Doing Time Doing Me, Myself, I

Hi Friend!

Well, we got hit by another hurricane, this time Irascible Irma. Many people from our little seaside town chose to evacuate, but many of us stayed. As it turned out, the storm, as cyclones tend to do, kept changing course. So instead of getting hit directly as the TV weather station maniacally predicted, my smartphone’s app (iHurricane) told me exactly where that bitch Irma was, at all times. And I knew how she’d changed her mind and was heading for … exactly where many people had originally evacuated for, the opposite side of our state.

My hurricane-smart consort Carter and I boarded up for Irma, as we got somewhere around 70 mph winds. We will keep our big glass window-doors boarded up till the end of this hurricane season, at the end of November. We know how it goes. Some years, global warming or not, are real bitches, when it comes to storms. This has been happening for as long as I’ve chosen to live in warmer areas. Back in the 70s when I lived in the Caribbean, it was the same story, back-to-back killer-hurricanes, that wiped out both islands I happened to be living on and working from, Dominica (which got wiped out this year as well, with Maria) and the Dominican Republic.

Which brings me to … the subject of my post today … staying calm in the worst situation imaginable, the subject of my literary nonfiction book … “in the I … easing through life-storms” … whose publication date is imminent!


My nonfiction book is soon available for the public! Stay tuned for more info. I’m looking for advanced readers (willing to post an Amazon review within a certain time period). If you’re a fan of LordFlea and would like to help spread the word of this GREAT READ, the true story of me teaching yoga and meditation to distressed juvies in lockup — please contact me. thanks.

Here’s a quickie peek at what my soon-published nonfiction narrative reads like. I’ll post more excerpts in the weeks to come. (I have plenty of other subjects to share about, but am busy with the pre-publication marketing, PR stuff, so I’ll keep my subject to this for now.

Spread the Word: LOVE

from my heart to yours … help spread the WORD!

The girls shuffle into the dimly lit classroom. Only those who’ve been here before have anticipation inscribed on their faces. The others wear downturned mouths, furrowed brows, fear-filled eyes. They push and shove each other like toddlers.

I am their volunteer yoga teacher, and they are teenage girls who’ve been sentenced to jail terms varying from nine to eighteen months, for crimes I never ask about. Sometimes they want to share about it in our opening circle.

“Here, we’re all equal,” I say and look around to the twelve who’d signed up for class that Thursday, the day I drive each week two hours back and forth from my central Florida home to their facility, deep in the heart of rolling green cattle country.

“You keep saying that, Miss, but I don’t believe you,” Alex says, her jet coal eyes sparkling with the same curiosity that keeps her coming back. Months earlier Alex shared that she used to be a cutter, as a lot of other girls are in state-run juvie detention. Alex is one of the regulars. I’m hopeful for her new life on the Outs, because she’s soon to be released.

“Believe it,” I say. “I used to be a bad-girl just like you guys. But then—I decided to change. I had to get sober first. That’s why I’m here today, to show you how I did it. Learning to still my monkey-mind, like doing a yoga pose teaches us, is the highest high I’ve ever known. I once wanted to die, like you all did, too. Why else did we do the stupid stuff we did?”

The rumbles around the circle tell me they get it. They know.

“That’s why I’m here. I come to show you how I’ve changed, so you can. Otherwise, you might keep doing the dumb things that got you here in the slammer.”

Heads nod all around me.


Each week I arrive at the triple-locked, high-security youth prison that houses fifty-two repeat offenders, adjudicated by the courts. Some have been my yoga-girls since they started serving their sentences. Whenever there’s a new girl, like Alice is today, I give the same spiel. The more seasoned yoga-girls never grow tired of hearing it.

“I’m just like you,” I say. “Only I didn’t get caught as young as you guys are. I was an addict and a criminal too. I spent time in prison, like you. Only mine was worse: it was a snake pit dungeon on a third world Caribbean island.”

I notice the girls sitting up straighter. Their cross-legged postures appear electrified after hearing that the regular-looking, middle-aged lady in front of them—a mother of two, a contributing member of society—admit to being … just like them.

“I was hell bent on dying, like you were. My family was troubled, like a lot of yours are.”

“My mom’s a pill head,” Lashonda sadly admits.

“My mom’s never home, and I never met my dad,” Beth murmurs.

“My dad’s serving time,” LouAnn says.

“I’m sorry, girls. We all get the hand we’re dealt for a reason. But trust me—just as lousy as you feel the hand you got is, if you want, just like that! (here I snap my fingers)—you can change it!”

