In every good story there are setbacks- obstacles that seem insurmountable- so that when the hero rises with the prize, our faith is restored. Plus the obstacles and setbacks just make the story more interesting. Tonight in Iceland many are celebrating Jólabókaflóð, or “Yule Book Flood,” where books will be exchanged and the ritual of wrapping oneself in a cozy blanket by an open fire and consuming words and hot cocoa will ensue and continue until the readers are sufficiently satiated by a good story. 

Although this sounds like pure bliss, there was a time in my life when reading made my stomach churn and my breath go shallow, especially reading aloud. Those tricky little black letters never laid obediently on the page as they seemed to for others. I saw words through an invisible kaleidoscope, a frustrating funhouse mirror that lived between me and those skittish symbols that switched and flipped and morphed my words. It would be many years that I suffered from fear and frustration.

Two things helped me navigate my fears: acting and alcohol. The first pushed me into situations where I had to read scripts and audition aloud in front of others. My desire was a hair greater than my disease. The second landed me in smoky rooms filled with other afflicted souls who insisted I take my turn in reading aloud. I remember the anxiety that would grow in my heart as I watched the big blue book make its way to me. Paragraph by paragraph, it inched closer and I prayed the chapter would end before it came to my turn. But here again, I wanted to be sober more than I wanted to be saved from my fears, so I learned to read out loud. Like water from a rusty faucet, it came in fits and spurts. But I had a few tools that helped me stay steady in the steps to my desired destination. 

So, it’s pretty much a miracle that I spend every morning on our virtual calls. I read aloud from another Big Blue Book, A Course in Miracles. This book is a notoriously difficult read in both its content and context, not to mention its prose, and roundabout way of wording things. So, to watch and witness it flow from me like breath is a sign that healing can happen for anyone. I went on to become an actor in TV and films, and I am also the unlikely author of three books, one musical, and an award-winning one-person show.  These facts boggle my mind even more than those slippery letters of my youth. Sometimes, when you get this far from the original suffering, you can forget how bad it once was. 

Today, I can still flip letters when reading or writing, and I continue to have great difficulty with the phonetic delivery of names. But I have come so far, and I am not done evolving yet.

The word dyslexia was introduced in 1877 by Rudolph Berlin, a German ophthalmologist who saw that some of his patients struggle with reading although their vision was good and their minds sound. Dyslexia means “difficulty with words” or “word blindness.” Dyslexia is a learning difficulty affecting a person’s ability to accurately and fluently read. It affects a person’s ability to spell, phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed.

Jolabokaflod’s phonetic pronunciation is yo-la-bok-a-flot… which in my mind does not help at all. Nevertheless, I love any tradition that has to do with hot chocolate, so I will be celebrating. The meaning of Jolabokaflod basically means Christmas book flood. 

We all have obstacles and opportunities to rise from, and sometimes the wound is where the real wisdom lives if we are willing to not get stymied by the setbacks. Real miracles can happen when your faith is greater than your fears. This is what I wish for you this season, a good book, a hot mug of cocoa and a few springboards disguised as setbacks, just to make life more interesting.  

If you want help with harnessing your dreams, check out A Course in Creating. As we step into 2020, you could see a thousand problems, or you could see a million inventions and solutions that are calling your name. This is the miracle of the creative mindset. I cherish the creative process and am honored to share it with you.


Maureen Muldoon is The Spiritual Vixen, a happiness Pied Piper, intuitive vision caster, fearless activist, writer, speaker, storyteller and thought leader. She is the spiritual director of SpeakEasy Spiritual Community and the creative director of Voice Box. She hosts conversations that inspire individuals and organizations to get on course with their own brilliance. She blogs at ~ MaureenMuldoon.com and Vlogs on YOUTUBE