“There is a possibility of finding a way through, whether it’s a disease taking place all over the world or a disease within yourself. We can find resilience and in that resilience is the hope.” -Dr. Anthony Manna
Does your life taste like a mix of sour lemon and a bitter green? Challenges can be unpalatable at that moment, but it adds to the flavorfulness of life. Today, Art interviews Dr. Anthony Manna about his book, Loukas and the Game of Chance. Although designed as a children’s book, the lessons we can get from the adventures of Loukas are tremendously helpful as we face struggles and obstacles in our own lives. Dr. Anthony lets us in on some fascinating chapters of the book as Loukas goes through ups and downs and meets strange characters along the way. As we journey with Loukas, we can also bag some wisdom on how to bear responsibility, find destiny, become a leader, overcome challenges, and rise up. Art and Anthony also share how love, hope, and courage can sustain us when we feel empty inside and how we can refocus our expectations and gain a sense of accomplishment. Goodness always turns into amazing results. If you’re ready to beat that hurdle and soar high, press play and listen to this conversation!
Listen to the podcast here:
02:29 Discovering the Adventures in Literature
12:54 The Best Thing Tony Did
19:22 Success Through Struggles
26:19 Go and Find Destiny!
32:13 How to Get a Sense of Accomplishment
37:09 Fear of Failure and You
43:00 Love Sustains-How?
50:40 It takes One to Know One
- Loukas and the Game of Chance by Dr. Anthony Manna
- Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven Hayes & Spencer Smith
“If you’ve lived the life of easiness, you really haven’t lived.” -Art Costello
“You have to lose everything sometimes to make it all solidify together.” -Art Costello
“We all are going to reach a point where there’s going to be suffering, tragedy, and a shake up… It’s all about coming to grips, facing it, and then trying to learn how to carry on.” -Dr. Anthony Manna
“The epiphany of this whole thing is that: ‘I deserve better, I can do better, I can be better.’ And it just isn’t today. It’s every single day and every single thing that we do.” -Art Costello
“Living a life of challenge, overcoming it, and enjoying the journey that it takes us on is really living life.” -Art Costello
“Writing is rewriting and getting it down means getting it right.” -Dr. Anthony Manna
“Anything worth pursuing is worth putting the work into.” -Art Costello
“Why we’re here is to find those moments when we can show ourselves to have some strength or some character.” -Dr. Anthony
“Fear is just the lack of hope. And hope is what keeps every one of us alive.” -Art Costello
“Fear is the thing that stops every human being from being who they are really, truly meant to be.” -Art Costello
“There is a possibility of finding a way through, whether it’s a disease taking place all over the world or a disease within yourself. We can find resilience and in that resilience is the hope.” -Dr. Anthony Manna
Meet Dr. Anthony:
Dr. Anthony Manna is an award-winning author and a retired professor of children and adult literature, literacy education, and drama from Kent State University. Through his many experiences and through his passion as an award-winning educator of 50 years, Dr. Manna has inspired kids and teens around the world to become confident, skilled, and happily-motivated readers and writers. He has taught in schools and universities in Turkey, Greece, Albania, and the United States, where he immersed kids, teens, and young adults in powerful multicultural books and entertaining, action-packed activities, to help them enjoy the discoveries about themselves and others that great books and their own writing can encourage them to explore.
Art Costello: Welcome to the Shower Epiphanies Podcast . Today, I am honored, thrilled, excited, and can’t even describe some of the emotions I’m going through to introduce my audience to Dr. Anthony Manna. Anthony is a well-traveled incredibly gifted writer, children’s writer, even though I don’t think that his book, Loukas & the Game of Chance are a children’s book. I believe that every human being on the face of the earth ought to read this. I’m going to let him explain the book later, but we’re going to get into his story.
Welcome to the show Dr. Manna.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Well, Art, thank you so much. I’m honored, I just loved this. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Art Costello: It’s really my honor, and it’s going to be an honor for all the people to listen to this wonderful journey. Could you tell us how this all began for you?
Dr. Anthony Manna: Well, sure. The question is a little daunting, but I think I began when my youth was spent in New Jersey. I think the thing that I remember most is my immigrant mother coming from Italia and my father who was born in this country and carried on within the world of boxing. He was a boxing referee and a trainer, and I think he wanted ME to be there and I was petrified because he would take me to these training camps and these guys were beating each other up. I shouldn’t put it down because, I mean, I know it’s a sport and they were trained in this sport to be very active and also very skilled, and he was there to help them. So most of the time I admired what he was doing because he was, we can use the word empowerment because that’s what he was doing in so many ways. And there was my mother in the background who was basically illiterate but was able to tell me stories about growing up. She grew up on a farm outside of Naples, and I loved hearing her talk to us. I had four sisters and one brother and I am and probably still will be the baby, bambino. And I heard my father speaking Spanish because he was fluent in Spanish and my mother spoke Italian. And so it was somewhat of a mystery sometimes to try to understand what was going on. And they spoke English quite fluently, so everything was going okay. And I, and the stories that I remember the most were stories of hardship because my father lived through the great depression and he had, at one point he was working in a bank as a teller in Manhattan and he lost everything. And here he was with so many children, et cetera, so it was a struggle. We grew up with a great deal of love. My sisters, my four sisters still live on and we all support each other very, very much. My brother passed quite a while ago and we always talk about missing him. We’re very close and we loved good food so it was a great upbringing.
I spent my years in Catholic schools and I mentioned that too because I wound up after graduation from high school, I thought, all right, it’s either going into the army or going into a , you know? I thought, what could I do? I decided to go into the priesthood and I thought I could serve my country better that way I think. And so I spent about five years, I studied first to be a parish priest and then I went into what I absolutely loved, which was a monastery in Iowa on a farm. Most of the time was spent in silence and contemplation. I needed that so badly because as an adolescent, I was pretty much out of control. I just did not understand how to study. I didn’t really understand how to read. I remembered a lots of oral stories as I said from my father and mother, but as far as getting me down into language that came much later and it came, believe it or not, some people say, how could that have happened at a monastery? Well, because we also went to college classes and I was majoring in biology, but I had a longing as I started reading more, I thought, Oh, so this is literature. I love this stuff. What’s this all about? So that naturally, that’s my segue into finding my way back after I left the monastery because I just knew that I needed to go out on my own and prove myself possible. So I wound out and I majored, I changed my major to literature with a concentration on Shakespeare because I took Latin. I had a lot of Latin and a lot of ancient Greek. I took courses in ancient Greek and Latin and eventually went up with a couple of degrees, a master’s and a bachelor’s degree. I wound up teaching, I wound up teaching at a middle school, it was a fantastic experience. I was learning my way, what is teaching all about? What do you do as a teacher? And what came to me right away was that I was there to let these kids know that they were good and that they had a brain and that they could think, and they can think critically. And we were going to go on a journey together as teachers with students. So that lasted for quite a while. I was teaching around, actually, my first teaching experience with my master’s degree was in Istanbul, Turkey. I was there for three years. And of course, how could I not say that that changed my life? I mean, I’m living in an Islamic world. My foundation was taken away from me in a sense, and I was with food and people in a language and it was really quite an interesting place to be.
At that point, I was married then to Ruth, who remains one of my very, very best friends. My son was born there so there are ties there that are eternal, and then I came back to the States. It was a shock after three years of being in a culture that was so ancient and so rich, constantly rich that I didn’t know what to do. And so I thought, well, let me see, if I heard something, what is this PhD thing? Let me go and see what that school is about. And actually, I stepped into the University of Iowa, I was working on an MFA and acting. I was going to be a master of fine arts in acting and I did that for a year or two. I had a lot of leads. I was really learning the craft, which was so exciting, but I felt I started thinking that am I going to spend my years in New York City begging on my knees for work? Hey, I don’t think I wanted to do that. So what I did was I entered this PhD program in English, English Literature and English Education. And it was good, it was good for me. At that point, I had learned how to read. The monks taught me how to think and read. And I remember they changed my name. When you go into a monastery, they changed my name, my name was Christian. But anyway, they would say: “Christian, sit down. Shut up and read. And this is the way you do it.” I would say: “Yes, Father. Yes, Father Hillary. Yes, Father Hillary.” And also, Father Hillary was my first writing teacher. What a gift that was because he was so honest and he taught me how to craft So there I was at the University of Iowa getting this PhD, working really hard. It was a lot of hard work, you know? So I wound up with a PhD and then found myself at the University of Maine. One of my first positions there was at the university, in the original campus in Farmington which is very close to the Sugarloaf Mountain which most of my students were in that school because they wanted to ski. So I had to constantly get their attention like, I’m here now. There’s no snow on the mountains so you have to be here, you have to do your work and you have to hand it in. So we got through that beautifully. I went into theater for children as an actor for a while there while I was still teaching and that was a marvelous experience. We did a lot of improvisational theater with people from all around the place. We went out and performed for kids and it was a great experience. In the meantime, I was also developing my love for children’s literature and for literature for teens and tweens. I started teaching those courses along with courses in writing. Eventually, I felt the itch that I needed to move on to a research university. I don’t know, I felt that urge so I left my tenure track position which people said: “We think you’re nuts.” And I said: “Yes, I know I’m nuts.”
So I left that position and I thought, now, what do I do? Well, I looked around and I thought, well, any university will take me after I just kind of quit. Well, I got this interview at Kent State University, the famous Kent State University. That was in 1982 so I was beyond that terrible thing that happened where those students were shot dead during the demonstration. I was there. I got there in 1982 because I went to this interview. I had come from a theater, I was really loose. And by that, I mean, I was very relaxed because I was with theater people and they were just crazy. When I was at the interview, I remember one thing I did was jump up on top of the table. This is so embarrassing, I would never do this. I jumped on a table and I started this improvisation about the way that I teach and they were like, Whoa, I think back now on, they told me, afterwards they said: “But that’s why we liked you because you were so crazy.” And I say: “Well, I don’t know I was like that.” I spent that time at Kent State for about 30 years. And in the meantime, I heard about this Greek exchange program from the university where they sent me there. And then one of their faculty members came here and I wound up in Thessaloniki, Greece, which is the ancient city there on the North on the Bulgarian border, and I was at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. One of the things that I wanted to do, and I’m glad I did was to go, I want to go into a school situation because I knew if I wanted to a school situation under the guise of researching that I would learn the cycle of the year, there is no separation of church and state and Greece, I would learn the religious holidays, I would learn the secular holidays, I would learn about family life, et cetera so I was going to go to school.
I wound up in first grade, it was a kindergarten first grade on the university campus in their experimental school, and it was the best thing that I ever did. I started learning the language a little bit and I started hearing, of course, the kids in their reading time reading Greek mythology. I knew that because I had, but what I didn’t hear, all of a sudden I started hearing about ogres, flying beasts, darkness in the depths of depth where people had to go to survive, like on their journeys to find their soul. I said: “Wait a minute, what is this? And then they say: “These are our folktales. These are our fairy tales.” And I thought, well, look, I’ve been studying children’s literature for a long time and I know that we don’t have very many of these stories at home so that began the Greek folklore project. I worked with my Greek colleagues to research and to look for the stories. I just read, read, read a massive amount of Greek stories to figure out which ones could we take and translate into English so that they could be available for the English speaking, English reading world. So when I returned to the States two years later, I had a lot of stories and very boldly. Those days, you didn’t need an agent as you do now and so I just sent them out. I sent out the first one and I remember it was accepted at Simon & Schuster in New York City and she said: “This story is a mess, but I think I can help you learn how to write it.” And I thought, Oh, thank you so much. I was like, down on my knees in Manhattan saying: “Thank you, thank you.” Well, anyway, that’s exactly what Anne Schwartz did. She is now at Random House and has her own Schwartz & Wade Books. She took us to Soula Mitakidou, who is my coauthor. She took the two of us and really taught us how to craft a story and she’s always there with me. When I’m writing now, she’s beside me because she gave me such insight when to draw back, when to move in, when this is too much, when this is too little and when you’re not being authentic and truthful to yourself in the story. And so that started the project and that’s why today, I did a few stories with Soula that were published at a number of different places. And there were some of them, there were two picture books and there was an anthology of 20 stories.
But with Loukas & the Game of Chance, I decided to go on my own. And what I wanted to do was to see if I could challenge myself to take a basic folktale because folktales or fairy tales are very brief. They’re very economical, they get right to the point, there is a struggle, they go off, they travel somewhere, they come back, they’ve learned something that stands, everybody lived happily ever after most of the time. Well with Loukas & the Game of Chance, it was a story that we had included in the anthology and it was called The Snake Tree which is an intriguing story and intriguing title. I thought, how can I do this? What can I do? Well, I took it and I invented and I opened myself up to it and I said: “All right, let me take this story and see if I can turn it into something that is going to be attractive, that is going to entertain but at the same time is going to awaken whomever.” At this point I was thinking maybe middle school, a middle grade, middle school ages, 8 to 12, but I knew I could feel that it was blossoming out into something quite different and that the character grew up and all of a sudden the character who had amassed a lot of wealth because he became friends with the dancing, talking snake, all of a sudden lost everything. And there you go, sounds like life. I mean, sounds just like life. So what you do when you’re given the lemon, and my character I decided I needed to find his way and here he is, he’s now married, he’s got two beautiful kids and a gorgeous wife by the name of Thera who was also a very talented seamstress and very much in control of her life. So what is he going to do? What is he going to do? And he’s going to have to either give up because he just lost everything including at this card game, he lost his family as well because the merchant who was very greedy wanted it all. So what can I say, Loukas has to go on the road. Now, I don’t want to spoil the story and tell you all what happens but I can say that, yes, it ends happily, but what must he do? What struggle must he go through in order to gain back his life and his family? And that’s the juice of Loukas & the Game of Chance.
Art Costello: I think that that’s what makes it so authentic and real. When I was reading it, I can’t tell you how many times I welled up in tears and how many smiles were on my face because the book is a journey of people’s lives, and the transitions that they go through, and the joys, and the sorrows, and life has never, never this easy street. If you’ve lived the life of ease, you really haven’t lived, that’s just my opinion. I think that you’re the epitome of that. And I am too, because at some point in our life, we made this transition in our brain and choice that said, we’re going to step out and live life differently than everybody else. That’s really what I think is so beautiful, intriguing, and so genuine and authentic about it is because when you were talking, one of the things that I really started smiling about was, I grew up in New Jersey.“If you've lived the life of easiness, you really haven't lived.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Dr. Anthony Manna: Oh, great.
Art Costello: I was born in Teaneck, New Jersey. I don’t know where you were born, but you know, my life in New Jersey was very good. And then my parents, for some unknown reason decided to buy this old dilapidated farm in Upstate New York. I mean, Upstate in just 60 miles below Rochester and a place called a Voca. When they bought it, my life changed for the worse. But for very different reasons, my parents fell apart. It was a great stress on our family. My dad got sick and almost passed away. There were just a lot of things that went on, but you know, it was meant to be. It was meant to be because it’s made me who I am today. And all the things that I learned from that period of transition and sorrow in my life have led me on this incredible journey that I see myself in your story in your book. And that is the common theme, because I think that there’s lots of us in this life who have gone through them. For some reason, there are just some of us that make this choice to make as you called it lemonade at a lemons. And then there’s others that have chosen, and I say this because my siblings chose the opposite. They chose to let it hold them back instead of catapulting them forward. And what’s always intrigued me is why? Why psychologically? What was the see to me because I was raised Catholic. I was raised by the Catholic school, taught Shakespeare in the third grade and people just don’t believe that we can comprehend Shakespeare at that age, but we can and that’s explained well by the priests, and we learn Latin as an altar boys and all those kinds of things which give us great basis to move forward from. And then you have to lose everything sometimes to really make it really all solidified together. And either you let it beat you down or you rise above it. 2006, I lost my wife to ovarian cancer and it changed my life because for three years, it beat me down. I grieved very badly and in very bad ways. But yet, three years later I rose from the ashes and really moved my whole life in a whole different way. I’m going to be 73 in August and I’m probably living the best life I’ve ever lived. And I don’t mean that financially, I don’t mean that any other way than spiritually, and then passionately about what I do. I see that in your story and then I see it in your writing and how you’ve moved through. How much of your life do you think actually corresponds to the characters in your book?“You have to lose everything sometimes to make it all solidify together.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Dr. Anthony Manna: Well, what a great question. What comes to mind right away? When I was coming to mid-career at Kent State University, I was really in a bad place. All of a sudden, I was very lost. I had gone through a divorce and I thought, now what? I mean, I need love in my life, don’t I? It was most, I mean, here I was, I just won a major award at the university, the distinguished teaching award, and I was like being carried around through the campus and I’m thinking, Oh, yeah, yeah. But deep inside, I was so sad. So I went into therapy and I love this guy, he was so cool. He just said: “You sound like you’re filled with shame.” I thought, how do you know that? And he said: “Well, think of some of the things you’ve just told me.” I’m going: “Okay, all right, all right. That’s my Catholic upbringing, I’m so sorry. How do I get rid of it? What do I do?” He said: “No. Let’s experiment together because I’m working on the new therapy that I want to introduce to you.” And to make a long story short, he gave me a book called, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, it was about mindfulness. I thought, wait a minute, what is this? Basically what it was, what it is, what it continues to be in my life is an awakening. An awakening to what? The fact that we all are going to reach a point where there’s going to be suffering, where there’s going to be tragedy, where there’s going to be a shakeup. And what do you do? Well, you can take drugs, you can drink a lot, I don’t know, lead the life of a rake, or you can say, this is what it is. That’s what that book remains on my shelf. I picked it up about once every other month and read a chapter because it’s all about coming to grips facing it and then