Having Lunch in Dubai for World Peace

I have no doubt that the more time people spend together, and the more they understand each other, the less likely they are to hate or kill each other. I feel so strongly about this that I wrote a book about how truly understanding another person would make it far more difficult to kill them.

Every so often I discover a group acting on similar ideas to make the world a better place, and it fills me with joy. Yesterday I had the privilege of having lunch with members of such a group.

I’m in Dubai, the largest city of the United Arab Emirates. This modern, cosmopolitan city of over two million is a whopping 82% expats. They come from every continent, culture and religion and, in spite of their current location, they bring plenty of biases and misunderstandings with them regarding Muslims in general and the Emirates in particular.

Enter a group called “Open Door, Open Minds.” Their idea is pretty much what you would guess. Come have a meal with us. Let us show you some of how we live while you ask questions. Any questions.

This organization not only performs outreach to Dubai’s many residents born elsewhere, but they also invite tourists coming through Dubai to participate. I was lucky enough to be in a tour group that did so.

The food is plentiful, and the hosts are warm and sincere. They invite you to try on the traditional clothing worn by your gender, and they take you on a tour of an old home.

They also answer whatever awkward questions the group wants to throw at them. Ours was pretty polite, but I got the impression that not all others were.

A map in the hallway shows the many places these tourists have come from. Have there been enough of them to achieve world peace? Of course not. But  ….. it’s a start.

Fresh Off the Starship

As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I had to read Fresh Off the Starship. I grew up in Kansas, love science fiction, and can’t find enough things these days to make me laugh.

So let me welcome Ann Crawford, and her fun book “Fresh off the Starship,” to this blog.

From the Auhor: Love to laugh? You’ll enjoy this feel-good tale.
A starbeing skyrockets to Earth from the other side of forever with a specific assignment: to help steer humanity away from the collision course it’s on. But we all know how travel can get drastically diverted–instead of landing in Washington, D.C., where she could assist on a grand geopolitical scale, she ends up in…Kansas!
Wrong place, right time? Join our shero on this whimsical journey as she pursues her purpose as well as discovers the beauty of life and love on Earth.

Ann Crawford says:
I’m a fun-loving, world-traveling, high-flying, deep-diving, and living-to-the-max author of eight books. When I’m not flying planes, scuba diving, climbing every mountain (on the back of my husband’s motorcycle) or riding the world’s fastest roller coasters, you can find me in my writing nest with a view of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains out the window. I’ve lived all over–from both oceans white with foam, to the prairie, and now to the mountain. Yes, a little backwards, but what the hey.
My bestselling and award-winning novels go as high and deep as I do—they’re profound yet funny; playful although poignant; heart-opening and heart-lifting; thought-provoking and inspiring; and edgy while universal. I’m also a screenwriter and award-winning filmmaker and humanitarian.

You can find information about Ann and her books on her Amazon Author Page, and on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Goodreads.

Giveaway: Ann Crawford will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Learn more, and register to win!

My full review: 

I couldn’t put it down. I intended to read this book over a few days, but laid it aside reluctantly on day one (company was coming) and zipped thru the rest on day two. I applaud (and thank) the author for creating a world that held me spellbound and happy for many hours.

What I liked best:

  1. Yes, it made me laugh. In some ways it reminded me of a modern (and more enlightened) Stranger in a Strange Land. Who can’t chuckle at an alien being wondering what a vibrator is?
  2. Nothing will make one more grateful for ordinary life than an outsider’s perspective. I dare anyone to read this book and not really enjoy the next shower they take!
  3. The book is told from the perspective of an alien being (she prefers to be called a star being). It’s not a trivial thing to pull this off. Kudos to the author for making her star being a sympathetic narrator.
  4. I liked her overall view of the world. It’s kind, gentle and positive. There is plenty of dark stuff out there to read and I found this novel to be a nice change of pace.
  5. It held my interest. The writing was fine, the pacing was good and I had so many questions. That’s high praise.

