Book Review: Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Have you ever heard of supernovas? They shine brighter than anything else in the sky and then fade out really quickly, a short burst of extraordinary energy. I like to think you and Ben were like that . . . in that short time, you had more passion than some people have in a lifetime.”

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins ReidBen and Elsie are your average 20-somethings. He’s a graphic designer, she’s a librarian. They meet at a pizza takeout and fall in love. The chemistry between them is instant and electric – so much so that Ben can’t even wait 24 hours before asking to see Elsie again. Within weeks, they’re crazily in love. Within 6 months, they are married. And nine days later, Ben dies in an accident. Leaving Elsie to face Susan, a mother-in-law she has never met and who knows nothing at all about Elsie.

As Susan grapples with the fact that her son died without even telling her that he was getting married, Elsie is plagued by the very thought of having to live a life without Ben. She also worries that after just nine days of being married, and with her marriage certificate still to come, maybe people will think that she has no right to grieve…that she is a fake…that she hardly even knew him…

Reid alternates between Ben and Elsie’s love story and Elsie and Susan’s grieving process, and this works really well because it ensures that the book is neither sugary sweet nor too bitter a pill to swallow. If you look at the two stories as distinct and separate, the love story will leave you feeling a little giddy and misty-eyed, and sighing wistfully at the perfect love that Ben and Elsie have found. The second part, which deals with grieving and healing, is a compassionate and wise portrayal of the stages of grief, and of how Elsie and Susan, as the two most important women in Ben’s life, can find healing and closure by supporting one another.

This is an eminently beautiful and believable story – yes, even the love-at-first sight bit (what, you don’t believe in soul mates?) and the part about Ben not telling Susan about Elsie. You will fall in love with these characters and you will find yourself wishing that a love like that could have lasted forever.

Poignant, heart warming, funny and wise – Forever, Interrupted is the one of the books that you really have to read!

In conversation with Elaine Taylor, author of Karma, Deception, and a Pair of Red Ferraris

In Karma, Deception and a Pair of Red Ferraris, Elaine Taylor lays bare her relationship issues, childhood trauma, failed marriages, and her quest for love – all in her witty, sassy, down-to-earth voice. She gives it as it is – straight up – with complete honesty and vulnerability. Her insight into personal healing and acceptance as a pathway to love is both illuminating and inspiring. And her message of worthiness is one that needs to be heard – loud and clear. Weather or not you’ve had a traumatic childhood or relationship struggles, her honesty and doggedness will have you firmly rooting for her. By the time I finished reading the book, I felt like I really wanted to hear about her self-realization and the lessons she learnt along the way. So, without further ado, allow me to present to you – Elaine Taylor!

1: It’s been an inspirational move from equating love with control and realizing it’s open, expansive and just is. While therapy did eventually play a role in helping you, how do you think spirituality and Allie B, the psychic, helped you open up to love?

Allie B was the catalyst for my transformation. In our very first session, when I asked if I would ever find the deep and long-lasting love for which I so yearned, she was unequivocal. “Most definitely—all your power planets are in your houses of relationships. You incarnated into this lifetime to experience legendary love.”

Whoa! That was exactly what I wanted to hear! But to my, “when?”, she did that close-your-eyes, take-deep-breaths California woo-woo thing; then answered, “Not until you’re ready.”

That let the helium out of my balloon! It wasn’t possible to be more “ready” than I was.

But something about that niggled in my subconscious. Like, what if I really wasn’t “ready”? What if there was more to it than just desire—like maybe some actual preparation? I had no clue what that might be.

Early in KARMA DECEPTION I write about having always felt “guided”; having felt that “… gentle reassuring hand on my shoulder …” in times of extreme turmoil and fear and pain. Spiritual awareness led me to be more open when Allie B said things like, “Your Spirit Guides want me to tell you …”—fill in the blank. At first, a part of my brain shouted, “Beware: snake oil ahead!” But maybe not. If I was truly “guided,” was it possible Allie B was simply the most direct conduit to What/Whomever was doing the guiding? Over time I began to trust my gut—dilute my skepticism.

