the life you were born to live by dan millman

Have you read the book, The Life You Were Born To Live by Dan Millman?

When we bought it, it became an instant success in the family, and also with visitors who came to our apartment. I know they enjoyed the book because there would usually be a phone call a day or two later saying, “I was at the bookstore and picked up that book we were looking at a few days ago.”

What is the book’s appeal besides being entertaining? Because entertaining is not a good enough reason in this instance. So why do people go out and buy it soon after spending a few hours with it? Maybe because the book, the “Life Purpose System,” gently guides. It doesn’t dictate, or get you into a dark mood because it’s complicated and heavy. Rather it suggests and informs. The words, and what they’re expressing, grab the reader. You see a quizzical expression, a smile, a nod, an agreement from the one reading.

I’m not the best person to point to why a book is good reading, or why it isn’t. Every word that’s written about a book, person, movie, restaurant, or place is just someone else’s opinion. And because it’s an opinion, one opinion is as good as another. Perhaps this opinion will bring you to a bookstore. Perhaps it won’t.

And so it goes.

david wolfe

I’d read in an eletter I’d gotten, perhaps 4 years ago, high praise for a book titled, The Sunfood Diet Success System. The next time I was in a bookstore I looked, but the book wasn’t there. I tried other stores. Couldn’t find it. Finally I went to the stores that were not considered mainstream, and there it was. I reluctantly picked it up. Reluctantly because it looked to me like information overload on a subject I wasn’t sure I wanted to know that much about. There were a lot of words in that book. However, the writer, David Wolfe, had put together a beautiful book.

It turned out that The Sunfood Diet Success System and I became fast friends. I read it from cover to cover a few times, highlighting the information I would need to become a “raw foodist.” I savored the words. They must have reached a part of me that was ready, because I felt, “Yes. I can do this. ” I was really excited. It wouldn’t be easy being in Manhattan and passing block after block of restaurants, bakeries, and take-out places having the most delicious foods. But . . .

David Wolfe came to town and gave a lecture. He taught us about coconuts and how to select the best ones. He opened a coconut and spooned out the milky white meat. It was similar to eating pudding. And the taste? Wonderful. He talked about many things; I was definitely hooked. At the time I was cooking for family, and knew no one would join me this time around in this particular endeavor. My main purpose was to have loads of energy and a clear head. And for one year I enjoyed every mouthful of my raw food meals.

Then there was a summer holiday and two couples came to visit. These four friends spend many weekends grilling steaks in their backyards. We had walked and walked in the East Village and were hungry. There we were in front of the Second Avenue Deli. We went in. It was merry and crowded and the smells came from everywhere. We sat comfortably at a big table- enough for lots of food- and began glancing at the many menu selections. And I noticed the very familiar pastrami on rye. The discussion was leaning towards sandwiches. And everyone knows that sandwiches in a Jewish deli at the right time is a taste worth persuing.

So, I didn’t blink an eye when the waitress pointed pen and paper my way and said, “And you?” It didn’t take but a few seconds to say, “Me. Well, I’ll have a pastrami on rye and a cup of coffee, please.” And my friends looked in my direction and smiled. That’s all they did was smile. Were they thinking, “Thank God. Now we don’t have to sneak out for a pizza anymore.” Or maybe they were thinking about the chocolate chip cookies that used to be in containers in my freezer.

Indeed. It was that way. You try things and sometimes they become a permanent part of your life. Sometimes they don’t. In both instances, you never do things in quite the same way ever again.

don’t let the bed bugs bite

I’d say this casually to family and friends as they went off to sleep. It had no real meaning to me. Were there really bed bugs? I never thought about it one way or another. It was only a funny sentence.

Then in one year on three separate occasions I got the bed bugs. You know when it happens. There’s no doubt what it is. You go to bed one night and the next morning you’re furiously scratching; you can’t keep your nails away from the area touched by those BB. They seem worse than mosquito bites. And mosquitos like me. I’ve had plenty of experiences with them.

I don’t use that expression anymore. It lost its appeal. Never comes to mind anymore.

Life is like that.

vilcabamba, ecuador

I’d never been to a place like Vilcabamba. It’s situated in a valley in the southern part of Ecuador. You can take a plane and land outside of Loja, the nearest city, or a bus from Cuenca, as I did. The ride is a little over 4 hours. The nearer you get to Loja, the closer you watch the road as it’s a bit daunting climbing in altitude while the driver very carefully maneuvers the many curves alongside a raging river below.

Once in Loja the decision is to stay overnight or take a bus or taxi to Vilcabamba. I stayed a night at comfortable Hotel Vilcabamba, and caught a taxi the next morning.

When I first set eyes on Vilcabamba, I remember thinking, “What the heck!” It was a shock, and upon approaching the square I was brought back to the cowboy and Indian movies of the 1950’s and those little one-horse towns. Vilcabamba is centered around a square with a few small stores and restaurants surrounding it and a very old and simple church having  a presence. There’s no need for traffic lights. Congestion is hardly a problem.

Vilcabamba’s tranquility is felt immediately. There are many old, strong, and healthy people who walk miles every day, or hike daily up the mountains to work. These strong and healthy people live to be well over 100, and so their lifestyle was studied by doctors from different parts of the world. And books were written about them.

It takes time to get used to being part of the village. To capture its essence, you can’t come and leave quickly. You stay, relax, settle your mind. There are a handful of hostals.  Fruit trees are everywhere in yards – avocados, lemons, mangoes, etc. You don’t starve. The most delicious pineapple I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating was bought on a side street at a tiny grocery store off the square.

In Vilcabamba the food is tasty and the wine good; you sit and eat and get to know the people, and observe the day. The horses are hitched and children play in the streets next to the square. People from all walks of life sit for hours talking and eating, sometimes reading books gotten at the book exchange “up the street.” You read books you thought you’d never read because the selection is limited. And you enjoy them. And you take long walks into the mountains, and guided tours to beautiful Podocarpus National Park, study Spanish, listen and learn about the nation’s politics, hike Mandango for its spectacular views, rent a horse for the day and return when the sun sets with a feeling you’ve not experienced in many moons. Sometimes there’s a concert at one of the hostals given by performers touring Ecuador. Vilcabamba had its first UFO Convention in 2004. Through the years, there  has been talk of UFO sitings in the mountains.

You meet people from the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, England, Japan, etc. Some stay and build their dream house in the mountains, or find one in town to renovate. Others stay for a short time, and are anxious to move on. Some visitors return annually. Others tour different countries because there are many sites they want to see all over South America. Sometimes they return to stay, and sometimes they don’t.

Phones, computers? Well, there are two simply operated internet places and a phone office. If it rains hard, well , there’s always tomorrow.

It’s a state of mind, you know. If you’re ready for the tranquil experiences, you’ll let nothing keep you from having them. If you’re not, nothing can make you stay.

Hello to: Glenda and Bob, Emmy and Brian, Isabelle and Sergi, Marjatta, Ana and Miguel, John and Flor, Henry and Esther, Eliza, Alicia, Carol and John.

very cheap entertainment

I don’t mind doing the laundry. In fact, I’d rather do it than have it done by someone else. No one seems to feel quite this way. But I think there’s something nice about removing your freshly cleaned clothes immediately from the dryer. My adult life has never included my own private laundry room. I prepare for the laundromat with a book, paper and pen or CD. It’s a good time to sit and be productive.

The feel of the laundromat is never the same. It depends on the people already there and those coming in. People are as varied as their laundry containers. For instance, I arrive with about four bagfuls of clothes. and four clean bags. Gym bags are popular, as are special laundry containers, carts, even homemade cloth bags. Many of the young single guys come in looking as if they just rolled out of bed. Actually, that can be said about many young single woman, too. Some singles stay and wait; some don’t. I noticed that older men are effcient; they stay and read the newspaper. They’re very casual and almost invisible in the way they move about. Older women are sometimes fussy and too anxious to wait around. When older couples wash the woman attends to everything; the man tries in an awkward way to be helpful. They don’t stay.

Some people come in dragging their big bundles of laundry on the ground behind them, then plop them into the cart that is used to carry clothes from the washer to the dryer. Why do they do that? Why? Why?

Some people jam all their washed clothes into their gym bag, zip it and they’re gone. I had to do that once. It was all a heaping pile of wrinkles by the time I got to fold it.

Laundry day – it’s cheap entertainment.

When Kahlil Gibran wrote: “I want to be alive to all the life that is in me now, to know each moment to its uttermost.” Do you think that includes time spent in a laundromat?


I met many savvy travelers of all ages, professions, and personalities last year in Ecuador. It’s a little country where there’s so much exploring to do. I don’t know why people say, “Ecuador? You went to Ecuador? Why?” I want to say, “Go and you will find out. ” However, I don’t know why Ecuador. Why any country?

Quito, the capital, has what every big, wonderful, high-energy city has – museums, fine restaurants, a good transportation system, many clean hostals run by friendly people, hotels with all the amenities, excellent shopping, beautiful parks, magnificent churches, great walking neighborhoods, galleries, etc. Neighborhoods to stay away from and neighborhoods for strolling. Don’t let the armed guards fool you. The situation is not as it looks. The guidebooks say beware of crime. They also say that about Manhattan where I am at the moment.

It was early evening when the plane landed in Quito. The airport is small and clean and uniformed employees direct everyone to the exist. Cafe Cultura was on my list of places to stay, and I needed to call to reserve a room. I experienced a few sweaty moments attempting to use the phone and then the nearby attendant came to help. Cafe Cultura had a room . The brochure in my room said it’s owned by an Norwegian. It was charming and friendly. In Ecuador it’s easy to find places to stay for $10 and they’re really okay places, but I find staying at a really feel- good place the first few nights in a foreign country is important. The location was perfect. After three days, I reserved a room at La Casa Sol to be in a different location . I walked, and walked to get a feel for Quito. My idea was to not stay long in a big city, but to return there before leaving for the States.

