My Blog

Would you think Beethoven was a better composer if he had a master’s degree?

Einstein quote

Many years ago, while in my teens and early twenties, I went to acting school.  I attended the high school of performing arts (the Fame school) in Manhattan.  I also went to other schools that had prestigious reputations.  I noticed early on how many people weren’t that talented, yet, they were endlessly encouraged to persist in a field where chances were slim to none they would end up as a working actor.  They would rack up credentials to fill their resumes with.  Meanwhile, plenty of brilliant actors didn’t need a single acting class to shine.  In my opinion, you either had it or didn’t and if you were in the second category it didn’t matter how much Shakespeare you performed, you weren’t improving.  I also attended a writing class and it was the same experience.  Week after week people would read their stories clinging to the hope they would soon be discovered and could eke out an existence where writing paid their bills.  I would sit there astonished at how boring and unoriginal so much of their writing was and then be shocked and dismayed when the teacher would tell them how fabulous their creation was.   When practicing an art, whether music, writing, painting, acting or even intuition, it doesn’t matter how many seals or degrees you have, what matters is the experience you provide to another.  In fact, I think too much professional guidance tends to lay waste to an ability that comes naturally without force.  Someone can’t really learn to be psychic or communicate with dead people.  Sure, you can learn to improve and have structure that is beneficial, but just because someone has attended twenty different programs doesn’t necessarily mean they are more gifted.  Personally, when I have an interest, instead of paying someone to teach it to me, I read.  Never underestimate the power of books.  People who have studied long and hard and have done copious amounts of research can teach me with their words of wisdom.   I don’t feel the need to have a long resume or a lot of letters after my name to prove I’m capable.

The world is full of people trying to succeed.  Success can mean many different things depending on how you view it.  When it comes to someone wanting to be an expert in any given field, most will find a program or course that will teach them how to do what it is they want and desire.   In the realm of spirituality, everywhere you look, there are loads of online schools that promote ways you can learn anything: astrology, past-life regression, tarot, mediumship, Reiki, Shamanism, etc.  These new age modalities appeal to many and rightly so.  In a universe shrouded in mystery there is so much unknown, unexplainable, fascinating phenomena.  Between books, podcasts, webinars, lectures and workshops, there has never been a time when so much access is granted to so many to pursue the esoteric.  All this is great, but it comes with a catch.  When students who feel compelled to explore these topics (with the hope of establishing a professional practice), and have the time and means to indulge, the end result is often mediocrity, because many of these seekers are strongly encouraged by teachers who ooze positivity while stuffing their own purses.

Animals don’t need any education at all.  They’re perfectly brilliant just the way they are. And, they never have to prove a thing.

 

 

Friendship

thelma and louise

Recently I reconnected with someone who, many years ago, was a good friend.  We hadn’t had contact in fourteen years except for one chance encounter.  Several years ago, I had given up the thought of resuming this friendship.  When we became reacquainted, as women in our mid-thirties, things picked up right where we left off!  Even with all the years of estrangement, way more than the years we shared as friends, we immediately clicked back to a level of familiarity and comfort that cannot in any way be forced or manufactured.  This got me thinking: what does it mean to feel connected and have chemistry with another soul?

I’m quite picky about who I share my life with.  There are, of course, levels of relationships, i.e, acquaintances, people I’m friendly with for one reason or another, good friends who are a regular presence, and then there are the people on another level – a level of love and deep affection that so dearly matter and would leave a big hole if they were no longer around.

For a good chunk of my youth, I separated myself from everyone.  I spent years in solitude due to trauma and an unconventionally, unique existence that left me hurt and needing time apart from the obligations of dealing with the outside world.  There were years where I felt elated and excited to owe no one and have zero responsibilities to another soul.  At some point, those feelings were replaced with the realization that, in fact, I did need and want friendships even with all the complexity they entail.