After I met Doc Ferrari, I asked Allie B to do our relationship chart—see if we had a future together, because I really, really wanted him to be My Legendary Love. When she said he and I had come together to fulfill a “shit-heavy karmic pact,” I was indignant—certain she got it wrong. I didn’t care about a karmic pact: I wanted true love! (Of course, had she told me he and I were destined to ride off into happily ever after together—I would have been like, “Oh yeah, the Doc and I have this fabulous karmic future—Allie B said so. I can’t lose!”) She turned out to be 100% right about Doc Ferrari, in every one of her predictions. I cannot imagine navigating that part of my history without her.

Bottom line: Allie B was instrumental in my journey to be ready for the contentment, happiness, and love I now have in my life.

2: It took you a very long time to really focus on the scars from your childhood and acknowledge and heal them. Do you have any suggestions for others who may be in your situation – believing they are being strong and brave by holding on to their scars and going on with their lives without acknowledging the need for/seeking help?

Like a gazillion people, I grew up with addictive/abusive parents, in a redneck culture where a girl had less value than a “trained huntin’ dawg” and a “good woman knows her place.” So shutting down my emotions—walling off a tender heart—was a survival instinct.

When I entered the workforce, I set out to prove I was “as good as any man.” Not because I was a militant bra-burner; but because I was a single mom in need of a man-size paycheck. So I emulated the hard edges, sharp elbows and impenetrable boundaries that I thought comprised “real men.” That’s when I really screwed up my perception of what emotional strength is!

My personal life was one long trail of relationship roadkill. The combination of being emotionally shut down plus tough and invincible … well, it ain’t exactly a nurturing environment in which to plant the seeds of romantic love.

“Getting ready for love” meant going back in time and confronting hurtful memories that made me believe, deep at my core, that I was not deserving of love. I had to dismantle the protective armor that kept the pain at bay. I had to rediscover that true emotional strength is the courage to be vulnerable. The willingness to be tender and soft with no guarantee that life/love will turn out as we want it to. Essentially, I had to heal.

And boy, was that hard! And scary! But hanging onto those scars was costing me something dear.

I came to understand that if I didn’t heal those old wounds, I would never have the love for which I yearned—the deeply fulfilling love I have shared for over a decade, with an amazing man.

Three key things that came out of my years of “getting ready”:

  • I believed the dark void at my core would magically vanish and I would feel light and free once the right man came along and filled me up. Wrong. I was/am the only one who could/can fill that void.
  • We never find love until we believe ourselves worthy of it. We will never feel worthy of love until we haul out the emotional trash, heal the emotional wounds.
  • All that difficult and painful work that I resisted for so long because I was terrified to step into my own personal haunted house? It is sooooooo worth it!

Regarding your question about “need for/seeking help”: I believe it is absolutely essential that we not try to do deep healing on our own. First, it’s almost impossible to consider other perspectives about the demons to be vanquished (critical to this kind of work) when we are sitting alone, in our own heads, with our certainties and deeply held thoughts/beliefs that are like the grooves in an old vinyl record: dug deep and virtually impossible to restructure. Secondly, it can be dangerous. Sometimes we have to wade into territory that can undermine us if we don’t have an objective guide/safety valve to pull us back if we get too close to a treacherous edge.

3: Given your childhood trauma, you made sure that your children were brought up differently. What advice can you give to young, harried mothers so they don’t pass on their stress to their children?

Oh wow. Wouldn’t it be an amazing boon to society if humans were not allowed to parent until we had been taught some of the fundamentals of parenting!

It is one of the most important jobs we do in our lifetime; and most of us do it by the seat of our pants. Unfortunately, that often means we repeat with our own children the things that were done to us. It’s easy to replicate what is familiar, extraordinarily difficult and time-consuming to try to figure out better way—if we even have a conscious awareness that there is “a better way.”

My parents undoubtedly started with the idea of  “raising me right”—of doing what they felt necessary to “make me the best woman possible.” But a lot of times Mom acted out of her own anger, frustration and bitterness—certainly in part because she was young and harried and trying to make her way with scant resources. “Resources”—emotional, financial, physical, etc.—unavoidably impact every parent’s best-intentioned parenting patterns.

