Friday, March 9, 2012

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, RENEE SHERKNESS

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR, RENEE SHERKNESS

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Thank you so much Renee for allowing us this interview. In today's society it seems more and more people are interested in learning and studying Yoga and a lot of people really feel that it helps maintain their health. Can you give us more insight into Yoga and some of the things it actually can do for the body and mind?

Thank you for the opportunity to participate on your website! I think yoga has become so popular in today’s society because it not only physically helps our bodies but also benefits us mentally and spiritually. Adults and also our children are under more and more stress in our culture in my opinion and more and more heath care providers feel the same. I think yoga is a way to target our stress while allowing us the chance to learn more about ourselves. Yoga means “Union” in Sanskrit as I explain in my book. It is the combination of Body, Mind and Spirit to create a whole person. Most people include breathing exercises and yoga poses when doing yoga but yoga can incorporate a whole lifestyle with moral values, healthy eating habits and meditation or relaxation techniques. You can take Yoga as far as you like. That is the beauty and simplicity in it. As far as children practicing yoga, the benefits are enormous. As I write in my book: Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga, studies showed over and over that yoga greatly reduces the excessive hormones released into our bodies from chronic stress in both adults and children. Those who practice yoga may develop mental and physical strength, balance, flexibility and healthier life habits. Children’s studies show that children who practice yoga often develop better attitudes, strengthened immune system, and abilities, such as teamwork and leadership skills, often are increased.

I write: “Many studies have been done, but the most widely used of all seems to be the one completed in 2007 by The Symposium of Yoga Therapy and Research in Los Angeles. The study found that a percentage of children who practice yoga are more relaxed, focused, concentrate better, and had improved sleeping patterns, along with a better sense of well-being than prior to practicing yoga. Respect for others and ourselves; having compassion, confidence and high self-esteem; and greater academic achievement are benefits that often are attained by children who practice yoga. With the increasing amount of budget cuts for physical fitness programs in our schools, coinciding with the child obesity epidemic in our country, the time seemed perfect for introducing yoga to our children”.

What was the reason you decided to start teaching Yoga to children?

Well, I always say: “Teaching Yoga to children found me I did not find Yoga”! I am a former educator who taught for over 18 years. I always practiced yoga as an adult. During some challenging times in my life Yoga pulled me through and kept me balanced. One of those times was when my husband and I were forced to give up our business of 22 years due to the economic crisis. We lost our home in the process. Yoga became a closer friend then ever at this time to manage stress! Being an educator and wanting to help our situation, I considered what I could do at this juncture in my life to help. I happened across some literature on yoga for children and began to research its benefits on our youth. I was amazed at what I discovered! Being an educator it just seemed to click to combine my passion for education with my passion for yoga and share yoga with children. More and more parents would ask for things they could do at home with their children after a yoga class I did with their children. That’s why I wrote the book: Stories That Came Alive Through Yoga.

You seem to have a great love for nature and a respect for everything around you. What are some of your concerns about the environment we live in today?

Having a background in biology I always had a great respect and interest in our environment and nature. When I taught health in kindergarten many years ago I saw the excitement in the faces of the children and their eagerness to learn about taking care of our environment and themselves! I knew then that this was a mindset that could blossom in our young and help our future.

Conservation of our oceans is a concern that in my opinions needs to be addressed. Over and over I am saddened when I see more and more destruction to our ocean and its habitants. Diminished wildlife has a huge impact in our ecosystem and food chain of life. I just saw on the news dolphins beaching themselves in Massachusetts possibly due to erratic temperatures in our oceans or lack of food resources. Such a shame..

The deterioration of our forests concerns me for our health and for our future. We don’t realize the impact excessive use of our resources can have on us. We could not exist as we do if there were no trees. A mature leaf producing tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. In addition, the forest acts as a giant filter that cleans the air we breathe.

The consequences of oil spills in our waters, excessive hunting and poaching, the need for more recycling and energy conservation as well as the impact all of this has on our climate and our future are important issues to discuss. Education, on these subjects in my opinion is the key! When I moved into Berks/Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, the beauty of the area prompted me to write about healthy awareness and share my stories I have written from my Nurturing Nature Collection. It was my intention to spark an interest in our young and their families to the need for conservation and healthier lifestyles to help our world become a better place to live for us all.


Tell us more about your books and how you came to be an author.

I have always written from a young age and through my career with children in education. After retiring from teaching I enjoyed sharing my stories with my grandchildren who also inspired some of the topics I write about today! Moving to the beautiful country side of Berks/Montgomery County in Pennsylvania gave me the time and opportunity to put my writings into book form.

I have two books out now. In my first: Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga children and families are able to share a healthy moment together practicing yoga through kid friendly stories with illustrations specifically written for yoga, with breathing exercises and relaxation visualization. Also information is given to what yoga is and its benefits and how yoga has impacted my life and others. A great "go to" book for instructors or families wanting to share a healthy moment with their children! It was created as a way to express to parents, grandparents, teachers and fitness instructors, or anyone for that matter new or old to yoga, who interacts with children ages 4 to 11 years old, how to share the experience of yoga with their child/children. Included at the end of this story, is a summary on yoga and a glossary of words with definitions.

My second book: The Day Mother Nature Decided to Paint Her House, children 4 and older are introduced to the whimsical character, Mother Nature, as she enlist the aid of her dear friend Father Time to help her paint her house. In her attempt to paint her house, an unexpected calamity turns out to be the creation of the season autumn, with the changing colors of the leaves on the trees.

