“There is no such thing as a successful life without working hard and making time for play.” — Dwayna Litz
Dwayna Litz had her first real taste of mainstream success in life when she co-write the song “Let Me Be There For You” with Jayne Olderman, and singer Patti Labelle included the single on her platinum-selling album “Flame” — which also was nominated for a Grammy in 1998.
Since then, Dwayna has taken this success to open new doors and find new opportunities as a singer, health coach, public speaker and entrepreneur — all without the help of any traditional “relationships” in her life.
Is she disappointed? Not at all. In fact she’s quite happy.
“Happiness: No Man Required” is Dwayna’s answer for single women anywhere. In this unique self-help book, a combination of anecdotes and advice for creating positive, affirming relationships, Dwayna gives single women a virtual learning course in resourcefulness, positive thinking, and independence. She emphasizes in her 50 “tips” what women face in today’s dating scene. It encourages women to realize that being single or married does not have to be a distortion of their dreams coming true. Dwayna’s own experiences have taught her how to achieve her own happiness and she shares what she’s learned with others.
We had an opportunity to sit down and talk frankly with Dwayna about the book, her life, love, and her inspiring views of the world today.
We know you’re so excited about “Happiness”. Could you tell us briefly what the book is about?
It is a self-help book about overcoming disappointments and finding confidence from within as the key to having healthy relationships with others. There are generic tips for happiness, which can help any single or married woman, such as “Count Your Blessings”, instead of wallowing in self-pity through a hard time, and tips about finding happiness through serving others who have it far worse than you. There are tips about dating in a smart way with a list of warning signs to heed when getting to know a man. It champions good men in the tip “Good Men Still Exist”, as well as a lifestyle of happiness if you are single by offering peace within one’s self in a place where the weak become strong to have a happy life with contentment, for whatever is meant to be, single or married.
Is this your first time writing anything besides songs?
No, I have written poetry all of my life as a hobby, and I compiled a coffee-table book about American history a few years. It is a study on how much the culture has shifted and is an easy-read book of quotes from our founding fathers and past presidents, as well as original precepts from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. It lauds the principles of days gone by and is called “America Come Home”.
You took a lot of experiences from your life to write this book. What was probably your greatest life experience, or the one that inspired you the most?
My greatest life experience was the gift of a nurturing and sincere mother who loved me more than she loved herself and taught me how to pray before I could talk plainly. As a little child I was singing these beautiful hymns packed with theology about the love of Jesus, thanks to my mother teaching them to me. They have been in my heart to stay since I began learning them around age three, and they keep meaning more to me the older I get. I thank God for my faith and for giving me such a wonderful mother who has lived it right before my eyes and has prayed for me every day of my life.
You rely much on faith to guide you. What would you say to others looking for faith or comfort?
I would say that Jesus is called a friend for sinners in the Bible. No matter our mistakes, He is willing to meet us right where we are. The ground is level at the foot of the cross where no one is better than anyone else.
What most inspires you to create?
My feelings inspire me. I write from my heart. The great thing about feelings is they change, so there is always something to write about. Spending time in nature inspires me. I love being near water and looking out over the power of the ocean or walking beside a quiet stream. I also enjoy hiking in the mountains.
Congratulations on working with Patti LaBelle. Was this the first time you had worked together and what was it like being collaborators for your song?
I began as a singer in Nashville at age 17 (after recording my third album there at age 15), and the surprise was that I got my first deal as a songwriter at age 19. I only knew I was a singer but had no idea I was a songwriter when I moved to Nashville. Patti LaBelle recorded a song I co-wrote called “Let Me Be There for You” back around 1995. The co-writer and I sat down to write. She began playing the piano, and I began singing, and the song just wrote itself as it flowed out of me. It was such a thrill when Patti LaBelle recorded it on her Grammy nominated “Flame” album. I remember I heard it the first time at Tower Records. At the time they had listening stations where you could hear any new CD. I stood there in public with tears streaming down my face at the listening station at Tower Records in Nashville as I heard Patti LaBelle singing my song. I had gotten every single publishing and production deal by knocking on doors, and so much work had gone into getting to that place. It is hard to describe how rewarding it felt and how thankful I was to finally get that cut with Patti LaBelle. I had the chance to meet her after she recorded it. She said the song made her think of her sister, and it touched her heart the first time she heard it. I was honored.
