Taylor Jones says: Valerie writes in a way that you almost feel you are there, walking beside her in her journey. She is a profound writer with heart and soul. Raving Violet is a book you just won't want to put down. I loved reading this book. I'm giving it 4.5 stars
Regan Murphy says: What a delightful book! Raving Violet is a great read. It's witty, warm, moving, uplifting, and just downright fun. It's also intelligently written and thought-provoking. I'm giving Raving Violet 4.6 stars.
Firstly, how are you surviving the weather in NYC between hurricane sandy and now this blizzard?
And what was the most heroic scene or instance you've experienced through it all?
Brrr…! Well, you caught me! I am wearing tights, socks, pants, slippers, hat, scarf, shirt, sweater, a CAPE and gloves (with fingers cut off so I can type). Does that give you a good idea how cold it is in my apartment? And that’s with the heat on! I’m afraid my apartment closely resembles a meat locker in winter. Perhaps it is why I am so “well preserved”.
I get a little stir crazy when I can’t get outside, so often I resort to walking up the ten flights to my apartment. It gives me a little workout. I took my dog out briefly yesterday but she was shivering within minutes, even with her little coat on. So, we abandoned the “outing” idea. Honestly, growing up in New York City, as I did, it was a hell of a lot worse. We had blizzards all the time. When we had snow days at school it’s because snow literally shut the city down. There were piles and piles and feet and feet of snow. People freak out now when there’s an inch or two of snow. They’re such sissies.
However, it is decidedly warmer (except in my apartment) than it was decades ago. Global warming is a very real phenomenon. I do not believe that man has caused it. I understand it is a natural pattern in the Earth’s cycles. We’re ultimately heading toward another ice age (in thousands of years) But this is what happens first. The planet warms up. Now, is our crappy pollution and abuse of the planet exacerbating the greenhouse effect? Yes, it is. So if people want to believe that we’re the cause of global warming, that’s fine with me, because we need to fix our selfish, stupid, toxic practices, and fast. Clean, free energy is a very real possibility. It exists already. Visionary genius/scientist Nikola Tesla figured it out 100 years ago. We need to stand up to the oil companies and corporations supporting the status quo (i.e. their continued greed at all environmental and human costs) and insist on clean, humane, commercial, corporate, and personal standards so that we can clean up this toxic mess we’re swimming in.
Since I’m on my soap box, I’d like to add that for both spiritual and scientific reasons, I believe coastal areas the world over are at risk. The weather patterns are becoming more erratic. Hurricane Sandy and this recent blizzard are but tiny whispers of what may come because of rising water levels and warming temperatures. I can only repeat what I heard, move 200 feet above sea level, and get away from coastal areas. If you’re in an area that was recently flooded, it is prudent to relocate, not rebuild. I read that 50 years from now New York City is going to be abandoned. The flooding will continue, and people will get tired of recovering and rebuilding every year. Personally, I want off the island (of Manhattan) Get me some paddles!
Regarding heroic scenes, I haven’t seen any. However, I endeavor on a daily basis to be a good neighbor, a kind person, conscious, aware and compassionate. So that when I walk down the street I try to engage people lovingly, whether it be a gentle smile, or simply acknowledging the service people who work in my neighborhood whom many people ignore outright since they’re just, “the help”. They are our brothers and sisters. If we all endeavored to be kinder, gentler, softer, slower, more patient and loving, we wouldn’t need as many heroic acts. I think being kind, loving and compassionate on a daily basis is an act of heroism. It will always remain unsung. To be kind, gentle, aware and helpful is one of the most powerful gifts we all have to give. Talk about melting ice! That’s a global warming we all dearly need. One of the Heart.
I’ve read Debbie Christiana and Nana Prah's guest author interviews and I found a great confidence of personality in Valerie Beth Gilbert, what, if anything, makes you tentative or doubtful?
