Friday, December 2, 2011

Phil Torcivia, Interview # 156

Name: Phil Torcivia

Where you live: San Diego, CA

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Write humorous books about relationships, both for work and fun.

Your two favorite books:
Women by Charles Bukowski, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Your two favorite songs:
Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd, Silent Lucidity by Queensryche

Why you are interested in spirituality?
Superstition is fascinating. I wonder how religious types maintain their beliefs when their “God-given” senses provide evidence contradicting many of them. Either their Gods are cruel or are intentionally distracting and misleading them. It’s interesting how similar the Jesus myth is to earlier Greek/Pagan myths. I’m curious how religion explains dinosaurs and the many-million-year gap between them and man. Still, as children need the Santa threat to behave, some adults need the eternal damnation threat to behave. I’m OK with that.

Your favorite quote: A man has got to know his own limitations. – Clint Eastwood

Your favorite web sites: Amazon, Facebook, Twitter

Your hero? Jeff Bezos

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
Religion and spirituality are both necessary to give some people hope and meaning to their lives. I can respect it without subscribing to it and find happiness without it.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Museums. They provide evidence that religious types can’t truly reconcile with their beliefs. Life has evolved in such fascinating ways.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cash Peters, Interview #155

Name: Cash Peters

Where you live:  Los Angeles, California

What you do as a vocation or avocation? 
I write travel and spirituality books - my latest is A Little Book About Believing: The Transformative Healing Power of Faith, Love, and Surrender'- and have been in radio and TV for years, broadcasting on public radio in the US and the BBC in Britain. That has been my bread and butter since I was in my teens.

But I also have a gift for handwriting analysis, so that would be my avocation, although it's taking up a huge amount of my time these days.

I never studied handwriting, I could just do it. It's a form of channeling, I'm told, and goes very deep. I can stare at a piece of writing and, in seconds, effortlessly, make a connection with the person's soul, often feeling what they feel, understanding why they are as they are, where they hurt, where their own gifts are. It's mind-blowing to people, how I'm able to link their handwriting to their spiritual development. It's all about energy, of course. That's what I seem to be picking up. Then then played a part in my spiritual writing. I became a contributor to Spirituality & Health magazine, and then wrote the 'Believing' book, which combines travel to Brazil with a full-immersion experience in a healing retreat there, which was like a spiritual car-wash for the spirit. It revolutionized my life. Absolutely amazing.

Your two favorite books:
The Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav, and I Had It All The Time, by Alan Cohen. But anything by Alan Cohen, Caroline Myss, or Stuart Wilde really. They are true masters of connection, stirring the human heart and spirit. I never grow tired of hearing their take on life.

Your two favorite songs:
Vincent by Don McLean and I Vow To Thee, My Country by Cecil Spring-Rice, set to music by Gustav Holst to part of his Jupiter Suite. I want both played at my funeral, I don't care in which order.

Why you are interested in spirituality? 
I don't see myself as having any choice, any more than I choose to breathe air. Everything up to the point of accepting our spirituality is denial of self, and a disconnect. The only way to live congruently, to my mind, and to be sure you're taking one positive step after another is to accept your nature as an eternal being cloaked in mortal flesh and bone, and to have faith and trust that this connection to divine consciousness will sustain you through periods of challenge and doubt. I'm always shocked when people view the world in terms of only what they can see or touch, or they rely on drugs, surgery, and medication to treat the body when they become seriously ill. In other words, they're looking to the external rather than the eternal to resolve their issues, when it's so obvious that the true answers lie on the inside. As I say in my book, you heal from the inside out, not the outside in.

I met a very famous Hollywood actor recently. He'd read A Little Book About Believing and loved it, so he asked if he could take me to lunch. I was understandably a little nervous. I've seen him in movies and thought I might be tongue-tied. But everything was very relaxed. It turns out that he's sick with the late stages of cancer and desperately looking for an answer. In order to heal, he's throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the problem. Non-stop treatment, drugs, doctor visits, clinics, spas, the works. As we sat there eating and chatting, I could almost hear his soul screaming for mercy. The answer was so obvious to me - look within. Stop trying so hard. Quit looking for answers 'out there' somewhere, and instead ask spirit, in stillness and total faith, "What have I done to my body to bring on this cancer? What is my body trying to tell me? What do I need to stop doing in order to help restore balance and harmony to my system?"

I fully believe that this is the road to healing and wellness, not endless treatment, or fighting the disease, which often only makes things worse. Why does everything have to be about struggle, combat, fighting back? Whatever happened to good nutrition, rest, harmony, clean air, a joyful heart. Sound simplistic, but I believe it works.  

My parents were rookie Christian Scientists, which is all about healing the body in spiritual ways, but I was unable to embrace any one religion. As a travel writer and TV host on the Travel Channel for my series Stranded, I got to have adventures all over the world, and the more I met different cultures, the more I realized that a religion is just a set of convenient assumptions based on available evidence, then perpetuated by fear and doubt, whereas spirituality knows no such rules and boundaries and promotes reliance on self, as well as trust in the Divine.

Your favorite quote: 
"You don't get what you want in life, you get what you are." Dr. Wayne Dyer. Deep and brilliant and so true. 

Your favorite web sites
Anything that provides material nourishing to the soul and which furthers togetherness rather than division. So is right there at the top. You could get lost for days in that thing.

Your hero?
I don't do hero worship. I tend not to idolize, and never have, though I can respect astonishing visionaries who inspire us - Caroline Myss, Steve Jobs - and those who believe in something with the utmost conviction and go do it, proving to the doubters what's possible: Mahatma Gandhi, Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling....anyone who brushed the naysayers aside and pursued their vision to success.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? 
Is relaxation a spiritual lesson? I've always had a high metabolism matched, somewhat perversely, with an inner quiet, which is an odd combo. So although I do yoga and meditate often, in between times I do find it hard not to gush and enthuse and participate and express joy. It's my natural way, even if I think it can sometimes be wearing on people around me. You certainly know when I'm in the room, that's for sure! So calmness, I'd say. Repose. Balance.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Oh, Brazil definitely. When I got off the plane in Rio de Janeiro that first time, I felt a rush of adrenaline but also peace like I'd never felt before. And after I'd spent two weeks with John of God, receiving treatment, I was an entirely different person. My world has not been the same since. If ever there was a time when I fully understood my connection with the Divine, it was in Brazil.

Editor's Note: To learn more about Cash Peters, go to

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Elizabeth Myer Boulton, Interview #154

Name: Rev. Elizabeth Myer Boulton

Where you live: Indianapolis, Indiana
What you do as a vocation or avocation?I am President and Creative Director over at the SALT Project, Inc.  We’re a small, not-for-profit production company dedicated to creating beautiful, devotional resources for small groups, congregations, and individuals!

Your two favorite books:

Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram

The Nativity, Julie Vivas

Your two favorite songs:

My first favorite song was written by my husband, Matthew Myer Boulton, and is entitled, "Great and Small."

There's an amazing collection of Jewish Hasidic folk-tales entitled, "Tales of the Hasidim Later Masters."  And in that collection, there's a wonderful little gem that has always stuck with my husband, so he decided to write a song about it. 

Here's the gem:
"Rabbi Bunim taught:  Every person should have two pockets.  In one pocket should be a piece of paper saying: 'I am but dust and ashes' (Genesis 18:27).  When one is feeling too proud, reach into this pocket and take out this paper and read it.  In the other pocket should be a piece of paper saying: 'For my sake was the world created' (Talmud: Sanhedrin 38a).  When one is feeling disheartened and lowly, reach into this pocket and take this paper out and read it."
From my point of view, this is the perfect life lesson for all of us (from 2 to 92!), and it vividly evokes what it's like to live a religious life:  always evolving, tacking back and forth, endeavoring to stay both humble and courageous. 

My second favorite song is “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes -- need I say more?

Why you are interested in spirituality?

"Why spirituality and why Christianity?"
A woman at the coffee shop asked me this the other day.  I was working with the scriptures, trying to craft a sermon, and out of no where came that question, "Why Christianity?"

I stumbled.  I hemmed.  I hawed.  I wasn't elegant in the least...

So, without further adieu, I will kill two birds with one stone (so to speak!) and answer both questions at the same time:

For me, Christianity (my form of spirituality) is a poem.  A beautiful and broken poem that soars to the highest heavens, but not before it slugs through the trenches of violence, shadows, betrayal, abandonment, and finally, death.

