Ep. #5 The greatest gift I ever received: Beaten, left for dead: Found under an inner-city train.

All throughout history humans have lived, laughed and learned through narrative and story. As I speak of my accident for the first time publicly, one parable especially comes to mind, speaking volumes: Sower and the seed. The point of the story is not the sower or even the seed. It is the soil that we need be most concerned. Without proper conditions (self-nutrients) present in the soil, the seed (you) will not thrive and grow, thus deteriorating into decline, meeting its death.

As it is with human trauma, without the proper nutrients of love, care, compassion, profound self-understanding and forgiveness, one cannot hope to recover or heal their self. Just as the fate of the seed is determined by what soil it falls, so too does your recovery.  If it falls on rocky ground, it will not receive proper nourishment and cease living. If placed within the right conditions, it will flourish and grow into a healthy human, delivering light to a world in such dire need.

Just in from the competitive city winter winds, I sat down to relax, take a breather. Life was good, or at least so I thought. I had recently founded a financial company in Philadelphia with a silent partner. And it was growing quickly beyond our means. We could not locate office space or hire employees fast enough to accommodate our rapid expansive growth; sales were breaking new records each month. The 2008 financial crisis was in full swing and we were well positioned to assist homeowners in trouble, those in need of loss mitigation or negotiation.

It was Christmas season and so I decided to take one of my employees, a Peruvian Spanish translator, out for a thank you meal. We had a splendid dinner at an Irish pub, replete with Guinness and Irish fiddle. Shortly thereafter, an old friend phoned me to join her and visiting friends at her favorite corner watering hole for holiday cheer and to celebrate my newly found entrepreneurial success at a different neighborhood in the city, a short distance away. I was due back in New Jersey to meet an old friend, Dominic. That meeting would never take place.

Having had my fair share of holiday beverages, I decided it was safer to be driven home. I was feeling quite good; it was a time of revelry. Business was booming and it was celebration time.  My motto in life was always let the good times roll: Carpe Diem, even if pot-valor. Safety was not always at the front of the list. At eleven-forty or so in the evening, the night ended and we exited to the street to hail a taxi – unaware the fate that awaited me only moments away.

After sitting in the backseat of the taxi, exchanging pleasantries with old and new found friends alike, and telling the driver to take me to New Jersey, life as I knew it would forever be altered. Something terribly wrong occurred at this time. Five hours later I would awaken on a gurney, in a cold dark hallway, with a priest at my side. Father, I stated, in desperation, “Am I dead – am I in a morgue?” “No, my son, you have been in a tragic accident,” he said.  Those words are forever indelibly etched into my memory.

Nothing could have prepared me for that moment. It was the first time in my life when I knew I was all alone (or, at least I thought); there was no phone call to be made, no one person that could help resolve this emergency. After ten seconds of pity, while lying there with the priest at my side, unable to feel my body below my neck, a small voice came to me and said: “Yes, Steven, it is bad. You have been in a very tragic accident. It will be difficult, it will be almost insurmountable, but, [with my guidance] you will be ok. You will walk again and go on to help others in great ways.”  Immediately the pain subsided, a feeling of peace and calm unfolded, leaving me in trance state, a deep peace of mind.

From that moment I never looked back, never had pity for myself or situation again. I was determined to overcome this devastating tragedy with a fortitude I have to this day, without a clue from where it came.

Immediately, my attention turned to being positive, determined that this would not beat me, that I would walk again. The priest continued on with his prescribed religious rant but I asked rather that he focus on the solution. He was not happy with that request and ran off, never to return. Could I survive this trauma? Would I get see my friends and family again? There were so many unknowns – it was mentally devastating as these concerns raced through my mind.

However, not wallowing in self-pity, it was hard not to be overcome with emotion. Would my business survive; who would now run my company; would I ever be able to have sex again – marriage or babies; would my legs repair themselves– would I ever camp or hike in the woods again; how would my bills get paid – would there be enough money? I would not realize it as this time, but the accident would turn out to be my biggest gift of my life: a second chance.

Thought most of my memory from the time I stepped into the taxi until I woke up in the Jefferson Health trauma center was erased – a result of activation of the fight-or-flight reptilian response of the brain. As a psychological built-in defense mechanism of the body, the part of the brain that involves memory is often shut off in a trauma.  But, through proper investigation, and the help of a prestigious city law firm, additional information on events that occurred that fateful night came to light.

Upon investigation, it was determined I was a ghost, unseen on any camera for an eight block surrounding area. My taxi was just off view from the restaurant cameras. I stepped out of the recorded area by only a few feet but it was enough to obscure which taxi I got into. Somehow I ended up about four blocks away, beaten and left for dead in a city alleyway. We know this due to cellular records and triangulation. Two phone calls were made to two close friends for help. No one answered. It was 03:30 at this time – quite late to answer a call from a wild friend.

Upon entry to the trauma center, as doctors and surgeons conferred for what seemed like years, eventually a consensus was reached. Apparently I was struck with a large, long heavy object; most likely metal. They determined this by the width and length of the strike welt marks on my back, in three places. The strikes inflicted on me were intended to kill. The 45 angle blow to my neck caused six vertebrae to explode like hot popcorn kernels, causing bones to touch my spinal cord, resulting in quadriplegia: paralysis in all four limbs. But trauma can cause the body to react in unimaginable ways in order to survive, or find safety.  

There is some small memory of me waking up in the alley late that night but it is hard to say what is real and what is imagined – what parts the brain is filling in to make sense of or to complete a narrative, unclear as to where the story left off and the surreal dream I awoke to began. However, I do remember being on all fours, in severe pain, fully aware I was in deep trouble, realizing I was experiencing a serious trauma – that shit had hit the fan. It is unclear how I made it to the train station, whether by crawling or walking with adrenaline. A body under severe trauma, induced with adrenaline, can do accomplish extraordinary feats.

Forty minutes later I appeared on close circuit cameras entering the train station. I remember in all the malaise, as if stamped into me as a soldier: find a way to safety. Of course through  retrospect, after knowing what I know now, trying best to remove any bias, that would only make sense to get back to a place of safety, my home – via the train. In my confused state of being I figured I could get home, sleep, and then seek medical care. I was gravely mistaken.  

Most of my time at the train station was a blur, as are most memories from that night. Unclear how I arrived to the station but once there, I do recollect some actions but mostly only thinking I must get home, I must get home. After a short while, the adrenaline wore off and the pain set in – pain that no words can fully encompass. It felt as if a torch had been lit at the bottom of my spine. To say that it felt as if I had been electrocuted by high-tension wires with untold inexhaustible fire inside my lungs would be an understatement.

