An act of God contrary to natural law or the laws of man Encarta Dictionary, also in my computer, gives as the first definition of miracle. An extraordinary, unexpected event as in “It will be a miracle if Beattie ever does the book reviews she promised “or “My daughter cleaned her room” rate second in Encarta’s list. (The examples are my own.)
An absolutely marvelous example. No, that doesn’t refer to my examples above. It’s third on Encarta’s list of definitions for this wondrous, marvelous, sensational act of God, for instance TiVo represents a miracle of modern technology.
It’s also Encarta’s last stab at explaining a miracle to us.
The Vatican submits any event claimed to be a miracle through a rigorous series of exams and tests. The experience, placed under the world’s largest microscope, must completely pass all tests before the Pope, Vatican, or Catholic Church will use the word to describe something that happened to someone – usually something the receiver considers a huge and wonderful, phenomenal, marvelous and sensational gift.
After serious consideration that took less than thirty seconds, I made a judgment call. I would not refer to myself in the third person in this, the first of my book reviews as I – the writer of both the book and the review – attempt to objectively assess it (the book). Impossible for an author to objectively review his or her own writing? Probably. But who wants an entirely objective assessment anyway? We want at least some personal and prejudicial opinions, some humanity and emotions in what we read. At least I do.
But this may be the only review I do of a book I’ve written. It puts me in a compromised position and depends on my place on the manic-depressive scale most writers slide around on. Some days I abhor my work; other days I like it. Sometimes I’m simply willing to live with it.
Most of the time I wish I could ask the FBI for a new identity.
It’s part of what makes writing, like relationships, so much fun. It’s the old love-hate, can’t live with and can’t live without it syndrome that while we buy billions of dollars of self-help books to cure, we really like the roller coaster ride when all is said and done.
Don’t get me wrong. Many problems (such as codependent behaviors) can and do need to be solved and we’re better off once we discover the solution. Other times, as a society, we go way overboard in trying to sterilize and sanitize the ongoing and proverbial human condition.
With all that written, it’s time to focus and get to the point. Who do I think I am, anyway, writing a book that claims we can make miracles? Not only can we make them, we can do it in 40 days? Those are the questions that prevented me from writing the book, Make Miracles in 40 Days.
I learned the technique or exercise I teach in the book way back in 1978. I learned it well. I learned it completely. For the most part, I shut my mouth and kept it to myself. Until I began to make the transition from book author to screenplay writing. I looked closely at any principles I needed to further explain in books, any clarifications or modifications of books I’d written. I wanted to finish my author business so I could, with a clean conscience, move into the next phase.
That meant I needed to write two books (actually three but that’s a long and boring story so I’ll stick to two for purposes of this blog and review). I needed to clarify what I interpreted as people’s misinterpretations of what I’d written in Codependent No More by writing The New Codependency.
I also needed to share, in detail, what I’d learned about making miracles – maybe not the marvelous, extraordinary kind that the Vatican investigates, but the kind that make a phenomenal difference in our daily lives. I knew how to do it. Life had shown me and you’re free to substitute the words God, Higher Power, Guardian Angels or Dead People for Life.
I had a recipe that I felt duty-bound to pass on.
The first publisher queried on this book, Simon & Schuster, got it. Not only did Simon’s acquisition editor understand the concept, it excited him. He loved it. This response enmeshed me even more in the process of writing that book.
Fine. I signed the contract. Then began the arduous process of procrastination.
For the record, I don’t believe in procrastination when it comes to writing. I don’t believe in writer’s block either. I do know that sometimes writers try to write the wrong book or write a book before they have all the necessary information. They try to take the cake out of the oven before it’s done and it doesn’t work. The cake looks and tastes awful. They call it writer’s block but what they’re dealing with is impatience and not trusting Life, God and the process. It’s a mistake I frequently make.
I realized, with the help of an assertive, semi-controlling friend that before I wrote this book, I needed to do a workshop on the principles I intended to include in it. Her pushing me to do a workshop of any kind illuminated the subject. I realized that writing a book on making miracles meant climbing out on a shaky limb. Writing this book without having completed a study that included more people than just me saying, “Hey, this works and you ought to try it” meant more than climbing out on a limb. It meant me hanging onto the top branch of a high tree by biting a leaf and hoping the grip of my teeth on this leaf would prevent me from falling down.
