Tasha Halpert is a practical mystic, poet, and writer. She has been teaching the paths to inner peace and wellbeing for more than five decades. Tasha lives in Massachusetts with her husband and writes a weekly column, “Good Earthkeeping,” for the local newspaper, and a weekly inspirational Internet column, “Heartwings.” She is staff poet and storyteller for The Unicorn.
It’s a genuine pleasure to feature two of Tasha Halpert’s books on “A Better World of Books.” Although Tasha lives only one state over from me, and is a fellow yogi, we have only met through the virtual world of blogging. A few weeks ago she kindly sent me copies of her books Heartwings: Love Notes for a Joyous Life and Up to My Neck in Lemons: Love Notes, Poems, and Lemon Recipes for me to review for my blog feature.
Both of Tasha’s books offer an inspirational collection of poetry, anecdotes, and mindfulness exercises. Up to My Neck in Lemons also contains delightful recipes and medicinal uses for lemons interspersed throughout the pages. Perhaps this is why I particularly enjoyed this collection by Halpert.
Although Halpert’s two books are similar in nature, and are in the Self-Help/Inspiration genre, their content is unique. Tasha’s earlier book, Heartwings: Love Notes for a Joyous Life is presented in eight parts, each of which focuses on a topic related to living a mindful and joyous life. Short, relatable poems flow into personal narratives and simple mindfulness exercises for readers to practice, if they choose to.
I particularly appreciated the author’s willingness to demonstrate growth through her own experiences as she shows the readers it is okay not to be perfect, and that imperfection is a seed for growth. Many of Tasha’s metaphors center around nature and the symbolism of the seasons. Gardening is a central theme throughout, and is a healing, mindful practice central to Halpert’s own life.
One of my favorite poems of Tasha’s appears on page 32 of Heartwings. It’s called “The Apple Tree,” and begins with these lines: “The bark of the old tree is dappled with lichen and shade/ Making a pattern like runes, like pebbles strewn for good or for ill,/ Leaves layer against blue sky, white clouds,/ Dapple them with green. / Thirsty to grow, small green apples drink the light.” The last line I find to be particularly lovely and illustrative of the interconnectedness of all life.
Pulled from a review on Amazon, J. White wrote this about Tasha’s collection, “Heartwings reads like liquid ambrosia, whether savored a few pages at a time or consumed all at once. Tasha’s writing style is comfortable and personal and her gardening metaphors resonate beautifully. Her perspective of mindful joy demonstrates that focusing on the simplest essentials can often provide the highest rewards.”
In her more recent book, Halpert takes a lighter tone, as illustrated by her title, Up To My Neck in Lemons, using lemons as her metaphor for a mindful and joy-filled life. I really enjoyed the layout of this book and the way Tasha wove her more serious pieces between the more whimsical recipes. I found myself looking forward to the recipes and historical anecdotes about lemons. As with her earlier book, Tasha uses her own life as an example to draw upon for life experience. She is both honest and gentle with herself, as she is with her readers.
One of my favorite passages appears on page nine of the book, which contains a personal narrative illustrating gratitude titled “Thanks to Give.” In her third paragraph, Halpert writes, “There are now many things in life I am grateful for that I did not receive when I wanted them. I am now glad that there were roads I was unable to take, though at the time I thought them desirable. There are things I had hoped to accomplish that I had to give up trying to do. I now recognize these experiences and others like them as true blessings.” It is a beautiful reminder of how life has a way of leading us in unexpected was, which may at first appear undesirable or even disappointing, but there are always gifts to be found in the journey.
An Amazon reviewer, Doreen, had this to say about Up To My Neck in Lemons: “I keep this book near my favorite chair. Open to any page and you’ll have a delightful poem, poignant story or special recipe to help with life’s “lemons.” You are sure to smile, reflect or ponder. Tasha opens her heart to all the emotions, and writes so honestly and wisely.”
Both of Tasha’s books could easily find a home nestled on one’s favorite chair, on a bed stand, or on the shelf of a meditation or yoga room. It is clear, through her writing, that the author has led a full and contemplative life. Halpert has the soul of a yogi, ever-searching for meaning, and the admirable ability to pull the sweetness from what life gives her. Her books are filled with inspiration and wisdom gleaned from her life experiences. I am not sure if I can recommend one over the other. For readers who are searching out ways to lead a more mindful life perhaps they would be best served beginning with Tasha’s book Heartwings. On the other hand, if you are already on a mindful path and are looking to add some flavor to your life, particularly with the taste of lemons, I recommend diving into Up To My Neck in Lemons. You’ll find yourself relating to Halpert’s stories and poems as well as running to the store to stock up on lemons to try some of her sweet recipes.
Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea.