In the Shadow Of A Badge (Book Review)

Book jacket for "In the Shadow Of A Badge" by  Lillie Leonardi

Book jacket for “In the Shadow Of A Badge” by Lillie Leonardi

Editor’s note: From time to time I will review books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note when the book was purchased by myself or obtained as a free review copy from the publisher.

It took an act of unspeakable tragedy to force Lillie Leonardi to stop living a double life. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 and specifically the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 helped crack open Leonardi’s tough cop-turned-FBI agent exterior, exposing her raw and vulnerable spiritual center.

Standing amid the wreckage of that downed plane in Shanksville, PA, she experienced a religious awakening that caused her to rethink her entire life for the next decade. From that day forward, she would no longer be able to choose between being a law enforcement agent or a spiritual pilgrim; instead, the event forced her to address the two separate sides to her life and make them whole.

In her memoir, In the Shadow of a Badge, Leonardi describes seeing angels at the crash site in Shanksville. Her interpretation of this event was that the angels were helping transition the passengers and crew of the plane to heaven and that they were also watching over the hundreds of law enforcement personnel who had arrived to investigate the scene.

Having experienced other angel sightings throughout her life, Leonardi was comforted by the sight. Yet working in a male-dominated field for her adult life led her to hide her spiritual self with her coworkers and most of the world. Only her immediate family and friends understood her devotion to the Catholic faith and how she reveled in it during quiet moments.

To her coworkers and to the outside world, she was simply a “Robocop,” and acted on calculated, intellectual reasoning alone, leaving little room for spiritual or emotional reactions. That tough-guy exterior may have helped her deal with the 12 days she worked at the crash site as a liaison with United Airlines and government agencies but it also forced her to stuff her emotions deep within.

Energy always seeks expansion so when you try holding back extreme emotion for too long, it will eventually cause havoc with the personality. In Leonardi’s case, the stifling of emotions both as a cop and as a first responder on 9/11 finally caused her to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That diagnosis (and her final acceptance of it) started her on a journey of self-discovery and healing that could help her finally quantify the two very distinctive sides of her personality.

Leonardi details her struggles with therapies to help manage her PTSD as well as her spiritual “coming out,” where she finally decides to publically share her experience in Shanksville. As part of that process, she began to allow herself to feel and act upon her intuitive/feminine persona which she had carefully controlled during her law enforcement tenure.

Personal thoughts

I am not Catholic and usually shut down mentally when I’m presented with too much religious dogma. Still, I selected In the Shadow of a Badge because I was interested in Leonardi’s experiences on 9/11. Like many Americans, the wounds inflicted on our country that warm fall day still feel fresh and raw even a decade later. I’ve read other firsthand accounts of supernatural events by first responders and wanted to see how Leonardi’s compared.

I’m also not a big believer in angels–the concept seems too Christian to me. So after I read a few pages into the book, I reminded myself that there is always something to learn and kept going to see what I could glean from the manuscript. Rather than discard the author’s message altogether, I instead went into an introspective state to clarify my own beliefs about angels and the afterlife. I have a way to go on that discovery.

I did pick out several important themes which are applicable to anyone who reads the book, whether they come from a religious background or not.

First, as I write a lot about in my blog, our world is created through beliefs. This fact is not lost on Leonardi as she deconstructed her experience in Shanksville. Universally, she understands that her beliefs are the most important thing in her life, which to her includes her deep Catholic faith. She sums it up this way:

“Our beliefs matter the most. If we accept our own inner strength, we can take the right action on behalf of ourselves and others. Our beliefs teach us to trust, and this trust guides our path.”

Another important lesson Leonardi learns through her post-9/11 life is that of safety and trust. Trust is a spiritual imperative and is the basis for living safely. The author brings up several examples of her deep trust and how it helped keep her safe during 25 years of police service. Calling on that trust became more important as she battled her PTSD. Her stories of trust and the help she received from the spiritual realm are inspirational and help others learn to trust their basic being.

Spiritual views aside, readers should take particular note of the author’s experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The disorder is a horrible residue of violent acts like 9/11, the wars in the Middle East and the recent shootings in Newtown. The general public needs to know about and understand the disorder which is beginning to affect larger numbers of people each year. I’m pleased the author shared so much of her journey with PTSD as it helps break down some of the stigma about the disorder.

Importantly, she shows that PTSD can sometimes be hard to recognize and slow to emerge as it can come about from stifling emotions for too long.  Leonardi also talks about some of the current treatments for PTSD and discloses what worked and didn’t work for her.

What strikes me most with this book, however, is how difficult it appears to be to live a life that includes public spirituality. Many people sometimes feel it’s inappropriate to talk about–let alone display–a spiritual self. It feels too risky to share with others. We worry what others will think of us if we talk about our own spiritual selves outside of a church or the privacy of our homes.

When we ignore that part of ourselves that is connected to the divine, the divine will make itself known eventually. The energy allotted to spirituality, if not given an outlet, will seek expression, even if the means seem questionable as it did with Leonardi’s PTSD. A quick read of the author’s synchronistic events as she accepted both her PTSD diagnosis and her true spiritual self is inspiring.

In the Shadow of a Badge may not be for everyone. There is heavy dose of Catholicism intertwined within the pages and the author takes readers through some very personal and sometimes trivial details of her recovery. Still, if you’ve ever tried to hide your religious or spiritual beliefs in public, this may be a good read and reminder of the amazing things that can happen when you integrate spirituality into your daily existence.

FTC Disclosure notice

I received this copy of the book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

This book available through these booksellers:


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Hay House







One Day the Shadow Passed (Book Review)

One Day the Shadow Passed by Jonathan Reggio

One Day the Shadow Passed by Jonathan Reggio

Editor’s note: From time to time I will review books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note when the book was purchased by myself or obtained as a free review copy from the publisher.

When the modern world darkens the soul, many people turn to religion as a way of replenishing the spirit and finding meaning in life. James turned to a rice paddy.

Jonathan Reggio’s One Day the Shadow Passed allows us a look into James’ life as he steps off on a pilgrim’s journey to rural Japan. He takes the trip to help ease his growing discontent with contemporary life and figures he’ll let destiny show him a new direction.

Only a few days into his journey, James gets lost on a wooded path and finds himself on a small farm. Seemingly unkempt and wild, the farm looks nothing like the other big commercial farms he had seen that day. With daylight and water running low, he is relieved to stumble upon the farm’s owner, Takeshi Fumimoto.

Fumimoto offers the weary traveler some hot tea, a meal and a place to sleep for the night, a much-needed respite after walking for days on end. While they eat dinner, James questions the man about his farm and the very noticeable differences between it and the larger commercial farms that surround the property. James quietly and eagerly listens to the farmer talk about his work and the reasons for his alternative farming methods.

It didn’t take James long to realize that the universe had brought him here for a reason. Even a discussion about the kinds of chickens the farmer was raising gave James reason to pause.

“I felt, quite distinctly, that although this man was talking about hens, he was in fact telling me about something else, something of far greater significance, which had enormous implications for myself and indeed for the whole world.”

James’ interest in the farm keeps him there for several days, helping Fumimoto with chores and learning about the “non-method” the farmer employs with his crops. These approaches, like the absence of fertilizer and pesticides, are in direct opposition to the methods used by the neighboring farms and those of other commercialized countries. He learns the reasons why Fumimoto chooses these methods and the successes and failures he encounters.

The reasons for this return to “natural” farming make perfect sense to James. So much so that he has a revelation while working the land with his Japanese host. “All that remained was one thought, one firm conviction that I knew was the only truth in the world: Mankind knows nothing.”

The farmer shares with James his own story about becoming disillusioned with the modern world. He explains how the scientific study of farming and ranching convinced him that the best farming method was nature itself and how he had learned to work with the land instead of against it.

“The farmer was so sure of his insight that he was prepared to reject everything: progress, science and centuries of farming tradition. He was willing to place them all on the altar of his belief, along with the farm itself, for surely he would lose the farm and his entire livelihood if his insight proved to be wrong.

After all, I was on a pilgrimage myself because I too had lost faith in the modern world somewhere along the line, so I wasn’t hostile to him on principle. It was just that he seemed to be questioning the very foundation of the modern world. He seemed to be questioning both the scientific world-view and the idea of progress.”

To be clear, this story isn’t just about farming. Instead, it’s a lesson in conscious creation: learning to turn away from the accepted norms of society to purposely live a self-directed life. Reggio masterfully uses the backdrop of farming to illustrate this point.

