Authors Platform: Walter Mason at Ryde Library, 29 April

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Authors Platform: Walter Mason

Time:    6.30pm - 7.30pm

Phnom Penh

Venue:     Ryde Library, 1 Pope Street, Ryde

Cost:    Gold coin contribution

Bookings Essential. Book online or call 9952 8352

Join intrepid traveller Walter Mason as he discusses his new book, Destination Cambodia.

Discover the ancient ruins, bustling cityscapes and unique charms of this fascinating country.

Angkor Wat 

Light refreshments provided.

Maximize Your Potential - The 99U team on getting practical about your dreams

I've been teaching a lot lately, and so I have been drawn towards instructional literature, stuff that will provide me with new ideas and techniques and also some inspiration. I found the perfect book in Maximize Your
Potential, a book assembled for 99U by Editor Jocelyn K. Glei. 99U is a kind of hard-to-describe online learning portal curated by Behance, and they are dedicated to producing very handsomely designed hard-copy books that assemble some great ideas and essays from leading writers and thinkers. In this case the theme is growing your expertise, and I found the assembled essays incredibly inspiring and deliciously varied. There is just so much in this book - you will be dipping into it for years. To enhance the reading (and learning) experience, each section ends with a set of "Key Takeaways" summarising all of the information in that chapter. It's a great idea, and I wish that more books would do it.

In a brilliant essay in the book, Heidi Grant Halvorsen writes:

"A get-better mindset leads to self-comparison and a concern with making progress: How well am I doing today, compared with how I did yesterday, last month or last year? Are my talents and abilities developing over time? Am I moving closer to becoming the creative professional I want to be?
She says that we need to shift our mindsets and lose our obsession with perfection, which will eventually destroy our creativity:

"When people are allowed to make mistakes, they are significantly less likely to actually make them."

One of the messages that comes across loud and clear in the book is that we need to focus on important tasks and be aware of when and how we work best. Hard work and practice are important, naturally, but so is smart work and being hyper-aware of our own energetic rhythms. In one essay Tony Schwartz writes:

"Will and discipline, it turns out, are highly overrated. We each have one reservoir we draw on, and it gets progressively depleted each time we use it to get something done."

So spend your time wisely, and schedule the most difficult and important tasks for the time when you know you will have the most energy and the least distractions (and, hate to say it, but for most people that is the early morning). You also need to stretch yourself, as Joshua Foer explains:

"Something experts in all fields tend to do when they're practicing is to operate outside of their comfort zones and study themselves failing...The way to get better at a skill is to force yourself to practice just beyond your limits."

It's scary advice, but I also know instinctively that it's true. Failure is a most excellent teacher.
The book stresses the importance of cultivating strategic relationships and being brave enough to ask for help and maintaining those relationships you do establish. In a brilliant interview in the book with Sunny Bates we are reminded that the fundamental part of any relationship is generosity - always give more than you get, and don't sit around keeping score. And actively look for new and interesting people to help and befriend: "If you decide to contact one person a week, that would be fifty-two new people in a year," says Sunny. Reaching out can be scary, and you will be occasionally rebuffed.  But taking risks is always worth it, and is the basis to establishing real success. It is also one of the sections in Maximize Your Potential.

No Goodbyes: Barry Eaton on overcoming our fear of death

I have long been a fan of the wisdom of Barry Eaton, one of Australia's most acclaimed (though low-key) psychic intuitives and the author of two exceptional books, Afterlife (which has been released in America by Tarcher) and No Goodbyes.

As well as reading his exceptional books I have been to hear him speak and have taken careful notes on what he says. Barry is a wonderful speaker, as you would expect from someone who was once an ABC television journalist, a radio DJ and these days the producer and presenter of a wonderfully kooky on-line radio show called Radio Out There (hear me on a recent episode here).

Barry says he writes from a truly inspired perspective - that is the words are coming into him directly from spirit. He is in touch with a number of spirit guides who exist on another, non-material, plane, and it is their wisdom he imparts in his writing. The main message they want to get across to this world, and the reason why they press Barry so much to write, is that they want us all to realise that we have nothing to fear when it comes to death. We are all eternal spiritual beings, and this short life on earth is another run-through in a never-ending cycle of births.

Walter Mason and Barry Eaton

 So please see below my own interpretation of Barry's wisdom, gleaned from his books and talks, about how we can overcome our fear of death:

1. Know that wherever we are we are surrounded by souls - at his talk at Heavenly Energies in Willoughby (an exquisite place, btw) Barry reminded the audience that we were surrounded by souls and that we always are. This should be a great comfort. American psychic Sonia Choquette says that at all times we have access to no less than 32 different spirit guides, all of them willing and waiting to help us. They represent the place we come from and to where we will ultimately return.

2. Before retiring at night, ask yourself the questions that you need answers to - sleep is a return to a semblance of our spiritual existence, and if we bring our problems and issues into our sleep states we can often be rewarded with answers that come in the form of vivid dreams or clear realisations soon after wakening. Learn to sleep on it.

4. Develop your soul - read books, pray and meditate, go to classes, lectures and workshops. Actively endeavour to develop your spiritual understanding in whatever way feels right for you and always be learning. In doing this we fulfil our purpose for this earthly existence. We are all here to develop and to learn new lessons. Don't neglect this precious opportunity.

5. Contemplate the ocean - for Barry the ocean emerged as the ultimate metaphor for existence. God, he realised, is not an old guy in the sky, but a vast, rolling ocean of consciousness of which each of us is a tiny drop. Watch the ocean and consider its immensity. And know that you are an intrinsic part of it. This fits in perfectly with something I read recently by Henriette Klauser in Write it Down, Make it Happen - one of my favourite books. The ocean, she says, is the perfect partner in our creative endeavours. It calms us, inspires us and lulls us into optimal creative states.

6. Get Quiet - I am always shocked by how many people say they have no idea what their life purpose is. This, says Barry, is because we cultivate the quiet and committ to spending time with ourselves. By meditating and learning to be comfortable in our own skins we open ourselves up to the messages from our souls as to our real purpose in this existence. Barry recommends Australian meditation teacher Paul Wilson's book The Quiet. Ken Mcleod, writing in Tricycle magazine in 2010, speaks so beautifully of how alien the habit of silence is to us: "Space surrounded and permeated my experience, but I had been unable to relate to it. I had been completely caught up in trying to control my experience."

7. Resolve the big issues on your life now - Barry says that souls return to Earth again and again, always learning and developing but frequently avoiding the really big lessons that sent us here in the first place. I think you probably know what the really big issue is in your life, the one that keeps popping up again and again, that keeps dragging you back to unhappiness. Stop pushing it under the carpet. Face it head on and see what you can do to change or improve it. Don't waste another life.

8. Take responsibility - there is no magic pill that will resolve all the problems in this existence. And there is a limit to how much we can blame others, no matter how cruel the circumstances into which we were born. Ultimately the only way out is to take responsibility for our own journey.

You really should grab copies of Barry's two books Afterlife and No Goodbyes.

In Conversation with Caroline Overington, March 18

 On Tuesday March 18, 6.30pm, I will be chatting with the fascinating Australian author Caroline Overington at Sutherland Library.

Caroline Overington

This is a free event, but bookings are required, so please register here.

Journalist and editor Caroline Overington has, in a just a few short years, become one of Australia's most beloved authors, and her fiction manages to be incredibly popular and also incredibly well-written.

Caroline Overington

I first became aware of her a few years ago when I read a piece about her in Good Reading magazine written by my friend Tim Graham. Before it came out Tim, who knows my tastes perfectly, had called me and said, "You really have to read Caroline Overington - I was very impressed by the quality of her writing."

I am very privileged to have been asked by Sutherland Library to conduct this conversation with her, talking especially about her book, a thriller called No Place Like Home.

If you live in Sydney's Southern suburbs, or if you have read and enjoyed Caroline Overington's fiction, I would urge you to come along and hear her talk about her craft, her motivations and her inspirations.

