Category Archives: giving

making tables – part one

years ago my friend ellice and i were wandering around soho and saw a ‘tire table‘ on display in an art gallery for a ridiculous sum of money – at least we thought so at the time. the table consisted of a round piece of glass set upon two stacked tires.  freshly sprung from college, i suspect any amount of money for a piece of furniture may have seemed ridiculous back then, but we both really loved that table. right away, ellice and i set out on a mission to acquire free tires and made our own tire tables for the cost of a piece of glass.

recently, i was in need of a table with a large working space. as luck would have it, someone left a giant round glass table top downstairs in the basement.  i put the word out for a table base and my mother suggested another tire table, which i thought was a perfect idea.  i immediately put an order out to the universe for 3 tires so that i could make a new, larger version of my old beloved tire table.  i was so excited, that i forgot to include any details with the request  . . . .

shortly after i placed the order, on my way home from nj, my car fell into an enormous black hole in the middle of route 78 and blew out the right front tire. after 2 1/2 hours of waiting for roadside assistance, my brother thomas, a state trooper and a flatbed tow truck showed up all at about the same time.  my brother and the tow truck driver both told me that my spare tire was leaking and it was not going to make it back to the city –  i would have to follow my brother to his house, spend the night there and deal with the tire in the morning – which i did – sort of . . . .

tire 1

02-07-15 thomas flat tire


my brother woke me in the morning, asked for my keys and told me he was taking my car to the tire store, where he was meeting my dad who was going to pay for my new tire (thank you, dad!).  i asked thomas if he wouldn’t mind asking the guys at the tire store if he could have 3 old tires so that i could make my tire table.  he was not looking overly pleased with my request as he walked out the door around 9:00 am on a freezing cold sunday morning, but i knew he would come through.  3 hours later, thomas arrived back home with my sparkling clean car (he had taken to the car wash), sporting 4 brand new tires and my other 3 good tires all wrapped up in plastic bags in the trunk.

tire desk at 350 e 52nd st (1)

my next shout out to the universe is to send me a husband who is a perfect mix of my dad and my brother, thomas – no additional details required.


“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”
 ~ Dalai Lama



do not teach a starving man to fish

feeding peppers to a cat


good words by bruce kasanoff:

“You’ve heard this old saying before: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. You may even be nodding your head in agreement right now. Sorry— this saying is all wrong.

When a person is starving, that’s not the time to fill their head with knowledge. The right thing to do is to first give the person a fish – banishing their hunger – and only then teach them to fish.

Far too often, people ignore this common sense first step. They see someone who is struggling, and they rush to offer wisdom. “Let me tell you what I’d do in your position,” a well-meaning individual might offer.

But few of us understand the anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty that comes with overwhelming need. People in the midst of personal disasters are reeling. They can’t think straight. Their nerves may be shot. Their confidence may be non-existent.

We all know affluent, outwardly successful professionals who lack confidence and – at least temporarily – the ability to think straight. Can you imagine how people must feel in the midst of outright failure?

Rushing to offer a struggling person long-term advice is a waste of time.

Instead, it makes far more sense to help them regain their equilibrium. Once this happens… once their ears, heart and mind open, then you have an opportunity to teach a new skill.

What does it take to decide whether a person needs a fish before a fishing lesson? Two things:

1.) The ability to pay attention: Is the other person open and receptive, or looking at the world through narrowed eyes that tip off just how terrified they feel inside? You can’t just take their words at face value, because claiming to be alright is a basic survival skill. You have to look at how the person acts and what they don’t say.

2.) Empathy: The more successful you are, the harder it is to imagine what it must be like to be the opposite.”



“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”
 ~ Buddha


a first class year to you too!

i received this new year’s message from a family of  beautiful souls.  I loved it so much, i want to share it with you.

Swift like a bullet train, a brand New Year is leaving the station. If you cannot be the engineer, be the most joyful passenger. Look for a place at the window. Enjoy every single landscape time can offer you, with the same enjoyment as if it was your first or your last trip. Do not be scared of the cliffs or the curves and the stones that can prevent you from seeing the road ahead. Try to take pleasure in the trip of life, noticing each bush, creek, edge of the road, and every nuance in the scenery. Unfold the map and plan your journey. Pay attention to all stops and be aware of the whistle announcing departure…and when you decide to get off the station where hope, friendship or love had beckoned, do not hesitate… disembark there, with all your dreams.



tao the way of it


thank you, ruth, alan & max!




this the feeling i’m going for today.

just f.y.i. . . .

park ave whimsy (10)

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
 ~ Albert Einstein


may all be happy

purple madonna 



Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.
~  Dr. Seuss



how low can you go?

in a pathetic attempt to get his ex-wife angry, this man gave his child’s dog away. a very good plan.  it sure did work.  and now their 16 year old daughter is paying for it with her tears.  please show support for katie jones by reading this child’s plea and leave  loving comments on her “missing molly” blog. thanks for your kindness and for helping a wonderful child know that there is way more good than bad in this world.

 molly’s website

4 x 6 in. (2)



Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.

