Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The theme for this, my last post of 2010, was stimulated by many converging events all happening this week. It started when my friend Bonnie Weiss told me she was spending New Year's Eve at a party hosted by someone who teaches something called Biodanza. I Googled it and found it to be a new personal development sensation around the world that originated in South America--a combination of dance and emotional sharing and group dynamics.

This reminded me of an old friend and mentor in Miami, Poldi Orlando. Every Monday night at the Unitarian church, she taught her creative movement class, and we all learned to move in new and energized ways. I have experienced some of the most celebrated movement teachers in the world, but not one of them could hold a candle to Poldi, the Polish dynamo. She was a dancing magician, transforming many klutzes like me into graceful beings. Joining me at many of those Monday nights was my favorite beautiful dancer, Rupa Cousins. We also attended Sufi dancing classes at the church, and Rupa has since become a teacher of Sufi dancing herself, along with her bodywork and therapy practice, her workshops on Dance As Prayer, her folk dancing, and all the other amazing stuff she does.
And when Rupa and I talked about this yesterday, I mentioned that I had had two women in my life with whom dancing was like making love, though neither of them were romantic partners. Then today, I found this great quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From The Sea (one of the ten landmark books given to students of the mail order Famous Writers School). You can see why many couples writing their own wedding vows like to include it:

"A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. Dancers know they are moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it. The joy of the pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation; it is also the joy of living in the moment."

And I was also reminded of my dear friend, the late Ric Masten, often called by such celebrated fans as Bill Moyers "The People's Poet". He also came to the Miami Unitarian church from his home in Big Sur--he was a Unitarian minister as well as poet and troubador.
Perhaps Ric's most popular song was Let It Be A Dance:

Let it be a dance we do.
May I have this dance with you?
Through the good times
and the bad times, too.
Let it be a dance.

And one thing Ric said once has stuck in my mind for many years. He said if we could only speed up the mountains, we would see that they were dancing.

And so I have two words for what I prefer calling one of my New Year's Revolutions.

More Dancing!

May your 2011 be filled with the moves and melodies to delight, nourish, enliven,
and inspirit you.

It's been a profound pleasure dancing with you all through 2010 on these pages.


Monday, December 20, 2010


As is my habit at the end of each year and approaching of the new one, I have been doing a lot of meditating and reflecting on the way things are, the way they have been, and the way I hope they will be in the future. This has been colored dramatically this year by the loss of my closest friend, Susannah, reported here in the previous edition.

I went through the grieving, denial, anger phases very quickly, and now have focused on the important lessons I have learned, and noticing the huge gap in my life with her absence.
I wrote about some of this on my prosperity blog:

A comment on that post from Kristine Baker summed up two contradictory qualities Susannah brought to the table that are rare to find in a single person, let alone a friend. She was very traditional, stable, and consistent in many ways--someone you could really depend on to say what she meant and do what she said she was going to do. But she was also one of the most spontaneous and adventurous people I've known. Kristine wrote:

I've been a fan of yours for many years having read your book MoneyLove a long time ago and taking valuable lessons from it. I also have known Susannah in Santa Fe for the past few years through our mutual soprano voices. I would say she was a rock! and a hoot! I'm very glad to have known her.

I just had the thought that maybe I should have titled this post, A Rock And A Hoot!

But also, as I feel the gap that is left, I appreciate even more the friendships that are still here, ever more precious to me now. I talked in my early book, FRIENDS: The Power And Potential Of The Company You Keep, about what the friends you choose can reveal about you and how important this aspect of one's life is. I think of friends I've had for a long time, people with whom I've shared many joys, triumphs, and even some sorrow. Rupa, Mary Ann, Rachel, Gregg, Bonnie. Shared memories have a lot to do with my affection for these friends, but their continuing presence in my life is what I treasure most--as you are no doubt well aware, not all friends hold up so well in the test of time.

But since my release from prison, two very special men have come into that circle of dear friends. Barry Dunlop, big Moneylove fan and successful Internet entrepreneur, who has been a major supporter and mentor in some profound and remarkable ways. And Tony Busse, who has also added much to my still-on-parole limited lifestyle. Barry has taught me a lot about the possibilities and potential of reconnecting with my Moneylove audience online. Tony has painted the wonders of Panama so vividly that I am determined to make it one of my first stops on my post-parole travels in nine months. Both have offered valuable insight and feedback for my re-emerging efforts, and both have made the past year richer and more fulfilling than it would have been otherwise.

So as I celebrate and commemorate the passing of one remarkable friend, so do I also give a prayer of thanks for the arrival of new friends into my life. In this holiday season, counting my old and new friends as my blessings, their presence is the best present of all.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Susannah Lippman exemplified what it meant to be a true friend, and helped inspire a book I once wrote on the subject. She died suddenly, but painlessly, this past weekend, on the way to see a play with two friends, one of her very favorite things to do. Her life was long and productive, and she went the way all of us would probably like to go, easily in the blink of an eye. Sadly though, still filled with dreams and creative projects and things left undone.

The most painful part of her passing was visited on those of us who loved her and survive: we have to deal with an enormous gap in our lives. I still expect the phone to ring and hear her unmistakable Midwestern accent, or find an email sharing some new information or insight or silly video or political petition. Susannah could be exasperatingly determined in her high standards, but always tempered this with fairness and unconditional love.

I first met her when she attended the very first workshop I ever gave, on a chilly Valentine's night in New York City. She was a producer at WNET public television. We both got involved in the Association for Humanistic Psychology, and she was the coordinator for the Eastern region AHP conferences--amazing events featuring workshops with all the stars of the blossoming human potential movement.

We celebrated triumphs and the beginnings of love relationships together, and cried on each other's shoulders when things didn't work out. Susannah often joked that some of her best friends were my former girlfriends. We had many adventures, on the beaches of South Florida, Southampton, The Bahamas, and Jamaica. With her Master's in English, she was one of the best editors I ever encountered, and I often would show her my writing before doing a final draft. And I acted as a consultant when she founded Alphasonics International with Gordon Pierce, and started producing and marketing the world's most powerful subliminal audio programs.

This was by far my longest lasting deep friendship, nearly forty years, and perhaps the most significant thing I can say about it is that in those moments when I might have doubts about my being a worthwhile person, these were resolved by the simple knowledge that Susannah Lippman was my friend.

It was everything a friendship should and could be, and the only thing that keeps it from being perfect is that she's not here anymore. On the other hand, because of all those memories we shared, Susannah cannot ever really die. She has made too much of an impact on the very core of my being to ever disappear. Her passing does leave me with one unanswered question:
"Whose shoulder do I cry on about this?"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Just kidding. I had a great time visiting my former cellmate Keith and his colorful (an understatement to be sure) family and friends on Thanksgiving. As usual, the holiday fare was exquisitely prepared and served. I am writing this almost a week later as I needed the time to digest the experience and the opulent turkey and ham feast.

What I like about this way of celebrating one of my favorite holidays is that it puts me into a completely different world, somewhat akin to one of my favorite mystery writers, Anne Perry, whose stories set in 19th Century England created a delightful alternative universe when I was serving my prison sentence. The first new people I met were two very pleasant and engaging women, though not lovers, they are both lesbians, and both have California's vaunted medical marijuana license, so Keith's wife's sister Janeen ("call me Lou") and her younger friend Caroline were puffing away on their very feminine pipes through most of their visit.

Almost everyone else is addicted to tobacco and crowded the small balcony to do their thing. As someone who doesn't smoke or drink, the company was convivial enough that I didn't even feel left out. I particularly enjoyed Caroline, very shy when we initially met, opening up quite a bit and telling me some of her life story. Though she doesn't wear makeup, has short cropped hair, and was in baggy hiphop clothes, this is a very stunning women who has the facial structure to be a supermodel.

One thing that was different this year from my visit last Thanksgiving was the sons of Keith playing musical chairs (or maybe I should say musical bunks?). Last year, Michael was living with Keith and Jackie, along with his sexy wife Jessica, extremely jealous and volatile, and either threatening to walk out or actually doing so every half hour, mostly because Michael was visiting his baby mama and former girlfriend Jennifer to spend some of the holiday with his young son. I'd only heard about the other son, Stephen, as he was in prison. Subsequently, Michael and Jessica did break up and Keith told me he thought it was completely over.

But here to share Thanksgiving with her young son with a former lover was Jessica, back in her marriage. As usual wearing a sexy low cut outfit (which doesn't both me at all so long as nothing falls into the gravy). She seemed a lot calmer this year, but then Michael wasn't present. He's at San Quentin. But recently paroled Stephen is now living with Keith and Jackie, along with his attractive blonde fiancee Mo and his shaved head and heavily tattooed torso. Seriously, are you following all this?

Bill, a 50ish friend of Keith's who was with us last Thanksgiving isn't any longer. He died of liver failure and other complications due to substance abuse over many years. He was a nice guy and intelligent and interesting conversationalist--just pointing out some of the tragedy of our drug culture. But if we needed a reminder of how blessed we all are to be alive and well and enjoying a full plate, Bill gave us that gift with his absence.

Lou showed off pictures of her home near the Oregon border, with massive marijuana leaves hanging to dry on the inside porch, and the plants themselves surrounding the house. She is also a champion Farmville player on Facebook and was coaching Keith, who wasn't as sociable as last year as he is now addicted to the time-consuming, time-filling game. Lou is evidently in the running to score the most points anyone ever has.

The seven of us crowded into a small two bedroom apartment, but it didn't feel cramped. What was lacking in space was made up in sheer entertainment value. I mentioned to someone how good it feels to get back to my solitary existence after such a visit and she said it must be like banging your head with a hammer and then having it feel so good when you stop. No, I replied, because there was nothing less than interesting and pleasant about my holiday companions--It's more like having an exotic and delicious ethnic meal and then returning home to your favorite grilled cheese sandwich.

More interesting adventures on my prosperity blog at