“Perhaps I saw only what I wanted to see. The farmer’s idealism and obstinacy were infectious and had blinded me to the truth. I too had wanted to believe that a natural way of farming and a natural way of life were possible. It seemed now that I had to acknowledge to myself that I was so eager to find some reason for optimism, in the world that I was prepared to ignore reality.”

Another big, in-your-face lesson from this book is the idea that nature is not a separate entity that must be fought against, tamed or controlled. James learns, through Fumimoto’s careful explanations, that becoming nature’s ally can lead to not only a healthy, bountiful crop but to a healthy and satisfied spirit as well.

In the end, James learns that he must trust his own personal guidance if he is to succeed in contemporary life. He returns to Oxford with a renewed sense of hope and inspiration and a dream of returning to Japan to see if the farmer’s ideas are fruitful. Years later, he would learn that they had been.

“As I listened to all these tales I was overcome with joy and hope. Here, all around me on the farm, was the living, growing proof that a new life was possible after all and that the path to this new life ran in exactly the opposite direction to the grey road of economic progress. The efforts of science were all unnecessary and only led to spiritual and physical hunger and pain. The evidence was incontrovertible.”

One Day the Shadow Passed is a deceptively complex manuscript. On the surface, it appears to be a book about farming and resonates well with anyone interested in natural food and a return to a simpler form of living. However, the book is also full of self-development and spiritual lessons that are of benefit to anyone on their own spiritual journey. This is a quick read that’s sure to leave readers questioning their own place in the universe and ways in which they can make a difference.

FTC Disclosure notice

I received this copy of the book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Available from these booksellers


Barnes & Noble

Hay House



For the Sender (Book Review)

Editor’s note: From time to time I will review books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note when the book was purchased by myself or obtained as a free review copy from the publisher.

Thankfully, some people still write letters

Cover art of “For the Sender.”

And others turn them into music for your soul.

A good book resonates with your heart. Good music resonates with your soul. So what happens when a talented songwriter pens a memoir? You’re taken one step closer to understanding life.

That may sound a little over the top, but the pure emotion that flows from Alex Woodard’s For the Sender can hardly be contained within its small size. The short book and accompanying CD tap into rich veins of creativity, sorrow, pride, despair, and most of all, love. Woodard’s songwriting background brings a richness to his writing that allows us the honor of feeling our way through the story of his life, reveling in his accomplishments and crying with his tragedies.

In fact, it only took me 14 pages into the book before I finally had to give in and get a box of Kleenex. Woodard’s life story and the letters of inspiration he used to write the book are both emotionally wrenching and life giving at the same time. The song lyrics he includes aren’t just poetic, they’re cathartic, helping move the reader through the sometimes-painful memories each song unearths.

Since the universe is always on our side, it’s easy for me to see why this particular book made its way to me at this time in my life. Within the first few pages, I was hooked into Woodard’s storyline, feeling my own life mirrored in his discontent of dreaming for a better life for himself. While I’m not an aspiring songwriter or musician, I think he adequately captures the denseness of living a life that isn’t quite fulfilling.

“These cold realities of the music business slowly begin to creep under my skin and some nights, as I lay alone in bed, I weave a make-believe coat of dreams as protection to keep me warm: dreams of ‘making it,’ dreams of having somebody to grow old with, dreams of little feet on hardwood floors. That imaginary coat of protection keeps the cold out, but it also keeps most of myself hidden from anybody else,” he writes.

That metaphor creeps in and out of the storyline as Woodard takes us back a few years so we can understand his own state of mind as he learns to let go of the life he thought he should be living and accept the life he has.

The storyline

For the Sender is more than Woodard’s life story. It’s a story of how he came to accept and understand his life by reframing the stories of others through songwriting. Those stories come in the form of four letters he received over a period of several years and the 12 songs that were written from each letter’s inspiration. In all, the letters and songs connect us to Woodard’s life and our own stories, which are as natural as the world can be.

The four letters Woodard received became inspiration for Woodard and some of his musician friends, pushing their creativity to capture the feelings and emotions emanating from the letters’ authors. The letters came from four women, sharing their intensely personal stories:

  • Emily, who met her soulmate only to have him pass away. She began writing letters to her lost love and she included one in her letter to Woodard. The grief, despair, hope and acceptance in that letter made a profound impact on the songwriter.
  • Woodard and some friends visited a homeless shelter for teens to inspire the kids and in the process became inspired by the center’s director, Kim. The story of her troubled youth and understanding of her own unique gifts is fodder for two songs.
  • Alison is a medic who was one of the first responders after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Her selfless devotion to the people of Haiti and her questioning of the will of God caused Woodard to reflect on his own faith.
  • Katelyn was struggling to handle the demands of a newborn when her police officer husband was killed in the line of duty. Her resilience to move on touched Woodward and his friends as they wrote about the circle of life.