What I liked least:

Allow me a short insert here. It continues to amaze me how the reading of a novel is a dance between the author and the reader. Some people simply dance better together than others. As an author, I accept not everyone will enjoy my books. As a reader, I understand my complaints about a novel say as much about me as they do about the writer. Please consider this when reading what is below, and do keep in mind I enjoyed this book.

  1. Accents: I’ve never been too fond of spelling words the way people talk, and I quickly tired of the fer (for for) and t’al (for towel) and so on. I suppose my growing up in Kansas didn’t help 🙂 but honestly I don’t care for drawing attention to accents. On the whole I prefer to let people be people when they talk, and not risk making them into “others.”
  2. New age: This one is tough. I outright believe in or am open to most new age concepts. Yet whenever I find a more enlightened being in fiction explaining to a poor human how the things that make them cry into their pillow or toss and turn all night are really their own choices, designed to help them grow, it sounds glib and insensitive. (Even if it could be true.) I credit this author with making an effort to have her star being appreciate human struggles and empathize with pain, but this dynamic has yet to work for me.
  3. Romance:  Ah, it makes the world go round. I find it delightful in real life and lovely as a side plot, but I’m always disappointed when the climax and ending center around getting lovers together. That particular ending makes it a romance novel, in my opinion, and I don’t particularly like romance novels. There were so many things I wanted the climax to be about: outer space or politics or star beings or saving the world …. Ah well, that’s me.

In spite of my complaints, I’d recommend this book to anyone, actually. I suspect its ideal demographic skews towards females, and those open-minded about new age beliefs (and open minded in general.) None-the-less, it’s a quick and fun read and I think most humans would find something to enjoy in this alien-out-of-water tale.

I don’t think there is near enough bandwidth in a 5 star rating, so I go for decimal points and round off when I re-post on Amazon, Goodreads and Library Thing. I give this book a solid 4.1

I did received a free pdf copy of this book from Goddess Fish, the value of which would never be enough to entice me to write a better review for anyone. 🙂

A Guest Post from Anne Crawford

This first paragraph is primarily directed to Sherrie, but readers, too: I was reading your blog and was fascinated to find all the information on telepathy and peace. I love it! I’ve spent a great deal of my life working for peace and following spiritual pursuits. I was also fascinated by the information about 3 in 4 Americans believing in the paranormal, especially ESP. Most fascinating of all, my book takes place in Western Kansas, where you grew up! I “accidentally” found you on Twitter the other day, before I knew you’d be hosting a stop on my blog tour. What a small world.

Fresh off the Starship is definitely about the paranormal, a walk-in from the far side of the universe. It explores social issues, deep wisdom, diverse spirituality, and…it’s funny!

The book came to me so quickly – over two nights as I was driving back and forth across Kansas to and from a conference farther east. I wrote and published it in 5 months! It just came….downloaded….whatever you want to call it…and I took dictation. I often speak into the Notes feature on my iPhone, and this time I must’ve spoken half the book into my phone.

I’ve wanted to write about something that takes places in Western Kansas ever since my husband – a former Kansas farmboy – took me there; I met his wonderfully charming relatives and fell in love with the land. I’m from the East Coast and lived on the West Coast for most of my adult life. When I tell people I lived in Kansas, their eyes glaze over…like I’m sure mine did at one point. I wanted to show these Kansas folks’ depth, sincerity, and wisdom – they’re definitely not the bunch of “hicks” so many may think.

I heard a line from the movie Starman many years ago – something along the lines of “You humans are at your best when you’re at (facing) your worst.” I’ve wanted to create my own starbeing for decades and have to look through her eyes to see how beautiful we humans can be and how amazing life on Earth is. It was really fun to have to imagine taking a sip of water for the first time as well as the many other fun things humans engage in.

I received a call from someone who professes to go aboard the Starship Bethlehem, comes from another world, and works with alien abductees. She said, “You nailed it!” regarding the walk-in experience. Well, that’s good, as I really have no idea what walk-ins experience.

