Category Archives: inspiring

you never know who’s watching


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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

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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.

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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:

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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

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twinkies & root beer


A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of Root Beer and he started his journey.

         

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an elderly man. The man was sitting in the park just feeding some pigeons. 

The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.

The man gratefully accepted it and smiled at boy. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer.

Again, the man smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the man, and gave him a hug. The man gave him his biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?

“He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? God’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the elderly man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked,” Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?”

He replied, “I ate Twinkies in the park with God.” However, before his son responded, he added,” You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!

~author unknown~

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place your bet here!


the bidding will begin at 3 million dollars,  but i suspect it will fetch much more  –  what do you think?

the original schindler’s list (the real list, not the movie!)  is for sale on e-bay.

schindlers list

i bet someone will be willing to pay 10 million for it.   place your bet in the comment box below.  

and the winner gets   . . . .  (insert  drum-roll here ) . . .

 to be right!Grin

“The List is Life.”, Schindler’s List” 
― Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s List

a happy thursday indeed.


“Let’s go and see everybody,” said Pooh. “Because when you’ve been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says, ‘Hallo, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.”
Piglet thought that they ought to have a Reason for going to see everybody, like Looking for Small or Organizing and Expotition, if Pooh could think of something.
Pooh could.
“We’ll go because it’s Thursday,” he said, “and we’ll go to wish everybody a Very Happy Thursday. Come on, Piglet.”
the-tao-of-pooh .
( visit my bookstore for more great summer reads! )
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“You’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

piglet pooh

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

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the way of it


back on retreat!  well, sort of. . .  i’ll be spending a good part of the summer out of the city and i’m currently enjoying another week at my friend susan’s house in upstate ny, which i refer to as susan’s resort.  the resort is on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees, amazing landscapes and all kinds of wild beasts. everyday, rain or shine, i am compelled to go for a long ride to take pictures.

on today’s journey i was listening to wayne dyer speak about the tao by lao tzu. tao is chinese for ‘the way’.  i’ve listened to this cd many times over the last several years and never get tired of  wayne dyer speaking about lessons of the tao, which of course any taoist knows, cannot actually be spoken of.  if you don’t get that – no worries.  to simplify the idea, i can only suggest that it says something along the lines of, ‘we need do nothing for all to be done perfectly’.

after driving for about an hour or so, i realized that i hadn’t noticed any real photo ops.  this has never happened before.  i always see something photo worthy on my excursions up here in god’s country.  maybe i was so into listening to wayne, i had driven right by places that i normally would have stopped for a photo or two.  how unusual.  i decided to pay particular attention to the scenery and looked carefully so that i would be sure not to miss any beasts hiding deep in the woods.  driving about 5 mph for the last 10 miles home, i looked and looked as i listened to wayne talk about finding peace through the tao and how all that is, is already perfect, ect. . . .

as i drove up the driveway of susan’s resort, i was astonished that i had arrived home picture-less.  normally this would have upset me but i felt happy to have had the opportunity to listen to wayne talk about the tao suggesting that to be one with what is, is the way to peace or, (in my words) all things happen for a reason & if you just go with that, you’ll have peace.

when i got out of the car, i let ivan out of the back seat and then went around to the passenger side to get my bag and my camera.  i almost laughed out loud when i discovered my camera wasn’t in the car, but had been sitting on the kitchen counter inside the house the entire time.

wouldn’t that just be the way of it??

Rainbow

“The wise man is one who, knows, what he does not know.”
 ~ Lao Tzu, 
     Tao Te Ching

funday in the park


diva dude (4) diva dude dancing union square (7) diva dude dancing union square (13)

enjoy the day!  

this is a public service announcement.

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
 ~ Walt Disney 

life plan


life plans

HeartEyes

“Thoughts are just what is. They appear. They’re innocent. They’re not personal. They’re like the breeze or the leaves on the trees or the raindrops falling. Thoughts arise like that, and we can make friends with them.

Would you argue with a raindrop?”

 ~ Byron Katie 

everyday . . .


this is the universe:

universe

and this is the best father in it:

Dad (1)

happy father’s day to you, dad.

i love you billions x infinity!!

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Dad

hiding out


ivan and i have been hiding out at my friend susan’s secret retreat up in the middle of nothing but trees and animals.  we’ve been here for 5 days and so far we’ve made a lot of new friends.  here are just a few:

rte 21 pigs columbia county (2) sheep grazing (3)
pigs in mud (6)daisy flower horses (13)lone deer in spencertown (2)hillsdale cows (7)horse in field spencertown (2).

ivan has taken the opportunity to teach his new friend his favorite sport,  grass rolling.  here he is doing a demonstration:

ivan happy boy (8) and here is the student doing an excellent grass roll:

daisy flower horses (28)

a good time was had by all.

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“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
e. e. cummings

too cool not to share . . . .


(skip to minute 1:25 for start of amazing dance.)

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“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
 ~ Leo Buscaglia

happy friday, new york (& beyond!)


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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 

change making!


yesterday, on my usual rounds, i stopped by a rally on east 47th street in dag hammarskjold plaza that blew me away.  the leader of the rally was a self described 16 year old “change maker” named mariely garcia.  trust me, this will not be the last time you read about mariely (. . .  just remember, you heard it here first!)  this is mariely (on right) with another amazing young change maker:

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imagine a 16 year old who has already created a mission for not only herself – but for the world!  mariely is the founder of a campaign called perfectly made with a mission to change reality; to change the definition of the word perfect; to fill the world with love and convince young people of their value.  In her words,

Perfectly Made is a campaign to redefine the word perfect and ignite the flame of self-love and self-worth in young people all across the nation. To be perfect is to be who you are, love who you are, and embrace the perfection in everyone around you. By radically transforming how people think of perfection, we confront issues around self-esteem, bullying, and suicide with a root solution: the understanding that we are all Perfectly Made and must treat others as such. Through social media, videos, daily emails, and events of all sizes, we are sparking an inner transformation in students that ultimately translates into a world where acceptance, love, confidence, courage, oneness, inspiration and vulnerability thrive and are fully embraced.

yesterday’s rally was the launch of a national movement of students transforming themselves and their schools according to the new definition of perfect.  mariely has assembled a dream team & together they’re making it happen.
– she’s 16!!

i’ll walk you through the rally. upon arrival, people were invited to share in mariely’s dream by registering to help.  the next step was to stop by one of many full length mirrors to admire your own perfection. attendees were invited to share their thoughts using supplied crayons and writing on a very long runway of white paper which was laid down nearly the length of the plaza.

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young people were invited to express themselves through dance,

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poetry,

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and song.

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these peeps had talent – they kind you would definitely have paid for. . .  wow!

at an age where many kids have doubts about themselves an often not enough support or experience to navigate the turbulence, marliely and her team provide love and support.

please watch this video,  “like” it,  share it and spread the word.  make it your random act of kindness for today.

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mariely garcia for president!

want to see what a real earth angel looks like?


this is chris:

c_johnson

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 

mandatory viewing!


Barry Dennis demonstrates here how true wealth is found in letting go. We already have so much more than we think! More time, money, energy, love and joy.

“It all started with a soccer ball.”
 ~ Barry Dennis

people know stuff


Blowfish-icon

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

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

swimming right, swimming left. . . . .


welcome to pisces – my most favorite zodiac sign!  (march 14th, if you want to mark your calendar & if your calendar isn’t handy, don’t worry – there will be more reminders 🙂  )

each morning before i get into the shower, i put an inspirational, motivational or otherwise interesting video on which i listen to while i’m getting ready.  this morning i chose a lilou interview.  i love lilou ( apparently 19 million other people love lilou too – 19 million – that’s a lot of views – yay for lilou!)   if you’re not familiar with lilou, she travels the world and interviews new-agey inspirational peeps like wayne dyer, ram dass, neale walsh, gary zukav, deepak chopra and many, many more incredible individuals.  today i clicked on an interview she had with debra silverman.  i hadn’t heard of debra before.  i discovered debra is a humorous astrologer and psychologist with a lot of interesting things to say and after the video of debra & lilou i checked out debra silverman’s website.

on her site she offers  short, very funny, video characterizations of each of the different zodiac signs.  mine cracked me up – because 95 % of what she says about pisces is exactly me.  if you’re reading this and have not met me in person, watch this video if you care to know what i’m like.   if you do know me, i would love to hear your comments!!!    then check out debra’s site for information on your sign!

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Pisces is always swimming around looking for structure. So give them rules. Give them instructions. Tell them what you expect of them and they’ll be relieved. Left to their own devices, they’re off dreaming, creating and imagining. Pisces are great designers because they’ve got the best imaginations and they’re extremely creative. But they also like things simple, minimalist. They have very specific tastes—they know exactly what they like and don’t like. When they have these boundaries they feel great.

In their own little world, they can close their eyes and just dream. Where it’s quiet, where the atmosphere is lovely, where they can space out. They prefer being alone because they feel different, like they don’t belong. So they tend to be a little secretive. And they try so hard to act normal. They really do give it their best shot, but it’s confusing because Pisces need to know what people want from them. They’re also afraid that people will think they’re weird and won’t like them.

But here’s the thing about Pisces: deep down they’re real romantics, even though they prefer their own private fish bowl and they don’t like it being disrupted that much. They just love that whole idea of connectedness, that merging with another. They could probably be with anybody. But relationships aren’t easy when you’re a fish—you want to be close to someone and you like the whole sensual thing, but you don’t want someone around too much because it can become irritating and maddening. And fish don’t like being mad. They get mad at themselves for getting mad.

They don’t like to be stuck in something for too long either. They’re fish, right? They just want to keep swimming. And dreaming. You want to know how to really make Pisces happy? Just be with them and don’t talk. Just let them be their funny weird selves and don’t talk. They’ll love you forever.”
 ~ Debra Silverman

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


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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