It was time to visit Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city in the southern part of Ecuador. My book said that in 1999 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site. The lovely people at La Casa Sol, realizing I had neglected to learn their language, offered to make a reservation for me at Hotel Inca Real in Cuenca. The Hotel was once a private residence. It was quaint and lovely. The rooms were surrounded by a courtyard. Courtyards play a prominent role in many structures. Most are beautiful and tranquil. The people working at the hotel had an old-fashioned reserve in their manner. They were always extremely gracious to the foreigner who only spoke English. It was almost painful for me to watch their expression every time I approached the desk.

Cuenca has its share of foreigners who have set up busineses, are studying Spanish, or simply enjoying a different culture for a few months. There are many beautiful old churches and parks, outdoor markets, small stores for shopping, and restaurants where you can get a good meal. On Sunday it’s practically a ghost town as natives and tourists alike take off to visit the surrounding areas.

I’d been in Cuenca for a few weeks when it occurred to me to do something about the daily frustration of not knowing Spanish. I enrolled at the Abraham Lincoln on Borrero 5-18. Admittedly, I was not the best student there, but learned enough words to enliven the time I’d be in Ecuador. Once you study the design of the city, Cuenca is small enough to get around easily by foot. The streets are named after historical persons or events and, at first, it was rather dizzying trying to read the map.

After six weeks, it was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the wonderful big market where I bought all my fruits and vegetables negotiating prices in Spanish, the Austria Cafe, Raymipampa, Plaza Rotary, lunch at El Maiz and Moliendo Cafe, Culture Aborigenes, Musea de las Culturas, San Francisco Market for sweaters, shawls and hammocks, Museo de las Conceptas for delicious pastries made by the few nuns still remaining in the historic convent, Museo del Banco Central, so many places, so much delicious ice cream, and some very wonderful people. But, alas, I grabbed my Panama hat and took a bus to . . .

A place in a valley in southern Ecuador called Vilcabamba.

those grand old nyc department stores

Once upon a time in Manhattan there existed elegant, old-world charm department stores. Then investors came on the scene who saw only money in their pockets, and not the beauty, and not the importance of keeping these wonderful places intact for the people living in and visiting this city. They  didn’t care that these buildings had their own special energy.  They ruined their essence with renovations and ideas that didn’t work, and then sold them when the profit they wanted was not realized. In the process, what was once grand was gone with the greed. I’m thinking of B. Altman & Co., Gimbel’s, Bonwit Teller, Franklin Simon.

B. Altman & Co. was located on 34th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues. It was elegant throughout. The old beautiful water fountain ( it was not any old water fountain) was on the main floor, and had an ever-ready supply of drinking cups.  And all the floors had their own wonderful feeling, along with friendly, knowledgeable sales people who had been employed there for years. They knew the merchandise, and were thoroughly professional. If you weren’t sure what exactly you were looking for, they managed to find out for you.

The very large restaurant on the top floor was airily decorated with huge white birdcages hanging from the inordinately high ceilings. It was all white and had a dreamy feeling. The waitresses were always cordial. What a pleasure it was to be in that atmosphere.

Indeed, I remember the times when these special stores existed. I remember because lately I’ve heard people commenting about the sterility of many Manhattan neighborhoods. And started thinking of the many delightful small bookshops, the “mom and pop” places, and the wonderful, well-loved department stores that were once an important part of life in New York. I know change happens, especially in big cities, but maybe not to the extent that New Yorkers experience it. Ethnic groups arriving have always been a part of NYC,  and we get used to and enjoy what they bring,  and the old stands side-by-side with the new. That’s good; we learn from each other. But those elegant, old-world charm department stores, well, that’s an altogether different matter.

does it?

“But as we rise to higher levels of consciousness – as we attain higher viewpoints of life – then the very laws of nature tend to change. Also, the electrical phenomena of life change, the energies of life are different, the norm of living changes. The actual realities of life are different. The limitations become fewer. The very “facts of life”change as we rise in consciousness! This is why miracles are possible. They are manifestations of higher laws which become available to higher levels of consciousness.”
The Advent of the Cosmic Viewpoint
– Bryant Reeve

Does this quote have any meaning to you? It doesn’t have to, of course, but can you just ask yourself whether it does? why it does? What it does? If it does.


people are laughing; some are crying
people are healthy; some are in pain
people are free; some are in prison
people are awake; some are asleep
people are killers; some are healers
people are being born; some are dying
people are rich; some are poor
people are spiritual; some are athiests
people are singing; some are screaming
people are good; some are bad
people are strong; some are weak
people are happy; some are depressed
people are givers; some are takers
people are soft; some are hard
people are restless; some are at ease
people are lovers; some are haters
people are colorful; some are drab
people are forgiving; some are unforgiving
people are participants; some are spectators
people are angry; some are peaceful

Robert Louis Stevenson’s words:
There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
that it will not behove any of us,
to find any fault with the rest of us.

Edwin Markham’s words:
He drew a circle that
shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the
wit to win;
We drew a circle that
took him in.