Ain’t No Cure for the Transition of the Transition

Posted by Joel Bennett on

Ain’t No Cure for the Transition of the Transition

alchemy with friends, across this precious weave of time


My understanding of time as a spiritual resource is described across the entire collection of the Quest for Presence books. But the story of bringing this into reality for others, the many who helped birth it, and its many phases—all began with several opportunities to share early ideas. Thanks to Dr. Steve Duck, Lawrence Erlbaum Press published Time and Intimacy: A New Science of Personal Relationships in 2000. These were research and academic ideas. I yearned to have more practical conversations and started searching.

I was first graced with the open arms of the C. G. Jung Institute of Dallas (thank you, Maureen Lumley), Unity Church of Dallas and also of Fort Worth, Magellan Healthcare, and also Brandeis University (thank you, Marci McPhee), all of whom brought me in to conduct workshops or retreats in 2000 and early 2001. These offerings had titles like “The Quest for Presence: Time & the Transformation of Work,” “Time & Intimacy: Finding Serenity in a Busy World” and “Time and the Soul’s Journey.” Positive reactions from many participants suggested my ideas had personal relevance.

I had also presented at three conferences. This included the 2000 conference Going Public with Spirituality in Work and Higher Education (at University of Massachusetts in Toronto) and the 2002 Academy of Management meeting in Toronto (The conference theme was “A New Time”). My presentation in both settings was Time, Work, and Intimacy: The Psychospiritual Infrastructure of Organizations.  In 2003, I also presented an interactive workshop, Quest for Presence: Transformational Time Management. at the Seventh International Conference on Business and Consciousness (January; Santa Fe, New Mexico)


Around that time, I sent a copy of Time and Intimacy to the then-editor of Spirituality & Health magazine, Stephen Kiesling. Steve was a key to everything that came next. Through several great conversations, he helped me to reimagine my early drafts of the Quest for Presence Inventory™ (QFPI™). Thanks to Steve for publishing “Navigating in Time” in his magazine in the Winter 2002 issue (access it here). I received some calls from readers of that article. One, in particular, was a bookstore owner who encouraged me to write a book.


I also continued to offer workshops, especially at the National Wellness Institute (NWI) in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. I also delivered a train-the-trainer workshop at NWI on “Time and Spiritual Health.” Then, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provided further support. Because of a CSAP research grant, between 2002 and 2004, I was able to deliver “Time and Spiritual Health” to employees at small businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as part of a randomized clinical trial. I especially want to thank Dr. Deborah Galvin who helped me navigate the grant application and implementation process.

This research study made the concepts even more real. My colleagues (from the Recovery Resource Council in Fort Worth) and I taught “Time and Spiritual Health” to employees in diverse occupations, including car wash attendants, construction workers, engineers, employees in a manufacturing plant, school bus drivers, university administrators, teachers, and physical plant staff. When results from our research with these “everyday” people showed improvements in well-being, I knew these ideas were no longer just academic concepts. Our program was recognized as evidence-based by the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


The many conversations with dozens of these early colleagues and students laid the foundation for the next phase of this work. I am grateful to them and apologize for not mentioning them all. This next phase began with writing. The first draft of Quest for Presence was actually a single book. I asked Sandra Wendel (of Write On, Inc.), the editor for my previous book, Raw Coping Power: From Stress to Thriving, to start editing. Instead, Sandy suggested I first have a group of beta readers provide feedback. She recommended approaching individuals who were familiar with my work as well as others who did not know me.

This five-book Quest for Presence series emerged as a result of the in-depth, honest, and very insightful feedback from twenty beta readers. Sandy received the feedback anonymously but separately shared the names of reviewers. I am grateful to Sandy for her ongoing guidance (then and now) and to each and every one of the reviewers: Art Wimberly, Briane Agostinelli, Cassie Menn, Cynthia Conigliaro, Gary Loper, Heather Sittler, Heidi Postupack, Janette Helm, Jaymee Spannring, Katharine Hunter, Kimberly Gray, Laura Crowder, Michele Studer, Paul Feather, Rachel Kopke, Regina Novak, Rose Whitcomb, Sadie Liller, Sandy Kogut, and Teresa Przetocki. I also appreciate input from Faith Geiger, Rachael Baker, Janet DeLong and many others who I likely have forgotten. Oh, Wait! Special thanks to Kimberly Gray for always reminding me about the quantum “popping in.”

These reviewers were given a list of almost 20 questions, providing a structure for their reactions to the book. Nonetheless, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount and detail of feedback—almost 20,000 words and over 40 pages. My colleague Shelby Pittman combed through the data searching for common words and themes. Her analysis revealed that readers were excited about the content but overwhelmed by the complexity and depth of the ideas. Importantly, they wanted to retain all the key features of the book; for example, the spiritual message, the odes, the contemplations, and my own story. Many suggested that several books and a separate workbook would make the quest easier to digest. Shelby helped me take the next step to start restructuring the book.


At the same time, I had started teaching virtual courses of “The Quest for Presence.” The students who took the class also helped me further refine ideas, and several contributed their QFPI™ profiles (see Book 3). These students included Anissa Amason, Briane Agostinelli, Laura Anne Crowder, Cynthia Conigliaro, Tracey Cox, Madge Cruse, Tyler Currier, Melanie DuPon, Shahinaz Elhennawi, Kristie Ellison, Brenda Fister, Kimberly Gray, Deborah Hamlin, Susan Hansen, Mark Head, Lucy Hoblitzelle, Kathleen Klug, Lindsay Levin, Michele Mariscal, Jennifer Markley, Jocelyne Maurice, Wesley Miller, Renee Moy, Alan Porzio, Sazha Ramos, Desiree Reynolds, Sandy Salvo, John Shelton, Stephany Sherry, Andy Siegle, John Steakley, Michele Studer, Zac Tolbert, Melanie Weinberger, Art Wimberly, and Susan Yenzer. Thank you for your presence.

Throughout this process, I have been most grateful to those contributing a “treasure story” (see Book 1 and Book 5). This includes a number of people already mentioned, as well as Kathy Carlton, Sara Christopher (Acker), Michaela Conley, and John Weaver. Thank you for reminding me that the treasures are real and true.



So, I gave a copy of Book 1 to several friends and they told me similar things that the beta readers had said; namely, much better but – for the average reader – still slightly too complex and deep. That was when, in short order (a few days) “The Connoisseur of Time” was born.

I call it "Alchemy with friends, across this precious weave of time."

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