Monday, October 24, 2011


The other day I came across this picture I snapped several years ago at Topanga Days, which happens every Memorial Day, in our tiny canyon town smack in the middle of la-la land, L.A. Everyone dons their best hippie attire and rocks out for three days to the music of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Leo Nocentelli and The Meters, to an aging but still ready to rock, Billy Idol . To say we let it all hang out... is a polite understatement. So, I always have my camera ready to catch the moment, if lucky enough to find one.

A thousand photos later as I review shots of belly dancers, painted faces, and various long hairs, I see the picture I love with most -  this face on this little cherub. I was snookered the minute I snapped the picture, and seeing it once again, I fall in love all over - with this face. I love this face. I decided to put the photo on my website, silently thinking I wish I knew who this little angel is. Two days later I find myself at the exact spot where Topanga Days resides - on the ball field of our community center, for yet another community event - Yoga Day L.A. where yoginis young and old sweat in the hot dry California sun on a last visit from Summer. I park myself down under the largest oak tree and only shade on the ball field, as a sea of butts rose in the air for Downward Facing Dog pose. Suddenly, a little blond ball of energy dressed in only a fushia tutu, came rushing towards me and jumped into my lap. As fate would have it, I looked down in shock, to see my favorite little cherub face staring up at me, now curled up in my lap like I've known her a million lifetimes. Eight years old, she can't speak words, but began communicating with sounds and expression, I didn't know existed. It was so angelic as we sat together, holding hands, and "talking". I was captivated for at least a half hour, watching her curl around my body playfully - one minute head on lap, the next minute jumping up and down, making clicking noises as she showed me her world - that somehow I was lucky enough to understand. 

I felt like I was given this giant blessing, as I sat under the tree of life with this glorious child who found me in amidst a few hundred people doing yoga. When her Mom, Candace, came to retrieve her after watching from the sidelines while I basked in her child's amazing love, I told her the story of finding the photo just a day or two before, and how wished I new her name.  Ashanti and her Mom are now my new pals, and I'm more in love than ever after getting my wish. Everyone should be this lucky.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stolen Moments Are All We Really Have

The sounds of children laughing have slowly begun to evaporate from the halls of my sisters house, along with the refrain of “ABC” recited perfectly by my two year old niece, which still lingers like butterscotch in my head. The best present I could have received this past year, was the week after Christmas I spent with my nine year old nephew his baby sister, on the family farm. Amidst a year full of crisis that nothing short of a Russian novel, it brought me back to a place of quiet resolution that I had been searching for.

It was the last day of the year, and slightly damp smell of snow was in the air for the rural South, where my family resides unlike all the other Italian and Jews from New York, they ended up on a farm in Georgia. We walked over soft pine needles fallen around the lake, as Anthony skipped along the path leading closest to the water edge. Suddenly, I watched his eyes light up as we discovered several fallen branches that made a private hideaway overlooking the water, and he screamed "Let's build a fort!".

Anthony dug out several small patches of moss and placed it on the ground for us to sit on, creating seat cushions that looked out onto the lake . I became the hunter/gatherer, collecting fallen sticks that became the walls, as he re-arranged various length branches with the precise acumen of an engineer to surround us, instructing me where to put each one. Anthony  would run up excitedly dragging a handful of dead trees to show me, which we used to build up the "walls" around us, as our fortress took shape.

When we finished an hour later, it was a moment of perfection looking out onto the lake with him beside me, on our thrones of moss and sticks. We promised to go back down to the fort when he returned that summer and walking home exhausted and hungry, I realized this was my “moment” with him - one the both of us will not forget, as Anthony moved to China at the end of that week, taking along the laughter and "ABC's" that made my life so full for that week.

Stolen moments remain in our memory, uncluttered by the harshness of reality, where it can live forever whenever we chose to go back to that perfect place. I collect these moments -the sunset hike to the top of the canyon, the long overdue kiss from years of yearning. Perfection is fleeting, so I no longer take things for granted amidst financial collapse and a backlash of  best intentions.

   I’ll run past the fort by the edge of the lake in the Spring, and think of Anthony on our perfect day together, knowing he will take that memory with him to China and will hopefully remember forever. You don’t stop loving someone just because they move to the other side of the world, or even if they are on the other side of town, for that matter. So I will be waiting for more stolen moments to show up down the road to revive my spirit, and remind me just how precious these moments in life life really are - Life Affirming.