a day. I tried this, but for me I would be on a roll for 3 months and bang out 5 chapters, then I would have to take a break and come back to it.  Also, I felt I needed to get things done fast, I learned mid-way through to slow it down!  Don’t rush, so I can write from the heart.

SG: What advice do you have for other writers? 

Tara: Begin.  Start now!  Slow and steady wins the race after you begin. Be gentle on yourself, and remember self-care as you write.  A lot of stuff comes up so it important to have a support system.

SG: Who inspires you?

Tara: So many people! Going through my Instagram newsfeed and seeing what everyone has accomplished.  My mom inspired this book.  I wanted to tell a story of healing between a mother and daughter.  Gabby Bernstein has been a big influence on my journey.  My Spirit Junkie sisters and brothers.

SG: I watched you on Instagram manifest this book, can you share a little bit about how? 

Tara: I am a big manifestor and this book has a lot of manifesting stories and ways to manifest in it!  So, I’ll let everyone read it to find out! 

SG: How did writing your story heal you?  

Tara: As I put my thoughts to paper, the tears shed, the shame dissipated.  As I put my stories to paper, I smiled and laughed and realized I accomplished a lot of amazing stuff!  It was all healing.

SG: Do you view writing as a type of spiritual practice?

Tara: Yes, In Alanon I was suggested to write 5 things I was grateful for a day.  This causes a complete shift in energy.  This is when I first realized writing caused spiritual growth.

SG: Do you have a ritual or spiritual practice before you write?

Tara: I ask my Higher Power to write through me.   I have my larimar crystal that helps to write from the heart and my moonstone crystals near me.  I burn incense and meditate first.

SG: Did you feel that you were divinely supported while you were writing your book?  

Tara: Absolutely.  My angels held my hand and hugged my little girl all along the way.

SG: What was the most challenging part of your book to write about?

Tara: The chapter where I talk about my childhood trauma of being a survivor of incest.  It was the hardest for me to begin, but once I put my fingers to the keyboard it just flowed out of me.

SG: What was the most joyful part of your book to write about?

Tara: The healing with my Mom and I, but also the idea of finding your tribe and how I did it. 

SG: How long did it take you to write your book?  

Tara: The writing took a year and a half, but I started my social media platform for it 2 years ago.

SG: Did you write every day? For how long?

Tara: Not every day. I wrote when I felt moved to write and I wrote for as long as I knew it was coming from my heart.

SG: What authors do you like to read?  

Tara: My girl, Gabby Bernstein.  Marianne Williamson.  Wayne Dyer.  Caroline Myss.   

SG: What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing? 

Tara: All of Gabby Bernstein’s books.  Also, Rebecca Campbell’s books.  Doreen Virtue is really who made me feel like I could do it!

SG: What’s next? 

Tara: Wow! I really want to enjoy the accomplishment of this book, Came to Believe.   I already have my second book which will be titled, “You Are Only As Sick As Your Secrets,” which will be about my healing journey from childhood sexual abuse through Alanon, Kundalini Yoga, therapy, EMDR and EFT.  

Thank you Tara for taking the time to share about your new book, your writing process, and your life. It is an honor to know you, and I am so thrilled that so many others will get to know you too, and will be helped by your book!

For more information:
To buy Tara's book or Kindle version: Came To Believe
Tara's website: http://www.taraladue.com
Alanon – 12 step program from the friends and family of alcoholics www.al-anon.org
EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique www.thetappingsolution.com
EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing www.emdr.com

In Gratitude & Love,

Kerri Mulhern

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

FLOATing Into Fifty

Over the past couple of years, I've made it a tradition to do something special for myself for my birthday. I love going out of my way on birthdays for the people I love, and I realized I needed to include myself as well. This year is a big one for me, so I wanted to do something really different.

