Ev­ery­thing but the rock’n’roll

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - By Mary- Lou Stephens ( Pan Macmil­lan Aus­tralia, $ 32.99) HE­LEN KEMP­TON


THE ti­tle of MaryLou Stephens’ lat­est book, Sex, Drugs and Med­i­ta­tion, is enough to draw the reader in.

In­side, Stephens’ frank, open and easy- to- read style keeps the reader turn­ing the pages as the writer gives them a glimpse into her in­ner tor­ment.

The former Tas­ma­nian, who now lives on the Sun­shine Coast with her hus­band, their dog and a hive of killer na­tive bees, has crafted an hon­est book and it is this hon­esty that sees the reader nod­ding along as she de­scribes the painful path she trav­elled to “find her­self”.

A dash of hu­mour and a good dose of self- dep­re­ca­tion stops Sex, Drugs and Med­i­ta­tion be­ing a dark and la­bo­ri­ous read as some tales of self- dis­cov­ery can be.

From the ne­glect she was shown as the youngest in a big brood to her shoplift­ing days and ad­dic­tions to food, al­co­hol and party drugs, Stephens says she was lucky to make it to her 40s.

But she did and found her­self in her “dream job” as a ra­dio pre­sen­ter.

Ev­ery­thing should have been great, but work­ing with a new boss who she de­scribes as a “psy­chopath in a suit” turned that dream into a night­mare.

In a bid to avoid even more ther­apy and cope with an in­creas­ingly toxic work en­vi­ron­ment, Stephens signed up for a 10- day med­i­ta­tion re­treat which re­quired to­tal si­lence, end­less hours of sit­ting cross- legged and a food- as- fuel kind of diet.

The med­i­ta­tion cen­tre sounds more like a mil­i­tary boot camp than a re­treat in which to find in­ner peace but, ul­ti­mately, it was what Stephens needed.

Sex, Drugs and Me­di­a­tion is de­scribed as a story for those who con­fuse be­ing with be­ing happy.

Stephens’ jour­nal­ist back­ground shines through in her clear, con­cise writ­ing style.

There is no flow­ery lan­guage here, just plain, solid, strong words and a log­i­cal sto­ry­line.

A per­cent­age of the writer’s roy­al­ties from the sale of the mem­oir will be do­nated to Dhamma Rasmi, the Vi­pas­sana Cen­tre in Queens­land.

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