Book Review

By: Mary Ickes


A Seeker’s Guide to Inner Peace: Notes to Self by Trey Carland


In his first chapter, Mr. Carland reports that, for almost a year, he experienced . . brief moments that lasted about a minute or two where I felt like I was having some sort of divine revelation and everything made perfect sense. After his first grand mal seizure on November 7, 2004, he was diagnosed an epileptic and told that his divine revelations were complex partial seizures, a normal precursor to grand mal seizures.


Mr. Carland stood at life’s proverbial Y intersection: he could forever complain bitterly about his affliction or try to make sense of his diagnoses.


Not sure where to begin researching Mr. Carland started everywhere: . . . religion, mysticism, physics, cosmology, history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, you name it. Eventually narrowing his focus to spiritual and metaphysical paths, Mr. Carland realized that he . . . was given the gift of a life-altering diagnosis in order . . .  to discover all that [he] was missing.


Mr. Carland shared his journey to enlightenment only with family and friends until encouraged to seek companions with a blog.  A Seeker’s Guide to Inner Peace: Notes to Self is Mr. Carland’s blogs from August 11, 2005, through December 10, 2011.  I know exactly what you’re thinking, Reading Friends:  Oh great! Another book teaching enlightenment, whatever that is, by some guru guy who uses words like guruparamaparya, balances his entire body weight on one hand with both feet tucked behind his neck and mutters strange words for hours on end.  Bet he eats really weird stuff, too. WRONG!   Mr. Carland does not teach; he shares what he has learned through everyday experiences.


The Miracle of Life and Stella’s Life are the most affecting chapters.  In the first, Mr. Carland announces that he will be a new father on April 17, 2011, and that he . . . is ready for little baby Boo (our nick name for him/her) to show me the way to unmasked Love, though it’s hard to imagine not breaking down into tears of joy each time I look into those eyes. Over a year ago, after a grueling birth at 23 weeks, due to HELLP Syndrome, baby Stella lived only a few hours— immersed in the love of her parents and grandparents.  Mr. Carland concludes: Love was brought to life that day, if for no other reason, to show us that Love is eternal. (Carland published an article about Stella in Western North Carolina Woman in June 2011.


He concludes in World Peace Starts at Home . . . that it really doesn’t matter if you believe what any of the major religions have said for hundreds of years.  What does seem to be clear is that being a good person and taking responsibility for your actions leads to good things.    A Few Tips on Life presents his ideas for achieving mindfulness by breaking our routines in what we do and in our responses to situations.  In Anniversary Thoughts, two years after the first seizure, he reflects: I can now say that developing epilepsy is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Readers whose hindsight focuses on the word should  (probably the vast majority of us), will read and re-read The Underlying Should.  In a group discussing interpersonal relationships, a participant announced that when someone shoulds him, he replies, “Don’t should on me!”  Mr. Carland further discusses the point, concluding . . . consider this to be a polite invitation to see what it’s like without “shoulds.” Throughout the book, he quotes and discusses teachers who have been helpful on his journey; Teacher Resources is a complete list of the books, web sites, and teachers he has consulted.


And what is Mr. Carland doing in ‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly (or Not), six years after he begins his journey toward enlightenment?  Following his Christmas-shopping wife around with a holiday spirit that makes Scrooge the preferred Christmas dinner guest even before he’s visited by the three ghosts.   To his credit, Mr. Carland catches and corrects his attitude, but his honesty in sharing that experience is an example of his overall honesty and sincerity.


He is equally honest about the caveat to his simplicity and accessibility: the journey to enlightenment is a constant return to mindfulness requiring commitment, practice, and patience.  Mr. Carland’s experiences are good company for such a journey.


Trey Carland was born and raised in Asheville.  After dropping out of high school at age 16, he graduated with a Bachelors in Computer Information Systems at 19, and a Master of Business Administration two years later.  Trey and his wife, Shelby, live near Asheville where he . . . now runs the family business, an academic conferencing and publishing company, and oversees the production of seventeen academic journals.  You may read Mr. Carland’s blogs at or contact him on


View From My Catio
by Buddy, T.C.P.E.


(Tuxedo Cat Par Excellence)


As you know, Friends and Fans, my views range from silly to sarcastic, but not this time. We Tuxedos can behave with class and decorum.  Therefore, congratulations on stomping all over epilepsy, Mr. Carland! Keep up the good work! After due consideration about honoring Ms. Dolan, I devised the perfect solution: Mary’s next cats will be named Mildred and Dolan. Then, when people ask how she came up with those names, she will reply that in 1927, a brave young woman . . .

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker