The Engaged Heart is Zoe’s examined life revealed. Recapitulating her life, weaving threads and themes, she searches. Born just after the death of Gandhi, she hears an unrelenting call to service. From a Catholic vocation to Liberation Theology, from the Peace Movement to Feminism, from LGBT rights to intersectionality, Zoe is plugged into Social Justice as it unfolds throughout her 64 years. Only in conscious retrospect does she see that it is all the same – no matter the time or place, humanity longs for freedom, liberty and happiness.
Zoe’s experience confirms that change happens from the inside out. After spending almost 12 years with a controversial teacher, focusing on discipline, mindfulness and meditation, she leaves on her own terms. Never stepping away from spiritual practice, driven by her passion and hunger for justice, she embraces Engaged Buddhism. For her it means living in the world awake and involved.
Zoe has made brave choices; fasting, marching, speaking loudly for Equality. She is a teacher, activist and mentor. She is a satyagrahi, a changemaker and visionary. The Engaged Heart invites you in and sends you out inspired.
The Engaged Heart includes many of her speeches and 125 personal photos.
The Engaged Heart ~ An Activist's Life
Format: Trade Paper
Pages: 400, Photos: 125
Kindle Edition 15.99
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From The Engaged Heart
Something extraordinary is bubbling up. It is global, not only geographically but across the population, across issues, across borders. The groundswell of conversation has gotten so big that a whole new language is emerging that demonstrates the equality that is unfolding. The diversity of the issues and locations is eliminating the single charismatic leader, both in need and effect. Soon we won’t care so much who said it but, rather, what it meant. Just as art survives the artist, truth must survive the speaker. Content will be tested by its longevity. Maybe it will collect like a rolling snowball or dilute like a game of telephone. But the truth which survives will have its own special force that is beyond a rarefied elitist set of voters in a Rotunda.
The Engaged Heart is the most exquisitely told story about
the incredible journey of a major feminist activist I've ever read! Zoe Nicholson takes you through her
fascinating life -- from devout Catholic girlhood, through a marriage, a divorce,
her love relationship with a woman, her awakening to feminism and, after years
of study, to become a Buddhist monk reentering "the real world" and
devoting her life to feminism, gay rights
and humanitarian causes. The
background music is her intense search for spiritual meaning, so beautifully
told that you can't put the book down!
President of the Veteran Feminists of America
The Engaged Heart is a profoundly intelligent book,
written with passion and wit. Zoe Nicholson vividly chronicles her
experiences as a combatant in the struggle for Equality and the book thus
constitutes a virtual manual for feminist & LGBT activism, complete with
defeats and triumphs, mistakes and miracles. For those who lived over the
last 50 years, the book will spark wonderful memories; for those who didn’t, it
might well inspire a volcanic eruption of serious commitment on the part of
those of us who treasure dreams of justice. Be ready, America!
Sally Miller Gearhart, Professor Emerita San Francisco State, Author and self-described, "recovering political activist."
The heart of the equality movement is authenticity. It is additive,
diverse, individual, maddening and vibrant. It refuses to be permanently
overcome by discrimination or "custom." The Engaged Heart is a
shattering piece of authenticity. Zoe's life has power to empower yours.
Erin Matson, Author & Activist
life is a profile in courage and perseverance. Anyone who hears her message
will find their own audacity to fight for equality.
Lieutenant Dan Choi
The Engaged Heart - An Activist's Life by Zoe Nicholson is
an incredible memoir about one woman's relentless commitment to equality. But
it is so much more. A complex, multi-layered and often times controversial book
that tackles religion, alcoholism, relationships and depression, it appeals to
a wide audience. Nicholson is honest, unapologetic, forthright and, yes,
vulnerable. Every part of my being was engaged, enchanted, and inspired.
Melanie Klein, Sociology & Women's Studies, Santa Monica College
David A. Pilon,
In my role as the head of an organization that serves homeless people with mental illnesses, the concept of "engagement" has always fascinated me. How we reach out to the most vulnerable among us, how we invite them back into our community, how we open our hearts to them with respect and without judgment - these are what we rather prosaically refer to as "the engagement process" in human services. I have noticed that our staff members who are particularly skillful and adept at this are always characterized by an abundance of compassion and empathy. These qualities are so strong in them that it is usually difficult for even the most "hardcore" homeless person to resist their charms. Although it doesn't happen overnight, I believe that it is because they sense that our staff members' hearts are open that they can take the risk of opening their own hearts to become engaged with us.
My fascination with this topic is probably the main reason why I found Zoe
Nicholson's The Engaged Heart such a compelling read. At its base, The Engaged
Heart is a story of the development of compassion and empathy in one woman's
heart. Beginning in childhood and extending through her 64 years, Zoe shares
with us the formative experiences in her life. Because she was born in the late
1940s, her life is a striking reflection of the major social change movements
that have taken place over the last sixty years: the civil rights movement, the
"new age" movement, the feminist movement, the gay rights movement.
For those of us who lived through those times, the book is a great reminder of
how much the world has changed over the last sixty years. The younger among us
may be surprised that some things that they take for granted were not so
assured even fairly recently.
With humor and insight, Zoe reflects on how her experiences have shaped her thinking, particularly in regard to the issues of equality and social justice. Even more importantly, though, is the opportunity to witness the development of Zoe's emotional self. Her commitment to equality and social justice is not merely an intellectual exercise. It springs from a deep well of compassion and empathy. To me, one of the greatest values of the book is that we have the opportunity to see how those qualities are developed in one person. As Zoe says in the introduction, "I am going to tell you my story. It won't be your story." This is certainly true. But I think that Zoe's experiences - and the lessons that she has taken away from them - reflect universal values that we can and should apply in our own lives.
The Engaged Heart delights the reader with a rare, front-row seat into the life experiences that contribute to the making of a tech-savvy, modern-day activist for equality. Which equality, you wonder? For all of it. Zoe is an advocate of intersectionality, constantly asking, "Who you gonna leave behind?" Zoe doesn't just talk the talk; she walks the walk. From women's rights to queer rights, from Dreamers to labor, Zoe bravely chronicles her life, weaving a tapestry of inclusion that serves as a manifesto for all of us who share her vision of a society where everyone has equal protection in all matters governed by civil law.
This book is not a how-to manual, because as Zoe herself acknowledges, "My story is not your story." That said, The Engaged Heart is a powerful telling of the events that have shaped her, the development of her consciousness, and the learning and unlearning that she has undergone along the way. Her memoir challenges the reader to reflect on their own life experiences and identify the people and events that have had the greatest impact on them. It encourages us to examine how our own lives have the power to influence others. It invites and inspires each of us to do what we can, where we are, with what we have, and join her in creating a more just, equitable world.
This book will be a favorite in the collection of anyone who has an interest in feminism past and present, LGBTQAI movements, civil disobedience, and the future of equality.
"Everett" (Seattle WA USA)
If you consider yourself an activist, you will love this book. If you'd like to be an activist, thi book just might give you the nudge you've needed. I have heard Zoe speak and she can move an audience of thousands into action. Zoe takes us on a journey that contains the peaks and valleys of her amazing life. She shares her highest highs and her lowest lows and we always see the constant thread of service. As the book starts to come into present time, a brilliant new vision of activism comes into view. I think Zoe has inspired countless people in her life and I think this book will move and inspire countless more.