 ~ Kevin Heath


he’s a keeper!

♥  love, love, love this story!  ♥

(NEWSER) – Turns out Pinterest is good for something other than bookmarking recipes and crafts you’re never really going to make: One resourceful boyfriend snuck onto the site and used his girlfriend’s “Dream Wedding” pin board to actually create her dream wedding, the Daily Mailreports. It all started when Ryan Leak, 27, overheard his then-girlfriend Amanda Roman, 25, tell a friend that she wanted to get engaged and married on the same day. So, for the next year, Leak set out to make it happen.

Using the 220 images on her Pinterest board, Leak chose the flowers, the decorations, and even Roman’s dress. In June, the couple flew from their home in Dallas to Miami (he told her they were helping a friend move), where Leak proposed … and hours later, they got hitched. About 100 of their friends and family members were there, and Leak even flew out Roman’s hairstylist to do her hair. “When I opened the door and I saw everyone that I loved standing there it was so overwhelming, I felt so overwhelmed with love,” Roman says. And she was wowed: “Realistically I never thought that I would be able to pull off some of the things I saw on Pinterest.”


i wish mr. & mrs. leak happiness forever!  good job, ryan! 

“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”
 ~ Alice Walker 

you never know who’s watching


for two and a half years now, i have lived directly across the street from the thai mission.   the doorman at the thai general consulate has worked there for 41 years, although i didn’t know that until today.   i really don’t know very much about him at all, actually.   he speaks very little english and i’m sure we have never had a conversation lasting longer than one minute – until just now.   on my way back home from walking ivan, he crossed the street and waved me over to let me know that today would be his last day, and in his very broken english said the following:

you haven’t been around much lately and i was hoping i would see you before i left.  you are one of the good ones, a big heart, kind – i know it and god knows it.  i wanted to make sure to say goodbye to you – god bless you.

i am putting that on my top 10 nicest things ever to happen list.

thai flag.

“If you see good in people, you radiate a harmonious loving energy which uplifts those around you. If you can maintain this habit,this energy will turn into a steady flow of love.”
 ~ Annamalai Swami



i believe in miracles

even though it’s down-pouring outside, it feels good to be heading back towards the city today.  i’ll leave  susan’s secret retreat  today, spend 2 days in jersey, and wake up in my own bed on east 52nd street on sunday morning.  :)

it’s been raining here for the last 3 days which means no cell phone service, and intermittent internet.  i have to keep watching the modem – and if the green light goes on, i make a mad rush to the computer to check my e-mail.  sometimes i can get through 3 or 4 before the internet goes out again. although this may have been the quietest summer i’ve ever experienced, i did manage to meet 2 people and several hundred animals – all of which i will tell you about when i get back to civilization.  in the mean time, i will leave you with some pictures of this amazing place in upstsate ny.


here ivan is enjoying the view from the deck at sunset:

ivan enzer deck (1)

the local cuisine:

colored eggs farm fresh (4)

interesting reading material:

old man xing sign (2)

outstanding views:

sun setting landscape (88)

some of my new friends:

hillsdale ny cow herd (29A)

deer running (5)

daisy ponies (7)

rte 21 pigs columbia county (2)

roosters columbia county (10)

and a flower encircled silo:


a giant ‘thank you’ to susan for lending me this wonderful space for the summer.  i am forever grateful to you! (and if you’re interested, she’ll rent it to you – just let me know –  the fall is spectacular and there’s skiing just around the corner. )

i’m expecting some miracles this week.  i’m very excited about it and  i’ve decided to expect some every day from now on.  

just keeping you up to date.

Acts of kindness, however small – a smile, a compliment, a helping hand – plant seeds of hope, love, and beauty in a spectacular garden you’ll one day call home.

Talk about ‘Miracle Grow,’
~ The Universe


a few good men

love  ♥  love    love  ♥  them both!

“i don’t deserve this award . . . . but i have arthritis and i don’t deserve that either.”
 ~ Jack Benny


best friends holding hands


best friends

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
~ Aristotle

happy friday, new york (& beyond!)

april 2013-53

the perfect pigeon!

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
 ~ John Wooden 

just when you’re ready to throw in the towel . . .

“It’s part of nature’s built-in checks and balances, that while there may be times when you think you can’t even help yourself, precisely in such moments there will always be someone else nearby . . . you can help, instead.”
~ the universe
     & mike dooley

monkey icon

want to see what a real earth angel looks like?

this is chris:


now read what he’s done for my family – and just try not to cry!

Hollister Construction Gives Westfield Girl, 9, a Lift

Sara Cagnassola, born with cerebral palsy, had an elevator installed in the Westfield home her great grandfather built.

By Elizabeth Alterman,  Westfield Patch

A conversation with a former college friend led to a dream-come-true experience for the Cagnassola family of Westfield.

Thomas Cagnassola, 44, explained that he ran into his friend and former fraternity brother Chris Johnson at a New Year’s Eve party four years ago. Knowing that Johnson was in the construction field, Cagnossola casually asked his advice on having an elevator installed in the English Tudor he shares with his wife and children.

Johnson, founder and chief executive officer of the Parsippany-based Hollister Construction Services, said while he had noticed that Thomas was often carrying his daughter Sara, then 5, he didn’t understand why his friend would want to undertake such a massive project.

Cagnassola explained that as much as he and his family wanted to remain in their home, built in 1932 by his grandfather, it was becoming increasingly difficult for his young daughter Sara, born with cerebral palsy, to navigate.

“When Chris said he’d like to help, I knew he was sincere but what I didn’t expect was that he not only picked up the ball and ran it though the end zone, but he kept going through the band and out the back door,” said Cagnassola.

Establishing the charitable foundation Strides for Sara in 2009, Johnson made it his mission to first find Sara a wheelchair which would allow her to remain in the Westfield School District. Without the chair, Johnson explained, Sara would have to be bussed nearly 45 minutes away to the Mountain Lakes School District.

While hosting a golf outing for Strides for Sara, Johnson mentioned the need to a colleague who serves with him at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“He said, ‘We just bought a brand new wheelchair for my mother but she passed away. It’s never been used,'” said Johnson.

“Next thing we knew a Hollister truck pulled up and dropped off the wheelchair,” said Cagnassola.

Once he’d secured the chair, Johnson said he was “off and running.” Each year, Strides for Sara has been hosting a fundraising event with the long-term goal of installing an elevator inside the Cagnassolas’ three-level home.

This March that dream became a reality. After working with an architect and finding contractors and subcontractors who were willing to donate their time to this labor of love, the three-and-a-half story addition was complete.

Johnson explained that the project, which took a little more than five months to build, began with a ramp at the mud room level. Cagnassola said this ramp, which allows Sara the independence to go outdoors and visit with friends in the neighborhood without having to ask her mom for help, is just one of the examples of the ways the team took all of Sara’s needs into consideration.

Johnson said the kitchen and bathroom areas are now ADA-complaint. In addition, an electrician has outfitted the home so that through an iPad, Sara is able to adjust light and heat settings as well as see who is at the front door.

“Sara is the fifth generation of our family to live in Westfield. My dad and grandfather are both Westfield High School graduates. This house means a lot to us. If it weren’t for Chris and the Hollister Foundation we would have had to move to a ranch, I’m sure,” said Cagnassola, who added that it was thrilling to watch the project come to life. “This is a fairy tale for any family with special needs. It’s like something right out of one of those television shows.”

Through his company’s charity, The Hollister Foundation, Johnson has raised more than $500,000 to promote awareness for organizations that foster children’s advancement through education and healthy initiatives. The organization supports a range of charities including Strides for Sara, United Way, Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Hugs from Home, and The Center for Autism.

Additionally, Johnson is a supporter of the Ryan Wolf Kossar Foundation, the CJ Foundation for SIDS, the Development School for Youth, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Family Services of Morris County and Fairleigh Dickinson University, according to Hollister’s website.

Sara’s First Ride

Once the installation was complete, Sara reserved her first ride for the man who made it all possible–Johnson. The entire Hollister team, along with the subcontractors who donated their time and talent to the project, were at the Cagnassolas’ home for the inaugural ride.

“It took four years of grit, determination and, most of all, love for Sara to see this project through, from getting permits and approvals, to raising donations and holding fund-raising events, to completing the construction work,” said Johnson. “All that effort came together when we saw the big smile on Sara’s face as she took her first ride on her elevator. It was a wonderful moment that reminded us of why we are committed as a company to building stronger communities by doing what we can to help those in need.”

Johnson said intially he had been thinking only about how the elevator would improve life for Sara but after taking their first ride together, Sara’s reaction made him realize the full impact this gift would have on the Cagnassola family.

“She said, ‘Now my mommy doesn’t have to carry me – it will help Mommy,'” recalled Johnson. “It was pretty moving.”

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” added Andrew Goetting, Hollister’s Business Development Manager.

Johnson said he was motivated to help his friend’s family because he always believed Sara should be offered the same opportunities his own children have.

“It’s important to give back,” said Johnson, a 2011 finalist in the Corporate Citizen of the Year category of the 2011 NJBIZ Business of the Year awards program. “But the actual gift was to us. After we finished, you felt good, like you could run through brick walls.”

Cagnassola said he can’t thank Johnson and his team of contractors, electricians and plumbers enough. “You’ve not only transformed my home but also my daughter’s abilities,” he said.

For more information about Hollister Construction Services, visit the company’s website 

sara chris johnson strides (5)to the team of hollister construction – thank you, thank you, thank you!!

sara chris johnson strides (4)pushing the button – getting ready for take-off!

sara chris johnson strides (3) mommy & sara

sara chris johnson strides (2)mission accomplished!

sara chris johnson strides (1) sara & hollister superheros!

sara chris johnson strides (6) happy family with grandma & grandpa

may god continue to bless you forever and ever,
chris johnson!

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
~ Lao Tzu 

people know stuff


“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
-Bill Nye


Our deepest need is for the joy that comes with knowing we are of genuine use to others.
~ Eknath Easwaran

anything is possible on your birthday!

so tomorrow is my birthday and i have a birthday wish.  actually i have several birthday wishes but one specially for the blogging community.   today i have 686 followers on my zen city blog.  my birthday wish is to wake up tomorrow morning and have 1,000 followers! 


would you be willing to help a blogger out here by asking your friends, family, your followers, your dog, mailman, whoever . . .  if they would follow my blog? in exchange, i promise to keep my zen city entertaining, informative and voyeuristic into all things nyc!



love, light and all things happy to you!



“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” 
― Roald Dahl


mission accomplished

according to debbie ford’s sister  arielle,  she was tired,  ready to go,  and she had accomplished her mission.

debbie ford

she was an amazing teacher and i am grateful for all she taught me personally.

debbie was just 57 years old which may seem way too young to cross over, but i suspect it was right on time.   mission accomplished.

“Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you’re not. You will no longer have to prove you’re good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to life in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.”
― Debbie Ford

sister pearson


abraham  maslow argued that instead of spending time investigating the behavior & treatment of dysfunctional people, psychologists should study the lives and habits of the self-actualized person.

here are just a few of the people which maslow believed were self-actualized: thomas jefferson,  abraham lincoln, albert einstein, jane addams, william james, albert schweitzer, aldous huxley and  elanor roosevelt

maslow said,  “The study of self-actualized people must be the source of a whole new universal science of psychology.”   i agree with abe,  and if he were alive today, i suspect maslow would definitely have added one more person to his list – and, today is her birthday!

meet beth:

Beth Pearson

for most of us,  making maslow’s list would be quite an accomplishment – for beth it would be just a start.  sister beth pearson is one of our planet’s finest people and there aren’t enough kind words in our vocabulary to properly describe her.  she has chosen to spend her life serving God and his people, and i can’t imagine there’s a person better suited for the job.  thank you, beth – you are so appreciated.  may this be a joyous year for you filled with peace, love and laughter.

happy birthday.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
~ Anne Frank

pure inspiration

of course i have added this to my  best short videos  page, but i want to share this with as many people as possible so i am posting it as well  –   enjoy!



“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher

what would you love in 2013?


and what would you do to prepare if you absolutely knew it was going to manifest for you?

i am going to meet many amazingly wonderful people, one of which will be my future husband, get and sell the shot that will launch my photography career, write, write & write some more, do my best at the work i love which will compensate me beyond my wildest dreams, be aware and act on every opportunity to serve and finally, stay present and see the joy in every second of every day.

as you can see, i’ve got a lot to do right now so we’ll touch base again later, ok?

many miracles, peace, love & joy to all!



venus icon

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”
~ The Dalai Lama