Beaten with a pipe, left for dead and found under an inner-city train; Waking up in a trauma bay with a priest at my side: The fate of becoming an author and writer.

Never did I imagine I would become a writer. If you had asked me two years previous I would have bet the house against you. At the time, educated and world traveled, CEO of a consumer finance firm with well over seven digits in sales our first year, I thought I had found some answers in life. That was the first mistake on a long road of many, starting with a journey that would bring me from the apex of business success in the business district of Philadelphia, to living out of a tent in a wheelchair, homeless for a year. Oh, how wrong I was: Life had some surprises in store for me, including becoming homeless again.

Having just returned from living two years in South Asia, with my export/import business waning due to my lack of knowledge in contemporaneous fashion trends, it was time to find a new venture. Just a short time thereafter is when I ran into an old Irish Catholic friend from childhood, Dan Sheehan. In time, another local mutual friend, who ran his own successful company at the Jersey Shore, while at a Philadelphia NFL game, warned me to stay far away. He stated, “Dan is poison, he will outwit you and cause you tremendous trouble if you do not back out. Steven, get out of the deal while you’re still able.” Little could I have known the prescience of his statement to me that fateful chilly fall evening!

At this same time, being a supposed “spiritual” person, a big supporter of one’s inward journey, on a profound quest to the soul, an old friend whom I met on a flight to Tokyo in the late 90s, currently a Vedic Astrologer, Alexia, decided to try out her newly minted chart reading skills on me. This reading was not unlike others in the past, common themes of which I was already aware. But this one concluded with her telling me, “Steven, unsure what to make of this, but you will be off your feet if you do not heed the universe; or else, it will be a lesson that you will never be able to avoid or ever forget.”

Well, nothing at that time could have convinced me different; in my mind, I was on top of the world. Having just turned thirty-seven, and having lived and traveled the world many times over, creating a nascent wildly successful finance company, it appeared to me I was about to come into my own – that this was I had prepared for my whole adult entrepreneurial life, success was soon to be mine. Unsure if I even knew how to define success at that time, no matter how crude or disillusioned my self-import. 

“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.”

—  Michel de Montaigne

But first a little background needs be injected into the story for proper reference and context. Up to this juncture, thinking I was a “spiritual” person, I thought I understood my purpose and direction in life. As with all events in life the benefits of hindsight allow us later to see connections that were preceding unseen and unknown. Though without any real clarity or vision on life, I could not focus on the red neon warning signs flashing in front of me  – the lessons of life, the illusion of self-will – and all its confusing options and confounding choices, the branches of life that carry us on our journey can be misleading.

It seemed to me that everything was as it was supposed to be in my life. And it was, however, just not how I had imagined it in my self-constructed reality – and without my knowing. Our minds are masters or deceit and trickery, often keeping the ‘self’ in the dark. Little do we understand how the mind works, even after endless years of neurological toil, research and boundless longitude studies. Life, as well the universe, is merely a reflection – what we see in others we also see in ourselves. The cosmos is forever mirroring back to us lessons through the multiple obstacles and people we meet daily. After all, earth is a school, a place for spirits to ascend their vibration, thus allowing them entry into higher dimensions.

The ability for humans to [re]create their own reality through emotion and memory is utterly astounding. Our minds readily create totally new and previous non-existent events and memories to fit the narrative of our self-designed new reality – the one that fits the image of the projected life we are all living out on a screen virtually. Little did I know at the time I was where I was supposed to be – we always are – there are not mistakes in life. We need what we get and get what we need, as it is said – insipidly, it is true.

As it goes in life, we have our agenda but life has its own. And whose do you think wins? Not yours – life always comes out on top. Life as we expect it to go usually almost never plays itself out as we planned or originally anticipated. Alexia was in touch with the Vedic astrology charts, suns and moons and cycles of my birth chart, looking ahead at possible roadblocks to my self-imagined future. It was time for me to change, but was I ready? It was not long after when an old wise friend stated: “Steven, never tie a bow around it – a sure way to disappointment.” It was a lesson that would prove harder than any in the past.

