Love & Abuse: My Journey with Access Consciousness

It took me five years to write this.

I didn’t actually plan to.  But then life sometimes has its own ways.

Many of you know that I was deeply involved in an organization called Access Consciousness for 12 years. Recently, an old colleague of mine left that group, and has been creating quite a stir.

A surprising number of people have contacted me in the last few weeks asking about my own departure.


I have spent years wrestling with the question of if I owe anyone any words.  I helped create and maintain the image of Access as a beautiful self-help modality about consciousness for over a decade.

Do I owe the people that I brought in… an apology? Or details about anything I witnessed happening behind the scenes?

I still don’t have an answer to that question.  Because we are all on such very different paths.

But recently, as I see and hear about my friend Lauren’s experience (hear recordings of her being publicly shamed, sworn at, and slammed for speaking up), I feel compelled to say a few words.

I’ll start with one truth perhaps most people who know this work can agree on:

One of the things Access is about is awareness.  There are absolutely beautiful possibilities brought about by some of those tools.

I can tell you hundreds of stories of generous, kind and caring moments I had with the founders, Gary and Dain.  They, and the Access staff, made up almost the entire guest list at my wedding.  They were my family for over a decade. I get it.  The love. When they are vulnerable and undefended, it is an exquisite and enrapturing space.

I can also tell you dozens of shocking and extremely damaging things I witnessed, experienced and participated in.

Because here’s the thing….

Love and abuse are not exclusive.  These stories neither excuse each other nor cancel each other out.  That is precisely what makes certain relationships so haunting, confusing and maddening to unpack.

Both/ and.

I have come to believe that Access is about many things.  Included in my list, especially when questioned, are: power, money, gaslighting, retribution and abuse.

By the time I left, I was convinced that I was a narcissistic sociopath who deserved to die for telling someone the truth about an investment project that I was concerned was not legal. I have sat quietly for the last five years unpacking that sentence.

No one gets the blame for my story. It is perfect, exactly as it is.  It has been the single most growing, healing, maddening, soul shattering, liberating thing that has happened in my life. I have mined great treasures in the bits of truth I found in their accusations of me.  I was blind to many of my shadows, and I acted out of integrity in a number of ways.

I have also been liberated by seeing and naming some of the many atrocities and lies.

What a holy healing journey that has been!

One of the hardest things in this life is to hold a paradox.  To hold two conflicting truths in your hand at the same time.  How do we make sense of our most disorienting experiences? And the fact that human beings are so disappointingly…. human?

I don’t think Access was ever meant to be a destination.  It was meant to bring tools to empower people to trust themselves, then go into the world to create a more beautiful life.  Somewhere, amidst all the money and power, it seems, to me, to have gotten desperately off its rails.

A few weeks ago I went on a retreat.  For the first few days, I couldn’t figure out what I was experiencing, and why it felt so foreign in my body.

It was integrity.

In this space, there were no unspoken rules cancelling out the spoken ones.  What the leader said we would be doing was exactly, and only, what was being done. Speaking honestly had no chance of getting anyone shamed, mocked or cast out.

And if it would, I knew with every fibre of my being, I would simply walk out the door.

I think I have finally made it to the place where I will not give my authority over to anything outside of myself ever again.  If that is true…. literally anything and everything that has brought me to this moment, is a precious and sacred gift.

I am not here to chime in on whether Access is, or is not, a cult.  Unpack that word any way you will.

What I know is that a group can stand for absolutely mesmerizing principles… and when there are charismatic leaders that are not to be questioned at the helm, it’s a rather squirrely game.

It does not mean you should not play it. Only you will know that.  

For years I was afraid to speak.  Afraid of retaliation, sure.  But also afraid of my own subjectivity.  Afraid I might write the narrative incorrectly inside myself.  

I thought my story was so complicated and unique that no one could ever fully understand it.

It’s not.

It’s actually kind of simple.

I am you… (to the millions of women who have loved and defended your abuser).

I am you…. (to the billions of humans who have ever given your authority away to a teacher, a guru, a god).

We are not broken.  We are human.

And part of how we heal, is by the simple, and powerful, speaking of truth.

I would like to share a piece I wrote about taking back your life. It doesn’t say what you think it will.

May you walk your path the only way you can.

I’m Not Who I Appear to Be on Facebook

I was deeply disturbed by a Facebook memory that popped up on my feed the other day.

It was a gushing post (of mine) about gratitude… complete with photos of a gaggle of girls smiling…. eating something fabulous, of course.

It included hash tags about laughing and emoji hearts.

I remember that weekend well. But not because of the laughing.

It’s seared in my mind as one of the more painful weekends I can recall.

Several of my closest friendships were disintegrating. My core beliefs about myself and the world were quickly falling apart. I was promoting an event I felt super conflicted about. And every other meal ended up with salty tears doing the major seasoning of my food.

In all that confusion… I appear to have put on a great big smile, added emojis and told a surface level story instead.

Sure, I do love that city. Sure, the food there was great. But I was also miserable on that trip.

I see that post and my heart breaks. For me. For the image I was so carefully defending.

But also for everyone else who saw that post. One more post that perpetuated the bubble of half truths and refrigerator magnet joy, so often seen bouncing around the social media world.

The truth is… I couldn’t have captured the whole story in a post, even if I had wanted to. It was complicated. And messy. And not actually appropriate for mass consumption at that time anyway.

I don’t judge that I put it up.

But it was only, ever, a small part of the truth. I think we need to remember that.

Two people have written on my wall recently that I remind them of a Disney princess.

This is not good.

If I give this impression.

It’s lovely. But it’s just not real.

And thus, I think, it’s worth expounding upon:

The reason I post about my animals so much lately, is not because I think I am an amazing princess animal whisperer.

It’s because the phase I am in right now is so deeply raw and human and tender that I have nothing much else to say.

So I connect to you through the creatures around me. Who happen to be quite cute. And who do indeed bring me joy.

This post is not to invoke sympathy. I’m fine. I’m growing. In many ways, I’m great.

But if I have ever given you the impression my life is perfect…

It’s just not.

It’s full of questions,

and uncertainty,

and sadness.

Full of simplicity, and surrender, and unused drive.

Full of beauty and growing authenticity and the grittiest kind of love.

But slim on answers,

on direction,

And (hallelujah, finally, even) advice.

It was not my intention to turn this phase into having the appearance of a fairytale. I have just required a lot of solitude. A lot of reflection. A lot less sharing. A lot more grace.

I get it can be so easy to scroll through a feed and think you have a sense of who is living the good life. And why.

I suppose I just wanted to remind us all, that a smiling photo, matching family Easter dresses, a trek through Spain, whatever it may be…

All that we share…

… is really only, ever, always,

one part of the truth.

It’s all it can be.

We are complicated.

As you scroll… tread lightly on judging yourself.

My Slightly Scandalous Marriage

Yesterday was my 5 year anniversary.

The other day I put up some slightly sappy sentiments on Facebook about it, which you are more than welcome to read.

But while I’m being sentimental… I have one more thing to say…


Ron is 29 years older than me.


When we met that seemed scandalous to both of us.

Our second date the sweet old lady selling us museum tickets looked up from the counter and asked “is that one student and one senior?”

(Bless her heart.)

I’m not going to lie… there were things about that fact that were complicated. Kids, friends, perceptions.

But a scandal is almost always about what other people think. It’s never about what is true for you.

This life we are in… it is so full of conditioning that we often don’t even see it.

Have kids, settle down, find your passion, make something of yourself, don’t rock the boat, be yourself (the reasoned social media acceptable version of course!)

We start doing those things without even questioning if they are actually part of our path. If they have anything to do with what will make us uniquely filled up.

What do you know?

What works for you?

What would you like to create?

And who would you like to have along for the ride in what ways?

I like Ron. He’s kind of awesome. And uniquely kind. I got my life would be a greater adventure with him in it.

What if it could be that simple?

People will talk. People always talk.

While they talk, why not take a brave step forward with creating that life that is ravishingly yours and wonder full?

Every time I make a choice where that is the criteria… I’m glad I did.

Then just be kind and smart and present… Cause you’ll sort out the rest as you go.

Losing My Love. But Worth It.

I know it’s Mother’s Day.  And this is a sad story.  But it is also a story about being a mom. 

And a love that took me by surprise.  

If there is anything you have ever lost that you loved, I thought you might relate to my yesterday.

See the other night we had a thunderstorm.

I thought “I should go check on the babies.” And then I fell right back asleep. 

In the morning I could not find baby Rumi. Then I saw a hay bale in their fort that had been pushed about 6 inches out from the wall.

Rumi was down in the crack… upside down between the hay bale and the wall.

I can only imagine the babies got scared from the thunder and piled on top of each other (as they do) and Rumi got crammed down in the crack and couldn’t get back up.

I pulled him up and he was still warm, but not breathing. We tried all the things you try. Pumping his heart. A sort of goat CPR.

Panic. Shock. Desperation.

Baby was really truly gone.

And while many of the thoughts rolling through my head include phrases like:

— “I should have…”
— “If I’d only…”
— and “Why this one?”

