Onward & Upward: Reflections of a Joyful Life



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Michael Wiese
Publication Date
June 1, 2013
6 x 9 inches
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US $5 | CA $15 | EU/UK $25
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2014 Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) award
Winner: Autobiographical / Biographical Books category

2013 Mom’s Choice Award: Gold
Category: Memoir and Autobiography



About the author

Michael Wiese is co-founder and co-publisher of Divine Arts Media, with his wife of 22 years, Geraldine Overton.  The imprint publishes books on diverse topics with the common theme of integrating spiritual practice into daily life. Michael is an American director, producer, author, and publisher with over 35 years experience in film, television, pay TV and home video. He has launched video lines for National Geographic, The Smithsonian, NOVA, Audubon and PBS Home Video.



Onward & Upward is the memoir of a rare and wonderful man, who has lived a truly extraordinary life. It’s filled with Michael Wiese’s adventures, his incredible journeys, and his interactions with amazing people. I consider myself very privileged to know Michael. Read this book, and you’ll understand why.”
— John Robbins, author: Diet for a New America, co-founder: Food Revolution Network


“Michael Wiese is a modern shaman whose lifelong quest has been to discover what is possible in the physical, intellectual, and spiritual worlds. But who could have imagined that he would become the publisher of more books on film in English than anyone else in the world? While other shamans may meditate and gaze inward for revelation, Wiese follows The GOYA Principle (Get Off Your Ass….) and he does. From Bali to the jungles of Peru and New York, Wiese’s search for an ethical existence filled with meaning has constantly pushed him on. Reading Onward & Upward is a joyous, often humorous, and moving experience.”
— Howard Suber, professor for 48 years in the UCLA film school, founder of the UCLA Film and Television Producers Program, author: The Power of Film


“Like some of the best things in life, Onward & Upward was a joy I wasn’t expecting. An autobiography of author, filmmaker, producer, and entrepreneur Michael Wiese, this book craftily outlines a life well lived, weaving in wide-angle historical sketches with intimate close-ups on the moviemaking and distribution business. The cast is studded with luminaries like Salvador Dalí, Buckminster Fuller, Shirley MacLaine, and a host of Hollywood movers-and-shakers, as well as Wiese’s family and teachers. But the real star is Wiese himself, and the strange, intoxicating journey of his own spiritual path — from Bali to the jungles of the Amazon. Wiese peels back theme and story to remind us why we make films, and books, and love — and like Balinese shadow puppets, he reveals the hand of something greater in the drama of life.”

— Rak Razam, author: Aya: A Shamanic Odyssey


“Michael Wiese has written a unique memoir, the inspiring story of a courageous individual born at a time of huge cultural change who has followed his heart and made a genuine contribution to consciousness. From small-town America, to Haight-Ashbury at its peak, to the world of New York and Hollywood media, to deep spiritual exploration in the jungles of Peru and beyond, Michael has trusted his inner being and taken risks that would have daunted a lesser person. His book is an emotionally honest, entirely unpredictable adventure. It tells the compelling tale of a gifted and resourceful person who stays true to his values, always chooses the spiritual and the compassionate, never forsakes his deepest values, and is often willing to head into the unknown. The result has been a joyful life, permeated increasingly by spiritual wisdom. This is a book that readers will cherish. It imparts the immense value of staying true to one’s convictions and visions, and demonstrates the inwardly rich life that results when integrity is maintained despite the circumstances. One puts this book down with a sense of a life well lived, and a feeling of gratitude that the author has chosen to give us such a candid record of his impressive journey to wholeness.”

— Ralph White, Co-Founder and Creative Director, New York Open Center


“You’ll be propelled ‘onward and upward’ by this mesmerizing account of a true spiritual explorer’s quest to find all that’s beautiful, positive, and true in every corner of our planet, plus side-trips to some places not of this world! You’ll discover courage and inspiration in this journey of an artist whose true art form, it seems, is empowering others (including me!) to express themselves. Every page overflows with Michael’s awed appreciation for the wonder of life, and it will fill you with the desire to explore on your own.”

— Christopher Vogler, author: The Writer’s Journey


“A kaleidoscope of the human spirit and soul. Deceptively simple to read, yet transcendent for its inner journey. Michael Wiese’s life memoir takes us traveling to myriad countries and life explorations, growing up in the arts in the real world — as his many experiences in the spiritual realm gently reflect off our own consciousness. We find ourselves spending time with luminous people like Buckminster Fuller, shadow puppet masters in Bali, and members of Michael’s own fascinating family, all feeling like warm old friends one hasn’t met yet. Inspirational, revealing, and at times, valuably poignant.”

— Pen Densham, filmmaker, author: Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing


Onward & Upward was a pleasure from start to finish — a genuinely engaging autobiography. The fact that Michael Wiese is the only person I’ve ever heard of who was thrown out of school for not sleeping with a girl, that he was pivotal in bringing the first underwater concert to dolphins, and that the most successful years of his career was when he was most lost, gives his narrative enough twists and turns to have kept my attention to the very magical end. I’m so glad that he wrote it. You will be too.”
— James Fadiman, Ph.D., author: The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide


“A love letter to life, and Michael Wiese’s gift to the artists of the future. A loving autobiography of a successful filmmaker, writer, and artist, whose life is devoted to achieving artistic integrity, loving relationships, and spiritual awareness. Wiese shows how it is possible to live a fulfilling and artistically satisfying life in the post-industrial world. His global path to spiritual awakening and success as a filmmaker and publisher holds lessons for all artists of the 21st century and beyond.”

— Tony Levelle, editor: The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide


Onward & Upward is an incredible journey and adventurous ride through the 65 years of Michael Wiese’s life as a filmmaker, from his hometown of Champaign, Illinois, to San Francisco, Japan, Los Angeles, Bali, India, Africa, Peru, Bahamas, New York, and Europe. His spiritual and filmmaking quest is told with candor, humor, passion, and enlightenment. By far, one of the most intriguing stories I’ve read; I couldn’t put it down.”

— Ann Baldwin, screenwriter, author: The Power of Dreams


“Seeker, pilgrim, moviemaker, producer, Michael Wiese opens up his heart in this joyous celebration of creativity, imagination, and the wonderful, nutty people who make movies. What a half century of moviemaking! What a funny, knowing, joyinspiring book!”
— Robert Gerst, author: Make Film History: Rewrite, Reshoot, and Recut the World’s Greatest Films


“A statement about writing goes something like this: Writing is easy — you just open a vein and bleed onto the page. If that’s true, then writing a memoir is like cutting open your chest without benefit of anesthesia and slicing off a piece of your heart. That’s what Michael Wiese does in his book Onward & Upward. Enhanced by lovingly recorded photographs of people and stories of years gone by, this book surgically examines Wiese’s DNA. The prognosis is excellent. He has a lot of loving, living, and writing to do.”

— Mary J. Schirmer, writer, teacher


“Michael Wiese balances a life’s journey on the page in a brisk, vivid, self-effacing style, making Onward & Upward not simply the story of himself, but of everyone and everything he encounters, with the reader always included on the journey. Remarkable.”

— Matthew Barber, playwright: Enchanted April


“Michael Wiese is one of the most unique individuals I have ever met — and I’ve known a lot of creative people! Simply put, inquisitive and decent, it’s difficult to imagine someone spending time in Michael’s company without feeling better for it.”
— D.W. Brown, 2500 Years of Wisdom: Sayings of the Great Masters


“My students became accustomed to my expressions of concern for their screenplays to be a ‘good story well told,’ and over time they became energized to do just that, tell their stories well! Onward & Upward is the story of a ‘good life well lived,’ without a doubt. Like Emerson, who defined the success in a life he perceived as well-lived, Michael Wiese forged the connections that sustained him throughout his life to feed his creative forces, no matter how difficult and challenged that life often became. Fascinating!”

— Fred G. Thorne, writer, producer, director, professor


“‘The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet,’ wrote Lao Tzu. Although the last three words of this popular quote are frequently written as ‘with a single step,’ the Chinese philosopher’s original version more aptly captures the globetrekking adventures of author Michael Wiese in his new book, Onward & Upward: Reflections of a Joyful Life. To reach one’s geographical and spiritual destinations requires not only the ability to have well grounded values to begin with but also the vision to look to the stars and say with unabashed confidence, ‘Why not?’ Michael Wiese may be halfway through his sixth decade, but the evocative cover art of youthfulness and determination affirms that his globetrekking adventures and his unabashed passions for film, divine enlightenment, and cultural awareness are far from over. He writes that each unscripted chapter of existence is a lesson whose takeaway value is often unknown until the next challenge presents itself. The photographs sprinkled throughout the text are an engaging time-capsule of life in the past lane (how did we survive the ’70s?), on the shores of exotic realms, and amidst the tranquility of the Cornwall setting Wiese and his family call home. The tone is as conversational as if he were sitting across a table from the reader and having a cup of tea. For that matter, it would likely be the same conversation if the person in his company were Lao Tzu himself, pausing thoughtfully between sips to remark, ‘Yes, Michael. You understand the journey.’”

— Christina Hamlett, script consultant, playwright, author: Screenwriting for Teens