This is a series I did for ten weeks on people that made a difference in my life starting all the way back when I was a kid. Each one, and there are certainly many more than just these ten, made an impact that changed the trajectory of my life. I hope you find each mini-story helpful and that it holds a special message – just for you.
WAKING INSTANTS 01: KAY
Her name is Kay, she is a calligrapher, artist, friend of the family and my dad was her plumber. I had aways been an artist, though not in the traditional sense. My family didn’t encourage art or self expression. My mother told me my abstract paintings made her dizzy and my father said I would never be “one of them” (successful creative people). My sister recited that my photographs were not good because “I just didn’t have the eye for it”.
That is water under the bridge now but you should know the simple synchronicity that made the difference in my life. When I got to be a teenager, my dad took me with him on a small plumbing job at Kay’s home. In her living room stood an easel with a half painted painting on it and in awe I said to myself — I want to create like that! About ten years later I ran into her, she saw my personal evolution and new gained freedom and asked how did I get out? My response is — because you showed me a way.
THANK YOU KAY! #Gratitude #ArtistsMoments #Mentors #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference #ThankYouKay
WAKING INSTANTS 02: LOUANN
LouAnn lived much of her childhood and teen years in Southern California. In high school, I met her sister then subsequently met her. We would all hang out and talk about music, go for very long walks on the beach — and dream, about moving back to Cali.
It’s funny that as I am writing this, a reminder went off on my iPhone saying that today is her birthday. Really not so funny as it was probably her that set it off. Signs don’t happen any clearer than this!
In April of 2014, LouAnn died from cancer. I miss her, but I choose to remember all the goodness she brought to our world. LouAnn took care of people. She cherished animals and was sort of like the female Saint Francis, Patron Saint of Animals — now that I think of it. Working most her life in a nursing home, she brought comfort and smiles to many. She even took care of my friend Jeanne and her brother, both of whom were on her wing at different times.
How did LouAnn change the trajectory of my life? She listened. She listened to all my music, and being the drummer that she was, she critiqued each song and made sure I heard the good stuff along with the bad — always saying that something would become of it. She believed in signs, she believed in my music, she believed in me.
Thank you LouAnn! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference #ThankYouLouAnn
WAKING INSTANTS 03: AMBROZINE
About 18 years old, I worked in a small hardware store located about 100 feet from Narragansett Bay in Newport, Rhode Island — an international sailing port that brought people in from all over the world.
Ambrozine was from Trinidad and spoke English in a way that I had to listen deeply to fully understand what she was asking of me. She would drive up in her old station wagon to purchase supplies for her latest project. At about 80 years old, she loved talking and interacting with people and she sometimes brought “workers” with her to help with her projects.
Ambrozine said to me often “you don’t belong here”.
Those four words changed the trajectory of my life because I carried her spirit forward into situations where I needed to continue striving to fulfill my life purpose. I used the words “you don’t belong here” as a mantra of sorts to remind myself to stay on purpose. To stand up when I got nocked down. To find strength and courage when I was in a storm of adversity. Seeing her determined eyes and her lips saying to me “you must keep going, you must follow your heart”.
Thank you Ambrozine! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference
WAKING INSTANTS 04: RUTH
Ruth was my second Mother. A friend of the family, she was there from beginning — the day I was born actually. Over the year’s our friendship grew and what we shared is indescribable.
Ruth or “Ruthy” as I called her, lived next door and was married to Jim. They were close friends of my parents and I was at their home ALL the time. I never much liked being alone in mine, plus, Ruthy cooked all sorts of meals I was more than happy to eat.
She taught me about jazz and other great music — songs like Winchester Cathedral and musicians like Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. I would borrow her albums, probably scratch them up a bit, then eventually return them for what ever else I could find in her record cabinet.
My favorite day of the year is May1. It’s my favorite because Ruthy and I would celebrate it by creating May Day plates out of paper plates and decorating them with shells from the beach and other items from our yards. She and I would go out to dinner, eat hot dogs on the beach, and take walks — Ruthy was one of my Great Advisor’s.
Probably one of the most effective pieces of advice Ruthy gave me was when I was trying to understand why my parents would always compare me to other kids. Sitting in her TV room, she said to me: “You’re a smart kid Rich, you’ll figure it out”.
Sometimes all we need is for someone to listen to us, someone who, without judgement — believes in us.
Thanks You Ruthy! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference
WAKING INSTANTS 05: MICK
Mick, brought life with him wherever he went. He was a progressive man — generous with heart and he loved gardening, creating a comfortable home environment, and was a shrewd businessman.
