Q & A with the Author
June 2012 {scroll to bottom for updates}

Contact Dawn for an interview now

There are many questions you may have. I have had many of them myself. I address a few below, first shared on an introductory call in conjunction with the launch of the free e-book.
Thank you for connecting with the message of Cultivating Essence! I trust it will meet you where you are. With love and gratitude.

Cultivate You Signature



PS: Questions are answered in the order listed below.

Just scroll down if jump links don’t appear to work.

    • Who are you to write this book?
    • How did you receive this message and
      how did you come to write this material down?
    • Did you set out to write a “channeled” book?
      Is this like [insert name of other author or speaker]?
    • What led to your decision to share this message?
    • Who is the message for? What’s the big idea here?
    • What’s your religious background?
    • Where do you see Cultivating Essence going?
      What is it really all about?
    • How do I know this content is actually from the person,
      whom I have credited as the source for this information?


Who are you to write this book?

I’m just an ordinary girl from the South who grew up in Baptist churches and interdenominational chapels on U.S. Army bases. I have also had, for all of my life, a gift – a deep, spiritual awareness that was sometimes not recognized for what it was. As a result, I quickly learned to adapt to society’s expectations and to mold myself into more acceptable forms of expression for the people around me, first with family and friends and then, later, in the workplace.

I learned to filter, withhold and dismiss anything I deemed would not be understood. I quit being the messenger I was put here to be. There were times when things that I saw were going on behind the scenes, the hidden motives to which others seemed oblivious and which created situations in which I myself believed myself to be crazy. I have learned that this is not so. Yet, to share everything openly, I learned, would be labeled as such. This is understandable. It was certainly unusual, if you believed it at all.

With this intuitive insight came another gift from birth – the gift of faith. Faith has informed my experience. It has always been central in my life, and I would not be alive today without having had faith in the darkest of times. It is a gift bestowed upon me, planted deep in my heart. It would not let me go, although faith, for me, is not fixed. Rather, it is always a flower unfolding to deeper awareness. I believe firmly that these twin gifts – the gift of insight and the gift of faith are gifts given to me by God, Source, the Creator, and the Great Spirit. They are my essence, and I am not being fully who I am when I cut off or deny them.

The more I accepted these gifts, the more I came to believe that we all are given the natural capacity to understand spiritual realities at work in our world. I believe all of us can receive messages from beyond (though it’s really held deep within), like those revealed to me through this book. I also believe we can attune our spirits to all that is being revealed here and now. We can learn to see more clearly. Some of us may be called to share what we see, hear or experience. All of us are called to be more present to what is.

How did you receive this message and how did you come to write this material down?

The material in this book was inspired by one of my greatest teachers. Soon after his untimely passing, there were times when I was open that we had “conversations” that seemed to be a funneling of information somehow planted within me. It was as if I were simply accessing information I already knew, re-membering who I was and all I knew. Yet, I had not understood it in the moment before.  These never felt like hocus-pocus moments. Nor did I feel laden with a huge responsibility. I simply knew this message was meant to be shared, and that somehow, guides were whispering in my heart.

Later, I would realize that in the beginning of this process I could not have heard many other voices here or have cared to listen to others from beyond. I could not have fathomed that it was entirely possible that I had potentially encoded myself with this message. I would come to see that the love which holds us until we are ready to fly free had found a way to hold my spirit and to sing through me.

At this time in my life, I had been asked to leave my job, the place of service I loved. I had been forced to leave a church that I saw as my only remaining support. My faith family had turned its back on me. Everything was caving in around me in the very time when I had been most true to myself. Nothing made sense

Through the aftermath of this second darkness in my life, God spoke through in quiet nudges. I simply listened. It was as if the truth within me was being reactivated by this message, whole and complete, planted within me. When I reclaimed strands of my self and began, slowly, to emerge from the most turbulent and trying period of my life, I began to speak and to ask questions, to hear the still, small voice and then, at last, to add the song of my soul.

In the fall of 2001, I was only just beginning to accept my wholeness again. I had only just begun to write some of these conversations down when I had a highly disturbing encounter just prior to the events of 9/11. I succumbed to my own inner terrorists, the ones who believed that were I to speak truth I would be killed. (Forthcoming book: Holy Terror). And many years passed.

In the ten years that followed that, I was asked many times to write all I heard down. But I was terrified, lost to myself, though angels were holding me all along. I’ll share below what it was like when I finally said YES and began to write.

Did you set out to write a “channeled” book?
Is this like
[insert name of other author or speaker]?

First, something you should know. Sadly, I am the girl who always made fun of people who “channeled.” To my regret now, I thought it to be hysterical. I imagined women draped in scarves in dark rooms lighting half-melted candles and chanting incantations to coax spirits forward to share secret messages. And yet… the truth is that I had been listening to and conversing with great spirits all along. I just didn’t call it by the same name, and I certainly didn’t work hard at it.