Woven throughout the storylines of each letter is Woodard’s reflection on his own life. We see his anguish over the loss of his best friend—a black Labrador named Kona—who died in his lap. His companion was a benchmark for Woodard and his dreams and her death helped clarify where his life was headed. Until he received the first letter from Emily, he had concentrated solely on writing about himself, using songwriting as a form of self-expression and emotional release.

The letters helped Woodard see life through a different filter: that of other people. He realized he could express the raw emotions of others through his songwriting and in the process, solidified his own thoughts and feelings on life and spirituality.

Woodard’s reflection on the letters and his own struggles with life help him understand the shared experiences of everyone on Earth. He understands that the letters are written more for the sender’s benefit than for the receiver. Yet the ideas, emotions, hopes and dreams of the letters are so universal that they can be appreciated by anyone.

Reading For the Sender, I felt privileged to peek into the creative process of Woodard and his friends. Like alchemists, the songwriters sifted through the words of each letter and distilled the bare essence of the sender’s souls. What remains is pure, clear insight into the human condition and a soothing tonic for understanding the world in a new way.

From a self-development perspective, I enjoyed watching Woodard’s growth through the songwriting process and ultimately his own changing consciousness. His understanding of conscious creation comes through as he breaks down his own self-defeating thought processes and begins to understand his role in creating his life.

“Under my breath I tell myself to stay out of the way and trust the process. Lately I’m finding that sometimes what I want isn’t really what I need and the right things seem to happen if I’m patient,” he writes as he begins to see the letters and subsequent songs take on a life of their own.

Ultimately, he realizes that life is best experienced when he drops expectations, when he stops trying to control every detail of his life. That’s a hard concept to process, let alone experience, but he gets there one day while surfing in the Pacific.

“These moments are what my dreams are made of now, more so than all the things I thought I wanted someday. Surfing isn’t about someday. It’s about now. I let go of someday every time I take off on a wave and become more present in the moment. Life is better then, when I’m not thinking about me.”

Who should read this book?

You don’t need to be interested in music or in self-development to find enjoyment in For the Sender. However, anyone with an interest in songwriting, creativity, spirituality or new age concepts will be pleasantly surprised by the storyline of this memoir and especially in the lingering buzz it leaves on the reader.

For the Sender does tug on the heartstrings in a most blatant manner. I attribute this to Woodard’s poetic writing style that eliminates extraneous details in order to focus on the things that matter most to him and the women who penned the letters that inspired his songs. It’s a quick and easy read but is one that is sure to stir your own deep emotions and leave you feeling hopeful for the future.


For the Sender is scheduled for hardcover release on September 18, 2012. A CD of the songs inspired by the letters is included and proceeds generated by the songs from each letter will be donated to a cause of the sender’s choice.

You can watch videos of the songs created from the letters, as well as read the letters themselves, at the book’s website at:

FTC Disclosure notice

I received this advanced copy of the book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Available through


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The Man Who Wanted to be Happy (Book Review)

Editor’s note: From time to time I will review books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note when the book was purchased by myself or obtained as a free review copy from the publisher.

Who wouldn’t want to be happy?

Book cover for The Man Who Wanted To Be Happy

If finding happiness were only as easy as reading a book.

All too often we look to our external world to provide us sources of happiness. We look to relationships, careers, money, and security in vain attempts to feel good about our lives and ourselves. This search for “something” is really the thinly veiled pursuit of happiness and it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Just ask Julian, a vacationing schoolteacher in Laurent Gounelle’s The Man Who Wanted To Be Happy. During his final week of vacation in Bali, Julian seeks out a local healer in hopes of finding the source of his general malaise. Certainly there must be something medically wrong with him, he supposes. A quick examination by Master Samtyang reveals the problem: Julian is an unhappy person.

Julian spends the next several days engaged in dialogue with Samtyang about the nature of reality, quickly learning the basics of conscious creation. His lessons include the biggest lesson of all, that your thoughts and beliefs create your reality.