Ah, the Achilles Heel! You’re here to “find me out”. Actually, I do write about my vulnerability, my pain, my fears. They have been very real in this lifetime, as they are for most humans. Especially when we live in a world where fear and insecurity have been specifically inculcated by our media, governments, drug companies and churches to keep us small, fearful, insecure, unbalanced and needy. I do believe there’s a dark conspiracy element to this, however, on a daily basis, it’s our job to fight those fears and slay the dragons. We are bigger than they are. Have you heard the acronym for fear: False Events Appear Real? Well, I heard another great acronym from Neal Donald Walsch, author of one of my favorite books, “Conversations with God”, Feeling Excited And Ready (he said it in the movie INFINITY: The Ultimate Trip, about life after death, which I highly recommend.) It is through the power of our mind, will, and understanding that we transform fear into a wisp of smoke. We are powerful! It is so important to learn, remember, contemplate, and broadcast that. It’s not how most people think. And, by the way, inflated egos or narcissistic people are not in their power. True self-confidence has an unbeatable peace, beauty and benevolent strength to it. Confidence simply means, “with faith”.
So, let’s deal with my foibles…let’s say I get jealous. There’s something I want, which I feel I should have and even that I will have, but somehow, I still, “don’t have”. I could question myself, “Maybe I’ll never have it! How come they have it? Why don’t I have it? What am I doing wrong that I don’t have it? What do I have to do to have it?” It really doesn’t matter what “it” is, does it? The implication here, ultimately, is that there is something wrong with me and what I’m doing (or not doing) to produce the unwanted results. It’s a condemnation or judgment against myself. And that’s why I feel bad. All because of the beliefs I’m choosing to hold about myself. These are beliefs, not facts. Remember that distinction.
The way I combat the blues, the screaming mimis, insecurity, anxiety or doubt (whatever you want to call it, it’s all discomfort, being out of sync with the self) is to acknowledge the energy of it, even if I’m not sure why it’s there or what it is. And then I take action. The action could be crying. It could be napping (sometimes sleep just washes the “uck” off me) I might journal. I might color in one of my many coloring books (a very zen hobby for me, in fact, any hobby can be a zen, centering experience if you approach it with the right focus and attitude.) I might go out and take a walk. Or walk up ten flights to burn off energy.
Let’s take yesterday, for example (specificity is SO important in understanding ourselves). I slept well. I’d been out late the night before to see a play. A friend had cancelled coming in to see me from New Jersey because of the snow. So I had no social engagements. Which is often the case for me. And I live alone. So I’ve had to figure out how to make being alone work for me for many years.
I had ants in my pants. The sun came out, but where was I going to go? I didn’t want to shop. Shopping is a default hobby for far too many people, it contributes to our debt, depression, and landfill problems. It’s a really quick “fix” with lots of associated liabilities. So, I prayed. I am big on spirituality, so I prayed, “Please help me have a good, happy and productive day. Cause I’m feeling restless!” A friend called from England and I enjoyed a nice chat with her. I was already feeling better.
I then chose a very small activity, walking two blocks in opposite directions to check out semi-permanent “natural” hairdyes. I’m bored with my current routine and am contemplating a violet rinse so I can coordinate with my new book, RAVING VIOLET. I walked to my local health food store, and my local Whole Foods supermarket. I purchased nothing. But I got a modicum of fresh air and sunshine. As I walked around, I endeavored to slow down (a behavior not usually seen in Manhattan) and to literally stroll, so that I could really take in the people around me, look at them, and smile. I chose to feel and radiate peace, even though most of ‘em were too busy racing around with wrinkles on their brow to notice me in my pink parka and rose-covered snow boots.
I topped this riveting routine off with the purchase of several cans of sale tuna for my sick cat, who relishes this treat, then walked the ten flights upstairs so I could burn off some of my nervous energy. At this point it was already gone, but I could still use the exercise.
My healing for the day was complete. I got through my earlier anxiety handicap with the smallest of remedial measures. Not one pill was popped. (I never do) I take one hour at a time. One minute at a time.
Another great anxiety fixer is to clean your frickin’ house. Sometimes I’ll feel overwhelmed by things, papers, in particular. I keep so many scraps of paper, notes, recipes, and ideas. In the long run, being surrounded by these piles of pulp, no matter how “important,” they seem, just drags me down. So, I took action, and cleared the mess. And don’t forget vacuuming and straightening up! Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because things are out of control. Decisive action is required to bring things back into balance. The Salvation Army is picking up five bags of “stuff” from me this week. Clean and clear, kids!
Bottom line, we all have shit that gets us down. I’m happier than I’ve ever been because every step of the way I’ve looked at my shadow. I’ve owned my anxiety, fear, depression, sadness and anger. And I’ve steadily built a new empire of Yes Valerie, Empowered Valerie, Beautiful Valerie. She now stands where Depressed, Sad, Insecure Valerie once lurked. They can’t both inhabit the same spot. As you move toward your wants, your fears and insecurities melt away in the face of your true power. But this power must always be realized through action. You can’t think it into reality. You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.