My main question today is actually about love. What do we do with those moments of love that change us? Do we just be grateful for them and let them go? Do we let them haunt us? Do we bathe in them? Learn from them? Hold them lightly?

You see, Rumi was not just one of six little goats.  He was my wise little mystic.  There was no hiding that he was my favorite. Rumi was just pure love.

I slept with him in the hay. Fed him bottles. Nursed him back to health one scary night after he had found and nibbled on a toxic bush.   In a few short weeks he prodded open a very tender part of my heart.

In in turn, he returned to me just peaceful… open… sweet love.

I am so aware that I could do so many things with my sorrow. I could say I don’t want any goats. I could stop loving the other babies. I could say “it’s only a goat” and move on with my day.

Or I can just let that love wash over me. And that sorrow wash over me. And sit quietly in the grateful complicated mess of it all.

We all have loss.  

All day I have gotten messages, incredibly sweet messages, from people who have lost their pets or their children or their spouses.  Notes of beauty and caring and grief. 

We don’t choose what we lose.  But we do participate in how it shapes us.

Do we love less or more? Do we care more or less? Does it break us open or closed?

I don’t know what it is you have lost.  Lost your love? Lost your way? Lost your faith? Lost your parents? Lost your friend? Lost your dreams? 

I wonder…. How will that loss shape your future? Shape your heart? Shape your day? 

Today, I will cry until I’m ready to stop. 

I will celebrate this little goat man who passed too quickly through my life.

I will go plant a field of wildflowers and invite him to stay in my life.  

And then I will wonder who else I can love like that. Tenderly. Bigly.

Rumi, I will miss you so very much. I really am so very sorry you had to go so soon. But I thank you for coming in the first place. It was truly a gift to be your mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all.  Be it a day of great joy or a day of deep sorrow.  

You are loved.
You are love.
You get to love. 

As the saying goes, you know that “better to have love and lost” one…

It is worth it.


P.S.  Warning: this video is a bit sad, but I was truly captivated by how my dog Milo responded to losing his friend.  If there was any way to bring baby back to life, Milo would have found it. He licked and prodded and whined desperately until the very last moment Rumi was blanketed with earth. What truly incredible creatures.

An Uncanny Change

I used to think I had an anxious horse.

I’ve since realized I have a very psychic horse, and I was actually a bit anxious.

In my recent season of more quiet and space, my horse has completely transformed!

I made you a video!

(Remember this is the horse that stepped on my head and would get so freaked in the woods she would occasionally rear and race home.)

Here she is today calmly learning to bow and graciously hosting Charlotte’s first ride on her back.

It’s easy to get so busy that you don’t even realize the energies you are being.

But as you choose peace and joy and ease… those around you will feel it. And like my horse, they just might change as well.

What can you gift yourself this season to have more of those energies?

The space filled?

Light filled?

Angst-less ones?

Are you willing to do less this season? And have and be more?

Blessings and gratitude to my FB friends and family this year. Merry Christmas to all!

P.S. For those following my horse saga…

This sweet horse was named Tormenta, and since my accident she has really wanted a new name. After months of wondering and many lists, she is now officially Maia.

Happy happy girl!

A Snotty Mess Over the Caring In the World?

So I don’t think I’ve ever made a video where I was such a snotty mess…

It’s the good kind. I swear.

My hometown is on fire this week. Massive, out of control, raging fires. So I’ve been watching the story closely.

And this morning I woke up to a Facebook post that sort of wrecked me.

It was just a list.

But a list of businesses donating food, offering clothes and free bowling and pet boarding and miniature golf and internet and housing…

and the list just kept going and going…

I guess I was just really touched by the caring. By the spirit of love in the face of catastrophe and despair.

The last few days I have been undone by that energy again and again. My eyes just keep welling up with tears.

I’m in Birmingham this morning— having traveled up from New Orleans to Jackson and heading to Atlanta.

The last four days have been confusing and opening and inspiring in so many unusual ways.

Teachers who have given their lives to breathe into kids and believe in their futures…

White folks who moved here as teens to ride busses and lay on floors during the Civil Rights movement…

Pastors and storytellers and organizations that are championing goodness and change.

And that in the face of a really ongoing disaster. One that started hundreds of years ago and has not really changed.

It has me wondering if it sometimes takes a tragedy for us to come together?

It makes me wonder if these natural disasters are in some strange way gifts from the earth to challenge us to see we are part of something together?

It also makes me aware of the disasters that just get so drawn out that they lose our attention. That we forget about the radical need. Or that caring still brings out the best of us. And is part of what we can always choose.

It’s easy to turn on the tv and forget that. To think that humanity is one big mess and there is nothing we can do.

But there is so much we can do!

Open our homes. Our hearts. Our conversations. Our resources. Our questions.

Gratitude for everyone in California who is reminding me of that today. And so many in the South.

And what role can each of us play in that journey along the way?

Do We Care What They Think?

I had always danced a little outside the lines when picking boyfriends.

When I was 15, everyone wanted me to date Trevor. We taught Sunday school together, played opposite each other in the high school plays and sat across from each other in freshman geometry. I went for Nick, a mysterious senior with a fast red car who liked to brood in his room watching Tarantino movies. He was four years older than me. It was quite the scandal.

Half way through college I met Todd who was 12 years older than me and had 2 kids. My mother was not really amused by that one but bit her tongue just enough to avoid igniting my need to rebel by doing something stupid like marrying him.

I guess I’d always gone for older men. It’s just all in the definition of older.

We met in Chicago for our 4th date. I was there for a workshop and Ron didn’t live too far from the windy city. Things were still new, but I was pretty sure I liked him… kind of inexplicably a lot.

I’d met him online, which is either another chapter or another book entirely, but from the start it was a complete fluke we’d made it this far. I had very few set rules and standards when dating online. I wasn’t looking for a particular build, faith, career or ambition. To be honest, I wasn’t even looking for a boyfriend. It had been one of those funny ideas I’d woken up with one day to sign up with a profile online. Truly, it was just something that I got would create more in my life, though I didn’t know how, when or why. So I signed up.

I wonder how much fun I can have? I wonder what interesting people I can meet? I wonder what adventures I can go on?

I’d had a blind date with an inventor on Christmas Day. He introduced me to his family as an “old friend” and we made gingerbread cookies in the kitchen with no recipe that turned into a runny comedy. I figured anyone who would meet for a first date at a family Christmas was intriguing enough to meet. And he was. It was a hoot. No chemistry, but certainly worth a day!

I’d gone out with a Harvard poetry professor and spent the day seeing the streets of Venice Los Angeles through his nostalgic eyes. Nice guy. Nice enough that we pretty much turned into pen pals and he ended up a guest at my future wedding.

I didn’t have a lot of specific criteria for dating, which made it all a bit tricky to narrow things down.

I’d done an exercise with myself when I went to make my profile. 3 steps to figuring out what I really desired:

Step 1- I wrote down all the characteristics I’d like in a man. As you do right? You know: the list.

Step 2- I asked myself for every item on the list- “is that mine?” Do I actually care if he likes to dance or is that some strange ideal I’ve bought into? Not mine? I crossed it off. Do I care about his height, eye color, age? Ummmm…. Not really. Those were also ideals. And they were crossed off as well.

Step 3- Of the things remaining, I asked myself, which did I require out of my partner and/or lover and which could I get from somewhere else? “Someone I could call in the middle of the night?” I had a few girlfriends who fit that criteria. “Someone who is interested in Consciousness.” Others came to mind for that too. “Activities in common?” strike.

By the time I’d gone through them all, I was mainly just left with energies I was looking for: Someone who loved to play. Who adored me. Who was easy to live with or just be around. Someone who didn’t create drama or try to control me. Someone who made my life easier rather than more difficult. Someone who actually enjoyed life and the adventures it brought. It wasn’t very concrete.

My very few absolute rules for determining if I would go on an actual date with someone were this: You have to tell me your real name (so I can google you of course), post a somewhat realistic picture, preferably taken in the last two decades, and we had to meet in a public place (to deter or at least postpone possibly run ins with serial killers and the like).

In short- be a real person.

Beyond that, I was pretty open to following my intuition and asking for joyful adventures to unfold.

Ron was actually the only man that failed my remarkably simple criteria. I found out later he wasn’t really up for dating online. In the midst of a new and fragile divorce, he was more perusing, or testing the waters to see where he’d fit. A flimsy, barely started profile, an absent picture and questionably fake and certainly common name, he was not exactly worthy of a reply to my all too full inbox. It should have been “delete.”

Yet somehow one line emails turned to two lines, and simple questions become interesting stories. He talked of the joy it brought him to bring solution like clean water to other countries. He asked good questions. He shared how much being joyful meant to him. I don’t know… while anonymous, I liked him. Liked him enough to break all my own rules and meet him without a picture or a real name.

“You really like this guy?” my roommate Suzy asked me as I quickly threw on a dress to meet him for dinner.

“Yeah I do. I don’t know why. I’m excited to meet him.”

“Well if that’s the case, would you consider washing your hair?” she said with a kindness few people in the world could have pulled off.

I was 15 minutes late for my first date for taking Suzy’s advice, but I was glad I did.