I’ve never seen an alien or a walk-in, are far as I know…but I hear they’re all around us all the time. I have, however, seen spaceships. I was walking into work one day and happened to look up at the sky. Three “ships” were darting about. They were far too fast and fluid to be planes and way too big to be birds. Plus they glinted in the sun and were round.

I glanced around me to see if anyone else was looking at them, and no one noticed me! Here was this 6’ woman standing in the middle of the sidewalk staring at the sky, and no one turned to see what I was looking at or bumped into me or even seemed aware that I was there. It was a wild moment. I pulled out my cell to try and video them. Nada. Nothing showed up. Oh, well. When I told my husband later, his comment was, “Your ships are coming in!” LOL.

I sure look up at the sky a lot more since then. This was in the middle of writing Fresh off the Starship, too. So maybe they helped. I certainly haven’t written and published any other books within 5 months.

Thanks Ann, for your post and for letting me read your refreshing book!

This review is part of a book review tour sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions.

If you are interested in a review from me: I read speculative fiction of all sorts, have a fondness for metaphysical tales and particularly like stories with a strong female protagonist. I will consider novels of almost all types that relate to the general theme of world peace. I am not interested in reviewing non-fiction, romance novels, stories which promote any particular religion, children’s books, or horror of any type. Please do not ask me to review books about vampires or zombies. If you would like to be considered for a review please send all the usual information to Lola (dot) Zeitman (at) gmail (dot) com.

Building Peace on Blue Mountain

I’ve just spent a week in Paradise. Okay, technically is was Costa Rica and my paradise was created by a genuinely loving but also savvy retreat center. I was fed fresh picked fruit, gently steered away from news and conventional entertainment, and encouraged to walk through lovely gardens and reflect. It worked and I did.

I also knew I was in a paradise created for those with the cash and support system to allow them to go on this sort of retreat. The idea of having people less fortunate than I conspire to create an idyllic week for me would normally give me at least some first world heartburn, but it didn’t. Here’s why.

I’m lucky enough to know more about this place and the people who run it. Human beings simply don’t come more compassionate. Employees are rewarded and respected and most have become family even if they didn’t start out that way. The degree of affection they have for each other is well beyond what any staff could be coached to fake.

The center, known as La Montaña Azul, is dedicated to sustaining the local environment. Located along the Talari River southeast of San Jose, the retreat has allocated 95% of its land (116 acres) as a natural sanctuary to protect the river and its flora and fauna. In addition, its proceeds support the local schools, help maintain the roads, and allow the center to provide free classes for the community. It’s hard to argue that you are doing harm by forking over your hard earned vacation dollars to this oasis of love.

IMG_5816This visit was my fourth one. I come here to study qigong, an ancient Chinese form of moving meditation that emphasizes energy flow and has helped both my writing and my wholeness as a human being over the last five years. I’m a different person without qigong, and not nearly as pleasant a one.

At this particular visit, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the center has taken on a new cause. They wish to bring about world peace. One might argue they’ve been slowly working at that all along, but this new approach is rather specific.

They have joined forces with an international group known as Peacebuilders. This amazing organization is striving to use restorative practices like meditation to keep young people out of the criminal justice system, to assist those of all ages in prisons and to further social justice. Though it has a presence in many countries, Peacebuilders is based out of Toronto and most active in Canada, where the organization began.

In Costa Rica, efforts are concentrated on the prison system. Inmates with sentences of forty or more years are trained in meditation, voluntarily spending hours a day in the program. The results are amazing. Recently, several such prisoners were certified to instruct others, as the program grows.

La Montaña Azul’s involvement began when the diminutive older woman who is manager and part owner of the retreat center walked, without guards, into a locked room filled with some of Costa Rica’s most hardened criminals. She laughs as she confesses she thought the guards were coming in behind her. The prisoners listened to her offer of an alternative, and today the retreat center provides instructors, resources and funds for the program. Guests at the retreat are asked to provide funds also.

You know we all did. After a week in Paradise, world peace seems like a totally reasonable goal. I hope the feeling will last.