Sunday, August 01, 2021

Life & Style

How to be Good to Yourself in the New Year


Laura Friedler

Laura Friedler (Photo courtesy of Laura Friedler)


Laura Noe, right, with her son Hudson.

Laura Noe, right, with her son Hudson. Laura Noe, right, with her son Hudson.


Debbie Sodergren

Debbie Sodergren Debbie Sodergren


Janet Verney

Janet Verney Janet Verney


Emily Filloramo

Emily Filloramo Emily Filloramo

For the past few weeks, a copy of the book, How to Permanently Erase Negative Self-Talk, has been sitting on Liz Bartek’s desk at R.J. Julia Booksellers.

“I was surprised by how many people have picked it up,” said Bartek, the events manager at the bookstore. “People certainly are interested in treating themselves better in this new year.”

With that in mind, R.J. Julia is hosting “A Spiritual Journey: A Local and Independent Author Event” on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. at the store at 768 Boston Post Road in Madison, the first in a series of local author events planned this year on a variety of topics by R. J. Julia..

“With January being the month when everyone is focused on New Year’s resolutions, we thought it would make sense to present authors who want to help people with resolutions and self improvements,” said Bartek. Still, even within that focus, “all of them are different, some of them are more specific to self-help, some of them are more spiritual. They all call out to people differently, depending on where they are.”

The authors invited to participate in the event include:

•Laurie Friedler, of Madison, the author of Tanis and the Magical Valley, a work of fiction about a young girl who takes a family vacation in Peru’s Sacred Valley and learns how ancient Andean prophecies and practices apply to current unsettling times.

•Laura Noe of Branford, the author of Travels with my Son: Journeys of the Heart, a memoir about Noe’s travels with her son and their quest to leave American consumerism behind while they explored “other ways of living, thinking, and doing.”

•Debbie Sodergren, of Killingworth, the author of Just Be, a book about meditation and awareness that provides a step-by-step guide to meditation, along with an explanation of meditation concepts, and how they can have a positive effect on interactions with others.

•Janet Verney, of Higganum, the author of Roots 2 Wellness, about Verney’s experience with a painful chronic disease that could not be identified and her journey towards health and healing.

•Filloramo, of Glastonbury, the author of How to Permanently Erase Negative Self-Talk, which provides lessons in how to identify root causes of struggles, how to get unstuck, and how to get rid of negative messages that may have been ingrained since childhood.

A transformative experience

Laura Friedler says her book, Tanis and the Magical Valley, was inspired by the “transformative experience of a group of American tourists who participated in a spiritual pilgrimage to Peru she led in 2010 with Sixto Paz Wells, a writer, educator and UFO researcher/contactee from Lima, Peru.” She said she wanted to share the beauty and magic of Peru with others, and that her original intention was to translate Paz Well’s book, Tanis y el Magico Cuzco, but that when she finished the translation, she felt more context was needed for her American audience. Working with her editor, Maureen Gaffney, Friedler says she “expanded on the Andean wisdom traditions I had been passionately studying and practicing for a decade.” She also added material to the book, along with a prologue, an epilogue, a glossary, and a map.

From only ever having “a vague fantasy about perhaps someday writing a book,” she found herself an author. She said the most rewarding thing about having published her book is inspiring others to “find the magic in their life’s journey.”

At the R.J. Julia event on Tuesday she plans to discuss her book, answer any questions people might have, and bring some examples of Peruvian textiles and artifacts “so attendees can connect with some of the topics in the book.”

Ditching the consumer-driven status quo

Laura Noe, the author of Travels with my Son, said her path to becoming an author started with her love for words as an English and journalism major in college. Then, in January 2012, she found her entire identity wrapped up in her job in the corporate world. She decided to sell her house and rent, and otherwise downsize, so that should could drop out of the “money-driven, go-go world.”

“Instead of living a status quo and outer focused life, I opted for a deeper life of inner truth and curiosity,” she said.

Noe and her son started to travel, visiting far-flung countries in four continents.

“My goal was to raise a citizen of the world. Our travels brought he and I closer and also opened our minds and hearts to other ways of living and thinking,” she said. “We both became citizens of the world. I wanted to spend my time and money on experiences and not material things, in doing so, I have many poignant memories with my son.”

