Intimate Conversation with Skywalker Payne
After Third World Press published her first book of poetry in the seventies, Skywalker Payne went on to write feature articles, fiction, scripts, and blogs. She was a choreographer and performing artist for twenty years and earned a summa cum laude BA in communications/storytelling. Later, experiencing a midlife crisis, she became a registered nurse. She currently lives in Homer, Alaska with her husband, Brian Payne, creator of Zinc Comics.
Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and registered nurse, Payne unites spiritual and health benefits of mindfulness and gratitude. With an engaging conversational style, she places a revealing spotlight on the limitations of the current US medical system and offers wellness-promoting alternatives. Using personal stories, poetry, and spiritual insight she shares knowledge gained from her life-long mindfulness and gratitude practice. Payne shows how these simple practices can benefit and enrich your life.
BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What drives you?
Writing has been my companion, my confessor, my creative impulse, and my communication with the world since I was a child. Being raised in an Air Force family, I grew up never spending more than two years in any school, including college. This gypsy life meant that I was never able to build up those true, long lasting friendships and relationships that happen when you grow up in one community. But I always had my writing. When I was in fifth grade I read the Diary of Anne Frank and began my life-long obsession with journaling. That year I also wrote my first short story and my fifth grade teacher also told me I would be a writer.
I also loved dance and performance. In my twenties after initial publications, but no continued support of my writing or writing employment, I turned to sharing my writings in original productions with dance. Dance provided physical release and expressiveness that was exhilarating and provided immediate contact and response with others.
Writing can be a lonely process. But, even as I often battled with myself, “Do I want to live an exciting life” or write about one, writing always called out to me. I knew whatever would remain of me, my legacy, is what I write.
BPM: Our life experiences, challenges and success help define who we are on many levels. At what point in your career did you discover your real worth and own it?
Paradoxically, it wasn’t until after I began working full time as a labor and delivery nurse that I found my grounding as a writer. Part of my difficulty in establishing my career was my innate gypsy lifestyle and my inability to handle rejection. Working 36-hour night shifts provided me a disciplined lifestyle, secure financial stability, and multiple days off to write.
When I began blogging in 2012, I received comments from readers that let me know, immediately, that what I wrote was of value and literary merit. Blogging not only provided me an outlet, it gave me the practice and discipline to produce. As I continued to write, while nursing, I began to see I was a writer, and nursing was just a job. I recognized my value and owned I am a writer above all other occupations or employment.
BPM: What genre is this book? Will you write all of your books in this category? Why?
I classify All That Is, Dance of Mindfulness & Gratitude – A Quest for Wholeness as creative non-fiction because the book is about my life written in a creative fashion to be entertaining as well as educational. And this is my preferred method of writing. Having thousands of pages of journals, I can either fictionalize my life, or make conscious choices of what I want to share to provide illumination into a specific area of life or experience.
Even though I read fiction in my youth and young adult years, I’ve grown to prefer creative non-fiction, non-fiction, and books on spirituality. So, I’m writing in a genre I like to read. However, I do like to write short fiction and like sharing folklore, historical, and original stories verbally.
BPM: What was your primary quest in publishing All That Is, Dance of Mindfulness & Gratitude – A Quest for Wholeness?
My goal in publishing was to introduce mindfulness to a wider and more diverse audience. As I explain in the book’s introduction, the practice of mindfulness can lead to the creation of a more compassionate world. And at this time, we need more and more people practicing mindfulness to increase compassion to overcome this worldwide onslaught of hatred, bigotry, racism, and violence fed by ignorance and greed.
Unlike many other books on mindfulness, mine tells a story, my story, and I feel my story can serve as an example to anyone that you too can practice mindfulness. You can work a 40-hour week job and have family commitments, you can like to watch TV, or drink wine and still practice mindfulness. You can get angry or be impatient but with the practice of mindfulness you’ll be better able to handle those emotions and in time see them pass quickly. And most importantly, you can increase your compassion and recognize everyone is like you seeking happiness, fulfillment, and meaning to life.
BPM: Why do you say now is the only time to begin practicing mindfulness?
Because all we have is now, this now moment. Mindfulness practice empowers us to live in the now moment, to become aware of exactly what is happening now. In the next second that now moment will change.
BPM: What should readers DO after reading this book?
After reading All That Is, Dance of Mindfulness & Gratitude – A Quest for Wholeness, a reader should begin to practice mindfulness with the goal of becoming a more aware and compassionate person. The book includes a chapter on a simple method to begin a mindfulness practice. And for those who haven’t yet purchased my book, they can receive a free PDF copy by enrolling in my new on-line course Renew Yourself.
BPM: What are your career goals as a writer? Have you accomplished them?
When I was in my twenties, living in Washington, DC, more than one astrologer told me I would inherit money from a relative and become famous in my old age. The first part of that prediction has occurred. So, my career goal as a writer is to make the second part of the prediction come true. I want Skywalker Payne, Wordsmith & Storyteller to become as well known as Oprah Winfrey. And no, I have not accomplished that goal yet, but I see it manifesting as clearly as I see the view outside of my window of snow-capped mountains and a crystal blue bay. Five years ago I had no idea that I would be fortunate enough to live in a place with such beauty able to look on it every day from my home. So, I’m grateful for being able to live in Alaska and having the time to write and live at a slower, more mindful pace.
BPM: We are here to shine the spotlight on your new book, but what’s next?
In addition to my on-line course Renew Yourself, this year I am telling three 3-minute stories weekly on my Youtube Channel, Skywalker Payne Storyteller, Home of the 3 Minute Story. I include Black history, world folklore, and my own original and improvisational stories.
My next book, “Breathing Through the Eye of A Needle, Stories of Living in the Moment from Birth to Death, continues the theme of mindfulness with stories that show how important it is to be aware of each moment we are living.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website address is: https://skywalkerpayne.com where my book can be purchased. The paperback and Kindle ebook are also available on Amazon and other online retailers. Thank you for this opportunity to talk with you and I look forward to seeing your readers reviews on Amazon.
You and readers can enroll in Renew Yourself – my new online course and receive a free PDF copy of my book with first month’s enrollment - http://renewyourself.teachable.com
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