Leah Skurdal has practiced and taught skills to gracefully ride the roller coaster of life for over 25 years. In her resilience building workshops, Leah guides people to harness the power of stress to launch forward in life. Leah shares engaging stories to expand self awareness, deepen interpersonal relationships and up-level personal impact. Leah's favorite stress response technique is hanging in a hammock while reading a book, drinking iced tea, and watching flowers bloom.
1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
Seeking Serenity shares stories about resilience and connecting to your natural state of inner well-being. I was a stressed-out professional who turned into a stressed-out stay-at-home mom. The tools and strategies I started practicing daily helped me to stay calm in the storm of life. Then, I wanted to help other parents and professionals build their resilience to stress so I started teaching classes and workshops. After that, I wrote the book to reach a wider audience.
2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I had started writing parts of Seeking Serenity ten years ago, then put it on the back burner. I have several notebooks and piles of notecards around the house and in the car. When a story, juicy idea, turn of phrase, or thoughtful concept pops in, I try to capture the thought quickly in a note. Then, I start a three-ring binder to consolidate notes. I write an outline of topics to cover, then fit the notes under each category. I have been collecting research for another book simultaneously for several years.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I’m a visionary and an idea person. My biggest difficulty has been organizing all the information into a cohesive unit that I can share with other people.
4. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I had the good fortune to work with a fantastic author coach who changed the way I organize information. Now I have a better system for planning my next book.
5. Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
My author coach, Angela Lauria has written several books, my favorite of which is The Difference: 10 Steps to Writing a Book That Matters. I primarily read books on personal growth and especially appreciate authors who share their journey of self-discovery through stories. I appreciate the writing of Barbara Brown Taylor, Robyn Openshaw, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Vishen Lakhiani who communicate powerful messages in an understandable format. I also love the writing of (and aspire to have the poetic voice of) Kao Kalia Yang and Krista Tippett.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have two more books brewing on the back burner. I started writing a book earlier this year about stepping outside the victim-perpetrator matrix and then the current events of 2020 gave me pause to observe my assumptions before writing further. I am doing deep soul-searching and cultural research. I hope to start writing in spring 2021 after percolating over the winter. Seventeen years ago, I started a book on twelve universal spiritual principles that we humans celebrate across religions during holiday traditions. My intention is to write about the oneness of human spiritual experience. That book is still on the back burner.
7. What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success is when my reader sends me a note saying, “Reading and re-reading your book has helped me get through hard times lately.” And “I started feeling more calm and relaxed after the first few chapters.”
8. What inspired you to start writing?
I have always known I would write books to inspire and help people transform into the best versions of themselves. Writing for me feels like a calling.
9. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy improvisational jazz cooking. I scan recipes for delicious ideas and combine flavorful ingredients into soul nourishing meals. I also love being in nature, gardening, hiking, cross-country skiing and ice-skating.
10. Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?
People can google my name, Leah Skurdal and my business, Mastery in the Art of Living, for links to videos and interviews.
My business website is: https://www.masteryintheartofliving.com/public-speaking/
My business Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/MasteryInTheArtofLiving