Mind Scraps: Reverence Before the Radiant Sun

One morning a workmate at Traveo was enchanted by the sun. It was actually one of the workmates who ended up disappointing me, giving me much undeserved trouble.

On this morning though, we had connected, shared and, together, marveled at the stunning radiance of the sun. Though the sky was blanketed in clouds her brilliance could not be dulled. In her strong defiance she even graced us with a ring of rainbow…

Mind Scraps: Shining From Within

You call it coincidence, I call it a small detail of an intricate plan.

The following words from the Pillar today:

I enjoy always your posts and pictures and am always hoping that foundation gets formed for you and that you are enjoying your journey. One thing that does strike me is that you so stand out in any picture you are in. That is probably for many reasons, but mainly because your spirit shines so brightly, as does your sheer joy in every moment. Keep it up, good luck, and update me as you have time.

Shortly after graciously reading the Pillar’s charitable words, I began cleaning up my desktop and trashing files I no longer needed. That’s when I stumbled upon the photo below. It’s been months since I grabbed it of the web. Unfortunately, I can’t remember from where. I haven’t seen it since I copied it to my desktop. How fitting that I find it now. For me, the image is captivating, beautiful… utterly moving. It’s what I aspire to be… from the inside out.

Mind Scraps: The Spirit Prince

“You, as I already told you, are a gift, a marvelous talent. You have a most unique, contagious energy that affects everyone!! You are love as a person. There is overwhelming kindness in you. You represent my vision of life: TO ENJOY IT!

Tu ya te dije que tienes un don, un talento maravilloso!! tienes una energia UNICA que contagia a todos!! eres un amor de persona, hay muchisia bondad en ti, y representas mi vision de vida, DISFRUTARLA!

I received those humbling, heart-warming words just after The Spirit Prince returned home after his Riviera Maya vacation. I met him while working with Traveo. He was a part of the many groups Traveo hosts for “spring break” vacations in Cancun. At just 18, he’s another young one… and another whose spirit has left me speechless. For the first time in my life, I encountered someone whose energy matched my own. Always flashing a brilliant smile, he is positive light and I witnessed how all of his friends look to him for life. His charm: irresistible. I saw how he could turn a girl’s frown upside in minutes. Tenderly cupping her face in his hands, and directing a kind and loving gaze straight into her eyes, he would whisper in her ear, telling her how beautiful she was. More precious than gold, he would say. Don’t shed your tears for those who don’t deserve to see the fallen pearls. Cruel words dissolve before your beauty. Take heart! (No the girl wasn’t me. :P)

If the music was playing, he was dancing. When the music wasn’t playing… he was still dancing. Dancing, rejoicing, celebrating the living beat of life!

I quickly recognized The Spirit Prince encountered the magic in life that I encountered. We shared philosophical discussions and for once, my lips were nearly (hahaha) sealed as I listened to my own words, my own heart pour forth from another’s soul speech. At just 18, he had come to know deep truths that I learned and am still learning while roving the globe in my 20s. So young, yet so soulfully wise! I marveled.

Since he left the Riviera Maya, The Spirit Prince and I have kept in good touch. I’d like to share but just a few of the many loving words he has sent me, so that their light might reach more than just me. Can you believe there are young men in this world that feel as he feels, have the courage to share what he shares? How heartening!! Continue reading “Mind Scraps: The Spirit Prince”

Graffiti Prophet in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Not new news. But new to me…

I love how this story demonstrates that wisdom and courage can come from the most unexpected sources. I love how it illustrates that practices commonly labeled as “taboo” or “bad” can be used for good. Finally, it’s yet another testament of the power of art and expression.

The Graffiti Prophet of Bois Verna

In the hours after the earthquake struck on Jan. 12, thousands of his shocked countrymen had congregated in the giant plaza, weeping and crying out for Jesus. Jerry Rosembert, a 25-year-old graffiti artist, knew what to do: with a can of spray paint, he turned a map of Haiti into a person who cried and held his hands skyward in prayer. Jerry didn’t sleep that night, and after dawn broke the next day, he sprayed five more crying Haitis in a neighborhood called Bois Verna. Soon after, the symbols appeared all over town…

For more than a year before the quake, Jerry had been spray-painting the city with strange, sharp images. His paintings stood out; until then, most Port-au-Prince graffiti shilled for politicians hardly anyone cared about…

On Avenue Christophe, he had depicted two men with raised forks who fought over a roast chicken and, a little farther down the street, a long line of patients who languished in front of an imperious receptionist, busy with her nails…

Near a corner where prostitutes plied their trade, Jerry painted a woman torn between a john and her child. A goggle-eyed man slipped a rope around his neck. All over town, faces of beautiful young women and old men simply wept…

Much of Jerry’s pre-quake work has survived, and these days it has an awful poignancy. In the camps, the homeless are indeed scrumming over food. In the hospitals, patients wait days to be seen. Young women are forced to trade sex for food or shelter. With no visible end to the crisis, some Haitians have surrendered their last asset: faith in the future.

The other day, a Haitian friend told Jerry that he was a prophet, that he must have sensed the hell that would befall his country. “Maybe I did,” Jerry said to me later. “But really, those things I painted — the suffering, the poverty, the misery — that all existed before the earthquake. Now things are just worse.”

Read more by clicking here.

Mind Scraps: Pin Ball Chaos and Sailing Mercury Waters

Life is a pinball machine and I am its muse. With one springing shot, I am sent tumbling and whirling through a chaotic tangle of flashing lights and ringing bells. One minute I’m catapulted up, feeling as if I’m gloriously free and flying… the next I come crashing back to the ground sounding off loud dings with my arrival. Often they sound like the dongs of joy, excitement, celebration. Other times I wonder of the chimes are really loud, blaring alarms. Probably a bit of both…

I’m not going to lie, I asked for this. I LOVE the chaos, the adventure, the excitement. Catapulting through life at Mach 10, constantly rejoicing at her riches, beauty and treasures, even if the stakes include a bit of battering along the way. Yet, when I asked for this, my stores of resources were, if not full, satisfyingly plentiful. Now, I’m scraping bottom. And though it’s tough for me to tear away from the constant excitement – tough even as I recognize the rings and chimes are starting to pierce my ears instead of making my heart jump – I know I need a moment of calm tranquility. I’m unwaveringly drawn to the excitement, but something deeper in me knows, I need to power down the engines and idle for a bit. Or as a friend from Barcelona so eloquently put it “remar por un lago de mercurio.”

Row through a lake of mercury.

He explained, ‘I mean to describe that my life is passing through a period of calm and stillness at the moment.’ When I read his words, my eyes immediately widened with awe at the beauty of their inherent image. In a heart vision, I saw myself perched in the dark, peacefully rocking in a small canoe that bobbed upon smooth, silver waters. Dipping my paddles into the liquid metal, I could swiftly glide with surprising grace and ease with just one stroke.

And the rare element was both below and above. A mercury globe loomed low above the liquid metal sea, highlighting and defining my silhouette amidst the cool, navy darkness. The queen of the night sky revealed her magnificence through a pure silvery white glow; a light that not only reflected off the mercury waters, but was also absorbed by them, so that the the waters too seemed to glow – if but a bit softer – with their own phosphorescent light.

Interesting paralells:

Mercury (Hg) “comes from hydrargyrum, a Latinized form of the Greek word hydrargyros…’ ‘Hydr-‘ meaning watery or runny and ‘argyros’ meaning silver.” Interestingly enough the rare metal is “used in lighting: electricity passed through mercury vapor in a phosphor tube produces short-wave ultraviolet light which then causes the phosphor to fluoresce, making visible light.”

“The element was named after the Roman god Mercury, known for speed and mobility.”

Mercury for all its calm, light-mirroring beauty can be treacherous and deceiving. One can suffer mercury poisoning from the “inhalation of mercury vapor, or eating fish contaminated with mercury.”

The liquid metal “was found in Egyptian tombs that date from 1500 BC. It was also known to the ancient Chinese. In China and Tibet, mercury use was thought to prolong life, heal fractures, and maintain generally good health. One of China’s emperors, Qín Sh? Huáng Dì — allegedly buried in a tomb that contained rivers of flowing mercury on a model of the land he ruled, representative of the rivers of China — was killed by drinking a mercury and powdered jade mixture (causing liver failure, poisoning, and brain death) intended to give him eternal life. The ancient Greeks used mercury in ointments; the ancient Egyptians and the Romans used it in cosmetics which sometimes deformed the face.”

The element has a history of representing transformation. “The Indian word for alchemy is Rasav?tam which means ‘the way of mercury’.”

Meditating on my friends words, my heart vision, the recent life themes that have absorbed me and the very properties and history of mercury, I feel as if it’s all a message. I’m arriving upon the shore of my own mercury waters. I gaze out into the shimmering darkness, knowing that I will soon sail the treacherously calm beauty of the liquid silver. Eventually, I will reach the opposite shore. Yet, when I arrive I will not be the same as when I left. I will be transformed like a caterpillar who emerges from her cocoon. As I weave my temporary shelter – as I hoist the sails – I feel a bit of melancholy at knowing I’ll be leaving behind one way of life that served me well, fattening me up with many the blessing. I feel a pinch of anxiety as I gaze upon the dark, mysterious and strangely phosphorescent waters before me. Yet, above all, I feel a calm pulsing of excitement coursing within as I ponder what new riches I will discover, what new life lessons I will encounter, what new transformation will envelop me. And I know, that though the velocity might change, the adventure is never over. I’ve made great leaps. Now, following the example of my genius friend Ishac Bertan and others, it’s time to consider the details. Look within and examine, study. Carefully note how I lay each brick of my foundation so that my inner fortress is mighty; one built upon the solid rock of faith, not the shifting sands of doubt. Continue reading “Mind Scraps: Pin Ball Chaos and Sailing Mercury Waters”

Venture Capital Tips from Fred Destin

Ishac Bertran recently attended the Lift10 conference where he and his fellow collaborators exhibited their Linyl project with much success. (No surprise there.)

Ishac also compiled some most useful notes from a lecture Fred Destin hosted about Hacking Venture Capital.

The workshop was divided in two parts: “Pitching and getting through the deal selection process” and “Negotiating the venture investment”. It was a hands-on workshop, with good discussions around the pitches and negotiations that groups of attendants were asked to do. People were quite into the topic, so I was mostly listening to them. In my group of 4 for example, they were 3 VC and me. I really liked the way they were dealing, sharp, to the point.

Some of the quotes I captured from the workshop:

“You need a pitch for your business – it’s not only for a VC but for selling or recruiting as well.”

  • “The pitch should be able to be summarized in the back of a business card.”
  • “The “price per share” is what matters, not the value or the % you sell.”
  • “Don’t rely on anyone, is your job to know the rules of the game.”
  • “Don’t over pitch, let the VJ feel curious about your story.”
  • “The price of the company is a discovery process, don’t say a percentage or how much the company worth at the beginning.”
  • “Nobody reads a business plan. Nobody reads the executive summary. Nobody signs an NDA. Don’t lose your time on them.”
  • “Repeat your high concept pitch (3 words) a lot, VC will remember you for this and your first impression.”
  • “It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s how you say it. Practice!”
  • “Tell a story, talk about why you needed it, what people say about it.”
  • “Sell yourself and your team more than your company.”
  • Read more by clicking here.

Mickey’s Spiritual Odyssey

My latest article to be published on HalogenTV:

Book, Film Shed Led Light on One Man’s Spiritual Odyssey
Laura McNamara

He walked thousands of miles on a quest to find himself. After a trying life journey that took him from preaching at the pulpit, to a mental hospital, to homeless in North Carolina then led him to the wild depths of the Copper Canyon in Northwestern Mexico, Mickey Mahaffey is now sharing the stories behind his “10-year spiritual odyssey.” Whispers of My Blood is a memoir that recounts years of a false happiness, internal strife and eventual separation from his family. Being the Diablo is a documentary that illustrates how this lost Gringo finally found a deeper meaning in life through the simple ways and remote homelands of the indigenous Rarámuri people, a community that lives a secluded life south of the border.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Mind Scraps: Friends with Fish

My first morning at my beachfront abode, I woke to the lulling sound of the waves. I had left the sliding door in my room open all night, so that I might feel the breeze caress me while I slept. I slept like a baby. I had plans to meet the Angelic Voice out on the beach in front of my apartment. When he arrived, we dove into the sea. Chatting and relaxing into the water together, we let the morning slip away. Sometimes we’d emerge from the sea only to slip into one of the three pools that are a part of my complex. Then, we’d head back to the sea.

Something tickled me! I look down and yelped with surprise. A little, tropical fish, about the size of my ring finger was swimming before me, facing me with his little fish eyes. “Awww look!” I directed Angelic Voice. “How cute! He’s swimming with me.” At first I thought he would go away shortly enough. But, the little fish kept swimming around me, circling me as I circled in my spot trying to follow him with my eyes. Then, he went to Angelic Voice and swam with him for a while. Our little fish friend kept swapping between us, swimming with us, even as the tide brought us closer to shore where the waves toppled on top of us and spun us under water. Each time we made our way back out past the waves, to the calmer water, we found the little fish was right there with us.