Ursula, the director of the Academy of Bowling Green (ABG) greeted me the year before when I first arrived, with a big hug, saying, “I knew you’d come. I’ve prayed you up myself.”

I’d come to a point in my life where I felt compelled to call the Girl Scouts of America and tell them, “I want to help the baddest, the worse-off, most forgotten girls. The ones everybody else has given up on.” The Girl Scouts sponsored me and I chose ABG, where the most aggressive, heavily tattooed gang girls in the state were sent.

Ursula had told me, “We’ll call your yoga and meditation class, Self-Empowerment for state-funding purposes.”

As soon as the girls arrive who’d signed up that week for class, we start our deep breathing exercise, and instantaneously their inner-awfulness dissipates. Then, we briefly talk in a sharing circle about whatever bothers them. Only then we do the poses, some easy, some challenging. We always end with a guided meditation, the girls’ favorite. By now, the regular yoga-girls are practically teaching the class without my guidance.


Today’s class is different.

A major storm is on its way. The weather bureau says Hurricane Charlie will strike Cuba tonight, and hit the Gulf of Mexico coast early Friday morning. Everyone in the state is in high alert of what tomorrow might bring.

I ask the girls to listen carefully. “We’re expecting something that might terrify some of you. Going through a hurricane, especially if you happen to be close to its center, its eye, is like going through any other major challenge in real life. So tomorrow, instead of feeling scared, you can choose to do like we practice here—follow your breath and go inside your inner being, inside your true self. There, you’ll always feel safe.

“Just like we do in class, starting with our focused breathing. And how we concentrate our energies on maintaining a steady pose. And—your favorite—trusting that still place we go to, inside your own quieted-down mind.”

Shanda asked, “You mean going through the storm tomorrow will be like doing yoga, Miss?”

I nod my head. “There’s nothing to worry about, girls. Miss Ursula herself oversaw the work when this building was remodeled. She knows it’s as hurricane-proof as Fort Knox. Once you know your shelter is safe, all that’s necessary to go through a major storm, like tomorrow’s is shaping up to be—is to stay centered within yourself. Inside your calm, peaceful self. Like we practice in class.

“The power might go off. August in Florida is hot enough, so you guys might be really uncomfortable, I’m not going to lie. But being prepared—knowing what’s coming—is better than being surprised. The wind will howl like an army of witches outside. But if you’re prepared, you can easily accept anything that comes.”

For the rest of the class as we bend and twist, I keep reminding them:

“Think of your own body as if it were this brick and mortar facility you’re in. Your body is just like this trustworthy place. It’s a good place to feel safe inside of. Trust that you’re strong enough to take whatever comes, any day.”

As we do the poses, Alex is quiet, as usual. Her dark eyes follow me while I walk around the room, making adjustments. Later, when she’s in the exiting line with the rest of the girls, she hangs back a bit.

“Miss, I’m scared to go home. It’s just two weeks away. At home, my mom still uses, and my brothers beat on me. And sometimes they try other things. You know, bad things. I’m afraid to leave ABG. It’s been my home for so long. What should I do, Miss? I want to be free! Especially since I’ve got the high of meditation and yoga instead of drugs and bad choices to start my new life with. But what can I do to not be so afraid?”

I take a deep breath. “Alex, I know how you feel. I’ve been there myself. You’re lucky, because you’ve already got a lot of sobriety under your belt. You’ll go to lots of recovery meetings, won’t you?”

She nods her head adamantly.

“Let me talk to Miss Ursula. Maybe she knows of a halfway house you can live in, until you feel more capable. Would you like that?”

“Oh yes, Miss!” Alex’s eyes sparkle like black diamonds. “I wouldn’t be so worried then, about what might happen at home.”

The next day the monster storm crept closer to ABG. I could hardly believe what I saw, sitting with my family watching the TV screen, as Charlie’s deadly eye roared right toward the girls! I imagined them huddling all together in the safest area of their strong facility. The announcer said the hurricane’s very center would directly—and imminently!—hit ABG’s miniscule pinpoint of a one stoplight-town. The impossible … was happening! All I could do was send everyone at ABG my comforting thoughts, surround them with my love, for protection. Just like I did with the tall oaks that stood like twin sentries around my home.

Before every tropical storm, a frequent occurrence in this part of the country, I go outside to silently stand in front of my sturdy tall trees. I extend my arms and send energy to my arboreal friends, requesting they stay erect, supple, and not topple over in the crushing wind that soon will test their mettle.