For me, life wouldn't make sense without Christianity.  Without Christianity, without a God who chooses to become flesh, to become breakable; without a God who, through Christ and the church, continues to side with the poor; without a God who stands in solidarity with every victim of every hate crime; without a God who transforms, redeems, and declares in the face of death, “You will not have the final word!" - without this God, I couldn’t make it through the day, I couldn't read the paper, I couldn't bring children into the world.

I choose Christianity because, for me, the world would be a veil of tears without it.  For me, this beautiful, broken poem contains life and life in abundance.

Your favorite quote:

Those who don't feel this Love pulling them like a river,
those who don't drink dawn like a cup of spring water or take in sunset like supper,
those who don't want to change, let them sleep.

Your favorite web sites:
Etsy, Apartment Therapy, Text This Week, and SALT (I couldn’t resist!)

Your hero?
My mom!

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?

How to be love, to serve well, to give to everyone who begs of me, to pick up my cross, and to follow...

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
The place I feel most spiritually “connected” is in front of a “Madonna del Latte” or "Madonna of the Milk."  She’s everywhere in Italy and every time I catch a glimpse of her the whole world seems to melt away...

Back in the 14th century, artists were positively enamored with her.  They painted her, carved her out of stone, prayed to her, and painted her again.

More often than not, she's either actively nursing the baby or preparing to nurse.  And sometimes, Jesus is actually fighting to get inside her robes.

If you ever have the privilege of going to Sicily's national art museum in Palermo, she will be there again and again and again.  Not one, not two, but twenty, maybe twenty-five renditions of Madonna del Latte.

Again and again and again:  Mary, the “Theotokos” (“House of God”).  Mary, figure for the Church, one of the marvelous ways in which God is letting down God’s milky love, God’s grace, God’s tenderness, God’s mercy, God’s peace, God’s healing.

In the halls of that museum, you can hear the wisdom of tradition singing across the centuries, “Come to me, all who are weak and heavy laden.  Come to me if you are going through a broken relationship, battling depression, struggling with an addiction, or surviving an eating disorder.  Come to the church; come and drink deeply from the grace of God.  Come and see, come and pray, come and be made whole.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Daniel Walker, Interview #153

Name: Daniel Walker

Where you live: New Zealand

What you do as a vocation or avocation? Detective and Author

What are your two favorite books? The Bible and A Wolf Story by Jes Byron Huggins

Your two favorite songs: "The Power of Love" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and "I want to know what love is" by Foreigner.

Why you are interested in spirituality? Because I have found it to be the essence of who I am as a human being and as a man.  It has allowed me to "suck the marrow" out of life without it passing me by. 

Your favorite quote:  "All men die one day. Not all men truly live." 

Your favorite web sites: and

Your hero? Jesus is my hero, because he seems to me to be the most "unreligious" person who ever lived and was yet the most fully alive human being who ever lived.   I love it that it was the "religious" people he upset the most and who ultimately wanted him dead. 

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?  I hope to learn how to love more fully and become more fully alive, even as my body ages and decays. 

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"  New Zealand has so many beautiful places where I have felt "connected" and for that we are very spoilt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Karen Skalitzky, Interview #152

Name: Karen Skalitzky
Where you live:
Chicago, IL
What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am a writer, speaker, and spiritual director. My book, A Recipe for Hope: Stories of Transformation by People Struggling with Homelessness, was inspired by the men and women I met volunteering at Inspiration Café.
I also have my own business as an educational consultant and am in the process of becoming an adoptive mom.
Your two favorite books:
Ah, there are so many! Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, recently captured my heart, and An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor, is one I return to again and again.  
Your two favorite songs:
Bring on the Wonder – Sara McLachlan
Amazing Grace – as performed by Liz Wright
Why you are interested in spirituality?
To me, the spiritual path is a way of bringing us home to ourselves, to the wisdom that is already in us, to the wholeness that God is calling forth from us. Being on that journey and companioning others is an amazing gift.  
Your favorite quote:
This is from Isabelle Allende, best known for her book The House of Spirits. She was asked in an interview about the death of her daughter.
“Many years have gone by, but the feeling of loss is still there and there’s some sadness. I don’t want to get rid of that sadness; it’s part of who I am today. I feel like it’s a fertile soil at the bottom of my heart where everything wonderful grows – creativity, compassion, love, and even joy.”
Your favorite web sites:
I’m always inspired by simple ideas that generate immense goodness in the world. Here are two: and
Your hero?
Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal, for reminding us of the healing power of our own stories. Remen is a physician who sits with people during times of great medical crisis.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
Letting go into, as my friend likes to say, and trusting.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
This place changes for me. As of late, I feel most spiritually connected in the quiet of the early morning when I’m working in the flower garden I planted. The city is still asleep, and I get to witness the beauty of creation all around me.
Karen's book: A Recipe for Hope: Stories of Transformation by People Struggling with Homelessness

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Amy Julia Becker, Interview #151

  Amy Julia Becker

Where you live:
 Lawrenceville, NJ

What you do as a vocation or avocation?
I am a part-time writer of a blog called Thin Places: Faith Family, and Disability and a memoir, A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny. But I spend most of my time with our three children, ages 5, 3, and 7 months, who give me endless fodder for writing!
Your two favorite books: Two of my favorite books are Beloved by Toni Morrison and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris
Your two favorite songs:
 Big Country (instrumental by Edgar Meyer with Bela Flek) and When the Saints by Sara Groves
Why you are interested in spirituality?
 Catching glimpses of God's Spirit at work in the world and in individual lives fascinates me because I believe we are all invited to live with God—rich, full, meaningful lives-- starting here and now and continuing on for eternity. 

Your favorite quote:

At this moment, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” which is often attributed to Martin Luther King, who was quoting 19th century abolitionist and Unitarian minister Theodore Parker

Your favorite web sites:

Bloom--Parenting Kids with DisabilitiesHer.meneutics, the Christianity Today Women's Blog, Motherlode, the New York Times Parenting blog
Your hero?
 My daughter Penny, who is 5 1/2, has Down syndrome, for her courage, tenacity, and boundless love.
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
There's a verse in the Bible that says God gives "peace that passes understanding." I have experienced this peace at times in my life, but I would like for it to be a permanent state of being. 
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Some part of my family has spent the summer in Madison, Connecticut, for almost a century. When I sit on the porch there-- in the presence of an expanse of water, with the smell of the salt marsh behind me, and the memories of family gatherings, I call it a "thin place," a place where heaven and earth meet, if only for a moment. 

Amy Julia Becker is author of A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany Books, September, 2011)
"Becker . . . knows how to grab a reader’s heartstrings and never let go . . ." (Publisher's Weekly)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Graham Farmelo, Interview #150

Name: Graham Farmelo

Where you live:
 London, UK

What you do as a vocation or avocation?  Vocation – writer, avocation – physicist, but wish it were the reverse

Your two favorite books:
                            Middlemarch by George Eliot, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Your two favorite songs:
 ‘Bewitched, bothered and  bewildered’ by Rodgers & Hart, ‘I am the Walrus’ by Lennon & McCartney

Why you are interested in spirituality?
 Because it exemplifies how something can arise from nothing

Your favorite quote:
 ‘Only our surfaces are important; deep down, we’re all the same’ – Oscar Wilde

Your favorite web sites:

Your hero?
 The author of the plays of Shakespeare, even if it wasn’t Shakespeare

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
 I can never articulate things I don’t know

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
 Everywhere – no single point in space or instant in time is privileged: a fundamental lesson of physics


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Diana Charabin, Interview #149

Name: Diana Charabin

Where you live: Canada, California, and everywhere else West Coast.

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I have created an inspiring company called Tiny Devotions that spreads the awareness about mala beads and setting intentions.

Your two favorite books: Shantaram and The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari 

Your two favorite songs: Anything by Bon Ivor or Angus and Julia Stone

Why you are interested in spirituality? This goes along with my favourite quote.... "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but rather spiritual beings having a human experience." Our spirit IS why we are here.

Your favorite quote: see above 

 Your favorite web sites: - - -

Your hero? Anyone authentic living their truth.

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? How to be in the flow no matter where you are.

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" Gold Coast, Australia.

