Hello, everyone! I’m so excited to share with you this talk I had with Ms. Karen Henson Jones, the author of Heart of Miracles.
In Heart of Miracles, Karen takes us to an inspirational journey in search of a more meaningful life after a cardiac accident almost took her life. Read more here.
If you want to read my review of the book, click here.
So, let’s get started!
It’s such an honor to be speaking to you right now. Reading your book, I felt special for knowing and understanding a very important puzzle piece in your life. I thought it was very brave of you to share your story with the world.
Can you tell us the process of writing this book? Were you carrying a little journal, maybe a recorder, while traveling?
The process of writing the book was very elongated. I first had the idea when I woke up from a coma in the hospital.
I started the book at my friend Eric and Brenda’s dining room table in the Hollywood Hills in 2009, when I was first a meditation student at Golden Bridge. I thought it would be about the possibility of an afterlife and how to heal your life with meditation. I had no idea at this time that there would be a strong travel component. I sent the proposal out to literary agents, but it didn’t get any bites.
Later that year, when I was in India, I started taking notes (on a very heavy laptop!) and compiled that into a few chapters. The strongest was Boy With Flip Flops.
A couple years after that, I paired up with a great agent and we made an outline for Heart of Miracles. Basically, after that, I filled it in. Sometimes I didn’t touch it for a few weeks, sometimes I would work on it 6-14 hours a day. I did a lot of it from my dad’s home office with coffee, music, and incense. Meditation was a huge part of the process. I would meditate every day and often before I started writing, pray to angels for inspiration. Ideas for the book also came from dreams, and as soon as I woke up, I would start typing things up. I had a few primary goals:
I didn’t want people to feel depressed about death.
I wanted to help people who are going through really, really tough times, for them to know that they are not alone and to keep putting one foot forward.
I wanted to motivate people to do something meaningful with their lives.
All of the writing revolved around supporting these points.
My younger sister, Stephanie, was the original editor and soundboard. I think that the key to writing professionally is discipline.
All in all, it took nearly 6 years which is very unusual for a book, but it covers a lot of ground. I think it’s cool for a reader to see that sometimes transformation takes patience and time (even years) and isn’t something that happens with the flip of a switch, because most of the time, it does not.
Wow, that did take quite some time. But the outcome is really good—your hard work paid off! You mentioned the Boy With Flip Flops, which is a really nice story by the way, but also very difficult to read because I felt sorry for the kid. Which part of the book was your favourite to write? And which part was the most difficult?
Israel was difficult to write. The original draft was more chaotic. That’s the vibe of Israel but it had to be tamed and organized to be more readable.
I cut out a really good story about a Hasidic woman – age 60 – from Chicago who had spent her life savings to come to Jerusalem to work with a match making rabbi. She had divorced which is highly unusual for Hasidics, but she still wanted love and marriage at her age. Her courage gave me so much heart.
The book ended originally in Israel. Then, events moved, and I had another surgery so I elongated the ending to include that event. I think that it brought more depth to the book when I’ve come so far, and I am faced truly – with the reflection of death again here. It drives home the point: make the most of your life. Follow your heart.
There are a lot of eco-village type places that offer work exchanges, and you can stay at convents or religious retreat centers very cheaply. Or apartment swap, stay with friends, many different things are possible but it starts withe the seed of decision. I think more local travel can be really life enhancing. Just think of Manila and all of the places that are 2-4 hours from here.
Travel can be very healing because it breaks the patterns in your mind. You see, hear, and smell different things and this changes and opens you. If you’re not able to travel, you can always journey through reading, or your imagination. I think that two other keys are a) changing your routine and b) meeting new people, and with some effort, you can do that wherever you are.
Sometimes we are so depressed mentally, that it’s hard to get there, and that is why the beginning step is always to tame our mind, which can be done through meditation. Persistence, consistency, surrounding yourself with stable, compassionate, supportive people, and eating organic whole foods are all part of healing. We must address the physical, social, emotional and mental.
Wow Heart of Compassion is so much fun so far! First of all, that’s just a working title. I’m just working on the proposal now .. A huge surprise for me is that it includes a return to India, a place I genuinely thought I would never return to but when I received an invitation to meet and study with the Dalai Lama in a monastery, I literally couldn’t say no.
But it was a perfect match because I already knew that I wanted to call the book Heart of Compassion. That was an adventure that will have you in tears: both of laughter and compassion for those who are suffering in the world.
I also plan to include a lot more on the Philippines.