Shawn D. Phelps has a BA in Journalism from Ryerson University. Even though she started at age 22 and finished at 27—thanks to a one-year backpacking trip to Australia in the middle—she still won the top writing award for a graduating student. Feeling restless, she then bought a two-month bus pass and travelled across Canada, writing on spec for a travel magazine. Still restless, she did an intern­ship for an NGO in South Africa, where she researched and wrote articles about education in townships.

Back in Canada, Shawn worked her way up to senior ed­itor at National Post Business magazine (now Financial Post Business magazine), which she fatefully left after her life im­ploded at 30 with a break up and an autoimmune disorder. This led to her seven-month solo journey from Thailand to Nepal and her first published book, Help Me, Asia.

After the journey, she became editor of a human re­sources magazine. But she’d always dreamed of teaching, so she became a magazine writing and editing instruc­tor at Centennial College. For the past three years, she has run workshops at companies across Canada with Bruner Business Communication. In 2006, she co-founded a grass­roots charity called Jai Dee (Good Heart) Children’s Fund with a focus on health and education. She lives between Toronto and Meaford (where she’s experimenting with square-foot gardening and permaculture).

Help Me, Asia: Five countries, one mission. Learn how to be happy

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Yoga sucks. Why am I here? Is my whole life a series of comparisons? My feet against hers? My job against hers? My life against hers? Let go and feel the damn joy of awareness already. Weirdo. Why do I have holes in my heart? And how can I fill them in so I won’t be single forever?

At 31, after her boyfriend dumps her and she gets a weird autoimmune disorder, Shawn Phelps quits her job as a business magazine editor and sets out on a seven-month journey from Thailand to Nepal to learn the secrets of happiness from Asia’s sages–not knowing who they are or how to find them.

While on her quest, a surprising thing happens…she discovers the real sages are the everyday people she meets along the way.

Want to read the first few pages of the book? (Intro, Contents and pages 1-5)