Living out a dream during the Covid-19 pandemic: Becoming poor and homeless in Colombia in a wheelchair.

In man’s search for meaning in life, a never-ending process of trials and tribulations, all without logical reason or rational explanation, whilst most live in the mind instead of in the heart, often it is a confusing mess, sometimes disastrous – where experience and growth trump all else, but one where happiness, a byproduct of the process, is the intended goal – with all of life’s lessons serving a greater purpose. The question of how to achieve this endmost goal through the phenomenal mystery of life begets humanity.

Society has replaced the hero’s journey, the person who faces his demons head-on, inevitably navigating through the labyrinth of darkness to find light, with stars in tabloid news, resulting in worship of the rich and famous. Modern society has never been as plentiful in wealth and choices as any time in history, yet we are more unhappy and unfulfilled as ever. Why? We have been taught that he with the biggest house, most impressive title and amount of toys wins. However, the answers lie within, not without.

Over twenty years ago, after leaving a successful career in corporate America, I decided to embark on an odyssey, the inner quest – replete with immense meaning and ambitious purpose – and so I looked into my heart and decided to follow where it directed me. It took me all over the world, from London to Tel Aviv to Hong Kong to Buenos Aires, all the while filling my soul with lessons that would in time mold me into who I was meant to be – the meaning of why I was on this magma filled rock hurling through space.

All that invaluable world experience gave me a unique perspective in which to give back to the world one day – but yet to no avail. At the age of thirty-seven I figured I had a few answers, the sum total of all those parts of my journey up till that point. It was not until a life changing event occurred, after waking up in a hospital trauma center with a priest by my side, that I knew I had no genuine answers, that a more imaginative approach had to be found – all so that I may heal and find light, love and happiness.

After a night out in Philadelphia celebrating the success of a new business venture, I awoke a full quadriplegic. Waking up paralyzed from your neck down is one way to gain new perspective in life, but not one I would recommend. Over the next ten years, with grueling physical therapy and countless insurmountable obstacles, by peering into my heart, making others the focus of my healing, writing a book and creating two blogs, mentoring and helping others in limitless ways, I found resolve, healing.

It was those years of never-ending hardship and healing that led me to my real purpose in life: to guide others on their journey, to help others in finding light through their darkness. Or, simply put: to assist others dismount their story horse, to look into their heart to discover their truth – which is exactly what eventually led to me to Colombia. It is a project that encompasses all the infinite lessons and experience of my life, fully preparing me for this new venture, specifically suited to someone with my detailed past.

Following a talk with an old college roommate, an idea being kicked around for two years, finally took form: a TV show to assist the masses. Steven Quigley Wheels Up was born. A spiritual travel show where I traverse the world conversing with others about their daily struggles, their desire to find new meaning and purpose in life, what led to their breakthrough, and the results – serving as a psychological mirror for the viewers at home. Soon after hearing my story a director and producer signed onto the project.

Life is a best learned through our peers – what we see in others we see in ourselves. It is only by hearing their stories and truth that we fully come to understand how to overcome our own battles. By learning that we all share the same life experiences, no matter the culture or country, we can relate to ourselves and one another in deeper ways. Through a travel show steeped in psychology we hope to utilize others’ examples in order to assist the viewers in their own personal journey for inner healing and happiness.

In May of 2020, expecting to move to Amsterdam to film the TV pilot, with the impetus of an international pandemic underway, thinking there was no reason to store my belongings, I decided to give them all away to the poor and homeless. Soon after in June, I left to NYC to see friends before flying to Europe. Little did I know what my future held and what my recent actions would mean to my life in due time. My profound journey into the heart to live out a dream project would be severely tested.

After being denied entry to board my plane at an empty Newark, NJ airport, resolute on making it to Europe, I moved into a hotel in Queens, NYC in order to await new entry rules into Europe. After three weeks at an expensive airport hotel, with funds dwindling while awaiting an update, I purchased a new ticket to Europe; once again I was unable to board the flight. That is when a good friend from Maine decided one morning to drive down to NYC to jettison me to Portland until the storm passed over.

Unable to find a suitable place to live, and after nine months living in a hotel in Maine – with nowhere in the world to move, as international travel was all but closed due to Covid-19 restrictions – eventually it appeared some countries would soon open. During this period I settled in to experience my first “Maine winter” while exploring moving to twelve different countries, but all were closed. The next part of my journey would bring me to Miami, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, back to Miami, and then finally to Colombia.