That Friday, when Charlie’s eye tore its destructive path across the middle of Florida, I’d find out later, the girls at ABG did more than expected. They were cooperative, even-tempered, uncharacteristically accepting. Not a single girl went into hysterics. No one had to have a take-down, a many-person procedure used to calm a berserk individual in detention, before hysteria can spread.

I was happy to hear that my yoga-girls were among the most peaceful of ABG’s huddled bunch of inmates and guards. While marauding troops of wind-demons screeched outside, everyone clung to each other. Big trees crashed and roofs flew off all around them—but ABG remained untouched. Just as Miss Ursula said it would.

When I arrived the next Thursday, Alex greeted me with exciting news.

“Miss Ursula found a half-way house for me to stay in for as long as I need to, when I’m released next week, Miss!”

My chest pounded, for so many reasons.

Many had helped me find my way to an honest, fresh-start after I’d crashed and burned. Now it was my turn to help guide girls like Alex, to morph into being useful citizens. I looked into Alex’s midnight eyes. Helping at-risk youth like her made me feel a better person, helped me love myself a bit more, too. Sharing with such beautiful souls like she and Lakeesha, Katie, TraySea, Sha’Ron, Tiffany, Jessica—even the non yoga-girls too shy or close-minded to try a class—helped heal the bruise still aching inside me, from having done harm to myself so long before.

However a person learns to do it, being empowered helped the girls accept that the outer imprisonment of their circumstances can never stop them from feeling real peace, inside.

the day after another storm hits

hi everyone,

for a while there we all felt like singing, to the melody of “the twelve days of Christmas”…on the fourth day of Fay-ay, my true love gave to me. but then she (the hurricane that dissipated into a tropical storm) finally inched her way westward. we had mucho precipitation, but thankfully no major damage.

basically, Fay was a snoozer.

even if she had decided to become a tyrannical twister-sister killer of a tempest, this is what i did, as i always do, in face of any hurricane approaching — big or small, fast or slow (these storms are so unpredictable–a tropical storm today can be a killer in the next few hours).

  • fill my bathtub with water (most important of all!)
  • check to make sure i have lots of flashlights, and batts
  • cook until my ass falls off, or the fresh food is used up, so we have nicely prepared, good tasting, healthy food instead of canned stuff
  • lash down or bring in anything that can fly away
  • stay inside to not get my head sliced off by others’ flying debris
  • have a pile of good books, magazines, and a deck of cards close by for all the hours of waiting waiting waiting that any storm demands
  • remember to LAUGH and have fun, even when the winds get crazy (you can always build another house, but staying alive is the point!)

once those preparations are done, i practice the most difficult thing of all, which i spoke of in my last post — let go let God.

storm waters flooding, a challenge for all to remain calm when things get drastic

storm waters flooding, a challenge for all to remain calm when things get drastic

by God of course i mean “Good-Orderly-Direction” not any anthropomorphic bearded deity in the sky, or beyond. another way of saying this is, as one of my yoga teachers says, ‘let go let good.’

i always thought the name God must have come from the word good. but my source book for etymology (study of where words originate), the Chambers dictionary (published in the U.K.) says, “from a Germanic root guth, God, and quite distinct from good.”  so if anyone happens to know more specific origins of this ubiquitous name for the Supreme Being, this name we say in English, God, I’d be very curious. thanks. I’ve tried googling it, but it’s very confusing, this word. it’s just another name, anyway, for an totally incomprehensible thought, a Divine Being such as Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, Deus, etc. the names given for this concept in all the many tongues of humankind.

a young friend of mine, Marshall, who also practices meditation, and has found guidance in the awareness teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, happened to ask me this question yesterday, which i thought most provocative. i wish i had had the insight to ask this question, when i was first started off on my spiritual journey. but i wasn’t so lucky to find a trusted teacher until much later than Marshall.

as we spoke of living the spiritual life Marshall asked me: “what about doubt?” to which i could only answer that, for me, the decision to embrace the Truth that this life we all live is a spiritual one, and we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, is based on my inner experiences. when i began to sit for meditation it was the first step in taking the most important journey of my life. the places i journey to inwardly are unspeakably beautiful, fulfilling, and blissfully all-encompassing. meditation is the best way i’ve found to plug into the true energy of this existence we call life. we only have our own experiences to rely on, really.

we have all the answers, all the proof, within our own Inner Self

we have all the answers, all the proof, within our own Inner Self

BUT…and i forgot to mention this to Marshall (i hope he reads it here) i am very fortunate to have had another source of reference, that, years ago, put my ever-questioning mind at rest about whether or not this life really is about tuning into the spiritual, psychic, ineffable energy surrounding us. this experience of mine came at the moment of my father’s death, from cancer. i was with him at the end. he had always been a self-proclaimed agnostic, never sure of anything concerning the God-question. when he finally arrived at the end of his disease-destroying struggle, Dad began to leave his body. his consciousness would just … slip away, quite literally. i was there in the room with him to witness his uncanny sojourns into other realms, planes-of-being to which i could not venture, and could hardly fathom.

Dad was swaying as if flying, with his arms out-spread, making coo-ing noises that sounded enjoyable, on his part. i was quite startled, looking at this big, generally down-to-earth man with an oxygen tube hooked up to his nose, all six-feet-five of him, looming over his bed as if he were a gigantic Icarus in earthbound-flight. all i could do was just sit and watch, and make sure Dad didn’t fall and hurt himself. it was quite evident he wasn’t in his “right mind” because his eyes were totally out of focus. he didn’t respond when i called his name. it was as if he were in another realm altogether, from the one we shared, physically, in that little bedroom in St. Augustine, Florida.

after some time, Dad folded his “wings” and gradually sank gently onto the bed. i got him lying prone, and comfortable. then i sat by his head, waiting, watching. slowly, i saw the flicker of consciousness return to his eyes. with his eyes wide opened, and obviously, again “conscious,” he turned to me and firmly but softly said, without the least hint of disbelief:

“it really is true. we are all one. what a shame some people don’t get to know it until too late.”

when dad finally came all the way back into his body, i was there, sitting patiently, waiting. until he recognized me at his side, i was tingling with the sensation that my father had given me such a gift! a gift by virtue of me witnessing his experience. i felt like a journalist who objectively sees, then later reports, a factual event. my heart and mind were filled with bursting energy–call it gratitude, call it an epiphany–whatever it was it was BIG, because my dad, in his pre-death flight plan-check, had inadvertantly shown me PROOF of something i had only suspected all my life. that we are, indeed, all ONE.

Dad finally noticed me sitting by his side. he had spoken no words yet since his uncanny pronouncement. it was as if he were awakening from a long nap. i gently said, “hey dad, do you remember what just happened?” he shook his head no. i said, “well you just went off on some kind of trip. maybe you went scouting, out of your sick body to where you’re headed for next, i don’t know, but you said:”

‘it really is true: we are all one. what a shame some people don’t get to know it until too late.’

Dad’s eyes grew wide. he looked at me, who simply reported what he had himself just said, what he had just witnessed. he believed me. he had to.

my very own father looked at me, amazed beyond belief. “no kidding’ he said. “i said that?” i wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d added, “son of a bitch!” but instead, he remained silent, thinking, wondering …

to this day i accept that experience with my father as a special gift i was given by him, of witnessing his psyche preparing to pass into the next realm (he left his body for good the very next afternoon). for two reasons i believe this experience a benevolent gift: first to give him, my Dad, assurance and comfort, in his quickly approaching passing-over, by the mere fact of my being able to report back to him what he’d told me, what he himself saw and experienced, this ONENESS he spoke of. it was he who had seen IT, felt IT, experienced IT; that fact alone must have given my dad as much comfort as i, a mere reporter, a bystander.

and secondly, i feel that my father gave me the gift of truly believing in something that, up until Dad’s handing me this undeniable PROOF, had been about me having faith that we are all One. true, i’d already suspected as much, from my nothing-less-than-cosmic meditation experiences, but — just like everyone who thinks about these things — you really have to rely upon faith, because Oneness is not scientifically prove-able (not yet! but i hear scientists are closing in on the metaphysics).

for me, i have more than faith. i know beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything is connected, thanks to Dad, thanks to trusting my own inner experiences i continuously have, both in and out of a “formal” meditative state. all of life becomes a higher awareness, when we see, feel, and imbibe the Truth, the Oneness of All. we are all part of the web of life, and everything that happens to One, happens to all.  

in my next post i want to talk about the importance of keeping things LIGHT, how laughter and joy are true signals of right spiritual understanding. with all this information i share with you, i give it with love, with my blessings, but also remind everyone that having spiritual experiences makes one’s life filled with tremendous energy: we have entered the realm of great mysteries, and remarkably genuine joy. that true inner bliss is what all humans have as our birth-rights is part of the Mystery. all we have to do is reach within our own beings to discover we’ve had that joy all along. and then we can laugh and enjoy the play … the Oneness.