Master Samtyang uses Western examples to show Julian how he creates his own reality. He uses clear, simple analogies to illustrate points such as:

  • How Julian’s self-perceptions are the source of how people treat him
  • Where his beliefs come from
  • How beliefs filter experiences of reality
  • Using daydreams to form desired experience
  • How following dreams and impulses leads to the most fulfilling life possible
  • How expectations of others shape experience
  • How everyone in the universe is connected
  • How beliefs about money can lead to or deny happiness

During his weeklong journey into conscious creation, Julian finds himself where many others do when they’re first introduced to self-development concepts. He understands them on the surface—intellectually—but struggles with feeling them emotionally and fully integrating them into his experience. He is in the first stages of re-creating his life from a new perspective, using his newly acquired concepts to guide him along the way.

Julian is quick to understand the lessons he is presented with. In a few instances, the homework Samtyang assigns leads to a deeper understanding of key concepts and helps Julian begin to shift his perceptions to a new way of approaching life.

Who should read this book

Some readers learn best through storytelling and for them, this is an excellent introduction to the key points of conscious creation. The clear language and straightforward dialogue between Samytang and Julian provide a framework for the lessons and offer a quick-look at the concepts without much depth. The tropical setting of Bali gives a luscious quality to the storyline, helping the reader understand why our main character is suffering from unhappiness in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Readers familiar with self-development and new-age theories, however, may find the lessons too basic. Julian seems to anticipate the proper responses for each of the questions Samtyang asks, which sometimes seem out of place for a Westerner not familiar with such topics. In addition, the lessons themselves serve only as a basic outline; there is no depth to each point.

Julian’s story is not unlike many people who have started on the new age path. He begins to understand the finer points but we don’t see the struggle that will ensue as he attempts to integrate conscious creation into his life. That part of the learning curve—integrating the material into daily life—is the bulk of this work and is some of the hardest and yet most rewarding.

Those readers interested in new age concepts and self-development will benefit from an exposure to the concepts presented. Like seeds, the concepts presented are best planted and then nurtured through individual reflection and experience.

My experience

While I enjoyed The Man Who Wanted To Be Happy, I felt the book was lacking depth into the both the subjects lead character’s story arc. Although we can see how Julian struggles with the concepts when he’s alone, we can’t see what kind of impact the lessons will have on his life.

I do appreciate the examples Master Samytang brings up with Julian’s search for happiness. There are few gems in the material regarding Julian’s thoughts of changing careers that many may find useful. Even though the concepts are simplistic, the material is there and available as a good reference or refresher for the reader.

We come to understand that Julian has started a journey, a journey towards finding happiness. And as many have surmised already, this is a life-long journey that takes a considerable amount of time and effort. There is no Hollywood ending for the story, which feels a bit more natural and lifelike than other possible endings.

In all, this is a good introduction to conscious creation, presented in a fictional format, which makes it more relatable than some non-fiction works. But like any good workbook, the information must be applied through study, reflection and integration in order to make a useful impact.

FTC Disclosure notice

I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Where to buy






You CAN fight city hall (without actually fighting): United Breaks Guitars (Book Review)

Editor’s note: From time to time I will be reviewing books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note on each book review if I purchased the book myself or if I obtained a review copy from the publisher.

When a careless United Airlines baggage handler threw musician Dave Carroll’s guitar across the tarmac in March 2008, little did he know he’d strike a chord with millions of air travelers around the world. On that fateful day, Carroll’s guitar would suffer severe damage and set in motion one of the most successful viral music videos to date. That video lead to a global conversation about customer service, social media, self-empowerment and the value of doing the “right thing.”

United Breaks Guitars is the written follow-up to Carroll’s YouTube video and is an intriguing story that will certainly be of interest to anyone involved in customer service, public relations and social media. It is also an excellent example of how applying conscious creation concepts to a challenge can yield fruitful results both in the marketplace and in life.


After Carroll discovered his broken guitar, he spent almost a year trying to get compensation from United Airlines for repairs. At each step, he was turned away, the result of a poor customer service policy that favored United and not its customers. As his frustration mounted, he began searching for ways to share the experience with others that would cause United to take heed.

Rather than turn to legal action, Carroll decided on the one area he knew best: music. He vowed to write a series of songs and make corresponding videos to be placed on YouTube. The first song, “United Breaks Guitars,” was posted on July 6, 2009 and took only days to reach a million viewers, his original goal. In that first week, his message reached around the world and he became sought by media outlets to talk about the experience.