I had been calling upon my Spiritual Council informally for many years, since I was a teenager. Eventually, I wrote How to Call Out and Access Your Spiritual Council and created an online course others asked for, in which I shared my process for convening my Council. Over time it became clear that the very thing I was mocking in others was actually something I had been doing in a natural way all along. As a child, I had acted on intuitive messages I seemingly plucked from the ether. I had had visions and seen angels. I simply didn’t speak about it. And I certainly never set out to author a book about it.

While I’ve been opening up to my own truth and a richer spiritual journey for many years, the reality is that I am not as far along as many of my colleagues. I had a bit of an inferiority complex about that. I didn’t feel qualified. Many of my colleagues who also talked about spirituality and healing were all abuzz over “The Secret;” I didn’t even watch it until 2011. I have still not read several of the new thought classics, though I intend to do so. I didn’t know who Eckhart Tolle was until 2012, two months after I released Cultivating Essence. I know, it’s funny in a way, and, Eckhart, I’m sorry I was not paying better attention.

When I had finished writing and shared this with a few trusted colleagues, they shared book titles and the names of other authors who had brought forward similar messages. Most I have heard of but never read. There were two hugely successful leaders and best-selling authors in the personal growth arena, both with spiritual teaching delivered on global stages, whom I had never even heard of. So, with all of that: no, I most certainly did not intend to write a channeled book.

What led to your decision to share this message?

While I had resisted the pull to share this message for so many years, by 2011 I felt compelled to sit down in nature and write it down. This seemed impossible at first. How would I recapture all that was overflowing in my heart?

In November, I began to get crystal clear reminders that I had to write now. On 11-11-11, every time I went outside I felt a peace about saying yes fully. I recorded a video for my friends, clients and colleagues about saying, “Yes!” to your life. I decided I had to model this, despite all my fears.

Later in the month, on what would have been the birthday of the person I saw as the source of this, a sequence of reminders made it clear there would be no turning back. We were writing this down. I had asked for a miracle. It became clear that I already had the miracle, and that it was my job to share the miracle. And so I began. Some of what I wrote sounded familiar. Some of it seemed simple. And then I would read it again, and new layers were revealed. Some of it seemed a little over the top. I cringed at the quick, off-the-cuff humor — it was so much like the person who had so influenced me in life. But I was concerned it would be lost on readers. It wasn’t always how I would have said it. But it was a message meant to be shared as it was given. Of this, I was certain. I tried to remain true to that.

The message of Cultivating Essence is something I need to hear again and again. The truth is that we are not alone. We are here for a purpose in this time, in this place. Each of us has a sacred treasure the world needs. This book is a portion of my treasure shared. I am beginning to believe that I am the only one who has been holding myself back.

Who is the message for? What’s the big idea here?

I believe that the message of Cultivating Essence is for all of us. In those silent conversations within me, my mentor and guides from the other side called this message a “manual for the many.” This is a message for our time – a global message for sustainable systems for flourishing humanity. This is a layered message that will reach readers in different ways depending on where they are on their own spiritual journeys. While there is a real depth to this message, I believe it is intended to meet the reader where she or he is.

If you look at this book and have been on a spiritual journey for ten or twenty years, you will not be receiving the information on the same level as someone just beginning to explore these ideas. Some are just beginning to awaken to the fact that we are, indeed, souls with a body – spiritual beings having a human experience. Many readers will just be at the beginning of becoming aware of themselves in this light, of the world and its infinite possibility, of the deeper truths that are emerging for them.

Many who read the advance copy mentioned the texture and layers of truth and understanding. We each come to engage with this message from our own unique perspectives. I truly believe that anyone who reads this book, whether she has ever even considered the idea that there is no separation among us  or whether she is at the other end of the spectrum and is quite advanced in the understanding of spiritual truth, will receive something more.

I consider myself to be in the middle group, and I believe Cultivating Essence has a particular resonance with people who, much like me, may be on the spiritual journey but have encountered significant blocks or are missing something of the whole of the picture. While none of the concepts shared here were strikingly new to me, the whole of the message was fresh and alive, brimming with new ways to see these truths.

I knew, for example, that I had a spiritual gift. I was open to waking fully as a spiritual being. I was living from the grounding of faith. At the same time, I was oblivious to the fact that it was indeed possible to embrace the whole of who you are and be safe. I had a belief that the world was a certain way, and that there was no alternative but to be only partially me. This belief, even when I was aware of it, stifled me.

What’s your religious background?

To be clear, I come from a Christian background, and I do consider myself to be a Christian – a follower of Christ. Another interesting fact about me is that Jesus came to me before I really even knew who he was. I share more of this in the memoir Journey to Sacred Wholeness.

Though I was raised in a traditional church environment, I firmly believe that faith found me. When I was writing for faith-based magazines, I chose to study for a seminary degree. Later, I worked for several faith-centered organizations, all of which had vital missions I fully and whole-heartedly embraced. My spiritual development has deepened. Many core beliefs remain intact, although I also choose to honor the paths of many other faith traditions and believe there is much harm done in the name of organized religion. It’s no secret that the church and I have had our differences. I realize and accept that most fellow believers will not approve of my decision to write this book. I’m okay with that.

I do not have any particular credentials that qualify me to write this or any spiritual book. I am simply who I am. This was the message revealed to me and entrusted to me, and I believe it is my duty, honor and privilege to share it with you through this book. It is an exciting time of new awakenings in which we find ourselves. It is a joy to share the journey with you.

How do I know this content is actually from the person whom I have credited as its source?

This is a great question, and one that I have asked myself frequently. The way that I settled my question in my mind is that it was spectacularly evident that the information I was receiving and hearing within me, whether it was being spoken at that very moment or whether it might have been a remembrance of one I knew here and all he embodied while here in physical form. Here’s how I came to that conclusion:

First of all, the way the information was shared was absolutely consistent with the way he would have spoken it were he here in the flesh. This has been born out by a few people who did know this individual in this life and immediately recognized his voice, his mannerisms, his charm and his annoying habits in the pages of the book. For example, there are several points in the manuscript where there is a quick turn of a phrase or a play on words that goes much further than I would ever go in my writing or in my speaking. It’s pushed to a point that in my natural way of speaking and writing is simply too much. It is, however, absolutely consistent with Jim.

There were points at which I was writing and groaned inwardly, at times protesting that I really did not want to say it that way. Yet, this was how the content was presented, and my intention was to deliver it whole and complete. The consistency in terms of personality holds true. I have been told by several people who have read a partial or complete advance copy that this is the accepted way to discern if a message is indeed coming from a certain source.

The second reason that I am confident that this message is associated with the person I knew is that the whole of the message is consistent with who he was and what he was all about. With this book, a perfect example is the title. While I have grown to love the title, when I wrote it down, I immediately and repeatedly tried to change it. But I could not.

While Cultivating Essence from the Matrix of Soul: Sustainable Systems for Flourishing Humanity sounds lofty, presumptuous and a bit too much like a dissertation title to me, it was clear that this was his title. I had a concern that the title would be slightly off-putting to those who are not already aligned with a certain set of beliefs. This was a concern to me, but the fact is that it sounds like something that would have rolled off his tongue when he was alive.

More importantly, the title captures the grandness of the vision that I saw in him when he was here. This one who taught me so much lived quite the ordinary life. He was an amazing healer, but lived in such a way that he was not hugely visible. He died young, and I am convinced that this was a part of the legacy he had hoped to share. I am honored and humbled to be one vehicle to bring it to the world.

Finally, I trust this message as coming from the one I knew because of the times and places the message came through. There have been many points when I felt my beloved mentor  may have been talking to me; yet, when I created the time and space to receive this message in its entirety, the flow of it was amazing. I did very little editing, only moving a few sections. Other than that, it remained as it was given. I trust that.

The feeling that I had upon receiving it and also upon reviewing it is that the message is delivered as given. I believe the message itself is pure. I accept full responsibility for what appears on the page, and I also feel that the message was given whole and complete. I am grateful to have the honor to share it with you.

Where do you see Cultivating Essence going?
What is it really all about?

This is another terrific question and one that I am still exploring. I am living in the question. As the final words in the last section of the book state, “The end is only the beginning.” I am seeing that this book is truly a beginning point – a framework or a foundation for something more. The message I once thought to be “too big” is, I believe, merely the tip of something much deeper and broader.

I believe this is a message rooted in faith, hope and love for God and for humanity. There are, I believe, keys to creating sustainable systems for flourishing humanity contained in the message of this book. My immediate goal is to share the message as broadly as I can.

My long-term vision includes a much larger conversation around the idea of “cultivating essence.” What I have come to see through writing this book is that there is a broader context in which this conversation lies. That context is our ability, individually and collectively, to tap into our core. Almost as if we were mining for treasures…. The beginning point is to extract from our core that essence that really makes us who we are, that is the brilliant gift that we offer to this world. Everything hinges on this.

If we are not able to cultivate our essence fully, then we will not be in a position to share our message as we are meant to do while here on this Earth. The world suffers because of it. By sharing this message, I hope to help others to see that it is quite possible to live from that beautiful, pure place of love that is inside each one of us.

I have a hope and desire to take this message where it is needed most, to people who cannot even fathom the possibility of that sort of an inside-out life. I see the message being shared in prisons and hospitals, in organizations that serve the homeless population, addicts, and those who are struggling with poverty and loss. I want to share this message of hope with those who have lost their faith and trust in life, who long to know they are held in grace, who long to be set free. Contribute on our website to the fund for this purpose.

Update 2015

90 Days to LifeI’m happy to say that I have continued to explore the core message of Cultivating Essence and have introduced Lifeseeds, a core curriculum for coming fully to your life and living in full expression. Learn more about Lifeseeds here or journey with me in 90 Days to Life.