My friend and I agreed that everyone these days is promoting something, and we’re swamped by these promotional posts, emails, phone calls, targeted site ads, and whatever other innovations people think up. We also agreed that consumers only shell out money for what we really want, so a lot of these promotional efforts are mostly a resource drain benefiting only the postal service, which counts on mail promotion for billions in revenue per year.*

 Then I was listening to a spiritual talk in which some congregants were saying that God is the one who promotes. They meant it, however, in the sense that God is the one who advances a career. They were talking about King David and the fact that he didn’t seek the kingship, but God was the one who made him king. Nonetheless, I also had to take what they said to mean that God is the one who promotes the service or business.

 Of course we feel we have to do something to get the word out and really that would seem to be the right thing to do. But at the same time, I’m not sure that’s how people connect with goods and services. Much occurs through networking—someone mentions a book, a product, a practitioner, and you give it a shot—and we can interpret that in the “meant to be” category if it works out.

 If we have something to promote, how do we know what we should do? I think “be reasonable” might serve as an initial guide. Do what is humanly reasonable to get your name out there, to establish your brand, and to make finding you and your product or service “by accident” a simple proposition.

 On the other hand, desperation and the expenditure of more money (and time and energy) than you can afford doesn’t seem to make all that much sense.

 Let’s go back to the idea that only the people who really want what you have to offer are going to buy from you. You can’t force individuals to get on your bandwagon if they don’t honestly want to. To return to the “what’s meant to be” train of thought, why not allow whatever is meant to be to occur? Take the results of your efforts with some degree of stoicism and accept that the people who are meant to patronize you will do so and the others won’t, that pushing harder isn’t the best approach.

On Facebook some people post about themselves constantly. They’ve been told that potential customers, readers, clients want to know who they are. But what comes out often seems to be extreme narcissism, and if that’s who they are, then maybe they’ll find no payoff in presenting that quality under a spotlight.

 Relax. Let the Source, God, the one who runs the universe, do the promotion. Let’s make ourselves available by putting out the word, then take a breather. Since we can’t force the universe to cooperate with us, let’s spend a little time learning to cooperate with the universe. And have some trust.

 *(By the way if you want to opt out of some of some categories of promotional snail mail, go to Supposedly that works.)

 Not to be pushy, but maybe you want to read a short story of mine, “Civil Disobedience”:  No charge whatsoever.


Why Not Me?

Be the one.–Jerry Jenkins

 Perhaps some of you may be asking, ‘Will I be able to go that far? After all, I am not a prophet. I am not a god.’ Brothers and sisters, do not put yourselves down. Also, do not weaken the reality that exists within your being. Have faith in the greatness of God. Everything is in God’s hands.–Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (the founder of Subud)

 We think that others can do it—whatever “it” is, but that we won’t be able to because we’re not enough; we’re not up to the task or the realization. But that’s because we see ourselves as weak little individuals, and in thinking that as weak little individuals we probably can’t accomplish anything, we’re somewhat correct.

 Somewhat, though certainly ego can bolster itself, puff itself up, and do many things.

 But in reality, the doer is never the little self, but is always the Self, because that is all that even exists. Hard to grasp except as an intellectual concept, yes.

 But as Bapak explains, a reality lies within us that is capable of greatness. Suppose we try to accept that possibility a little more than we do and open ourselves to what might emerge.

 A sense of inadequacy is as ego based as is a sense of pride. It starts with a definition of ourselves that’s not necessarily accurate. Maybe we’re just as capable as everyone else of fulfilling all the human basics and then some. Why not me? Why do I think I’m so very different from everyone else that I, in particular, am excluded from an activity, a process, a realization that other humans are suited to. These are mental prohibitions more than anything.

 Sure we think some people have an easier time at some things than others—or so it appears. But maybe that’s not the truth exactly. Maybe we have simply decided how being able to do something, to understand something, to have an imagination, to have friends, to attract a mate, even to be struck by enlightenment will show up. Maybe our picture of what the initial steps of these look like is a false conception. Could it be that others who apparently do well at something actually had the same struggle that we’ve had but simply continued on nonetheless, until they came up smelling of roses?

 Why can’t we be the ones who are written up in the history books or whose stories are the basis of great inspiration to others? What makes us so willing to accept the impossibility of our own capacity?

 The process may be different for each of us, and yet our evolution can be equally assured as the ones who stand on stage with great pizzazz. Maybe our development is a quieter one and takes place deep inside in a more hidden way until we burst forth just as amazingly as those others who seemed to do it all better than we ever could.

 Why not me?

 No reason why not. No reason at all. Carry on, and move forward with those yearnings to propel you.

 Need editing reasonably priced? Contact me at Here’s what Tasha Livingstone has to say about my editing help: “Thank you so much, Miki! Your input never ceases to amaze me!:) The query letter finally sounds the way that I wanted it to when I first started re-writing it.”

 Tasha has an amazing comic-book-style series of novels on the way. Here’s a link to where she posts video blogs about the books and edits music videos via requests:


That the drive to succeed is a hallmark of our times isn’t any great secret. And watching a bit of the Academy Awards the other day made me feel that the only people who have significant existence are the Hollywood stars. Millions of us had our eyes glued on these people as if they were the only people in the world, and seemingly they are. Most important, of course, was what they were wearing.

 Some of these people do seem very nice, and we like them (though we don’t know them), and we wouldn’t hesitate to join them for lunch if asked (but we won’t be asked).

 They’re sort of more real to us than ourselves.

 Because we are the little people who don’t feel we count. And maybe we don’t count in a world of so many billions, a world that glorifies fame.

 We say this isn’t so, of course. Though maybe it’s true. We could never get what these people get, the adulation, the respect, and all kinds of free expensive stuff. This is a life that most of us will never live, but that apparently so many of us crave.

 “If I just had that, my life would have meaning.”

 Success doesn’t have to be the same thing for everyone. We don’t all want to be actors. I, myself, know a lot of writers, well published, published and just starting out. Who wouldn’t want to be a best-selling author? Or win The Voice. Or sign with the Jets, Mets, the Met, or New York City Ballet. Life would be good. Some people even want to be famous spiritual teachers—definitely a misunderstanding somewhere in this ambition, huh?

 But what does everyone really want?

 I think we want to be recognized, to exist in the eyes of others, to be what we always hoped we could be but never really felt we were, a person of importance.

 Half of everyone’s behavior is a cry to be noticed, even and maybe especially, the people who seem to want to blend into the woodwork (because they don’t know how to shine).

 Yet… And you knew that the yet was coming here.

 All of this striving, all the results, positive or not so positive, are nonsense.

 Success, real success, can take place on a dung heap. In a railroad apartment on the Lower East Side with a shared bathroom in the hall. On the street in Cartagena, Colombia, where the successful one sleeps on the sidewalk after begging for a bite of bread. Or in an Art Deco palace in Himachal Pradesh, India, or a celebrity mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

 So what is success? Success is discovery of who and what we are, the integration of the inner and the outer so that the personality and the true core self are one, so that the personality can serve the true core self and the true inner self can liberate the confused and impermanent outer self.

 And we are on our way to success because that’s the only destination.

 Success is self-acknowledgement, self-recognition, self-adoration without ego.

 The distance to travel isn’t as far as we may think.

 Easy to say and hard to do? And yet…yet, it happens to someone every day. Have you heard the saying “why not me?”

 What to do while waiting for enlightenment? Read a novel.

 It won’t do you any harm.

Persistence Pays

In my last piece, I told people not to hold on—and I meant it. But I didn’t intend for all of us to let go of everything we’re working toward—although letting go of long-cherished goals, and even mastery, has its place as well. I do, indeed, believe in the familiar old adage “persistence pays.”

We have to persevere in many areas, of course: losing weight, saving money, learning a skill, getting an education, holding together a valued relationship (many precautions apply here, as you might guess), healing ourselves of whatever plagues us, etc. etc.

As Winston Churchill (age 67) said at the Harrow School in 1941 when the war was on: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Clearly, here, in one of the great speeches of history, Prime Minister Churchill is talking about an urgent matter, a matter that resulted in his being known as the outstanding leader he undoubtedly was. For England to give in to Germany was unthinkable. The aim in fighting the war and the threat of the outcomes should England lose were always on Churchill’s mind.

Similarly, we have issues in our own lives that may spark a sense of ongoing urgency. We have objectives that are worthy of persistence—the need to heal an illness, for example. Actor Christopher Reeve, after a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, became as well known for his efforts at recovery and for championing the cause of such recoveries, as he was for his acting career. Though Reeve never did walk again, he made unusual strides. He said, after a study of his brain waves that showed his incredible resilience, “…there are no absolutes, and patients should be encouraged to push as far as they can.” (

This is a different kind of “holding on” than maintaining a death grip on what we think is ours or that we should have, but which doesn’t really belong to us.

But how do we know the difference?

I don’t think determining when you should let go versus when you should persist is so very difficult.