trying to learn how to carry on. And mindfulness led me to becoming a student because I am very much a student of Zen Buddhism and it’s illuminating, that doesn’t mean that I turned my back on Catholicism. I think Catholicism has saved me a lot and brought me to many wonderful places and I’m sure that there are other religions that could have done the same thing. But all of a sudden, mindfulness led me to Zen Buddhism and all of that was just a journey that I took. So one thing that comes up a lot is the idea of loving kindness. And I thought that with Loukas, in my book, what I wanted him to do was to reach into that and give it back to himself. So he stands on that road before he enters the enchanted farm. As he stands on that road he says: “Before God and the spirits, I am going to do something to get this back, I vow this to myself.” That’s when he hears inside himself, the voice that was told through stories as a child, that it is possible to go and find destiny because she really does exist.“We all are going to reach a point where there's going to be suffering, tragedy, and a shake up... It's all about coming to grips, facing it, and then trying to learn how to carry on.” -Dr. Anthony Manna Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Can I stop you right there?
Dr. Anthony Manna: Sure.
Art Costello: That to me was the most impactful part for me. Just as you said it, again, after reading it, I still get tears in my eyes because it is a life decision that we all make and that’s the epiphany of this whole thing is that I deserve better, I can do better, I can be better. And it just isn’t today, it’s every single day and every single thing that we do. We’ve been convinced that having a life of mediocrity is what really amounts to success, and I disagree with it because I think living a life of challenge, overcoming it and enjoying the journey that it takes us on is really living life. I just wanted to put that in there.“The epiphany of this whole thing is that: ‘I deserve better, I can do better, I can be better.’ And it just isn't today. It's every single day and every single thing that we do.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Dr. Anthony Manna: Well, that’s so beautiful because, I mean, that’s exactly what it’s about. You know what I mean? And I think that he could have, Loukas could have so easily given up. Now, the thing about this though is when he goes into that forest he brought through the ringer a couple of times. I mean, he’s meeting such weird characters and their needs are so enormous and they’re even more than his, and now he takes on the responsibility of saying to those creatures and characters that he meets that, yes, I will, I will take you with me and I will plead for you infront of Destiny. And then one day somebody said: “Destiny, does she have a son?” I said: “Yeah, it’s the sun.” “What?” I said: “Yes, the sun, and then the moon.” A person of a writer in my writing group said: “Wouldn’t it be nice if she had a daughter?” And I went: “Oh, the moon.” Now I’ve got this family so all of a sudden Loukas has gone on the road. He’s in that forest. He’s meeting all these weird creatures in these bearing their responsibility, but that’s part of his change because he’s looking out to others.“Living a life of challenge, overcoming it, and enjoying the journey that it takes us on is really living life.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Art Costello: It’s called leadership. Folks, this is how Dr. Manna has put this book together. These beautiful little segments in this that are so impactful to your child, and not only your child, but to you. I just can’t encourage you enough to get this book because it is literally life changing for somebody who needs a ray of the sun in their life and will enjoy the moon in their life too.
Dr. Anthony Manna: That’s it, yeah. I think bringing it, I mean, most recently I went into a middle school. A teacher friend of mine teaches in middle school and these were seventh graders. I just had such a good time with those kids because they right away saw what was going on and they right away, and I said: “Yeah, how many of you have had times in your life when it’s been really, really difficult?” I think every kid in that room raised their hand and I said: “Well, what do we do? Do we do what Loukas does or do we give up?” And we talked about that a little bit and then the joy of that too was, I had a powerpoint where I showed them up on the screen, the manuscript, the messy, messy manuscript because they said they were like: “Wait a minute, you went through 20 drafts?” I said: “Friends, I went through more than 20 drafts.” So when they sent me the thank you notes, they all said: “We can’t believe that a person your age would have to do so much work to get this.” I said: “Want an insult, how dare you.” I mean, they learned from me, that writing is rewriting. Getting it down means getting it right. There’s also courage as a writer. I mean, I want them to know that’s one of the gifts I think I can give them because it’s a gift given to me to learn that drafting and making something better, feeling the quality of it in your soul and thinking that you’ve done something polished and you could present it. What an honor, you know?