Tests completed, flight reserved, it was time to find a place to live in Cartagena. A good friend from Bogota, with local connections through family and friends, was determined to help me secure a new home in my adopted country. Prior to my arrival in Colombia, over six weeks many people helped me to find the right living match. With a stroke of luck, ten days before my departure, with thirty units already disqualified, she secured me a flat in the one of the hottest neighborhoods in Cartagena, Boca Grande.

Once landing in Cartagena and checking into a hotel for two weeks, while the lady we negotiated a deal with was away in Miami getting her vaccination, I relaxed and waited to sign the final contract. But soon that all changed as it became clear she was untrustworthy. From Bogota, of the newly minted nouveau riche class in Colombia, a result of recent expansive economic growth, she had zero commitment to a schedule or to her word. She paid almost no regard or respect to her renters, especially those in need.

Little did I realize how prescient a harbinger she would serve when attempting any successful real estate transactions in Colombia. Her behavior was egregious; her example did not set the bar too high. At this point, with no contract or apartment to rent on the horizon, I extended my stay at the hotel for another two weeks. With unexpected costs adding up (again), friends immediately went back to the drawing board, this time expanding their search to include other neighborhoods and possible living options.

One natural impediment to wheelchairs in South America kept repeating itself – small doorway widths. The main entrances are wide enough, as are many other doorways in homes, but bathroom doorways here are notoriously small, depriving access to the toilet and shower. Otherwise, when contractors are not cutting costs or because they are older buildings, limited consideration is paid to accessibility. Until recently many developing countries had no laws on the books requiring building codes for accessibility. 

Two days before my hotel reservation was to expire it looked like as if we had found the perfect location, building and apartment. It was in the neighborhood I wished to live, with restaurants, shops, cafes, supermarkets and a pharmacy all within close distance. It also had a steep ramp, albeit suicidal – requiring assistance, and two balconies, including one with a view of the ocean and the other with a nice vista of the bay. Once all measurements were verified, I scheduled an appointment to meet the realtor.

The next day the realtor came to the hotel to take receipt of my deposit. All was set, I would move there in 48 hours. A good friend from Venezuela volunteered to help me with the move. Friday arrived and early that morning we got into two taxis with luggage in tow and drove to the building. Two hours later all my belongings were on the ninth floor, awaiting the contract and final payment. As soon I got things settled I headed to the back balcony. That is when I realized the bathroom entrance looked a bit tight.

Immediately I tried entering the bathroom and was unable to enter. The manager soon arrived and attempted to increase the doorway width. Now just barely able to squeeze into the bathroom, I was unable to access the shower. The manager’s response was for me to use a plastic bucket to shower on the balcony. Unwilling in the face of evidence on text between the realtor and my friend, with agreed measurements, he refused to refund my money. He placed the key on the kitchen table and departed.

Wow – what a precarious situation: to either live in an apartment where I could barely access the toilet, and certainly not the shower, or face becoming a vagrant on the streets of Cartagena in a wheelchair.  To return to the hotel would have caused me to incur paying the highest daily rate. It was decided my friend and I would spend the night there and figure it out in the morning. Morning arrived and I was able to get a good daily price again at the hotel. Later I reported the transaction as fraud and was refunded.

Back at the hotel for a third extension the staff was beginning to think I may end up living there. Shortly after it was decided I would leave Colombia, returning to Europe. Holland recently opened their borders again to American travelers – and within two hours I had a reservation on KLM to Amsterdam. It was then that a good friend from another more relaxed city further up the Caribbean coast convinced me to give her country a second chance. Five days later I arrived at my new home: Barranquilla AKA Qiami.

Once there, after checking into another hotel, I immediately began looking for a new apartment. An exhaustive search resulted in no other possible options, until a friend at the hotel told me of a unit for rent in the private residences on the top floors of my building. That evening I met the owner, and after three hours of talking we came to a rental agreement. I was in heaven – a dream come true. Until the day before I was supposed to move in, a text arrived from the owner cancelling the deal at the 11th hour.

This meant I had to extend my stay in yet another hotel for an extended period of time, at full cost. It did not take long for the bill to add up to over two thousand USD, leaving me in a tough position continually paying such excessive living expenses. It was only a matter of ten days before I would be totally out of money. Until this point it was expected my monthly rent would only be a third of my hotel cost, but that was not my reality. My reality was I was about to be broke and on the streets in a second world country.

After careful consideration and conversing with close friends, it was decided I had to swallow my pride and ask others for assistance through public online donations. Otherwise, in the near future, I would have ended up living in the barrios in Colombia in a wheelchair. Since this had happened to me already twice in my life, first after my accident when I lost everything, and second when I could not enter Europe, I could not think of a less desirable place for such an event. A serious crisis was in the making.

