the sacrificial carrot

This weekend came with an awakening, an awakening of spirit but also of sacrifice.

The gods have offered a semblance of spring for the Northeast, which feels incredible. It should anyway, but instead, it is a carrot that I can’t quite reach. So, I’m sitting at my desk with the windows wide open. I am typing story outlines and notes while texts ping in the next room. And I know what they say.

“Hey, what are you doing today?” “How about a walk in the park?” “It’s a gorgeous day for a stroll by the water, don’t you think?” “Early dinner at my place?”

But I can’t go. I have deadlines—commitments to my clients, commitments to myself. I’m committed to getting myself published, to have a byline of my own this year, and not one that I’ve posted on this blog but at a reputable publication online or off.

And I can’t do that without a bit of sacrifice to my free time, the idle time previously allotted for daydreaming, binge-watching, online dating, and reading. And, yes, even walking.

I moved my computer out to the terrace. The sun feels good on my face—the comings and goings of the neighborhood white noise. The wind and the cat are my only companions. I try not to think about the carrot and concentrate on the words.


listening to my muse

I honestly cannot remember the last time I woke up this early to do anything except feed the cat.

Eyes wide open, the sky still dark. It’s 5 AM, and my mind is on fire. In a good way. I reach for the bedside journal, the one that used to be within arms distance, filled with chicken scratch pencil markings, the hieroglyphics of a writer with big-ish ideas. It used to be right here, I mutter into the pillow, fingers grazing the stack of must-read books searching for its creased cover. 

Wait, wait, ah dang no, not a textured book but Finn’s snout nudging to be let out. The book is nothing special. An unlined black book with faux leather binding, something I bought at Barnes and Noble. Who knows when. The sketchbook pages are an ideal canvas for free from mind mapping at midnight.

My eyes focus in the dark. The kitchen table! I jump out of bed, over the litter box to dim on the light, squinting and grabbing for the book at the same time.

Oh crap, I need a pencil. I have plenty of Palomino Blackwings limited editions. So, I grab one from the mason jar and pray that it’s sharpened. Then, I head back to bed where it’s warm (remember, it’s 5 AM).

I feel like my mind has cracked open to reveal a million shards of light. I know I have to record all these thoughts immediately to make the regeneration last. Writing longhand has always been a stimulant. I take a deep breath and begin. My hand moves across the page ambiently louder than a vintage polygraph machine.

I’m in the flow of a new dawn, and it feels good.


Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay

No other country can be like Bhutan

3 October 2018

One of our guides said that “No other country can be like Bhutan,” and the more I learn about this small monarchy (on the verge of democracy) the more I find myself in agreement.

We started our day super early—so early we literally had to jump the fence to gain entry to Buddha Dordenma. The locals refer to the site as Buddha Point and many of them were exercising on our route. Maile guided us on a walking and sitting meditation just as the sun rose over the magnanimous statue glinting in the light.

Cyndi, B, Maile, Maureen, Candace, Yuki, Claudia, Yas & Andrea

I was especially fond of the peacock carving and Yuki, a fellow yogi pointed out seemed, to be channeling Lady Gaga in this photo:


We visit Simtokha Dzong next, the first dzong built in Bhutan. Men entering the dzong must add a sash to their traditional go — there are four colors used: Yellow for the King and Chief Abbot; Orange for Ministers and members of Parliament; Blue for District Heads and white for commoners, as Pasa and Dangspa model for us here:

Pasa and Dangsa white sashes

On our way to Punakha, we stop for lunch at the Dochu La Pass hoping for a clear view of the snow-capped peaks of the Bhutan Himalaya. The hills are covered with a light mist while Dangspa spins the tale of the Divine Madman’s journey through the pass, confronting three ogresses and saving a young boy and his yak. The pass is home to 108 chortens (also known as stupas).

Even on our return to the pass later in the week, we find the hills covered in mist. We stop for a washroom break, and one of our fellow travelers Maureen channels her inner dog whisperer, attracting strays with handfuls of granola.

Maureen aka Dog Whisperer

Stories about the Divine Madman, one of Bhutan’s famous saints, paint an outrageous and salacious character, renowned for his crazy sexual antics as a way to provoke the Bhutanese to discard their preconceptions. We hike to Chimi Lhakhang dzong, built in his honor after subduing the ogress on Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom.” This is represented by the extensive phallic artwork on buildings at the complex as well as in the surrounding village.

Monks are performing a blessing ceremony when we enter the temple, after making a modest offering the monk blesses us with the lama’s wooden and bone phalluses and archery set to protect us on our journey.

We end the evening with yoga and dinner at our riverside retreat, Punatsangchhu Cottages.


Contemplating Bhutan: First Impressions

Crisp mountain breeze. The moment the air in Bhutan touches your skin, it’s as if you’ve been reborn. As if you stumbled upon a bottled elixir, untouched by impurities and accessible only when one has traveled far, far away from the Western world.

In recent months I’ve been obsessed with comic book inspired programming (The Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) with mystical storylines that involve parallel existences both supernatural and alien, worlds alight and pristine. I can’t help but compare the reality of Bhutan to the fantasy of Lian Yu; it’s like nothing I’ve ever known, yet everything I could have imagined. And that impression was just from walking across the tarmac at Paro International Airport.

Paro International Airport

The six of us piled into the caravan and began our journey to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. On the way we stopped at Tachogang Lhakhang Bridge one of 108 iron suspension bridges built during the 14th century by Lama Chakzampa. The Pachu River gushes beneath the prayer flag cloaked bridge, in torrents of white and crystalline blue. The bridge shaking with delight with every footstep provides passage to a multistory chapel on the other side of the river, the inside decorated with deity murals. At every level, cone-shaped totems dipped in white paint honor the dead and the living.

Totems, Bhutan

This morning we explored Thimpu, starting with the Great Buddha Dordenma, a gigantic golden Buddha commissioned by the King of Bhutan, funded by foreign donations, and made in China. The interior is made of bronze, accented in gold, the ceilings painted with deity murals and over 125,000 Buddha decorate the inside.

Golden Buddha, Thimpu

Dangsa, our guide shares the history of the Buddhist prayer and then leads us through a live demonstration. He explains how the ritual is meant to tamper the negativity of the five emotions: Anger, Pride, Desire, Ignorance, Delusion through a 2-part asana. Performed 3x upon entry to the temple, we follow his lead to purify our spirit in mind, speech and body. We position our hands in lotus prayer, cupping our third eye, then mouth and heart, followed by a kneel bringing our forehead to the ground. The flow is familiar, a cross between an abbreviated sun salutation and the Muslim Salat.

The temples of Bhutan welcome all people but there is one group more popular than others. Seniors. We learn that the reverence for Buddhism is multigenerational, and that it is a common practice for families to drop their children off to school, and their parents off to the The National Memorial Stupa or Golden Buddha while they are at work. The temples act as a Senior Center providing a place to congregate and a purpose for its elder members to contribute prayers for all sentient beings.

The statue also plays an important role in the daily routine of Bhutanese living in Thimpu. At the close of their business day many make the trail to the temple a part of their exercise and meditation practice.

Yogis at Golden Buddha, Thimpu

The city is filled with religious buildings and next on our tour is Changangkha Lhakhang, a temple frequented by parents seeking protection for their children. The building is framed by rows of prayer wheels, and an inconspicuous courtyard with a stupa made of archery bows.

Bhutan’s national animal the takin, is an endangered goat-antelope that roams the mountainside forests 2500m above sea level. We visit the Royal Takin Preserves to see the creatures firsthand, and marvel at the sanctuary nestled in a valley of blue pines.

Takin, Royal Preserves

Day 4: The Writers Happiness Challenge: Enchantment

Enchanting is defined as delightfully charming or attractive.

Set a timer for 2-minutes. Now make a list of 1-10 things, ideas, thoughts, or feelings (or anything else) that you find enchanting. Do this from the perspective of your most innocent, wide-eyed self, as open and sincere and un-cynical as you can possibly be.

  1. Children discovering something new
  2. Finn approaching snow
  3. Novels written in poetic verse
  4. The stillness of the sea at daybreak
  5. Chanting in the Cambodian countryside
  6. The idea of magic
  7. The vibration that breaks the silence
  8. Smoke emitted from a volcano

I went back to @splendidmola’s post for the second step to this exercise and realized I was too descriptive of my enchantments. The ones I shared above are not necessarily things I can manifest for myself but moments of time that I have found enchanting.

Time for a do-over:

  1. Poetry
  2. Eastern medicine & culture
  3. The Italian language
  4. Using the metric system for baking
  5. Liquid mercury, or any metal for that matter
  6. Bubbles
  7. Four elements: wind, fire, air, earth
  8. Ink on paper
  9. Chai tea

Now meditate on those enchantments for 3-minutes and envision how you can make space for them in your life. 

The Writing Happiness Challenge is offered by @splendidmola, for more information click here.

see the beauty where you are

Day 2: The Writers Happiness Challenge : See Beauty

Look out your window. What do you see with your heart?

From where I sit I can see a sliver of the surrounding rooftops covered in snow. Old snow untouched and packed waiting for a child’s touch. Brown stretches of branches absent of their leaves. I see stucco and brownstones, then rising in the distance cold, hard glass.

fire escape, snowy rooftop
Snowy city rooftops.

Now, describe the beauty that you saw, whatever it may be. 

Concrete jungle beauty. Clean lines blurred by a blanket of white. The absence of color. Swirling smoke from the chimneys and the heating vents. Movement in the trees who refuse to release their crumbling aging leaves. The reflection of sunlight in windows afar, the vignettes of Brooklyn life in the ones nearby. I spy a bird settling onto the fire escape, a harbinger of spring.

Set an intention to find all the beauty in your world today, and look with those eyes.

The Writing Happiness Challenge is offered by @splendidmola, for more information click here.

butterscotch ginger

My hands are cold.

I setup shop on the terrace this afternoon and have been working outside wrapped in a blanket ever since.

Finn has been running around the deck, jumping in and out of the planters as if he were training for the Cat Olympics. He gave me a minor heart attack when he dashed across the corrugated roof of the pergola, attempting to launch himself to the next deck.

My writing exercises are much enjoyable when there’s a proper table and/or desk for me to work from. And right now that outpost is outside, either on the terrace or in a coffee shop.

I’ve been writing and researching. Snippets of copy for the company blog, keeping up with my daily blog posts. Outlining projects for my clients paid and barter. Reading articles to keep my mind alight for critical thinking and analysis.mug.

Finn jumps from the stairs to the table, walks across the laptop keyboard to stake his claim. Almost like a lion on the sub-Saharan desert searching for a palm tree to escape the brutal sun. Except it’s a dining room table covered with books, newspapers and a coffee mug.

It’s time for another cup, a special roast from Supercrown Coffee: Guatemala El Apiario, delicate with butterscotch undertones.

Butterscotch, almost the same color as Finn’s coat. My ginger flame point Siamese has made his move to a cooler location. He settles in with his back to the mirror, a gaze thrown over his shoulder eyeing his reflection.

When he’s calm and chill, he’s almost regal. My Scottish knight of Brooklyn.

Finnegan meets the cat in the mirror, @prez13

every day is a journey

Can you imagine traveling for a living? Or at least writing/shooting pictures for a living while traveling (or vice versa)? It’s something I’ve heard other people succeed at doing but haven’t tried it myself.

A colleague recommended I check out the New York Travel Festival this weekend. It’s an event designed for travel industry professionals and those aspiring to work in the travel sector. The two-day conference includes presentations, workshops, cultural performances, and networking events. I plan to include posts about the event here.

I have been in stealth mode the last few months putting to use all the skills I’ve learned over the years to help myself launch my own business. Folks warned me that it would be exciting and scary, exhilarating and at times, daunting. And although it has been (and continues to be), a challenge unlike anything I’ve done before, I’m enjoying learning more about myself each day, even more so now that I am accountable to myself as client and manager.


These life-changing moments are also liberating, freeing myself from the expectations of others and allowing me to be, well, me.

the written words of others

in some ways i feel as if i’ve been reading Shantaram for an eternity, as if like Lin I too have been on an ardurous journey to self-enlightenment. the passages, read intermittently, take on episodic flash fiction like qualities. they become stories within chapters within stories.

in the rest stops along the way I have found myself drawn to darker, tragic tales. the sort that wrap around your mind and beckon you to follow the main character into the shadows. stories of hope-laced desperation, of personal sacrifices, all for the journey all for the loved ones left behind.

what I’m reading:  Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram

what I’ve read recently: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road; Sapphire’s Push; Monica Ali’s Brick Lane; Patti Smith’s Just Kids

now that I’ve read the books I feel more comfortable seeing the movies:  Precious, The Road

Treasure your friends, any way you can.

Treasure your friends, any way you can. Hold them dear and close to your heart, new ones and old ones alike. Each one of them has come into your life for a reason, they ease a pain, bring in laughter, and (sometimes gently sometimes with force) they help you to change your perspective.

A younger immature version of myself had an annoying habit of wearing emotions on my sleeve. It’s a vulnerable place to be exposing oneself unwittingly I might add, to the most cruelest of comments. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me? A nice attempt at positive thinking but let’s be real, words hurt. But they don’t have to…we can all benefit from a little kindness, sharing words of joy and appreciation.

I’ve never had a problem with telling people how I feel; I think my friends and family can attest to that. A few wines and a festive occasion, and I’m likely to tell a complete stranger how much I love them. So the idea of writing a letter to my treasured friends (especially now since I have yet to send out Christmas cards, and its now Boxing Day) is a welcome one.

My last good intention for 2009 will be penning a few of those this week, and while they may not be handwritten (I have a lot of friends that warm my heart) they will each be unique, with their own heartfelt memories.

DailyOM – Letters from the Heart.