My New Novel Grace Period

IT’S FINALLY HERE!

Cusco III: Grace Period
A novel about Love, Death and Transformation

Dana Bennett’s star is on the rise. Her third book is in the works and her career as an inspirational speaker is about to take off. Life seems perfect until her husband Soren dies suddenly.

Dana is devastated and confused by the loss of her soulmate after such a short time together. Soren, moved by his deep love for her, reaches out from the other side, aided by a celestial being named Star, who has given him a one-year grace period to complete his soul commitments with Dana.

Soren guides her to discover a secret that alters Dana’s understanding of their relationship. They struggle to reach across the dimensions and the illusion of perfection to discover the true nature of love.

Available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited
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LETTING GO

Ten years ago my husband Christer asked me to write a movie script about our story. It was a strange request, not only because he’d been dead for 6 months, but mostly because I had no idea how to write a screenplay. 

He knew I had written a book about my experiences with Andean shamanism in Peru, which was indirectly how we met. A Peruvian guide living in Stockholm brought groups from Sweden. The guide had seen my book on a previous trip and sought me out. I suggested he bring his next group to my retreat center in Pisac to attend a one-day workshop with me.

In one of the exercises we did, I touched Christer’s hands, and felt a bolt of electricity pass through our hands and bodies. We stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Later when he came to my house for me to sign a copy of my book, he asked me what had happened earlier. My heart started pounding as if I just noticed how tall and handsome he was, with sparkling blue eyes and a charming smile. I invited him in.

A few months later he left his life in Stockholm to start a new one with me in Peru. There was a sense of destiny about our connection. I imagined growing old with him, having at last found my soulmate. But four years after our fateful meeting he died from a pulmonary embolism.

Many strange things happened with Christer and I the year following his untimely death. He was around me all the time. Other people, some who hadn’t even met him when he was alive, felt his presence with me. He had a secret he needed to share with me, which he led me to discover. It was then, in the aftermath of that discovery, that he insisted I write the film script.

So many times over these last 10 years, I have wondered why a movie version of our story was what he requested. Why not a memoir or even a novel (which I also didn’t know how to write but might have been a little easier than a screenplay!)

At first I tried to get someone else to write it. A professional. I contacted a few people whose work I liked. After several refusals and many suggestions that I write the story myself, I decided to give it a go. I hired a teacher to come down to Peru to help me with my first draft. It was a disaster. To say we didn’t click was an understatement. 

I’ve lost track of how many versions of this story I’ve written and how many professionals I have hired to help me. I let go of this project many times over the years and still it keeps popping back up as if Christer won’t let it go. I recently connected – by chance- with a wonderful Swedish film director who was interested in the premise of the story. I sent him two very different drafts of the script in the past year, the most recent, I am sad to say, he did not think was ready for production.

So here I sit, quite ready to let it go one more time. I have resurrected instead a “novel” version of the story which I am happy to put out there for the world to do with as it will. My life has been marked by many magical experiences that have opened doors to new worlds – including my chapter with Christer. I am ready for whatever the universe has in store for me next.

NEW DEMOCRACY

Did this election offer candidates that reflect your own interests? 

An idea came to me a month ago for a new more equitable system of democracy. It deals primarily with revamping the system in the States but could apply to other countries as well.

Society has changed since the early founders created our current system more than 200 years ago. We don’t need to secure the rights of states who are no longer homogeneous regions with common interests to protect.  The Electoral College is archaic and obsolete. The current system of two houses doesn’t insure that all groups and individuals in the US are adequately represented. Running for office is financially out of reach for most, so the ones elected to office do not share common experiences and concerns with the majority of people they represent.

The idea that came to me insures more equitable representation by creating categories under which each adult can vote and run for office:

  1. Three AGE groups: 18-30, 31–50, 51-80+
  2. Two GENDER groups: Female and Male 
  3.  Six RACIAL groups: Black, Latina, Asian, Native, White and Mixed (each person picking the racial group in which they self-identify)

Each person over the age of 18, who lives in the USA, who has a Social Security number can vote and stand for office.  Any person over the age of 18, who lives outside the USA but is a citizen of the USA with a Social Security number can vote but not stand for office.

