Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

The Heart of June: Prepare for Turbulence


At the end of each month, I publish my favorite articles from around the web, books, and resources plus a mini-monthly review.  This is one small way I express my support for other bloggers who offer compelling, inspiring, and/or smart content.

Outstanding Articles

Zen Under Fire

Zen Under Fire
Marianne Elliot, author Zen Under Fire

I’ve hardly put a dent in my summer reading list, but I jumped right in to reading Zen Under Fire:  How I Found Peace in the Midst of War as soon as it was published.  Marianne Elliot, the author, served as a U. N. Peacekeeper in Afghanistan and prior to that had worked in the Gaza Strip.  Although she was no stranger to turbulence and conflict, an especially intense period in Afghanistan pushed her over the edge into traumatic stress.

Elliot describes Zen Under Fire in this way:

“It’s a memoir, a story of impotence and despair and the path I found from there back to service, through faith and action.”

If you yearn to create resilience in your life, this book is for you.  Elliot journeys from hopelessness to clarity, despair to compassion, fragility to independence, trauma to resilience.  She touches bottom, but with fierce determination decides to pull herself up.  The unconventional tools she uses include yoga, meditation, and journal writing.

Elliot travels in armed convoys, a missile descends dangerously close to her home, and she has the heart-wrenching task of interviewing dislocated women and children who have lost their husbands, fathers, and homes in unthinkably violent ways.  In between, she rolls out her yoga mat, and sits on her meditation cushion to discover that true courage, confidence, and resilience are born within.  The simple practice of observing her own thoughts, liberates her from their tyranny, and begins to unravel the emotional bondage of trauma. Gradually, she’s no longer swept into volatile states of neediness, confusion, and despair, but instead finds her ground and confidence without sacrificing vulnerability or openness of heart.

While reading Zen Under Fire, you will be intimately transported into the landscapes and lives of Afghanistan, allowing you to see a people and culture in perhaps a new and a decidedly genuine way, far different than the nightly news.  Your heart will break into a million piece, as you witness senseless tragedy.  But, you will also be simultaneously uplifted by courage, humanity, and the bonds of friendship that go beyond culture, time, and place.

Zen Under Fire is not a light-weight read, but it’s a worthwhile one.  Elliot provides an important opportunity to remember that most people in this world live simply or in poverty and strife, and thus to be lifted above one’s ordinary and sometimes petty concerns.

Dress with Less

The next official season of Project 333 begins on July 1st.  If you would like to learn how to create a capsule wardrobe of 33 items, check our the Dress with Less Microcourse.  I’ve switched to a wardrobe of 33 and have reaped all the benefits, which include saving time, money, headaches and freeing up your precious time for what’s really important in life.

The Dress with Less Microcourse is a collection of instructive, inspiring PDF’s, audio recordings, playlists and recorded webinars combined with a supportive private Facebook community.  Try dressing with less for the summer season and see if it works for you.

The Heart of June:  Prepare for Turbulence

I write articles like How to Deconstruct Pesky Thought Patterns and Wacky Emotional Habits as an anchor when I see my own stormy emotions brewing like a dark cloud gathering rain.  I’m not immune to emotional disarray, which characterized the beginning of my month and poignantly reminded me:

  1. Everything is impermanent.  Just when you get cozy and comfortable, it’s likely to change.
  2. Almost all of us are fueled by deep emotional wounds.  If we realize this, when chaotic emotions arise, we can see an opportunity to heal and transform even the most deeply embedded scars.  This is not easy, but it’s the way to happiness and peace.
  3. Never give up.  Even when you are committed to living a peaceful and compassionate life, negative emotions will tease and taunt you from time to time.  If you can see them for what they are, a dark mist soon to evaporate, you’ll find freedom and spaciousness.  There even may be a rainbow coming out of the clouds.  But even when you get swept away, forgive and feel compassion for yourself.  Old habits are hard to break, and we all lose it sometimes.  Stay committed, bring yourself back to the peace, love, and wisdom of your true self, and begin again.

Flavor of the Month:  Breaking through, bit by bit.

How was your June?  How do you prepare for turbulence?

Note:  Some of these are affiliate links.  I’ll receive a small commission if you purchase using one of my links.  Thanks for your support!

I’m so glad you’re here!  If you liked this article, please consider subscribing for free updates by email. With love, Sandra

Image 1:  alwayswellwithin /Image 2:  Karen Walrond



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  1. jean sampson

    Sandra, this looks like a book to read, for sure! Anything that takes us out of our egocentric daily lives and gives us a look at how the rest of the world is living is so valuable! Any book that invites us to feel compassion for anyone else in the world whose life is different from ours is vital to human growth. And an explanation of and guide to finding our way out of turmoil and pain and into our strength is such a gift. Thank you for telling us about this book, and thank you, Marianne, for writing it!

