My Five Year Spiritual Plan

About four years ago I made a five year plan. I’d just left my post as a director of mental health for a program that hadn’t seriously considered the mental health of a population in dire need. After several years of growing that program, writing grants, engaging in administrative and clinical duties, I decided the time had come to hang up that particular nurse’s cape.

My plan was to read and write as much as I could. I began writing my first ‘real’ novel and some  short stories. I took some creative writing courses and began to develop the fiction side of my talents. I‘ve submitted manuscripts and short stories and have done all that writers do as they prepare to have their works published. My writing prior to this took the form of research papers and psychiatric evaluations. I also planned to read. Novels, fiction, blogs, yes, but I also wanted to do spiritual readings. I was deep into the spiritual oracle Palabras that I am still in the process of creating.

Proclaiming that I’m a spiritual medium does not roll easily off my tongue. I have done spiritual readings for many years by various means, including tarot and oracle reading. I’ve sat with teachers from different spiritual paths and was initiated into the Orisha tradition. My favorite readings are the ones where my guides whisper into my ears and show me visualizations of what the person I am reading for needs to hear. One of my spirit guides loves doing energy healings. She uses crystals, feathers, smudge, oils, whatever she believes is needed at the time. I do what she tells me to do. Her healing energy is quite gentle but effective.

At around the same time, I began a couple of consulting psychiatric positions and had to get used to the hectic management of mental health clinics with time limits. I continued to do both readings and writing but mostly my readings had been placed on the back burner. Somehow I’ve made it a point to continue writing.

My partner is in the process of building a private practice as a psychotherapist in NYC. When I shared this with one of my collaborating psychiatrists, she asked me whether I was interested in a private practice too. I said, yes, but it would be doing spiritual readings and energy healings. A few days later I was having coffee with two women who are busily and happily engaged in their own private businesses, one is a running coach and the other has a thriving yoga practice. They encouraged me to pursue my dream.

Today, I ordered business cards and researched the mechanics of on-line business transactions. I’ve decided that I can consult in person, by phone or Skype. I am only limited by my own vision, so I open it up to the Universes to help me see what I need to see. So far they’ve shown me that my gifts of speaking with persons who have crossed over will help the droves of people who are ready to hear their individual messages and who will benefit by healings for which I agree to be the vehicle. I am excited about coming back to my five year plan.

More to come…


It’s a Big Bad World Out There.

I have to admit that it’s scary out there sometimes. I wonder how I’ve been able to carve out my niche of tranquility. Cycles being what they are, I’ve sometimes felt more threatened than others and have actually been more threatened at one time than  another.

As a community mental health nurse, I’ve had to get permission from drug dealers to enter housing projects to care for my clients. Giving the apartment number was the only way to get in without a gun to my head. HIPPA violation? No. I didn’t provide a diagnosis or discuss a treatment plan. Besides, if we are going to be real about all this, that gang member knew more about my client’s activities of daily living than me.

I’ve taken different measures to deal with the various types of violence I’ve encountered. I’ve taken histories, rereading them only once. Vicarious traumatization is killing to the  soul. I’ve thrown myself to the ground during crisis calls allowing the cops with guns and clients with knives to duke it out on their own. I’ve sat on my couch watching late night TV news show exactly where the bullets that flew one centimeter lodged into a wall right above my head earlier that day.

Once I think that I’ve experienced it all another thing happens. This  week I was threatened physically and aggressively by a client. I am made of a sampling of human body parts smushed together with a dash of cognition. Sometimes the two are quite divergent. My intuition told me to scram. My thick head told I me that I wasn’t going to be harmed.  I left the area when I was directed to do so. Good thing!

But a funny thing happened on the way to this forum. Instead of being afraid at the moment of truth- I felt angry back. I had this overwhelming notion that I could punch the door just as well and that my kicks could be just as slammin’. My humanness, desire for survival and outright rage at being a target for someone else’s misplaced blame and unwarranted expectations ‘got to me.’

What was my remedy? First I allowed others to help me. A couple of co-workers stood between me and my would be assailant. Someone else wrote out incident reports. Another walked me to the train after work. Yet another spoke in almost ‘baby talk’ to me making me feel like I was wrapped in a fluffy pink blanket. Most importantly, a team decided the person wouldn’t be allowed on the premises- ever again.

After I wrote my objective professional recommendations, I took another couple of deep breaths. Since I didn’t have any sage to smudge myself, I took a white tissue and cleansed my energy field with it. I figured at the time that nothing could be more energy absorbent than a tissue. I shared my many levels of feeling with my loved ones. I, lastly, prayed for myself and for the other who so easily struck that nerve within me that I can usually forgets exists, hides and rarely surfaces.  I get through these scrapes believing love, compassion and empathy will prevail. I’m usually right.

