Partaking in Others’ Act of Power

I have been enjoying listening to audiobooks for years, imagining the day one of my fourteen books would be available in this format. Then one day out of the blue, my niece Sandy asked if she could create a sample audiobook narration  from my book Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School. I thought this was a lovely idea and gave her the go-ahead. When she sent the audio for my approval, I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting her voice to be so engaging and professional in its delivery. 

Through our conversations, I learned about her earlier interests in theater and acting and her current desire to shift careers from a yoga instructor to an audiobook narrator. The stars having aligned, as they say, I asked if she would like to narrate Pomegranate.  She was excited about the opportunity but had her reservations, since she hadn’t yet narrated an entire book and there was a lot involved, such as numerous male and female characters of various age groups and ethnicities. But I have a knack for discovering talent – it’s all around me actually – and I said, “Let’s give it a try.”

The time, effort, coaching, proper recording space and equipment, and the ability to self-direct as well as receive direction from me, created a priceless experience for both of us and a lovely audiobook. What was amazing is that ACX, the Audible.com platform, approved it from the first get-go which says a lot about Sandy’s professionalism. (Tune in on June 30th when I’ll be interviewing Sandy and she’ll discuss the process – see info. below). So far we’ve had wonderful feedback, the story resonating with listeners because it’s funny, it’s real, and it asks important questions. 

One of the first things I learned from my four-year apprenticeship in Lynn V. Andrews’ mystery school is the Act of Power, a transformation practice to help you reach your dreams. This practice propels all my projects, but particularly Pomegranate. The most magical part about it is that when you help another with their Act of Power then the blessings are doubled and tripled – as was the case with me and Sandy working together. 

Do you want to partake in our act of power? Since we just announced the release of the audiobook on May 25, it would be so meaningful if you can take a listen to the 5 hour 25 minute book on Audible – the 525 is pure coincidence 🙂 – and leave an honest review. It would be a great help in getting the word out. You can click the image or link below to get to it.

If you don’t have an Audible membership, you can get the audiobook for FREE with a 30-day Audible trial.

Just CLICK HERE TO GO TO AUDIBLE, start the trial process, and get the Pomegranate audiobook!

Thank you so much in advance and we hope you enjoy the book!

And if you listen and enjoy it, please tell a friend or two about it!



Every month, I interview four remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].

Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m currently running a series on Mesopotamian Goddesses.

HERE’S THE GUEST LINE-UP FOR JUNE 2022:

Honoring Other Narratives

For Women’s History Month, I interviewed women of various backgrounds who are making changes for themselves and others as they use their voices and make their dreams come true.  They included: 

Zilka Joseph – an Indian American and Bene Israel poet whose new book, “Our Beautiful Bones,” was nominated for a PEN and Pushcart prize. Watch the interview

Zoe Moore – an independent Hospitality EDI Strategic Consultant who engages leaders of organizations through her speaking, writing, educational courses and consulting. Watch the interview 

Vicki Dobbs – the founder of Wisdom Evolution and head cheerleader for The You First Revolution. Watch the interview

Natally Boutros –  a first-generation Chaldean American born Actress who was raised in Michigan and co-stars in my upcoming feature film, “Pomegranate.” Watch the interview

Some time ago I was looking for a quote on the freedom of speech, and I came across this:

“I may not agree with what you have to say,

but I will defend to death your right to say it.”

I thought this quote, cited as something written by the French writer and philosopher Voltaire, was perfect! As I dug a little deeper, however, I discovered that the quote was actually misattributed to Voltaire. “Again?!” I thought to myself. This is not the first time a quote written by a woman was attributed to a man. The phrase is that of an English author named Evelyn Beatrice Hall. She wrote it in her book “Friends of Voltaire” (1906) as she imagined what Voltaire might have thought.  

This powerful phrase not only shows the importance of the First Amendment, our right to freedom of speech, but it’s interesting how sometimes we take a quote, a history, a narrative and run with it – only to discover years or decades or thousands of years later that it is not entirely true. A good example of this are the legendary women of ancient Mesopotamia, whose stories were buried, literally, until archaeologists began to dig them up in the 1900s. 