    • You’re welcome, Jean. I think this is a great book to read for all the reasons you list. Just to be clear though, it’s a memoir not a specific guide on develop resilience. But there’s much that can be drawn from Marianne’s experience and applied to our own life. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Jillian Ayer

    Sandra –

    I am familiar with Marianne Elliot’s work but did not know about this book. Thank you for reviewing it.

    Some of your recommended articles hit me squarely where I am swimming in my life right now…..thank you for the resonance!

    • Hi Jillian,

      You’re very welcome. I enjoy sharing a well written, meaningful book. I’m glad the articles resonate for you. The articles this month are especially good. I hope they support you in some way.

  3. Hi Sandra

    thanks for the nice newsletter. It sure reminds me to stay resilience in the face of various ups and downs of life and its accompanying emotional upheavals. Another way that I build my resilience is to view that nothing is substantial in this life, and to remind me of the impermanence as well as the no-self nature of various worldly phenomena. Thanks for introducing the book “Zen Under Fire”, it seems that it will be a meaningful and contemplative reading.

    • Dear Mulyadi,

      Those three elements are extremely important to me as well and I try to bear them in mind as much as possible. Thanks for bringing this profound perspective.

  4. Sandra,
    The book “Zen Under Fire” sounds like something I would like to dig into. Thank you for introducing it in this post.
    As for my June…oh there was a lot of internal and external turbulence…but am calmly sailing through right now 🙂 The coming month is all internal for me. When there is inward calm the external aligns itself too.
    Lots of love,

    • Hello dear Zeenat, Sorry to hear about the internal and external turbulence. As you can see, my life was a little bumpy too. I know Ramadhan is here and you will have a marvelous month connecting with the deepest part of yourself. I wish you the best.

  5. Thank you for this informative post and for reminding me to remember that change/loss is part of all our lives.
    It’s so clear to me —- and yet I find it very difficult to remain clear-headed and calm during the ‘turbulent’ (both external and internal) moments. Health issues zap me of what little energy I have and, before I realize it, I am feeling as ‘chaotic’ as the ‘chaos’ around me (which tires me out even more).
    Thank you for reminding me to try to remain steadfast in being aware that ‘this too shall pass’.
    Perhaps, when I am feeling stronger, I will try to read ‘Zen Under Fire’. Until then, I will continue to read your blogs (which are of great benefit to me & my mind).
    Thank you, Sandra.

    • Dear Sandy,

      I’m sorry your energy is so low right now. Understandably, that makes it easier to get swept away during the turbulent moments. It’s not easy to be steadfast in the midst of craziness. It help to practice when things are calm and slowly build up. I think you might like this book as it shows how Marianne went from traumatic stress to having more resilience. Of course, that’s tougher to do once our health has been so impacted. My thoughts and heart are with you.

  6. Thanks for sharing this… Now I am very much interested with Marianne Elliot… Gotta search more about her. 🙂

  7. Thanks for introducing this amazing woman to me Sandra. Like you say, I’m not immune to emotional disturbances either and I used to view it as falling off my path…not I can see more clearly…it is the path.

    Each turbulent moment reveals more of me to me, and puts me at choice as to where I put my next step.

    Your posts have such a peaceful feel Sandra. No matter what you write about, a sense of serenity always flows from your words to my heart and I’m grateful for you.

    • You’re welcome, Elle. Marianne is amazing yet she also encourages us to see we all have extraordinary stories.

      It’s so smart to see emotional disturbances as part of you path. You are an inspiration.

      Thank you for your sweet words. I am so touched!

  8. Dear Sandra,
    I rarely, if ever, read blogs, no matter from whom or about what. But today I read yours and loved it. What a nice reminder of you.
    Much love, Judith

    • It’s so wonderful to “see” you, Judith. I’m honored that you took a minute to read my blog, knowing what a rare occurrence it is for you to read blogs. You know I love to write, so this is a perfect forum for me and a great way to connect with like-minded or curious people who want to make positive changes in their lives. Sending you aloha!

  9. dale

    This is nice. Thank you. Dale

  10. I really enjoyed this round-up for June…can’t wait to read zen under fire. Thanks!

  11. Hi Sandra,

    Lol prepare for turbulence, I love that and so necessary! Your How to Deconstruct Pesky Thought Patterns and Wacky Emotional Habits was perfect for me because it was a bumpy month. I so appreciate all your wisdom which really helps me stay on track and feel part of an amazing community. Thank you also for sharing my post on Successful Blogging. I’m honored 🙂

    • Sometimes these phrases like “prepare for turbulence” just strike me as so apt for moments or periods in my life! I see this resonates for you too. Maybe it’s the stars that are making for a bumpy road for us! Hopefully they will shine some light on us too. I’m so happy you are here.

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