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At a time when she seemed to have lost her way, mired in an unfulfilling career, it was a series of powerful nighttime dreams that set Rose back on course.
Today, the Sedona woman is doing the work of her dreams, writing and illustrating her award-winning children’s books and spreading Tibetan wisdom of peace and kindness.
Rose’s newly published book, “Tibetan Tales from the Top of the World” offers three delightful stories from the mountaintop kingdom, each beautifully illustrated with depictions of her original acrylic paintings.
Like her first book, “Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas,” the foreword in her latest effort is written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.
The tales — adapted by Rose and thoughtfully written for Western ears along with Tibetan translations — send readers soaring up the Himalayas to the rooftop of the world. As they do in Rose’s first book, the tales impart ancient Tibetan wisdom about peace and kindness.
It’s no coincidence these are themes from Rose’s own life.
As a youngster growing up in Tempe, she wrote a book with lessons on peace and kindness and presented it to her parents for Christmas. She also fashioned a “peace gun” that would shoot peaceful feelings at whomever she aimed.
In the late 60s, her parents moved to the hippie haven of Mill Valley, Calif., and as a teenager, she embraced the hippie culture, joining peace marches and other peace activities.
Her life would take many twists and turns. She trained as a classical musician. She earned college degrees in social work and later in computer science. She worked in the prison system and health care fields and later as a software engineer and technical writer. She experienced the joy of motherhood and the pain of divorce.
Eventually, however, she came to a point where she would describe her life as “lost” and “deeply dissatisfying.”
It was then she experienced some dramatic, life-changing dreams that pulled her back toward her true self — that of being an advocate for peace and social change — and laid the foundation for her work as an author and illustrator.
She had moved to Bainbridge Island in Washington state within 10 minutes of an art school. In recurring dreams, she saw herself as a visual artist and that’s what she became. With no previous experience or training, she enrolled in a drawing class.
After a rocky start, she soon excelled. Rose would go on to earn fine arts degrees and her paintings would hang in galleries and solo exhibitions.
A voice in another dream urged her to follow the path of Tibetan Buddhism.
“I hadn’t heard about Tibetan Buddhism and I barely even knew about the Dalai Lama,” she recalls.
But that didn’t stop her from becoming enamored with Tibetan culture and philosophy and learning everything should could about it.
Still another dream told her to create a children’s book and she launched that effort with the encouragement of Lama Surya Das, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher she met in Seattle. He suggested taking stories from his own book of Tibetan oral stories and reworking them for children.
“I was excited and honored he would ask,” she says. “The ways of the Tibetan people could have a lot to offer our culture. I wanted to spread the word and help preserve it.”
But the project was far from easy. “I got lots of rejections. It was painful.”
Finally, after almost 8 years of frustration, she decided bold action was necessary: She would attempt to earn an endorsement from the Dalai Lama himself.
She tried for a year and a half — and then 9/11 happened and she fired off yet another email to her connection in India with an ear to His Holiness. She wrote that the Tibetan stories of peace were needed now more than ever.
“Two weeks later I found a foreword in my Fax machine from the Dalai Lama.”
Her book would go on to win the 2005 Nautilus Award honoring titles that contribute to positive social change, among other awards.
In support of her books, Rose developed a presentation in which she dons traditional Tibetan costume and offers ancient storytelling. She has taken her show from coast to coast.
More Tibetan-themed books are in the works for Rose, who moved to Sedona from Santa Fe in February 2009. When she’s not on a promotional tour or working on upcoming books, Rose enjoys hiking in the red rocks with her husband, Robin Weeks.
It may seem surprising that Rose has never traveled to Tibet. But the author explains that she’s reluctant to go there as long as Tibet is not free.
In the meantime, plenty of Tibetans in the U.S., many of whom have witnessed her presentations, have told her that her accounts of Tibetan culture and her paintings are true to their subject.
“Some who have seen my artwork can’t believe I haven’t been there.”
“Tibetan Tales from the Top of the World” features a preface from Tibet-freedom activist Richard Gere, who notes that: “These charming and deceptively simple folk tales speak well to the depth and beauty of the Tibetan heart and mind.”
“I’m sure they’ll bring much joy and fascination to readers young and old everywhere,” the actor writes. “This book is a delight.”