When I click with someone and they click with me, the synchronicity is nothing short of a miracle.  I’m always on some level surprised when I enjoy the company of another.  A lot of people are okay and easy enough, but I’m talking about the joy that takes place when a great conversation occurs, or laughter erupts that’s so hysterical it’s painful.  I do not take this for granted. Ever.  I know what it’s like to really be alone for long, extended periods of time.  I still love my alone time, my solitude, my world and inner life where no one can enter, but I am truly enamored with several people now in my life.

When there’s chemistry, nothing is forced.  The conversation flows and time stands still.  A great meal shared, a bottle of wine, or sometimes a movie can take a backseat to a wonderful, fun time of interest and amusement.  When I’m with this friend of mine it feels like no time has passed even though so many things have shifted and morphed in each of our lives.  We have a good time and what can be better than that?

Well, hanging out with my cat Bubby might trump all.

Phoebe and Leah

October Darkness

duke students memorial to Pittsburgh

On October 27, last Saturday, an armed man walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and proceeded to kill  eleven congregants and injure more before he was apprehended.  Someone approached me today and asked me, as an intuitive, if I could have looked into this man’s eyes and known he was capable of such a murderous rampage.  I didn’t know how to respond in that moment, but it got me thinking:  how do I “know” when someone embodies darkness and would actually act on it?   Many times in my life I have met someone and got, for lack of a better word, a “bad” feeling or knowing.  I tend to avoid using the word “evil” because it’s a religious concept.  But, truth be told, I believe there are evil people in all walks of life looking to inflict terror or cruelty in any way they can.  Human beings encapsulate the whole spectrum of light and dark.  Not all darkness is bad and not all light is good.  Oftentimes someone portrays an image of love, solidarity, and compassion, but once you spend more time with them you can see the seething anger and disgust brewing inside.  We are living in a world where people have multiple identities, a result of social media.  You can have a perfectly civil encounter with someone, a pleasant conversation, only to find out on their Facebook page, or Twitter, that they’re racist, anti-semitic, misogynistic, etc.  Or, you encounter a person who’s drunk, disorderly and obnoxious, and come to know that they’re extremely philanthropic and rescue blind dogs with three legs.  Humans are complicated and their motivations complex and not easily understood in a traditional way.

But, there are people so deeply broken and damaged that no amount of love or therapy can rehabilitate a blackened, rotten, repugnant interpretation of the world.  So, can I tell if someone will proceed to commit a heinous crime?  The answer is no.  Lots of people, if not all, have murderous thoughts all the time.  (I’ll kill you if you…fill in the blank).   I’ll read about some brutal act and think the world would be a better place if the perpetrator never lived.  There are people I’ve known or encountered who I’ve found abhorrent.  They may not be criminals, but it wouldn’t make me bat an eyelash if they were no longer here.  I don’t predict the future and it’s really not possible to know who will follow through on these terrible antisocial impulses that emanate from the darkest recesses of their mind, and, conversely, who will have those thoughts but not act on them.

I am horrified by the number of guns in The United States.  So many people are packing heat wherever they go, the supermarket, the movies, out to dinner, etc.  The Beatles said “all you need is love”, and maybe so, but human evolution is nowhere near embodying the beauty and profundity it would need in order to live accordingly.  The reality is I have to live my life; I can’t hide even though an event like this makes me want to.  This despicable attack happened the day after I arrived here in paradisiacal Monterrey, Costa Rica, where there’s no television.  Usually when a crime like this occurs I’m glued to CNN for hours alternating between a state of shock, tears, and straight up anger.  Being so far away and reading the headlines online and speaking to my mother about it, I feel a little differently.   I’m removed from the immediacy.  I’m not watching the visuals, looking at the victims faces, hearing the desperation and cries of their loved ones whose lives have been changed forever.  I’m here with horses for the next two and a half weeks.  They are authentic, pure animals who radiate unconditional love and acceptance.  I will embrace this fact and surrender to all the possibilities right here in front of me.  I don’t know what’s to come, but I still have hope.

Shooting Synagogue, Pittsburgh, USA - 31 Oct 2018
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gene J Puskar/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9954638c) Flowers surround Stars of David, part of a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue to the 11 people killed during worship services Saturday Oct. 27, 2018 in Pittsburgh Shooting Synagogue, Pittsburgh, USA – 31 Oct 2018

 

 

To watch or not to watch?