Art Costello: I think one of the greatest lessons you teach them by, showing them and telling them is that anything worth pursuing is worth putting the work into. And when you go through a manuscript 20, 30 times, which we all writers know about, I mean, I can write a paragraph and go through it a hundred times. It gets tedious but it also persists. It builds this sense of accomplishment when you see, and that’s part of it. For me, with the awards you’ve won with this book, I think you’re going to win many, many more awards. This book gets circulated more and more into our world because you’ve crafted it so well. You can tell that it’s been put together with not only thought but with love, kindness, compassion and love. I mean, it’s just put together so well.“Writing is rewriting and getting it down means getting it right.” -Dr. Anthony Manna Click To Tweet
Dr. Anthony Manna: That’s beautiful, thank you. You should write a review.
Art Costello: I will.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Yes, I think that that’s such a good thing for kids to learn that perseverance with something that you want to make good or that you didn’t even know. I mean, sometimes they’ll come out, when I’m with them, we ask them to write, and I left behind a prompt and I came back the week later, and then I had some of them stand up and read the writing. You should have seen it, it was very rough, it was very rough. And then some of it was so comical. They stood up, the ones that were brave enough to stand up and you could just tell that they were showing all their peers in that room. You can take an idea and you can put it together in such a way that you feel proud with it, and why not? That’s why I think that we’re here to find those moments when we can show ourselves to have some strength or some character. I mean, that’s every day when I meditate and I pray for my grandkids, that’s what I say to Anthony, my grandkid Anthony and my grandkid Luke, you guys, may you find your strength. That’s such a great thing for a teacher to move through, and that’s something that I hope I can convey to them and to the students that I meet along the way.“Anything worth pursuing is worth putting the work into.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Art Costello: One of the things that is part of my core is that I believe that there’s two things that every human being needs, love is the first one and validation is the second. When those kids stand up and they hear their other students laugh or ridicule can be validation for somebody as long as they have the mindfulness and the proper perspective to understand that that is a reaction from somebody else, it is not what drives them. And the great lessons of that is it fulfills those children knowing that they have value and they’re loved.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Yes, yes. I said: “Well, how do you respond to George? He just read his piece.” Just think of one thing we can say, I don’t want to forget that. I really want to remember to always have them stop and give something back, and that reciprocation goes a long, long way. I think that goes a long, long way. I mean, it’s like getting a book review, Loukas is getting book reviews and it’s kind of like a validation. Not that I run around on my roller skates, Oh, gosh. I’m going to be 78, if I don’t want to make me proud fall, but at the same time, I just know that it’s allowing me to carry on in my writing.
Art Costello: That’s the teacher in you. I think that as a teacher, I consider myself a teacher, even though I’m not a credential teacher. Because when I’m trying to teach people expectations, and how to master them in their life and how it can really propel you because it’s so basic to our human behavior. When we really do need that love and validation that comes from other people, one of the things that, because of what’s going on here in the United States right now with the social distancing, one of the things that I do worry about is that we’re going to start to lose that connection. And once you start to lose connection, things can really go awry in your life. And that is because of one thing that I really want to talk to you about, and I want to hear your perspective on this. What have you feared most in your life?“Why we're here is to find those moments when we can show ourselves to have some strength or some character.” -Dr. Anthony Click To Tweet
Dr. Anthony Manna: Oh, my Lord. Give me hope, okay. I think one fear and it’s hard to reveal this, but I think one fear is the fear of failure. I think that that’s very common, very common. And I think that it sometimes strangles me and puts me up against the wall and stifles me. But I tell you, Art, the thing that really brings me out is learning the breathing that goes on in meditation. Because once it brings me back to my senses and that’s what it does for me now. Not for everybody, meditation is not for everybody. I mean, I know that I’m not and I would never proselytize, I would never go out and say, you get over here and meditate, or whatever. But I mean, for me, as I said before, with mindfulness and with Zen Buddhism, and learning as I go along here that the breathing in the mindful meditation, and even if it’s five minutes of just sitting down and getting a hold on the fear that I have that day, that the writing that I’m doing, this new story I’m working on, I’m just going to breathe through it and I’m going to let myself open up to it. And then Halleluyah, does it take it away? Well, it takes it away for five minutes, or half an hour, or whatever. But I mean, it just unleashes me and brings me up. But back off that wall that I’ve been pushed up against and I feel okay, that’s good. Let me go make a cup of tea and I’ll be alright.
