Today, I would like to officially launch my Love and Light Luminary Interview Series. In this regular series, I hope to interview people who are forces of inspiration in the world. They are shining beacons to us all and I believe that we can be inspired by learning from their example.
And, I am deeply honored to introduce you the first luminary for my series – Lori Deschene. She is the founder of the website Tiny Buddha. We have been visiting each other site’s for a few years now and have recently come together for joint collaborations.
Lori has just published a book, Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions. She sent me an advanced copy, which I enjoyed very much. Subsequently, I have had the honor of interviewing her….read the following….
1. Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Sure! I’m from Massachusetts originally. I spent most of my 20s traveling and moving. I used to tour with promotional marketing companies, and that brought me from state to state for months at a time. I also lived in Spokane, Washington, New York City, and San Francisco before moving to Los Angeles last fall.
I always had a romantic vision of the gypsy lifestyle, but the reality of my life was much different when I hopped around. I was really trying to escape this immense pain and shame I’d been stuffing down for years.
This is ultimately what brought me to Tiny Buddha. When I first started tweeting wisdom quotes, I looked for ideas that helped me let go of pain and open up to joy.
A year later, I launched tinybuddha.com as a community blog where anyone can share a story about applying wisdom to everyday life. I run the site the way I do because I believe we all have something to teach and something to learn—and if we can embrace that and be honest about our challenges, we can help ourselves and each other.
2. What made you decide to write this book?
I am someone who has always pondered the big questions in life, and at times, I’ve found them paralyzing. I wanted to explore different perspectives on these issues, acknowledging there are very few concrete answers but finding empowering possibilities regardless.
I knew right away I wanted to gather insights from the Tiny Buddha community through Twitter, so that the book would be a reflection of and on popular opinion, not just a treatise on my personal beliefs.
3. I can imagine it being quite a feat. Can you share your experience about getting twitter followers to collaborate on your book?
It was actually a little complicated because nearly 1,000 people responded. I initially set up a form on tinybuddha.com; this way people could answer the questions on Twitter and then submit them, so I would also have their email addresses to contact them later.
I soon realized I’d get a much better response if I just asked the questions directly on Twitter, tracked the responses with a hashtag, and then used Twitter to contact everyone so that I could request their email addresses. That part took quite a bit of time, and involved lots of @replies and direct messages!
4. I rather enjoyed reading about your own life experiences, which you have masterfully weaved into the book. In fact, some of them – those about your previous living conditions – were rather surprising to me. How was it like writing and sharing these personal stories about yourself?
It was incredibly liberating! I knew I wanted to start each section with a personal story. I’ve read a lot of self-help books that start with a story from the author’s life, revealing some kind of major epiphany or turning point—and then the rest of the book comes from the understanding they developed through that experience.
For me, there’s never been one turning point when I suddenly felt enlightened, or decided I discovered the secret to peace and happiness. There’s just been an ongoing journey of incremental change and growth. I wanted to share that as I explored these issues, as opposed to writing from a place of expertise, because a big part of my peace has come from acknowledging my humanity and allowing myself to be both imperfect and vulnerable.
5. Is there a slant towards Buddhism in the content of this book? Can someone who is a non-Buddhist, read and gain from this book?
Absolutely! Tiny Buddha is just that—a tiny bit of Buddhism. I’ve found a lot of peace in Buddhist concepts, such as mindfulness and non-attachment. But I generally explore and apply the ideas that are most practical and helpful in addressing our everyday challenges.
6. Can you list down what are some of the hard questions that your book covers?
Why is there suffering in the world?
What is the meaning of life?
Can people change—and how?
Does everything happen for a reason?
What does it take to be happy?
Why are relationships hard?
Do you need money to be happy?
How can you make each day count?
What can we control in life?
7. By reading your book, can readers get life-changing answers?
It’s quite possible—but they may be answers to questions they didn’t originally think to ask. That’s one thing I found while writing this book: sometimes in place of answers, we find ourselves with more questions.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If we can discover the right questions to ask ourselves at any given moment in time, we have a far better chance of understanding what makes sense to us individually and what we need to do for our growth and happiness.
8. What are 3 things that readers can possibly learn by reading this book?
How they can let go of pain to feel more present and peaceful from moment to moment.
What might help them create more meaning in their lives.
What they can do to experience more joy in their days.
9. Where can readers purchase this book?
Readers can purchase the book in stores, such as Barnes & Noble, and on Amazon.
10. What is next for you and your site after this book is published?
I’m currently running a contest that relates to my book. It’s called the “Life’s Hard Questions” project. Anyone who submits a photo of themselves displaying the hardest question in their life is entered to win a DSLR camera or a Kindle eReader. I’m pretty excited to continue with this project beyond the January 15th contest deadline because I think the photo slideshow is both inspiring and thought-provoking.
Beyond that, I have various plans to expand tinybuddha.com, and I’ll likely start writing a second book. Most importantly, I plan to continue connecting with other writers who have lessons and insights to share. That’s really my favorite part of running the site, and I’m so grateful that I get to do it!
Love and Light Luminary Bio
Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She lives in Los Angeles but visits her family in Massachusetts every chance she gets. She is the author to Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions. It is also available on kindle. Do check out her book!!
Shine from the soul,
Author. Adventurer. Life Coach. More About Me.
May The Best Comment Wins
We are celebrating two launches with this post, one with Lori’s book and the other on my new Love and Light Luminary series. So share your comments and feedback below and stand to win a hard copy to Lori Deschene’s new book. There are two books to be won!! The best two comments win – dateline for submission Dec 30, 2011. I look forward to reading your thoughts below.