From snake oil salesmen, to televangelists, to celebrity wellness brands, the world is full of folks who’d like to help you find your bliss – usually for a price. But who really holds the key to inner peace? In Blissful Thinking: A Memoir of Overcoming the Wellness Revolution (Motina Books, September 2023), St. Petersburg author L.L. Kirchner tackles this perennial problem by trying, more or less, a little bit of everything.
Finding Yourself…In A Lot of Weird Places
Her journey begins in 2006 when, after her husband’s request for a divorce – oh-so-thoughtfully delivered over the phone… while he was at work… in another country. Kirchner decides to leave her job and pursue a yoga instruction course in the beachy city of Goa, India. From there, her quest for enlightenment takes her across the world and through a multitude of practices. She tries silent meditation, chanting, therapy, 12-step programs, energy healers, psychics, and even a tantric energy workshop in what adherents blithely refer to as a “sex cult.”
It’s a delightful journey, guided by Kirchner’s keen eye and candid voice. Also her deep appreciation for the honest labor of our human soul-searching. Even when we’re pretty clearly just going around in circles. Her very first chapter sets the tone. It braids the text of a pert resignation letter she drafted with the spiraling self-doubt she actually experiences as she writes. Kirchner’s gift for framing the human condition with humor and acceptance really shines.
L.L. Kirchner’s Blissful Thinking: Hard Truths
But it’s not all spiritual fun and games. In a country where, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, we are suffering from “epidemic” levels of loneliness and isolation, Kirchner’s struggle to overcome rejection and love wholeheartedly takes on some added depth. And her search goes well beyond romantic love to plumb the depths of platonic friendship and family ties. (Her parents, somewhat indifferent owners of a health club, are a striking foil for her own earnest quest for wholeness.)
If you have suffered a bad break-up, faced cancer, lived with addiction, or painfully lost your religion, there are parts of this book you may find difficult, even upsetting. But with short, easily-digestible chapters and a relaxed pace, you can step in and out of the story as needed.
Let’s Do Launch
Want to hear the story from the storyteller herself? L.L. Kirchner will launch Blissful Thinking at book at Tombolo Books on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. Pre-order signed copies through Tombolo’s website. And as a special bonus, Kirchner is offering anyone who pre-orders the book a free creativity workshop (sign up here).