For the last nine years I have thought about what could have lead up this trauma. There are three possibilities I and others close to me have considered: 1. there was an argument with the taxi driver that lead to a physical altercation in the streets; 2. an argument with the taxi driver ensued, resulting in me exiting the taxi and then meeting my fate in the rough city back alley; or 3. I exited the taxi without paying, walking off, he pursued me and hit me from me behind, then dragged me down an alley to finish off the job. I believe it could be the first but I am unsure.   

I could immediately feel pain throughout every part of my body, causing bouts of blurred vision and physical blackouts. After what seemed like a year, a train finally arrived to the station, and someone was trying to help me, but I was in too much pain. As I was rocking by body back and forth in the platform chair, a result of reeling pain, suddenly the adrenaline wore off. After a few minutes, I stood up to look down the tracks for any incoming train. Not stepping past the safety bumps at platform’s edge, with no train in sight I leaned back up against a support pillar – and then, like a tree in the forest, I fell seven feet below onto the tracks. We know these details to be accurate as witnessed on various train station security camera recordings.

I do remember feeling a hard thud against my body.  Not realizing where I was or the true imminent danger that lay before me, I was unaware the life altering changes about to drastically unfold. Without total recall of the event, I do however remember looking down the tracks and seeing headlights coming straight at me. The train I was waiting for would arrive 2 minutes and 17 seconds later.  At that moment, I felt a gust of wind, my body rolling – then, all went black.

There I lay, in direct collision with a moving train. And it was the express, to boot. The train would not stop for me; it hadn’t sufficient time. The driver later swore he ran over a boy. Left for dead until the third rail electricity was turned off, waiting for the city coroner to arrive with a body bag, a group of fire, police and medics stood, chatting and drinking coffee. Late it came to light, after twenty minutes or so, a policeman who had just returned from war, figured he had seen much worse on the battlefields of Afghanistan and would see if by some chance I had survived.

He jumped down onto the track area, pulling himself under the train cars by sheer arm and hand strength, until he came to my body. Locating my arm, he felt a pulse, and called for me to be boarded my medics. I later heard that a cheer went up from the bystanders observing the scene when they heard the news come across the radio that I may have survived. More than one spray of coffee must have hit the wall of the station when that update was heard. The train engineer had already been taken for psychological evaluation.  He later found out through a policeman friend that I had survived.

Thank goodness one of the best trauma centers on the East Coast was only a four city-block free-ride away. Within minutes they had me on a stretcher and in the back of the ambulance. I do recall briefly being in one, sirens wailing – but unsure really if it was a dream or real. My mother told me I spoke of the emergency ride while in the trauma unit. Many things said at the time of a trauma are only to be forgotten later, a by-product of morphine and other drugs, plus the leftover effects of a full night of partying.

The doctors and all supporting medical staff at Jefferson Health were a godsend, making my stay there as comfortable and accommodating as possible. My time in the ICU, where I would spend Christmas, was brightened by one of my four full-time nurses, Mark, a musician who one evening entered my room playing Christmas carols on his violin. I cried. My team of doctors, five in total, seemed concerned for my care as if one of their own children – it was heartfelt, and made all the difference while spending your holidays all alone in an ICU unit.

As fate would have it, my surgeon was not only a world class doctor but also a gentleman of pragmatic healing, forever interested in what new crazy treatments I was considering or using to recover – so he could then share for the mutual benefit of other patients within his care. It was his level of compassion and concern for the well-being and recovery of his patients that help keep my inner fire lit. 90% of recovery and healing in psychological; and he absolutely was critical in that process by not giving me %s or probabilities of walking, or any level of recovery, resulting in never making it to the finish line before ever having had a chance to start the race.

After my extended stay at Jefferson I was farmed out to a nursing home for six weeks so my bones could heal; required in order to gain entry into a rehabilitation hospital. After healing my bones enough to place fifty-percent weight on each leg, multiple physical tests and an in-person interview, I was accepted into and transferred to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia. A top institution when it comes to brain and spinal cord injuries, of which I am hugely grateful.

Now a part of the same hospital system, Jefferson Health, but at the time the only independent hospital left in the country, Magee is one of the top rehab hospitals in the country. Their motto: The road back begins here. My team there certainly provided me the right conditions to do so. My head therapist, Elizabeth Watson DPT, was the lynchpin; bridging my off-the-wall healing methodologies, such as cold-laser treatment and other cutting-edge electromagnetic type treatments, with her education and experience helping others recover and heal. Carol Owens, the manager, deserves a medal of honor for putting up with my irascible personality.

My recovery and any true healing, I was aware, would only occur if the right conditions were present. As with the seed and the soil – if the soil is not properly nourished and watered, the seed would die, regardless. A close friend, Danny, a MD, visited me while in the hospital and told me: “Steven, I know this might sound strange but you need to learn to love yourself again, kind of like making love to your mind and body.” Yes, it sounded very strange to me but deep inside it resonated with my soul, my higher-inner-self.  He clearly understood my confusion.

Prior to the accident, saying I was capable of understanding or providing self-love through compassion and forgiveness for myself, would be the moral equivalent of betting it all on the shortest guy on your basketball team to dunk – simply not possible. It was very hard for me to accept help from others, in every capacity. I was a bit of a pissant, overly critical of self and others.  It was only by choosing the road less traveled, the journey of a thousand miles, enduring endless mental toil and torment, which resulted in a brutal physical recovery and veracious healing, that I was able to find compassion of self, of which without, there would never have been any lasting hope for inner-peace, empathy or therapeutic sympathetic amelioration.

It all begins with having compassion for yourself, and the circumstances in which you find yourself. It includes the highest form of forgiveness – true unconditional forgiveness, not only of self but others too. Forgiving others is not for their benefit, it is yours – it allows you to find peace of mind to sleep well at night.  Recovery would require a seemingly boundless list of requirements in order to fructify.  But without the right conditions present, you, the seed, will not grow and flourish in to a healthy plant, capable of bringing goodness and light to the world.

Without deeper inner forgiveness and unplumbed self-love nourishment I would not have found the wherewithal to write my book, Unbreakable Mind, as a give-back to the community, my way of paying it forward – helping others who face struggle in life. It was through ‘Doing the Dirty Dishes’ of life, facing one’s greatest challenges head-on, overcoming one’s fears and adversity, that provided the proper soil in which to heal. I figured if a train did not kill me, there must be a reason for my existence. Without that self-ethos support system in place, providing me a solid foundation, and through fathomless self-compassion and forgiveness, overcoming past errors and regrets, my rocket would not have made it off the launch pad, self-immolating into a pyre of worthless self ashes.