When I saw him across the parking lot, I was surprised and not surprised. He was winsome and tall, a bit more conservative than I was used to with a blue knit sweater tied around his shoulders, and give or take in the age range of my father.

“Age wasn’t on my list” I reminded myself, and insisted I be open to the possibilities that might unfold.

Which brought us today. Four dates later and still no idea where this was going, we found ourselves in Chicago strolling the park.

“Want to check out the museum?” Ron asked me.


The woman behind the desk wore thin wired glasses and was old enough to be my grandmother. With a sweet smile she greeted us “Will that be one student and one senior?” she asked in perfect customer service sincerity.

I had to force the corners of my mouth to stay down and quickly looked to Ron. “Hey, double discount!” I thought to myself, tempted to take her up on the offer.

Ron’s faced flushed red and unlike me he was not working to suppress a smile of any size.

“Two adults” he said firmly between softly gritted teeth and handed her the $20 bill for 2 full priced admissions.

I’d like to say we laughed it off. That we fell so in love we didn’t care. But it brought something up for each of us. It was the first comment of many more to come.

I started asking 2 questions.

1) Did the age difference work for me?

2) Did I care what people thought?

The first was easy for me to answer. For me, it worked. There was a mellow in his living that was unmatched by men my age. He knew what was worth raising an eyebrow for. He’d already made a name and a career for himself and had little to prove. It was refreshing. It was ease.

The second questions was an emphatic “no” for me. The kind of no that can’t actually be a no because it is said too quickly and with far too much force. “I don’t care what other people think” I insisted. But it was hard not to care. People cared. It was strange.

Everywhere we went we noticed people looking. We were talked about, pointed at, disapproved of and beyond. It was hard to believe so many people cared about our age difference… but they did. We looked around at times before holding hands. We didn’t kiss in public, or otherwise did it intentionally to push buttons as we knew it would.

It was always up, always in the air, until one day I had to wonder…

How is it that so many people care about our age difference? People can’t usually be bothered to think of anything much beyond themselves. Isn’t that odd? Isn’t that strange?

And a phrase I’d heard and taught countless times popped into my head.

“You point of view creates your reality. Your reality does not create your point of view.”

“Was it possible” I wondered? …Possible that most of this discomfort was actually being created by us?

Ron definitely had the point of view it was uncomfortable for people. With a reputation within his community, he could certainly introduce me with a great deal more comfort if I’d been more than a year older than his oldest son.

Everywhere we looked, we had been looking at what was wrong and strange and odd about it. And people picked it up like a sopping sponge and spit it back on demand.

“What if we took another point of view?” I wondered. What if we looked for where it was easy and made sense? What if we looked for evidence for that? I wonder what we would find?

It turns out that crazy phrase is right! The more we found evidence for the point of view it really wasn’t that big a deal, the more we got over it and the less people cared. And the less people cared, the more it proved our new point of view correct that it really wasn’t a big deal, and the more we got over it again.

It didn’t mean people stopped asking “is this your daughter?” It was a fair question. I could have been. But it did mean that the teeth gritting stopped, we both found the true humor beneath the question and did our best to lesson their embarrassment by our easy response. We stopped censoring ourselves by our made up stories and started simply to live.

The trouble with caring too much what other people think is it’s a cycle you feed. In order to figure out if your choices are right or wrong or good or bad, you have to constantly judge you and your choices. And if you are trying to avoid a particular judgment, you seem to feed it with the point of view it already exists to be avoided.

“Do we care what other people think of our age difference?” Over time, it became a gentle and honest “not really”.

Before we knew it, we were down to question #1—Does it work for us?

There were all sorts of sides to that. 5 years from now? 10 years? 20? There were certainly unknowns and moments we’d have to navigate.

That was a question worth continuing to ask.

The Legend of John Blair

There is a man I keep in my phone who I can never call.

And while I know he will never pick up, I can’t erase his number. It makes me smile to see his name. And reminds me of the adventures awaiting only a breath away when you say yes.

I had just returned from a retreat. The one where I sat in the water. The one where I was connected to each molecule of nature, and could feel the magic of me coursing through my own veins.

I had managed to bring this magic back through a muggy airport, three connecting flights, and now stood on a street filled with taxis and screaming drills. A bundle a space and peace, I glided across the street to get a slice of New York’s finest. Cheese with extra parmesan.

I let each morsel of cheese melt in my mouth and my cheeks curled up with a smile. “What grand and glorious adventure can I have today?” I asked myself, in love with my pizza and in love with the world. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.

I started my way back across the street, toward my 71st St hole in the wall I treasured.

