Monday, July 13, 2015

Straight Chatting from the Library: Allison Carmen, author of THE GIFT OF MAYBE

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly drawn commenter will receive an autographed copy of the book. One randomly drawn commenter will receive a $25 Amazon/BN GC. Prizes are awarded via rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to Allison Carmen, author of the self-help The Gift of Maybe, who has stopped by The Library to answer some questions.

What is your favorite book today?

Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh. It has some beautiful examples of how people can release their anger and find more joy in their lives.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

It helps people with anxiety and worry about the future.

What are you reading right now?

Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.

E-Reader or print? and why?

I read some books on my iPad but I prefer to hold a book when I read it. I like to actually turn the page.

One book at a time or multiples?


When do you do most of your reading?

I read at night when my kids and husband are sleeping.

Favorite place to read?

In my bed.

Favorite genre?


Do you loan your books?

I loan books all the time and rarely get them back!

How do you keep your books organized?

I just keep adding them to my bookshelf. I do think about organizing them – does that count?

Allison Carmen spent many years fighting a powerful addiction. It wasn’t drugs, alcohol or fame. It was an addiction to certainty. If she didn’t know what the future would bring – and who does? – she felt anxious and afraid. This decades-long struggle followed her through college, marriage, parenthood, and a successful law career. While everything seemed fine from the outside, Allison was in a constant battle that was unwinnable, sapping her energy, attention, and spirit. Until the day she discovered The Gift of Maybe.

Maybe is a simple yet powerful philosophy that has transformed Allison’s life, and the life of her many clients (now that she has ditched her legal career and has become a successful life coach). The message is this: In the face of uncertainty, Maybe opens your mind and heart. It creates a little space for hope. It allows you to take a deep breath, stay in the present, and forge your own path.

Many things in life are beyond our control, but the mindset of Maybe presents a simple, powerful way to stay connected to what’s possible, and work to make it happen. It is just one change of perspective, but Maybe it changes everything!

Enjoy an excerpt:

For most of my life, I had an addiction that no doctor could cure. This addiction caused me anxiety, depression, sleepless- ness, and sometimes such hopelessness that my next breath itself seemed a burden. My addiction wasn’t to alcohol or drugs. I wasn’t a shopaholic or a compulsive gambler. Yet this addiction almost destroyed me, and it afflicts millions of people around the world.

My addiction was to certainty. At every moment in my life, I desperately sought to know what was going to happen next. My need for certainty caused me to believe that the unexpected was always negative. I became devastated when- ever things took an unexpected turn because I believed it meant the life I had envisioned for myself was no longer possible. I continually sacrificed my goals and desires in an effort to feel safe and secure. Yet no matter what I did I could not escape uncertainty, and the choices I made in an effort to attain certainty always led to compromise and disappointment.

The symptoms of addiction to certainty are peculiar and particular to each person, but the common denominator is unnecessary suffering. In my case, I would lie awake at night in fear of what might be, unable to catch my breath and unable to control my mind’s chatter. Was my livelihood secure? Would my husband always love me? Could I afford my life? Were the stocks I invested in safe? Would my parents, children, and other family members stay well? Would there be a large-scale disaster in my city? Would I or would I not get a raise this quarter? What would the results of my annual checkup be? This onslaught of sleeplessness and anxiety began taking a toll on my immune system and I actually started getting sick.

The need to know the future had gripped me as a teenager, and most of my twenties were spent in stress. In my thirties, though I was at the top of my career as an attorney, I was deeply unhappy and suffering physically. No doctor could identify my illness, but my symptoms included an array of infections, allergies, anxiety, and depression. So I turned to alternative medicine, meditation, acupuncture, and any other practice I thought might relieve my physical and emotional pain. I found some tools to ease my mind, but when a big issue or conflict infiltrated my life, I still spun out of control. I even went so far as to become best friends with a woman with psychic abilities in hopes she could lift the veil of uncertainty and tell me what the future had in store for me.

One day, still in the midst of pressing anxiety about the future, I went to see my Qigong teacher for a lesson. I related to him my tale of woe, and he responded with a simple story that, for me, changed everything.

Here is the story.

One day, a farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbor came by and said, “You have the worst luck.” The farmer replied to the neighbor, “Maybe.” The next day, the horse returned with five mares, and the neighbor came by and said, “You have the best luck.” The farmer replied, “Maybe.” The day after that, the farmer’s son was riding the horse and fell off and broke his leg, and the neighbor came by and said to the farmer, “You have the worst luck.” The farmer replied, “Maybe.” The next day, the army came looking to draft the boy for combat but he could not go because his leg was broken. The neighbor came by and said, “You have the best luck.” Again the farmer said, “Maybe.”

I will remember the moment I heard this simple story for the rest of my life. It was in this moment that I was able to feel space in my breath. It was in this moment that, for the first time, I had a place to park my thoughts and just sit in a place called Maybe. In this place, it felt all right not to know the future, and suddenly I was filled with an inexplicable hope.

About the Author:
Allison Carmen is a business consultant and life coach and the author of The Gift of Maybe, a book offering hope and possibility in uncertain times. Allison is a blogger for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today and she has been featured on,,,, and She lives in New York City.

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  1. If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

  2. Thanks for interviewing me for your blog.

    Mai T, I work as a life coach and business consultant with private clients when I am not writing.

    I am happy to answer any other questions from your readers!

  3. I really enjoyed the interview and I appreciate your candor! I read multiple books, too. Thank you!

  4. Really great post.. I enjoyed the interview :)..thanks for sharing!!

  5. Enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!