Illana Estelle is the author of Spirituality, Healing and Me: How living a spiritual life offers offers hope and healing in the modern world, which was published by RedDoor Press on 16 September 2021.
Ilana kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Spirituality, Healing and Me.
Spirituality Healing & Me is my go-to book. Having gone through the process of putting a name to something I didn’t know I had, following my diagnosis of cerebral palsy aged 46 and autism 10 years later, the book is my spiritual and healing journey. It is a follow-on book from my first book, Cerebral Palsy: A Story ‘Finding the Calm After the Storm.’
It is a book that no matter what your beliefs are, can help everyone. In the book I draw on my experiences of emotional, mental, and physical disability to show how spiritual beliefs can improve our wellbeing.
I needed to heal, through my beliefs, I needed to understand my life in the whole and come to terms with it and that is what ‘Spirituality, Healing and Me’ does.
It is a book that gives us a different way to think and food for thought. It is a positive and uplifting book that can help us navigate even the most difficult of times in our lives.
2. What inspired the book?
Growing up not knowing about my disability inspired me to write both my books. It was important for me to understand my disability, and my life.
My first book, Cerebral Palsy: ‘A Story’ charts my journey finding out about my disability at the age of 46 for the first time; not knowing anything about my physical, mental, or emotional struggles, what those struggles meant, or what they were.
Writing the first book was life changing. As soon as I had finished writing the first book, I had a feeling so strong that I felt compelled to continue to write a second book. I needed to be able to walk myself through the spiritual and healing side of my disability; to be able to explore both in the whole. I had already worked out that without writing both books, I couldn’t bring closure.
My spiritual beliefs have got me through some very tough times and have made a difference to how I felt growing up, how I coped. In a way, my beliefs made me feel more protected, they grounded me. They gave me hope, and a reason to fight another day.
3. How much planning went into your book?
Writing my first book made planning for this book easier, because the formatting was already there. The book only took a few months, but in all, the whole process from an initial draft to subsequent edits to produce the final manuscript, took about a year and half.
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
Thankfully not, but I think that’s partly because I had been blogging for a few years before I started to write my books, so the process for me wasn’t too difficult. I took my time, and anything I wasn’t sure about I talked through with my publishers. Having autism means I continually deal with anxiety and therefore clarity is of the utmost importance. Anything that is a surprise can make me anxious. My publishers made the process easier.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
This is a difficult question for me to answer, because in my case, dealing with autism means I struggle to relax or switch off. My mind is always whirring and in Covid-19 I continue to struggle. I know that in Covid-19 life has changed for us all, but for me, Covid-19 has made me even more anxious.
Also, pre-pandemic I enjoyed days out in the countryside near to where I live, but the pandemic has made it much more difficult for me to do the things that I used to enjoy. I do enjoy listening to music and often have my playlist on in the background whilst writing.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Through autism I struggle to read for any length of time, because of limited concentration. If I could only read one book for the rest of my life, it would have to be Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by American author Richard Bach.
I resonate with this book because the story beautifully depicts the life of a bird determined to be more than ordinary. Although I didn’t start my writing with that in mind, 12 years in, I have achieved more than I was expected to, and so I see that what I have done is ‘a gift.’ I am grateful.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I have never been asked if I could have lived a different life would I have wanted a different life? While some days my autism makes life difficult for me, especially in the current pandemic which has heightened my anxiety, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing with my writing, without my experiences, growing up not knowing about my disability, so my answer would have to be a resounding ‘no’ I would not change my life.
About the Book
Ilana Estelle grew up not knowing she had a disability, not knowing she had cerebral palsy… and it took forty-six years for her to find out.
Spirituality has helped Ilana on her journey and in her new book, Spirituality, Healing and Me, she uses her experience of mental and physical disability in the healing process, to create positivity and healing for others.
Packed with inspiring messages and real-life vignettes, Ilana’s book shows how spirituality can help us cope with the modern world and reset our moral compass. Based on her own experiences of spirituality and healing, she shows how focusing on values such as understanding, compassion, tolerance, creativity and acceptance can help us find our inner calm.