“Hey miss, can you help me up the curb?”

His wheelchair was stuck on the lip of the sidewalk.

“Sure. Of course” I responded automatically and grabbed the handles of his chair to push.

I was about to walk away, when his tone stopped me. “What are you?” he asked me. An awe filled his voice that was unusual. “You aren’t from here. You aren’t like anyone. Your eyes are so peaceful. And you have a damn fine ass.”

I looked at him both in wonder and shock, unsure if I should be insulted or flattered. But if it was sweet talk or honesty or pure manipulation, his words, his awe, his tone… I felt seen.

“What’s your name kid?” he asked. And that was the beginning.

John Ellington Blair was a homeless man who lived on the corner of 71st and Broadway and went by the name ‘Master John’. A wheelchair filled with musical instruments and knick knacks, he was a bit of a local character. A big black garbage bag wrapped around one of his legs. “Keeps the moisture off the cast when I sleep he explained.” He swore he could make me a star. After two minutes of knowing me he was utterly convinced. “Wow, a homeless agent” I thought to myself. “I’m really moving up!”

“I gotta be honest, you want to be famous like Britney Spears though, you’re gonna need to add a little more sex. And shake that booty. It’s all about the booty. Yours is nice, but it doesn’t shake enough.”

I didn’t want to be Britney Spears! I was a theatre major! He was flattering and grotesque. And clearly not listening to a word I said.

But I gave him my cell phone number when I left. No, I don’t know why. He intrigued me? He was funny? Perhaps it wasn’t so smart. Cause boy did he call.

He called and wanted to come over for dinner. I met him on the bench with some homemade veggie juice and soup with lentils and rice. He told me about his love affair with Roberta Flack, and how he’d played with all the jazz greats and invented this treasured instrument the Vitar. I wasn’t so sure.

He called and wanted to take a bath in my bathtub. I met him at the park with 5 gallons of hot water, some toe nail clippers, towels, lotion and soap. He told me how he’d come to live on the corner of my block only a few months ago when his girlfriend had thrown him out of the house for abuse of prescription drugs and abuse of her. Should I keep my distance? I wondered. I washed his feet and listened.

He called and desperately needed a singer for a Mother’s Day gig he had booked at the local senior center. I met him at Sunset Retirement and was mortified to find out we were crashing the gig of a sweet piano player named Norman. I insisted we leave, while John Blair insisted harder I sing with the piano player and see if I could work in some solos for him on his Vitar. An awkward hour later we had all the seniors on the floor dancing and Norman had booked me to sing at another gig with him the following week. John Blair’s squeaky Vitar was a horror of a sound. But it was the first time I had gotten to sing in New York City, and I was aglow. He was audacious and funny, and made me far braver than I had ever dared to be. I couldn’t care less if his stories were made up. It had been a fabulous day.

He called and wanted me to run away to Florida with him. He wanted a way off the streets before winter. “I have some money kid. We’ll go to Florida. Come to Florida with me. I’ll make you famous. We’re a good pair.”

“That’s never gonna happen” I told him firmly, but I agreed to meet him at the Veteran’s Hospital to see if there was a way he could get a hospital bed. He needed surgery on his hip. His thinking was if he could time it with the storms he could miss the first half of winter while he came up with a plan.

They checked him in and gave him a bed. He showed me the hospital and introduced me to his friends. One legged and dirty. Talking in circles and complicated. I knew nothing of vets or the war. “This matters kid. It’s important you see this.”

While filling out paperwork he asked if I’d be the executor of his will. He needed one to be admitted. “It’s a formality. I have to put someone.” I counted the days backwards and realized I had only known him for two and a half weeks. “Surely there is someone better suited…” my sentence trailed off. “Oh course if you want. I just need to know more. Like where your accounts are, where your violins are, how to get your mail. I don’t know anything about you.”

“I’m not going anywhere kid. If I think I’m going anywhere, you’ll be the first to know.” He gave me his PO box key and asked if I’d pick up his mail when I visited him next.

“I can’t come down here all the time” I told him firmly before I left. It’s far and I’m really busy with work. But I’ll come when I can.”

“No, you’ll come” he told me confidently. “I know you will. Plus, we’ve gotta start planning your career. I’ll get Roberta Flack to come down here and meet you. You’ll come.”

Two nights later I was working a double shift and my phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I had told him I was at work. I would call in the morning. At midnight I walked past the park and listened to my messages.

“I think Roberta can come tomorrow. I need you to come tomorrow.” Beep

“You gotta call me. I need my mail. You’ve gotta come bring me my mail.” Beep. His voice was speeding up and his messages sounded urgent. Calm yourself. You’ve got nothing but time.

