Tal Yanai knows what it is like to be unhappy with his reality as a child and teen. His life was not in alignment with what he wanted in his heart or what he knew and deeply felt was possible when younger. As a struggling student, people considered him a troublemaker. In tenth grade, he learned he had dyslexia, which explained his learning difficulties. However, it did little to ease his frustration with himself and his everyday struggles.
In his debut book, Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store, Yanai encourages teens to become more aware of how their actions affects themselves and others. By exposing them to the simple truths of spirituality, and the beauty and love of a higher power, Yanai hopes readers will find new direction and purpose in a world filled with instant everything.
After reading Life Is Not a Candy Store, Yanai has done what he has set out to do. I was impressed with how much of him shows through on the page. His book truly is a labor of love. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this gem of a book full of wisdom. Although the content is geared toward teenagers, it will equally appeal to adults. The combination of spoken truths and humor makes it easily accessible, and encourages readers to go back and reread. Anyone living by this philosophy can do no harm and will radiate the light of gentleness, kindness and peace.
In my interview with Yanai, he stated, “The book explores the idea of living a joyful life by connecting to a higher power and finding a more meaningful purpose for life. It is important learning to enjoy life without causing pain to ourselves and others. By changing one’s perspective of life, one can walk on the road leading to an emotional and spiritual freedom. Realizing that, you will see that living even a small dream is a step in the right direction.”
As a struggling youth and student, Yanai had no mentors to confide in or look up to. “My parents had little influence on me at that time,” Yanai stated. In addition, being secular meant that he was trapped within the limitations of the five senses. At the age of 23, Yanai moved to the Los Angeles where he finally found solace in a higher power and started on his spiritual path, which has led Yanai to align himself with his soul’s essence and mission. “Since that time (1993), I wanted to share my story with young people, hoping it will give them the tools necessary to overcome the pain and frustration we all experience,” Yanai shared.
Yanai never thought he would become a writer, and for that matter, no one else on earth saw it coming either. “It is my desire to be a co-worker with God (as MLK Jr. put it), and the passion to share the simple truth that pain and frustration can be transformed into a meaningful life of self fulfillment,” stated Yanai. “I consider myself a born teacher.” That’s exactly what he does at Temple Beth Hillel in the San Fernando Valley. Yanai received his teaching credential in Social Studies from the State of California and taught in the Los Angeles public schools for several years. Today, he teaches Hebrew and Judaic Studies. “The opportunity to interact with inner city students, as well as privileged teenagers and young adults, had me deeply aware that many young people are discontented with their lives and feel they lack alternatives,” Yanai said.
Let’s face it, no one really benefits from hurting or being hurt by others, and being stressed out isn’t doing any of our youth or us any good either. So why is that when we face everyday situation we do exactly that? By looking for answers, enlightening ourselves (no matter what religion or none at all) and finding new directions to guide us to a full-filling purpose in life, we can look at the beautiful opportunities around us to grow and connect to something bigger than ourselves. Before ending my interview with Yanai, I asked him to share one of his favorite quotes. He shared, “I have read so many wonderful quotes that it’s impossible to single out only one. But… Henry Ford said once, ‘If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.’ There is no better way to sum up what our will is capable of.”
I completely agree and for those of you interested, Stories for Children Publishing will be touring debut author Tal Yanai and his book, Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store all month long in August 2011. You can find out more about Tal Yanai, his book Life Is Not a Candy Store and his World of Ink Author/Book Tour at this website. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Tal Yanai and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Yanai will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.
In addition, come listen to Stories for Children on Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show. The hosts will be chatting with Yanai about his book, writing, life experiences and more. The show will be live August 15, 2011 at 2pm EST.