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Stark Raving Zen: A Memoir of Coming Alive
Stark Raving Zen is the story of how one woman came home to her soul on a road trip from Minnesota to California, a journey both terrifying and beautiful. Her only physical companion through each stage of this sudden awakening was her dog, Arya, who kept her grounded through shocking revelations, heavenly and hellish visionary experiences, and an intuitive opening including a voice in her left ear that guided her, working to keep her safe as her mind unraveled. This heroine’s journey is also the story of Kristy Sweetland’s life, including a childhood and young adulthood of trying to desperately control a chaotic family history filled with a parental legacy of addiction and mental illness that kept her psyche locked in a perpetual state of survival. After an outwardly successful career in the field of veterinary medicine, (while inwardly falling apart), she finally hit the wall, left her twenty-year profession, loaded Arya into her car and headed southwest on what she thought was a trip to see a mentor and counselor in California. As it turns out her soul had wildly different plans. This riveting true story of a road trip filled with benevolent ghosts and gods, angels, demons, monsters, mythology, and guiding voices will keep the reader glued to the page for the duration. Through the volcanic gift of those ten days on the road in January of 2009, Kristy broke through her own chains forged of trauma, and finally came alive.
Life coach Sweetland (The Fascinated Observer) recounts in this gripping memoir the “spontaneous shamanic initiation” she experienced during a road trip from Minnesota to New Mexico. Sweetland begins by explaining she had a troubled childhood, during which her mother suffered from mental health problems and her father was an alcoholic, before briefly discussing her underwhelming veterinary career and retreat into compulsive shopping. After embarking on her trip, Sweetland begins to hear voices, receive channeled texts, and have visions that lead her to see the world “through the eyes of a child.” She takes inspiration in an 1850 photo of a pair of sisters who claimed to be mediums, as well as her study of tarot, and slowly feels herself experiencing different realms: “I crashed through the glass into deep space while the awesome sound of a cosmic gateway shattering reverberated throughout the universe.” While those looking for Zen wisdom may find the focus on signs, fate, and Sweetland’s life story disappointing, her writing conveys the joy and terror of mystical experience. Sweetland’s surrender to unbidden visions will appeal to believers in mediums and channeled wisdom. (Self-published)