Last year over coffee and kids, two summer-time friends asked me about my love life; had I met anyone? Was I dating? The answer to both questions was the same; no and no. [Read more…]
I was so angry this morning; raising teenagers, it’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. [Read more…]
I will start by saying I lead a blessed life!
In 1979 my Mom graduated from college, and I graduated from the 8th grade; to celebrate both occasions, my family took a cruise from New York to the Bahamas. As many of you know, cruising is a great family experience; adults can eat, drink, and relax while children are offered opportunities to go on new and inspired adventures. One of the shipboard activities, called “letter in a bottle”, encouraged children to write short notes about themselves, adding their return address. It was all fascinating! Once the letters were written and stuffed into a corked bottle, we were trotted to the stern where we tossed the bottles into the Atlantic Ocean. Done. Fun. Could you find me some mini-quiche?
Fast forward to November 1981, I received the following letter:
My “letter in a bottle” was found on the Azores island of Santa Maria on November 20, 1981 — 30 months after that fateful toss! Now, if you are unfamiliar with the Azores, welcome to the club! It turns out the Azores islands are an autonomous (keyword) region of Portugal, forming an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, and are situated about 850 miles west of Portugal. Santa Maria, Azores is about 3200 miles north-east of the Bahamas. My son tried to explain oceanic currents; let’s say my little “letter in a bottle” went a very long way!
Mr. Antonio found my bottle on November 20th. I received the letter in early December and immediately replied with details of my teenage, America life. I never heard back from Mr. Antonio but I dreamed of visiting the islands of Azores and sincerely shaking his hand. In my mind Mr. Antonio looked like a Greek fisherman and I knew he led a life full of family!
Mr. Antonio found my bottle on November 20. I received the letter in early December and immediately replied with details of my teenage American life. I never heard back from Mr. Antonio, but I dreamed of visiting the islands of Azores and sincerely shaking his hand. In my mind, Mr. Antonio looked like a Greek fisherman, and I knew he led a life full of family!
I kept the letter with my childhood treasures, and when my folks moved to their current home, my Mom delivered the little wooden treasure box and declared it mine. Last spring, when my cousin announced her wedding engagement, I knew the peau de soie sack her mother made for my wedding would be the perfect engagement gift. Down came the attic stairs, and up I went– I found the sack and decided to bring the wooden box down too. It’s a beautiful box. It had my name in stickers on the top and sported a non-locking lock. I fondly re-read the stories from my past, and when I found the “letter in a bottle” letter, I put it in my office for use in my newly conceived BLOG.
What better place to visit than an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic Ocean?
With this in mind, I drafted a note in May 2015 to the address in the original letter introducing the BLOG and myself. I sent a second note to a Mr. Antonio via Facebook and mailed a letter to a same-named man in Massachusetts; then I forgot about it. And that’s all I’m saying. A cliffhanger!
How does it turn out? Is Mr. Antonio a Facebook stalker?
You’ll just have to read next week’s post to find out!
Have a great week,
“The more we are restricted within ourselves, the more unhappy we become. We were always meant to explore and go beyond, to have more experiences, to learn more, to enrich our world. It’s our soul’s purpose to explore and enhance who we are.” — Dr. Mary Ann Pellegrino EdD, The InnerTouch School.
It’s the quote above that led me on my latest adventure. About six weeks ago, I was interviewed on WebTalkRadio. Intending to get a better idea of what to expect from the host Connie Whitman, I listened to past interviews. I was inspired by the episode titled Science or Mystical Information. In the interview, Dr. Mary Ann Pellegrino elaborates on the opening quote by saying that “she meets people who look back on their lives and they say what have I done for the last ten years?” “If they don’t feel like they’ve accomplished what they’ve expected, they are unhappy.” And while I’m far from unhappy with my life, how Connie responded moved me; she said, “good is the enemy of great, when things are good we settle in and we stay comfortable — become complacent. When things go bad that things shake up and we have to change, we are forced to make changes. You have to break out and challenge your comfort zone. This is where the learning begins. Where the growth begins.”
Realizing that my journey through The Art of Living Lost is my path to change and, believing my soul was meant to explore and enhance who I am, I called Dr. Pellegrino and scheduled a sit-down.
Mary Ann and I met in scenic Ybor City, a neighborhood in Tampa that’s home to the oldest restaurant in Florida called Columbia Restaurant. While dining on yummy food, we discussed family and friends and contemplated business strategies. Mary Ann shared stories of her educational and travel experiences, and I gushed over the coffee. It was a lovely conversation. Dr. Pellegrino truly bridges the gap between scientific and mystical teachings. If you understand quantum mechanics and the relationship between waves and particles, most of our conversation made sense; our common frequencies linked Mary Anne and me together.
This led me to my one official interview question, “Has there been a time in your life where you have felt lost and yet found joy?” Her reply is intriguing “I found love for myself, which became joy within and the feeling of lost was no more.” Very elegantly stated. Love. Joy. Lost. All words that have become part of my daily vocabulary. This was indeed an enlightening adventure!
Have a great week,
Now cows are not the most active animals on the farm, but mere words cannot explain the excitement I felt when I crossed the farm and stepped into the barn.