Noe’s first job out of college was as a reporter for a weekly newspaper and, as she traveled, she realized that her dream was to be a writer. She joined a writing group and started writing essays about her travels. Another woman in the group said “this is a book.”

“I believed her and wrote it,” Noe said. “I feel like I have gone full circle and returned to who I really am. I love stories. I think I have another book inside me, maybe even two more.”

Noe says she has lots of advice for anyone seeking change. She encourages people to be curious about other cultures, countries, along with ways of living, thinking, and believing. “Insulated and isolated thinking and living breed an empathy gap,” she says. “It is easy to love people and places when you have evidence-based experiences.”

She also encourages people to spend time with their children and find the similarities with others. “Our consumer-driven culture is hollow and empty. Travel! Purchase a genome kit from National Geographic, as my son and I did,” she says. We sent our saliva in and became part of the genome project. We are all connected! Our results showed our ancient ancestry back 60,000 years to the Sudan...where we all started.”

In the end, she says, for her it’s about getting to know “who you are and what your core values are as a human. That is the source of healing and change, and we all know the world needs healing and changing.”

Being open to the possibilities

The dawning of a new year can prompt people to contemplate life, their future, and the world around them. But that can be hard to do effectively without a quiet mind, says Debbie Sodergren, the author of Just Be.

“My book is about meditation and awareness. I found that for people to understand metaphysics or Law of Attraction principles, first they need to quiet their mind and listen to their inner voice and meditation is a great vehicle to do it...Meditation is just a tool to help you live a life of feeling like you are connected to everything around you. It helps you understand yourself better. It opens your mind to the possibilities of what you can do in your life.”

Her goal when writing the book was to get the word out to as many people as possible about the benefits of meditation.

“I came across a lot of people who would say they didn’t know how to meditate or they had an idea of what meditation was and it was described to me from them as sitting crossed legs on the floor chanting the word om. Haha! I realize that is one type of meditation but there are other options,” says Sodergren, who decided to write her book after her youngest went off to college and she was able to dedicate time to the project. “Whether you are an experienced meditator or a beginner, there is something for everyone. [At the event Tuesday,] I hope to introduce people to my signature grounding exercise I do when I teach my meditation classes.”

Digging deep

For thirty years, Janet Verney, the author of Roots 2 Wellness, suffered from a painful and unidentifiable chronic disease. She says it ultimately served as “a call to action, a wake-up call” that changed her life and put her on a path to health and healing. She says she learned that healing begins when the root of the disease is treated.

that would send her on a life-changing journey to a place of health and healing.

For her that meant letting go of the negative chatter in her mind, choosing the right foods to nourish herself, “digging to the places deep inside where wellness begins.”

Verney says her message to people attending the Tuesday event will be to “stop living in illness, in fear,” and that people should love themselves enough to do what’s right for them.

“I will share some of the tools that have helped me create the magic of healing,” she said. Verney, who has appeared on several public television shows, and radio shows, says she has another book planned for later this year. “It was not a lifelong dream to write, but I have always enjoyed it,” she said. “Now I can’t stop.”

Getting unstuck

So, maybe you’ve tried it all before. Therapy. Positive thinking. Bodywork. Books. Pharmaceuticals. But you’re still not quite there to happy.

Filloramo says she provides another option for those who feel stuck, and who are seeking self-awareness and resiliency. She says her goal is to help people heal and stop holding onto pain, misunderstandings, and “gut-wrenching memories.”

“If you’re tired of burying the pain with addictions or fed up with depression, anxiety, and disease, then it’s time to stop attacking yourself emotionally and get access to the wealth, health, relationships, and happiness you truly deserve,” she says.

Filloramo says she started thinking about becoming an author when some of her clients encouraged her to write a book. A few weeks later, she ran into a publisher at an event she attended who said he was interested in publishing her book. “I thought self-publishing was my only option but apparently the universe had a better idea,” she says.

Filloramo says she looks forward to talking with people about the best way to shift their thinking, and their lives. “They will have more compassion for themselves and have compassion for those that have hurt them in the past,” she says.

Pem McNerney is the Living Editor for Zip06. Email Pem at

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