Book Review by Ann Livi Andrews:
On Becoming a Lemonade Maker
– Tamara Kulish
“We all like to complain about how difficult life is and how we wish we didn’t have to go through the hard times and trials that life throws at us. But I think we tend to forget that it’s all of these experiences that make us who we are as individuals. We forget that we need to learn and grow through difficult situations instead of simply complaining about them and getting through them as quickly as possible.
Tamara Kulish uses her experiences in life to teach her readers some valuable lessons about making the most out of situations and treating life as it should be treated — like a journey. Because IT IS a journey.
While Kulish has gone through some difficult times, she doesn’t focus on that in her book. She maintains a positive upbeat attitude that proves that it’s through these difficult experiences that we mature and become more enlightened about the world around us.
I really appreciated the easy going prose that the author uses. There was no technical jargon and it read as though she was sitting in the room with me and telling me about her experiences. That made for a very enjoyable read.
I also loved how multiple religions and spiritual paths are presented. I love to hear about other walks of life beside my own and found this to be a very refreshing overview on several of them.
Whether or not you feel as though you’re going through a difficult time, this book is a great resource for simply improving your attitude and mindset and learning how to find the bright side of every situation. “
Interview by Ann Livi Andrews:
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your spiritual experience that led you to write this book?
I had been in two evangelical churches, one after the other, for around 15 years. This started out when I wished to become part of a community of like-minded people who wanted to serve God in their lives but because of the rigid thinking, which was really more like brain-washing, my daughter and I ended up being shunned.
We both suffered from long-term illnesses; I had Chronic Shingles for close to 10 years, while she had severe IBS which made her house-bound for long stretches of time.
The thought process in both churches was simple: God blesses those who find favor with him by giving them good health, jobs, prosperity, etc., while he ‘corrects’ those who have not found favor. The judgement people made about us since I was a low-income single mom and both of us had health issues, was that I must have unconfessed sins in my life which had led to God ‘correcting’ me. The proof they said was: “A good vine bears good fruit, while a bad one bears thorns.” My life apparently bore a lot of thorns; so many that “the sins of the parent are visited upon the child”.
After a long period of time of being corrected about not being a Christian who had found favor with God, I had come to believe that I was worthless, not deserving of walking on the earth or breathing the air. I had my death all planned. My daughter would be with her father, so she would be spared the tragedy of finding my body, would be removed from her mother’s spiritual toxicity and have a chance of a happy life.
We had also been brainwashed into believing that anyone who left the church would end up a criminal, or a drug addict, or a whore, so I was reluctant to leave. I, like many people, stayed far too long out of fear.
Of course I didn’t end up harming myself; instead I met my second husband, a man following the Native American path, a Sundancer, and a Pipe carrier who poured water for Inipi ceremonies (sweat lodge). We became friends first, since neither of us was in any head space at the time where we were seeking to date. He was much older than I, and simply thought he was past the age of finding anyone to love.
He introduced me to the Native American ceremonies, taught me the thought process and the meanings, while I made a commitment to simply be open to learning about ‘what is’. This was my start on my healing path, of becoming whole and learning to find balance in my life. Over the next years I was able to process the lessons I had learned in my life, and to integrate the new knowledge I was learning and living.
2. At what point did you realize you wanted to share what you’d learned?
As I was learning, I was changing. My whole outlook on life was going through massive changes, and as I was going through all of this, I was talking with people. Apparently the conclusions I was reaching weren’t like anything people were used to hearing.
When I went to Finland to sign the contract for an illustrated children’s book I had created, my publisher was fascinated with the Sonoran Desert around Tucson, Arizona, where we were living at the time and asked if I had any photos to show him. I showed him pictures I had on my computer, which I had taken around of the area scenery, buildings, along with a lot of flowering cacti.
He loved the images and suggested I create a photo book, where I would write some of my philosophical thoughts and match them to photos. A title we had come up with for the first of a three part series was “When the Desert Blooms”, with the desert representing the arid and difficult parts of our lives.
I returned home to Tucson excited with this new project and started writing down some of these thoughts and lessons. I carried notebooks everywhere with me, writing and scribbling when something came to mind. I was talking and sharing with people during this time, and one of the people I was talking with, a colleague, revealed to me she was a psychic and had a message to give to me.
She was the fourth psychic to approach me and let me know they had a message for me. Each time I invited them to tell me what I needed to hear, and each time I received the same message, almost word for word.
She said I had agreed to all the trials in my life before coming into this life. She then questioned me about what I planned to do with the knowledge I was receiving. I shared with her the idea of the photo books, and she liked that concept, but suggested I might want to consider something bigger, since she felt I had more to offer people. As an artist I felt very comfortable with images, and the suggestion to write a book without images scared me.
My first iterations of the book were very brief, and lacked the details of my personal life. I still struggled with self-esteem issues, and then coupled with a husband who had stopped listening to me, had me severely limiting my words and pre-editing my thoughts. It was only after my sister-in-law read that first manuscript, and she had told me she felt she missed out on reading any personal info in the pages that I gave myself permission to really open up and share.
3. What would you like others to take away from your book?
When I was growing up I had assimilated the thought that I needed someone else to help me to grow and to heal. In fact, this is a pervasive thought in our Western society, that someone else, “they”, will help us. We wait for this help to come, and we can come to feel terribly abandoned when “they” don’t come to our aid to help and teach us. This disillusionment can turn to anger and bitterness even.
We have been led to believe this passive role in our lives is what is expected. It may be a by-product of changing from botanical “folk remedies” to an over-reliance on Western medicine? None-the-less, it isn’t empowering and helps keep stuck.
What I’ve learned is quite simple, yet profound: we each have within us the wherewithal to heal and to be able to move forward in our lives… we just lack the tools to do so.
Since we each have different paths in life, it is up to each of us to seek out the knowledge and the tools we need to be able to walk our path with our heads held high. Each of our paths is unique, which prescribes the delicious yet difficult task of picking and choosing the lessons we need in each moment.
I can’t set out a plan of action for anyone else I meet in life, nor can anyone do this for me; we can only be of aid and support to one another in life, as we each walk the paths we are called to.
With this thought process, I wished to present all the lessons in a way that would be open and accessible, without dictating a set course. The book is divided into 4 major sections: Beginning Steps, Body, Mind and Spirit, with many chapters broken down into smaller sections in order to create tasty nuggets of thought to encourage inner change in the reader.
My wish is for each reader follow their heart and intuition when reading the book: for some it will be beneficial to read it from beginning to the end; others may move around the book, reading and applying the lessons which speak to them first and then moving on to the ones which are more challenging.
One of my readers emailed me and told me she will keep the book to read over and over, referring to it as she moves forward in her life; she called it a reference book for life, for which I was greatly honored to hear. I wish for this book to be a support and help for all my readers, to help them gain tools as they too move forward.
4. If you could offer only one piece of advice to someone struggling through a difficult time, what would it be?
Find something to hold onto; meaningful to you in that moment.
“This too shall pass.”
“Our past doesn’t have to equal our future.”
“Everything can change in an instant.”
“That which doesn’t break me, makes me awesome! …and this won’t break me!”
In the book I’ve included many quotes from a variety of sources; each of these quotes has helped me at various times. Find a true-ism which speaks to your heart and hold onto it. When I was going through my darkest moments and lacked any shred of faith in myself to get through it, I needed to hold onto other people’s words. People who had walked the way ahead of me and who had survived and thrived.
Remember: We all have the inner strength and ability to get through the present trials… we just may not realize it yet, and need a little guidance.
5. What first step would you recommend to people wanting to make a change?
My advice is to start with something you know in your heart is do-able for you. It’s okay if it’s seemingly the smallest and most inconsequential step; we all need to start somewhere and have successes. These successes help give us inner strength to continue and to move onto more and more challenging issues. Baby steps are still steps, and given enough of them, we still move forward!
Tip: When I was going through my healing and growth, I journaled and used art to express my feelings. Sometimes my feelings were too intense to talk about them, or to write about, so art became an avenue for me to express myself. Personal note to my readers: Please do what feels natural for you; perhaps singing or dancing may be the best way for you to process your emotions, for others it may be sculpture, yet for someone else it might be cooking. Whatever it is, don’t worry about the outcome or producing a result anyone else will understand or relate to; this is about feeling and processing in order to let go and be able to move forward.
6. What does your work say about you?
Life isn’t about becoming better than someone else, for we’ll never know what another person’s inner demons are and the work they have done to get to where they are.
Rather, I see life is about becoming a better and stronger version of ourselves. We each have our path to walk and when we have conquered one mountain, we find another mountain ahead of us on our paths.
These trials aren’t about breaking us down, but about building us up, for as we work hard to slay our demons and to make peace with our issues we become stronger. We become better and better mountain climbers!
This book is about the lessons I’ve learned on one section of my journey, but my journey isn’t over yet.
When a runner runs a first marathon, they’re very proud of what they do, and with good reason for they’ve worked hard. Yet when that runner looks around, he or she will see among the runners are competitors who compete in triathlons, so there is always another level to work towards.
For me, I’m just working on the next part of my journey on my path!
7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?
I didn’t start out as a writer; I started as an artist. Writing became something I needed to do in much the same way as I’m driven to create a painting or to take photographs of things which stir my soul. (For anyone who may be interested to see, I have a lot of my paintings and photos up on Fine Art America, divided up into galleries to make it easier.)
I’m now working on the memoirs of my second marriage since there were many strange and unique things which happened during that time. I plan on publishing the first part soon as a free eBook on Amazon so people can get a taste of the upcoming book. Had I not been keeping a journal of some of those events, I would have a difficult time believing them myself! The original intention was for me to write a book on the making of the Rugaroo film (which is based on the book “Rugaroo, Savage Spirit” – by John Myerchin), but that all changed over the course of time. My second husband was a film maker, who apart from following the Native American spiritual path, intended for his screenplays (which he was to direct) to help the people since all had strong Native American content.
There were many lessons learned during that time which relate to Native American culture, and how Spirit becomes involved when Native American medicine bundles and peoples are desecrated or disrespected. The original book follows the demise of a white man who proceeded down a path which eventually led to him losing his mind after he had desecrated a Native American medicine bundle. The parallels to modern day, with my second husband spiraling downwards and eventually losing his mind too are powerful.
The fourth psychic had told me that my books will be very beneficial and helpful for people. Since I’ve really just started on this path of writing a second book, I’ll need to wait and see what my next book will be after this next one is completed!
Some Bio Information
Tamara Kulish is an artist, an author of ‘On Becoming a Lemonade Maker’ a blogger, a photographer and a life voyager. Her artistic training started at the age of 8, when she started taking a few 2 hour art classes per week in her mother’s studio to help fill up the classes, and then at the age of 15 this allowed her to become a teacher’s assistant, and soon take over the running of one of the 3 studios her mother operated.
Trained at an early age to observe and to learn intensively, Tamara applied this ability to view life from an observer’s perspective to try to unravel life’s secrets, and later in life became a writer. Taking photos became one of her guilty pleasures, and many times she would stop and take a photo of something which held absolutely no interest for people around her, and even prompted some to ask, ‘Why are you taking a picture of that?’ Once the photos were downloaded to the computer, people could see the striking photo and could understand a little better what had captivated Tamara.
This artist has lived through many ups and downs, and has found that her creativity has been expressed in a few forms. Depending on what is going on in her life and her available materials, she will create to express joys, sorrows and a whole array of emotions. Art has been a way to express the beauty around her, has saved her sanity through the difficult times and has opened other doors to creativity.
You might think that one would have to choose between writing and making art and photography, but Tamara found that as she found her writing voice, she tapped into deeper areas inside of herself, which brought more depth to her art making and even to the photos!
Tamara is currently living with her family in the Heartland of America; she was born in Montreal and lived there most of her life. She moved from one extreme temperature climate to the desert in Tucson, Arizona, which is at the other extreme of temperatures. Life then led her to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a couple of years, and then to Missouri, to be with her daughter and her grand kids. Each one of these areas has influenced her art, her photography and her writing, so you’ll see a mixture of these styles and influences!
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