Letter from the Publisher: Soul Authority
Categories: Health & Healing Letter from the Publisher
Sometimes finding a book starts with one good backyard conversation.
Such was the case with Dr. Loraine Van Tuyl’s book of healing, Soul Authority: Liberatory Tools to Heal from Oppressive Patterns and Restore Trust in Your Heart Compass.
During the shelter-in-place days of COVID, backyards were as social as I got. As an ambivert, I didn’t mind this much: my goal at parties has always been to have at least one good, long quiet conversation amidst the hubbub. In the eerie quiet of my family’s urban backyard amidst a global pandemic, I felt satisfied by the occasional deep talk I was able to have there with friends, albeit at a distance of six feet.
One of those instances was when my long-time friend Sharline Chiang decided to stop by after seven months of life in de facto quarantine with her family. In her text, I sensed a need to get out of the house and bump elbows, even if just to feel the open road extending before her as she traveled across town, or the longing for those portals that can appear when good friends commune with no distractions or time limits.
That night, under the glow of a waxing late-October moon and sitting on chairs while bundled in blankets, we talked about what we had learned during the pandemic so far and the fact that without the outlets of workplaces, social gatherings, and trips we were forced—in the confines of our homes, families and inner landscapes—to grapple with our own demons and our own barriers to growth. Shit was up and couldn’t be ducked.
As the hours went on, Sharline kept sharing key insights she had arrived at through the help of someone named “Loraine,” whom she variously referred to as a friend, mentor, coach, and spiritual advisor. There was a cloak of mystery in the way Sharline invoked Loraine, almost as if Loraine were oracular. What I noticed most was how effective Loraine’s particular brand of medicine was for Sharline. Sharline is whip-smart, and self-aware, and has always been someone who embraces a growth mindset. So she already knows a lot! And yet Loraine was helping her work on perhaps the stickiest of wickets: differentiation—learning to differentiate between feelings and triggers that belong to one’s self (and how they connect to past wounds and how to heal them) and those that actually belong to others: to stop unconsciously taking on external energies. And, just as importantly, learning to notice and break patterns of reactivity―to stop letting one’s ego run the show, start trusting one’s inner wisdom, and respond to life from a more grounded, centered place. In essence, how to find one’s soul authority.
After the umpteenth time hearing Sharline say “another thing Loraine helped me see is that…” I asked, “Who IS this Loraine?!” It turns out that Loraine is a Surinamese-American therapist who combines western psychology with Indigenous worldviews and practices. As Sharline explained, Loraine is simultaneously practical and liminal; direct and subtle; supportive and yet not enabling. “Wow, imagine if she could get her practice, framework, and method down into a book so that her teachings could reach more people,” I wondered aloud.
“She is!” Sharline responded. “She is writing a book.”
Such is the music to this publisher’s ears: a seasoned practitioner with a method of healing grounded in lineage and simultaneously unique who is putting words to paper. Two days later, Sharline introduced me to Loraine by email, and our mutual exploration began. This week—almost 18 months to the day later—North Atlantic Books published Loraine’s book.
The other night, Sharline came over again to catch up in our backyard. Although much had changed since that fateful evening, and we could now sit next to each other instead of six feet apart, our conversation as usual went wide and deep. As Sharline shared some of the hard-earned realizations she had come to about herself, her family, and larger society, it was clear Loraine was still bringing medicine to Sharline’s life, and by extension, to those in community with her. May the same transpire for all the people who read Loraine’s important, illuminating book.
—Tim McKee, publisher of North Atlantic Books