Children/ parents and educators will be amused with the adventures they share with Mother Nature. At the same time children will gain an understanding of the four seasons, and discover in the glossary and summary at the end of the book how and why leaves “really” change colors in the fall.
Children are also informed as to the importance of trees and ways to help the trees in our environment. They are exposed to web sites for further information on tree conservation and places to visit and experience the beauty of the fall foliage. This is a great resource book for teachers as well as parents wanting to introduce the four seasons to their student/child and also begin a discussion on forest conservation and recycling!
Both books can also be purchased on amazon.com, barnes & noble.com, borders.com and various studios and stores and other websites. See my website for links. In print and e book and apple I pad. Also see my websitehttp://reneesherkness.webs.com/

It seems a lot of your writing revolves around children. I truly think this is fascinating and wonderful. What do you think the most important things as a parent that we can teach our children?

The most important thing I think we can teach our children is that they matter! I think we accomplish this by taking time out of our busy schedules and stop and really “see” our children. Get to know them and let them know how much they are loved by you. Spend time with them, playing reading or just hanging out. Let them know you’re glad they are around!

As far as values go.. I think instilling a mindset exemplifying tolerance and acceptance of diversity will help us to better our society. I also think teaching them respect for their bodies, modeling healthy life styles, and sharing the importance of taking care of and respect for our world are all things to foster in our young.

Are there any authors that inspire you or authors whose stories you enjoy reading when you have spare time?

Surprisingly I love as good mystery for myself. A James Patterson novel or Steven King suspense never lets me down. Belva Plain and Luanne Rice are other authors I enjoy. As far as children’s books, Chris Van Allsburgh’s books and illustrations are some of my favorites. As are Eric Carle’s books. And of course Dr. Seuss!

What were some of the things that your parents taught you as a child?

My father would take my brother and me to the park behind our home every Sunday when we were growing up. I think I gained my respect and appreciation for nature from these outings. They taught me that family and love were important in life. My parents taught me to appreciate and enjoy the gifts we are given from this world but also to respect and work hard to achieve them as well.

If you had to choose one lesson you learned that defines who you are now, what would it be and why?

Wow a difficult question for sure! I don’t think there is just one in defining who I am. Compassion, empathy and staying open to new ideas all define who I am. But if I named one of the lessons I learned that made me who I am today I would say it was never give up on your dream and the tenacity to “stay the course” to achieve it.

Tell us about some of the books you have in the works and what we can expect from you in months to come.

My third book coming out this spring of 2012 is Winston the Whale and the Blanket of Darkness. Ripped from our headlines today, Winston the Whale and the Blanket of Darkness is a heartwarming story for children ages 4 and up. It tells the tale of Winston, a humpback whale and the perils he must face because of the pollution contaminating his home. Follow Winston and his friends, through words and illustrations as they encounter the danger and the beauty that exists in their home, the ocean. See what happens when Winston and his fellow sea life, including his dear Albatross friend Lea Le come face to face with an oil spill (the Blanket of Darkness) and must escape before it is too late. WILL THEY ESCAPE IN TIME? WILL THEY HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR HOME? Find out in this educational and entertaining children’s story that will introduce your child to the connection we all share with our environment.

Included at the end of this story, is a glossary of words with definitions to help children learn more about the characters in the story. In addition there are web sites to go to for further information about oil spills and other pollutants. Places to visit for further information about our oceans and what we can do to help save our oceans are also included. A wonderful resource book for parents and educators on ocean topics including protecting our oceans!

It is my hope that Winston the Whale and the Blanket of Darkness give children and their parents an entertaining and informative journey into our ocean environment.
Other books on the back burner hoping to come out in the future for my Nurturing Nature Collection include:

Malachi: The Caterpillar Who Was Always Late!

Xavier And China: The Story of Care and Cooperation
The Flower Shop

"More" Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga Part II

Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors? Please give us your links as well, so we can learn more about you and your works.

If you are writing you are already an author. We are all authors of our lives! I’d tell any inspiring author “Keep on writing! And don’t give up on your dream!”

My website link for my books, with reviews and testimonials and information on workshops and book signings at your school or organization is: http:reneesherkness.webs.com/

My books can also be purchased on amazon.com, barnes & noble.com, borders.com and various studios and stores and other websites. See my website for other links. In print and e book, and apple I pad.

Thank you again Renee for this wonderful opportunity, I do hope we can do this again in the future!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat! Look forward to the book giveaway contest for your viewers on March 9th!!


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1 comment:

  1. Nice Interview.I hope you are in contact with your children as often as possible. From experience (and I get it) when teh children become adults it communication in person or by telephone is of the utmost importance. In this day and age it is not cigarettes or coffee that will damage what you have produced but rather the stress caused by feeling that they do not matter.

    Now I read that having children, grandchildren, yoga and a personal life can be demanding but it is essential to the vitality of your lineage to pick up the phone once in a while or go visit your children. I have learned through trial and error that it is always best to be upfront and honest with your children. It not only builds trust but answers a lot of questions they certainly have. It may be the tough thing to do but the tough thing is usually the right thing. I had a substance abuse issue once in my life and the last thing in the world I wanted to do was tell my 14 year old daughter but after I did I was not only shocked but almost in tears at the response and love she professed.

    Most people now a day are caught up communicating by email, text or some strange short code system. All those serve a purpose but by no means are a way for loved ones to communicate. I can tell you are a woman of power and influence (takes one to know one) and although I am not a woman I do relate to your situation. Thanks for the interview and good luck and God speed.

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