Rose’s books are available in Sedona at the Well Red Coyote or Sedona Art Supply.
To learn more, go to Rose’s Web site at naomicrose.com. You can also see her perform “Yeshi’s Luck” (a story from her first book)on Youtube at www.youtube.com/user/naomicrose.
Her best reviewer: the Dalai Lama
By DEE AXELROD
Staff Writer – Bainbridge Island Review
(Photo by Ryan Schierling/Staff Photo)
May 19, 2004
The early 1990s found islander Naomi C. Rose at a crossroads in both her career and her spiritual life. Rose knew her road as a technical writer had reached a dead end, and the spiritual path ” a lifelong journey that had seen Rose try New Age practices, join Unity Church, dip into “a little bit of Zen” and even make up her own church ” seemed blocked, as well.
But her unconscious pointed the way to fulfillment through a creative endeavor that would become “Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas,” the children’s book from which she reads May 23. “I started having these dreams at night showing me going to art school to create children’s books,” Rose said. Rose was baffled, but the dreams kept coming, finally prompting her to audit a class at Poulsbo’s Northwest College of Art.
“I loved it so I jumped into art school,” she said. “I just totally shifted from left to right brain.”
Soon a dream illumined the spiritual path as well. “There were these monks in reddish-color robes and I heard a voice say, ‘follow the path of Tibetan Buddhism,’” Rose said. “I’d never heard of Tibetan Buddhism, but I started getting involved.”
When Rose attending a teaching session by Lama Surya Das, a Tibetan religious teacher who lectured in Seattle, she had what she calls a “homecoming experience,” a mystical epiphany that confirmed the rightness of her new path. When Surya Das learned that Rose wanted to write books, he encouraged her to take stories from a book he had just published ” the first recording of traditional oral stories ” and rework them for children.
Rose picked several tales and Surya Das supervised her project for several years to make sure the stories and illustrations conveyed the spirit of Tibetan Buddhist teachings. The neophyte author knew she had been lucky to be handed the material, but the same good fortune would not carry her through finding an agent and publisher; it took another 10 years to bring the book to print.
“It didn’t happen easily from that point on,” she said. “Plus, I needed to develop a lot more skill. I had writing skills and I was developing my art skills, but writing for children is a totally different thing.”
The 64-page book contains three stories, each told from the point of view of a Tibetan child, and illustrated by Rose’s paintings. In the tales, children encounter magical and mystical beings that help the young person reach an understanding of such Tibetan Buddhist — and universal — principles as the wisdom of kindness.
“That took years of trial and error,” she said. “I wanted to keep the essence of the wisdom, but how do you do that and turn it into something that children can understand and Western minds can understand?”
Rose was frustrated “and on her third literary agent ” when she decided to try to get the Dalai Lama involved. Rose sent the draft of the book to a contact in Dharmsala in India, where the Dalai Lama lived. The book was passed from hand to hand until it reached the Dalai Lama’s secretary. There it languished until, one week after the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings, Rose emailed the Tibetan official, pointing out the benefits of a book promoting peace and kindness.
“A few days later, Rose received a fax from the Dalai Lama with a forward that both praised the book and expressed a wish that readers “…become aware of the existence of our country and the values that we hold dear.”
It still took a while for Rose to find a publisher who wasn’t convinced that a book of “wisdom tales” wouldn’t sell. But Rose persisted, and finally a Santa Fe, N.M. publisher, Clear Light, took on the project. “They loved it for all the right reasons,” she said. “It was ‘this has great benefit for the children in our culture.’” At the suggestion of the new publishers — whom Rose learned were friends with the Dalai Lama — Rose included a Tibetan translation for the children of refugees. The stories also promote, in simple terms, the benefits of such practices as chanting, geared to help quiet the mind and lead one to more tranquilly acceptance life’s vicissitudes. “I felt I was meant to do this book and I think it will be of benefit to others, but it’s also been benefiting my own life and spiritual practice,” Rose said.
“I’ve had to put the wisdom in these stories into practice just to get through the last 10 years of rejections.”
* * * * *
Naomi C. Rose reads from her debut children’s book, “Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas,” 3 p.m. May 23, at Eagle Harbor Books. A portion of proceeds from book sales benefit Tibetan refugees. Information: 842-5332. More about Rose and her work can be found at www.naomicrose.com.