Janet Leigh in Psycho

 

A topic of conversation that’s been coming up lately is about the decision to either watch the news or not.  This appears to be very polarizing.  I have always been both aware and invested in being current.  I grew up with parents who read newspapers and were avid television watchers.  They were and are people who are deeply curious about humanity.   I hear the argument made that it’s bad to watch the news because it lowers one’s vibration; being “in the know” isn’t a requirement for living a full, meaningful life.  People who think this way say there is so much horror and devastation presented when they look that they must avert their eyes to be of service in their own lives and to the majority around them.

Don’t get me wrong, the news is one long, endless quagmire of a horror movie.  The world is on fire both literally and figuratively every second of every day.  Wars, crime, environmental disintegration, epidemics; the list goes on and on.  It’s upsetting, depressing, and dehumanizing to put it mildly.  Yet, I have to look.  I am compelled to bear witness.  It is a magnet drawing curiosity and interest too strong to pull away from.  As awful as it is to know things that a part of me would rather not know, I feel compelled to see what’s out there.  It doesn’t feel right for me to ignore and avoid the madness of the world.  I don’t look at everything, obviously; that would be impossible anyway what  with the 24 hour news cycle and a gazillion online headlines and articles.  Some might say that if there’s a coup in Mali, why must you know, how will that change your life, what can you do about it other than feel bad?  There’s a point to these questions, but, not knowing doesn’t help either.  I’m a human being and I want and need to have awareness of what’s going on even if it’s 10,000 miles away.  The political situation is abhorrent and unequivocally horrifying, yet it utterly fascinates me that with all the years of human evolution, it’s come to this.

Being informed is something I do not take for granted.  In many countries the news is controlled and the populations do not have freedom to access it.  I never forget that I’m able to learn and know about whatever I want.   I am riveted by pop culture as much as I am about North Korea.  I can’t turn away.  I cry, I get angry, I despair.  Nevertheless I feel it’s my duty as a citizen of this world, in this time of total insanity, to take in whatever my limited brain can.

The antidote to all of this are the animals I am in contact with.  As hopeless as the world can appear to me, and as great the possibility of it’s inevitable collapse,  when I’m with my cat Bubby, watching her sleep, I can breathe a sigh of relief and smile.  She is pure love and beauty and the complete opposite of the nightmare that we all exist in even if we decide not to look.

Social Media

social media overload

Social media is exhausting me.   I joined Facebook in 2016 because it was a requirement for my animal communication classes.  After almost two years involved in it, my honest opinion is that I loathe it.  It’s one endless, never ending vortex of clutter that incessantly enslaves and consumes our most precious resource of existence: time.   I’m often told that in this day and age one must be a part of it in order to have a business.  It’s the way of the world and how the majority of human beings get their information.  I play along and minimize my activity as much as possible, although it’s hard to find a balance.

I miss the days where I could read non-stop with any distraction other than the telephone ringing.  There was no checking in or being bombarded by every person you ever met posting their thoughts, pictures, and day to day lives.   I read a newspaper in the morning, the ink smudging my fingers, and books; lots and lots of physical books.  For me email has been the real revolution; writing back and forth with such ease.  Social media on the other hand drives me nuts and adds an anxiety that I did not previously have into the already burdensome experience of life.   I don’t want to be aware of what people do every day.  It’s nice for them that they travel, and love their families, but I’m really not all that interested.  If I want to know something, I’ll request the information personally.

I can’t say it’s all bad.  I’ve been able to stay in touch with people I really like who live all over the world.  I’m able to receive instant feedback with colleagues that can be extremely helpful.  A few of my Facebook friends alert me to articles that I would never come across otherwise.  It’s not completely black and white even though I’d prefer to live without it.  I’ve made it a point to get back to reading without intrusions as much as possible.  There’s nothing like becoming deeply engrossed in a book and getting so absorbed that I lose track of time.  I’ve never read on a Kindle and I don’t plan to.  I love the way a book feels in my hands.  I love underlining sentences that I know I’ll want to return to.  I love the way the spine looks on my shelf, a reminder of information I gained that added to my range of knowledge and depth of feeling.