What is your most basic definition of happiness? If someone asked you to explain what happiness is, how would you?
I believe that true happiness is impossible without peace on the inside. I use the word “happiness” in the book, but it could be exchanged with “peace.” Peace within allows us to feel confident and take care of ourselves. It is the opposite of compulsion, unease, and angst. It is all about remaining in an attitude of gratitude, no matter the circumstance.
Your book talks about the wrong men. Why do you suppose women are so attracted to them?
Wrong men are usually deceivers. Deceivers deceive. Wrong men know how to come off very “nice” (at first) but they are not good. Hence, my tips help women wait it out to get to know a man’s true character before moving too fast and getting so excited too soon. The good news is the wrong men will not stay around if a woman heeds my advice and follows my tips. She will outsmart the wrong men who use seduction as a tool to deceive.
Describe your worst date ever. Without naming names, of course!
The date that comes to mind as probably the worst date ever was with a man I met at a Bible study in Atlanta. He said he was a Christian and seemed very involved in the church I was attending at the time. He almost raped me on the first date. It was like he would not take “no” for an answer. I escaped him without harm, and I never saw him again. Needless to say, I never went back to that Bible study and found a new church.
Do you think some of the Christian world might look at the book with disfavor? How would you react to them and what would you say?
Goody-two-shoe types will probably find the truth too hard to bear. The truth is God is good, but not everyone in church is! I believe it is in fact because God is so good that deceivers sometimes hide behind the mask of Christianity and going to church. The word “hypocrite” actually means “actor.” God hates hypocrites far more than any of us could hate hypocrisy. My book not only teaches how to have happiness but also addresses the truth about spiritual abuse, wolves in sheep’s clothing and hypocrites. If people want to believe that religion and going to church on Sunday creates some sort of utopia, they will not favor my book. In the real world it is a relationship with God through Jesus that makes all of the difference — not pretentious religion.
What books did you read growing up? Were they part of your thoughts while writing this one?
Growing up I was very busy with extra-curricular activities and an honor student in school and did not have much time to read as a hobby. I was also active as a cheerleader, in the dance corps, always in the drama department and chorus, and I did not have much time to spare. I stayed busy singing as a child and began traveling singing at age 10. I grew up twirling the baton and spent hours after school preparing for baton competitions. My brother played baseball, and I hung out at his games, too. So, I was busy with my activities. However, I was very interested in what the Bible taught at an early age and took obeying God very seriously. Don’t get me wrong — it was not like I was required to read the Bible a set amount of time per day. It is just that when I read it in church and heard it taught, I absorbed it and wanted to learn more. When I wrote my book for women I knew I had to write it from my heart and teach what I had learned from experience to be true: God will never owe me anything. When I surrender to Him, He gives me everything good, just like the Bible I grew up reading teaches.
If a woman can be happy without a man, can also a man be happy without a woman? Briefly explain why or why not?
Absolutely! Some men have read my book and said they greatly enjoyed it, as they have also struggled with how to be happy single. Life is too short not to appreciate and live every day to its fullest. My tips work for men, too.
If you wanted to write a fiction book next, what do you think you’d love to write about the most?
I guess I would write an allegory. I love non-fiction, because I love to learn. I love reading biographies, history books, commentaries on the Bible, devotionals, and books about health since I tend to be a health nut. I love to feel myself growing as a result from the time I spend reading. My favorite book is the allegory “Pilgrim’s Progress”, by John Bunyan. Though it is a work of fiction, it is about the tests of life and the faith of a Christian walking through this world full of temptations to derail him. It used to be required reading in public schools in America and was right behind the Bible in sales until the 21st Century. John Bunyan only had an elementary education, but the book is brilliant.
You have a foundation. Tell us about that, please?
I have a 501(c3) foundation that is Christian based and a very unique nonprofit outreach. We have done everything from helping orphans find a home in the Philippines to partnering with Whole Foods to help feed the poor. It began in the psychic environment of Venice Beach, California, where we had the only Christian table on the boardwalk, alongside tarot card readers, fortune tellers, Scientologists, Atheist United, Hindus, Rastafarians, Hare Krishnas and the like. We had a sign reading “Come Find Out What God has to Say About Your Future,” and we would offer answers to life’s questions based on what the Bible teaches with free materials specifically for atheists, New Agers, agnostics, Muslims, Jews, Scientologists, and just about every other people group imaginable with Bibles and books in various languages for anyone who would like to have one for free.