This year I decided to try floating! FLOAT offers pods that are essentially sensory deprivation chambers. I have heard of these for awhile, and when I found there was a place to go to in San Antonio, I knew I wanted to try it to celebrate my half century. Before I went, I meditated, prayed and chose an oracle card from Sonia Choquette's Ask Your Guides Deck. Before I choose a card. I usually ask for my spirit guides to show me what it is they want me to know for the day. This day I asked for a message about my upcoming FLOAT experience. I wanted to know who I might connect with during that experience. When I pick a card, the deck is face down and after shuffling I hear a number so that I know which one to pick. If I hear 5 for example, then it is the 5th card from the top to pull. Everyone uses these decks different ways, but this is how it works for me. The card I picked was "Solitude," so appropriate for this experience. The spirit guide connecting with me was my owner Higher Spirit. 

I said a prayer in the car for a good experience and headed on my way. The pods are filled with ten inches of water and up to 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt. I love me an Epsom salt bath, but I've never used enough to make me float, maybe only a cup or two! But even that small amount of salt relaxes and recharges me, and releases the negative junk in my auric field. I was a little concerned about the salt level. One time I tried a five pound bag of Himalayan sea salt in my bath and I felt so yucky after it. It was serious detox and dehydration. I didn't know what to expect with this, but I took a giant bottle of water with me just in case.

I had a choice between an i-sopod or a Zero Gravity Suite, which is less claustrophobic. I really wanted the full experience, so I opted for the i-sopod. I arrived at FLOAT and was soon greeted by Meredith, who was so kind and informative. She showed me to the dressing room and bathroom. It had lockers, two mirrors, chairs, and tables filled with lotion, combs, hair dryers, curling irons, hairspray, and more for after floating. I took everything off, and put on one of their soft, comfy robes. They had flip flops too, but I usually trip over myself, so I walked barefoot to the next room.

Meredith led me to a small room with three massage chairs. The room was dark and peaceful. I chose my chair, sat down and Meredith started the chair in motion. I relaxed for fifteen minutes while gentle waves were projected on the walls, "stars" and "moon" were overhead on the dark ceiling, while sounds of nature chirped throughout. I felt like I was on a camping adventure, well maybe more glamping since I was in such a high tech massage chair! But it was very relaxing. This was not your regular nail salon chair. It had rollers at my feet, kneading my heels, all the way up through the balls of my feet. The leg rests periodically squeezed my legs and ankles, as did the arm rests atop my hands. Every once in awhile, after the rollers went down and up my spine to my neck, the sides would squeeze my shoulders together. It was awesome!

After the massage, Meredith brought me to my room (pod #5). The sound-proof room was small, and the pod was big! There was room to hang my robe, a small table with ear plugs and vaseline (to keep out the sting of the salt if I had any open cuts). In the corner was a shower with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. Everything was provided for, which made it convenient not to have to pack a bag for this, other than some makeup. Meredith told me to shower first (they don't want oils or anything in the pod). She showed me where the latch was inside the lid of the pod for when I needed to open it. She said to keep it closed as much as possible to keep the temperature as it should be. It is supposed to be the same temperature as our skin.

Meredith opened the pod and it was lit in blue. The water was clear. I don't know why, but I expected it to be thick and salty looking, but it wasn't at all. Inside on the left was a button to push to turn the blue light off when I was ready for darkness. She said for awhile I would see light from the room peeking through the seams of the pod lid until the room light went off. The floating experience also starts with calming music, but that fades away too. On the right inside the pod, was a button to push if I needed any help (a panic button I thought, that I hoped I wouldn't need!).

She talked about ways to relax, breathing, how to rest my arms - she suggested placing them over my head to open up and relax more. She showed me a flotation ring for my head, hung on the wall, that I could use if needed. She said the head seems to be the last thing to relax. I can understand that, since tension always seems to show itself in my head and neck.

I was ready to roll, so Meredith left the room and I was on my way to my sixty minute adventure (they have 90 minute sessions too)! I took a quick shower and hopped in the pod. I closed the lid over me, layed down in the water and was floating instantly! The music was peaceful, as was the blue light. It was ethereal. I looked around briefly and noticed a decent amount of room in the pod to feel comfortable. It was warm. I really prefer to feel cool and breathe in cool air. That wasn't happening here, and I started worrying myself that I'd overheat or panic. It wasn't that hot, I was just overthinking. I turned the light off. Breathe, breathe, breathe. 

It was really fascinating to be floating in this unique experience. When the room light went out, it was so dark I couldn't see any difference with my eyes opened or closed.   My neck hurt. I had been to the gym in the morning and it was already sore, but I must not have been relaxing it completely. I had to pop the lid to get the neck support. Dang. I wish I had brought it in with me. I opened the lid and grabbed the ring and got back in. It was nice to get a little bit of cool air.

I settled back down, turned the light off again, and not too long after, the room light went out again. I prayed. I asked to connect to God, my spirit guides, my higher self. Everything started to look red. I don't know if it was from my blood pumping harder. At times I could feel my pulse beating in my ears. I didn't use the earplugs, I really wanted to feel everything. But the beat was really loud at times. I know how hokey this sounds, but you know I'm going to say it anyway...I saw the face of Jesus. I often see flashes of people, places and objects when I meditate. I have not been able to slow down the images enough to put together the meaning. This time I saw his face, large, just for a brief moment. After that I saw this jumbled mass of red and dark. It was kind of like a lava lamp, but more in the shape of a cloud.  In the mass, small faces appeared and receded. It was creepy and a little scary. It didn't feel like good energy. I prayed to Archangel Michael to clear it. Breathe, relax, breathe.

Off and on I could hear my heartbeat loudly in my head and at one point I heard a really loud sound that made me jump.  It's a sound-proof room, so I don't know what it was, but it jarred me for a second. It could have been from my own body, as my ears were under the water and the sound is amplified. They recommend eating an hour or so before the float so stomach sounds aren't distracting, so it could have been digestion in progress!

I struggled with the heat in the beginning, but I really wanted to stay in the pod for the full hour, so I just did it. I knew it really wasn't anything that would hurt me, I just needed to get used to it. I had a conversation with a friend of mine the night before the float, and she said she wouldn't be able to do it because she had an unexpected panic attack just getting an MRI. That vision popped in my head, and my heart beat faster. I let it go quickly. Breathe, breathe, breathe. 

I relaxed as I would when I meditate. The head rest was a huge help. Every once in awhile it felt like my shoulders were scrunching up, so I put my arms over my head as Meredith suggested. It felt much better. When my eyes were closed, and I relaxed more, I felt myself  moving. It felt like I was floating on a calm sea..at night...with no sharks. The music came back on when my time was up, it seemed like it all went by so fast. 

I popped the pod back open and showered again, dried off and put on my robe. After I opened the door and walked down the hallway, Meredith was there to bring me back to the changing room. I felt peaceful as I got dressed and dried my hair. Meredith had mentioned that I could go to a sitting area to relax as long as I wanted to after, so I did. It was a room with couches, coloring books, water, kombucha to purchase (which I did!), and tea. As I grabbed some water, Meredith and I chatted about my experience. I told her I didn't get to the spiritual place I wanted to, but I felt good and know that if I tried it a few more times, I would be able to relax as I do when I meditate. She said it usually takes a few sessions to relax as well. She also suggested maybe a 90 minute session might be better for me and I agreed. It really does go fast, and I think more time would be ideal. I also think I might try the Zero Gravity Suite and see if I feel better about the warmth in that environment.

I grabbed some locally made kombucha and walked to the entrance to pay for my float. Meredith had stepped out, so I was able to meet one of the owners Jeremy Jacob. He was just as kind and helpful, and rounded out a great new experience. Aside my quest to transcend my body and connect with spirit, this experience was relaxing, good for my joints and muscles, peaceful, and a welcome break from social media, news, and sensory overload.  I will definitely float again and continue to let go, relax, and breathe. 

For more information and a virtual tour:
FLOAT: http://www.floatsa.com/

In Gratitude & Love,

Kerri Mulhern

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Magic And Deepak Chopra

Oh the joy of being able to see one of your spiritual heroes in person! The first time I met Deepak Chopra was in 2015 and I was so looking forward to seeing him again. 

As I always do, I prayed in my car on the drive to the venue. I expressed my gratitude and prayed for a sense of calm and peace when I would met Deepak at the meet and greet. I asked for a lovely evening and to remain fully present. I do this to practice gratitude, to remember my spirit, and acknowledge the fact that I (and all of us) are always supported by the universe. When I am in this state of recognition, magical things always happen too. I don't expect anything, other than knowing that all will be well, and that is more than enough. The truth is, the magic is always there for all of us, but living in a state of gratitude makes you more aware of it.

I arrived at the Tobin Center early, and parked in a small lot that I've used before. I got out and saw half of the lot closed off. There was a police officer there, so I asked if I could park where I was. He said no, they were using it for valet service that evening, but I could park right across the street. He pointed to a spot in front of a construction sign, just behind a row of parking meters, and before a fire hydrant. He said I would be plenty of feet away from the hydrant. I walked back to my car and saw a butterfly at my feet. Butterflies are always a beautiful sign for me, I always thing of Dr. Wayne Dyer, and I know good things are to come. Magic.

The kind officer didn't know my rudimentary parking skills, and when I drove to the spot across from where he was standing, I chickened out and drove around the corner. I came back around, and while he was standing in the street. I rolled down my window and smiled "I got scared," I laughed. "I saw that!" He smiled and assured me again that it was fine to park there. So over to the same spot I went, grateful and trusting in the universe. A free parking spot for the night...magic!

I walked around the corner to the entrance of the Tobin Center, and was able to walk into the vestibule to wait until they opened the doors. There was an older woman waiting too, so I said hello and we chatted a bit (I'll call her Lois for this story). Soon her companion, who I'll call Shawn, joined her and we all continued to chat. It was interesting listening to them. Lois was talking about past events she had been to and wanted to know what to expect at this meet and greet. I told her how it went the last time I met him and she seemed surprised that there wasn't more to it. I was pretty happy just to meet him. I have been to smaller meet and greets that are more intimate, but Deepak is widely known, so I consider him visiting our city quite a treat. She was prepared, really prepared. She brought Sharpies, tape, a journal for her friend, and had actually printed photos of Deepak for him to sign. She reached into the folder in her handbag and told me she had extras and gave me one! Magic! 

Shawn mentioned that we shouldn't have Deepak personalize what he signs because it's not as valuable. He planned to sell if afterwards. Admittedly, my eyes rolled in my mind when he said that. They both talked about other events they've gone to and how they couldn't get elbow room where they sat and this time one of them had an end seat. They were contemplating how this would be tonight. I started thinking about my choice of seating, I purposely picked the center of the first row, just to be as close as I could be. It seemed like a great idea! There were aspects of this woman that so reminded me of me, the times when I got so caught up in being in control of how things would be, instead of just enjoying the moment and letting the universe take over. After all, as Deepak's book says: You Are The Universe, so why not expect it all to be great?! I don't mean any of this as a judgement, because in each of them, I saw me. Even Shawn with his interpretation of value. It's not good or bad, and it's all my perception of the evening, theirs would be totally different, as would someone observing the three of us. They both offered a reflection of some aspect of myself, and I appreciated it, and them.

When we were finally allowed into the venue, I walked up to the book table, picked up You Are The Universe, and paid for it straight away, no line. Magic! Then I started to walk towards the door where the meet and greet was. A woman was slightly ahead of me, and she seemed shy and stopped to let me go. I told her to go ahead. We walked down a small, dark hallway and when we reached the end, we were the first in line! Magic! 