One such story that emerged was that of Enheduanna, who historians now recognize as the first writer in recorded history.  She is dubbed the “Shakespeare of Sumerian literature” and wrote and taught about three centuries before the earliest Sanskrit texts, 2000 years before Aristotle, and 1,700 before Confucius. Yet hardly anyone has heard of her, aside from those historians that take the accuracy of history seriously. What a missed opportunity for our educational system not to be aware of Enheduanna’s works and include them, like Shakespeare, into their curriculum. 

I wrote extensively about Enheduanna and other ancient women and goddesses of that region in my book, “Mesopotamian Goddesses: Unveiling Your Feminine Power.”

This disk was found in the temple of Nanna's consort, Nin-gal (Great Lady), and dates to around 2300 BCE. It depicts Enheduanna, the world's first recorded author, daughter of Sargon of Akkad and high priestess of the moon god at Ur.
This disk was found in the temple of Nanna’s consort, Nin-gal (Great Lady), and dates to around 2300 BCE. It depicts Enheduanna, the world’s first recorded author, daughter of Sargon of Akkad and high priestess of the moon god at Ur. 

We can use our efforts to silence peoples’ voices, but it will return in different forms and be ten times more powerful. Or we can learn to listen, to truly listen to others, to the sun and the moon, and to our animals. Listening is not a chance to interject own views, or to force or manipulate someone to think, speak, or act the way we perceive is “correct.” Our views and feelings are not always “correct.” There is a lot in the universe that we can learn from, but we won’t be able to do that, to grow and evolve, if we prevent others from speaking, and instead constantly interject our rights and wrongs. 

When we truly listen, we give ourselves an opportunity to hear the things we are afraid of, so that we may heal ourselves and those around us, so that we may transform our relationships and experiences into something beautiful. 

Exercise: 

Choose someone you disagree with and write down ten of their good qualities. If your mind automatically jumps to, “This person doesn’t have ten good qualities, no way!” Ask yourself what are you resisting? Why are you afraid to look at their other side?  

After you do that, write ten things you dislike about yourself and why. When you complete that list, decide how you will change at least one of those ten things so that you can live a healthier lifestyle – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. 

This exercise will help you realize that each of us has a lifetime of work on ourselves let alone trying to change someone else. In focusing on what we are thinking, saying, and doing, we are listening to the most important person – ourselves – and then we will have mastered the art of listening to others. 

Each one of us has an inner power which can be honored through listening. True listening involves actively paying attention to the words and sounds that you hear, to absorb their meaning and understand the speaker’s narrative and story.

Check out my YouTube channel to learn about this week’s guest, who I’ll be interviewing live. Subscribe to my channel and set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

We are celebrating Arab American Heritage Month during April.

Here’s the guest line-up for April:

Communication as Art & a Tool for Change

In the month of February, I interviewed the following talented and inspiring people:

* Jamal Ali, documentary filmmaker and aircraft engineer who was awarded the Outstanding Refugee Entrepreneurship Award by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Watch the interview  

* Jan Hadley, a Christian grandma and author committed to sharing the Lord’s love.   Watch the interview

* Majid Aziz, an Iraqi-American who escaped extremists twice through poetry.  Watch the interview

* Yasmine Mohammed, an author and activist who had the courage to escape her abusive life, tell her story, and help others.  Watch the interview

What do these people have in common, aside from talent and hard work? Courage. The courage to use communication as both an art and a tool for change. 

Some of my readers have described my books as a “recipe for life.” My former New York agent, Frances Kuffel, and an Iraqi American critic, said about my writing for my first book The Feminine Art that the style resembled that of Jane Austen. For Austen, the novel was her chosen tool in the struggle to reform humanity. While she mixed satire with tenderness, she focused on the emotional authenticity of her characters. She didn’t write in a way that would alienate people with intimidating language or lofty morals and themes. Through her novel, she attempted to make people less selfish and more reasonable, more dignified and sensitive to the needs of others. Her stories were about recoiling from greed, arrogance and pride and being drawn to goodness within ourselves and others. She was a true feminist way before “Feminism” even existed. She made women “think.” So I see how we are similar.  

From early on in my career, I have followed Dr. Joseph Murphy’s three steps to success (written in The Power of Your Subconscious Mind):

  1. Find out the thing you love to do, then do it.
  2. Specialize in some particular branch of work and know more about it than anyone else.
  3. You must be sure that the thing you want to do does not rebound to your success only. Your desire must not be selfish; it must benefit humanity. 

There are a lot of big issues happening in the world right now, most of which we have no creative control over. We have the choice to work on what we can control, which is ourselves, and to plant seeds of beauty and joy, in order to create a new reality, one that is absent of the continuous patterns of war, violence, and conflict.  Unfortunately, many people today are choosing to silence or even punish and hurt anyone who opposes their opinion – even if it’s a type of artform – rather than communicate with them. This type of behavior is dangerous, and it leads to loss of relationship, inner turmoil, trauma,  violence and potentially even war. 

Words have power; verbal as well as nonverbal communication are both vital, both healing art forms.  I encourage you to use them to transform your life and the lives of others. 

Check out my YouTube channel to learn about this week’s guest, who I’ll be interviewing live. Subscribe to my channel and set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

We are celebrating Women’s History Month during March.

Check out the guest line-up for March:

Interview with Ann Esshaki, Writer and Spoken-Word Performer

Ann Esshaki is a Chaldean-American writer and spoken-word performer. She studied at Eastern Michigan University where she earned her M.A. of Creative Writing and Wayne State University where she earned her B.A. of English. During her years at Wayne State, she performed at numerous open mic events including the “Women in Hip-Hop” event hosted by 5EGallery on Tuesday’s at the Old Miami. In 2012, she was personally invited by Kem, Grammy-nominated R&B singer, to perform at his Mack & Third event. More recently, she has published Kaldani, a book of poetry about the Genocide and Diaspora of Chaldeans (minority Christians from Iraq), which is available on Amazon. She is passionate about sharing the history, culture, and language that uniquely belongs to Chaldeans.

Check out her book by visiting: https://www.amazon.com/Ms.-Ann-M.-Esshaki/e/B08Y99D5N6%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Interview with Hiba Dagher, Poet & Founder of Hikayat

Hiba Dagher is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, pursuing a degree in English & Ethnic Studies. She is the founder of Hikayat, an organization that celebrates and centers artists, writers, and creatives from the SWA/NA region and its diaspora. She is the recipient of two Hopwood awards, and her work has been featured in the Shuruq writing showcase, Xylem literary magazine, Cafe & the Inside Out anthology. You can find her @mtnsdaughter on Twitter.

Interview with Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09)

A union organizer, human rights activist, workforce policy expert and green energy entrepreneur, Congressman Andy Levin has spent his career fighting for an equitable and inclusive future for all people. He’s bringing that fight to Congress as the proud representative for Michigan’s 9th District. Andy has been advocating for working families since the 1980s, when he organized hundreds of health care workers for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

After working with Haitian immigrant workers, Andy co-founded an organization to assist immigrants with challenges posed by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Continuing his work to strengthen organized labor, Andy worked in Washington, D.C. as a staff attorney to the presidential Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations and also in the secretary’s office of the U.S. Department of Labor. From 1995-2006, he served as Assistant Director of Organizing at the national AFL-CIO, where he created and ran Union Summer, helped many unions with collaborative organizing campaigns around the country, and created and led the Voice@Work Campaign, which organized the national movement to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Andy took his advocacy work to the Michigan state government, where he created and ran the state’s No Work Left Behind initiative that helped more than 160,000 unemployed and underemployed Michiganders go back to school during the Great Recession. On a mission to unite sustainability and workforce development, Andy also helped create Michigan’s Green Jobs Initiative in 2008 and the Green Jobs Report in 2009. Andy went on to create the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility Alliance (MAGMA), which trained hundreds of unemployed and incumbent engineers to electrify cars. In 2011, Andy founded Levin Energy Partners LLC as an entrepreneurial force to help shape Michigan’s and America’s energy future. Andy created and ran a statewide market to finance clean energy building improvements called Lean & Green Michigan, which has become one of the most innovative Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs in the US. In 2018, Andy’s program helped a wide variety of building owners initiate $17,900,000 in clean energy projects. Andy has worked on human rights for decades, including doing legal work for asylum seekers in the US and investigating and reporting on human rights abuses in Haiti, China and Tibet. Born in Detroit and raised in Berkley, MI, Andy is an honors graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan in Asian Languages and Cultures, where he was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities. He has long been active in the spiritual and social justice life of the Jewish community. He has also learned and worked in Haitian Creole and Tibetan and also studied French, Sanskrit, and Hindi.

Interview with Rev. Michael Bazzi, Author & Professor of Aramaic

Rev. Michael Bazzi (Emeritus) was born in northern Iraq in the beautiful city of Tilkepe, 10 kilometers north of Mosul. He was ordained a Catholic priest in Baghdad in 1964. He later went to Rome where he earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology in 1974 from the Lateran University. He also has degrees in mass media and group dynamics.

That same year, 1974, Fr. Michael came to the United States and began serving as a priest in the Green Bay Diocese in Wisconsin. He also began what was to become a lifelong love of teaching the Scriptures and the Aramaic language by teaching workshops throughout the region

Fr. Michael served a central role in establishing three Chaldean Catholic parishes in the United States: in Michigan, and California. Since 1985, Fr. Michael has served at St. Peters Catholic Church in El Cajon. In 2015, Fr. Michael was made Pastor Emeritus at St. Peter’s Cathedral.

He is currently in his thirty-first year as a Professor of Aramaic at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. Between the college and his parish, Fr. Michael teaches more than 100 Aramaic students a year.

Fr. Michael has authored ten books, five of which focus on the Aramaic language: Read and Write Aramaic in the Modern Chaldean DialectBeginners Handbook of the Aramaic Chaldean AlphabetsAramaic Language Chaldean DialogueThe Advanced Handbook of Modern Aramaic Language Chaldean Dialect Vol. II, and Classical Aramaic, Elementary Book I, which he co-authored with well-known Bible scholar, Dr. Rocco Errico. Two of his books focus on the Chaldean people and their heritage: Chaldeans Present and Past and Who Are the Chaldeans? Two books which will be published by Let in the Light within the next year, deal with Scriptural teaching: Teach Yourself the Bible: The Pentatuch (Torah) and Teach Yourself the Bible: Matthew’s Good News. His final book, Tilkepe: Past and Present, is a fascinating compilation of his original research on his hometown of Tilkepe and is written in both English and Arabic.

Fr. Michael has led numerous tours of the Middle East. In 2010, the San Diego Law Enforcement Officials named him their Citizen of the Year.

You can checkout Father Bazzi’s books via this link https://letinthelightpublishing.com/shop/

Interview with Dr. Yasmeen Hanoosh, Author & Prof. at Portland State University

Yasmeen Hanoosh is the author of The Chaldeans: Politics and Identity in Iraq and the American Diaspora. Here’s a link to learn more about the book: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin…

She is a literary translator, fiction writer, and Associate Professor at the department of World Languages and Literatures at Portland State University, where she directs the Arabic program. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan in 2008. Yasmeen studies the cultural politics and literary expressions in post-2003 Iraq, especially what concerns the country’s ethno-religious minorities. Her first monograph is entitled The Chaldeans: Politics and Identity in Iraq and the American Diaspora (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Her current research project focuses on the contemporary intellectual scene of southern Iraq. As a fiction writer, Yasmeen has published a short story collection, Ardh al-Khayrat al-Mal’unah (The Land of Cursed Riches, Al-Ahali Press, 2021). Her second collection, Atfal al-Jannah al-Mankubah (Children of Afflicted Paradise) has been translated and excerpted in several languages, including English, Spanish, and Italian. Her English translations of Arabic fiction have appeared in various literary journals and publications, including World literature Today, Banipal, ArabLit Quarterly, and The Iowa Review. Yasmeen’s translation Closing His Eyes (Abbas), received an NEA translation fellowship in 2010, and her translation of Scattered Crumbs (al-Ramli) won the Arkansas Arabic Translation Prize in 2002, and has been since excerpted in a number of publications and anthologized in Literature from the Axis of Evil: Writing from Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Other Enemy Nations (2006).