“He’s not scared of us??” I marveled.

“On the contrary, he thinks of us as protection from bigger fish,” Angelic Voice reasoned.

“Has this ever happened to you?” I questioned.

“Maybe twice before?” said Angelic Voice. He grew up here and has swam in this ocean a countless number of times.

At least a half hour passed and our little fish friend still accompanied us. Then, I looked down and spotted another. A different type, slightly smaller. “There’s two now!”

We both giggled. “I’m starting to feel like a reef,” I joked.

We spent another 15 minutes in the water with them, about 45 mins in total swimming with a little fish friend or two, before we finally headed back to the beach. What a magical moment! I was completely smitten with mother nature, with my sea…

That night, I recounted the fish story to Natural Caretaker as we watched more UFOs blink, flash and zip far off in the night sky. “You’re very connected with nature,” he told me.

“Well, I try to be at least,” I responded.

“Lots of activity again tonight,” Natural Caretaker observed with intrigue.

“Like I said, it’s me!” I blabbered with a twinkle.

“You are the vibra (vibe),” Chihuahua Stud said. “You do bring a buena vibra (good vibe).”

It’s YOU guys who’ve openly welcomed me here and showed me the magical UFOs, I thought to myself.

Mind Scraps: Dreams and Life’s Sweet, Ripe Cherries

After a most promising and invigorating Skype conversation with the director of the photography agency I will be prospectively working for, I was eager to meet the highly-recommended man on the ground. The owners of this company, a Scottish woman and her French husband, operate from London. Another young French man, the same age as me, is responsible for running the company on the ground here in Mexico.

He called me Sunday, “We’ve made a reservation for lunch at a stunning beach,” French Photog informed me. “Would you like to join us? Can you meet me at 1:30?” More of a rhetorical question… who could turn down an offer like that?

When we arrived at Al Cielo, a relaxing complex of palm-thatched roofs, two other photographers – husband and wife – were there, excited about purchasing some new plant arrangements that someone had left for sale. The plants, which included the exquisite orchid and bromelia, were artfully mounted upon driftwood. “They produce their own nutrients,” the husband said. “They don’t need any soil or water.”

The husband is a fellow Gringo from Atlanta, GA. He has managed to build up quite the reputation, and now, couples from around the world seek out him and his wife to book them for their wedding. He is responsible for introducing “underwater photography” into the wedding photography package. I call him Wonder Boy. His wife, a striking Mexican woman from Guadalajara, is the Photog Beauty…

We sat at our white-clothed table, claiming the table with the best view of the sea that stretched along the small, protected cove before us. We ordered starters of sashimi, swordfish carpaccio and a decadent salad along with Chardonay as we began to chat and learn more about each other. The pure zest for life these three possess was most refreshing to drink in. They were all young and notably successful; yet still down-to-earth, appreciative and excited about the rich, sweet cherries life seemed to be hand-feeding each of them. That along with a passion for photography was our common ground and as we progressed on to our entrees (I shared the freshly caught fish of the day smothered in sea salt with French Photog) we swapped stories, dreams and ideas in a pure, bubbly excitement. We finished lunch on a most sweet note with espresso and a complimentary crème brule and coconut cream dessert. The photog couple was good friends with the restaurant’s owner.

After lunch, the sea beckoned us. Equipped with masks, snorkels and fins we dunked below the waves to observe what might lie below. Web-like plants gracefully swayed among massive brain-shaped coral. I watched an entire school of fish as it hovered in a protectiveoverhang of the reef, the fish rocking with the underwater rhythm of the ocean like one body, one unit. Further and further our fins propelled us, until we reached the rock outcropping of one side of the cove. On the way back, I lagged behind the others as two tropical fish wound around the reef before me, sucking up bits of algae. In length, they stretched from the tips of my fingers to my elbow and almost equal to that in height, yet they were both pencil thin. Their cool purple scales were accentuated with splashes of yellow and black.

When I reached shore, Wonder Boy had taken out his fancy toy – a high-end, globed encasement that transformed a pro camera into an underwater eye. The three of them were taking turns diving into the waves before the camera.

Finally, evening began to set and it was time to part ways. I left feeling absolutely enriched from my magical afternoon. French Photog had left quite an impression, introducing me to a local Playa del Carmen gem and treating me to a most unforgettable seaside experience shared with enchanting and inspiring company. I could see that French Photog possessed a beautiful spirit… he was absolutely reveling in the wonderful afternoon we were all spending together. It was fun to be around people who find life as magical as I do!

