Today I feel like talking about the downsides of 'youth culture'. For years, I have thought about the differences in the cultures I spend time in - Tanzania, Europe, the United States - and how people have very different attitudes towards older people. Perhaps now that I am 51, and considered an elder myself in many cultures, I am embracing more and more the wisdom I have gained and finding way…
The Pergola at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has been restored! And you know, my friends, I am full of words to say, metaphors to make, and general philosophizing on the theme of 'sometimes everything has be torn down before new life can begin again'.
The Pergola suffered severe damage when Hurricane Irma hit Miami back in 2017. When I came to the Garden six months ago, just …
Here I am, back at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, after a magical trip to Spain to celebrate my 50th Birthday. I never thought I would make a big deal about turning 50, in part knowing these 'milestones' to be social constructions. I never saw the chimps in Tanzania celebrating birthdays! But, given that age does bring wisdom, I recalled a while back that I did get emotional upon turning 30…
Happy New Year!
I do hope 2018 has started on a good note. From my side, I rang in the new year from my home in Miami this year, with dear friends and loved ones. After a year filled with traveling, heavy workloads, and general cacophony in the global and national arenas, I needed to sit, digest, and be still. Even with a daily meditation practice, I needed more; more time to let the dust…
I used to enjoy watching news reports on TV and reading multiple newspapers and magazines to get both facts and analysis from interesting writers. The Sociologist in me got excited to see how our theories of human behavior either were playing out in realtime, or needed some serious revision.
During the US presidential campaign the last TWO! years I found it fascinating to hear how peo…
After more than a year of feeling bombarded by loud, generally unpleasant, and often violent language from many sources in the States, I was truly looking forward to The Healing Safari in Tanzania. As the creator and leader of The Healing Safari, I am passionate about guiding people through this external-inner personal journey, and this year, I realized that I needed some stillness, silence, pr…
This is the fourth piece in a series — Out of Africa back to America — where I am sharing my take on what it was like, is like, to come back to the country I was born. Seeing the United States of America again, from 2012 until today, with African lenses…
PART IV - A Brie in the Bush
Some poles on the Pergola at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gar…
This is the third piece in a series — Out of Africa back to America — where I am sharing my take on what it was like, is like, to come back to the country I was born. Seeing the United States of America again, from 2012 until today, with African lenses…
I was somehow merrily going along that Autumn season in the northern hemisphere …
This is the second piece in a series — Out of Africa back to America — where I am sharing my take on what it was like, is like, to come back to the country I was born. Seeing the United States of America again, from 2012 until today, with African lenses, has been more than interesting, to say the least…
I began sorting through my stu…
This is the first piece in a series, starting now. An Italian-Russian-American-who-lived-in-Africa-for-a-decade-and-then-returns-to-America. I share my take on what it was like, is like, to come back to the country I was born, where I received my formal education, and where many friends and family live. Seeing the United States of America again, from 2012 un…
A little over 10 years ago, I was living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and was a member of a Rotary Club there. Our meetings were held during lunchtime on Thursdays, from 1pm. Afterward, I typically had a coffee with some other members while we waited for traffic to die down so we could get home.
One Thursday, I was sitting with the President of the club and he introduced me to his friend wh…
I don't know about you, but so many people I have been talking to and working with lately are telling me they are going through major changes in their lives, transformations even. Normally I take notice of this phenomenon and figure that, according to the law of attraction, I may also be going through a transformation myself.
Yet, when I take a look, I have to report that on many obvious …
I am back in Miami after a super trip to Europe. Back at the beautiful, ever peaceful Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the special Vine Pergola. And guess what? The vines are bursting with color, buds and flowers of all varieties. I know, this should not be surprising, given that yesterday was the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere. But, I tend to forget — given that the temp…
The "monkey mind". It is a concept we teach about during meditation mentoring. Monkey mind actually comes from the Chinese, from Buddhist teachings, and basically refers to the unsettled mind, the cacophony of thoughts jumping around rather drunkenly in your mind.
Now I've spent a fair amount of time hanging and watching monkeys in their habitat in Africa. Colobus monkeys, baboons, blue-b…
Compliments of the New Year to those who mark 1 January a new year.
As promised, I am talking more about The Happy Middle; a place you can hang out in, and feel peace and joy. I said I would share more tips on how to get there. So here we go!
In my last Blog I said:
Far from being a murky, …
The original title of my first book was "The Happy Middle". I thought it would be an apropos title, as I was writing about the bridge between indigenous and modern worlds, integrating ancient wisdom traditions into cutting-edge science. During the writing process I was visiting the States and tested out "The Happy Middle" on a few trusted friends. It fell flat. In fact, I heard a thud.
Walking through Vine Pergola today, I was drawn to the pillars. The pillars of wood, of stone that form the basic structure of the Pergola. The pillars on which the vines grow, rest, flower and die.
The words "Pillars of Faith" came to me. As a long-time student of religion, I recalled the 5 pillars of Islam -- Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting, Pilgrimage -- so alike all religions; making …
Time. A concept that comes into my awareness a lot. And I mean, a lot. In fact, so much, I wrote a book entitled Time is Cows.
This week, time warped on me, wrapped me up, badgered me, even accosted me, until I finally said, "enough man! relax. I'll ask your assistance when I need you. Time is cows."
See, November 2nd is the day my father passed on from life on th…
It is raining today. Raining cats and dogs, as they say, funny expression that is. I saw the clouds building in the sky from my home this morning and checked the apps to see the time of expected arrival of rain. The screens indicated that I had a couple of hours, enough time to get to the gardens and write my blog. As I was finishing my coffee, the heavens opened. So much for technology. I was …
I was full of excitement this morning, heading back to Fairchild Gardens in Coral Gables and my special spot, the Vine Pergola. I've been away for over a month, halfway around the world in my other home, East Africa. It felt amazing to walk through the Pergola again, a gentle grounding, and as always, full of magic.
Conversations I had with friends in Tanzania came to mind as I walked, ma…
I am sitting under a Pergola, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on 9/11, just a few minutes' drive from the old American Embassy that was bombed by Al-Qaeda in one of its first attacks on American targets. (See first scene in the movie American Sniper, the event that propelled Chris Kyle to Iraq).
Today, I was at a place called Protea Amani Beach, working to develop a healing retreat for…
I'm departing soon to head back to my other home, in Africa. As always seems to happen the days before I shift continents, I feel a swirl of emotions running through me: excitement, joy, gratitude, and, some sadness, knowing I'll be away from loved ones for a while.
Today, as I walked through Vine Pergola, I really felt as though I was walking through a covered bridge, connecting my world…
I've been working on my audiobook this week. To tell you the truth, I am really enjoying reading my book out loud. Even though it is not overly stimulating to read the script to an inanimate mic and laptop, I truly feel like I am telling a story; one that will soon be available to the world to listen to. This makes me very excited.
Yesterday, I read / told the story of my visit to a Maas…
Many greetings from Vine Pergola at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Earlier this week, I spoke at an event on the topic of fueling your work activities with passion. And...even more importantly, learning when the tank is full and to stop and relax. Let me try and explain, this quirky juxtaposition that reveals the light side of passion, and also it's shadow side.17 Jul
Today is Eid, Eid al-Fitr, the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan -- the month-long sunrise to sunset fast practiced by Muslims worldwide. I really enjoyed Eid when I was living in Tanzania. Most businesses were closed, even those owned by non-Muslims. It was a day to cook, eat, visit with family and friends and enjoy life. A massive celebration. Even though I do not fast during Ramadan, ha…10 Jul
I realize I let one rip last week here on the blog.
"Remember, we do have the ability to create time, rather than be ruled by it."
And then, quietly, I snuck away. Maybe it was all the fireworks in the air, exploding out of seemingly nowhere and then fizzling out.
I'm sorry; I owe you all an explanation, and some clarity on this truly power…3 Jul
This weekend is a holiday time in the United States of America. The 4th of July is Independence Day, and like most countries, it is marked as a national holiday. While ritual and celebrations are pillars of culture that should be a part of all our lives, on a daily basis; shared celebrations, on a national level and beyond, are great times to practice. Practice what? Practice the art of creatin…19 Jun
For sometime now, I have stayed away from commenting publicly on specific current events, particularly in the United States of America. I realize though, that I am in a unique position as a trained sociologist from the States who lived for over a decade outside the country, in Africa. I have gained a perspective that probably is worth sharing. I was told as much by my brothers and sisters in Af…12 Jun
As I was happily strolling toward Vine Pergola today, I noticed something different. There was a veritable cacophony in the air. The harsh noises did not come from birds, insects or other sounds of tropical jungles, but rather from a power (pressure) washer being used to clean the sidewalk at Fairchild Gardens and a leaf blower across the street being used to spiffy up some lawns in Coral Gable…5 Jun
Many greetings from Vine Pergola on this World Environment Day! The Pergola has an amazing message to share with us today, this day pronounced by the United Nations as a time for "encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment."
I know many of us are tired of hearing for so many years the gloom and doom stories of what…29 May
Yesterday was my Birthday. And, I have to say, it was a perfect day. At 47 years old, I have almost become an expert in how to make a day that makes me the happiest I can be.
Part of my wisdom in this matter came from living for years in a culture where people did not celebrate birthdays. In fact, in Maasailand, many people have no idea when they were born, so celebrating one's entry into…22 May
Today, I actually feel a holiday weekend coming on. In the United States! In Tanzania and South Africa it was normal; the last day before a national holiday, people would rush around to get work completed, purchases made before shops closed, and plans made to meet family and friends. For a decade of my life in Africa, I enjoyed holidays, a time to un-plug, relax and rejuvenate. When I came back…15 May
I don't know about you, but it has been a very wonky week for me. From the second devastating earthquake in Nepal, to a mysterious train crash in Philadelphia, to a sudden death of a young, close friend-of-family member, to a stressful surgery of a family member.
This morning, back at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, I almost ran to the Pergola. I couldn't wait to get to the comfort of …8 May
Today I start my new blog series "Inspiring Vines from the Pergola." I am so excited. Every Friday, when I am in town, I will go to the stunning Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, ten minutes from my home in Miami, and perform a walking meditation under the Vine Pergola. Then, I take out my tablet and share with you the prominent thoughts imparted to me by the vines and plants woven through the…8 May
Today I start my new blog series "Inspiring Vines of the Pergola." I am so excited. At the end of every week, when I am in town, I will go to the stunning Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, ten minutes from my home in Miami, and perform a walking meditation under the Vine Pergola. Then, I take out my tablet and share with you the prominent thoughts imparted to me by the vines and plants woven t…29 Dec
I was with the elephants last year for Christmas. In between my book launch events in South Africa and Tanzania, I traveled to the Serengeti for a site visit and then to Karatu, Tanzania for Christmas and Boxing Day. Far far away from any shopping mall, I listened to the elephants walk slowly and with intention through the bush on Christmas Eve. The sense of peace and oneness I remember feeling…14 NovMy book tour of the USA was an eye-opening experience for me. Since my return to the States two years ago, I had been listening to the news and statistics about how challenging life has become in America, and how people are reporting stress levels not seen in decades. Getting out of my oasis in Coconut Grove, Florida and hitting the streets allowed me to really see where people are at in a good pa…