Just like every parent throughout the history of time, I did some things right; and some things wrong. Things I wish someone had told me before my daughter was born:

  • Kids are good actors, they generally want to please, and they are resilient; so I didn’t realize how my parenting was impacting my daughter until she was a teen and I was paying for her therapy! (Ha! But seriously …)
  • I wish I had understood the importance of being aware of my true and honest intentions in every parenting situation. (Sometimes I was angry/hurt/frustrated/whatever and believed everyone around me should share my burden. I wish I had understood potential unintended consequences of my actions/words. Some of my “best decisions” turned out to be wrong. Life is complicated.
  • Yes, I did my best; but I often fell short of some invisible marker. I wish I had known the magical power of a sincere apology. I would have admitted more often that I might have been wrong; and I would have apologized.
  • I wish I had taught my daughter, by example, forgiveness and compassion for herself, as well as for others.

Two important facts: There are a ton of factors beyond our control: genetics, social/outside influences, etc. Even with all the expert advice available and our unflagging best efforts (for any superhuman who can actually be unflagging), there is no guarantee it will turn out well.

4: Now that you’ve found your true love, what’s your mantra for a successful relationship/marriage?

Good and open communication is absolutely essential. (Ever heard that before?!)

I try always to remember that, when life/relationship heads south, as life and relationships are wont to do, the one thing I have complete control over is how I choose to react to the situation. I am 100% responsible for my role in turning the ship north … or helping it stay on that unpleasant, sometimes disastrous, southerly course.

5: Could you share your new moon manifesting ritual?

Here it is, straight from Allie B!


I was reminded that not everyone knows about rituals, and how to do one.  Rituals are an ancient way to honor the sacredness of High Holy Days, important Moons – Full and New, to clear, invite, release and call in.

This is a simple one – in accordance with the Native way of honoring this sacred time.

Feel free to use your own prayers, words, Name of GOD, etc.

The Planning

New Moon is a time of new beginnings.  The moon is totally dark, a propitious time to plant the seed thoughts of new creativity, new determination and new goals.

Sit and think about what you want to call in, create, begin to manifest, or take to the next level.  Get a pad and pen and start writing it down. What do you want for yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially?  what do you want to help create in the world?  In your relationships?  Through your work?

Be aware of how you are phrasing it!  Words have power (as do thoughts!) At New Moon you are creating Magic. You are calling in the most potent and powerful forces of the Universe. Make sure to put things in positive ways. Make sure to ask that everything you call in or ask for comes in a gentle and benevolent way !  Remember this is a time of new. This is not a time of clearing, or releasing.

Do not tell the Universe what you do not want!

What you will need:

Make sure you know when the exactitude of New moon is.   Go out 1/2 hour before with everything on a tray.

Gather a tea light candle, 2 sticks of incense, a cup of water, 2 pinches of tobacco, some cornmeal, a few candles to make a sacred circle (You can use 4 to the 4 directions, or 5 (to create a pentacle of Power,  8 or 12) and a smudge stick (sage, cedar)  as well as a lighter or matches.  Appropriate color candles for new moon:  white, green, blues, pink (esp for love) lavender for new consciousness.

To do a New Moon Ritual

You first need to do a burning sea salt smudge before you start,  to clear and create a pure, sacred space to do your ritual in, and to have a pure and sanctified place to have the magic work.  So do this first, starting with smudging yourself and then your home, car, and the space you are doing the ritual in.  Smudge your phone, your pocketbook, change purse, wallet, (whatever you hold your money in),  as well as your day-runner, schedule or appointment book.

If possible, do your ritual outside, standing barefoot on the Earth. If this is not possible, do it on your patio, deck or whatever you have. In bad weather, inside .

Light your smudge stick: cedar, sage, sweetgrass or a combination of them.

Starting in the East , with your burning smudge stick do the invocation:

Invocation to the 4 Directions:

“Ho to the Spirit of the (E, S,W, N). To the Direction of the ___ To the Angel of the ___. To the Totem of the —-. Ho to the Lessons and Blessings of the —-. Ho to the Spirit of the —-.!”

Bow to the  East (S/W/N)

Repeat to the South, West and North.  Turn to face the East again.

Smudge to Mother Earth, and make a tobacco offering

Smudge to Father Sky / God / Goddess  . Light a stick of incense and place in the ground, or a planter or a make-shift holder.

