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"We are two friends who hit rock bottom. Two women who turned to each other and empowered each other to become the strong, independent women we always knew we could be. ... We changed everything about our lives, one conversation at a time." -- www.changeyourconversation.com
By Jessica Wiant -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Two local authors didn't just write their book. They live it.
Best friends Malinda Dowsett and Lani Barna penned "Change Your Conversation, Change Your Life" together earlier this year and released it in August -- a quick turnaround in terms of the publishing world. But the journey to the philosophy they now want to share with a million people took them much more time.
Both women, they explained earlier this week from the home they share in Winchester, went through years of rough times -- divorces, deaths and near-death experiences -- before reaching this point in their lives.
They hit rock bottom at different points, they said, and it was from those places that they decided they had to turn their lives around if they wanted to keep going.
For Barna, the bottom came after periods in life of both having everything, and having nothing.
"I had a great job, a title, I was traveling ..." she said, "and I was so unhappy."
In 1992, a car crash left her literally dead and revived again, she said. With severe injuries and nearly every bone in her face broken, Barna had to learn to walk, speak and pretty much do everything else all over again -- and, she says, without being "pretty."
Barna said when she took all the things that defined her away, she was left not knowing who she was.
"And I had no idea," she said. "That is the emptiest feeling in the world."
Years later, after leaving her third marriage, Barna moved in with a friend she'd made through her work at a chiropractor's office -- Dowsett, who did the medical billing for the practice.
At that time, Dowsett was reeling from the death of her first husband, who committed suicide after they'd been separated for a year.
"She was on fumes," Barna said.
"I didn't know which end was up anymore," Dowsett said.
During that time, they both say they were able to hold each other up. They had lots of spiritual conversations, Barna said.
Still, Dowsett was afraid. And, she admits, she rushed into a second marriage shortly afterward. Barna, who butted heads with the new husband, moved out, and the two lost touch completely.
By herself again, Barna took on the care of her mother, and began a journey of self-discovery that was the impetus for "Change Your Conversation."
She read about consciousness, quantum physics, neurobiology and spirituality from many angles -- from the Tibetan Book of the Dead to Stephen Hawking.
Two years later, Dowsett was again in a difficult place, having come near death herself during the birth of a son and struggling in an unhappy second marriage.
She came to a realization that she had so many reasons to live, but that she needed to change the way she was doing things. She didn't, however, know where to start.
When a mutual friend asked Barna how Dowsett was doing, she decided to send her an email and they instantly reconnected.
"That whole Buddhist letting go of things ... it's for real," Barna said.
Barna began sharing all the things she read about with Dowsett during hours-long phone conversations.
"My 88-year-old mother would say 'What in the world do you girls have to talk about?'" Barna said.
During those long phone calls, the two came to the realization that all the different belief systems and studies they were discussing seemed to be pointing to the same basic things, all boiling down to some principles they could put into action.
If you are having bad thoughts all day and beating yourself up all day, then that's what you end up bringing into your life, Dowsett said. Focusing on uplifting thoughts and conversations instead, you will bring positive things into your life, according to the two.
"You always have a choice," Dowsett said. "We started applying that to everything that we did. What you think about you bring about."
"You can never have what you want if you don't talk about it," Barna added.
It was during those times of long phone calls and lots of self-examination that Dowsett left her second marriage, Barna's mother died and the two processed a lifetime of their painful experiences.
The found themselves saying often: "You gotta change your conversation, girl."
One day while they were doing yoga together, Dowsett said, Barna jumped up exclaiming "Don't you see!?"
Barna was referring to the fact that their paths had been cleared and they were open to share all they'd been learning.
Within a month they started a website and a Facebook page, and worked on an online course people could take. "Change Your Conversation" has since evolved into speaking engagements, seminars and, now, the book.
They even moved back in together to dedicate themselves to their missions. They want to be sought-after motivational speakers -- and to reach a million people with their message that positive thoughts and words, speaking what you want, will lead to positive results. The two have more books planned, and they want to be best-sellers.
It appears easier now for each of them to have such big goals, and the women admit it comes naturally now to recognize when they need to "recalibrate" their thoughts or admit that they need help.
Barna focuses on the science of things, while Dowsett is more on the spiritual side.
"We're family," Dowsett said.