- Published: 12 May 2013 12 May 2013
Interview with Author, Debra Moffitt
Carolyn: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of my all time favorite books. It is in a secret garden that both children heal. You make reference to “the secret garden” in your book, Garden of Bliss. Was this deliberate?
Debra: I lived many years in Europe, and I often heard references to the secret garden. Someone would say to me, “Keep that reflection to explore in your secret garden.” The image was so powerful that I wondered what they meant. When I researched, I learned that secret gardens date back to the Middle Ages, a time when nothing could thrive in the chaotic, war-torn, drought-stricken land. Closed walls went up to create a place where delicate herbs and fruit trees could grow in protected places. Some secret gardens still exist inside castle grounds and behind monastery walls. The secret garden, for me, is a symbol of the sacred inner terrain of the soul where we can discover our gifts and cultivate a more peaceful and joy-filled life in a protected inner place. Later when presenting a writing workshop called “Journey into the Secret Garden” one of the participants said, “Have you read the book, The Secret Garden?” I hadn’t at that point. I find that the children’s book is much inspired by the European legend.
Carolyn: Your book is a journey of self-discovery. What motivated you to turn inward and seek answers?
Debra: I had been doing everything you were supposed to do: working hard at a corporate job to make money; having a “successful” marriage; creating a beautiful place to live. But at a certain point I just felt empty. Nothing “out there” in the material world was satisfying me. My heart felt empty and I wasn’t happy. As I looked around at people who had much more money than I did I saw they hadn’t found happiness either. So trying to get more money and things wasn’t the answer. I started to pay attention to dreams, and looked into my heart which guided me to journey both outside to places like Egypt and India, and also to explore inside where I ultimately found a sense of peace and joy. Happiness is different from joy and bliss. Happiness relies on outer things, while joy touches on inner, spiritual life. Bliss is the spiritual jackpot.
Carolyn: You talk about synchronicity and how people or events cross your path to offer guidance, encouragement, or aid. Could you share an example of this in your life?
Debra: When I made a commitment to follow my intuition, or my “secret gardener” as I call it/her in the book, a whole series of synchronicities kicked in to lead me to the places and people I was supposed to meet to help me learn and grow. The first was a “nose”, a perfumer in Grasse, who led me to an Egyptian perfumer in Cairo. The perfumer in Cairo was psychic, and he immediately began to tell me things about my life that he could not have known otherwise. This opened a new world to me and taught me to begin to trust my own intuition and psychic abilities. I believe we all experience both synchronicity and intuition but often we ignore it and let opportunities pass.
Carolyn: I think the garden is a lovely metaphor for going inward, preparing the soil for new growth, planting, weeding, and finally harvesting. Meditation is one of the first steps. You offer many helpful suggestions for beginners at meditation. Is there a special place you go to meditate? Where is your secret garden?
Debra: My secret garden is inside. When I go beneath the worry and craziness of my mind I can feel the harmony and peace. I connect with this place by creating an altar at home where I meditate each day. I also find that same experience of peace in nature. Walking outdoors in a forest immediately brings me in tune with the harmony and beauty. I ideally seek to carry this experience of peace and joy back into the less peaceful places, but I find I have to keep touching inward to do this.
Carolyn: The book is filled with supportive quotes for many cultures and many belief systems. Who inspires you and why?
Debra: There are so many people and wise teachers who I find inspiring. Gandhi and his practice of non-violence inspired me as a teenager. Another one who really touched me deeply was Sathya Sai Baba in India. He created water projects and brought water to villages where people had to walk miles for fresh water. He also created state-of-the-art hospitals where healthcare is free. His work helped to transform India. Leaders and people from around the world came to see him before he died.
Carolyn: Who can benefit from reading your book?
Debra: Readers who are curious about exploring their inner landscape – and also for those who want a good story. It’s written in memoir style and shows how dreams and synchronicities worked for me, and it offers an invitation and encouragement to readers to begin to trust their own intuition and pay attention to the signs. There’s a whole world that’s ready to open up to us if we’re willing. Garden of Bliss gently encourages readers to go inside to find the love, peace, and joy that is waiting there if they’re willing to dig deep and allow the seeds to take root.
Carolyn: Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Do you believe he referred to the type of journey advocated in Garden of Bliss?
Debra: I don’t know if a life without introspection is “not worth living”. But a life lived with introspection and some self-inquiry certainly provides some good opportunities to grow and learn. It can also keep us from repeating the same old mistakes over and over. Life is like an iceberg. If we take everything on a superficial level, then we’re missing out on 99% of what’s going on! There’s an awful lot of stuff below the surface that’s worth paying attention to.
Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and Garden of Bliss. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld
Carolyn Haines is the author of the popular Sarah Booth Delaney Mississippi Delta Mystery series. The 13th book, Smarty Bones, (St . Martin’s Minotaur) will be released May 21. She is also the author, writing as R.B. Chesterton, of the recently released Southern gothic, The Darkling (Pegasus Books). More at www.carolynhaines.com