I wrote Soulshaping over more than a six-year period, in the cramped and isolated back room of my house in Toronto, Canada. Written amid a tyranny of economic and personal challenges, I went back and forth between the back room and the marketplace, racing off to make a living, returning home to find the words. Although I longed to stop and breathe, the call to write was relentless, determined to have its way with me. If I spent too much time doing business, it mocked my materialism: “Enough! You met your basic needs. Now get back to the computer.” If I went to bed too early, it woke me up in a start: “Get in the back room and write!” It soon became clear that honoring my calling was my only defense against sleeplessness. If I wrote, I slept. If not, I lay awake all night tormented by the words waiting, impatiently, at the gate of self-expression. It all seemed a little insane.
At the same time, I was riddled with shame and self-doubt. My calling was to write a subjective book, to talk about spirituality through the vehicle of my own journey. Yet every self-deprecating part of me rose to the surface to knock it down: “Who wants to read about your miserable journey. Why don’t you keep these embarrassing experiences to yourself?” “You’re not famous—who is going to buy your autobiography?” “This may serve some therapeutic purpose for you, but won’t help anyone else.” Nonetheless, I kept at it, both because writing it was helping my soul to expand, and because I had some odd faith that my story might actually help someone else. The little voice that knows.
I finished the manuscript in the spring of 2007 and sent it to a leading spiritual publisher. Soon thereafter, it was returned to me with a contractual offer to publish. My ego was elated—an offer, so fast!—but my spirit was deflated. Their editor had spent weeks chiseling away at it, cutting it virtually in half. It didn’t look like my book anymore. Whose book is this anyway? Is this a blessing or a curse? Confused, I went away and compared our versions. At first, I was too attached to my voice to see the gift, as though it had been my voice that I was channeling (first mistake). But then my inner eye opened, and I saw the gift he had brought. My version was too long and repetitive, his leaner and crisper. I didn’t agree with everything he did, but he gave me something that I didn’t have when I wrote it—a reader’s consciousness. Bless him, beautiful man.
But there was still a problem. My soul was grumbling. I didn’t like the contract; something didn’t feel right. It put a limit on the word count. I went inside and listened in. What did the little voice have to say? I heard the trumpets of guilt chastising me: “How can you turn down an offer after receiving such a wonderful gift?” Good point! I heard from my ever-practical ego, “You are exhausted. You are a first-time writer. You had an immediate offer. You fool—take it!” But I also heard a more benevolent, intuitive voice: “You have already opened the gift that the Universe sent you. Trust your intuition and bring this book into the world on your terms. Begin on the grass-roots level. You wrote with that intention, so honor it.”
I refused the contract. I had written a book about the importance of honoring our soul-scriptures to the letter. How could I ignore mine? I self-published (soul-published) the first edition of Soulshaping at the end of 2007. I picked up a thousand books, and then wondered what to do next. Trust, Jeffrey, trust. I sold a few, then a few more, and then the emails started coming. They weren’t just regular emails–they were emotional outpourings, cries of truth. Something about the self-revealing nature of Soulshaping invited readers to admit their own pain and their own longing for true-path. They said it was their story I had written. I was startled. Like many trauma survivors, I had grown up thinking that my family scene was different than everyone else’s. When I was selling windows door to door as a student, I would knock on the door and then step back, somehow imagining that the world inside that home was somewhere above the world I had grown up in. As I read the response to Soulshaping, I realized that I was wrong. I was not the only one, not even close. So many of us have walked the same trauma trails and endured similar hardships. So many.
Then I encountered a bright-eyed homeless man who lived near my home in Toronto. I called him “the pushcart guru.” We had an idea–he would sell the book on the streets. Seemed preposterous, until he sold a bunch almost overnight. And then people started to come looking for him. They would contact me—“I want to buy a book from the homeless guy!” The media came, we made a YouTube video, he sold dozens of books in no time. Then the Facebook group began to grow, people began quoting from the Soulshaping dictionary, readers sent in a bevy of book testimonials, and a free audio pod on my Web site—“the little voice that knows”—became so popular that we had to expand the site capacity.
Then the Universe kicked into gear, attracting people to the book under the oddest of circumstances—Serendipity galore. A friend called. She was with her friend in downtown Toronto when they formed the intention to go to the bookstore to look for a copy of Soulshaping. On the way there, they found one—sitting on a park bench. I had given a few copies away to a homeless man to sell the night before. He must have left one behind. Something was afoot.
My first press run almost completely sold out in a matter of months, without tremendous effort on my part, with virtually no bookstore coverage. Heartfelt gratitude to my soulpod. It takes a village to raise a book. Yet another bit of proof that we cannot achieve anything alone.
I went to sleep one night and had a vivid dream—I saw the book sitting on a bookstore shelf. The message was clear: This book was not mine anymore. It was for those who needed it. It was time to get it into the right hands. The Universe had spoken.
I contacted an agent I knew. He told me to call a particular distributor. By the time he returned my call, he had already recommended the book to three publishers, although he himself had never read it. With very little fanfare, a contract was worked out with North Atlantic Books for a new edition. Published in late August, 2009, Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation began to touch more lives from the get-go, culminating in a series of related writings posted on Good Morning America, The Washington Post, Synergy Magazine, Wisdom Magazine, Reality Sandwich.com, Sein de. and Insight Magazine in 2010. This new website soulebrates these achievements and provides an opportunity to bring the messages of Grounded Spirituality and Truth-Making to a vaster audience. When your mission is aligned with the Benevolent Universe, everything begins to happen seamlessly, a river of essence that rises up to meet you.
The publishing journey has validated many of the things I wrote about in Soulshaping. First, it validates the faith I had in my inner voice—the little voice that knows. This voice carries a karmic blueprint for our destiny, whispering sweet somethings in our inner ear whenever we dare to walk a false path. Easily drowned out in this distracting world, it is the best friend we will ever have. Raising it to the rafters of consciousness is essential to our expansion. Second, the journey has confirmed the importance of gut-wrenching self-admission. So many of us hide our light under a bushel of shame, reluctant to show ourselves to the world for fear of being judged. But there can be no locked doors on the journey home. Admitting who we are is essential to our salvation. Everything has to be exposed. By exposing what lives inside of us, we liberate our own voice, and give others permission to self-reveal as well.
Next, the journey has reinforced my belief in unity consciousness. It is not just cliché—we really are all connected. Although many of the details are different, the essential threads of our humanity are remarkably similar: similar suffering, similar inner challenges, a shared longing for true-path. We are in this, together. We are this, together. Finally, it confirms that each of us is here with a profound purpose, however humble or simple it may appear. Growers are inchworms—real change takes time. But every little soul step we take is divine perspiration, shaping the individual and collective soul to the next stage of its evolution. I encourage you to do all that you can to overcome whatever obstacles you face on your path to truth. The path home is not always easy—the School of Heart Knocks is ever-challenging—but it is the only path worth taking. Your unique soul-scriptures live at the heart of you, lying in wait for their opportunity to be humanifest. They may be covered in dust, they may be hidden from view, but they are still there, still sparkling with infinite possibility. If my work can help to remind you, then it has served its purpose. I offer it with gratitude.