My nurse self was sitting behind the desk again today.  Another day. Another evaluation. Another guy in dire need of detox.

I look forward to your comments or your shared experiences of violence in your work place. Tell us what happened and how you dealt with it.


Interview with Author Sandy Corcoran

It’s truly inspiring to have the opportunity to have Sandy speak about what the essence of writing is for her. Sharing about what has been given to her and how she’s chosen to give back to others is a motivating factor in not only writing, but in how we choose to walk in this world. Thank you, Sandy, it’s an honor!

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

At the death of my daughter in 1983, my feet were put to an entirely different path. Through the Native American women that stepped into my world, and eventually other indigenous mentors, my world-view  was altered and a new and richer life began with the spiritual understanding that we are all connected and united, in ways great and small, and the only thing that prevents that is making a choice to awaken to our soul’s calling.

 What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

Those interested in renewal, shamanism, mind-body-spirit and those who wish to delve into the incredibly rich landscape that lies within their dreamstate, the world of living energy, the luminal realms and the ability of all human beings to bring it into our physical knowing.

What are you currently writing?

I have recently completed Between the Dark and the Daylight: Awakening to Shamanism

Published in February 2012 through Balboa Press/ a division of Hay House

How do you make time to write?

Some days it comes easily, flowing freely and unannounced epiphanies, whereas other days I had to discipline myself to set aside time. I find, for me, I can write for long periods at a time when the words just tumble forth. I also discovered that when I forced the material, I always changed or discarded it.

What inspires you to write?

Finding the heart centered words to connect with others in the hopes of alleviating some of their pain by witnessing my own; and sharing the joy and rebirth of spirit which always follows those deep and very human struggles that we all have in common.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

Nothing. What I learned though was not to push my story until both my heart and mind were ready to join together to give it form.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

Unfortunately I lack both the experience and where-with-all of where to even begin. But my hopes are that someone will come forward and assist me to organize the best methods of spreading the word, while also not wearing myself too thin in the process. There are many other things I wish to continue to do, like my shamanic practice with clients as that is where I feel I am offering the best of what I have been taught and what I have to share.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

Absolutely, without Spirit nothing exists for me, and nothing would have unfolded in my life the way it has without Spirit’s guidance and direction. For that, I am most grateful, as I know there are others who feel a lack of connection or a lack of direction in finding and trusting that “voice” within themselves.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

My burning desire, in all seriousness…if we are 6 degrees of someone, I want this book to touch those who have lost their way or experienced deep loss, so they can find renewed faith in themselves or their dreams….and maybe, have this book make its way into Oprah Winfrey’s hands. For two reasons, I respect her honesty and drive, and I know she has a spiritual understanding and wide audience of people who trust her suggestions.


‘Fun’ in Fundraising

Charities abound! My urges to give back to ‘the community’ can be as tempestuous as a storm. They ebb and flow like the tide. When I watch television and see the plight of starving children and maltreated neglected animals, my desire to give back becomes strong.

This year I plan to run in the ING NYC Marathon. I’ve been combing through the NYRR website trying to find the perfect agency for my fundraising efforts. While doing this, my spouse casually reminded me about the Puerto Rican Family Institute’s Annual Fundraising Gala event. I’d attended one of these events a couple of years ago at the Plaza hotel. I donned my prettiest frock and high heels. We danced to vibrant Salsa, ate delicious food and chatted with some very interesting people I would never otherwise have met. It suddenly dawned on me. This fundraiser is for the children served via programs at PRFI. I’d seen pictures taken by my spouse of the tiny munchkins sporting colorful Halloween costumes. Very sweet!

For today, my heart opened to pouring of Universal love for these and other like children. Standing in my teeny Brooklyn  kitchen my fundraising quest was born. What could I do that would keep my interest, tap into my creativity, connect with like-minded individuals and mostly raise some funds? Books!!! This time with an open heart and mind it occurred to me that I could combine something that I love with service. Duh! Hence my idea to support the Galas Silent Auction by creating a table for Latino and Latina authors  to offer donations of their best loved books began to take shape. As my character, Joe Palacio in Covering the Sun with My Hand says  “Keep the emphasis on the’fun in fundraising.’

If you are a Latino or Latina author who would like being part of this incredible opportunity and donate some of the fruits of your talents to a very worthy cause, please contact me at

Check out the site We will all surely be winners!


Palabras: Spiritual Oracle- The Toreador

The magic of a bit of gardening, writing, running and eating sandwiches on our porch continues to reverberate within me. As I sat to pull the card, my two novel protagonists, Julia and Rene Acevedo, jumped into my mind. I spent a great deal of the weekend with them. Needing to make sure that I didn’t make this a personal reading, I centered and ground myself as well as I could, of course, smudging myself and the cards with sage. I immediately felt my spirit guide, Graciella la Gitana, standing to my left. Pointing, pointing, pointedly at the card she instructed me to turn over- The Toreador.

Image: The image is that of a toreador in full dress with his back to the reader. He is standing in the middle of the sandy arena facing a full audience of observers. No faces are seen in the image. His red cloth is alive as it sways in his hands. Directly in front of the toreador is the door to the bull pen- still closed.

Words: Circling, Spiraling, not to be outdone, ready for the kill. Stealth, magnetism, power, stubbornness. Done for the reactions of the audience; a thirst for blood. Look to your own motives.

Read: The message is quite apparent and already shared in the words. Indeed, I foresee several potential areas where I could use the advice of this card as I prepare for the coming week. There will be instances that I, as well as others, will have the opportunity to “throw down,” a term I’ve heard used often. It’s not something that I relish. How important is what I want as opposed to the wants of the person, thing, or “bull” who stands in front of me. I can wait for it to emerge and play to an audience who will egg me on. Or I can fold up my cloth, remove my hat and take a bow. The flourish is attractive but is not all that is. Graciella would like us to look to our motives and think of why we are willing to “give blood” to something that might not be as worth it as we think it is. I am in eager anticipation of how this card will show itself this week. Honey is the nectar of the Gods- oh, and Goddesses too! Olé!



Palabras: Spiritual Oracle- Celebration

This weekend was another whirlwind of beauty and joy. It started with me having a tummy ache that I attributed to a birthday celebration dinner at a fine restaurant that we adore. Friday morning I could barely move with a heaviness about me and a queasy belly. By the evening I was myself again and sat at my desk to edit, revise, read and do all those things that writers do. The rest of the weekend was enjoyed with friends. We sang, played guitars, ukulele and a flute. I admit I was the flute player and one of my friends thought our dog needed to go out. It was actually hilarious.  Well, you get the picture. We shared food, laughter, an impromptu game of Frisbee and love. Arriving back at my desk this evening, I smudged myself and the cards with sage. I centered and channeled the energy of Graciella, la Gitana. She seemed quite business-like with her glasses sitting on the bridge of her nose. After shuffling and fanning the cards out, together we pulled the Celebration card.

Image: The image is that of several persons sitting around an open fire playing instruments. There is a young woman, an elder, a matron and a young child all engaged playing different instruments. These include two harmonicas, a flute and one person is clapping her hands. They are set in a clearing in the woods. All have their eyes closed except for the little girl whose eyes are wide open as she blows into her harmonica.

Words: Celebrate! Take time from the daily routine to show gratitude. Enjoy the spirit of life.  The coming together of generations helps us to remember our ancestors and to rejoice in what we have beyond the material world.

Read: My first inclination is to see this card as a replica of the weekend I spent with my spouse and dear friends. The second is to think that we don’t have to wait for the weekend in order to enjoy the music of friendship and life. When I go deeper, I see the differing ages of the women who are pictured in this card. Each holds the secrets, the promise, and the gifts of very special stages in our lives. Each brings something different to the experience the individual personifies. How do all of these entities within me make me who I am and are able to harmonize with the others in order to make me whole? The child in me brings wonder, happiness, desire to play and a shyness to new enterprises. The young woman brings a lustiness, love for life and deep sexuality to the endeavor. The matron brings discipline, awareness and a vision that is rich with experience. The elder within me brings wisdom, humor and a connection with the spiritual world. These aspects together allow for wholeness in the celebration of life. Get to know all the parts of yourself- no matter what your chronological age. You will have the opportunity to celebrate you.


Palabras: Spiritual Oracle- Opportunity

I’ve just received surprising news from someone who is choosing to consciously partake of a new activity that she has been dabbling in for a while. The decision to actively participate is different than falling into a situation that happens to present itself. I’m not thinking outcomes here; I am focusing on how we involve ourselves in the possibilities that life offers us at any given turn. It may be the turn of a thought, a door knob or a key but the action brings us toward something new.  I’ve taken definitive steps toward decluttering in some aspects of my life this last week. My hope is that these actions will allow me to be open to the expansiveness that life brings when we aren’t too constricted or suffocating in what we fear to rid ourselves of in our finances, materials, emotions- anything that stifles.

With these thoughts in mind, I smudged myself and the cards with sage. I centered and channeled the energy of Graciella, la Gitana. After shuffling and fanning the cards out, together we pulled the Opportunity card.

Image: The image is that of dice falling against a green felt background. The numbers shown are one are six, four and one and on the other-one, five and two.   

Words: Fortuitously, opportunity abounds. As with all chance what is missed or not chosen today may be encountered again, either in the past or the future. Time and space as we know it are irrelevant. Are you ready to take a chance? Ready to take a risk? What do you have to lose or to gain?

Read: Each day we are given the opportunity to start something new. It may be an endeavor that up until now has never been thought of or it may be something that has been tooling around in our brains for a while. Maybe it has been tooling around in our hearts or spirits. As humans, we often believe that when something is lost that it is gone forever. We even have the saying that ‘something lost is something gained.’ That may be true in some cases. In other areas, it may mean that today is the day that you make the decision to make the phone call to the person that’s been on your mind, to apply to the Master’s program that you believed you could never swing for lack of resources, whether financial or in terms of family support. Today may be the day that you walk out of one door and never look back. It can also be the day you decide to stay exactly where you are because in your marrow you feel it is on the path that you wish to be. Today is a day of excitement, some anxiety, but it is also one of love for yourself. Take a moment to meditate with the notion of opportunity- you may be surprised and, yet, know that the prospect you contemplate is meant for you. While you may have to search for it because it doesn’t show it’s shiny self on first glance it is there. Believe that. Each day comes with the opportunity for something new, different and challenging in our lives. Congratulations on embracing the opportunity that has come your way.


Time Takes Time

Writers lament about blocks, character names and whether or not to self publish. My worn out yearning is that of not having enough time to write as often as I’d like.

I tend to glance at my watch all day long. The clock hands turn whether I’m watching a ‘woman’s movie’ or my fingers are flying across my keyboard. Breakfast must be made, as well as lunch and dinner. My nine hour work day is shared with my run and dog walk. The hour or so I spend with friends a few nights a week compete with the time I reserve for food shopping and my commutes. Dare I add in shower time or that five minutes I use for plucking my eye brows?

I could create a mad lib exercise specifically for the outlandish and outrageous uses of time. I’d be remiss not to add the hours I use for praying and meditation- or for thinking about prayer and meditation.

Sitting at this airport awaiting to board, I realize now would be the one perfect opportunity to write. It will make up for a week of evenings on the porch with my octogenarian Dad, afternoons walking on the tiny sunny sidewalks of Aguada, PR and morning runs with my spouse and dogs on Playa Punta del Pico. Nothing, writing included, would fill my heart as listening to my father’s evening tales of the family not being able to buy rice during WW II because they didn’t have an ‘in’ at the grocers and other abject tales of poverty one generation ago.

I shiver when I think about my luxury problem of not having enough time to write because I count on a paycheck for a living. The blessing I forget is that I collect it after providing service for people living with various measures of mental illness. I’m aware that in itself is a luxury- treating depression instead of debilitating diseases of malnutrition.

I’m on the plane now with all sorts of plans. I will complete the next set of revisions for my current manuscript, add to the second novel I began a few months ago and call my Dad to let him know how much he is loved. I will return to that post vacation place of ‘not having enough time’ and forgetting that I’m just where I’m supposed to be and that time takes time.


Interview with Author- Leanne Dyck

Please welcome Leanne Dyck, Author. Her love of writing is inspiring and in addition to her novel, I encourage you to check out her very creative and colorful blog.  

Thank you, Leanne!

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

Love of story, desire to create—these motivations coupled with shyness encourage me to write.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

The Sweater Curse—my latest book—is a paranormal, psychological thriller with a knitting theme.


Blurb:  Aspiring knitwear designer Gwen Bjarnson is stuck in Purgatory. To escape, she must re-examine her life, journey through her past and right a wrong. But which wrong?

Young and in love, she works to establish her career, except fate has different plans. One rash act and she loses everything. Never resting, always seeking, and yearning for what she can no longer have, Gwen faces the truth:  if she remains, others are destined to die.

How will she solve the mystery before it is too late?

Because The Sweater Curse has a knitting-theme, I thought the intended audience was knitters, but this is what non-knitters are saying…

‘Stitch by colorful stitch, Leanne Dyck knits a tale of intrigue with The Sweater Curse’ –Laurie Buchanan

‘Leanne Dyck has crafted a tale as exotic and existential as Danish author Isak Dinesen’s…

This book defies genre definitions as it finds its unique place on the fiction shelves. Here’s hoping Leanne Dyck returns many times to the intriguing roots of her family’s past.’ –Mystery author Lou Allin‘Go out and pick this one up, you’ll find yourself immersed as well.’ –Deborah Warner, reviewer for By the Book

 ‘I found it very difficult to put this book down once I started it, because the voice of lovely Gwen Bjarnson, already dead at the start of the book, drew me in immediately.’ –Holly Cookson-Robinson

What are you currently writing?

 My work in progress includes…

A Long Way From Her

(55, 000 word novel)

The year is 1983. Nineteen-year-old Lyndi Wimpel has graduated from high school. It’s time for her to leave home but her Mom doesn’t want her to and Lyndi doesn’t think she can. She’s dyslexic and considers herself stupid. But when Lyndi joins Katimavik (a government-run youth group for participants 17 to 21 years old) she learns she is capable of more than she—or her parents—ever dreamed.

Based on a true story.

 Beau the Cat

(700 word picture book)

Beau and his human Amy Sue are good friends. In fact, they spend all their time together. There is only one exception—nighttime. Each night, while Amy Sue sleeps, Beau leaves her to travel to a world alive with hooting owls and barking dogs. What Beau does one spectacular night will captivate you. It may even make you giggle. 

My Life in Purl and Plain

(non-fiction knitting book)

Knitting has carried me through the peeks and valleys of my life—from my struggles in school, to falling in love, to my mom’s death, to redefining my life. My Life in Purl and Plain is a tribute to the craft in vignettes, essays, patterns and techniques. 

I’m also working on the sequel to The Sweater Curse as well as a collection of short stories. 

How do you make time to write? 

Frankly, the question should be how do I make time to clean the house and eat. : ) Writing is my main focus. 

What inspires you to write? 

I’m inspired by what I’ve seen, felt, heard, overheard, experienced and dreamed. The world sings with inspiration. What I need is a quite place that gives me time to collect, distil and transform it into ink on paper. 

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all? 

Oh, yes, I can play the “should-have” game. I should have taken more pride in my early attempts at writing. I should have started submitting my stories to publications early. I should have filed completed stories and story ideas away for fuel for my creative fire. I often play the “should-have” game, but then I realize that everything I’ve done so far has gotten me to this place—and right here, right now is the best place to be. 

Tell us about your marketing strategy. 

I invest time and effect to build my social network. I’m on twitter (lustful graces) and I have a blog ( New posts are added to my blog five times a week. Each day has a theme:  Monday—knitting, Tuesday—writing, Wednesday—reading, Thursday—island life and other things of importance. Every Friday I host a professional in the publishing industry.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those generous people who’ve visited my blog, shared their stories and inspired others. People like you, Theresa. 

I also enjoy attending writing events. Thanks to the couching of other authors, I now remember to bring my business card and challenge myself to network with at least three people. 

My marketing strategy is to build community both in the real and cyber worlds. 

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how? 

Yes, it does. It inspires, motivates, and buoys me up. 

What’s your literary community burning desire? 

My literary desires are three-fold. They are, in brief, to continue to network with publishing industry professionals; to find a good home for my latest manuscripts; and to continue to write as I enjoy the now. 

Thank you for interviewing me, Theresa.

 Author links:

Twitter ID:  lustful graces

Web site:







Palabras– Spiritual Oracle: Caridad

After spending a couple of weeks with my daughter, Mara Cordova, the illustrator of this oracle, I am psyched! We spent our time was sharing our creativity, critiquing in the most loving ways and being in truth about what our individual expectations are in terms of these cards and our lives in general. The moon was waxing and, along with my spouse, we enjoyed the triangle of the moon made with Jupiter and Venus. What a wonderful convergence of energies. Today, in the stillness of the waning moon, I centered and with Graciella la Gitana, my spirit guide, I pulled the Caridad card. I am excited to the point of sharing the original thumbnail sketch of this card.

©Theresa Varela

Image: There is the image of a pair of hands that are opened. They hold a beautiful flower. On the wrists are bracelets. One is a simple bangle; the other two are more ornate. There is an object at the side. It is difficult to decipher what it is.

Words: Charity, the sweetness of giving without expectation of reward because the gain is in the giving. Providing service for others is the stepping stone for liberation of the self.

Read: Sharing that which is important to one gives the opportunity for the other to reflect, respond responsibly and to in turn share what is vital to them. The ability to do so soberly without expectations is no easy feat. It can be done when one-although in anxiety- can be secure in the knowledge, that the only way to grow is to share that which is essential to them. The saying ‘you can’t keep it unless you give it away’ is only one of the lovely layers of sharing, caring, providing compassion and sincerity. Share a little love today- you may get some back.