Nadia Natali, author of the memoir, Stairway to Paradise: Growing Up Gershwin, published by Rare Bird, Los Angeles, 2015, and The Blue Heron Ranch Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Zen Retreat Center published by North Atlantic Books, Berkeley CA, 2008, is currently working on a second cookbook titled Zafu Kitchen Cookbook.
Natali, a clinical psychotherapist and dance therapist, specializes in trauma release through somatic work. She earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City in Dance/Movement Therapy and completed another masters degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis in somatic psychology at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. Nadia is a registered practitioner of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (RCST) and is also a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) who trained with Peter Levine.
DanceMedicine Workshops is Natali’s creation where participants move through their trauma with dialogue and dance. She also offers the Ojai community, DanceMedicine Journeys. In addition to her private practice, Nadia and her husband offer Zen Retreats at their center.
Born into a famous family that was riddled with dysfunction, Nadia Natali made the choice to turn her life inside out and step away from fame and fortune. Against her parents’ consent she married an artist and moved to the remote wilderness in California. It was there that she found grounding as she and her husband raised and homeschooled their three children and opened a retreat center. As she gathered her own momentum, she enrolled in a doctorate program finally becoming a clinical psychotherapist specializing in psychosomatic work. She and her husband live in Ojai California.
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About the Book:
Growing up as Frankie Gershwin's daughter, the sister of George and Ira Gershwin, was quite a challenge. I didn't have the perspective to realize that so much unhappiness in a family was out of the
As a young adult adrift and depressed I broke from that unsatisfactory life by marrying Enrico Natali, a photographer, deeply immersed in his own questions about life. We moved into the wilderness away from what we considered as the dysfunction of society. That’s when we discovered that life had other kinds of challenges: flood, fire, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and bears. We lived in a teepee for more than four years while building a house. Curiously my mother never commented on my life choice. She must have realized on some level that her own life was less than satisfactory.
Enrico had developed a serious meditation practice that had become a kind of ground for him. As for me I danced. Understanding the somatic, the inner body experience, became my way to shift the inner story.
We raised and homeschooled our three children. I taught them to read, Enrico taught them math. The kids ran free, happy, always engaged, making things, and discovering. We were so sure we were doing the right thing. However, we didn't have a clue how they would make the transition to the so-called ‘real world’. The children thrived until they became teenagers. They then wanted out. Everything fell apart for them and for Enrico and me. Our lives were turned upside down, our paradise lost. There was tragedy: our son lost his life while attempting to cross our river during a fierce storm. Later I was further challenged by advanced breast cancer.
It was during these times that I delved deeply into the somatic recesses of myself. I began to find my own voice, a long learning process. I emerged with a profound trust in my own authority. It became clear that everyone has to find his or her way through layers of inauthenticity, where a deep knowing can develop. And I came to see that is the best anyone can offer to the world.
Enrico and I still live in the wilds of the Lost Padres National Forest, a paradise with many steps going up and down, a life I would not change.
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Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?
Because my book is a memoir my whole life has been a preparation for it. I have always been introspective and that interest gave me the ability to observe my journey as a process.
Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?
I first self-published, I then sought out a PR agency which has its own publishing company. I offered to pay for the printing if they were interested in publishing my book and they took it on.
If self-published, did you hire someone to format the eBook version for you or did you do it yourself? Can you tell us what that was like?
I did make an eBook version, but my publisher made another one for me that was far more inclusive.
If self-published, how did you determine the price?
When I self-published I simply picked a price that was typical of other books in that genre.
If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?
I had a relationship with the publisher before as my PR agency and they agreed to publish my book when I offered to pay for the printing costs.
If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?
Yes, although it was more expensive, the newer book was hardcover and bigger in size.
Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book? Why?
No, but it was in the fall and near holiday time. That was just lucky.
How did you choose your cover?
Someone who was editing my book suggested that the photograph of me as a young woman would be a good choice for the cover and I agreed.
Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?
I usually revised as I wrote and revised many times after that.
Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?
No, I didn’t use any special swag to promote my book.
Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book? If so, what’s the link?
What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?
I am willing if it will help me sell more books.
What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?
The only thing I can say is to be willing to do whatever it takes.
What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?
I believe social media is the best way to go. I think finding a good PR person or agency is important, and third, be willing to go on book tours.
What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?
I didn’t do pre-promotion except to have a book signing party.
Do you have a long-term plan with your book?
I have no long-term plan.
What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?
In writing this book there were three levels that I found I needed to weave together, but didn’t know it until I finished the book.
The first is the story of me as a young girl caught up in the life of fame and money in my family and how I leave it behind hoping for a life with significantly better values.
The second level is the need to become authentic. This part was not independent from the story, but an ongoing search beneath the surface. As I eventually found my voice I learned I had to go through more levels of finding the next truer voice. I learned that there are layers upon layers of truth.
And lastly, along the way I found my calling as a therapist, a dance psychotherapist, which evolved independently of the other levels but had uncanny parallels. My work is somatic, experiencing body sensation as a message, like a signal as a way inside and a way to help reorganize the nervous system to heal trauma.