Last Tuesday, I celebrated the debut of my new book, Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun with family, friends and readers with a book launch soirée at Symposium Books, a stellar local bookstore in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
It was fun to spend time with loved ones and friends, and truly an honor to share the stories behind this book of stories.
These 15 essays in Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun tell tales of love, heartbreak, the pursuit of happiness, adventure, moments of hilarity and moments of immense victory across 10 hours of time zones and 13,000 miles of travel:
- Life in Lower Manhattan after super-storm Sandy
- How a curious ailment taught me to accept a change of personal identity
- What happens when you get lost in Iceland
- Flying cross-country into Boston Logan Airport during the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013
- Idling down a 10,032-foot volcano with a rental car’s gas meter reading ‘Empty’
- Much, much more…
I believe that telling good, meaningful stories in authentic ways is how we can inspire one another to live more true to ourselves, everyday.
After all, we are constantly telling stories.
We tell ourselves stories in our own heads. Stories of love and friendship, heartbreak and struggles.
We tell a story when we meet someone for the first time. “Hi, my name is ________ and I am _________.” That’s a story. How you tell it shapes what happens next.
It can be intimidating to realize that how we tell our stories can really impact the course of our lives. But as a writer, I’ve learned that opening your heart (even when it feels vulnerable) and telling your story with confidence, poise, authenticity and determination is truly an act of leading by example.
Putting yourself out there to let others know that they’re not alone in their fears, dreams, struggles and goals sows threads of love to anyone and everyone who comes across that story.
We connect through story on physiological levels. It’s innate, and instinctive. Stories are literally what we tell to create context around what happens. Story helps others understand what is relevant about us to them. Story is what makes us relatable. Story brings peace and understanding to random events, circumstances and things that happen in our universe. But story also unites us.
Story reminds us that we’re all in this together.
That’s why I’m proud to bring you Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun.
Maybe it’ll inspire you. Maybe it’ll motivate you to travel, or find an adventure in your backyard.
At the very least, I hope my new book helps you tell your story–because it can and will change your life.
Here are 3 of My Favorite Excerpts from ‘BABSMS’
Excerpt from Chapter 5: After the Storm
I don’t even remember why I went back downtown at all. Going back downtown meant a night that was full of more helpless waiting. This time there wasn’t a storm to wait out. This time the waiting was for sunrise. And as I walked those 65 blocks south that night, the measured confidence that I had accrued during those daylight hours was slowly undone.
I guess it just felt like instinct to go home.
As I approached 40th Street on foot, looking south down Second Avenue, I saw the taillights of cars and cabs descending into an eerie blackness where no lights remained. They passed from normalcy into the Dark Zone, crossing an electrical border where hundreds and hundreds of quiet buildings lined the black avenue.
The Dark Zone was not only black to electricity. At nightfall, it was also disturbingly eerie. Empty. Primal. Thousands upon thousands of people huddled amongst themselves in unusual quiet and black. In the Dark Zone, there was a disturbing feeling of emptiness and lawlessness. The only light would come in sporadic flashes like fireworks, illuminating empty silhouettes that passed me by. When the firework burst—headlights of a passing car or flashing sirens of an emergency vehicle—their eyes squinted hard and so did mine, and though we could have been neighbors, in that empty darkness there was only an uncivil fear that sat like a silent cloud between us.
I saw it in their eyes. I felt it in my gut. Uncertainty. Hesitation. Weariness. Fear.
On down the street, the fear started to settle. I passed one storefront to see its owner selling hot food in a makeshift buffet line from the window of his restaurant, one dim lamp overhead. All of a sudden, the smell of hundreds of flowers engulfed me. It was one of the bodegas that I often pass by, but on this night and in spite of the darkness, its street-side shelves were fully stocked with fragrant bouquets that dressed the black night with a calming scent of beauty.