If other people are kicking you in the shins and saying, “Let go. You’re hurting me,” then very likely you should let go. (Not in all cases, of course—just actual harm to someone else.)

If the only person you might damage by sticking with your objective is you, then you have to determine how badly you could injure yourself in the process of continuing, and how realistic you believe achieving your goal is. I’m thinking of people who keep on keeping on when their chance of getting anywhere is zero. Of course, that’s totally in my own view, whereas they might sacrifice everything and actually succeed beyond their (and my) wildest dreams. Or they might learn enormous amounts about their passion and about self-discipline even if they never get anywhere at all.

So don’t listen to me. Fight the good fight if you’re led to—though possibly you’ll be better off letting go every once in a while and seeing if your dream returns to you.

Want to write a book and get a great running start into it? Sign up for 12 Weeks to a First Draft at Writer’s Digest University beginning this week:

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Email me at and I’ll send you a discount code for either of the classes.

Holding On

What are we holding onto, and why? We’re holding onto a job, a home, any kind of spot we’re comfortable in and think meets our needs… well, we do have a few complaints. Of course, we’re holding on because people don’t like change. But as the saying goes, change is a constant. We can hold on all we like, yet change will raise its inevitable head. We can fight it, but let’s just don’t fight it too hard. We’re really only fighting ourselves.

I’m not talking about persistence or remaining constant to a pursuit. Staying true to an ambition or a possibility…if only…may be a good thing—sometimes. I mean holding on after the fat lady has already sung. Let’s listen to the music, guys. The ref has thrown us out of the game.

 I knew of a spiritual teacher—E. J. Gold—who took his students to Las Vegas to gamble, simply to see how long they could stay in a game and when the table would kick them out. I like to think of many situations in that way, that something overseeing who stays and who goes decides. Now maybe we can do x, y, or z to not get spurned—and those were the keys that E. J.’s students were trying to find.

 They weren’t holding on—they were trying to find a point of reciprocal maintenance, what they might do to feed the mechanism of the game, the spirit of the game, the entity governing the game, to let them stay. But once the game took their winnings, and they were out, they were out. The game was over.

 Maybe being spit out by a gambling game isn’t so serious that we need to hang on with desperation, and maybe we think losing a job, or a husband divorcing us, is something we can’t face—but when the game is over, generally speaking, time marches on, and we must, too.

 If we don’t go with the flow, no matter how terrible events may seem, we mess ourselves up emotionally—maybe we bring an assault rifle to the job and start shooting folks we’re angry at. How well does that end? Or maybe we simply hold a grudge for the next 30 or 40 years. How well does that serve us?

 At the very least we’re missing out on what could come next that might be wonderful. Don’t let’s  turn away from the opening door.

 But why do we take on this way? A lack of trust in both ourselves and the universe. We think the universe isn’t going to be there for us, and that we can’t make our way any further without THIS SPECIFIC thing.

 Look at it this way for a minute. The thing or the person or people who are banishing us from some game we’ve enjoyed briefly (or for years) aren’t what sustain us.

 That which sustains us is what we should look to, the source of our lives.

 Much of the troubles in our personal worlds come from looking to hold on to the wrong thing, looking to hold on to a thing. And humans aren’t meant to hold on to anything because we’re in the midst of life and life flows on.

 Let’s flow on, guys. It might not be easy. Goodness knows getting older, past our prime isn’t easy at all, and yet, people do get older sometimes. Change is always in the air. We can’t hold on because it’s impossible. To try to hold on is a futile bid and waste of energy.

 Let’s look ahead. Let’s experience the now, try to come to terms with whatever has been lost. Let’s not hang on to what no longer is ours. A particular game has come to a finish. Let’s try the other table over there.

 Still peddling my books though. A Murder in Harlem—a collection of my Miriam from Ghana short stories. Five of these were published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Damaged People

I looked up quotes on perfection, but none of them said what I wanted to express. They all told me that perfection is elusive, but we should seek it anyway. My sense of things at the moment I’m writing this is that we are, right now, absolutely perfect. I’m sorry you don’t think so, because perfection is exactly what we all inherently are. Perfection is what pervades us in every way.

 I’m not exaggerating. You just have to see who we are now, and always, in a spiritual light. Our perfection isn’t what we seem to be; our perfection is the inner essence that can never be changed or removed. But it’s also our entire being, every thought, every cell, every action.

 And yet we will go on in seemingly negative ways, doubting ourselves and condemning others. Though we are alight, as are those we deride, with perfection.

