Thursday, June 21, 2018

FRANKLy Speaking


The strength of human will
Is stronger than anything
That can happen to it.

This phenomenon of nature holds true:
As the strongest winds blow
So the seedling is strengthened.

When I think of the wisdom and the resiliency
Of Victor Frankl at Auschwitz,
I am better able to tolerate

The foul smelling woman
Who sits beside me
On the way to Penn Station.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Immy Shows Insight on her 5th Birthday


Today was Immy's Birthday. I actually forgot until I received an email from the vet saying: HAPPY BIRTHDAY IMMY!  Oh my, it was already late in the day and it hadn't even entered my mind.  I fell all over her with good wishes and affection, feeling so badly that I had forgotten her special day!

Such as it is when guilt hits, we tend to want to do whatever it takes to make it up to them. So when we went out for our evening walk a little while later, I told Immy that we could go Wherever She Wanted To Go! It must have made her very happy, for she can be very expressive in letting me know when it does not please her to go in a particular direction. She will stand still, rooted to her place, refusing to make eye contact until one of us wins. The one with the leash in her hand usually wins.

This particular walk, I assumed she would want to travel to the nearby Anza Trail. It is always one of our favorite walking destinations. There was still plenty of light in the sky and we had lots of time to make the trek.

We started at the nearby woodpile and recycle center, which is where she prefers to start most mornings. Then, following her lead, we headed out the back gate to the woodsy easement that leads to the tree-lined street behind our house. To the right, up the hill, to the church where we make our first decision. Which Way?  We cross the street, take the sidewalk that winds beyond the church to the Presidio and onward to the path that leads to the Anza Trail.  She was leading the way. Confidently. She knew exactly where she wanted to take us.

Then, midway down the path en route to the trail, she stopped in her tracks. She refused to move. "C'mon Immy, let's go!"  No response. Staring straight ahead, focusing only on her strong will.


"Okay," I said. "It's your birthday so....whatever you want to do."
Joey and I retraced our steps and we all walked back up the path we had just taken. A little while later we arrived at the edge of town. Ah, I thought, she must want to walk through town and check to see if there are any chicken wings or sandwiches in the various trash cans about the place.


But no, she chose the road that leads back home.
"You wanna go home already?" I asked her. No answer. She just stared straight down the street, paws planted. "OK. It's your birthday. We'll go home if you want to go home."  Down we went, back down the street to our house. But then when we reached our house, she surprised me. She wanted to keep walking down the street. "OK," I said, "It's your birthday."

About halfway down the next block we saw a man walking a dog. It was a man we recognized because we had seen him a dozen or so times walking his dog, Pepper, around town. As we got closer, I didn't think Pepper looked the same. Something was definitely different.
"Hi... Is ...that your dog?"  It definitely wasn't the same dog.
I asked the man, "Did you get a new dog?"
Something was wrong.
"No," he replied as he pulled out a handkerchief, "I'm dog-sitting for a couple of weeks."
"Where's your dog?" I asked, showing concern in my voice.
He wiped his eyes.  "Pepper died."  The man was crying now.  "It's been a month and a half."

So right there we did a little bit of grief work while the three dogs milled around each other. It was obvious the man did not have anyone who understood his heart and soul relationship with his dog of 11 years. He was new in town too. He didn't have a lot of friends. His best friend had been Pepper.
"Maybe you should read a book that I wrote..."
"I would like that," he replied.

Find Jack's Book/s Here at Amazon.com
So we walked to my house and I gave him a copy of "Reflections". 
"I'm a very slow reader," he warned me. He struggles with vision problems.
"It's okay. Jack is very patient. He will only go as fast as you can go. And if it's too difficult, a large print copy is on its way right now. I should have it by Monday," I said, realizing that all of this was By Design that we were here in this place; that I had ordered a Large Print Version, the first one off the press with the new cover, just a few days before. 

So the next time I think that Immy shows little concern for anything, aloof and uncaring, I will remember this. I realize that had it not been her birthday, I would have coerced her down to the Anza Trail and we would have had no synchronistic story to tell at all. 


We ended up going back out to finish our walk later and once again Immy led the way. As we walked through La Encantada, an upscale shopping plaza, she stopped outside of Elvira's Restaurant. She knows fine dining when she sees it. She fixed her gaze upon it and stood there, her feet rooted into place.
"No Immy. Sorry.  I know it's your birthday and all but I have to draw the line. Let's go home and have some dinner." She turned back to join us and we walked happily back home. She probably already knew that I had some liver thawing out on the counter for her special dinner.

Thank you Immy. Thank you Jack for sending Immy into our lives. Thank you to God and the angels and this man's father who crossed over five years ago on this Father's Day. All of them perhaps were working together to make things happen so that we would all be at the right place at the right time.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Borders Cafe




We laugh together
Over froth;

Aromas of fresh ground sweetness
In the space that divides
You
from
Me.

We ponder and philosophize
On musings most ignore.
Music, research, books and love.

We share and teach
And stretch our minds
To accommodate new vision;
Adding to each repertoire, 
Although you know
Much more than I. 

It seems we could go on like this
For hours on end had we the time,
But obligations
Break
This spell; 
They send you your way
And me mine. 


Monday, May 28, 2018

The Universe Conspires to Get Us Where We Need to Be

"I am Don Quixote!... When Destiny Calls Me, Onward I Go!"


My first trip to Sedona was in April of 2001. I had just ended a very intense and transforming relationship, had written a semblance of a novel and when I decided to temporarily leave my very busy life as an Upstate New York business owner, I chose to rent a house for a week in Sedona to work on the novel.

Over 1400 pages of novel notes were based on my relationship with Benito, a complex and highly spiritual Mexican immigrant who changed my life. Not only was it a love story, it was an experience that taught me about spirituality and deep connection with others. We shared the same nighttime dreams. I would think of him and he would call within minutes of my thought of him. As I began researching and writing the novel, I would read him excerpts from it and he would say "How did you know that? That is EXACTLY what happened!" Or he would tell me a story and I would reach over, pull out my novel notes and read it back to him almost verbatim. It was bizarre! It was amazing. It was about connection and the knowingness that comes naturally when you allow things to flow in your life. At the time the title for the book was Don Coyote and has since been renamed Trickster.


So, back to Sedona. When I arrived at the private rental home, I was greeted by the owner Maria. She and I hit it off and we went for coffee at a local bakery before she left for LA where she was completing work on a screenplay. Over her coffee, she leaned towards me. "So, tell me what your book is about?" In a fragmented way, I told her it was about a Mexican guy and an American girl and that the backbone of the book was based on the life of the coyote who gets hunted, moves, adapts, survives and so on. 


Maria says to me "Watch out the back in the morning and every day you will see a lone coyote passing through the backyard." 


Here's a photo of the lone coyote taken from the rental house balcony the next day.

Maria proceeded later on in our conversation to tell me about what it was like for her to buy her land in Sedona and to build her home. It was built high on the rocks and in order to access the main floor, you had to go up 16 steps to get into the house. She told me a story that when they were clearing the land, they found human remains. Now, in NY, finding human remains initiates a call to the police. In Arizona, bones, ruins, the ancient past of the area is uncovered on a fairly regular basis, so it was really no big deal that she found a femur and pelvic bones! I enquired "What do you DO with the bones when you find them?" She replied,"I set them aside and that night I went out, lit a candle, said a prayer and buried the bones at the edge of the property." Taking a mysterious breath and looking to the left and then the right, she said to me in a hushed tone, "You know, I believe that the coyote that passes through each morning is the spirit of the guy whose bones those were."

Maria had no way of knowing that in my novel was a similar story. The Mexican guy's grandfather had traveled north to the US in search of work and had never returned. It turned out that grandfather's traveling companions had spotted a coyote at every twist and turn and they believed that the coyote was the spirit of the deceased grandfather who had been killed during a group border crossing.

At the end of the day, Maria was on her way to LA and I was settling into life at the rental house. I went to sleep that night in the master bedroom. The only book in the house was on the bedside table and it was on screenwriting.

The next day I had writer's block -- I was stuck! Until a light bulb went on in my head and I asked myself why I was writing the MOVIE in my head, trying to make it a novel instead? I then outlined the whole complex thing sitting on the back of Bell Rock on a Wednesday afternoon.... and then towards the day's end, with the scrap paper I still had left, I found myself drawing house plans (What house plans? Go figure!? Since when did I have an opportunity to build my dream house?)




Bell Rock

The Sedona story continues -- Later that week I put my tourist hat on and head out to the Airport Vortex with my digital camera. The vortex gave me(on demand) a brilliant rainbow and then it gave me a guy who spoke to me and reminded me that there was a pot of gold at the end of it... which ultimately led for a search for the "pot of gold" which led me to the Elephant's Foot which led me to Painted Canyon Drive and I came to a stop at the side of the road at a Real Estate sign. (Hmm! I thought. There's a novel idea. After a lifetime in my hometown, I was considering what it would be like to have Sedona red rock views from my home).




Could it Be? Could it be that there is a pot of gold at the end of it?


As I was looking at and half-heartedly pondering the land for sale from my car at the shoulder of the road, two coyotes slowly appeared at the front of my car -- one looked me directly in the eyes; the other one nervously followed him as he headed into the parcel that was for sale. I don't know if there was meaning in this (? reasons for all ?) but I was very oriented to the coyote at this point in my trip. Was it a sign? Was the coyote guiding me?

The following week I was back in NY having lunch with my colleague, Mark. He asked me whether I had completed my novel during my time in Sedona. "Not yet," I replied, "but I've titled it Don Coyote." Mark then serenades the restaurant with "I am I Don Coyote the Man of Lamancha... Onward I go!"  I made a face while I laughed at and with him. At the end of lunch we walked down the street and had gone our separate ways just as a woman was handing out flyers on the corner. I took a flyer to be polite and my jaw dropped as I glanced down at it. "Syracuse University Theater Productions presents: Man of LaMancha" and lo and behold, there was Don Quixote on his horse with Sancho Panza next to him.
Chock it up to irony?

So next thing I know I'm surfing the internet looking for Sedona Real Estate -- I couldn't help it, Sedona seemed to take hold of me. One day I got an email from Gretchen at Sedona Realty (
http://www.sedonarealty.com/) and the subject line read "Cute Little House." I opened it and it's showed a two bedroom, one bath (read between the lines - affordable) with huge panoramic views of Sedona.


It was located on Tonto Rim Drive. I viewed the 360 virtual tour and decided that when I go to Sedona in August (four months down the road) if it was still on the market I would go to see it.

In the meantime (I have a tendency to enjoy researching details) I found out that the seller's name was Douglas Flackman, an oil artist. I had been told by Gretchen that the owner was relocating East to continue his work. Since this feng shui consultant wanted to learn more about the energy of the "previous owner," I Googled "Douglas Flackman" and was taken to a webpage where I could view his beautiful work. Must be a good energy person to do this kind of work, I thought.

Then I clicked on "Home" on the artist's page and it took me to the HomePage of the "
Tilting At Windmills Gallery" and there -- once again, was Don Quixote on his horse! I begin to wonder if this house MUST BE FOR ME!? It was a long wait until my next planned August visit.



www.tilting.com



In the meantime, I was preparing for my Master's program in Feng Shui and had to recruit client histories, hours and feedback for services I had provided. I was preparing a mailing and questionnaire for my previous clients. One day I realized I didn't have all of their addresses in my records.

As I looked up my client "Kim Hennessey" in the phone book, I saw just above her name "Paula Hennerty."  Paula was a nurse I worked closely with at Iroquois Nursing Home years before. I am not one to make a spontaneous call very often, but I made a call to Paula at that moment. We caught up on events from the past few years since we had seen each other--and when I told her of Sedona and Don Coyote and Don Quixote she replied "What are you DOING?! Don't wait! You HAVE to go out and see that house."

I argued with her to an extent that I had too much to do, but then I looked in my calendar and surprise surprise, I had "SEDONA" written on the weekend of June 25. My mother and I had planned to visit Sedona and Mom had made other plans and had to cancel but I had never removed it from my day planner. So, June 25th I was on a plane to Sedona for the second time - for four precious days.

Oh, and in the MEANTIME, I had been corresponding with a guy in Pennsylvania who specialized in the archives and collections of Carl Moon, who photographed Native Americans in the early 1900's. Author Tom Driebe sent me a complimentary signed copy of a
coffee table book he had written and two little used books that he thought might be of interest to me. One of those books addressed the "People of the Tonto Rim" --- Could this be the SAME Tonto Rim that housed Douglas Flackman's house for sale, located on East Tonto Rim? I took the book with me on the trip.


www.carlmoon.com


So, back in Sedona again, I find myself in pursuit of a place that I might call home. I went with Gretchen from Sedona Realty to go see the Flackman house. It was lovely enough but it just didn't feel like the house for me. It seemed like a bad joke! It called me here with its beautiful views and the moment I walked through the door I knew it wasn't the house for me. This would not do. What the heck am I doing here in Sedona anyway?! Am I crazy?

I spent the weekend driving all around, getting a "feel" for neighborhoods and spaces. Not far from the Flackman house was a huge green area.  I remembered when I had left town the last time that I had glanced over at this particular landscape and said to myself "Hmm. I wonder what that is over there?" I assumed it was National Forest land or something. Little did I know it was an introductory glimpse of my future. The acre+ lots had been divided and were For Sale By Owner. I decided to explore.

It was not long before I was writing my family and friends at home that I could not even afford a chicken coop in Sedona. One acre with a crumbling coop was priced at nearly $100K. The price of my whole house in NY. The journey was leading me to realize that Sedona was out of my league.

The Coop
But how do you put a price on the view from the coop? 

(see below the view in my rear view mirror)

Rear View Front View from the Coop!

I hiked around some more and as I arrived at a particular lot at the base of Wild Horse Mesa, in a heartbeat I KNEW I'D COME HOME. In a moment I knew that no other lot would do. No other house would do. I threw away all of my real estate notes and catalogues and guides and I called the owner and offered the value of my entire house in New York for that parcel of land.

It was all too soon time to leave Sedona, but not without many photos of this parcel. The last photo I took was from across a nearby field. I went to take a long shot and I had to stop and look twice. There, peeking out above the trees at the top of the property, was the "Don Quixote" house in clear view.

Flackman house is on the right. The yellow ranch below it is the house that borders the rear of my property. 
(I never noticed the glowing orby light at the lower edge of the photo until now)


Just after I put in the offer in on the land, I took a drive uptown to get a smoothie at the local coffee shop. I sat in the shop and looked around me at the people who were milling around. It was a shock to realize I had just put an offer in on a piece of land in a community that had so many people who seemed so unlike me. They seemed kind of like misplaced new age hippies. Oh my God. What on earth was I DOING? Had I made a mistake? My goodness, I had nothing in common with the people in this town! I came from a very traditional town. As I was pondering this, my heart fluttering, they called my number to give me the smoothie and I quickly left the place. 

I then drove down the street to a New Age shop and went in to buy a couple of souvenirs. When I approached the counter there was a lady in a long flowing mumu with long hair and big-lensed glasses. She was a bit strange-looking to me, as most of them were, but she looked at me with warmth and kindness and in a gravely voice said, "Did you find everything you were looking for?" I replied, "Yes and more. I'd better just move here so I can stop buying souvenirs!" She looked me straight in the eye and it was like the moment was frozen in time when she said to me, "You are being CALLED HERE, you know. You are MEANT to BE here. Do you KNOW that?" I said "I guess so," and I paid for my stuff, thanked her and left the store. 

