Daily Writing March 26,2023

I missed writing yesterday and broke a seven day streak. The Cura that we sang with Padrinho Paulo started early and finished late, and there just was not an opportunity to write. When I got home, I saw the above picture of my grandson Noah eating Açaí in Madrinha Rita’s kitchen with his Mom, Simone. I remember the last time I was in Mapia in the summer of 2019. An old friend, Severinho, was making the açaí in the kitchen. He brought the long stalks of berries from the açaí palms and blanched them in boiling water and then separated the pits from the thick purple meat of the berries. From there it went straight into a plastic pitcher and from there into our bowls. I always liked a little farinha and honey in mine. There in Mapia, the açai is thick and heavy–a completely different food from the watered down frozen packets that we buy in the grocery store here.

I also received a really cool video of Wylie doing a flip off the bridge into the stream in the middle of town with a bunch of other young people. He executed a perfect flip, but without rolling into a ball. He looks like a pencil flipping through the air. The bridge is about 15 feet over the surface of the river, so one has to commit or suffer a horrendous belly flop. I would be terrified to leap like that into that coffee brown and opaque water. I hit my face into a log without seeing it one time. I was lucky not to be seriously injured.

The work was very strong. We had about 35 people with visitors from all around the country. Several people came from the much larger Church near Austin Texas. We had several from upstate New York, Maryland, Hawaii, and Los Angeles Churches too. These are all places Padrinho stopped on his tour, and Miami is the final stop, so we had a lot of people who wanted to be there for our works.

The work was extremely challenging for me. Padrinho likes to arrange the salão so that he can see everyone during the work. This is different from the traditional Santo Daime set up where the table is in the center and everyone is in a hexagon or square shape around the center table. Here we set up what looked like a banquet table with the women going down the right side and the men on the left. As the “daime guardian” I was seated next to Padrinho’s left hand, and so when I looked down at the hymn book on the table in front on me, the line of men were in my upper left visual field, which of course is blind since my stroke. So this gave me the weird effect of not being able to see the entire line of fifteen or so men extending out to the left.

The force of the sacrament was very strong. It was enough to open the healing but not so much as to create a carnage. It’s a very fine balance to push the force strong enough to really open the doors for healing without over serving the sacrament. Fortunately the divine intelligence guides the serving process. We hit that edge perfectly.

The music was particularly beautiful as well. We had the guitar players at the opposite end of the room, so they did not interfere too much with connecting the voices of the singers. Sometimes with a guitar in the center, the voices cannot connect over the amplifier in the center. This set up was much better.

The leader of the Santo Daime worldwide is Padrinho Alfredo, the son of Padrinho Sebastião. He is a master of leading works without having to be the loudest voice in the room. No matter what is happening in the salão, and it can get pretty intense, Padrinho Alfredo is the picture of calm. He was giving me guidance in keeping myself calm and patient when I felt frustrated that other people were not following my guidance. Padrinho trust me to lead the work when he is up taking care of something, and I am willing and capable of doing so, but it’s hard when we have so many people, especially leaders from other churches. Everyone means well, and everyone wants to contribute what they have to offer. And so a lot of time when I’m wanting to influence the work, I don’t have the space or the attention I need to be effective.

One way to deal with this is to get loud and start bossing everyone around. This works not at all. In the force people are so sensitive that even a minor correction can make someone feel really bad. And they were all having fun and trying to share their gifts. Padrinho Alfredo handles this situation so well. He just stays calm and carries on, and forgives the offenses as soon as they happen.

We were singing the Cura II, which is a 17 hymn selection of healing hymns, in the force of strong sacrament. People were excited and we were blowing through it way to fast. At the rate it was going, we were going to run out of hymns in about 35 minutes with an hour and a half of strong force present. I wanted to sing all the hymns in English and Portuguese, and I had to overcome some resistance to this. I confirmed with Padrinho that was what he wanted. My challenge was to make this happen without making anyone feel that I was strong arming the work.

I had to go outside and sit for a minute, in the middle of this force, to see how to handle it, and Padrinho Alfredo was there for me. I saw how he sits at the table and controls everything with gentle indications from his maracá. I returned to the salão and the women leading the singing were finishing this one hymn in English and when they were done and the guitars were doing the playout, I started softly to sing in Portuguese, and it took a bit for people to catch on, but they did, and then from there we sang them all in both languages. It was such a subtle input in the middle of so much force with so many personalities in play. It was a very special moment.

But I was very tired. My ribs from the fracture were painful and the breathing while singing was hard for me. Also the visual distortions were disorienting, so I had to keep my eyes closed a lot. I felt rather alone, like I was in a capsule or something. I had to let go of some hurt feelings I had to when something I had proposed for the work today was rejected in a way that felt very unkind to me. I am learning this balance of self sufficiency with caring for others. It’s easy for me to isolate myself with the thought that I’m fine by myself, but this is a cold and lonely way to be. At the same time, I am learning that I cannot let my internal sense of well being and happiness be controlled by the reactions other people have to me. Sometimes they love me, sometimes they are angry at me, sometimes they understand me, sometimes they don’t. If my happiness depends on the reactions other people have to me, then what happiness can I possibly have?

So I was sitting with this a lot during the work, and Padrinho Alfredo was sitting there with me. He showed me how to meditate, in a buddhist sort of way, accepting everything that is going on around, and looking out upon it with love in my own eyes, while having my internal peace and happiness coming to me from my divine connection, instead of from my little approval seeking ego self. It was a way of being, impeccability Padrinho was calling it, that I could sustain for a minute or two at a time, before some negative thought or hurt feeling would bubble back up.

We have another work today. The last one of the tour this year. It’s a little hard to get up the energy to do another seven hours with the sacrament, but once we get started, it always takes on a life of its. Sometimes I hope for it to be easy. Usually it isn’t easy. But even if it is not easy, it certainly can be beautiful.

There are a lot of ways that people experience Ayahausca. The Daime is like none other, because we all share in creating the work. It’s not like the shamanic traditions where people come to have a shaman minister to them. Here we have no shaman, we have no guru, we just have the doctrine, and the Daime leads the work. That’s why for us, it is a sacrament, and for most others, it is a medicine.