Art Costello: You brought up a good point because I believe that there is no difference in meditation, prayer, or mindfulness or any of that. It’s taking time for yourself to clear your mind of all the clutter and to refocus on your expectations and what is important to you. It brings you back to reality. It brings you back to being able to calm that fear, because fear is just the lack of hope and hope is what keeps every one of us alive. In my research, I found that the one thing that all people who commit suicide, or attempt to commit suicide or all that is they have lost the ability to hope. Once you lose the ability to hope, it just destroys us. And when we calm ourselves and think and relax, whether it’s through prayer, meditation, whatever it is for you to do, do it, don’t go down. That ugly path of that fear takes us. Fear is the thing that stops every human being from being who they are really truly meant to be, fear stops that.“Fear is just the lack of hope. And hope is what keeps every one of us alive.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Dr. Anthony Manna: I know. I love the way you put that and I think the thing that you’re making me realize too is in those moments of fear, what really helped me, truly helps me is to recognize the love I have in my life.
Art Costello: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Dr. Anthony Manna: And I mean that going to that, going to that loving kindness, going to that place which is such an Island of hope, you know that you are worthwhile, you know that you can also reciprocate that love and not to be afraid of doing that. One of the techniques and whether this is, I mean, a lot of people pray in a Catholic church. In a Presbyterian Church, one of the things about the meditation that I do is that I reach out to people in my meditation. I pray for health, et cetera, my wonderful son, people that I meet, my writing group, and it’s so liberating and so fulfilling.
Art Costello: It’s a form of giving.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Yes.
Art Costello: Medidate and meditate to help others is, to me, it is really a beautiful thing because you’re reaching out to help other people. I believe that we throw out vibrations. I think that we’re a very magnetic species that we threw out these vibrations. And when you pray for other people, I believe that they come full circle, always, always come full circle. And you never know how one prayer can change the course of any situation. Just keep praying. I just tell people, pray all the time. The other thing that I do that I want to tell you about that you brought up is, one of the last words out of my mouth when I meet people, I mean, I’m talking about in the subways in New York or the streets of Los Angeles, San Diego, Austin, Texas, doesn’t matter where you are, when I leave you, quite often, you will hear me more so than not these words, love you, see you later.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Yes.
Art Costello: Just telling somebody the simple, I love you, and having it be authentic and really meaningful because I garner something from every human being that I meet. Doesn’t matter if he’s homeless, doesn’t matter if he’s a professor at Harvard University, doesn’t matter if he’s the Pope, doesn’t matter who it is. I learned from the people around me and they teach me so much. I’m so appreciative of it.“Fear is the thing that stops every human being from being who they are really, truly meant to be.” -Art Costello Click To Tweet
Dr. Anthony Manna: What a positive way to go through your life. I mean, I think that’s very inspiring to me hearing you say this, and that stays with me because I have to remember. So I just had a conversation, my author, my coauthor from Greece, Soula, she called me the other day and it’s like, she’s next door, you know? And we were carrying on and at the end I just said: “I love you.” And she said: “I love you too.” Raised me up, Hallelujah, I have reached the peak.
Art Costello: It awakens the heart.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Yeah. I mean, I took that. I’m still hearing it echo because I need that to sustain me. And also in difficult times, we are having difficult times right now and I want to know, once again, I want to sustain the hope that as with Loukas, my character, that there is a possibility of finding a way through, whether it’s a disease that is taking place all over the world or whether it’s a disease within yourself, we can find some kind of, as we said before, some kind of resilience, and then in that resilience is the hope.
Art Costello: Tell you what? That is powerful medicine right there that this world needs right now.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Yes.
Art Costello: Because with this pandemic that’s going on and all this stuff, we’re not going to have that human contact that we have. And I’m hoping that people are being fulfilled in ways. Reading your book is a great way for people To fulfill themselves. And I’m being serious because it is really, it does. When I started reading this, I couldn’t put it down. I mean, it just moved me so much about how literature can make such a difference in this world. We don’t read anymore, we have computers, we sit in front of computers, kids want videos, they want these videos.