There will be only one city council per city, one house for the State Assembly and one house for the Federal Congress. There will be no political parties and no Electoral College. The percent of each of the above groups will be determined by the 2020 census (adjusted every 10 years). That percent will determine how many elected officials there will be in each category, i.e. how many black females age 31-50, how many Asian males age 18-30, etc. Everyone votes only in their own category. There will be 430 members of Congress in total.

Federal Congress will not have representatives by State but rather by group category. A provision can be made to ensure at least 2 people from each state are in the Federal Congress. State and City candidates have to live in the state or city they represent. Only residents of those cities and states can vote in those elections by their category.

Everyone will vote on line using their social security number. There will be a special website for candidates in each category where the person running for office in that category can post their CV and a video sharing why they want to be a representative and what they stand for and plan to do. The first 35 candidates in each category who register 6 months before the election, will be the ones who have the possibility of being elected. No paid advertisements will be permitted. There will be official “conversations with the candidates” online by category. Voting citizens are responsible for informing themselves about each candidate in their category so they can choose who they want to represent them.

After the election, the Congress will meet together to receive training in Non-Violent Communication and other community building skills. After 4-5 weeks together, they will nominate 12-15 candidates for higher office from among themselves. Through a series of ballots, that number would be reduced to three. The Congresspeople vote on those three. The one with the most votes will be president. The second will be the vice president and third will be Chair of the Congress. Everyone will have a term of 5 years. This process will also be done at State and local levels to elect mayors and governors.

This model removes money from the electoral process. It insures that people of different ages, backgrounds and gender are represented in Congress, speaking to the needs and concerns of the people they represent rather than special interest groups that pay to elect certain candidates to do their bidding.

IT’S TIME

I’m turning 68 tomorrow. I find it shocking, hard to believe even. How have that many years gone by? I think of myself as 40-something, not in a physical sense because I can see in the mirror signs of age on my face and the growing number of white strands in my dark brown hair.

It’s the sense of myself that’s 40-something. Although my worries about it are less than then, I still contemplate having a positive impact on the world. I was living in Joburg in my 40s, a church minister preaching most Sundays and running a community outreach ministry for the homeless and unemployed in the city center. I felt like I was making a difference in people’s lives.

At 48 I moved to Cusco to help create a spiritual center where people from around the world could gather to reflect, heal and expand their consciousness. I built and ran Paz y Luz Healing Center for 17 years, practicing and teaching the Andean Spiritual Tradition and writing books about it. It was my first book that brought my Swedish husband to me.

I was in my 50s when I met and married Christer. In 2008 during one of our Inter-spiritual Gatherings, he envisioned a global project called United Vision where the world would live in peace with free, clean and abundant energy, water and food. He died four full yet short years after we met. His United Vision has been on my mind lately.

Perhaps its day is dawning. I’m turning 68 but still have some time ahead to make a difference in the world. The Golden Age we’ve been talking about since I moved to Peru 20 years ago, could be about to manifest. If this is its magical moment, then I want to be a tool to bring it about.

I imagine Christer is up there on some planet ready to assist with his other interplanetary friends, to disclose the technology that already exists for free and abundant energy. That could change everything, including our ways of traveling and connecting with each other.

That’s my birthday wish for this year (if you’re listening Christer) – not to be 40 again because I’m happy with the 68 years I have – but to meet one of those ETs face to face, who can teach me how to access that which has been hidden until now. It’s time to manifest the taripaypacha, spoken about it in the Inka Prophecies. It’s time to manifest a new world of peace, well-being and prosperity for everyone.

I’m ready. Are you?

Sept 7, 2020

CC#54. RIVER MAGIC

In my meditation I heard the river calling me. It’s a place I have been many times in the 18 years I’ve lived in Pisac. When I was first learning the Andean Spiritual tradition from my Peruvian teachers, they brought us down to this spot on the river to connect with the element Water, which washes and balances us.

When I started teaching the tradition to others, I would bring them here to meditate with the Water. We’d squint our eyes and gaze at the flowing river, releasing our heavy energy into the water and watch it flow way – our sadness, our anger, our doubt and fear and worries – washed away by the sacred river.