Wish me luck today.


Daily Writing for March 24th, 2023

Today I’m up early to write before the day gets started. Today is a big day because I plan to take Tatiana down to the DMV to get her Learners Permit for driving. I completed this ritual with all four of my sons, and Tata will be my fifth and probably final. They always seem to find some way to deny my first effort… It’s my CARma.

When I was 16 years old, I was so excited to get my Drivers License. The plan was to go by the Cutler Bay DMV office near the Lorde and Taylor where my Mom started working after my parents got divorced. We would go in when the DMV opened, get my license, and then I was going to drop my Mom at work and drive the car home. I, however, failed the vision test. And so began my string of first-time-attempt-failures at the DMV. But today, on this day, we are calling in the Angels to help us. May the person or people at the DMV be our friends and help us on our speedy way to Tata’s learners permit.

Today is a day of quiet energy. Perhaps more of a day for journaling and private conversation than a day for publication. There is a difference between blogging and journaling, because in a Blog one must be conscious of other people involved in our lives reading. Part of me feels a bit constrained by this, but I think I should sit with the discomfort of that rather than publishing what belongs in a journal.

It’s funny though, because it acts as such a block to my writing channel. How can we write about something other that what is bugging us? It’s like trying to listen to piano music while someone is blaring FOX News–I just can’t seem to focus on the channel.

We have big works this weekend, and what needs to be healed usually comes up for healing. We’ll see how it goes. But for now, I have to be satisfied with a brief blog post and then I’ll spend an hour in my journal to see if I can unclog my pipes for tomorrow.


Daily Writing March 23, 2023

I opened the Astrology Application on my phone today and noted that in the current chart, our friend Pluto is presently at 0.00 degrees of Aquarius. The last time Pluto was in Aquarius was from 1778 to 1798, a time which encompassed both the American and the French Revolution. It was also the period of time that America started out with Articles of Confederation which evolved into the United States Constitution in 1789 and the Bill of Rights in 1791.

I was reading about this yesterday evening in my favorite Astrology blog called AstroButterfly . I’m going to quote from that article here:

Sometimes we resist change because “better the devil you know, right”? And while sticking to the familiar may make sense in many situations, when Pluto changes signs, the last thing we want to do is get stuck in the past. Pluto’s key function is CHANGE. As the higher octave of Mars, Pluto wants to keep the engine of the universe going.


I really liked how she described Pluto as the higher octave of Mars, the planet of action. Mars to me represents action and potential on the personal level, and so Pluto is the higher vibration of this, which would be action and potential on the larger scale.

As I walked the dogs to get my coffee this morning, I passed the old coral rock wall in Coconut Grove which has been enveloped by the banyon tree growing on the other side. I have been passing this Coral Wall since I was on my bicycle on the way to School in 1978 when the red brick sidewalks were laid down in Coconut Grove, and the wall was first constructed. Back then, of course, there were not roots entwined in the Coral. The banyon tree spreads its canopy over a huge area, and it does this by a remarkable feat of biological engineering. It drops roots down from the branches, which descend like vines of spaghetti. When they find purchase, they descend into the ground and then they fuse together and form new supportive trunks for the branches. And so with this miraculous engineering, a single banyon tree can cover an acre or more.

So over the years that I have been walking down this path, the roots have penetrated and integrated with the wall. I remember back in 2011 I was recovering from the break up of a year long relationship I had after my divorce. I saw the roots of this tree like the cords of attachment and the rock wall as the structure of my heart. The energetic roots of the relationship were so deeply imbedded in the wall, that to rip them out would destroy the wall itself. I saw my predicament. If I violently ripped the relationship out of my heart to get over the pain of the break up, it would destroy my heart too. I saw in a vision that the only solution was to dissolve the roots, and the solvent was love. By sending love and best wishes to my ex, I was able to dissolve the roots of the relationship, and continue on my happy way without the cords sucking out my energy.

And today, there are several projects that have been kind of in a frustrating holding pattern that are really starting to move now. We are developing the 60 acre property in Hawaii, and this is moving forward fast. We are building a house and a barn and an event pavilion, and we are developing an organic farm based on the principles of restorative agroforestry. IN addition to the commercial crops, we will grow sacred plants, leaves and vines, on the property and hold events there. At the top will be a private residence. The long term plan is to keep the top twenty acres with the house on it, and give away the two remaining 20 acre parcels–one to a farm, one to a spiritual retreat center. This is the same strategy we have with the Cacão farm in Brazil and, to a lesser extent, with the farm in upstate New York.

The project in Hawaii was kind of stuck in the mud since we purchased the land in 2017, but right now it is moving very fast. The foundations are being poured for the buildings and we are buying a front end loader to do the development of the roads and ponds and other major earth moving. The land includes a river which comes straight from the top of Mauna Kea to the bay of Onomea, and on the parcel that the house will sit on, there is a beautiful water fall with a pond at the bottom. It might be the best swimming hole I have ever seen. So to access it, we need to build an environmentally friendly road across the natural terrain that lends itself very well to accessing the water fall. This is rather unique, because most of the rivers carve such deep gorges in lava rock, that you would have to go down a steep cliff to get to the stream. Here there is a flat area of about five acres on the inside of a bend where another stream joins the river. There are ancient stones in the walls along the path down there. Clearly this has been a sacred spot for many centuries before Captain Cook met his demise on the other side of the island. We are being careful to develop the property with the assistance of some of our brothers from the local community. Similarly, things are taking off in Brazil. Charlie and Wylie arrived in Mapia in the middle of the Amazon yesterday, and Padrinho Paulo Roberto arrived in Miami yesterday as well.

And so the roots of this tree caught my attention again today. It felt to me like the roots represented the knots and blocks that have been holding things back while Pluto made its lugubrious trip through Capricorn, and the energy of Aquarius is the solvent that will break up the blocks and let things move again. And movement is already happening here on this first day of Pluto in Aquarius. This makes me a little anxious, because it is my job as Steward of all of these projects to make sure we have the “generator” capacity to support everything we are undertaking while saving enough reserves to anticipate supporting the larger structure we are creating.

