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heartlandDEATH: The End of Self-Improvement
(published in 2019)

This book celebrates the great stripping process of aging, dying and spiritual awakening. Beautiful, poignant, at times humorous, transcendent, messy, down to earth, refreshingly honest—the book explores death, and more importantly, being alive, through a rich mix of personal stories and spiritual reflections.

Joan writes about her mother’s final years and about being with friends and teachers at the end of their lives. She shares her own journey with aging, anal cancer, and other life challenges. She explores what it means to be alive in what may be the collapse of civilization and the possible extinction of life on earth due to climate change.

Pointing beyond deficiency stories, future fantasies, and oppressive self-improvement projects, Joan invites an awakening to the immediacy of this moment and the wonder of ordinary life. She demonstrates a pathless path of genuine transformation, seeing all of life as sacred and worthy of devotion, and finding joy in the full range of our human experience.

The book is about fully embracing death, and therefore life, whole-heartedly and relaxing into the total disintegration and loss of control that growing old and falling apart—and living and loving and being awake—actually entail. It faces the sometimes painful and often messy realities of aging and death without turning away. But at the same time, it sees the beauty in the mess and the hardship, and it points to the indivisible and ever-present wholeness Here-Now.

The book suggests that, just as no wave is ever really fixed in any permanent form or separate from the ocean, no person is ever actually a fixed or solid “thing” separate from the totality. This doesn’t mean that “you” continue after death, nor does it deny the everyday reality of death—whether it is facing our own death or losing those we love—but it suggests that there is a bigger picture, an unbroken wholeness that is never lost.

Joan’s view of spirituality includes all of life. Hence, the book touches not only on such subjects as meditation and awareness, but also includes world events, vaginal dryness, depression, anal cancer, and many other things often seen as "unspiritual" or even unmentionable. The book finds the transcendent right there in the ordinary actuality of this moment, just as it is.

You can read a short excerpt at New Sarum Press. The book is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle formats.

(Readers wishing to have their local bookstores order it can have them do that through the distributor, Ingram.)

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