Then we would find a place to put our feet in the water, closing our eyes and allowing the water within us and the water of the river – the planet – to become one, while listening to the soothing sound of the current flowing over the rocks. Because all the waters of this planet are connected, we were invited to travel to wherever we wanted to go, guided by the Ondines and Sirens, the elementals of the Water.

I nearly forgot this ritual practice in my time away. I’ve been back home for 20 days now. Each one has been a blessing of reconnection with friends and neighbors and the land but most of all with the energy of these mountains. The quarantine has done its best to divide and separate us but the energy of the elements and the apus remain strong and life-giving wherever we might find ourselves.

For me, the saddest part of the Covid restrictions has been the inability to travel freely to other countries and for people from other countries to travel here. Sitting by the river this day allowed me an alternative way to travel. I’m reminded the flow of the river cannot be stopped. When the water encounters an obstacle, it finds another way around, below, above or beyond. The Water teaches us adaptability – how to go with the flow, finding alternative ways to reach our desired destination.

This sacred river has been here for thousands of years and is likely to remain long after I’m gone. Its magic is a stone’s throw away from my house yet I nearly forgot its extraordinary capacity to nurture, soothe and heal me, every time I choose to come and sit beside it. I feel full of gratitude and grace for this ever flowing resource of hope and healing.

August 17, 2020

Covid Chronicles 53. HOME SWEET HOME

The flight from Lima to Cusco was very well organized and smooth. We exited the plane down the steps and walked on the tarmac outside the airport building to the baggage claim area. I was the first one off the plane and as I rounded a corner I saw a beautiful mountain in front of me and burst out crying. I was surprised by the level of emotion I felt to be back in the sacred Andes after so many months away.

Daya, who now runs the retreat center, was waiting for me outside the gates since no one was allowed to drive into the airport. The forty minute drive to Pisac I soaked in the energy of the apus as Daya and I caught up on life in this strange time.

When we arrived at my house, I was greeted with open arms by my caretaker Evaristo who has been looking after me and my place for 18 years. We cried with tears of joy and deep gratitude, back together at last.

I got home just as the provincial borders closed again for quarantine. If I ever doubted I was blessed by the angels, I know for sure they were with me all the way home. The timing was guided by grace with the commercial flights from Lima to Cusco only opened for a short two week period.

I imagine the “Covid Chronicles” will continue for some unknown time to come but I much prefer being “stuck” in my home surround by my beloved mountains, than anywhere else.

August 10, 2020

Covid Chronicles 52. ALMOST

Free at last! We got released about 1:30pm on Monday before we were served another delicious styrofoam meal. I’m staying at my friend’s place in Miraflores 2.5 kms away but a world apart with a much more expansive view. I will leave here Thursday morning for an 8:30am flight to Cusco, exactly one week after our flight from Miami. Thanks for all your well wishes. It won’t be long now…

July 29, 2020

Covid Chronicles 51. HOMEWARD BOUND

Our very full flight of 304 Peruvians and residents left Miami on Thursday midday for our 5 hour flight with lots of waiting before and after. I was up at 4:44am that morning. Driving to the airport, check-in and security took a total of four hours until I got to the gate and then another 40 minutes waiting in line at Starbucks for coffee. We boarded at 10:30 and departed at 12:30pm.

At 4:44pm local time the plane touched down in Lima. It’s my sacred number so I felt very blessed and happy to finally be back in Peru. Then the real adventure began. We landed in a military airport which meant we had to walk down stairs to get off the plane and take a bus to a tented outside holding area with plastic chairs six feet apart where we waited – and I mean waited. The immigration people came through fairly quickly because we had all filled out the form online before we took off. Then a nurse came by to take our temperature.

Two hours passed as darkness descended and flood lights shone in our eyes as we waited for our luggage which had been placed in long rows on the tarmac – all 608 pieces. It was chaotic to say the least. At first the ground staff  were taking our tags and looking  for our bags by number because they wanted us to be social distancing but eventually they realized the ridiculousness of that given we had just been sitting on top of each other for 5 hours. So then they released 32 at a time (a bus load) to look for our own suitcases. That took another 2 hours with no carts or porters to assist. Eventually I was on a bus which thankfully had wide sleeper seats because I needed a nap. It was almost 10pm when we left for the hotel in Miraflores, an hour’s drive. 