A lot of children growing up now have no idea what this feels like.  They read snippets all day on their phones and peruse their friends never ending stream of photographs on Instagram.  I don’t love getting older, but I’m glad I existed without these platforms that have taken over the waking hours of human beings.

Animals don’t have to deal with any of this.  Another reason I love them dearly.

 

You have to be there

Paisa taking me to the waterfallWhen I first met my animal communication teacher, Danielle MacKinnon, I learned that she made bi-yearly trips to Costa Rica where she conducts workshops that allow you to work intuitively with horses.  Several months later, a few people who were in my class went on one of these retreats.  They came back raving, expounding on what a remarkable, amazing, fascinating experience they had had.   It made me feel left out that I hadn’t been able to join them.  It took me another year before I could go and experience for myself just what they were talking about.  No words, nothing they conveyed, did the trip justice.  It wasn’t until I did the workshop that the transformation they attempted to describe occurred.  It truly was an eye opening adventure that had to be experienced to be believed.

I had never been on a horse before. This seven day excursion was way more than that.  Set in the rainforest, with a stunning volcano in the background, merely being there put me in a state of surreal shock.  The energy was so immediately powerful and comforting, I couldn’t wait to get started on the program.   Throughout the week many things occurred (way too many to name in a short blog).  I was unprepared for the level of catharsis and deep work that would take place.  I’m a person who loves going deep to understand who I am and what motivates my pain and suffering.  The retreat was led by Danielle, along with two of the most fabulous, wise, nurturing women I have come across. These women, along with the horses, lead Eponicity.

  https://www.leavesandlizards.com/eponicity/

I was part of a group of eight and bonded deeply and quickly with many.  There was no pretension or judgment during this week of transformation.   And to learn from horses?  To be able to recognize the power inside myself that I, until this time, was holding back, and come to know the bigger picture of understanding why my existence is the way it is, is something no amount of sitting in a therapist’s office could ever offer me.

One of the coolest things that goes on there is that the horse you work with for the week chooses you.  You sit in a chair blindfolded while horses are led in to pick.  My heart was pounding in anticipation and I was so moved that I was crying into my bandana.  At some point I felt a surge of calm enter me instantly, and I believe at that moment is when the soul of my horse communicated with my soul.  I knew then that everything is as it should be.

I am going to return to this wonderful magical place in September.  I, along with the two wonderful women I spoke of earlier, am leading a workshop, The Power of You, from September 4-11.  Come with me!  You can’t know what it is until you experience it yourself.

For more information, you can click on Upcoming Events on my menu, or go directly to the Leaves and Lizards website.  https://www.leavesandlizards.com/

Paisa playing in the river

 

 

 

I like questions

Something I’ve observed for quite a while is how few questions people ask.  I don’t mean the perfunctory greetings, i.e., how are you, what do you do, where do you come from?  Those are almost knee jerk clichés that are said more out of courtesy and a need to fill awkward silences with small talk.  I’m talking about thoughtful questions that provoke thoughtful responses, like what books do you read? What movies have deeply affected you?  What music do you listen to? What bands or singers make you happy?  I love knowing these things about people as well as their many quirks.  When someone tells me they have siblings I have followed that with: do you like them?  The faces I get when I ask that are priceless.  But, really, I do want to know.  I want to know everything about who the person standing in front of me, or on a Facebook screen on the other side of the world is.  It amazes me how many times I’ve conversed with someone and it results in a monologue instead of a dialogue.  The lack of curiosity and/or wonder astounds me and makes me think, why is that?

I’ve always been considered a good listener (even when I’m bored out of my skull).   Most humans need to talk.  It’s the absence of reciprocity that gets to me.  There are people I’ve interacted with for many years who’ve never asked me a single thing about who I am, or what I like or desire.  So many chatterboxes uttering so many banalities who won’t stop about whatever minutiae that’s on their mind.  I LOVE nothing more than a great conversation, but often that is not how it goes down.  When I am blessed to experience a great conversationalist, it gives me hope.  Lately, I have had the good fortune to meet several people who show interest in things that I find intriguing.  I can’t tell you how much enrichment and excitement that provides.

There’s a movie with the title Naked that came out in 1993.  It’s a British film directed by Mike Leigh.  The lead character gives a speech that has always stayed with me. I will paraphrase: he’s enraged about how everywhere he goes people are bored. “Bored, bored? They’ve opened the human body and you’re bored?” They’ve explored outer space, walked on the moon, mapped the ocean floor”… you get the picture.  It’s so true.  With all the millions upon millions of ideas, thoughts, discoveries, inventions, movies, and books, etc., many people are always bored.    When I meet someone and find any hint of intrigue, or mystery, or actual personality, I want to know more.  I’m not satisfied with the normal, automatic, getting to know you type questions.  We’re alive for the time being, and I want to know what drives your world.  What gets you going?  What do you like? What don’t you like?  Are you happy? Miserable? Both?  Neither?

It fascinates me to know what entertains human beings.  Many times someone will say they love to read, but when I inquire what, they can’t name a book or an author.  How can that be?  How can you not remember something or anything that you say affected you?

I’ve been told I ask weird questions.  I take that as a compliment.

Central Park

Today I did something I’ve been avoiding for as long as I can remember.  I went to Central Park and confronted the horses.  These are the horses that are lined up and made to pull loaded carriages of those who pay for the romanticized experience of “old New York”.    Tourists flock to be taken on a ride through the park or anywhere else they want to go and are willing to pay for.   I hate this.  These horses are abused and made to work in less than stellar conditions against their will.  Today, in New York City, the temperature was around 90 degrees.   I had no idea when I awoke that this would be how I would spend my morning.

A Belgian photographer contacted me a little over a month ago because he is working on a documentary portrait series of mystical New York.  I was excited to receive his email asking me to be part of something extremely up my alley.  After looking at his work and seeing he used an old camera from 1962 (not digital!), I looked forward to being a subject of his art.  He interviewed me and expressed enormous interest in what I do and my intuitive process.  It is always refreshing when a person shows interest and is not in a rush to talk about themselves.  This is a man committed to the truth, and travels all around the globe in a quest to match his vision with his creativity.

He had come over to my apartment weeks ago and taken several photos, but they were unsatisfactory; they in no way showed what I do with regard to animals.  After all, it is not easy to capture someone being psychic.  My mother had an idea which I really did not like.  She suggested that we go to Central Park, a place I stay away from because of the sight of horses that are, in my opinion, suffering in atrocious circumstances.  I ran it by Thomas (the photographer) and his eyes lit up with inspiration.  The park is a ten minute subway ride from my apartment, and even though I feared how unpleasant this outing could be, it felt right to do it.

I am someone who will do anything to avoid a horse walking amid all of the chaos of cars, taxi’s, trucks, buses, motorcycles, pedestrians, honking, etc.  If I even hear the telltale clanking  I walk the other way or go into the nearest store to avoid the pain I feel.  I use my wild, curly hair to block my peripheral vision because I just can’t take it.  My empathy knows no bounds, it’s so intense.

I did it, and I survived.  I even was able to stay completely composed while staring into the eyes of a horse named Max.  I told him how much I loved him, and how I empathized with his situation.  I apologized for mankind and all the ignorance and naivete that encourages these hansom cabs to be such a tourist draw.  I just sat with him sending him love.  That was all I could do.

As out of towners went for rides in a haze of humidity and nonchalance, I left to go home.  Sorry carriage horses.  If I ruled the world this wouldn’t be your fate.

An avocado love story

I could never pick one favorite food.  When that question is posed it strikes me as absurd.  There are so many options when it comes to eating, it’s impossible to say any food is better than all the rest.  What I can say is that one of my great pleasures in life is simply the avocado.

