Cindy Rasicot is a retired Marriage Family Therapist. Her life has been a spiritual journey that took on new dimensions when she and her family moved to Bangkok, Thailand for three years. There, she met her spiritual teacher, Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the first fully ordained Theravada nun—an encounter that opened her heart and changed her forever. This deepening relationship led to writing her memoir, Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand, which chronicles her adventures along the spiritual path.
Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness is an Inside Job, said about her book, “Cindy Rasicot’s loving account of her own transformation through knowing her is a joy to read.”
Interview with Cindy Rasicot
- Who are your literary influences or inspiration?
I love Dorothy Allison who wrote Bastard Out of Carolina, and Two or Three Things I know for Sure. I went to hear her speak live in about 1995. I was so moved by her I spontaneously burst out crying when I approached her to sign her latest book.
I like Dorothy Allison because she digs deep and always speaks her truth. She is a powerful writer and doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. I think she influenced me to have the courage to write what I mean and mean what I say.
In college I was a women studies major and inspired by the diaries of Anais Nin and adore the writing of Virginia Woolf. I was especially moved by A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf, which made so much sense to me as a young woman.
- Why do you write?
I write because I am called to share my journey. I write because I feel incredibly satisfied by the process. I like the challenge of the blank page, filling in the white space with my story, which hopefully will move and touch other people.
Every morning I wake early about 5 am and sit down at my computer. My thoughts are clearest when I first wake up in the morning and before I’m caught up in other daily activities, like shopping, appointments, and getting together with friends.
I feel incomplete if I don’t write. Writing tethers me to the earth and allows me to express myself. I’m a quiet, introverted person and if given the choice, I would probably choose to write over engaging in conversation.
Writing brings me joy and provides me with a sense of purpose. I have other interests, but the writing life is my central focus.
- At what moment did you decide you were a writer?
I was very young when I realized I wanted to write. I started keeping a journal at the age of six. One of those small, leather bound journals. Each entry started with “Dear Diary.” I wrote my first story in the third grade entitled, “The Little Flame that Grew.”
Even though I wanted to write from a young age, my writing career didn’t really start until I was in my mid-fifties. That’s when I became serious and began a daily writing practice. We had just moved to Thailand and because I didn’t have to work, I had lots of free time to stop and ask myself, what do I really want to do? I enrolled in a low-residency MFA program, but after one semester, felt that it wasn’t for me. Since that time, I’ve joined writing groups, and worked with several different teachers. Book Passage in Corte Madera, an independent book store, offered a lot of interesting classes that I signed up for.
I knew I wanted to write a book after about my relationship with Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, the Thai Buddhist female monk about whom I write in Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand. Not only is she an amazing woman who became ordained in mid-life after leaving her thirty-year marriage, a successful academic career as a professor of Buddhist Studies, and her three grown children, she is also a prominent Thai Buddhist feminist who advocates and leads a movement to revive women’s ordination both in Thailand and internationally.
It is part-memoir and part self-help to guide people in beneficial Buddhist practices.
- What genres do you work in?
I work in nonfiction and consider that my strength.
- How much time do you spend writing every day?
I spend a minimum of two to three hours writing every day.
- What is the hardest part of writing or publishing?
Personally, I find the hardest part of writing and publishing to be the marketing and publicity process. I know many people are comfortable with the idea of selling and advertising their book, but that is difficult for me. I wrote my book in the hopes that the reader will hear my message that healing the mother/daughter relationship is possible. That was my intent. I find posting to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, takes a huge amount of time away from my writing, and that can be frustrating.
- Do you travel to research your book(s)?
I lived in Thailand for three years from 2005-2008. It was during that time that I met and spent time with Venerable Dhammananda. Our relationship blossomed during those three years and I wrote about it in my recently published memoir. I travel to Thailand once or twice a year and continue interviewing Dhammananda, to gather the information I need to write the second book.
- Where would your dream book signing occur?
My dream book signing would occur at Kinokuniya Bookstore in downtown Bangkok, with Venerable Dhammananda there with me.
- Who is your favorite character from your book?
My favorite character is the Medicine Buddha, not exactly a person, but a Tibetan Healer. I prayed to the Medicine Buddha daily when I was recovering from a difficult back surgery. Praying to this magnificent Blue Healer gave me the hope and faith I needed to continue my recovery process. Attached is a photograph of him.
- What does your writing space look like?
I have a separate office space that I use as a combined guest bedroom and an office. Above my desk I have a Tibetan Thanka (religious painting) of the Medicine Buddha and to my right is a photograph of Venerable Dhammananda. My writing space is a crazy mess of papers. When I create, I don’t have a singular plan of action; I just draw strands of ideas in little pieces as they come to me. Every once in a while, I clean up and start all over again.