My Impossible Life

Trauma Travel Transcendence

Non-Fiction - Memoir
286 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2020
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Author Biography

Running from an untenable home life when she was just sixteen, Charlene found herself captive to two armed felons for three days. From there life grew interesting. She traveled in the group following the legendary and contentious meditation teacher Lesley George Dawson aka Namgyal Rinpoche for several years. While her feet landed in India, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Greece, Norway, and more her inner world tumbled with disturbances.
She is the author of three books, The Stain, Medicine Buddha/Medicine Mind, and now My Impossible Life, and some books of poetry including Bliss Pig. She was for ten years performance poetry partner to the infamous Linda Stitt, Toronto's greatest kept secret. Charlene lives a quiet life, teaches meditation, and prays for healing for all. '

    Book Review

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

My Impossible Life: Trauma Travel Transcendence by Charlene D. Jones is a fascinating memoir. It chronicles the author's journey from being taken captive by two men, the horrible secrets that time held and the numbness that followed after that, her meeting David, life with a schizophrenic mother, the crazy life she led, the angels asking her to leave David, boarding a plane to England and India, finding a spiritual guide, her Tibetan guru, meeting Cecilie, and other global adventures. The account finally sees her embarking on a meditative path towards self-acceptance, redemption, and healing, one that gives hope, courage, and strength to many readers out there to overcome challenges and adversity in their lives, putting them on a path to recovery and self-discovery.

My Impossible Life gives glimpses of not only Charlene D. Jones being a survivor but also how she courageously transformed her life, instead of wallowing in self-pity and getting caught up in the grief and trauma she experienced. She is honest and straightforward as she speaks about her life, how she decided to heal herself from the traumas she experienced and make her life whole and complete. The author's story will motivate readers, and her spiritual practices and her determination to heal and transform her life are incredible as they show a woman's strength and belief in herself. Charlene D. Jones's story of healing and triumph will give hope to many readers about being able to transcend their past and move towards a future that is meaningful and just the opposite of what she went through. Her detailed narration makes her compelling and traumatic story palpable to readers, an inspiring example on their journey to recovery from grief, trauma, and adversity.

Ken Korczak


Charlene Jones Offers Profound Insights Derived from Epic Healing Journey

This book might be compared to On the Road if Jack Kerouac had been a woman and talented. Kerouac was merely a social malcontent and a drunk. I tend to agree with Truman Capote’s conclusion on Kerouac’s work: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”
CHARLENE JONES, however, turns in a story about an epic road trip that traverses an international path. That path does double duty as both a physical journey around the planet and an esoteric trek into the deeper levels of the soul.
MY IMPOSSIBLE LIFE is not typing. It’s writing.
Jones’ writing style is organic. Other good words might be earthy, sensual and visceral. At the same time, her result is vivid and immediate with everything laid right out on the surface. Each page will sting the reader with the author’s palpable sense of psychic pain. It’s easy for us to grasp – at least intellectually — what’s generating her agony. At the tender young age of 16, she was abducted and brutally raped and tortured by two escaped convicts.
Charlene Jones came to this nightmarish experience with a psyche already damaged. From the time she was a little girl, she had been battered by dysfunctional behavior in her family which inflicted wounds upon her that would be more than enough to screw up any person for life.
I don’t want to give any more away, except to say this book is about so much more than a person desperately seeking an escape hatch from the misery of her own existence. Like Odysseus blown off course and lost in what seems to be a relentlessly weird and hostile universe, Jones is sailing the ship of her life from destination to destination, only to discover that no matter how much she travels in the physical world, she brings her essential self with her.