150 of us were dropped off in front of the Arawi Express Hotel where we waited in line on the sidewalk in the chilly winter night air. Everyone had to share a room, we were told,  which caused some disgruntled reactions. I had befriended Sisa back in Miami, a 27 year old student, when I asked her to help me fill out the online immigration form I was struggling with. We agreed to share a double room and got in a separate line for that. Her English is impeccable which has been helpful with understanding all the protocols and instructions. A match made in heaven.

By midnight, we were finally in our very small room where we were instructed to stay until we got tested. We waited patiently all day Friday, broken up only by the delivery of meals in plastic bags and styrofoam packaging – rice, potato and some kind of meat. Thankfully I anticipated the food would leave a bit to be desired so I packed cheese, crackers, peanut butter and other goodies.

By 7pm we gave up hope and watched a movie on Netflix (Sisa’s account). This morning at 10am, we were told the testing people had arrived and we would be called room by room. At the airstrip they told us we would be released after the “rapid test” which takes only 5 minutes to get the results so Sisa and I packed up all of our things and waited to be called. And waited. 11, 12, 1, 2… Just as another delicious meal arrived at 2:45, we were called downstairs, masked with ID in hand.

Just being outside the room was relief enough but the testers explained – even though we tested negative which Sisa and I did – we had to wait for a rep from the Ministry of Travel to come tomorrow or Monday to stamp our form before we can go. So it was back upstairs to eat our now cold late lunch of chicken, rice and potato with red jello for dessert and unpack my toothbrush for another lovely night or two in quarantine even though I’m virus-free.

A dear friend lives a mile from our hotel. I will go there when I get released and then fly to Cusco on Wednesday morning. Hopefully the last leg will be less eventful. I thank the angels for “rapid testing” or I’d have been here for 14 days!

Home sweet home, here I come!

 

July 25, 2020

 

Covid Chronicles 50. DREAM COME TRUE

In the early hours of this morning, there was quite a storm with thunder, lightning and heavy rain. When I finished my bath and was starting my yoga, the sky cleared and this beautiful rainbow appeared in front of me — a blessing and affirmation that my homecoming is close at hand.

I’ve registered for a repatriation flight leaving Miami Thursday for Lima. I filled out the forms and paid for the flight. I’m trusting that means it will indeed fly. Next weekend I should be doing my quarantine in a Lima hotel of the government’s choosing. If we all test negative, we could be released after 3-5 days.

Commercial domestic flights began yesterday making the Lima to Cusco leg feasible. I have a ticket for August 1st which is changeable depending on length of quarantine and other variables. I know we’re living in a time of unexpected changes but this feels like it will happen.

I could be home soon, one hundred and thirty-something days after I planned. HOME. No longer somewhere over the rainbow but an actual reality, where the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true. 

July 17, 2020

Covid Chronicles 49. PROSPECTS

Just like the weather here that can turn from sunny and blue to torrential downpour without much notice, life shifts quickly presenting new prospects. When I had to cancel my flight to Portugal, I changed my focus to returning home. Peru entered Phase 2 on June 30 which seems to be going well enough that Phase 3 is moving forward a bit earlier than expected. Tomorrow domestic flights will resume making it possible to get from Lima to Cusco by air.

This is the development I’ve been waiting for to ensure I wouldn’t get stuck in Lima if I took on a repatriation flight. Today I heard international commercial flights could resume in August, possibly the 1st but more likely on the 15th, creating a quandary: If there is a repatriation flight in July should I take it? Should I buy a commercial flight in August hoping it will be allowed to land?

If I’ve learned anything in these last four months, I know it’s precarious to plan with any sense of certainty but also important to nimbly move forward. I used my Jetblue credit to book a ticket to Lima for August 19, knowing it can be cancelled. In the meantime I will live day by day enjoying what presents itself, including a possible repatriation flight in July.

Without much notice, my mom’s assisting living facility has allowed visits to resume. Dennis and I got to see Mom in the garden for 30 minutes on Saturday and we’ll return on Thursday. I am grateful to still be here for that possibility. It was heartwarming to see her eyes light up when she recognized us.

As I watched the sunset last night, I invited whatever prospect for returning home to come in it’s time and way, grace-filled and easy — allowing of course, for the possibility that the best laid plans can change at any moment.

July 13, 2020