A Thank You Note from Me to You

My book launched six months ago, and you’re largely the reason it continues to be doing so well. Many of you have bought multiple copies to give family and friends and you’ve shared with your book clubs, support groups, and church groups.

Here’s a quick look at the progress of A Path Revealed:

  • In October and November, the first two months of its launch, sales of A Path Revealed ranked in the top one-half of one percent among Amazon’s millions of books.
  • In the most recent two months, the ranking trailed off a bit as expected, but not by much. It currently ranks in the top 1.6%.
  • Nielsen Book Scan (a division of the TV ratings company) shows that A Path Revealed has sold in 80 of 100 U.S. markets. To my mind, 80% is an amazing penetration in its first six months.  
  • My book’s top 10 markets are, in descending order: Tampa Bay; Nashville (includes my hometown Cookeville); Asheville (includes Montreat, where Martha and our kids spent summers); Atlanta; Louisville; Los Angeles; New York; Boston; and Houston.  Followed by Richmond, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham, Washington DC, and Orlando.

But enough with facts, figures, and trends. (Sorry, I was having a flashback to my business magazine editing days.) These numbers are at best an imperfect reflection of what really counts—whether our story is connecting with your life’s story.

As you know by now, A Path Revealed: How Hope, Love, and Joy Found Us Deep in a Maze Called Alzheimer’s is not a guidebook for caregivers. Rather, it’s a telling of the spiritual odyssey Martha, our children, and I traveled as we traversed Alzheimer’s uneven and uncertain terrain over 17 years.

“I just read your book,” says one reader. “I feel like we’ve been talking to each other. I don’t have words to express what I was feeling as I read it. It’s so vulnerable. And you’re willing to delve into the spiritual realm.”

And another: “Carlen’s experiences and the way he responded to them can help many who are facing a crisis of their own. I highly recommend this book to anyone facing a crisis and lost in how to respond. We can't do it alone! I also appreciate the way Carlen makes it clear that his experience was a Christian one because that's his heritage (as is mine) but similar resources are available in other faith traditions. Give yourself a gift and read this book!”

As I tell our story I do try to be clear that I’m not interested in scoring theological points. Our story is about trying to survive, about finding what works and what doesn’t as we move through a dark, inscrutable maze. Yet to be authentic, I have to share it in the terms and concepts of the tradition that I know: my Christian faith. As you also must do in seeking to understand your story, whether you are Jewish, Islam, agnostic, Christian, Hindu, atheist, Buddhist, or secular.

My experience the past two decades has convinced me that virtually ever crisis—mental or physical illnesses, soured relationships, lost jobs, addiction, lost savings, whatever—is embedded with emotional, spiritual, and psychological issues that must be recognized and resolved as best we can. Whether these issues are contributors to a crisis or consequences, they cannot be ignored if we hope to move forward.    

At some point in our lives, many of us will be confronted with this question: Do I want my family and me to survive this crisis? If so, what must I do?

Here’s more feedback from readers of my book and blog. Some are friends, others I’ve not met. Their comments are edited for clarity and brevity:

Reader 1: “I sent my mom A Path Revealed because I knew she’d like your spiritual journey. What I didn’t expect was how she would apply your book to other residents in her assisted living center. In fact, two are related, a mother and son. The mother has Alzheimer’s and the son, who has a list of health problems, has been struggling with the changes he sees in his mother. My mom has been reading parts of your book to him. So not only did she love the spiritual journey, she is practicing patience and kindness, and now also has a purpose in helping others.”

Reader 2: “It’s wonderful to know someone else really understands and cares about those of us experiencing the crooked, up and down path of Alzheimer's.” 

Reader 3: “Having been an ordained Presbyterian minister for 42 years, I discovered in my retirement that I would have surgery on my eyes, my back, and my heart. While recovering from one of these adventures, I told my wife that it would have been good for me to have these surgeries while I was in my twenties, the reason being that they would have made me a more sensitive and caring pastor. Carlen's book served the same purpose: it caused me to be a more sensitive and caring person. I thank him for writing it, and I encourage everyone to read this well-written and provocative account of one couple's dealing with Alzheimer's disease. It is one of those books which cannot help but change your life.”

Reader 4: “My wife was diagnosed with dementia a couple of years ago. I’m a retired minister, and I picked up on contemplative prayer not long ago after reading your book. I’m sleeping better than I have in years.”

Reader 5: “I’ve finished reading your book and am now reading it again! I read it with many tears for what you and Martha went through. How wonderful that you allowed God to go through it with you. Thank you for recording your journey so honestly and openly for others to benefit.” 

Reader 6: “Your story challenges me spiritually to look at the dark corners of my life that are too easy to gloss over. I was very moved, and I hope to go deeper in my own times of reflection. My words cannot express the deep respect and conviction I feel from your story.”

Reader 7:It's been 16 years since my mother died of Alzheimer's at 82 and this is the first time I've had the courage to read a book like this. Carlen's spiritual journey and mine have much in common, including John Main's meditation and silent retreats at Gethsemani. His story would provide inspiration and practical ways of dealing with any of life's difficulties. I found his honesty and comforting writing style to be a soothing balm.”

Reader 8: “I was surprised to discover how enlightening and positive Carlen’s story is, rather than dwelling on all of the negative facts that can accompany a diagnosis such as Alzheimer's. He leads the reader through his own grieving, healing, and self care. I recommend this book to any caregiver, regardless of who they are caring for and what diagnosis the person has. It will provide comfort for many.”

Thank you for your feedback and for sharing our story with your friends, family, and strangers along the way.


On another front, you may want to mark your calendars if you’re near where I’ll be sharing our story. I would love to see you:

  • Tuesday, April 4th in St. Petersburg. I’m speaking at a monthly Book Talk at The Cathedral Church of St. Peter, 12 Noon in the Parish Hall; 4th Street and 2nd Ave. N.; entrance is on the 2nd Avenue side. Admission is free; they offer a light lunch for $5.
  • Thursday, May 18th in Knoxville. I’m talking at an Alzheimer’s Tennessee Inc. meeting. It will be a half day morning session in which I and others will be speaking. The date is firm. As I receive more detail re. location and time, I’ll share in upcoming posts.
  • Tuesday, July 25th in Montreat, NC, (Asheville area). I’m sharing at a Summer Lecture Series, 7:00 p.m., at the Lower Left Bank.

Thanks, Carlen

P.S. A couple of posts ago, I introduced you to caregiver blogger-columnist Carol Bradley Bursack. She posted last week a column on the relationship of a healthy brain with a healthy heart. Might be worth checking out.

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