A fundraiser was started and within a few weeks friends, through endless love and support, stepped up with legions of contributions. The support I received from the Hilton where I was staying was a Godsend. Christine, the manager, then Paola, the acting manager while Christine was on a leave of absence, along all with all the staff they supervise, were spectacular – both were essential in helping allow me to find a way to remain at my newfound home in Barranquilla. They allowed me to live on credit while I got it all figured out, whilst reducing my daily rate to a livable monthly fee – a true blessing from the heavens.

As life is one big mystical journey filled with otherwise impregnable hurdles, I am grateful for all the aforementioned – amalgamating me into who I am today. It is all a part of the magic of the spiritual trail. However difficult seeing a path forward, I had to remember it would all work out fine in the end. Iron sharpens iron. And although unknown at that time, as nothing worthy in life comes without sacrifice, I had to remind myself that it is all for a greater purpose to benefit myself and others in the near future.

When I set out on my quest to delve deep into the unplumbed frightening expanses of my heart, I had no idea where it would lead me. It has led me all over the world; and eventually to the vision of creating a TV show to help others find healing in life. There were inexhaustible barriers all along the way to derail me from my intention. Certainly I look forward to the day I can look back on all this with a smile. In the interim, I continue to follow the path of my heart, the hero’s journey, the fated work of life, my dream.

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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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.

2021 – Forget your resolutions, affirmations and manifestations; You have your agenda in life and life has its own: Never tie a bow around it!

As we approach the New Year, it is a time of introspection, where we look back on the prior year with either regretful dismay or joyous glee, a period when the future, though uncertain, holds a refreshing breath of hope and promise, when we get a short respite to reassess where we are in life and where we’d like to be, beware jumping to any conclusions or having set attachments to any outcomes, as it is highly likely, all resolutions, daily affirmations and drive-through-Guru manifestations aside, that what events and actions you think will occur this year most likely will not result in the wishes you so desire.

At this point you are probably thinking that is a bold statement for one to make. It is. But there is truth behind it. For, we are not in control of our lives nor our minds in the ways we think [and have become accustomed] or feel we are. Alone, almost ninety percent of what we do on a daily basis is done without our knowing, our conscious willing, as we are on auto-pilot. Our mind and what we know is of a system that is in itself incapable of answering the biggest questions, for how can a system think outside of itself, it is self-contradictory and paradoxically absurd. Most modern ideas on decision theory, the what, why and how we reach them, have now been debunked by the likes of Gladwell, R Wright and Kahneman.

The cultural heuristics alone at play, if appropriately understood and applied to any said period, would make the average person rethink how their mind works.  Many of the ways we come to decisions are out of our control; and they are made before we are even aware – as if pre-programmed in our subconscious. So, where then are decisions made? And how are they made? We know only one side of the equation. We know why we see the color red but we do not know why it is red. Other than outside environmental factors, affecting the person through epigenetics, imprinting memories from emotions and context links, the brain itself is only a machine good for calculations, logic and reasoning; otherwise, it is an unnecessary, stressful and anxiety loaded ping-pong machine filled with unfathomable confusion.

2020 has been a year for the history books, a year millions would rather have forgotten ever happened. But we cannot – we cannot change anything that happens in the universe or in our own lives even, we can only change our reaction, our attitude and perspective. We can only live in the present, the now – we have no choice, it is impossible to live in the past or future, there is only the present, and the present is now. As the ten-year anniversary of my horrific accident comes to pass, rendering me quadriplegic below the neck, waking up in a cold dark inner-city trauma ward with a priest at my side, it reminded me that we have our agenda in life, but life has its own – and guess whose wins, every time? Dare to guess?

“Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting.”

—  Marcus Aurelius

Once we are knocked down in life we have a choice, we can either choose to stand [or try] back up again, refusing to yield a victim, choosing instead to become a survivor by pushing forward and finding purpose and meaning in life, or lay down, crying “poor me,” allowing ourselves to wistfully blow abound in a blizzard of overly-emotional ‘snowflakes,’ offended by every little one of life’s idiosyncrasies, creating a world of delicate little ‘flowers,’ where no one can speak their mind or truth without causing harsh judgment or irreparable psychological damages to a ruling generation already in need of increased self-worth and inner-confidence. If there was ever a doubt, go read Jordan Peterson of the ‘true north.’

When I went out that Christmas week night with three girlfriends I had no idea I would wake up severely injured. Well, I was almost lost on the trauma table four times so I guess it was a bit worse than was originally thought. Most are not found under a moving train and live to talk about it, let alone become eighty-four percent recovered through a long torturous road of recovery and healing – resulting in a book. In due accorded time, I fully plan to walk and run again. It is through Doing The Dirty Dishes of life that one achieves something of any real integrated value or virtue – anything really worth having in life. 