You’ve mentioned, “I never wanted to be a writer,” now that you’re a published author, are you happy and content with this new path? And will you continue paving a series of books?
I am so thrilled, happy and grateful to be a writer. It is an amazing accomplishment to have a product that I am proud of. I recently celebrated a landmark birthday. For several centuries now, I’ve wanted to be happily married with a family in a beautiful home “somewhere not New York.” That dream has yet eluded me, though I keep hoping it will manifest in the next twelve minutes or so. Because I am still single, living in the same apartment for many, many years, and on a tight budget until I receive proceeds from the sale of my new book, it’s possible I could have felt very dejected by this “big” birthday. But I had my book. And my book is my baby. My family. My creation. It “completes” me. And yet, I produced it, so, “I complete me”. Sorry, Tom Cruise.
This is the very stuff that I write about. Loneliness has been my cross to bear. It’s also produced my greatest gift, self-sufficiency and inner peace. I lost my parents early in life and I’ve wanted a family to fill those holes ever since. I believed I would feel better “when…” When I was married. When I was successful. When I had a beautiful home. More money. Sound familiar? This is the game we all play. We believe relief comes from the product. Relief is ours for the having right now if we decide that we are okay, whether or not we get what we want. That doesn’t mean to stop going for what you want, but you don’t have to attach your well-being to its procuring. Make it a want, not a need. There’s a huge difference between the two.
You can separate the feeling (happy) from the event (getting what you want), and herein lies our great power as Human Beings. Once you realize that you can be happy whether or not you have what you want, you’re in the cat-bird seat. Then you’re free. That’s enlightenment. You live in this world but not of it. I’m not saying its easy. I’m saying its possible. And the reward is great. The reward is liberation.
I am happy, grateful, self-contained and I have “completed myself” without a husband, kids, success, all the accoutrement. And yet I will still yell out to spirit (yes, even yesterday) “Where’s my goddamned husband?! How many more goddamned hoops do I have to jump through?” Listen, I’ve come this far, I can make it a few more days, weeks, months. If it’s years, so be it. And maybe I’ll never get married, move, have kids, get rich. It’s important to look that possibility in the face, too. If that’s the case, can I still be happy? The answer is yes. How do I know? Because I’m happy now. When I yell at God (she and I are tight) she knows I’m doing it for theatrical effect. I’m just having a little karmic temper tantrum. I am human, after all. And there is no shame in that. No shame at all.
This was a very long-winded way of saying that I am incredibly proud of Raving Violet, which means, I am very proud of myself. No husband, child or house could give me the satisfaction of what this book gives me. It represents an act of power. It is the result of ACTION, of bold action over the course of time that ultimately produced beautiful results. If/when I enjoy the relationship I’ve long waited for, it will produce other, beautiful fruits and blooms. But am I ever proud of myself? Yes, I am! It was my pain and experience solo on the road of my life that enabled me to create this product. This vision of Raving Violet-ness.
Life conspired to create the perfect circumstances for my product to emerge. Just like a coal mine produces diamonds (wait a minute, diamond mines produce diamonds, but you get my point, right?) Pressure over time coupled with endurance and persistence produces diamonds. Irritation (sand in the oyster) produces pearls. If we stop bitching and get just the smallest bit philosophical, the rewards are great, indeed. There’s no other way you can get to the finish line. You have to run the race.
For someone so vital, do you find the editing and revisions tedious? Or does it make you thrive?
Love it. As I’ve become a better writer, I find it a delightful process of refinement, of focused attention. Like baking a cake. First, the foundations, ingredients, labor, mixing, heat, and time. Editing is frosting the cake. It’s still a job, but you’re kind of home free by the time you get there. Unless you’re making one of those crazy-ass cakes on a TV show!
For such a diversified person, what other goals or accomplishments do you hope to achieve in the future?
I would like to help make the world a happier place. I believe we do it person by person. So, as I continue to heal, improve, get happier and healthier, I shine my light on the next guy, whether through my words, my smile, or simply by being a happy person on this planet. When you think of how misery spreads like a toxin, consider the antidote: Your Joy. Happiness Heals. Joy is Sacred. Don’t Postpone Joy. These are my commandments.
