In fact, one of the things I’m most grateful for from my childhood is that my parents raised me without religion. They already tried to rule my life with an iron fist, and if religious dogma had been added to that, I don’t know if I would have survived.
So, to my great surprise, I found myself relating on a deep level to a book called, Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead by Tosha Silver.
This book was recommended to me by my therapist during a recent session where I confessed that thinking about when and if I’ll ever get an agent, and when and if I’ll ever sell my novel, was causing me depression and anxiety. I remember her telling me at the end of our session that I might like this book. She mentioned that it was pretty out there and kinda “outrageous,” but why not give it a shot?
A book about the Divine? Really?
Intrigued, I borrowed the book from the library and started reading it. It didn’t take long–just a few chapters–for me to realize this book was written just for me (and people like me). People who wonder, “How do I stop worrying? How can I feel safe? Why do I feel so alone?” And also, “Who am I really?”
Outrageous Openness gave me answers to many questions I’ve had throughout my life. I could relate to it on so many levels. For example, although I’m not religious, I’ve always believed in God. But, I don’t see God as this old man or old woman in the sky. When Tosha described God as the Divine Spirit that’s inside of you, not some figure in the heavens, it made so much sense.
The book also greatly appealed to me because it’s written in very short chapters. How I love short chapters! Each chapter is a story from Tosha’s life or from the life of one of her friends or former clients. I learn best through stories. We all do. Unlike many self-help or spirituality books out there, this book doesn’t focus on explaining its philosophy in an expository or pedantic way; instead it’s explained through stories, lots and lots of stories, and many of them are funny, touching, and “irreverently relevant.”
I read two to three chapters a day–only two to six pages each time–so I could really draw out and enjoy this book. It was the right pace. I was able to digest its contents and start putting Tosha’s tips to use right away.
One key tip was to take action toward what you want, but stop focusing on outcomes.
This is something I’ve been struggling with since I started writing full-time. My goals haven’t felt right, sometimes even a day after I make them. I think it’s because I’m too focused on reaching a particular outcome. For almost three years, I haven’t met my goals in the time that I set for them, and many I’ve simply discarded. But when I’ve let go of goals and outcomes, I’ve been able to move forward and accomplish things that I wanted to do (and some I didn’t know I wanted to do).
I’m so glad my therapist decided to mention this book to me. You never know how mentioning something can change someone’s life. (Remember that next time your intuition tells you to give someone a tip or a resource.)
I’m now letting the Divine take the lead. I still take action, but I’m trying to not focus on outcomes. I do what feels right. If it doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. It takes practice. I’m finally trusting my inner Divine and it’s changed everything. A thousand thank you’s, Tosha.
Hope you’ll give Outrageous Openness a chance. Like my therapist warned, it’s pretty out there and outrageous. Then again, couldn’t we all use some outrageousness in our lives?
Peg Cheng is the author of The Contenders, a middle-grade novel centered on the question, can enemies become friends? She is currently querying another novel that is a re-imagining of the Snow White fairy tale set in 1980s Seattle. Peg is also the creator of Fear & Writing, a workshop for procrastinating writers from all walks of life.