I think it will be a brilliant night.


In Conversation with Caroline Overington

Tuesday 18 Mar 2014 at 6:30PM

Cost: Free event. Bookings essential
Where: Sutherland Library 30-36 Belmont Street, NSW, 2232

Come along to Sutherland Library as best selling author and award winning journalist Caroline Overington presents her latest novel, No Place Like Home, in conversation with Walter Mason.

No Place Like Home

A heartbreaking, uplifting … tribute to the human spirit. You will never want to put this book down.

A small boy rushes into a shopping centre, with a petrol bomb around his neck. Who is he? What does he want? And most importantly who will survive this frightening seige?

About the Author

Caroline Overington is a best-selling Australian author and an award winning journalist.

She's currently working as the associate editor of the iconic Australian Women's Weekly.

Caroline has previously worked for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Good Weekend and The Weekend Australian Magazine.

She is a two-time winner of the Walkley Award for Investigative Journalism; a winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch prize for excellence in journalism; and of the Blake Dawson Prize.
More Information

Sutherland Library
phone 9710 0351

Book Here

Susannah Fullerton to lecture on Thackeray at Ashfield Library, June 5



Thursday June 5  1pm

Ashfield Library - Level 6

Susannah Fullerton, one of Australia's most beloved literary historians and president of the Australian Jane Austen Society, will give an illustrated lecture on Thackeray and Vanity Fair.

Susannah Fullerton

If you've never heard Susannah lecture, you are in for a real treat. She brings literature alive like no-one else, and I am always entertained, educated and enlightened by her lectures. Susannah leads world tours and is also a popular lecturer at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Take this opportunity to hear her sharing her knowledge of William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair.

Ann Bollinger-McQuade on Oracles, Responses, Reception and Otherworldly Voices

"All personal oracle messages translate through a form and frequency that resonates easily with the receiver."

Ann Bollinger-McQuade is a healer, seer, mystic and cloud-reader whose capacity to read the natural world for signs and oracles is unequalled. You can see the book trailer for her wonderful book Everyday Oracles here:

She tells us in this book about all of the remarkable ways we can receive oracles and signs, answers to some of the pressing questions we have about life, love and loss. And it's not just in the natural world that we find our answers. Oracles can come in the form of other humans, and even in the printed word. Ann writes:

"The guidance and problem-solving mystery of personal oracles lies hidden in books and all kinds of printed material. It could be a religious tome like the Bible, a book of poetry, or your favourite novel, history book, biography, or even the dictionary."

 She recommends that when you are looking for answers you just have to pick up the book that is important to you and open it up randomly and see what the passage you discover has to  tell you. This is a tradition that has been used for centuries with the Bible, and it is called Bibliomancy. I have also heard of people doing this with A Course in Miracles and other inspirational books. A form of this exists in Cambodia, where people select one of a dozen or so bamboo cards inscribed with a passage from the Buddhist sutras. This passage is the interpreted by an onsite specialist who tells you how it is answering your question. I also recently read in Simon Garfield's excellent book To The Letter that the ancient Romans would do this with editions of Seneca's Letters.

Ann Bolinger-McQuade has witnessed miracles of messages delivered from the Universe over and over again, and the book is filled with examples, both her own and those of friends and relatives. She also cites the miracle stories and explanations of prominent writers such as C.S. Lewis, Jamie Sams, Rupert Sheldrake and Gregg Braden. Key to opening ourselves up to the presence of oracles, she says, is learning to quiet and compose the mind through prayer, meditation and contemplation:

"When we learn to tame our monkey mind chatter, the wisdom of our right hemisphere can slip right past the disruptive chatter and sync with the left brain to validate the wisdom of our intuition."

Author Ann Bollinger-McQuade

To learn more about the fascinating Ann Bolinger-McQuade, check out her website here. You can follow her on twitter @AnnCloudSpeak and read her blog on the Huffington Post about famous people who have seen oracles. You can also read an excerpt from her book Everyday Oracles, which has so inspired me, here.
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