But, did I have a choice? Do any of us have a choice what [personally] happens to us in life? Are we mere products of fate, pre-destined to be a certain someone or somebody? How much of it is in our control? Does free will exist, or is it the greatest invention of the mind since Siegfried thought he could befriend a wild white tiger – crude bold trickery of the mind? This is not the appropriate space or place to address such lengthy complex subjects or concerns, as they are worthy of their own book chapter each, however it is important that they have some mention. Had I not gone out that night to party and celebrate the success of my new business venture would I have still have ended up in a wheelchair? The answer is YES.

One could go so far as to the hard-determinism view on life, where Elon Musk, a huge proponent and supporter of simulation theory, where it is believed our whole lives are being lived out through a VR headset, sitting in a comfortable cosmo chair, somewhere in a universe conference room, believes we see and experience modern life and reality – virtually – the “ultimate reality.” It is no wonder he wants [and will] to take us to Mars one day in our future, our lifetime. Not that determinism, the doctrine that states that all actions are outside the will of humans, is flawed. Free will is a phantasm of the brain.

The existential and corporal illusion of free will once discovered is overtly disappointing, and at the same time covertly surprising; but once fully understood, an [third] eye-opening occurs, an enlightening and freeing of the mind and all its constraints. Along with believing we have control over our lives, they are the two most critical elements in contributing to the massive increase and ramped rise in stress and anxiety in modern society. There is no need to worry or stress, you have no control over any of your life, including your thoughts. We do not live in the universe; the universe lives within us.

“Fate leads him who follow it, and drags him who resists.”

—  Plutarch

Your life was pre-planned long ago at a meeting somewhere and sometime in the universe. It might have been near your home planet, or somewhere else of past assimilation or experience, but you were there in pure soul-spirit-form and agreed to every little facet of your life. In pre-birth soul planning you planned every part of your life, every last detail, from whom would be your parents, brother, who you will marry, kids or not, divorce, disease, accidents, graduations, travel, likes and dislikes – nothing is left out, or to chance. You spend all your lives surrounded by the same tribe of people, interchanging roles in each lifetime. So in this lifetime your mother could have been your brother in a past life, other-where.

Ever wonder sometimes when you wish to give up, when you ponder taking your own life through suicide, that there is this small flame deep inside that still burns on, a dim pilot that gives you a flicker of hope, a connection to something, a something familiar that makes you feel as if it will all be ok? When you intuit such feelings, even those you feel as you are committing wrongs, there are multiple reasons other than your inner body’s feeling of dis-agreement, they are also influenced through angel, spirit and ancestral guides, as well as your inner Holy Spirit, higher-self, inner-spirit-being, conscious existence – God, and the inexhaustible wheel of karmic debt self-balancing and inescapable cycle of reincarnation.

For those who question fate, and especially for those who believe in [what others blindly tell them] self-manifestation, for those who think you can (or sell other “sheep” into slaughter) do and become anything you wish, or order from the fast food universe, never having done the “actual” inner-work to achieve the desired results, who occupy their time being narcissistic, self-centered and egoistic, have not gone deep within their heart – into their soul – try temping it and see what results. Thus differently, without giving up control in life and what it brings us daily, it is impossible to garner the said outcome cleverly sold to you. That is for those who see success in the most verdant sense, not riches of the heart.

“Everything hangs on one’s thinking…A man is as unhappy as he has convinced himself he is. “

—  Aristotle

For those who think that success, since in the modern world he with the biggest and most toys wins, the prevailing current ethos of our society where we elevate the superficial and reward the shallow, in constant need of daily emotional affirmation, is the result of untold selfless hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, Sisyphus grit and determination, are in for a shock. It is not due to their hard work, lack of personal conviction or endless resolve. The Bill Gates and Oppenheimers of the world owe their success to a complex sinew of universally inter-woven and inter-connected ensemble of synchronistic events.

Resolutions are also a waste – as if the habit, the base of the addiction or pattern, is not changed, so too will the results remain unchanged – rendering them worthless. Otherwise, beware, by definition, if you continue to do the same thing each day and yet wake up the next day expecting different results, one may be labeled insane. There can only be one Michael Jordan, no one else. Focus on yourself, figuring out who you are, why you are here and your passion and purpose, for everyone else is already taken.

