Saturday, September 18, 2021

A Piece of Peace: Everyday Mindfulness You Can Use


"I have learned to prioritize myself on a daily basis. It's given me a piece of peace." ~A Piece of Peace, Sweta Vikram

I will begin at the beginning, or right before the beginning.  In the introduction of the new book by best-selling author Sweta Srivastava VikramA Piece of Peace: Everyday Mindfulness You Can Use, ideas about wellness and self-care are presented.

"Self-care and mindfulness are revolutionary and not optional for your healing and creativity." ~A Piece of Peace, Sweta Vikram

And I will now cut to the chase! I found myself highlighting a lot of the text in my advance reading copy of A Piece of Peace. This book is full of wisdom and wonderful ideas that will contribute to health, well-being, and creativity.  Countless great ideas are presented and elaborated upon in this slim volume!  My notes, and consequently the ideas in this review, may seem to be "all over the place". 

A Piece of Peace is a manual of sorts, filled with incredible ideas and concepts that will be a a gift to those who read it.  The different sections are clearly titled, so you can skip around a bit if you want to, and learn about or investigate ideas as you wish. There are special tips for writers, including yoga poses that may benefit writers and artists, Ayurveda and mindfulness tips, and tips pertaining to the pandemic, presented in a friendly and encouraging manner.  In A Piece of Peace, the author reveals her personal story of illness and hospitalization, and subsequent quest for a return to health. She doesn't preach but speaks kindly from the heart, and generously shares her wisdom.  She's upbeat and encouraging. 


Sweta Vikram presents her new book

Many claim that silence is golden. Why I spend 12 Hours a week in Complete Silence (maun vrat in Sanskrit) is a fascinating chapter of the book. It talks about the author's practice of staying silent for 12 hour periods, and how she finds perspective in silence. Her husband, Anudit, notices the many positive effects of this on her, and adopts this practice as well. I'm not sure that I could remain silent for that long, but the idea is certainly intriguing!

"In Ayurveda, body, mind, and consciousness work together in maintaining balance." ~A Piece of Peace, Sweta Vikram

I relished so many parts of this book, including the parts about Ayurveda (science or knowledge of life), which I am particularly interested in right now.  In addition to learning the proper spelling of the term, I've started to learn about the ways in which I may revitalize my health with Ayurveda. As a fan of spices, I love this quotation from the book:

"Ayurveda teaches us that the spice cabinet is our first access to the apothecary.  It can turn our pantry into a holistic medicine cabinet." ~A Piece of Peace, Sweta Vikram


I'm a Spice Girl

A Piece of Peace has already influenced me, although I feel as if I have only just begun to implement some of the ideas and approaches to health.  Specifically, I try to get to sleep earlier (emphasis on the word try) each night. I wish to incorporate more Ayurveda into my life, and to be mindful about food, exercise, and meditation (of some sort).  I've noticed that walking or running (without too much conversation with a partner) puts me in a more meditative, creative mode, and also brightens my mood; movement is medicine. I will continue to prioritize my own health and well-being, and refer to this book frequently for ideas, inspiration, and helpful reminders. 

Please note that I've taken the liberty to include quotations from my version of the book, which may change, as I do not have the final edition. The book will be released to the public on September 21, 2021.  You can pre-order the book from the publisher, Loving Healing Press, or on AmazonGoodreads is currently hosting a giveaway for A Piece of Peace.  Enter by September 21.

Special thanks to Sweta Vikram for providing me with an advance reading copy of A Piece of Peace. I am beyond excited about this new book, which is full of wonderful, helpful ideas that will contribute to health and well-being. 

Thanks for reading! Your comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Writing Out Loud: A Guest Post by Cheryl Wilder

My guest today is Cheryl Wilder, author of Anything That Happens, published in March of 2021.  This debut poetry collection tells the story of what happens after a terrible accident that puts her friend in a coma and twenty-year-old Cheryl in jail. 

In this exclusive guest post, Cheryl shares a technique that helps her to write poetry, as well as tips that help her to read her poetry to others with confidence.  This post may boost your own writing and speaking abilities--enjoy! 

Writing Out Loud: A Guest Post by Cheryl Wilder

Writing Out Loud 

as Revision

One piece of advice given to me over the years has been to read my work-in-progress out loud. It’s a revision tool in the writers’ toolbox. At first, I was shy to read out loud to myself.  It’s one thing to construct a poem on paper: decide on stanzas, fret over line breaks, stare at commas. It’s another to hear a poem–my thoughts and emotions–outside my head. Now, reading aloud is integral to my writing process. (I even read my full collection out loud several times before submitting the final draft.) The advice to read out loud during revision is for all poets, whether they write narrative, dramatic, or lyric poems. I primarily write lyric poetry–short, subjective, personal, and song-like. The lyric form helps lighten heavy themes, allows the reader to catch a breath in the white space.  Rhythm adds to the texture of the content, provides another layer of enjoyment.  I want a poem to roll out of the mouth or jar the reader in the right places. To get there, I rely as much on my ear as anything else.  Reading aloud helps me hear what isn’t working rhythmically.  Reading out loud also helps me refine syntax.  As a poet, I rely on images.  Images come first, and then the structure.  I work to blend imagery with syntax.  Saying what I mean in a way that sounds how I want is imperative to the integrity of a poem. But, the poem also needs to make sense. When I read aloud, I walk around my office or, when the house is bustling, the master bathroom. I have paper and pencil in hand and stop to make notes as needed. It requires privacy and quiet. Why do I walk around? It could be that I’m stretching my legs after sitting at the computer.  Maybe it’s more like pacing around the room. But honestly, it’s not a conscious act, so I don’t know.  Once I start reading, I start moving.

as Oration

Practice and preparation are effective ways to become comfortable reading in front of others. But it’s not easy for a lot of people to get started, myself included.  Spending a lot of time alone with my poems felt counter-intuitive to reading them in public to strangers. It felt like sharing my diary.  To help with stage fright, I took two speech classes in college. I practiced at home alone.  When there was a chance to read at an open mic, I took it. I chipped away at my fear over many years.  What’s helped me the most: Reading out loud to revise. Not only does it provide practice, I know the poems backward and forward. Where they once tripped up my tongue and how they taught me to express my heaviest emotions. I’ve learned, with the practice of reading aloud and crying alone in my office, to find the right words. Words that connect me to the poem and, I believe, the poem to readers. When I read in public now, I use emotion to propel my oration–the tears in the rhythm and syntax. No matter how many people are listening, it’s just me and the poem, like it’s always been.

Video link:
Cheryl Wilder reads
"Xing" from Anything That Happens


Since poetry is often read out loud, reading it out loud during the writing process seems like a great idea.  In addition to conveying the intended meaning, how does the work-in-progress sound?  Like music, poetry is an auditory medium, so sound is quite important, especially poetry that's read later to an audience. Many of us dread speaking in front of a group (can I get a witness?), but according to Cheryl ample practice and preparation can help.  

While I read this collection of poems, I felt the poet's pain about the accident acutely.  These heartbreaking, heartfelt poems are poignant and piercing.  They explore many lasting emotions including guilt, suffering, and regret.  These poems tell a difficult story and pose difficult questions. Moving and artistic, Anything That Happens expresses the poet's vulnerability, honesty, and bravery.


Many thanks to Cheryl for this guest post, and to Kevin from Press 53 for sending me a copy of the book.  Special thanks to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.  For more reviews of Anything That Happens and other features, please visit the other stops on the tour

Thank you for reading! Your comments are welcomed, as always. 

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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