In our lives, we cannot choose where the seed falls, which is the result of intense fortitude and courage: one’s inability to become a victim of life. However, we can provide it the best environment in which we find it in order to allow it to grow into a survivor. Just as you would water and provide sunlight to a plant, you must also do the same for yourself, nourishing your body and soul like photosynthesis. Self determination and commitment are the cornerstones of any successful journey. At the end of the day, the choice is ours whether to become a withering weed or grow into a mature human capable of assisting others on their self-journey of healing.

Quote of the day: “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”             — Epictetus

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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.

Ep. #0 My Story: How I arrived at this juncture in life – via the Express Train.

It was an early morning “hot” arrival after a late night out partying with local friends in Bali, Indonesia. There was no time to sleep, only to eat, shower and then off to the next social fete. Living in a third world country on a Western salary has its benefits. It surely allows for the life of an international socialite but a bit skint on spiritual growth. Though, ironically, while living on one of the most voted spiritual places on earth each year. Visiting a destination island as a tourist and living on one as a local who lives and works there is much different.  Although my time there was out of a movie, inside, far below, I was crying out for rescue, severely unaware.

An old friend from my days living in Tokyo, Alexi, a stunning Irish and Greek Manhattanite, had recently returned from studies in India, a newly anointed Vedic Astrologer, carrying with her some prudent warnings for me to heed while living in South Asia. We both had lived in Asia in the late 1990s. We met on an ANA plane ride from JFK, NYC to Narita, Japan. Prior to moving to Bali in 2000s she informed me my social and business lines intersected there; and while there, over the next two years, each reading proved true. Over the next few years Alexi would provide me multiple readings, some more prescient than others, but none more foretelling than one.

She gave abundant readings over the years, and the biggest themes always fructified. The time I was warned against partying while in Bali and almost ended up dead, the victim of inner-tribal warfare. Another period I was warned to avoid motorcycles and within days nearly lost my left leg when forced to dump my bike on the highway at 90kmh or face almost certain death by introduction to a dump truck. But one year came a reading that floored even the normally unflinching Upper East Side debutante. It said that I would be removed from my feet; the lesson so severe it could never be forgotten. This was a first for her – she was confused, as was I.

In the interim, amid receiving that fate-filled reading and my meeting the express train, I had begun a consumer finance company, a company that was very successful.  After numerous years of partial successes and failed entrepreneurship in the world of business, limitless toil and perseverance, finally it all came together, resulting in my first seven digit in sales company. All that success would come crashing down soon after – a deluge of pain and destruction lie in wait – all the while, I was ignorantly bliss of what was in store.  In the end, the company went to ruin through embezzlement, at the hands of a few friends. My investor then sued me for $1M USD.

Fast-forward three years and I am awakened to a priest at my side, while laying on a gurney in a dark, cold and sterile hallway.  I think, “Oh shit, this cannot be good.” And, “You have done it this time, Steven.” “But in my own backyard nonetheless,” I thought. “Father, am I dead, am I in heaven?” I will never forget his response: “No, my son, you have been in a tragic accident.” It was at that moment I realized I could not move any parts of my body, only my eyes, and even that was a struggle. It was also at that time I realized that no amount of phone calls or well-oiled connections could help me out of this.  A defining moment: It was up to one person only.   

Just a few hours prior to meeting Father Irish, I lay for dead under an inner-city train. It is obvious at this point I was not literally run over by a train, though the driver will swear to you he ran over a boy prostrated across the tracks. If I were him I would have thought the same.  Prior to making my way to train station I was beaten with a heavy metal object in a city alley.  Shortly before that I was out at a trendy bar with three girlfriends to celebrate Christmas week. My back was broken in three regions – neck, middle and lower. The blow to my neck, at a forty-five degree angle, meant to kill me, exploded six vertebrae like popcorn. A bad night in Philly! 

Not ten seconds of an itty-bitty pity party had passed and it was at that juncture, the moment when deciding whether to be a victim of circumstance or a survivor of life, when a small voice came to me – it came into my head, seemingly from nowhere, in an assuring voice – and said: “You have really done it this time, Steven. It is bad, very bad.  But you will get through this. It will take many years of pain and hardship but in the end you will walk again and go on to help others in tremendous ways.” Immediately my attitude turned positive, deciding this would not define who I am, rather choosing accepting the lesson(s), starting down a long road to healing.

The priest wanted to talk about things that he prejudicially thought had lead me to that night. Immediately my focus turned to the solution, quickly dismissing his set-in-stone, antiquated black-and-white clergymen’s course.  I was already a spiritual person and knew better to start looking for the silver lining, the hidden blessings.  I knew it would take a real hero’s journey, an introspective voyage extending within to the unchartered abscesses of a person’s core being, to their soul, to find real answers. The areas we try so hard in life to avoid, the emotions that we try desperately to suppress by any means to ‘busy’ our lives and keep us from our eternal truth.

The universe had warned me to alter my ways. The messages are always sent to us, yet we do not always recognize them. There are no mistakes in life – none. To me, the accident was not about my lifestyle so much as it was about where I was really intended to be in life. To me it was not a punishment, it was an awaiting lesson. What would I do with this challenge? Would I rise to the occasion, enduring the karmic balance of life, seeking out answers to questions that I had so clearly avoided (consciously and unconsciously), finding new meaning and direction?  Well, within me existed a great thirst, a fire in need of quenching – a journey would result.

Over the next eight years I embarked on an endless adventure in life – a journey to becoming a new man, one born anew with and through spiritual guidance and cosmic purpose where, after a long excruciating painful recovery, unbearable psychological torture, a total mental cleansing, financial devastation, loss of friends and family, and a emotional tsunami with ripples that seemed to undulate infinitely throughout my life – emerging entirely reborn. A being lost but now discovered who, after traveling profound into the scariest annals of the heart and soul, coming into view with resolute intent and meaning, found my purpose in life. But now what?

Discovering your purpose in life is only the first part of the equation – sharing it is part two.

Throughout my experience notwithstanding, I’ve drawn a clear distinction between recovering and healing: one is of the body and doctor, and the other, mind and soul, respectively. Along the road to recovery it cannot go without mention some of the spectacular people who assisted me to those ends: My surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Rihn, Jefferson Health, a world-class doctor who was open to any and all modalities of healing; my physical therapist, Elizabeth Watson DPT, Magee Rehab, who’s fervent spirit and unending belief in me fueled my drive to continue on; and Dr. Neil Liebman, DC for Philadelphia 76ers, an energy healer like no other, whose “magic hands” and boundless love for his patients and their healing helped carry me through the second half.

It was only through limitless fortitude and perseverance by confronting utterly seeming insurmountable odds that produced the greatest revelation in my life: The obstacle is the way. Without mud there can be no lotus. No pressure; no diamond. Without venturing into the most frightening parts of our-selves can one ever attempt to understand their true inner-self. Life is all about contrast; one cannot know happiness until one knows sadness. We have the choice in life in every situation how we react – determined by our attitude. Adjust your attitude and determine your outcome. Lessons never go away – what we resist will persist.  It’s up to you.

If not now, when?  – Zen proverb

Fall down seven times, stand up eight. – Japanese proverb

One amazing facet of that cavernous inward journey, the one that lulled me into the woods of Tennessee where I planned to pass onto the spiritual world (crazy story) by hanging myself on a camping site steel water pole, when I was homeless, living in a tent and out of my car for one year;  plumbing the darkest and most frightening depths of my being my inner-self, my soul, the Holy-Spirit, God; where there is no turning back; with no other choice but to “do your work,” to slay your dragons; choosing no longer to be a victim to your past; opting instead for the road less traveled; taking control of your energy, your life, your happiness – is the world it opened.

The outcome was an intense inner quest leading me down a path to healing, helping others with struggle in life. My ‘Doing The Dirty Dishes’ life philosophy provided ripe conditions for real learning, opening space for ample growth and change, leading to a place of teaching others, resulting in inspiring and motivating others through writing a book, Unbreakable Mind. Soon after, I started two blogs: one Spiritual and the other for those for whom Travel is a challenge. Both are read worldwide, resulting in invaluable feedback and immense satisfaction. While traveling in a wheelchair for two years for my travel blog, I took a hiatus from my spiritual blog.

After years of untold discussions and capricious agreements, I finally capitulated to my mentors and trusted advisors in life, deciding starting my own YouTube channel & Podcast. I determined that I would start writing my spiritual blog again, but this time I would then follow-up each blog entry with a podcast version. In each new episode an exciting topic is discussed within a spiritual context. A spiritual podcast that explores all topics under the sun, causing you to smile, think critically or ponder the soul and universe. This is my newest venture. Please consider listening and sharing my YouTube channel or Podcast with friends. Thank you for your support.

By now we all know what Alexi’s “knocked off your feet“reading truly meant. The accident was the greatest gift of my life. I am forever grateful to the universe and my lucky train. Choo-choo.

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.

Spiritual Blog, along with YouTube Channel and Podcast, coming end of March 2020.

Happy New Year 2020 ~ a new decade is upon us, how exciting – the possibilities are endless.  Aside from being a presidential election year, it is shaping up to be a doozy of a year for me also.  It has been quite the journey to get to this point. As life often surprises us, and after some time off from this blog while traveling the world (see injured travel blog), the time has come for my spiritual blog to start again.  In March, I will begin a YouTube channel: Doing The Dirty Dishes Podcast. The spiritual blog will cover the same topic discussed on the channel, as well as published into podcast format.  I am looking forward to seeing what develops. Please consider taking this journey with me. Today, sign-up to receive new notices of spiritual blog posts via email (on right side of this blog).  Also, you can click here to sign-up for new YouTube channel.  Sending eternal healing love and light. Thank you for your love and support.

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.

Think online dating sites or applications will bring you happiness? Stop learning looking without; start practicing looking within – swipe upper left to trash-bin.

How desperate does one have to be to in order to enter into the unscrupulous world of online dating – or to download an application such as Tinder into one’s phone?  The answer: apparently, very. What has happened to modern society in 2019 that we no longer allow the universe to take its natural course, instead molding and shaping it at every street corner or local cafe, when out and about, when convenient for our ever-so excessively busy lives – determining if someone is worthy of our time or somewhat, romp in the sheets, with the swipe of a finger?  What real chance does that give you of finding true love that leads to marriage and a family? Instead, are you more apt finding a freak-in-the-sheets that passes on the gift that keeps on giving: a sexually transmitted disease; or even worse yet, unwanted pregnancy?  Hope you do not live in the Deep South.

How did our ancestors do it? No, not that! How did our grandparents meet – well, you are here aren’t you? Were their lives easier – and ours busier, more complicated? Is that by our own doing: the insatiable need to busy ourselves to the point of self-exhaustion or mental breakdown? Are you falling prey to social marketing designed by psychologists who know what your insecurities and instant gratification buttons are – exploiting them to the hilt, all the while smiling to the bank whilst driving to their weekend getaway beach home? Is it possible there exists another method or way to undertake this thought to be unbearable process?  Are you willing to take ten minutes from your exceedingly stressed life to explore such options, or too busy swiping right?  It appears you are unduly busy being happy.

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. Carl Jung

It is a Friday night, and as I sit here in my home pondering how I will spend my weekend, I cannot help thinking of all the people out-and-about at bars and other local hotspots having fun drinking, flirting, dancing and listening to music with friends whom, if asked if they were happy, would immediately reply an emphatic “yes.” But, is that really the case? How many of them are truly happy?  How many are deceiving themselves, and possibly overly tricking others along the way in the process? How many of them will fall into the trap of waking up next to their mate five years on, bewildered who this woman sleeping next to me is, wondering who did I marry? Better yet…who am I? Are they even aware of what is happening – how they are squandering away the one commodity that can never be recovered: time?  Perhaps the only ones they are fooling are in fact themselves.   

Psychology statistics and studies would tell us a different story. With over 70% of people reporting to a job they hate; divorce consistently well over 50%, and rates of marriage dissatisfaction with their partners standing at all-time highs, one might think otherwise. Depression and suicide are also at historically peak numbers presently in the United States. We are taking more medications for anxiety and depression that can be found on record, yet we are still less happy as a society, generally, and in life and our relationships, specifically.  If you think, as is the American way, the Silver-bullet theory will solve your woes – that going to see a man or woman in a white lab coat with an over-priced education that made them into a great diagnostician and poor healer, with an MD at the end of their name, will assist or help you to solve anything – I have a part of the Brooklyn bridge to sell you, at a reduced rate; which, today only, is at half price. 

Inordinately, joy is mixed up with happiness; people think them one-the-same.  Many things provide us daily joy, but that does not mean we are happy in life as a result.  The two are vastly different.  One is a temporary feeling of elation, while the other is a way of living one’s life – with deep inner fulfillment and satisfaction of our decisions. The tongue only weights on average 65 grams but so few can hold their words to their actions. Happiness is not about getting what you want in life, all the time, rather it is about appreciating what you have in life and having gratitude each day.  Each day the sun goes down, but every morning it gets back up.  There is a savvy slice of Japanese proverbial wisdom offered in my book, Unbreakable Mind: Fall down seven times, get back up eight. Well, mi amigo, time to get back on the metaphorical horse and start living life again.  Happiness is knocking at your door. 

When we are not ridiculously busy riding our story horse, we are absurdly quick to run away from our pain. But not all pain hurts you, most brings growth into your life as well.  We have become a society of delicate flowers who run for cover at the first sign of discontent or difficulty.  Only when we learn to leave our comfort zone and trust in the process do we open the doors to actual improvement. Change is not easy – it requires significant dedication in order to reprogram what was set into your mental construct, locked in by age seven.  Embrace the tempest storms of transformation into your life, for it is those that result in the greatest substantial internal change and growth. You spend considerable time in life with yourself, if you cannot be happy with yourself, how will you ever lead a life of happiness or allow others to love you for who you really are? Your divine purpose lies ahead. Giddy-up!

There are no mistakes in life, situations, people or events: Eventually you will end up where you are meant to be in life, with the person whom you are meant to be with – be patient.  Making yourself priority number one is not selfish, it is necessary, inextricably intertwined with your ability to find happiness.  Though many a smart advertisement or marketed application will convince you otherwise, happiness is not a destination or object you can go to a class to attain, find through a download on your phone or buy off the shelf, it is a state of being. Don’t settle – which is what these applications cause countless unsuspecting people to do.  Psychological reasons like fear of missing out or remaining alone aside, one day you will find someone who loves you for who you are, bumps and bruises included; after all, it is those trials and tribulations of life that made you who you are today. No pressure, no diamond.

Love does not have conditions; learn to love yourself unconditionally, first and foremost. Never wish to be better than anyone than the person you were yesterday. In life, having set expectations and attachment to outcome are two sure ways to continually lead you down a path to unhappiness. Take the road less traveled – inward, for that is where the greatest rewards prevail. And being that you spend the most time with yourself, you might consider making that your first port of call. Learn to look within, not without – for that is where you will find eternal bliss, contentment. Your heart knows what it wants, albeit the endless cacophony of ping-pong thoughts from your mind, so give it time – it will come when the juncture is right.

Without the bad days you would not learn to appreciate the good ones – we live in a dualistic world. You own the keys to your happiness; never allow someone else to hold the keys – or to be in control of your energy. At the end of the day, we are the only ones responsible for how we feel.  If you give that power away to someone else, you will be endlessly disappointed, probably blaming others, when the only person to blame is yourself. In life you will never encounter a bigger bully than your own thoughts. Learn to get out of your mind and into your heart – that is where the gold is. The most difficult roads lead us to the most beautiful destinations.  Growth does not come easy; it is ugly, raw and painful – but, know this: When through the deep inner journey you will be a new person, never looking in the rear-view mirror of the old you again. You will instead appreciate where you came from and what it took to get you there.

Recently I read a post on Stem Cells by Tony Robbins.  He should stick to marketing drive-through-happiness to the masses and selling his infinite number of books and seminars on how to change your life. And although he gives people some really great ideas and advice, he only explains to you half the story. He is like a doctor; he only knows what he knows.  He and the others in his like-minded fraternity are incapable of giving you those answers or instructions in life – they are unaware; and it would also kill their current opiate of the masses cash-cow they’ve created for themselves – they are all millionaires many times over. It reminds me of Chazz Palminteri’s comment in A Bronx Tale to Colagero, when he says to him: If your father cannot pay the rent, ask Babe Ruth if he cares.  He is not at the vibration or level of wisdom to take you there. He could try but it would fail. See people like Paul Brunton.  

The dullard with a crafty disingenuously constructed profile might make you swipe right, but that same skilled cunning makes him no more a prince than a man named Dick a Freudian slip.  Finding your prince is less a chance of modern dating psychologically guilt driven social marketing targeted to you in order to make you believe there is some utter essence of time slowly dissipating, and more an act of destiny than magic. Learn to trust in the process of the universe; it has worked since the beginning of time.  In other words, it is out of your control, give it a break,  hang up your dating hat, unsubscribe and delete all dating applications, take a rest – start living and enjoying life but, most importantly, start getting to know yourself, your heart, first and foremost  – practicing doing the dirty dishes of life.

Start learning to look within yourself for answers, for happiness. There is no need to download any application of temporary joy, paying Match, Okcupid, E-harmony or any of the other greedy bastards looking to free your wallet of your well-deserved money – it is free – it always has been. It was free 1000 years ago, which seemed to work out just fine for them. Subsequently, it can also help you do so in 2019. As you spend your time trying to fix what is broken, searching out any new compulsive trend or joie de vivre to provide you infinite happiness, the real person you are meant to become awaits in the eternal branches on the tree of life. Until you learn to differentiate joy from happiness, short lived pleasure from long term contentment, what you truly seek in life will continue eluding you.

Although, most likely, many reading this would like to make the process and journey of looking deep within the abscesses of their deepest being a trip to Disneyland, that it is not quite how it works, nor a prudent plan. There is no free ice-cream in the world, Mickey ears or not. Pain is your biggest teacher:  listen to it, process it, and learn from it! Media and the social-minded marketing machine are always telling us what we should look like, how we should act, what we should do, and now who we should date and why – get real, people – do you wish to continue being robotic pawns manipulated in this game any longer? Happiness aside, it is nice to simply have control of your own life, to sit in the driver’s seat of an already mostly prescribed and automated car – the chosen vehicle of social norms and society.  Learn to trust your gut, inner-self, higher-self.  Pure energy does not lie.

Stop listening to the endless cacophonous noise of the world and start listening to your deep own inner voice, your heart.  Your heart is pure, it only knows truth.  Let your soul shine, guide you. It already knows where to lead you, if you allow it. Unless you want to be labeled insane, it is time to find a new toolbox for happiness. Deus ex machina modern day dating applications and websites, contrived and controlled, will not bring you happiness. Nor will following every whim of your confused loins.  Stop searching everywhere, looking wherever to find the smile you desire in life and start learning to look within, the divine is in your heart. The light at the end of the tunnel is not the illusion, the tunnel is – and, as said best by Rumi: What you are seeking is seeking you. Open your eyes, turn the busyness volume down, honor your inner wisdom and see what your heart has to say – imagine the possibilities.

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.

Unbreakable Mind: One year anniversary – a letter of love and gratitude.

This weekend is the one year anniversary of publishing my first book, Unbreakable Mind. It was quite the experience getting to that point; it has been an amazing journey since. It has opened new doors never thought possible before, including being made into a movie in 2020. I am endlessly grateful to the process – the unfolding of the universe’s plan for us, no matter how different we think it will be. Mine just happened to include a ticket for the express train; and it was free ( 🤣 ) – though the true price was unimaginable, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Nonetheless, it has all brought me to this place, a place of healing and, as a result, helping others.

The book has assisted and touched thousands of lives, more than I ever could have dreamed or thought possible. Each month it continues to grow in new directions, amazing me at every turn. It can now be found in countless local, city, university and medical school libraries and bookstores. As well, one can find copies in a number of world-wide city and town libraries. Many teachers use the book for essay topics or various types instruction to their students as part of their lesson plan. It is also now under consideration at numerous well respected medical schools as required reading due to its unique perspective through the patient’s eyes. For all these reasons, I am filled with infinite gratitude and endless thanks.

There are no mistakes in life – events, places or people. Books come to us at the right time; we must be ready to receive the message. If you decided to read my book, thank you – I hope it resonated with your life and you found healing or meaning through it. Or perhaps just liked the story and found motivation and inspiration, as a result. If you know someone who has a struggle and could benefit from the book, please consider sharing the book or perhaps sending them a copy. I am eternally grateful for all those who have been a part of this journey, directly or indirectly. As this one year anniversary is upon me, I marvel at the possibilities the future holds. Thank you for being a part of the magik of the trail – the gratefulness in my heart is unbound, over-filled with love and gratitude. Love and light. S

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.

WARNING: A Drive-Through-Guru is coming to a Facebook post near you.

Have you seen their work firsthand, perhaps you know one, or have even spent time in the presence of such a peculiar angelic being?  Like as not, I have met my fair share of Drive-Through-Guru douches and the nouveau-riche halfwits who keep them employed. There are an endless amount of various type coaches or guides online who, as the twisted sadistic irony plays itself out, themselves are in drastic need of coaching; let alone being in a place in life that has deemed their experience reverent and advice worthy.  Facebook, the wet-dream of self-medicating narcissists and Instagram, where anyone can be a model, are filled to the brim with untold numbers of these lost souls. It is case in point: the blind leading the blind – in between their never-ending self-fulfilling prophecies, that is when they are not leading their heard to eternal happiness, love and financial successes.  This person will sell you whatever is the hottest trendiest social ‘busy you’ cash cow they can wrap their little greedy and undeserving sausage fingers around. 

First, a person who calls themselves a guru cannot be one, strictly by its definition alone. That should be the first red flag you are dealing with the crème-de-la-crème of Internet graduated ass-waffle. The titles never-ending, creative too: Life Sensei, Wellness Warrior, Spiritual Guide. There is a title for everything. To the person who wants to be my life coach – what have you done so great in yours to prove to me I should accept your wise and sage guidance?  What “hats” in life have you worn and mastered? What is your level of understanding of human psychology? How well versed are you on matters of metaphysical nature? How high an education on quantum physics do you possess? You can make my business more successful too? Really? Aside from being total baseless claims of complete bullshit, I welcome these same ‘successful folk’ to be open and willing in sharing their W2 or tax returns for the past three years. Prove your worth, Bucko.  Otherwise please take your overly inflated ego and dreams of castles in the desert sky and go pound sand. 

Furthermore, beware the one who can easily and happily sell you whatever you are looking for that day; as he was probably an expert on another big niche self-help craze that sold well in the past – such as how to have happy and loving relationships, all the while his short lived ‘oh so loving’ perfect relationship was a disaster that recently flamed out after one too-hot-to-handle year of magical union. As with love, he also views happiness as an object, a commodity if you will, able to be bought and sold. What he fails to realize is that love and happiness are not objects, they are each a process. Each requires you match your words with your actions; neither can be purchased.  He was probably a ‘best-selling’ author in the past too, for all of two long weeks until his efforts fizzled out and his attention moved onto the next in vogue social change-yourself ‘this week’ trend – also guaranteed short lived.  Whatever is the most popular societal self-help issue du jour, they are on it, like white on rice. People, do your homework, there is no easy way to happiness, love or financial success. And it certainly cannot be marketed and sold to you: save your money, look within, it is free.

The answers are free to you. They lie deep within your inner being.  Most people are not interested in ‘Doing the Dirty Dishes’ of life, they would rather opt for a silver-bullet solution, later becoming even less satisfied. The journey is not easy, it requires going to the deep and terrifying annals of your soul.  If you have never been lost and confused in this strange world, plumbed the blood-curdling depths of your inner most existence, explored the frightening and spine-chilling parts within your being, faced your hair-raising fears head-on, done your ‘work’ in life, slain your dragon(s), as a result, no amount of Law of Attraction is going to assist you. It is similar to what I wrote in my book, Unbreakable Mind, in a chapter on diet and nutrition: If your cells are not healthy to begin with, no amount of vitamins or supplements will substitute a healthy diet; the unhealthy cells are not in a position to receive healthy supplements and so, as a direct result, one ends up with very expensive pee instead.  If you are not spiritually prepared and ready to receive the lessons of the universe, they will not come. Other lessons will arrive however, soon enough; and usually the hard way – exit stage left.

Life is lived and experienced by knowing and being aware of all its boundless possibilities, even within one’s own made-up reality. One cannot know light until one has experienced darkness; equally one cannot know happiness unless one has experienced sadness.  Otherwise we would have nothing to compare and contrast; one does not come first without the other; they inextricably exist and are married in eternal duality – what we refer to as ying-yang, life. The same lesson goes that in order to know happiness in your life one must also know sadness and suffering.  So, if you are only being sold one half the equation to the solution, you are being robbed blind.  In my book I state that in life we all have our own agenda, but do not forget life also has its own agenda. Want to take any bets on whose wins? Life’s does, always; it never fails.  It is only our perspective and reaction that determine the outcome – that hold considerable sway and help determine our level of happiness in this world as well.  These are deep and spiritual matters of the soul, not superficial and shallow echoes of the social media guru of the week.  A wolf in sheep’s clothing? Better he is left to his ways au natural.

The Guru is most apt spending more time in front of the mirror primping and preening, wrapped up in himself, Inc., the perfect social media photograph forever eluding him, than attempting a teacher.  Most of what he tells you can be gleamed from a few hours in the self-help section of your local corner bookstore. He knows not of the masters or their teachings. He is lucky to have read the only a small number of scratch-the-surface books, rarely delving into any original thought or text, and certainly not language. He does not tell you the whole story, both sides of the equation; he cannot, he is incapable. He does not know that of which he tells you, nor has he lived any of it. To him it is all wrapped in theory only; he is a master of talking the talk. Otherwise if practical, he would understand he has no answers. He most likely does not even know where to find the answers he himself is searching for out of life; he is too busy falsely proselytizing them to you. The critical important part they do not inform you on, since they are unaware through all their craft-brew filled sophomoric philosophizing, is that one can only find light the result of traveling through utter darkness. True intellect and intelligence must be bestowed upon us from a higher power. No amount of Guru-Juice or learned theoretical book knowledge will get you there quicker – it is a dark and lonely road that must be traveled alone, only by you.

Some of these ass-clowns are the same ones who will preach to you the value of the Law of Attraction. Yet they do not understand it. They make it sound like some fast food order drive-through of the universe. Yes, hello, I would like an order of a mass produced cookie-cutter McMansion in a suburb, throw in a high paying job, a beautiful bride, a perfect boy and girl and a side of happiness, while you’re in a giving mood. These same fools think that prayer or meditation works the same way.  They think that prayer is a wish list of things you desire in life. As if God already doesn’t know what you want in life. It is only when we have gratitude and thanks for what we currently have in our lives that we are prepared to receive more from the universe.  The Law of Attraction has two parts, but these “spiritual masters” only tell you one side of the story: they sell you on the light, never filling you in or instructing you into and through the dark inner work required to come to true happiness.  Your greatest prayer each day is why you are thankful.  These absolute asses are too busy teaching you their ‘successful’ ways that mean nothing and will get you nowhere – when all you need to do is take the time to look inside.  All answers lie within. 

The Guru who always wants you to Private Message (PM) him or her is also thought to be suspect.  These same type 15 minute rodeo yahoos would also always rather send you a voice recorded message or reply – it keeps them from having to give ‘actual’ or ‘real’ answers that could really guide or aid you, never being tied to the written word.  They are modern day social media snake oil salesmen.  Life coaches with certifications are not as bad on whole, though most are akin to those who enter into the field of study of Psychology – they are trying to solve their own deep inner personal concerns and questions – and definitely are not in any place to be giving out advice or guiding others in life. One can always attend a pay-to-play graduate school like University of Pennsylvania, continually pumping out unqualified consultants, many misguided and unfulfilled, resorting to ABC (insert fancy title) Coach. In fact, many are probably in need of seeing their own therapist or guide in life. Rest assured, either way, come hell or high water, when the next hot ‘sliced-bread’ item comes down the infinite toll road of people’s insatiable appetite for innermost self-betterment, through any means possible one can be hoodwinked, he will be ecstatic to control the click-whirl intimate toll booth reward circuit, smiling all the way to the bank.  You have been forewarned.  Buyer beware! 

You might as well go flush money down the toilet because otherwise these modern day online Bonnie and Clyde fraudsters will continue to take your hard earned money with a perfectly orchestrated and polished smile, while they play off of your insecurities to their ultimate financial benefit. Some of them even have weekend retreats or even go so far as to schedule foreign trips. I would be willing to bet most participants initially walk away happy. But ask those same people in six months what has changed in their lives and be prepared for many blank stares. It is back to business as usual.  There was no real or actualized change that occurred outside the warm-and-fuzzy feelings they all had when manipulated for a weekend away at a tranquil spiritual destination, ignorantly anonymous and blind, drinking the cool-aid with contented delight.  They paid for that part but did not receive instruction how to continue the lessons in actual everyday life because the teacher was either unaware the importance of this, the process of how change actually occurs in a person through daily habit, or was not qualified and/or competent to train you on such.  Refund! 

The newly discovered ‘spiritual rich’ who buy themselves up the Buddha Ladder are guilty just the same.  Somehow they think that because they now have financial success that affords them the time and right to seek out the best spiritual guides that money can buy. Although this same person also thinks he with the most toys accumulated wins the race, it is no surprise spirituality is the greatest atrocious omission from his list of life’s personal goals. This person is the same void of a being as before, now with money – money that has only bought him further disquiet.  Spirituality should be atop his or her wish list, yet it is relegated to another trophy for the oak mantle. What new part of life can we objectify and control this week?! The head monks at the monasteries understand the unspoken relationship; they also understand their monks have to eat. The ignorance of one brings light to many – a fair deal according to the monks. So the pay-to-pray patronage relationship that has greatly benefited them in the past, often financial, continues to assist struggling monasteries and their causes unabated today.  In the end, these wealthy ass-hats only find themselves higher up the proverbial spiritual mountain, with lighter pockets. Confucius say: Never get too high up mountain, no one hear you scream.

The Dali Lama has been quoted as saying: There are eight billion people in this world; there are eight billions realities in this world. Recently on Facebook I saw a post on why this one particular Guru was unlike all others.  Most witty people would have stopped at the first line but rest assured, many not only read on further but also believed this hot-air-filled idiot. He went on to pontificate his experience with ancient cultures and shamans. He had spent 1000s of hours with shamans though I am unsure he could define one or its role in society. He had also notched in his fine Italian leather belt 10,000 hours of laser focused meditation.  And? That means exactly what to me? It tells me you are wrapped up within your own narcissistic mind, concerned with meaningless numbers and your boundless self-inflating ego; that you have no real understanding of love, any matters of the heart or even a shred of comprehension on human consciousness or psychology. It only reinforces and makes clear to all reading this blog, the only thing any amount of personal hours has ever done to benefit you was to make your last Facebook profile selfie look like it belongs on the cover of GQ.  Perhaps your greatest egoic attributes and abilities could best be utilized, no doubt improving humanity in untold ways, by retiring as a douche Guru extraordinaire and morphing into an international social media model-phenom. I hear Instagram is hiring.   

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

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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.

Per, you touched my mind and heart, my left butt-cheek responded.

This is my first official blog post. It is a blog of love and gratitude: dedicated to Per Gjeding.

The idea of a blog has been presented to me many times over the years but was never a true fit.  As with all things in life, the sands of time did their infinite magical dance and, as a result, I was again faced with Doing the Dirty Dishes in life.  So, as I embark on this new chapter of my story, on the journey we call life, it is my hope you will find my musings informative, light, witty and funny, or any combination of the above.  Please take a minute to read on and share with me my first official blog post sent into the universe.

As I sat in the shower today, as on most days, I let the hot water run over my head, trickling down all over my body, comforting my over-worked muscles and frazzled nerves, contemplating what could ever I write as a blog. There were so many ideas running through my head.  They were endless; all over the map.  Another part of me was unsure who would want to read it, but after a quick reality check of what my life has morphed into, and with the continued robust monthly sales of my first book, Unbreakable Mind, I finally capitulated to the universal forces to be and decided that I would post one blog entry per month.  And so it goes. 

As I continued on with my bath routine, a peculiar Wilander act of sudsy balance, something was amiss, suddenly change was upon me. This was not my first time down this road; big changes always portended future recovery. In massive amounts of pain in my groin, hip, pelvic cradle and glute muscles for weeks, nothing out of ordinary, I was in search of answers.  I knew a newly introduced Physical Therapy system, PAS by Aktiv Form, created and developed, the result of twenty years of endless and selfless years of dedication to heal himself from tragic injury, by Per Gjeding, of Danmark, was affecting my nerves and muscles but had no real or clear idea where all that hard work would lead me. For the first time in my injured life I was able to lift my left butt-cheek and wash it without any bracing or other assistance.  I was so ecstatic I wanted to get up and jump in the water.  I knew what this meant: It translated into a major piece of recovery still required before I could walk again. I was over the moon with love for Per, and incredibly grateful to all others who helped prepare me to get to this point to be ready for PAS therapy.

Not long ago I was on a trip to Iceland.  There I would be meeting an old friend, a friend whom is special to me, a friend I met while living in Tokyo over twenty years ago. She was originally from Nepal but was now a married nurse in Boston, with a lovely teenage daughter, Hazel.  It was a ‘layover’ in Iceland, en route from Sweden to Philadelphia, a result of the infamous Iceland stopover in Reykjavik. Which, it should be noted, and perhaps will be elaborated on in a later post, is not really a stopover where technically you pay taxes to exit the airport, rather, it is actually two separate flights they string together and refer to as a stopover.  If it truly were a stopover, the cost to stop in Iceland would be much less money out of pocket. With tourism on the decline, an over-priced and over-supplied housing market in full throttle, they might heed lessons from the past, and change their bait-and-switch ‘stopover’ international ad campaign.  Otherwise the country is absolutely amazing. I plan to return this year.

After arriving at Reykjavik airport early, I stopped for a cup of tea and some last minute local Nordic sweets; a pre-flight relax routine I have developed over my years of extensive world travel.  That and older age have me arriving for flights extra early these days.  Actually, I find it more fun and it eliminates any undue stresses on my body.  Nothing tenses an injured body more than rushing it – even though you are not pressured, your body will become so on its own.  Normally I am first to board but the flight crew did not have the aisle wheelchair for the plane ready for me.  Finally I settled on having a nice young strong Polish ground crewman carry me the ten feet onto the plan to my seat.  Until he found out I was sitting in seat 1D he was not overly thrilled at the thought of my request.  I have been a few places and knew better to get on the plane sooner than later.  After a few minutes of settling in I looked to my right to introduce myself to my seatmate.  “Hello, my name is Steven,” and he introduced himself in a heavy English accent as “Piere.”

Upon first hearing his accent, I thought I had a Frenchman sitting at my side.  The stewardess came out with some champagne and fresh fruit.  It must have been a long day for us both as the glasses never had a chance to touch the tray. A few minutes passed and I was curious where my new flight compatriot was from.  As the stewardess poured us some red wine, people filing past, Piere and I were locked into deep conversation. Though I was still unsure what is his actual name was, and from where he hailed.  At some point in his explanations to me, as I assume he is answering my questions, I hear him say “Slovakia.”  Ahh, that is it!  He is Slovak. Lucky me, I speak some.  “Aka sa mas? Dobre?” I say to him.  He looks at me as if I have three eyes.  Fifteen minutes, and another round of Spanish red wine later, I conclude his name is actually Per and he is Danish, a true Scandinavian.  I decide at this point to skip any attempt to utter any bit of my small Dansk repertoire. 

As it turns out, in our mutual attempt to get over one another’s initial accents, he was telling me the story of how had been paralyzed in an accident as a young man, and taught himself, through sheer gritty determination and the endless quest to understand how his body heals, his own method of Physical Therapy.  The name of the system he created is PAS by Aktiv Form. He then goes on to not only tell me of his recent groundbreaking speech at Oxford University, which, in case you are wondering, floored the audience, before handing me an actual copy of his presentation, with his whole 7 keys system of healing revealed to me. Well, talk about synchronicity of the universe; the unconditional unending love of God – I was speechless.  For those who know me know that is no easy task to accomplish.  Stewardess, two more wines, please.  I was unsure what had just happened.

When we got back to Philadelphia airport, it turned out Per was staying at a hotel near to my home.  He was in town visiting his son, Jack, whom I have rarely seen such love for a son by a father.  Two hours of our flight were spent listening to stories of his awesome American university, Division II star basketball player son, along with plenty of photos, also including those of his family and home in Jutland, Danmark.  We shared a taxi.  I got out of the taxi at my residence and as I went to shut the door, Per asked me, “Steven, are you free in a few days for lunch?”  “Sure, Per, that sounds spectacular. Let’s do lunch soon.” I said as I exited our Uber ride.  Later that evening I tried reaching Per at his hotel and they had no record of him.  The Whatsapp number he gave me was also unreachable.  I was unsure what to think and soon got back to settling in my home after a one month mentally and physically exhaustive trip to Scandinavia.

Three days later, early in the morning, a text arrives from Malik, my local Pakistani Uber friend.  He asks me if I am ready for lunch at 12 noon with Per. Oh shit, I guess he did not forget our unconfirmed appointment, even though we had not spoken a word since I left the taxi three nights prior. It turns out his wife forwarded him the email I sent to him through his Danish website the night we had met.  As he enters my home, with a big smile: “Halo,my good friend,” jolly and joking as always. We have tea and chat.  Then he asks me to lie down so he could do some tests.  Observations completed, with a big smile on his face, he informs me my body is healing well and with further physical therapy regimen, his, I could complete all the circuits and start walking again.  He then popped up, said he was off to see his son practice basketball, and asked if I would be free again in two days.  Before I could holler out a loud yes, he was out the door.  As he ran off, I quickly made it to the door to scream out the door, “yes Per, yes, let’s do it again in two days.”  As he moved out of site, I could hear him say, wrapped in an impish child’s laughter, “see you in two days, Steven.”  Two days later at high noon he was there.

What was transpiring in my life? What galactic forces had combined through serendipitous means in order to bring us two together, sitting next to one another on a trans-Atlantic plane ride, and later in my living room.  It is my belief that forces beyond the comprehension of the human mind are responsible for bringing us together in Iceland.  Nothing is random in life; everything happens for a reason. Including Per. But there I was, sitting quietly with information I knew could help me walk again. Over the next two months I would follow his system exactly as he instructed. After about thirty days, I began seeing the results of his ground breaking physical therapy system.  It was tremendous, some might say miraculous.  It is only a matter of time before I start walking with a walker.

Per, you touched my heart and mind, and my left butt-cheek responded. Never before in my wildest imagination would I have dreamed of meeting you, or the result of such aligned planetary forces that brought me together with you and your amazing PAS Physical Therapy system. There are no mistakes in life; there are no chance meetings. We met for a reason – which is now clear to me and hopefully soon to others in the universal shared conscious of our cosmos. Thank you for your love and support. Steven

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.