Free will does not exist; it is a mental construct of the mind – same as linear time. They are two sides of the same coin – multiple choices in the tree of life, insofar all decisions lead to the same place, your fate.  You become what you are meant to become, even if you take a few detours on the way. You might even have an Unbreakable Mind and choose the road less traveled. It might take more lifetimes as Samsara plays itself out but, eventually once the lessons of earth are learned, you vibration increases manyfold. To begotten one must beget. Life will not come to you, you must go to it – what you put in, you get out.

All the ascended masters over time, whether Jesus, Buddha or Krishna, have increased their frequency and sprung forth their vibration not by logging onto “Rock-sta-app,” wishing they owned a large Mc-mud-hut atop a large desert rock outcrop – replete with haboob window-covers, through manifestation, by endless prayer (as if it is a list; as if God does not already know your wants and concerns), through daily affirmations (which have been proven to have little value outside the warm-fuzzies), or by the hand of any number of self-ordained – fill-in-the-blank on any social media type – life and success coaches.

These are the newly ordained graduating class of ass-hats, requiring  self-sacrificial thorns, a lamb of the self-crucified sub-group of those who have who have in life only successfully achieved mid-life crisis, a never-ending link in the infinite self-help movement societal noose, where a license found in a Cheerios box is no longer par excellence, however thoroughly ensured you are of impossible results via their Facebook PhD – the same group who they themselves have not walked the path by way of traumatic mistake, planned purpose or even happenstance, yet believe themselves worthy of guiding, or even worse, advising others on life – incessantly selling you inbox success and happiness. It is condescending and arrogant to think you know of another’s life better than he himself does; or that you affect change.

“Just keep in mind: the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.”

—  Epictetus

Whether I went out that frigid December night ten years ago in Philadelphia or not, I still would be injured, in a wheelchair at this time, unable to walk. If it were not the Friday night Express Train tragic accident, it would have been the Saturday morning bus smash incident – it was fate I would end up where I am now. There are no mistakes in life – or chance meetings of places or people of our collective memory. No mud; no lotus. Everything in our lives is inter-connected, with limitless imagination and possibility, as the trees in your backyard are inter-twined and co-dependent – one cannot escape the eternal condition and balance of our own personal karma – each lifetime and lesson must be lived out.

The meaning of life is just that: life – living. It is an experiential process that requires your participation. Sure, fate will bring us to where we are going, and we will get there, eventually, but only first by getting your hands dirty, Doing The Dirty Dishes of life, do you advance. Think of life as a garden, you can either till the soil, providing the proper earth loving nutrients and sunlight, so splendid flowers of love, support and friendship can take root and develop and grow into healthy and mature, bright and beautiful shining souls, or you can pay it no mind, denying it the necessary inner-self-love and natural needed nutrients to bring the plant, your life, to fruition. Life can and will, and is almost guaranteed, change in a just a flash of an eye – if only the Local Train! In life, by the way, your agenda ne’er wins: Never tie a bow around it.

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.

My Covid-19 forced adoption in Maine; Secure today due to the love of others: A cornucopia letter of colossal gratitude.

It is such in life that one cannot get through it successfully without others – their presence or help. We are sentient beings that learn through reflection, mimicry, experience, and intrapersonal and interpersonal communication. At every point of your day, no matter how far removed, solo or free you feel your emotions or thoughts or existence, you are wholly dependent on others for your survival. It is not only those in our inner circle that assist us on our journey in life, every day we receive boundless help in imperceptibly planned, synchronistic ways from strangers and other spirit-forms, playing to their own inter-connected orchestra, that most are totally unaware.

On the other side of the coin, life is meant to be lived. But it cannot be lived without facing trials and tribulations, of which, never cease throughout our lives. All that changes is your willingness to accept you have no control, and your attitude and reaction. As we face head-on the inevitable obstacles and countless struggles in life, we are unable to push through them without the help of others. It is impossible to function in life without coming into contact with others. Even having a PhD in advanced mathematics from Harvard will not help you escape. Just ask Ted Kaczynski.

In order to build character, integrity and understanding, to become more self-aware, the path leads throughout assisting others in life in need. There are lots of ways to assist others: money, time, support, love, forgiveness and gifts. Only by aiding others do we ultimately learn to place ourselves in their shoes, with vulnerability and authenticity, becoming closer to their actual situation, reality, providing the essential room needed for empathy, compassion and forgiveness to take root, resulting in profound inner-growth and an increased sense of self-enlightenment.

“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”            

— Vietnamese Proverb

After becoming stranded at JFK in NYC, it became glowingly clear that I was in dire need of the help of others. What was meant to be a quick stopover to see friends in “The City,” on my way to moving to Europe, was turning into an emergency, a calamity within an existential international crisis. The obstacle is the way. True. As with Sisyphus, only with the help of others are we able to push the boulder up the hill. Nevertheless, it is in Doing The Dirty Dishes of life, getting both your hands dirty, that we truly can accomplish something of any substantive or substantial value.

Weeks later, now jettisoned in Portland, Maine, after ten days and finding no place to live – creating even more urgency – only exacerbating an already precarious situation. Things were starting to look more on the frightful side. Though I remained upbeat something would open up for me, nothing ever did; one rental after the other slowly voided into a black hole. Bouncing from hotel to hotel was exhausting, infeasible and unsustainable. The money in assistance I received when in trouble in NYC was quickly running out. The outlook was becoming dreadful.

Ending up at the Hilton, my future in disarray, after being denied General Assistance, trying desperately to find a place to stay long-term (anticipating Covid-19 wave two, I was planning ahead), it was looking like I would have to live in an extended-stay type hotel. But how? That was well beyond the stretch of my limited budget. Until one serendipitous afternoon I met the hotel manager, a Southie from Baston. Informed on my situation, he told me to give him a few days to see what he could do to help. He was my last hope – my Tom Brady “Hail Mary” pass.

A few days later, feeling depleted, while sunning outside on the patio, Vernon Briggs, the hotel’s new manager, came to talk with me. He said, “Steven, could you get by with an additional mini fridge and a hot-plate in your room?” “Sure can,” I answered. With all my past travel and hotel experience, every industry trick in the book inclusive, I could not lock-in a cheap enough daily rate to pay the hotel bill and still be able to afford food. “Well then, Steven, what do you think of this daily rate?” “It is definitely workable – thank you, Vernon!”  “Oh, and it is tax free, he said.”

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

— Voltaire

Over the next few months Vernon treated me more like an old friend than a guest at his hotel. On down days when feeling blue and depressed, he was consistently there with a positive word and smile. When money was tight and food was short, he always ensured I had a warm meal to eat. And most days it was hard to get past him without him offering me some type delectable sweet as well. In due time, several deep conversations abound, eventually a relationship developed. I now consider him a friend and look forward to meeting him and his family again in the future.

The rest of the staff at the hotel was just as helpful and supportive. Clive never let a shift go by when he did not place a goodies bag by my door for me to awake to – constantly going above and beyond. Shauna, evermore the momma-bear of the hotel, never missing a chance to bring me in a home-cooked meal or something much needed from the local food market – like the little sister I never had, a blessing. And Barbara, the humorous feisty Argentine tigress, incessantly greeting me with a vast smile and humorous remark – a pistol – continually nourished my soul.  

Mark, a person with infinite love and care in his heart for mankind, a man so willing to sacrifice his own contentment for the sake of others’ joy and happiness, someone who deeply understands the meaning of being altruistic, selfless. He is the type person one can only wish to have in their life as a friend or mentor– good stock to the core. Everyone else at the Hilton was super helpful, from staff, Sara and Alicia, to the engineers, Les and Al – everyone was spectacular. Forever will I be grateful to those who helped me transition from homelessness to finding a home in Portland.

As well, I met numerous other guests at the hotel that helped make my stay more enjoyable. Thank you to Anthony, Sheena, Brian and Alisa for the lovely meal in the main dining room. Some of recent acquaintance, Rita and Gwen, would later go on to become friends. Many a star-filled night was spent outside on the cozy patio conversing by the gaslit fire-pit. As a result of so much time spent by an airport hotel, I met a plethora of passersby, from all over the globe, from every profession imaginable, listening to their stories by blazing flames, and most often over a cold drink. Some nights with guests did not go as planned, concluding with memorable fodder.

Locally, others were also just as involved in making my extended stay in Maine comfortable. Laney, the friend who rescued me from NYC, and I spent much time road-tripping through New England, traveling the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire, eating seafood at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunkport, Maine, sharing laughs at Bentley’s Saloon (Bush Sr. would frequent when staying locally) with the owner and local celebrity, Bentley, or drinks or eats at any local Portland favorites, Wilson County BBQ, Duckfat or Omi’s Cafe, is an angel sent from above.

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In Unbreakable Mind, in order to get through a serious trauma and recovery, I write about how critical it is to form a team and superb plan – a community of unending support, because it is not only required [if you wish to succeed] but necessary – the same is true in life. It is by means of others that we best learn about ourselves. And why wouldn’t it? We are all one; a mere reflection of one another: the cosmos is your eye; and your eye is the cosmos. What you do to yourself, you do to your neighbor – and vice versa. We are all inter-fused through “one” shared sub-conscious.