 Take that as the opening quote.

 A dear friend of mine told me she was a damaged person because of her poor psychological layer. She had been deeply hurt as a child, and this wound was also part of her inheritance from dysfunctional family dramas that had preceded her.

 I understand that very well. I, too, appear to myself to have been harmed in those ways by negative, uncaring upbringing, the type of uninformed parenting that was common when I was young.

 We seem to be this and that in some human sense—intensely imperfect. And we will be (not really though) as long as that’s what we emphasize in ourselves, as long as that’s what we keep in mind, look for, and affirm.

 But something else can also be allowed to arise, after much struggle, or spontaneously if we’re supremely lucky. That something else isn’t the erasure of our strange (called it flawed if you like) personalities.

 Study the lives of the saints or the spiritual masters and you’ll find out that oddities abound in the most enlightened beings. Their ideas can be abysmally peculiar, their habits conventional or lame—even their manners nonexistent. Yet they draw masses of people or a few select followers to themselves like iron to a magnet, moth to a flame.

 Those who come to such teachers imagine they must see perfection in the outer shell using eyes that haven’t been re-formed to see more than what’s materially in front of them. The dissonance between what they expect and what they see either leads to lying to themselves or disillusionment.

 And yet, the true saint, the real master, is decidedly perfect inch over inch in every weird notion, oddball act, because he/she has been subsumed by the radiance.

 Step one in getting to our perfection: gazing beyond the commonplace, a discontinuation of recognizing the damaged little self. This is what is generally called getting out of your own way.

 But saying all this is kind of ridiculous because perfection has to be experienced to be validated by each person, one at a time.

 Still, without the idea, the inspiration, we may simply feel that all is lost, which it truly isn’t—that we’re deeply damaged, which we actually are not.

 Transformation isn’t about changing into some vague notion of perfection, about being a saint. The real transformation is the spiritual vision, the understanding to the core of our being that we and everything around us is already sublime.

 Even a momentary vision may help. Someday, the entire world will accept this fact, and that time is coming closer than we think. We’re at a stage before the next upscale of humanity. Don’t you feel we’re on the cusp?

 Be ye therefore perfect. Forget about being a damaged human. Be divine.

 Punctuating a little bit better certainly won’t do you any harm. And the ebook is really inexpensive.

A Scorecard From God

If only God would send us scorecards as to how we’re doing, fully marked up with what we need to work on next. That would make our lives pretty clear. Of course we’d complain and argue, and we wouldn’t believe him. “No, really, I didn’t… Really! I didn’t!”

But God doesn’t do that. You think he does, maybe. You think that everything around you is a confirmation of how you’re doing with God. You have a nice house, a husband, kids, a decent job. Or the opposite. You’re broke, broken down, you don’t have anything you want. 

Despite what you’ve heard from certain factions in the positive-thinking camp, these payoffs don’t tell you a thing about how you’re doing with God.

That’s why a scorecard would be nice. But we don’t get one.

 The soul is not only sacred, but it’s pretty well hidden in most ordinary human presentations. We get fragments from within, but much is secret. That’s sort of similar to a seed growing within the soil. We can’t take away the soil to see what’s happening down there, now can we?

 God isn’t like a corporate employer giving six-month reviews. We have to work in the dark and let that sense of needing to do more spur us on. Oh, yes, of course, we sometimes get glimpses that make us hungry to do better than we have. We get both the carrot and the lash. Often difficult times deepen our efforts. We need help. We need to go further, dig deeper, come nearer.

 I had a close friend who worked diligently on her spiritual growth, and she was a person different from anyone I’d ever met. To enter her presence was to become intoxicated by her essence. I mean genuinely intoxicated.

 My friend’s goal was to die in a good state. And I’m sure she did. That was her focus. That was almost the only thing important to her. But she also had a big responsibility in life—her husband, who seemed to have dementia. Perhaps the sole reward she asked for in this world was not to die before him, leaving him without some needed care. That wish was granted.

 God’s presence in her life was obvious, but that doesn’t mean her life was easy. Her life was difficult in her early years as well as toward the end. But in a way she did get her scorecard from God in her absorption in Him.

 And what more might she have actually wanted?

 Transformation happens under the soil. The process is a stealthy one, and we have no idea what’s going on down there.

 As I said, we do get glimpses. And then they fade. We feel as if we don’t have a spiritual bone in our bodies.

 Who we really are is hidden and simply a mystery.

 We keep working on it because we seem to have no choice.

 Have a read of my novel of the lost years of Jesus for about a dollar: .