Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on author, wildlife photographer, and psychologist Mary Baures this week! Mary will be visiting our store at 65 James Street on Friday, April 7, from 4:00 – 5:30 PM to talk about her book, Love Heals Baby Elephants, as well as her experience rescuing elephant orphans from the ivory trade.
Dr. Baures has a private practice in Beverly, Massachusetts. She is one of the organizers of the Boston Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. She is co-producer of the documentary film, Strong at the Broken Places – Turning Trauma Into Recovery.
Thank you for joining us, Mary! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
I am a psychologist who is an expert in treating trauma and studied the trauma and healing of baby elephants I adopted who watched their families killed for ivory. It’s magical story of resilience, healing and hope and teaches us what to do when we have lost everything.
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
When baby elephants begin to play, they have turned the corner from death. Because they no longer have their mother’s milk, it is difficult to recover from infections and disease. Play is a sign they are no longer using all their resources to survive.
What was the inspiration for Love Heals Baby Elephants? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
I went to Africa many times to the orphanage but studied the weekly web sight stories of what else was happening – learning all I could about helping hurt elephants.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
Of the 4 baby elephants I studied, I am most moved by Mbegu because she was stabbed and brutally attacked by humans but has such love in her, always helping others.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I studied with the poet Ann Sexton when earning my masters in creative writing from BU.
She taught me a great deal about metaphor, and I have a very poetic descriptive style.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I could never earn a living as a writer, so I went back to school for a doctorate in psychology.
I see it as my soul work, separate from earning a living. Now I am trying to wake the world up to how our materialism is destroying the earth and her creatures.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
My new book is Awakening Awe. I will send some sections. [See below.]
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I do wildlife photography and am training a new therapy dog, Gabby.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I have a loft over my living room which looks out on Beverly Harbor. It is currently messy with sections of the new book and research materials. Huge book cases stuffed by books.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
I used to be a poet, wrote magazine articles for a living and taught in the MFA writing program at Emerson College before going back to school to become a doctor.
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
Photo safari trips have been great. I hiked up the Japanese alps to photograph snow monkeys, did rivers in Brazil to photograph jaguars, hiked into the rain forest in Borneo to see orangutans, as well as all my African adventures that include night photography of lions and leopards stalking prey and some close ups of a mother rhino and calf from a hide by a water hole.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Silence, and puppy at my feet.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
Oh yes, my dog is a great inspiration. A great sense of companionship without human talk.
There’s dog talk, but that’s not distracting.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My last book was Undaunted Spirits- Portraits of Recovery from Trauma, which explored positive transformations after terrible losses.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Thank you very much for the interview! We look forward to having you in our 65 James Street store this Friday, April 7, from 4:00 – 5:30!
And here is the sneak peek at Dr. Baures’s newest book, Awakening Awe:
My book Awakening Awe resonates with the consciousness change sweeping America. It taps into major currents I hear as I listen to people’s fears.
It’s about a cultural and spiritual transformation to heal our toxic values and to save the earth from human exploitation.
It’s not the earth who needs healed, but us. Our cult of human superiority is destroying what sustains us. As actress Janelli Monae, of Hidden Figures, said, in Washington DC, “This is a march against the abuse of power….we birthed this nation and we can unbirth a nation, if we choose.”
In our push for progress, we have forgotten love is the fundamental fabric of the universe. Each of us carries a generator of love which wants release.
One act, one day at a time, we can heal our world. One bird, one dog, one bear, one elephant at a time, we can save lives.
“Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish caught will we realize we can’t eat money,” according to a Cree Proverb.
We can change the easy way or the hard way. The environmental damage we are causing will create such catastrophic loss, we will be forced to evolve.
I hope we can wake up to what we are doing and change the easy way.
I wasn’t obsessed with saving animals and natural resources until I became a wildlife photographer. I’m now trying to wake people from their denial to save what I love.
A spiritual transformation has begun and I hope to help generate energy for it.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’…He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness…
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to a few persons nearest to us. Our task is to free ourselves from this prison.
I’m watching the greatest spectacle on earth. Wildebeest hesitate high up on a rocky outcropping over the raging Mara River in Kenya. Their bearded faces peer into a sea of comrades below all swimming for their lives. Braying and grunting mingles with the thundering and splashing of the river.