Six months later Alexia received a phone call from my sister early on a Christmas week Saturday morning. She was calling from the trauma ward of Jefferson University Hospital in the city of Philadelphia. She jokingly said to me while on speaker phone: “Well, Steven, we now know what off your feet meant.” We both laughed. Finally, after four hours in the trauma bay they stabilized me. I had been beaten with a pipe and then found under an inner-city moving train. My first lucid memory after getting into the taxi the night before was waking up in a cold dark sterile hallway with a priest at my side. It was a bad night.

Later I would be transferred into the ICU unit, with five nurses caring for me, twenty-four hours a day, for eleven days. In the hospital a total of four months, including time farmed out to a shockingly horrid nursing home (to heal my bones) and a world-class rehabilitation hospital. Magee, as well as Numotion Mobility Company, were both key components in my recovery. I am forever grateful to my surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Rihn of Rothman Institute, my head therapist, Elizabeth Watson DPT of Magee Rehabilitation, and full-time cheerleader and recovery DC, with the 76ers 25 years, Dr. Neil Liebman of Advanced Chiropractic Center.  

“Let us meet with bravery whatever may befall us. Let us never feel a shudder at the thought of being wounded or of being made a prisoner, or of poverty or persecution.”

—  Seneca

Often, while living in Bali, Indonesia, a local holy man would tell me that all roads lead to the same place, no matter where we find ourselves in life that is where we are supposed to be. Do not fight it – accept what life serves you, with a big smile – that only we can control our perspective and reaction to life. The sooner we give up control, the sooner we are happier, he often quipped to me at the local temple. Even though I had awakened a quadriplegic, that was my cross to bear, and the earlier I accepted that branch of my life the sooner I could begin recovering my body and healing my mind. All healing comes from within.

If life is a plethora of different potential roads, each with their own infinite individual reality, all leading to the same destination, although under the illusion of self-will, then I was on the proper path.  I was fully engaged in my quest – a profound voyage into the soul for answers. Surely, I was on my way, but to where? Though it was the greatest gift in my life, I did not choose the method, it chose me. And it was the express train to boot. Thinking I had picked a prudent direction (as if that means anything – if only to the mind of disillusioned maniac) but life was quick to point out, after many missed signals, and finding myself on live tracks, that I had taken a detour, and though still on the right path, control was not mine.

Here I was under the impression I had chosen the road less traveled. It was less traveled – it was mine, all alone. Little did I know my true journey and purpose would soon make themselves known – they were hiding right in front of my eyes the whole time. But isn’t that often in life how it goes, the most obvious storyline is right in front of us but ethereal life is too complicated a puzzle for our newer, rational brains to crack. It is only through living, in facing our scariest struggles head-on, by Doing The Dirty Dishes of life, getting our proverbial hands incessantly dirty in our vaulted existence, do we produce any growth of integral maturity in life. The sweats of our labor yesteryear are the fruits that we will reap of tomorrow.

The bigger questions started to rumble below the surface, my sub-conscious was churning like an upset undulating sea. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Was this my fate? What would I do now? How would I move forward? How much free-will did I have in deciding my future, if any – or was I scheduled for another, even sterner life altering lesson to make it all clearer – or was the train enough? One of my initial healers, an intuit, friend and world renown nutritionist, Paul Pitchford, to whom I am eternally grateful for his sage wisdom and sensible guidance, told me, “Steven, I am not so sure even a train was enough to knock you down. Your biggest tests will be patience and control.” He was spot on.  

“Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time. The twining strands of fate wove both of them together.”