Since I was a child the allure of guacamole was strong.  I wanted it all of the time, and would beg my mother when we went out to eat to take me to a Mexican restaurant.  I liked the other food on the plate, but none of it would have meant anything without a big dollop of green on top.  I gravitated towards that color, but really, only in food.  I would actually get excited if I was going somewhere and knew that guacamole and chips were being served.  You would think all these years later the excitement would die down or at least not be as inviting, but nope, I am in love with avocados all the time, every day, still.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think of slicing one open and incorporating it into a meal.  I eat them with almost everything: salads, soups, pasta, sandwiches, vegetables, grains, etc… They never bore me or disappoint.

I have even come to exhibit what I refer to as avocado anxiety.  Sometimes, like a bad apple that’s bruised, an avocado can look intact and perfect from the outside, but when cut open it’s black.  Those are some of the worst moments food wise when what’s usually a home run is instantly turned into a strike out.  The few times I had a piece of black avocado in my mouth the taste was vile, like garbage that had been sitting out in a heatwave.  Sickening.  Nauseating.  I have become somewhat of an expert when picking them out over the years.  I feel them and examine their skin, looking for any possible blemish that could cause this awful syndrome.  But, it’s never foolproof.  Nine out of ten times they’re perfect, and their creamy goodness is present waiting for me to appreciate it like it’s a great work of art, which to me it is.

Avocados only start to ripen when they’re picked from a tree.  Knowing when it’s in it’s prime and ready to be consumed necessitates attention.  I like to buy them hard so I can monitor their progress closely.  I don’t mess around with this.  When I have several ripe ones at the same time, I immediately refrigerate them to stave off future decay.  I hate losing one, they’re all so precious.

Avocados are always going up and down in cost.  Most come from California and Mexico.  Because of climate change and droughts, shortages can occur with not much warning.  When I come across an article admonishing avocado lovers beware: there’s gonna be a scarcity soon and prices will skyrocket, I start to panic.  Just the idea that there won’t be an ample supply is enough to drive me to a melancholic state.

The good news:  my animals have never been interested in them, so I’ve never had to share.

Gray Hair

My hair is turning gray.  Currently I have way more dark brown than gray, but, slowly and surely this change is happening.   A lot of women dye their hair not ever entertaining the idea of letting nature take its course.  They think it would make them look old, or even worse, undesirable, and it is simply not an option.   More and more when I look in the mirror, especially on a bright sunny day, I notice the silver strands scattered all around, and I can’t help but, in some way still be surprised to see them.  At these moments they really stand out, and, my mortality hits me; I am aging.  At 35 years old I don’t feel old old, but I can’t say I feel particularly young either.  Time is flying by, and the gray shouts that out to me loud and clear.

The thing is…I don’t want to color my hair.  I’m worried about putting such toxic chemicals right into my skin.  They are cancer causing, yet many people who care about environmental toxins seem to make an exception when it comes to their hair.  They buy organic food, drink filtered water, exercise, but risk their health in this common, ubiquitous way.   Besides that, there’s the maintenance of it, not to mention the cost.  To me, sitting in some salon every 5-6 weeks for hours makes me feel imprisoned and obligated in a way that stresses me out.   I’m definitely not looking forward to losing all of my dark hair (I love the color), but I also don’t mind the amount of gray I currently have.  I don’t think it makes me look unattractive, but I’m noticing how others (always women) sometimes react by the way they look at it or make a comment.  I’ve heard things like “you know you’re gonna end up dyeing it”, or, “your face is too pretty to age yourself before your time”.

I see women all the time who have beautiful uncolored hair.  I think, depending on the shade, it can be striking, alluring, interesting.  There’s something about someone, woman or man, who accepts the trajectory of natural aging that moves me.  I respect and find appealing the absence of vanity and self-consciousness and admire the positive acceptance of those not trying so hard to look younger than they are.  I definitely don’t find a man unattractive who’s a silver fox.  It’s such a double standard in this culture when it comes to our beauty.  Men are found to be distinguished, and women, invisible, and over the hill.

Animals don’t judge our looks or give a damn about any of this.  They could care less whether their human is gray.  It is that attitude and their enlightened countenance that makes our furry friends all the more loveable.