I turned down a side street blacker than the back of my closet, and every shrub looked like a shadowy figure playing some sick Halloween prank. It was deathly quiet. My eyes met those of a stranger, his eyes lit by the fiery butt of a glowing cigarette. No cars passed down this street. I walked by a human looking figure dressed darkly–a large suitcase by his side. But he did not move at all. He just stood there, looking into the window of a closed coffee shop. I waited for him to turn and scream.
He just stood there, silent.
My pace turned faster and the primal fear sank in deeper. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that the pocketknife hooked to my belt began jabbing my gut with each fervent step.
Finally, I made it home. By the white glow of my iPhone’s lock screen, I glided up through the silent hall whose orange overhead lights had greeted me every evening over the months. Not that night. That night, every turn up the stairwell was the same: empty and black. No shadowy figures hovered there, but my mind raced and worried as if I was trapped and treading through a haunted house, waiting for something, anything, a noise or creek or groan.
Fifty steps later, I breached my apartment door.
I made it. I was finally home.
But what was home for the last half year would no longer be home come the morning. That home was due to disappear the next morning as quickly as the lights had the night before: in a violent, silent flash.
Ready for more? Pick Up ‘BABSMS’ on Amazon.com Today!
Excerpt from Chapter 10: Idling Down a Volcano on ‘Empty’
“Hypothetically…” I begin, “Let’s say that a pair of visitors reach the top of Haleakala and their car’s gas meter reads ‘Empty.’ What would the U.S. Parks Service recommend to those drivers—hypothetically?”
For all my talk about making the journey the reward, sitting atop a volcano with a car’s gas meter reading ‘Empty’ has got me facing the reality behind the ideal: sometimes, the journey sucks. Moments like these are bound to happen, no matter how hard you try to avoid them. Suddenly, a well-planned voyage to the top of a volcano for an incredible, Instagram-worthy sunrise is thrown for a total loop. Will AAA drive all the way up Haleakala to give us gas, I wonder, and is there any chance it would take less than six or eight hours for them to get here?
Talking about “the journey being the reward” has been easy when things have been great.
It was easy when Jacob and I were watching sunsets with $3.50 Mai Tais from Waikiki Beach. It was easy when we were meeting new people from around the world, every single day.
But the longer this trip has endured, the more that “real life” has kept us in check.
We’ve struggled with common problems, obstacles and hiccups and heartbreaks just like we would anywhere else in the world. It turns out that even if you move your life to a tropical paradise for five weeks, you still have your life to deal with—and people, and problems, and living up to all of the ideals that you say you want to live by.
I debrief Jacob on the bad news.
We’ll have to watch the sunrise, sneak out before the rest of the tourists and tour buses do, and coast downhill.
A few slow and tense minutes pass as we gaze out the pillbox windows and onto the cloud-covered horizon. The clouds appear cotton-lined from this viewpoint, high above them. Eloquently woven, they stretch like a grey and white blanket as far east and west and north as we can see. Finally, the sun prepares to crest. The first warm light of a new day swirls and hovers out in the distance. Moving outside and into the whipping wind, tourists prepare their cameras and mobile phones. We wait. There is only the sound of wind. Standing there above the clouds at 10,023 feet, the only thing on our minds is how the hell we are going to get back down to the bottom.
In a flash, a sudden blip of orange orb jumps above the horizon, as if God had flicked the “On” switch and suddenly there is light. We are witnessing the rotation of the Earth with our own eyes. In this moment, we become part of an ancient ritual as old as time itself. We honor a new day, salute the sun, welcome the warmth, and give praise for the Great Provider.
In this passing moment, there are no problems. No dilemmas. No worries or fears. There is only the sun, the clouds and the howling wind. A Park Ranger standing nearby, a sturdy Hawaiian woman, begins an ancient Hawaiian melody that has long been sung to greet a new day.
But as we turn around, the problem comes rushing back.
It was time to face a part of the journey that we didn’t want to face. But we had to, because it was going to be a long, slow roll downhill.