The idea worked, prompting United Airlines to engage him in conversations about the experience and the video. But perhaps more impressively, the United Airlines stock price actually dropped as a result of the video’s success. It’s fair to note that United did finally own up to the mistake, apologize for it and offer compensation for the repairs.

Today, with more than 12 million hits on YouTube, the video trilogy continues to gain steam while Carroll has become a sought-after speaker and consumer advocate. United Breaks Guitars dissects the experience in minute detail and gives readers a chance to understand the circumstances, the musician and the social media phenomenon that resulted from one mishandled piece of luggage.

Overall, this is an excellent account of Dave Carroll’s United experience and is useful for anyone interested in or working in customer service, social media, branding or the music business. It’s a quick, easy read and gives the audience a thorough look into the implications of social media in the marketplace and the ability for one person to truly make a difference. The book, however, may also be of interest to readers familiar with new age concepts.

New Thought Connections

When I saw United Breaks Guitars on the Hay House review website, I was intrigued: why is Hay House—the largest publisher of self-development books—producing a book about business, customer service and social media? I must admit I hadn’t heard of Carroll’s experience prior to seeing the book title, but a quick read of the description convinced me I’d like to learn more. As a public relations/marketing director by day and conscious creator writer by night, the book seemed right up my alley.

The main storyline of UBG is certainly applicable to general business. Parts of the book read like a university textbook on customer service 101 and what can go wrong when businesses don’t take care of their customers. But it’s the understory of UBG that gently leads readers to understand the power one person can bring to the marketplace—and the world—with a good idea and a cause.


What’s important to note and what most media accounts of Carroll’s experience omit is the fact that he was not out for revenge against United, quite the opposite. Instead, he was intent on making things right in a way that respected everyone involved. So, when he vowed to write songs and produce videos about the customer service challenge, he was very clear in his goals:

“The success of UBG was not about anger or confrontation,” Carroll writes. “From my perspective, my goal was never to get revenge, but rather to compel United to take responsibility and to see that hurting their customers is damaging to their own business. I wanted them to see that there aren’t two sides to consumer stories like mine, just one: the right side. While revenge is a negative and angry emotion, my approach was anything but vengeful.”

That respectful nature was part of a larger approach, which Carroll describes as “non-confrontational.” Like many authors in Hay House’s catalog, the singer/songwriter realized that coming across as bitter and rude wouldn’t really get to the heart of the matter and could actually escalate the tension further.

With a good idea in place, Carroll enlisted the help of family and friends to make his music videos and all were more than happy to help. After all, many people at some point in their lives have had a bad air travel experience and most people thought this would be an excellent way to get United’s attention. Also, his musician friends were very supportive, knowing how important the instrument was to the performer. He was on to something big.

“Call it intuition, but I absolutely knew that I was at the start of what would be a very long process, so I made two vows to myself that day: first, I would not give up until this matter was resolved to my satisfaction; and second, I would never lose my temper in any of my interactions. I would do my best to be respectful to everyone I encountered, knowing that they were simply trying to do their job within the rules they were given,” he writes.

Carroll obviously understands new thought concepts and applied them (knowingly or unknowingly) to the situation at hand. His grace-under-fire handling of the customer service issue cut through months of deadened leads and caused an airline—and the world—to stand up and take notice. As the video gained popularity and Carroll began doing media tours, he quickly understood how letting go of results and remaining focused on his goals would help move things forward.

“As has happened so many times in my career, there were plenty of reasons to wait until all the conditions were better in order to move ahead. But once again, I took a leap of faith that doing the best you can with what you’ve got always leaves you better off than having done nothing at all. I was reminded that stepping up to make the most an opportunity is when magic occurs and that the right people will always appear for you, at just the right time, but you have to first show up yourself.”

That approach would allow the songwriter to take advantage of synchronicities that came his way, including friends and strangers donating time and effort to make the videos and help him with his new career as a consumer advocate. The first video became successful so quickly that Carroll was forced into the limelight with little or no direction. He was pioneering a new way of taking on a giant corporation through social media and the idea was working.

Nice guys finish first

What becomes immediately apparent when reading UBG is Carroll’s understanding of the power new age thought. While so many in the main stream media turned the story into that of “one guy taking on a giant corporation,” Carroll focused on doing the right thing for himself, United and seemingly-powerless consumers everywhere.

At each step in the story, the musician kept a clear head and remained focused on telling the story the way he wanted. He stuck to the facts, letting others draw their own conclusions about United or about customer service, and in the process, reveals to the reader what happens when a nice guy is compelled into action.

Millions understood the frustration, anger and bewilderment he felt with the United experience and he’s received email after email of similar stories. He’s been recognized in airports and venues around the world as the “United guy,” and he’s been able to focus that popularity into new ventures.

In addition to his music, Carroll has launched a secondary career as a consumer advocate, sharing his United story with audiences and also helping co-found the website Gripevine (, where frustrated consumers can post messages to businesses large and small in hopes of getting satisfaction. He’s become an ombudsman of sorts, standing up for the little guy and leveraging his new contacts to help businesses learn to take care of their customers.

He also used the theory of “pay it forward” as he found success with the YouTube version of UBG, donating United’s financial compensation to people and organizations that needed a little extra boost. The video and corresponding story have since been used by organizations large and small as training material about customer service and social media.

What struck me most when reading United Breaks Guitars is Carroll’s overall life philosophy, how he turned each step in the United saga into a win-win for everyone involved. That life-approach is familiar to self-development readers who will resonate with Carroll’s mission statement:

 “Whatever I choose to engage in, I’ve decided to approach it with a caring and positive attitude, and I know that when I do, I attract more of the same. In the process, I’ll control the things within my reach and worry less about the things outside it.”

Overall thoughts

This is a deceptively complex manuscript. Carroll’s clear and simple writing make it a quick read yet the story line allows for different audiences to each get something out of the book. Business-type readers will appreciate the ramifications of social media on the bottom line; consumer advocates will resonate with his ability to get United to act; while personal-development readers will take home examples of living a consciousness-centered life.

While you’re at it, check out Carroll’s first “United Breaks Guitars” YouTube video or check out some of his other music. In particular, “Now” is a beautiful ballad based on the work of Eckhart Tolle and other new thought pioneers.

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I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

Belief Re-patterning (book review)

Editor’s note: From time to time I will be reviewing books related to conscious creation, self-development, law of attraction and other subjects of interest to my readers. I’ll note on each book review if I purchased the book myself or if I obtained a review copy from the publisher.

If you’ve read or studied conscious creation, you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “if you change your thinking, you can change your life.” These are great words, indeed, and heavyweight authors like Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer and Esther Hicks are models for living this profound philosophy. But if you’ve tried to change your thinking, whether through affirmations, meditation or mindfulness, and found yourself stuck in the same-old, same-old world, you begin to question the validity of new age thought.

I came to the same conclusion: if it’s so easy to change your thoughts and change your life, why can’t I do it? The answer is simple if the process is not: it all comes down to beliefs. Your beliefs dictate your experience of the world and trying to change beliefs can seem an impossible task.

Author Suze Casey offers her advice in a new book, Belief Re-patterning, released in April 2012 by Hay House. The book is a culmination of her years of personal coaching and introduces readers to the process of changing beliefs and thus, improving their lives. It’s a grand companion to the work of other Hay House authors and even pioneers such as Seth, Napoleon Hill, Charles F. Haanel, and Joseph Murphy.

One line of Casey’s book Belief Re-patterning caught my eye in particular as I flipped through it. “I had become frustrated with suggestions that I just change my thinking. That was the exact part that challenged me, and it seemed to me that books and workshop leaders just glossed over it,” Casey writes. That was enough for me to give the book a try.

If you’ve studied conscious creation or law of attraction in any form, you know the basic tenant of the teachings: you create your own reality. And you create your reality through your thinking, your emotions and your beliefs. I was originally drawn to the idea because it puts the responsibility for making personal change right where it belongs: with yourself. You are in the driver’s seat with your life, setting the tone and direction you want to go.

Like many beginner “conscious creators,” I approached belief work by making lists of things I believe in–good and bad. Then I set out to change those beliefs that were no longer serving me. During that process, I adopted the use of daily affirmations in an attempt to insert new beliefs into my psyche. But months of repeated affirmations felt like they were getting me nowhere and I began to wonder what was holding me back. Shouldn’t the process be simple?