The journey of life cannot be completed alone – we all require the love and support of others at various times of our lives. As humans we are animals and as animals we are social beings. It is via others how we ultimately graduate extreme ‘spirit school’ AKA earth – as it travels through the universe at 107,000 km/h. As masses of confused meat-drabbed stardust incarnate, we are on this hurling rock of magma through the cosmic shit-storm of unknown together. Community and society do not work unless everyone plays their part; all the cogs are interrelated. A life fulfilled, replete with purpose and mission, success and happiness, is best had by way of assisting others.

We all have the capability within us to bring out the greatest in others and, as a result, ourselves. If not today, when you do you become your best self? 2020 has been a year for the history books; it cannot end soon enough for a myriad. Now is a period of contemplative thinking and resolve – time to be alone with your thoughts and how you wish to improve yourself in the coming year – an opportunity to be together with your family and friends again, breathing life into yesteryear.  And at a time when the world is in such need of healing, why not start by helping others today?!  

#gratitude

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.

Using your Covid-19 time wisely; Hey everyone, look at me: The incessant need to be affirmed on social media.

In the Covid-19 world we currently find ourselves, there has never been a greater need for inter-personal communication. Today’s generation, born into the digital age, lack the ability to communicate with others person-to-person. The fact that social media plays such a big part in so many peoples’ lives only exacerbates the issue on a larger level. As a result of the current international health and economic crisis, social distancing and other counter measures, we find ourselves exceedingly separated from friends and loved ones, increasing isolation and anxiety.

With schedules in disarray, resulting in more time off, the amount of hours per day spent online has increased many-fold. Rather than take that spare time to read a book, take a walk in nature or spend time improving oneself through contemplation, it is wasted on frivolous empty activities, providing no value to our brains and souls. One of the gifts of this international crisis is solitude: time alone to explore within for direction; and to look without, through close friends and family, for answers. The need to fill our schedules with “busy” time pervades our thoughts, however.

Those who are whole and complete, who have done their work AKA “stuff” in life, fought their demons by embarking on a profound journey into the furthest annals of their being, only to find light, are handling this turning point with empathy and compassion. They understand the world is not fair, that they cannot control what happens in life, as that is out of their control, but they can be in control of their emotions – their reaction and attitude to life’s trials and tribulations. They understand the underpinning inter-connected essential elements of community, and the need to protect fellow mankind, regardless the level of their [professed and misguided] patriotism.

For those who are not complete, those who have not embarked on the intolerable voyage to better understand themselves, those still lacking inner content and resolve, they are pining for life to return to yesteryear. Aside from being separated from daily socialization with others, through measures implemented by governments worldwide, by banning people from social events and functions that would otherwise provide much obliged human communication, interaction and touch, whilst others suffer in silence, unable to access social services, there are no outlets for citizens to vent, they do not exist. It is left up to you to explore new ways to find well-being.

What issues and concerns existed prior to the catastrophe have only multiplied exponentially. Social media, normally an outlet for most to keep in touch with family and friends or post about their lives, has turned into the biggest self-psychology self-help platform in the world. Anytime anyone goes on social media they are bombarded with unreliable, poorly sourced information or fake news. Kind of like believing you are Frank Sinatra in your own shower – well, everyone on Facebook, newfound PhDs abound, are experts in everything from epidemiology to financial market fluctuations to political history to quantum physics. Geez, how did I ever go amiss?!

My favorites are the alleged ‘spiritual advisors’ of the Internet. They are in a stratosphere all their own, figuratively and literally. These ass-hats are as in need of therapy as much themselves as those they [attempt to] help, and certainly should not be doling out advice on life to anyone in want.  The Internet is replete with countless throngs of blind sheep searching for their shepherd. And there are no lack of shepherds to boot. Their specialty need of assurance is of an elite class, where few are chosen but many are self-ordained. In other words, the blind leading the blind!

There is nothing better than when one of these self-proclaimed ‘spiritual advisors’ openly advertises her sexuality to sell her message – the antithesis of being spiritual, by placing utter emphasis and excessive value on beauty, the shallow, vain and superficial. Somehow the “message” gets lost in the infinite inappropriate ogling of comments of pathetic men – probably the same group who randomly send gross dick-pics to unsuspecting [and shocked] women. If they were advertising VIP lounge champagne lap dances or comfort-bunny cuddle-services it would make sense. But they are not.

Good luck seeing your way through the labyrinth of personal hypocrisy and self-contradiction.