In addition to her scholarship, translation and writing, Yasmeen has been teaching the Arabic language and directing the Arabic program at PSU since 2010. She also teaches a wide variety of courses on Middle Eastern culture and literature, including Critical Perspectives on the Middle East (UNST), Oil Cities and the Arabic Novel (HONORS), the Arabian Nights, among many others. Before coming to PSU she taught at the University of Michigan (2002-2009), al-Akhawayn University in Morocco (2003, 2005); The American University in Lebanon (2004); The University of Virginia in VA (2003); and Wellesley College in MA (2007-2008).

Interview with Reni Stephan, Assyrian American Artist

Reni was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1981. In hopes of a brighter future, his family decided to leave their home country when Reni was ten years old. This dream was made a reality as they entered the United States in 1993, and Reni was immediately enrolled in elementary school. At an early stage of his life, Reni discovered a profound love for drawing. His talent was undeniable and noticeable by his teachers.

During his high school years, art became Reni’s priority. Taking many classes in this field, his artistic interests swelled, and Reni began to realize that he could fuse his passion for art with the dedication he had for his ancestors’ culture he’d left behind. Reni pursued his college education in Creative Studies in 2005, where he furthered his reach and began painting and sculpting. Inspired by Western art, as well as legendary artists, Reni dedicated his life to his crafts. With each piece that Reni creates, he strives to remain true to his Assyrian and Babylonian heritage and ensure its survival through his portrayals. Not only does he seek to influence all generations of Assyrians, but he also hopes to inspire the people of the world.

In recent years, Reni has been commissioned to create several large artistic creations in places of worship, community organizations, and commercial establishments. His signature style speaks volumes about his creativity, and enforces his personal message that he echoes “I was born to re-create my ancestors’ art despite its destruction by ISIS.”

Interview with Dr. Rocco Errico, Author, Lecturer and Biblical Scholar

Dr. Rocco A. Errico is an ordained minister, international lecturer and author, spiritual counselor, and one of the nation’s leading Biblical scholars working from the original Aramaic Peshitta texts. For ten years he studied intensively with Dr. George M. Lamsa, Th.D., (1890-1975), world-renowned Assyrian biblical scholar and translator of the Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text.

Dr. Errico is proficient in Aramaic and Hebrew exegesis, helping thousands of readers and seminar participants understand how the Semitic context of culture, language, idioms, symbolism, mystical style, psychology, and literary amplification—Seven Keys that unlock the Bible—are essential to understanding this ancient spiritual document. Dr. Errico’s publications include: Let There Be Light: The Seven Keys, And There Was Light, The Mysteries of Creation: The Genesis Story, The Message of Matthew, Setting a Trap for God: The Aramaic Prayer of Jesus, Sodom and Gomorrah: What Really Happened, Classical Aramaic Book 1. He is also the co-author, with Dr. Lamsa, of 13 Aramaic Light biblical commentaries (seven on the New Testament and six on the Old Testament).

Dr. Errico is the recipient of numerous awards and academic degrees, including a Doctorate in Philosophy from the School of Christianity in Los Angeles; a Doctorate in Divinity from St. Ephrem’s Institute in Sweden; and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the School of Christianity in Los Angeles. In 1993, the American Apostolic University College of Seminarians awarded him a Doctorate of Letters. He also holds a special title of Teacher, Prime Exegete, Maplana d’miltha dalaha, among the Federation of St. Thomas Christians of the order of Antioch. In 2002, he was inducted into the Morehouse College Collegium of Scholars.

Under the auspices of the Noohra Foundation, he continues to lecture for colleges, civic groups and churches of various denominations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. https://noohra.com/