Understandably, Jones was ensnared by a powerful guru. This was the legendary Namgyal Rinpoche, a Canadian man born as Leslie George Dawson in Toronto. He was of Irish and Scottish descent but remarkably ascended to an extremely lofty status of Tibetan Buddhist empowerment. He was given his Tibetan name and designation by none other than the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. Dawson taught in the Vajrayana tradition.
The insights Jones offers regarding her years of following Dawson around the globe to partake in his meditation, teaching and healing ministrations should be considered a masterclass in the benefits and deeply dangerous pitfalls of giving over one’s spiritual development to any guru. I think readers will be profoundly impressed by the measured way Jones sums up the lessons learned from her association with Dawson. She fulfills her duty to expose the man where he was a charlatan, a fraud and demented – but also rightfully acknowledges that this can’t be the full story of a person who was, in many ways, authentic and remarkable.
Charlene Jones
The courage of Jones to be unflinching yet fair about the legacy of Leslie George Dawson is a significant illustration of the expanded understanding she eventually achieved about the complex nature of the human condition. Reading this book means we get to benefit from that same hard-won wisdom.
There are so many extraordinary elements to this wonderful memoir that I could pick just one and write my entire review on that. I’ll settle for a couple of highlights and encourage the reader to get this book and discover all it has to offer for yourself.
One primary takeaway for me is the literary skill Jones leverages to craft a nonlinear timeline and weave it together for a story that takes place over multiple years – yet remains a clear and coherent narrative that flows amazingly well from first page to last. This tale has an engaging back-and-forth rhythm that carries us along as if riding in Elton John’s blue canoe — “dazzling, dancing, half enchanted.”
In sharing her traumatic experience with brutal honesty, Jones provides us all with better answers to age-old questions like, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Mainstream religion offers pablum, such as, “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” or, “evil is real, and/or the devil is at work inflicting suffering on God’s children.”
Jones is the author of The Stain, a novel.
Jones’ conclusion about what happened to her and how she found the strength to continue on and eventually extract serenity out of the rotten deal she was handed by the universe is not just inspirational – it’s practical. This book has the potential to help uncounted people who are suffering and desperately searching for that elusive get-out-of hell-free card. My Impossible Life is proof that escape exists.



Irene Allison

IreneA
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise, Luminous, and Full of Grace
Reviewed in Canada on December 14, 2019
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Simply stunning! This exquisitely written memoir recounts the author’s courageous, moving, and deeply honest journey towards healing. To say this memoir is beautiful seems strange given the nature of the traumatic events. And yet, beautiful it is, the beauty lying not only in its luminous prose but also in the wise, big-hearted grace with which all of it is told. Profound and brilliant. Highly recommended.
One person found this helpful

Joanna Carson

Joanna Carson
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing story of trauma and recovery, adventure and awakening.
Reviewed in Canada on November 18, 2019
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
My Impossible Life by Charlene Jones is a great memoir that I loved exploring. The book reveals how it is possible to overcome a trauma that literally numbed her senses. She relates how she coped for many years with a wild lifestyle and a connection to an iconic teacher, Namgyal Rinpoche. She gave a good description of how she worked systematically to unravel her horrific experience. Her days of terror were also revealed in pieces throughout the book as she travelled, learned to meditate and went through relationships scarred by her past. I enjoyed reading about her love of poetry and friendship with Cecelie another evolved woman and teacher. Charlene lets her readers into her life, walking beside her on her journey to wholeness. I look forward to reading more insightful works by this special writer.
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verified customer

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!
Reviewed in Canada on January 8, 2020
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I loved this book. I was quickly hooked, and often torn between wanting to know more and stopping to savour a particularly descriptive and insightful phrase. I especially appreciated how the story was told, not from the position of a victim or accuser, but by honestly and openly describing the traumatic events and the effects on her life, and how the author was able to heal from intense trauma. A very interesting and hopeful read!
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Marian Beaman



Marian Beaman

5.0 out of 5 stars Navigating an Impossible Life
Reviewed in the United States on February 3, 2020
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Charlene Jones’ My Impossible Life, her award-winning memoir, explores her early life through three lenses: trauma, travel, and transcendence as her subtitle suggests.

Escaping an unbearable home life with an abusive mother and rapacious brother, the author while still a teenager finds herself held hostage by former prisoners. Recalling this trauma, Jones admits that, “my memoir writing began within a year of my return from being held hostage for three days by two armed criminals over 50 years ago.” She continues, “I knew my culture did not contain a map for helping me. I knew the culture understood how wrong I was, how all I had to do was just get up and get a job, or go to school, do something to satisfy everyone’s need to believe in a future that did not exist for me.”

Thus, she embarks on a quest for healing, a quest that leads her to travel, becoming a disciple of the Buddhist-inspired meditation teacher Dawson, who turns out to be evil himself. Her adventures then evolved into global ones, escaping tornadoes while sailing in the Gulf of Mexico, searching for peace with Mongol men in northern India, meditating during a 3-month silent meditation retreat in New Zealand, more travel to Australia, and then journeying through Crete, Cancun, Norway – all before her 25th birthday.