I returned to New York and proceeded to go home to get my house there ready to sell. After all, I had to sell the it to buy the land, so things were now set in motion. I was assuming my offer would be accepted.

Hmmm was Don Quixote was leading me after all!? Three days later my offer was accepted. I put my entire retirement account in escrow (and sent it off with a SMILE!???) -- agreeing to lose most of it if I didn't come up with the remainder by the October 1st closing date. I put my beloved NY house on the market a week or so later.

Think the story's over!? Not quite! Soon it was August and I was getting ready for my next trip West which wast to include a week in Sedona and week in Northern Utah for feng shui mastery training. My mother came along to visit Sedona with me for a few days on the early end of the trip. It was very hot for it was the middle of monsoon season in Sedona -- we spent most of the first day going in and out of shops and cafes, being typical tourists. We went up to visit the Chapel on the Rocks and while there I glanced at the open bible near the altar which was opened to the Book of Mark. My eyes landed on 21:22 which reads...



AND ALL THINGS, WHATSOEVER YE SHALL ASK IN PRAYER, BELIEVING, YE SHALL RECEIVE.... Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you... For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. ...Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 
(Just in case ye don't "get it" the first time -- or the second!)

Chapel on the Rocks, Sedona Arizona


Mom and I went for a happy hour margarita at The Wild Toucan Restaurant and then we proceeded to visit my property. At approximately 7:15 pm, she and I were on the Southeast ("Wealth") corner of the property planting a special silver dollar that she had given me on this trip -- along with a copy of the prayer from the Book of Mark. A few hours later a call came in from my realtor in NY. Apparently at 10:15 PM (with a three hour time difference between NY and AZ, it was at EXACTLY the very moment we were planting the prayer) the paperwork was signed for a full purchase offer on my house in NY.

And that was weird too! The buyer had come into NY from California for the weekend for a reunion. She and her husband took a trip down Memory Lane and drove by her Grandma's house and found that it was For Sale. She went up to the front door, looked in the window, called over to her husband, "Honey! I have to have this house" and he says "OK."  They went to the reunion dinner, met with the realtor later, signing the paperwork late in the evening and were on a plane back to California the next morning. The house had come full circle and ended up back in it's own family.


The little house in Marcellus. It's been good to me.

...And after following the signs and messengers, I, too, have ended up where I need to be.




Friday, May 25, 2018

Sonnet for the Tree Frog

I wrote this while lying awake in my bed at the Rosedon Inn in Hamilton Bermuda... 



Tree frogs, small as a fingernail
Filling the night with boisterous song;
With rhythmic cadence they tell their tale.
To some they are a noisy throng!

Paying attention to the way
They send their notes into the night
Finds them, by nature, propelled to play
Every melody as an orchestra might. 

One sets the beat, the others chime in
A metronome of predictable sound 
Of perfect harmony, timing and 
Like carousel music, goes 'round and 'round. 

Strength in numbers, harmony the goal, 
They simply sing out the song in their soul. 


Oh how we can learn from the animals!  
The Frog represents RENEWAL, CLEANSING and ultimate TRANSFORMATION.
What is the song your soul is singing? What are you yearning for? 
It's never too late to renew your perspective and discover it. 

Learn more about Animal Spirits and Signs in our book "The Lizard from Rainbow Bridge" Available on Amazon Worldwide, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited! 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Lesson at a Book Signing Event


A woman approached my table. She looked right at me with her deep blue eyes, as if she could see into my soul. "I have grief," she stated simply. She was not young; she was not very old. She tole me how, over a brief period of time not so long ago, she had lost her husband and their two young adult children. 
We grieve and it's one of the hardest things to triumph over, but if we stick with it and have time and support on our side, we do indeed rise triumphant from the ashes. 
In the meantime, let's count our blessings. There is always somebody somewhere who has it worse than we do. 



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Monday, April 16, 2018

National Haiku Day - April 17


Your laughter in waves
My boat skims on the surface
Till I make waves too. 



Haiku: A Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

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