My first introduction was to Gus and Ada, and I have to admit, I wasn’t sure if they were horses or big cows. Don’t judge. Comparatively speaking, it’s easier to tell the difference when you get a closer look.
Horses. Yes, they were horses.
Next, I met Blossom (heifer no babies), Daisy (cow named after the flower), Lilly (cow and my new BFF), and Dazey (cow named after the butter churn). Next to Dazey was her beautiful yet to be named calf, who is lovingly pictured above. His tangle of legs, snugly brown color, and big soulful eyes had me wondering — could I live and work on a farm full-time?
I mentioned this to my guide, and she replied, “After reading your BLOG, you could probably do anything,” and that’s the point, I CAN do anything. I can take an hour off and witness the beauty that is a cow. So while it wasn’t a far-flung adventure, it did offer a great sense of accomplishment and joy.
What did I do, you might ask? I milked Lilly, but that’s a story for another time.
Have a great week!
Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand. – Patti Smith
Last year this quote added a bit of a tail to the drifting kite that was my life as the author of The Art of Living Lost. At the time, I didn’t know who Patti Smith was, but I made a vow to personally thank her for the light she brought into my life. Fast-forward, I’ve repeated the quote many times, and when I sat to research Patti, I realized the full genesis of her quote and immediately fell in love.
For those of you who don’t understand the difference between Patty Smyth, Patti Scialfa, and Patti Smith, let me explain; Patty Smyth is the artist who’s famous for the songs The Warrior and Goodbye to You. Patti Scialfa is the stunning red-head that was the first permanent female member of the E-Street Band. Patti Smith, who initially voiced the prophetic quote at the beginning of this BLOG, is a true Renaissance woman. She’s a painter, a poet, an author, and a singer. She’s a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. In 1978 she released Because the Night, a song she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen. Bruce would re-release the song in 1986, followed by a rendition released by 10,000 Maniacs in 1993. Ironically, Patti’s resume as a musician doesn’t come close to describing the genius of the person I met on Saturday at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Now, let me back up about 300 miles to New Jersey. I knew I wanted to shake Patti’s hand, but first, I had to find her. Discovering, she was on tour promoting her new book titled M Train, which she describes as a road map to her life. M Train wasn’t Patti’s first book of prose; in 2010, she earned a National Book Award for Just Kids, a memoir chronicling her life and the fascinating relationship she had with late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. I’ve read both books, and they are full of remarkable stories of a life well-lived. Jersey girl aside, she’s my alter ego; hip, adventurous, and funky in a way only a truly courageous woman can be.
I was ready to meet her!
Now, I’d never been to Portsmouth, but I’ve also never met a seaside city I didn’t love! It’s with this good intention that I ventured into town to start my evening. I walked to the theater arriving early to see if I could meet Patti. I’d written an introduction letter and included a copy of my BLOG for her reference. I bravely pleaded my case to the theater staff and was informed that, unfortunately, she was sick with bronchitis. The show wasn’t canceled, but the chance of an introduction was VERY slim. With this in mind, I slunk to my seat.
Fortunately, my disappointment wouldn’t last long – once I was inside the theater, my imagination came alive. The venue was ornate yet comfortable; each seat offered a cozy view of the stage, which was set with two chairs and a podium. Patti would read select passages from M Train with a vague lilt to her voice that was probably only recognizable to folks from south Jersey. She’d joked about wearing the same white t-shirt for an Amtrak cover photo while reading the article on an Amtrak train. She mused that it was probably the same shirt she had on at that moment, too; the audience laughed. In the middle of her reading, an alarm on her phone went off mildly, disrupting her flow; she joked that NOW she understood why it hadn’t gone off that morning. More laughter! She ended her reading by singing (bronchitis and all) a song titled Wing that she wrote for her daughter after the death of her father, Patti’s husband. It was, as she said, her gift to the audience.
A gal from New Hampshire Public Radio would step onto the stage and interview Patti — highlighting her influence — and thanking her for making “different” acceptable. Questions from audience members were read, and Patti would answer with honest, comedic timing. Where would you live if you could live anywhere? “Philadelphia, she answered. Most Jersey girls go to New York via Philly, she said. Since I couldn’t get work in Philly, I went to New York instead.”
I sat riveted to the edge of my seat.
When she was asked what gave her the greatest sense of joy? She excitedly replied MY KIDS! I was amazed; here was a girl from South Jersey who had followed her dreams. Her courage, strength, and imagination led her on a brave and fantastic journey. Yes, she’d endured her share of loss, but she also gallantly transformed these experiences into inspiration. Success! She’s inspired me to pay it forward. I’ve spent the last year working with people who have also suffered a loss. Frequent hugs and kind words fuel my daily activities. My children embody the generous spirit they’ve inherited from their father. Yes, Patti, you’re right; those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand. Thank you.
So did I get to shake Patti’s hand and thank her for her wisdom? Nope. I left the theater high as a tiny-tailed-kite and enjoyed a cup of green tea with a new friend. It was as it should be. Have a great week!
Want to learn more about Patti Smith? Check out Terry Gross’ 2015 interview for NPR titled Patti Smith Looks Back On Life Before She Became The Godmother Of Punk