If you become a happier person, a more loving and patient parent, child, friend, employee, boss or sibling, you increase the light and love on this planet. You increase your Spiritual Light Quotient. And it’s contagious. Love is contagious. Happiness is contagious. Happy people are loving people. The best thing you can do to help the world is to become happier yourself. Like when you’re “in love”, you love everyone, right? You’re nicer to everyone because you see the world through Love’s eyes (which are God’s eyes) because you are in that state of “love.”
I suspect I’ll teach someday. I led guided meditation/psychic development class for years. Because of my experience as a performer, my social skills, and my HUMOR, I have a natural ease with people. I’m also intensely private, and this is where writing comes in. I like to be alone. I like quiet. My partner will have to be a self-contained man who also likes to be alone at times.
I will continue to write, and yes, teach. I will teach the stuff I’m yakking about today with you! It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. God is in the details. God is in Us.
Thank you for this beautiful opportunity to share my heart and mind with you and your readers. Blessings to all. Remember, You Are the Blessing. We are all God’s Ambassadors on this planet. It’s an important job. ©2013
Raving Violet is available in print and e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Black Opal Books. E-book from SmashWords, KOBO, and AllRomance.com. ravingvioletvalerie.blogspot.com
I'd like to personally thank Valerie for being an exceptionally brilliant guest on my blog, and I highly agree that God is not only with us, but in us!! I wish Valerie great success in every aspect of her future endeavors!!!Guest Author: Valerie Beth GilbertGuest: Valerie Beth Gilberthttp://triberr.com/members/
Nice interview, ladies. As always, an awe inspiring post from our dear friend, Valerie. I'm half way through Raving Violet, hope to finish today or tomorrow and it's a wonderful read. I'm thoroughly enjoying it!ReplyDelete
Hear Hear, indeed! Thank you so much for hosting and posting, Cathrina, your blog is beautiful!ReplyDelete
Okay, Cathrina, what gets me down you asked? I learned a friend dropped dead yesterday at 51, alone in her apartment in Yeravan, Armenia. I'm not sure why I'm so disturbed, in a haze, but it took all I had to clear my head and finish the piece above last night. How did I do it? I watched some Bill Maher clips that had me laughing out loud. Laughter is SO healing.
And it's so important to have each other, isn't it? Even if on the internet. I've met Debbie (yay!) but not Cathrina, yet, and yet we are sisters. Sisters in spirit. Sisters in writing. It's so important for us to express ourselves emotionally. I'm afraid the woman who died yesterday did not. She ran races, she kept a clean home, traveled extensively, but she had no intimate relationships. She came to a seance with me 4 years ago (before she got cancer) and her grandma said "be gentle with yourself" She came to my psychic development group and got the same message from strangers, who saw her "armor". But she never ran with that info.
I'm sharing this because I'm still processing, but also, this is how we learn, from stories. Only her soul knows what she learned in this life. But I saw someone face grave illness who still did not come to terms with her emotional issues, not with her mother (a really rough relationship) nor herself. This gal traveled the world but there was a world within she never explored... So, ladies, here's to healing, and living, and loving.
With love to all and gratitude to Cathrina! (and Debbie :) Valerie
I can relate! A dear friend in his fifties passed on Christmas Day. During the funeral, the Reverend gave an impassioned homily of living and loving life. I believe it was the best ever!I volunteer on a bereavement committee, I try to help ease the pain for those left behind.Delete
Laughter is the best, healing medicine!! Make them laugh, make them laugh! Even while my mom was going through chemo and radiation, we laughed and laughed! She had 3-6 months to live. Today,16 years later, we're still laughing!
I love your response, Cathrina. It's wonderful that you help the bereaved. It is a special skill. I endeavor to, as well, having lived through my own losses. It's so important to remember those that have passed, and to talk about them. It brings them back to life.ReplyDelete
Good for you and your mom to laugh her ass back to health! What a genius she is! It's SO important to look at the other elements in our lives that contribute to our well-being, beyond diet, exercise, drugs or surgery. Emotional well-being, and a spiritual component are so powerful.
Great interview ladies. Valerie is awesome. Thanks for the reminder that should always be at the forefront of all that I do, I am powerful.ReplyDelete
Great interview! It's so nice to meet you, Valerie. Raving Violet looks awesome.ReplyDelete