It was not a typical Christian outreach because there was never any preaching or talking down to anyone and everyone was treated with respect. Our answers were all based on logic and reason as we would sit with people and listen to any problem they may be having or question about how to have a relationship with God and give them answers based on what the Bible teaches. We then spread to university campuses like Georgia Tech and the University of Tennessee. This simple “table outreach” concept spread worldwide as an outreach of evangelism based on apologetics. This made it easy for me to write my book “Happiness: No Man Required” as much for Christian women as non-Christian women. Though I wrote from a Christian perspective, it was written conversationally to women from all walks of life.
What helps you to focus on writing, whether books or songs?
Writing from my heart and soul. In songwriting I can usually tell when I hear a song that has just been contrived to “sound like a hit” vs. something real. “Made up” songs can be well crafted and even get airplay, but true art comes from the heart. Lionel Richie once said, “Without soul, there is no meaning.” I never forgot that because I agree. It is the same when it comes to being an author. I can read a book from a highly acclaimed author with many accolades who may wow me with vocabulary, but I have to put it down if it does not grab me and touch my heart. In life and in art, if it has soul it has meaning to me. So, I guess my answer is that my focus is on keeping it real.
We came across a really nice quote in your book: “There is no such thing as a successful life without working hard and making time for play.” How do you view a successful life?
The first thing that comes to mind is an honest life. Most people agree on what is right and wrong, but I have also found that a surprising number of people do not live according to their own standards. To live your standards and stay true to what you know is right and wrong is what true success is all about. The second thing that comes to mind is doing my best at whatever I do. It pains me to do anything half way. Because I love to work hard and set daily, weekly, and monthly goals, I have also learned it is just as important to reward myself with play, which could be anything that clears my head with no work involved, like a long walk with a friend, a hike, photographing children, or simply riding a bike. As a health coach, I also do my best to stay healthy by eating right and exercise so I can be 100% in the moment in life.
There’s a fascinating section in your book that explains what Love is versus Love Addiction. What’s the difference?
If you feel you cannot be happy outside of a romantic relationship, then that is characteristic of love addiction. An addiction is based on the highs and lows of inconsistency. True love is a safe place of peace and not confusion based on both chemistry AND compatibility. Addiction is humiliating and is a downward spiral whereas true love grows and is uplifting. It is patient and kind and a place that brings out the best in you with someone who is reliable. When someone treats you in a way you would not treat him or her on a regular basis that is the first sign that the relationship is probably not being built on true love but instead may be driven by the wrong kind of toxic, addictive chemistry.
It seems like just being positive in life can help many things wrong with someone. What are some advice tips you recommend for people to stay positive?
A short answer would be stay away from self-pity and go help someone who has it far worse than you. As I wrote in my book, “Count Your Blessings”, there is no room for self-pity when I stop to consider all that I have been given. There are so many people in need. On a lonely day going and serving someone who has it far worse than you, and bringing someone happiness who would be otherwise in a sad place will make you happy, too.
What is the next big thing you want to do in life?
I am working on a new album of bluegrass standards — songs like “Orange Blossom Special” and “Mountain Dew” by Johnny Cash and even remakes of standards like “Country Roads” and “Rocky Top” with the best musicians in Nashville and NYC for a distribution deal with Cracker Barrel Stores. I am loving every minute of it! Having sung Jazz, musical theater, alternative/folk/pop/country, with a childhood raised on the hymns and bluegrass music this project was a long time coming. I am dedicating it to my grandfather who was a self-taught guitarist and mandolin player who loved bluegrass music and my grandmother who loved “Precious Memories” as her favorite song, which is an old bluegrass Gospel standard that will be on the album. They have both passed away, and I recorded the old hymn “I Want to Stroll Over Heaven With You” in dedication to them. Secondly, I plan to put my book for women ‘Happiness No Man Required’ on Audible with an audio version next year.
Finally, where can people get your book and listen to your songs?
My book is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million. My CDs are available online at Walmart, Best Buy, Tower, and CD Baby. My music can be heard on the Dwayna Litz channel on Pandora Radio and also on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud and at DwaynaLitz.com.
Originally published at medium.com