—  Marcus Aurelius

Over the next few years I embarked on an adventure, an extensive quest into the heart, which lead me to my soul, the darkest annals of childhood trauma and all the damaging mental baggage we collect on our way to our own personally gifted crisis. After all, aren’t these crisis our own [internal] creation, didn’t we agree to them before we were born into bio-cosmic [human] form on earth as part of our pre-birth planning session – where we agreed to every detail and aspect of our life? Why else would we ever get a feeling deep inside our gut that all will be OK – that soft, reassuring loving voice that comes to us when we think we have reached our final limit – a cosmic message sent to you by a spirit or angel guide.

It was not long after my accident, while trying to keep my struggling finance company afloat, when my childhood friend alighted me of ninety-three thousand dollars in cash, causing me to close the company and declare a total loss. It was only a result of such a process, being broken on more fronts than aware, that got me to the point of considering becoming a writer. Writing was always a labor of love for me; I did not enjoy doing it – I loathed it. With time and practice, it soon became cathartic, allowing me to extrapolate further life lessons, illuminating and elevating positive in all situations, even those tragic and seemingly intolerable – and if telling the story of my internal psychological battles, after ten years of hell, to others so that they too may extract meaning and lessons from my utter tragedy, than I was all-in.

It was also through the help of extraordinary therapists such as Dr. Julie Roberts and Dr. Rodney Napier, among other friends and professionals that helped me begin down the long arduous road to healing. Humans are psychosomatic: the mind and body are directly related. The power of being heard, the power of speaking ones heartfelt inner truth, the power of human connection reserves with it tremendous possibilities of hope and promise. Human connection, starting from the time we exit the enveloped safety of the mother’s warm womb, is everything to our development, it is what results in agency.

Only after the continued harassment of some friends who were well established published authors, who eventually guided me to realizing and understanding what power my story and recovery and healing held for others, how my perspective having suffered a traumatic life-altering event and subsequent tremendous (doctors would call it miraculous – but, of course, they know not of healing) recovery could help others who are suffering in life with struggle, fighting a disease or affliction, if only I were willing to write about it, to share it with others. It was then that I decided I would attempt to write my first book.

“My hat is in the ring; the fight is on and I’m stripped to the buff.”

—  Theodore Roosevelt

After a Sunday afternoon of football with some friends at a local bar it was decided that the title of the book would be: Unbreakable Mind, Channeling your Survival Instincts after Catastrophic Injury. Knowing that the title could make some think it only had solely to do with catastrophic trauma it was kept as is, the most accurate portrayal of what happens when shit hits the fan, when all hell breaks loose in your life. Survival, once we get through the acute emergency phase, takes on a whole new and unfamiliar meaning to us. As we change and become a new being, a new self, so too do our surroundings and friends – those we associate with, and those who influence us – as does our story, our new virtual reality.

The book, written over a period of two years, with the last seventeen chapters being pounded out by divinely inspired key-strokes in six weeks, through the journey of my accident and recovery, serves as a story for anyone in life with struggle. It also serves as a tremendous story of inspiration and motivation – the triumph of man, the man who faces his biggest struggles in life, the man who faces his apocryphally agreed upon pre-destiny and foreboding fate. He is the true modern hero. The book has been a great success, sold in audible, electronic and print formats, helping countless others throughout the world.

Having shed the pseudo title of being spiritual, now matching my actions with my words, having forever journeyed into the darkness of the soul in order to discover my light, and meaning in life, understanding that in order to acquire anything of substantial integral value in life it requires hard work, inspired by a Buddhist altruism and analogy for life, I started a new company in order to help others: Doing The Dirty Dishes – one must till his hands in the soil of living, one must live life and all its experiences to the max, with all its trials and tribulations, ever remaining present and mindful, filling your garden with flowers.

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

—  Confucius

Soon after, public speaking, consulting and coaching followed. Though at present, other than mentoring younger men and women, and providing therapy where and when needed, my essence remains focused on writing. Once again able to board a plane and sustain the treacherous trans-oceanic flights, and all that travel entails, I started flying around the world again, resulting in a Travel Blog – thereafter also starting a Spiritual Blog. One is directed to those for whom travel is a challenge in life and the other for those whom are insightful and introspective, respectively. Both are read in over eighty-four countries.

