- N. N. Light
Shakti Rising by Ann Beltran is a Celebrate Mothers Event pick #womensfiction #mothersday #giveaway
Title: Shakti Rising
Author: Ann Beltran
Genre: Women’s fiction
When the universe speaks, are you listening?A mature woman, Liv is successful in her career, and content in her relationships. But at 15, her daughter Shakti has begun a demanding coming-of-age that challenges her mother's comfort zone. Throw in a job villain, transitions of aging parents, and her eco-manfriend's priorities, and the world conspires to flood her out of her backwater existence into an emotionally strenuous, psychologically complex, and spiritually transforming river of events. A distant grandmother in India emerges to shift the trajectory of Liv and Shakti into a whole system change of life, ripe with new possibilities — and an abiding love.In this, the final novel of the Nonprofit Girl Trilogy, Shakti's life begins to unfold, and Liv owns her accomplishments as a nonprofit woman. A satisfying finale that stands on its own as an enjoyable read.
Sunday, November 8, 2015
The soft sound of the bowl-shaped gong grew stronger as the meditation leader increased her pressure on the mallet.
Where was I? Liv ever so slowly pulled her mind into consciousness of her body and the surrounding space of the meditation hall, becoming aware again of the slight residue of incense. She didn’t want to open her eyes.
The meditation leader’s calm, comforting voice caressed Liv’s ears. “Slowly, bring yourself back into this space and time. Become aware of your breath. When you’re ready, you can open your eyes.”
Liv became aware of her lotus posture on the thick moss-colored carpet. Feeling the need to move, she inhaled deeply, then pressed her palms to her eyes. Lifting her wide eyelids, the leader’s gentle smile floated in as her first impression.
“Take time to make some notes in your journal about your meditation experience. And then we’ll take a half-hour pause. Light refreshments are available in the lobby. Remember to keep your silence.”
The image that visited in this last meditation of the retreat was of her kayaking in a stream that ran near but deviated from a river. The folk on the river were many, they’d wave when they saw her, enjoying reunions where only sandbars and islands between the stream and river separated them. But always she went back to her rivulet where other odd souls occasionally paddled too. Were these voyagers who chose solitary people-powered craft over speedboats and larger leisure boats that populated the river, were her kind in the stream of slow learners? She didn’t think so. But there was comfort in the narrow shallow pathways near forests, that let her drift under magnanimous willow tree boughs hanging wide and low and providing dappled secluded spots. The mainstream? No, she hadn’t foregone an abortion fifteen years ago to preserve a bright future in the river. Nor had she given up the baby. And she hadn’t compromised by marrying a non-medal winner in the husband and father competition who would have required constant concessions by her and Shakti. No, in those ways she hadn’t settled one bit, swerving out instead from the traditional promise of the big water - a perfect career life for a single attractive girl followed by the ideal match – no, she’d explored other byways of life.
Not that there wasn’t a clear pattern to her existence that one might call ‘settled’: a comfortable life style as a single mom, a way of being that mostly worked, albeit forsaking vague dreams and aspirations to work internationally. Not that she didn’t put forth effort to achieve either; indeed, she’d pushed herself relentlessly to excel at her local nonprofit fundraising work. At thirty-seven, she was by others’ standards successful in her choices, weathering the consequences of them daily in good spirits, skilled in her capacity to mother, to work, and to be a solid family member and friend.
And yet, in her meditation, floating in a backwater of slow current seemed to be aging her, the image being an older woman in the kayak. Had she been out of the mainstream too long? She’d been living in her brother Ryan’s household in the lower flat for seven years, engaged in collective child raising with his wife Mimi and their two kids. Liv’s desire to cross cultures had played out in strange ways as she reflected on comparable harem-like existences throughout the world. Take away the sex of course, and she inhabited a two-mother, one father family. They’d grown so comfortable with it, they joked about it on occasion: the harem, the Mormon polygamist compound, the Muslim man’s entitlement to four wives. When Ryan would wax romantic and seek more action in bed than his tired wife might be up for, she’d tease him about the need to add another wife. When Liv would retire from a family gathering upstairs to her apartment below, she’d laugh with Mimi about being the unloved wife, the retired wife who spent her nights alone.
Of course, Liv pursued romantic interests. How long was it now? Two years going on three since Marco had come into her life? It was good. True enough, her early adulation of him for his environmental activist career had waned into a more reasoned respect, accepting less enthusiastically his living in a bedroom he built in his garage while he rented out the house. Yes, there had come a time when Liv’s parents’ assessment of her downward mobility become more pungent. But the strong connection between Shakti and Marco’s son Cezar created a familial context and glue that made a break-up of their parents unthinkable. And the sex was always great - when Marco was focused on her and not totally into the next protest he was organizing.
His ten years seniority over Liv, coupled with their relationship being a third priority to his work and son, she had come to judge as helpful. It provided chunks of time to work longer hours. She’d excelled last year at the YWCA and exceeded the most recent capital campaign’s bold multi-million-dollar goal.
Liv picked up the beautifully bound journal she’d bought for this retreat. Handmade and covered in deep blue silk it offered unlined pages to accommodate the images she liked to draw. She sought to capture the stream and the river, adding a small backwater offshoot from her stream where she placed her kayak. The reflective nature of the space prompted questions that she wrote down. Am I stuck? Or simply settled into patterns that work? Is there something I’m missing out on over there in the river?
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Whether reading only this, the final book of the Nonprofit Girl Trilogy, or concluding a full read of the threesome, Shakti Rising excels at celebrating the mother-daughter connection. Truly - it even ends on Mother's Day! The promise of motherhood ripening into its fulfillment provides riches at every turn. I still cry when I get to some passages, lol.
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It was late in life I took up writing novels. I’d finished my career - so what to do with all those experiences as a lawyer, executive, professor? With all those people I met in business, government, and nonprofits? Well, it seems they’re all in me, and now they’re finding their way out in bits and pieces in my characters.
This was especially true of the Nonprofit Girl Trilogy. From my experiences of adoption of my son, my head was full of voices from his birth mom, his half-sister, my mother, my girlfriend who was adopted, and so on. Each wanted to tell their story. As did I with all my own nonprofit experiences. And I had traveled to India to see my Guru and wanted to blend in the spiritual experiences of that life. It all wanted out!
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