Whether I wanted to or not, I needed to do this group. So I did. The deadline for turning in the manuscript had passed some time ago so I needed to hurry.
While I call Los Angeles home, when it comes to things of creativity: books, music, scripts or yoga classes, the audience will be brutal and unforgiving. Either you have something solid to offer or you didn’t. If you don’t, GO HOME.
This workshop would show me and potential readers that the miracle exercise works for more people than one. Or it wouldn’t. It would prove my idea wrong. Either way, I needed to do it. Simon & Schuster graciously extended my deadline.
In two weeks or less, the slots for the six-week workshop filled.
For many reasons, teaching this workshop challenged me. Recently recovering from a highly-invasive spine surgery, walking and standing hurt horribly. So did breaking down the steps to making miracles in 40 days in a clear, concise way that other people could understand.
But I did it – got to the workshop and broke down the idea into clear steps.
At the end of the six-weeks, 38 of the 40 attendees had their miracle. More accurately, 39 of the 41 attendees had the miracle they wanted if you count me as one. Of the two people who didn’t get their miracles, one left and didn’t return after the first class. The second person claimed to have received a miracle but I didn’t believe what the person said.
The principles in this book work or I wouldn’t have written it. It’s as simple as that. I’m not going to spoil the book by giving away the activity. Readers shouldn’t either, by hurrying or skipping to the end. It’s critical to work your way through the pages and do the warm up exercises as you move along.
If you do, you’ll find a simple activity that takes less than ten minutes a day that will work in any situation you find yourself in the rest of your life. It will also go against the grain of much of what you’ve been taught or more accurately, what you think you’ve been taught. That’s as much as I’ll give away.
One nasty reviewer at www. Amazon.com criticized the exercise, calling on God to be on his team while he blasted the book. However, the book incorporates one of the most profound and powerful spiritual principles that exist. More specifically, it asks us to do something God says we should if we want a good life.
While I’m not opposed to criticism, some people criticize because they believe it defines them. I believe the person who wrote that review at Amazon falls into that category.
The activity also incorporates profound therapeutic principles, including Gestalt therapy and others. Again, I don’t want to give it (the exercise) away. It would make it too easy to dismiss it, which is usually our first response when people say, “Hey, want to make a miracle in 40 days?”
The writing in the book uses my journalism skills. Written succinctly, tightly, and in an orderly way, the book doesn’t waste words. I pack it with examples of exactly how to do the exercise because many people, including me, respond to an activity by thinking, “I’m not doing this the right way.”
The activity can be done once daily. I recommend doing it first thing in the morning. However, you can do it three times a day if you want and once your miracle juices get flowing.
With my friend Chip’s help, we constructed a website at www.MelodyBeattie.org devoted to this book. People can write in with their questions and I answer, usually within 48 hours or less. I’m not touring on this book. I’m not pushing it or promoting it too much, although I am doing a review on it here. You can also see people’s comments on the book at the above website.
I’m not naïve enough to say or think we can have whatever we want. We all know we can’t. But we can have more than we think we can. This book also provides a marvelous way to become unstuck whenever we find ourselves lost, confused and in a rut and clueless about what to do next. I argued with the publisher to bring the book out in trade paperback. I lost. It’s in hardcover, e-book and audio book now. The paperback version comes out the end of the year. You can buy it at all bookstores and it’s in libraries too.
The cheapest way to have your own copy is to download a Kindle version (you don’t need a Kindle to read it) right into your computer and then print it out. That way you can purchase the book for ten dollars and some odd cents from Amazon.com.
You may not create any miracles submitted to the Vatican for examination, but then again you might. Whether the miracles you create are big or small, extraordinary or some ordinary help we need but can’t conjure, Make Miracles in 40 Days – if you do as the book suggests – will change your life. You’ll say, “It’s a miracle” whether the Pope agrees or not.