Lois and Shawn were soon behind me and Lois was frantically trying to figure out how everyone would take photos of each other, she was organizing and contemplating and organizing some more. I was reminded again of how many times I've tried to make the experience "perfect," but things have been much better when I let it happen. I still picture things in my mind, and honestly, the reality is usually quite close or better. You know that whole law of attraction thing, it really does work. Expect the best always. But, it's ok for me now if it doesn't work out that way, which is a big improvement for me.

I offered to take some photos for the quiet woman in front of me, but as soon as I stepped out to help, there were two people assisting at the event to do that for all of us. It was a really kind gesture, and it made things so much easier to spend a moment to ourselves with Deepak Chopra. The gentleman who took the photos on our cameras was super generous, giving all of us almost a dozen photos each! Magic!

The first time I met Deepak two years ago, I thanked him for introducing my son to meditation through his 21-day meditation series with Oprah Winfrey. I gave him a t-shirt I had made with sanskrit writing for "I am love," and I told him that's what he was. I also asked him for a quick selfie together and he obliged!  This time I approached the table and told him that I had the honor to meet him in 2015, and since I was meeting him again today, that meant we were friends. We both laughed. I thanked him for teaching me to meditate and for being a profound spiritual teacher. I told him that I hoped he had as great an evening as all of us would be having. He was quiet and kind, signed my book and photo, and I left the room grateful for the opportunity. Magic!

I went back to the lobby with plenty of time before the lecture started, so I got a glass of champagne. Well not a glass actually, it was in a plastic cup with a lid...and a straw. Maybe I'm not meant to be classy. I found my initial friends from the vestibule and thanked Lois again for her kind gesture in giving me the photo. 

The theater doors soon opened and I walked to my seat. It was perfect, first row center, so close I could touch the stage with my feet if I extended them. I sat down and said hi to the woman next to me. She was my twin. I smiled to myself as I saw her dressed as I was last time I met Deepak. She had a suit jacket on and a t-shirt from her business, just like I had done. She was really sweet (of course, she's my twin!), and told me that she had thanked Deepak and had given him one of her shirts as I had done previously. I didn't mention any of the similarities to her. I didn't want it to be a "yeah me too" moment, which can sound a bit unbelievable. She was a reiki master and founder of a local monthly spiritual venue that I've been interested in being a vendor at. It was very cool to meet someone that taught reiki as it is on my to-do list to be certified. Best of all, she was very kind and great to chat with, and our goal for the evening was the same - to enjoy the teachings of this brilliant man.

The lecture was wonderful, he was clever, funny, intelligent...he was Deepak Chopra! He talked scientifically and spirituality about living a healthy life. He included information on the benefits of meditation, eating well, getting enough sleep, Earthing and more. He discussed different herbs to lower inflammation in the body such as black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, chamomile, ginger, and turmeric to name a few. He ended the lecture with a beautiful meditation. It was a relaxing way to end a lovely evening.

After the event I walked back to my car, no ticket, all was good! There was no waiting in line to leave, I just drove straight home. Magic! I said a prayer of gratitude for a wonderful night. I arrived at home and excitedly told my husband about the event, grabbed some water and headed up to bed with my book and signed photo tucked inside. After I changed for bed, I looked at the photo and part of the signature was smeared. Gah! The smeared part was transferred to my hand. I must have gotten water from the side of my glass on my hand and hit the photo right where the signature was. My temporary frustration reminded me of Lois and Shawn and the quest for perfection Maybe that was my lesson tonight, to let go even more. It was still all magic. It's kind of clever how the universe pointed that lesson out with a "magic" marker!

In Gratitude & Love,

Kerri Mulhern

Healing Hands

After my Reiki I certification, I went through 21 days of Reiki. Every morning before I got out of bed, I did Reiki on myself along wi...