Name: Cheryl Melody Baskin
Book Title: Shift of Heart: Paths to Healing and Love
What is your book about? Shift of Heart vibrates love, inspiration, compassion, and encouragement. Each chapter gently guides us towards increased self-love, inner peace, balance, presence, and mindfulness. Every inspiring word seeks to unchain inner turmoil and encourage a sense of greater freedom and creative flow. It is a small book that is packed with crystal wisdoms, practical tools for navigating challenges, true inspirational stories, short visualizations, reflections and meditations, positive affirmations, and a self-help approach humorously entitled “My 5-Minute (Chakra) Quickie.” One reader said, “Your book is like one big hug.” Best-selling author and life coach Tama Kieves endorsed this book: “Cheryl Melody Baskin has a clear, upbeat voice as a singer and now she applies that same voice towards writing. Feisty, full of heart and direct wisdom, Baskin urges us, at any age, to open to all of our gifts, fall in love with our lives, even in chaos, and to experience a “Shift of Heart.”
What inspired you to write your book? Shift of Heart: Paths to Healing and Love has been inside of me ever since I was an introspective 15-year-old. At that time, I met a family friend, Dr. Morris Hyman, to whom the book is dedicated. He was also a doctor, mystic, musician, published poet, author, and artist, and he validated in me that deeper part of myself, encouraging me to honor my highest wisdoms. I have always been a bit different in terms of how I process living my life. I listen to “life’s wisdom whispers” in order to sense my next steps personally and professionally, and it helps me to go beyond my linear definition of myself, to expand and step into all of who I can be, come out of hiding and into my light, sharing the gifts that have been given me. I have gone through my challenges in my life and continue to do so, and I wanted to share that even though I, too, am a work in process and certainly not perfect in any way, (“If I had waited to be perfect, this book would have been silent”—a quote from Shift of Heart), I wanted people to know what I do…and that there are ways to live life with chaos AND joy in parallel. I wanted to encourage people to go towards each and every one of their own dreams, invite them to integrate the inner growth tools that I use each day to help me balance and have more of a sense of centeredness and mindfulness of this moment, and as a teacher for adults and children all of my life, I wanted to share ways to find more inner peace, to open one’s heart in the worst of times, and most of all, I believe in peace, beginning with finding more healing within each of us. In that way, our own healing also resonates out into our planet and creates a vibration of peace. This book is a compilation of all I think, feel, and am, and as I became a certain age that will be nameless and unlabeled (but it is up there), I felt that it was time to come out of hiding, and follow this path that unfolded from my heart to all of yours.
Can you describe your writing process? I listen. I asked myself introspective questions, and then was quiet enough to listen to the answers. “How do I share what I know with clarity, wisdom, humility and love?”“How can I become the peace I want in the world?” “Which inner growth approaches continue to help me, and how can I best share these life gems with others?” “How do we acknowledge painful feelings, and yet still put one foot in front of the other—one loving, healing, and joyful breath at a time?” I then put my microphone on in my little music and writing studio, and let the answers come through me. I supported these answers through true inspirational stories that shifted me in a “New York moment”—reflections, visualizations, positive affirmations, sound-healing ideas, and short meditations that can help to support and lift our spirits every day. I also used the poetic lyrics to my songs at the end of many chapters.
I am also a recording artist and composer, and although I didn’t know that I would be interweaving that work, it just “happened.” I realized as I was writing this book that all of my professional work was related to the book itself. The power of words has been my light and knowing as a composer and a writer. Every song I write seeks to uplift and encourage, and I found that there was definitely a place for these words from some of my CDs and songs in this book! This knowledge came from listening and intuiting as I was going along with the process, opening to the unknown. At one point, I deleted my entire draft! I had thought that I was done! I heard within me through one of those “wisdom-whispers” that the intention of this book was going to unfold and communicate differently than I began. I started again, this time listening even better. Every word had to come from the real part of me and every word had to matter. It has all unfolded beyond what I thought this book would be: I didn’t know that my work with peace, and the words to my own songs, and a poem I wrote many years ago, also called “Shift of Heart”—would become the cornerstone of this little book of love and wisdoms. I had forgotten about that poem. I happened to stumble upon it when cleaning up some papers—and there it was—mirroring the title of this book. I just listened and didn’t fight the answers. I trusted.
How did you come to do what you’re doing today? Everything I do today is part of each step along the way towards my own healing, my own knowing that love is the answer towards healing. I am blessed to have this writing and composing tool to translate all that is in my mind and heart to share. This book is a symbol of stepping into my light, of my desire to teach and open hearts, knowing that we are really all the same, and my goal is to help create one community of love and, most all, hope. Ever since I was young—as young as 3 years old—I felt a burden, as if I were on a global mission to help people heal their hurting hearts. Eventually, I realized that my music could do that, and it gave me a sense of calm to know I didn’t have to travel around the world to reach people…that my music as Cheryl Melody could enter people’s lives and serve that mission. I have also written a three-act peace play for children with the same hope, and my performances have also been mission-oriented. Shift of Heart, however, is my ultimate gratification in achieving this mission. People can reach for this book, which is more like a guide that I believe people will turn to over and over again, and I will be happy if even one person’s life shifts just a little more toward the positive. I seek to make a difference, and this is how I can do it—one word at a time, offering my own open heart, my life’s struggles, my wisdoms. This book, especially going through the editing process along with my editor, helped to heal me at certain moments. I often forget to live the wisdoms myself. I would read it and say, “Oh yes, that’s good—I must remember to do that more often.” If this book only helps me, that is great, but I have already received many reviews from readers who say they are feeling such a sense of healing and peace reading it. There is my mission again, culminated. I am truly blessed and grateful.
Can you describe a typical day in your life? My life has changed completely as a result of writing Shift of Heart. I have been a music teacher for babies through kids age 5 for mega-years, and even though I still adore and love this work and am not tired of it, I recognized another whisper: It is time to leave that part of myself. I just resigned from the schools in which I teach, I turned down some children’s performances that I was offered, and I am now fully stepping into the path of Author. The book just was released! I am busy trying, as a one-woman show, to get the word out little by little. I am setting up readings and signings—but designing them a bit differently. I intend to read/perform/sing my book, and involve the audience in privately reflected introspections. I will be teaching “Shift of Heart” workshops and doing keynotes, and integrating more of what NFAA offers. This is all a learning process for me; it’s intense, and the time is now. I know that there is no time to waste as it can be a short honeymoon. I feel a bit overwhelmed, excited, and at peace.
What do you most enjoy about what you do? I love hearing from people how this book affects them personally, their story of challenge and triumph, and to share and embrace each person’s willingness to be open to small changes in order to gain more inner peace. I love having these avenues of writing, speaking, singing, composing, performing, and teaching, and everything is unfolding as I share this with you now. I am trusting, surrendering, and going on this journey, opening to the unknown mysteries of life, and I am letting nature and walks and moments of centering nurture me during this intense time period. I am, however, sitting at the computer a lot right now. I would love for people to write me with their story of challenge and triumph on the Amazon discussion page or on my website, www.shiftofheart.com. We are never alone. I want everyone to know that. We are indeed one community in which we all want the same thing: Love.
Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?
Yes! Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Dr. Susan Jeffers was the first book that inspired me, and she was the first person who purchased my very first tape years ago—I still have her check on my bulletin board. I love everyone helping everyone, encouraging each other’s energies and dreams instead of competing. She lived that way of being. Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualizations.Tama Kieves’ This Time I Dance! I love all of her books and am grateful that she chose to endorse this book. She has been my inspiration and mentor, and each of her books light my way.
Many others have all influenced my work—and in my acknowledgment section, which is really a continuation of the book’s intentions in disguise, I mention as many people as possible and their contact information.
Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?
Writing a book was not on my list of dreams or on the to-do list. I always defined myself as a performing artist/recording artist, singer, composer and educator, but I also liked to write. I had written a newsletter years ago for parents and teachers who have had me along the way—many of these wisdoms in the newsletters became part of Shift of Heart. I also created a six-part podcast several years ago that offered my wisdoms to adults, and I put this podcast on www.shiftofheart.com and www.cherylmelody.com. Lo and behold, many of these words have made their way to the pages of my book. I thought my songs were songs, that’s it. But again, the poetic words of many songs supported much of the book and there they are!
I thought I would just be a singer and voiceover artist/performer for children and adults, and I thought my belief that peace is possible one person at a time was just my private belief. But now I have a new platform from which I can teach and listen to adults, sing, use my speaking voice, storytelling ability, acting, performing, and my desire to create more inclusion and tolerance in this world, all through the many branches that will extend through Shift of Heart—creating one community of peace, hope, encouragement, healing, and LOVE. I am forever grateful that I now have a book that shares all of who I was and am and yearn to become.
What’s next for you? I am going to listen to what is next, and say YES to the Universe: active readings/performing/teaching workshops/keynotes/singing/interactive/sound healing…the sky is the limit and I am open to all I am meant to be and share.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Thank you to NFAA for your support, expertise, knowledge, and love.