Can she transcend her past? Can she conquer her various addictions? Will her acknowledgement of angelic influences direct her toward a meaningful life? Admitting that she does not fit into the life proclaimed by many in the the world to be best, Charlene soldiers on, even questioning why she puts herself in such danger, persisting with risk.

Author Jones finds refuge in music and in language. She speaks of the power of language, referring to Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky in which the poet creates images without saying anything directly. Jones has great recall, with the ability to construct memorable dialogue from conversations that must have transpired so long ago. Occasionally typos appear in the manuscript, though the narrative flow continues. I found her imagery compelling throughout, for example, as she speaks of David, “our bodies curled like twin seashells washed in the waters of an ancient, insistent tide.”

Performance poet, podcaster, and meditation teacher, Charlene’s story begins and ends with the author’s chasing memories and observing scars, scars that show her for who she is, “a triumphant warrior.”
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Paulette Bodeman



Paulette Bodeman

5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2020
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was drawn in immediately. Charlene Jones's prose is like reading poetry. As an author myself, I found her writing style to be gorgeous and her story compelling. Charlene took on the challenging topic of trauma and instead of going down into the nitty-gritty of details revealed her experiences with a poet's compassionate voice. My Impossible Life is authentic and inspiring.
One person found this helpful
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Jennifer Monahan



Jennifer

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story!
Reviewed in the United States on December 15, 2019
Format: Paperback
Charlene Jones' incredible story of transformation and healing after extreme trauma is truly inspirational. The reader joins her on her life-changing journey - from being kidnapped and sexually assaulted by two escaped felons while a teenager to studying meditation and following her teacher around the world while she looks for peace and healing - until she finally discovers that the wisdom that she had been seeking was within her all along. Once she does, she re-connects with a part of her that had been buried for years and leans the truth of who she really is. My Impossible Life is a powerful story of overcoming adversity and finding that joy in life still exists.

Natalie



Natalie

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone who knows there is more to life than a numbness to just get by...
Reviewed in the United States on March 12, 2020
Format: Paperback
"My Impossible Life" reads like a detective novel while staying true to the lessons she uncovers in her life. This emotionally painful story has a silver lining because Charlene is able to add a depth of wisdom and reflection that uncovers her memories, shares her spiritual practices and shows her commitment to healing so all of us can understand how to transform our lives.

Jan Freeman

Reviewed by Jan Freeman for Reader Views (2/2020)

"My Impossible Life" is a compelling account of Charlene Jones's survival and ongoing restoration after suffering abuse and rejection during all of her young life. It is a compilation of stories of the mistreatment she received and the harm it caused to her, as well as her journeys to various places in order to find peace through the study and practice of meditation.

The book is well-paced, will keep the reader's attention, and will induce emotions, both positive and negative. It is hard to imagine how such a young person could cope with so many problems without withdrawing from human contact altogether. The people in the stories are family, friends, teachers and occasionally strangers who touched Ms. Jones's life, some of whom mistreated her and others who influenced her journey toward stability, as well as physical, mental and spiritual wellness.

While I found "My Impossible Life" difficult to read at times because of the heartrending circumstances in the recounting of her life, I believe Ms. Jones's writing is honest and told without malice toward any other person. It appears to be a history of events which includes details as remembered by the author.

The descriptions of other parts of the world where Ms. Jones traveled and the meditation classes she attended were interesting and colorful. They also gave indications of how desperate her desire was to find peace of mind and healing.


Nick Belaisis PhD

My Impossible Life speaks to the human capacity for healing in spite
of great trauma. Jones's honest memoir is deeply self-reflective as
she recalls, and ultimately, repairs, the seminal trauma of her young
adult self. Set amidst the collective cultural upheaval of the late
1960s, Jones recounts her global quest for spiritual enlightenment
and private, and seemingly impossible, psychological healing. In
treating herself as narrative and psychological subject, Jones pens
a memoir that is compelling as a story of psychedelic youth, and
instructive as an account of trauma recovery from the perspective
of contemporary psychotherapy, neuroscience and mysticism.
~ Nicholas Balaisis, PhD, University of Waterloo


Nancy Richards

My Impossible Life contains a harrowing story of survival peppered
with intriguing travels and fascinating people. Compelling and
validating for any who have suffered trauma, this book describes
what truly has been an impossible life.
~ Nancy Richards author Mother, I Don't Forgive You and
Heal and Forgive 11: The Journey from Abuse and Estrangement to

Mitch Smolkin Jungian Analyst

Charlene's tale of survival winds us through the compelling and
complicated journey of traumatic memory and her extraordinary
will to keep on living. Poetically unvarnished, she possesses the rare
gift of being able to cut through the noise and touch the essential.
In an age where we have lost the dignity of suffering, Charlene
inspires us by revealing the ways in which her "Angel" spoke to her
in her darkest moments. This I believe is her greatest contribution,
reinforcing the capacity for transcendence yet tethering these lofty
goals to the earthy through exposing her deepest longings for
communion and friendship; earthly longings that are necessary for
survival and most importantly love. It is the love within the cracks
of her life that shines through in this rich and beautifully written
memoir.
~ Mitch Smolkin, M.A. Counselling Psychology, ICEEFY
Jungian Analyst

Deb Brandon PhD


This book is an incredible read. I had trouble putting it down.
It carries an unbeatable combination of a well-written manuscript,
the words poetic at times, and a compelling and insightful story.
Charlene's story skillfully weaves around her memories of a
traumatic event that took place when she was sixteen. Her story,
though it speaks of a life uniquely hers, is also universal. It speaks
of pain and anger, of searching for self, of healing. Her insights
helped me process some of my own baggage. In the Epilogue she
wrote that she sometimes used language as a weapon. In this book,
her skill with words is a gift, to the readers.
~ Deb Brandon, Professor, Dept. of Mathematical Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University, award-winning author for
But My Brain had Other Ideas and Threads from Around the World

Bruce Powe PhD Literature York universit

It's a stark, raw piece of writing... authentic and vivid... and harrowing
at times with immediate fierce impact.
~ B.W. Powe, Associate Professor, English,
York University, Toronto

Darlene Shaw

A bravely bold journey of the mind, body & soul. Charlene’s tale is raw, edgy & encompassed with endless determination & passion. An emotional read blended with clever wit, that’s sure to leave you awakened, inspired & vibrantly fortified.

Leslie Hickey

Leslie Hickey
5.0 out of 5 stars The writing is superb!
Reviewed in Canada on December 7, 2019
Format: Paperback
This was a disturbing story, detailing the horrendous events experienced in the author's life. It was written in such a gripping and skillful way, saving some of the details of her trauma to release throughout the book. Charlene Jones masterfully wrote the story of her life making it a story of travel, adventure, trauma and recovery. I was glued to this book from cover to cover!


R Jones

R Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Triunphing Over Impossible Trauma
Reviewed in Canada on December 29, 2019
Format: Paperback
I read it twice. Once with a deep dread in the pit of my stomach, waiting for the details of the sexual trauma to be revealed. The second read was to follow Charlene Jones' masterful analysis of her process of uncovering the trauma. This commentary creates a pathway out of despair for the reader. The result is a true triumph for both the author and the reader. Highly reccommend.

Jason Kelly



Jason Kelly

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for those who enjoy memoirs and those who are looking to heal in their own journey
Reviewed in Canada on March 28, 2020
I usually don't read memoirs, but this book drew me in from the start, and to the point where I couldn't put the book down for long periods of time. I really enjoyed reading this memoir on Charlene Jones' travels and journey in life. Charlene writes in such a way that the reader can both visualize and feel the story of her impossible life. I enjoyed the fact that there were small lessons and bits of information on neuroscience and Jungian psychology that she has learnt through her own healing. This memoir left me wanting to learn more about Charlene, neuroscience/jungian psychology and I hope she continues to write as well as possibly put together another memoir for all of us to read. 5 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend for those who enjoy reading memoirs.
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Mary Ann MacKenzie



Mary Ann McKenzie

5.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerizing memoir about trauma, discovery and ultimate healing. A must read!
Reviewed in Canada on January 1, 2020
JONES memoir captivates and mesmerizes the readers with her cinematic prose style and crystal clear dialogue. A Pollyanna-like existence cloaks the reality of her nightmarish teenage years growing up in Toronto’s Beaches. Searching for obliteration of cellular memories connected with life altering events she begins her fearless journey, one of desperation, zigzagging across continents, meditating with gurus, and often succumbing to pain-dulling, easy escapes.

In surprising splashes of brilliant poetic writing Jones’ words spill onto the page, often reading like a psychological thriller or colorful travelogue. It is her ultimate triumph over plaguing memories and deeply rooted hurts that speaks to the reader, as we learn how she implements meditation, analyzes dreams and seeks the guidance of angels and begins to see and experience life on the strength of what is within each and every one of us.