He always said that no one should stand in the way of another persons dreams. He believed in dreams and following your dreams. He was a dreamer too.
One thing that sticks out in particular is that he told me “You are never going to change them, Richard”. “They made choices to live that way”. That was my clue to move on. To move forward out into a world unknown.
My wish for readers is that you too make choices. Make choices that benefit your highest good, your most sacred dreams — the ones you came here to give our world.
Thank you Uncle Mick! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference
WAKING INSTANTS 06: SAM
I call him Sam because I don’t know his name. 1988 — waiting for the bus on the East Side, Providence — Rhode Island, a dark haired guy — handsome, made his way toward me and began speaking partly to himself, partly to me. Half sage, half poet, half crazy perhaps but then, what does it matter.
What he said to me that day I wrote down in a song. That line was “choose your possessions well”. It has become increasingly more true as life goes on.
We don’t need much. The things we think we want or need are more often than not —distraction. Our true possessions are spirit, heart and connection — to each other and a higher Source.
Thank you Sam! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference
WAKING INSTANTS 07: MARY
Purple. Anything purple — because it was Mary’s favorite colour. She loved 1970’s Cadillac Coupe de Ville’s, playing gin rummy, and she made a mean Portuguese kale soup.
She crocheted blankets and table clothes in all sorts of intricate patterns and knitted cream coloured lace doilies she would often give out to family and friends.
One of my childhood heroines — Mary was a good sounding board for when I needed to feel safe and heard during somewhat tumultuous times.
She would give me gifts. A set of playing cards with a dog on a purple backdrop, and a red, white and blue afghan she made. Once, a plastic donkey that had the words “I can’t live without you” scribed on its ears. Perhaps it was to let me know that she would always be around in some form or another, a safety blanket.
Mary always accepted me as I was —feminine, masculine, creative or hungry. It never mattered to her. What a blessing to receive for a young boy with many questions.
Thank you Aunt Mary! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference
WAKING INSTANTS 08: LISA
“If I can do it, you can do it.” That is one thing Lisa instilled in me the 36 plus year’s I was blessed to have her in my life.
With respect to her privacy and personal history, what sums up those years for me is one word: COURAGE.
Lisa taught courage. She was the embodiment of it —and I miss that. I miss her courage among so many other things.
I learned through her ability to survive and —to thrive in any situation, that we all could. I gained courage to stand up for myself. Courage to question what didn’t make sense to me. Courage to walk the path that has no markers or footprints.
Lisa exampled courage wholeheartedly —and then told us we could do it too.
She was the voice of reason, our sounding board, a guiding light, the rock-solid foundation of our gilded castle.
She still is.
Thank you Lisa! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference
WAKING INSTANTS 09: JOSEPHINE
“To the left, to the left” she would chant to Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”. Josephine’s chanting brought a gentle laughter to all of us, at any given time. With delivered acceptance.
Jo, as she was often referred, didn’t fit into the culture of mainstream rules and regulations — she had her own drum to beat.
Her rhythm connected.
I loved her greeting for me. “hey Rich” in a tone that always was so welcoming and accepting, I couldn’t feel anything other than part of her tribe.
To be honest, I really didn’t know her that well. We were more aquatinted through mutual friendships — and yet, on the few times we vacationed together in Fort Lauderdale, it felt like we were lifetime friends. That is the beauty of those connections we make that are authentic and synchronistic. Impact.
The impact on my own learning of self acceptance through Josephine was enormous.
I am grateful Jo — thank you for that welcoming spirit of yours and for taking me without judgement into your palm tree paradise.
Thank you Josephine! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference
WAKING INSTANTS 10: SHIRLEY
In 1982 I was a student in a vocational graphic art certification program in Newport, Rhode Island. This was way before Adobe, Mac, and Twitter and with the use of our eyes, rulers, rubber cement and X-ACTO knives, we would, among other things, manually set type on paper.
Shirley was my instructor. She wore her hair in a bun on top of her head, had flowing garments and spoke — well, very optimistically.
She would often recite, in our full class of creative kids, this mantra. “Sky’s the Limit.”
With enthusiasm, unlike the passionless history teacher in high school, she made our classroom a giant bowl of infinite possibility. — a Quantum Field.
The art program itself was offered for 3 months, about 365 hours worth of training — equivalent to an associate or bachelors degree. So — in essence, I gained a degree in possibility during that time.
Sky’s the Limit means taking risks, at times against the odds. We allow Divine Design to do It’s thing — flow freely, create synchronicity’s and dissolve our conditioned external and internal limited thinking.
It means transforming possibility into probability.
Thank you Shirley! #Gratitude #WakingInstants #PeopleThatMakeADifference