Welcome to today's special review of Full Cup,Thirsty Spirit, a just-released book by Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D. (Be sure to read to the end to qualify for TWO FREE giveaways!!)
Over the years I’ve done several book reviews for tlc book tours and found they do an excellent job of pairing reviewers’ interests with the books they send for review. This time they not only found an excellent match, but also sent me a new friend and kindred spirit.
Reading Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit was like being immersed in a gentle love letter for the soul. Filled with practical easy-to-implement tips as well as profound and thought-provoking information, Karen Horneffer-Ginter delivers a practical and accessible text for soul nourishment and self-care.
One of my passionate missions in life is to communicate the benefits of self-care and soul nourishment through my ongoing work with life coaching and spiritual direction. So when I read this book’s sub-title, “Nourishing the Soul When Life’s Just Too Much,” I knew I’d found a kindred spirit in Karen HG.
My curiosity was whetted to know more about the woman who wrote a text that resonated with me on nearly every page. Today I’m happy to bring you a personal interview with the author who graciously let me peek into her story behind Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit. Enjoy!!
Kayce: Since your book is filled with a wealth of knowledge and experiential information, my hunch is there came a time when you knew you needed to write it. Yes? No? Can you share how and when you decided to write Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit?
Karen: It was after I became a mother. In crossing this threshold into parenthood, I found that a lot of the ideas and strategies I had about self-care, wellness, and balance sort of went out the window. I was feeling a tension around still wanting to take care of myself and nurture my inner-life, but finding this to be much more challenging given my current life stage. I found that when I’d talk about this with friends, clients, and students, they really related. As I was finding my own way with these topics, I felt inspired to write about this dance of attempting to take care of ourselves even when life is full.
Kayce: Beautiful response, Karen. It is amazing how parenthood changes our perspective and strategies!! My children are 23 and 20 and I’m still discovering how they shape my life and the ways I balance nourishment and personal care.
In Chapter Two, Turning Within, you mention that one of the most important reasons for carving out time for ourselves is to not lose sight of those things that are most precious. As you carved out time to write this book what was most precious and essential for you to not lose sight of?
Karen: That’s a great question! I’d say it was staying connected to my passion for writing about this topic and the joy it brought me to spend time in this way. I found that I had to trust in this impulse—that there was some reason for it and it wasn’t just a crazy notion. I also found that this trusting had to (as much as possible) not be dependent on a particular outcome. I had no idea, in my years of dabbling with this type of writing, if any of it would be read, published, or appreciated by others. Working with this uncertainty became a spiritual practice in and of itself.
Kayce: You obviously have a full life with a therapy practice, small children and writing career (among other things). As someone who experiences similar “fullness,” I'm curious to know what kept you motivated and grounded during the potentially arduous writing process. Can you tell us what your daily process looked like? How long did it take you to gather and categorize the information you wanted to include?
Karen: The road from writing about these ideas to getting a book published was quite long and winding, so I guess at least I had time on my side! J It did help tremendously to carve out full days for writing. At times, when I was in a flow, I could write anywhere even for 5 minutes at a time, but I think only after having some larger chunks of time to dig inside and see what was there.
I was motivated to write, initially, because I fell in love with the creative—almost magical—aspect of writing. It felt like a hobby, as opposed to work. At points, however, in needing to revise sections and write pieces from a more informational perspective, it felt like work. As may be inevitable with anything we birth, there were times of exhaustion, and times of needing to wear a wrist support from typing so much! In those moments, I’d often think of how my favorite math teacher would say, “Sometimes you’ve got to burn the midnight oil.” Even though I try not to make this a habit, I think sometimes such overdoing is necessary.
Kayce: Your collection of quotes and references is wonderful and I found myself highlighting and recognizing many of my own favorites! What author has influenced you the most when it comes to nourishing the soul?
Karen: There are many, but I’d have to say Wayne Muller and Pema Chodron. Wayne Muller’s book, "Sabbath,” was life changing for me, and when I heard him speak on this topic years ago, my jaw literally hung open in seeing how relevant his message was. In a different way, Pema Chodron’s teachings about how we can work with everyday occurrences as a way of waking up has also been profoundly helpful. I find both authors’ writings to be tremendously relevant to my work as a psychologist as well.
Kayce: I totally concur about the relevance between contemplative practice and psychology. A particularly meaningful quote from Muller’s Sabbath that I think exhibits this connection is:
“Because we do not rest, we lose our way.”
You mention having Christian roots, but also draw heavily upon Buddhist philosophy, psychology and poetry. I found this approach very similar to my own and therefore felt it a welcoming way to discuss nourishing our thirsty spirits. Would you be willing to share how you’ve come to this balanced approach to life and faith?
Karen: The blending of these faiths sort of arrived as opposed to be something I was looking for. I’ve had so many moments of encountering new teachings and practices from different religious traditions and seeing how tremendously valuable they are. I think of author Elizabeth Gilbert describing how the Hopi Indians believe that each of the world religions contains one spiritual thread and that these threads are always seeking one another, wanting to join. This seems utterly true from my own experience.
Kayce: Wonderfully said. It is true of my own experience as well. The Hopi Indian story reminds me of William Stafford’s poem, “The Way It is.”
“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.”
(As I read Karen’s responses, I’m reminded of reading her book and how each idea she wrote about was inspiration for something I too believe in regards to essential and whole living.)
Kayce: As a fellow yogi I’m curious to hear more about how your yoga practice impacts your ‘thirsty spirit’ and the lives of your clients. I’d love for you to share how you see yoga, psychology, and spirituality merge in your life.
Karen: Firstly, I’m often humbled by how much I don’t know about yoga, and psychology, and spirituality for that matter—how much more I have to learn in all of these areas. My first yoga teacher was very simple in his approach to teaching and I think it’s given me permission to allow my practice to be what it is and to have that be enough, even though I realize there is always value in continuing to stretch and grow and improve. What I most love about yoga is that it’s an embodied way of experiencing the principles of psychology and spirituality. Because I can tend to reside in my head, yoga has offered me a way of bringing my spiritual practice into my spine and arms and feet and toes. I love the realness, groundedness, and practicality of this!
Kayce: Hooray for yoga and embodiment!!
Karen: I was thinking that I would write a next book as soon as I sent in the manuscript draft for “Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit,” but then I realized I had nothing more to say right now! Maybe that’s a good sign that I really do feel like this book contains my full message, at least for now. I feel like I need to live a little more life, have some new experiences, and hopefully grow a little wiser before having more to say in a book. I’m enjoying writing shorter pieces, but I’ll be curious to see when the morning comes that I wake up and am struck by the need to take a shot at another book!
Kayce: One final question: If you could give only one tip for someone who feels that life is just too much what would that be?
Karen: When we feel least able to carve out time to turn our attention within, this is often when we most need to. While this is highly inconvenient, I think it’s true!
Thank you, Karen Horneffer-Ginter for bringing us Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit... and for your candid answers. I look forward to seeing what will fill your cup in the future!!
SPECIAL OFFER: If you live in the United States or Canada and would like to be eligible for a FREE copy of Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit, please leave a comment here. Be sure I have a way to get in contact with you! The winner will be drawn and announced January 30, 2013.
BONUS OFFER: By leaving a comment, you will also be eligible for a complimentary copy of my book, As I Lay Pondering: daily invitations to live a transformed life... Come back Friday, January 25 and join "Pondering's" one year birthday celebration!!