Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook.
Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.
DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.
Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.
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About the Book:
Growing up as Frankie Gershwin’s daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn’t have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the ordinary. But I knew something was off. My mother was often depressed and my father was tyrannical and scary, one never knew when he would blow up. I learned early on that I had to be the cheery one, the one to fix the problems. Both sides of my family were famous; the Gershwin side and my father who invented color film. But even though there was more than enough recognition, money and parties I understood that wasn’t what made people happy.
As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.
Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.
We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn’t have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.
It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.
Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.
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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Nadia. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
This is the second time I am published
Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
Both times I started out self-publishing and then looked for a publisher. Both times I offered to pay for part of, or more of the printing costs and that allowed both of us to take more of a risk. The first book was a cookbook, Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center, the publisher was North Atlantic Books. They did very little PR and I felt disappointed in them. The second book, a memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, I approached Rarebird Lit as a PR agency to help me get my book out. I asked them after we started if they would be willing to become my publisher and they agreed wholeheartedly.
I was willing to pay for the printing, which I believe made a big difference. The PR they did for me was not inspiring.
Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
Just a few months
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It was such a long process writing, self publishing and then finally getting published that it was almost unbelievable. I didn’t know what to do until the books arrived and then I had a big party.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I did very little the first time. The second time I had my memoir with Rarebird Lit and agreed to spend the year doing whatever I needed to do to get it out. I travelled a very little to go on book tours. I realized later that social media is probably the best way and am terrible doing Facebook and Twitter. It is probably one of the best ways to go.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
It is hard to tell because I have been growing all through the process, before the process and after.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
How much I have to put out and the need to be current in all the ways possible.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
It is the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of putting out, stepping up and not needing it to be anything other than what shows up.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
It is wonderful to write and to see the project to it’s very end; a valuable experience in itself. But if one were hoping to become famous and rich from the experience I would say that is the absolute wrong reason to be writing. It may happen once in a while but as my memoir tells the story, that kind of success does not make one happy.