Did we make it down the volcano? Pick Up ‘BABSMS’ to find out!
Excerpt from Chapter 15: What We Shouldn’t Need Reminders Of
There are some things we just shouldn’t need reminders of. Like falling in love. Being open to what opportunities come our way. Letting go of the past. Stopping ourselves from reciting I could never and I don’t deserve any better. That our time is short. That life is beautiful, even when it has a way of throwing us curveballs, sad spots and troubling circumstances.
We shouldn’t need reminders that life is filled with suffering but, just as much, we shouldn’t need reminders that life is filled with so much love in all the spaces between.
For me, there are things like writing. Writing helps me remember. I wonder if it’s the same for you, whether with writing or singing or dance or some other form of creative or expressive play. Maybe you are called to paint or collect stamps. Maybe you are called to run for miles and miles on end, or to hold hands with your lover as you walk through an unfamiliar city’s bustling streets, or to raise your children to be strong and true.
We shouldn’t need reminders that every waking minute is our best chance, our only opportunity. We shouldn’t need a boost, a nudge, a hand up.
But why, then, do we wait?
Why do we pause and delay, procrastinate and hesitate, avoid and neglect? Why, if we need no reminders, do we constantly deny that grandest dream that calls to us from a place unseen? Why do we fear saying hello to a pretty stranger?
Why should we avoid setting aside a few dollars from every check for a dream vacation? Why do we say Maybe tomorrow when we feel that yearning that begs us to type the words, “Chapter One,” today?
I know that fear is paralyzing.
That uncertainty and all the unknowns in life spur on our fears. And I know that, because of that fundamental fear, we hesitate, avoid, delay, dismiss and second guess. We wait because waiting is safe. Avoiding is not only a choice but a sure choice. And the feeling of safety is reinforced every instance in which we choose it. The longer we delay, the more that decision to wait is proven a good one. Why? Because we’re still alive. Unharmed. Safe.
But we won’t live forever. We might die today.
We shouldn’t need a reminder of that.
Don’t wait, don’t delay. Pick Up ‘BABSMS’ and live your journey!
The book is here. But there’s more to be done!
My new book is here, the launch party was had, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
- A portion of proceeds from each copy of ‘BABSMS’ sold will be donated to the Children of the Ganges school in Rishikesh, India, in the form of desperately needed school supplies when I travel there this October. Purchases will help me fill my backpack and hand-deliver these goods to kids who need education, literacy and care from their amazing teachers. Click here to buy.
- Please share ‘BABSMS’ (on Facebook especially) if you would like to help your friends and peers with an authentic and entertaining resource that inspires living true to self, wherever the journey may lead. Click here to share.
- I’ll be hosting another book signing and informal party on Thursday, September 11 at 7:45 PM at Laughing Elephant Yoga in East Greenwich, RI (immediately following LEY’s 6:15 Funky Vinyasa Flow class). Join our community for some drinks, pizza and fun!
- Tell a friend about ‘BABSMS,’ or leave a helpful review on Amazon! Some authors use gross tactics like paying for positive reviews (even paying for negative reviews on their competitors books). I instead ask friends and readers for honest, constructive reviews to help fellow readers find books that matter to them. If you like what you see, I’d deeply appreciate a helpful review! What is this book, in your own words? What does it represent for you? Who is it perfect for?
Let’s make our lives’ journeys their own rewards. Let’s find purpose, passion, meaning and fulfillment in every day.
It is possible. It’s not magic.
It takes work, dedication, commitment, perseverance, tons of heart and putting yourself out there to love, give, serve, care and try.
The journey of 13,000 miles in my new book, Big Apple, Black Sand and the Midnight Sun shares what it’s like to strive to live a life of authenticity across continents and time zones–and yet, truly, this book will inspire you to dedicate yourself to the life you say you want to live even more, even in your own backyard.
Here’s to where the journey leads next…
Download. Buy. Share. Recommend. However You help, Thanks for your support!