Dr. Anthony Manna: And the thing too that you’re drawing attention to me anyways, I love the relationship with Loukas and that snake, the compassion and the unity. And the fact that they developed this relationship, I mean, when I first had the snake speak, which is weird, and I knew it was weird and I brought it to the writing group and I said, and Loukas was like, Oh, wow. Oh, yeah. And they said to me: “Wait a minute, he’s watching a snake dance. He’s gonna say, Oh, he dances and he also talks out. Terrific. Hey, hi there. Hi, I’m from New Jersey. Where are you from? I think we can be friends. And that’s what happened.” And I had to research snakes. Do snakes really stand up like that? Yes they do. And then also I had to research a snake that doesn’t carry them. And wouldn’t you know it? They’re in Greece, in the mountain district. A snake, the leopard snake. They invite the leopard snake into their homes because it’s a sign of goodness and goodwill. And I thought, this is a gift from God that I’m finding this snake, this story. I just blessed myself a hundred times, is that all right? Carry on.
Art Costello: That’s my exact point with this. When you write and you start to research all the characters, it adds to our knowledge base. We learn so much from them. I’m hoping that when people read this, they start to see and start to research into these things, this mindfulness and the power that Loukas has and the power of every creature around him, and the journey, the symbiotic journey they all take and he takes with them. The leadership, all of that thing, it’s a beautiful story.
Dr. Anthony Manna: It’s uplifting to hear you say that because usually, writing is done pretty much solitary. You’re in this room and luckily see, you don’t see me, but I look out a window here. I live on eight acres and I looked out the window and my friend found a Christ figure from a Catholic church that they were getting rid of. They want to replace it. He bought this Christ figure and it’s about 10 feet tall. His arms are raised out like that, not a crucifixion but more like an enhancement. I look out and I see him all the time. Hi, I’m here, you’re there. We can talk to one another because I know something about, and I’m telling you something about me because I’m here writing so let’s talk. I get such inspiration from that statue. I mean, it’s this huge metal piece and how lucky I am to look out this window to see nature’s fullness with the Christ figure welcomed me in. It’s not by accident, I don’t think so. I don’t think anything’s by accident, this has gotta be the best.“There is a possibility of finding a way through, whether it’s a disease taking place all over the world or a disease within yourself. We can find resilience and in that resilience is the hope.” -Dr. Anthony Manna Click To Tweet
Art Costello: We’re nearing our hour, Oh, boy, it went so fast.
Dr. Anthony Manna: It was more real as you. I mean, really? It’s so nice to meet you. I feel like being my friend, I’m coming to Austin, Texas to look you up.
Art Costello: You’re welcome. Anytime when this gets better with all this stuff, you’re welcome here anytime.
Dr. Anthony Manna: I know your work, I go to your site, I look at what you’re doing and I know that you are really, let me say enhancing a lot of people, let me put it that way. The word HELP sounds like they’re on their knees or something, you know? I mean, I think you’re just made, I can see that, I can see that you are helping people come to a realization of themselves.
Art Costello: Thank you because that’s exactly what I’m wanting to do. I want to enhance people. This is your time to tell people about where they can get a hold of you, your website, your social media, all that kind of stuff.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Well, sure. My website is www.anthonymanna, that’s M-A-N-N-A, anthonymannabooks.com, www.anthonymannabooks.com, it’s pretty easy. My email is [email protected]. My handle, as they say, let’s see, where am I?
Art Costello: @drtony42.
Art Costello: Yep, both.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Yeah, both. And then on Facebook, I think it’s anthony.l.manna, let me see. Yes, it is. I’m looking at it right now. I have on my desk here, anthony.l.manna, all lowercase. And that’s where you find me on Facebook. I spent some time there, I spent some time on Facebook and Twitter mostly every day.
Art Costello: Well, I’m going to encourage people to reach out to you because–
Dr. Anthony Manna: I hope so. Thank you.
Art Costello: –you’re a very gifted writer. You have a great heart and a great spirit and that’s what my audience is all about, great heart and great spirits.
Dr. Anthony Manna: I know. Well, we used to say in Orange, New Jersey when I was growing up, IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE.
Art Costello: Dr. Mann, it’s been an absolute pleasure and we’re going to do it again. We’re going to schedule you back co’z we didn’t even get to the questions that Jonathan said this and all that. Well, we’ll always have lots to talk about.
Dr. Anthony Manna: Thank you so much, Art.
Art Costello: Okay. And with that folks, I’m gonna let you know where you can get a hold of me, it’s at [email protected] is my email address, you can get a hold of me there. My website is expectationtherapy.com, Shower Epiphanies Podcast listen notes and it’s been a pleasure. Heather White, go ahead and take us out of here.
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