Author: KT Cornelio
Genre: Literary fiction
The first book in the Woken series, Awoken is a story about the Highly Sensitive Life. Awoken takes readers on an empathic journey that immerses them in the lives of seven Highly Sensitive characters. These seven characters share their points of view as they experience life at different points along the diverse spectrums of age, race, gender, ability, sexuality, and even species. Each chapter of Awoken portrays a successive day in the life of Denny, Charlie, Corrine, Desiree, Destiny, Cassie, or Josiah, who all reside near the same North Carolina college in the fall of 2027. As their paths unfold, our characters invite readers into the deepest layers of their thoughts, feelings, memories, and dreams, sharing with readers multiple dimensions of living a Highly Sensitive Life, including the power, the pitfalls, and everything in between. While they each strive to heal traumas, confront fears, and forge new relationships, these seven Highly Sensitive beings reveal powerful truths that both transcend and intertwine their individual lives, awakening them (and readers) to the surprising connections that exist within their reality and beyond.
Cassie’s bed was lofted five feet high, but she made the drop gracefully, as always, landing softly on the balls of her feet, while her knees bent slightly to cushion the impact. Then, Cassie paused, bent further, and, as always, lowered herself to rest upon her knees and gaze down at the words woven into the rug beneath her:
You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve love and affection.
Cassie closed her eyes and let her mind receive the message. She held still, giving herself sixty seconds of silent focus—eyes closed, knelt upon the floor. Slowly, deeply, she breathed in ... gently held the breath ... then slowly, deeply exhaled.
Cassie repeated this cycle again and again for the full minute.
After she woke each morning, Cassie took these sixty seconds to consciously withhold herself from the world that she must soon rejoin. These moments, unlike most of her waking moments, were hers alone, and the rest of her world would have to wait. It was just about the only time she felt able to keep anyone waiting.
So Cassie knelt, still and peaceful, focusing on the words she’d read— the words that told her she deserved love—and she tried as hard as she could to believe them.
Envisioning the message in her mind’s eye, Cassie inhaled, slowly and deeply, drawing air down into her belly. She always imagined that in these moments, with the breaths she took, she was discovering fresh new air that had never been breathed before. She imagined it traveling from some unexplored place in the universe, throughout the world, across the skies, looking for someone like her that it could nourish and give life. The air was untainted, pure, and full of possibilities, and it came all this way to her—for her. She took it in and felt herself lighten and rise, almost as if she were about to float above the floor. She silently recited the words of affirmation woven into her rug. She basked in them like bright sunlight, trying to wrap them around her mind and let them warm her, trying to soak them in.
As she exhaled, Cassie imagined the recycled air that left her lungs and escaped through her pursed lips could take with it all the stress and fear and doubt that had invaded her mind and come to live in her body, over the years … that had haunted her dreams last night, like each night before.
This was a fresh day, unexplored. She was starting anew, with new air and energy and life and confidence filling her, lifting her, loving her.
Cassie finished her meditation, holding on tightly to her affirmation, the words hardening in her mind like armor. Cassie believed that the more she recited the words in her mind each day, the more she could take them to heart. She believed—or at least she hoped—that with each day of practice, the message sank in, somewhere deep inside her, and felt truer somehow. She wanted so desperately to believe that she did deserve real love and affection, despite what life outside of her room might say. Cassie had armed herself, now, against whatever was waiting out there—the demons she knew would come for her, as always, when she ventured into the world. Still, it took courage to go out there; courage that most of the world surely had no idea she possessed. Cassie knew of this courage, though, even if she struggled to feel it. She knew it was inside her. As she finished her meditation, she felt as courageous as ever. She knew that the day that was waiting out there and the girl that she was in here were both full of possibilities. She just had to bring them together.
Today is a new day, she told herself. It’s new to all. No one knows yet what will happen. It could be anything … I can be anything today.
Today is unique and special. Like me, Cassie reminded herself, with a hand on her doorknob. Today deserves love and affection, and so do I. Today, I will find it out there. She felt her confidence waver, slightly, as she thought the final words.
Then, armed with her precious moments of meditation, her affirmations, and her sacred Wayuu bag, Cassie opened her bedroom door; opened herself to the world of possibilities, as she did each day. As the door opened, she saw what was waiting for her—rather, who was waiting—on the other side. She saw him ... and, like each day before, her affirmations, her memories, her strength—they all began to slip through her fingers, and no one was there to bring them back to her.
He turned, looked at her, and smiled. Seeing his smile wiped away the rest of the warmth Cassie had been feeling, instead sending chills down her spine.
Cassie took a deep inhale, summoned her courage, and stepped forward, feeling, as she moved through the threshold and turned to close and lock the door behind her, as if she were leaving a sanctuary. All of the calm, confidence, and affection she had just wrapped herself in like armor began to melt away in the heat of the fires of hell she had entered. She suddenly felt exposed and vulnerable. Cassie fought to focus on her affirmation, on the words of reassurance; on remaining confident and holding onto the possibilities she hoped for, but she lost them more with each step toward where he stood waiting for her at the end of the hall, as he did each day … smiling ... knowing she could not avoid him … knowing she was at his mercy.
“Good morning, sweetheart,” was all the devil said, and Cassie believed no more in her affirmations … felt no more comfort or safety. They were gone….
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Kevin Cornelio is an introvert, empath, and Highly Sensitive Person whose life has consisted of deeply immersing himself in the areas of personal and professional development.
Kevin has always strived to help others but also, most of all, to help himself overcome issues of severe shyness, depression, and anxiety that plagued him throughout his life. While developing mindsets, habits, and coping strategies to overcome these issues, Kevin obtained a degree in Psychology as well as Professional Life Coaching certifications from iPEC, one of the world's premier coach training schools.
Kevin also developed an extreme lifestyle that included work-addiction, as well as eating and exercise disorders, which culminated in severe burnout, a loss one-third of his body weight, and ultimately suffering a Near-Death Experience.
Rather than ending his life, this experience (and what came after) eternally enhance his life and called him to offer others the chance to enhance their lives, as well, by sharing the story of Woken.
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