2020 Readers' Favorite Bronze Medal Award Winner in the Non-fiction Spiritual/Supernatural Category
"Sensing her mental well-being unraveling, a woman embarks on a road trip that proves to be a mind-expanding voyage of spiritual discovery in this memoir...those open to ideas of mediums and the existence of higher dimensions should find this book enthralling. A bold, if occasionally terrifying, personal account of spiritual transformation." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Life Coach Sweetland (The Fascinated Observer) recounts in this gripping memoir the "spontaneous shamanic initiation" she experienced during a road trip from Minnesota to New Mexico...her writing conveys the joy and terror of mystical experience. Sweetland's surrender to unbidden visions will appeal to believers in mediums and channeled wisdom." -- Publisher's Weekly
"Author Kristy Sweetland delivers a masterful and emotive work that combines some very powerful and fascinating out-of-the-ordinary experiences with a reflective look at life, psychological trauma, and how we all have the strength and capacity to rise up and change...I felt for the author very deeply throughout, which is a testament to the book's raw exploration of feelings, and the bold narrative style that lets us right into Kristy's head as each moment unravels. It was a unique reading experience like no other. Overall, I would certainly recommend Stark Raving Zen: A Memoir of Coming Alive to anyone intrigued by the lesser-known paranormal and spiritual experiences of life, as well as those looking for a powerful, inspiring story of survival." -- Reader's Favorite (5-Star Review)
"A uniquely powerful and thought-provoking read, Stark Raving Zen: A Memoir of Coming Alive speaks directly to those who find their lives sapped of meaning...Her descriptions of otherworldly encounters are simple, not overly poetic, just the memories of someone who experienced the indescribable and then found the best words to describe it. For many readers, it will raise questions to the most pressing questions they may have about the purpose of life. To others, it may provide the answers they have knowingly or unknowingly been seeking. Either way, Sweetland's words are likely to broker much in the way of reflection...A highly accessible account of spiritual enlightenment with broad appeal, Stark Raving Zen: A Memoir of Coming Alive is certainly deserving of your attention and is strongly recommended." -- BookViral Reviews
"When you read the pages of this extraordinary book, expect to take a journey unlike one you've ever imagined. Kristy's vivid life experiences and her deft ability to express them with vulnerability, insight and a mastery of language is a raw and beneficent revelation that leaves the reader awed, shell-shocked and renewed." -- Stephanie Himango, Emmy-winning Producer & Writer, Author of Get In The Ring: The Tale of Bruno the Boxer
"Spontaneous shamanic initiation is the theme of Kristy Sweetland's riveting account of a life-changing road trip, from her home in Minnesota to southern New Mexico and back, in company with her beloved dog, Arya. Readers will travel every step of this journey with Kristy-thrilled by the fearsome beauty of the Southwestern landscape, comforted by the calm presence of her angel dog, hearts beating double-time in anticipation of whatever new challenge will present itself, just around the next curve in the road." -- Valentine McKay, PhD, Publisher, Winds of Change Press / Four Winds Journal
Sensing her mental well-being unraveling, a woman embarks on a road trip that proves to be a mind-expanding voyage of spiritual discovery in this memoir.
According to Sweetland, she had her first conversation with the spirit world when she was about 2 years old and still in her crib. After hearing a female voice say “Be careful,” she recalls a visit by three witches. She reflects that these spirits were “guardians” who would bear “silent witness” to her “life with an alcoholic father and a chronically depressed mother. Through the years of teenage anorexia, escapism with alcohol, and a sense of constant loneliness.” Growing older, the author forged a career in veterinary medicine, but after 20 years in the profession, she felt the urge to quit and take a road trip to California with her dog, Arya. Fate decided otherwise, and she found herself drawn to New Mexico. There, she tells readers, she learned that the guiding voice she had been hearing in her left ear was that of Mangas Coloradas, a 19th-century Apache warrior. The trip turned out to be a catalyst for a spiritual awakening that released her from the bonds of her torturous past. Sweetland depicts a range of phenomena she experienced—including visions, voices, and precognitive dreams—with a sedate, straightforward lucidity. Describing astral travel, she writes: “I left the deep cosmos and reentered the earth’s atmosphere, finding my house safely held by the surrounding fir, cedar, and pine-forested neighborhood. I phased back in through a wall, no need for doors.” The author’s willingness to gaze into the darkest recesses of existence may prove disturbing for some, as when she recalls her mother’s gruesome death following a battle with lung cancer: “As my mother’s crimson blood repainted the white sterility of the hospital floor; every red blood cell jumped from the sinking ship, pouring from her ears, her eyes, her nose.” Besides her ability to shock, Sweetland offers some pithy nuggets of wisdom, drawing on Zen Buddhist influences: “My identity is not my career. I won’t disappear because I’ve quit the only life I have ever known.” Skeptics will struggle with the bizarre nature of the author’s spiritual adventures while those open to ideas of mediums and the existence of higher dimensions should find this book enthralling.
A bold, if occasionally terrifying, personal account of spiritual transformation.