This really is the key to managing wealth on any level. I spent about 15 years of my corporate career financing private jet aircraft. I remember the first large deal I did. It was the financing on a 1984 Gulfstream III, which had a purchase price of around $10,000,000. We were proposing to financing $7,000,000 of the purchase price, and I was getting ready to go make the sales presentation to the purchaser who was our customer. I was going over the deal with a more senior loan officer. The payment was something like $79,000 a month, which was an ungodly sum of money to me. I could not imagine paying $79,000 a month, and I was fixated on this as a block. My advisor said and “the best thing is, with the long term amortization schedule, you have a very low payment.” I was shocked, how could anyone say that $79,000 was a low payment?

He admonished me that I was projecting myself into the deal. He said forget about the zeros. The zeros don’t matter at all. they are buying the aircraft for 9.0, and financing 7.0, and the payments are .079. Wouldn’t you agree that .079 is a very low monthly amount to pay for a loan of 7? It clicked. It was much cheaper on a cash flow basis than a car payment! My fixation on the zeros made it seem like a lot of money.

And so it is with managing wealth. It does not matter if you are talking about a $10,000,000 development or a $100,000 vacation condo, or a $1,000 mortgage payment. We have to align our resources with our outflows. And so we have income from our work, and we have income from our investments, and we have outflows for projects. Hopefully, you have zero debt. This is the fundamental requirement of any financial security. You cannot have any savings if you have any debts. It really is as simple as that, because savings are offset by debt on your balance sheet.

So the cash we have in the bank is like a reservoir of water that is ready for immediate use, and we should have enough for the short term, say a year or two. All of the money that we need for our projects must come out of this reservoir. Other liquid assets must be invested for growth and dividends. This revenue plus the earnings from our daily work go into the reservoir. If we have too many loads, and not enough income, we end up with an empty reservoir, and that’s called a cash flow failure. In many cases, this is where debt starts to creep into the picture, and you can see that is like having a Zombie come to your house for Thanksgiving. If the reservoir overflows, then you move some cash into your investments, and that will eventually support more growth.

So as we undertake new projects, the demand increases, so not only do we have to fund the development from the reservoir, we also have to increase our investment returns to generate more revenue. We have to grow our generator capacity at the same rate that we grow the demands. Hopefully, we can invest in projects that become cash flow sustainable. For instance, we generate about $2,500 per month in rent from the little farm house in upstate New York, and this revenue pays for the development of the farming operations. Hopefully all projects have a long term path to self sustainability, or else they will all fall apart after we die.

As these projects are expanding, they are demanding resources, and at the same time, they are growing to demand more resources in the future. It is the management of these cash flows that makes everything possible, and it is up to me to make sure that everything flows right. If I screw up, the whole thing comes undone.

It has been such a journey coming through COVID and all the financial upheavals of the last couple or three years. In some ways, the solid root structure of Pluto in Capricorn kept everything still, and made it easier to manage through the difficult times. But now things are starting to move fast, and this makes me feel a little anxious. But I have to take that anxiety and treat it like excitement for what is coming. And I have to have faith that everything we are doing is to help spread light to all the good people we have in our relations. I have to remember that we want to leave like the last leaf on a tree, and so we need to employ the assets for good.

My core belief and my mission in life is summed up in my email signature, which comes from one of Padrinho Paulo’s hymns — “The expansion of the consciousness will be able to save the Earth”. So this is my mission, to support the expansion of human consciousness. So that we may live as part of nature and so that we may see ourselves in the eyes of the other. With this expansion we can have peace and a future where everyone has what they need and where we take care of each other. So all of our projects have this goal in mind.

But at the same time, we do need to take care of our personal lives so we do not become a burden on someone else, and so as things take off, I need to also create a garden for our own lives, for our CORE life, which is our home and making beans in the pressure cooker, and walking the dogs, and playing Acey Deucey, and taking care of physical health, and being with the people we love. This is where our happiness comes from every day, and this does not really take very much to support. I think I need to carve out a little nest egg that will carry us into the later stages of our lives so all the big moving parts do not upset the delicate balance of our CORE life.

And so now, as Pluto has entered Aquarius, and the roots that held everything fixed are dissolved, and as rapid growth and change comes, I pray for guidance to help me navigate. I received a hymn back when we first got involved down in Brazil which was for Stephanie. It says “Your life is a river that you must navigate. If you go with the force of it, with certainty you will arrive at the sea.” So we have to navigate around the rocks and the fallen trees and around all the things that appear in our daily life. But as to the “path to the sea?” The River will take care of that. We just have to have faith, go with the flow, and navigate around the rocks, and enjoy the company of the people we love along the way.

So Viva to the New Era. Viva to the growth. Viva to the big works we will hold in celebration this weekend. Viva to the visitors arriving from all around the country starting today. Viva to walking the dogs and getting coffee.

The simple part of life is where the happiness lies.


Daily Writing March 20, 2023

Here we are on the first day of spring. Winter had its last fit last night with cold front that dropped temperatures into the mid fifties. I took the featured image through a screen window and played with the light a little bit. There was a blog post that someone posted that invited others to post black and white pictures with a hash tag, but now I cannot find it again. Maybe if the author reads this, you can tell me the hash tag.

Today, apart from being the first day of spring of the new era, is the day that I will get my Bacon number. I auditioned for a part in a movie playing the role of a “White Male Host.” I have to say, I am perfectly cast, because not only are they seeking a white male, but one who is in their mid-fifties. So no need to hide that silver grey hair.

I’m not really sure how much I am supposed to say about the movie, but Stephanie and I are the lead producers of the film. It is actually a very subtle exploration of the Haitian community here in Miami. The writer and director is Edson Jean, who also directed a movie (which we also helped with financially) called Ludi, about a Haitian American woman working as a nurse in Miami and sending money back home.

The Little Haiti culture here in Miami is really rich. When Stephanie was the Artistic Director of the Miami Theater Center back several years ago, I rented a one-room office in a shared space called MADE at the Citadel which is on Northeast Second Avenue in Miami at about 83rd Street, which is right in the middle of the Little Haiti neighborhood. I used to walk around the corner to the B&M Market, which was famously reviewed by Anthony Bordain shortly before his demise. The couple that run the place are so sweet. I wish I remembered their names. I used to eat there once or twice a week. It is a convenience store in the front with some tables in the back.

The woman would cook a daily special and serve it on a plate. My favorite was the goat, which came with little bones that were like rib knuckles. She would serve this with beans and rice or some other side. She always gave me the feeling that she was taking care of family when she served lunch. It was inexpensive and so good. The main ingredient was LOVE of course.

I am actually going to be driving right by the market on the way to the film set. The filming will be done on the set of Deco Drive, which is a daily magazine produced by WSVN, the television station owned by Stephanie’s family since about 1964. I remember when I was a kid, they had a show on Sunday morning where the host would read the Sunday Funny Papers for kids. I remember running down the drive to get the paper, and after extracting the funnies, I would sit down and watch the show. The host was aided by a Robot named Toby the Robot. Toby is my mother in law, and she is my “pin” on the map of Jewish Geography. You see, I am the husband of Toby Lerner Ansin’s daughter, and with that information, I can be woven into the fold of an ancient family. So I can walk into polite Jewish Society pretty much anywhere, and give this credential, and before you know it, shabbat shalom pass me some of that challah bread.

Back in 2014 I was applying for the Florida Bar. I had passed the Bar Exam (for the third time in the third state), but my character evaluation was held up. It seems that someone had reported to the Bar Examiners that I was a “member of a drug cult” and “addicted to Ayahuasca” and so they treated my application like a tarantula had been tossed into their laps. I had to appear before them to explain what it means to be a member of the Santo Daime religion. The law is pretty clear that we are protected. There is a unanimous Supreme Court decision that upholds our right to use our sacrament in our religious services. But the fact that we are protected does not mean everyone knows we are protected.

I appeared before the Board of Bar Examiners one morning, in the same suit that I’m going to wear today for my movie role. They called me up first from the room full of people who were gathered for a hearing. They could not have been nicer, and the very next day I received a letter authorizing me to take the oath of office and thereby become a member of the Florida Bar.

I was pretty resentful that someone would send a complaint about me to jam up my application, but afterwards I realize they did me a big favor. If this had not happened, I would have had some fear that someone could “report” me or something. But after appearing before the Bar Examiners and fully briefing them on my practice within the Santo Daime, I have nothing to fear. I am walking in the light.

So today, on this rainy first day of spring of the New Era, I will put on the same suit I wore to my Bar Hearing, and I will drive down the 79th Street Causeway past Made at the Citadel and the B&M Market, on my way to the set at WSVN to present myself in service of the role of White Male Host in a movie about the Haitian community here in Miami.

Stephanie’s father, Edmund Ansin, was famous for many things. But the most famous for how he treated people. I met one employee before Ed passed away who had been working at the station in 1964 when Ed and his father purchased it. Ed was most famous for the way he treated everyone. He had no debt in any of his businesses, and so when there was a downturn, he never laid anybody off. He would say to his real estate guys during these down turns “Now aren’t you glad we don’t have any debt?” They would remember this in the boom times when easy financing would make new buildings pop up like mushrooms.

So when Stephanie asked Ed about this, he was non-plussed. He simply replied “they just want to make sure he does not have horns growing out of his head.” I used to enjoy sitting next to Ed during family dinners. I think he was happy that Stephanie picked me. His evaluation of my character was very simple “Spencer is a highly capable person”. And then he just left me to do my job as a Steward. He is still up there watching. And his accountants still see every transaction we make. I feel a duty to live up to his approval with every major financial undertaking, and this gives me such a good nights sleep.

Please wish me luck. And after today, I will have a Bacon Number.


Now Go Do That

Our winter return to Telluride draws to a close in two days on Wednesday. This has been quite the trip! We had two major storm systems blow through with lots of snow and wind and cold temperatures, and that was followed by several days of warmer almost spring like weather.

Today was my second to last day skiing with Bill Glasscock. It was still frozen solid when we took the first ride up, and we saw the fresh corduroy texture left by the grooming equipment on “Coon Skin,” now renamed “Cimarron.” This is a fairly steep slope that pretty much goes straight from top to bottom on the town side of the mountain. I got out on an incline above my uphill ski and I started to chatter across the corduroy unable to get my edge to bite into the hard snow. I slipped and fell and then slid down the face of the mountain for about 200 yards before I could stop myself. Moments like that make one remember that there is some aspect of danger in flying down a frozen mountain on waxed skis with razor edges. Fortunately the only thing I hurt was my pride.

“Let me show you the difference between inclination and angulation with this little drill” said Bill as we returned to the top of the mountain. He had me stand with my skis parallel to his about four feet away from him and he reached out his hands.

“Here, pull against me” he said, and we both came up on our edges a little while we pulled against each other. “Now go do that” he said. We took another two runs down the same slope, and by the end, my edges held firm. Bill has such a natural way of teaching the body instead of informing the brain. I felt my uphill-to-downhill ski naturally pulling back as I came around my turns and “angulated” to put the maximum pressure on the inside edge of my dominant ski at the bottom of each turn. That’s a lot to say about “Now go do that.”

Once the sun hit the slopes and the snow softened up a bit, Bill took me to work on skiing the bumps. I’ve always been more of a bump survivor than a bump skier. I have, until now, always had to stop every five or six turns to regroup on bump runs. I tend to accelerate in the icy channels between the bumps, and then as I pick up speed, I lose my ability to turn the ski fast enough, and then I go straight over the top of one. This technique almost always results in a painful fall. To avoid this, I skid to a stop, regroup, and start over.

But today Bill helped me bring everything he’s been teaching me together, and without going into the details, I was able to stand up and ski one turn per bump all the way down the run. The key was a little side slip at the bottom of each turn to bleed off some excess speed, and the rotation on the tops of the bumps to initiate the turns while the tips and tails of my skis were off the snow. This way I could stay on a narrow fall line and keep my speed in check. Bumps are now a completely different experience!

I had to resign the other day from a volunteer position that was really stressing me out. I was putting in a lot of work and felt like I was in a sort of struggle with other people involved all the time. Stephanie shared something about “ten signs that you have boundary issues” and as I listened, I realized they were describing exactly how I felt. For instance, I felt myself avoiding phone calls from other people involved, and I felt burned out. I talked to some friends about how I might resolve the situation, and they gave me good advice about how to talk to everyone and communicate so we can get along. But then I realized I did not even want to do that. I just wanted to be done with the whole thing. So I politely resigned. And crickets.

I wondered if my email had even left my outbox because I heard nothing for two days, until finally someone called me. Funny thing is, nobody was at all surprised. The basic response was “I don’t blame you.” And now I’m free.

Stephanie said it best back when I was first dealing with my vision loss. “Nothing Extra” was the mantra for a while. Well, now that I’m mostly better, I do enjoy putting out the extra effort every now and then. But the basic idea of being more discerning on how I spend my days and of the internal experience of living my life, I am making decisions that are making my life sing. It’s like the Warrior Spirit dancing through life. Hiwaaa to the energy vampires.


Schmarya Space Shalom

Secret to Assertive Communication

I had two situations arise over the weekend where people I am close with were asking me for things that I did not feel good about giving. The first was a request for a substantial amount of money to help someone make a down payment on a house and the second was to send a letter with a false statement about a business purpose so they could treat a personal trip like a write off.

“All you have to do is send me an email saying that we are going to have a meeting!” And it was true, we are going to meet. But that’s not the primary purpose of the trip, it’s an after thought. I just did not feel right about it, and I did not want to lend my name to it. I had to respond that I did not want to be involved in any way in creating a false pretense for a trip. Period. I have a seven minute long voice message in my Telegram that I received in response that I still have not listened to.

The second request was to assist a distant relative. Sure that person is having a difficult time right now, but my assessment is that the situation they are in is a result of their own bad decisions. It’s not my job to bail people out from the consequences of their own bad choices. This is not charity, this is enablement.

But people do not see it that way right? A lot of people see what they want in what we have, and they want us to give it to them, and if we refuse, they make us feel like we are failing to be generous. It leaves a kind of guilty feeling in the conscience. And then it becomes unpleasant to talk to the person. I feel a little threatened, like something is going to be taken from me that I don’t want to lose.

Truth is, I could have given the money and written the email and it would have been no skin of my nose. As my Brazilian friend told me “Não tira pelo do meu nariz”. It does not take any skin from my nose. This is not an idiom of Brazilian Portuguese, but it still sounds funny. Yes I could have given the money and it would not affect my bottom line at the end of the year, and yes I could have written the email and it would never come back to bite me. But it did not feel right to me, and I did not want to do it in either case.

And I did not even want to debate it, so I left my negative reply in recorded Telegram messages, and I have not listened yet to the replies. One because it is seven minutes long and I do not even want to open it. The other because I have not received a reply at all. So I have managed to say no to both of these requests, but I still feel some angst about it in my chest.

I am highly aware of stress these days, especially since stress blew a gasket in my brain and caused me to suffer a cerebral infarction. No fun! So I really do not want to wind up my stress response just for saying no to things I have no obligation to be involved in.

Stephanie was also a party to the request, and we are in agreement about both decisions. One was more clear for me, and the other more clear for her. I wanted both of them out of my inbox, and so it was me who left the responses. But she and I were definitely both on the same team, and she was fully supportive. So it was a joint decision and joint action.

My friend told me, Spencer you are an upstanding man, and you have integrity, and if something is not in alignment with your integrity, you should say NO. And I realized that is the key to these communications. Assertiveness is simply speaking clearly about our needs and decisions. It does not require any defensiveness or argument…unless I am feeling insecure.

So the real problem is not the request that I am receiving. The real issue is that I am not in alignment within myself, then I feel threatened, and then the request seems like an attack, and the requester like an enemy. But if I am confident in my own inner guidance, then I am simply reporting the outcome of the computations of my inner conscience.

So I could say… “oh you want me to write an email to support a false statement that a trip is for business purposes?” OK… Let me get out my magic quantum 8 ball calculator.

Shake shake shake…. “it appears that the answer is NO WAY”. I am simply reporting the results of my examination of my inner voice, that speaks through a feeling of tension or relief in my gut. If a request makes me feel anxious and stressed, that is a “NO.” If a request makes me feel like “oh wow, that’s awesome” then it’s a “YES.” In either case, I can simply report the result without getting distressed over it.

If I were at a school fair, with a magic eight ball booth, I could take a quarter from passerby in exchange for offering a response to whatever question they have. No stress at all right? But when they are asking me for something, it is more personal. But why?

Because I want to make people happy, and I don’t feel all ok when they are not happy with me. When I say no to a request, even an unreasonable one from an unreasonable person, and they are not happy and want to discuss it further, it becomes a personal squabble. So the key is for me to have my own personal integrity as a guide AND the confidence that I am going to follow my internal guidance, and that it’s ok for me to do that. I am enough, as I wrote the other day, regardless of whether I grant every request that is directed to me.

From this place of confidence and calm, I can report on the answers I receive from my own examination of my conscience without anxiety. And then being assertive is not longer stressful. It is simply stating the truth about how something feels to me. If I end up alienating people who make unreasonable requests and get mad when they are refused, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

To those people, I say, Go Singing, Go Dancing… but GO!


I am enough

What stories have I bought into that something is wrong with me, and that my natural inclinations are somehow bad, and that I am not worthy of being loved or valued unless I conform myself to the expectations of others? I received those messages since I was very young. And I internalized them, and I believed them. I’m not sure if everyone else does this, but from the books I’ve read and meditations I’ve listened to, it sure seems that a lot of people are laboring through their lives with the basic underlying belief that they are somehow bad.

I’m sure this starts in school. I was placed in a room, usually near the back because my attention wandered and I was unruly. I did not know that I was not able to see as well as everyone else. How would I know? I assumed everyone else saw things the same way I did. I remember my one season of baseball with the coach admonishing me to watch the ball. I would swing in the air after seeing the pitcher swing his arm. I never did actually see the ball. I never knew that my vision was about 20/200 until I failed my drivers license exam at age 16. I simply did not know that others could see the ball better than I could.

I did manage to get on base one time that season. It was at that classic critical moment at the end of a game when the bases are loaded and there are two outs. I was the last in the batting order and it was my turn. The Coach was visibly frustrated that the game would depend on me. “WATCH THE BALL!” He yelled. I watched the pitcher wind up, I watched the motion of the pitch, and waited in anticipation of the ball, which hit me squarely under my left shoulder in the ribs. I never saw it coming, but the whole team cheered! I walked to first base, and I can still in this moment, remember stepping on home plate a couple plays later as we won the game. I was the unlikely hero!

I did not really understand the whole idea behind a chalk board, as nothing that was ever written on the chalk board was legible to me. I assumed nobody could read it any better than I could. As a result, my handwriting was atrocious. It was completely illegible. I was given remedial exercises so I could make rounder O’s and straighter L’s. It never occurred to anybody that I simply could not see what I was doing or see what was being written on the board. I was simply determined to be lazy.

So naturally, sitting in the back of a classroom, where someone spent the day writing completely illegible things on a board that I could not see, was kind of a drag for me. I was clearly the problem. But I could read books! I would read with the book about four inches from the end of my nose, where with my near sightedness, the words on the page were nicely magnified and quite clear. The printed letters bore no resemblance to my handwriting, but they were not supposed to look the same anyway. Books were my refuge. The worlds of Narnia and Lloyd Alexander, and Middle Earth, and Dune, and Ring World, were my dream worlds and my escape.

I remember when I picked up my first pair of glasses from the optician. It was back in the day when people smoked cigarettes, and there were ashes in the ash tray in the optician’s office. I could see the texture of the ashes for the first time, instead of just a grey shadow. I remember going outside and seeing the leaves on the trees for the first time, and trees were not green lollipops anymore. Patterns of tiles on the floor seemed to be three dimensional.

We went that night to see “The Year of Living Dangerously” and I could recognize the faces of the actors for the first time. I had, for my whole life, gone to the movies without being able to recognize the faces of the actors on the screen. I would ask, is this the same guy as in that other scene? People thought I was not paying attention, but I was just blind. I was bad at sports, bad at writing, bad at a lot of stuff, and the answer was always–MORE EFFORT. If only I would apply myself, I would achieve so MUCH MORE!

I was born with, and half always been blessed with, a liquid intelligence. Geometry and Science just made sense to me. I remember when, in 7th grade, Mr. Kasyan asked the class how to measure the height of a tree. I think I was the only kid who went home and grabbed a yard stick, and measured the shadow of the tree with the shadow of the yard stick. I thought it was fun. I did not, on my own, derive the equation of the relative length of the yard stick to its shadow, but I did get the right answer about the height of the tree. I simply moved the yard stick to the end of it’s shadow in steps, and counted the number of yards. Then I went to catch lizards.

I loved catching lizards and creatures of all kinds. I would generally treat them with great care and kindness, although there were a few specimens who would not agree I’m sure.

I had a deformity as a child too. My chest was sunken in. My sternum was about two and a half inches concave, so my nipples were at the top edge of a bowl that was my chest. Kids made fun of this relentlessly. I HATED playing shirts and skins, especially when I had to be a skin, because everyone would gather around me and make fun of me. They would say “hey look, Spencer eats his cereal in bed!” The fact that I could not see did not help. I could be relied on to drop the critical pass or miss the critical at bat.

And so around 5th and 6th grade, when boys and girls started to “like” each other, I accepted the basic reality of being ostracized. I naturally sat by myself and kept my own company. I was a strong swimmer, and I could see well enough to play waterpolo, with the big, slow moving, bright yellow ball. Water polo really is a lot more about swimming that it is about the ball. These were my sports.

I had a surgery to correct my chest in 9th grade. They cut out the ends of all of my ribs, and cracked, removed, reformed and reinstalled my sternum. My heart moved over into the new space, in the light of the room. Recovery took a year. The next year I got glasses. Suddenly, high school was over, and I was deposited into college with a drinking problem already firmly established. Nobody, and I mean nobody, at college knew me at all. Suddenly I was thrust into this environment where I was meeting all these new people. But deep down inside, I knew that I was not worthy of any loving relationship, and so I kept everyone at a distance. I had lots of friends to party with, but no real connections.

I remember eating magic mushrooms on my 20th birthday. It was my sophomore year of college. We all gathered in the winter at a friend’s apartment. I sat on the sofa breathing the air that poured in through a crack in the sliding glass doors that were left ajar. The room was full of smoke, and this little thin line of clear cold air was coming through the doors. The magic mushrooms made me want to avoid alcohol and cigarettes and cannabis. I drank water and breathed the fresh air, and had a review of my life. I saw how I was fucking off as my college years ticked by. The next year I was married and got straight As. A switch had flipped and I really applied myself to school and work. It was through achievement and my capabilities that I could earn love and respect. Law School was a natural environment for me. I was like a fish in the sea. I graduated 5th in my class of 197 people. My life took off from there.

And now, on the cusp of my third revolution of Saturn around the solar system, I am getting ready to enter the final stages of this life.

I was listening to a meditation from a book this morning about “I am enough.” The meditation dropped me into hypnosis and took me back in time to my childhood and encouraged me to imagine feeling that I am enough and have always been enough. This, of course, was not at all in alignment with my view of myself.

I, to this day, get so many messages that I am a bad person, and that my instincts cannot be trusted, and that I need to be careful to avoid dangerous situations where I might be tempted to doing something bad, and that these situations, since they inevitably lead to bad outcomes, are themselves bad. I need to watch out for who I am friends with, I need to be careful of where I go, I need to do all kinds of things to avoid falling into my natural tendencies, because I am inherently a bad person, and it is only through great effort that I can behave correctly. We have this notion of “Original Sin” that we are inherently bad if left to our own ways. This is an incredibly toxic and unhealthy view of ourselves!

Until I had a stroke. I literally blew a gasket in my brain. I had a brain cramp so severe that it caused me to suffer a cerebral infarction. This has been building in my system for many decades, and it is the little straws of recent events that caused the system to finally fail. But I am realizing that the stress comes not from the external events, but from my believing in them.

I am very fortunate that I have a rich life full of loving relationships. I have built beautiful structures in my life, and there are many people all around the world who count on me to continue behaving in a consistent and reliable manner. This is a great blessing to have such a rich and connected life.

But I have to own my own love of myself. I am a good person, and my natural inclinations will not lead me astray. I can follow the joy in my heart, and this is not a danger or threat to anyone. I naturally seek out and desire to do good in the world. I don’t have to be afraid to follow my instincts, or to enjoy things in my life. If people are upset with me or if people think I should behave differently, that’s really not my concern. People who want me to be different simply want to be with someone different and they are trying to fit me into their mold. All kinds of people do this to us. From bosses to spouses to friends to our mothers and families to the government and society at large. Everyone wants us to conform so that we can be reliable cogs in the machine.

How does one manage this? I don’t want to be cold or unfriendly or defensive or secretive. I just want to be myself. I don’t need to stand on a soap box, I don’t need to preach, I don’t need to change anybody’s mind. I just need to be at peace with myself, love myself, and be happy with myself and my life. It has taken me 56 years to get to this point, and I want to live right the last part of my life.

I love my wife, I love my church, I love my family, I love my friends, I love the work that I do, and I love my home, my dogs, the place that I live, the weather in Miami. I love skiing and Telluride, and I love going on the sailboat. I love my training regime. I love my life. I have nothing to feel guilty about. I release the stress of other people being disappointed in me, and I embrace joy of living as my guide. I am enough, I have always been enough, and I don’t have to change myself to please anyone. These are all gifts of the gift that I receive, and I must embrace them, so that I do not need the gift anymore.

If I do not fundamentally upgrade my internal stress and need to please people, if I do not let go of the belief that I won’t get invited to the party if I don’t bring the cake, if I continue to buy into the story that my natural tendencies and desires are bad, I will continue to live at such an intense stress level that my brain will simply stop working. I have already received a dramatic warning that cost me about 20% of my visual field. The next warning could cost me my ability to speak, or walk. I’m going to take that message to heart right away.

I am the Warrior Spirit of the Rainbow Wind. I live at the top of the Canyon. The Sun is my father, the Water is my Mother, the Wind is My Spirit, and I AM MY FRIEND. The Warrior Spirit is enough.


Birthday Prayer for 2023

We cancelled sailing due to rain today, my birthday, and so it has been a very slow day at home–slow, but not sad. I enjoy the rest that comes after cancelled plans. Nothing is scheduled after the schedule has been thrown out! We did manage to take the dogs for a walk during a break in the clouds, and when we got home Stephanie went into her office and I was left in quiet solitude–which I normally resist.

Are you that way too? When I find myself alone and with nothing to do, my over active mind jumps in and tries to fill the void. Something to read, something to do, someone to call, something to fix, or eat, or someplace to go. But not today. Today with the rain and the solitude I was left with myself on this day of my 56th Birthday with nothing to do but relax in contemplation.

Many spiritual practices guide us to focus our attention to produce the outcomes we desire in our lives. This basic practice is available to everyone from the corporate productivity specialist, the the devoutly religious, to the woo woo new age manifestor of abundance, to the positive mindset sports coach. The basic concept is that our internal conscious process produces our external results in the material. This can be a prayer, a positive mindset, or a dominant thought pattern. Whatever you call the practice, our consciousness brings about the life we are experiencing. I call in prayer, because prayer for me is the most powerful tool for focusing the power of our consciousness.

My good friend Destiny once gave me advice about how to pray to achieve results I desire. She told me to pray for how I want my solutions to feel, not for a particular solution that I think will solve my challenges. I think that advice came to help me work out some personality issues in our church that broke apart in the summer of 2019. Don’t worry about the solution, she admonished me, just focus on how you want the solution to feel. I remember thinking that I wanted it to feel easy, simple, and fun. Two months later, it was exactly that, and I had no idea what we would have to go through to get there. But it worked.

And so today, on my Full Moon Birthday, I would like to put some prayers forward so that my results in the coming year can feel good to me. There are a few areas that I want to focus on now. They are my physical well being, my relationships with other people, my projects and investments, and my spiritual community and practice. For those who are reading along, you can try this too. Just sit down and write down how you want to feel about the areas of your life that are important to you right now.

Thank you God for my health and physical well being. My body feels strong, mobile, and resilient. I feel a sense of ease and comfort in my well functioning body. I feel happy that I heal easily, avoid sickness, and feel strong. I am able to enjoy all of the activities that I love and I feel young and vital. I have plenty of energy. My attention is sharp and I can focus while being comfortably aware of my surroundings and my interior state. My body is a miraculous and vibrant machine that constantly surprises me with its ability to adapt, grow, and heal.

My relationships are joyful, loving and stress free. I attract good people into my life and feel abundant joy and camaraderie. I make friends easily and feel part of a good community. I have trusting and secure loving relationships with the people who are important in my life. I am free of suffering from jealousy, envy, disrespect and resentment, both from myself to others, and from others to myself. I feel completely fulfilled and satisfied in my relationships with other people. Toxic people and people who would do me harm pass me by without even seeing me. I am invisible to evil.

Projects and investments that I am involved in move forward easily and successfully. Obstacles and blocks that have caused frustrations and delays are easily dissolved and disappear of their own accord. Projects that have been stalled and delayed in recent years move forward quickly and easily. Investments are profitable and safe and feel very rewarding. Our financial engine runs smoothly. We generate enough income to meet all of the requirements of our organization. We have plenty of battery power, plenty of generator capacity and well managed, non-wasteful, loads upon the system. We invest where we find joy and enter projects where we feel energized. We bring good people together and share abundance and opportunity. Everyone we associate with enjoys ease and abundance in participation in our ventures.

My spiritual community is thriving and growing. I myself feel uplifted and supported in my spiritual practice. I receive guidance when I need it, correction when I deserve it and miracles come around me every day. A golden light shines down and around me and protects me from forces that would throw me down. My angels and guides are alert to dangers and traps, and they keep me safe and on course. My faith gives me firmness and confidence and frees me from fear. Everything is easier when the Master walks in front, and so it is in my life. I walk behind my master, and so following everything is easier.

Today is my Full Moon birthday, which happens about once in every 29 years, just like a Saturn return. This means that the my Natal Sun, my inner child, is in alignment right now with the Sun and the Moon, which are presently in opposition to each other in the sky. With everything aligned like this, it is a good opportunity to call these prayers in to benefit me and those that I love.