Never did I plan to be a writer but those were the cards life dealt me. And what was I to do? Sit and sulk, curl up into a ball and cry, dejected, lacking all interest and passion for life, becoming a depressed victim of life’s unwarranted [yet to be seen] paradoxical fortuitous circumstances?  Life is so hard, you might as well fold your hand and exit the game – or, also one has the choice of becoming an unceasing survivor – a relentless persevering warrior on the inner-self-quest to slay his dragons, with each new dawn’s rising sun a fresh choice of slate of wonder and chance anew, abound with endless unimaginable possibilities.

“Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature. Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting? ” 

 — Marcus Aurelius

No one ever summated Mt. Everest from their couch. Anything in life that comes easily is not worth having; anything worth having does not come easily. No pressure; no diamond. It is far easier to see fault in others, to pass judgment, than to dig in and deal with “our stuff,” delving into the internal abbesses of our emotion filled psyches and what needs paying attention to most, healing. The biggest bully you will ever face you see in the mirror each day; we are our own biggest critics. But if we allow love and healing into our hearts our dynamic changes, in every facet. The only person who we ever shall judge is our-self – and pray that we are a better person than who we were the day prior.

Aside from currently working on a second book, Unbeatable Heart (part of a trilogy – third: Unstoppable Wheels), will explain what the heart is and what is its true function, how to enter into the chambers that lead to the soul, and what do to what with what you find there – how to turn that into a meaningful life, replete with purpose and happiness. Plans are in the process to restart Doing The Dirty Dishes Podcast in the coming months. There are plans also for more travel blogs in the winter & spring, Covid-19 travel permitting.

In my single digit years I thought one day I would be a farmer (though the irony that we all till the soil of the earth is not lost on me), in my teen years I thought I would be an international photographer for Nat Geo, then in my twenties I was sure I would end up living abroad as a businessman, rounding out my thirties thinking I would become a CEO of a large company, so when my forties arrived, to my greatest initial dismay and utter surprise, after suffering a tragic mid-life trauma that turned every angle and aspect of my life upside down, it turns out I have become a writer. It was my fate – and I am grateful.

For, without the aberrant aberrations of life, the dreams that funnel to us through our inner-self, our conscious, the myth we spin in the web of the mystery of life, it is life itself, living, that truly gives us meaning in life, happiness. And only through living by extolling others, with life as our mirror and truest teacher, by tilling our garden of joy, understanding and acquiescing we have no control over life, but only our reaction and attitude, seeking out meaning through a dark and horrific inner journey of the soul, welcoming the quest into the heart, molding our present from the infinite cosmic clay of self-reality, of ultimately, as a result of aforementioned, finding what we love, our passion, our purpose. 

Funniest irony, the magik of the trail, as an old friend, Knud, would say, is that if asked my friends would tell you it was always my obvious path to become a writer and speaker. I still find it surprising. But hey, we all create our own reality – go create yours. All roads [eventually] lead to the same destination – where you are meant to be. In due time, with attentive introspection and indulgent curiosity, along with a little love and light, you too shall reach your intended journey’s end. Perhaps, upon close enough thorough inspection, you may discover [too] that you are already there – where you are supposed to be at this moment – embrace it, live in the now, get into the flow, the Chi of life. Teeth to the wind!

Travel Blog: Click here.

Spiritual Blog: Click here.

Book: Unbreakable Mind. (Print, Kindle, Audio)

Doing The Dirty Dishes Podcast: Watch or listen to episodes and subscribe: SpotifyApple PodcastBuzzsprout.  Also available on Google PodcastiHeartTunein, Amazon Alexa and Stitcher

Doing The Dirty Dishes YouTube channel – watch and subscribe.

Social Media linksTwitterInstagram and Linkedin.

Travel Blog links: Covid-19 stranded in NYC JFK and Maine – also travel stories on Ireland, Spain, SwedenBelgiumIcelandColombia (Espanol version), AmsterdamGermany, New HampshireTN and NYC.

Personal Website link where you can also find my bookphotos of my travels and updates on current projects.  

Thank you for your love and support.

Ep. #4 Synchronistic Altruism: Homeless and on the run: Meeting Norbert in Amsterdam.

If eighteen years of brainwashing at the hands of nuns and priests in Catholic school taught me anything, it was to be charitable, help those in need and the Golden Rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated. These are basic tenants of humanity, we all can agree. But how many of us actually carry them out; how many of us demonstratively match our actions to our words? Forty-five years into this ‘simulated life’ and I am still learning every minute, day – lifetimes.

Growing up it was instilled in me that as helpful as it was to give a man a fish it was far more valuable if you taught him how to fish for himself. A soft-spot for those less advantaged in life, it was innate. Something I never had to specifically learn or be told; it felt natural to me to look after them, almost instinctive. It was as if I was preparing one day to be on that side of the table without knowing how, when, or if. We now have that answer – complimentary wheels included.  

It is late 2010s, I am spending my summers living in Europe as a writer. And another three to four months a year traveling the world in my wheelchair, blogging for those whom travel is a challenge. Later I would have an apartment in Amsterdam, Holland, but for much of my time there it is spent in an upper-scale hostel. Hostels are the absolute best for meeting all different type people the world over. Amsterdam: surely a city not lacking in off-the-wall personalities.

This one particular summer I decided to divide my time in Amsterdam into two separate six- week trips. The first would be a bit earlier, in spring, the latter later, into fall. I had never been there for King’s Day, which meant I would be in the city for a time and an event new to me. I had heard it was a wild party but nothing could have prepared me for the mayhem. During the debauchery, shockingly I witnessed a man in the nascent stages of a psychological melt-down.

Later that afternoon in the café, when approached to check his mental state, as he was heavily dosed up on multiple drugs, resulting in adverse ‘Sponge-Bob Square Pants’ type stares, in need of adult supervision, he finally allowed me to talk with him. He would affectionately come to be known as Davo AKA “Crazy Dave.” Davo was a straggly, dreadlock haired down-under wild man, hell-bent on pissing away his newly acquired Australian lawsuit money that summer in Europe.

Each night, at the hostel bar, a gaggle of us would gather to imbibe and indulge decadence. Basically, we were motley group of new friends, from all over the planet, amalgamating as one. Like moths drawn to the magic of ‘the trail’ – sharing understanding and bonding through rich inter-cultural conversation. One night a new guy appeared in the picture – or rather, on the couch. Who was this cat? He looked disheveled – oddly a wee bit dodgy. Something was amiss.

Days passed and he was still there. On the third day, I noticed different people in our crowd ordering food, and when it arrived they would say they were not hungry, pushing the food toward the yet unknown scraggly person, now a part of our ensemble. Later that day I found out that he was from Poland, homeless with nowhere to go each night, other than the streets. Wow, really?! My heart immediately went out to him. But my mind had so many questions.

The next day in the auditorium, a public room with lots of couches and chairs for us to loiter, our group clustered. We would do the same outside the hostel almost every night, on Oostpark. Some days we were there from 11:00 to 03:00 the next morning. Everyone boogied off, doing their thing, leaving only him and I alone. “Hello, what is your name?” “I am Norbert,” he said. He went on to tell me, “I am homeless,” and “I currently live in the park, hidden in the brush.”

Immediately my eyes welled up. I was unsure what I had just heard. He went on to tell me, “Everyone I know steals from me. No one is honest; they all lie to me; take advantage of me.” He continued, “I have no real true friends in life – I am alone on the streets. Currently I live in a park, under a tree, on the dirt.” He explained, “I was squatting on a boat but one morning the owner came home and I had to run, leaving all my belongings there, including my cell phone.”

Before continuing on with the story, let me interject some perspective. I am a spiritual person who has walked through hell to be me. Reading has been an essential tool on my journey. It was also a key part of my recovery and ultimately, healing. It was the foundation needed for writing my first book: Unbreakable Mind.  Although I espouse ‘Doing The Dirty Dishes’ of life, sometimes a person just needs a hand extended with love to get them get back up to the sink.

Being a prolific reader (3-5 books a week), and especially since spending my summers living in Amsterdam, I packed a small library to read. One book that I was most enchanted: Altruism, by a favorite author of mine, Matthieu Ricard. A 700 + page yellow behemoth of lessons awaited me.  As with all books, there are no mistakes – they come to you at the time meant. And, true of all lessons in life, one must first be receptive to change before any enlightenment is possible.

This book changed me; it affected me in profound ways. The book spoke to my soul, extending deep into my core being – Holy Spirit. I thought I understood altruism but I was tremendously mistaken. It is so much more than simply lending a hand or helping someone. Often it is argued how possible is it to be ‘purely altruistic’ but this book makes the case. It explains the high level of compassion, care and concern needed for the well-being of another to help them in their life.

 “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

Well, it was time to put the metal to the grind. What better time to hone an indispensable life lesson? Or simply put, welcome the universe at play with synchronicity. We were both meant to meet one another and speak alone that day. I decided that I was going to step up and show him what it meant to have a good friend, someone who is genuinely concerned with your inner-prosperity, not just today but also the future – someone who wants better for your life, always.

While he was visiting the bathroom I took the opportunity to fold up Euros, placing them under his beer. Being a poor writer did not pay my bills but being a trader did, providing me enough to share. When he returned for a sip of beer he saw it and said, “What is this…Why?” It was hard to play dumb as no one was there to scapegoat action I would have preferred unseen.  Aware he was Polish, I asked, “Are you Catholic?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Merry Christmas, early.”

That afternoon he went on to tell me a story of extreme heartbreak. At this time he was ‘on the lam’ from the law in Poland – other friends were not so lucky. Some unfortunate things outside his immediate control happened. He and some friends were working for a wealthy businessman and were not paid.  So they robbed his property in order to eat. They worked for two months and were left to starve. All this meant he had no papers, thus living in Holland illegally – a ghost.

“Show me a man without a skeleton in his closet and I will show you a man without virtue. “         – Abraham Lincoln

None of that mattered to me. And at this point helping him with lawyers and legal fees was the least of his worries. He was homeless, living on the streets of a major European city. His biggest daily concerns were primal: food, water, shelter – basic survival. He was living like an animal in the bushes of many a popular park in central Amsterdam, including Vondelpark. Whilst tourists passed by, ignorantly bliss to his dire plight, someone’s son, brother, uncle – was living a hell.

As we sat in the auditorium one chilly spring afternoon on the couch together, drinking beers and eating fries (top 3 in Amsterdam), talking and smiling, he was completely baffled – he wanted to know why I was assisting him in life, why did I chose him? Who was I? He only knew me as the quiet general who liked to eat and drink, puff and chat, meet new interesting people, listen to music and wonder beneath the stars with anyone crazy enough to join the cacophony.  

Norbert, “You deserve to have a good friend in life; you merit to be treated with dignity and respect. You are worthy of love and having someone in life that values you and treats you as a real friend – and now you do not have that. You are lacking the primary essentials in life, needs all humans require and warrant. I will be that friend, I will show you that there are good people in the world still, who love others unconditionally and wish happiness for you.” He cried softly.   

The thought that someone I had just crossed paths with synchronously needed to be reminded he was human, entitled to respect, kindness, goodness, love, courage, dignity, worthiness, joy, hope and dreams – like every other human on this planet, hit me like a ton of bricks. Searching for an opportunity to marry my actions to my words, the universe provided me an alter: a triple cross, draped in neon. Our lives would be forever altered in time. So many others’ lives too!

Friends suddenly all poured back in, the party was back in full swing. Not ten minutes passed since everyone had gone off for a smoke or to the café to fetch some more beers and two lives, now inextricably intertwined, had universally changed in tremendous ways, setting off ripples of love and goodness, ad infinitum. My heart felt like it never did before; it was electrified. The light that was lit inside of Norbert was clear – he now had a friend for life. His grin said it all.

The next morning I was awakened by a knock at my door at 08:30. Aware the cleaning service was not due in that morning – I was puzzled as to who could be at my door so early. It was Norbert, with a big smile. Over time his constant thirst for living life and daily dose of positivism secretly lifted me up on my most difficult days. He stood there, two large white plastic bags in tow. They were filled with food and shower items – gifts of love. What had just happened? I was stunned.

This slim-shady looking Pole, coming from spending the night sleeping in the local park located adjacent the hostel, without the most basic necessities of life, could only think of me, of how he could make me content. Wow! Are you kidding me? The night before I gave him my room key so he could go have a hot shower. He took note of the fruits and snacks I had on my desk and decided to surprise me with my favorites. The fruit was [always] fresh from the Turkish stand.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.  — Proverb attributed to Buddha

On my return trip that summer, upon arriving at the hostel, Norbert was waiting outside for me. He always had a welcome satchel of treats and bathroom items when I arrived; and travel to-go bag when I departed. From that day forward, to the end of my stay in September, never once did he leave my side. Amsterdam is a big city with dangers, aside from all the drugged up tourists ‘running amok’ in Centrum, home to the Red Light District, where safety is prudent.

A person whose life has been dealt a bad hand but approaches every morning with a glimmer of hope, always overly optimistic the sun will shine tomorrow. He almost has a touch of innocent naïveté. He now had a safe place to keep his bag of life’s belongings, to eat whenever needed, or have a shower and rest. Without ID he could not stay at the hostel; papers are required for proper ID. Often I would give him a pillow and linens to bring to the park to sleep for the night.

Every morning he was at my door – even one day after being stabbed in Oostpark on his way to see me. The greatest helper an injured person could wish, forever a step ahead of me. Always he handled the wheelchair for all Uber rides – endlessly my guardian, always ensuring my safety everywhere we went. He constantly checked locations we patronized for accessibility. He never knew how much that meant. His love and care meant the world to me. I am forever grateful.

We went everywhere together, most times surrounded by other friends from the hostel. Over the next two summers we shared countless memories. We visited museums, exhibitions, the zoo, the beach, went to lunch at fancy places and spent much time in the sun at local cafes, enveloped in conversation. He told me how special all those trips were to him – how they made him feel like a little boy again. He had a hard upbringing in rural Poland where money was tight. 

If ever I wished [secretly] to have a little brother in life – I had found him.

Many nights at the start of the relationship he wanted to know why I was so generous to him. Explaining the 700 page opus on Altruism was out of the question. But a story from a past life was not. I told him that most likely in the 1500s, in Europe, I was a poor peasant in trouble, in dreadful need, and he was a rich businessman who took pity on me and my family. This was the universe’s karmic balance. In fact, truth told: he was my helper, an angel – my life teacher.

Not my circus, not my monkeys.  – Polish Proverb

But, oh, yes, it is our circus, and they are our monkeys.

The measure of any civilized society is how it treats those who are in need. The measure of an individual is how he/she, through daily virtue and practice, treats those same in need. By which he transcends all differences, helping relieving suffering of others, giving fellow humans hope for days of happiness ahead, assisting others without question or prejudice, eliminating despair and instilling hope, truly caring and concerning for the welfare of others. That is just a start!

Life’s worth and happiness do not come from how many toys or titles you can collect but the good you do in life.  We all originate from the same wellspring of humanity. It goes beyond the ethos of a society, squarely at the base of your core values as a person, as a human. Anyone can help another person – Altruism is about transforming their whole life into one that guarantees them the same universal dignity and respect afforded all humanity. It is about service to others. 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”  – Albert Einstein

There is no limit to what ‘true altruism’ can accomplish. In the end, we are here on this planet to contribute to the betterment of humanity: it is our sacred duty, to the extent our best inner strengths are utilized for the sake of all people. When we die no one remembers our 3000sq meter home but they certainly remember those whom we helped from disparagement, those we supported their greatest inner qualities so as to awaken happiness. That is one’s true legacy.

Everyone within them possesses immeasurable gifts of treasure and promise; it is up to us to tap into that creative light, encouraging others to be their best self – to shine their brightest.

Life is a dance best done together. Thank you for being my partner – your love, Norbert.

Three years on, life is vastly different for Norbert. No longer are the park, jail or prison nightly sleeping options. He now has a full-time construction job, a Polish girlfriend and an apartment replete with friends, in a nice suburb of Amsterdam. He has made progress on the legal front, expecting to get his “papers” within months. He now has dignity, hope, confidence, joy and happiness in his life again. He dreams of one day going to America. I’ll be waiting, arms open.  

Travel Blog: Click here.

Spiritual Blog: Click here.

Book: Unbreakable Mind. (Print, Kindle, Audio)

Doing The Dirty Dishes Podcast: Watch or listen to episodes and subscribe: SpotifyApple PodcastBuzzsprout.  Also available on Google PodcastiHeartTunein, Amazon Alexa and Stitcher

Doing The Dirty Dishes YouTube channel – watch and subscribe.

Social Media linksTwitterInstagram and Linkedin.

Travel Blog links: Covid-19 stranded in NYC JFK and Maine – also travel stories on Ireland, Spain, SwedenBelgiumIcelandColombia (Espanol version), AmsterdamGermany, New HampshireTN and NYC.

Personal Website link where you can also find my bookphotos of my travels and updates on current projects.  

Thank you for your love and support.

DoingTheDirtyDishes Blog has begun….

It is exciting to be starting a new chapter in the DoingTheDirtyDishes book of life. After much thought, following publishing my first book, Unbreakable Mind, Channeling your Survival Instincts after Catastrophic Injury, by Steven Quigley, I decided to start a blog to expand on existing ideas in my current motivational and inspirational book, a book on fighting the struggle we all have deep within us, the need for deep spiritual work, on healing and recovery; to write on other areas of research for a second book I am writing on the heart and to share other daily musings on areas of mind, body or soul. Each month or so I will create one blog entry and share it with the universe. This is all new to me, I never intended to become a writer. But the universe had other plans for me. And so it goes. My life has become one of helping and assisting others; helping others get through their daily struggles, to overcome the cross that each of us bears in life; and perhaps I can inform you along the way and, if even luckier, get you to smile. Life is meant to be enjoyed, if not today, when?! Memento Mori. Teeth to the wind.

Travel Blog: Click here.

Spiritual Blog: Click here.

Book: Unbreakable Mind. (Print, Kindle, Audio)

Doing The Dirty Dishes Podcast: Watch or listen to episodes and subscribe: SpotifyApple PodcastBuzzsprout.  Also available on Google PodcastiHeartTunein, Amazon Alexa and Stitcher

Doing The Dirty Dishes YouTube channel – watch and subscribe.

Social Media linksTwitterInstagram and Linkedin.

Travel Blog links: Covid-19 stranded in NYC JFK and Maine – also travel stories on Ireland, Spain, SwedenBelgiumIcelandColombia (Espanol version), AmsterdamGermany, New HampshireTN and NYC.

Personal Website link where you can also find my bookphotos of my travels and updates on current projects.  

Thank you for your love and support.