This month, the Mango team is excited to debut a new feature! In this interview series, we’re talking to our authors about everything from their beautiful books to their quirky writing rituals to helpful tips potential writers can try right now. We’re also delving into their favorite things—from their favorite sound and scent to their favorite creativity-sparking strategy.
Our first author is BJ Gallagher, co-author with Sam Beasley of the empowering, uplifting book, Your Life is Your Prayer: Wake Up to the Spiritual Power in Everything You Do. Below, she shares what inspired their book, why prayer is so powerful, and what her daily prayer looks like—–and so much more.
BJ is an inspirational speaker and prolific author. She and her books have been featured on CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer, the NBC’s Today sShow with Matt Lauer, Fox News, PBS, CNN, and other television and radio programs.
She is quoted almost weekly in various newspapers, women’s magazines, and websites, including: O the Oprah magazine, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian (U.K.), CareerBuilder.com, and MSNBC.com, among others.
BJ is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Southern California, earning summa cum laude honors with her BA in Sociology. She has completed the coursework for a PhD in Social Ethics, also at USC.
Q: How has your background as a sociologist shaped your writing?
A: Sociology taught me about people— – both individuals and groups. My academic training as a sociologist taught me how to detach, observe, analyze, and to test assumptions and theories – in order to understand my fellow human beings and why they do the things they do— – with all their contradictions, inconsistencies, and paradoxes. Sociology is great training for a writer!
Q: What sparked the idea for Your Life is Your Prayer?
A: One day I was complaining about something to my friend Sam Beasley. I can’t even remember what it was I was complaining about— – all I remember is Sam’s reply: “Your life is your prayer. Whatever you’ve got going on in your life is what you’ve been praying for— – either consciously or unconsciously. If you want something different in your life, pray a different prayer.”
“Can you explain that to me a bit more?” I asked Sam.
“The Universe is a giant YES machine,” he replied. “Whatever you’re thinking about, the Universe will give it to you. If you are worrying, I don’t have enough money, the Universe will say ‘Yes, you don’t have enough money.’ If you’re constantly lamenting to your friends, I don’t have a man in my life, the Universe will respond, ‘Yes, you don’t have a man.’ If you constantly complain, I’m fat, the Universe will answer, ‘Yes, you’re fat.’ Your thoughts and words are prayers, and the Universe always gives you what you’re praying.”
A light bulb went on in my head. “Oh wow,” I said. “I never realized that. But now that I think about it, I see that there are certain aspects of my life that are working just great— – and those are the areas where I have a lot of confidence and positive expectations. The Universe IS giving me what I think about. And the areas in which I’m not getting what I want are the areas in which I have doubt, discouragement, and frustration. Those are the things I focus on because they’re NOT working – b. Yet,ut it seems the harder I try to figure out what’s wrong, the more a solution eludes me. It’s bedeviled me for years – why can’t I make my life work in ALL areas?”
“You can,” Sam replied. “You just have to stop complaining. Start focusing on what you DO want, not what you don’t want. Make your prayers positive and affirming— – see if that brings you different results.”
I love what Sam taught me. “Let’s write a book together!” I suggested to him recently. “I’d love to share with others what you’ve taught me.” Happily, he said “Yes.” So that’s why we wrote the book.
Q: Why is prayer so powerful in our everyday lives?
A: We live in a spiritual world— – it’s all about energy and inter-connectedness. When we become conscious of our own energy— – our intentions, our dreams, our wishes and desires – as well as our fears, anxieties, and worries— – we discover the power, the spiritual power we have at our disposal. We are co-creators of our own lives, our own destinies. We co-create with God. We communicate with the Divine through our thoughts, words, and actions— – and we are more powerful than we realize. God loves us and we love God, and since love is the greatest power in the universe, when we harness the power of love through our prayers, anything is possible.
Q: You end Your Life is Your Prayer with the question: What’s your prayer? We’d love to know, what’s yours?