I am so grateful, after such a heartbreaking January, to have this new start to the next year on my Birthday. It seems like everything was so derailed last month, and it feels so good to have everything back on track. I give thanks to God for my health, relationships, material abundance and my faith. These are the cornerstones of my happy life. I pray that these gifts I have received can be multiplied and shared with all who read this and all who do not read this.

Thanks everyone, and when your day comes around, may it be as happy as mine has been.


the momentary end of busy

I read a thought provoking blog the other day about whether anybody cares about what bloggers write about, and whether that should matter. The author pointed out that he often receives several likes within the span of a minute or two, or receives likes without having the page actually opened. He pointed out that these people are just clicking like and that the article could be about planning a wedding for a cat and people who like without reading would happily click away.

But he also pointed out that if one writes enough, eventually there will be some people who actually do look forward to reading the content. And it is for these people that we should write. And think about.

So here I am, writing about my experience after having a stroke, and that’s pretty much just therapy for myself. So to this I can add the dimension of thinking that there are a few friends out their in the world who give the gift of their time and attention, and so it is in appreciation of that energy that I must write.

And so what can I share that was of benefit, that someone can read quickly, and enjoy?

I had two cool experiences over the weekend. The first was Sunday morning when my friend who is also my executive assistant picked me up to go to the beach. She regularly meets a friend out by the lighthouse on Key Biscayne on Sunday mornings if the weather is good. She invited me into this little window of her personal life just to brighten my day. And it was really fun.

Reflecting on friendships is such a door to gratitude. If we have a few people in our lives who show up for us we are so lucky. I’ve had a couple go arounds with loneliness over the last ten days with Stephanie being still down in Brazil. One loneliness episode struck right after Dani dropped me off around noon on Sunday. I went out to the patio with the dogs to let them run around, and my friend the parrot that you see pictured above was hanging in the tree.

I started to feel that sort of anxious energy of “what do i do now” coming up in me. Who should I call, where should I go, what should I do? How can I fill these minutes and hours remaining on this Sunday afternoon. My parrot friend’s intractable gaze reminded me. This time where no one and nothing depends on me is a gift of the gift. Here I am, in my home, which is beautiful and peaceful and comfortable, on a balmy Sunday, with nothing to account for.

My parrot friend reminded me that it is in these times that I can write, or paint, or work with photographs, or play guitar, or just sit an be. Just sit and be. Sit and be. sit and be. sb.

So today, if anyone actually reads this far, please comment! If you liked this page and never opened it, please go singing on your happy journey. And for everyone, whether you read this or not, I invite you to breathe in and breathe out, with no extra achievement or goal except to nurture yourself lovingly with oxygen. And sit. And be. And sit and be happy to be here.

Love to all and everything

Schmarya Space Shalom

Christmas Letter from the Warrior Spirt

I remember checking the mailbox everyday at boarding school. We did not have easy access to a telephone, and there were no cell phones or emails or social media, and so we treasured letters when they would arrive. I remember receiving a letter from a girl, Susan, from my home town that she sent me in a box of cookies. The paper had absorbed the oil from the cookies, and the oil made the paper translucent. She had written on both sides, and so the writing on one side completely obscured the writing on the other side. I tried everything I could think of to make the words legible, but to no avail. The words were forever lost, and I felt acutely the pain of their absence.

I also remember writing letters with strong emotion, and then walking down to the mailbox to retrieve them. Ricky don’t lose that number, send it off in a letter to yourself. I am reminded of those times when it took a week or more to send a letter and receive a reply. Now communications are instant, and irretrievable, and part of a permanent record. It seems that we communicate our reactions instead of our responses.

I remember also how we used to share the news of our lives in letters. News did not travel so fast, and so in a letter, from Camp or school between home or a loved one, communicated the salient details of our lives. Sometimes the treasure of a photograph would come inside the envelope, and I would pin it on my cork board in my room. I remember taking pictures on film, 24 exposures per roll, and winding the roll onto a wire wheel in the dark and then working in anticipation to develop the negatives and then make prints. The faces of my friends and family, the events of the day revealed one shot at a time.

Today is Christmas, cold and dreary in Miami. We spent the morning at my Mom’s with lots of family and a couple of friends. We exchanged gifts, all wrapped in bags with tissue, and enjoyed company and coffee and food. Then back to the house for a lazy Christmas afternoon. And so now is the time, the week, to start thinking of the New Year. I like to make a prayer for the New Year, and so now is the time to start thinking of it.

Last night, we got together with our Church friends and sang the hinario of Mestre Irineu. At one point during the night I felt a strong prayer come to me. I felt the spirit say to me, “I am here, what do you want” And the answer came to me. “I want my love for my wife to be more resilient.” And in meditation I received a beautiful understanding.

I saw how when someone I love is upset with me, there is a part of me that gets wounded, like a child, and as a result, I behave childishly. I can feel inside of me where this wounded part is, and from this part bubble up stories about the “others” motivations and intentions. These are the stories of a wounded child. When I speak or act from that energy, it is transmitted to the other person, and a cycle of painful communications starts, and this takes me out of the love vibration that is always available to all of us.

In my meditation, with everything perfect, I was able to see a better, more mature way to respond. I was shown a small example of something that had disappointed me, and how I had gone on to create stories about why that had happened. The stories were far more upsetting than the event itself. My first thought was that these stories I tell myself are “all bullshit,” but then I saw that I can tell myself true stories or at least better stories instead, and instead of reacting with defensiveness or bitterness, I can act with compassion toward myself and toward the other person.

I realize that this is the same lesson that I am learning over and over, but this time it seemed to penetrate a little more deeply. There is a hymn that says “smooth out my heart, so that I can love, and the offenses of my brothers, I may know how to pardon”. (“Aplanai meu coração, para eu poder amar, e as ofensas dos irmaos, eu saber perdoar”). I was able to see how spiritual mastery, the buddha, the Christ, the Warrior Spirit, has a heart smooth like the stones of a river. I saw how my heart is full of old wounds and jagged edges that catch and stick and cut.

So as I create my prayer for the new year, it starts with this. My prayer is to smooth out my heart so that I can love. So that love can be more resilient, and I can be happier.

Merry Christmas.