“Call me kid. John Blair here. Please can you call?” Beep.

“I just wanted to say, that I’m really grateful. I know you can’t come to Florida. I just, I’m really happy to know you. Can you come see me tomorrow? It’s important. I really want to see you. Bye kid.” his tone was softer. Beep.

“John Blair. Hey thanks for everything. I just really needed to say thank you. And see if you could come see me. I’d just really like to see you. Can you call me?” Beep

5 messages. It was getting a bit intense. I started to wonder if I had crossed the line with this man who lived on the streets with a known history of abuse. I hoped I wasn’t getting into trouble. I didn’t know where this would lead.

I had already told him I couldn’t make it on Sunday. I had a date with some girlfriends for brunch and then a mani/pedi in the afternoon. Maybe I could get down there after, but I was going to have to start setting some boundaries. 5 messages in one shift was really not ok.

I had just picked out my fuchsia nail polish and had it applied to my second finger when my phone rang. I’d left 2 messages for John Blair that morning enquiring about visiting hours and he was just getting back to me now?

“Hey there” I answered the phone with my polish free hand.

“Is this Blossom Benedict?” The sterile male voice on the other end asked me. “You are John Blair’s executor. I’m calling to tell you John Blair died last night.”

There are things you aren’t prepared for. Things you can’t prepare for. I jumped out of the chair, wet polish on my fingers, walked out to the sidewalk and collapsed. I should have answered the phone. He knew. And I didn’t answer the phone.

If the story ended there, it would have been a magical and melancholy and memorable chapter in my life. This stranger who became my friend and told fanciful stories. The strange gift we were to each other in his last two weeks he was alive. The caring he had shown me I was. The adventures he had insisted I take.

But the story did not end there. It couldn’t. He had entrusted me with his possession, with his funeral, with his PO box key and his violins, and with the myth that there was money somewhere and people who cared. I was his contact. I was in charge. And with no information, I still couldn’t let him down.

“Dammit John Blair, you promised you would tell me more. So you tell me now… where the hell do I start?”

Who was John Blair? Who would care he was gone? I’ll go on a treasure hunt John… just give me a clue.

I picked up his possessions at the hospital and rummaged through the pockets. Nothing. I talked to a few vets in hopes they might know something. Sorry. I went to the PO box and prayed there would be mail.


Who was John Blair? Who would care he was gone.

“Hey, he was homeless” my boyfriend Gabriel reminded me. “How amazing that he met you. What if there is nothing to find? You really did your best.”

I wracked my brain. It wasn’t enough. He’d had a girlfriend! I didn’t know where she lived. He had violins at a synagogue? There were 1000 in the city. His possessions he had left with a lawyer. A nameless lawyer?!

Who was John Blair? Who would care he was gone? The question haunted me. I couldn’t let it go.

I had seen him check his email on gmail once at the VA hospital. He was writing to someone. Was it family? Was it spam? I walked to the computer and bumped on the keys.

If I was his email, what would I be?

User name: I typed, playing games with myself.

Password: v-i-t-a-r, that bloody awful instrument he’d invented. And with a smack, I hit enter.

And that was a moment for me, a striking, defining moment for me. A moment where there was a God, and there was a plan, and there was hope and magic and a point to this crazy life. It was a moment where I knew that John was laughing his ass off.

For with the stroke of a key and a random worthless guess… Gmail opened, and with it, opened up; the life of John Blair.

And while stone cold dead, the crazy tragic comedian was about to drag me on one final New York adventure. “The adventure and the love in the death of John Blair.”

I honestly don’t know how to tell this next part of the story. It’s wild and wonderful, so how do I set the tone? Do I include all the dialogue and looks and surprise? Do I tell you the conversation with the sobbing girlfriend I found after buzzing on door after door, or tell you only that I found her, and sat patiently for two hours while I told her she wasn’t wrong?

Do I show you the letter I wrote to Roberta Flack and marched to the door of the Dakota. Or just tell you she we real?

Dear Roberta,
You don’t know me. I am a friend of a man named John Blair. He says he knew you. I have no idea if this is true or if you even live in New York, but I wanted to let you know that John Blair died the other night and if you knew him I am very sorry.

If you have any questions you can call me at (949) 533-7170. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sorry to have bothered you.

Yours truly,

I walked my letter to The Dakota and asked the doorman if Roberta Flack lived in the building. “I can’t tell you that Ma’am. We don’t share information about our residents.”

Well if she does live here, will you give her this letter? It’s urgent. And if she doesn’t live here, well, I guess it really doesn’t matter.” I thrust the letter into his hands imploringly. “Please. If she does live here, please?”