Dreams lead author to write about tales from Tibet
Publication: Santa Fe New Mexican; Date:2004 Nov 17; Section:News; Page Number: 37 JULIA BELL Down the Street
Naomi Rose holds Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas, her recently
Jane Phillips/The New Mexican
Naomi C. Rose always has believed in the power and importance of listening to the messages of her own dreams. “I have always used intuition and dream life to guide me,” Rose said. By honoring the wisdom in her dreams, Rose gained the courage to embark upon a road that would allow her to write and illustrate a book of three wise and simple tales that will charm children and adults alike.
She also would become a student of Tibetan wisdom, ultimately meet the Dalai Lama and develop a medium through her book to share the ancient wisdom of Tibetan culture with the world. In Rose’s book, Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas, the tales use mystical beings, yaks, wild goats, horses, an enormous sow and a Yeti as vehicles that provide an enchanting glimpse of Tibetan culture while leaving the reader with a little wisdom.
“Everyone wants to be happy and to overcome whatever problems they meet in their lives,” the Dalai Lama writes in the forward. “One of the most important means of fulfilling this wish is through education. Even today, in this age of television and electronic communications, I believe that reading books is an essential part of education. Therefore, we can give our children tremendous help if we teach them to read and give them an appreciation of books at an early age.”
Rose, too, wanted to be happy, so she began really listening to her dreams. Although she had been writing ever since she can remember, it was at the age of 8 when she finished her first book of stories, Morals. The book illustrated how to live a better life through short tales , each ending with a “moral” to the story.
“Thinking back, I realized that I had always wanted to write with the purpose of offering ideas on how to live a better life,” Rose said. But it wasn’t until 10 years ago that Rose realized how she could make her dreams a reality. “Ten years ago, I had a dream telling me to go to art school,” she said. After a little research, Rose realized that there was an art school 10 minutes from her house on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. “I decided to audit a class and left humiliated,” she said. “Everyone was so much better than me with natural talent. But I realized that my desire and passion to become a painter was so intense that it outweighed my fear of going back to the school. So, the next day, I returned to the class and soon applied for a degree.
“After I crossed that bridge of attending art school, I had another dream,” she said. “The dream told me to follow in the path of Tibetan Buddhism. Practicing Tibetan Buddhism gives me a peacefulness that is deep and expansive. It also gives me a framework.”
After studying Buddhism for a short time, Rose discovered her teacher had a gift for her.
“I told him that my dream was to write and illustrate children’s books,” she said. “The next thing that I knew, he handed me his book of adult Tibetan tales based on ancient wisdom tales and suggested I turn some of the stories into children’s books.
“It was exciting and challenging. I not only had to translate these tales from Eastern thinking to Western thinking, but into a form children could understand. Although this is primarily seen as a children’s book, I believe wisdom can sink in at any age, from 3 years old to 103 years old, anyone can learn from my book.”
Another way that the principles in these stories are enjoyable is the fact that just sitting down with a book is calming.
That calmness is a gift that Rose also feels in her new home of Eldorado.
“My husband and biggest fan, Robin Weeks, and I came here because my publishing company, Clear Light Publishing, is in Santa Fe. We fell in love with the night skies, the openness and for me my morning ritual of attending the Santé Gym is an absolute treat filled with a great space, special company and nourishing elements.”
How did she meet the Dalai Lama and how did he come to write the forward?
Rose answers by saying one of the most important attributes of completing your dreams is perseverance. After a draft of the book was finished, Rose felt strongly that the Dalai Lama would really appreciate the book.
“I felt that perhaps he’d be willing to write an endorsement for the book,” she said. “So we sent the book to a friend who knew a Tibetan monk in Dharmsala. The monk said my request was presumptuous. Fearing that he did not understand what I was asking for, I wrote him again to explain myself further. He then passed it on to a monk working directly for the Dalai Lama. For months, I had no response and then 9/11 occurred. I decided that I would write one more time to say that now more than ever we need a book like this in the world. Two weeks later a fax arrived with the forward to my book.”
Ultimately, Rose would get the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama in person. But as her publisher introduced Rose, a strange thing happened: she went blank.
