Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Mar 31st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Color Me SARK

AE_SARKbyAndreaScherA new book presents life lessons in a striking package
For SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy), nothing is more annoying than being forced to feel glad when you don’t. Sure, challenging things happen all the time and you don’t want to spend your life wallowing, but hiding your emotions or pretending you’re feeling something that you’re not is just as bad.

From the title alone, the well known author’s latest book, “Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity,” sounds like a cynic’s nightmare: the self-help book. But it’s not.

In fact, the mere phrase “self-help book” is one that SARK would like to stamp out of our vocabulary. Self-help books imply authoritative authors with about as much life experience as your little sister, demanding that you live your life a certain way.

SARK is the first to admit that she’s no better or more knowledgeable than anyone. “I’m a succulent wild woman who’s riddled with failures and splendid imperfection,” she says.

That brutal honesty and genuine modesty—plus the fact that she handwrites her books in marker and decorates them with her own photos and watercolor paintings—make SARK’s books irresistible page-turners and this one’s no exception.

Inspired by her mother’s passing, the painful end of a love relationship and the death of her cat, “Glad No Matter What” offers applicable, practical tools to show, lead and guide readers through life’s punches.

AE_SARKbyAndreaScher2Beginning with a Feelings Menu that indicates what page to flip to when you’re in various emotional states (i.e. scared, happy, anxious, etc.), SARK shows the reader how to turn negative experiences into positive and rewarding ones with what she calls “transformation practices.”

These practices include everything from shortening the amount of time we spend resisting change, to recognizing that although most of us were taught to accept and live with ‘bad news’—it’s just news, and acknowledging that healing doesn’t happen in steps like a ladder, but rather in spirals and layers through which we are constantly cycling and sometimes get stuck.

Easier said than done, right?

The truth is, SARK isn’t offering a Band-Aid for an open wound; rather, she is referring to a life-long process that can alter the way we respond instead of react to challenging situations. To empower us, she uses a number of fresh success and failure stories from her own life.

“I’m a human experiment,” she says. “It’s not just ‘the book is over and now I’m done transforming,’ it’s something you have to work on every day.”

Just a few days prior to our interview, she was forced to literally walk her talk.

After returning from a recent trip, SARK arrived at the San Francisco Airport and hailed a cab to take her home. Moments after she was situated in the taxi, the driver asked for her destination. When she gave her address, the driver began shouting, slammed on his breaks, threw her luggage on the sidewalk and forced her out of the car claiming that the distance was too short and she was wasting his time. While most people would have thrown a fit after receiving such treatment, SARK simply got out of the cab, grabbed her luggage, told him “you’re a very angry person, I wish you well” and started walking—in the rain.

“The whole thing was very movie-like,” laughs SARK. “But I’m so happy that I didn’t get upset—in fact, I laughed; my ability to get over it just shows how much transformative exercises help us to respond in different ways.”

Moving on after her breakup was not so easy.

It’s been a year since SARK’s love relationship ended and much of the book is dedicated to processing the heartache, self-doubt and stress that came along with it.

But just as she predicts in the book—“by the time you read this I’ll be transformed”—the silver lining is looking a lot shinier these days.

“It was really challenging to write about the end of the relationship because it was so fresh at the time and I was caught in a web of grief,” says SARK. “But it seemed only natural for me to share it. Broken hearts are universal; the details are different, but the hearts are the same.”

So where does all this supreme insight stem from? After all, besides having what she calls an “almost-degree in psychology”—she realized in her fourth year of college that formal education was “a racket”—you probably couldn’t pick her out of a crowd in Union Square.

Aside from writing 16 books, SARK has been teaching workshops for people ages 9 to 70 and speaking at conferences around the world for 20 years. A firm believer that anyone of any age can benefit from the life lessons and opportunities for growth that she has experienced, SARK has developed a cross-generational following drawn to her quirky personality and vibrantly decorated books.

“Color delights me and I believe that you should always delight yourself first and in turn, others will be delighted,” says SARK, who considers herself to be as much of an artist as an author. “I feel like color was taken from adults. I’m giving it back.”

If you had asked SARK back in 1990 if her crooked and colorful freshman effort “A Creative Companion: How to Free Your Creative Spirit” would ever get published, she probably would have laughed in your face. Not surprising, since there is a disclaimer right above the polka dotted spiral on Page 8 of “Glad No Matter What” that admits that any copy editing mistakes found in the handwritten book are all hers.

Today, the same out-of-the-box style and downright refusal to conform that once made publishers’ heads spin, has become her trademark. A self-proclaimed “ambovert,” or ambidextrous introvert, who expresses her inner extrovert on the page, SARK believes that her books practically write themselves.

“SARK is a non-physical entity that speaks through me,” she says. “I access that energy and it combines my own healing, experience and therapy.”

Sharing what inspired her to get through her own dark days—insightful quotes, literary and Internet resources and strategies for turning that frown upside down—gives “Glad No Matter What” the power to surprise even the toughest of skeptics without entering cheesy territory.

“It’s not about doing all of these transformation practices all the time, but any of them at any of the time,” says SARK. “We all sign up for this class called life and we get lots of teachers along the way. We can decide what kind of life we want. The more we can admit our imperfections and move on, the better.”


SARK will talk about "Glad No Matter What" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, at Capitola Book Café, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola. Free. For more information about SARK, visit planetsark.com.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals