“Writing is both cathartic and introspective. It forces you to search corners of your mind that you might not get to in any other way.” – Mary Feliciani
Sometimes, in our day-to-day activities, you come across someone who you could relate to very well. As we discussed the purpose of Mary Feliciani’s book in course of writing this Spotlight, she touched a chord within me as she echoed my own thought process. As I keep saying in my discussions with fellow authors, students and would–be writers, any work of art has to have a purpose to become a masterpiece. As the purpose of my books ‘Songs of the Mist‘ and ‘Kuhase ke Geet‘ (Hindi) has been to inspire young generation to read and write for the beauty of language, since it has the power to change; while the purpose of writing for the author Mary is to inspire an individual to change the society for the better.
“I think that this comes out in my writing. Certain issues in society compel me to write. My book Humanitarians, Visionaries, Heroes, and You would fall into the sociopolitical realm for this reason.” – Mary Feliciani
The book is a collection of seven inspiring mini-biographies. The author uses the voices of Mattie Stepanek, Martin Lurther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Terry Fox, Craig Kielburger, and her own reflections to encourage the reader to join a growing movement towards social responsibility and global citizenship.
BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary is a Canadian author, independent publisher and a former elementary school teacher. She attended UTM where she studied psychology and still lives in Mississauga, Ontario.
Mary’s background in psychology, work with children and passionate interest in the human condition, which stems back as far as she can remember, are all evident in her writing.
I feel compelled to write about certain issues. The issues themselves inspire me. I write about topics that I am passionate about, and if you are passionate about a subject, there is always more to say. Ideas live in my head for a very long time before I sit down to write.
Currently, I am writing a book about bullying entitled The Invisible Boy. Bullying is a type of abuse and an issue that I’m interested in. Issues in our society such as these are what motivate me to write.
The most difficult aspect of writing the book was the balancing act I was trying to sustain. On one hand, I wanted the biographies of the personalities in the book to be inspiring for the young reader, but not so surreal that the reader would think they could never emulate them. I use the word “You” in the title because I think that there are young people out there today who possess the same qualities as the humanitarians in the book. Also, the most important quality that the personalities all demonstrated was that they wanted to make a better world.
I also wanted a balance between appealing to the reader’s intellect and appealing to the reader’s emotions. It is a persuasive piece of writing. If you both think and feel that something is right, that is a very powerful connection. I wanted the reader to be connected to the humanitarians, visionaries, and heroes in the book on both levels.
QUOTES FROM THE BOOK
‘Humanitarians, Visionaries, Heroes and You’
1. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Gandhi
We cannot control the behavior of others. We can only control ourselves. But, through our actions and words we can influence people. That is what Mattie Stepanek did through his poetry. That is what Craig Kielburger along with his brother, Marc Kielburger, are continuing to do with “We Day”.
2. “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love always won. There have been tyrants and murders and for a time they seemed invincible, but in the end they always fall – think of it, always.” – Gandhi
This statement gives us hope no matter how bad situations are.
3. The beginning of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech always arouses strong emotions in me. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I heard it so many times paired with the news of his death, that I became conditioned to feel connected to him. When I hear or even think the words, a strong feeling of humanity is evoked in me.
4. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
We don’t often think about how rewarding being able to understand others can be, and what a toll hate and anger takes on us. I also like this quote because it contains two of my favorite things – truth and humor.
When asked to choose from the following purposes for writing: ego, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose, Mary adds philosophy and psychology to the mix.
Mary says that philosophy motivates her. She is always asking questions about humanity. But one might argue that philosophy presupposes both psychology and politics and that we end up back in the political sphere. Although understanding the individual is the focus in psychology, and understanding both the individual and society are central to philosophy, politics is a narrow sliver of philosophy applied to the masses. And there is an aspect of philosophy that isn’t always found in politics – the humanist worldview. She says her book relates to this worldview.
When I asked why she writes, and if she would stop writing, if asked by someone she looks up to, she says she can only stop when she has nothing more to say or finds another media to say it in. For her, writing is a form of self-expression.
“I don’t believe that it is my ego that drives me to write. I never aspired to be an author. Growing up I wanted to be a psychologist, but ended up having a rewarding career as a teacher instead.” – Mary Feliciani
On the question about the timeline needed for her book to be published she says… “It is difficult to estimate because most of the book had been written in my head before I embarked on any serious writing. I always felt that I was my own guru. I was consciously aware that I was very introspective at a young age. The belief system that comes through in the reflections of the book had been with me forever. I just hadn’t thought of a way to share them until I had the book idea. Once I started writing the book, it took one year to complete. That would include the whole process of publishing: writing, editing, book design, acquiring photos from certain organizations/foundations and printing.”
She jots down ideas wherever she is when inspiration comes, but for serious writing – when she wants things to come together – she writes in the peace and quiet of her study room. She is currently writing the second book of her bullying trilogy. It’s entitled The Invisible Boy and will be published in late 2017. The first book of the trilogy, Big and Small in the Mirror, was published in 2015.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT HER
I love to travel and I am a prolific photographer. I have thousands of travel photos. Also, I am into health and fitness, and I plan to take an art course in the near future.
TWO BIG THINGS OF HER LIFE
I am proud of how I raised my children and my career as an elementary school teacher. My children have a love of learning and have done well in academia and their respective careers. I enjoyed the time spent with my students, and I hope that I have made a positive impact on them.
HER FAVORITE BOOKS AND GENRE
I crave mystery in books and also look for it in television and movies. I find this genre relaxing and intellectually stimulating at the same time. The reader/audience has to solve a puzzle, which is cerebral, but it is also relaxing because you know that the crime isn’t real – it is all in good fun.
Agatha Christie is my favorite mystery author. She helped to develop the genre. My favorite books would be Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None. The plots of both of these books were unique for their time period.
Irrespective of genre, my two favorite books (that I read in 2016) are The Book Thief and 1984 (which I read as a young adult and reread in 2016).
TO BUY HER BOOK “Humanitarians, Visionaries, Heroes, and You” … CLICK HERE
– by Shashi
Regional Head of a Multi-National Firm
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” & “Kuhase Ke Geet “
Haiku Poet | Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind”
(Global Ranking #36)
List of SPOTLIGHT authors of Jan and Feb ’17
Om Namah Shivaya
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