Author & Inspirational Speaker: Karen Henson Jones
Photographer: Jay Buen
Make up: Tina Henson-Ngkaion
Filipino-American Karen Henson Jones was on the conventional corporate path to success when her life was rocked by a cardiac event, at the age of 30. Encountering a near-death experience and being touched by a miracle, she has since endeavored to share the spiritual lessons she has learned on her journey to recovery and self-realization in her book – Heart of Miracles.
The author and inspirational speaker who is in the UAE for a book talk and speaking engagement this month, shares about her craft to Illustrado.
- Tell us about your craft.
I am a book author and inspirational speaker. I love crafting a story filled with unexpected twists because that’s what I enjoy to read and consume myself.
My first book, Heart of Miracles, is a little intense. It starts with a near-death experience just before an emergency open heart surgery, and my life was saved by the miracle of a doctor being at the right place and time when he wasn’t supposed to be.
So it’s this idea that you really start to recognize a greater invisible force moving people around, and if that is true, what does that really mean? The event was a catalyst for a journey. I then traveled to spiritual places around the world. Each chapter has a profound spiritual lesson that is revealed by a person I meet in each country. For example, a disabled boy in India, a woman in Italy getting a divorce, or a taxi driver in Israel. The book goes through India, Italy, Bhutan and ends tracing the footsteps of Jesus in Israel. The Philippines makes a couple of appearances.
I do what I am doing because I feel like I learned a lot that is valuable to share with others. I love it because it’s fun. I like connecting with people, inspiring them, and helping them to move forward in life and see things a different way.
What I like most about it is when I find that perfect sentence, and my sister emails me back and says that was a great line!
- Please share your process of creation with us.
It differs all the time. My lynchpin is prayer and meditation. I usually get something in every day. The most important part of the creative process is to stay relaxed so that you can receive what Spirit is bringing. If you’re tense, it doesn’t really work.
From inspiration to output — that’s a big question! I manage it by trying to stay really on top of things. I clear my emails and tasks as quickly as possible, I don’t let things pile up and that keeps my brain free. I also stay in touch with other forms of art that are coming out, from books, films, and even Netflix. I also love Tagalog movies.
To keep myself inspired and creative, first of all, I pray. I ask God to bring me what’s next. That’s the best thing to do. The second thing I do which is a bit drastic is I tend to change my environments dramatically. A couple of years ago I went to a Tibetan monastery in India to study with the Dalai Lama. This summer, I spent some time in the jungle and met with indigenous people who still have a very strong connection to land, and now I’m heading to the desert.
Author & Inspirational Speaker: Karen Henson Jones
- What makes your work – your own?
Good question! Anyone who’s read my stuff knows it’s super original. It’s got a really nice mix of exoticism and Filipino heart, faith and (sometimes corny) humor that is a mirror of my own life. My signature style is short chapters, lessons in italics, and humor.
- What have been the highlights of your journey as an artist so far?
There have been a few highlights on my journey as an artist. The first was joining the Janklow & Nesbit literary agency, which is just a profoundly good place for some of America’s top artists. That was my first ‘dream come true’.
A really nice story was when someone was talking to me about Heart of Miracles. She told me that she was going to use it in her girls’ mentoring group and that it was an amazing book. I had assumed she was telling me because she knew I was the author. Then she asked me: Have you read it? So she had no idea I was the author but she wanted to spread the good word about the book! That’s when I knew it was truly appreciated and it felt good in my heart.
Another highlight was when my Filipino family was able to come to the book launch at Fully Booked in Manila, including my Lola who was 100 at the time (she is 101 now). Because it took me 6 years to do this book, and a lot of people were like – “What the heck are you doing with your time and life?” It was nice to celebrate this with them and the Filipino public.
So far, the best highlight on my journey as an artist was to be an ‘Artist in Residence’ at the Harmony Hotel in Costa Rica, because it was an opportunity to just create with no limits.
Some of my more public events include: Authors@Google, being an honored guest of the Dalai Lama, getting Instagrammed by Britney Spears, CNN Profiles show with Mitzi Borromeo, a Washington Post interview, and now this book launch here in Dubai with Alserkal Avenue, and being invited to speak at the Women In Leadership Economic Forum (WIL).
All of these events and highlights have been wonderful, but the real gifts are to live closer to your authentic self, and find out who your real friends are, who supported the dream in your heart before you had any external status.
Author & Inspirational Speaker: Karen Henson Jone
I’m also working on a follow up to ‘Heart of Miracles’, a non-fiction book about the radiant power of women around the world, and a fiction book for kids and pre-teens called ‘The Reversing Time’. It’s got some influences of Filipino folklore, which I believe contain really deep truths about energies. Let’s just say I believe in aswangs and ghosts, but also in the incredible supernatural power of God and the guiding figures of the Catholic religion. There is a real battle between dark and light.
- What’s your hope for the future and advice to others pursuing their art?
My hope is to keep on making art! Ideally, I’d love to spark a network so that my books are selling on their own, and I can spend more time in the Philippines.
My advice to others would be – never give up. Get plugged into a creative community. Surround yourself with genuine, reliable people. The world needs more artists more than ever.