These same vapid types will also immediately and constantly reply to any comment you make on their narcissistic post, never missing an opportunity to “tag” someone, thus providing the ‘click-whirl,’ immediate gratification and confirmation modern society has come to reward. Whereas, if these ‘spiritual advisors’ had anything “spiritual” to offer, aforementioned notwithstanding, they would not be advertising their bodies and cheapening their message, a byproduct of the ‘hedonic treadmill,’ to solicit “likes” and comments – thus fueling the social media algorithms to the point of manipulating the news feed to keep their post reappearing – so long as they feed the machine.

And for those on the other side of the narcissism coin, those with an insatiable appetite, enough to fill a black hole, in a world where discipline and rigor are foreign, where the cheap and the shallow are de rigueur, whose use of social media as modern self-therapy, with an never-ending thirst for non-self-effacing daily attestation – everything from their new car, who by accident include the [luxury] make, to their kid’s every poop (we all defecate, by the way), to the ever-so-lovely forever updated profile photo, with every self-beautifying angle and trick straight from the photographer’s handbook – you are just as guilty in being abundantly devoid of self-awareness.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

— Aristotle

Let me suggest some other more constructive uses of your ever precious time: Perhaps you could better utilize this donation of newfound wonder, a gift in disguise, rather than spending your days filled with endless social media, by taking some time for silence – a moment to look deep within your inner-being, quiet the busyness of your day, eliminate the time thieves, and explore the cavernous vicissitudes of your soul – discovering who you are, why you are here, and what is your purpose in life. We are here on this earth to find meaning, and it is best found by listening to your heart. Satisfaction and happiness are two sure roads built on the backs of helping others.

Learn to take back control of your life; learn to appreciate the value of silence and introspection; learn the practicality and immense fathomless benefits of inward contemplative reflection.

There is good news: Your feelings of not being whole, not having walked your innermost journey – where your ‘stuff’ is identified and worked through – your emotional state of unease and unhappiness, and your quest to fill a vast bottomless depression has a solution: That time spent on social media, entreating to be affirmed and liked by others, is better spent by directing that same energy inward, by completing the pursuit in life slaying your dragon(s), commencing unraveling the onion called you, gaining a better understanding of the [inner] route to happiness.

We currently live in a culture of personality, where the superficial is elevated to emperor status, where we have replaced virtue with vice and integrity with sub-moral character, where we have elevated actors to hero status – no longer valuing the true heroes in our society: those who look deep within for answers, those who face insurmountable odds, those who play with the cards they are dealt (and do it well), and those who often fall down but get back up, even through affliction, struggle, suffering and disease. These are the heroes we need to reinstate in society.

The burning desire that others find interest in our lives, instead of discovering that same interest in and of ourselves on our own, creates a Jungian self-reflective mirror effect of our own self inadequacies unplumbed in the chasmic cleavage we call our self, perpetuating the inexhaustible cycle of unhappiness. No one can be sure what the results of this worldwide economic and health catastrophe ultimately will be, but rest assured we are experiencing drastic change never seen the likes of history. Change is uncomfortable; it does not come easily.  There is no way around Doing The Dirty Dishes of life; anything of value worth having takes hard work and sacrifice.

Buddhist proverb: No mud; no lotus. (Without dirt and fight there is no flower and beauty.)

You will not find such satisfaction on social media, nor will you find happiness through the need for incessant affirmation. Algorithmic social media feeds – specifically programmed, with psychology and addiction in mind, to show us more of what we want – guaranteeing we continually reinforce our ideas of the world, no matter how skewed or misinformed, always playing out to our own heartfelt capacious self-made and self-fulfilling narrative. Through their continuous psychological manipulation, you are drinking the cool-aid, questioning nothing, and allowing conspiracy theories to take root and gain credibility when false and unsubstantiated.

The irony of it is that these humbugs are going onto social media to tell others how to be whole and complete. Ladies and gentleman and clowns, it is like what is said of being a guru: If one calls oneself a guru, simply be definition they cannot be one. Same goes for those who purport to be self-assured on social media, and can show you how to do so too – they are incapable. A fruit tree that is not healthy cannot bear fruit. Therefore, how can a person who has not walked that path in life inform others how to proceed downward? They cannot. Only you can. And for free.

It is a dichotomous paradox so few can find their way out of yet. And this interminable self-contradiction is only worsened and compounded by those feeding their never contented egos under the guise of spiritual guidance. Time is the only commodity you can never recover, though often we find ourselves unceasingly wasting it, to our own detriment. Only once we face our traumas and make peace with our past can we begin to hope to find happiness and realize it is ours to gain or lose. It certainly will not come through social media affirmation. Look within – where you will find, abound with untold cosmic wanderlust –all that you seek is seeking you.

Quote of the day: “A man has as many social selves as there are distinctive groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups.” — William James

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.