“Will that be all ma’am?” The doorman asked me.

“Yeah. That would be all.”

She was real and she called.

Do I reenact the raspy voice of Sparky Martin down in New Orleans? “Have you called Bill? You gotta call Cosby. Oh, he will be so sad to hear that Cat is dead.”

I found a lawyer who was holding his CDs who knew the Rabbi who was holing his violins. The Rabbi knew that his girlfriends name had been Geraldine, and that’s how I found her by buzzing the all the initial G’s in the building the lawyer had pointed at.

Geraldine knew his sister Joyce who lived in Michigan and was a wreck. With each person, each email, each note, the story came together. His stories had been real. And on and on and on and on they went.

The funeral service was at the VA Hospital. Roberta had handled the details, flew his sister out and paid for the cake. They had been lovers back when they were kids. “I guess I owe him that.”

I sat in last pew, surrounded by faces I had found and pulled together from a maze. The service was short; A story from his sister, a prayer followed by a hymn.

“The first time ever I saw… his face…” Roberta’s voice was raw and open as tears streamed down her cheeks and the cheeks of the twenty something attendees paying respect to John that day as she sang. It was the concert of a lifetime, only without the crowds or the cheer.

“Does anyone else have anything to say?” The pastor asked “before we close?” He was about to launch into prayer.

“I guess I do.” I stood up in my pew. I felt awkward and out of place.

“Well” I took a deep breath. “Of everyone here, I think I knew John the least. We met only 3 weeks ago so I hardly feel I should be talking. But he was my friend. Truth be told, he was one of my best friends.

I met John crossing the street on 71st St to get pizza. I wouldn’t normally stop. But I was open that day to John Blairthe adventures of the world. And I guess I just wanted to say that I am grateful that I was.

In two and a half weeks John Blair took me on an incredible adventure. He showed me how to live boldly and without fear. He got me to loosen up a little. Well, a lot. And he showed me the undeniable existence of god or the divine or some sort of magic by bringing us all together today.

I guess that’s all. I guess I just wanted to say that it might have looked like I was helping him. But he was helping me too.”

And that was it.

I packed up his CDs, all except one, and sent them home with his sister. I wished I hadn’t. He would have wanted me to have them. But I didn’t want anyone to think I was taking anything that didn’t belong to me. And they were only CDs.

I kept a small vial of mandarin oil he’d used to soften the cracks on his street wise hands. I hated the smell but wouldn’t throw it away.

I closed his Gmail account and PO box and turned in the key. We never found his money. That stayed a mystery, a legend, or both.

And that was it. That was the story of John Blair.

In the end, all I really had was that number. The number I could never call.

Well, not exactly.

I had my new courage. And a knowing. An unshakable certainty. Magic is, unmistakably… alive.

A New Kind of Wedding Vow

I posted my wedding vows on Facebook last week, and the post literally went viral. I’ve never had so many people comment on or share a post.

I get what it touched in people was the possibility that you don’t have to give yourself up to include someone in your life.

My vows were actually not written for my husband. I wrote them for me.

What do I have to promise myself to make the choice to get married peaceful in my world? How can I use everything I have learned to create something truly different? What would it take to create this relationship every single day?

I’d like to share them with you. May they give you something else to wonder about in whatever relationships you may be creating in your life daily:

  • I promise to never give up my dreams for you, but instead to include you in them.
  • I promise to never ask you to make me your life, but I will joyfully join you in the parts of your life I am invited to.
  • I promise to ask you questions rather than assuming I know who you are or what you need from me.
  • I promise to look to what I am grateful for every day, and to also be aware of what is not working so that we can change it.
  • I promise to support you and to cheer you on in whatever it is you need to do to create the world you desire to live in.
  • And I promise I will work to put into play everything I have learned about honor, trust, allowance, vulnerability and gratitude to create with you an intimacy and in turn a marriage we can feel both whole and free within.

What else is possible for relationship on this planet?

Will you join me in asking?

My Screwed Up, Imperfect, Wonderful Father

I realized recently that I frequently talk about my dad in past tense.

He was an alcoholic.
We was homeless.
He was very creative.
He was very righteous.

He actually isn’t dead, though I get it sounds that way. He just isn’t any of those things anymore. In losing everything, he has undone himself.

Today’s video is a tribute to my father.

Many parents are not perfect. Perhaps I would say all.

My imperfect dad has taught me a lot
about destruction,
about not being enough,
about righteousness,
about demons,
about caring
and allowance
and honoring
and love.

In a very unusual way… It is a great joy to be your daughter.

Happy Father’s Day Papa.