After the meeting, her publisher showed her a picture taken of Rose and the Dalai Lama. Rose stared at it and was puzzled, asking when the photo was taken.
“I was so overwhelmed by this meeting,” she said.
“The truth is that in life you can have many dreams and talent, but it is essential to put those dreams into action with perseverance, passion and to become friends with any obstacles that you may stumble upon,” she said. Rose will read from and present a slide show about Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, at Borders Books, 3513 Zafarano Drive. She will be the featured author at storytime hour beginning at 11 a.m. Nov. 30 at Borders Books, 500 Montezuma, in Sanbusco Center. She will appear at Clear Light Book Gallery in Villa Linda Mall from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 28. Paintings and prints from the book will be on display through Nov. 21 at Peaceful Wind Gallery, 129 W. San Francisco St. Rose is having a book signing there on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 989-9590 or go to www.naomicrose.com.
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Santa Fe Author Translates Eastern Concepts for Western Children
By Helen Gaussoin
For The Journal
Sometimes translating Tibetan tales into stories suitable for Western children means skimming over the Eastern terminology and going straight to the heart of the concept, says Santa Fe author and illustrator Naomi Rose.
“Tibetan tales deal with all sorts of esoteric concepts like enlightenment and karma,” says Rose, who is now working on a sequel to her award-winning picture book, “Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas.” “I don’t really want to get into that in the stories. I try to get to the essence of the elements and simplify them for children.”
For example, she said, the middle story in the sequel, which will be titled “Tibetan Tales from the Top of the World,” is, indeed, about karma.
“But I won’t mention karma or past lives. It is a story about how to make up for past mistakes,” Rose said. “The message is what we do today impacts how we are in the future.”
The enjoyment she gets from translating Tibetan wisdom into stories for Western children is among the reasons she’s working on the sequel. But she was also encouraged to write a sequel by the success of her first book, honored last month by the biannual publication Storytelling World and the winner last year of a Nautilus Book Award for books that contribute to social change.
“Winning two awards is really great,” Rose said. “I’ve had so many people ask for more (stories)— booksellers, teachers, parents and kids. More importantly, individuals and children have said how much it affected their lives.”
With a forward written by the Dalai Lama and with the text in both English and Tibetan, Rose said the book has been well-received in the Tibetan community as well.
“It is so heartwarming to see the joy on their faces when they open the book and they see it is in their language and it’s their stories,” she said. “I’m very concerned that the stories are respectful and authentic and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things.”
A former social worker and software engineer who moved to Santa Fe from Bainbridge Island, Wash., about 18 months ago, Rose said she became a student of Buddhism and art after a series of dreams about 12 years ago. The first told her to go to art school and create children’s books, a message that led to a degree in Fine Arts from the Northwest College of Art in 1998. After starting art school, another dream told her to study Tibetan Buddhism.
The two dream-directed paths merged when her Buddhism teacher suggested taking the adult book “Snow Lion’s Turquoise Mane,” an English-language book of the oral folktales of Tibet, and turning it into stories for children.
Rose said the teacher asked her to consider a children’s book so “the stories could be of benefit to children as well as adults.”
“I had become enamored with the Tibetan people and given the tragic situation in Tibet, I wanted to do what I could to help preserve and share what was left of their sweet and peaceful ways,” Rose writes on her Web site, naomicrose.com.
In announcing the award for “Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas,” the Nautilus Awards Web site describes the book as three “charmingly translated tales” that feature “young Tibetans living in a remote mountainous region where their Buddhist philosophy permeates all of their experience.”
“Balanced and magical at the same time, the tales teach compassionate responsibility for all of life— including a yeti. The author’s vibrant acrylic and pastel illustrations richly reinforce simple yet profound teachings,” the Web site says.
The sequel, scheduled for release in the fall, will also feature three stories and Rose’s illustrations.
In addition to the story about karma, the book will have a tale about “how our mind can confuse us into hating or fearing others,” and a third about “grasping for things and the gift of generosity,” Rose said.
She said she finished most of the writing but still must do the painting.
Naomi donates a percentage of her proceeds from her book and art to Art Refuge, fotwa.org, an organization that benefits Tibetan refugee children.