April was a tough month for me. It was stressful personally and professionally so this weekend was all about self-care. Good food, friends, dogs, art, time in the sunshine, books, exploring New York, and sleep. Life can wear us out and it’s up to us to refill the well so that we can continue to give the world our best. Renewed, I’m ready for Monday.
John Holiday’s music went straight to me heart this week when I went to see his recital as part of the Crypt Sessions at the Church of the Intercession in Hamilton Heights. I’m in awe. I can’t believe he doesn’t have an album yet. One has to be on the horizon. Also, his piano players Neeki Bey and Kevin J. Miller are just as incredible as John. Here’s a bit of John and Neeki for your listening pleasure:
I went to a fantastic PEN America event on Sunday to close the PEN World Voices M Word series. These are my favorite words of wisdom from Hasan Minhaj and Wajahat Ali:
“Every artist needs to play offense. You’re not asking [gatekeepers] for permission. Ask for support. Decide that your work is happening with or without them.” ~Hasan Minhaj
“What advice do you have for artists?” ~Wajahat Ali
“1. Move to the city that has a community
2. Immerse yourself in the community
3. Rise and help others find their voice
4. When you succeed, don’t be an asshole” ~Hasan Minhaj
It filled my heart with joy to see kids actively engaged in science and hunting for fossils at Rowan University’s Edelman Fossil Park yesterday. It is such a special place, unique in the world for the scientific history it holds. Walking through a 65 million year old time machine and physically seeing that time in layers around me is something I’m still wrapping my mind around.
An enormous thank you and congratulations to Ken Lacovara, the town of Mantua, staff, students, and volunteers who are working so hard to preserve this natural treasure. What a gift it was to spend the day there with them. I can’t wait to go back. Childhood dream of fossil hunting and being a paleontologist for a day fulfilled!
Ending another week of happy book news! A few months ago I was invited to be in the Independent Press Listing of The New York Review of Books – Spring Books issue. I’m honored to be among so many fantastic books and authors in this publication that I have admired for years. You can pick up a copy of Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and in independent bookstores everywhere. Thanks to all of you who continue to support my book and this journey with Emerson. I hope you keep writing—through all the difficulties, rejections, and doubts. It’s worth it and the world needs your story. I can’t wait to read it.
Had such a great time hosting last night’s NYC’s Secrets & Lies w/ these amazing storytellers: Adam Wade, Vicki Eastus, Suzanne Reisman, Carla Katz, and Madame Morbid (Allison Huntington-Chase). It is an honor to have this show at Caveat and I feel so lucky to do the work I love with these wonderful people. My heart is full. Thank you to everyone who came to the show – you were a fantastic crowd. Our next show is on the books for June 25th at 7pm. Mark your calendars. Tickets on sale soon!
I’m so insanely excited about the storytelling show NYC’s Secrets and Lies tonight at Caveat. I’ll be hosting a slate of incredible storytellers who have dug up some incredible NYC secrets all hidden in plain sight that we walk by every single day. The show is capped off with trivia by Madame Morbid and a fantastic prize from our pals at Untapped Cities. Doors open at 6:30pm, show starts at 7:00pm. Tickets available at http://caveat.nyc/event/new-york-citys-secrets-and-lies-2/. See you there!
“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.” ~Jack Kerouac
No matter you age, your past choices, or your current situation, every day is a blank page. You can see it as empty, or you can see it as an opportunity. It’s the same page, just a different perspective. Your move.
I was walking home from a memorial service yesterday. The person being honored at the service poured his love into the universe, into every person he met, and it came back to him many times over when he needed it most. Even in the depths of his incurable illness, he found the light that every day offered. Right to the end. His life is a powerful example of the glow that comes from the blank page. He could do anything he wanted, and he chose to be of service, to create community, to welcome love into his life with wide open arms. And because of those choices, his impact will far outlast his much-too-short life. We should all be so lucky, and we can be, if we choose to be.
I once read that if we really want to find our purpose, we should think about what we loved to do when we were 8 years old. I’ve been thinking a lot about 8-year-old me lately, and sifting through the writing I’ve done about my childhood. I came across this piece that I wrote 5 years ago. And it floors me that it still rings so true that I might as well have written it yesterday.
“I grew up in the dirt, literally. There was (and still is) a tractor crossing sign across the street from the house where I grew up. My rural hometown fostered a childhood that involved climbing trees and making mud pies. When I was little, I was convinced that there was a dinosaur skeleton hiding under the ground in my backyard. I enlisted my sister, Weez, to help me dig and dig and dig. All we found was a small mouse skeleton, but I thought it was clearly a prehistoric mouse! Other kids wanted to be doctors, firefighters, or teachers. I wanted to be a paleontologist. I still do.
My childhood was far from idyllic, but there were some very positive things about growing up in the sticks. I got my hands dirty in the process of making things. I ate organic food because that’s really all there was, not because it was trendy. Animals were my friends and companions, as much as people. Maybe even more than people. I learned to appreciate the Earth, her majesty and her power. Weather was a way of life, and I still watch it with fascination and wonder.
An article in the New York Times last weekend talked about a movement in this fine and fair city I now call home to bring more nature into the lives of city kids not by taking them out of the city, but by bringing nature to them. Brooklyn Forest, a husband and wife startup, “takes toddlers into Prospect Park to promote learning through creative play like building teepees out of branches.” 7 students were in their first class. Now there are over 200. More people are eager to get into mud these days; I was a pioneer.
There’s something to be said for the slow life, the life we build rather than the life we buy shrink-wrapped and delivered right to our doorstep. Creation builds confidence and bolsters the imagination. It makes us self-sufficient. I’m all for it, for our children and for us. There’s a lot of beauty down there in the mud.”
If you commit to following your curiosity and passion, the opportunities will be endless. The universe rises up to support bold visions and those with the courage to turn dreams into reality.