Authentic Presence Excerpts


“Iraqi Jewish Priestess”
“My story and how the book cover came to be (or: My inner superhero cape)”

Iraqi Jewish Priestess

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SectionsAuthentic Presence Excerpt - Sections

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In order for joy to grow,
a felt sensation of safety
is foundational;
it is not sufficient,
but it is necessary.

People tend to feel safety
in numbers
and tend to feel more afraid
when they believe
they are alone.

This is not a judgment;
it’s wired in our DNA,
and it’s helped our human species

Somewhere along the lines,
we decided
that darker emotions
were not allowed.

And so we repressed them,
suppressed them,
judged them,
projected them
and disowned them.

I don’t know when this started,
but it’s no longer serving us.

The more we deny our experience,
the more alienated we feel.
We think we are alone.
And inside of that state of alienation,
fear rises,
and we become violent
toward ourselves and toward others.

In Authentic Presence,
I’m sharing the shadowy aspects
of my felt experience,
including grief and shame and darkness
because there are millions of people
who are waking up
to the truth of who they
Really Are.

The waking up process
is often messy, paradoxical, and as mysterious
as the creatures on the cover of this book.
And the process is ultimately undertaken alone.

But knowing you’re not alone
in your experience
can soften the way.

Our shared experience
can be the greatest gift
we give each other.

One tiny beacon of light
can make a positive difference
in a big way.

I’d like to welcome you home
to your
Authentic Presence.

I hope this book
encourages you,
inspires you and moves you
to lead with your soul.

Our world needs


Debbie Signature

Founder of Joy-Based Living
Editor in Chi
Bad-ass Warrior of Light
Deep Soul Diver


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Section 1
How this book cover came to be: My story

(Or: my inner superhero cape)

Honestly, Dr. Mario Martinez’ work – bridging medical anthropology with clinical psychology and neuropsychology – completely transformed my life. It brings together areas of study which don’t usually join hands, and it shows the powerful influence of culture on our health and well-being.

To start with, I learned why all of the personal development information out there never quite sealed the deal for me. Much of it is based on the premise that the reader is an “independent person” who was born into a nice, neat self-contained, nuclear family. Even if the family is crazy, the number of family members is usually small enough (and manageable enough) to write about. For example, a self-help author might write about how her mother was really critical or how his father was an alcoholic or how the siblings behaved at the dinner table. Grandparents and cousins don’t usually enter the picture.  Explaining the relationship dynamics between 4 or 5 people is much easier than those between 20 or 50 people. My dad had 13 brothers and sisters (2 of whom died when he was young), and my mom had 4 brothers (one of whom died when she was young). In our Western culture, there is a tendency to think that the extended family doesn’t have that strong of an influence. But I think they do.

Although I was convinced as a first generation American-born woman that I could be sort of independent, I certainly didn’t come from a small nuclear family. I came from a Big Fat Iraqi Jewish family. To mix things up a bit, I was the first in my family to be born in America. And a girl at that. Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Miami, Florida… in a very European-Jewish neighborhood.

At home, I was called “too American” “too independent” “rebellious” and “revolutionary”. Nope, I didn’t belong in my family’s stratosphere.

Being “too immigrant-ish” and “loud family-ish” and desperately shy-ish, I didn’t feel like I belonged in my neighborhood …

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