Tag Archives: Education for Life

A Busy Summer of Writing Arrives

A few writing and book topics on a very hot Summer Solstice:

I love writing in summer. The longer daylight hours, warmer weather, presence of trees and plants everywhere, and completion of a college year seem to conspire to throw this writer’s creativity into high gear.

This summer is especially prodigious. In six weeks, on August 1, Dr. Steve Victorson and I will celebrate the publication of our book, The Champion’s Way. Developed from Steve’s doctoral dissertation at Boston University, The Champion’s Way has been a dream project as a book writer, editor, former sportswriter and coach: a look at the 11 distinctive qualities that champions master over all others. However, we make this discussion engaging, with more than 50 interviews with various Olympic and World Champions, along with dozens of other sports anecdotes. Anyone can become a champion of themselves in life, business, the arts, education or sports. That’s our core message — master the 11 qualities.

We spent more than three years writing and rewriting this book. What is especially endearing is that the book is releasing during the first days of the London Summer Olympics — a perfect companion read to see how these great athletes tick.

The Champion’s Way will be available for pre-order in the next few weeks on Amazon.com. The official website will be up by July 10. Meantime, visit our Facebook page.

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The other book I’ve been writing for years, Voice Lessons, is also finished. Am now conducting the final polishing edit after ten years, three complete rewrites, and a restructuring of the plot after it almost sold to Dutton in 2003. The novel is a father-daughter-daughter relationship piece set against the backdrop of a legendary music group that reunites after many years. The main protagonist, music legend Tom Timoreaux, heads out for a long-awaited reunion tour with his band, The Fever, and hires his daughter, Christine, as a backup vocalist. In the course of the book, she becomes a superstar. I won’t spoil the surprises and emotional content of the book, but I will add that the book also provides a panoramic backdrop of the last century of American music, and how the rock and roll pioneers not only drew from many influences, but lived and breathed music in ways that would be really refreshing to see from more of today’s stars.

The book’s official website – with “backstage” passes, Fever “tour schedules,” lyrics to the 80 original songs I wrote for my characters, and much more to entertain music fans everywhere — will be available for viewing in August, and publication is scheduled for Spring 2013.

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Also releasing in Spring 2013, Backroad Melodies, my fifth collection of poetry and essays. This will be my first released poetry collection since The River-Fed Stone in 2008, and it will feature 50 new poems plus 10 essays — including a multi-paneled tribute to my friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder, drawn from our many discussions, good times and readings.

One of my personal favorites from this collection is the essay, “For The Lifelong Love Of Learning,” in which I share my own personal experiences with students and faculty through Education for Life, one of the best and most principled systems ever created to inspire, motivate and inform students on what ultimately matters in their intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical development.

We’ll keep you posted on Backroad Melodies. Look for preordering and other information by Holiday 2012.

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Not to be outdone, we will begin our new e-book line in Fall 2012 with The Best of The Word Journeys Blog, featuring the most popular and commented-upon pieces from the first 100 postings of this blog. Several of the blogs went viral, owing to the beauty of social media, and several others ended up in unexpected places (such as Christian Science Monitor’s Culture Cafe), with unexpected readers — back stories that I share in the run-ups to the pieces.

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I’m also working on a very special and unique project, The Legacy Series: Innovations and Technology, with my associate, Lisa Maine, and my friends and colleagues at Innovative Properties Worldwide in Denver. This special publication, which will be available over the holidays as a print magazine, e-book, mobile App and iPad publication, focuses on what we need greatly in this country economically: more innovation, vision and complete commitment to the business models revealing themselves for today and tomorrow. We launched this publication as a tribute to the memory and contributions of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. We depart from Jobs’ enormous impact as an inventor, visionary and businessman to look at the seven industries that Apple products either created or infused, as well as developments in a wide variety of areas.

One of my favorite jobs when developing and editing a specialty publication like The Legacy Series is the interviewing process. During this time, I love hearing the visions, ideas and strategies of forward-thinking CEOs, who have one eye on their bottom lines and the other on tomorrow’s marketplace. You’ll hear from plenty of CEOs throughout the publication.

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The end of summer brings with it one of my favorite writing conferences at which to present: The Southern California Writers Conference. This conference has been partially or wholly responsible for more than $3 million in publishing deals for first-time authors. In the past two years, it also has established the reputation as one of the best conference resources for up-to-the-minute developments in the ever-accelerating digital book world, and what it requires of authors. I will be presenting two workshops, with topics to be drawn from: editing your own manuscripts; writing your book’s business plan; repurposing content for print and online use; and/or a creative writing intensive.

The SCWC features top editors, publishers and agents, all of whom are looking for great books and authors. The workshops are first-class, and we have read-and-critique group sessions that are second to none … including the infamous Rogue Read & Critiques, which start at 9 p.m. and end at … well, the record is 6:45 a.m.

Be sure to click onto the SCWC’s website and register now if you plan to attend. It’s well worth every penny.