        See Diana's work at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

P. V. Vaidyanathan, Interview #148

Name: Dr. P. V. Vaidyanathan

Where you live: Mumbai, India 

What you do as a vocation or avocation? I am a practicing Pediatrician

Your two favorite books:
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Quantum Healing by Deepak Chopra

Your two favorite songs:

Why you are interested in spirituality?
To be able to understand life and its apparent contradictions and complexities

Your favorite quote:
"Give to others, not because you have, but because you know what it is not to have"

Your favorite web sites:

Your hero?
Swami Vivekananda, India

A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
How to be in relationship with others with only love, nothing else

A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Anywhere and everywhere

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bob Bennett, Interview #147

Name: Bob Bennett
Where you live:  Costa Mesa, CA (behind the OC Curtain)
What you do as a vocation or avocation?: Singer-Songwriter-Recording Artist
Your two favorite books:
His audio CD "The Best Cigarette" is a free download HERE.
Book of Common Prayer (1928 edition with incomparable English)
Your two favorite songs:
Gloria in Excelsis (text from the BCP, musical setting by Healy Willan)
"Birth of a Song" by Steve Bell (Canadian, criminally unknown here in U.S.)
(Sh-h-h: Here's a LINK to the whole song!) 

Why you are interested in spirituality?
I'm most interested in an approach to  spirituality that integrates with and
affirms the necessity and blessing of physical, human existence. In other
words, not ascending somewhere beyond to get away from the here-and-
now. In my Christian faith tradition, the Incarnation of Jesus is the Big
Indicator that truth-in-theory is of little use until you hang your life,
conduct, and choices on it … until truth is, in the old parlance, "made flesh".
Your favorite quote:
"The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs." -- G.K. Chesterton

"I prefer clarity over agreement."  -- Dennis Prager
Your favorite web sites: -- Never take "no" for an answer on a "missing" web page. -- Movie trivia is my favorite part of any listing. -- Almost everything with variable accuracy!
Your hero?
I'm a "Jesus Guy", so as expected … Him!
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn?
How to be a better human and a better Christian while driving.

To better lose my life so I can truly find it. (Matthew 10:39)
Contrary to _everything_ our culture proclaims, it really is NOT all about me.
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?"
Wherever great music is being made and really listened to!

Editor's Note: Bob's web site is

Blog readers can be directed to one of Bob's songs for listening and/or download: "Altar in the Field"
Or check out Bob's songs on YouTube
and/or  Small Graces

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sharmen Lane, Interview #146

Name: Sharmen Lane
Where you live: Concord, CA
What you do as a vocation or avocation? Speak!  Empowering people with inspiration is my passion!
Your two favorite books: Gone with the Wind and Atlas Shrugged
Your two favorite songs: Forever and For Always (Shania Twain) Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
Why you are interested in spirituality? I just believe that there is a force so much bigger and far more powerful that ourselves.  When you connect with Spirit miracles happen!
Your favorite quote: "Blowing out someone else candle, doesn't make yours shine any brighter" Eleanor Roosevelt
Your favorite web sites: and
Your hero? Eleanor Roosevelt
A spiritual lesson you hope to learn? Silence
A place in the world where you feel spiritually "connected?" mountain tops

Sharmen's web site:


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peter Michael Anthony, Interview #145

Name:   Peter Michael Anthony

Where you live:  Palm Springs Ca.

What is your vocation: Motivational speaker, published author/writer/ Astrologer–Numerologist and Life Coach

Two favorite books: A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson The Isaiah Effect by Gregg Braden

Two favorite songs: The Circle of Life by Elton John Crazy by Seal

Why are you interested in spirituality?  Spirituality, unlike religion teaches a very simple philosophy.  “There are many pathways up the mountain. Once you arrive to the top, the view is always the same. Spectacular!”

Your favorite quote: What time is it? ‘Now!  What are you doing? Living in the moment!   Where are you? Here!”~~Dan Millman, The Peaceful Warrior

Your favorite web sites:   and

Your hero:  There are thousands of unsung hero’s on our planet. Firemen, police officers, teachers, rescuers of animals, case workers, emergency medical staff ,Green peace volunteer’s, Red Cross, military and countless others. These are the REAL HERO’S of the planet.

A spiritual lesson I hope to learn: As I write my answers to your questionnaire, I feel that at this very moment I AM learning something about myself.

A place in the world where I feel spirituality connected?
I’m quite fortunate to have relocated to a planetary vortex that many locals call “paradise.”  To live in Palm Springs, California is a miracle of miracles.  And for that, I AM blessed.