As far as work, we were both eager to explore how I might fit with the photog agency. Because of the low-season, the agency can’t offer me full-time work right now but that actually works out quite well. I had been exploring options with Traveo in Cancun and they had made me an offer: two months of work, photographing the activities and services the company provides, in exchange for dreamlike beachfront housing, food, transportation and substantial fun money. So it was agreed. I would take the two-month stint with Traveo, but find days to escape to Playa and begin training with the photog agency there. Then, in two months, I could be ready to go for the high-season and, perhaps, the new studio in another hotel that they were planning to open up. Life really seems to be pulling out all the stops… and for that I’m utterly grateful. Thank you from the depths of my heart and soul!!

View the Flickr album by clicking here.

Mind Scraps: Natural Symphony at the Sea

A musician in Chihuahua connected me with the Musico Magico in Facebook when he found out that I was headed to the Riveria Maya. Now that I had finally made it to Playa del Carmen, I called him up to see if his offer to rendezvous was still good. It was more than good. “Come with my friends and I to a local virgin beach,” he offered. I jumped at the chance. And it was at Paal Mul that I caught a glimpse of a most awing understanding of sound.

Musico Magico, as I call him, is a kindred spirit. Like me, he enjoys conversations about energy, spirit, karma and the magic of life. And like my friend in Chihuahua, he’s an accomplished musician. His story is an inspiring one. He originally arrived in Playa with nothing more than a backpack. Now, after six years, he has led successful real estate ventures and construction ventures, while also traveling substantially and performing in the local music scene.

When we arrived at the virgin beach accompanied by four others, I noted that Musico Magico’s eyes were the same color as one of the alluring shades of this seven-color Riviera ocean: a light, clear and mesmerizing sea green. Musico Magico has a potent presence. His gem-like eyes lock into yours, silently and reverently prodding your spirit to see who you might truly be.

I waded into the sea, a warm soothing bath that stretched away beyond the horizon. The slight rhythmic cycle of the waves rocked me comfortingly like a mother with her child. When people ask me where I’m from, I like to respond “del mundo” (from the world). I should start responding “del mar” (from the sea). No matter where I travel to on land, the sense of “home” always seems to escape me. But when I reach the sea… I feel it… I feel “at home.” As I frolic in her waves near shore my thoughts always wander further and further out to sea. What if I just started swimming toward that elusive horizon? I often take long swims out past where most others go, always slightly toying with the idea to answer that call… Go. Swim further. Dive deeper. Go discover the underwater world of magic. Turning back toward the others, I rejoined them closer to shore. As we chatted, I dug my hands into the smooth sand below the water. Gasp! Just centimeters below the surface a chilly sensation! “It’s the cenotes (underground rivers),” the others explained. “You can feel them emptying out into the ocean.” I quickly became entranced by digging various pockets into the sand in order to feel the cool rush of sweet water mix with the warm, salty sea water.

Musico Magico and I escaped from the others for a short walk down the shell-filled beach. As we waded into the water, my feet were caressed by the finest, softest sand I’ve yet to encounter. Musico Magico grabbed a handful and began rubbing it on his skin. “Smell it,” he said. “You can smell the sulfur. This sand is full of healing nutrients.” Following his lead, I slowly smothered the sand upon my face, marveling at how some people pay big bucks for such natural elements in spas.

After the impromptu sand facial, we both fell into a peaceful trance. Floating on our backs, we each got lost in our own thoughts, our own emotions, our own spiritual commune. That’s when the world of sound suddenly began to open up for me in a way I had never experienced before. All at once, my consciousness seemed to register the crystal clear notes of the natural symphony around me. Further out at sea, I heard the waves breaking upon the reef that lay just below the surface of the water. I became attuned to the waves breaking upon shore; not just in front of me, but also to either side of me as the coast slightly curved. Each position of the breaking waves held its own unique tone. The water lapping up against my skin rang out in a higher note. The caressing breeze that swept past my ears a soft, beckoning whisper. Two birds calling out from land… I heard each element of the natural world music as if I was surrounded by a massive sound system precisely set up for optimal acoustics. Eyes closed, utterly captivated, the water rocked me silently and I just listened… with ears and soul.

View the Flickr album of Paal Mul and Playa del Carmen by clicking here.