AWAKEN by Rosalie Deer Heart, August 2011, Balboa Press, $19.95, 231 pages.
Before committing to a writing project, Rosalie Deer Heart consults the trees. She takes an outline to a grove on a full moon and leaves the paper in their shadow overnight. Upon returning with the sun, she feels nature’s acceptance or rejection.
“I know that if I do write the book, many trees would lose their lives, so I ask permission,” Heart said during a recent interview in her sunlit kitchen. “I’ve always cared about trees.
“The trees once turned me away from writing a book of poems, and I think they were right,” she said, laughing.
But when it came to Heart writing “Awaken,” nature was onboard. Released six weeks ago, her newest book has reached 3,000 homes around the world, 1,200 of which Heart has shipped from her home in Hermon with the help of her grandchildren.
“One of my friends described it, after she read it, as my life’s work up to this point,” Heart said.
A book signing and interactive reading is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at the Edythe L. Dyer Community Library, 269 Main Road North in Hampden.
“Awaken” is a collection of pieces of knowledge Heart has gained while pursuing her interests in different careers, including high school teacher, college instructor, psychotherapist, minister, author, sculptor and licensed medium. Spirituality, personal development, quantum physics and peace are all themes in “Awaken,” but after nearly two years of writing, it all boiled down to one thing: love.
While meditating, Heart realized that “Love,” the first chapter of the book, was the glue that held the book together.
“It’s about love’s impact on consciousness, and how love is grounded in creativity, spirituality, healing, intuition — and how to be open to letting love guide your life,” said Heart, who legally changed her last name years ago, and with this recent book it seems all the more fitting.
“All religions of the world agree that love is the foundation. This is not a new message,” said Heart as she gently held her grandson’s kitten, Mr. Wizard, sleeping against her chest.
Activities and prompts are woven throughout the book, and writing prompts punctuate each chapter.
“Someone told me the other day that it’s not a book for sissies,” Heart said, laughing. “People talk about this book being a yearlong workshop — in other words, a demanding book.”
Heart, who has kept a journal for 40 years, considers self-reflection exercises to be a key component in her learning and health.
In addition to her extensive collection of journals, Heart is the author of published books “Healing Grief: A Mother’s Journey;” “Harvesting You Journals,” co-authored with Alison Strickland and “Soul Empowerment,” co-authored with Michael Bradford.
“Healing Grief,” her first book, is about the loss of her 14-year-old son, Mike, who was electrocuted by a downed line while shoveling snow in the schoolyard when Heart was 33 years old. The tragedy catapulted her into a spiritual search for her life meaning, which eventually led her to study to become a medium, commonly called a psychic, through a grant at Duke University.
She now offers soul readings and soul coaching to people around the world, since proximity is not a factor. The evening before the interview, she did a soul reading for a man over the phone from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
During a soul reading, Heart pulls away layers of personality, ego and emotions to uncover a person’s “soul essence” and, in doing so, learns their essential qualities what their purpose is in life. It’s no surprise that Heart says she uses the energy of love, both hers and the other person, to read a soul.
While “Awaken” touches upon this practice, the book is really about living day to day. It’s Heart’s life philosophy.
As for “Awaken,” Heart said of the title that, “In the book, I make a distinction between growing up and waking up.”
To soften a mentally and emotionally taxing book, she offers personal stories often starring her grandchildren, Noah, 7, and Malia, 10. While she has enjoyed many careers, at this point in her life, Heart is a grandmother above all things, and her grandchildren have taught her a great deal.
Noah and Malia place pins on a world map to represent all the places the book has been shipped. And when Heart revealed that the book was dedicated to them, Malia ran up to give her a hug. Noah stood in thought before saying, “You know, Grandmom, in all my past lifetimes, I don’t think anyone has ever dedicated a book to me.”
Heart moved from Scarborough to Hermon with her daughter, Kelli Hall, and grandchildren about a year ago. Eager to become part of the community, she volunteered in Noah’s first grade class to aid children in writing their memoirs. Meanwhile, she was finishing her book and undergoing the tedious process of editing.
“I learned how much fun the children had when they were actively doing their writing … they helped me keep my writing alive,” said Heart, remembering a time when a student greeted her by saying, “I had a dream about your [book] cover, Ms. Heart.”
The children’s names grace the book’s appreciation page.
Heart, forever a teacher, is also forever a student. While writing “Awaken,” she searched nearly 300 sources at both the Scarborough Public Library and the Edythe L. Dyer Library to contextualize her own life philosophy. Both libraries gave her a warm, quiet room to write and research.
In “Awaken,” she quotes the ancient poet Rumi who wrote, “Everything has to do with love and not loving.” She also quotes authors Mark Twain on forgiveness, Fyodor Dostoevsky on all-embracing love, and Jan Phillips on the gift of story.
“It’s not a book for everyone. It is a book for people who want to deepen, who want to commit to grow their consciousness,” said Heart. “I wanted this book to stretch people, wake them up so they say, ‘I don’t know about this’ — but the seed has been planted.”
Find “Awaken” on Amazon.com or at heart-soul-healing.com, where you can learn about Heart’s many workshops, retreats and soul coaching sessions. Heart also will give a reading from her new book 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 at Fire Sign LLC, 50 Main St. in Orono.