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Like I said, summer is a great time to breathe deeply, expand the mind into the warm, open air, and see what comes back creatively.  Enjoy your writing and reading … and most of all, the sun and warmth.

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100th Word Journeys Blog: Involvement With an International Book Award Winner

I’ve been wondering what to write for the 100th Word Journeys Blog. I will still write an anthology blog that highlights this wonderful writing journey, with links to the better blog experiences. However, this morning, an ideal topic fell on my doorstep — rather, my email queue. It combines everything I care about: writing, books, education, my spiritual life … and a lifetime achievement by a man I deeply admire.

This morning, I learned that Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, by Swami Kriyananda, won the International Book Award for New Spirituality Books. Since I am in the middle of promoting this book for three major events directly ahead — the Yuga Cycles Conference at The Expanding Light Retreat, at which Kriyananda is speaking Saturday as one of 10 esteemed presenters; Book Expo America, which is June 5-7 in New York; and Kriyananda’s book appearance at the Ford Theater in L.A. on June 24 — my first response was, “Perfect timing!” Let’s face it: you can’t pay the New York Times Review of Books for a year of full-page ads and receive more serendipitous timing.

Then I sat back and thought about what this book has meant in my life: as an author; an educator at Ananda College who utilizes the Education for Life method (which Kriyananda initiated); as someone who first welcomed Yogananda’s teachings (that merge essential Christianity and essential Vedic truths) into his life more than 30 years ago; and as one who counts among his dearest friends many deep and wise souls who live and work at Ananda Village in Northern California (which Kriyananda founded). Never mind my admiration for Kriyananda’s prolific nature; Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography is his 130th book (give or take). All of these books extend the yoga master’s teachings into the 21st century, and into every corner of our lives, societies, and communities. So for starters, the International Book Award serves as sort of a Lifetime Achievement Award for an incredible 86-year-old man who has given his entire adult life in service to God – and touched countless thousands of souls in the process (or millions, if you count the 4 million books he has sold).

When I contemplated how Yogananda’s teachings, Kriyananda’s books, and the many ways in which I have worked with Ananda over the past 23 years (including two stints at Crystal Clarity Publishers, 20 years apart), have helped define my life, I asked myself a question: Where would I be without it? I can come up with all sorts of answers, but few – if any – will add up to anything close to the mixture of God, joy, creativity, nature, happiness and serviceful spirit that is part and parcel of my daily life.

Then there is the book itself. Many of you have probably read or heard about Autobiography of a Yogi, the book Yogananda wrote in 1947 that remains the best-selling spiritual autobiography of all time. It has changed countless lives; Kriyananda read it in 1948, dropped his life as he knew it, and took a bus to L.A., where Yogananda received him at his headquarters in L.A. In one sense, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography tells the rest of the story, one that, for whatever reason, only Kriyananda has been willing to share. For starters, there are more than 60 stories that have not appeared in Autobiography, Yogananda’s other works that he wrote in his lifetime, or in compilations that have appeared since. Secondarily, Kriyananda offers a bird’s eye view of Yogananda’s approaches to many different spiritual and everyday life situations, creating a glowing narrative of this God-realized man’s enormous compassion and strength that Yogananda was too humble to write himself. That’s what good biographers do.

But then Kriyananda reached out and touched everyone: he shared what Yogananda did the past few years of his life. Yogananda ended his public speaking engagements, which drew up to 7,000 people during the 1920s and 1930s, and wrote books and instructed his closest disciples to carry his mission forward. As one of his editors, and the leader of the monks, young Kriyananda belonged to that inner circle — and was tasked to get the word out. Yogananda had a mission and a vision for bringing souls and society into a future age where energy would accelerate, communication would become faster and more global, and spiritual magnetism would grow to become the law of the land. In the Vedic cycles of time, this is known as Dwapara Yuga. Yogananda envisioned and spoke of communities of like-minded souls (like Ananda), education that emphasized the inner as well as outer development of the student (like Education for Life), and lives lived simply, with complete devotion to God.

Here we are. Here, in my opinion, is why this book bears such significance that it claimed the International Book Award. It is also why I, as a multiple book author dedicated to focusing on the highest ideals and potentials of my students, clients, friends and others, feel so honored to be working on the promotion of Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography.

Finally, to Swami Kriyananda: Congratulations on a wonderful achievement. You have written 130+ books in your life and helped provide deeper purpose and meaning to the lives of countless people … and now, the book world salutes you. To put it in one of your favorite languages, “Bravissimo!”

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Intersection of Excellence and Joy: 2011 Ananda College Commencement Address

Dedicated to Matthew Frederickson & Nitai Deranja

Distinguished faculty, students, families, residents and guests:

Like the mysterious dancer in an ancient Persian tale, excellence disguises herself in many forms. For 14 Union County High School cross-country runners trying to advance to their state high school championships, she appeared as a gut check — a decision by the kids to make their all-or-nothing push in the final 1,000 meters of a 5K race. The seven members of the boys’ team surged as never before, passing opponents, fighting off discomfort, and soaring out of fourth place to reach the state championships. Six set lifetime best marks. Their seven female teammates dominated the girls’ regional final and went on to excel at state.