Pressure is mounting from behind. Courage or a shoulder on a rump pushes them. In a spray of hooves and dust, they trot, slide, then slow to maintain balance. Steep pathways fuel their momentum for their leap into the river.
They spread their legs, rise into a float. Their bones, heavy from so much running, become wings. They billow, then disappear momentarily in a splash.
Bouncing and paddling amid a swarm of horns and tufted chins, they arrive at the opposite shore. A newbie, just born in the annual birthing season during the rains, dances happily at his mother who he’d lost in the descent into the water.
There are many more herbivores than crocodiles, but some have lost calves to teethy jaws. Many sprain ankles or break legs. As exhaustion sets in, some are trampled.
Driven by hunger, thirst, and some mysterious instinct bred in their bones, the largest herd of animals in the world follows a dream of rain-ripened grass.
Their clockwise ancient migratory route has been orchestrated over centuries. Magically, in February they all give birth in the same spot. Instincts vector them toward fertile terrain but the forces that drive them are as complex and fragile as nature herself. Their surge is a primal force.
I’m awestruck, vividly alive – feeling a mixture of fear, joy and surprise as I glimpse a hidden unity with the universe.
We live in an era with great hunger for grace. We can nourish it by slowing down and taking in the grandeur of the world. The world calls to us when we don’t try to control it. In Africa, I am alive in all my senses. The world is sensuous. Unruly angels transport me back to the wonders of childhood. A world ruled by nature teaches me our place.
It is refreshing to be outside our culture. Television, movies, technology, and books create a cocoon of human values.
Here I trust an older, more essential, deeper order. Here I feel kinshipped to the miraculous force from which we came.
To awaken awe, we tap into a dimension more vast than thought. We nourish pathways to it by getting out of our heads. By limiting our focus on ourselves, by not pushing, grasping, and posturing, we are pulled into it.
Deep in our cellular memory, we know we are all connected. Opening your heart to this sacred harmony, you see such gifts you are up to your neck in a gasp. A raccoon’s eyes reflect your own essence back to you. We inhale the raccoon’s exhaled air. We are all part of the same breathing earth.
Just as the morning sun comes over the water, blazing rose, daffodil, and tiger lily hues onto the waves, we can join the force which blossoms flowers – from which we came and to which we return.
“The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe,” said Rachael Carson, “the less taste we have for destruction.”
Our delusion of separation has created an environmental apocalypse. As scientist Gus Speth said, “I used to think that the top environmental problems were biodiversity, eco system collapse but I was wrong. It’s selfishness, greed, and apathy to deal with problems. We need a spiritual and cultural transformation. We scientists don’t know how to do that.”
This book is about that transformation. Many feel those in power do not speak for them. Our world is broken, and we cannot rely on our leaders. As former President Jimmy Carter explained, “America is no longer a democracy and has become an oligarchy.” Paybacks to rich contributors by leaders, “has caused the worst damage to our basic moral and ethical standards” he has seen in his life.
In a recent movie about a lobbyist. Jessica Sloane, the main character, loses her battle to stop the mentally ill from buying guns because of the wealth of the gun lobby. She echoes public sentiment about those in Congress who make decisions not for the people or for values but from their own self interest to get re-elected, to keep feeding from the public trough. She said our system has become “rotten.”
Before our government became an oligarchy, back in the time of Abraham Lincoln, he said that with public sentiment “nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed.”
Not true today. Although nobody voted against clean air or water, on Feb 2nd 2017 congress killed a rule to safeguard our streams against toxic pollutions from coal mining. Now mining companies can dump toxins into streams, contaminating them with heavy metal.
Now the Environmental Protection Agency is under attack. It began in 1970 after Lake Erie caught fire from all the industrial waste. Now fish in it are alive but not for long. Dr. Seuss wrote about why Humming-Fish in Lake Erie could no longer hum. Their gills were all gummed. They get “woefully weary in search of some water that isn’t so smeary.” Like fish, most people do not want their water gummed up and air toxic.
Congress just gave the green light to hunters to kill bears and wolves when they are asleep in their dens. Many have taken to the streets to protest the perversions of power destroying the earth and distributing suffering and death to those who can’t defend themselves.
There is a constant degradation of what matters to people with a heart.