Raise your hands , palms out :  Ground yourself, feeling the connection of you and your physical body to the Earth. Visualize running your Grounding cord down into the core of the Earth.  Take a deep breath.

At this Time of New Beginnings, I now create:  (Or choose to manifest) Go thru your list.

When you are finished, Say:” Ho!   SO BE IT !  And it is so!

Take a deep breath.

Make a cornmeal offering to the Earth Spirits and Earth Devas

Make a water offering to the water Spirits and Devas

Light your incense and make it an offering to the Air spirits and Devas

Finally, light your tea light. If it blows out after you light it, just put it down.  It has been accepted by the Fire Beings. If it stays lit, make sure it is in a container that will not tip over or start a fire.

Ground yourself again.  Make sure you have included every area and every thing you are ready, able and willing to Create, Manifest or take to the next Level.

Thank the Angles, Teachers, Guides , Devas, Mother Earth and Divine Self for witnessing.  Ask their help in your calling in the Forces needed to fulfill your prayers.

Bless yourself, Mother Earth and your life. Release the circle.

Turn around, and do not look back.  You can go out tomorrow to pick up the candle holders, etc.

Your magic is now set. It is working!

Blessed Be !

An evening of soul stirring music with Samvad

Music has no boundaries, no religion, no caste, creed, color. No discrimination. Music just has soul. It has the power to bring together people from around the world, from different backgrounds, from varying musical traditions, and to meld them into a cohesive, soul-stirring whole.

SamvadIgino Giovanni Brunori and Virginia Nicoli of Samvad are one such innovative musical duo, crafting new sounds from ancient materials. Samvad’s original compositions and improvisations are founded on the most rigorous traditions of Indian Classical music, Dhrupad. They’ve forged their own musical language in which raga and tala remain the core features.

I was lucky to be able to attend a concert recently, where they were accompanied by brilliant Pakhawaj player Sukhad Munde. And for someone like me, who has no knowledge of Indian Classical music, nor much of a taste for it, it was a revelation. Their music was almost meditative…it made you want to dance with joy…to sway to the beat of the Pakhawaj, to lose yourself in the sweet, deep notes of the flute.


In fact, a lot of the audience got up and did just that – got up and danced, swayed, whirled…let the music move through their bodies and release pent up emotions. It was a magical, energetic evening, and my first experience at Zorba the Buddha – I’m quite sure I’ll be back for more!

Click here to sample their music.

P.S.: Sorry for the grainy pictures – the light was dim and all I had was my phone!

No, everything does not happen for a reason

On some level, I’ve never quite believed that everything happens for a reason. I’ve never believed that tragedy is necessary for or a precursor to transformation. Tragedy may or may not transform you. But there is never a “reason” for tragedy.

There are a huge number of empty platitudes floating around the interwebs, supposed inspiration that actually is a pill to ignore the grief. To get up and move on, to treat grief and loss like an illness or disease that must be cured.

  But you cannot move on unless you sit with your grief. Unless you allow yourself to feel the spaces and the contours of your loss – no matter how big or small said loss might be. So allow yourself to sit with your loss for as long as it takes. To bear witness. To mourn. To cry.

Personal transformation can certainly occur after a tragedy. It occurs through your choices in how you deal with the aftermath of tragedy. In the daily decisions you take to cope with your grief. But to believe that there was a reason for your tragedy is a fallacy. As is the belief that tragedy is necessary for transformation. But that is a post for another time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on grief, transformation and things happening for a reason. 

This post is in response to this article

Travel Postcard #9: Ready for take-off

In the wee hours of the morning, well before the sun rises from its slumber, we gather together around the fire. Blowing on our steaming mugs of coffee, biting into a chocolate covered buiscuit, eyes wide with excitement and anticipation, we watch as air is pumped into a balloon…as it rises tall and magnificent in the pre-dawn light. And then it’s time for a fire…pumped into its immense cavity, as it stand, fluttering in the breeze, eager to sail away with the wind. And soon enough, it’s time to scramble into the basket that will take us high up above the world…soaring…floating… exclaiming in wonder at our very first hot air ballon ride. 

Have you ever been up in a hot air balloon? If not, would you want to?

More travel postcards