Afterwards, things really started happening. All of the runners assessed what they wanted to do with their lives, how education fit into their plans, and the value of trying their hardest. The results speak for themselves – today, the runners from this team include numerous college students, a member of the U.S. Army, a regional 100- and 200-meter sprint champion, the #2 and #3 runners in western Kentucky, and one of the top wrestlers in the state.  All from one team.

What happened here? How did one race effect such a sweeping change among the people who ran it that they became young champions in life?

The answer: these kids reached into and grabbed their excellence, embraced it, trusted it, and manifested a joyous outcome that inspired them to always strive for the top. They came face to face with what was possible — and kept going. To quote Confucius: “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… These are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”

We hear about the need to achieve personal excellence from our parents, teachers and other adults. We hear it from society. We at Ananda College of Living Wisdom do our best to show you the keys and help you identify and walk through your doors. But really, what long-term, sweeping benefit does excelling at yoga, writing, teaching, playing music, dancing or building websites really provide if we don’t share it with others? Or connect to a larger mission, a greater work that touches many hearts and souls? What good is a roomful of awards if we don’t wake up every day with a commitment to better ourselves, dedicate ourselves to Spirit, and inspire others to find their excellence?

That’s where joy enters our lives. True joy, whether expressed in work, relationship, compassion, kindness, service or generosity, a smile or a laugh, bellows outward from a single realization: God alone is the doer. When joy and excellence unite, everything becomes possible. Our energy becomes magnetic. Our potential expands beyond our imagination.

It’s interesting how this works. When a new challenge arises, we typically pass through a progression, from ‘that’s impossible’ to ‘maybe it’s possible’ to ‘I think I can do it’ to ‘It’s likely I can do it’ to ‘I can probably get it done’ to ‘Done’ — the evaporation of all limitation. We inwardly summon the tools, guidance and will to manifest what we need, when we need it. Eventually, the ‘impossible’ becomes ‘second nature’. Question is, who fueled that quantum leap? Was it you? Or the Divine? Every time we welcome and embrace God in our lives, we experience a blessing. A measure of excellence and joy. Growth.

We’ve all had that experience. Just look at the last two weeks: the poetry you read Gary Snyder in tribute to him, the Song of St. Francis performance you gave, the way you pulled all-nighters and fought off fatigue to excel in your finals. Do you even recognize the person you were nine months ago? By giving credit to the Divine, and joyfully offering our best effort, excellence becomes a constant flow, not a random occurrence.

Joy is the natural state of our soul and heart. It serves us 24/7 – if we allow it. When we integrate it with our commitment to excel, we truly inspire others. Note how the word “integrate” breaks down — inter- and great. The keys to the kingdom of heaven belong to those who bring joyful, humble hearts and minds into the daily arena, and focus on learning, improving and serving.

If we don’t enjoy what we’re doing, how can we impart lasting knowledge, learning and life skills that others would want to emulate and apply in their lives? If we don’t deeply enjoy the process of learning, how can we pass it along? If we don’t pour our consciousness joyfully into every asana, affirmation or pranayam of Ananda Yoga, or lovingly help students improve their practice, how can we excel as yoga teachers? These are questions that often sink like iron balls in a public school setting, but they are questions that you, the emerging teachers, writers, artists and leaders of this world, would do well to ask yourselves from time to time. By doing so, you nourish the quality that sweetens the heart of life itself — humility. Always be ready to serve and give of yourself.

Ananda College of Living Wisdom is, above all, a school of and for teachers. We come here to learn, but we leave here to teach. While some of our core EFL principles date back to Ancient Greece, and others lie in the fertile fields of raja yoga, tied together and expanded through Swami Kriyananda’s prescient views on education, we truly represent a new vanguard for these times. We educate around the student’s spiritual, academic and emotional needs. We bring our knowledge, joy and wisdom to the table to nourish minds, hearts and souls. We carry not only our light and wisdom into our professions, but also the energy to effect change and the potential to touch every heart and soul.

We’ve experienced learning and growing as an inner process. That creates a constant, lifelong thirst for knowledge and wisdom. We’ve excelled in various ways. That germinates lasting achievement. We’ve gone deep into our own souls. That percolates fulfillment and joy. Most of all, we’ve connected ourselves to this ray of Divine guidance.

When we combine excellence and everlasting joy, we can transform the course of every student we teach and every project we undertake. We can extend an education that not only lasts for entire lives, but gives lives greater purpose.  Our light will shine upon souls young and old, wherever we go.

Congratulations again to all of the students on a wonderful year. Thank you all for joining us in this celebration.

– Bob Yehling, June 2, 2011

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