A: My daily prayer is: To May I be of service to others, to contribute to the world, and to honor God. That’s it. Basic and simple. My life is all about service and contribution. That’s what makes me happy. That’s when I feel closest to God. When I’m in sync with the Divine order of things, my life is effortless and easy. I just show up for life every day— – watch for opportunities to do good, and do it. My job is to be God’s love in action in the world. That’s it.
Q: You’ve written various valuable suggestion-packed books. What’s your favorite tip, journal prompt, or activity that readers can try right now?
A: Hmmmm, so many to choose from… … One of my favorites is a time-management tip, because time is the most valuable asset we have and it’s limited, so it’s important to use it as well as I can. I frequently ask myself throughout the day, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” Sometimes the answer is “sit down and write an article” –, sometimes the answer is “clean the cat’s litter box”, – sometimes it’s “go to the market because the fridge is empty”, – and sometimes the answer is “take a nap.” The important thing is that the question keeps me awakeaware to of the moment and it gives me a choice of whether to continue to do whatever I’m doing, or change course and do something else that needs doing.
It’s a particularly helpful question to ask if I’m feeling like I’m wasting time— – sitting in a boring meeting, attending a workshop that isn’t any good, watching a TV show that is just dumb, or talking to someone who just wants to gossip. I value my time, so I don’t want to piss it away on things that are not useful, fulfilling, meaningful, or satisfying. So I frequently ask myself, “What’s the best use of my time right now?” and whatever the answer is, I go do that.
Q: Do you have a specific writing ritual (maybe even a wacky, silly one!)?
A: Getting started is always the hard part for me. Whether it’s writing an article or a whole book, getting started is my biggest challenge. I often feel like I have to do a bunch of chores and putter around doing other things while the pressure to write builds inside of me.
I used to complain about this “bad habit”— – what I thought was procrastination. Then one day I was telling my friend Jaime Jusidman about it. “I just piss away so much time before I actually sit down to write,” I told him.
“Have you ever seen a chicken lay an egg?” Jaime asked. “No,” I replied.
“I have some chickens in my back yard, so I’ll tell you,” Jaime said. “The chicken grows increasingly fidgety and restless. She wanders around the yard pecking at things on the ground— – seeds, plants, whatever. She scratches the dirt with her feet. She fusses and frets for quite a while. And finally, after all that ……. she sits down and lays her egg.”
“Haha!” I laughed. “So I’m a chicken! All this time I thought I was pissing away time, procrastinating getting started, but I see now that all that puttering around I do is really just part of my process. It’s gestation time. It’s I’m gearing up to lay the golden egg.”
Ever since Jaime told me about how a chicken lays her eggs, I have become much more patient with myself. I honor my process. I just do my thing— – puttering around, doing mindless chores, letting the creativity build inside me— – and finally, when I’m ready, – I sit down and start writing.
So I tell other writers— – whatever your process is, honor it. We writers are different from one another. We don’t all have the same process and that’s just fine. Don’t worry about doing it “right” or “wrong.” Just tune in to whatever your unique process is, and honor it.
As for me, I’m a chicken. So I have to fritter away some time before I can lay my golden egg.
Q: What’s one theme you’d like readers to take away from your beautiful book?
A: I think the subtitle of the book says it all: “Wake up to the spiritual power in everything you say, think, and do!”
It’s so easy to fall asleep, to fall into a kind of trance in our day to day living— – it’s easy to forget how creative and powerful we humans are.
So I invite readers to wake up! Stay conscious and create your life—and your world—with clear intention and purpose. Live mindfully. Live prayerfully.
Wake Up to the Spiritual Power in Everything You Do
Prayer can point your life in the right direction—or the wrong one: Whatever you’ve got going on in your life is what you’ve been praying for—sometimes consciously, but often unconsciously. If you want something different in your life, you must pray a different prayer. Your Life is Your Prayer by BJ Gallagher and Sam Beasley will show you how to do just that.