Casey’s take on belief re-patterning grew out of her own personal history, which includes health challenges, teaching and coaching thousands of clients. The author brings a unique approach to belief re-patterning by integrating teaching and learning strategies into the process. She carefully observed how her students learned best and paired it with her belief patterning “formula,” a six-step list of statements designed to move both surface beliefs as well as deeply-planted core beliefs.

What it is

Casey’s approach to belief re-patterning is a process. In short, she teaches readers how to engage in an inner dialogue that helps direct the intellect, conscious mind and subconscious mind to work together to systematically change thinking and emotions. The emotional connection is important, as beliefs are a combination of repetitive thinking combined with strong emotion.

“Belief re-patterning works because the focus is on switching the emotion you are feeling rather than trying to change the thought,” she writes. This is a crucial distinction and one that’s often overlooked in other self-help books on changing thoughts.  For example, many authors tout the benefits of using affirmations. The premise: say an affirmation enough times and you’ll begin to believe it. But many people have a hard time tapping into the emotions that underlie those repetitive thoughts.

Make no bones about it: this is a workbook and is best utilized when you actually do the exercises in each section. Casey readily acknowledges right up front that people will approach the book in different ways: some will read it cover to cover then go back and do the exercises while others will stop at each section and work with the suggestions. I did a hybrid of both, first reading the book and mentally performing some of the assignments and then going back and re-reading thoroughly and completing written assignments in sequence.

Please note: Casey makes available a printable workbook on her website that readers can use alongside the manuscript. This helps frame the material in a different light and may help some readers make concrete use of the techniques she offers.

What sets this book apart from other self-help books?

The biggest benefit to Casey’s book is by addressing the problem most people have with changing beliefs: the how. The author gives specific examples of how to engage what she calls your “inner critic” and “inner coach” in a dialogue that ultimately leads you to new thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

The process is somewhat similar to other self-help teachings and processes such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)/Tapping, Sedona Method and others. However, Casey’s in-depth explanation of each step in the process is a welcome change for readers looking for specific, practical techniques to move thoughts in a positive direction. She explains the why along with the how to help the reader intuitively understand the material.

Who should read this book?

Although the language is clear and simple, I’d more readily recommend this book to someone who is already familiar with the benefits of belief work: changing the ones you don’t like and enhancing the ones you do. It is general enough for novice readers but is better understood and utilized by those already familiar with conscious creation, law of attraction or affirmations. Understanding the framework of conscious creation helps crystalize some of the ideas she presents.

My experience

Having read hundreds of self-help books and worked with belief re-patterning over the past several years, I was intrigued with Casey’s premise but held a certain amount of skepticism about the results. Her promise that belief work can be effective and easy was the hook I needed to try just one more book on the subject.

Some of Casey’s process is vague, leaving the specific inner dialogue up to each reader. At first, this frustrated me but I hung in there and kept the overall concept in mind as I started in on a few practice sessions. Within a few days, I found myself tackling surface beliefs (such as something upsetting me at work) and applying the dialogue formula to the thoughts at hand.

Working with that process, I found I could identify deeper, more firmly held beliefs. When I listened closely to my “inner critic” for clues, I could hit upon areas that needed further work and development. This is a great benefit as beliefs are usually found in clusters and it sometimes takes multiple tries to get to the root of a problem.

As Casey promised, the process became second nature to me. I found myself looking at old beliefs in new ways and making headway on ones I wanted to change. Using the process, I can now see movement on several beliefs by taking a few moments to run the dialogue in my mind.

Still, this work is an ongoing process that doesn’t always lead to instant results. Like affirmations, belief work requires you to train your thoughts and emotions into the new desired position in your psyche. It takes time, but so far Casey’s suggestions have proved valuable in many areas. Core beliefs—those deeply ingrained thought and emotional patterns that run or ruin our lives—take longer to move. I’ll see in the months to come if the process is successful.

The bottom line

If you’re interested in changing your thoughts and beliefs toward new, beneficial and supportive ones, this book can start you on the journey. Like most self-help books, it’s important to find an author and/or a process that resonates with you and the way you learn. For me, it’s definitely a part of my suitcase of processes that I can use to actively construct the life I’m creating.


Disclosure notice: I have signed up to review Hay House books as part of the Hay House Book Nook program. However, I did purchase this copy of Belief Re-patterning on my own before joining the program. The opinions in this review are completely my own based on my direct experience with the book.

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