the waterfall of life; we are all like drops of water within the Flow of Oneness -- enjoy the ride, and smile with the pleasure of being-cared-for

the waterfall of life; we are all like drops of water within the Flow of Oneness -- enjoy the ride, and smile with the pleasure of being-cared-for

if i don’t get to make another post soon, you’ll know it’s because i leave on tuesday (day after tomorrow) to join friends up in Newfoundland on their 70 foot sailboat. we’ll be exploring the southern coast of that glorious Canadian country, anchoring in isolated coves, backpacking and camping whenever we can safely leave the boat. i’ll bring my camera, but there is no phone service, and no computers where we will be. i’ll let you know how our adventure goes when i return.

meanwhile, know that i send love and Light to each and every one of you, lordflea

singing our song of Oneness

“it really is true. WE ARE ALL ONE. what a shame some people don’t get to know it until too late.” 

we are all ONE

we are all ONE

in the eye of the hurricane…or pretty darn close!

hi friend,

storm haiku ... the ominous atmosphere of the approaching storm

storm haiku ... the ominous atmosphere of the approaching storm

today we woke in st. augustine thinking perhaps we’d be struck by hurricane fay  sometime later today. fey, she’s being called also, which is ironic, as “fe” (pronounced fay) means “faith” in spanish. right now, at 1pm. she’s been downgraded back to a tropical storm, and we’re beginning to relax a little. the beaches are already in danger of erosion. i’ve just returned from there, and the sea foam is still sticking to my feet.

the atlantic coming onto the road at st. augustine beach

the atlantic coming onto the road at st. augustine beach

one last stand on the beach

one last stand on the beach


whipped cream-like sea foam so thick it sticks to your ankles!

whipped cream-like sea foam so thick it sticks to your ankles!

for me, who has gone through many eyes of hurricanes (being a tropical-loving sailor, among other things), i know that each storm that arrives anywhere near where i live is an unpredictable organism, likely to surprise the hell out of us humans at any second.

and…like the storms that brew in our own emotional lives (either from our own making, or from others’ or life’s actions upon us) … we can learn to sink softly in the comfort of going through each storm that hits us. how? by first of all, being prepared. and secondly, by relaxing, and not sensationalizing these completely natural events of life, but deadly nonetheless, whether hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones (in the Pacific) or any other type of Nature’s severe weather. or…our own unsettled inner selves.

here’s how i’ve learned to do it:

in the eye of the hurricane

staying safely in the eye--the 'I'--of all of life's hurricanes

being prepared is the key. doing whatever we must do to make sure we’re in good shape to face any storm, whether internally or externally. and, once you’ve done your work (which sometimes takes a lot of effort, demanding years of processing, but it gets easier the more you practice), then the trick of being happy through any storm is — to totally let go.

in ’04 i went through 4 (count ’em, four!!) eyes of hurricanes. that summer i was teaching incarcerated girls in a central flordia lockup. we went through the eye of hurricane charlie together. of course it scared the living crap out of the girls…but…afterwards, after they’d experienced the uncanny calm in the center of the fierce winds and devastating energy…they could understand in a very personal way the common metaphor used to teach the power of meditation. and that is…

within all of us is a center of peace. no storm, no atrocity, no dis-ease can rock us from our center once we’ve learned to tap that inner power, and keep it close to our heart.

the girls in lockup (there for repeat crimes like drug use, stealing, even attempted murder) experienced the heart-stopping horror of being directly in charlie’s eye: three hours of hell, then half an hour of the eerie calm in the center, then another three hours of hell with winds coming from the opposite direction. the girls huddled together in the dark humid heat, with nothing to cling to but each other. thank god the roof stayed on, because their facility was pretty ancient. when we next met for yoga class and it was time to meditate, called the “dead-person’s pose,” or savasana that all good yoga classes end  with, after practicing yoga’s rigorous poses (asanas), they could understand perhaps for the first time what i meant when i said:

go within, reach that place of inner calm that all humans have. and … just like each hurricane revolves fiercely on its center, it’s still-point, we too have a center of calm within us. that is the law of Nature. learn to stay in that place, the inner calm, whenever you need to. don’t allow yourself to be frightened. never let the swirling winds on the outskirts of your center pull you in. stay in the center of your own power. own your own power, not someone or something else’s.

keep safe, my friend! stay in the Light, sing the song of Oneness, lord flea